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Noob riding across the USA

Discussion in 'Roads, Touring, Journeys, and Travel' started by fliving, Aug 21, 2015.

  1. Hey all,

    I know there are other posts about riding across america, but I couldnt find the answers to my questions in those posts, so i thought id start my own and see what i can garner.

    I'm currently trying to make a pipe dream a reality: to fly to america, buy a motorbike and ride it across the country, maybe this time next year.

    Maybe it's unrealistic (like i said, pipe dream), but ideally I'd love to spend 3-4 months riding from East (somewhere around New York) to South (Texas) to West (San Francisco).

    I currently don't have a motorbike licence in Australia, but have ridden dirtbikes/motorcross for years, so am comfortable riding a motorbike. Would it be essential that i get a motorbike licence and get some experience riding on the roads in Australia first, maybe do my time on my Learners Permit first? Can I just go across with an Australian motorbike licence and just get a motorbike and start riding?

    I'm thinking of buying a bike second hand somewhere in the East then either sell it at the end, or perhaps ship it back to Aus. Any ideas on the practicalities of either of these options?

    Anything else I need to take into consideration?

    Thanks for reading!
  2. Nice concept mate, enjoy it! You can buy and sell locally, I know a guy who did that with a car - sold it after about a year and didn't lose too much money. I would be getting an Aussie license and importantly getting used to road riding before you go - while your bike skills may be sufficient, I'd suggest you will need to develop some "riding roadcraft" in local conditions you're familiar with (left hand side for a start) rather than trying to do it all at once when you get to the USA. You'll also need to get used to long distance riding because it can wipe you out a bit if you're not used to it - particularly if you're doing fair distance daily for days at a time.

    Also - not sure of USA law but I'd imagine you'd need an Aussie license in order to rent a bike anyway. May need to check if L's/P's do the trick or if you need a full license as this may affect the timing of your trip.

  3. Thanks for the info, Chillibutton!

    Yeh i agree it would be best to get my L's and get some experience here in Australia first...Was just thinking in terms of budget. But you can't put a price on safety, right!
    And yeh, no doubt you'd need a license to ride a bike legally in the US anyways - a hired bike or not. Was just thinking that if money was a problem I'd get my L's before leaving and then go over fresh and start from scratch. But I do realise that is a dumb idea, going over with no licensed, on-road experience. I love the idea of being adventurous, but that's probably just asking for trouble.

    Also, I wonder how practical it would be to have my bike set up so that I can pack a small tent or swag on it too, so that I can camp whenever/wherever possible (what a lovely surpise it would be waking up to a grizzly bear standing over you!), and then just find somewhere to bath and eat when need be. Might be being optimistic/unrealistic there, but something id like to consider.
  4. I've done some research (will be there next month, renting), and I believe you really ought to get your full Aussie motorcycle licence before attempting this.
    The conditions of your home licence apply on international licences, and the laws governing what you are allowed to ride vary quite a lot between states in the US. What you can buy in one state may be illegal for you to ride in another. Once you've got a full licence that is no longer a problem.
    Virtually impossible to rent without a full licence too.
    Even more importantly, you'll have some road experience to help you deal with the very different road rules and conditions over there.
    On top of everything else, a full size bike will cope far more comfortably with the huge distances involved. It's whole other level to zipping around east coast Oz.
    The good news - it's a fantastic plan, it will be an absolutely great experience.
    Take the time to do it right, and get started on the licence right now.
    There's nothing to stop you buying a bike and selling it at the end (although the local bureaucracy is tiresome, even for locals), but you will need to fit it all in on what a tourist visa will allow you to cover. IIRC someone here has a bike garaged over there and is doing it in instalments.
    I am a bit doubtful about shipping it back to Oz. It's quite difficult to register a personal import that is not of classic age. and newer bikes aren't generally cheap enough to justify the shipping and customs costs. However I reckon you could pick up a serviceable Japanese machine, perhaps no longer fashionable, for a price that would make it feasible to take a loss on sale at the end.
    • Agree Agree x 3
    • Informative Informative x 1
  5. Plenty guys on here do a lot of riding tours with camping - so hopefully they will chime in on equipment etc. But whatever bike you get will need to be able to do highway speeds easily and also carry a bit of gear (panniers/racks etc) - so think mid-larger cc and with fairing etc. Not supersports or naked I'd think.
  6. Just a quick note, to import a bike as a personal import, you must have owned it, and resided in the country of origin for the last 12 months. they will look at your passport to confirm these days, because it is no longer to just have owned it for 12 months.
  7. #7 fliving, Aug 21, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 26, 2016

    Thanks for the great info, Titus, very insightful.

    But can you please clarify what do you mean by:

    "(although the local bureaucracy is tiresome, even for locals)" - what do you mean by bureaucracy?

    "you will need to fit it all in on what a tourist visa will allow you to cover." - does the visa limit ability to buy and sell things over there?

    "IIRC (abbreviation?) someone here has a bike garaged over there and is doing it in installments" - do you mean someone has a bike over there located in a garage and they're paying installments on it?

    "you could pick up a serviceable Japanese machine, perhaps no longer fashionable, for a price that would make it feasible to take a loss on sale at the end" - any ideas what some ideal models would be? i would imagine i would be needing above 250cc for the distances, and something that is not a sports bike? Some sort of touring bike?

    Cheers again for the time and help, like i said, i am a complete noob haha.

    yup, panniers/racks would be a must. and im thinking perhaps somewhere around the 600cc mark might be necessary.

    Thanks Tweet, that is really handy to know.

    Would be nice to bring it back to Aus with me, for sentimental reasons after what i presume will be a great adventure. But happy to sell it on at the end for the sake of less complexities, plus to try get a little bit of money back to bring home with me and my broke, job-less ass! haha
    • Winner Winner x 1
  8. My 2c - something that you can also ride dirt roads and off the beaten track, you never know where you may want to go.
    So Bmw R series (may be pricey), Suzi Vstrom, yammie super tenere, etc. check this link to Bike Sales in Adventure touring category to see what I mean. Ignore prices, will all be less in the USA .
    831 Used Adventure Touring - Road Motorbikes for Sale - bikesales.com.au
  9. Read this:
    Twisting Throttle America, by Mike Hyde - 50 states in 60 days. He's a Kiwi, great bloke. A good read, a good laugh and he certainly lays down the k's. He did Twisting Throttle Aussie before that.
  10. #11 Vertical C, Aug 21, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2015
    I have ridden across on a rented bike

    Personally i would buy a used gpx250 called a ninja 250 there. You can buy in california and get it registered in your name with only an address. I bought a klr650 with CA plates in south America on another trip so you can do it.

    A gpx250 is better. They are cheap to buy cheap to run cheap on fuel, not likely to get stolen. The vulcan would use another two litres to three litres per 100km. That adds up.

    Plus you cant get a licence so you need one here. So you are restricted to your licence conditions by your travel insurance and therefore a lams bike. You would be mad to travel to America without travel insurance because if you crash they wont help you.

    Just use throwover sadlebags. That saves you a couple hundred. If you scratch the paint a bit its only a cheap bike.

    You could camp most of the way across. North east would be more problematic if you dont want to pay. I camped a few days. In Colorado didnt pay. Paid in Louisiana and North Carolina. Though i could of stealth camped for free.

    Stealth camped one night and got investigated by the popo too
  11. I mean that they are no more helpful than they are here. You will need a local address for registration although it can sometimes be be a hotel. Requirements vary a lot but it's sometimes worthwhile going to the state capital to get registration processed on the spot rather than wait for documents to be forwarded from a sub office; You should research the state yu intend to buy in.

    No, not ususally. I just mean that there will be a time limit on a tourist visa or ESTA entry conditions.

    No, If I Recall Correctly, a Netrider member here owns a bike in the US and flys back to ride it from time to time. I think.

    I can't really offer much here except to say that I would find anything under 600cc exhausting, and 1,000cc+ would be better again. I'd be looking for something old with reasonable miles but used and not left rotting for years.
  12. If you get your license here, you'll be confident to do the ride on a bigger motorcycle once you get there, which considering the length of the journey, a bigger bike is a good idea in my opinion.
  13. #14 fliving, Aug 25, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 26, 2016
    Thanks for all the fantastic help and advice guys, i really do appreciate it.

    so in the meantime, I have decided to get my motorbike licence and get a Lam to get some practice beforehand.

    I have found a pretty cheap 1992 Kawasaki ZZR600 for $1300 that looks like it is in ok condition (allegedly the engine is fine, just a bit of cosmetic damage, which i really dont care about). it might turn out to be a bit of a lemon, but really if i can get a year or two out of it and then even if i sell it for scrap, id probably be happy with that. Also, i kind of want a bike that is a little bit bigger as parents live 4 hours away from Melbourne and Id like to be able to go for a ride to see them every now and then (not to mention rides down the Great Ocean Road in summer). If anyone has any opinions on this idea/plan of mine, i would really love to hear them. the link is below:

    1992 Kawasaki zzr600 rego till Aug 2015 | Motorcycles | Gumtree Australia Mitchell Area - Wallan | 1085463265

    Then ive gotta get rego (about $500) plus i presume an RWC (which i believe to be roughly around $100), riding gear (second hand, hopefully i can pick up for everything i need for $2-300 total, and the cost of getting my license. However, I can't seem to find anywhere on Vicroads etc. how much it costs to get your license. I have my full car drivers license, so that means i dont have to do the computer test thing, i just have to do the riding test. does anyone have any idea how much that costs.

    Ideally I'd love to get on the road with a bike at around $2-2300 in total (may include haggling on the price of the above bike)

    one other thing, im considering letting my car rego lapse and putting the car in the garage for a year or so until i decide i would prefer a car again. It's a 1998 toyota corolla, and whilst it is a great car and doesnt seem to have anything obviously wrong with it, it has done 330,000 ks, so im wondering if i let it lapse and then have to get an RWC if/when i decide to get it registered to drive again some time in the future it might be more expensive to get it back on the road than its worth. for bonus points, does anyone know if it is much hassle getting a car back on the road if you let the rego lapse? i specifically know if there is anything seroiusly wrong with my car which would mean it would cost too much to get back on the road, but just trying to work out it its best to just pay the rego again and cop that on top of the price of getting a bike on the road.

    apologies for the long post and all the questions, but i woould be super appreciative for opinions and advice.

    thanks guys!

    or perhaps i should avoid the bike im looking at as it has clocked over 70 000 k's and has had two owners. The current owner only got it serviced when he got it two years ago and then had the carbies serviced just recently, and there is no way of knowing how much the previous owner before him got it serviced....hmmmm, i dunno.
  14. I dont think a ZZR600 will be learner legal. They have around 100hp from memory
  15. yeh its around 97hp, but thats only about 71kw (a LAM can be up to 150kw, i believe)
  16. Mate with 330k on the clock I'd let the car go, to re-register you'd need RWC again and who knows what might need to be done. My opinion only...if you can sell that you have a few more $ for a bike lol.

    L courses at HART are around $250 from memory which is a day of training plus the L test at the end.

    Re bikes, there are a few at $3k which you could knock down a little, like the GS500F on this link...

    12 Used LAMS Motorbikes for Sale - bikesales.com.au
  17. Thanks for the info Chillibutton,

    Yeh i know what you mean with getting rid of the car...its just that it has ALOT of sentimental value...has been in my family from my parents, down through all my siblings to me at the bottom. Im thinking about taking it to a mechanics and seeing if they reckon it would just be too much trouble to get an RWC on it again in the future if i decided to register it again. Alternatively Ill just fork out the $600 odd to get it registered again. like i said, its not showing any obvious signs of stopping just yet.

    re the cost of getting the motorbike license...id probably skip the training (i know im not an expert, but im confident in myself enough to get by without it i reckon - and its just money id prefer to save on if possible (sorry, i know i sound like an ignorant dick)). so im hoping the cost of the license without the training wouldnt be too much more than say 50-100 (but maybe thats naive, i dunno)

    and thanks for the link to the Lams bikes for sale. so the ZZR600 is not LAMs approved? or does that ZZR600 just look like a ticking timebomb? i like the GS500F, but maybe a bit out of my price range, especially with the rego on it due again in October.

    But look, realisitcally, i may be being too unrealistic looking for something bigger than a 250 that is not a complete lemon and under 2500.
  18. Zzr 600 is not lams

    Zzr250 is

    Skipping training is false economy
    • Agree Agree x 2
  19. According to bike sales website filtering for LAMS, the Zzr600 is not LAMS approved.