Here are some answers to the questions that we've been asked most often. If you have any other questions, if this site doesn't load properly on your web browser or you just want to say hi, please drop us a line or write to us on our guestbook. We'd love to hear from you!
Q: Who are you guys?
We are Neda and Gene! We like motorcycles. A lot.
Q: What the heck is a RideDOT.com?
RideDOT.com is a collection of daily motorcycle travel blog entries, each written at the end of a long riding day. Most often they're typed out in hotel rooms or in Internet cafes (Edited 2012: or in a tent!) all over the world, and we're a combination of exhausted and exhilarated (so some of the writing might be a little incoherent), but we want to capture the events of the day while they're still fresh on our minds. We do this to share our trip with our friends and (extended riding) family, but mostly so we can look back months or years later to remember and relive our trips all over again.
Q: What kind of camera equipment do you use?
I'm a devout Nikonian! Most of the California trip was taken using a Nikon Coolpix S3 and a Nikon Coolpix 880. For the Europe trip we upgraded to a Nikon Coolpix S1 and a Nikon Coolpix S50. We finally got a DSLR for New Zealand - a Nikon D60, and for India, we added a Nikon D3000. In response to us continually trashing our Coolpixs, Nikon specifically developed a shock-resistant, waterproof version which we're using today - the Coolpix AW100. Also, the camera on our iPhones are surprisingly good.
We've recently expanded our lens collection, our primary lens is the versatile Nikkor 18-200 VR II, which we're very happy with, and our newest addition is a Sigma 10-20, a cheaper wide-angle lens but one that's giving us good results.
Q: How much did it cost to ship your motorcycles to Europe? Who did you use?
We used a company called Motorcycle Express. We shipped from Toronto to London and then Munich back to Toronto. Here is a breakdown of the costs:
Shipping costs from the freight forwarding company was about $3K CAN per bike
Customs + shipping & handling cost in the UK was about £200 per bike.
Shipping & handling in Munich was about €150 per bike.
Shipping & handling in Toronto was about $65 CAN per bike
Insurance is mandatory for riding in Europe and was purchased from Motorcycle Express as well and was about $600 USD per bike for 1 month of coverage
Note: These are all 2007 prices.
The good is that they took care of all the Dangerous Goods paperwork for the shipping, and arranging between the airline and the freight forwarding (cargo) people. All we had to do was show up and drop the bikes off.
The bad is that they don't handle any customs. You have to have cash in hand (no credit card accepted) and almost all the time it's in another building, so you need to get the paperwork from the cargo people, walk to the customs office, pay the dues to discharge your bike, and then bring the paperwork back to the cargo folks to release your bike. This can take anywhere from 2-3 hours to the whole day depending on how competent the cargo/customs people are.
Q: I am planning an overseas motorcycle trip for xx weeks. Would you recommend I rent or ship?
As you can see from above, shipping is an expensive process, but most bike rentals in Europe start at $100USD/day for a very basic, no frills bike, and get more expensive the better the bike you want to rent. So around a month (we were gone for 32 days), the cost starts to break even. Anything less than that, I'd save the hassle of customs and rent a bike wherever you are going. One nice thing about shipping is that we put all our gear and luggage on the bike, so when we boarded the plane, we had no carry-on or check-in luggage at all! If you were renting, imagine all the gear (helmet, suits, tank bags) that you'd have to check-in at the airport!
I think the biggest benefit of shipping is that you aren't locked into doing a round trip with a rental motorcycle - having to return it to the same place you rented it from. This is fine if you are touring a specific area, but if you intend on travelling through many different countries, you effectively double your travel time having to backtrack to your point of origin.
Another option for folks who travel for extended periods of time (more than 6 months) is to buy a motorcycle at their destination and then sell it at the end of their trip. But for a trip lasting only a few weeks, it is definitely cheaper to rent. However, unless you have a private seller lined up to buy the bike, you might not be able to sell your bike at the best price, especially when you have a flight to catch tomorrow. Most people who sell the bike will arrange a pre-negotiated residual (subject to mileage and wear/damage) with the dealer before they buy it. Keep in mind that if you do buy a new, more expensive bike, you will never recover the taxes you paid when you bought the bike originally. So, for instance, 10% tax of a $20,000 motorcycle is $2000 which you don't recover when you sell the bike back. $2000 is already the cost of shipping your own bike to London and back. And you still haven't paid the depreciation on the bike when you sell it back to the dealer!
An alternative is to ship the motorcycle you bought back home, which a lot of folks do for models you can't buy in North America. Travelers to India buy a Royal Enfield, tour around Asia and then ship these beauties back home. Our next long trip, we're probably going to do this, mainly because a European bike will have a warranty that is honoured in Europe. Our bikes were not covered for warranty work or roadside assistance, which cost me an arm and a leg when I had to tow it from Cote D'azur to Monaco!
If you are buying/selling, you might also need to outfit the bike for long-term travel. You might need a custom seat/windscreen, GPS mount, luggage+liners. Shipping your own bike means that you're kitted out from the start with everything that's already familiar to you.
Q: What software did you use to create this website?
None of the blogging websites and services offered what I was looking for, so I wrote one from scratch. The animations are all done using AJAX with the MooTools toolkit, our current RTW blog uses a MySQL database and PHP scripts to render the calendar, navigation and index pages. All other blogs are static HTML pages, but might get migrated to MySQL/PHP one day. And I do use Notepad to type it all in!
Q: I'm planning a motorcycle trip. What resources do you recommend?
Here are some great web sites for anyone travelling by motorcycle - whether it's to the next continent or just around the block. If you stumble across any other resources you want to share with us, drop us a line! Note that all links on this page open up in a new window.
By far the best resource for long-term, far-away travel is Horizons Unlimited. Excellent information on shipping, customs and visas, and planning that 3-Year-Round-The-World motorcycle trek you've always wanted to do!
When we planned our trip to Northern India and the Himalayas, BCMTouring.com was an invaluable source of information for a part of the world that is less traveled and even less documented. Worth a visit, even if you just want to marvel at some of the pictures of the natural beauty of the region.
If you're traveling by BMW Motorcycle, here are some great websites. ADVRider has a great GS forum called GSpot, and BMWSportTouring is one of the best R1200ST boards:
Sport-Touring.Net is a good site for the sportier side of motorcycle touring:
If you are trying to find some good motorcycles roads around the world, here are the sites we regularly turn to. MotorcycleRoads.US has an excellent database of twisty and scenic routes across all 50 states, and BestBikingRoads.com is a similar resource for European routes. Both sites depend on contributions and ratings from Internet users, so check back often to see if any new roads have been added.
And of course, because we do still sometimes tour around our own neighbourhood, here's what we use to plan local routes around Ontario:
Last, but not least, the old standby. If you haven't checked out Google Maps, they've thrown in a lot of great features like creating, and dynamically dragging & dropping way-points after you've calculated your route. For major metropolitan areas, they also have a "Street-View", which is a 360° panorama taken from a moving car. Great for scoping out potential parking spots!