Ride reports on ADV have provided me with information and inspiration, so I thought it might be useful to others if I post my own report. [NOTE: This was written in May, 2011, so some Mexico-specific information could have changed if you are reading this at some much later date.] Executive summary: My friend and I rode from Sunnyvale, California, to Mulege, Mexico (on the Sea of Cortez in Baja California Sur) and back. The trip was one week long due to my work schedule. We had no real problems at all. In fact, the only part of the journey I would characterize as even close to adventurous was the last couple of hours of the ride home because it was at night and it was pouring rain. Well, that plus the fact that Im an old guy (57) with a bad back and I did the 2,000-mile trip riding a Ninja 250. But first things first. Ill post information first, then add posts with the actual ride report to keep from having a single novel-length post. This one is long enough as it is! PREPARATION BIKE I long ago realized that Im an oddball, but lucky for me I dont really care. I like smaller bikes (though my current stable includes a CBR600 and I love it). I decided last year that I wanted to do some moto-camping on something like a 250. I bought a 2008 Ninjette with about 4,500 miles on it last fall, strapped a bunch of camping gear on the back, and rode up to the Horizons Unlimited gathering near Petrolia in Humboldt County. I met a bunch of really nice people and I learned that a Ninja 250 makes a perfectly reasonable adventure bike as long as you dont expect to jump boulders or anything. Its inexpensive, its pretty simple, its obviously a well-tested design, and its very common. Parts or repair should be straightforward if necessary. I made a list of things that Id like to do to the bike before riding it 2,000 miles in a country where pavement is sometimes less than ideal and occasionally missing the paved part. I added handlebar risers (3/4 is the most you can do without changing the cables), ginned up some supports for my soft saddlebags, removed the main side fairings, put on a touring windscreen (which is really only a few inches longer than stock) then added an additional windscreen lip to that, made an engine/exhaust pipe stone guard, put tubes in the tires, and made a seat topper out of foam, gel pad, and sheepskin. I made most of this from stuff bought at Home Depot. I topped it all off with ADV stickers on the front fairing and the saddlebags, of course! The fairings are expensive and vulnerable and they block access to the engine if anything needs to be worked on, which is why I took them off. The tubeless tires cannot be aired down more than a few pounds without risking a flat, which is why I put in the tubes (in case there was a reason to ride in soft dirt or sand). My butt is bony, which is why I added so much stuff to the seat. And I have adventure in my heart, which is why I put on the ADV stickers. Did I mention that I also got custom license plates? Yep, you guessed it: ADV NJA. Adventure ninja! All in all, everything worked exactly as planned. The only problems I had were both my fault: an intermittent tail light, apparently due to a flakey connection caused by me when I replaced the turn signals with LEDs and relocated them so they are still visible with saddlebags, and a loose handlebar mount also caused by me when I put on the risers and failed to use LocTite. Ansel, my riding partner, needed no preparation. His only vehicle is a BMW F650GS dual sport with all the adventure bike farkles, including heated gear, Zumo, Renazco seat, and genuine panniers with real frames. We met at the Petrolia gathering and rode back to the Bay Area together, and we did some offroad riding together down in Pozo la Panza OHV area last month. (Yes, I did in fact ride the Ninja! Theres probably still mud caked on the bike from that ride.) PREPARATION INSURANCE As many people before me have said, U.S. insurers cannot actually cover you in Mexico no matter what they tell you. You need Mexican insurance. There are countless places to get quotes and buy it online, although I believe they are generally brokers for the same handful of actual insurers. My bike is cheap and I dont have full coverage in the U.S., so I could only get the same coverage for Mexico. But I did bump up the liability to maxiumum ($300,000) and I bought the equivalent of Mexican AAA. I knew Id only be in Baja, so I bought coverage for just that territory instead of all of Mexico. The total cost for me for one week was $68. I wont include any links here because such things are relatively transient and its very easy to find Mexican motorcycle insurance by doing a web search. Filling out the online form was easy. You need your motorcycles VIN, your U.S. insurance policy details, and a credit card. Once its done, you print a page and take it with you. PREPARATION DOCUMENTS You need a passport that will still be valid beyond your expected return date. I also brought several photocopies of my registration and insurance (both Mexican and U.S.). In addition, I photocopied my California drivers license and the main page of my passport so Id at least have the data in case I lost either of them. If you go beyond the very limited free zone, which you almost certainly will if youre reading this, you are supposed to buy a tourist card which is essentially a Mexican visa. It costs about $24 at the current exchange rate and it is valid for up to 180 days. You can use it for as many trips to Mexico as you like during that period. I know that many people dont get this visa and take the chance that it wont be checked (and indeed, we never had to show a single document to anyone in Mexico), but if you DO get asked for it and you dont have it, youre screwed. The current version of the tourist card is called the form FMM. Its easily purchased at the border. We crossed at San Ysidro, the 24-hour main border crossing between San Diego and Tijuana, and we got our FMM just after we crossed into Mexico. I learned how to do this from other people on ADV and HUBB: You stay in the right lane, which is marked for tour buses and vehicles with something to declare. You slowly roll up to the border guard and politely ask if its OK to park over there to the right because you need to buy a tourist card. She will say Si! You park, walk back towards San Diego along the small cement buildings until you get to the last one migracion. You go into the office, chat with the nice man, present your passport, and fill out the form. You then go back out and walk towards Tijuana about 50 feet to the bank, hand them the form and pay them (they take U.S. dollars). You then go back to the migracion office with your payment receipt and the nice man will stamp your passport. Thats it. PREPARATION MONEY You can reportedly use U.S. dollars almost everywhere near the border, but you will need pesos at some point. NOTE: Amounts in pesos are confusingly written with the same dollar sign as U.S. dollar amounts. The current exchange rate is about 11.6 pesos to the dollar, so you can get a shocking bill for a couple of tacos that appear to cost thirty bucks but in reality cost the equivalent of about $2.60. We tipped the same as we tip in the U.S.: around 15 or 20%. We got our pesos twice, both times at an ATM. Again, the amounts are confusing because they use dollar signs, but don't worry -- you aren't actually withdrawing $1,500, it's 1500 pesos (about $129). I don't know if this is true everywhere, but the two ATMs we used had instructions in both Spanish and English so they were totally easy to use. PREPARATION SUPPLIES A large proportion of the stuff on my bike was water and fuel. The Ninjette is awesome in that it holds nearly 5 gallons of gas and it gets 50-60mpg depending mostly on speed. However, there is a stretch of the central desert where I knew (thanks to ADV ride reports) that no gas stations exist. So I strapped on my 1.5 gallon Kolpin fuel pack and Ansel also brought his rotopack. It turned out that we never did need to use any of that fuel, but it was comforting to have it. I do not like being ill, so I had no intent on drinking any untreated Mexican water. My saddlebags each contained a flexible 100-ounce Nalgene canteen from REI, plus I had a one-liter Nalgene bottle and a UV purifier (SteriPen, also from REI). These are items which now reside in my earthquake emergency kit. I drank only this water, plus coffee and a couple of beers. It was exactly the right amount of water for me. The weather was pretty cool for the most part, however; if it had been hotter, or hot the whole time, I would have needed to do some purifying. (I actually did purify a liter just for the hell of it, but I had more than a liter left after getting home so it really wasnt necessary.) Man, this is getting awfully long. Sorry about that. Ill stop now and post some of the actual trip later. My intent was to put as much data in one place as possible that might be helpful to anyone doing a search on ADV for Baja information.