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Touring Have a dream to ride a bike across your state, across the country, or around the world? Self-contained or fully supported? Trade ideas, adventures, and more in our bicycle touring forum.

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Old 09-06-08, 04:29 PM   #1
xnihilo
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For those who have motorcycle toured...

you understand how different that is to touring/camping and getting there by car. How is the bicycle-touring experience compared to motorbiking it? Stressing the experience and leaving out the obvious (ability to carry more, speed/distance, etc). Are the senses hightened even more? Do you get a different perspective of things going slower and quiter?
Obviously, I haven't toured yet (still getting "into" bicycling), but that aspect of the sport already appeals to me.
Thanks, all!
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Old 09-06-08, 04:44 PM   #2
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I haven't motorbiked but we have talked with a lot of touring motorbikers. Among the main differences, they can get to a hotel/campsite every night or take shelter from rain quickly and we can't always. Also, they can do lots of detours that cyclists can't without adding significant days to our trip. One guy who'd toured Cambodia significantly was pointing out lots of temples just a few kms off our route but for us, each one meant at least a 5km detour... too much to add to an already long day. You tend to do fewer side trips on a bicycle, I find. As for the senses, well a motorbiker never would have heard the boy singing as we crested silently over a mountaintop in Laos the other day.
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Old 09-07-08, 08:36 AM   #3
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Bike touring has a lot in common with motorcycle touring in that you are out of the box. The obvious things that you say not to discuss play out to really change the experience.

You feel the country in a different way when the next place to get water is 40 miles away and it takes 3-4 hours instead of 30 minutes.

You experience the country in a different way when your machine is silent and slower. You see things you would usually miss.

Mountains are a completely different experience when you actually have to work to get over them.

Being forced to carry less makes for a simple lifestyle that is very satisfying.

A thunderstorm is a different experience when you are out in the middle of nowhere any shelter it is hours away and you are slow enough that you can't outrun it.

The experience of meeting people is a bit different too. Motorcycle touring is a good conversation starter, but bike touring is a great one.

To me that is all good. Bike touring hits a sweet spot between walking and motoring, making it a better experience than either.
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Old 09-07-08, 02:33 PM   #4
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i did a 6-week motorcycle ride a few years ago. the bike was not old, but i did have some maintenance issues. everything, maintenance wise, is more difficult on a motorcycle. that added a significant amount of stress that i never have on bike trips. i've done a fair amount of motorcycle maintenance, but there's always the possibility that a problem could crop up that's over my head, and dealer/mechanics are few and far between once you get out of cities. it kind of gnawed at the back of my head, "what will i do if the bike is not rideable?", whereas, with a bicycle, last resort is to box it up and throw it on a greyhound, head home.

on bicycles, i look forward to the downhills, having earned the pleasure by working on the uphill. i love twisty uphills on motorcycles, when you never have to hit the brakes to slow down, just control everything by throttle position. i also love listening to the engine wind up and down as you're going through the twists or in tunnels, and i love tossing the bike from side to side.

i also found that i met more people on the bicycle. you meet more on a motorcycle than in a car, but not everyone is willing to strike up a conversation with a sweaty bald guy in leather at the rest stop. they can tell you're on a trip from the junk lashed to your bike and the license plate, but a lot more people asked me about my trip on the bicycle.

way more sense of accomplishment at the end of the day on a bicycle, too.

bicycle gives you more freedom to stop and see stuff. even with a motorcycle, you have to find a parking spot rather than just walk your bicycle over to the attraction. at the slower speeds, i'm more inclined to stop and take a picture than i am when i've got to slow down from 60 mph. like a car, a lot of those little towns that you'd have to stay at on a bicycle get just driven through if nothing reaches out and grabs your interest.
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Old 09-07-08, 02:39 PM   #5
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I've done both extensively and there are many similarities.
To many really.
The biggest difference is the distance travelled.
But the sights and smells are the same. I even use my bicycle gear (tent, cooking suplies ect) on a motorcycle trip.
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Old 09-07-08, 09:23 PM   #6
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Motorcycles are fun, fast and cover a lot of ground. You see, smell and experience more of the elements than in a car, but nowhere near what you experience on a bicycle. Having MC toured all over the western US for 20 years, I saw a lot of it, but I also tended to get caught up in a "covering ground" mentality and often never really relaxed. Especially on twisty two lane highways, it's easy to get caught up in the art of riding and miss a lot of the scenery and local attractions. So what's the point? The biggest advantage of MC touring is when you only have a week and want to go somewhere a couple of states away, especially out here in the west where distances are vast. You just can't do that on a bicycle, so it has it's place. Nonetheless, I am pretty much out of the MC thing - I just don't enjoy it as much and want to slow my pace and experience more.
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