Please forgive me if I sound a little negative here, but why would Victory even want this ride to happen? This isn't cross country, it's cross death! I appreciate your adventurous spirit, but your proposed ride is borderline with insanityIf by a miracle none of those scenarios happen to you, how would you do an oil change? Would you carry an oil kit with you? Where would you get your gas? You realize some gas stations in Russia sell 72 and 80 octane fuel? The Cross bikes are designed for 91+ octane fuel.
Here's a list of things to avoid, for those travelling to Russia:
Ride on the North American continent as there are plenty of dangers here. You don't need more ways to lose your life, and you only have one to lose. Once again, I don't mean to sound like your mother, but this is an insane task for any rider to undertake.
I suppose some rebuttal is in order for "Crossroads" statements. I have been to Russia quite a few times, can read maps and signs, get around, and have a beginner/intermediate knowlege of Russian. I am aware of all the points being "warned about" in his link.
As a matter of experience, make 5-10 copies of your international driver licence. Put a new picture on it and stamp it. I mean like a round blue/green/ or black stamp that a notary uses. This will be accepted as a driver license. The FSU is a suckker for a stamp - nevermind embossed stuff - really, I know.
If you want, make 3-4 copies of your real license and laminate them together for 2 sides. Same result. Don't give up the original.
On passport, the original is only needed when enetering and leaving Russia. Do not let it out of your posession for any reason. Make 10 photocopies of the front page and RU visa page and have them "stamped". Give the copies to hotels for registration or to get train tickets, etc. It works. The RU registration thing is a big mess, and applies to someone staying in a place for 3 days. They have no understanding of a moving target, so don't drag your feet, move on.
Travellers checks are useless. I know this for a fact - 8 out of 9 banks don't do travellers checks. Don't bother. Have good clean crisp, not-wrinkled $ dollars and change 'em as you need them. Don't be pissy about the excahnge rate - just do it. These guys are trying to make a living just like you. In all my trips I never tried Russian vodka. OK, yes, 1 time. I rented a car in Kyiv and went to the "eastern cities". Ever been to a charming place called Chernobyl? - nice quiet town. The windshield pisser was out of fluid. There aint no PePBoys or JiffyLube anywhere. So I stopped at a small magazine (shop) and bought a liter of vodka for about $1. I poured this into the W/S pisser and it filled it up. There was some left over, so I was going to chuck it and guys on a bench watching me had a fit. (remember the drunk trait?) I gave it to them instead. I tell ya, 100 proof vodka cleans bugs and snow just great! However, learned lesson, be sure to close the airvents next time - gag, gag!
As "Pro", western russia, from Ekaterinburg, is more civilized (?) and the roads are better. Better gas is more plentiful and easier to find. A "Con" is more crime and graft. In general, the militsia are somewhat polite if you know the "methods" or the "rules". At customs, you do not understand Russian so you have no problem. Goofing with you will only cost them money in the long run, so you are let go, or just a "small fine". If you must resort to some "fine", you put 100 ruble ($3) in with your paperwork and pass it to the official. He reads whatever the papers are and hands the paperwork back to you. Somehow the 100 rubles has disappeared. You did not offer bribe and he did not ask. It is how it is done.
Generally a "Con" about eastern russia is that it is desolate, bad gas, miles between places. OK, so every been to NV? I asked Vic about the gas octane and they said the engine would adjust to it - but with much less power and response. No secret there. Oil change, do it myself. It is far safer out in eastern russian than the west because of people counting on each other. Hospitality from total strangers is something no american can understand. As of
this year, the Trans Siber Highway is paved all the way from Vladivostok to Moskva and St. Petersburg. Putin did a TV video of driving it and arriving in Vladivostok - it was a big deal.
There are many "pro and con" about such a trip. Someone like (Walter) Colbatch may see it as watered down, but would understand and approve of the trip. RtwDoug ( Doug Wolthe of Alabama) would certainly understand the attraction of such a trip - even if not on a Harley or a Victory. Sherri Jo Wilkins would know what the attraction is. I know in my heart that Burt Munroe would know why I want to do it. Many others, including friends, think it is a crazy idea. Of course, most don't know where Lake Baikal or the Vitim Bridge is. Boy, I want to at least see that bridge, let alone cross it.
I know of 7-10 biker types across Russia that would come to my assistance if I asked. We had a rider from Vladivostok who was loaned a BMW 1200GS(?) to ride for a month all over USA. Members all over the country helped with his trip, visa, bike, food and meals, etc, etc. I have had biker friends who I have never met go to bookstores in Moskva to get something for me - and send it here. Yes I paid the cost, but it was simple trust - not so common
in USA. I think USA could benefit from pedestrials being a legal target - makes em move a little and keeps off the fat. I tell ya that I was really careful watching cars no matter where they were - good exercize!
Bike safety - only ride in daylight. Lock up the bike at night. Militsia will offer to put it in their garage and come and get you the next day to collect it - no kidding! Hotels will allow you to park the bike by a front dest or even in your room. Bike clubs all over russia will watch for you offer lodging, repairs, meals, and so on. Use a
cable lock for jacket, helmet, whatever if you want it all together on the bike. Put the Garmin GPS in your pocket.
If you post a "Ride Report" on places like "advRider.com", people will keep track of you. If you need help, the internet is your friend. On bad places in the road, momentum is your friend. Bike clubs will go out of their way to help fix anything that may be needed. Forget having a McD everywhere - learn to adjust. By far the worse thing
I have had to have was Mongolian soured goat milk - or whatever it is made of! If you don't like your in-laws, just paint this stuff over you door on 3 sides (like Passover) and the relative will never come by. Just kidding, but it is bad stuff.
The more I travel in the FSU (former soviet union) I find more that I like. I find "world views" - the USA is not all good and certainly not all bad. Same for Russia. Same for Ukraine. There is a very different view of USA elsewhere. It seems that "national interests" always seem to align with the political goals of whoever is in power
- not what you or I think. I have been shown great respect because I gave respect also. It is a funny thing, but most folks want to just get along and have a peaceful life - no matter what our "Big Goombahs" tell us. A biker is a "special person" in Russia, and most folks will try to help him/her.
OK, off my little soapbox. What about being wasteful with $20,000 to buy a motorcycle? A MOTORCYCLE - ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? YOU COULD BUY A GOOD TOYOTA FOR THAT!!!! I have heard that from americans and Russians alike. The trip, well, at least the russians try to figure out how to do it with logistics, repairs, parts, lodging, and so on.
If your level of adventure is going to the store or a local park, OK. If your level of adventure includes rides across USA, and even, heaven forbid! to Sturgis, OK by me. I would like a little more than that for my adventure trip. The largest country in the world seems OK by me. Trans Siber Highway. Sorta has a nice ring to it, doncha think? Das vedanya, poka.
The BAM road link: http://www.advrider.com/forums/showt...=533442&page=1
rtwDoug on a old HD: http://www.advrider.com/forums/showt...hlight=RTWDoug
rtDoug on a HD chopper: http://www.advrider.com/forums/showt...=578506&page=1
rtwDoug on HD-Panhead:
MotoSiber - Lord Macieck: http://motosyberia.com/shop_en.php
Colbach, aka Capt. Magadan:
Sherri Jo from Austrailia: http://www.sherrijowilkins.com
eta moya dva rubles.