Ok so for the last few months I have been in discussions with my very good friend Sylvie about taking a couple of bikes, overland, to Mongolia in August.
I have to think seriously about what bike I would use, obviously the Harleys are not the ideal bikes for travelling across countries like Kazakhstan etc. where the roads are often challenging so I need a bike that will be able to stand up to that varied terrain. Now I’m not one to let the iron cool, so, while most people seem to ride either KTM or BMW overland bikes they are not only very expensive, but also extremely heavy, I have become enamoured of the Royal Enfield Himalayan. I know of several women who have ridden this bike around the world, including Itchy Boots and a group of women who rode Himmies up to Everest basecamp… just fantastic!
So…. yep I’ve got one. I had to sell my work commuter scooter to fund the purchase so will be using the Himmie for work until we go… and here she is…
Say Hi to Minnie the Himmie, catchy isn’t it. I have to say I am in love with this bike… its surprising because it’s underpowered, very tall (for a short arse like me) and has practically no brakes. At 411cc the engine is only 25% of either of my Harleys and a top speed of 70-75mph is pretty slow by motorcycling standards, but she is a joy to ride.. so comfortable. The small engine does have excellent torque so will take off really well and the top speed is more than enough for the dirt roads of the Stans. She does require a few modifications.. another top box, better brakes, crash bars, etc. so watch this space.
The main concerns for riding to Mongolia, other than the obvious ones related to the road surfaces, are:
How long will it take?
Looking on google we are thinking of riding through France, Belgium, Germany, Czechia, Slovakia, Hungary, Moldova, Romania, Ukraine, Russia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and into Mongolia. Over 6,500 miles encountering mountains, deserts, rivers and some of the most beautiful scenery in the world… so quite a trip. At a guess it will be 5-6 weeks just to get there so….
What are the alternatives to riding there and back?
Neither of us are able to give up 10-12 weeks of work to ride there and back so the alternatives are:
Fly ourselves and the bikes to Mongolia or one of the Stans and ride back to the UK.
Ride there and fly ourselves and the bikes back to the UK
Transporting the bikes overland one way is a potentially cheaper option then flying ourselves there or back.
Ride the bikes there and then put them in storage so we can go back and ride somewhere else, possibly through China into Vietnam etc. or via Afghanistan into India at some point in the future.
Issues for lone women travellers?
We would be crossing some countries that may be more difficult for women riding alone; Iran for example.
Not only do we need to know where we are going but, indeed, where we are at any given moment. If we are in the middle of Kyrgystan for instance and have an emergency, what do we do? We will be looking into some of the specialist equipment we may need to carry such as satillite navigation, sat phones, sat trackers.
This is of course the main consideration, so taking each alternative in turn what sort of money are we looking at?
Flying to/from the Stans… the cost for each bike would be around £3000 plus our own airfares so probably another £1000 each.. way too prohibitive.
Have tried to look into having the bikes transported overland but not getting very far. Have messaged a german company, still waiting for a reply… mmmmm a touch of deja vu here!
There are apparently several contacts in Almaty, Kyrgyzstan where they will store the bikes for us, haven’t managed to get any details as yet.
So, looks like the game is on….