RTW trip, one bike or two?

Discussion in 'Trip Planning' started by The Motorcycle Thing, Apr 15, 2013.

  1. The Motorcycle Thing

    The Motorcycle Thing TMT

    Apr 14, 2013
    Hi guys,

    I'm planning to set off on a RTW trip with my girlfriend in July, and we have tentatively decided to take one bike. I'm basically looking for peoples thoughts on this, taking into account the following info, and also maybe your own experiences with a one or two-up trip.

    - I have done a long ride before from Colombia to Argentina and was two-up. The trip went well, although packing everything was quite a squeeze. On this trip, I'm slightly concerned about how much stuff we'll be able to take, and also how heavy the bike will be (especially when we're tackling bad roads).

    - My girlfriend currently doesn't have much riding experience or a motorbike license. This would necessitate her returning to the States, when we are actually planning to buy a bike and start the trip in England. This might mean waiting longer to start the trip, and more money.

    - We would have to budget significantly more money to buy two bikes.

    - My girlfriend is happy to go on one bike, as she is planning to make a documentary film of the trip (which will be easier for her to do as a passenger).

    - My current thinking is that we can start on one bike, and when we head over for the North American leg of the trip, my girlfriend can do her license and maybe buy a bike there.

    I'm sure we'll have a great trip whatever we choose, but just wanted some more input from people who have experience of both types of trip.

    Thanks in advance,

  2. Mark Manley

    Mark Manley Long timer

    Apr 3, 2010
    On tour in North America
    I would start by trying a week or two's tour in your home country on the one bike taking everything with you that you plan to take on your RTW tour, this will give you an idea as to whether one bike will be enough.

    If you do end up taking two I would suggest both bikes the same and nothing too big, middleweight trail bikes are perfectly up to the job, something like a Honda NX 400 is a good compromise and perfectly fast enough, something larger such as a BMW F800GS or Triumph Tiger 800 if you only take one.

    The biggest extra expense of having two bikes could be the carnet de passage, if you plan buying anything in Europe it might be better to get it in Germany where the carnet from the ADAC is much cheaper than ther same from the RAC in the UK.

    PS welcome to ADVrider, you will also find a good resource for your trip here http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/hubb/
  3. wheatwhacker

    wheatwhacker It's raining here

    Oct 13, 2006
    Cork, Ireland
    Can you tell us more about your previous trip experience.
    A RTW trip is a large undertaking and can be successfully done with either one or two bikes.
    I recommend two smaller bikes, a couple of DR's for example.
    More room for baggage and a back up bike in case of a problem.
  4. Pecha72

    Pecha72 Long timer

    May 5, 2008
    Helsinki, Finland
    I can mostly comment on two people on one bike:

    + You only have 1 vehicle to buy, fill up at gas stations, maintain, buy tires, insure, get the carnet for, clear the customs at borders, and send across the oceans on a RTW-trip. Note that having two bikes sent as a single consignment could bring down the costs PER BIKE, and the dimensions/weight of the bike also affect things, but generally I´d say that in absolute dollar amount, it will be cheaper to send just one bike, instead of two.

    – You often run into the problem of having too much stuff to fit on one bike; this, however, can somehow usually be solved. But in reality two-up RTW bikes are often overloaded, or very close to the load limit, so it will probably affect handling, and in practice will lead you to choose better roads, etc. Getting a fully loaded two-up bike up from the mud for example, or lifted into a canoe in a third-world country will also be a lot tougher, than if you have two lighter bikes.

    Oh yeah, if you´re on two bikes, and the other bike breaks down, or has an accident, you´ll still have the other bike as back-up. Unless the two bikes end up in the same accident, you usually have your travel companion right there to help you out, call for help, or go get help, which can be very beneficial, especially in some remote areas. If the bikes are similar to one another, you can also share carrying spare parts or tyres for them.

    But a RTW-tour is no place to learn how to ride, so if you have very different experience levels, it´s better to go with one bike, and put the more experienced person on the rider´s seat.
  5. BlackBeast

    BlackBeast Been here awhile

    Jul 7, 2006
    Ontario, CANADA
    My wife and I had the same dilemma and had a few arguments about it.
    After much debate, we thought we had decided on taking 1 bigger bike that will handle 2-up riding pls camping gear as well. We also had decided that it would be a good idea for her to learn how to ride in case of an emergency. That was my mistake. Once she started to ride, she loved it and decided to spend 2 more years saving for our trip. We ended up taking 2 DR650's, and don't regret it one bit. It was really a trip of a lifetime for the both of us.
    You will find a ton more info on Horizons Unlimited on this subject as well.
  6. The Motorcycle Thing

    The Motorcycle Thing TMT

    Apr 14, 2013
    Thanks for the input guys, and for the welcome to the forum. I was actually planning to get a second hand 1200GS. Heavy, yes, but maybe a bit more comfortable for the missus on the back and a bit more room for luggage.

    Starting from Cornwall, we're actually going to tour round the UK for a month or so before really heading out on the trip, so this should be a good test of the equipment.

    At this stage, there would be a possibility to trade for a couple of smaller bikes if the UK leg doesn't work out, but that would really push us back time/money wise as my girlfriend would have to go back to the States to get her license. In addition to the extra costs of the Carnet you mention.

    Wheatwhacker, I've actually just finished an article about my South American trip, and was thinking about posting it in the ride report section, although not sure how well it would fit (being a lot shorter than the other ride reports there).

    You can have a read on a website I set up for our trip: www.themotorcyclething.com

    Essentially though, it was a slightly improvised 3-4 month trip on an old second hand BMW, with my then girlfriend. We managed fine, although we took the bare minimum and stuck to reasonable roads. We travelled from the Northern tip of Colombia and reached Bariloche in Argentina when my money ran out. It was a great trip, but I think on this one I will be tackling worse roads and we will be taking more stuff (electronics/cameras etc).

    Thanks also to Pecha72 for the useful list of pros/cons and BlackBeast, whose experience I can see foreshadowing our own trip.

    Thinking over it again, I have suggested to my girlfriend that we first tour around Europe 2-up and if she has the urge to give it a go herself we can always head over to the States to allow her to do her license and get her a bike, before continuing the tour through the US on good roads (to allow her to practice). It wasn’t the RTW route we were planning, but it gives us the flexibility to decide.

    All you're thoughts are much appreciated. I suppose it will come down to what my girlfriend is more comfortable with, but it's great to get some opinions so we can make an informed decision.

    I will also have a look through the Horizons Unlimited site as you suggest.

    Thanks again,