Russia advice for new ADV rider

Discussion in 'Asia Pacific' started by dmizer, Mar 9, 2014.

  1. dmizer

    dmizer n00b

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2014
    Oddometer:
    5
    Location:
    Kitakyushu, Japan
    Hello all. I'm very new to the adventure riding scene but for as long as I can remember I've wanted to take some serious adventure rides. This summer, I have the opportunity to take 2 months away from work. I am a US citizen living in Japan and I intend to ride from Japan to Western Europe (specifically Luxembourg).

    Currently I intend to leave in the beginning of August. The bike I have is a Honda XR650l that's already been prepared (by another rider) for a trip through Mongolia. It has hard luggage racks and an enlarged tank that's supposed to be good for about 400 km. I don't want a bike that's so big and heavy I can't lift it off the ground by myself when I'm exhausted from riding hundreds of kilometers day in and day out. I also want a bike that's simple enough that I can at least attempt to fix it myself if something goes wrong.

    I don't have very much experience with off road riding, but I intend to get some between then and now.

    My planned route takes me away from most of the major urban centers in Russia, and I intend to enter the European union via the Baltic states in order to minimize my border crossing pain.

    I need advice on the following questions.
    1) I realize that this is fairly subjective, but providing I rely on camping for most of the trip, how much money would you recommend having available?
    2) What kind of tires would be best suited for this type of journey? (if necessary, I'll ask in the "Equipment" section of the forum instead).
    3) Is there a good paper road map available for Russia (in Russian)? I have a Zumo 550 GPS unit, but I'd prefer to have a paper map as an option.
    4) What are your thoughts on the current political situation in Russia with regards to a US citizen traveling though?
    5) I can take a ferry from Japan to either Vladivostok or Khabarovsk Krai (Via Sakhalin). I've found lots of information on Vladivostok, but does anyone have any experience with Khabarovsk Krai?

    Any other thoughts you may like to share with me would be greatly appreciated.
    #1
  2. stickysidedown

    stickysidedown Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 8, 2006
    Oddometer:
    661
    Are you travelling solely through Russia? (Not Mongolia)

    A single pair of Heidanau K60 tyres would last the distance

    We came from the Latvian border to Irkutsk and looped back through Mongolia coming back the way we came our total spend was £1200 GBP but we mostly wild camped (easy to do) and it was almost all petrol and snickers bars.

    There are Atlas's covering Russia but tbh its such a big country that I rarely referenced it as we tended to be heading towards somewhere for over a day or so! I bought mine from Stanfords in the UK for £20, but you could just buy one when you get there from a petrol station

    Largely, as a Brit I found the Russians I met hospitable and charming and it would be a mistake to assume that the political projections of the country reflect the emotions of everyday folk, it would also be a mistake to assume that they would necessarily welcome the Americans projected version of freedom and democracy, broadly speaking I find people have so much in common it's rarely necessary to discuss things likely to cause friction

    sure other people will contribute more, but thought I'd get the ball rolling!
    Have fun :-)
    #2
  3. dmizer

    dmizer n00b

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2014
    Oddometer:
    5
    Location:
    Kitakyushu, Japan
    My current plan is to travel only through Russia, yes.

    That looks like a well suited tire. Thank you.

    I do intend to camp for a majority of my trip because I am on something of a budget. That at least gives me a starting point. Also, something else I didn't mention was that I intend for my trip to be one way rather than round trip.

    It was my understanding that good road maps were very difficult to find in Russia. I assume that you just relied on your GPS rather than referring to your atlas?

    I'm an expat and have been living overseas for more than a decade now, so I'm not entirely unfamiliar with how US politics are viewed from the eyes of the average person internationally. There are a lot of people telling me that I shouldn't go on the trip and that I'll get killed, so I guess I just let it get to me.

    Thanks for your thoughts, I sincerely appreciate it.
    #3
  4. SeanF

    SeanF Long timer

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2004
    Oddometer:
    2,231
    Location:
    Tucson Arizona USA
    Hi,

    I was in Russia in Aug-Sep of 2010, entering at the port of Vladivstok, exiting to enter Mongolia south of Ulan-Ude; re-entering Russia briefly in the Altai region before exiting to Kazakhstan south of Barnaul.

    Map-wise, I was using a Freytag & Berndt map (look here, item #65-31923) and had no problems.

    I would really recommend getting into Mongolia since you're "right there." :d (No visa needed for a US citizen, but you would need a multi-entry visa for Russia.) Mongolia was really fantastic, and since you're already planning on camping and otherwise traveling on a budget, you're basically "prepared" to go. When I entered Mongolia on my trip, I had very little offroad riding experience, but still managed to not only survive, but also truly enjoy it.

    I was running Shinko 705s on my loaded DR650, and they served me well.

    Politically, I think you'll be fine, as long as US troops don't suddenly show up on Ukrainian soil! IMO the biggest threat to your safety, as a motorcycle overlander, is other drivers.

    My lodging plan was to camp for 3-4 nights, then hotel it to shower, do laundry and recharge (literally & figuratively). I don't recall exact figures, so maybe someone with more recent experience will chime in on the budget question.

    Good luck, enjoy your trip!

    Sean
    #4
  5. dmizer

    dmizer n00b

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2014
    Oddometer:
    5
    Location:
    Kitakyushu, Japan
    Had thought about visiting Mongolia as well, but I understand the border is a real pain, and I'm not so confident with my off road riding ability.

    I've heard from some people that it's worth the trip, and others that it's not that special.

    The omnimap site has been down for a while :(
    #5