Riding your own motorcycle in America

After covering 35,000 miles from Sydney to Alaska on a 105cc postie bike, well known travel author Nathan Millward’s trip around America on a BMW R1200GS could almost be seen as travelling in luxury.

A bucket list destination for many bikers, America has so many amazing sights to see across such a vast area making 2-wheels the ideal form of transport to pack in as much as possible during your visit!

In the March 2016 edition of Motorcycle Sport & Leisure magazine, Nathan has been retracing his most recent American journey, and giving some tips to those who fancy giving the United States a try for themselves.

Rather than renting a bike, Nathan flew his BMW to Las Vegas, before embarking on a 5 week ride with nervous pillion passenger Sarah, who’d rarely been on the back of a bike before. How would they cope together on the 6,000 mile ride to New York?

Their first day of riding took them into the heart of Death Valley, with temperatures hitting 51°C, and then following Route 66 they passed the stunning spectacle that is the Grand Canyon.

Sometimes on the road, we make last minute decisions, on the spur of the moment – these kinds of decisions can lead you up amazing routes that you’d have missed if you stuck rigidly to your plans day in, day out. However, in Nathan and Sarah’s case they decided to hot-leg it back to Las Vegas to get married with an Elvis impersonator as their witness. Impromptu, unplanned, spontaneous – all words that go very well when describing adventure travel.

renting a motorcycle in America

The next weeks saw them cross Utah, nip into Colorado and venture south to New Mexico, stopping at the famous Walter White house in Albuquerque before heading for Roswell. Then it was east to Texas, Arkansas Mississippi and Alabama. The huge Appalachian mountain range and renowned Blue Ridge Highway provide amazing views as they pair then head north, taking in a brief detour to Washington DC before finally arriving in New York.

For rides looking to take on America, Nathan provides some useful tips:

  • Shipping – The USA is relatively straightforward, with a number of drop off couriers available who do all the leg work for you. Nathan used James Cargo, who flew the bike out to Vegas, and arranged for a boat back from New York to save on costs.
  • Paperwork – All you need is a free letter of exemption from the Environment Protection Agency. It’s worth taking the regulations for temporary import of a foreign vehicle, in case the person as customs hasn’t seen it before.
  • Bike Rental – If you’re going for less than 3 weeks, it may be more cost effective to rent a bike. You can get a much better price if you compare a few different bike manufacturers and model specs.
  • Clothing – Pack a variety, as you’re never going to get it quite right. The high summer temperatures of Utah and Nevada give way to cooler climes as you hit the Appalachians.
  • Continental TKC 70 reviewCosts – Nathan & Sarah budgeted £6,000 for the trip including bike shipping, which cost around £2,000. Fuel costs around half of the UK price, and there are plenty of great camping spots in and around National Parks, which can help to keep you under budget.

Covering most of their miles on the road, but with some light off-road included, Nathan opted to fit the Continental TKC 70 to his BMW R1200GS before the trip and says:

“Before leaving, Continental TKC 70s were fitted, which I find give good road grip, a bit of off-road traction and should last the anticipated 5000 mile trip (they lasted 6000 miles with tread to spare)”

You can read all of Nathan’s tips and advice and find out more about his recent trip in the latest issue of Motorcycle Sport & Leisure, which is available to buy now!

Find out more about the Continental TKC 70 here.