Trip Preparation: Bike Setup

February 6 – March 2, 2010

After getting the bike maintenance tasks done, it was onto other setup tasks on the bike.


Cleaning the sludge that had built up on the skid plate as it came from the previous owner. Mostly chain lube and probably engine oil.


30 minutes later with lots of kerosene (great cleaning solvent) and elbow grease.


Installing a Stebel Nautilus Compact horn – super loud aftermarket horn, 139 dB – so that I can be heard among all the trucks and traffic chaos along the way. Reading other travelers’ reports, I noted that most of them wished they had had a louder horn.


It barely fits under the Aqualine Safari tank and the front fender needed to be cut for clearance.


Aligning the horn to make it as level as possible as it’s only supposed to be +/- 15 degrees to function optimally. I’m using an app on my Android phone (Motorola Cliq) that utilizes the built-in accelerometer.


Installed with the relay and heavy duty wires. The Stebel draws a lot of current to produce that loud noise and thick wires are needed. They only require 14 gauge wire but I had some 12 gauge lying around, so used that liberally to ensure no melted wires. I’m also keeping the stock horn and switching between them as needed because the loudness of the Stebel might not be needed in all situations. While the horn is loud, it has sort of a fruity two-tone very Euro truck sound and makes you smile when you hear it.


Using heat shrink on all the connections. Looking at the bottom of the horn.


Enjoying the many months spent in my garage fabricating devices for the bike.


Setting up a 10 W, 0.6 Amp solar panel on my top box to provide additional electrical juice to recharge my laptop and other electrically gadgets. My bike doesn’t produce enough electrical power to safely charge things while on the bike and I’m expecting to be in some remote places with no electrical connections and would still like access to my laptop during those times.


Making some brackets to secure the solar panel to my top box.


Getting the s-bend was a little tricky not having a proper vice, but this rig worked out.


Painting the solar panel black, because it’s got to look good 🙂


Connecting the solar panel into the top box. I used RTV silicone on the edges of the panel to provide some dampening.


Fabricating a switch box. I’ve always wanted some switches to control various things on the bike and finally found a nice aluminum box that would do the trick.


Rounding off the drilled holes.


The solar charge control module, covered in silicone RTV for electrical and mechanical insulation. This board makes sure the DC output from the solar panel is in a healthy range (12-14 V) and also prevents the reverse flow of power to the panel at night. The board also features a trickle charger that I plan to use if not riding the bike for a long time to keep the bike’s battery healthy.


I drew up an extensive wiring diagram and set about creating all the little jumper cables and appropriate wires needed to execute this project. It took about a month to fully complete.


The Solstice LED lights’ power source switch. Besides just charging electronics on the bike, I’ve also setup the LED lights to be either powered by the bike or the solar panel so that during the day I can have the LED lights on providing a wider frontal light foot print without drawing more power from the bike’s battery.


The switch box all wired up and ready to go. I made a bracket that comes off the Vapor Tech mount. And the nice thing was that everything worked as intended on the first try.


Every electrical connection was bathed in dielectric grease (to help keep moisture out from corroding the contact) and where possible, the connection was wrapped in insulating heat shrink tubing (I had lots of it that came with my tool box, so might as well use it up).


And with so much heat shrink tubing still left, I decided it wouldn’t hurt to protect other connectors on the bike.


Snug and insulated. Hope I don’t need to disconnect that connector :p


Heat shrinking all other blade-style connectors before assembling in the switch box.


Running all electrical gadgets through a Centech AP-2 fuse panel so that if something does go wrong it wont affect my bike’s main electronics.


The Centech AP-2 fuse panel positioned under the seat, above the air box.


My dash board almost complete (the LED lights haven’t been secured in this picture).


The switch box. First two from the left are on/off for the two Solstice LED auxiliary lights. Next up is power source for the LED lights and master on/off for both lights and main head light on/off. Then it’s the voltage monitor for the bike’s battery or the solar panel output and the horn switching from the stock horn to the Stebel, both running through the switch on the handle bar. Next is heated grips and solar panel battery trickle on/off and last is power source on/off for 12V sockets under the seat and in the top box. And a note to self 🙂


The solar panel installed and the bike coming together.


A lexan cover for the solar panel, held down with 3M dual lock velcro.


My paint booth. Spraying clear coat on the front fender to prevent rock chips in the paint. It was freezing cold outside, so yeah, there wasn’t much proper ventilation but I wore a make-shift breath mask and hopefully didn’t lose too many brain cells :p

 

Next: Last Few Days Before Leaving

Previous: DR Bike Prep

Trip Preparation: DR Maintenance

I’m enjoying some down time in San Francisco and soaking up the warmer temps, staying with my friend Shridhar.Before I head south and cross the border, here’re some pictures of the preparations done leading up to the start of the trip.

October 2009 – February 2010

I know there are mechanics all along the way through South America and Africa but I wanted to replace some parts and do some preventative maintenance on my own time and not be rushed, unlike having to do it en route after things fails. I know things are going to fail that I didn’t anticipate, but I’ll handle them as they arise.

First up, I replaced all the bearings: front and rear wheel and swing arm bushings. I’m a decent wrench myself, but I know when some tasks are beyond my abilities for lack of experience or proper tools. I have a good mechanic friend, Gus who helped immensely in all the following tasks. He lived 80 miles from me (on the other side of Chicagoland) but it was worth it as he taught me a lot about how to service the bike if I need to on my own down the road.


Removing the swing arm from the bike to access the swing arm bearings (as it pivots on the frame).


That’s Gus heating up the swing arm…


…to plop in the new bearings.


The rear wheel bearings. The bike had 26,000 miles and the bearings probably would’ve lasted another 10K or so miles, but the factory bearings aren’t sealed and look at all that crud and rust that gets in there. I put in new All Balls bearings that are sealed on both sides. These should last for the next 30-40K miles at least.


Heating up the rear wheel hub.


Putting in the new All Balls bearings and dust seals.


Eww, the rear sprocket bearing, haha.

I then planned to rebuild the Front Forks (new oil and seals), but started reading about a potential issue in the transmission of the DR650 and figured a full engine rebuild would do me good. For certain model years, the 3rd Drive Gear in the transmission is known to fail unexpectedly and as a precaution you can replace it with a newer part. I figured a rebuild would be good as well to take a look at all the engine internals and see if there were any other problems that might arise down the road, and if I was going in, I thought I might as well replace the piston and rings and other aged parts, such as the plastic oil pump gear. I also had the cylinder head rebuilt to restore compression.


The engine removed from the frame.


This is probably as naked as she’ll ever be 🙂 The forks removed from the frame. One can see how simple a motorcycle the DR650 is. That’s a big reason why I chose this bike – it’s not too complicated and it’s very basic in its design, because it just works.


Cycling the new fork oil. That’s Nick who came to hang out while I was down there. He’s an amateur sport bike racer and participates in CCS races on a Suzuki SV650. Him and Gus are constantly rebuilding SV motors. These guys said they would be factory support for me on my trip and if I needed any parts sourced and shipped, they were ready to help.


Slipping on the new seals. Using some plastic to prevent the seals from catching a sharp edge and tearing.


Slipping on the new seals. Using some plastic to prevent the seals from catching a sharp edge and tearing.


Setting the new seals in.

Now the engine rebuild:


The engine on its bench, where it would be for the next 2 months as the rebuild went on for longer than expected as we waited for the right parts to be shipped.


The old piston at 26K miles. Not bad. Replaced it with a new forged aluminum Wossner piston (stock compression).


The rebuild required a few special tools, such as this generator rotor remover (50 mm threaded pipe). Had to wait a few weeks for the right part to arrive.


Splitting the engine cases required a plate that a threaded rod when turned would lift the outer case up.


When everything was set just right, it was magical to see the cases come apart with so little effort – hand turning the rod to split the cases.


Voila, the insides of a DR650 engine. Simplicity shows through again. It’s a single cylinder, so a sole piston spins the crankshaft around and the transmission is built into the engine case (like in most motorcycles).


The transmission gears. The part to be replaced is in the middle of the left stack. It looked fine and there was no unexpected signs of wear on any other parts. Even the cylinder walls with their Nikasil coating looked perfect. I was pleased that everything in the engine was running as expected and looked normal.


The clutch also looked like it had very minimal wear, so I didn’t replace it and will do so as needed down the road, probably in Argentina.


Putting the engine back together. Spinning the clutch basket on.


Re-assembling the cylinder head. Cam chain in place.


That right there is one mighty fine rebuilt DR650 engine. If something happens along the way, I’m not too worried about going in and working on it, but let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.


Shifting through the gears to make sure everything works as intended.


Getting the engine back in the frame with the help of my friend, Cesar who acted like an engine hoist while I positioned the engine to get the mounting bolts through.

Servicing the big items on the bike was done. New tires were planned to be mounted in San Francisco and the chain still had lots of life, so that would get replaced along the way.

Next: Bike Setup

Previous: FAQ

Jammin thru the Global South FAQ

Why am I doing this?
Professional: I’d like to make a career switch from engineering into humanitarian affairs and will be studying for a distance masters in Sustainable Development from the University of London during this trip. I hope to get first-hand knowledge of the various humanitarian needs through the regions I’ll be traveling through, which will help me choose an area to get involved in at the end of the journey, such as water resources, appropriate technology, etc. I hope to use this trip as a stepping-stone to the next chapter in my life.

Personal: I was bitten by the travel bug at an early age and this trip will be a culmination of many years of planning, researching and dreaming. Having traveled in small bits and pieces to various countries, I’d like to see more of our beautiful Planet Earth and I’m at a point in my life that this is feasible.

Why so long for the trip, 2 years?
The general route is dictated by the regional climate, meaning that I’m trying to avoid the rainy season in most places along with extreme temperatures (height of summer and winters). From this data, two years to circulate around Latin America and Africa allows me to synchronize nicely with the seasonal climate. Also, I need enough down time to get some studying done. I’m planning to ride for a few days, then stop for a few days, see some sights and get some reading done for my courses.

In addition, in my research for this trip and through communication with seasoned long-duration travelers, I’ve learnt that ‘the slower you go, the cheaper it gets,’ referring to the majority of expenses on these kinds of trips being related to transportation (self or public). Staying in places longer will reduce my average daily costs, allowing me to stretch the dollar and travel for longer.

Why on a motorcycle instead of a car?
Besides the old adage of “four wheels move the body, two wheels move the soul,” benefits of motorcycle travel over automotive:
– overall cheaper cost, initial and running (better gas mileage, cheaper maintenance).
– simpler regarding complexity of machine; I am able to fully tear-down my motorcycle and perform most repairs on it with relatively few tools.
– size; I need only about 4 ft to get through with my motorcycle, compared to at least 8 ft for a car. This could be a narrow bridge, a goat path road up into the mountains or around fallen debris on the road.
– versatility; a motorcycle, especially a dual-sport one, is able to traverse over most any surface including wading through 2 feet of water (rivers).
– openness; us riders jokingly refer to car drivers as ‘cagers’ as in the driver is caged in the car compared to being exposed and out in the open on a bike. Car drivers will probably see this as a downside, however once you become a rider, you’ll see this as a positive. Yes, you have to brave the elements, but with appropriate gear, comfort can be achieved in most weather situations and feeling the wind against you makes you feel more connected to your local surroundings compared to being nicely cocooned in a car.
– friendliness; the vulnerability of being open on a bike allows curious strangers to approach and make a new friend.

Will I be carrying a gun or other lethal weapons for self-defense?
No. Firstly, it’s highly illegal to cross borders, especially across developing countries with weapons of any kind as this will be seen as a threat and quickly lead me to the local jail, which I don’t want. I also feel that weapons can quickly escalate situations unnecessarily. I’m more on the Buddhist side of the spectrum and believe in soft power; going in with a smile, being friendly and respectful can diffuse most confrontations. Of course, there will be some situations where a weapon might be useful, but I will deal with them as they arise.

With my travel experience to date, I’ve learnt to be aware of my security in all situations; not being paranoid, but just being aware – making sure I’m not being followed, looking for exits from crowded places, recognizing unsafe parts of a new city, etc. I will try my best not to attract attention by flashing money or fancy gadgets in hopes of deterring common mugging. While I’ll be hiding money in various places on me and on the bike, I will only have small change easily accessible along with a false wallet (with expired ID and credit cards) to easily hand over if I’m being mugged.

I’ll also be using my brown skin to my advantage, hoping to pass off for a local in most places (the world’s going beige :p ). After learning Spanish, I’m sure I could easily pass for a regional citizen in most of South America. I’ll have to pick up Portuguese for Brazil. I might still stand out around Africa (I do know French for West Africa), but since there are so many Indians everywhere who migrated many generations ago, I might still pass off for a resident.

I do have mace/bear spray that I bought for bears in Alaska, but it wont be practical to be walking around everywhere with it. I’ll still be taking it when I head off into the wilderness for protection against animals.

Where will I be staying?
Primarily it will be hostels and cheap hotels along the way and camping where possible, but I will be looking to stay with locals as much as I can. There are different avenues that I will be using to get in touch with people willing to host passing travelers, as it will be a more enriching experience to meet and stay with locals. I have done this on all my previous trips and made many new friends along the way. Resources: ADVrider.com Tent Space List, HorizonsUnlimited.com Communities, and CouchSurfing.org (similar concept to the previous two resources, but open to the general public, not just riders).

How am I funding this trip/lifestyle choice?
I lived frugally while I was working in the US for a major corporation and saved and invested my earnings with this trip in mind. However, its not a lot and I’ll be looking to stretch the dollar as best as I can and am open to donations 🙂 If you feel you’re getting something useful from my trip report, please consider a small donation (paypal button on website) towards petrol or a meal on the road. Thanks.

How will I get access to money?
ATMs are widely available in all major cities and that will be the safest way to withdraw funds. I’ve chosen banks that don’t charge ATM withdrawal fees or at least, charge very little. Where possible, in safe locations, I will use my Capital One credit card, specifically because they don’t charge any foreign transaction fees and give good exchange rates.

What about the health risks?
I’ve taken all the recommended immunizations (yellow fever, hepatitis a/b, typhoid, etc) and will be highly conscious of the food and water that I drink. In general, as long as it’s hot and cooked in a relatively clean place, it’ll be safe to eat. I love eating from roadside shacks and haven’t gotten sick, yet. Plus, growing up in developing countries has probably left me with a pretty good immune system that hasn’t been weakened by my time in the US. I’ll be using a LifeSaver Water Filter that can filter out practically all viruses and bacteria and other water soluble contaminants. I will be carrying first-aid supplies and with a mother and sister being doctors, immediate advice is only a phone call away.

What if I get sick?
Diarrhea is probably the most common illness to plague travelers and I’m aware of how to tackle it (oral rehydration solution). Besides that, preventing mosquito bites will go a long way in disease prevention and I plan to use appropriate repellent where needed.

Do I have medical insurance?
I won’t be having any medical insurance since it doesn’t seem to be practical for me being an Indian citizen. The costs for travelers from India is quite exorbitant and just paying for medical care as it rises will be a more cost effective strategy. I looked into medical evacuation insurance but currently that only applies to North American residents and once I leave the US, I give up my residency there.

What if something breaks on the motorcycle or I get a flat tire?
Over the past few years, in preparation for this trip, I have learnt how to properly maintain and repair most any breakdowns, including fixing flat tires and mounting a new tire. I will be carrying specific tools such as a chain-breaker for more complex servicing.

Do I know anybody in these countries that I’ll be traveling through?
Not yet, but I’m likely to once the journey gets started.

What does “Jammin” mean and what’s its significance?
“Jammin” is the username I selected when I joined my local Chicago sportbike forum and its significance has to do with Bob Marley’s feel good song with a positive pulse. It’s significance also stems from my constant need to have music playing, which is one of the reasons why I like long motorcycle trips as it allows me to listen to lots of music while bobbing down the road with my noise-isolating etymotic er-6i earphones.

How will I stay in touch, communicate?
Internet cafes are ubiquitous the world over and getting online should not be a problem. I will be updating this blog along with twitter and facebook every few days or whenever I get a good internet connection. I will also be traveling with an international roaming SIM card to make important phone calls and will be using skype for free webcam calls to my parents, so that my mom can see that I’m alive and well.

How will I cross from South America to Africa?
I’d like to take this 3 week journey on a cargo ship (Grimaldi RORO) from Buenos Aires but there are some logistical issues with that idea, so I might end up flying across, putting the bike on a pallet in the cargo compartment.

When am I coming back to the US?
I’m not sure.

Isn’t Africa really dangerous? Don’t they still eat people there? LOL
Yes, Africa is less developed than the rest of the world but that immediately doesn’t make it more dangerous. There are dangerous places all over the world, including in your home town and one just needs to be aware of them and take the right precautions. And besides, I spent 8 years of my childhood in a remote corner of southern Africa and I can tell you it’s a beautiful place with warm, friendly people.

Wont I miss home and my bed and all the other comforts?
Having lived in Zambia soon after birth and then growing up in India, “home” is a concept I’ve learned to adapt to wherever I happen to be at that moment in time. On my short motorcycle trips up to this point, I’ve noticed that I did not miss the comforts of my home even when things were going bad, so I think I’ll be fine. I’m aware of “traveler’s fatigue” and with an open-ended journey like this, I should be able to slow down and break the journey for a while if I need to. Yes, I’m going to miss my kitchen as cooking is a highly pleasurable activity, but I think I can fulfill that desire on this journey. I gave up watching regular TV a few years back and thus won’t be missing any programming, besides watching Formula 1 races. I will miss having almost instant access to high-speed internet, being part of the “plugged-in” generation, but I’ll learn to live without it. I will miss my friends and I don’t like to say goodbyes as the friendship doesn’t need to end there and hopefully we can meet in the future.

If you have any other questions, do let me know.

Next: Bike Preparation For The Trip

Previous: Packing List

Jammin thru the Global South Packing List

Over the course of many motorcycle trips during the past four years, I’ve learned what to carry and what to leave behind, becoming an efficient packer. The two biggest factors in deciding what to take are weight and space. Weight is always an issue as a heavier bike is harder to handle, tougher to pick up if you drop it and reduces fuel mileage. Space is obviously limited on a motorcycle and items that pack small are preferable. Also, items that are multi-functional are preferable.

I prefer to run hard luggage instead of soft bags due to the increased weather protection and safety of belongings, which is not that much of an issue in developed countries, but will be useful for traveling through some developing countries. Additional benefits of hard luggage include using them as camping stools and the ability to rivet additions features, such as spare tire-carrying mounts, etc. The downside of the aluminum luggage set is the added weight of the metal boxes as opposed to cloth saddle bags. Each box weighs about 10 lbs. However, to me the benefits out-weight these costs.

Along with clothes, tools, spares and food in the side panniers, I’m also taking along minimal camping equipment, a Digital SLR camera and other electronics in the top box.

Geared up and ready to roll!

Riding Gear
Regarding riding gear, I follow the motorcycling ethos of “All The Gear, All The Time” (ATGATT), meaning full protection of the whole body anytime I’m riding, even for a short distance. Sometimes wearing all the protective gear can be cumbersome, but if it helps me in surviving an accident, then it’s worth the effort.

Motoport Riding Suit
Teknic Speedstar Summer Glove
Rev’It Celsius Winter Glove
Aerostich Triple-Digit Rain Glove Covers
Silk Glove Liners (x2)
Champion Insulated Glove Liners (x1)
Oxtar TCX Comp Boots (with torsional ankle protection)
Arai XD Dual-Sport Helmet with sun visor

Clothes
In terms of clothes, I’ll primarily be wearing my Motoport Kevlar Riding Suit with base layers. For the body to be comfortable, it’s all about layering. If it gets colder, I’ll throw on the windproof and waterproof liners of the riding suit and if it gets still colder, I have a performance thermal set, which I use for skiing. On the other extreme, for really hot temperatures, I have a cooling vest that works on the principle of evaporative cooling. Besides changing out the base layers, I only require a few other clothes for the evenings and days off from riding.

Base Layer Tops (synthetic x3, silk x1)
Base Layer Bottoms (synthetic x3, silk x1)
Bicycle Shorts (with padding)
Thermal Top
Thermal Bottom
Dry-Fit T-shirts (x1)
Regular T-shirts (x3)
Travel Pants (x1) (pants that zip-off into shorts)
Shorts for sleeping (x1)
Swim Trunks (for the beach)
Boxers (x2) for off-bike; on-bike it’s commando under the base layers : )
Socks: Smart Wool (x1), Motorcycling Padded (x1), Silk (x2)
Neck Gaiter
Kidney Belt (to aid lower back support)
Keen Sandals with toe protection
Cooling Vest
Rain Liners
REI Camp Towel (quick drying)

Everything gets packed in the panniers

Miscellaneous
Toiletries
Wahl Beard and Hair Trimmer
Anti-Monkey Butt Powder (to reduce soreness of the posterior muscles)
Toilet Paper (small roll)
Sunblock
Eye Allergy Drops
Insect Repellent
Mosquito Net with Boonie Hat
Nail Cutter
First Aid Kit with Sprain Bandage
Eye Glasses
Spare Contacts
Eye Shades
Waterproof Document Holder
Fake Wallet

Camping in Patagonia, Chile

Camping
Catoma Twist 1-person Tent
GearGuide Light-weight Sleeping Bag
GearGuide Torso Sleeping Pad
MSR DragonFly Multi-fuel stove, runs off gasoline
Coleman Pot Set
LifeSaver Water Filter
FireSteel Flint for starting fires
Lexan Cutting Board
Emergency ready-to-eat meals

Electronics
Laptop: Gateway ec1803u, a 10.6″ high-end netbook
Western Digital 500GB and 1TB External Hard Drives
Digital Camera: Canon SD400 5 MP
Digital SLR Camera: KonicaMinolta 5D 6 MP with zoom lenses, remote, tripod
Helmet Camera: GoPro HD
GPS: Garmin 60Cx
Logitech iPod nano with Etymotic ER-6i earphones
Chargers for all devices
3-into-1 Wall Socket
Travel Adapter
iPod Speakers with AA batteries
LED Head Lamp

Bike Related
Even with all the precautions taken before the trip regarding the bike itself, things can still go wrong and one must be prepared for various situations. I have the tools required to fix a flat tire, change a tire, quick weld any pieces that break and other miscellaneous tools for upkeep and repair.

Pumping up the tires in Guatemala

Tools
Motion Pro Chain Breaker and Rivet Tool
Tire Irons, 15″ x3
Tire Pliers Bead Breaker
Tire Patch Kit
Bike Krtuch
Slime Air Compressor
Mikuni Carb Jets
Tool Roll with:
Craftsman 3/8″ Socket Wrench Flex Head
Spanners: 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 17 mm
Socket Set: 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17 mm; extensions: 1/4, 3/8
Socket Set Hex: 4, 5, 6, 8, 10 mm
Spark Plug Socket
Deep Socket: 12, 14 mm for engine mounts
Vice Grips (x2)
Adjustable Wrench
T-Handles: 4, 5, 6 mm
Front and Rear Axle Wrenches (19, 24 mm) with extension
Lots of Zip-Ties
Safety Wire
Epoxy Bond
Super Glue
JB Weld
Leatherman Wave Multi-purpose Tool
Cruz Dual-Sport Multi-purpose Tool
Electrical Tape
Duct Tape on wrench
Digital Multimeter
Manual Compass
Feeler Gauges for valve checks
Chain Lube
Uni Filter Oil
Orange Hand Cleaner
Valve Core Remover

Spares
Tire Tubes (Front and Rear)
Clutch Cable mounted next to current clutch cable
Throttle Cable
Shift, Clutch and Brake Levers
Clutch Fibre Plates
Spark Plugs
H4 Headlight Bulb
Sprocket Set (Front 14 and Rear 42)
Fuel Line
Miscellaneous Nuts and Bolts (M5, M6, etc)
Electrical Connectors, Fuses
Fork Dusk and Oil Seals
Brake Pads (Front and Rear, EBC)

I’m clearly not traveling light, but hey, I figure I need all these items to live peacefully on the road for 2 years. Could I do with less? Sure, but I’m looking at long-term life on the road and this should keep me sane.

Packed and ready to hit the road!

Next: Common Questions About The Trip

Previous: About The Bike

Jammin thru the Global South Route Plan

The general route plan is to ride around South America in 2010 and then ship or fly over the Atlantic to spend 2011 around Africa and then make my way towards India.


Click here to view in Google Maps

Being a geo-political news junkie, I’ve been keeping abreast of the news in the regions I’ll be traveling through and will avoid areas that are deemed unstable. However, one thing going in my favor is my brown skin color. In Mexico, with the few Spanish phrases that I could speak, people assumed I was Mexican since they can range from fair to dark and brown fits in there somewhere. I’ll be taking a Spanish language immersion course in Guatemala and if I can come out of there speaking fluently, I should be able to pass for a local in many countries. Of course, I’ll see what I can do about learning Portuguese for Brazil. My French is going to need a brush-up before I enter West Africa and besides that English should get me by along with a dose of respect for the locals.

After Africa, I’d like to continue overland through the Middle East into India. However, I’m not sure I can get a visa for Pakistan or if I’ll be allowed to cross the border from Iran into Pakistan at Taftan. But that’s two years away and I’ll figure it out as I get closer.

Being an Indian citizen, my situation dictates that once I leave the US, the only country that will bureaucratically welcome me with open arms will be Mother India and thus the journey will be heading towards there. However, I might slow down somewhere along the way. And that could be in southern Africa, as I consider Zambia to be a second home and would like to give back to the country that provided me an exciting childhood.

Along with noting down the routes traversed by previous motorcycle travelers, the general climate in each region will dictate how the route goes. For example, I’ll be avoiding the rainy season in Brazil and the super hot summers of the Sahara.

The line shows my approximate route:

Latin America Climate Route Planner

Africa Climate Route Planner

Next: About The Bike

Previous: About The Trip