Ride New York to California with my son this summer

Discussion in 'Americas' started by TonyBKK, Apr 19, 2012.

  1. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Secret Soi Rider

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    Hi everyone!

    I live in Thailand but will be coming to the US this summer to pick up my son from the ex-wife in New York and take him on a coast to coast road trip.

    We'll want to be in Minnesota for the 4th of July with his Grandma, after that we'll head west and hit the Badlands, Black Hills, Mt. Rushmore, Yellowstone, Tetons, Glacier National Park, Lake Yahoe, Yosemite, and perhaps Sequoia before arriving at our final destination just north of San Francisco.

    I'm thinking a big touring bike like a Honda Goldwing or Yamaha FJR1300 or Kawasaki Concours will be the perfect bike for us but I know nothing about touring bikes... Which one to choose?

    My son loves bikes and we went on quite a few tours here in Thailand before he moved to the US.

    [​IMG]

    I've owned a lot of sport bikes and road bikes over the years but never owned a touring bike and I know little to nothing about the big touring bikes like the Honda Goldwing so I'm hoping I can learn more about these bikes from this forum.

    I plan to buy a used bike upon arrival in New York. I'm pleasantly surprised by how many big touring bikes I see on Craigslist and more coming up for sale almost every day. Makes me optimistic that it shouldn't be too hard to pick up something decent when I arrive in late June.

    Have to decide if I should buy a cheap bike (less then $3000 or so), ride it to California and donate it to charity, or spend more for a newer one which I'll either sell or store once we reach California... Selling could be a pain since my time will be limited, so I'm thinking it might be better to try to find a cheap reliable touring bike that I can just donate to charity once we arrive in California...

    Any thoughts? Advice?

    I'm all ears! :ear

    Live to Ride, Ride to Live!

    Tony
    #1
  2. 4PawsHacienda

    4PawsHacienda Been here awhile

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    All of the bikes are good choices, I'd be reluctant to try and go cheap when I plan on spending the next few weeks riding it across the country. Hate to spend an unplanned 4 days in EBF waiting on parts.
    Buy decent them drop off at a dealership and sell on consignment. Hate to risk your son's safety and enjoyment. Get the bike checked out at a dealership before buying or contact a dealer local to your ex-wifes and share your plans with them, they might be able to find a good one that's being traded in. I doubt you really care what color it is.
    Best of luck, and enjoy.
    #2
  3. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Secret Soi Rider

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    Good advice- I never thought about the possibility of selling on consignment. Indeed it would suck to have our ride ruined by mechanical problems along the way.

    Once I find a bike that fits the bill I will pay to have it inspected by a dealer to make sure it's safe and roadworthy. Depending on the service history it may make sense to have the bike serviced, carbs cleaned and synched, brakes bled, etc.

    My son is 5 and has a habit of falling asleep in cars and on bikes. For his safety and comfort I really like the big Honda Goldwings that have the passenger armrests. I figure I can rig up some sort of seatbelt and that a belt combined with the armrests should keep him safe, secure and comfortable.

    Looking at Craigslist I'm not finding many second hand touring bikes for sale in New York, but I'm finding a lot in and around the Twin Cities.

    Some examples of nice looking Goldwings posted in the last few days-

    http://minneapolis.craigslist.org/dak/mcy/2962546517.html

    http://minneapolis.craigslist.org/hnp/mcy/2929532649.html

    http://minneapolis.craigslist.org/hnp/mcy/2966229226.html

    http://minneapolis.craigslist.org/hnp/mcy/2958430775.html

    These seem really cheap to me. Are they too good to be true or can you really get a Goldwing in decent shape for less than $3000?

    I'll be picking up my son in New York on June 28th and we want to be at Grandma's house in Minnesota for the 4th of July. If I can't find a decent Goldwing in New York I think we'll fly to MN, buy a bike, and start our journey from there.

    Are there any issues or common problems that I should be aware of and on the lookout for with 1980's model Goldwings?

    I'm really excited for this ride with my son. I miss him terribly and want to make it a summer he'll never forget.

    We'll head West to the Badlands, Wall Drug, the Black Hills and Mt. Rushmore.

    Then on to Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming.

    Then north to Glacier National Park in Montana.

    Then south to Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho.

    On to Lake Tahoe and Yosemite National Park in California.

    Finally ending out journey in San Francisco.

    We'll have about 5-6 weeks for our journey, so no rush, we can take our time and modify our itinerary as it suits us.

    Of course we'll be camping most of the trip, but if we run into really bad weather we can retreat to a motel as needed.

    An alternative route, if we skip Lake Tahoe and Yosemite (and I know Yosemite will be crazy-crowded in July-August) is to head further West to Washington State and Oregon and come down the Pacific Coast Highway 101.

    I have a good friend in Walla Walla who rides a V-strom and I haven't seen him in years. Would be awesome to catch up.

    Then perhaps hit Rainier National Park and time permitting North Cascades National Park before we hit the coast and follow the 101 on down to San Francisco.

    Itinerary 1:
    [​IMG]
    http://maps.google.com/maps?saddr=Lindsay+St&daddr=S+Dakota+44+E+to:Grand+Loop+Rd+to:W+Broadway+to:Glacier+Route+1+Rd%2FGoing-To-The-Sun+Rd+to:US-20+W%2FUS-26+W%2FUS-93+S+to:N+Lake+Blvd+to:Southside+Dr+to:Carrera+Dr&hl=en&ll=44.871443,-99.404297&spn=25.243325,67.631836&sll=39.161878,-120.092411&sspn=0.053972,0.132093&geocode=FWZ-rgIdmY9v-g%3BFWYAnAIdTWjj-Q%3BFQQQqAIdEp1r-Q%3BFR1ylwIdLeZl-Q%3BFYrb5wIdnsk3-Q%3BFUgtlwIdoik7-Q%3BFVqxVQIdhsjW-A%3BFUzcPwIdaHTf-A%3BFYPhQQIdlV2y-A&mra=ps&t=m&z=5


    Itinerary 2:
    [​IMG]
    http://maps.google.com/maps?saddr=L...mra=dpe&mrsp=12&sz=9&via=8,9,10,11,12&t=m&z=6

    Should be no problem to cover either of these routes in 5-6 weeks, right?

    What do you all think?

    Have I left out any MUST SEE sites or fantastic MUST RIDE roads along the way?

    Tony and Kris
    [​IMG]
    #3
  4. braq attack

    braq attack Adventurer

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    are you that youtube guy im subscribed to? :eek1
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  5. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Secret Soi Rider

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    I dunno.... am I? :wink:
    #5
  6. braq attack

    braq attack Adventurer

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    many clues point to yes
    #6
  7. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Secret Soi Rider

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  8. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Secret Soi Rider

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    Do you guys think a 5 year old can handle a trip like this?

    It's of course a concern and something I've considered. I've also thought about doing this trip in a car, and while that would also be fun, doing it on a big touring bike would be EPIC!

    We've been riding since he was an infant. Small stuff at first of course, but more recently we've done some multi-day tours with 500km days (~310 miles) and he was totally fine. And this was on crazy Thai roads and challenging tropical climate.

    I reckon since we've got 5-6 weeks at our disposal that we can take it nice and easy and do short days with plenty of stops. If he wants to stop we stop. We'll never do more than 300 miles in a day. He's a great kid, easy going and loves camping, fishing, hiking, you name it, he's game.

    I expect we'll spend at least a few days in each National Park- seeing the sights, camping, hiking, hanging out, so there will be plenty of breaks from riding along the way.

    The passenger seat on those big Goldwings looks like pure paradise compared to where he's sat on previous rides- usually wedged in front of me on the Versys or Ninja 650 where I can make sure he won't fall off when he falls asleep, which he always does.

    Based on the passenger seat I think I'm leaning more and more towards a Goldwing. If I were going solo I'd choose something more sporty, but for a father-son ride I think a Goldwing is hard to beat.

    What do you guys think?

    He's probably outgrown his full face helmet and Fox riding boots and I want to get him a better jacket so we'll need to go shopping - fortunately kids mc gear is really cheap in the US.

    [​IMG]
    #8
  9. 4PawsHacienda

    4PawsHacienda Been here awhile

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    Looking at your route, you're seeing an awful lot of similar territory. All the national parks are busy in the summer. For some variety I'd consider heading south and west after Yellowstone and Teton and going through the desert - Utah - for a change of pace. Glacier, Teton, Yellowstone is a bit of overkill. I'd skip Glacier and from Idaho head south.

    Five year old son, motorcycle trip for him or you?
    #9
  10. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Secret Soi Rider

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    For US of course. What an odd question. I guess you don't have kids. If I were doing this ride solo I wouldn't be posting on this forum- I'd just hit the road and go. Traveling with a child requires a bit more thought and planning, wouldn't you agree?

    I have great memories of traveling out west with my parents when I was a kid and I'd like to share the same experience with my son. We could certainly do it in a car, but he loves to ride so why not go on a bike?

    I do realize that the National Parks can be very busy in the summer, but other than Yellowstone and Yosemite I think it's not too hard to find a bit of peace and quiet and solitude in the parks on our route. In fact, maybe we'll just skip Yellowstone but nearby are a couple of the most fantastic motorcycle roads in America- Bear Tooth Pass and Chief Joseph Pass- we'll certainly hit those!

    I've found that Grand Teton National Park usually doesn't get nearly as crowded as Yellowstone.

    I've never been to Glacier National Park but am told it's amazing, plus we'll be hooking up with one of my best friends who will be there with his five year old who is friends with my son so we'll spend 4 or 5 days together exploring Glacier National Park.

    I've ridden Utah, Arizona and New Mexico in the summer before and it was beautiful but also really really hot. I remember it being so hot I'd stop and fill my helmet with water just to try and cool down. I worry about it being too hot in August for my son... My thinking is that if this trip goes well we can plan another in spring or fall 2013 to visit the southwest when it's not so darn hot.

    I've never owned a big touring bike but I've ridden some tourers like the Triumph Sprint ST and Yamaha FJR1300 which feel damn heavy when you first get on them but surprisingly nimble once they're rolling.

    For my son's comfort and safety I think a Goldwing will probably be the best choice- new ads pop up on Craigslist every day and there are certainly some good deals to be had. Something like this should fit the bill nicely-
    http://minneapolis.craigslist.org/dak/mcy/2966507230.html
    [​IMG]

    Looking forward to a fantastic summer with my son! :clap

    Happy Trails!

    Tony
    #10
  11. Eyes Shut

    Eyes Shut See no evil

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    Totally agree with you on this. I try to avoid the desert areas in the summer. They are great in the spring, and especially the late fall, but summer --no thanks!

    With respect to the crowds in the parks, especially Yellowstone: The trick is to hit the roads (and geyser sites) early in the morning. You will probably also see more animals. But even with the crowds, most of the parks are worth it (that's the reason they are Parks).

    You might want to add Custer State Park (South Dakota) to you itinerary. There's almost always large herds of bison on the road, something that will be exciting for your son, plus the roads and scenery are great. (You'll also see lots of bison in Yellowstone, too, but in my experience, there's fewer crowds in Custer.)

    You should purchase a Parks Pass. It costs $80 and will give you free admission into any federal Parks and Monuments that charge entrance fees. (It does not pay for camping, however).
    http://www.kinsail.com/results.asp?p=nps&pt=parks&ItemName=Interagency&r=google

    It sounds like you have a fantastic trip planned! Have fun!
    #11
  12. Eyes Shut

    Eyes Shut See no evil

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    A couple more things I thought of:

    -Thermopolis, Wyoming, is a bit off your route, but it has a fun dinosaur museum and a hot spring water park, both things that your son might enjoy:

    http://www.wyodino.org/
    http://thermopolis.com/todo/hot-springs-state-park/

    -Instead of taking 93 south from Missoula, Montana, consider taking Hiway 12 west from Missoula and continuing on 12 until Kooskia, then you can head south on 95/55. Hiway 12 is a really great road and it would be a shame to miss it since you are sort of in the vicinity.

    If you still wanted to go to Craters of the Moon, you could 21 east out of Boise, then 75 south to Hailey, and then east on 20 to Craters of the Moon. This routing takes you a bit out of the way, but looking at the map, 21 and 75 look like they are real scenic and motorcycle-worthy.
    #12
  13. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Secret Soi Rider

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    Thank you for your kind advice!

    Good idea about hitting the trails early in Yellowstone to avoid the crowds. As much as I hate crowds I think my son will really get a kick out of the geysers and other geothermal wonders. I know there's a lot to see and do so reckon we'll spend 2-3 days in Yellowstone.

    Any recommendations for good motorcycle-friendly camping sites in Yellowstone? I think there are more than a dozen to choose from in the park and I generally prefer smaller "primitive" sites, away from RV's, generators, noise, etc. Slough Creek Campground looks very nice- http://www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/sloughck_cg.htm
    [​IMG]

    Tower Fall Campground looks good too! http://www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/tower_cg.htm
    [​IMG]

    Yellowstone's Junior Ranger Program looks like something my son might enjoy!
    [​IMG]
    http://www.nps.gov/yell/forkids/beajuniorranger.htm

    Rushmore to Custer State Park is definitely on the itinerary!
    [​IMG]

    I'll certainly buy a parks pass. I think it used to be called a Golden Eagle Passport which I've used in the past. Understand they've made some changes to the program but couldn't they come up with a better name than "Interagency Annual Pass " :huh

    Ride On!

    Tony [​IMG]
    #13
  14. beechum1

    beechum1 Grimace Soup

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    I've been told by others that have owned several, that the GL1500 is the most difficult of the the last 3 to work on. The 18 being the easiest and the 12 next. You may or may not need this factors but is thought is throw it out. I can say that the 12 is easy to do maintenance on with little disassembly for the most basic to intermediate tasks.
    #14
  15. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Secret Soi Rider

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    Good to know!

    Originally I was looking at Goldwing 1100 and 1200 bikes but I was told on a Goldwing forum (http://www.goldwingfacts.com) that it's getting hard to find parts for the 1100 and 1200 Goldwings and that most Honda dealers won't work on bikes that old...

    Another important consideration is that many states have a law that says the pillion passengers feet must reach the footpegs / floor boards and AFAIK only the Goldwing 1500 (and maybe the 1800?) have adjustable passenger floorboards that can be raised as much as 3 inches. I've been told that with the floor boards in their top position that even children can reach them on the Goldwing 1500.

    Finally, whatever bike I end up buying, it just has to get us to California where I'll re-sell it. I'll start the trip with new tires and a complete service and we only need the bike to give us about 6000 trouble free miles. I've always been a big fan of Honda quality and trust the Goldwing is a quality bike? I sure hope a well maintained low mileage Honda Goldwing, like the one I referenced earlier in this thread, can accomplish a mellow 6000 mile trip without any major mechanical difficulties.
    #15
  16. NoVa Rider

    NoVa Rider Long timer

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    You asked for input, so I'll weigh in. Dash across the US with your son on a new to you bike. Fifteen years old? Sure. Kid is old enough to manage the long days, weather and wide temperature swings you will encounter over the route you've posted, and his hydration. Might even stay awake for most of the ride. Five years old? No. No way. Absolutely freakin' not. :yikes And I'm no stranger to riding with kids as passengers. One of my daughters has been on the cover of the Aerostich Catalog twice (age 8 and 10). In fact, she's the kid on the current catalog cover.

    That being said, the rig for riding with children that you describe is the "Buddy Belt" -- securely attaches your son to you. Looks like they are no longer selling, but may be able to direct you to some available product or current options. . .. http://www.buddybelt.com
    #16
  17. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Secret Soi Rider

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    Thank you for your input :)

    I'll take it as constructive criticism. :wink: FWIW it's not a "dash" across the US. It's a slow cruise on a big comfy touring bike with short days and a lot of stops.

    I think I mentioned earlier that we've been on several ~300 mile rides, and that was when he was 4 years old, and he did just fine.
    [​IMG]
    Sure he falls asleep, but he'd do the same in a car too, especially when we're in areas where there's nothing much to look at.

    Maybe I've been in Asia too long- here motorcycles (scooters actually) are the primary mode of transportation for most people and I've grown accustomed to seeing entire families covering long distances on 2 wheels.
    [​IMG]

    My son's comfort and safety is the main reason why I'm keen to get a Goldwing- the passenger seat is pure luxury and he should be quite comfortable and secure back there, asleep or awake. I will add a safety belt as added security. If I were riding solo I'd be doing it on a sport tourer.

    I'm looking mostly at Goldwing GL1500's as they're in my budget and are said to have the most comfortable passenger seat-
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    We'll be doing short easy days, never more than 300 miles, and he'll be wearing proper gear. If the weather gets bad or he wants to stop, we stop. This trip isn't a race and we'll have more than enough time to get to our destination.

    I've started breaking the trip up into legs.

    First leg, Minneapolis to Lake Vermillion, South Dakota. Distance 260 miles.
    [​IMG]

    Second leg- Lake Vermillion to Badlands National Park. 256 miles.
    [​IMG]

    Third leg- Badlands to Custer State Park via Sturgis and Mt Rushmore. 205 miles
    [​IMG]

    I reckon we might stay in the Black Hills for a few days at least. I threw Sturgis in there because I've never been, and we'll be there a few weeks before the big rally kicks off. (I have no interest in being there with my son during the rally). Is Sturgis worth a look or should I skip it?

    To be continued!

    Thank you for your feedback and advice!

    Tony
    #17
  18. NoVa Rider

    NoVa Rider Long timer

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    I rode the Seattle - Badlands - Sturgis leg during my x-country last summer. The heat was deadly. I was stopping and packing the 'stich with ice at every opportunity. I also carried 160 ozs of water in a coleman cooler, and sipped from that while riding. :thumb

    I had the wind and sun at my back. Unfortunately, east to west, you'll have the wind and the sun in your face. :cry
    #18
  19. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Secret Soi Rider

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    Hmmm, I don't remember South Dakota being so terribly hot in the summer, though I'm sure there are times when it does. Since we'll be doing short days and last I checked the sun still comes up in the East I reckon we'll have to sun to our backs and we'll be off the road by early afternoon, so I don't anticipate riding into the setting sun. Wind in your face... Isn't that what riding motorcycles is all about? ;) Though with the size of the windscreens on the Goldwings I think we'll be pretty sheltered from the elements :evil
    [​IMG]
    #19
  20. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Secret Soi Rider

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    I think we'll probably spend a few days exploring the Black Hills, then on to Bighorn National Forest. 277 miles to Meadow Lark Lake campground-

    [​IMG]

    There are supposed to be some nice scenic drives in Bighorn so the following day we'll so something like this-

    Meadow Lark Lake to North Tongue Campground. 227 Miles-
    [​IMG]

    The on to Yellowstone National Park!

    Bighorn National Park to the Tower Fall Campground in Yellowstone. 219 miles.
    [​IMG]

    Reckon we'll spend at least 2- 3 days exploring Yellowstone. Haven't been there since I was a kid; can't wait to re-visit it with my son!

    To be continued!
    #20