Advertisements
Archive | Travel RSS feed for this section

Restarting Baja

24 Dec

It’s time. It’s been five years since my first surfmoto trip to Baja, and it’s been five years since my last surfmoto trip to Baja.

Everyone wonders where the time went, but for me, it’s no mystery. Starting and running a new business took up much of the time. Spare time went to 5-day rides to and from LA and Monterey, CA, for the races at Laguna Seca, Ducati events like the 20th Ducati Monster Anniversary ride, and the Quail Motorcycle Gathering. My two- to three-week trips were to Nicaragua, where I have a home at the beach in front of great surf breaks, Colorados and Panga Drops. (And of course, I have a motorcycle there, a Yamaha XT125, and a garage.) And lastly, getting a new house and building out the garage for my growing stable of motorcycles was a big time-suck as well.

Since that first trip, when I tell friends about that ride they always say they want to do it, too. “When are you going again?!?” “Let’s do it!” But in the end, they really don’t want to do it, at least they don’t want to do it enough, so nothing happens. I’m used to that. It’s why I did the first surfmoto trip alone; I couldn’t find any takers. So when folks talked about wanting to go, I’d say, “Sure, let’s do it.” And I would wait for their follow-up. It never came.

Until last week. My riding buddy, business partner, and fellow Ducatista, Steve (we both have Monsters – he an S4r1000 and me, an S2r1000 – and 1198’s – his the Corse1098 and mine the 1198sp) texted a link to an organized Baja ride. One where you buy one of their 250s and the ride is free except you to need to pay for your personal expenses – hotel, meals, gas, insurance, etc. In other words, there’s no tour or organizer fee.

I generally don’t like organized tours or group rides. The Ducati Monster ride mentioned above is the only one where I ever enjoyed myself. (The worst was a bike magazine sponsored ride at Quail.) And that was because we broke into three groups, from fast to slow, as soon as we got into the twisties. But I am not interested in joining a group ride through Baja with a bunch of folks I don’t know, especially on a bike I don’t want to buy. Besides, I know Baja pretty well. I traveled it enough to write a surf travel guide for Baja awhile back, and of course, I did the surfmoto thing, too. So why would I want to get shackled by a group tour?

So, I talked Steve out of that and into us planning our own trip. We’ll invite some friends, like our other business partner and riding buddy, David, fellow Ducatisti like Arrick, aka DIYMotoGuy, and designer/builder Alex of Earle Motors, and whichever competent rider-friends we can trick into a “fun” Baja ride.

I started working on itineraries. Will update from here. Baja here we come!

Advertisements

Yumbo 200 Dakar – Nicaragua Surfmoto Bike

14 Mar

 

Yumbo 200 Dakar

New Yumbo 200 parked outside Pili’s Restaurante in Hacienda Iguana

I’ve been looking for my Nicaragua surfmoto bike for awhile and finally pulled the trigger today, buying this new Yumbo 200 this afternoon.

A bit of background…I’ve been spending time in Central America for 20 years now, and have a condo on the beach in front of Panga Drops in Nicaragua. I visit Nicaragua a few times each year, and every time I end up renting expensive vehicles that can deal with the roads and accommodate my surfboards. Most of my driving is off-road, and whether off or on-road, the whole time I’m wishing I had a motorcycle.

I’ve wanted to ride my DR650e down and leave it here, but it’s a three week trip, at least, that would be followed by import tariffs that could cover the cost of buying a bike here in Nicaragua. I’ll make the ride eventually, but in the meantime, buying a bike here in Nicaragua seems the best plan.

Once that decision is made, the next fork in the road is whether to buy Japanese or Chinese (or Indian). Japanese bikes cost twice as much as Chinese, and more. They’re better, of course, both in reliability and handling, but that’s more hearsay than fact as reviews are scarce so you’re left to asking around.

Also, there are no dual sport bikes over 200cc, Japanese or otherwise. Most of the Japanese bikes are 125 or 150cc – about a fifth or less of what I’m used to riding.

I test rode a used Honda Bross 15o. It rode OK, but it had over 80,000 km on the odometer, so while it had been well-maintained, it just wasn’t a great idea. Besides, the guy wouldn’t go less than $1,600, and I could get a Yumbo 200 for $1,200.

Which I did, but not until I scoured Rivas for something that seemed more, well, better made. And what might be better handling. With these rock-strewn dirt roads, handling was most important. But you can’t test ride the new bikes, so handling would be a guess.

I looked at Dayun, Raybun and others, but mostly Serpento. Genesis was closed. They all seemed cheaply made, and I almost bought a Serpento, but the only 200 they had was a sort of supermoto, and I wanted an off-road/dual-purpose bike.

I bought the Yumbo 200 in Tola for $1,200. When I rode away two things were noticeable. First, the brakes totally sucked. Second, the forks were crooked. I returned to the shop and we straightened the forks. Maybe the brakes need breaking in.

On the ride back to Hacienda Iguana the speedometer cable detached itself, but that was the only mishap over the 14km ride.

More to come on this. Sorry for the bad photo above.

*****************

UPDATE

Last November (2016) I sold the Yumbo back to the dealer I bought it from. It really was a spindly piece of junk, so I learned my lesson. I bought a low-kilometer, 2015 Yamaha 125XT from a friend in Hacienda Iguana and couldn’t be happier. It’s 75cc down on the Yumbo, but nothing breaks, it handles twice as well and will hold its value better, too. I sold the Yumbo for $400, a third of what I bought it for 2 years earlier, but that’s OK.

It’s about time!

16 Oct
Cycle World Does SurfMoto

Cycle World boys try out a short surfmoto trip during the Baja 500.

I was really happy to open up my Cycle World magazine a couple of weeks ago to see their Baja surfmoto adventure. (Not so keen on the “surf and turf” theme, but whatever.) They headed down to Coyote Cal’s in Eredira and caught a bit of surf at Punta Cabra. They rode and tested new bikes – the poster boy of adventure travel bikes, the BMW R1200GS and it’s closest rival, the KTM 1100 Adventure R. No Carver racks for these boys. The BMW and KTM have enough going on that all they needed were some straps and padding – almost like strapping boards to your SUV. Go read the article here. It looks like SurfMoto is catching on.

New Ducati Scrambler? Maybe a new SurfMoto machine?

9 Jun
Ducati Scrambler 2015

A secret shot of the secret new Ducati Scrambler.

Very much looking forward to checking out this new Ducati Scrambler. It seems like they’re going back to what the Monster started out as – the simplest interpretation of a motorcycle, Ducati style. I’m hoping this will be a good one to modify into a proper surfmoto machine. But even if it’s not, it looks to be a whole lotta fun!

The Ultimate Western Hemisphere Surf Vehicle?

26 May
2005 Ford F150 surfmoto vehicle.

Is this the ultimate vehicle for a motorcycle-loving surf traveler?

 

Is this ultimate western hemisphere surf travel vehicle? In some ways, yes. Cheap, used, high-freeway-miles Ford F150.

Parts everywhere. Easy to work on, especially with 2wd and no power anything.

Only 3 people fit in the cab – 2, really. And we all know that the more people on the trip, the less surfing gets done.

Enough room in the cab for backpacks and today’s food and drink – the essentials that can’t get stolen. Enough room in the long bed for everything else, from a gaggle of mini-Simmonses to that Skip Frye 11-footer you’ve been dying to set free of the crowds. Not to mention that dirt bike. And a bicycle, too.

 

White never looks dirty, not that you care. Actually, the dirtier the better. 

Stock rims that no one will want to steal.

A chipped taillight lens, cracked windshield and 3 small dents awaiting many more.

Baja and Central America, here we come.

“Four wheels move the body. Two wheels move the soul.”

19 Apr
Copied from the Quail Motorcycle Gathering promo on cycleworld.com

Copied from the Quail Motorcycle Gathering promo on cycleworld.com

Well said. Enough said.

Tough Miles

5 Nov

 

Jon and Pete stop in at Suzuki HQ in Brea, CA to freshen up their DRZs and give us the video lowdown. Awesome guys on an awesome adventure – ’round the world sans film crews (Suzuki HQ visit excepted) and support SUVs. Get the rest of the story at toughmiles.com.