The Planning of a Monster

Discussion in 'Trip Planning' started by SuperSonicRocketship, Aug 16, 2015.

  1. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

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    Hi Folks,

    I'm pretty much a brand new poster on ADV, but have been lurking in the shadows for a while reading over the threads and picking up some great advice and tips. However, I feel it is time for me to give something back.

    I hope this is the correct board to post such a thing.

    I thought I would make a thread/diary topic to show people exactly what really goes into the planning an enormous Round the World trip. Everything from visa papers, passports, funding the trip, insurance, security, shipping and even how to packing your panniers for years on the road.

    So what's the plan? Well, on May 9th 2016 (267 days away from when writing this post) Me and my girlfriend plan to give up our job, our cars, the house and life as we know it to disappear for a very long time on 2 motorcycles....

    ...again.

    You see I already did it once. In 2011, at the age of 22, I walked away from it all. I left a comfortable desk job, with a fairly decent salary (working for the Scottish Tourist Board at the time). I said my goodbyes to all my friends and family to go on an ADVENTURE. It was in fact the greatest experience of my little life.

    I went on a 24,000 mile, 8 month tour of 29 countries. Truly the experience of a lifetime.

    But my major downfall for that first trip was my lack of planning. A serious underestimation of what I needed to have in place for such an adventure. Want an example of just how unprepared I was for the trip? Well, I purchased my first ever motorcycle on April 28th 2011, 8 days later I actually passed my motorcycle test and was able to ride it for the first time. 16 days after that first ride I bought some plastic panniers off eBay, told my boss "I quit" , told my mum I was "going away for a wee while" and handed the keys back to my landlord.

    1 day after that I packed my bags, booked a ferry, and started the journey of a lifetime.

    The following 8 months were riddled with paperwork, overseas transaction fees, border stamps, spare parts, missed ferries, vignette fines, speeding fines, parking fines, and indeed... more paperwork.

    And now I am doing it all again. I'll 5 years older and hopefully 5 years wiser.

    I don't claim to know everything about trip planning, motorcycles, or in fact planning a trip on a motorcycle. But I know one thing for sure. I have made just about every single mistake possible on the fist trip. (Including forgetting my iPod and completing the trip in silence)

    Think of this thread as 'Trip Planning Live'. I'll be updating it as I go, between now and next May when I leave. Hopefully others can learn from my mistakes or perhaps seek inspiration from it.

    I dedided to keep a 'Planning Log' because there are a million guides out there detailing 'How to Travel the World', i'm sure Lonely Planet, STA, Discover, and all the other organisations have a much better understanding of these things than me. But those are written by seasoned travel authors, with editing teams and other self interests.

    I'm just a regular guy, with a regular bike, trying to Plan a Monster, with my own money.

    Hope you guys like it :)

    Cheers,
    Brucie

    Updates to follow;

    - Finances
    - The Route
    - Timescale
    - Security Considerations
    - Attaining Visas/Transit
    - The Bikes
    - Luggage
    - Shipping/Ferries/Flights
    - Gadgets/Must Have's
    - Clothing/Gear
    - Health/Medical Considerations
    - Physical Ability/Fitness for Travel



    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    SIGNIFICANT DATES:

    Aug 16th 2015 - Trip Planning Log Begins

    Aug 27th 2015 - Kyla Passes Full Bike Licence

    Sept 2nd 2015 - 250 Days 'til Departure

    Sept 5th 2015 - World Record Attempt Enquiry

    Sept 9th 2015 - Bikes Purchased

    Oct 11th 2015 - Initial Modifications Complete, Bikes Back on the Road

    Oct 22nd 2015 - 200 Days 'til Departure

    Nov 8th 2015 - Tent & Camping Gear Purchased

    Nov 30th 2015 - Panniers/Luggage Systems Purchased

    Dec 6th 2015 - New Suspension Parts Fitted, Both Bikes Complete

    Dec 11th 2015 - 150 Days 'til Departure

    Jan 1st 2016 - Festivities Complete! 2016 Commence

    Jan 17th 2016 - Regulator/Rectifier and Charging System Upgrades Complete

    Jan 30th 2016 - 100 Days 'til Departure

    Feb 8th 2016 - First Savings Goal Reached

    Feb 12th 2016 - Bike 1 Build Complete

    Feb 13th 2016 - First Travel Vaccines Administered

    Feb 14th 2016 - Project Named : In Which We Ride

    Feb 18th 2016 - World Record Attempt Confirmed & www.inwhichweride.com Goes Live.

    Feb 21st 2016 - Electronics Complete. Bike Build Finished!

    Mar 20th 2016 - 50 Days 'til Departure

    Mar 23rd 2016 - Travel Insurance Purchased

    Mar 28th 2016 - Go Public with Trip to Business Partners

    Mar 29th 2016 - Vaccine Schedule Complete

    Mar 30th 2016 - Going Public: Notice to Quit Work

    Apr 10th 2016 - Russian Visas Acquired

    Apr 14th 2016 - 25 Days 'til Departure

    Apr 19th 2016 - Secondary Passport Application Successful

    April 29th 2016 - 10 Days 'til Departure

    April 29th 2016 - Carnet de Passage purchased

    April 30th 2016 - Quit our Jobs! Last day at Work

    May 1st 2016 - Empty House and Sell/Store Contents


    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    #1
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  2. Maggot12

    Maggot12 U'mmmm yeaah!!

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    Lack of plannng often makes for the best memories... good luck
    #2
  3. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

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    I couldn't agree more, hence why I done it the way I did. But there is a distinct difference between lack of planning and lack of preparation. Travelling around the globe without at least some very general framework of what you plan to do is an expensive business. And since I am no millionaire I hope to stretch every penny as far as I can. :)
    #3
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  4. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

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    FINANCES (265 Days til Departure)

    So if we are to live on this planet, then the sad fact is that we must accept that money is truly the deciding factor as to how big, how adventurous and many miles on the road is within the realms of possibility. So whenever I plan a trip (motorcycle or not) I tend to work backwards from a estimated final projection of how much cash I have right up the day of departure. This has worked for me in the past and helps you get an idea of how long you can spend on the road in different costing regions of the world. Most importantly it lets you multiply a realistic average daily expenditure by total number of days to let you know roughly how long you can be away for. My last trip I was able to last just under 200 days on the road for a total cost of just over £3,500 ($5,500). My daily budget was somewhere in the region of £20 ($30) per day, for cheaper areas you could easily exist on half of that, in others your daily budget was gone in a single filling of the tank and barely enough change for sandwich.

    My problem was that I didn't actually have a daily budget when I first left on the trip, I sort of used the first 4 weeks to see how lean I could travel, I kind of just figured it out as I went. So at least this time I have a rough idea of what figure to use. For this trip it will be using £30 ($48) dollars per day as an average figure. The developed world will demand more, the rest of planet I can live like a king on my handsome £30 pocket money.

    So now down to the nitty gritty.

    I decided to commit to this trip around about 3 months ago. I very sadly lost my only brother, Rory, on April 29th of this year at the tender age of 37 years old. It was that which sparked me into action. Life is too short, too precious and too cruel to not do this. After a fleeting discussion with my immensely supportive girlfriend, Kyla, username: 'Kyla' on ADV (bursting with creativity and imagination that day) we decided to hell with it, picked a date on the calendar and started planning. We chose early May as a departure date because it gave 1 year of preparation as well as letting me have 1 year to come to terms with the loss of my Brother, I wanted to leave after the date of his first remembrance. May 9th seemed like a nice day at an agreeable time of year for both of us.

    So it was decided. We leave next May. 2 people, 2 bikes, 1 trip.

    FACTS & FIGURES (in £ as I am Scottish, with a rough conversion to $US for those across the pond)

    We currently have no bikes, Kyla has no licence (or at least no full bike licence), no equipment, nor any real clue.

    • At the start of May I had around £1,000 ($1,500) available in my personal account for the trip.
    • From May-Present I have been able to majorly tighten my belt, sell off a few items, and have put about £17,000 ($26,600) away into the trip fund.
    • Earlier this month I sold my Pickup Truck, plus many extra parts for £16,000, and of that, save £12,000 ($18,800)

    So that puts me at around £30,000 ($47,000) for the trip so far. Which at my budget puts me at 1,000 days on the road! Woo... but... with some major deductions still to go. I will of course keep putting money into the fund, but i'm not sure at what rate I can save. I am self employed and can't account for future earning always being at a steady rate. In a bad working week I can be lucky if I profit £300 ($470), and that's without taking current living expenses into account. On a good week I can come home with over £1,200 ($1,800) profit. Here's hoping for a good upcoming year.

    Future financial considerations:
    • Bike still needs to be purchased (and decided)
    • Appropriate riding gear still needs to be purchased
    • Touring gear can be expensive, panniers, frames, crash bars, mounts, camping equipment etc.
    • Paperwork, applications, shipping costs, visas, insurance and the other boring bits will amount to a fair chunk.
    All of this will of course be documented as I go along :)

    Onwards and Upwards!

    Cheers,
    Brucie
    #4
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  5. Pecha72

    Pecha72 Long timer

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    so, where did you plan to go then.. yeah, ´enormous Round the World trip´, but anything more specific could be useful?

    (And just out of interest, where did your previous 24,000 mile, 8 month tour of 29 countries take place?)
    #5
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  6. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

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    My next post will detail the route. Im still at the stage where i have the big map on the wall and along with various travel guides and i am slowly piecing together the vague skeleton of the path I will take. Remember this is a diary of the planning of a trip, not the ride report just yet, so I want to document it all from the ground up. I know this tho; it will certainly include Europe, Asia, Australasia, The Americas and Africa. Quite possibly in that order.

    Previous trip started from my front door (Dundee, Scotland) and snaked it's way through Western Europe, Scandanavia, former USSR states (where most of my border headaches occured) cut across the Stans, back through the former Yugoslav countries and back north via central Europe. The 29 countries included many of Europe's Microstates, which is kind of cheating I guess ;)

    Hope you will like my updates tho. I know there's not too many great details just yet!
    #6
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  7. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

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    THE ROUTE - Part 1 (260 days til departure)

    Here is a very general outline as to what path the route we will follow. I know, it's all very well me sitting here marking a skinny red line on MS Paint eh. Our plan is, and always has been, to tick off as many nations as possible on the tour.

    I feel that with my starting point being Scotland it really only makes sense to follow this fairly well established route around the planet. It's not hugely dissimilar to the route in Mundo Enduro. Here's what I am thinking:

    A zig-zag of Western Europe heading down to Cape St Vincent (via Holland, Belgium, Luxemburg, France, Andorra, Spain and Portugal), then head East and hook our way around the Med Coast to Sicily with a ferry stop to Malta (via Monaco, Italy, San Marino, Vatican and Malta) . U-Turn and head back up the Adriatic Coast North through Central Europe all the way to the Northern parts of Scandanavia (via Switzerland, Leichtenstein, Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland). A quick border crossing to visit St. Petersburg before heading back into the EU to the Baltic States, and once again, leisurely criss-crossing my way South, ticking off nations as I go through the 'Slavs and Slovs' and the Former Yogoslav and then to the First Major Checkpoint in Instanbul. Where we say goodbye to Europe. (via Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Moldova, Serbia, Kosovo, Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia, Greece, Bulgaria and Turkey)

    From here forwards, everything is stepped up a bit. You leave the security and predictability of Europe and step into the first unknown. The fuel, food, water and tarmac that you took oh so for granted in Europe are replaced by that unmistakable sense of Adventure.

    It is for this section of the trip that I am most excited. The day I cross the Bosphorus.

    If I were to estimate a timeframe and cost for the First Section of the trip from Dundee, Scotland - Istanbul, Turkey, with 75% camping and 1-2 cheap hotel stays per week I would say somewhere in the region of 5-7 Months and around about £4,000 ($6,500) per head. This of course causes one problem. We will heading east into Asia at the start of Winter in the Northern Hemisphere.

    Exciting/Scary

    But... still so very long to go til any of this comes to fruition. Just now I am trying to break down the remaining months and assign various tasks and deadlines. I would hope by the end of September to have both bikes purchased and all of the neccesary modifications installed. After that is some of the small purchases. Both me and Kyla are going to treat ourselves to some new camping and riding gear while we are at it :)

    Roll on May. Work, Save, Plan, Repeat!

    Brucie.

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    #7
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  8. JGT

    JGT Been here awhile

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    That looks awesome! Obviously you are not taking the quickest route either, based on that map. Looks like you sort of bump up into Tennessee on your US leg -- send me a PM when you get near, we'll put you up and give you dinner!
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  9. catweasel67

    catweasel67 RD04

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    I hope you're doing Memphis, NO and Nashville whilst you're down there - most excellent places. Key West on the other hand, well, it's nice to say you went down there and I'm glad I did, but I'm equally glad I spent no more than one night there - compared to the 3 nights in NO. If you have time, check out the motorcycle Museum in Birmingham (Alabama).

    Bear in mind that the visa waiver system for the US only applies if you're flying in direct - if you're crossing into it by land, they'll just take one look at the waiver and shake their head. Not a huge issue as long as you're prepared but you will need to have evidence that you've got accommodation for at least the first night - a hotel booking is ideal. Being able to show them evidence of departure - for me it was the return flight out of Toronto - is also a nice to have. The more confident they are that you're not moving in, the less hassle crossing the border(s) will be.
    #9
  10. ScottB

    ScottB Spam Enthusiast

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    When you hit Vancouver-ish in Canada, throw out a message. We can host for a night or two and provide some meals.
    Cheers, and best of luck!
    Scott
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  11. Pecha72

    Pecha72 Long timer

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    A long leg inside China (which includes crossing TIbet) is gonna have you reach really, really deep into your pockets, as you´ll be assigned an official guide to assist you with the crossing, and follow you in China.

    A more common route towards India goes from Tadzikistan (or Kyrgyzstan? can´t remember which, haven´t ridden this myself) to Kashgar, in western China, and then to the Karakoram Highway, where you will cross into north Pakistan, and then head to India. Guide, and other requirements are basically the same, but your stay inside China would be a lot shorter, possibly only a few days. And it won´t include Tibet, a ´sensitive area´ (read: super expensive to arrange!) And if after Turkey you went through Azerbaidzan, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan etc., to get to Kashgar, then you might actually tick more countries along the way, instead of doing long distances in Kazakhstan, Russia (that you had already visited, based on your route plan) and China.
    #11
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  12. Biddles

    Biddles Suck it easy!

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    This definitely sounds like a monster of a trip. I sometimes wish I was in Europe. America is huge, but in the end it's all America. Out there you have tons of countries to go in and out of, thousands of land marks, food of all different types, and amazing roads/architecture to explore.
    #12
  13. WildAnCrazymtl

    WildAnCrazymtl Political Prisoner

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    Looks like you will eventually cross my neck of the woods, beer and food here.....
    #13
  14. r4_rick

    r4_rick n00b

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    inspiring stuff, any idea how long that would take ? sorry if you already said!
    #14
  15. r4_rick

    r4_rick n00b

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    also be very interested to see what you are thinking re bikes ! big adventure machines or lighter trial bike thing?
    #15
  16. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

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    Ah Thank you my friend. The plan is to see as much of the States as the border folks will allow me to stay! I will be keeping an up to date Ride Report too so if you see me nearby, let me know and I will of course swing by, that sounds like an opportunity too good to miss! The kindness of ADV knows no limits :).


    I plan to hit every Motorcycle museum I can find on the tour. I have been to an excellent few in Europe before, but of course they were all European bikes. I'll be looking thoroughly into Visa requirements for the nations soon, that is a great tip tho. Any pointers anyone may have will be well received.


    Vancouver is a certain stop in Canada. North America in general excites us hugely in fact. We have only ever been accross the Atlantic once, on a short 5 day Christmas Break to NYC, so we essentially have an entire continent to explore over there. I'll be keeping my trip up to date with a Ride Report so I will be in touch then! Can't say no to a hot meal on the road huh :)


    Funny you say that, I was only just looking this up the same day I put up the post. I was wondering why so few RTW trips, either car or motorcycle spend any time decent amount of time in China. My research took me to a few pieces on Horizons Unlimited explaining the issues in regards to taking the vehicle. This is an excellent suggestion an I will read up on that route. I would like to include China in some form, and I do actually have a contact there who could gather at least some info for me from inside. I'll be going into this all in more detail over the next 4 weeks or so after I sort the small issue of having no motorcycles. Expect many a message. Ha!


    Europe is truly an incredible part of the globe. I feel so very lucky to live in a nation that is only a few days ride from at least 20 languages and cultures, each of them as distinct from their neighbours as could be. Even on my own little island (and our emerald neighbour) we have 5 countries and about as many languages. I plan to spend a fair amount of time in Europe again on this tour, because there is just so much to take in. Every bend in the road reveals an ancient history or yet another astounding view in some parts. It's also just so easy and enjoyable to move around Europe since the Schengen agreement too for EU states.

    Kyla has only been to a few parts of Europe in a couple of tripsin my truck we done in the last few summers. So a good excuse to do the whole continent again if you ask me.

    Expect a message ;)


    The projection for the length of the trip is difficult to make. It really does depend on a few things, but ultimately in the end it is the ability to fund the trip. A rough estimate based off my daily spend and where we are at cash i'd like to say that if we travel lean enough we can spend 2+ years on the road. Perhaps more if I get a good season in at work this winter. I can bank anywhere between £10,000 ($16,000) to £30,000 ($48,000) in a good 6 month season. So fingers crossed.

    As far as bikes, well, that's the talk of the household right now. As far as bikes that are on the 'Maybe List' it really could be anything from a beastly 250kg tourer to a skinny enduro, or indeed anywhere in between. However that requires a lot of thought and consideration. We have no bikes yet for the trip so research and test rides will continue for now. But I really want to push on with it, the sooner I have the bikes the sooner I can get to working out a plan for equipment and gear etc. So you should expect an update over the next few weeks revealing what we go for in the end!
    #16
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  17. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

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    UPDATE :

    (256 days to departure)

    So Kyla (who made a new ADV account because the old one had such a crap username, which was in fact; 'Kyla', and is now known as 'TipToeRider', which is quite apt) passed her full motorcycle test yesterday. This was actually her second attempt, as 2 weeks ago she got a major (failure scenario) for a daft old lady who stormed out in front of her causing her to swerve and minimally cross the other lane... grrrr.

    A very big thank you to ScotRiders Motorcycle Training in Dundee for getting her through it all. The same couple who got me through my test 5 years ago before I embarked on my own journey.

    11921931_10153278546529682_671300929_n.jpg

    Oh well, 2nd time lucky. Passed this time with no faults at all. She is in fact a great wee rider :)

    This means now we can officially go bike shopping with some intent!
    #17
  18. ScottB

    ScottB Spam Enthusiast

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    Most excellent!

    What's on the list?
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  19. Pecha72

    Pecha72 Long timer

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    Daily costs vary wildly around the planet. "1st world countries", like most places in Europe, North America, as well as Australia, NZ, Japan, are among the most expensive, as far as fuel, food an accommodation go. Cheapest places I´ve ever been to, were India and Indonesia, and I remember thinking, that I could spend about 5-7 days there, for the same money, that I spend in A DAY in some parts of Europe! But also do remember, when costs are discussed, that it is not exact science, your personal choices & preferences also make a big difference.

    But bottom line still is: if you want to make the money last, spend less time in expensive places, and more time in cheaper ones. Shipping the vehicles across the oceans (plus flying yourself, usually) is also a major money pit on a trip like this, and here it very much pays off to do your homework well. The whole shipping thing is a jungle, and a major PITA, even when things go to plan.
    #19
  20. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

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    THE BIKES - Part 1

    (254 days to departure)

    If I were to sum up the current bike situation in a single sentence it would read as follows;

    'We have no bikes.'

    Well that is not entirely to true, Kyla actually owned a little 2007 Honda XR125 trail bike right up until today. It had a messy carb and a sticky clutch and caused us more hassle than anything, since we knew that Kyla was to pass her full bike test any day at that point, and we would need space in the already tight garage for the 2 bikes for the trip. So it went up for sale! Funnily enough it was napped up by Kylas (and my) former motorcycle instructor Alan from ScotRiders Motorcycle Training School. So that was pretty cool that the bike could go to someone that we knew and helped us both at some point in our riding careers.

    So the cash from that goes in the piggy bank for the real bikes .

    So with summer rapidly coming to a close and, if i'm honest, since it Scotland it closed about 4 weeks ago, I feel the rush is on to get the bikes quite soon so we can at least get a little practice in before the daylight hours get very short (around 6 hours daylight at it's shortest, the joys of living 57 deg North) and the roads get very wet and iced over.

    So lets cut right to the point, here's a shortlist of bikes we are looking at, we are probably not going to buy brand new. Most likely a low mileage around about the 5 year old mark or newer in the best condition budget will allow:

    Yamaha Tenere XT660Z
    Honda Transalp XL700V
    ('08 - '12 model)
    Triumph Tiger 800XC ('10 - '14 model)
    Suzuki DL650 V Strom XT (I know it's a brand new model, but the price is very reasonable)
    BMW G650GS Sertao (or possibly even a later reg 650 Dakar)
    BMW F800GS (non Adventure model, extra height and weight doesn't excite, specs read it as heavy enough standard)
    KTM 640 LC4 Adventure (late reg)
    KTM 990 Adventure (About as big as we would be willing to go, height, weight and budget wise)

    Quite a varied mix to choose from there I know. We have 650s up to a 1 litre beast. Singles, twins and even a triple to consider. Bikes that could cost anywhere from £3,000 to £10,000 ($4,800 to $16,000)... EACH! And that's before we have considered all the bits an pieces that we will need to turn them into suitable touring machines.

    We have been discussing our requirements and criteria recently and have come to the following conclusion;

    We think that purely down to common sense it would be clever to each have the same bike. As far as spares, tools, tires and parts on the road it seems rather obvious to have 1 set of problems to deal with rather than 2. The only problem that might create though is our individual riding abilities. You see, we are both a couple of short asses. Kyla is about 5' 5" and I am 5' 6" on a good day (funny enough we both sport 30" inseem). Kyla has had her big bike licence for 3 days, I had mines for around 5 years... When I had my KTM 450 EXC last summer Kyla saw the 39" seat height as a nightmare, where as I quite liked the ride height and felt good propped up nice and high over my surroundings. Compromise, it seems, is the name of the game. Adventure machines are heavy, tall and ready to go. Dual sport machines and light, still tall but require a bit of work for the trip we have planned. Very few bikes seems to fall into a idyllic middle category (personally I blame the sales success of the BMW R1200 series in the last decade as it has guided almost all the manufacturers to create too many copies of it, leaving very little other true adventure ready machines - in saying that I actually did own an '06 R1200GSA and loved it to bits). I know that middleweight adventure bikes do exist but we worry that 200kg+ loaded with bits could cause a problem for Kyla, or even me at that rate.

    Luckily we a plucky little set of shorties. I am a full time Strength Coach and PT by trade and competitive powerlifter and bodybuilding coach. Kyla herself works in a Michelin Tire plant and can lug around 20kg lumps of rubber for 12 hours at a time. She has also took part in a few powerlifting competitions too. So we are not short of strength or physical ability, but more would like to choose a bike with suitabel weight/height for comfort and ease of riding. Plus a 200kg bike tipping over at every junction because you're always on your toes just isn't fun.

    Budget wise I am not really sure. I would like to keep it somewhere in the region of £5,000-£7,000 ($8,000 - $11,200) each for a nice set of bikes, Scotland seems to have higher vehicle prices than England (around 10-15% in many cases, I believe it's a population density thing) so I may shop online for something from down south and have them shipped up. I done that before with my Nissan Navara pickup truck. I had it sent up from London and it saved me around £1,500 ($2,400) than buying locally.

    Roll on a whole week of test riding :rofl . We plan to have our decision made by the end of next week and hopefully the bikes in our possession within the next 2-3 weeks.

    Please please please feel free to chip in with any suggestions. Any and all help is appreciated.

    Brucie.
    #20