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Returning rider after 20 years

Discussion in 'Bike Reviews, Questions and Suggestions' at netrider.net.au started by Expat42451, Oct 24, 2014.

  1. Like to say hello to all on the forum here. I am currently in Piura Peru, am from the US but have been wandering about South America for the last couple of years with a backpack and not much else.

    After doing both a web search and a search on this forum I decided to join here seeking advice from those of you that have more recent experience than I.

    We no longer import to the US , the Honda XR250. It is still sold here in South America and is called the Tornado. I walked by the Honda shop today and saw one of them,a 2014 model, went in and after spending about 2 hours there in two different visits I am thinking about buying one. Aside from getting me off the bus for traveling, it would give me the freedom to go where I want to and stop when I wish. The ultimate goal is down to Patagonia.

    I would have to install pannier bags or boxes. It is mountainous here in some places. I also understand that 250cc isn't much HP wise- and a single isn't going to be as smooth - rider fatigue. Last year in Ecuador I looked at a used 850 BMW, was not comfortable on the bike and was put off by the weight. The XR250 is more comfortable for me plus its less money - $4400 USD new compared to $11K for the used BMW last year. I read that the XR250 is almost bullet proof reliability wise. Finally, messing about here I am not going to be going anywhere in any hurry. Ditto Patagonia, plan to camp, stop when a place looks interesting and so forth.

    On the plus side, the bike is new, has a good reputation and is well supported all over South America so when I break something it won't be impossible to get it. It is light. Also I understand that fuel economy is good as well and for $6 a gallon for gasoline here thats also important. I also figured that with the 5 (I think its 5 speed and not 6 but am not sure) speed tranny, the bike will do ok both on road and for light off road use. Negatives as I see them are not much HP, single cylinder and electric start only.

    Any comments or suggestions would be appreciated. Any comments on problems or weaknesses as well. Finally, I am 63 years old good health and have not owned a bike in 20 years.

    Regards to all of you from South America


  2. Welcome to Netrider, and envy-central; many of us would love to be doing what you're doing. As for the bike, its smaller engine will force you to be frugal with the gear you pack, a good thing, but Hondas can be serviced anywhere and because Honda is the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world by a country mile, you should be able to get parts easily too....

  3. Hornet

    Many kind thanks for the interest and the reply. Understand about the necessity for frugality completely. Thats ok though because you should see the mountain of stuff I got rid of before coming down here in 2012. I do have another question which I will add here- given the altitude and given this bike has a carb rather than fuel injection- Is there any need to carry additional jets for higher altitudes. Realistically on a trip like this one could expect to get up to between 3000 and 4000 meters above sea level. I expect a pretty good horsepower loss at altitude. I asked one of the salesmen at the Honda shop about this today and his words were something to the effect that the carb would compensate for this. I personally don't understand how but there are things I do not know. He did say- and I have seen this both here in Peru and Ecuador- that the XR250 is used a lot in the farming community so I consider that a plus.

    I am pretty handy with tools and have maintained earlier bikes - I didn't see anything on this one that would intimidate me or anything that looked like it would need a computer - except for the instrument pod which is digital.

    Thanks as well for the kind comment about wanting to do this. I am divorced, don't have any close family and after a couple of years living where a lot of people my age sit around and watch tv, I knew that I didn't want that kind of life. So here I am- backpacking is fine but the limitations of the bus- and the lack of privacy- has gotten wearing. I find a bike and the open road a great place to be alone with ones' thoughts.

    Again many thanks and regards

  4. I'd be more inclined to ask the tuning question of a local; perhaps a Honda mechanic or dealer there? I'm sure there's an answer to it, because thousands of people around the world in all sorts of strange places do what you are planning. A specialist group here in Australia run tours in the Himalayas using Royal Enfield 500 singles, with carbies, and they seem to have no issues......

  5. Hornet

    I will go back tomorrow to ask this again.... this was a Honda dealer and I was talking to a salesman. I will find a mechanic tomorrow and thanks very much for your suggestion. We are pretty much in the flatlands in this part of Peru but go much either north or south and it changes rapidly.

    I ran into a couple from down your way last year in Colombia. They went to the US from Aus, bought a bike, rode the US, down through Mexico and Central America, then brought it across the Darien Gap between Panama and Colombia as deck cargo on a big schooner. A couple from I think Germany are running that boat back and forth- both for back packers and for people traveling the Americas on motorbikes. He said a couple of years before, they spent 2 years in India traveling on one of the Royal Enfield 500's and I think he also said it was a knockoff made in India. I haven't seen an Enfield in years, never have ridden one but they seem great bikes. Hopefully this Honda will do as well.

    Going to be interesting to see how this all goes. I am going to try to look at accessories tomorrow as well


  6. @Expat42451@Expat42451 I don't have enough knowledge to offer anything useful, but want to echo hornet's envy. What a fantastic thing to do! Kudos, and I hope it goes well. Certainly agree that a bike would be a great way to do that kind of travelling (I have similar aspirations).

  7. Cris

    Many thanks for the kind words and encouragement ! Why don't you and Hornet hop a plane over here and lets do the ride together. It would give me an excuse to return the favour and visit, to come down under and ride Aus which I would love to do.

    I sort of touched on this in an earlier post- after knocking around here in the Northern part of S.A. since June of 2012- here in Peru, in Colombia and Ecuador- and doing it all by bus- I want a change. Most all of the buses run from one town to another. There've been a lot of times I have from the bus, seen places I wanted to stop and investigate but was unable to. I used to carry my GPS on the bus, drop markers whenever I would see a place and make notes of why to come back. However getting back was/is a big problem so I quit doing that. Thought about buying a small 4x4 of some type here as well but even used ones are 2-3 times what the same truck in the US would cost. Earlier this evening in my walking about in city centre I passed a gas station and gasoline here for 90 octane, is the equivalent of $6 US a gallon. A bike seems the way to go both being able to stop when I see a place and from an economy standpoint because of fuel costs.

    As an interesting comparison- in Ecuador this same bike costs US$ 7000 new compared to $4400 here. However in Ecuador, fuel is around $2 a gallon for 90 octane. Go figure.

    Again thanks for the kind words and interest

  8. @Expat42451@Expat42451 Lovely idea, but my 'aspiration' as yet short of a method of funding ;)

    I think you're spot on re bike as the way to go -- I've just come home from a few thousand k's trip for a fraction of what it would have cost me in any car, and was able to get to spots that would have required a 4WD. And it was great fun!

    If you find the time to keep us up to date with your decision, I'm sure there'd be plenty of interest. And should you make it to Australia some time, I have no doubt you'll get a welcoming reception from riders here.

  9. Cris

    You are most excellent. Thanks very much for the kind words ! Where was the trip and on what kinda bike did you have the adventure?

    Today out looking at bags. Will have prices tomorrow hopefully. Also got to get out and look for a GPS- my handheld Garmin has developed screen problems plus its a bit small to be peering down at while driving...... of course there is always a compass and a map.

    As an aside I went to city hall today to find out what it would take to get permission to drive here in Peru. They require you to do additional documentation past your normal DL from your home country. Its surprisingly simple though. I ran into a guy with a Transito uniform on outside of the building - Transit police here are separate from normal police ( and some of the women in the transit police are pretty enough to cause pileups at intersections! Jesus you wouldn't believe!) ....oops distracted there....anyway the guy ended up spending about 20 minutes with me describing what I needed to do and told me to come to his office when I was ready....turns out he is the head of the transit department for the city here. Unreal kindness and help from many of these people. Now to find a good looking transit officer to ride two up for a while........

  10. @Expat42451@Expat42451 my trip was from where I live (Lismore, Northern NSW) to Melbourne, then back a long way round (via outback towns of Broken Hill and Bourke). It was mainly functional (I had to be in Melbourne for something), but thought I would make a slightly bigger event of it by choosing a silly route for the way back. The bike's a 2013 Honda CB500X, my first (took up riding as a 51 year old late starter this July).

    Not so adventurous by your standards -- all done in my own country with everything familiar and no exotic bureaucracies to confront! But a great experience, and confirmed for me the positives I had anticipated for travelling by motorbike: can get just about anywhere, has good fuel economy, allows you to enjoy a keener sense of the landscape than behind glass, tends to promote conversations (I take that as a good thing!). It really was fun, and forced me to push my nascent riding skills along a fair bit.

  11. Cris

    That sounds like an excellent trip. Far as starting at a late age, at 63 with 20 years absence I mentally am treating whatever skills I have left as non existent- If I can find a riding course here I m going to take it because its simply been too long. Also going to try to ride for a month or so with one other person occasionally thats more skilled than I.

    For me as far as adventure goes, the adventure is the highway that hasn't been kissed by your tires, the next turn that you haven't leaned into, the view that comes when you crest the next hill. The PanAm highway here is one route south. However its not something I particularly want to ride on because of the traffic and because its built up in a lot of areas in Peru.I imagine the same for Chile and some parts of Argentina until one gets way south. So Im going to be looking for less travelled paths, what it sounds like you did on your trip back from Melbourne on the roundabout way. I ve looked at Aus a lot on Google Earth and seems like you probably have about the same population density there in many places as found way down south of here Argentina, Patagonia and getting where you can see Cape Horn from the backside. You guys are blessed with a lot of open spaces where there isn't anybody, something I like.

    The CB500X is a beautiful bike, I looked at them online after getting your post. What I fret about is 250cc and the mountains and loss of HP with altitude. I still don't have any answer from mechanics about HP loss. The problem here in Piura in North Peru is the 250 cc is the largest available at any dealer, none of them carry anything larger . I ve been to both of the Honda shops and to Yamaha and even stopped in one of the Chinese dealers ( no Im not considering Chinese). To get a larger bike is an 18 hour bus ride from here to Lima. I may decide to do that although I like the Honda 250 Tornado. I did find a dealer for KTM that has the 390 Duke for sale, what a beautiful bike and probably totally unsuitable for my trip though, at least for getting off the pavement. I do worry about HP.

    Will update as the saga unfolds. Thanks and good riding.

  12. @Expat42451@Expat42451 Australia is indeed blessed with an abundance of sparsely populated places to visit. If you want to escape the plagues of bloated-RV toting folk (with their generators, TVs, dogs etc making me wonder why they don't just stay in the suburbs) though, you increasingly need to tend away from major roads and stopping places, which in a hot arid continent has its challenges (survival not the least!).

    On your motorcycle dilemma, there seem to be plenty of accounts around of people doing very extensive SA trips on small-displacement bikes (check out my heroine Cristy Farrell at http://moterrific.com/about-us/!). As you want to be on roads-less-travelled, then I imagine high daily mileages aren't going to be on your agenda, so how much does the bike's power matter for your purposes anyway (obviously within the limits that it needs to get you + luggage up the hills!). And wouldn't locally-sourced bikes come tuned to a happy medium for that environment (ie. a bit rich for the higher altitudes, lean for lower)? Or is that assuming too much?

    Maybe you should ask at http://advrider.com, which seems to be a hangout for riders doing some pretty serious long tours.

    And, yes, I love my CB500X. It was a good choice for my current purposes (learning to ride as safely as I can, and getting in some long-distance trips). I can't say I've ever been as attached to any car I've ever owned.

  13. Cris

    Before I came out this time- in 2012, I headed to one of the state parks in the NW part of Alabama, a place where I camped for 40 years. In my absence they opened an RV park- there were no longer deer or opossum or armadillo, nor were there any birds to speak of- it was eery compared to what it was years before- so definitely agree about why not stay in the suburbs vs an RV.

    Understand the need for the desert survival skill- it will be needed here because much of the coast is arid. I ve done some backpacking in the desert SW of the US but I am not any expert so plan to go carefully. Daily mileage isn't going top be the object, rather the experience. I doubt given finances and age, that I will have many more of these in me but I sincerely hope I am wrong....

    Thanks very much for the link to Cristy Farrell and to AVRider as well. I will use those both as resources and inspiration.

    Understand as well about the bike/rider relationship. Well put.

    Thanks. Will try to post more tomorrow. It is a pleasure corresponding with you. One question- do you or have you carried one of the SPOT beacons- its a GPS device I probably will purchase.

  14. No, I haven't (really haven't done much remote enough to have required such things). I assume it's an epirb-like device?

    Good chatting to you too! Cheers, Cris.

  15. Cris
    it is here


    I ve done some climbing and trekking since I ve been out this time. If I get a bike definitely and going to get one of these.

  16. I started riding at 60, now 63. Did 1200 miles riding the us Route 66 and national parks. And 30000 kms in oz. Love what you are doing. Actually coming to sth America next March for 5 weeks but not on a bike. Recently met 2 young French girls riding around Australia on 2 honda 250s on L plates with camping gear. They were having a ball. I would be a bit worried riding a brand new bike as it might attract attention to you. Perhaps a good second hand bike would be better.
    Sounds like an excellent adventure.
  17. How recently did you meet these girls and which way were they heading
    • Funny Funny x 1
  18. About a month ago in Coffs Harbour and they wanted to know what the ride was like from Adelaide to Cairns!!
  19. Hi expat

    Sounds like a blast, and sounds as if you're fit enough for it. But I was wondering if the XR250 is kickstart or elec start, and if at 63 you are ok at uber repeat kicking when she's having a bad day. Have previous experience with my old XT500 thumper (The biatch) of her absolutely wiping me out when she didn't want to start lol. And I was in my late teens/early twenties back then....