When I first thought a bout doing a big trip I was very keen on a big overlander type trip - Prudhoe Bay in Alaska, down to Tierra del Fuego, as far south as you can go in S.America was top of my list. For this, a big adventure bike like Ewan and Charlie's big BMWs would be called for, fully equiped and loaded with all the latest Touratech gear. Or more likely on my budget, a bike with off-road capabilities, and a couple of panniers!
I've long since abandoned that particular idea (although I'd still love to do it), and the sort of trip I'm planning here could be done on pretty much any sorth of road bike - although some are more suitable than others, I guess, so it would best be a bike with touring potential.
So given that I can use pretty much most kinds of bike, here are the options, as far as I can tell (if you can think of any others, please let me know):
- Ship my bike over('04 Suzuki DL1000 - more than capable for this job), and back again afterwards;
- Rent a bike when I get there;
- Buy a bike when I get there, and sell it at the end;
- Order a new Harley Davidson before I go, pick it from the factory in Milwaukee, ride it and then have HD ship it back.
All these options have pros and cons:
- Pros - I know just what I'm gonna have when I get there, the bike will be preped and ready to go; I'd like to do it on my bike; provides a talking point when people see the UK plates.
Cons - Cost; time without the bike before and after the trip, whilst it's in transit; hassle of crating it up before and after the trip.
- Pros: Easy to arrange - just turn up and ride.
Cons: Cost and availability of long term and one way rentals. Can't do anything to the bike to tailor it to suit me
- Pros: Could be a low cost option, but risky
Cons: Hassle - need to find a bike to buy, insurance, registering, license plates, selling it after the trip.
- Pros: Easy and zero transportation costs.
Cons: I don't want a Harley; must be a round trip from Milwaukee - one way not possible.
A few weeks ago I had lunch with a good friend and experienced rider in the US, Dave for some tips and advice. Following that I've pretty much ruled out options 3 and 4.
So, ship my bike, or rent out there? That decision comes back to the main question - How Long?
Doing the sums, it becomes clear that for a trip of more than 3 weeks, it's better to take your bike with you. Less than 3 weeks - then rent. About 3 weeks - six and two threes. Having said that, I worked that out when the exchange rate was closer to 2, might be different now.
Anyway back to that old thorny issue - How Long Am I Going For? This determines the bike I'll use, so needs to be sorted asap.