So you are thinking about whether you should go on an organized motorcycle tour.  But how do you decide whether an organized moto tour is for you?  There are many things to consider, and whether you take one or not is primarily a personal decision.

Both have their pros and cons, so you’ll have to decide how those pros and cons add up in your mind.  Only you can determine whether an organized tour is for you.

So let’s talk about the pros and cons to get you thinking about whether a tour is for you.

Pros

  • Ease
    • Let’s face it.  It’s easier just to show up and ride a route that someone else has planned for you, particularly if you encounter a problem along the way.
  • Time
    • For many people, available time is the most significant factor limiting their moto travel considerations.  It takes time to plan a route.  It also takes time to figure out the necessary logistics, equipment, and spares.  If you’ve only got a week or two off and you want to ride somewhere unfamiliar, tours can help you minimize the time to prepare and efficiently get you to your destination.
  • Pre-run and pre-chosen routes
    • Tours make it their business to know great roads and routes.  You can expect that the route they chose will take you to some of the best roads in the area.
  • Lodging that you can trust
    • Again, tours want to make you happy.  Depending on the tour you choose, you can have plush to wild camping accommodations.  But you will know upfront what the accommodations will be like and that it will be best for the kind of riding you are doing.
  • A potential choice of bikes
    • Many operators have several different models to choose from, and some even have multiple brands of bikes available.  If you want to ride something other than your day to day steed, a tour can give you that option.
Ruta 40 tour

Riding with new friends can make a tour even better. Photo credit: Gustavo Apraez

  • Equipment
    • Most tour companies provide some sort of means to carry your gear.  Whether it’s topbox, panniers, or a chase vehicle, chances are you’ll be able to travel lighter than if you had to bring everything with you.
  • Help/safety
    • Most tours will have a person(s) with mechanical skills, appropriate medical training, and the ability to get you to safety should the need arise.  You’ll be with a group whose job it is to keep you safe and comfortable.
  • The camaraderie and long term friendships
    • Depending on the group you are traveling with, you may find that you make some great friends on a moto tour.  And, during the tour, those new friends can make your journey even more enjoyable.
patagonia wind

Playing in the Patagonia wind. Photo credit: Mike Botan

  • Sightseeing
    • Your tour company wants you to come back, so it’s crucial that they show you the best in the area you are traveling through.  Whether it’s a twisty road or beautiful sights, a tour should keep you interested and excited during the entire tour.
  • “Rest day(s)”
    • Many tours provide “rest days” for their participants.  The days can be used for resting, but they may also be in place to allow you some time to yourself,  or with some of the new friends you’ve made on the tour.  You can likely take the bike to explore other places or walk into town to meet the locals.
Torres del Paine

Some fun while camping in Torres del Paine National Park. Photo credit: Mike Botan

  • Border crossings
    • If your tour will take you internationally, they will help you cross borders in the most efficient ways possible.  They’ve done this many times before, so they know the ins and outs of getting you across the borders efficiently and more quickly.

Cons

  • Less adventure?
    • If you are someone who thinks that all your riding must be an “adventure” (whatever the definition of adventure is), then a tour will likely have less “adventure” than if you are traveling solo.  So you have to ask yourself whether “adventure” as in difficulty or challenges is essential to you.  Many tours will go off without a hitch, and all you will do is enjoy every moment.  Other tours may encounter problems far greater than if you were traveling solo.  Things like riders getting hurt, the weather turning bad and the pre-planned route turning into hell, and everyone in the group could hate each other.  So while tours can have less “adventure,” there is a possibility that there will be more “adventure” than if you were traveling solo.
  • Alone time
    • If you are the kind of person that really enjoys your alone time, a tour may not be for you.  As with any group, rules have to be made for safety, and you may find that you are always in the company of people as you travel.  So if you like just to ride and get inside your head, a tour may not be for you.
  • Pre-run and pre-chosen routes
    • For some, it’s the excitement of traveling through the complete unknown that makes their journey fun.  So while pre-run and chosen routes can be a positive attribute, it can also be a negative one as well.
  • Using someone else’s equipment
    • You may be the kind of person that really loves their own equipment.  You’ve gotten your machine just how you want it.  You know its strengths and weaknesses.  So you’d prefer to ride your own machine and use your personal equipment.  Some companies will let you bring your own bikes, but others may not.  If this is important to you, ask the tour operator whether you can use your own machine.
Cold wet rainy

Hanging out with new tour friends during a very cold, windy, and rainy morning. Photo credit: Gustavo Apraez

  • Less flexibility
    • If you are on a tour, you’ll need to follow the pre-planned route.  This leaves little to no opportunity to break from what is planned.  So if you’d like to take that other road and go somewhere else during the tour, you will likely not be able to do so (other than “rest days” off).
  • Rules
    • Whether you like it or not, tours must have rules.  And you’ll have to follow them.  Think about whether you are the type of person that is OK with rules or hates them.  If you are one of the latter, a tour is not for you.
  • Group dynamics
    • People will be people.  Funny things happen when people get into groups.  Members of the group may have varying levels of riding skills, cultural differences, personality differences, and just plain stupidity.  If you feel you are not able or unwilling to adjust, a tour is likely not for you.
  • “Rest day(s)”
    • As mentioned previously, many tours provide “rest days” for their participants.  If you are the kind of person that wants only to ride as much as possible, then a tour with rest days may not be for you.
  • Too “touristy”
    • Tour operators want to give you the opportunity to see the sights while you are traveling.  Depending on the tour, that can mean that you go to areas where there may be large numbers of tourists.  If you don’t want this kind of experience and only want to see what other’s haven’t, then a tour may not be for you.

When all is said and done, a moto tour is what you make of it.  If challenge and difficulty are high on your must-have list, then a tour is likely not for you.  But if you want to see the best that an area has in a short timeframe, then a tour may be just what you want.

 

 

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