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  1. Default Some advice for a newbie! be gentle! :p

    Firstly, hello to all.

    My name is Alec and I am from the UK.

    I have spent a fair bit of time on the east coast of america over the years, and I have always wanted to spend some time, on a bike exploring the country.

    Well, after a pritty rough week (mrs leaving etc) it suddently hit me, that there was nothing to stop me from doing what I have always wanted to do, travel around america on a bike and take in the various cultures, scenic routes and just have some fun!

    So, I am starting to look at what i need, to make this idea turn into reality, i am looking for advice, hints and tips etc.

    My thoughts so far, are to travel to a friends house in Florida, where I can get over my flight, and hold up for a couple weeks whilst i get used to your time. It also gives me time to have some fun there, and purchase a bike!

    I would like to travel as much as possible, go to as many places as i can. If i find a place I like, stay for a while, if i dont, move on. I was planning on camping where possible, but motels are good too.

    At the moment, i have no route in mind, all i know is i should be able to travel for around 6 months as this is the maximum time i would be allowed to stay on a visa (unless it has changed)

    I was planning on ending the route at the place I started with a week or so to spare, so i can spend some time with my friend there, and begin arrangements to sell the bike (or leave it with him) etc.

    so in short, come over, be a free spirit onthe road and leave.

    I will be spending some time over the next few weeks working out places I would like to go, and probably just pick some because the name sounds cool :p

    Any advice, tips etc all welcomeded in my early planning stage.

  2. Default

    Question: When you say "bike", do you mean motorcycle or bicycle?

    If you mean bicycle, unless you're a professional athlete with distance riding experience, I'd urge you to reconsider. In the East, things are close together. You can realistically expect to hit civilization and points of interest in a fairly short time. The West, on the other hand, is HUGE; you could literally bike for days before getting to a town. You know your fitness level and your endurance level -- look at some maps and study up on the distances.

    If you're riding a bicycle, can you carry enough water for a ride of more than a day? Camping equipment?

    It might be realistic to use some type of transportation (train? bus?) between long drives, then bicyle for short distances.

    On the other hand, if you're talking about a motorcycle, then for a single traveler, that's probably a good choice. It'll limit what you can carry, of course, but it'll cost significantly less than driving a car.

  3. Default

    Sorry, I should have been more clear, I did mean motorcycle, a nice cruise bike in black \o/

    I am not too bad a cycylist, but an engine works a lot better for me lol :)

    I guess the initial questions i have are as follows.

    Do you need road tax on bikes in the usa? (I think you dont?)

    Picking up a used, but newish cruise bike for under $6000, is this a good target?

    How much is fuel there at the moment (A lot cheaper than here tho!)

    Do you require insurance by law on a bike, what is needed etc?

    Breakdown cover would be a must have, any recomendations?

    Other than the basic toolkit for the bike, should I take along any other tools?

    Satnav/GPS systems work ok there, right?

    Starting point, would be neart fort lauderdale airport, florida, and also the end point.

    What time of year should I look at traveling?

    Should I head east, up the east coast, then across to the west coast, and back again, or the other way around?

    I honestly do not know what I want to do on the trip yet, i just want to travel and see what happens, but it is always good to have several spots in mind, to work between.

    I do fancy a solo ride across the desert :)


    I guess i need all terrain camping equipment, I guess you guys have some nasty bugs etc in some places, which i need to be aware of?

    All weather clothing, and dry stuff to change into if i need. Swim stuff! (I love jumping in rivers and lakes)

    some cash / phone / spare batterys for phone / camera / food, and water. what else would i need?

    Sorry for lots of questions, im just trying to find some initial focus for what i want to do, then i can grow on it from there :)



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default It's a Continent

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Since you've already done some travelling in the US, you do seem to have an appreciation for its size at least, but several other of your questions indicate that you need to start thinking of it as a continent rather than a country. Climates vary from desert to sub-tropical to arctic. Wildlife abounds everywhere, but there is certainly no short list of 'bugs' to worry about. Yes there are chiggers in the southeast, black flies in the north east, mosquitoes almost anywhere you find standing water, but there are also snakes, bears, javelina, moose, mountain lions, scorpions, etc. This is not meant to scare you off at all. People drive and camp all over this continent every day of the year. It's just that your questions don't have simple answers.

    Then, too, it's not going to be that simple for you, as a foreigner, to buy, license register, and insure a bike here. These discussions will help get you started, but your longest road may be the one through the red tape. The one type of insurance that you must have is liability, coverage for any damage or injury you may cause to someone else. How much of that you need will vary by state, with the state you register the bike in having jurisdiction. How much coverage you have on yourself and the bike (comprehensive) is up to you. Same with your kit. SatNav will work, but you'll probably have to pay to get the data on American roads. A good paper atlas would be a whole lot cheaper, give you a good synoptic view, and becomes a good souvenir.

    Route and time of year: For a 6 month trip, I'd suggest landing in Florida (if that's what works for you) in Spring (say May) work your way up the east coast and Appalachian Mountains to the Great Lakes, take the summer to cross the northern plains and Rockies to the Pacific Northwest, come down along the coast as fall sets in, and enjoy the desert as late in the fall as you can. You don't want to be here in the summer! In Tucson today (June 20) we hit 110°F (43°C), and it's only going to get hotter.That should answer your basic questions and give you a bit to mull on for a while!


  5. Default

    Good! I'm glad to hear that you're planning a motorized trip. I can answer a couple of your questions:

    Road tax for bikes -- Dude, this is America. We tax EVERYTHING.

    Unleaded fuel (I assume motorcyles use the same thing my Honda does) is hovering around $4 -- slightly more in large cities, and it'll increase around holidays and in summer (because of higher demand).

    How much fuel is there? We don't have a shortage; it's just expensive.

    Yes, you need insurance -- it's the law. For any motor vehicle, you must have liability (so that if you hit me, your insurance pays for my car). You probably want collision as well (so that if you hit me, your insurance ALSO pays for your bike). If your bike is financed, the bank will require you to have collision. With our current economic troubles, some people are letting their insurance lapse, which can mean bad news for you if you're involved a wreck with them; as such, do not skimp on your Uninsured Motorist coverage. What about medical coverage? Motorcycling is not a risk-free activity, and you want to know that you're covered in case of an accident; our medical treatment is expensive.

    One way to get this insurance cost down is to carry a fairly high deductible; we have $2000 deductibles on our cars (which means that if we're in an our-fault wreck, we pay the first $2000 and the insurance kicks in after that), but this cut our premiums by 2/3. Since I've been driving for 26 years and have never filed a claim, I think I'm ahead financially on this one.

    I don't know about bikes, but I do know about Florida. It rains EVERY DAY in Florida -- not for long, mind you, but every single day. How does this affect you on a bike?

    Florida is overrun with mosquitos.
    Out west the scorpions scare me.

    How much camping equipment can you carry on a bike? A bivouac sack would be most practical for your small luggage space, but I can't imagine using it for six months at a time. Out west it's cold at night. In Florida and the South it's hot and muggy all the time.

    We have a helmet law in our state; I don't know if all other states do or don't.
    Quote Originally Posted by AZBuck View Post
    you need to start thinking of it as a continent rather than a country.
    That's well-stated. People tend to forget just how big we are -- it affects how we do things as a country. Why don't Americans all have passports like Europeans? Well, it's our size! Many Americans go their whole lives without leaving American soil. From my house I literally could not be in another country without more than one day's solid drive. Why isn't it reasonable to compare our gas prices to Europeans' gas prices? Because our geography has led to the development of a car-culture, and in our present society, cars are the only reasonable way for us to get around.

    We really are essentially a continent.

  6. Default

    Hey Guys,

    Thank you for your replies, they are very informative, and have given me some clarity on a few points.

    I understand that the bike insurance works in exactly the same way as it does here, legally required to have at least a certain level of insurance, however it is a good idea to have more if you can, and you can offset the higher price against an excess fee. :)

    I am going to look into hiring a bike also, this may save me a lot of trouble when it comes to sortin gout a bike, and insurances etc, but i imagine it would cost me a lot more overall. I could always register the bike in my friends name (american) and use it with his concent, there wouldn't be a problem doing this, would there?

    Medical insurance, this is something i also need to look into, and is an absolute must have for any trip in my eyes. I will be looking into this over the next week or so.

    I do understand just how vast the continent of america is, which is also its appeal. You have so much variety, and it is reasonably easy (if you are dedicated) to get to most of it. :)

    AZBuck, thank you for the route suggestion, i will take a look at that over the next week or so, and see. It does sound good.

    I have been giving this trip a lot of thought over the past few days, and i am realllly wanting to do it, but i still have a little something niggling at me saying dont do it, but i am sure that will go eventually.

    I understand that it is hard to carry everything that you will need on a bike, especially with such a variety of weather and terrains, so my plan was to pick up supplies along the way, almost breaking up the trip into "sections" by predicted weather and terrain, I can always re-buy anything i need, or i might even find a good way to take everything with me, you can get small bike trailors, i have never used one tho, and i doesnt appeal, but it may be a good idea, i am certainly going to look into it.

    Bugs, i can cope with, i just like to know what to expect in certain area's so i dont get a nasty surprise. Luckily, we do not have any nasty bugs here (nothing really) but not many things put me off :)

    Fuel prices, are still a fraction of what they cost here for you guys, and with the exchange rates, i double my money anyway, so it doesn't phase me too much.

    As for the variations in weather, I do not mind riding in wind, rain, sleet or sun. I am an all weather biker, as long as you are prepaired for the conditions, and are careful, it isn't so bad.

    Helmet law, well i wouldn't ride without one anyway, i wasn't sure on the legality of not using one there, but as you say it depends on the state you are in.

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