Adventure bike riding questions answered by our team of experts
Is it possible to ride round the world without ever going off-road?
According to globe-trotting adventure biker Nick Sanders it is. “Absolutely,” he says. “There are any number of routes that allow for that. I take a number of standard routes through Istanbul (flying across Iran and Iraq), India, the Malay Peninsula, Australia, then South and North America, and there are no off-road sections at all.
But if you want to ride down through Africa, for example, you will have to ride off-road.” If your route is going to involve sections that aren’t paved, you can attend special off-road training schools in advance. These usually last for one, two or three days depending on how accomplished you want to become.
BMW’s two-day Level One off-road skills course costs £449. The course is held in Wales and it’s the same one that Ewan and Charley went on before heading off on the Long Way Round. You can advance up to level three if you want to really master the art. Call 0800-131282 or check out www.bmw-motorrad.co.uk for more details.
What is a carnet and does it – or do they – apply in every country?
A carnet, or a Carnet de Passages en Douane (CPD) if we’re going to be proper about it, is an internationally recognised customs document that identifies your bike or any other type of motor vehicle.
It allows you to temporarily take a bike into another country without paying customs tax on it. It also acts as a guarantee that, if for some reason, your bike ends up staying in that country, you will be held accountable to pay any necessary tax or duties on it.
While fewer countries require carnets now (you don’t need them in Europe or North America), they’re still essential if you’re travelling to Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Australia, New Zealand and some South American countries. Carnets can be obtained from motoring organisations like the AA or RAC and usually take about one month to arrange. They’re usually valid for one year.
I love riding bikes but I’m not the most mechanically-minded person in the world. How competent would I need to be before I think about taking on a major trip?
Not as much as you’d think. Bikes are very reliable these days and, since you can’t take much in the way of tools and workshop equipment, you’re limited to what you can fix anyway. As long as you know how to fix a puncture (carry a spare tyre), mend a broken chain and take care of general maintenance like you’d do at home, you should be OK.
And you can always thumb a lift, put the bike in the back of a truck and find a garage where it can be fixed. Again, there are basic maintenance courses you can attend in preparation for big trips and these will teach you the skills you need to maintain your bike to a reasonable level. BMW runs adventure motorcycling maintenance courses. Call 0800-131282 or check out www.bmw-motorrad.co.uk for more details.