Alongside husband Kevin, Julia Sanders holds the Guiness World Record for circumnavigating the globe by motorcycle - which was completed on their R 1150 GS in 2002. Julia & Kevin now run World of BMW Tours & Rider Training School, as well heading up motorcycling adventure specialist company Globebusters. Here is Julia's top 10 tips for tour preparation...
1) Don’t spend too much time planning or you’ll never go! Don’t worry too much about exact routes, just get a broad idea of what you want to see and do. Linking them all up will happen when you are on the road.
2) Ask yourself: Who much time have you got? Who much budget have you got? A few weeks or so can get you to Morocco, Turkey, Russia and back. Twelve weeks can take you to Beijing! Or even down to Cape Town. Six months you can ride from the top of Alaska to the bottom of Argentina. Some people ride around the world in this time; others take five years or more to do this! Common mistake is to try and cram too much in too short a space of time. Also bear in mind freight – Asia / Africa can be achieved overland, but the America have the cost of freighting out there. As freight can be expensive, it may not be within budget.
3) What bike? What terrain? We are big believers in any bike can do any trip, but there is always a compromise relating to comfort, your schedule or if you are riding two-up. Clearly if you want to specialise in off-road, like across sand dunes in the Sahara, this will also be a factor in choice. Despite the adventure tag, most big distance trips are largely on the tarmac, all are on public highways (it’s just that some roads are yet paved) and often you’ll want to cover 200+ miles a day, so for us you’ll be taking a medium to large adventure style bike, and of course the BMW GS range is perfect!
4) What bike accessories? With the R1200GS Adventure, you can literally take it out of the box and there is no need to spend a lot of money on after market parts. We used to stick lots of unnecessary bits on the bike that just added to the weight. Now we will only add parts to the bike that achieves better protection in case of a drop or crash (it will happen on a big trip, honest!). The only other item to consider is GPS and maps. We fought hard against GPS for a long time, but it has become an invaluable tool in navigating. However, taking maps is a good back up as in many developing countries, it is impossible to buy maps once you are there.
5) What equipment to take? This will depend on where you are going and your budget. If money is tight, you’ll want to camp, which means taking all your equipment and then how to pack it. When camping, we keep all our gear in an Ortlieb waterproof bag (available from www.cotswoldoutdoor.com) that we strap onto our back rack. You must pack light. Most people take too much stuff. We have the philosophy of “wash & go” so you need minimal clothing.
6) What documents do I need? As well as the usual passport, driving licence, and V5, you’ll need the International Driving Permit and maybe a Carnet de Passage (generally for Africa). Motorcycle insurance is a minefield and you have to expect to “self-insure” along the way once you are out of EU / North America, although there are some very expensive policies that can provide limited cover. Make sure your Travel Insurance covers you for injury in case you have a motorcycle accident. Carry original documents securely to prevent loss or damage.
7) Shipping Your Bike? By sea or by air is a common question. Air is quicker and more reliable and Customs at the airport are used to moving freight quickly. Sea freight is slower, less predictable and ports can be tricky places to deal with, with lots of hidden charges. Using a good freight agent is key. James Cargo Services specialise in bike freight and will crate your bike for you too! www.jamescargo.com Many riders will attempt to clear their bike through Customs themselves. If you’re happy to have the run around, it’s part of the experience! But using a broker can really speed things up even if it costs you some money.
8) Prepare for Border Crossings: Once out of Europe and North America, border crossings become much more onerous and fun! Ensure no valuables are left visible on the bike. You may spend a long time dealing with the bureaucracy and it’s highly likely you’ll need to oil the wheels (so have small dollar or euro bills handy), but borders are an amazing insight into local culture. In some countries, children will guard your bike – for a fee!
9) Fuel – Many riders worry about where they will get fuel from but in our experience as longs as there are other vehicles about, you’ll get fuel from somewhere, even if it is buying some from the chief of the village. People in developing countries are much more resourceful and streetwise that we are and will know where you can get fuel from. If buying fuel from drums, check quality and maybe filter.
10) If all this sounds like a lot of hassle, why not explore the World of BMW 2012 Tours programme, and let us take you on a motorcycle trip of a lifetime. . .
World of BMW operate a full programme of Tours - ranging from a selection of short European Adventures, through to mid-distance 'Explorer' tours to Morocco, Turkey & Greece . And new for 2012, we have introduced a range of 'Fly and Ride' adventures to the Rocky Mountains, Canada & South America. Visit the www.worldofbmw.com to find out more.
BMW Motorrad's official partner Globebusters also offer a host of long distance motorcycle adventures; ranging from 5 week tours of Southern Africa, to an the epic 10 month 'Explore our Earth' world tour. Visit www.globebusters.com for more information.