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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

 

Adventure Motorcycle Tours: Choosing Your Next Trip

Adventure Motorcycle Tours: Choosing Your Next Trip

Adventure Motorcycle Tours: Choosing Your Next Trip

Adventure motorcycle tours are an amazing way to travel. As motorcyclists, we can choose routes less traveled, explore the world on our own terms, and experience the thrill of the ride. Whether it’s a short weekend trip, a round-the-world adventure, or a two-week tour somewhere you’ve never ridden before, an adventure motorcycle tour is the best form of escape.

However, as the touring market is exploding, it can be difficult to pick the tour that’s right for you. Guided or self-guided? On your own motorcycle or a rental? Which motorcycle tour company and shipping agent should you choose?

To help you plan your adventure trip, we put this helpful guide together. In this post, however, we’re going to talk about different types of adventure motorcycle tours and which one would work best for you.

Guided Adventure Motorcycle Tours

Guided bike tours are a little like a package holiday: the motorcycles, the routes, the hotels, and the off-bike activities are all pre-booked and pre-planned for you. All you need to do is fly in, get on your chosen motorcycle, and enjoy the tour.  Most motorcycle tour organizers will have several options to choose from: on-road or off-road (or perhaps a mix of the two), luxury hotels or budget inns, the size of the group, the duration of the tour, and so on. A guided motorcycle tour is ideal for riders who are busy and do not have the time to do their own research, planning, route design, and logistics. Simply pick the country you’d love to visit on a motorcycle, get in touch with a local tour company, and book your dream holiday.

One of the pitfalls of a guided adventure motorcycle tour is that you never know who is riding with you, and the groups can sometimes be quite diverse. However, the tour guides usually try to match everyone’s skill levels to make sure all participants are happy, and you never know – you might just make some lifelong friends during a two-wheeled adventure.

Adventure Motorcycle Tours

Guided Tours Recommendations:

Colombia

Argentina, Bolivia, Chile

The Himalayas

Self-Guided Tours

Self-guided tours are perfect for people who like to ride on their own (or just with their friends or partners), who are independent, and who can spare the time and the resources to prepare a motorcycle adventure themselves. If that sounds like you, you can always start from scratch: pick a destination, do your research about the local culture, terrain, weather, traffic conditions, and road infrastructure, and start putting a route together. Next, you’ll need to book your accommodation and either ship your own motorcycle there or rent locally.

Some motorcycle tour companies offer self-guided tour packages. This means that you will be riding independently, but the company will give you a pre-planned route and book your accommodation for you. They will typically also recommend places to visit, activities to include in your trip, and some interesting local spots to explore. This is a great option if you’d like to combine the best of the two worlds – ride on your own, but have the comfort of a pre-planned route, a rental bike, and accommodation all taken care of for you.

Adventure Motorcycle Tours

If you’re thinking of doing a self-guided tour and this is your first time going on a longer trip, we highly recommend:

Georgia

Iceland

Motorcycle Shipping vs Renting

Whether you choose a guided or self-guided adventure motorcycle tour, you’ll need to figure out if you want to ride your own bike or hop on a rental. In many cases, a rental makes more sense logistically and financially: if you’re just going on a ten-day or two-week trip, there’s no point in shipping your own motorcycle, especially if the destination is remote. However, if you’re planning to ride for over two-three months, or if your chosen destination is fairly close and easy to ship to, you can take your own bike. After all, you picked your motorcycle for a reason, and it’s always better to ride something you know and are comfortable with.

If you are based in Europe, some of the closer and cheaper shipping destinations include Morocco, Georgia, and Iceland. If you’re in North America, it’s easy enough to ship your bike from coast to coast. However, if your trip is happening on another continent, consider getting a rental motorcycle. Keep in mind that inter-continental motorcycle shipping also takes much longer than sending your bike a few countries down: a trans-Atlantic crossing on a cargo ship, for example, can take up to three weeks or more.

What sort of adventure motorcycle tours: guided, self-guided, or independent – do you prefer, and why? Let us know in the comments below!

How to Plan a Motorcycle Trip

How to Plan a Motorcycle Trip

How to Plan a Motorcycle Trip

Doing the research, the homework, and the planning for a long-distance motorcycle trip is sometimes the bigger part of the process than the journey itself. If you are thinking of riding around your own country or continent, the task isn’t too complicated. But if you’re going around the world, or to another continent, the prep matters.

To help you out, we put together a simple template you can use when planning a motorcycle trip. The key sections include route, shipping, accommodation and fuel, and finally, safety. While there are always more things to plan and keep in mind, we hope that this template will at least give you a rough guide of where to begin.

Motorcycle Trip Routes

When it comes to planning out your route, there are several key factors you should consider. First off, what will be your on road and off-road ratio? Are you  going to stick to highways and main roads, or explore little dirt trails and back country routes? You need to figure out your expectations before putting the actual route together so that you can roughly calculate the mileage and the distances.

Speaking of which: always pay close attention to terrain. Three hundred miles might only mean five hours of riding across a flat terrain, but the same three hundred miles in the mountains can mean something entirely different.

How to Plan a Motorcycle Trip

In general, however, we recommend to keep the daily mileage under 250. This is not only because you may have unexpected delays, varying temperatures, different weather, and different terrain, but also because you’re on a motorcycle journey – which means you’ll need time to take it all in. Don’t rush your motorcycle trip, and don’t simply collect bucket list destinations. Take your time to explore and to immerse yourself in the local culture.

Once you’ve decided how much on road and off-road riding you’ll do, as well as calculated your daily mileage, it’s time to transfer the expectations on to a map. Depending on which continent you choose to ride, we recommend to plan a route that is as varied as possible. Include mountain twisties, coastal routes, stretches of desert or plains – the more diverse the landscape, the more fun you’ll have riding. Besides, this will help you deal with weather, temperature, and altitude changes. Switch it up as much as possible to enjoy the best your chosen continent has to offer.

How to Plan a Motorcycle Trip

Your bike will also determine your route!

For paved routes, all you need is Google Maps and an app that warns you about road closures or similar unexpected obsatcles, such as Maps Me. If you’re looking for off-road trails, use Google Earth option to zoom in and see if your chosen toure is paved or not. Alternatively, you can always ask for advice on online forums, such as Horizon Unlimited.

Motorcycle Shipping

For a lot of riders who are setting on a long-distance adventure motorcycle journey for the first time, motorcycle shipping may sound intimidating. However, it doesn’t have to be: there are several established shipping routes worldwide, and if you pick a reputable company to help you out, you won’t have to worry about paperwork or customs procedures.

In addition, motorcycle shipping doesn’t need to be expensive. Some of the cheapest international shipping routes are between North America, Europe, and South America, so if shipping budget is a big factor for you, pick one of these continents to explore. Keep in mind that sea freight is typically significantly cheaper than air freight, with very few exceptions. Finally, we recommend you look into return options instead of merely shipping one way, then looking for another shipping company to get your bike back home. Return shipping is much cheaper than booking two separate journeys.

How to Plan a Motorcycle Trip

Accommodation and Fuel Availability On the Road

Although going on a motorcycle trip on another continent such as South America or Asia may sound exotic, the reality is that the world ir rapidly developing. Most major cities and towns across the world will have plenty of accommodation options, and fuel availability is generally quite good even in more remote places like Patagonia or Mongolia.

However, if you’re planning to ride mostly off-road and explore some of the more remote regions of the world, it’s usually a good idea to carry your camping equipment with you and have at least a 400-kilometer fuel range. If your tank is small and you can’t find a decent aftermarket option, carry a fuel bladder or a jerry can just in case.

When it comes to accommodation, there most economical options are usually organized campsites, hostels, and AirBnBs. Depending on the comfort level you expect or require, accommodation can cost as little as $5 and as much as – well, as much as you’re willing to pay.

How to Plan a Motorcycle Trip

If you have planned a fairly detailed route, we suggest you book at least some of your accommodation in advance. Typically, booking online is cheaper than upon arrival, and you can score some good deals this way.

Travel Safety

Now that you’re all set, there’s one more thing to consider: travel safety. During a motorcycle trip, anything can happen, so be sure to purchase good travel insurance that covers motorcycle riding or motorsports. When it comes to safety on the road, the general rule of thumb is this: avoid riding in the dark, always carry water, and listen to the advice of the locals. The more you talk and connect with people, the more likely you are to get accurate route information and avoid trouble such as closed roads, protests, or simply sketchier areas tourists aren’t recommended to visit.

Needless to say, careful motorcycle trip planning will need some research, some time, and plenty of imagination, but we hope that this short guide can be a good place to start.

How to Plan a Motorcycle Trip

What’s the most important thing when planning a motorcycle trip for you? Let us know in the comments below!

 

How Much Does It Cost to Ride the World?

How Much Does It Cost to Ride the World?

How Much Does It Cost to Ride the World?

What do all adventure riders have in common? A dream to ride the world, of course. Whether it’s a traditional round-the-world circumnavigation or a journey completed leg by leg, riding around the world is on the bucket lists of many motorcycle travellers. However, budget is always a concern. So how much does it cost to ride the world?

If you’re dreaming to travel by motorcycle, your budget will depend on several different factors. Some riders simply take off and ride East or West until they come home from the opposite direction. But a round-the-world journey doesn’t have to be a straight circumnavigation. Very few of us can take off to roam the planet for months or even years. Most riders have jobs, families, and other commitments they can’t just leave for an indefinite period of time, and understandably so.

However, there are as many ways to ride around the world as there are people. Some riders choose to travel for a month or so, leave the motorcycle, and fly back home to see their families or go back to work. Then, after a break home, they fly back, get on the bike, and resume the trip. Another good way to see the world from the saddle of a motorcycle is go on motorcycle tours in select locations. This way, you’ll save a lot of time otherwise spent for planning and researching. Finally, you can always “fly and ride” – that is, rent a motorcycle in the locations you want to see the most, and ride the world in patches.

How much does it cost to ride the world

There is no right or wrong way to travel. So when it comes to the question of how much does it cost to ride the world, there isn’t a right answer, either. However, we put together some rough guidelines so you know what to expect.

Your Motorcycle

When it comes to long-distance travel budget, a lot will depend on the bike you choose. If you’re all about the highway speeds, comfort, and eating up the miles, you probably own a large capacity motorcycle, which will naturally require more fuel and potentially will be more expensive to maintain on the road.

Medium-range dual sport and enduro bikes seem to be among the most popular choice for long journeys, especially if you love riding off-road. These bikes are typically reliable, durable, and easy to fix yourself, bringing the fuel and service costs down.

Finally, there are people riding around the world on tiny Honda 90C’s, scooters, or small dirt bikes. If you’re all about those dirt tracks, this could be the perfect option for you. Again, a smaller bike will likely be more fuel efficient and cost less to maintain.

How much does it cost to ride the world

Fuel

Fuel costs vary greatly around the world. Gas costs less than water in Saudi Arabia, but your fuel bill will be significantly higher in countries like Norway or Switzerland. On average, however, fuel costs come out to about 60-70 eurocents per liter in continents like South America or regions like Central Asia.

The best policy to avoid paying astronomical fuel prices is to stick to the cheaper continents or countries. Avoid Western Europe and North America if you want to save on gas; go nuts in South America, Mongolia, Southeast Asia, and India. It’s all about balance!

Food and Accommodation

This is another tricky one. If you plan to camp and cook your own meals, your food and accommodation costs will be significantly lower than if you need a five-star hotel and a Michelin dinner every night. Nowadays, it’s much easier to plan your accommodation budget as you can always opt for not only hotels but also AirBnBs, hostels, and organized campsites or cabins.

If you treat your motorcycle trip as a journey rather than a holiday, you can save a significant chunk of change by planning ahead, staying in cheaper countries longer than in the expensive ones, and camping once in a while.

When it comes to food, generally this isn’t a big expense, especially if you enjoy street food or cook your own dinners. Depending on your dietary requirements and your palate, you can get away with as little as $10 a day for food.

How much does it cost to ride the world

Motorcycle Shipping

Whether you’re circumnavigating the world in one go or doing it in separate legs, you will have to ship your motorcycle across an ocean at some point. Done wrong, this can be a huge expense. However, if you choose wisely and plan smartly, you can expect to pay as little as 1,150 euros to ship your bike from Europe to South America, as an example. It all comes down to research and planning.

So what’s the bottom line and how much does it cost to ride the world? Depending on your bike, comfort level you need, and the amount of time you have to plan and prepare, you can expect to spend anywhere between $50 and $100 a day while on the road. Riders on bikes like the Suzuki DR650 or the Kawasaki KLR 650 who camp often, don’t mind street food, and do their own motorcycle maintenance, report spending about $50-60 a day including fuel, food, accommodation, and motorcycle shipping costs. Riders on larger capacity bikes who prefer hotel stays and good dinners may spend anywhere between $70-$100 while on the road.

The choice, ultimately, is yours. Where will you be riding in 2020?