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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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The Honda CRF300 is a perfect choice for what you are doing (as you have discovered), doing what you are doing probably results in unexpected situations every day and the only thing a heavy motorcycle is going to do is create potential problems, especially if it goes down on the low side, you are in the middle of nowhere and the chance that someone able to assist will be along soon is remote. In most countries you are probably only going to have maximum speed limits around the 100kph mark and the CRF300 will sit on those sorts of speeds in open road situations all day long without any bother ... bigger isn't always necessarily better.

Rafter  | 

- 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  | 
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