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Route Map
Anti Scriptum
Rocinante's upgrades
Techno Solutions
01 New York
02 New England
03 Maine to Midland
04 Midland to Sturgis
05 Indians'n Cowboys
06 British Columbia
07 San Francisco
08 SF to San Diego
09 Baja to Canyons
10 Baja California
11 Northern Mexico
12 Mex. to Guatemala
13 Gua. to Costa Rica
14 CR to S. America
15 Ecuador
16 Peru and Bolivia
17 Chile
18 Patagonia
19 Argentina/Brasil
20 The road home
Photo Gallery

Norwegian version

E-mail: mail at dagjen.no
Go to Pan American Home


How much planning, thinking, saving and guts or lunacy does it take to leave your job for a one year motorcycle trip? During the next months I will enter my thoughts on the subject in this chapter, so be prepared that it will grow with time, and probably not be too consistent, as often is the case with crazy people.

Our current Rocinante saddled up for a trip to northern Norway. We were gone for sixteen days, where will the necessities for a year on the road fit.

In reality we are not lunatics, I think. The project ahead of us is as sane as any sailing adventure, hiking adventure or car journey. The motorcycle both simplifies and complicates matters, but I guess you can say that all in all it's a lot easier, both planning wise and cost wise, to travel with a backpack, while it's probably a lot cheaper than a sailing adventure of the same duration.

With a motorcycle you can access almost any little corner of the world where there's a house or any other sign of civilization. We are not limited to bus schedules and routes, while we are limited by access to petrol, spare parts in case of breakdowns and a costly vehicle with valuables that need guarding 24 hours a day. Of course, to me the feelings I have towards motorcycle travel ruled out any other mean of getting from A to B long before I set the pros and cons up against each other.

All that really remains undone of the important factors that must be resolved before the trip, is our house, which we need to rent out, preferably to a company, to be able to pay the mortgage on it. We may have to sell, but we believe we can avoid it. We bought the house last year, and have grown to love it, nicely situated by the sea in a small community, overlooking one of the main ship traffic lines to our area.

We have the necessary funds, we have a plan and a bike, and we intend to head south. How much more complicated can it get?

Well, quite a bit more I guess. Taking a vehicle into South American countries is not as easy and painless as touring Europe. Many countries fear that you might sell the vehicle in their country. It's based on the rightly suspicion that you might sell it without paying proper import tax. To avoid this, they might require that you carry along a "Carnet de Passage".

The Carnet is a document issued by the Canadian Automobile organization. To get it we must pay a deposit that is the highest possible import tax in any of the countries we are planning to visit. So, if Bolivia decided they want to charge 200% of the bikes actual value in import tax, then the Carnet would cost us two times the bikes value in deposit. We get the money back when we return the Carnet book, properly stamped by immigration and emigration as proof that you brought the bike back out. Some fees are also added to this. The problem with a Carnet is obviously that we have to lock up a significant amount of money all the while we're traveling.

There is an alternative, a "Libreta de Paso", issued by the Venezuelan Automobile association, that works like a Carnet, except you don't have to lock up funds in a bond. It costs a few hundred dollars, and we won't get the money back. This sounds ideal, and would be, if it hadn't been issued only in Venezuela. We haven't decided yet whether we want to skip Columbia and Ecuador and head straight for Peru. If we need the Libreta, the choice will be simple, either drive all the way from Venezuela, or fly us and the bike from Venezuela to Peru. The decision will probably be made there and then.

The third alternative is to take our changes and not carry either of the above. It has been done before, and probably could be done again. The drawback is that we would have to rely on luck when approaching the border officials, who can decide at their own will, whether we should be let into the country for free, for a huge amount of "border tax", or be denied access all together. Even though it sounds a bit dodgy to go for this option, it's actually our favorite at the moment. With our flexible time schedule, we should be able to take a delay of days or weeks at a border crossing, without going berserk like our ancestors did.

What do you bring for a trip that will last one year, when you're limited to a single bike to carry luggage for two people plus spare parts, laptop and tools?

It's an intriguing question, and it has been swirling around in our heads for months. One of the main questions is whether or not to carry a tent and sleeping bags, with all the extra gear that goes with it; mattresses, cooking gear etc. We realize that in particular USA and Canada would not be the same experience without a tent, and will therefore try to incorporate these items in the first part of the trip. We can always send them home later. But it will be one of the last items to pack, so space will decide. The following bags will be used:

  • Aluminum panniers, 35 liter each
  • Original Triumph topbox, 50 liter
  • Tankbag 15-30 liter, not decided which yet
  • Tank panniers 10-15 liter each, not decided which yet

This totals at 155-180 liter of storage space, and in addition we can store luggage on the top of the panniers, although we would rather not due to the danger of theft.

We plan to take as little clothing as possible, limiting ourselves to one extra pair of jeans, a few sets of underwear and a couple of shirts. Also we will try to use thin fabric clothes that will store at minimum bulk. The main bulk of clothes will be the cold weather riding gear, including warm underwear, warm gloves, sweaters and thick socks. Several times along the route we are bound to cross mountain passes of thousands of meters above sea level, so the extra clothing is necessary.

The laptop with it's peripherals will be bulky and needs to be stored in a manner that reduces shaking to minimum, and at the same time keeps it from thieves. The topbox will have to do the job, although I'm uncertain how the equipment will handle the heat generated inside the box in Mexico in summertime. In the topbox cover I have a net that will support a laptop.

Since we're bringing a laptop and a digital camera, we need to be able to charge the batteries on the bike while on the road. I will mount chargers feeding on the bike battery in the topbox, and we will also have to carry power adapters for the local voltage in the different countries, adding to the bulk. Even more, to be able to back up and send home photos from the trip, we plan to carry either a CD-burner or a zip-drive. The share volum of photographs rules out sending them over a FTP-link or e-mail.

Spare parts and tools will take up a siginficant amount of space and weight. The following list is preliminary, but gives a picture of what to bring:


  • Bulbs, Plugs and Fuses
  • Electrical cables and connectors
  • Fork seals, wheel bearings
  • Drive chain links
  • Tubes for tyres, valves
  • Throttle cable
  • Assorted nuts and screws
  • Small amount of engine oil and grease
  • gas filter, mounted inline between tank and carbs
  • Clutch/brake levers


  • Bit set including all necessary "formats"
  • Spanners, screwdrivers, pliers, multitool(gerber or alike)
  • Circlip plier for fork and wheel bearing replacements
  • Small multimeter
  • Duct tape, isolation tape, tie-wraps, thin steel wire, strong but thin rope
  • Tire replacement tools and puncture fix
  • Liftstick as replacement for the centre stand
  • Air pump
  • Locktite
  • Repair handbook, electrical drawings
  • Flash light

The list has been updated after feedback(thanks) and reconsideration, but will most certainly change again by the time we hit the road, especially during our trial packing. If you read this and have any more comments to the list, please mail us.

The good thing about starting in the US, is that most necessities can be bought there at a reduced price compared to Norway. Hence we will probably start the trip with less luggage and equipment than we really need for Latin America, and buy and install the necessities during the month or so we intend to stay there.

Time will show, as they say....

More to come later!

January 18th - 2000

Not much have happened during the one and a half month since the last entry. We took a brake from the planning to celebrate Christmas and new year, and have just started again.

We have now decided to air-freight our bike to New York, hence abounding the plans to buy a bike in the States.

We will most probably try to travel through the southern continent without the Carnet de Pasage or LIbreta de Paso. Other travelers along the way might enlighten us on this before we make the final decision.

February 16th - 2000

A lot of research has taken place the last month. A few things have been finalized and more questions have been raised.

The new domain was established in the beginning of this month, and a Compuserve subscription has been ordered to assure easy connection to the web wherever we are in the world.

The alumnium boxes have finally arrived from Germany, and I'll be in the garage within days - just have to get back from Pakistan where I have worked the last month. Grant from Horizons Unlimited suggested to strengthen the pannier frame. I might do this. A little Liftstick that will replace the centre stand has also arrived. This little thing works together with the side stand to raise either the front or the rear wheel off the ground, and is a lot lighter and less bulky to carry along than the original stand.

We have two offers for motorcycle insurance in the States, so this will not present a problem. The regular travel insurance is another story, and we have just started to penetrate this jungle. The problem is that our regular insurer will not cover us for the duration we need, and the only alternative we have found this early in the investigation costs about 1250UKP for a year, way over what we initially wanted to pay.

With most bags and boxes in place and soon all or most spares and tools, I will do a trial packing within weeks. Rocinante will be stripped down to her bare bones and every little corner and empty space scrutinized for possible storage of spares and tools. Things that we will carry but hopefully never need, like clutch and brake levers and tyre levers, will be hidden away somewhere under the tank, under the swingarm, behind the headlights and so forth.

Another purpose of stripping the bike is to get to know it better. I have never seen her naked, sort of speak, and it is an oppurtunity to practise dismantling the air filter, the front drive chain sprocket, changing tyre and other small jobs that needs to be excercized. Especially the air filter and front sprocket are items that are akward to access on the Tiger, and practice is the key to knowledge. I know, to some I sound like an amateur. I am.

The techno gear is yet another investigation well done. The combination of a not to small, high class colour display, light weight and minimum size plus the need for a cd read-write unit, did narrow our search for a subnotebook quite a bit. It didn't narrow down the price though. We cannot have it all, and somewhere we will have to pay for the compromises, either in hard currency or in weight and bulk. We have a few alternatives, and I was happy to find that cd read-write units were getting smaller and smaller. Now we can buy one the size of a discman which plugs straight into the USB port, PCMCIA port or on any scsi/paralell interface. The world is moving fast, and I like it.

We will come back with all the details when the details are in place.

Ah, and yes, the departure has been delayed about four weeks, to end of May. My work contract lasted longer than first assumed. This doesn't cause any problem for us, since we haven't booked any flights yet.

End of May is awfully far away though....

March 28th - 2000

I'm on my last shift in the offshore seismic business, at least for now, and our departure is getting closer. The house is still for rent, but now we are going more aggressively at work, with ads in the papers and on the net. Fingers are crossed.

We have made a preliminery sponsor deal with the Norwegian Triumph distributor, Colbjørnsen AS, where they have agreed to pay for a pre-journey check and upgrade of Rocinante at Classic Motorcycles, my local dealer. They have the bike in custody now and I have given them my wishlist for upgrades, which they will put a total price tag on and confront the distributor with it. The distributor has also agreed to help us along the way. If we get stuck in South America somewhere with a technical problem, they will help us with expert advice on telephone or via e-mail, and, in the case of needing spares, they will send us parts via a courier company. This is maybe the most important help we can get for the journey, which will lead us through unploughed Triumph territory, and where we might be stuck several thousand kilometers from the nearest Triumph dealer.

A short sunday test ride, where we filled up the boxes and bags with whatever we found, proved that this will work, but also, that the rear shock need at least to get it's spring rate higher and maybe even to be replaced.

All the bags and luggage compartments are now sorted out, and as some people have suggested, we have way too much space. If any changes should be done, it would be the tank panniers that needed sacrificing. But the advantage with 15l in each completely water tight pannier is ease of packing. Imagine when we need to carry extra fuel, how easy it will be to just stick a couple of 1,5 liter plastic bottles in the panniers. Of course, this means that we cannot fill the panniers up completely to start with, and that is our aim.

A few weeks ago we got a very nice e-mail from a German motorcycle equipment company called TM-accessories. I had never been in contact with them before, and was surprised and delighted when Thomas Meyer wrote that he had seen our page on the net and was wondering how the company could help us. Would we be interrested in for example a Scottoiler system for free. They asked nothing in return. We were very grateful for the display of idealism, Thomas said simply that he liked our plans a lot, that it was in fact a old dream of his to do a similar journey. The funny thing was that I had ordered the Scottoiler - which is an automatic drive chain lubrication system which can prolong the life of the drive chain with many thousand kilometers - the same day. I hurried to cancel the order and accepted the offer from TM.

I must also confess that I have been in doubt about the whole project at times. To drive a Triumph through South America is by some people considered rather stupid. Why not buy a Honda and be sure there is always expert knowledge around the corner, it being the most sold motorcycle brand in the world. And why drive a motorcycle through those contries at all, as some other people have asked with incredulous voices. And how do you think you will manage to handle a freight train like yours through muddy and narrow dirt trails? And why be on the road for a whole year? Aren't you afraid that you will be sick of sitting on the bike, packing off and on, dressing up like a ice hockey player every morning and off every night, being scared of all the criminals that are waiting for you around every corner, knifes in hand, morality long gone out the window? You must be cracy to take a 12000 dollar bike through bandido country with no insurance, not to mention driving in the crazy traffic of Latin America, where your life depends on the the size of your vehicle, and where a motorcycle is a pygmee among giants. What if one of you get sick of the whole journey and not the other? What if the bike brakes down and is unreparable? How do you plan on repairing the bike, not being more experienced as a mechanic than you are? What if someone steals your laptop, camera or other expensive equipment you carry along? What if you're not wanted in any job when you get back? What if, why do it, how, when? The questions have been many, and we can only answer a few of them. But they have all been raised behind the walls of our home, all have been discussed, and we have agreed that it is all part of the deal. The trip is not a two week holiday in the sun, all prepared. Much can happen, but even so, the trip will be rewarding, at least if not the most feared happens, that one or both of us suffers serious physical injuries. It's important to raise the questions though, and let people raise them. That way you figure out whether it's a journey you really want to make, or if it was a dream that was better off left at that. And by and large, most reactions have been positive and supportive, and quite envious at times.

For us it's definately what we want to do, and it won't be left a dream. Just imagine the whole thing, close your eyes and let your mind wander off while you think about it; One year, total freedom, a motorcycle, Grand Canyon, British Columbia, California, Maya land, Costa Rica, the Andes, Machu Picchu, Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego. Taste the names and say it's not worth it. Try and fail. Vamos pronto, muy pronto....

April 20th - 2000

The house is sold. After trying in vain for several months to convince possible tennants that the monthly rent was reasonable, we were asked if we considered selling. We quickly agreed on a price and with a snap of the fingers, it was gone. Now everything is coming together and tickets have been ordered for the 25th of May. The bike will arrive a couple of days later, so after a few days of big city fun, we'll be on the road. Oh yes it feels good. The unresolved house business had a dampening effect on our excpectations, and now that it is solved there's no stopping us.

The film "The Horse Whisperer" with R. redford was shown on the local "cinema" onboard the ship I work on the other night. After three hours of pure Montana PR, our planned route had one more "site of interest" added. I almost missed the story in the film, taken aback as I was by the never ending yellow plains backdropped by white cliffed mountains. I told Bente over the telephone, she went to the video store and another three hours later she called and said "Let's go there".

When I get home after easter, all we have to do within the next three weeks is move our furniture to several storage locations - good to have family in the area, take Rocinante for a test ride with all items onboard, do the last fixes on the bike, deliver our tax papers - which need scrutinization, arrange our insurances, pack the bike in the box it will be shipped in, get international drivers licences and new Visa cards, get our last vaccinations done, and leave. Not much, but enough to get the blood pump going. It will be done with smiles on our faces though.

May 18th - 2000

Ten more days and we should be on our way. We have moved to my parents house which will be our base until departure. Tickets for all three of us have been ordered for the 25th of May, most papers are in our hands and, to our great satisfaction, the test trip to Gotenburg last weekend proved that things fit well into our luggage. I changed my mind regarding the tank panniers and went for the smaller ones we used last summer on the Lofoten trip. Even with the significant reduction in loading capacity, we had plenty of space when all was loaded. The pure numbers are, weight total (including us) 480kg, bike and luggage 310kg, bike (with spares and some tools under the fairing and sidepanels, and with crashbars and some minor alterations, almost empty of gas) 255kg. This means we only have about 55kg of luggage which by the time we leave probably have grown to 60kg. I am actually positively suprised by the numbers, especially the weight of the luggage. Our own weight were the topic for a while, but Bente concluded that the driving gear we were wearing was very heavy. I agreed to maintain peace.

Although it may look like a lot to carry, all the above fits snuggly into the panniers and bags, leaving a little room to fill up along the way.

Both tyres were replaced a couple of days ago - this time going for Pirelli MT90 since the Michelin T66 were out of stock everywhere, and with all the work put down by Classic Motorcycles, the bike is now ready and should have been in mint condition, except for some bruises left by earlier midhaps. But unfortunately the front is weaving a lot, even when going solo, so Classic will get another visit before we leave. The Scottoiler was mounted in no time, and it really does the job well - no more lubrication stops, or "Damn it, I haven't lubed the chain for god knows how long".

This last phase of the preparations is slightly quieter than the last few weeks. Being finished with the house has released a lot of time to catch up on other things, and also, whatever preparations we haven't finished by now will probably not be done in time of departure anyway. Not to worry to much about, I mean, we're going to the States first, the one place in the world where everything can be done - given that money is at hand. I hope it will last.

Next time you hear from us we will be on the road. Hence this chapter ends here. Wish us a good trip.


E-mail: mail at dagjen.no
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