How To Go Adventure Touring On A Budget

How To -

By

Budget Adventure Touring

Budget ADV Modications
A tall screen like this one isn’t just good for keeping the wind off. It can help keep you dry in a rainstorm and warm in cold weather, too.

The Modifications
Want to enable your bike to safely and easily traverse a fire road or trail? The most important factor is going to be tires. Remember the Ducati TerraCorsa? Continental TKC80s enabled an exotic Italian superbike to go anywhere a GS could and even tackle some single track. I was able to complete last year’s Taste of Dakar event aboard a humble NC700X in confident ease because of those same tires. No matter what bike you’re riding or how many mountain silhouettes are plastered in sticker form along its sides, tires are the major determining factor when it comes to dirt ability.

Bear in mind, though, that any adventure is a compromise. TKC80s may be the ideal tire for the Dalton Highway, but you’d burn through two sets just before you got there riding on paved roads. If you’re planning big distances, then sacrificing some off-road ability for the ability to make it there may be necessary.

Next up is protection. Any bike you plan on using over long distances or off-road or both needs some serious protection parts. Start with the sump which, on-road, can be penetrated by a simple rock shot up by the front wheel on the highway. Speaking of which, extending your fenders (front and rear) is a great idea. Next, you’ll want to protect your radiator, both from debris and direct impacts. Holing it will end your journey, period. You should also protect the levers and bars with Barkbusters or similar and provide some total bike crash protection with engine/frame guards of some kind.

It’s also entirely likely that your bike is a long way from being ergonomically ideal. If your trip is going to involve several solid days on the highway, then seated comfort is a major factor. If you’re venturing off-road, then you’ll want to be able to stand while retaining good control and, again, in comfort. Any bike’s handlebars are adjustable in height through the aftermarket, there’s a huge variety of fixes for bad seats and footpegs are cheap and easy to replace. A larger windshield is also a great idea.

You’re also going to need to carry stuff. The cheapest option is a bungee net, the most expensive is hard luggage. The latter is obviously secure and waterproof, the former takes some care to use properly. Just figure out what fits your budget and bike best and pare down your equipment to a comfortable minimum; you don’t want to overload your bike, impinge on your riding area or create a giant sail which flaps in the wind.

Budget ADV Luggage
Preparation should begin before the road ends.

What To Take With You
Water, fuel and stuff to repair/replace your tires. The rest is optional.

Water: At a minimum, one gallon of water per person, per day. If you’re traveling through the desert or in another place where water is scarce, take some extra in case you break down or get stranded.

Fuel: More than enough to cover the intended mileage between fuel stops remembering that your range will halve off-road.

Tire Repair: If you have tubes, take spare ones and all the tools you need to replace them. Practice before you go. If you’re tubeless, take a good tire plug kit and know how to use it. You will get flat tires.

Bike Repair: You can’t take an entire garage full of tools and parts with you. Know your bike and make smart decisions on packing based on what will most likely fail or need to be repaired. At a minimum, be prepared to deal with basic crash damage or a simple breakdown.

Camping Stuff: You’ll want a tent, a sleeping pad and a sleeping bag rated for a colder temperature than you’re likely to encounter. Pack stuff to purify water, start a fire and see at night. Shoes to walk around in when you’re done riding for the day – water shoes or sandals are a great idea. Oh, and don’t forget the food. Hard liquor packs much more alcohol-per-volume than beer and doesn’t need to be refrigerated, nor will it experience adverse effects when it spends all day being shaken up.

ADV Budget
AltRider’s Jeremy LeBreton makes this look easy. It’s not.

Safety
You know motorcycles are dangerous. You also know you can control how much risk you’re exposed to by riding safely. That becomes doubly, triply important when you’re riding off-road, a long way from home.

As mentioned above, getting into real trouble outside of cell reception can have dire consequences. You can reduce that direness by riding with a buddy or buddies and managing your risks. Build a good First Aid kit specifically designed to deal with large, mechanical injuries of the type sustained in a motorcycle accident. Include in it: Quick Clot, SAM Splint, Krazy Glue, duct tape, Motrin, Benadryl, a snake bite pump, blister aids, ACE bandages, anti-diarrhea medicine and more than enough of any prescription medicine you might require.

If you’re unsure of your bike or you can’t manage an obstacle — deep water crossing, deep sand, a steep hill — get off your bike and walk it first. If you don’t think you can make it through, don’t try to. Find another way around or head in a different direction.

100 miles from the nearest road, in the middle of nowhere, isn’t the time to teach yourself how to drift a motorcycle. Enjoy the sites, have a good time riding your bike within its and your own limits and you’ll come home with stories to tell.

What was your last adventure? What did you learn that other motorcyclists should know?

  • mms

    Flashlight, sunblock, WD-40, bottle of Nu-Skin, and a towel. Even when I wasn’t camping, a lot of the places I stayed didn’t provide towels. I dropped this darn bike 20+ times in 3 months around Australia, after a while started carrying around a spare set of turn signals and some electrical tape also. Dual sport tires would have been a godsend. As would have a GPS. The most useful thing I had was a book that showed me which roads were paved and which were dirt and which were gravel. The most important thing I learned was to try my damndest to be somewhere before sundown.

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      Awesome.

    • MrDefo

      Obviously you should bring a towel – has the Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy taught us nothing?
      Also – Don’t Panic!

      • mms

        Ah, you can panic if you really need to, as long as you keep a firm grip on that towel ;) Can’t see it in this pic but there were hardware store house number stickers on the back of my helmet that said “42″ :)

        It was a great trip, and neither I nor the bike looked better than when we were coated in dirt and dust and sweat and blood. I still have a chunk of blue fairing around here somewhere! Ditched the saddlebags after a month or two, it was too much stuff. In the pic below I was taking shelter during a massive rainstorm. Other pic is obviously without gear. ATGATT is rough in a heatwave but I stuck to it. If this gives anyone helpful ideas, I bought the bike on ebay the day after I arrived. Why ship? Sell it when you leave.

        • MrDefo

          Awesome. Nice hat, reads the classics, knows how to flog a bike – what’s not to like?
          Looks like you had fun :)

          • mms

            Thank you! I sure wanted to stay. Hopefully someday I’ll get fired or laid off again while I’ve got a good chunk of change in my savings account and can ride across Europe or South America or somewhere. Might head to the Burt Munro Challenge in NZ this Nov.

    • http://metabomber.com/ Jesse

      Looks the part. Well done, great advice.

  • Vitor Santos

    A bottle of chain grease, a map, installed myself a charging 12v doc for charging my phone that i used as a gps and away i go in a 1379 miles trip all around my country, Portugal, for 5 days all by myself, with only 6 months of having a motorcycle licence. All you need is the urge to go…

    • Gonfern

      That’s beautiful. On vacation last year I drove (….sigh) to the top of Serra da Estrela. Promissed myself that the next time I go back to Portugal, I will rent a bike instead of a car.

      • Vitor Santos

        yep, you should :) You definitely have to ride this road! Its N221, from Mogadouro to Figueira de castelo Rodrigo. Nicest twisted road on the trip, amazing scenery and with almost 0 traffic. But there are really close seconds. You should also try going to geres, and take the N304 from Ponte da Barca to Lobios in Spain then back to Portugal to Vilar da Veiga,

    • Gustavo Gonçalves

      Nice! Um abraço

  • Guy S

    Anything over 250cc’s for adventure is bourgeois nonsense!

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      Awesome setup! Mind detailing it for us?

      • Guy S

        No problem, the bike was sadly wrecked and stolen from the scene so im going off memory but…

        Cycra hand guards
        Seat Concepts seat
        Spitfire universal windshield
        DRC edge tail light
        Flatland racing skid plate
        Flatland racing radiator guard
        Wolfman rear rack
        Wolfman Side rack
        2x pelican 1430′s sitting on Happy-Trails Pannier Mount Kit
        Wolfman expedition duffel medium
        RFX shift lever
        and some bar risers
        As i recall that was the whole setup.

        I took a 3,500 mile cross country trek in the late summer from Colorado(the picture was taken on top of the continental divide) to NYC. As i remember the whole set up cost me a bit less then a new G650gs and left me enough money for gas for the entire trip (which was around $200 by the time i reached the Atlantic).

        I left the bike stock as far as performance and it was an absolute pleasure for the whole trip. I avoided interstates as much as possible and didnt find the bike’s limited top speed to really be a problem on the backroads. The only things i would do different to the bike is invest in some sheepskin for the seat and a drastically larger tank (which was not available at the time, an probably still isn’t). If i still had the bike in my driveway i would not hesitate to take it all the way to Argentina and back.

        • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

          Awesome. The rear shock wasn’t overwhelmed with all that extra weight?

          • Guy S

            It was and by me aswell (250lbs) but with all the trail riding i did it never seemed to really be so bad it warranted the cash to change it. If i was to do anything to the performance i would defiantly consider a new suspension set up but it was no where near a necessity for me.

            • Nathan Haley

              For anyone who’s interested – the CRF250L rear preload IS adjustable, just a little tricky to get to. Maxing it out makes a noticeable difference in the bike’s ability to cope with heavy loads – and it makes the bike ride a little taller (w/ sag) and feel a little more dirtbikey. Then again, lots of heavy guys make it work with no preload adjustment whatsoever, so it all comes down to preference!

          • Dave Mason

            From what I’ve seen it’s an even greater surprise that the subframe held out. Probably just a matter of time.

            • Nathan Haley

              They’re actually pretty tough. CRFLs have been on several-thousand-mile trips, fully laden – see the “Lost Rider” thread on advrider.com. I haven’t heard many issues with cracked subframes.

              If you’re doing a 20,000-mile off-road adventure, you’re going to need subframe reinforcement even on an R1200GS (in Long Way Round a cracked frame killed off the cameraman’s R1200GS, if I recall correctly).

              • Dave Mason

                I was following the CRF250L owner’s thread on advrider and there were a rash of owners will failures. I’m certainly no expert but personally I’d be pretty conservative about what I pile onto the subframe of any 250.

                • Nathan Haley

                  If you plan on carrying a lot of luggage over rough terrain, you should reinforce your rear subframe – but this is not at all unique to 250s. I’ve seen cracked/warped/damaged frames on XL650Rs, Tiger 800s, R1200GSs, KLR650s, BMW F650/G650GSs, Husqvarna TE610s…basically any bike that goes adventure riding. I would say frame failure is far more common among the bigger bikes in fact. I don’t buy the whole “it’s a 250 so its frame can’t handle luggage” argument at all.

                  And let’s not even get into which bike frames are best at handling their own tip-overs! (I’m speaking about Triumph 800s – great bikes, but known to be totaled after tipping over at 0mph because of rear frame damage – they don’t even have a rear subframe, so the impact warps the frame beneath!)

                • Dave Mason

                  Don’t get me wrong. I find the 250L to be very appealing. I have a 230F and really enjoy it. If I thought I could be comfortable (and safe) riding a couple hundred miles of slab at a time on one I’d be very likely to buy one. Heck, might buy one anyway.

                • Nathan Haley

                  You should give it a try! I’ve never ridden a 230F but if it’s anything like my old TW200 (air-cooled sewing machine) it’s probably very rough on the highway. My CRFL is a totally different animal – very composed, very little vibration from the torquey engine and a 6-speed wide-ratio tranny. Of course it’s not ideal for the highway because of the light weight (it gets blown around) and lack of wind protection (YOU get blown around) but I think it’s about as good as a bike gets while still being able to tackle single-track with some degree of ease.

                • Dave Mason

                  The 230F is off-road only, it’s power and gearing limit it to a top speed of about 50MPH, so I’m certain there is no comparison between the two. If my kids don’t ride their dirt bike much this year I plan to sell both and get a 250L. One thing I will have to keep in mind is the weight difference. The 230F is only about 225lbs. I can throw it on the ground and simply pick it up and ride away, usually with no harm done.

                • Piglet2010

                  The Tee-Dub is perfectly happy on the highway at 50 mph. 65 mph on the expressway will have one considering riding down the median at 20 mph instead.

    • Stuki

      Another huge boon to small DS bikes; is that they make guerilla camping much more feasible. A bike light enough that you can pick it up and get it out of almost any bog; can be taken far enough away from roads to allow for a peaceful and undisturbed night’s sleep almost anywhere; without the need to plan for campsites, or deal wit screaming kids and/or RVs running generators. Just ride ’till the sun starts setting, then “disappear” off the road to where you’re unlikely to be found even if your presence may not be specifically and officially condoned, and pop back up the next morning; well rested and with no time lost. Can’t nearly as easily do that in either a car, RV nor 600lb ADV bike. Bicycles are, truth to be told, even better for this; but take forever to get anywhere.

    • haildamage

      “Anything over 250cc’s for adventure is bourgeois nonsense!”

      i agree that lighter bikes are best for ADV touring but its not whether the bike is over 250cc that is important. it is the weight of the bike that matters. the CRF250L is a complete pig for the power it makes. a DRZ is the same weight but with about 1/3 more power. heck a KTM690 Enduro is also the same weight as a CRF250L, but with a ton more power. sorry but i give honda an ‘F’ for the CRF250L!

      • Piglet2010

        Honda CRF250L – $4,500
        Suzuki DR-Z400S – $6,500
        KTM 690 Enduro R – $10,300

        Notice a trend?

        • haildamage

          yep, the Honda CRF250L is cheap for a reason! its got honda quality going for it but thats about it. what a shame that they replaced the fantastic XR with such a pig!

          • appliance5000

            Yeah – cheap and good quality – what were they thinking!

          • Piglet2010

            Pretty sure the CRF250L is a replacement for the CRF230L – the latter was not a bad bike, but over-priced for its (lack of) performance.

          • Nathan Haley

            Which XR did they replace with the CRF250L? The XR250L from the 90s? The CRFL is street legal, meeting far more stringent emissions requirements than any old carbed XR.

            (FYI I have a carbed ’83 XL250R and a CRF250L, and there’s nowhere the XL can get where the CRF can’t get, getting better fuel mileage and putting out better torque!)

            The CRF is a good bike in the right hands – great at what it’s meant for and surprisingly good at darn near everything else as well. I know a guy who replaced his 450 EXC with it and he still does enduros with it and still goes up the same rutty rocky hillclimbs that he did on the 450.

            • haildamage

              if you like it great, but the fact is it is really heavy for what it is and the power it makes. it cheap because they use the heaviest cheapest materials possible. if a terrible power to weight ratio and a heavy 250cc bike is an acceptable trade off for a cheap price, this bike is for you. it is not a good value for money in my book though.

              • Nathan Haley

                You have clearly never ridden one. I think you should try it before giving it an “F” ;)

                If we’re talking about “value for money”, you’d be hard-pressed to find a beat-to-crap 690 Enduro on craigslist for less than $6,500. Find a $4,500 bike with better torque, less weight, better build quality and better durability/ease of maintenance than the CRF250L. You probably can’t find another 250cc off-road bike for $4,500 new, period, let alone a seriously capable dual-sport.

                Some people don’t have $11,000 to throw down on a 690 (or maybe they’re uncomfortable with the seat height, maintenance, vibrations, orange-ness or whatever). Having ridden a DRZ400 and a CRF250L I can say the CRF250L is a much less intimidating bike with far better build quality, considerably lower center of gravity and fewer jetting quirks. On top of being about $2k less, new. No disrespect to DRZ400 owners – but I believe there is room in the market for both bikes.

                • haildamage

                  i did test ride one and thought it was way underpowered. i am sorely disappointed that the big 4 japanes makers seem to have no clue that weight is important not just on race bikes, but also on their detuned lower maintenance DS bikes. i am not a fan of the CRF250L but its your money and consumer choice is a great thing and if you like it great. my main point of is that this quote is silly: “Anything over 250cc’s for adventure is bourgeois nonsense!” displacement is not the main factor in a good ADV bike. having a managable weight to be able to carry camping gear, supplies and tools on difficult terrain is the most important thing. there are several bikes that are better in many ways than the CRF250L and the same weight or less. going with one of those is my consumer choice.

                • Piglet2010

                  My main reason for not getting a CRF250L is that it is likely to be replaced with a CRF300L next year that will sell for about the same price, and that will also mean good deals on left-over CRF250Ls.

                • Nathan Haley

                  That’s fair as long as you’re willing to miss out on a year or two’s riding! Honda often marks up the MSRP on its second- and third-year models $200-$400, for whatever reason (probably because they can get away with it xD) so you’re probably right in buying into the first year they’re made.

                • Piglet2010

                  Well, I really do not need a small dual-sport since I have the Tee-Dub – but at times having a bike that could do 10 or 15 miles comfortably on the freeway would be nice.

  • Guest

    supermoto +bike camping = awesome. in fact I’m going again with a few buds soon =)

  • MichaelEhrgott

    You guys took the boring way into Saline Valley. You gotta go in over Cerro Gordo Pass, then over Hunter Mountain, down to the Racetrack then down Lippencott Pass. It’s a full day but easily better than 395 and Saline Valley Rd.

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      Been meaning to do something similar for a long time. Just gotta make it happen.

      • MichaelEhrgott

        It’s the best. Cerro Gordo and Hunter Mtn are easy but offer some sweet views and elevation changes. We had some snow on the ground last year on president’s day weekend but it was really nice and warm.

        • MichaelEhrgott

          Right before Eureka Dunes there is a fun canyon to go down and up. In the dunes pic on the right you can see my buddy’s DR350 with the rear wheel buried. Lol

        • Guzzto

          Looks like the Mars rover took this :)

  • HunteR

    If you are seriously poor, even a 32 year old, $800 honda will take you 1500 miles camping around california with the occasional light offroad.

    • http://metabomber.com/ Jesse

      Looks like you are doing it right. Nice photo, too.

    • Bill T

      You have good taste HunteR. lol How your 82 Nighthawk treating you? I have own my 84 for 3yrs(15500kms later), only front fork seals were needed(new tires this spring). Can’t beat that!

      • HunteR

        Thanks! I love my 82. So reliable, comfortable, simple. Its the essence of motorbiking.

  • Guest

    First time motorbike camping and loved every minute of it

  • http://www.getlostoutfitters.com/ Chris

    Snake bite kits like the Sawyer Extractor linked to have proven to be completely ineffective against…snake bites. Take a WFA or WFR course and build a non-urban medical kit based on what you learn in that.

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      I’ve had friends bit and they’ve used the extractor and swear by it.

      • http://www.getlostoutfitters.com/ Chris

        I’ll take the word of medical professionals and the research studies myself. YMMV.

        • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

          Got bit, got the venom out, eventually got themselves to a hospital where they got anti-venom.

          • http://www.getlostoutfitters.com/ Chris

            If the extractor worked they wouldn’t have needed antivenom…..

            • Jason

              If or when I’m bit…. I’ll take both!! Thanks. :D

  • SteveNextDoor

    For anyone who’d like to share, I’m interested in the pros and cons of everyone’s preferred paper map resources.

    • Dave Mason

      Put Butler Maps at the top of your list. Start there.

    • HunteR

      If you’re a AAA member, they give out free maps. You can get really detailed maps of local areas, and any state maps + major cities. I always stock up before a trip so I dont have to worry about marking all over it.

    • HoldenL

      America Rides Maps if you’re riding in Virginia, North Carolina, northern Georgia. You can buy em in paper and in rip- and water-resistant paper.

    • Lourens Smak

      I use the Michelin “regional” maps like these: http://travel.michelin.co.uk/germany-141-c.asp but for some reason the “regions” in the USA are extremely large. Germany is divided into 6 detailed maps, USA into 5… You’ll probably be better off using some US-made maps.

    • Piglet2010

      USGS topo quads if you are really getting off the beaten track.

  • David P.

    Absolutely agree on all fronts. The Translab was way more manageable on my ’00 DRZ400E than my buddy’s ’11 Tiger 800XC; he had to constantly search for traction on the deep gravel and white-knuckle some sandy bits, and I was able to lean back and enjoy the scenery. That Tiger looked awfully nice for the hundreds of miles of pavement back home though…

    • markbvt

      Haha, I was just thinking I should post my Tiger on the Trans-Lab. Thanks for doing it for me. And one correction: once I found the Tiger’s preferred speed on the gravel (65-70), it was awesome and very stable. The sandy part got a little squirrelly, but it only lasted for 10 or 15 miles IIRC. I also suspect that a knobbier rear tire would have helped a lot — that was the one part of the trip where I found myself wishing for something more aggressive than the Full Bore M40 rear.

    • Nathan Haley

      Tigers are just too nice to take into the rough stuff! Also heavier than boulders…every bike is a tradeoff, a set of properties that become particularly apparent in adventure riding. Great pic!

  • Jason

    2 weeks before I left for Air Force BMT, some friends and I headed to Garner State Park in Texas as a last hurrah. Good times were had by all.
    Looks fairly unstable from this angle, but it wasn’t so bad. Best thing I brought that trip was a decent sleeping pad.

    Man I miss that bike!! Good times and lots of states under my belt on her. Now that I’m home more it’s just about time to get the new bike ready for her coming adventures. I have an ’05 Bonnie that is calling my name!! :)

    • haildamage

      i agree that lighter bikes are best for ADV touring but its not whether the bike is over 250cc that is important. it is the weight of the bike that matters. the CRF250L is a complete pig for the power it makes. a DRZ is the same weight but with about 1/3 more power. heck a KTM690 Enduro is also the same weight as a CRF250L, but with a ton more power. sorry but i give honda an ‘F’ for the CRF250L!

      • Jason

        Did you mean to reply to MY post? I never said anything about the weight of the bike/bikes. ?? Plus, that’s an Aero 1100. No lack of power at all (for the cruiser that she was). ??

        • haildamage

          no sorry it wasnt clear. i was replying to the first post and this statement by Guy S: “Anything over 250cc’s for adventure is bourgeois nonsense!” it looks like i posted in the wrong place. sorry

          • Jason

            Ah!! No worries. I was just rather confused! haha

  • eric

    The Dalton Highway can be managed on street tires… carefully. But yes, no need for a heavy adventure bike at all when a Ducati Monster suffices:

    • DaveDawsonAlaska

      Having enough gas is way more important than the tires you choose for the Dalton!

      [IMG]http://i209.photobucket.com/albums/bb84/skierd007/Alaska%20summer%202012/Dalton%20Highway/david00-R2-028-12A.jpg[/IMG]

      [IMG]http://i209.photobucket.com/albums/bb84/skierd007/Alaska%20summer%202012/Dalton%20Highway/david00-R1-052-24A.jpg[/IMG]

      Especially if the weather is a nice as it was on my trip…

      [IMG]http://i209.photobucket.com/albums/bb84/skierd007/Alaska%20summer%202012/Dalton%20Highway/david00-R4-013-5.jpg[/IMG]

      • Nathan Haley

        nice X tires on your R ;) looks like a perfect ride.

  • Samushko L Tangerine

    Do I win anything for most reckless? I drove to Sweden on a 600, five days after getting my license. Back in 2011 I had the fool idea to get into biking by starting with a 15-year-old YZF600R without even taking my test yet. I wrecked it 21 hours later and put myself in hospital for three weeks with a broken everything. And I got prosecuted for driving without a license, insurance or a tax disc, naturally. I won’t be doing that again.

    I had a Swedish girlfriend at the time (God she was hot. Mean though) and I decided that I’d surprise her by driving from Oxford to Hassleholm in two days. I managed it, although it was brutal. I couldn’t face the drive back so I sold my bike in Sweden and flew home. I thought the Autobahn would be fun but it was just terrifying, but it’s a testament to Yamaha engineering that I could buy such an old bike, throw it down the road at 80+mph, then drive it all the way to Sweden and all I did to it was replace a mirror and give it new boots. It was bone stock apart from the aftermarket Quill exhaust.

    This summer, if I can rustle up the funds and courage, I’m planning on taking my 2008 Sprint ST from London to Kiruna, Sweden, which is inside the Arctic Circle and if I get there around June 21st, it’ll be seeing 24 hour sunlight. I think it would be a great trip but I’m a little concerned about the worst-case scenario. The top half of Sweden is utterly bereft of humans or phone signal.

    • Samushko L Tangerine

      On the bridge over the Oresund:

      • Hans

        Not reckless, but you are picking the wrong country. I would recomend Norway, especially the area around the polar circkle. Slower driving, yes but much nicer scenery. Check out an english guy Bruce Smart aka Teapotone (www.teapotone.com) on his 2cents on the subject. He also has a youtube channel.

        • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

          Norway has some of the best (and most scenic) riding in the world.

          • Samushko L Tangerine

            It’s already 2000+ miles to Kiruna, I don’t know if I’m going to be able to see Norway too…

            • Hans

              I understand that fully, it is a massive drive. however if your trip this time is a round trip (ie not selling your bike) then one alternative would be up through Norway and down through Sweden. If that does not fit your plans then i would suggest to drive from Kiruna and over to Norway and Narvik (178k from Kiruna). Form there you have access to Lofoten which is a really nice place to drive. Here is a webpage for official scenic routes of Norway (http://www.nasjonaleturistveger.no/en). I have driven the ones in the south and they are really nice. And Norwegian women are not as mean as Swedes :-)

          • RyanG

            Sure does! Wife and I took a 9 day motorcycle trip around Norway in August this last year. Had a bit of rain, but I’d go back in a heartbeat. Sensory overload.

    • mms

      That’s so awesome! I did a 10k mile solo trip around Australia 3 months after getting my license and I thought that was reckless, I’m oddly glad and relieved that someone has me beat!! :)

    • http://hijosrides.tumblr.com/ Exwai

      Watch out!

    • Matt Terry

      The top half of Sweden is neither bereft of people nor mobile phone signal, heck I had good phone signal in Mongolia and Sweden is a little more civilised ;-)

      I’d echo what others have said about choosing Norway over Sweden in biking terms, though actually Sweden is lovely, but you can have your cake and eat it, I did Nordkapp in 3 and a half days from Bristol, England by riding up the Swedish East Coast, that gave me enough time in my two week break off work to see the Western Fjords which I’ve been fortunate enough to visit a few times having had both Swedish and Norwegian girlfriends (both mean!)

  • Bruce Steever

    Cheap adventure riding, step one: borrow a buddy’s bike…

  • Guzzto

    I put some MT90′s on my r80 they handle great on the tarmac and dirt, Made some cheap saddle bags from army surplus backpacks ($30) that and a second hand tankbag and I can get away for camping and spearfishing trips. I love motorcycle camping, it combines two of my favourite things (three if I go diving and four if there’s room for beer)
    It’s great seeing other peoples camping setups.

    • Matt Mason

      what kind of tent is that? Looks like an ideal size.

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      I really want to start spearfishing.

      • Guzzto

        It’s great fun, I’d recommend some free diving first to get comfortable with breath hold diving and learn some good relaxation techniques and safety before you start dealing with speargun float lines, bound to be some great places in your part of the world. Deeperblue.com is a great resource .

        • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

          Thanks. I’m pretty comfortable in the water and with diving and whatnot. We’re supposed to have great spearfishing around here. I just need a friend to push me over the edge.

          • Guzzto

            Great! The only downside is when it’s a beautiful day and I have to decide do I spend the day on the bike or the day in the ocean ;)

            • Nathan Haley

              oh poor you T_T

          • runnermatt

            When I was stationed in Okinawa I knew some guys who loved to go spear fishing on clear nights with a full moon. I never went myself, but they said it was awesome.

    • HellomynameisAG

      Love that bike! And that rubber makes it look mean.

    • http://krtong.com/ Kr Tong

      I assume you’re free diving. if you’ve figured out a way to carry tanks you need to write an article on it!

      • Guzzto

        Hey I’ve never used tanks So the kit is minimal. For bike trips in summer I can get away with short sleeve suit ( less weights needed) mask fins , inflatable float that packs down flat , thin line to save on bulk and a shorty gun 75cm ( I normally use a 1.2m rail gun but not when on bike trips) small gas cooker for cooking and I only catch what I want to eat that nite. All this can be carried with a bit of planning. In the photo I didn’t bother with the gun and was just getting paua (abalone) very tasty in a pan with a bit of garlic and pepper, doesn’t all food taste great when in the outdoors ? : )

      • Khali

        Tanks!! Youc cheater >:(

        • http://krtong.com/ Kr Tong

          Hah! You’d think that until you see the swells, the kelp, the low visibility, etc. I do both. It’s just for different conditions. It sometimes takes you five minutes just to get past the last 20 feet of breakers, hopefully with your stringer still attached, and you emerge on the beach absolutely covered in kelp, its absolutely not cheating. Around here abalone diving is limited to freediving to give the abs a sporting chance.

          • Khali

            you should definitely try that in full technical configuration hahaha

            Here, scuba + spearfishing is prohibited, only freediving allowed to mantain the fish population.

  • Bill T

    Make sure you prepare your bike prior departure and you won’t need much tools. Bring quality clothing, not quantity. No cottons, 2 sets of dry base layer, Smartwool and I do laundry once a week. I traveled 8000km with this set up.

    • HunteR

      Fellow 450 nighthawk! =)

    • HoldenL

      Wool wool wool. Smartwool, Icebreakers … well-made merino wool clothing is perfect. Not just socks — although lightweight merino wool socks are the only socks you should ride in — but also shirts and even underwear. It’s warm, it’s cool, it’s dry and it doesn’t retain stink. It’s a miracle fabric.

  • CB

    It’s good to see so many people just getting out with whatever bike they’ve got. I’ve always heeded the advice that you do best with the gear that you’ve got and know how to use, and it’s nice to hear it again from Wes. I’m planning a very, very, very long trip for next year and the bike I’ve chosen is just a simple bullet proof commuter that I’m confident on and that I know I can fix. As cool as I think ADV bikes are, I’d rather armour up a bike I know then try my luck on a new bike. That said, I probably won’t be doing any really hard core off roading. Neither my riding skills nor my repair skills are up for it.

  • ThruTheDunes

    Eagle Scout, eh? That explains a lot to me about your insight on camping and gear. And your paper map mantra (with which I agree wholeheartedly). Was in Scouts myself (Adirondacks), and an active parent during my son’s 12 years (and have done around 20 Eagle boards).

    I know how much work it is, and I tip my hat to you for your accomplishment.

  • lacosz75

    2013.juni BIH Mostar

  • Justin McClintock

    Just a thought worth mentioning, but most snakes (in the US anyway) can’t actually strike all that high off the ground (large rattlesnakes not-withstanding). I realize you’ll have to take those big boots off at some point, so the snake bite preparations still hold merit. But with those bike dirtbike boots on, something like a copperhead or coral snake is virtually harmless as it won’t be able to bite above or through those boots.

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      Good point. I always stomp around any campsite in my boots and riding pants to rustle out any snakes while I’m still snake proof.

      • appliance5000

        Good to make a lot of noise anywhere in the woods. Next time out I’m thinking of bringing a canned airhorn as I keep running into more and more of my animal friends. Last time out I ran into a brown bear, a huge grizzly (he was stuffed and in front of the cracker aisle at an Idaho super market – but still – and I was charged by a moose that got between me and my morning coffee. I know it’s their world but that was plain bad manners.

  • Nemosufu Namecheck

    Things you need for an awesome weekender on a budget. First thing is – don’t go out and buy anything unless you really think you are gonna go off the grid.

    Be spontaneous and go on more trips!!

    What to bring:
    – Two changes of clothing
    – Credit card
    – AAA or AMA card
    – Badass leather jacket, waterproofed

    Now go checkout all the backroad towns, 50′s motels, and come back when u run out of cash.

    • appliance5000

      Sad thing about the 50s motels is that they’re disappearing fast – all Great Western and other stuff. If you’re going to go 50s better go now.

      • Nemosufu Namecheck

        Real true – no better time than the present, and you don’t need to be on route 66 to see good ones with cool bars and cool retro deco.

  • Dave Mason

    My absolute favorite piece of moto camping gear? My Kelty Noah’s Tarp. Set it up as soon as you get to your campsite and ensure that no matter what the weather brings you and your gear will remain dry. I have the 12×12 and we arrange our tent so that the entrance lies just under the tarp. That leaves enough room for a picnic table or chairs and if set up at the edge of your fire ring you can even enjoy a fire regardless of rain. If I had it to do again I would probably buy the 16×16. I was worried about pack size but read on to learn about some enormous, waterproof motorcycle luggage for cheap. Truth be told the tarp doesn’t take up much space in the pack anyway, I can actually fit it into my Kelty two man tent’s stuff sack along with the tent, with ease. If buying from REI, get one of the larger adjustable pole that they sell, unless you are well under six feet tall. Attach the other end of the tarp to the higher reaches of a tree and you’re set.

    My other favorite piece of gear is Nelson Rigg’s new Survivor Edition saddlebags. Roll top dry bags, they excel at keeping your gear dry, they are enormous at an estimated 45 liters each side, and they are extremely affordable at under $100 a set. Along with the Survivor Edition dry duffel (the larger one) I can carry more than enough gear to stay on the road indefinitely and it mounts very securely and quickly. Highly recommended. I have over 200 liters of storage with these items and my Wolfman tank bag.

    • appliance5000

      Those saddle bags look great -can you strap them on and still carry a pillion? And how do you keep them from interfering with the wheels? Thanks.

      • Dave Mason

        The straps aren’t overly wide – I’m able to run them UNDER the seat. Depends on the bike I suppose, but my dry duffel is my pillion anyway.

        I have some bag supports that a user on a Versys forum was making and selling. You will probably find someone making and selling some for your bike on the appropriate model-specific forum. If not, even a simple support made of round metal stock, bent in an arch, an attached via a small screw at each end into a reflector mount or the like usually works. Search around and you’ll come up with something that suits your needs and budget. Companies like Wolfman also sell purpose made soft bag mounts but they’re rather pricey.

        • appliance5000

          Thanks for the reply – they’re on my list. Wolfman and Kreiga make really nice stuff but – as you say – they cost a bunch. The basic roll up seems the ticket.

          • Dave Mason

            In the interest of full disclosure I did have a minor failure with one of the plastic buckles on the NR dry bag, however I was over tightening, which I am prone to do. I have snapped many a bolt and plastic fastener in my day, and after forty years have to remind myself to take it easy. I don’t believe the buckle would have broken under normal use.

            Most importantly, Nelson Rigg honored their warranty and repairthe bag next-day. My experience is that the expensive brands are not without their failures either. My buddy’s Wolfman bag had a minor failure before we even left for a trip. They too stepped up and addressed the issue.

            Would I buy the Nelson Rigg bags again? Absolutely. They’ve got close to 3,000 miles on them since late October 2013 with multiple days of camping.

  • HoldenL

    My favorite line from this: “In fact, going more prepared than necessary will make your experience more flexible…”

    This is so true. Yet, a lot of folks think it’s counterintuitive. I know lots of people who equate spontaneity with lack of planning. But they’re wrong. When you plan and prepare, you learn your options. and when you know your options, you can change plans from a position of knowledge. That’s what flexibility is about.

    • Nathan Haley

      very well said!

  • Stuki

    Just out of curiosity; how do you keep pinlock lenses from dusting up in dry, dusty deserts? In my experience, dust sticks to them, and they are so fragle that almost any attempt to clean it off, scratches them. Even regular visors become a bit of a pain in sandy dust, compared to sealing goggles. OTOH, by the time you go slow enough that your shield fogs up in dry desert air, you go slow enough to open the shield. Or, please don’t shoot me, if muscling a heavy bike through sand at little more than walking pace; take the helmet off and strap in on the back for a stint.

  • skeelo221

    ADV & “Sporty Touring” rigs:

  • Rob

    Any shout out to the “less is more” adventure ethos is welcome by me; check out Austin Vince- Mondo Enduro and the new Mondo Sahara. Small simple bikes, good mates, great adventures. It’s easy to paint with too broad a brush though. If you shop in the Big & Tall department and have some off-road experience, one of the big bikes can make a great travel companion. Scale down accordingly, you will have more fun on a bike that is sized right for you.

    • Thomas Høj Jørgensen

      There’s not a lot of love for the big GS around here, but it’s an amazing do-it-all bike, or a go anywhere sport-tourer.
      The problem is that the term “Adventure” has such a fluid definition.
      I always found it cool that a r1200gs was used as a behind-the-scenes camera bike/packmule for a MCN sport-touring shootout, and ended up winning the contest:
      http://www.mcnews.com/mcn/model_eval/2010AugGS.pdf

  • MotoEnthusiast

    What tips do you guys have for carrying extra fuel? ( Containers to use, how to secure it, etc)

    • Dave Mason

      The two that seem to come up most are the Rotopax (1 gal?) and the MSR camp fuel bottles (1L).

    • Nathan Haley

      Rotopax 1gal is very common. I actually found this Kolpin Junior 1.5gal which comes with its own mount and is considerably cheaper than the Rotopax – http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003UZ05CA/ref=wms_ohs_product?ie=UTF8&psc=1. You need a rear rack with the mounting points for the tank. I have no complaints as to the build quality – very solid, doesn’t rattle around even when going over rocky stuff.

  • Nathan Haley

    Love this article and the ensuing comment thread! This pic was from a dual-sport loop I did last summer around the NC BRP and surrounding roads (the surrounding roads were actually twistier and better on a bike if you ask me). The WRR is mine, the guy with the orange coat is my dad with his CRF250L.

    There is no better highway/single-track combo motorcycle than a WR250R with a Subaru mounted on the front via a trailer. Sometimes I drive my car out to some remote location with my bike on the back (I know, sacrilege!) and then do a couple-hundred-mile loop on the bike – but at the end of the day, I end up back at the car where I keep extra clothes, cooking materials etc. It means I don’t have to laden my 250cc dual-sport with absolutely everything. It’s not as adventurous as setting off from my house on the bike but it’s also a lot less risky and I don’t have to equip my bike with a thousand dollars’ worth of luggage – just a tank bag with maps, etc. and a tail-mounted aux fuel container with some tools. Good practice for a “real” (longer) adventure ride I suppose.

  • SRAnderson

    Why the hate on big adventure bikes? I’ve personally had a large adventure bikes in places that would embarrass four-wheel drives (and give atv’s pause for thought). They’re more than capable. I like this site, but I don’t think I like this Wes guy…he’s insulted my homeland (the story about the Labrador trip…I’m Newfoundland born and bred), and I couldn’t disagree more with his take on adventure bikes.

  • Fava d’Aronne

    Since we are sharing camping set ups, here is mine:

    • Dave Mason

      Yes?

  • bat flag

    I’ve got a ride report going of my trip through the Trans-Lab on a Honda 599 here: http://www.honda599.com/forums/showthread.php?t=13950

  • Joel Sparks

    On a serious budget – 2000km from tail to tip in Vietnam for $400 including bike, fuel, maintenance, and luggage (divided by 2). Willpower and a tolerance for discomfort will displace far more than mere cc’s ever can! I learned that the easiest way to get over your anxieties and start a trip like this is simply to start a trip like this. There’s no more room for fear 10kms in.

  • http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCuRhxMFhNW3tM1aSApL3qg/videos?view_as=public WillRide

    Great article, I think another important note is that sometimes it isn’t the cost of Owning an adventure bike, but the cost of Discovering you want to own and ride adventure bikes. If you want to get a taste of adventure without buying a big adventure bike and saddlebags, get on a dirt bike with some back packs and see if you would want to do it again. If you do, what in the bike you rode was missing: wind protection, comfort, luggage, engine size, pillion, etc? Then find those features in a bike model and start going for it. One night trips are a great way to get your feet wet.

  • Branden Hellman

    This is a thoughtful and very good article. I agree with the guidance and I am doing this very thing in the cheap. My steed if choice is a 2002 KTM 400 EXC. The weight and dimension of that 250 but with very usable and accessible power. Throw in some army surplus gear and new body armor and it’s going to be awesome. BTW, I have to get two of everything as my son is my riding partner. No complaints since I picked them up for $1,700 and $2,300 respectively.

    I think this article hits the tent stake in the head, this can be had by all on the cheap.

    Kudos for great guidance and great comments.

  • http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCuRhxMFhNW3tM1aSApL3qg/videos?view_as=public WillRide

    For those that want to try it for a first time without committing to saddlebag purchases (and don’t mind looking completely void of dignity), a big ol’ backpack, a beautiful destination, tasty food, and good company is a good way to test the waters of adventure/dual sport camping. Did it on a CRF250X and CRF230F and had a blast!

  • Matt Terry

    Capacity and budget are about what you desire, not what you need, I liked riding my 990 in Mongolia, I liked riding my Cub 90 in the Norwegian midwinter.

    There is a danger of inverted snobbery in going light or cheap and belittling the big 1000cc dual sports, its all good, adventure starts in your mind and plays out on the road, doesn’t matter how you get propelled along