Motorcycle Trip Across Thailand

What skills to learn, what tools to get
slowtraveler
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Motorcycle Trip Across Thailand

Post by slowtraveler » Sun Jan 20, 2019 7:11 am

My quality of life has significantly improved since getting a motorcycle. I'm planning to take a trip across the country in a couple of months. I know there are many on here who have been on long road trips across countries so I'm hoping for some tips on motorcycles or road trips.

There are some gorgeous national parks on the world heritage sites list I want to see soon. My furthest trips so far have been maybe 100-200km round trip in a day. I'm still at the beginner-intermediate level, I've driven a car for 10 years. Scooter for ~1 year but a scooter isn't the same. I've had a 125cc+ bike under a month now.

So far https://www.motorcycle.com/how-to/ is the best free resource I've found to get some basics down. I've already got a motorcycle license and taken the MSF basic 2-3 days course.

Regarding a road trip:
I'm planning to get a box for the motorcycle for extra storage, some impact resistant gloves, and some jeans to have more protection than my shorts. Drive early in the morning. I heard that 6 hours is the limit for a day but 3 hours split into 2-3 sessions seems better due to getting sore from long seats. I would take 1-3 days rest at various nature spots or cities I want to see and stay in cheap hotels most nights. I'll likely book the hotels a day or 2 ahead of time and eat what I find on the road or in cities. The range limit of the cycle will be 5L * 50km/L=250km and gas stations are more than abundant here. Utility-wise, I'll bring water, a spray tire repair kit, a multitool (includes pliers and screwdriver), some duct tape, iodine, and rain+warm jacket. Labor is cheap here but parts can be the not appropriate fit or fake.

A debate I'm having is whether to buy a new bike or rent because I plan on taking multiple trips and using a bike the rest of my time here.

For renting, an old 125cc bike is 2500B/month. A new 150cc bike is 61000B and can be resold for 30-40000B. So within a year, it'll pay itself off with. My ideal is buying an <1 year used 150cc bike that has had 1 owner and no modifications. Just buying from someone who bought but now needs to leave the country even though they took good care of the bike.

My current plan is to live here 10 more months then travel 1-2 months to see family and some more countries before returning. So far, this town is the only place that has felt like home so my chance of returning is high.

So, any tips or resources for a young man just starting out with motorbikes or on taking road trips in general?

SavingWithBabies
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Re: Motorcycle Trip Across Thailand

Post by SavingWithBabies » Sun Jan 20, 2019 10:09 pm

Well I don't know if it counts but I fixed my motorcycle on the kitchen table* (back when I lived with my brother) and then rode it from Wisconsin to Texas and back. Things I learned:

* Top heavy bikes are really hard to get upright. Thankfully, a kind man helped me when I went off road in the campground.
* Trying to navigate and ride really sucks. This was before smart phones. Or at least before I had one. I should have had at least a map holder and a wax pen to jot down turns on the windshield or somewhere. Maybe all better with smart phones but having a backup plan is probably a good idea.
* Riding at night is a bit dangerous. I definitely ran over a possum or something similar (felt the bump). Also had a slow driver that was probably drunk. I'd probably give it a pass if I didn't need to be somewhere by a certain time.
* Your butt gets sore. You get tired of sitting in the same position and figure out how to use the passenger pegs or put your legs up somewhere else or slide your butt way back on the seat.
* Throttle hand is a painful. Get some kind of throttle lock that works and you've tested.
* Hard luggage is great. I had a trunk and two saddle bags and they all locked and kept out the rain.
* If you're on a road bike and haven't tried gravel, try it so you know what it feels like. Particularly coming to a stop from high speeds. I hit some road construction and it was a bit too exciting.
* If traveling in heat, when you stop for gas, consider using the bathroom and/or getting some refreshments first and then gas up. I didn't realize how hot and tired I was and overfilled the tank. It was fine but hot bike and spilled gas is not a good combination.
* You might get to camp for free if you arrive late and leave early. It wasn't my intent but there was no dropbox or other way to pay.

Some of this might be USA-specific with long droning rides on the highway because you only got a week or two of vacation and...

* It needed a stator and I did the timing chain and bits while I had it split open.

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Gilberto de Piento
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Re: Motorcycle Trip Across Thailand

Post by Gilberto de Piento » Mon Jan 21, 2019 1:46 pm

Maybe bring a spare tube, levers and a pump? And something to repair a tire if it gets cut? You'll have to know how to use these things too.

You mention a rain coat but waterproof pants gloves and boots can also be helpful.

Have fun! Be careful too.

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BRUTE
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Re: Motorcycle Trip Across Thailand

Post by BRUTE » Mon Jan 21, 2019 3:19 pm

a 125cc bike seems much too small. Thai highways are just like western highways - humans go fast. in fact, brute just looked up the Thai speed limit on motorways and it seems to be 120kph, or 75mph. that's faster than almost all speed limits in California.

how fast can the 125cc bike go, and can it do that speed for 6h per day? longer tours on interstates in the US are discouraged on bikes <500cc. brute has done it with a 250cc, but the bike was at the rev limiter most of the time. not necessarily fun. on another 250, brute blew the engine doing this. and it's not fun staying on the shoulder doing 45mph when cagers are whizzing past at 75mph, because the bike can only safely do 45mph.

in other news, jeans are not safe motorcycle clothing. at speeds of 30mph and up, they will immediately shred. they also don't protect knees from impact. brute recommends investing in a set of waterproof motorcycle touring clothes. these can be pricey (easily $500-1,000 in the US), but are completely worth it. especially with the surprise rainstorms in Thailand.

to repeat, and brute has personally experienced this: jeans will IMMEDIATELY shred on contact with the tarmac, even at low speeds. road rash is nasty.

as important as gloves: motorcycle boots with stiff ankle protection.

and of course a high quality full-face helmet. not one of those buckets they hand out with the scooters in Thailand.

there are places that rent out larger CC touring bikes in Thailand.

Campitor
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Re: Motorcycle Trip Across Thailand

Post by Campitor » Mon Jan 21, 2019 4:08 pm

I used to ride a motorcycle and I worked in an ER restocking emergency supplies. Brute is giving you sound advice and you should pay special attention to it. I've seen too many young adults with severe road rash in need of skin graphs because they didn't wear the right clothes. And a full helmet not only protects against injuries, but the constant buffeting of wind to the face, and bug splatter, gets old after the 1st hour of constant riding. I'm not a big fan of the wind howl directly on the ear either.

I always wore a full face mask with leather gloves, jacket, and boots. I'm sorry to say that I'm guilty of the blue jean offense but I didn't know any better at the time. Lucky for me the worst accident I had was burning my leg on the muffler while wearing shorts (yep - that was stupid) and having the motorcycle wheelie out from underneath me when I was first learning to ride. I rode a used 1979 Honda 650.

125cc is good for riding around dirt trails or short errands on slow roads. You'll kill yourself after listening to that high speed "waaaaa" all day as you redline towards 50+MPH.

And good luck on the trip. Sounds like fun.
Last edited by Campitor on Thu Jan 24, 2019 8:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

slowtraveler
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Re: Motorcycle Trip Across Thailand

Post by slowtraveler » Mon Jan 21, 2019 8:37 pm

Googles roadrash motorcycle. F*ck.

The highest I've done on a 150cc was with a passenger ~ 105km/h to pass another car. 90km/h for any extended period of time. Maybe 150 is not enough. I'm planning 3 not 6 hours a day due to inexperience and the effects of fatigue + soreness.
I didn't think blowing an engine on a new 150cc for going 70mp/h, was possible but if you did it with a 250cc, it makes me think the stronger vibration the bikes gets above 90km isn't the case for larger bikes. I actually wondered why someone would need above 150cc when I first started riding one since it handled all the <100km trips so well. I didn't realize but I did expect, the engine likely would overheat in an extended high stress period like a 3 hour drive at the speed limit or going up steep terrain for equally as long. I thought it was purely for higher acceleratation but a stronger engine would obviously be more resilient to stress on a trip where it'd be worth it to not have to walk a motorcycle x kms to the nearest shop.

I guess it'll be more than the $2000 new 150cc I was hoping for.

My lover's new 150cc bike did alright going up a very steep hill (<1hr, many breaks at beautiful waterfalls). Going down, the right brake had an overheating problem that prevented it from fully stopping the bike.

Maybe I'll rent something stronger for the month or 2 of travel and then get something smaller for when I'm in town or doing <200km trips. Hondas are locally made so I'll probably get a Honda since the prices are good and replacement parts are common.

I mention jeans because they're better than the sinful shorts I'm wearing at the moment but after learning more about road rash, full motorcycle gear sounds a hell of a lot better than the eventual road rash since I know some day, I will end up flying off that thing. The helmet I'm using covers my face fully down to my chin but not neck, more than a bucket but just short of a full face helmet. It was <$20. It also lacks a tinted glass or visor and the sun can be a huge pain.

I was hoping to do this ERE cheap style but it seems to increase risks significantly to push for a low cc bike or light clothing.

2 main questions:

What cc would you recommend? Due to soreness, I won't be pushing above 3 hour days.

Is there any place or company you'd recommend for gear?

Thank you sincerely, this has expanded my sphere of knowledge to the point of realizing how much I'm unaware of.

Campitor
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Re: Motorcycle Trip Across Thailand

Post by Campitor » Tue Jan 22, 2019 1:00 am

Also if your not experienced in high speed motorcycle handling, please familiarize yourself with counter-steering in theory and in practice. It may save your life or at least keeping you out of the side ditches when turning at speed.

https://youtu.be/VVE79XT8-Mg

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BRUTE
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Re: Motorcycle Trip Across Thailand

Post by BRUTE » Tue Jan 22, 2019 2:39 am

slowtraveler wrote:
Mon Jan 21, 2019 8:37 pm
What cc would you recommend? Due to soreness, I won't be pushing above 3 hour days.
on a decent bike made for longer trips, 3 hours won't be as tiring.

brute would recommend at least 300ccs, 500 is better for longer highway including uphills (and some of those mountains in Thailand are steep!).
slowtraveler wrote:
Mon Jan 21, 2019 8:37 pm
Is there any place or company you'd recommend for gear?
the Yamaha dealer near Kad Sun Kaew (sp?) seemed to have decent gear. there's a place that rents bigger motorcycles to farangs, but brute has forgotten where exactly. they probably rent gear, too, or at least know where to get it.

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luxagraf
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Re: Motorcycle Trip Across Thailand

Post by luxagraf » Tue Jan 22, 2019 10:25 am

BRUTE wrote:
Tue Jan 22, 2019 2:39 am
brute would recommend at least 300ccs, 500 is better for longer highway including uphills (and some of those mountains in Thailand are steep!).
FWIW, I took one of those two stroke Honda Dreams you can rent anywhere in Chang Mai to the highest point in thailand. Wouldn't say I flew there, but I made it. And if I remember right it was an automatic, couldn't even manually downshift. A crappy moped wouldn't be my choice for an extended trip, but I certainly wouldn't say 500cc is a requirement.

And the highways can be sketchy, those 3-4 trailer rigs are surprisingly quiet when they come up behind you.

Seppia
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Re: Motorcycle Trip Across Thailand

Post by Seppia » Tue Jan 22, 2019 11:59 am

Mumble
If time werent an object, I would get a 110cc super cub in great condition (I think they still make these) or another four stroke indestructible one cylinder with a design from the seventies and just avoid the highways.

I would ride at 60km/h and just take it easy. Riding on highways sucks as it is extremely boring.

I definitely second brute’s recommendations on the helmet.

bigato
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Re: Motorcycle Trip Across Thailand

Post by bigato » Tue Jan 22, 2019 1:09 pm

I just finished a bicycle trip across some of Argentina and I'm on a hotel bed waiting for the time to take the cab to the airport. The daily distances varied from 266 to 86km a day. Various external factors will influence the planning. In 2017 I did a 3000km bicycle trip and arrived exactly the day I had planned. This time, the planning was completely useless, even with me having a lot more experience and being fitter. The one piece of road wisdom that I can give you, and in my opinion is more important than all the rest, is to build your way up to the bigger trip slowly. There are worlds of knowledge and experience that you don't have and and of them will bite you in the ass or may even kill you. Make sure you start with shorter weekend trips around your area where there's less new knowledge that you need, done at the very least people speak your language.

If I were to do another bicycle trip like this, there's one thing that I'd do differently and that maybe also translates to motorbikes: I'd train pushups daily, starting at least one month prior. That way you can hopefully spare yourself from the sore arms and upper back.

SavingWithBabies
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Re: Motorcycle Trip Across Thailand

Post by SavingWithBabies » Wed Jan 23, 2019 10:23 am

I'm glad you were and are receptive to the safety gear message. I completely forgot about that. In my MSF class, they had a helmet from a guy who went down on the highway. He was lucky he was wearing a full face one as there was a lot of plastic ground off of it but it stopped short of grinding through. There is a ton of information out there on safety gear and if I were you, given the climate I think is in Thailand, I'd read about that to make sure you get gear that will work in warm and humid weather (but you can also layer when it's cooler). There are also pants that look like jeans but have some safety fabric in them so if you like that style, you can find things that will work. I will admit, I was all about the helmet, gloves, jacket, boots but had a hard time figuring out the pants.

2Birds1Stone
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Re: Motorcycle Trip Across Thailand

Post by 2Birds1Stone » Wed Jan 23, 2019 6:47 pm

Check out this blog, he posts on MMM every so often.

They quit their jobs in 2012 to take a 1 year trip around the world and it lasted 6+ years. One the best blogs on this topic I've ever come across. Spent 20 minutes digging to find it for you. Hope everyone enjoys.

http://www.ridedot.com/rtw/?country=*&page=34

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Gilberto de Piento
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Re: Motorcycle Trip Across Thailand

Post by Gilberto de Piento » Thu Jan 24, 2019 11:06 am

It's been said already but I'll just repeat, I think riding on highways is dull and also annoying due to the noise and wind.

I'd lean towards back roads (assuming they are in good enough condition) and the smallest bike I could get away with given the terrain and how much I was carrying.

slowtraveler
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Re: Motorcycle Trip Across Thailand

Post by slowtraveler » Fri Feb 01, 2019 1:37 am

Took another day trip on a 150cc to Doi Inthanon and back. Maybe 5 hours in the day of driving. Damn sore from sitting and starting to get too tired by the end but it worked well. I'll take a few more day trips and keep assessing.

I see the limits of a 150cc. It is slow going uphill. I'd also like to play with a manual.

Visited some stores but not bought anything yet. Gloves first, a jacket next then boots/pants. I don't like the bulky boots so maybe just something with ankle support will be enough.

@2b1s
Thank you for the blog, I've been looking around and learning from there how different every continent is for driving.

slowtraveler
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Re: Motorcycle Trip Across Thailand

Post by slowtraveler » Fri Mar 01, 2019 1:34 pm

Shopping list now includes: Real Cyber snell helmet, Barcuda air jacket, and a syoco or Barcuda pair of gloves

Also, debating hard between 2 bikes to buy. I have a mechanic with a very sexy brain so the bike prices below will be all inclusive of fully functional upgrades and storage. The first person I've ever seen take a stethoscope to inspect a motorcycle. God damn. I learned so much.

Choice 1: a Honda CB250 for 47,000 baht (42 + tall handlebar set up& stock exhaust upgrade for 5) potentially +4 for a much stronger head light as the current headlight is weak.
Choice 2: a Kawasaki ern6 for 120,000 baht

Both have engines rebuilt under 10k km ago, new chains, tires, all that, I mean completely functional with another 25k km before another major service required.

The ern6 is a 650cc and damn sexy. The 250cc is ugly (naked, chipped, generic plastic at pieces) but highly functional and can also be used for touring, just slower.

The 650 is what I want but it's too much power for my skill level. I've been driving a 125cc scooter, sometimes my friend's 150cc for trips. Doubling the power and using a 6 gear manual bike is already a huge jump in capacity.

The largest reason for my hesitation is safety. The 650cc can do wheelies, it will lurch much harder when I misuse the clutch, it will overrev, my misestimations of distance for braking and turning will be exaggerated relative to the 250cc. Multiple sources recommend working my way up rather than multiplying my power by 5 without building my skill level first.

Also, the 650cc is sexy enough for me to not want it stolen, or dinged in a parking lot, and big enough to not be as nimble in traffic. The fuel efficiency is half and maintainence costs about double the 250cc as well. The 250cc may be harder to resell due to aesthetics but I can always just have 2 bikes for different purposes.

My friend recommends using the 250 for a few months while he finishes working on the 650 then selling and getting the 650 once I'm ready. I could do that or just use the 250 for around town and the 650 for any further trips. Or straight for the 650 and maybe rent a big bike for a month first. Just the price to rent on all the bikes means I'm paying 10%+ of the purchase price each month so I don't want to rent for much longer. The sooner I own, the sooner my skill will significantly increase and my running costs will significantly decrease (depreciation<< rent).

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C40
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Re: Motorcycle Trip Across Thailand

Post by C40 » Fri Mar 01, 2019 1:50 pm

I'm just gonna go ahead and declare that motorcycles are the ~consensus ERE motorized vehicle of choice.

slowtraveler
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Re: Motorcycle Trip Across Thailand

Post by slowtraveler » Wed Mar 06, 2019 11:36 pm

Now have Real Cyber Snell Helmet, Bacuda Air Jacket, awaiting my size Syoco M20 Gloves to come in shop. Price: 8600 baht ~$241 usd.

Also, picked up a CB500x. Damn it is fun. I need a bigger parking lot in my apartment because parking there is a bitch.

Signed up for basic big bike class at a school, end of month is the soonest class and may take a skills class after and take a trip around the North. Then a trip down south, to the national parks, rainforests, and the beach. My friend said paramotoring is fun. Maybe I'll look into it too but the cycle is enough for me now. Still very beginner with this. I feel intermediate with the scooter. The scooter is a relief at times since it's so small.

A little sad I chose the cb500X instead of R because the R is sexier, lower to the ground, and slightly stronger relative to weight but it will get very tiring on long drives and the exact offers I had made it relatively more expensive (the one I chose had higher quality upgrades and half the mileage-including the upgrades price was nearly the same), even if cheaper on an absolute basis.

slowtraveler
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Re: Motorcycle Trip Across Thailand

Post by slowtraveler » Fri Mar 08, 2019 4:02 am

Injured now. Was driving 125cc scooter fast through traffic in left lane. Car full of illegal immigrants turned in front of me. Slammed the brakes but had to swerve to the left and went into gravel. The gravel caused me to skid. I tried flying. I failed. Road rash.

Jacket saved my upper body. No gloves yet which sucks hard. Getting gloves, jeans, and maybe shoes as soon as I can try on gear. Wounds still leaking so not ready yet.

Lessons learned:
1) Full body gear every drive.
2) Drive slowly through traffic.
3) Don't use the far left lane except to temporarily pass, cars don't see me there. Someone actually turned in front of me earlier that day but I stopped in time since there was no gravel. Should have learned my lesson but I'm stubborn.
4) Even with no insurance and likely a $100 bill for the rental bike damage, it was as pleasant experience as I could have expected. The girls driving stopped, bandaged me up. Lover has been taking good care of me too. This didn't happen with my sexy bike, so huge plus.

___________________________

Planning a trip now around Mae Hong Son. First, day trips to Doi Inthanon and back, Bua Tong, and Mae Teang for a few days of practice. Also taking some safety and skills courses. After these day trips, the MHS loop. Then a trip to my lover's home town and then to the 2 national parks on the World Heritage Site list and some beaches after.

Time to count my blessings for now.

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Viktor K
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Re: Motorcycle Trip Across Thailand

Post by Viktor K » Fri Mar 08, 2019 7:52 am

Tragic

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