Dedicated trip bikes: Fly-ride-store-repeat?

Discussion in 'Americas' started by DR. Rock, Jan 6, 2008.

  1. DR. Rock

    DR. Rock Part of the problem

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    Anybody doing something like this? Tried to search this, but nothing's coming up.

    After our Nova Scotia trip, LDF has decided she wants more adventure/dirt travel :D. Iceland, Alaska, Himalayas, TAT, CDT, Copper canyon, etc. :scratch So we've been brainstorming on how to take trips for 1-2 weeks at a time. The dollar sucks, and there's plenty of great places to ride and things to see in the U.S., so we decided to focus on domestic trips.

    First thought was the TAT, but problems abound: taking our own bikes it's a haul to the start, then even further to get back; we can take at most 2 weeks vacation at a time. Our bikes are a little big for us for the western portions. So how about a nice loop around Idaho, NV, UT? Ship or trailer the bikes... three problems: logistics, time & money... about $600 per bike to ship each way, plus we lose riding our bikes for that time, renting a van and driving them ourselves is about $2K between the rental and the gas. Just slab them out there and back? :puke2

    "...Some things we plan,
    we sit and we invent and we plot and cook up;
    others are works of inspiration, of poetry;..."
    -- Nick Cave, Until the end of the world


    So we're sitting talking last week, and we both have the same idea at the same time: buy 2 more bikes and every few months fly out and ride them a week or 2 at a time, and store them along the way, flying back from a different city than we started in. We'd start in TN, and break the TAT into 3 vacation-segments, then maybe take a couple weeks and do a PNW loop, (then AK?), then do the CDT, then Copper canyon, and then??? That's already 3+ years' worth of vacations right there.

    We currently ride 650cc (695):browclass DS bikes since they have to be interstate capable to launch us into orbit out of NYC's traffitational pull, but these trip bikes could be smaller -- backroads and dirt only, 250-450cc.

    I've spent the last week researching feasability and this is what I've found out:

    Bikes: I'm contemplating the merits of us both riding the same bike, say DRZ400s, lowering hers. More efficient for spare parts and maintenance. Pricing used bikes in this class is totally affordable. Insurance and NY registration wouldn't be bad either. They likely would never have their NYS inspection :rolleyes; shouldn't be an issue. Probably look for used bikes.

    Riding gear: We'd fly with our regular gear in checked luggage. No problem, we've done it when we flew to TN to the trials training center, I'm doing it again in a couple weeks to ride Baja.

    Camping gear: We'll have to go from lightweight to minimalist, not quite ultra-light... We'd have to duplicate sharp, pointy and explosive things like knives, hatchets, stoves and fuel that can't be taken on a plane, but everything else we'd pack back and forth... we'll still be doing weekend camping/riding trips out of NYC.

    Airplane luggage: We'll have to pack our riding and camping gear in something for the plane, and then carry that luggage with us on the bikes. I found this travel tote from EMS and bought two of them!:D (Gotta start somewhere turning dreams into reality) It's designed to throw a huge backpack into it to go onto a plane, and then it packs down small into it's own pouch. Perfect.

    Bike luggage: I have Andy Strapz expedition panniers for the Terra Mostro that will be able to serve double duty, probably pick up a set of dirt bags for LDF since the Caribou cases on her F650 are more space / weight than we need. I have one Wolfman enduro tank bag, I'll pick up another, and then rear racks with couple of dry-bags should do it. We wouldn't be camping/cooking every night, but we definitely want to be able to.

    Storing the bikes in between rides: I've gotten info from several self-storage facilities. It seems that not all allow motorized vehicle storage, though some do. For 2 bikes, I think a 5' x 10' space would suffice, $35-50 / month. I'll probably have to be on the phone arranging things a week or two before each departure to make sure we're not scrambling to find a place to ditch the bikes as our flight home looms. Is it possible to hook up a battery tender in these things? :dunno Otherwise we may be starting each vacation with a bump. :doh Worst case scenario; bump start one bike, start the other with jumper cables, and ride around for an hour at high revs to recharge the batteries. :wink:

    Airport to/from self-storage transport: Taxi? I'd have to scope that out in each city beforehand. Make sure the storage facility isn't too far from the airport. First leg would be next fall: Knoxville - TAT - Albuquerque (?). I figure any city big enough to have an airport with commercial flights should have a taxi available.

    Airfares: Used to be if you didn't fly back from the same city as a RT ticket you were hit with a huge fare. Apparantly not so anymore. :deal I priced the NYC-Knoxville / Albuquerque-NYC route and it was $314/person. :thumb

    Maintenance / repairs: I'm the least worried about this. I'll have a fairly robust toolkit with me, but ultimately that's part of the adventure, isn't it? I'm sure I'll be tapping into the collective wisdom here regarding finding dealers / service along the way, and maybe a local address to receive ordered parts / gear, but that's what the tent-space list is for isn't it? Nothing we wouldn't do ourselves for inmates trying to pull off something like this. :beer

    All in all, even including the cost of the bikes, storage in between, etc, it's going to be less than other things normal people do; the ski condo, the beach time-share, the RV tour.

    What do y'all think, is this a realistic plan? Have I overlooked anything obvious? Any real-life experience / advice?
    #1
  2. Lone Rider

    Lone Rider Registered User

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    I've thought about doing this several times. It makes good sense if your trips are very time limited.
    Where to license and where to leave the bike(s) under various temporary import permits would need consideration. Some countrties are 60 days and others allow longer permits, Argentina being a whopping 8 months.

    At first I was thinking 650 class, but now I'm thinking Honda 250 Cargo type of bikes.
    #2
  3. DR. Rock

    DR. Rock Part of the problem

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    Well, it's good to know that someone with your experience isn't scoffing at the concept! :thumb

    The bureaucracy issues are huge once you start crossing borders and storing the bikes in foreign lands, but I figure we've got at least 2-3 years worth of north american exploring to do before we start to venture deep into central or south america. Hell, by then the dollar may be completely worthless and we'll have euros here too, so we could sell our N.A. bikes and buy in Europe, or somewhere else. :D

    I've been reading the "minimalist 250cc and less" threads, and I'm skeptical that we could pare down the loads enough to maintain creature comforts up to the level that would keep us coming back for more. Even at the 400cc size I'm concered about subframe integrity riding rough roads with minimal gear...

    It's going to be a struggle (for both of us) to give up a comfy camp chairs at the end of a long day, and a coffee press in the morning. :eek1

    Anyone have first-hand info storing bikes in a 5x10 self-storage locker? :dunno
    #3
  4. Lone Rider

    Lone Rider Registered User

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    Personally, I would forget the camping gear for shortish trips abroad. Cheap accommodations can be found, and that also puts you into the local life around you - real enjoyment and appreciation of the different places and people.

    You have plenty of time and other plans ahead of you before this type of leap.

    Buy maps. They will make you crazy with dreams and plans...:D
    #4
  5. scarysharkface

    scarysharkface Faking it/Making it

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    The idea of having smaller bikes for targeted travel, in lieu of bigger "do it all" bikes is good. I can't afford to do it (yet), or I already would have. Lots of places are doable on a 250 and impossible (unless you're a REALLY good rider) on a 650.

    John
    #5
  6. Hektoglider

    Hektoglider One with Life

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    I store a bike in Tucson Az with ZMW Adventures. I keep most of my stuff with the bike, tent, sleeping bag ,tools, rain gear etc.I get on the plane here in Canada in the morning with a small carry on bag and no luggage, in the morning ,and am down at my bike that same day.This saves me from having to load bikes into the truck and drive for several days each way.My bikes fuel system is set up for storage and the battery goes on the tender.Any issues with the bike can be dealt with at the shop as well.
    #6
  7. DR. Rock

    DR. Rock Part of the problem

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    Awesome! :thumb So you always fly into / ride out of Tucson? How much are you paying for storage / month? Ever thought of exploring beyond your Tucson range and turning it into city to city traveling gig like we're thinking of? Why or why not? How do you get from the airport to/from the bike? How have you resolved the registration / plates issue as a Canadian riding in a foreign land?

    Just now reading through yer Baja solo ride report I found by googling "ZMW Adventures". How many times/year do you fly down and ride?

    "...bikes fuel system is set up for storage..." --what does that entail? Run some stabil through the lines / carb, or something else?

    Sorry for all the ?'s but this will quickly turn into a pretty big logistic / prep / planning committment (as in should be committed / institutionalized) for me and this early fact-finding stage is crucial. Thanks!
    #7
  8. Hektoglider

    Hektoglider One with Life

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    The fuel system is either drained totally, or if I plan on returning in a short time maybe sta-bil will suffice.

    Tucson is so close to the Mex border, a perfect spot to keep a bike.I thought of maybe leaving one in Vegas instead because all the cheap flights go there, but this is working out ok. I started out with the jap clunker but I may switch over to keeping a 650 dualsport so I can ride more of Baja.Maybe in a few years the bike may end up over in Florida for a while.

    I renew my bike registration(it comes home in my pocket) and when I arrive down south I affix the validation tag to the plate and am legit.A phone call to my insurance broker and the bike is brought on to the policy and a proof of ins card is given to me.Bike insurance is cheap in the winter.

    I just set this up last January and did a great ride down to Siniloa last March.I have my plane tickets already for a 2 week run next month.

    The best way to do this is just ride down in the fall and fly home.Free up some space in your garage.The bike is stored for the winter, so what does it matter where it is?

    The cost for storage is not much.I worked out a good deal with Frank, and like I say, any pre trip or post trip matters can be dealt with at his shop.He has a tire machine and bike lifts etc.He also can provide Mexico trip advice especially Baja.He is not far from the airport.

    A storage place would work too but the bike shop is better.

    Its not really hard to do.Makes winter a greater season!
    #8
  9. DR. Rock

    DR. Rock Part of the problem

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    Hekto--
    great info, and a great ride report by the way. :thumb I'll be in Baja 11 days from now. I'm really looking forward to it. :wink:

    I agree that a bike shop would be ideal as a storage location / staging area, but one of our goals is to explore in a more linear rather than loop-like manner. That may change. Or we may be able to set something up at each break-point.

    Clearing space out of our garage isn't an issue since we have no garage, no trailer, no cars, etc. Seeing as how we will need to buy two more bikes for this trip anyway, it makes more sense for us to just buy them nearby our take-off point which will be at the start of the TAT in TN.
    #9
  10. bostonsr

    bostonsr Just weight

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    Well, the really uber kumbaya in me says why not leave the bikes and gear with a sympathetic advrider in whatever town, kinda like a "bikespace" with permission to ride the bikes in your absence...i have done this and it worked out great, a bike that is used frequently ages slower.

    out in the middle of nowhere, i'm sure some advrider has a barn they can put yer bikes in while you plan to return and carry on.

    :hide

    abe
    #10
  11. bostonsr

    bostonsr Just weight

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    :lol3 maybe i need to get an old FZR400 and keep it at palomar mtn bike storage

    abe
    #11
  12. DR. Rock

    DR. Rock Part of the problem

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    I'm inherently opposed to having the plan mandate our being dependent on others. Not that I won't accept help, but I want the default to be that we can do this independently. That said, I've arranged to buy an '04 DRZ from a fellow ADV'r who lives near Knoxville near the start of the TAT, who has ridden the TAT, the bike we're buying has done the TAT, and he has graciously offered to store the bike until we're ready to start, and to provide a staging base to help us get our gear together, bikes prepped, and on the trail. :bow (thanks, Rick!)

    This thing's got legs now! :D We're looking at possibly a May start for the first leg. Working on coordinating vacations. :deal

    The bikespace idea in principle sounds great, but gets derailed with insurance..., it would be tragic if there was an accident / bike damage / injury , etc. I'm pretty sure I'll be able to call in insurance for the bikes just for the time we'll be riding them. Obviously I have no issues lending bikes, or letting others ride them locally, and for a few days / weeks, but I'm not sure it would be a good idea in this case: an extended period of time at a vast distance... high potential for mis-communication, misunderstood expectations (maintenance, wear and tear, etc), hard feelings... not sure if it's worth the risk. :dunno

    Massive bonus points for coining the phrase "uber kumbaya", though. :thumb
    #12
  13. DR. Rock

    DR. Rock Part of the problem

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    We now each own a '04 DRZ400S! :D Thanks to Rick, and BobbyC. LDF's bike (blue) is already down near the TAT start, will need minimal prep (has a lowering link, and has already done the TAT once), mine (yellow) is up here, (totally trick), and after they're both insured and plated in the next few weeks, it will be my city bike until the Terra Mostro ships east, or May, whichever comes first. :thumb

    I've bought a set of dirt bagz pannier racks for each bike, and the Ranger-sized panniers for Francine's which will stay on the road. I will use the Andy Strapz expedition pannierz on mine, and bring them back home for use with the Ducati also.

    I got to field-test flying with all my gear (less the tent, stove and sleeping bag) packed in the EMS gear bag when I went down to Baja over the MLK weekend, and it's plenty of room, a bit cumbersome to carry:lift, but do-able. I think we'll be springing for the $2 luggage carts whenever we can. Both bikes will have rear racks, with a Wolfman expedition duffle strapped on (the small one), and a small Wolfman Exped tank bag. :thumb

    I've gone through our camping gear, and lightened up what I could. For numerous reasons, (restrictions on what can be checked in luggage for airlines, what we'll need in both locations, what we want to duplicate, etc.), the packing/gear list started to get really complicated, so I tapped into my inner geek, and busted out a master gear/packing spread-sheet. I showed LDF and after :poser, she thinks it is awesome :D.

    I can sort it by person, by item, by function/category, whether the item is shared or not, where it's to be packed on the bike, whether it's checked or carry-on, and consequently can generate any number of packing lists: A list of items from Francine's DRZ that stay with the bike out west; or if I'm going camping on my own, a list of shared items that she has with her gear that I'll need to take; or list everything that goes in each of our camelbaks, etc.

    We'll be traveling pretty minimalist and light. We won't be camping every night, but certainly will be capable. (Camp chairs are what I'm really agonizing over right now... We used them all the time on our Nova Scotia trip, and they were sooo nice to sit in after riding all day, instead of the ground, or a picnic bench, but another part of me can't justify the weight. I'm considering Kermits which will shave a pound each.)

    It looks like it's a "GO!" to start this thing May 3-17. I've also put in for the 1-3rd off as well, since I'll have to ride my bike down there (~900mi), and do some tire/oil changes and prep. She'll fly down and meet me, and then we're off. Hopefully Rick will join us for a few days! :beer

    Some remaining issues on our to do list:

    Sort out insurance: We're not going to be riding / parking these bikes in NYC ever once we start, and only riding them 4-8 weeks / year... how will our rates be determined? LDF is on this, I'll report back.

    Buy the TAT maps, etc.: Do they get updated frequently enough that I should only buy them for each segment as we do it, or should I just buy the whole set now?

    Airline tickets: If we start the 3rd, will we make it to Albuquerque in 2 weeks at an easy pace, giving ourselves a day or two slack for breakdowns and incidentals, or should we be less ambitious and plan on flying back from Tulsa?

    Storage at our destination: I'll need to locate a 5'X10' self-storage unit that takes m'cycles wherever we're flying back from, ideally which is relatively near the airport we're flying out of, and has an electrical outlet we can plug battery tenders into. Is this realistic? :dunno I know nothing of such things... can anyone edjumicate me?

    A good name for the whole trip... it's going to be an ongoing and hopefully epic ride report, and that damn title just isn't editable, so it's got to be done right from the start. :D

    The countdown begins. :deal
    #13
  14. skysailor

    skysailor Rat Rider Supporter

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    Dumb question....do you need full coverage insurance for Mexico? My bike's a bit of a "rat" and I only cover it for liability here.
    Great idea though!
    #14
  15. tomshell

    tomshell Former Lurker

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    Liability is all you need, but full coverage is not that much more. Do a google search for online mexican insurance and work up some quotes to see the difference....
    #15
  16. DR. Rock

    DR. Rock Part of the problem

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    Dunno about real Mexican insurance: just before crossing the border at Tecate, we paid a guy in a shack/booth $20 or so for 5 days of "coverage". He gave us some papers with tiny writing, and a rubber stamp on it. It was a requirement to carry it while riding in Mexico, but I had the distinct impression that it only possibly insured against getting hassled for NOT having it if we got pulled over. I had very little faith that any kind of actual claim would be processed or paid. :dunno

    We found out about our regular 'ole U.S insurance for the DRZ's though, with some heroic phone-work by LDF. Even though we will likely never be driving these bikes anywhere near NYC, we'll have to pay NYC rates since that's where we are titling / registering the bikes, and this is the only address we've got. LDF priced it using her folks address in PA, (which would not be accepted by NYS DMV for registration) and it was about $200 less, but even at the NYC rates, both bikes can be insured for <$50/month total. :thumb And, we can have the policy suspended while the bikes are stored between vacations. :wink:

    She learned a few things trying to get the insurance squared away, such as the difference between a DRZ400E and a DRZ400S, and never to refer to the kind of riding you plan on doing as "off-road". To an insurance co, apparently that means "no soup for you!" (How that came up in their conversation is beyond me :scratch) So while one may casually refer to "off-pavement" as "off-road", when you're trying to get insurance, they are vastly different things. :doh

    It's all good now, though, and we'll be fully legal soon.
    #16
  17. rob1313

    rob1313 Still learning

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    For your storage solutions you can usually rent a 5 x 10 for a reasonable cost at any self storage place. They don't need to know what went in it. Most will not have an outlet but if you swing by a hardware store you can buy one of those outlets that screws into the light socket. Then the light works off of a pull chain and you still have a plug in. Just make sure the storage facility you pick doesn't use florestcent lights and you should be set.
    Rob
    #17
  18. DR. Rock

    DR. Rock Part of the problem

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    I went to DMV yesterday... always an adventure.:rolleyes Both DRZ's are now insured, registered, and plated :thumb. Sequential plates too... his n' her's :feelgood.

    I'm trying to figure out how far we can make it in two weeks of easy riding on the trail, and then where is the nearest city where we can stash the bikes and fly home from. I'm thinking Albuquerque, but to have a clearer idea, I think I have to start familiarizing myself with the route, soooo, I ordered the maps/charts for TN to NM.

    I also called the self-storage place that was listed closest to the Albuquerque airport, and spoke with the manager... nice guy. I found out that they have 5X10 units available; I should call back a few weeks before we leave to reserve one; no problem leaving motorcycles; for a 3-month commitment it's half price ($25/month), then $50/month, plus a one-time $12 admin fee, so to store both bikes from mid-may to mid-september would be $142. Total. :D The 5X10 doesn't have an electrical outlet (the bigger units do). I didn't ask him what kind of light bulb socket they had. I think we'll be fine just disconnecting the batteries, and bump-starting / jump-starting if we have to when we return.

    I also ordered the Trans-Am trail and Moab "planning-preparing-riding" DVD's that are now advertised on the TAT home-page. And I've been (re)reading every TAT ride report I can get my eyeballs on. It's 24 degrees outside :vardy, I have no motorcycle in the city to ride even if I wanted to (Crotona midnight run is this weekend :cry) so those ride reports and the maps will have to do.

    10 weeks until departure :wink::ricky:kumbaya:thumb.

    (Still no name yet)
    #18
  19. Hektoglider

    Hektoglider One with Life

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    I have a good deal going on the storage with ZMW Adventures and a 5 x 10 might be ok for multiple bikes but having the access to work on the bike at a well equipped shop is more important.

    see http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=312784
    #19
  20. petefromberkeley

    petefromberkeley -

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    I know a retired couple that have three R-100 GSs. they keep one in Oregon, one in South America and one in Europe. They fly around with the same luggage and gear, but ride whatever bike they are closest too. They have been at it for YEARS. They've been everywhere.
    #20