Mexico on the cruiser . Is it possible ?

Discussion in 'Americas' started by lukasteam, Mar 6, 2019.

  1. lukasteam

    lukasteam Life is beautiful !!! Supporter

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    Hi guy's ,
    This spring I would like to go visit Mexico on my bike trip . My problem is that only bike I have these days is big Honda VTX1800T cruiser . It's heavy to begin with and loaded becomes a real hippo to handle and sure hates gravel roads , best is to stay on nice smooth pavement .
    My question is how doable is my trip or should I drop this idea of Mexico on the cruiser all together ? Coming from Chicago , I think I would cross border at Laredo and would like to go as far South as Oaxaca , MX , but I think I'm biting more than i can chew for a 3 week trip . Most likely my turning point will be Morelia . From there 'd like to hit the West coast of Mexico and ride up North following the Sea of Cortez shoreline . Would like to avoid tollways as I understand they are convenient , but there's nothing to see . I would like to take paved local roads and "inhale" as much culture , see as much architecture , eat as much local food and interact with locals as much as possible , stopping at little towns and must see places .
    If you guy's think it's doable and have any route , things to see sugestions , please let me know , it would be greatly appreciated .
    [​IMG]
    #1
  2. CrazyBrad

    CrazyBrad Been here awhile

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    Beautiful Bike! Of course you can stay on paved roads....You can lose the Tent and Sleeping Bags. Hotel's are cheap in Mexico! And dont ride at night. You will have a blast!!!!!
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  3. szurszewski

    szurszewski Long timer

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    We spent a month in Mexico on a big BMW K1200LT sidecar rig - very much NOT an off road rig (not nearly so shiny as yours, but no ground clearance to speak of). We had a great time and didn’t ride anywhere your bike couldn’t go. We only went about 1600 miles south from the border (along the west coast) and then headed up across the middle toward Reynosa/McCallen, so not as far as you’re talking about.

    There are two sets of highways - the cota are the toll roads you mention, and most everywhere they parallel the older, smaller free highways or libre which is what you want. Take it easy, don’t ride at night as recommended, watch out for speed bumps (large and usually marked but not always, and yes they are right across the whole highway whichever type you’re on) and potholes (those are just two of many reasons to park it before it gets dark), use common sense and have a great time.

    Look on here for the “is mexico safe” thread and ask any general noob questions there!
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  4. lukasteam

    lukasteam Life is beautiful !!! Supporter

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    Ok so I'm staying away from cotas and looking for libres for my route .
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  5. flei

    flei cycletherapist

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    +1! No riding after dark. And watch out for topes (speed bumps); they may be in unsuspected places, unmarked, and are often bigger and rougher than those in the USA.
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  6. severely

    severely almost a noob

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    Double down on leaving the camping gear home, hotels are too cheap and you lose interaction with the Mexican people. The topes are going to be your biggest issue on the libre roads, last time I took my 12 Wing down I had 5 holes drug in the skid plate I installed beforehand. Maybe you could make one to avoid dragging your frame, etc. Good luck, have a great trip.
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  7. szurszewski

    szurszewski Long timer

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    Yep - we were in the midst of a much longer trip with lots of camping, but we ditched that part of the gear (and our center stand, and added a skid plate {which we only hit ONCE in Mexico, but still worth it}) and mailed it to a friend near where we’d be coming back out of Mexico. Didn’t miss it all - hotels are cheap and friendly and Airbnb was good to us as well (we had two dogs so that was an issue for hotels more often than in the states).

    Here’s a link to where the Mexico part of our trip started:

    https://advrider.com/f/threads/bake...ur-kid-and-dogs.1180951/page-11#post-31218759
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  8. kantuckid

    kantuckid Long timer

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    Cuotas have merit for some locations in Mexico and can be quite scenic but obviously a tamer road choice. You may be avoiding some cute villages but also get certain free services with the toll fee. Reality is they can be boring but the side of the road is really Mexico either way so might not be as curvy buy the scenery varies either road choice depending on where you are. If sitting in bumper to bumper traffic is you favorite thing to do on a MC, then rule out toll roads entirely.
    Topes have no "formula" for how tall or wide the profile so beware and maybe your engine will survive. IMO it's a serious concern! My BMW R1150R had plenty of near misses on the bottom of the engine case and lots taller then the OP's bike.
    I have ridden across @ McAllen/Reynosa & Piedras negras/Eagle Pass and prefer the latter.
    Buy insurance online and the rest is easy when you get there-> have your documents! Also have an ATM that works and get pesos as soon as you find a machine that spits some out.
    Might also want to ensure the gasoline is available for areas your gonna visit-I had to abort my trip in Jan due to no gasoline!
    Oaxaca is one of my favorite states /cities in Mexico.
    I strongly agree with above posts that topes might just be your main obstacle to a worry free trip? Roll of the dice IMO. Skidplates don't erase all concern under a low bike?
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  9. dravnx

    dravnx Been here awhile

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    You can also mitigate some of the dangers of topes with technique. When approaching a tope, go as far to the right as you can and cross at an angle. If it's a really tall one, you can use the opposing lane if you have to. Make sure the lane is clear, even if you have to wait a moment or two.
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  10. knight

    knight Long timer

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    Even If you are able to safely make it over the topes ,The tips on those dual pipes look like they would be susceptible to scraping in tight corners

    I know that the tips of the Long Shots on my VTX will scrape whenever I fail to hang off the bike during tight right hand turns

    The skid plate on the overloaded Honda NC750X I'm currently riding in Mexico ,scrapes the top of topes on average of about a dozen times a day

    But these are the type of topes that you really have to watch out for , especially when they are placed in corners and there is 40 yards of them to cross

    [​IMG]

    And when encountering stop signs, it's best if you never come to a complete stop ,becuase if you do and there is no cross traffic ,it will be only a matter time before you get rear ended
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  11. lukasteam

    lukasteam Life is beautiful !!! Supporter

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    Thank you for all the replies guys . I'm scared now of the "topes" like you have no idea . Going to fab up a thick aluminum skid plate to save the frame and the engine case .
    These nice exhaust pipes got scraped pretty good in Colorado mountain twisties , they have been replaced since with Roadhouse flex pipe two into one for the same reason plus better performance and sound
    #11
  12. lukasteam

    lukasteam Life is beautiful !!! Supporter

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    [QUOTE="kantuckid, post: 37137210, member: 75738
    Buy insurance online and the rest is easy when you get there-> have your documents! UOTE]
    What insurance company would you recommend . A link would be very appreciated !!!
    #12
  13. colomtnbiker

    colomtnbiker wimpy old guy

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    yes, topes, my wife and I rode Mexico/Central America twice on KLR's, the topes,riding through small towns, there may be 10. Anywhere, some are hidden by shadows and unmarked. In Oaxaca, I watched her launch off of a tope, she maintained but yes, a skid plate will drag and will save the bottom of your bike. Cuotas, sometimes you can't avoid them depending on your destination, at least now, they are half the price of autos. Pot holes are every where and come out of nowhere with no warning. No riding at night, not only because of bad guys, but animals can come out of nowhere. Lodging, as has been said, is pretty cheap if you keep to the basics. Most places will have hot water for showers but not all, most will have internet and most are behind some kind of wall, never leave anything on your bike at night. We carried full bike covers and used them a lot, out of sight is better, especially something shiny, not a KLR issue. Mexico has awesome roads to ride have fun, check on ADV on places you are going before hand to see if there is any thing you don't want to be involved in. Oaxaca is our favorite big city in MX. Spend many days as there is plenty to keep you busy there. Don't miss the mercados, there are 2 very big ones and what you get to see is like nothing in the USA. Walking at night there is safe, eating on the street corners is also safe, the zocalo at night has great music, good museums and blah, blah, and if you drink alcohol, Oaxaca is the center of the universe for mezcal, don't drink the cheap stuff, there is some amazing stuff there and outside the city.
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  14. Sjoerd Bakker

    Sjoerd Bakker Long timer

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    Like they all said .. ditch the camping gear , lighten the load and the bulk ,crank up the preload on the front and rear shock ( if that is possible ) and install that bash plate . The bike is certainly capable of doing the trip ,but more ground clearance will always be a benefit . There are Mexicans riding around on cruisers and they manage .
    Toll road or libre , there IS ALWAYS something to see . Toll roads avoid city centers and give you more open country to look at .You pay for that .The free roads get you familiar with all the towns you would have no clue of existing if you used only toll roads .

    An important tactic for crossing topes is to SLOW IT WAAY DOWN . Going slow in general helps avoid surprise tope encounters . When you run the front wheel over the tope keep your paws off the front brake and go SLOW . The front fork will compress but if you brake on the downside you make that worse and will guarantee that the bash plate bashes . Going slow allows the front to rebound before the rear starts the climb . If you run into a tope at speed ....BASH ..!!!.
    From the border to Oaxaca , the city ,can be done on 100% paved roads , and 99.9and 3/32% toll free .
    With the small -dome -tope fields also try the angle approach but keep a loose grip on the bars and let the bike seek its way by following a "groove " It is the same sensation as when crossing a bridge deck made of open steel grating .
    At some intersections and stoplights there will be a line of bigger domes to separate an outside lane where traffic is allowed to continue moving ahead while the other lane(s) are waiting out a traffic light for left turning vehicles . NEVER try to change lanes across such a row of domes , odds are you will crash down as your front and rear wheels get deflected in opposite directions . Don't accidentally ride into one of these long rows either when you are gawking at the GPS or something at street side .

    The gasoline availability events of January have all been resolved . Got back last week from a month long "cage " trip to Belize and never had any trouble anywhere, all fuel stations were open and pumping ..
    Kind of interesting now seeing all the different brands of gasoline pumps - selling the SAME stuff . :rofl Shell ,Arco,Mobil, Oxxogas , Super 7,Martin , BP, Texaco , La gas ,Gulf and a bunch more Some are totally new design builds while others are rebadged Pemex stations with a different paint scheme ,for now . ,
    #14
  15. szurszewski

    szurszewski Long timer

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    You really don’t need to be scared of them - you just need to know they can be about anywhere, and now you know that :)

    Take it slow, don’t rubberneck while you ride (especially going through towns) and you’ll be fine.

    Oh - often you’ll see them warned of by signs (500m ahead, 250m, 100m etc) BUT sometimes they also put up those warning signs when there are NOT actually jumps. Just to keep you on your toes I assume. :)
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  16. hgulledge

    hgulledge Adventurer-of-sorts Supporter

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    Ten years ago or so, we encountered a guy on a Sporty in Batopilas before the road was paved. That was 60 KM on all dirt with rocks the size of cantaloupes. It was tough for me on the GS and this guy was on his way to Chile. Two up!
    #16
  17. kantuckid

    kantuckid Long timer

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    There are only a couple of actual underwriters who backup the plans available while many agencies/companies sell those plans. Look online and compare-I have used several and found some that either had better websites or tweaked to offerings some. Time of last MC visit was 2012 (4 surgeries) so take a fresh look. Prices often force one to buy a 6 month policy for a multi week visit. Know that in Mexico the legal system is far different and your expectations from insurance should change along with that reality. Unless your loose with personal property it's mostly about doing the normal-daytime only riding, bike goes in at night and I've had good luck leaving my loose helmet/gear with a business owner,etc., if taking a hike, urban or rural.
    The highways in mexico are overall well engineered but it's the surprises lurking in the shadows that get you, such as a pothole bigger than your wheel or I once encountered a near miss on a bridge expansion piece of steel, that was stick up like 10-12"!. I have also seen far more careless construction nasties such as poor signage, poor lighting or barriers and no warnings for huge pavement height differences as asphalt was applied-Beware is the word. The good far outweighs the bad road wise in Mexico.
    Be prepared for an interesting decision to use the narrow tope slots some have available for bicycles and pizza bikes. Your MC may fit, there lies the looming question as you'll find the answer when you try one. Can be hard on low parts.
    Gasoline- I had reason to call DISH Network yesterday about some wireless headphones they'd sold me and no worky. I was pleased to learn the guy on the phone was in Mexico City as many of the Dish calls go to the Phillipines and I cannot understand them! That guy told me there were now no problems that he knew about for fuel, same as SB says above. Belize is an interesting place that I have visited twice but I will not go back. Sort of a love hate thing there as I've experienced and a pricey place to visit.
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  18. kantuckid

    kantuckid Long timer

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    The gas station brands is an interesting development given the new socialist president-AMLO in Mexico. Seems to be one of those entreprenurial socialists?:clap
    Yes, there are Mexicans who survive on cruisers, quite common actually. I suspect they "get to know" the topes in their local riding (commutes and recreational) and cuss the ones that are unfamiliar away from home a ways?:lol2
    #18
  19. lukasteam

    lukasteam Life is beautiful !!! Supporter

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    Thanks everybody for comforting me and easing my min a little about the "topes" . I'll keep my eyes peeled and I promise :-) to take it sloooow . Still gonna slam on beefy bash plate on the bike .
    Still wondering about insurance though , any links would be appreciated . Is that the same as getting insurance at the border crossing or if I purchase it online beforehand I dont have to get one at the border ???
    #19
  20. szurszewski

    szurszewski Long timer

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    I’ll look and see who we used. Their customer service as far as sales was great, but we didn’t actually “use” the insurance so I can’t speak to that. We did start out wanting two weeks and ended up staying longer - a couple of quick emails and they rolled our policy into a six month term only charging the difference between what we’d already paid and what that would have cost initially. (As mentioned above, once you get above a week or so it’s cheaper to buy a six month policy.)

    You should definitely buy it online ahead of time and have multiple copies at the border. Also have copies of your passport and registration. I was told to have the original title as well, but they did not ask for that - they DID want the title for the trailer we had; we had only the title application/receipt and registration as we’d recently titled it. They would not issue an import permit for the trailer (so we “snuck” it in and back out...). If you don’t already know about getting a TVIP you should google that.
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