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on the ODO: 5000 km - my new Honda is not so new anymore!

Season 6: Project Alaska

15 January 2022

I can't believe I've already clocked 5000 kilometers with Alaska, my new Honda CRF300 Rally. I guess I can't call her 'new' any longer! It feels like we've already been through a lot together in a short time. We've both been on airplanes, have dealt with borders and customs, crossed rivers, scaled mountains, rode volcanoes, dodged potholes, and gotten dirty in tropical mud! 

Time to reflect on the first 5000 km of traveling on my Honda CRF300 Rally through the Americas.

Where to start

With Peru’s land borders still firmly shut (almost two years now!), I was of course disappointed that I couldn't restart my journey in the tiny town of Lampa. The place where it all came to an abrupt halt 2 years ago. At the same time, I quickly accepted the fact that the world is a different place now, and there is no time for sulking. We have to move on and look for possibilities instead. In this case, the next country north of Peru: Ecuador! 

Previous time in Ecuador

Ten years ago, I backpacked from Mexico, through Central America, all the way south to the tip of South America, and then up again to Brazil. On this 10 month journey, I passed through Ecuador as well, and I remembered it as a quite laid-back country. The people also speak some of the clearest Spanish out of all the neighboring countries, which is pretty helpful! My last job assignment, before I totally changed my life, was also in Ecuador. So, it would be my third visit to Ecuador but my first time on a motorcycle.

First impressions of Honda CRF300 Rally

I couldn't wait to hit those crazy mountain trails with Alaska and see how she would behave. My expectations were that the 300 Rally would be great to handle and chew up any rough terrain, and she didn’t let me down! 

So far, this motorcycle has exceeded my expectations, and I am just very happy with my choice. Shedding over 50 kilograms of motorcycle weight compared to the Royal Enfield makes a huge difference. The bike is quite tall for me, but because it's so much lighter, I came to realize I can do with much less foot on the ground to hold the bike upright.  

Five thousand kilometers isn't enough to give a full review on a motorcycle, but so far, I have absolutely no complaints, it's the best adventure bike I have owned until now.

Size is relative

Another thing I realized, is that in Europe many motorcyclists will look down at a 300cc motorcycle. 'When are you going to ride a REAL motorcycle?', many said to me. If my 22.000 kilometers on a 250cc in Africa didn't convince these people that bigger isn't always better, then they are a lost cause to me! 

Here in Ecuador and Colombia, where there are almost more motorcycles on the road than cars, I receive nothing but praise for Alaska. The majority of the people here ride 100cc or 200cc motorbikes and because Alaska is so tall, they are also well impressed with her size. 'You ride a BIG motorcycle!', I'm being told every day here. When I reveal she is only a 300cc, a mix of surprise and disappointment can be read from their faces, which just makes me chuckle every single time. 

In the end, it doesn't really matter. Whether you ride a big motorcycle, a small motorcycle, or a big-looking-small-motorcycle, you must ride whatever makes your heart beat a little faster. In my case, that's the CRF300Rally. 

Looking ahead

My journey north will have its challenges, especially with regard to border crossings and the ever-changing rules and regulations. Or maybe La Niña will throw more havoc my way (read my previous blog post Is it a bad time to travel through Ecuador?), who knows. For now, being back on the road, and being able to continue my adventure through the Americas gives me so much joy and energy, that I will face all these challenges head-on. 

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- Do you have lowering links on Alaska?
- How tall are you?
- What is your weight?
- What is your inseam?

All relative to a 55 year old guy that’s 173cm/5’8 tall with a 74cn/29” inseam who weighs 200lbs.

I sat on a 300 Rally and almost injured myself! 😱

Neal D  | 

Hi Neal, That is why I say, you should always try a bike for yourself. Good luck in finding the right bike for you. I know it can be a challenge when you are not that tall!

Noraly  | 

Dans les voyages que tu fais ,il vaut mieux une moyenne cylindrée maniable et sans débauche électronique et, seule avec tes bagages c'est le bon choix . Cette moto plait beaucoup en France pour faire du chemin, malheureusement pour nous , elle n'est pas importée !
Et merci de nous faire voyager virtuellement !!

Thierry L  | 

IMO, those guys on "real bikes" are little more than posers who travel only occasionally in large "mutual admiration society" groups of a dozen or more who spend a lot of time slapping each other on the back, congratulating each other, and helping each other out when they encounter trouble with their huge, overburdened expensive bikes. As a solo female biker who has covered tens of thousands of kilometers without ever bragging, you define "adventure motorcyclist" the way those other self-absorbed "bigger is always better" macho-mind addled part-time travelers never could... Keep on truckin'!

Carson A  | 

A sad evening last night…. We are now “caught up” with your travels and can’t sit down with our popcorn and watch 2 or 3 episodes every night. Now we have to wait for the “the next video” to be published! Enjoyed every one. Be safe, but don’t be careful!

Dartnmartn  | 

In 1977-78 I rode a Honda 125 XL, essentially the CRF of the day, and wow did all my encounters with other riders go the same - "when are you going to ride a real motorcycle" they'd ask. But for me, it was the capability to weight ratio of that wonderful bike. Today I ride a 2020 REH and share many of your observations, but when the going gets tough, it keeps going! Maybe my next bike will be a 300 CRF too!

RickFlowe  | 

I'm really enjoying your latest series. I can't wait to see how you deal with the Darien Gap. Happy trails.

Kelvinator  | 

I totaly agree with your choice of bike. As you are like to ride unpaved roads it is good choice. I cannot imagine what would you do, if you got stuck in mud with my 214 kg Honda Transalp + weight of all stuff you are carrying with you. As for me, I really don´t like to ride unpaved, dirt roads. I stick to paved roads, so I´m ok with 700cc bike.
I wisho you many more happy kilometers with Alaska and stay safe!

Miloš  | 

Beste Noraly,
Als ik nu een motor zou kopen zou ik ook deze CRF kiezen; ik ben inmiddels 76 en heb in oktober nog een week OTR gereden in zuid-oost Frankrijk en in Ligurië met een maatje en ik was met mijn Yamaha XT 600 uit 2001, een geweldige motor die "nat",dus met volle 15 liter tank, 170 kg weegt, en 45 pk is genoeg.
Veel plezier op weg naar en MET Alaska!
Arnout

Arnout  | 

Glad you are loving Alaska! You mentioned Lima, and it reminded me that there is a young couple about your age who were trapped nearby at the same time you were, and maybe got out the same week you did. They were returning north to the US after having gone to Patagonia, so you guys were traveling a similar route.
Their camper van was left in Lima for almost a year until it was returned vandelized. Their YT channel and yours have similar numbers of views each episode; they stopped traveling (for now) and built a small house in the mountains of Utah near Salt Lake City, and just had their first child. Proving that subs may follow you no matter what the content. They're Trent and Allie, you might enjoy thier channel. As always, Happy Trails to you!

Charles Harris  | 

I would love to hear more about your backpacking days. Mexico to the tip of South America is impressive. Having done a month on the Camino de Santiago, I can imagine the challenges of being on the hiking trail month after month. However, traveling by moto has become your passion. And filming from a moto has become your expertise. And we are all benefiting significantly for the amazing work you do documenting and showing us so many places and people. Your blog, YouTube channel and Instagram are so much more than just the bikes you travel on. But I do appreciate hearing about how you like Alaska. And I agree, it seems your best travel partner to date. All the best! Brian

secondcreekrider  | 

Thanks for another interesting post.
I bought the first of the new 2021 Honda CRF300 Rallys here in Dallas,TX. Ordered all the official Honda H2C upgrade parts for it, plus the Garmin xTerra GPS, and a set of Double Take mirrors. I love this super capable bike!
Happy Trails

Allen Hare  | 

Great to hear from you Noraly! I NEVER miss any of your videos and one just can't go wrong with Hondas and Toyotas (too that Toyota doesn't make motorcycles) but good choice Noraly. I have ridden anything from 50 cc scootres and upwards 750 cc Honda Magna, old Lambrettas and Vespas plus a couple of 1963 BMW!
Warm Regards Noraly and come by in your way up in Roseville California from this ols Brazilian tranplant that REALLY appreciate your YouTube videos! NEVER miss any of them so THANKS!
Stay Healthy girl!
Al Tesser

al tesser  | 

Hi Noraly,
I am loving the current series. You are an inspiration. I have been reading up on the Darien Gap. Whoa! - I agree with Keith201, Sounds like a Ferry is the better, safer option. Keep safe and enjoy the journey!
James

Jim McGregor  | 

Hi Noraly, I am also impressed with your bike of choice, I ride an Africa Twin (235Kg) every day and sometimes I find myself coming across a track I would like to go down but am concerned that if I get into trouble and drop the bike or need to turn it around in a really tight spot I won't be able to as I always ride alone. I am seriously looking at a smaller engine bike to give me a bit more freedom of choice. Love the videos and really enjoying your journey. Patrick.

PJR  | 

One thing that does concern me is the Darien Gap. What do you intend to do about that? On your own, I am pretty sure it is impassable. It has been done, I remember reading about it, there were, I think, 2 or 3 motorcycles and it took them 'for ever'! It is safer and easier to take a ferry past that. At least I do know you are sensible and know when to take an alternative route. And with over 100K km under your belt you should be starting to get the hang of what you are doing.
Take care of yourself, have fun!

Keith201  | 

Noraly,

Wow, what fun it's been to watch your adventures! I'll admit to being more of a tarmac guy and have a r1220r for the road and a Norton Commando for fun. In Europe I have a 650 GS Dakar which is great for the Alps. I can completely understand the advantages of "Alaska" on your journey off road. I have had the pleasure of meeting small town folks from France to Romania and by and large they have been helpful and kind. If we could just get governments to act the same way! Please be safe and my wife and I look forward to following your journey northward!

nortoneye

Nortoneye  | 

Like with cars, there seems to be a trend for SUV-Style vehicles among motorbikes. Machines that look like being tough off-roadies, but will get stuck in every other puddle.To make up for their lack of ability, they show of with huge engines and power output, then need loads of fragile electronics to compensate for all the design errors built into them.
Sadly first buyers often are people who have more money than care for how useful their purchase is. (This effect is even way more painful with cars, where a pretty big portion of first buyers are car rentals who give no sh*t whatsoever if the things fall apart after the 3 years they made money with them and then sell them on. Just have the purchases bear a good name so the re-sell well, and bob's your uncle.)

Zweispurmopped  | 

Hello Noraly. I've ridden motorcycles from 50cc up to 1200cc over the last 45 years and I do like my Triumph T120 I have now, but the most fun I've had over the years was on the smaller bikes, namely my 350 Yamaha road bike and my 175 Kawasaki trial bike. Loving the videos, good luck on your journey north. Dave.

Dave Marriott  | 

Hi Noraly,
My wife and I are enjoying this latest adventure of yours immensely. It’s our coffee break tv!
Each episode has been stunning & fun, especially the cage river crossing and the Colombian mountain roads.
I love your comments re small bikes, my Yamaha TTR250 was out after a Xmas/New Year break and started up no problem even after lying outside just with just a bike cover for protection & after a few nights below zero.!

Oh, belated Happy New Year to you and all the readers, in Scots, ‘A Guid New Year to Yin & Aw!.

Gordon & Margaret

Gordon  | 

Hey Noraly,
I love you love the Rally! I did take a sit on it at the Bike Show in Birmingham - UK there was a line to try it out for size I think you may have sold a few :) The challenge for most buyers is to use the mind to buy a bike, many buy with the ego : )

Did you check out Steph Jevons on the CRF 250? Both of you showing us all the benefits of the smaller bike.

Thank you for posting the videos, they simply inspire me to visit that part of the world, but first to learn Spanish

I am interested to see how you find great riding roads in the USA! I'll check out "The Road Chose Me" thank you Recumbentman :)

Have an Awesome next ride! Go Girl!

Crocadaryl  | 

Hi Noraly: I agree with you about motorcycle size. If I was a lot younger it probably would not mater as much but at 70 years old picking up a 470 LB (204 KG) bike or heaver just is not for me. I love my new CRF300L Rally. I found a YouTube channel that you might want to check out. It is all about traveling the Alaskan Highway and how to do it safely. stuff like the distance between gas stations and how hard it is to fine a place to stay and of coarse bears and other wild life. It is called The road Chose Me. Video title is How to Drive the Alaska highway part 4 I know don't have a lot of time to watch videos but I thought it might be of some help when you get up North. I tend to want give you all kinds of advice on where to go and what to see but I will try to not do that to you. But if you need advice about the Pacific North West of the US where I live and have traveled just give a shout out and I am sure there is hundreds of us that would give advice. Be safe Traveling through the Darien Gap.

recumbentman  | 

I also downsized or actually upsized.
I bought a Ténéré 700 but i still have the VFR 1200X and the XT660Z.
So i downsized form a 1200 to a 700 but i upsized from a 660 to a 700 and in total i upsized from 1860 to 2560cc.
The T7 may be 40cc more than its predeseccor and have a cylinder more but is 4 kg lighter and in handling feels 50kg lighter.
Coming from a 275kg bike onto a 204kg bike is about the same for you coming from a CB500X onto a CRF250/300.
I like to tease others with their bikes but just for fun because i think it doesn't matter what brand or size you ride as long as you're happy with it and didn't buy it out of peer pressure because friends tell you to buy this brand or this much horsepower. Those are no friends anyway.
Just in the middle of editing my last episode from my last trip through the Balkan (will be live tomorrow) and the next trip will be with the new bike.

Ray, ride4life.nl  | 

Dear Noraly,

First I need to give a "warning", you pose a serious "threat" to the Planet, your infectious smile runs the risk of melting the ice caps! And getting stuck in the mud and wrestling Alaska out of it by yourself is just epic and show your true adventure spirit. After seeing you doing he Kalahari Rally I will not be surprised if you aim for even bigger challenges, Roof of Africa, Dakar one day? I can already see you ride faster on gravel after the Kalahari, must be the red mist? No serious, as a South African I really got into your channel when you were in SA. And I was down for over 3 weeks in JUL '21 with a bad strain of the #@%$! virus and recovered 100%. During this time I could not wait for your videos, it kept me sane when I could not ride. And as a daily commuter doing over 90ks daily it was difficult not to ride. At the age of 57 I started riding 2 years ago for the 1st time on a bike after about 35 years. Since then I have done close to 60K kilos on my 2012 Honda 700 NC and love every ride. Even got brave and did a 2700ks road trip in Dec '21including about 400ks on gravel thanks to your inspiration. You are a very special and courageous person which encourage many of us out here.....Keep it up and travel safely, with you in spirit.

ET  | 

As I se all you’re adventures I am convinced that you made the right choice. Crossing the river in the metal cradle was simply impossible with for example a BMW R 1200 GS.
And stuck in the mud it is almost impossible to get the bike out when you are on you’re own.
Love your videos and looking forward to follow the complete journey.

Henk Bollen  | 

Noraly...You have the right attitude. Ride the bike that suits your specific needs and ignore the negative comments. I'm glad that "Alaska" is doing that job quite nicely for you. You obviously have a lot of ground to cover and I hope it's less rainy and muddy. I also hope you have a good solution for crossing the Darien Gap safely. Can't wait for you to hit the U.S. border and see our beautiful landscapes, then on to Alaska where I spent 2 years while in the U.S. Army. It is absolutely gorgeous! Safe travels!

Bob S

Bob S  | 

My bikes are a 230 cc ad a 350 cc and the second one is enough for me.

Hunter  | 

Spot on Noraly, my first two wheels was a Vespa with side car in high school. Family moved and my first new motorcycle was a 200 cc twin two stroke Bridgestone! I was 18 or so and road all over Wyoming with that bike. The big bikes were not that big then. I did find a dragon fruit slayer of my own ...
Alaska is a great ride for you and in ten years for my age ... maybe better than the Suzuki 1500 Intruder and Kawasaki KLE 650 Versys. We will see ...

Mike - P.  | 
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