Frolicking around Thailand with a group of Italian Supermodels

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by flyingdutchman177, Nov 17, 2020.

  1. flyingdutchman177

    flyingdutchman177 Adventurer

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    I chose the title for this RR from the inspiration of a friend of mine - Dennis Matson - better known here as AntiHero.
    Surely many of you remember him for his poetic writings and his photos that capture what mear words can not.
    And how many people would be passionate enough to ride a Ducati Panigale around the US and Europe - without luggage.... Only a backpack carrying the essentials. I think he did this as a sacrifice so as not to desecrate the beautiful lines of his motorcycle with luggage.
    I think one can learn a lot from his words in his epics RRs. But for me, there is one message that came from him that stands out among them all.
    He came to hear one of my presentations at a BMW dealer in Southern California after my 5 year RTW Edventure. He had his Ducati parked next to my BMW. The bikes might have been made in neighboring countries but they looked like they were manufactured on different planets.
    I don't know if a 2011 BMW R1200GS Adventure can be called a beautiful bike but it served me very well, traveling around the world in those 5 years on the road. The Ducati Panigale, on the other hand, it like an Italian sculpture.
    I asked Dennis why (or was it "how') he could ride such a bike all over the world. And his response was something like this......'you can ride what ever bike you want but if you do it on the one you love, you will never regret that choice".
    Sure a Ducati might not have been as bulletproof as my BMW and certainly not as comfortable. But did I ever truly love my BMW? Actually.......not really. Ok, with that response, I probably lost half my viewers here, but to be honest, I chose that bike because it seemed like the logically choice at the time. Literally, I had just finished watching "The Long Way Around" and a big GS seemed to be favorite bike for RTW travelers. Because I hadn't done it before, I let others decide for me, what the best bike was for me.
    I have always been a big fan of Ducatis. I bought my first in 1996 - a brand new 916. I have also owned a 851 Superbike and an E900 Adventure bike. So I am no stranger to the brand.

    Earlier this year, I headed out to SE Asia for a little trip that was suppose to have lasted only 30 days. I visited Korea, Singapore, Indonesia, East Timor, Vietnam, Myanmar, Laos and of course Thailand. But this Covid - 19 thing has sort of rearranged most people's schedules and that trip got extended to 8 month - stuck mostly in Thailand during the pandemic (and I use the word "stuck" in a positive way as Thailand had pretty much no Covid-19 the entire time I was there).

    Thailand from top to bottom is about the same distance as it is from Seattle to San Diego. So it is bigger than most people realise. But with borders sealed shut, and being there for a total of more than 7 months, I was looking for things to do. I absolutely love riding motorcycles in Thailand, especially in the North. The roads are just awesome in every way. Both pavement and dirt, there is something for everyone.

    One day, I stopped by the local Ducati dealer in Chiang Mai, Thailand just to drool over the sexy motorcycles that had in their showroom. But I come to find out that the dealer had closed. They weren't selling new bikes but instead converted their inventory in to a tour company, offering tours around Thailand on beautiful Ducati motorcycles. They call themselves - D.A.R.T. which stands for something like Dream Adventure Rides of Thailand.

    I am not one to take a motorcycle tour, especially in Thailand. I know the country and its roads well enough to have my own tour company there. So I inquired about renting one of their bikes but I found out the bikes were not for rent. They could only be taken out if I booked a tour with them.
    Anyone that knows me knows that I have guided tours in Baja for the past 18 years. And anyone that has done a tour with me knows that it will never be boring and I let each individual rider go his or her own speed and I cater to their own personal interest and wants. If you want more sand and whoops, then you will get more. If you want to ride all day and in to the night, then ......Vamanos! But it seems every other kind of tour I have done, they limit your speed and have a set agenda that is fixed and really caters to no one. And I hate to be told what I can and can't do. Kevin, the American owner of D.A.R.T. assured me that I would have fun if I booked a tour with him. So almost like a dare, i did just that......paid for a tour (not a freebie for me).
    Maybe I was bored or maybe looking at those Italian beauties in their showroom was too much for me to resist. Surprisingly their cost is less than a Baja tour on Honda dirt bikes. And I would be on a genuine Italian Stallion for 4 days on some of the best roads in the world.
    The only question was which bike to pick. They had a choice of:

    MultiStrada 950s
    Scambler Desert Sled 800s
    And HyperMotard 939 and 821

    20200608_024310.jpg

    I have been riding Thailand on my Honda CRF250L for the past 7 years. It has been a great bike for me but with only about 21 horsepower, I have always wished I had a bike with more power in Thailand. The top speed of this bike is only about 80 mph with a tailwind. So the opportunity to ride something with some serious balls was very exciting for me. It might not come to anyone's surprised which bike I picked. I found out it was not a common choice for their tours but like my buddy Dennis told me some years ago.......If you pick the bike that you love, you will never be sorry with your choice.


    IMG-20200607-WA0009.jpg


    If you want to see what 8 years on 2 wheels looks like - start reading here.............

    https://advrider.com/f/threads/around-the-world-in-800-days.801516/

    https://advrider.com/f/threads/around-the-world-ed-venn-ture-the-next-800-days.1000417/

    https://advrider.com/f/threads/around-se-asia-in-80-days-my-next-edventure.1278295/

    https://advrider.com/f/threads/arou...howing-the-world-is-a-friendly-place.1317807/

    https://advrider.com/f/threads/the-...ntures-on-the-new-honda-african-twin.1350874/

    https://advrider.com/f/threads/magi...na-be-no-vacation-going-deep-in-asia.1367399/

    https://advrider.com/f/threads/impe...-this-a-rich-summer-on-a-tiny-budget.1385630/

    https://advrider.com/f/threads/all-...ound-hispaniola-haiti-dr-on-2-wheels.1416999/
    #1
  2. BillUA

    BillUA Las Vegas, NV

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    Right on Ed!
    #2
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  3. TheBoogeyman

    TheBoogeyman Cheap Millenial Dad

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    My favorite astronaut, who I still didn't catch the name, on a new one. Gotta get ready to lurk on another Edventure thread again.
    #3
  4. Motoman66

    Motoman66 Green Rider

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    In. Ed is back :rofl. Better to follow you here than FB
    #4
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  5. borderlinebob

    borderlinebob Been here awhile

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    Sure glad to see another Edventure.
    Gonna be a long winter so what a great way to ease into it with a Flying Dutchman report.
    Thanks for bringing it Ed
    #5
  6. Long Trail

    Long Trail ADV Ready

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    Great to see you back Ed, we never tire of your reports. Always entertaining.

    Cool reference to @AntiHero! He is the first person I followed on adv after tripping across his coast to coast RR while doing a random internet search about motorcycle travel. That was years ago and I’ve been an inmate ever since. The dude is full of poetic awesomeness that greatly inspired the way I look at things, even to this day. Would someday like to meet that guy.
    #6
  7. NSFW

    NSFW basecamp4adv Super Supporter

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    as always, in for the ride. great to see Ed again
    #7
  8. jwwr

    jwwr Adventurer Supporter

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    Great to see you back! Looking forward to the Edventure!
    #8
  9. 531blackbanshee

    531blackbanshee Adventurer

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    skiatook ok.
    followed on ig.
    but hearing the story here will be awesome!

    leon
    #9
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  10. dano619

    dano619 Long timer Supporter

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    ALL IN!!
    #10
  11. flyingdutchman177

    flyingdutchman177 Adventurer

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    We had 6 riders, including me, on the 4 day ride around Northern Thailand.
    I was on the Ducati Hypermotard 939. The bike was almost new with less than 3000 km on the clock
    The other bikes were also like new as well.
    We had 3 Ducati Scambler Desert Sleds
    A Ducati MultiStrada 950
    And even one other bike that joined along that was not a Ducati.

    IMG-20200604-WA0000.jpg

    Traveling light, with just a change of street clothes and a toothbrush, I had one of the other riders carry my small bag (the size of a volleyball) so I didn't alter the lines of my beautiful Hypermotard with luggage bungied to the rear seat.

    20200606_211755.jpg

    We set off promptly at 8:30 am as we had a full day's ride ahead of us. One of the things I was concerned about was not getting enough riding in. I was fearful of starting late, taking too many breaks and then finishing early......because I came to ride......ride fast......ride hard.......and ride long. And I was not disappoint in the least!
    Having guided motorcycle tours in the past, I always have said that your guides will be the ones that will make or break the trip. And I was happy to see that these guys like to ride too.
    I thought they would want to limit the number of kilometers that we would put on the bikes to protect and preserve them......this was not the case. We discussed routes since I know Northern Thailand pretty well and they came up with a route that would have us potentially coming in after dark if we dilly-dallied, including a way out of Chiang Mai that I had never been on before.....and it was spectacular!!!!

    IMG-20200606-WA0013.jpg

    Our ride was at the beginning of the rainy season so there were some nice little water crossing and lush, green forests.
    I had been on this next road before a few times and it was also in good condition. But a big storm blew thru about a week before our ride and added a bit of fun to the road that even our guides said they had never seen it like this before......mud up to our axles. This was about 2 hours outside of Chiang Mai and the start of our trip and I already knew this ride was going to be epic!!!

    20200604_203019.jpg
    #11
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  12. flyingdutchman177

    flyingdutchman177 Adventurer

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    Here's some videos of that one corner with the mud. The Hypermotard blasted right thru. Some of the other riders had a bit more trouble.



    The guy riding the MultiStrada was ridiculing my choice of bike for the tour. He said it would be uncomfortable and too small looking to be a real bike. He called it the Hyper-retard. But I soon had the last laugh as I know the Hypermotard has a low center of gravity. The MultiStrada is actually only about 50 pounds heavier but it feels about 3 times that.
    People say the MultiStrada is a "real" Adventure bike because it looks like one. But looks alone don't make an adventure bike. It is the rider that puts the adventure in to his or her own bike. And for me, the Hypermotard was my sort of Edventure bike.



    In actuality, the Scrambler Desert Sled was probably the best overall bike here. At first, I discounted it because of its old-school looks and motor that had been on the Ducati shelf for 30 years. But, it feels like a modern motorcycle and it was a surprise how well it performed. More on the different bikes later.

    #12
  13. flyingdutchman177

    flyingdutchman177 Adventurer

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    Dennis aka AntiHero and I with our bikes 3 years ago.

    Interesting guy to talk with
    I hope he is doing ok





    IMG_1601.JPG
    #13
  14. Mofrid

    Mofrid Been here awhile Supporter

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    Thanks Ed!!!
    Loving this ...
    #14
  15. flyingdutchman177

    flyingdutchman177 Adventurer

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    You know you have a Big Bike when the gas station attendant has to use a step stool to fill your tank

    20200604_220806.jpg

    When I booked the trip, I was only thinking about riding Ducati motorcycles, but doing a tour like this, there is much more to consider. This was our first lunch stop at a nice resort out in the countryside. I would have never found this place on my own and the food was excellent. The other thing was they had called ahead so the food was already prepared and waiting for us. And that meant more time on the bikes later!!!! These guys were on their game!

    20200605_002149.jpg

    The bikes lined up and ready to go for more wheelie fun riding.

    20200604_222548.jpg

    This was the start of the rainy season. I was a bit concerned that the roads would be wet the entire trip and I wouldn't be able to put the power down and unleash all 113 horsepower on my Ducati Hypermotard 939. But there is a saying in Thailand that it never rains more than an hour and this saying heald true. It rained for about 15 minutes and we were back on dry roads again.

    20200605_014137.jpg

    This is one of the most famous motorcycle roads in Northern Thailand. It is the 1148 heading in to the Nan Province. It is pure heaven. The roads and scenery are beautiful and he asphalt is grippy. And having grippy asphalt is not often the norm in Thailand. Some of the asphalt has this polished rock mixed in it and makes it very slippery, that and the fact at the beginning of the rainy season, the roads have accumulated 6 months of oil from the cars and trucks. So the Hypermotard's traction control and ABS are very welcome here.

    20200605_014651.jpg

    Probably can't see my smile under my helmet but it is huge

    20200605_014713.jpg

    At the end of the day, I couldn't have been more happy how things were going. The guides were cool and fun. And if you were cool, they let you do pretty much anything your wanted. The bike was running great and made me giggle like a little girl when riding it. And we certainly got enough riding in that day. Then, at dusk, we rolled in to this fancy resort and I thought......really??? How can they do all this for the price of the tour. The Baja tours I've run haven't been 5-stars.....not even 3. But in Thailand, money goes a long way here. I honestly have never stayed in such a nice place the whole time I have been coming to Thailand. I would have been happy camping or staying in abandoned resort but a nice bed and shower will always be welcome in my books.

    20200605_035932.jpg

    While Covid-19 was raging around the world, Thailand had eliminated the virus within its borders. That meant it was pretty much business as usual. Restaurants and bars were open, as well as swimming pools - like this one at our hotel. Everyone felt safe and was acting normal like it was 2019. And there was plenty of toilet paper to go around, but no one uses TP here. They use bum-guns. And honestly, when you get used to it, you will never go back to TP again.



    20200605_044756.jpg
    #15
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  16. Mofrid

    Mofrid Been here awhile Supporter

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    Man, I love guns and I want a bum gun!!
    #16
  17. eakins

    eakins Butler Maps

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    #17
  18. Smidty

    Smidty Been here awhile

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    :lurk
    #18
  19. flyingdutchman177

    flyingdutchman177 Adventurer

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    I really, really, really liked riding the Hypermotard 939. It is my kind of bike. And for me, it makes a better Adventure bike.
    The MultiStrada has the same motor but feels much heavier and less nimble. It is more comfortable and can hold more stuff. But to be fair, I rode the Hypermotard all day no problem.
    The best way to describe the difference between the two bikes is the Hypermotard begs for you to do bad (fun) things like wheelies, burn-outs and trail-braking slides. What it is not is a supermoto bike because it is too heavy. And it is not a big dirt bike because the steering geometry is too sharp. It feels more like a sportbike mixed with riding position of an enduro bike. And for me that is a recipe for fun.
    You can add luggage to this bike and take it around the world. And maybe one day, I can prove it can be done.
    One other issue with this particular bike is the Hypermotards built for Thailand have less suspension travel and lower seat height for shorter Asian people. The SP version has nearly 7 inches of travel front and rear and this bike has maybe 5 or less. And that made the ride a bit firm and less compliant than the "rest of the world" Hypermotards.

    20200605_045210.jpg

    On our ride, we had a KTM 990 Supermoto bike join in on the fun. I wanted to ride this bike as well and it was a direct competitor to the Hypermotard and I wanted to see and compare how the Austrians engineered it .

    20200605_184545.jpg

    Ok, I loved the Hypermotard. It was the right choice for me. But if I were to recommend a bike to do this tour on for the average rider, it would be the Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled. And that came as a shock to me as well because the bike doesn't not look capable. Pepper, our Thai tour leader and business partner, led the way on one of these bikes. I think I am a pretty fast rider but when Pepper wanted to let it rip, I couldn't keep up with him. And his bike had TKC 80 knobby tires!!!!!
    So my big fear of being held up by slower riders never materialized. Any time I wanted to ride fast, Pepper and David (on the KTM) would just ride faster. And the one time I was feeling exceptionally spicy, they let me pass them and lead the way.

    20200605_195049.jpg

    On our ride, we had a professional photographer following us around like the paparazzi. And it won't take a genius to figure out which are photos that I took with my cheap phone and which he took with his high-end camera.

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    This is obviously a shot for The Professional

    IMG-20200606-WA0011.jpg
    #19
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  20. flyingdutchman177

    flyingdutchman177 Adventurer

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    When you tell people that you've spent some time in Thailand, most assume you went for the Thai girls.
    Not me......
    This is why I love going to Thailand every year.
    Some of the best motorcycle roads in the world
    And riding the motorcycle equivalent to a Ferrari in Paradise.
    It's Priceless
    And the Price is tough to beat for all you get
    This what I have come to Thailand to ride.

    20200606_005420.jpg

    Is it a dirt bike, a sport bike or an adventure bike.
    I think it is all of the above.

    I never planned to spend 8 months in SE Asia. I didn't even bring any riding gear.
    But I assembled this gear quickly
    The helmet and Dainese jacket are borrowed.
    The jeans are just standard denim
    And I got the CAT boots from a second shop for $7.

    This shot was taken at a small Laos border crossing in the far north of Thailand.
    All the borders were sealed shut due to Covid-19

    20200605_204923.jpg

    Ducatis come in all sizes
    Small
    Medium
    and Large
    20200606_031213.jpg
    #20
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