Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Bikes

When I hatched this plan to ride from Omaha to Tierra Del Fuego last July, I was riding a Harley. Not exactly a machine built to take third world travel. Yeah- I know - they are great road bikes and all that, but I have been around Latin America and motorbikes for 40 years, and there are 10,000 Honda and Yamaha dealers for every one Harley dealer south of Brownsville. Plus Harleys are just too pretty. All that chrome and stuff gets banged up.
On my trips to Venezuela and Guatemala I have always used Yamaha two strokes and Hondas. The bad news is that US buyers can't get the real third world dirt bikes in the USA because Honda and Yamaha don't sell them in this market. BMW makes GS bikes that are a little heavy for backcountry riding, but at 380 lbs the F650GS comes as close to an enduro as one can hope. So after asking Yamaha dealers about the chance of getting a 660 in the USA (none) or finding a Honda with a seat height less than 34 inches (none) I found two identical BMW 650's. I had never even been on a BMW before, but the test ride was wonderful. I soon found out that one gets exactly what one pays for in a motorcycle. With fuel injection and heated hand grips you get to go real fast in real comfort, even when its cold. So Marty and I have been riding the 650's since last fall. That gave us a winter of experience and a chance to learn the finer mechanical points of the bikes. Plus, we have been able to figure out what tools we will really need; since we only plan to bring one set.
One more plus for BMW is that the bikes have been proven by adventure travelers world wide. I followed other blogs and stories and found that the BMW travelers were always able to get the bike fixed, no matter how remote the location or how badly mangled the bike was.

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