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Discussion Starter #1
I'm getting my motorcycle license in a few weeks and am planning a road trip from Italy to Portugal. It's a 1500 mile ride, which I plan to finish in about a week. I wanted to get the community's opinion about whether this is a bad idea for a beginner.

I've never driven a motorcycle myself before. I'm told it will learn quickly because I'm quite comfortable in a stick shift car, on a multi-gear mountain bike, and as a passenger on motorcycles. I'm also told that motorcycles are more common in Europe, which means drivers respect them more and the roads are better for them. That said, I'll be going from a 2-day course getting my motorcycle license to my first long solo trip a week or so later.

I've heard stories of people doing that sort of thing before, but I want to make sure I ask around before I shell out $10K for a motorcycle to make sure I'm not certain to wrap it around a tree. Once I buy the bike, there's no turning back, I'll have to get it to Portugal. Adventure of a lifetime, or mistake of the year?
 

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There are definitely more bikes on the road there but most of the riders are quite experienced. They tend to have a graduated licensing system where a new rider can only ride low powered bikes. If they buy one with more power, they use things like intake air flow blocking to reduce the available power for the rider. All of the riders I ran onto while driving around were more experienced than the average in the US. It definitely sounds like a once in a lifetime ride but maybe wait until you have some saddle time to do it.
 

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I personally think you are making a big mistake that can turn out 1 of 2 ways.
The first one would be you make a mistake (weather it is stupid, judgement, or any other mistake) and you damage or total the bike. The other is that lady luck is watching you and protect you during your trip and keep the cagers and other unlucky people away from you.

In either case, you need more training than a 2 day course to become "proficient" on a bike to safely travel a 1500 mile trip.

Why don"t you spend about a week driving around your location practicing your driving skills such as merging into traffic, traveling in heavy traffic, traveling in adverse weather and under less than ideal situations, practicing your stopping, turning, and general motorcycle handling and control.
 

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You may not even be able to license it without the 'proper' European motorcycle license. Getting a license it Europe is a multi-stage affair.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Okay, fair enough. I'll be there for 2 months, so conceivably I could buy a cheaper motorcycle and practice there for a couple weeks before trading up and doing the trek. Would that work? To do 1500 miles, according to google maps, you need around 21 hours. That means I would only be riding ~3 hours a day, and could easily get off the road in the case of inclement weather.

How much time do you really need to practice? Riding a motorcycle is inherently dangerous, and practicing to ride a motorcycle is generally done by riding the damn motorcycle, so it's hard to see how that helps me avoid danger.
 

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I've often heard that most motorcycle deaths occur during the first six months of riding.

Good luck if you plan to do your learning while touring.
 

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Not the wisest of plans but I suppose it can be done. One might consider it daily practice. Wish you luck and a good adventure. :thumbsup:
 

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but I want to make sure I ask around before I shell out $10K for a motorcycle to make sure I'm not certain to wrap it around a tree.
Regardless of how long you've been riding, there will never be a guarantee that you won't wrap it around a tree. :) But, your chance of wrecking are significantly higher by taking this trip with no prior practical experience riding a motorcycle. It doesn't mean that you can't do it, or that it won't be a great experience. It just means that you're taking a bigger risk with your life then many other riders would be.

On the other hand, much of your ability to survive the trip, or even complete it without being miserable, will depend on your own intelligence, your ability to quickly learn new skills, your physical condition, and several other things. I don't know you, so I can't begin to guess about whether you have it in you to do this. I've known people that could easily do such a thing, but I don't know if you're made of the same kind of stuff they are.

If you do it, good luck!

Just a suggestion: Wouldn't it be a decent idea to take a class here and figure out a way to get some practice in before you even go to Europe?
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I exercise every weekday and am in decent shape. I'm 26 and have 20/20 vision. I am also generally a pretty defensive driver in cars, and like to think of myself as a quick learner.

Just to clarify, the class I'm taking to get my license is here in the US, and I haven't bought my own gear yet just in case the course doesn't go well and I want to give up on the idea.

How many hours of practice would I need to log for this to be considered a reasonable amount of risk? What kind of riding should I practice? It's apparently legal to rent scooters with just a regular driver's license, so I could conceivably start practicing on a 50cc CPI or a Vespa today.
 

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You have "riding muscles," that you won't realize that you have until you get out on the road. :) But at least if you're in good shape they shouldn't cause you too much of a problem and you'll get used to things pretty quickly.

As for how many hours of practice do you need? There's no way anyone can quantify that because it's going to be vastly different from one person to another. For some people riding is more intuitive and they quickly become proficient. For others, it takes longer, and for some, no amount of time practicing will reduce the risk of crashing. There is no magic number that you can use as a safety bench mark.

All I can say is the more practice you get, the better off you'll be.
 

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before I shell out $10K for a motorcycle to make sure I'm not certain to wrap it around a tree.
Well, you certainly got priorities straight.

moving to? or on vacation?

There may be some problems with buying a bike here and taking there.......there may be some problems buying a bike there and bring back here.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Just vacation. It looks like it's actually more expensive and way harder to buy a bike there and bring it back, so I'll have to resell it at the end of the trip.
 

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Have you checked and see if you can buy and register a bike there on an American license? European license standards are a lot stricter than ours.
 

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Okay, fair enough. I'll be there for 2 months, so conceivably I could buy a cheaper motorcycle and practice there for a couple weeks before trading up and doing the trek. Would that work? To do 1500 miles, according to google maps, you need around 21 hours. That means I would only be riding ~3 hours a day, and could easily get off the road in the case of inclement weather.

How much time do you really need to practice? Riding a motorcycle is inherently dangerous, and practicing to ride a motorcycle is generally done by riding the damn motorcycle, so it's hard to see how that helps me avoid danger.
I admire your desire for adventure! I think it can be done but you will want to make some preparations...

1) Never put yourself in a position where you HAVE to get from this place to that place today. That kind of pressure will cause a lot of stress to a new rider. Riders under stress make mistakes, especially if they are inexperienced.

2) Find out in advance what weight your US endorsement carries in the countries you plan to ride in. Many countries in Europe have a tiered system, like someone else said. A new rider can only ride up to a 250 for the first year (for the sake of argument), then they can move up to a 500, then they can go unlimited. If they do not acknowledge your endorsement as unlimited then you may need to alter your plans.

3) Study the road signs well. Personally, this would be the most difficult part of the whole trip for me. There is a language gap that must be bridged. Just one more thing to have to think about.

Honestly, l think you would be way better off to do a long trip at home first, but sometimes an opportunity just comes along and you have to take it when it comes. Good luck :)
 

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When I want to do a long ride, say 600 miles in a day, I ride a few medium rides each weekend before that. For me a medium length ride is 200 to 300 miles but I ride daily the year around. For a new rider a 50 mile ride can be quite an accomplishment. Like any other skill, distance riding takes practice. In my 20s, when I did not hesitate to take on any physical challenge, I found a 100 mile ride to be tiring. I could have gone further but simply did not want to.
If you want to enjoy that ride, not just get bragging rights, wait until you have some serious riding experience and then map out exactly what you think you want to do. Even with over 45 years of riding experience, I would not tackle an Iron Butt 1000 ride without seeking the advice of people who have done it and doing a few 500 mile practice runs. Otherwise I would end up hurting in places that I didn't even know were places.
 

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One big thing that got me today is heat exhaustion. I don't care how much you work out, how big you think you are and how well built you are. When it's hot outside, you are going to be extremely hot because that pavement on hot days makes whatever wind you may be taking on the bike seem like nothing. Stop at one stop sign and you will feel like you are in a furnace. Three hours doesn't seem that much to you. But in the heat, it can be a killer. You think it's going to be so easy for one to do, that's because you aren't in the riders seat right now. I'd hate to see you start the trip and realize you weren't ready for what we all where telling you about.

I had to get off the bike after 45 minutes in 90 degree humid weather today cause I was close to passing out. I had no gear but my helmet on. Soaked down bathing suit top. Not the best riding gear, but I would have died from heat exhaustion with my leather jacket on.

Not to mention the hands that goes numb, the butt that just can't feel anymore, the toe that is sore from shifting, the bug stuck in the corner of your eye, the bird stuck on your helmet and the dogs chasing you down the street.......
 

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Do you have ANY riding experience at all?

If not then I'd ask you what makes you think you would enjoy such a trip?

No experience means you will be constantly facing new challenges that may well be unpleasant and to go through the trouble of setting up such an excursion, only to find that you're miserable or uncomfortable will be quite a bummer..

New riders face new challenges every time they ride and have time to digest and think about their learning experience.. This won't be the case for you and you may find you have bitten off more than you can chew...

On the other hand you may be a natural but you should certainly get some experience under your belt and have some idea where you fit into this before you begin this trip.
 

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If he had guarantees that he would be safe, that there would be no challenges, that the ride could be made without much effort or sweat or risk...

Then it wouldn't really be much of an adventure, now would it?

If you just want a nice, safe, secure, comfortable ride through beautiful scenery with no risk and no danger, maybe you should take a train.:wink:
 

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One big thing that got me today is heat exhaustion. I don't care how much you work out, how big you think you are and how well built you are. When it's hot outside, you are going to be extremely hot because that pavement on hot days makes whatever wind you may be taking on the bike seem like nothing. Stop at one stop sign and you will feel like you are in a furnace. Three hours doesn't seem that much to you. But in the heat, it can be a killer. You think it's going to be so easy for one to do, that's because you aren't in the riders seat right now. I'd hate to see you start the trip and realize you weren't ready for what we all where telling you about.

I had to get off the bike after 45 minutes in 90 degree humid weather today cause I was close to passing out. I had no gear but my helmet on. Soaked down bathing suit top. Not the best riding gear, but I would have died from heat exhaustion with my leather jacket on.

Not to mention the hands that goes numb, the butt that just can't feel anymore, the toe that is sore from shifting, the bug stuck in the corner of your eye, the bird stuck on your helmet and the dogs chasing you down the street.......
Zippy, ypu need to invest in a Hyperkewl vest and a mesh jacket. Quit hurting yourself. YMMV
 

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OP,
I admire your sense of adventure and your ballsyness. Could you just rent a bike there instead of buying? I am pretty sure you could, and you would come out better.
 
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