Note we do not indorse any product or are sponsored by anyone.
This website outlines how we see the issues and situations at a particular time in our life. These are our opinions and views. There is no right or wrong way how to do something.
Our main believe is that 99% of the people in the world are good and so far this has proven correct.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's) - Click on the question to get the answer
1. Jimmy Lewis vs. Rawhyde Offroad vs. BMW Off-Road Course? Cost? Expenses? Fun Factor?
2. Touratech Bags vs. Jesse Bags?
3. What Riding Gear do we use for the Adventure Travel?
4. What items do we take on ours Travels?
5. What Medical Travel Coverage do we have?
6. What does it take to get married in Dubai?
7. What navigational tools do we use?
8. Our choice of Camping Gear!
9. What camera's do we use?
10. Where did we purchase the Helmet Video Camera? How does it work? What is its quality?
11. Satellite Phone vs. Cell Phone?
12. What type of lap top computer do we use?
13. Why BMW Motorcycles? Why the 1200GS?
14. What type of tires do we use?
15. What do we do professionally to get the time off and to afford the trips?
16. What is our favourite Country? Most adventurous Country? Country with the friendliest People?
We looked at both options. Being in North America it would have been easier to take a course here. We are familiar with Jimmy Lewis but did not consider his course. The two courses we considered was the BMW Off-road course in Germany (http://enduropark-hechlingen.de) and Jim Hyde's (http://www.bmwoffroadacademy.com/home.html)
Advendure course. We actually met Jim Hyde in Mexico at Copper Canyon going down the road to Batopilas by accident. Excellent rider, great personality and gave us some good off roading tips. The main reason why we went with the German 3-day BMW course was because we didn't have to use our own bikes. Everyone dropped their bikes at least 5 times a day. You are more daring if you don't have to worry about fixing the bike afterwards.
Here is the write up we did on the BMW course in Germany, cost, itinerary etc. for information. We believe that when you buy the BMW GS it should be mandatory to take the course. It will give you great appreciation for the potential of the bike.
There were a total of 30 attending the course and four (4) instructors. Upon our arrival we were broken into beginner, intermediate and advanced groups. Which ended up being one (1) beginner group and three (3) intermediate groups. Since we were the foreigners our intermediate group was instructed in English.
Pretty much all the bikes ridden were BMWR1200GS and Adventures, with one BMW650GS. All bikes were parked outside the maintenance shop colour coordinated and labeled with the attendees name (German precision). Within 5 minutes of the course we were doing Gymnastics on the bikes. Standing on the seat, both legs on one side of the bike, learning how to balance the bike on an uneven surface riding in circles. Then it was off into the woods already, up the steep climbs and we all wondered what we had gotten into.
First Day Itinerary: All day at the Off-Road BMW Enduro Park
We learnt how to balance the bike with your body weight, riding around obstacles, tied circles and locking the steering. Another exercise was stalling the bike on a steep hill, climbing and descending steep hills and emergency braking by locking the rear wheel (with ABS off and on). We were all physically and mentally drained after spending all day overcoming one obstacle after another.
Second Day Itinerary: Approx. 6 hrs on Military Grounds, 2 hrs in the Off Road BMW Enduro Park
The morning was spend on actual asphalt at the near by Military Grounds, we rode the bikes about 20km to the grounds, and learnt the limits of the BMW on pavement during slow maneuvering. David actually got to track his knees and boots on his Adventure. Again emergency braking by locking up the rear wheel and using the front brake for control. In the afternoon we spend 2 hrs in the BMW Enduro Park practicing and doing water crossings. And then we were of into the training grounds of the military tanks. Finally it all came together. We ended up single tracking through the forest and sometimes there were no tracks just trees and stumps. Only a handful attempted the water crossing, which made for some great entertainment and pictures.
Third Day Itinerary: All day at the Off-Road BMW Enduro Park
The day was spent practicing everything we learnt and improving on the weak points. Using the front brake while descending a steep rocky hill. We also tried to master riding in deep sand, where a lot of crashing occurred.
Included in the cost of the course which was 725 Euro per person was the motorcycle, Lunch and Supper at the hotel in Hechlingen, Snacks during the day, a T-shirt and Certificate.
CRASHES: Yes, everyone had a few crashes. Some were more spectacular then other. I had a huge crash the first day going down (tumbling down) a steep downhill. Luckily I was wearing the Dirt Bike Chest Protectors and only ended up with a very bruised collarbone and angle. Mike out did my crash by using the front brake full force going 70km/hr on gravel. The BMW protection bars and cylinder cover did not withstand that force. There were a few cylinder covers replaced during the course.
What we learnt was to always look ahead to where you are going and stand up on the pegs. It is all about balancing the bike with your body weight. Don't worry about the big rocks and let the bike move under you. AND IT IS OKAY TO USE THE FRONT BRAKE GOING DOWN A STEEP HILL. That was a tough one for me to overcome.
Accommodations are very cheap in the area. BMW will provide you with a list of Pension's close by. Rooms are charged per person (not per room). We paid 14Euro a person/night and that included full breakfast.
Note that Jim Hyde's course is about $1295US and does not include the bikes, whereas in Germany it is 725Euro includes the bikes, lunch and supper.
This is the most frequently asked question we get. Both of our beemers are now equipped with Jesse Bags Odessy II (http://www.jesseluggage.com/1.html). Ruby used to have Touratech bags (http://www.touratech-usa.com). If you do buy a BMW1200GS (non Adv) do NOT buy the factory plastic bags with it.
Aluminum, light weight, square, comes with internal removal bags, and saves a lot of parts on the bike if you do crash. Mounting height adjustable. German Engineering.
Not very aero dynamic. Anything over 160km/hr the rear end starts to gets funny. Will not withstand continues rough roads as the aluminum around the mounts start to crack. Reinforcements are available now by Touratech after numerous failures. Some even have the bottom drop out as the tack welds fail. After four (4) years and a tough trip of (9) months through Africa Ruby's Touratech's were held on with straps to the bike. It was time for the Jesse Bags.
Great customer support, fast shipping. A lot more aero dynamic. Some think they look cooler. New internal removal bags that fit excellent. Easier to remove from motorcycle and better locking system. The toughest bags out there and they made it through Africa with little damage. Height is adjustable.
Riding Gear is something you always can improve on and depends where you ride. Hot or Cold climate? Our current gear works for both. Also keeping in mind that guys do not get as cold as girls. We often get asked why we don't wear BMW clothing. There is no denying that it is good quality, but after trying out the Rally 2 suit, it is way too heavy. Not to mention it costs a pile of money. We have therefore tried different brands and are happy with our current set up, but it doesn't mean that we have stopped looking for even better.
A lot of our gear we get on sale or check out http://www.motorcycle-superstore.com/
They have excellent sale items. Go to your local store and try on your size and then order from them.
Here is our packing list for the six (6) month Middle East and Eastern Europe Trip:
http://www.unusvita.com/Preparation Gear Packing List.html
The packing list pretty much stays the same for a (4) week or (1) year trip. Yes the folding chairs are essential. We spend a lot of time camping and after a long day in the saddle it is nice to relax in a comfortable chair.
SPOT - Satelllite GPS Messenger
The SPOT Satelllite GPS Messenger is a handheld satellite communication and safety device that transmits your GPS location to friends, family, coworkers or emergency responders and works beyond cellular coverage. SPOT offers several add on options to the basic service plan. We opted to sign up for the GEOS member rescue plan, which provides up to $50,000 USD per occurrence in reimbursement for any SAR expenses for which you are held responsible up to two (2) events per year. The GEOS Member benefit also provide additional SAR coordination– including arranging private aircraft/helicopter charter, private search teams—if required to get you to safety. See website for more information: www.findmespot.com
MetjetAssist - Medical Evacuation
What happens if one of us gets seriously hurt in a motorcycle accident or even sick in some third world country? Do we trust the sanitary conditions of the hospital or is even technology available to help. This is where MedjetAssist comes into play. See website for more information www.medjetassistance.com. We purchased the 5 year Motorcycle Protection Plan, which is $1450US (Family Plan), which expires in May of 2010. We will not be renewing this plan as we are now with SPOT.
Domestic air medical evacuation averages $10,000 to $20,000, and internationally, it can exceed $75,000. But not with the medical evacuation service of MedjetAssist. As a member, if you are ever hospitalized more than 150 miles away from home,
MedjetAssist will send a medically equipped and staffed aircraft to pick you up and fly you to the hospital of your choice at no additional charge. No transportation cost limitations. No preexisting-condition exclusions. Just peace of mind each and every time you travel.
Unlike other evacuation services, MedjetAssist lets you decide which hospital will be your final destination. Plus, there is no medical necessity clause. If you are hospitalized, MedjetAssist will be there to pick you up regardless of the nature of your illness or injury.
World Nomads - Medical Travel Insurance
World Nomads is specially designed for adventurous independent travellers. World Nomads insurance is focused on what is really important, medical & emergency evacuation although it covers other areas such as your baggage, cancellation costs, dental and liability depending on your country of residence.
You can buy your coverage on line at www.worldnomads.com for up to 6 months. Just before the 6 months are up you will receive an e-mail inquiring if you would like to extend the coverage for additional time period.
We have been lucky enough not to require either service up to this point.
Not an easy task to arrange your wedding in a foreign country. We started with our research on the internet approx. three (3) months prior to the wedding date and came upon the Confetti Abroad Wedding Organizers (www.confettiabroad.com). We were looking for the cheapest and simplest wedding possible. No such thing in Dubai.
One can only be married by a Minister in UAE. The Wedding Organizer arranged our ceremony to take place at the Le Royal Meridien Hotel. Our minister was Pastor Daniel Splett from the Church of Dubai (The Evangelical Church). He is actually from Calgary, Alberta Canada, but has been living in Dubai for the last 13 years. The following documents are required before you can get married:
- One has to participate in a Marriage Preparation Program and a copy of the certificate has to be provided.We chose the Life & Family Resource Centre in Calgary. The two (2) day course was taught by the Catholic Church.
- Proof that you are free to marry. ie. Certificate of Divorce.
- Statement of Legal Eligibility for Marriage. Confetti Abroad set up the appointment with Clyde & Co (Solicitor of the Supreme Court of England and Wales) in downtown Dubai the day before the wedding to sign our Affidavit.
- Information Form for Completion of the Certificate of Marriage
After the ceremony the wedding coordinator will get the Certificate of Marriage translated into Arabic and recorded at the Dubai Courts Inc.
Our passports are required for the registration of our marriage. In our case it took eight (8) days before we got our passports back, which of course meant we were unable to leave the country. The promised three (3) day turn-around did not occur, it would be an issue for anyone who is booked to return to their home country prior to getting the passport returned. In these eight (8) days the marriage certificate has to be stamped by the Notary of Public, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Canadian Consulate. Our delay was actually caused by the Canadian Consulate.
|Translation and Recording of the Marriage Certificate
at the Dubai Courts Inc of Fees and Stamps
|Fees for the Pastor to conduct blessing ceremony||$300.00CDN|
|Service of Wedding Co-ordinator||$1,000.00CDN|
|Meal at the Le Royal Meredien Hotel||$287.00CDN|
|Marriage Preparation Program (Calgary, AB Canada)||$120.00CDN|
Full payment of $2,689.83 had to be wired to Confetti Abroad prior to arrival.
The cheapest package available for a photographer was $800.00, which included 60-72 photographs on high-resolution digital format during the Church Ceremony and then at the hotel. Also to edit and re-touch where necessary and to create 1 Sepia and 1 Black & White special effect.
Both Ann McElhinney & Angela James, the wedding co-ordinators from Confetti Abroad were very professional and worked with us to keep the cost down for our wedding. A special thank to both of them for making Feb. 20, 2006 a special day for us.
Detailed information of GPS hardware, Navigational software, maps and guidebooks can be found on our website at: http://www.unusvita.com/Preparation Gear Navigation.html
Detailed information on type of tent, stove, cooking stove and utensils, sleeping bags and thermorests can be found on our website at: http://www.unusvita.com/Preparation Gear.html
SLR Nikon D200, Point & Shoot Pentax Waterproof Optic, Sony Mini Camcorder and V.I.O. Helmet Video Camera (Upgrade from Jones Cam). Detailed information can be found on our website at: http://www.unusvita.com/Preparation Gear Camera.html
Detailed information and pictures of the Helmet Video Camera can be found on our website at: http://www.unusvita.com/Preparation Gear Camera.html
Detailed information and pictures of the Satellite Phone can be found on our website at: http://www.unusvita.com/Preparation Gear Telephone.html
Detailed information on type of lap top computer can be found on our website at: http://www.unusvita.com/Preparation Gear Computer.html
Once you own one you will know why BMW (maybe I am just a little byes, being ex-German). It is not the fasted bike, or the lightest, or the best off-road or prettiest out there, but it is the best compromise of motorcycles available. One of the key advantages is service availability across the globe. Okay we were unlucky and broke down in Congo and had to fly the motorcycle back to Germany for repair. Overall we have received incredible service by the BMW shops. Most shops know what it takes and want you back on the road with the least amount of downtime.
650GS vs 1200GS. First reason for the 1200GS is shaft drive. The number one excuse why people shy away from the 1200GS is too heavy and too tall. When BMW came out with the 1200GS in 2004 it stated that the minimum height to ride it is 6' or 180cm. I am 5'6" or 167cm and we did not lower the suspension. I rode the 1200GS fully loaded weighing 300kg over 140,000km through the Congo, Cameroon on some of the worst roads imaginable. Would it have been easier on the 650GS. No, bad roads are bad roads. The advantage of the 1200GS is that it is comfortable and eats up the miles no problem. Riding on the Autobahn or in the Gabon Jungle it is all possible. The 650GS struggles with the weight and at highway speed. The 800GS has definately improved on the highway speed, but is still a chain drive.
14. What type of tires do we use?
Our number one pick is Metzler Tourance, the original and not the EXP. This tire has outlasted any other tire. As we travel for long period of time and to very remote spots in the world it is important that the tire can last up to 30,000.00km. Our second pick if the Metzler Tourance are not available is Michelin Anakee, which can last up to 20,000km. Why do we not run the Continental TKC80, because they do not last, maximum 10,000km. If you are on the throttle a lot the tires also deteriorate fast, therefore our rule is take it easy on the tire. The advantage of a long lasting tire is that you don't have to carry a spare set on the motorcycle. Unnecessary weight eliminated. As technology advances their is hope for better tires. Meanwhile it the Metzler Tourance for us.
Nothing comes easy. It is all possible pending on how much you want to give up and what is important to you. It did take a few years to get in the senior positions we are in now, to be able to do what we want (kind of). We both are contract consultants and work as project managers for Oil & Gas companies.
We used to take only four (4) to six (6) weeks vacations on the motorcycles and then realized that life is too short. We wanted to see the entire world. The question we had to ask ourselves was how extreme of a plan would it be.
Option 1: Sell everything we have and travel the world for a few years until we run out of money.
Option 2: Keep all our assets, work like crazy, save and travel for six (6) to twelve (12) months and then work for six (6) to twelve (12) months and back on the road.
Option 1 was appealing, but we realized that coming back broke after being on the road for a few years wasn't very sensible. But Option 2 gives us the opportunity to grow our assets as we travel the world, stay in the work force and are able to sustain our passions - motorcycling and traveling without going broke.
The sacrifices we had to make are priceless compared to the incredible, unbelievable and unforgettable memories we take away from each trip. How do we do it? We live below the standard of our combined income.
Here are some of the sacrifices we made:
Can't count how many times we get asked this question. We do not have really a favourite country. Each country is unique in its landscape, history, culture and people. The most adventurous countries to date are Yemen, Ethiopia and Mali, mainly due to its incredible history, culture and people. The Middle East by far had the friendliest and helpful people, with Syria being the friendliest.