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Discussion in 'Americas' started by Drumbrakes, Jan 4, 2016.
Are you shipping or air-freighting the bikes?
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Be careful shipping the bikes, a couple of years ago a group shipped their bikes to either LA or San Francisco, on a tight timetabled trip to Alaska.
Unfortunately they ran into a difficult Customs agent who refused to allow the bikes into the US. He insisted that the paperwork was incorrect and it took them a week to get the bikes out of customs. I don't know if it required cash under the table to sweeten his mood.
Back in 1980 I shipped an R80 into the New Jersey port on a Roll on roll off boat, if I remember correctly I rode the bike off the boat, unpacked the crate of panniers and stuff and we were on our way that day. I reckon that things were easier back then.
Following with interest, eager to find out how you get on with the CCM
I have a request in with James Cargo at present, probably flying, but ship is still an option.
Also just sent in quote requests to MotoFreight and AutoShippers.
Any recommendations for others I should try?
It'll be time before you know it. You must be getting pretty stoked for it now.
It feels a little bit more real each time we buy/book something.
Just received 2 Desert Fox Fuel Bladders from Flying Brick Motorcycles in South Africa!
We now have 10 Litres of extra fuel capacity for the longer sections, if needed.
Careful not to carry too much. East of the Mississippi you will never be far from civilization where you can turn plastic into whatever you need. Extra stuff makes mud more work and you can have a lot of gumbo mud to deal with for more than half the trip.
Definitely planning on traveling light.
Fuel bladders are fairly essential to get a 3 gallon KLX 250 across the 200+ mile section of the more westerly parts of the trail, but not as heavy or bulky as metal or plastic jerry cans.
Other than spare water, a comprehensive tool kit, a few spare parts, and one set of "civvy" clothes, we're not taking a lot of kit. no camping or cooking equipment, no dress clothes, kilts, ball gowns, kitchen sinks.
But what's Gumbo Mud? I haven't planned on packing any of that...
With the low front fender on a CCM it can pack up and keep the wheel from turning.
Basically mud with a high clay content so it sticks to everything, is heavy and is super slick on the ground.
The CCM's lower crown/triple clamp is too high inside the cowl for a standard dirt bike style fender, but I think I can find a way to mount the existing fender in a high position between the fork legs, and then add a flap to the bottom to improve the coverage.
Zip ties and self amalgamating tape can achieve most things.
I had to take the front mudguard off in thick mud. It would just bind up and lock solid. Def worth raising the mudguard a tad.
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Fun! The TAT is a fantastic experience. The CCM should be perfect.
On shipping - I shipped my bike from NZ to US with MainFreight by boat, and they were very professional. Might be worth getting a quote from them, if they cover this route. I agree with Chas that you should allow for extra days to deal with it all. Its a ton of paperwork, and if anything is out of order it causes delays.
One tip is that new motorcycles are shipped to dealers in metal crates that they then discard. You may be able to snag one for very little cash e.g. for the return journey. I found one in Auckland from a motorcycle dealer that cost me a $50. It wasn't designed for my bike but we managed to make it work.
The bike was shipped with the handlebars dismantled and no fuel. So I rented a flatbed van to get the bike from the warehouse on arrival. One form had not been signed correctly by MainFreight - so when I went to pickup the bike at Port Elisabeth NJ the warehouse put me in "detention" (their term) - I was made to wait in the corner for over three hours as punishment. This meant I hit rush hour. It took a total of nine hours to rent a van, drive to the warehouse, pickup the bike, drive back home, and return the van... The warehouse folks told me my van wouldn't fit in the warehouse loading bays. They wanted to charge me a $50 "Ramp" fee just to drive the crate down the ramp instead of using one of the loading bays. Plus that meant going back into detention and waiting at the back of the queue again. I asked if I could simply uncrate the bike and wheel it down the ramp myself onto my van. Sure. For that there was a $150 "uncrating" fee, plus go back to detention. Eventually the foreman took pity on me. He had me back my van to a loading bay, and then he slid/lifted the bike crate on carefully from loading the bay - some pretty expert forklifting, and I didn't have to pay any fees! That was fairly typical of the whole experience, a lot of patience and being friendly to the right people. On my way home, I found a car body shop. The mechanic at the shop helped me uncrate the bike, toss the crate, reassemble the handlebars and tie down the bike. The owner of the shop came over and we chatted. He was a motorcycle fan. The cost for letting me use some of his tools, have a mechanic work with me, and tossing the crate? A big fat zero. I found myself thinking auto shop mechanics are more friendly than warehouse folks!
Equipment wise, it sounds like you have the keep-it-light message down, which is great. I didn't do the full TAT - we started in San Francisco, went to Oregon, a reverse TAT to just outside Denver, and then home on the motorways. On our trip, I started out with a lot of equipment. I was riding a KLR like this:
In the pack I had a bunch of luxury items - even an espresso maker:
My buddy Sam was riding with much less gear, and having a lot more fun. I got the message. I reduced my own pack and sent a bunch of stuff home, and carried less consumables. Here's the pack after 20 days:
Now I've switched to a lightweight TarpTent and a smaller tank bag, dropped the laptop, and my bike setup looks like this:
Your boots and helmet look excellent.
One thing I changed halfway through my TAT was my jacket. You are right - the heat in the US can be unbearable, and riding is a workout. Then again at the passes you may encounter freezing cold conditions. I started with a vented adventure-style jacket (a Rallye). It was simply too hot. I settled on a combination of a mesh jacket, a Gortex waterproof liner, an electric heated vest, and a couple of merino wool layers - then you can cover anything from wet freezing rain to hot blasting sunshine. We packed evaporative cooling vests, too. They were amazing on the motorway segments, but on the whole I didn't find them that much better than a wet t-shirt.
Though I've cut back on weight, personally I intend to keep carrying a lightweight shelter, sleeping bag, half-length mat, and stove. Yes its a few extra pounds. But when (not if) you get lost, have a breakdown, encounter a washout, or plan poorly, you won't make it to the next motel before nightfall. Add rain, cold and exhaustion and it gets unpleasant fast. It risks an early end to the trip. I've never regretted having my tent as an option. Plus some of the motels are pretty grungy, whereas I've found some incredible campsites.
Those fuel bladders are a good solution. Did you consider also carrying a water bladder? For most of the trip you will find regular gas stations and can refill your packs. In the desert sections its good to pack extra, as dehydration can be a problem. I had a 3L pack, a 1L bottle, and then carried an Ortlieb 4L water bag that I used on the dry sections. I poured a bunch of it over my head and t-shirt to keep cool!
I've had bad experiences with electronics on these kinds of trips. Dust, vibrations, temperature etc take their toll, and the consumer grade stuff craps out. Plus its a hassle to keep everything charged. Bluetooth connected instrumentation sounds great in theory, but what a headache and distraction from the riding!
Although I'm packing less electronics, I do think on my next adv trip I will pack a Battery Vault, something like this. It has 12v DC in, so you just leave it connected to the bike during the day. Then at night or lunch breaks use the USB out to recharge whatever needs charging. The fact that it can also do a jump-start is handy too - my KLR battery died on the TAT, it would have been very useful to have this guy. We needed to do things the old fashioned way - sit and wait a few hours for a team of riders to come by and give us a push:
Anyway, enjoy the planning and have a great adventure ride!
Do you have any LED lighting? That's helpful if you do need to ride in the dark. Curious what are you carrying for theft protection? We weren't near enough people to have to worry about that too much...
Moab Motorsports were helpful for us.
Might be worth pre-shipping a bunch of spares (air filter, brake pads, gaskets, etc) to someone in the US who can fedex them to you wherever you need them. Nothing worse than losing days waiting for parts.
Yeah, we spent way too much time on Basecamp, but it was really good prep for the trip. Are you using the Garmin topo maps? We found them helpful.
In Oregon, the forest trails can change quite a bit. We found a few roads closed, routes that were impassable because of a fallen tree etc. that required re-routing. These days I like to carry an iPad mini with Gaia maps pre-loaded.
Thanks for the helpful advice.
We're very much aiming to pack light. So far we haven't been considering taking camping kit, as motels are so easily available, and we have to venture into civilization to get fuel frequently anyway. I do have a 1kg tent in my collection which might be worth packing. It's a single skin ridge tent with just enough room for two people, or 1 person + bags. Very waterproof, but has major condensation every time I've used it except in a 50mph wind, which gave enough ventilation to keep it dry inside.
There's a big difference between camping kit for an emergency, and the equipment I'd want to take if we were camping most nights. In an emergency, you can put on all your clothes, eat some energy bars, and hold out till first light. If we're planning on camping regularly, I'd want sleeping bags, thermorests, cooking + eating equipment (though I'd go for Turkish ground coffee - no espresso machine needed!) good food, and some beers. We'll do a trial pack soon, with and without camping kit, and see if we have room.
I have put together a comprehensive tool kit - spanners, sockets, pliers, hex keys, snips, crimp tool, zip ties (of course) tyre levers and chain tool. which should see us through most breakdowns I can think of. Tommy had an electrical problem with his CCM on the TAT, so I'm taking appropriate spares and tools in case anything similar happens to mine.
I do worry my toolkit is too much, and too heavy, currently weighing in at about 4kg. without spare tubes or chain sections. I'll see how significant it is after a full pack, and see if there's any sizes I can leave behind. (I'm already swapping the CCM rear axle for a KTM one that's compatible, but has the same 27mm nut size as the KLX. The 30mm socket is no longer needed.
For the very hot weather, I think the jacket may need to come off. As my armour's not in the jacket, I won't feel too vulnerable. For the very cold, I guess we'll buy extra layers. I may now add my winter gloves to my pack.
I do have a compact jump-start pack similar to the one you've linked. - I've put in hard-wired connectors, so no need to carry the crock-clips, or get direct access to the battery each time.
We will be carrying water in camel-back style bladders, probably with an extra ortlieb water bladder for refills.
The Desert Fox Bladders can be used for water until the first time you use them for fuel. I'm not yet sure if the really hot sections are all before the long fuel range sections or not...
Electronics wise: I have a compact 4 socket USB travel charger (has a US plug option) that will re-charge multiple phones, sat-navs, tablets and cameras ( though the sat-navs and action camera will be connected to the bike battery, and should not need re-charged overnight). Again, if we are in Motels each night, power should be less of an issue than if we are camping.
Our Satnavs and the action camera are water/dust proof. One of our sat-navs will also run on standard AA cells if all else fails.
I have the an cheap and old (i.e. disposable) tablet, which will be inside a waterproof bag inside waterproof luggage, in among my clothes to help avoid vibration and impacts from falls. if it breaks, it breaks.
So far I've found the stock headlamp to be adequate for night riding on roads, though I know other CCM owners are less impressed. We're not planning to be on the trails at night (Of course, what you plan and what you end up doing are not always the same)
Yup, we're certainly considering having a US friend with boxes of supplies ready to get posted out if needed.
I'm collecting names of recommended motorcycle workshops - Moab Motorsports has now been added - Ta!
For theft prevention, I have basic motion alarms, disc locks and cable locks. not the world's best but easily carried. If we connect both bikes together, preferably around an immovable object, with the motion alarms, it should make it fairly hard to move them quickly without being noticed.
I've got the Garmin 1:100k Topo, but also I have Topo maps such as this one: http://www.gpsfiledepot.com/maps/view/137/
As I've been plotting out the routes, I've been checking both maps (they are frequently different, so I'm also using google Earth - the Basecamp option to display a point on Google Earth with 3 key presses is incredibly very useful), and I've found quite a few sections where road layouts have changed since Sam wrote the rolls and since the maps were last updated, so I've been able to put in an updated routes at these points, and highlight the rollcharts to warn me to follow the sat-nav first.
Iain, I rode almost all of my trip with my jacket packed away in my duffle. I was riding in August and it was HOT everywhere until Colorado passes, where I got rained on and used my jacket those days.
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Thanks Tommy. The heat will be a challenge, rain I can deal with.
In the motorcyclng version of Mastermind, rain would be my specialist subject.
(I'm not saying I'd get a good score, I'd be out in the first round, but riding in any type of rain has never caused me any worries)
If you're thinking emergency night cover as opposed to camping, perhaps a small tarp for rain cover, it can double as a clean area for repairs and tyre changes etc. And an emergency "space blanket" each. It'd be lighter even than a 1kg tent. As for tools, are you looking at trail side repair only or being prepared for something more? If you have to go "to town" for spares, then tools will also be available. Ref the axle, the 27mm nut fits the existing axle, unless you're concerned you have one of the bad batch and are worried about it snapping, why change the whole thing?
Interested in how you're finding the Nexx helmet, it's a possible for my next lid.
Consider Air Canada Cargo Transport.
It has been a well known inside secret that the most economical trans Atlantic moto transport between Europe and N America is thru Canada, mostly Montreal/Toronto. The Air Canada recent program between Montreal and London for example costs only $700 Cdn. for palleted air transport with a purchased ticket. Yes you can fly on the same plane and be on your way in 4 hrs after landing. It still costs a reasonable 1000 if you do not book a flight also. So with the exchange rate we in the US could get a bike to//from Europe for a little more than a passenger fare rate!!
This program was slated to end recently 2015. You can check to see what the parameters are now...if they may have extended this offer. Check on Horizons Unlimited for other resources. Yes it's not that close to the TAT start. But you were willing to spend more $$ and time on the container ship option. Using this you could save time and even take the
Trans Eastern connector down to the TAT!!