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Solar Panels for Sprinters & Toy Haulers: Part 1


Sprinter Van Solar InstallAs the Mercedes Sprinter van gains popularity in the motorcycle world and now Ford, Ram, and others are making similar headway into this “toy hauler” market, weekend warriors around the world are stuck wondering “what’s the best way to make electrical power available from my van?”

While it’s a bit outside our normal blog topics, which are entirely about motorcycles, motorcycle trips, etc., we thought it important enough to share with you just how easy, affordable, efficient, useful and powerful the sun can be in this article.

The motivation behind this project was simple: We need electrical power at the motorcycle rallies, races, and events that we’ve been meeting you at. Running a nice big flat screen TV to show our tour videos and photos, charging our laptops & cell phones, and even charging your cell phones (glad to!) is an ever-present need at these events. The challenge of course, is that a “plug-in” power source is not always available at motorcycle events, as we are often out in parking lots, open fields, etc. where there is no electrical outlet. In other words: “How could we come up with an electrical power source sufficient for our needs, and one that can be used when completely 'off the grid?'"

Sprinter Solar PanelsAfter extensive research on this subject and looking at the options for getting this power, we’ve installed rigid solar panels and a 450ah battery bank in our 2014 Mercedes Sprinter van. (For the record, this is a cargo version of the 3500 van, 170” Extended, with the V6 Turbo Diesel.) This article will continue to explain just how we went about it, the thought process, purchasing, installation, etc. and hopefully help you make the right decision for your needs.

Before explaining how we found and installed the solar panel solution though, it’s important to first mention the 2 other options that were considered, but in the end "passed on" for clear reasons:

A Gasoline-Powered Generator - A simple gasoline-powered pull-start generator can provide a lot of power, but at an unfortunate cost and hassle. Sure, good gasoline generators are made to be very quiet now, but the task of filling up its fuel tank, making sure to have extra fuel handy, unloading and setting up the generator, putting it away, being concerned about theft or damage if it’s left outside the vehicle…were all too much of a hassle to really be attractive. – Furthermore, if a generator was being used to simply “replenish” an existing battery or batteries that are installed in the vehicle, it wouldn’t even be the best solution for “tending” to the needs of batteries in the first place. Generators don’t taper-off their charging rate as a battery nears fully-charged status, so the result can be over-charging the batteries, and therefore shortening their life expectancy and overall performance. 

A Diesel-Powered Generator – We never landed on firm pricing for “how much” it would cost to have a diesel generator installed beneath the chassis of the Sprinter, but indications were that it’d be between $4,000 and $7,000. (As a side note, apparently this would also mean we have to eliminate the spare tire that’s mounted beneath the Sprinter, potentially putting us in a difficult roadside situation someday.) While a diesel generator would have a major advantage over the gasoline generator, in that we could use the diesel fuel already in the Sprinter, it just doesn’t make sense to us when you look at the downsides to this idea. The cost of a diesel generator, the thought of having to use more fuel (create more emissions), have more moving parts (possible engine failures) and destroying the precious, seldom-experienced joy of “silence” by running and listening to a diesel engine, make the idea of a diesel generator very, very unattractive.

SO, without a plug-in electrical source, and without a gasoline or diesel-powered generator on board, as mentioned before, the most beautiful, quiet, clean electrical power option available on the planet became the obvious choice for our power needs: We decided to just use the sun!

Specifically, we’ve installed a solar panel solution provided by SolarDealz.com on the roof of our Sprinter van. Those panels now feed a “battery bank” that is safely and discretely stored below the chassis, out of the way yet still completely useful. Now that our decision to “go solar” is clear, the rest of this article will show the steps we followed to arrive at this fantastic outcome, and hopefully encourage you to do the same.

(Part 2 of this solar panel installation project is on the way, so you can subscribe to our blog on the top-right of this page, and signup for our eNewsletter here.)

Waterproof Motorcycle Luggage for the Ultimate Adventure Rides


Ortlieb Motorcycle Rack Pack Duffel BagTime to pay tribute to what has basically become a "permanent fixture" in this motorcycle traveler's busy lifestyle: The Ortlieb "Moto Rack-Pack" by Ortlieb USA.

On the short list of great products I've had with me in recent years, this waterproof duffel bag stands out for it's incredible durability, functionality, and overall value in the sense that I have truly gotten my money's worth.

Perhaps the greatest thing about the Rack Pack is its "simplicity." With the wide open roll top and cavernous interior, getting your riding gear, parts, clothing, or whatever in and out of this bag is incredibly easy. Once you roll the top shut and clip the straps into place, it's perfectly water and dust proof, as I have proven in many thousands of miles these past years. (And please trust when I say this bag's waterproofness has really been tested in Patagonia, Bolivia, Peru, Croatia, Montenegro, etc.)

The Rack Pack is also a star in our "How to Pack for Your Motorcycle Trip" series, both in video and whitepaper download. The yellow bag shown in that video has not held up as well and was never truly waterproof in the first place. Yet the Ortlieb, just sitting there in it's simplicity has never once allowed my clothes inside to get wet. Even at the end of the day when it's all covered in dust, I take the Rack Pack into the shower with me to clean it off, and everything inside remains dry.

It's important to note that a big 89 liter like the one I'm using is best supported by sidecases or a wide platform if fully loaded. Smaller bags like their 31 or 49 liter Rack Packs might not need such support though, as of course they're not as long. If only partially loaded like shown below though, the 89 liter might not sag down too much, keeping the hot motorcycle exhaust and rear wheel out of concern. (Speaking of which, PLEASE be sure to read and understand cautionary articles like this one about strapping down your motorcycle luggage.)

Only recently did my 5 year-old Rack Pack get damaged, as one of the straps was caught between a moving trailer and parked vehicle, something that few straps would have endured. The bag is still useful for storage in the Sprinter van, in the garage, etc., as it's only flaw is an end strap that I destroyed. I'm a huge fan of the Rack Pack so it's been replaced by a new Rack Pack sold by Orblieb USA, and I'll continue riding as planned whether it's through rain, sleet, dust, or snow!

Orlieb Motorcycle Luggage in Patagonia

Ortlieb Rack Pack Motorcycle Trip

KTM Clutch & Stator Cover by Trailjammer Designs


Trailjammer Designs Clutch Cover KTM 690 Enduro RWhile the 2014 KTM 690 Enduro R that I picked up recently was only slightly used, the previous owner reminded me in the form of liquid weld just what can happen if the engine isn't protected. As shown in the picture below, something clearly "got in there" and punctured the clutch cover, and while the liquid weld was holding up pretty well, it was also just leaking slightly enough that it was time to just replace the cover itself.

With a new clutch cover being installed, I wanted to make sure it was well-protected so my research began. Carbon fiber sure does have it's place in the motorcycle protection arena, but having see how it can just "pulverize" with a few good whacks, the few carbon fiber options available for this bike just didn't seem like the way to go.

Trailjammer Designs Stator Cover KTMInstead, I opted instead for the aluminum protection pieces made by Trailjammer Designs in California, covering both the clutch and stator side of the engine once and for all. Their design mounts the pieces to the engine using a simple high-tempurature RTV gasket/sealer compound, so that the "rubber-like" RTV sealant actually works as sort of a "padding" to disperse the energy from any impact. When installing both the clutch and stator covers, I used an entire 3oz tube of Permatex RTV, and actually could have fit some more in there for even better protection.

So the covers are definitely stuck on there and not going anywhere. What about the choice of aluminum used? I'm not claiming to be a metallurgist or know which types of aluminum or whatever might be best, but in talking with the people at Trailjammer and seeing a few sample post-impact photos of their products, it seems they've made some very durable protection here. I'll report back after any hard hits are endured, but am not going to "stage" an impact just for the sake of research! :)

The parts aren't heavy, as a small piece of aluminum like these sure doesn't weigh much. It's clear though that the Trailjammer parts are going to make a huge difference in saving that engine case. Again, see below how the original case was punctured and how the position of Trailjammer piece would have stopped that from happening. You can also check out Trailjammer's Facebook page here and see what new items are being released that could be perfect for your motorcycle.

A few tips on replacing the clutch cover on the 2014 KTM 690 Enduro R:

  • Don't both trying to get the rear brake lever unbolted, it's a huge pain to get out of there. Instead, just remove that torx bolt that's holding on both the front and rear footpegs, and the entire brake lever itself.
  • Make sure to use the 2 dowels on the left and right of the gasket surface to hang the new gasket on there and keep it in position while you mount the cover.
  • If you're adding these great protection pieces by Trailjammer Designs, again, I think you could use 4-6 ounces of RTV and it wouldn't be too much. In fact, it would just mean more protection! See in the photo below how I thought there was enough RTV on the clutch cover, but had to quickly pull it off and add some more to "thicken" the mounting solution.

Ride safe and keep your motorcycle protected!

Trailjammer KTM ProtectionTrailjammer Clutch Cover KTM

KTM Clutch Cover ReplacementKTM 690 Enduro Clutch Cover Gasket

Meet the new RIDE Adventures Sprinter Van & Toy Hauler


Sprinter Toy Hauler 1Winter has finally cleared and some long-awaited sunshine here in Oregon made for a brief photo shoot this morning. Introducing to you: The nameless behemoth that many riders will see up close on motorcycle trips, and at rallies, races, and events in the coming years....the new RIDE Adventures Mercedes Sprinter Van.

First, let me pay tribute to the staff from Driving Force Graphics here in Bend, Oregon for their prowess and attention to detail in vehicle vinyl wrap arena. Those of you who have already seen the van up close have commented not only on the fantastic design work by Stream Creative, but the quality of the installation by Driving Force Graphics, as it is far and above what I'd seen previously by other vehicle wrap installers.

Sprinter Van Vinyl WrapTake for example the detail done around the door handles, which I honestly still don't understand. To my recollection, every other vinyl wrap job I've seen had at least 1 visible seam in this location, yet the installation done by Driving Force left us without any seams (at least none that I've been able to find.) This is of particular insterest for the longevity of the wrap, as with all the obvious "hand traffic" around door handles, one can see how a seam could eventually get snagged and pull apart.

The cost of a project like this is far less than one would pay for custom airbrushing and paint, and comes with other benefits. For one, the vinyl essentially protects the body and original paint from the inevitable scuffs, scrapes, and chips over time. Likewise, if actual major body damage took place, the ease of replacing possibly just 1 section of vinyl vs. repainting an entire side of the van is obvious.

This wrap installation only took about 2.5 days to complete, right on schedule according to what Darren promised. Timing was tight the week it was done, as I was on the way to Washington for the Stumpjumpers Desert 100 Race and needed the van to be finished on time. Photo below of hundreds of riders lining up for the race start, of course with the van in the background.

So again, "nice job!" to the team at Driving Force Graphics. We were referred to Driving Force based on a referral from a friend, and that friend clearly was right about the quality of their work. When you see the van at gas stations or motorcycle events around the U.S., please be sure to stop by and say "hi."

Oh, and if you have "name suggestions" for this toy hauler, feel free to comment below. After all, it deserves a name just like motorcycles do, right?
Sprinter Vinyl Wrap Sprinter Van Toy Hauler Vinyl Wrap
Sprinter Van Desert 100 Race


Best Handlebar Risers: Still made by Rox SpeedFX (KTM 690 Install)


As the original handlebar position on my latest bike just isn't tall enough for me, I've installed yet another pair of what I call a "no brainer" in the motorcycle parts & accessories world: Handlebar risers by Rox Speed FX.

This is the 3rd motorcycle I've installed Rox's risers on, and I'm sure it won't be the last, as they continue to make a truly versatile, high-quality, and dare I say "snazzy" looking pair of risers. In this case, on my 2014 KTM 690 Enduro R, I'm trying their new 2" Pivoting Anti-Vibe Bar risers for the first time.

Rox KTM 690 Enduro Risers

For those unfamiliar with Rox's risers, take a closer look at the 1st picture and you'll see how they're utilizing the original handlebar mounts to attach the risers, thereby moving the handlebars up into a 2nd set of clamps that are part of the risers themselves. This is such a great design because it allows you 2 pivot points instead of 1, making it easy to really custom fit the handlebars to exactly where you want them. All the "fore and aft" movement combines with bar rotation to put your handlebars in the perfect position.

What's more is that Rox now offers these "Anti-Vibration" risers, where as you can see if you look closely above, rubber spacers are built into the risers themselves. Using the large nut on the bottom, I can adjust the amount of pressure on those rubber blocks and either make the handlebars feel really soft and cushy, or tighten them up for a firmer feel. Bottom line is, it reduces the vibrations felt through a mono-cylinder engine like this, as well as any bumps and rocks I'm riding on. As these hands have seen so many thousands of miles in the past 7 years, any relief from the rigors of the road is much appreciated.

Installation: When installing almost any handlebar risers, cable/tube/wire length is something to consider, as you're essentially "going up" and away from their destination on the motorcycle. The cables/wires on this 2014 KTM 690 Enduro R were a little tight to just install a 2" riser straight away, but after a little searching around on the bike I found a couple of key points to gain some "relief."

-First, just under the front of the seat, a simple zip-tie was holding wires unnecessarily, such that I could remove just what I needed to from the cluster and create some slack in the 2 points shown below. (This helped the cluster going to the right hand controls.)

-Second, the clutch hose was tied together in this cluster of wiring on the left side of the bike, such that it was having to run some extra distance on the way up to the handlebar instead of going in more of a straight line. By removing the clutch hose from that cluster, it gave that little extra-slack that I needed to make sure I could turn the handlebars from lock to lock without putting too much tension on anything. As the hose was essentially resting up against the valve cover to begin with, simply letting it slide around more to the left side like this has meant no harm to the hose itself. In fact, it might be staying cooler now that it's not wadded up amongst the cluster.

If you're "going up" with your handlebars, no matter what motorcycle you're riding, give the Rox risers a close look, as I'm betting you'll find them to be your best option. (Especially when compared to simple "block" type risers that don't allow you such customization.) Again though, we don't sell these products we're reviewing, so this is just a sincere review to show you the best!

Rox Risers KTM 690 EnduroRox KTM 690 Risers Cable

KTM 690 Enduro Motorcycle Parts & Protection by Flatland Racing


Perhaps the only thing more fun about putting new parts & accessories on a motorcycle is confirming that they actually work to protect your bike!

The KTM 690 Enduro I've been riding lately just didn't come with much in terms of protecting the engine/frame OR the rear master brake cylinder for that matter. Immediately upon opening my order from Flatland Racing though, I new my "rock and stump" concerns had been resolved. The way this stuff is built, I'm probably protected from land mines as well : )

Flatland Racing KTM 690 Enduro Skidplate

The Skid Plate: Does the term "bulletproof" describe it well enough? If not, I'm not sure how else to describe this incredibly well-built piece of protection. From the precision in the welding to the overall rugged construction using 3/16" aluminum, I'm not sure what I could hit or how hard I'd have to hit it order to damage this skidplate or the frame and engine it protects. Thus far I've only heard some rocks pop up from the front wheel, leaving no visible marks though. What a satisfying feeling that is though, knowing what such a small investment is doing to protect the bike. At the price shown, Flatland's Skidplate for the KTM 690 Enduro has to be one of the better values I've ever seen in terms of motorcycle protection.

The Rear Master Brake Cylinder: As the motorcycle comes from KTM, the rear cylinder was horribly exposed. Take a look at the photo below and you can see how any rock or branch could easily pop up and snag the rear cylinder IF the snazzy orange Flatland Racing cylinder guard wasn't in place. KTM not only left the rear brake cylinder vulnerable, but they mounted it with protruding bolt heads that give rocks and such one more thing to catch on. Flatland Racing's design gets rid of those bolt heads by using counter-sunk bolts & nuts, making a smooth surface so that anything you hit will just slide along that spot. - Note: Some other designs out there in the market are such that the brake guard is laterally bolted or screwed onto the skidplate. While I can't say for sure, it just doesn't make sense that such designs are anywhere near as durable as this one is, using the actual motorcycle frame and original bolting points.

Axle Pulls: With my engine, frame, and rear master cylinder protected, it only made sense that I save myself some time and/or tool-carrying needs while on the trail. Flatland also makes these easy-to-install "pulls" (shown below) that install in minutes, and could do exactly what they're meant to do: Save me time & headaches, or possibly save the riding day! While I make a point to keep axles well-greased, the extra ease of removal these afford me was an obvious choice.

This is my first time installing or using anything from Flatland Racing, and I doubt it will be the last as I'm very impressed with their quality and workmanship. Comparing prices to other's....well, that only further impresses me!

See you on the trail.

Flatland Racing Rear Master Cylinder GuardFlatland Racing Axle Pulls KTM 690

Tour Update: Now Ride Through Patagonia to Ushuaia in Just 14 Days!


Patagonia Motorcycle Tour GroupDon't consider the incredible duration since the last blog post as a suggestion that we're "taking a break." Actually, it's projects like this one and your bookings that are keeping us busier than ever!!!

As this blog post is titled though, we've made a major change for the 2015/16 Patagonia season, so that now you can experience the same "Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego & Ushuaia!" motorcycle trip in just 14 Days. That's 3 less days than the 17-day version customers have been raving about! (See the video below that Andres created from our trip to Ushuaia in December last year.)

How Can 17 Days fit into Just 14? - The question is coming up frequently, and the answer is based around the fact that we now finish in Ushuaia. In doing so, we save 1 day that has always been a "rest day" in Ushuaia, and then 2 more days literally backtracking 90% of the same route to terminate the trip on the Chilean side of the border. That total of 3 days "saved" means it's just 1 day longer than our "Patagonia Experience" tour, which also shows you the greatest highlights in the region. (These tours run together, consecutively.) On these routes, Torres del Paine National Park, The Carretera Austral, Lago General Carrera, The Perito Moreno Glacier, the vastness of Ruta 40 in Argentina, and much, much more is all still included. (You're still welcome to enjoy an extra rest day or more in Ushuaia if you like though!)

This change took quite a bit of research and work to make this happen, but for those who have limited time available for motorcycle riding vacations, or time away from work or family, this "turnkey motorcycle trip solution" is perfect for you. Now there's no need to worry about riding to Ushuaia and having to figure how to ship your motorcycle back home (use our motorcycle rental options on this trip.) There's no need to spend the final 2 days of your riding experience backtracking over the same route to Punta Arenas, Chile. Furthermore, there's no need to spend 17 days completing the mission to Ushuaia, when we'll show you the exact same scenic highlight reel, terrain, hotels, cuisines, culture, and more in just 14 days!

SEE THE DETAILS Of This Motorcycle Trip Thru Patagonia to Ushuaia that Customers Rave Over!

Please note, the option to ride to Ushuaia and finish there is only available for our guided tour groups, not self-guided riders that are just on motorcycle rentals. (Without getting into it, let's just say the paperwork with international borders won't work for pure rentals.) Perhaps someday rental customers can finish in Ushuaia as well, but for now, this is a privilege reserved for our guided tour customers.

Furthermore, please keep in mind that the dirt riding options in Patagonia are disappearing rapidly. I've written about this extensively before, that each year, we lose about 10% of Patagonia to the inevitable asphalt/pavement installations. For those who prefer pavement, that's great...your time is coming and we'll still show you the way. If you're more of dirt motorcycle rider, and you prefer to soak up the scenery in its most natural setting, don't wait. We're down to about 40% off-pavement riding already.

If you're interested in seeing this incredible route, also don't wait to book as these tours have been filling up earlier and earlier each year. Our customers return home from Patagonia raving about their experience with us, which in turns brings us more riders. It's those kind words, those expressions on your faces and reactions we enjoy when you say "I can't believe I never did this before!" that keep us going. Thanks again to all of you for keeping RIDE Adventures alive and strong. Click here to learn more about the 14-day "Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego & Ushuaia!" motorcycle tour.

Riding in Argentina

Motorcycle Parts Review: Lithium-Iron Battery Options for Your Bike


Shorai Power Motorcycle BatterySaving a little weight often seems like a lost cause on a 500+ pound "pig" like my BMW R1200GS Adventure, but then again, every little bit helps. Some significant weight was shaved with aftermarket exhaust last year and of course heading to the gym recently has helped as well, but these last 10 pounds lost from my adventure riding setup come thanks to Shorai Power!

I'd been hearing about these ultra-lightweight lithium batteries hitting the market and even held a few in the stores the past couple of years. Anyone who has picked one up probably thought as I did: "That must be a fake floor model, not an actual battery." On numerous occasions I couldn't believe it was an actual functioning power source, but these Shorai batteries are very, very real.

Back in December I installed Shorai's LFX21A6-BS12 and noted that on average, it weighs about 10 full pounds less than typical lead-acid batteries. (I say "on average" because the lead-acid types can vary, but tend to be listed around 13 lbs. Shorai's lithium battery for the R1200GS weighs a steady 3.03 pounds though.) Installation is easy, just like any other battery, only it's that much easier because it's so light! Some things I've noticed some definite "positives" (pun?) about the Shorai battery option:

1) Weight Savings - Already wrote about this above, the difference is really incredible with Shorai's Lithium technology. Saving 10 lbs on a 500 lb motorcycle might not sound like much, but what if...just what if those 10 lbs make the difference when you're in an emergency braking situation or have to take some other evasive action on the road someday. For performance-minded competitors, the weight savings enjoyed in Shorai's batteries need not be explained. Every pound counts, and again, for all riders, this could be a safety factor someday.

2) "More Power" - Seriously, when warmed-up and charged properly, this battery cranks over the R1200GS engine with a vengeance! While the lead-acid batteries tend to do okay, it does bring a certain satisfaction that might be necessary sometime, knowing that the engine will turn over a bit faster. My BMW has had an occasional "hiccup" where it doesn't quite start right away and needs to be cranked (like if I bogged it down and accidentally killed the engine.) Cranking over those 1170cc's never seemed as easy for the lead-acid batteries as it does for Shorai's version.

3)  Stability & Longevity - When you buy a Shorai battery, be sure to read about the chemistry, charging needs, and durability you can expect from these batteries. On one hand these batteries are a bit "finicky" in that we should be using very specific battery tenders and chargers if needed (Shorai makes this specific charger) and they do struggle a bit when they've been left cold. On the other hand, it doesn't take much to "revive" them from the cold just by turning your ignition on for a few minutes before you start riding (good time to do a proper tire pressure check like we should every time we ride.)

In storage situations though, even in sub-optimal conditions, stats will show you that this lithium-iron technology does extremely well compared to unattended lead-acid batteries. For example, I parked my bike for a month while running our "Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego & Ushuaia!" tour this past January & February. The temperature while I was gone was in the 30-50 range Fahrenheit, and I had to leave the bike that full month in a situation without using the battery tender (the trickle charger.) Upon my return, I simply turned the key on, lit-up the high beams on the headlights, and had to wait only 3 minutes in 45 degree weather before the engine fired right up. Of course once it's been warmed up a little, this is the Schwarzenegger of batteries. (Well, when he was in his prime.) Had I still been with the lead-acid battery, I doubt such a start-up would have been possible after a month in those temps.

I think it's a great product, even considering as mentioned the little "subtleties" you'll need to get used to when the bike is cold. Whereas it might have not been my habit to do so before, now I just make sure the first thing I do when approaching the bike is to turn on the ignition and let the electrons flow a bit. The battery is ready to fire within a couple of minutes, or immediately if at room temperature.

Whether you're just due for a new battery or wanting to shave those 10 lbs off without going to the gym, Shorai Power has made the obvious choice in batteries for me moving forward!

Shorai Lithium Battery R1200GSA

Motorcycle Travel Tip: How to "Thump-start" Your Bike


What should we call this technique, anyway? It's not jump-starting, as we never touched the battery, and it's not bump-starting, because neither bike wasn't actually rolling. Out of respect for the single cylinder 4-stroke thumper that started the bigger BMW, should we call it Thump-starting?

Hey, it even happens to the Guide of the motorcycle trip from time to time, where an unexplained mechanical or technical issue has us scratching our bald heads. In this case, we were at lunch on the way to Coihaique, Chile on the "Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego & Ushuaia!" tour, and as Steve narrated in the video, the starter on my R1200GS Adventure had an issue that wasn't being discovered after the first attempt at poking around. (After the fact, it was discovered that a well-obscured starter wire had wiggled loose, so the bike was fine and ready to start on it's own once we found the loose wire.)

HAVE YOU RIDDEN IN PATAGONIA YET? Click Here to See This Motorcycle Trip Package Up Close

There are a few reasons we had to resort to this "Thump-starting" technique:

1) We had stopped on a very flat section of road, with no major hills around to gain some downhill momentum with and "pop" the clutch, or bump-start it.
2) The 12:1 compression ratio 1200cc BMW engine is not an easy engine to turn over. As such, whether in 1st, 2nd, or 3rd gear, the rear wheel typically just skids & drags instead of turning the engine over when attempting a classic bump-start. So we needed the bike in 4th or 5th gear, which improves the leverage that the rear wheel has on the engine. The problem with having the bike in such a high gear is that, getting a couple of us in full motorcycle gear to essentially run and push the motorcycle 17-20+ mph (enough for the engine to fire in 4th gear) is not an easy task. Especially after we had just enjoyed a nice Chilean lunch!
3) Why not just use straps and tow the bike with another bike, or push it with a vehicle? These are certainly options as well, but anyone who's tried either method probably learned how potentially dangerous each can be. (Even when trying what Steve suggested, standing with one foot on the strap so it can be released in a hurry. Great tip, Steve!)

A few points to consider before you try doing this yourself:

1) Use Center Stands or Similar - Obviously, the rear wheels of each bike need to be elevated for this to work. Without center stands on the motorcycles though, you'll need to find tree stumps, blocks, or something to elevate the rear wheels so they can spin. If nothing like that is around, the side stand of the bike and some sort of stick or piece of wood could be used to prop the bike up. (Although the bike will be leaning to one side instead of being nice and vertical, and this is a much more unstable setup than having a center stand.)

2) Aligning the Rear Tires - Take a look at the video again, and notice how we had to use the center stands, a sidewalk/curb, a cinder block, and another piece of wood get the 2 tires to "match up" just right. The photo below shows the luggage racks, license plates, rear taillights, and various parts that kept us from easily backing the 2 bikes up to each other. It was either a) take that stuff off, or b) use some nearby options like the blocks and wood to line up the wheels. Whichever is faster or easier for you will probably help you decide.

3) Press the Tires Together - Especially if it's cold or if there's some moisture on the tires, you might need a few extra hands to help "squeeze" the 2 bikes together and create the necessary traction between them. The extra riders are a help in stabilizing the bikes and coordinating the throttle situation as well, but depending on what tires you have on, how big the engines are, etc...a little "squeeze" might be necessary.

HAVE YOU RIDDEN IN PATAGONIA YET? Click Here to See This Motorcycle Trip Package Up Close

Look closely and you'll see when everything was turning right, the clutch was let out completely, and the 2 bikes "shook" right at 0:45 seconds in the video. With all the noise from the running bike though, it's a bit difficult to hear and feel exactly when the defective bike actually starts, so pay close attention and please be careful when trying this. As the outcome of this little exercise may determine how much more you ride that day though, surely you'll be successful in figuring this out.

Happy trails, and see you in Patagonia! (Well, only if you contact us about such a trip.)


Trip Reports from Patagonia! 2 More Motorcycle Tours in the Books


The craziness of this busy season sure has made for a lull in the reporting! As per usual, the Patagonia motorcycle riding season full of guided tours and self-guided riders on rental bikes sure has been a good one.

Muddy R1200GS Ruta40Back in December, Ulli and Andres led a group of riders from Italy, Ireland, and the U.S. on our "Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego & Ushuaia!" tour to the "End of the World!" in Argentina. Riders from the U.S. not only had the chance to enjoy one of the most fantastic routes in the world, but they also endured one of the many possible hardships we come across in Patagonia. In this case, one particular section of the Ruta 40 (Route 40) in Argentina had been rained on recently, and had dried to just that perfect density such that it sticks to just about anything. It builds up in the wheels, fenders, etc. and can make for difficult, or nearly impossible riding (not to mention what it can do to a clutch.) Nonetheless, the guys called some of our local friends and got everyone through this section without damaging the bikes. This made for a long day....but they got it done, and it sounds like the riders all agreed it was just one of those funny parts of travel that "makes an adventure."

In January, Eric & Andres hosted an entirely different group of riders from Canada and the U.S. on the same "Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego & Ushuaia!" tour, only this group had much better weather for the trip. (Only 1 day of rain, which is more typical.) In fact, 2 of the bikes were couples riding 2-up as they had done so before back home, and knew they could handle the roughly 50/50 paved vs. non-paved terrain.

CONTACT US with Any Questions or to Choose a Date to RIDE in Patagonia on the way to Ushuaia!

Rafting Rio Baker ChileStarting in Osorno on BMW F700GS's, F800GS's and R1200GS's, this group also had the time to do more of the rafting, hiking, and other site seeing that Patagonia has to offer. The first rest day allowed for rafting Rio Baker, a highlight for anyone on their first visit. Later on in the trip, a handful of us were able to take a boat ride and hike the Perito Moreno Glacier just west of El Calafate, Argentina. Chipping ice directly from the glacier and pouring a little whiskey over it was an experience many of us will never forget! (Bikes were not involved : )

As I've written about at length before, the scenery in Patagonia is still the same stunning collection of natural beauty it's been for years. The change we do see though is that, each year, there's a little more pavement, a few more new buildings...a new gas station here and there...maybe a few new hotels..... and more people. The inevitable fact is that Patagonia, like much of the rest of the world, is still being "discovered" and as such is growing in popularity.

Hiking Perito MorenoRelax though, you're still in a position to see this landscape before it's too late. Both Chilean and Argentina Patagonia still have a definite "remoteness" to them, and it's not like we're overwhelmed with traffic or congestion on these trips. (Well, maybe just a few minutes of traffic in a city like Bariloche.) But there are still sections where we go quite a long time without even seeing another car, truck, or person, and it's just "us" out there, enjoying the scenery, the fresh air, the tranquility, along with the challenges the Patagonia hands us.

As hinted at in the opening paragraph, do not wait if you want to ride in Patagonia this coming 2015/16 season (October through April.) As if it's still one of the last "best kept secrets" in the world, still relatively few riders have taken the time to see what we have in Patagonia. The clear majority who have been there and seen the sites we see tend to agree: It's the best riding/route they've ever experienced. Total variety, stunning beauty, cultural experiences, and great food...all combine nicely for a motorcycle trip!

CONTACT US with Any Questions or to Choose a Date to RIDE in Patagonia on the way to Ushuaia!

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