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Portable motorcycle side stand. OUR SECRET WEAPON FOR MOTORBIKE TRAVEL

Portable motorcycle side stand. OUR SECRET WEAPON FOR MOTORBIKE TRAVEL

Portable motorcycle side stand. OUR SECRET WEAPON FOR MOTORBIKE TRAVEL

If, like us, you regularly go on motorcycle trips, this entry should interest you! 

Probably at least once you had a flat tire in the middle of nowhere. And if not, sooner or later it’ll happen… You probably also cringe at the idea to lubricate the chain at the end of a long day in the saddle. If you do not have a central stand on your motorcycle, these topics sometimes grow to become real problems. We know what it’s like to have to pull the wheel off the bike when you have nothing to support it on, and there is absolutely nothing around you that can help. In such situations, one item helps us enormously. Maybe you will find it useful as well?

If you travel on a motorcycle that does not have a central stand, every puncture or chain lubrication comes as a new problem… We know from experience that if the motorcycle is loaded, the problem gets even bigger. 

portable motorcycle stanless steel side-stand MotoBirds

You might need to remove all or almost all the luggage from the motorcycle – to start with. In such situations, there is usually no suitable flat rock or tree stump nearby, that could be used as a support. There’s never enough time for everything, and we are tired when this happens. As the French saying goes, a misfortune never happens alone… So, what to do in such situations?

 

Initially, we purchased a portable side-stand from one of the leading online motorcycle stores. Unfortunately, it cracked on the first use in the field. Although the concept was something we liked very much, the product turned out to be rubbish :-/

 

It was then that we began to think about our own, improved solution that would make our lives easier in emergency situations. Our secret travel “silver bullet” is a portable stand – the MotoBirds portable side stand! Granted, it will not prevent punctures, but we guarantee that it will make their repair much easier.

 

MOTOBIRDS PORTABLE MOTORCYCLE SIDE STAND

A few years ago, we designed and built our first portable side-stand. Since then, it has been with us on every motorcycle trip. We’ve seen what works well and what needs improvement. After a few seasons, we came up with an improved design. It is adjustable enough to be suitable for every motorcycle on the market. It is easier to pack, much lighter than before (400g), with fewer parts, and is indestructible. We made it of medical grade stainless steel, so it never corrodes. It is hand-built by a medical manufacturer, using the latest laser cutting and welding tools. Look at the weld finish – our manufacturer really knows how to weld stainless steel!

DESIGN & USAGE

The design of the portable motorcycle side stand foot prevents it from sinking into soft ground. It won’t even sink in soft sand! You wouldn’t want the motorcycle you’re trying to fix land on your head…

The side-stand can be used to lift both the rear and front of the motorcycle.

If you have just punctured the front, just hook it under the front of the engine cover. In this case, just remember that the motorcycle must be in gear!

If you want to lift the rear wheel (puncture or chain lubrication), you place the leg under the rear swing-arm on the right side. In this case, put a strap on the handle of the front brake to lock it. Any strap you use to attach luggage works very well 🙂

In our new design, the pin that locks the side-stand at the right height is also made of stainless steel. At the same time, it is flexible enough not to “pinch” your fingers when you try to install or remove it. This was a recurrent problem with our first design and we always used gloves to install the pin…

portable motorcycle side-stand MotoBirds
stainless steel motorcycle portable side-stand by MotoBirds
stainless steel motorcycle side-stand by MotoBirds
portable motorcycle side-stand by MotoBirds

CHAIN LUBRICATION

Chain lubrication becomes child’s play thanks to the side stand. Se can now properly lubricate the chain in less than a minute. When traveling on a long-distance motorcycle trip, we’re often dead tired at the end of the day. The last thing most of us want to do, is spend too much time looking after technical topics related to servicing a motorcycle.

Thanks to the portable side stand, you will have no problem lifting the rear wheel of the motorcycle and quickly lubricating the chain. You can then be off to that cold beer waiting for you!

 

REPLACEMENT OR REPAIR OF TYRES

If, like us, you had the “pleasure” of patching tubes several times a day and removing the wheel from the motorcycle, a portable side should solve your problems! With this, you can easily keep your motorcycle in an upright position and quickly remove or re-install the wheel. Repairing a tire is still a pain, but at least its assembly and disassembly goes quickly!

 

WHERE TO BUY THE MOTOBIRDS PORTABLE MOTORCYCLE SIDE STAND

We know well that a portable motorcycle side stand is an item that every biker needs when traveling, that is, if the bike does not have a central stand 😉

You can order the portable side stand from us at MotoBirds – we have just started their production!

Send us a message on info@motobirds.com

💰 Price: 250 PLN + shipping

 

Safe riding!

TET Poland: A Motorbike Adventure in the Heart of Europe (also for softies)

TET Poland: A Motorbike Adventure in the Heart of Europe (also for softies)

TET Poland: A Motorbike Adventure in the Heart of Europe (also for softies)

The MotoBirds crew rode the entire length of the TET Poland. We were curious, had a couple of weeks in front of us and it sounded like a nice challenge. So off we went for our local motorcycle adventure! We set off full of enthusiasm and determination to camp more or less the whole route. With that in mind, we packed our stuff, geared up and away we went. We started from Warsaw and first drove East, along a route we designed ourselves. We connected with the TET track in Mielnik and started riding the TET counter-clockwise.

What Navigation Tools did we Use?

 

We built that first stretch of road using Gaia and Basecamp (loaded with OpenStreetMaps of Poland). Apart from one incident where a short track no longer existed, it was a great ride to join the Polish TET.

 

Along the TET Poland we used Garmin GPS and Gaia to navigate. Bear in mind that the standard Garmin GPS maps won’t be of much help, unless you have the topo maps. So better get OpenStreetMaps loaded on your GPS before leaving!

TET Poland on KTM 690

As a side note: there have been some recent problems in downloading OpenStreetMaps from one of most popular sites: http://garmin.openstreetmap.nl

If you need help to find your dream map, let us know!

 

 

What you can expect from this ride report

 

What we’re not going to do here is give you a kilometer-by-kilometer trip report. There are tons of blogs dealing with this on the Web, if this is what you are looking for.

We’ll rather give you an overview of what to expect and give you our opinion about such a trip. If you have more specific questions, feel free to reach out to us.

 

Can TET be ridden on big bikes?

 

There are a couple of very sandy stretches, but they are few and far between. Bear in mind that if it rains, the roads snaking between fields can be seriously slippery! Wet grass mixed with clay is slippery on any bike. At times, even on foot we were struggling not to fall…

Verdict – with suitable tires, big bikes would not have a problem on the TET Poland, provided you have some prior off-road experience. We rode it on BMW 1200 GS, KTM 690 Enduro & KTM 790.

TET Poland KTM 690 offroad
Polish TET offroad woods route

 

How long does it take?

 

This entirely depends on you. Some hard-core riding heroes have closed the circle in 7 days.

Realistically, we think about 2 weeks is a good duration for the entire loop. This gives enough time to enjoy the scenery, visit some places along the way, take some rest now and again – and not end each day with a seriously sore butt 😉

Our view is that such a trip is really ideal to discover a region or a country. Racing through the countryside in a cloud of dust won’t let you achieve this. It takes time on and out of the saddle to see and experience things. Poland is such a beautiful country that we are convinced it would be a shame to race through it.

One more thing… Poland is a large country: this ride is a good 3,000km 🙂

 

 

How much of it is unpaved?

 

We estimate that 60% of the Polish TET is unpaved and gravel roads. The remainder is mostly on smaller roads through the countryside. Compared to a number of countries in Western Europe where all roads are paved or unpaved sections are closed to motorized traffic, Poland is a dirt road paradise!

Polish TET route fields KTM 690 KTM 790

 

Is it possible to camp the entire route?

 

Absolutely yes! However, every few days we stayed at hotels or pensions, either to avoid storms or simply to relax in a real bed and take a warm shower. Yes, we might have felt slightly guilty behaving like soft French poodles (the first time only), but a real bed was well worth it, each and every time! Not smelling like wet goats was an added bonus 😉

Staying at pensions and hotels once in a while gave us the opportunity to get to see new towns and villages we would never have seen otherwise. So, it was well worth it.

Don’t forget to pack mosquito repellant, there can be lots of bugs in some places close to water!

 

Is it worth doing this trip?

 

TET Poland was prepared thanks to the effort and dedication of a few people. TET Poland is a great adventure, period. We’ve traveled to many countries before, but riding the TET Poland is by no means a lesser adventure. Granted you won’t be crossing deserts in Poland, but it is a great motorcycle ride by any measure.

Our view is that some parts of the TET provide a more interesting riding experience, especially off-road. But this is only our own biased opinion, based on our expectations.  For example, some parts of South are more densely populated, with more industry. If we had to do this again, we’d probably skip some of these areas.

This being said, If you are willing to invest a little of your time, it is perfectly possible to use the TET as a base – as we have done. Then the route can be customised to something that matches your expectations. Poland offers countless riding possibilities both on and off-road. In many places it is possible to adapt the track to your riding experience, or to the region you are looking at, without breaking the law.

We did not always religiously followed TET. At times, after big storms, it was too muddy to ride on field roads and we stuck to asphalt. Other times we chose some of our own detours to have more unpaved roads. We also did some significant detours to get to those perfect camping spots we wanted.

 

What we loved most

 

We camped on the shores of lakes almost the entire route. Swimming, eating by a campfire and the gorgeous night skies were unforgettable. It took a bit of planning each day to identify suitable camping places, but between Gaia and Google Earth, we never failed to find great locations each and every time. When we were tired, we were also able to find atmospheric guesthouses without any problems. Each had “that something” in them. Off-road, but not too difficult driving, beautiful views and still wild nature – you will definitely find it all on the Polish TET.

 

Polish lakes

 

 

How to get to Poland?

 

Those that don’t live in Poland could certainly come over on wheels. Another option is to give your bike to MotoBirds for a transport within Europe: We’ll pick it from your doorstep and deliver it at the starting point of your TET adventure.  It’s in many cases cheaper than coming on wheels.

 

Is it expensive?

 

As we mostly wild-camped, these nights were free. The biggest expense was fuel: for 2 bikes we burned through 280L of fuel. Away from larger cities accommodation is cheaper for those that want a hot shower and a bed.

 

Conclusion…

 

Riding the TET gives motorbike riders a unique opportunity to discover Poland. The diversity in landscapes and regions is especially striking. Some Europeans may think Poland is essentially a big, flat boring country. Anyone having had the chance to ride here will know this is far from reality!

TET Poland fields poppy seeds KTM 690

This motorcycle adventure offers riders also the opportunity to touch some of the history that has made Poland what it is today. It is a trip through beautiful landscapes of course, but also to some extent, a time travel experience. Ashes of previous empires are scattered in Poland, as silent witnesses of history. Soviet nuclear missile silos, 11th century castle ruins, nazi bunkers, Molotov line remains, former german settlements, century-old cobblestone roads, Tatar mosques, orthodox churches farming villages with lovely wooden houses untouched by time, pristine nature… it is all accessible in one beautiful motorcycling adventure.

 

Have done both, this ride is accessible to hard-core camping fanatics as well as softer “poodeling” riders preferring the comfort of pensions or hotels – even if only once in a while.

The best motorcycle routes of Chile, part 2 – North

The best motorcycle routes of Chile, part 2 – North

The best motorcycle routes of Chile, part 2 – North

MotoBirds is going to give you a selection of some of the most incredible motorcycle adventure roads in Chile. Some routes may be known by some riders, others are hidden jewels. We have already written about the green south and the famous Ruta 7 – Carretera Austral. Our second story covers the moonlike altiplano route of North Chile.

Going to the moon on a Motorcycle…

 

MotoBirds will guide you through some of the most exceptional tracks covering North Chile. This is a true adventure track that will take you from Santiago, all the way to Arica. This ride is for determined adventure riders willing to camp. Although it is possible, it is better not to undertake this journey as a solo rider. We rode this route several times, and it is without a doubt one of our all-time favourite!

Trasy motocyklowe w polnocnym Chile

 

What to choose?

 

A big trail bike, such a R1200GS is not the first choice. We did this route on a GS once, but believe us, it was way more fun on a KTM690! Everything is doable but it’s hard work through the sand and the more technical parts or the route.  

Your best bet is a ride like a modified KTM 690 Enduro R, 710 Long Range, DR650, etc.   

You must be able to fix a tire on your own, and know your bike well enough to resolve small problems along the way. We recommend soft luggage for this trip, your ankles will thank you if you get stuck under your bike in a fall. MotoBirds did a long-term soft luggage test if you’re wondering about options.

First we want to share some practical details before we get into the meat of things.

 

 

Key information to help plan your trip

 

Fuel:

You need a fuel autonomy of 650km to undertake this ride. If you are looking for a light, flexible solution to carry extra fuel, a Giant Loop Fuel bag is a great solution. Way lighter than a Rotopax, and certainly easier to pack than a solid container.

In Chile, most fuel stations are called Copec. Google maps or MapsMe will guide you to them.

 

Wyprawa motocyklowa do Chile

Water:

You should consider a backpack with a 2L water bladder, and a minimum spare water capacity of 4L. Ortlieb makes some good water bags, which are easy to pack and durable.

 

Food:

Food is available in every village. However, as you will be camping, you should have the equipment to prepare some food along the way. Think as well of some reserve food.

Tooling & small repairs:

As you’ll be pretty far from any place with a GSM signal during part of this trip, you must bring along some basic parts and tools. Clutch lever, brake lever, brake pads, spare engine oil, chain lube, fuses, etc.

A portable side stand is a good thing to bring along. If you have a puncture, you’ll thank us. You won’t have an excuse for not greasing your chain as well…  If you are looking for a field-tested portable side-stand, it soon will be available on the MotoBirds webshop.

 

In the meantime, if you are interested in such a solution – let us know! We can provide you with it.

centralna stopka motocyklowa

Parts & Service:

In most areas this route will take you through, it is very difficult to get parts or support. You must know your bike, and your bike must be in good condition for this expedition.  

We got stuck once for 10 days waiting for a slave cylinder in San Pedro de Atacama; one of the biggest towns of North Chile. Had it been in the boonies, it would have taken even longer…

 

Tires & tubes:

Anything like a Michelin Desert Race or Michelin Anakee Wild type tire. We’re not sponsored by Michelin, but they make tires we like.

Yes, we know they are heavy and take up a lot of space… you must bring along at least one front and one rear spare tube (unless you have tubeless). We recommend the Ultra Heavy-Duty tubes (4mm thick). Michelin and some others make them. You must also have patches and something that allows you to pump your tire enough to pop the bead in place.

 

Accommodation:

Tent, hotels and pensions. We’ll talk more about this… Your sleeping bag must keep you warm till -5C.

 

Money:

Change your money in Santiago or Valparaiso when you arrive in Chile. There are ATM’s in all bigger cities and fuel stations accept cards. In small villages, you will have to pay for whatever you buy in cash. If you take money for exchange, make sure your dollar bills are not torn or damaged. They must also be of newer design.

 

Prices:

Chile is not the cheapest destination.  However, on this trip you’ll be camping some of the way.  This brings the cost down.  Be prepared for European level prices in bigger cities.

 

Do phones work?

Around medium and larger cities and all along the coast, the mobile network is working. Away from these areas, there is not network. It is a good idea to consider investing in an InReach device. 

 

The route:

This itinerary is for advanced motorcycle riders. You must be comfortable riding off-road for several days. There are many long, deep sandy sections. Long technical passages are also on this route. You will for sure drop your bike more than once. If you would like to discuss training opportunities before going on this expedition just get in touch with us. If you need training before the trip – let us know. We work with several schools and we can organize such training for you.

This motorcycle adventure requires a good level of endurance, both on and off road. It does not look like this on the map, but Chile is a seriously big country! Some days will see you ride over 500 km. Scheduling rest days on a regular basis is a good idea. The temperatures, long hours on the bike, the altitude, all take a toll.

 

Navigation:

You must be familiar with the use of your GPS. Think Garmin Zumo XT or equivalent. You must load OpentreetMaps on your device. It is also advisable to have a backup solution on your smartphone. Gaia GPS is great, as is MapsMe.

The route we show here are screenshots from Google Maps and Basecamp with the Chile OpenStreetMaps.

 

Your Gear:

We recommend hard-shell motocross boots such as Tech 10 or equivalent. From experience, only motocross boots will truly help reduce the risk of fracture in case of fall.  Thermal layers should keep you comfortable between -5 and +30C.

Motocyklem przez Chile

 

Weather:

In the altiplano, the weather can change fast. The storms can be deadly. You must be prepared for sudden weather changes, including rain, snow or hail. It happened to us more than once. Being stuck in a storm is a scary experience.

At altitude, the sun is fierce. Remember to pack a hat, sun blocker, sun glasses and a hat. Long sleeves are also better.

Altitude:

A significant portion of this ride is at altitudes of 3,500m above sea level or higher. You must plan time to acclimatize. From experience we know we need more or less one day acclimatisation per 1,000m. You will still feel it, but for us it is manageable.

 

How can I get my bike to Chile?

MotoBirds has scheduled shipping from Europe to Chile. Assuming the borders open (we are hoping this will happen before end of the year 2021). You can also read the blog section of our website – it has a ton of information that deals with shipping and packing.

You can read about how we pack and how we care for your motorcycle during transport on our website. We also recorded LIVE of unpacking one of the containers, where we tell and show the whole process of packing motorcycles.

 

How long does it take?

Shipment of a bike from Europe to Chile takes around 6 weeks.

You need a minimum of three weeks to do the whole route we share with you in this article.

 

What are my options to get the bike back from Arica?

  1. Ride back to San Antonio.
  2. Hire a transporter to take your bike down, while you fly back – we can do that for you!
  3. Ship your bike back to Europe from Arica. MotoBirds offers this option for those interested.

 

Can I rent a bike locally?

Yes, but it’ll be more expensive than shipping your own bike. Secondly, you won’t find a bike suitable for this type of ride. Or the renters will not allow you to go on this type of expedition with their motorcycle.

 

More questions?

Reach out to the MotoBirds crew!

Wyprawa motocyklowa Polnocne Chile

 

 

The Motorcycle Adventure Begins…

 

Your motorcycle adventure will start in San Antonio. This is where we deliver the motorcycles to riders. From San Antonio, you will head North to reach San Pedro de Atacama. It is approximately 2,300km away. 

There are a couple options to get there. The first option is to follow the ocean road (number 5) which follows the ocean. Drive till Antofagasta and follow the signs to San Pedro De Atacama. You don’t need our help for this: simply follow Google Maps indications.

Wyprawa motocyklowa polnocne Chile

An alternative route takes you through the Parque Nacional Nevado Tres Cruces.  It transforms a good portion of that first ride North into much more of an adventure.  

 

From San Antonio, head towards Casablanca. Then follow the roads on this screenshot to reach Illapel. From there, head towards Ovalle. Depending on what time you leave San Antonio, you could reach either Illapel or Combarbala or Ovalle on the first day.

 

This routing option is a lot more scenic than staying on the Pan-American highway (number 5). You can find locations to camp along the way.

 

Then, from Vicuna, there aren’t that many exciting choices. We get back on the Pan-American Highway until Copiapo.

serwis motocyklowy w Chile

 

 

First Test Altiplano Ride!

 

Although the town is ugly, it is a good idea to go to the supermarkets in Copiapo, before the next stage of our expedition. That next stage will take us to the Parque National Nevado Tres Cruces, and back to Copiapo. This loop could be done in one day, driving hard.  

 

However, it is a terrific chance to test all the camping equipment by staying overnight at altitude. There are camping opportunities most of the way. Bear in mind that there is no fresh water in the Altiplano!

 

Tipcheck your tire pressure in the morning when your tires are cold, at altitude.You will see that a 2,200m elevation increase results in about 0.2bar increase in tire pressure, everything else being equal. It is best to always measure tire pressure in a similar condition to have apple-to-apple comparison.  

 

You will cross a mining area close to Markunga and will have to register and be escorted to the other side. It is no big deal, but may need some patience. There are some pretty sandy areas in some parts of the track, due to truck traffic.

Przeprawa promowa Hornopiren

It can be windy during the day, but at night, it is usually quieter. Temperatures at night could be around zero. You will climb to over 3,000 today before returning to sea level the next day.

 

Coming back into Copiapo, after this loop: you’ll have been at higher altitude, tested the equipment & bike off-road, and spent a first amazing night camping in the Altiplano. Any issues that you have to take care of, can be handled on Copiapo.

 

 

Off to San Pedro de Atacama!

 

Now that you’ve tested your bike and all your gear, we’ll set off for San Pedro de Atacama!

As we said before, you can either go via the Ruta 5, and then branch off to Ruta 1, by the Ocean. The ocean road is not bad: the sea breeze is cooler and the scenery is pretty.

If you’ve come to do desert rides, we’ve got something special for you…

 

At Baquedano, branch off onto B-385 and climb all the way up in the direction of Socaire. There you can turn left on B-355 to reach San Pedro de Atacama. This is a non-paved option that will take you across the Salar. There’s a nice Flamingo Reserve you can visit.

serwis motocyklowy w Chile

 

San Pedro de Atacama is quite a crowded place in the season. It is the heart of the Atacama Desert, where everyone who wants to see the desert, local lagoons, hot springs and volcanoes meet. The town is small and can be crowded at times. However, it has its own unique atmosphere.

We strongly advise reserving your accommodation for San Pedro de Atacama in advance, if you intend to sleep in a hotel or B&B. There are plenty of options, but prices tend to be high. The lowest prices are around 25 EUR per day, but that is only for a bed.

 

Around San Pedro de Atacama

 

Go have a ride to Valle de La Luna and Valle de La Muerte (sandy). Both are local must see attractions, but definitely worth it. It’s best to go there for sunrise or sunset – the views and the light are beautiful. We’re not going to repeat what’s already in plenty of guides. Google will tell you all about it.

Wyprawa motocyklowa po polnocnym Chile

 

There are plenty of bars, restaurants to have fun at in San Pedro de Atacama. Do try the Pisco Sour and tell us about it 😉 if you’re not addicted to it, you’ll be soon.

Also have a tour of the local church, it is very pretty!  San Pedro De Atacama was founded as a city by a Belgian Jesuit priest. He was later accused of stealing gold and escaping back to Belgium. We’re not sure the story’s true, but you can learn more about it in the local museum.

 

 

Tatio Geysers

 

In San Pedro de Atacama, there are many local travel agencies that organize excursions to the Tatio Geysers for sunrise. We prefer to be there later, alone and without the crowds of tourists. It is true that we lose the view of geysers and water vapor in the rays of the rising sun, but we gain perspective without the crowds. Something for something. We leave the decision to you.

 

Here’s a MotoBirds tip for you: leave early in the afternoon. Before arriving at the Tatio Geysers, keep your eyes open. On the right side of the track, you’ll see some water vapour coming from some rocks. These geysers are accessible after some little acrobatics. They’ll be your very own personal geysers…

 

Afterwards, go visit the Tatio Geysers, they are worth it. Explain to the guard that you will not go back the same way: rather you will continue! You can swim there. So, it is a good idea to bring something to drink for yourself.

You can camp behind some big rocks, right after getting on the track that departs from the Geysers. Get some sleep and wake up early. You’ll be there before anyone arrives and will have seen the geysers in the evening and in the morning hours!

Gejzery Tatio Chile

 

 

Get ready for more serious stuff…

Przeprawa promowa Hornopiren

 

After that, you will be getting on your way on the track B-145. This is going to be pretty hard work… It is very sandy and the track has completely disappeared in places. It only exists on the map! 

 

When you arrive at the abandoned Yuma train station (like in the western classic), your suffering is behind you. Count about 4 to 6h to cover these 100km that will connect you Ruta 21.   

 

A word of warning: Do not attempt this section if you are alone and on a big bike. You will not make it – unless you’re Chris Birch. There is a passage that requires some pushing alongside the bike to get out of some very sandy dried-out small creek.

 

We need to talk about fuel and food

You will be going to remote places. You must absolutely take along enough water and food to last for a couple of days longer than what you need. Your bike may break down, or may have to stop because of a bad storm, for example. For fuel, you must ensure to have an extra 100km range at a minimum. This is a safety margin that you should factor in, on top of what you have to reach your next fuel stop. If the track is very sandy, or get lost, you will need that fuel. If you fall, and your bike spills fuel, you will also need this. As there is very little traffic in some areas, you will not be able to get help easily.

 

 

Ollague

 

From there, you’ll be on your way to Ollague. There is no fuel station in Ollague. But you will need to buy fuel. So what to do?

Ride towards Bolivia. Take one of the last streets on the right side of the pavement. Then turn left and continue towards Bolivia. Get past a destroyed chicken wire fence and look for ladies with wheelbarrows. They sell fuel. The prices vary depending on your perceived desperation level.

After you’re all fueled up, you can proceed to the next stage of this adventure…

 

 

You like it Hard – or Easier?

 

The Hard Way. 

This one shown below will take you up to 5,100m altitude to the top of a volcano. It used to be an old mine. The start of the track is pretty hard and technical due to the erosion. Afterwards it becomes easier. Once you reach the top, the views will reward your courage and determination guaranteed! Same here as earlier, don’t try this if you’re alone and on a big bike. If you get stuck, there’s nobody around to help you out.

 

 

The Easy(ier) Way.

This one presents no major challenges. It is doable on a big bike as well. The track is nice and rideable the whole way.

Carretera Austral

 

 

Off to Pica: Sand Dunes & Thermal Baths

 

Assuming we passed the hard (or easy sections) described in the previous point, we’re headed for Pica. There are some stunning sand dunes on the way. Don’t miss them.  The track is really beautiful as well. Pica is an oasis and has thermal baths. Don’t miss them. Our guess is you’ll want to spend a day or two there to rest & relax.

There are a couple of nice restaurants, shops and a general laid-back feel about the place. If you need some small hardware for your bike or want to wash it & inspect it, Pica is a good place for it. 

 

 

 

Off to Colchane…

 

After this welcome rest, back on the bike.  We’ll go to Colchane, as shown on this map.

This is a gorgeous ride, most of it on gravel and sandy tracks. You’ll never forget this portion of the adventure. Make sure to camp along the way!

 

You have to get fuel in Colchane. It takes some cleverness, but it’s also an interesting experience. There is no station in the town. Drive towards the border with Bolivia. Turn right onto the last street of the town, then left left and continue towards Bolivia. Avoid the barbed wire fence and look for traditionally dressed Bolivian women with … wheelbarrows.


It is the Bolivian women that sell fuel in this “non-standard” way. Prices are unpredictable. But there is no alternative place to shop.

Puerto Montt do Hornopiren

 

 

Keep going North!

 

From Colchane, it gets wilder and more remote (even). In Colchane the best place to stay is a hotel called Camino del Inka. If that one is full, across the square, is another place. But believe us, give first a try to Camino del Inka… 😉

From Colchane, you have two options, both are equally nice.

  • Go back to Umina and take the track A465 then A487.
  • Take the track A385 (also called A95) from just before Colchane. Don’t miss Isluga church on the way!

 

You will then stay on that track which changes into A93, all the way to the very North of Chile.

This is an absolutely unforgettable desertic moon-like landscape. Don’t stress out if the track branches off several time. What matters is to keep the general direction correct, and try to pick the track that seems to be in the best condition. When a portion gets too destroyed, locals just ride next to it and make a new track.

You will see some abandoned villages with dirt houses and churches on the way. It is all extremely remote and beautiful.

Sendero los Alceres i Sendero Cascadas Escondidas

 

 

Thermas

 

Here’s another tip from MotoBirds: Don’t miss the Termas de Churiguaya on the way. You will be there all alone in all likelihood. It is an amazing feeling to bathe all alone on the Altiplano, under the starry sky. Almost nobody ever bothers to go there. It is an incredible place to camp!

 

In the Surire Park, you must absolutely also stop over at the Termas de Polloquere. Camping is possible there: there are a couple of dry walls that will protect you from the wind. If you happen to get stuck in really bad weather, there’s a village nearby. You could ask for shelter of stop-over in one of the abandoned houses.

 

 

Visviri

 

The last village in our northern adventure is Visviri. To reach there, you will follow the A-93 along the Bolivian border. At one point, the track even takes you into Bolivia for about 5km. If it has rained heavily, it is hard work on a loaded bike. But it is all rideable even on a big bike.

 

 

Back to Arica

 

From Visviri, you will take the A-23 / A-109, that will take you back to the coast. The track will gradually turn into broken asphalt and finally into better pavement. That portion of the road is very scenic, along a canyon. There is almost no traffic. This is the end of what is probably the one of the very best adventure motorcycle routes of North Chile.

In Arica, there are many hotel options to choose from.  It all depends on your budget. A little outside the city is cheaper.  

If you have decided to ship your motorbike back with MotoBirds from Arica, this is where we will collect your motorcycle to ship it back to Europe.  

If you have decided to ride back to Santiago, your best bet is to get on the Pan-American highway and make you way South. Depending on your bike and your endurance, it will take you at least 3 days.

 

 

Interested to Go?

 

Now that we seem to be getting closer to Chile opening borders again, we will soon announce trips and transports. Stay tuned for exciting offers from MotoBirds!

 

If you want to keep up to date with transport or tour opportunities in South America, including Chile in particular, let us know. We will certainly inform you about our plans!

 

The best motorcycle routes of Chile, part 1 – Carretera Austral

The best motorcycle routes of Chile, part 1 – Carretera Austral

The best motorcycle routes of Chile, part 1 – Carretera Austral

MotoBirds is going to give you a selection of some of the most incredible motorcycle adventure roads in Chile. Some routes may be known by some riders, others are hidden jewels. Our first story covers the forgotten sections of the famous Ruta 7.

 

A motorcycle adventure to Ushuaia is right on top of the bucket list of many riders. Rightly so! 

 

COVID19 Killed Travel…

Sadly, it has not been possible to go to South America since the outbreak of the pandemic: borders have closed, tourism has stopped and most long-distance travel almost ground to a halt. We’ve all suffered.

 

A silver lining…

The good news (as of 24th of July 2021) is that we have good reason to believe Chile will reopen shortly. The country has reached a vaccination rate of 80%, and could very well reopen to tourism right in time for our winter season.
Najlepsze trasy motocyklowe Chile

This is also the very best time to travel to Southern Chile on a motorbike. It is right in the middle of the austral summer – and in the darkest days of our European winter.

 

Those prepared to go on such an epic ride can expect incredible natural wonders, wildly different flora and a above all, a once in a lifetime adventure of different dimensions: the colors are more vivid, the landscape is different and the weather is an experience in itself.

 

Before you pop the champagne thinking you’ll head all the way to the end of the earth, bear in mind that riding to Ushuaia requires crossing into Argentina. And, that still looks impossible… Although we have many talents at MotoBirds, we don’t have yet a corona travel restriction crystal ball to forecast border reopening’s. We’re making an educated guess.

 

 

Overlooked but not Less of an Adventure at Carretera Austral

So, what we’ll do is present you a truly amazing alternative. That alternative is not a plan B – it is a terrific adventure in itself. Even more interesting is that this ride unfortunately (or fortunately) gets overlooked by the majority of travellers. 

 

Adventure riders are often pulled by the big Ushuaia magnet, and miss one of the very best motorcycle adventures to be had in Southern Chile. A whole stretch of Ruta 7, and a number of amazing side-roads and loops get bypassed and totally forgotten. It is a shame: the landscapes are wonderful, fuel and accommodation are available, and it is accessible on most motorbikes.

 

The only downside to this ride, is the obligation to ride back up the other way, after reaching Villa O’Higgins. But the same applies to Ushuaia. What do riders do upon reaching the end of the world? Turn around and head the other way…

Zapomniane fragmenty Carretera Austral

However, there is an option to take a ferry between Chaiten and Puerto Montt to shorten the ride back North. Our view is that it’s better to ride back. After all, the scenery is different when you go the other way – and riding is why we’re here!

Ruta 7 - Carretera Austral

 

What to Expect?

Riding over 2,000 km over the Ruta 7 from start to finish, with a big bonus… Some truly amazing loops and side roads along the The Carretera Austral. Few have undertaken this, although this route is peppered with amazing sights and hundreds of kilometers of fantastic tracks – away from the crowds.
This incredible motorbike ride is not difficult to undertake, even as a solo traveler. It will require some endurance – the weather can change four times per minute and most of the tracks we’ll present are unpaved, although in good conditions. No “hardcore enduro” on the way, but beautiful stretches of gravel roads of varying quality.

The Big Picture

 

The MotoBirds team’s already been there a couple of years back. You’ll need about 3 weeks to experience this motorcycle adventure that will take you to the most beautiful sights and tracks of Southern Chile.

 

Below’s what Google Maps will give you. In principle, Google’s your friend (sometimes)… However, it only tells a small part of the story.

Carretera Austral z perspektywy lotu ptaka

 

The basic route of Ruta 7 runs as shown on the map. If you want to travel this route, we can offer you motorcycle transport to / from Chile with all customs formalities so that you can experience your motorcycle adventure of a lifetime. You can find the transport schedule of motorcycles on our website.

 

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us! We are happy to answer and share our knowledge.

 

 

Let’s first start with some practical details.

 

Accommodation:

Stays along the Ruta 7 are mostly in Cabanas. There are a number of choices depending on your budget. Nothing special comes to mind in terms of recommendation. It is cheaper if you can spread the cost between several travellers. Typically, the cabanas are paid by unit, not based on the number of guests. It is usually better to book a couple of days ahead (booking.com or directly) to make sure you end up without a bed. Your best bet for booking is via a platform such as booking.com. At least things are traceable and you can get your money back if there is a problem.

 

You can forget camping along most of Ruta 7. Firstly, the weather is unforgiving. Secondly, most areas are fenced off. You can certainly take a tent, but our guess you won’t use it at all. Some towns have formal camp grounds. They are all referenced on Google maps and Mapsme.

 

Prices:

Chile is not a cheap destination. Southern Chile is comparatively more expensive than the rest of Chile: everything is trucked in, and that has a cost. Also, a number of communities rely on tourism for a living. The season is short, and they do make up for it… Expect prices to be higher than in most European countries. Closer to Swiss prices ☹

Food:

There are shops and restaurants in every settlement. There is no need to pack too much food.

Fuel:

Fuel can be found all along Ruta 7. Unless you have a fuel autonomy below 300km, there is no need to bring extra fuel along. Fuel stations are called Copec in most locations. It would be useless to give you the Copec locations in all of Southern Chile. They are easy to find.

The Road:

Some of the Northern portions of Ruta 7 are paved. The Southern sections are almost all gravel. Most of it is in good or excellent condition. 

 

A word of warning about the numerous bridges. Many are made of wood – wet wood is extremely slippery!

 

Weather:

This is a topic that is discussed extensively. Our two-cents worth of wisdom on this. Yes, it rains. Usually not very long. However, make sure to pack your rain gear close by and enough thermal under-layers to keep warm. The times we went riding over there, we hardly ever were completely wet.

 

The weather can change very fast and it is not unusual to have all 4 seasons in a matter of minutes. Be prepared and make sure you pack 2 pairs of gloves.

 

Parts & Service:

If you need a part, you’re out of luck… There are essentially no motorcycle service locations after Puerto Montt on this ride. This does not mean you won’t find a motorcycle mechanic or an electrician, but there are no dedicated service points.

 

Dealers in Chile typically only accept payment for parts (online orders) from a Chilean account. This is an additional complication. If you need more information, feel free to reach out to MotoBirds.

 

If you happen to need roadside assistance, rest assured you won’t die somewhere by the track waiting for assistance! There is regular traffic on all these tracks. For sure, you’ll be able to hail a helpful soul to get you out of trouble.

 

Tire choices:

Everyone has a favorite tire. We’re not going to go into lengthy tire discussions in this blog. Our personal favourite for this (and many other rides) is the Michelin Anakee Wild: It has a life of close to 8,000 km (unless you slide out of every turn), has acceptable grip on most surfaces and is a good compromise between asphalt and gravel.   Regardless what you chose, a mixed terrain tire is your best option.

 

This ride, to and from Puerto Montt is close to 4,000 km, provided you leave with a new set of tires, you will not need to replace tires.

 

Money:

There are ATM’s only in bigger cities. Make sure you change money before leaving Puerto Montt, or have US Dollars of the latest design with you. The bills must be undamaged, should you need to exchange money along the way. In most places you can pay with “plastic”, including at fuel stations.

serwis motocyklowy w Chile

 

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Once you are well prepared for your southern Chile tour, you can start your journey! We are not going to give you a day-by-day proposal here. Rather, we’ll highlight what options you have. You can then decide where to stay, and where to have a rest day. 

 

If you’d like us to prepare the entire itinerary for you, with or without accommodation, we’ll be happy to do that: just send us an email with your inquiry!

 

 

 

The starting point of the famous Ruta 7 is in Puerto Montt

Puerto Montt is not really a city you’ll remember. It just happens to be the start of Ruta 7. Hotels are expensive in Chile and especially so in the South. Your best choice for a good hotel that will not be too expensive (and has a guarded parking) is the Diego de Almagro Hotel. Alternatively, if you prefer not to stay in a hotel, there are a couple of good cabañas choices as well. Cabañas are usually a more economical option if you can share the cost of the cabin with others – Cabañas del Puerto for example. 

Carretera Austral

 

An interesting choice, if you intend to rest a couple of days in the area and are in a small group, would be to book the cabañas at the sea side along the Carretera Austral. All can be found in booking.com.

The central square of Puerto Montt has some restaurants and bars that are worth a visit.

Puerto Montt to Hornopiren

You have two options:  138 km / 106 km

 

1. First option: following the coast line, along the road V-875, to join with the Ruta 7 later and arrive in Hornopiren. We prefer that option, which is far less travelled. The views on the ocean are nice and there are a number of fishing villages on the way.

2. Second option: stay on Ruta 7 and join Hornopiren. Here you’ll see mostly green on the left and right side of the track. As there’s plenty of that later, again, we prefer option 1.

 

Puerto Montt do Hornopiren

 

It is better to have a short day on the first day, because next day starts with a pretty long ferry ride (3:30h). Last time we checked, the ferry leaves at 10:30. You can book it online here.
Przeprawa promowa Hornopiren

TIP: do make sure to book in advance and be there about one hour before ferry departure. Some travellers have been known not to be able to get a place for their vehicle! 

 

From Hornopiren, there are two ferries per day. This is an unpaved section, and the wooden bridges are very slippery when wet! Tires on wet wood have about the same traction as on a soaped rubber mat! However, the tracks are well maintained, and even if you have limited off-road experience and happen to be on a loaded bike with a pillion, it is not especially challenging.

On this day, you will be riding in the artic rain forest. It is a unique sight with furs several meters high, enormous leaves and weird vegetation all around. Our impression was always that a dinosaur could cross the track at any moment.

There is a really nice hike to do on the way at (-42.659570, -72.580821): Sendero los Alceres i Sendero Cascadas Escondidas. These two short walking trails give you a fantastic opportunity to walk inside the rain forest and experience it from close by. We highly recommend taking some time for one of these walks.

Sendero los Alceres i Sendero Cascadas Escondidas

 

In Chaiten, the cabanas Volcanes Patagonicos are some of the best around. Or Yelcho en La Patagonia which is a bit out of town.

Przeprawa promowa Hornopiren

The next choices to make are here: Chaiten to Futaleufu – 152 km / 340 km

We suggest you take the time to go to Futaleufu. This day is not a long ride, but there are plenty of photo opportunities around. In Futaleufu, there is a fuel station. The laguna Espejo is very beautiful, and well worth the detour. Also, it is a really nice experience to ride to the very end of the track, as shown below on the map. It will give you a good feel of the conditions the local farmers work in, and the views are beautiful with a number of great photo opportunities.

 

You have two options: overnight in Futaleufu, or ride back (same track to Ruta 7).

If you head back towards Ruta 7, a good place to stop is Puyuhuapi. This is a ride of 340 km, including the detour to Futaleufu. There is also a fuel station in Puyuhapi.

 

It would be a shame not to spend some time in Futaleufu. It is a famous white-water rafting location and the Laguna Espejo is worth the detour. There aren’t many choices for accommodation – make sure to book.

From Futaleufu, or from Ruta 7, depending what you chose. There is a nice opportunity to leave Ruta 7 and take the X-11 and X-13 tracks. That will lead around Lago Claro Solar, Lago Negro and Lago Rosselot. The views are much better than on Ruta 7 and you’ll be glad you’ve taken this small detour!

 

The next opportunity for an out-of-way excursion is Puerto Cisne. Granted, it is not much to look at, but is a good location for whale and dolphin watching. You’ll find plenty of boats by the port. A section of the road closer to Puerto Cisne is made with compacted salt – it is very slippery when wet… You’ll find fuel and rather basic cabanas there.

 

Sendero los Alceres i Sendero Cascadas Escondidas
Puerto Aysen i Puerto Chacabuco
The villages of Puerto Aysen and Puerto Chacabuco are mostly serving trekking tourists. But the ride there is gorgeous. You’ll follow the very scenic Rio Manihuales for a good portion of the track.

You can choose one of three options for your onward journey:

1. Stick to Ruta 7.

2. Follow the track that is along the Rio Manihuales as shown below.

3. From Ruta 7, you have two opportunities for out-of-way loops, as shown on the map.

Pick what suits you, but keep an eye on your fuel autonomy!  None of these options will disappoint you, and the stunning views are worth the ride! After doing the detour you picked, you can continue towards Puerto Chacabuco.

 

 

Carretera Austral Ruta 7

 

From Puerto Chacabuco, we recommend following the road 240 to reach Coyhaique. This is a bigger town, where you’ll be able to refresh, walk around and see more people.   

It is quite a touristic town that offers a gateway to many attractions in the area. It’s a good place to have a rest day, recover and have a bigger restaurant choice. If you get to Coyhaique early, or after your rest day, a really interesting ride is possible (157 km), all on gravel. It will take you past lakes, forests and overall is a really amazing loop to finish off the day.

 

Our next stop is Puerto Rio Tranquilo (216 km from Coyhaique). Close by Puerto Rio Tranquilo are the marble caves. It is well worth a visit. If you want to know more, Google’s your friend! To visit you need to get on a boat ride. There are a lot of operators just by the roadside. Parking is easy, and there are restaurants everywhere. There is usually no need to book in advance.

 

Your next major stopover could be in Cochrane, 115 km away. The very lats stop is the end of Ruta 7 at Villa O’Higgings. This is also – almost the end of the road 😉

Carretera Austral Chile

We’re suggesting that you continue from Villa O’Higgings to the real end of the road. It is another 57 km further. It will take you very close to the Argentinian border and it worth the 3 hours this will take you to hit the physical end of the road and return to Villa O’Higgins. The scenery is great and the feeling of being at the end of Ruta 7 is absolutely priceless!

 

It is advisable to book ahead for Villa O’Higgins. There’s a fuel station, but few accommodation options.

Carretera Austral Villa O'Higgins

 

And this is Villa O’Higging! Ushuaia is great, but reaching the end of Ruta 7 is no less of an achievement – especially if you take the time to ride along those detours we’ve highlighted.

 

What next?

Stay posted for a forthcoming MotoBirds expedition. As soon as the Chilean borders open, we’ll announce it. We’re dreaming of doing this ride again, with you maybe?
 
 
 

Subscribe to our Newsletter not to miss the news and updates!

 

Początek Ruta 7 Carretera Austral

WHAT DO YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT CHOOSING A MOTORCYCLE MEDICAL KIT

WHAT DO YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT CHOOSING A MOTORCYCLE MEDICAL KIT

WHAT DO YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT CHOOSING A MOTORCYCLE MEDICAL KIT

There may be times when choosing a motorcycle first aid kit is sometimes a matter of compromise. You probably don’t want to lose too much luggage space, but you still want to be prepared for accidents. So, size, weight, and content are all factors you need to consider. However, the choice may not be so easy, because our health should not be compromised … So how do we get out of it ?!

 

We have been on many expeditions and there are thousands of kilometers behind us, and only recently have we managed to find a satisfactory solution. If this issue is also important to you and you are just looking for a proven motorcycle first aid kit, then we invite you to read this article, in which we share our discovery and opinion about it.

 

The immense majority of kits out there are cheap and generic. You have to have a medical kit in your car for example. Those kits really are in fact totally inadequate.  They are designed to meet a legal requirement. They are not really designed to help you in case of an accident. You can buy any of those generic medical kits on the net or in your local shop.

 

Falling of a motorcycle is not a pleasant experience. As a motorcyclist, you are completely exposed and falls can have very unpleasant consequences: broken bones, cut skin, sprains, scratches, etc.
Proper preparation for the consequences of a fall, small or large, should be a priority for all motorcyclists, especially those traveling further from “civilization”. Someone’s life may even depend on a good preparation!

 

We have been looking for a decent, ready-made solution for a long time. We often used to complete a motorcycle first aid kit from several different ones, buying additional elements of better quality. Off course that’s always a choice, but it can greatly extend the process of preparing for the trip and increase the risk that you could forget something. Fortunately, we finally found a satisfactory solution. The motorcycle first aid kit that we tested on our trips and which we want to present to you in this article. It is a modular set and is called TRAUMAKIT. It was designed by the AEDMAX team. We present you here a product that we use ourselves – EASY BAG 2.

 

This motorcycle medical kit was developed in Poland by bikers for bikers. We like it a lot and we think you’ll like it too. Here’s why…

Modułowa apteczka
Motocyklowa apteczka

 

 

SIZE & WEIGHT OF A MOTORCYCLE MEDICAL KIT

Admittedly, EASY BAG 2 isn’t the smallest set you’ll find. However, the comprehensive content is really worth the weight penalty. It is constructed of a nylon bag and has a strap for easy carrying. Its rectangular shape makes it easy to pack at the bottom of a pannier or a bag. For example, it fits perfectly with the metal case of the BMW GS. It includes two modules: one for emergencies and one for fractures (so we chose).

Apteczka motocyklowa

 

 

WEIGHT: 1,800 g

 

SIZE: 200mm x 120mm x 160mm

 

 

 

EVERYDAY USE

Inside the TRAUMAKIT motorcycle medical kit is everything you’ll really need to treat smaller injuries or problems you can experience on the road. It is designed in two neat modules, packed in separate pouches. The two pouches are held together with a velcro. This was a good idea: when you open the medical kit, the pouches won’t fall out. 

 

  • Orange pouch: what you need for wound treatment & infections
  • Grey pouch:  what you need to stabilize broken bones
Apteczka motocyklowa TRAUMAKIT
Motocyklowy zestaw medyczny

 

 

MEDICAL EMERGENCIES

Most riders are not trained nurses or doctors. Many don’t even have had the opportunity to complete a first aid course. Knowing what to do when faced with emergency situations such as bleeding, or medical emergencies is vital, so AEDMAX Team thought of helping you.

 

The set is equipped with 6 cardboard cards. These cards explain with simple pictures what you should do if you are dealing with:

  • Small cuts
  • Bigger cuts & hemorrhages
  • Mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, heart massage & positioning of the electrodes of a defibrillator
  • Infections
  • Burns
  • Heat strokes & safety positions
instrukcja pierwszej pomocy

 

We feel this is a great idea! The cards are simple, illustrative and will give you the information you need for these problems, without having to read pages of text.

The grey pouch of the motorcycle medical kit contains all kinds of plasters, scissors, medical bands, disinfectant, hand wipes, etc. Essentially, all you need to stop bleeding or treat a smaller cut or infection with is contained. The scissors are real medical scissors, not those cheap Chinese knock-offs you find in the generic car medical kits – which are useless…

On top of this, you will also find a powerful chemical LED frontal and a small electronic gauge allowing you to check blood pressure and heart rate.

This section of the motorcycle medical kit designed by TRAUMAKIT contains more useful items than the medical kit found in the average household.

 

Full content list of the emergency pouch:

  • Disposable nitrile gloves “L” – 2 pairs
  • Tablets for diabetics Glucose Dextro Energy Classic – 1 op.
  • Hot Pack hand warmer – 2 pcs.
  • Cold Pack Cold Pack – 1 pc.
  • Plum Eye Wash 200 ml – 1 pc.
  • FIXOPORE eye dressing – 2 pcs
  • Plastic tweezers – 1 pc. 
  • Bag with a closure (amputation) – 2 pcs.
  • Chemical light – 1 pc.
  • Cooling spray for injuries ALTACET ICE 130 ml – 1 pc.
  • Scissors
Apteczka motocyklowa TRAUMAKIT

 

 

FRACTURE CARE

The orange pouch contains all kinds of bandages.  All you need to stabilize a fracture is here.  The content allows you to deal with a fracture to allow the wounded person to be transferred to a medical facility for more permanent treatment.

As in the other pouch, everything is neatly packed in plastic pockets. This is really good because when you open the pouches the content does not spill on the ground.

sakwy motocyklowe zużycie

 

Full content of this module:

  • Disposable nitrile gloves “L” – 2 pairs
  • Sam Splint rail 50 cm x 11 cm – 1 pc.
  • MATOPAT UNIVERSAL elastic band 12 cm x 5 cm – 4 pcs.
  • MATOVIS knitted bandage 10 cm x 4 cm – 4 pcs.
  • MATOCOMP 17-thread dressing gauze 1 / 2m² – 2 pcs.
  • Cotton triangular MATOPAT scarf – 1 item
  • NRC foil (thermal blanket) – 1 pc.

 

 

WHERE TO BUY TRAUMAKIT?

You can get it via AEDMAX website shop. You also have the possibility to order different versions of the motorcycle medical kit. 

The one we tested costs PLN 334.56 or EUR 73.

Comparing it to a generic kit costing less than EUR 10, it is a lot of money. However, the content and design of this kit makes it well worth every cent.

Motocyklowa apteczka

This motorcycle medical kit has everything you need to deal with major or minor road problems. Whether in a group or even more so during a solo trip. At MotoBirds, we made our choice: let’s take TRAUMAKIT on our trips for sure!

We hope you will use our experience and learn from this article. Safety is always our priority, so we recommend only proven solutions!

We wish you many safe kilometers ridden! 🙂

How to plan a motorcycle trip – effective free tools

How to plan a motorcycle trip – effective free tools

How to plan a motorcycle trip – effective free tools

Motorcycle Travel is Freedom! We did not fall into adventure motorcycle riding from one day to the next. Trip after trip we learned new tricks, because we wanted to have more fun and less worries. And believe when we say, some of the things we know now we learned the hard way! For many, riding a motorbike is linked with certain idea of freedom, adventure, discovery, etc. In order to experience that stress free, a certain hard work needs to be put in place in advance. The key to a great ride is to know how to plan a motorcycle trip beforehand and get the most out of it. 

 

Smart planning is free

Doing adventure motorcycle trips as a solo rider you learn – sometimes the hard way – how to get more out of your motorbike adventures. Being stuck for 10 days in San Pedro de Atacama waiting for a slave cylinder can be expensive and boring, although bearable. But most probably the moment you need 24h to dig your bike out of the mud in a remote track in Bolivia you finally realize that having a less hassle travel is worth some advanced planning and hard work! Here’s the good news: more fun on a ride does not cost anything, it only involves some proper preparation.

 

motorcycle trip planning

 

Do in-depth research

This is one of the most enjoyable parts of the trip preparation. To start off with google maps, scour the internet for articles, travel stories, blogs of hikers, cyclists, bikers, searching open street maps for clues of interesting or unusual things to see. This way, you can stumble on ghost towns, haunted cemeteries, crashed planes in the middle of the desert, fantastic abandoned places and loads of spectacular landscapes that make each trip even more memorable. If your thing is to tick off the 10 most popular touristic spots of a given area, a Lonely Planet guide will do the job. However, if you’re into more remote places, you must do a proper research.

Find out about some of those trips HERE & HERE

 

 

Some free itinerary building tools

MapsMe is a great tool to mark all the tracks, roads, locations, etc. you identify during your research. After having saved all the places you liked and would want to see, another fun bit is to try to connect these dots with what looks like the most scenic roads or tracks. For this, you can rely also on google maps, although always remember that those applications are never ideal and include bugs and mistakes. Therefore, a good solution would be to always have a backup app.

You can find the link for MapsMe here: https://maps.me

 

Basecamp is a track building program provided by Garmin. It is sometimes unfairly perceived as hard to use. Basecamp has useful video tutorials to get you started in no time. YouTube has also many videos showing real-life examples. A little patience will reward you with a very useful tool that is sure to make your motorcycle trip planning much easier. You can install Open Street Maps (see below) on it as well.

Free download is available here: https://www.garmin.com/en-US/software/basecamp/

 

For European paved route planning an easier tool would be ViaMichelin (https://www.viamichelin.com). It has a nice features, such as highlighted scenic roads and easy to find service locations. To see the highlighted road portions that indicate scenic roads, just scroll to the area of your interest.

 

There are many other routing applications available, free or payable. A simple google search will return pages of results. In this article you can find the basic and sometimes sufficient, easy-to-use and completely free solutions that work.

 

motorcycle trip to South America

 

Experiment with routing options 

Here’s a fun tip: toggle between the bicycle navigation options of MapsMe, Google Maps or Basecamp. This sometimes gives interesting routing options!

 

Planning for fuel stops & obstacles

When researching new remote tracks, it’s also a good idea to use the satellite views in google maps. This will allow you to get a feel if a certain route is going to be rideable – or if obstacles (impassable seasonal river crossing for instance) could make it too dangerous or impossible. Checking the distances between fuel stops also works great with MapsMe. This way, you’ll know if you have to carry extra fuel. Another nice feature of this application is the ability to quickly check the elevation profile of certain track sections: toggle from car mode to cyclist or pedestrian and elevation profile appears.

 

How to plan a motorcycle trip

 

Save service locations

You do not want to learn it the hard way, so please remember, when you go to a country where the distances are significant, that it pays off to thoroughly research motorbike service spots, repairs, parts, tire locations, etc. You don’t want to end up hauling spare motorcycle tires or filters for thousands of km. You should save all those locations into MapsMe and your GPS, along with the websites and contact details of those locations before the trip. Being well prepared could save you tons of cash, days of effort and frustration on the road. For example, if you know that your rear tire has a life of approximately 6,000km – plan a rough route to make your way to a location where you know there’ll be a suitable tire. Don’t waste vacation time or energy in worries. 

 

How to plan a motorcycle trip-4

 

Open Street Maps vs. Garmin Maps

For navigation and motorcycle trip planning an Open Street Maps (OSM) is a great choice. We suggest this tool, because for us personally OSM is much richer then well known Garmin for example. However, bare in mind that the routing in cities can sometimes be wrong. In our opinion though, the extra detail in OSM outweighs potential shortcomings. Open Street Maps is also free! You can download your maps here for exemple: http://garmin.openstreetmap.nl. The option “generic routable (new style)” gives good routable results. Installing the maps in your GPS, if you use one, is very easy.

Open Street Maps is the result of a collaborative project that created a free editable map of the world. The format used by Open Street Map is compatible with GPS devices such as Garmin. As Open Street Maps incorporates the input of users, it contains a wealth of information not available on proprietary maps. The data quality varies sometimes, but we feel they provide a terrific base for motorcycle trip planning and riding: those maps can be uploaded on your GPS device and also used in routing programs such as Basecamp.
 
Garmin maps, on the other hand are proprietary maps.  Those maps are sold by Garmin, usually with a subscription that allows users to get updates. The Garmin maps are typically designed primarily for road travel.

 

plan motorcycle trip map

 

Off-road motorcycle tracks in Europe

In case your destination is Europe there’s a great tool – https://transeurotrail.org It’s a great starting point for experimenting with all these free to use tools to build your very own off-road adventure.

 

 

Smart planning can be totally free and can be a fun part of motorbike trip preparation. This will definitely help in making the most of your precious vacation time, turn each motorcycle trip into a discovery. With a little practice you will be completely fluent in using the free tools mentioned in this article. We wish you countless big and small discoveries in your next rides!

 

 

Adventure Motorcycle Gear: What’s in Your closet?

Adventure Motorcycle Gear: What’s in Your closet?

Adventure Motorcycle Gear: What’s in Your closet?

Debates about adventure motorcycle gear often get just as heated as arguments about which bike is the most suitable for long-distance ADV travel. What should you wear on a motorcycle trip? Full-on four-season adventure suit? Lightweight motocross gear? Street wear?

It all depends on where you’re going, and for how long. If your trip isn’t going to last longer than three weeks and you won’t be covering varying altitudes and climates zones, you’re probably good with some Kevlar jeans and a comfortable touring jacket. If, however, you’re riding somewhere a little more rugged or where you will be traveling multiple climate zones and crossing mountains – like, say, South America – you need to be better prepared. In addition to keeping you warm and dry, adventure motorcycle gear also keeps you safe. Out there in the sticks, that matters even more.

So let’s take a look at adventure motorcycle gear options out there.

 

Mid-Range Adventure Motorcycle Jackets and Pants

Some of the high-end adventure bike gear out there can feel like it costs an arm and a leg. Do you actually need to spend that much on a Klim jacket and pants? The answer depends on your riding: no, if you don’t clock more than 10,000 kilometers each year, if your adventure bike trips are less than two-week-long, and if you generally ride very conservatively and only when the weather’s good. If you mostly use your motorcycle for commuting and short weekend rides, aim for mid-range gear that won’t cost you a fortune but will provide comfort and protection.

Speaking of protection: always make sure that your motorcycle jacket has back, shoulder, and elbow armour and your motorcycle pants should have some padding at the hips and knees. Look for the CE label on all your adventure motorcycle gear, as this label means the gear meets the current motorcycle safety standards of the EU.

 

Four-Season Adventure Motorcycle Gear

However, if you ride year-round, if you love taking your bike off the beaten path, if you go on long adventure rides in places like Chile, Argentina, or Bolivia, if you spend long hours in the saddle and often ride through different altitudes, weather, and climate zones, you need some real hardware. That’s where high-end adventure motorcycle gear comes in. And yes, the cost isn’t small, but great-quality adventure suit will last you for years, protect you like an exoskeleton, keep you warm and dry even in torrential rain, and offer the best safety and comfort ratio.

 

adventure motorcycle gear

 

Our tour guides here at Motobirds prefer Klim because these adventure suits are incredibly durable, reliably waterproof, have good ventilation for those hot temperatures, and are virtually indestructible. We love Klim’s Artemis for women and Badlands for men; however, do try out other brands like Rukka, Touratech, or BMW. In addition to being functional, adventure motorcycle gear needs to fit great, too, so make sure you shop around and find what works for you.

Pro tip: if you’re looking for a truly four-season adventure jacket and pants, make sure the outer shell has GoreTex. If it has some other material and says “water-resistant”, you’ll get soaked. If it’s GoreTex, however, you’re covered.

 

Women’s Adventure Motorcycle Gear

For female riders, finding adventure gear that actually fits used to be a bit of a headache. Nowadays, however, brands are catching up to the fact that women love bikes just as much as men do for the exact same reasons, and more and more gear is designed with women in mind.

Here at Motobirds, our female tour guides wear Klim Artemis: it’s rugged, waterproof, durable, highly protective, and created by an actual female gear designer, so the cut and the fit are amazing. But do check out Rev’It! and Touratech, too, as these two companies have some adventure motorcycle gear aimed at women riders, and you want to find the best fit for you.

 

adventure motorcycle gear

 

Lightweight Off-Road Gear

If you’re an off-road maniac and your bike’s tires barely touch the pavement, a heavy, restrictive four-season adventure riding suit may not be for you. If you’re constantly battling steep hills, single track, and gnarly terrain, you’ll want excellent protection and complete freedom of movement, plus great ventilation. If that sounds like you, shop for lightweight off-road motorcycle gear aimed at motocross and rally racers.

 

adventure motorcycle gear

 

We love Leatt, as this company was founded by a South African neurosurgeon and rider who designs all the protective parts with scientific precision; however, there’s no shortage of other brands out there offering different options. Whatever you choose, just make sure you’ve got plenty of protection, and don’t forget to wear a neck brace.

What kind of adventure motorcycle gear do you wear and why? Let us know in the comments below!

Motorcycle Camping: What You Need to Know

Motorcycle Camping: What You Need to Know

Motorcycle Camping: What You Need to Know

A two-wheeled adventure wouldn’t be complete without motorcycle camping. There’s nothing like pitching your tent, cooking yourself dinner on your camping stove, and admiring the starry skies at night, unpolluted by city lights. Motorcycle camping can make your trip more authentic, adventurous, and exciting. You may not know where you’ll lay your head next, but you know you’ve got your little mobile home with you.

However, motorcycle camping needs a little planning and preparation, just like packing for a motorbike trip or planning the journey.  Depending on where you’re headed, you may get away with a very simple set up like a basic tent, sleeping bag, and a sleeping bag. On the other hand, if you know you’ll be facing harsh temperatures, you may need some additional gear. Next comes the question of wild camping versus organized campsites, packing and carrying your gear on a motorcycle, and some do’s and don’t’s of motorcycle camping abroad.

Let’s take a closer look.

Motorcycle Camping Gear

What camping gear you choose will largely depend on where you’re going, for how long, and how often you plan to camp. If you know the climate is mostly going to be mild, you won’t be camping often, and your trip won’t take longer than two weeks, you should be more than fine with some very basic camping equipment. Mid-range tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and perhaps a small inflatable pillow plus a gas camping stove, a pot and a cup, and a few basic cooking utensils should do it. When shopping for camping equipment, however, always make sure that it packs as small as possible and weighs as little as possible. These are both important factors when packing your motorcycle.

However, if you’re planning to go somewhere where the temperatures may be quite harsh, like Iceland, you may want to invest in gear that will withstand colder weather and rain. Make sure your sleeping bag is capable of withstanding temperatures up to -5 C, get a thick inflatable sleeping pad for extra warmth, and make sure your tent is fully waterproof. Consider getting some additional thermals to keep you warm.

Finally, you may be riding somewhere where you’ll face both hot and cold temperatures and where you’ll be camping a lot. Georgia is a good example – in the mountains, the nights can get chilly, but at the sea level, it’s hot. For a varied weather and terrain trip, pick three or four-season camping gear that is versatile and reliable in any conditions.

Wild Camping vs Organized Campsites

Now that you have your camping gear ready, it’s time to think about where you’ll be camping. In most countries, wild camping is allowed with the exceptions of national parks and reserves. However, do your research and make sure you’re legally allowed to camp. When picking your wild camping spot, see that you aren’t intruding on private land.

Motorcycle Camping: What You Need to Know // Motobirds

Organized campsites are usually the best solution if you don’t know whether wild camping is permitted in the area. Sure, you’ll be sharing the campsite with other travelers, but that can be a great way to meet people and exchange stories and route information. Another bonus is access to bathroom and kitchen facilities, which a lot of organized campsites will offer.

To help you figure out where you can camp wild and where you can find organized campsites, we highly recommend the iOverlander app. Just download the app, zoom in on the area you’ll be riding through, and get all the information you need – as an open source app, it gets updated very often, and the information remains relevant.

Packing and Carrying Your Camping Gear

We already touched on the fact that the smaller and lighter your camping gear is, the better. When shopping for your camping equipment, try to be as minimalist as you can to save space in your panniers and to spare your suspension. Before you buy anything, think of the items you already own. Do you really need that camping chair, or can you sit on your pannier? Is that mallet for tent pegs really a must-have, or can you get away with securing the pegs using a piece of rock or your motorcycle boots? Are you sure the mini espresso maker is something you cannot live without, or can you simply use ground coffee and paper filters?

To avoid packing too much, just consider what is truly a necessity and what could you go without. After all, you’re into motorcycle camping because of the adventure, not the comfort.

Motorcycle Camping Do’s and Don’ts Abroad

When riding abroad, some travelers tend to forget that the rules still apply. Don’t be one of them. Respect the local laws, stick to legal roads and off-road routes, and make sure you aren’t wild-camping in a national reserve, in the indigenous lands, or on private property. Nowadays, with so much information readily available, there’s no excuse not to do your research.

Motorcycle Camping: What You Need to Know // Motobirds

At the same time, keep in mind that the locals are usually happy to help, so if you’re not sure about camping in a certain area, just ask. You never know – you might just get yourself invited to dinner!

What are your favorite motorcycle camping tips and hacks? Let us know in the comments below!

Images: Pixabay