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Old 02-11-2009, 03:33 PM   #1
Shadman
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Mexico the Mexican Way (under 200cc)

I am looking for a little help in organizing a trip to the mountains outside of Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico for later this year. I have a very strange criteria: I wanna ride Mexican roads the way Mexicans do it.

A little background on why I wanna do what I want to do. I have owned, off and on since age 11, an XR100 type bike of some sort. Four stroke, slow, stable, fuel misers. 27 years without an engine failure! Couple of years ago, while riding down a public Texas highway with my good friend Kris, at 4 am, on XR100's, going about 45 MPH we hatched a plan. So we bought 2 chinese 125cc ttr125 replicas, got them street legal, and rode just about every street, sidewalk, and urban trail in Houston. These bikes topped out at 48 stock, so we regeared them for the street and got top end of 56 with steady 45 mph cruise at reasonable RPM's. We rode them everywhere and had so much fun. We rode them 10 to 1 versus my Busa and his R6. That was 2006. We still fondly recall that year, simply cause of the memories from minibiking everything in Houston. By 2007 we found the reliability to be marginal, especially the way we thrashed the bikes in the trails. Wheels fell apart, frames bent, bars bent...so we sold the bikes for what we had in them and resolved to try it again later

Now it's 2009. We both have purchased clear title 150cc dirtbikes with lighting coils. I got a 2006 CRF150F, electric start. Kris bought Buck beasley's 150cc big bore TTR 125. I have a spare 2003 CRF150F just in case. Soon they will all be street legal and geared to top out at 70, with a planned practical cruise speed of 50 MPH with a little to spare in emergencies. They both go about 55 right now with no mods to gearing. Most mexican's ride bikes powered by the same motor as my CRF's. Down in Mexico they package the 125cc and 150cc motors in scooters, delivery bikes, cafe racers, standards...it's the primary mode of transport on two wheels.

We've decided to go army surplus for saddlebags, I am going to fab up a detachable rail system, four cotter pins to attach / unattach for serious riding. The idea is to have capacity for 4-5 days of clothing, minimal tools, GPS, safety supplies. We don't camp (we like to, but it eats precious fun time) so we are gonna travel light. Both bikes are GPS equipped, so getting lost is not in the plans. We're both running street tires, him on 17's, me on 16/19 combo. Our experience to date has been that on 220 +/- pound dirt bikes, knobbies are not essential, unless you like to ride mud or deep sand.


1st on our list is a trial run. Houston to Austin and back overnight. We hope to do this mid-March when it's cool, Austin is green, and the scenery is spectacular. To put our goal in perspective, imagine a there and back again MS150 at 45MPH. Wind, smells, sounds, scenery...they all soak in at sub interstate speeds. I have a country house in Smithville, right by Buescher SP. 110 miles door to door from Sugarland. It's a 80 mile round trip to Austin from there (including the awesome park road in Buescher), and 110 back. We're gonna throw in some dual sporting at Emma Long / City Park, and at my neighbor's Rocky Hill Mtn Bike Ranch in Smithville. We just want to get a real feel for how many miles per day are reasonable on blacktop. I'd guess much more than 100 at a 40mph average is too much, given our penchant for stopping, detouring, exploring, swimming, photographing, and basically screwing around with whatever the road brings us. We also want to test real world range so we know where we stand. I'm the kind of guy who thinks ozarka bottles in a backpack double as extra fuel tanks when necessity turns me into a Ben Franklin.


2nd on the list is Northern Mexico. I've been encouraged by reports on TWTEX and Adv rider of Mexico ridden on 250 nighthawks, 150cc scooters, TW200's, and even mountain bikes. And reading the Mex Trex 2008 incredible reports solidified my resolve to make this trip a 2009 top priority, as well as attend Mex Trex on the same bikes if all goes well. My basic plan is to ride from the US border towards Monterrey and then to the mountains to the south (towards Galeana, Rayones...). No highways, all free roads, the smaller the better. Dirt and gravel roads will not be avoided, but will not necesssarily be sought out. I'm fine riding goat paths if that is where our wills take us.

Imagine a deck of cards. You're playing gin rummey or go fish. You know what cards you want. But sometimes the cards you are dealt changes things to where your strategy shifts with each play. You hang onto the good stuff, discard the rest, and hope it all works to your favor. That's my idea of trip planning. Pick a general route with 4-5 alternate loops, go.

Destination will be fun, not some particular place or time. Hotels will be the best in whatever small town we fall on, but cheap by their nature, and hopefully researched in advance. Breakfast, lunch, dinner as we come upon them. Late nights and late rising will probably be in the mix in the larger cities. But good riding, good scenery, and most importantly adventure take precendence over rest and leisure.

Example itinerary (3 vacation days from work):

Day 0: Get vehicle permits and visas prior to departure.

Thursday: Day 1: Depart Houston after work. Arrive Laredo late ~11pm.

Friday: Day 2: AM cross border. Arrive Monterry noonish. Explore Monterrey. Find hotel on south side of town in mountains. Go to dinner / club

Saturday: Day 3: Visit Caballo falls AM. Ride south to TBD

Sunday: Day 4: Ride east / west to TBD

Monday: Day 5: Ride north back to Monterrey (ish)

Tuesday: Day 6: Ride to and cross Border. Drive back to Houston. Arrive late.


I am posting this to see:

A. Does anyone else has experience in Mexico on small bikes?

B. Is anyone possibly interested in coming along for the test ride to Austin and or the Mexico ride?

C. Are there laws about which roadways a 150cc bike can travel on in Mexico?

D. Where should I go and why, keeping in mind the vehicles and hotel criteria? Keep in mind this would probably be a 5 day trip, so 4 nights in Mexico, with possibly 500 miles of total riding from the border.
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Old 02-11-2009, 04:49 PM   #2
Mike in Clear Lake
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Re: Mexico the Mexican Way (under 200cc)

250cc Nighthawk. You can read my ride report on my sigtag below, or read the ADVrider version at http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=412593.

A 150cc or a 125cc bike will be fine. Your analysis is fairly correct. You will see a lot of Honda Cargo bikes (125cc) running around down there all over the place. My 250cc is more than enough to handle the roads. I am heading back down there next week.

One note, the Houston consulate will not give you a tourist card in advance. You will have to get that at the border. The permit you can get in advance. In fact mine arrived at the house just a few hours ago via DHL. For your sample itinerary, I would get the tourist card the night you get to Laredo. Leave the bikes in Laredo, walk across the border to Nuevo Laredo, get the tourist card, and then walk back to Laredo. Then start your journey at dawn. I usually cross at Del Rio or Eagle Pass at dawn, having gotten the tourist card the night before, and the permit via Fedex or DHL.

Cheers,

Mike
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Old 02-11-2009, 06:48 PM   #3
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Re: Mexico the Mexican Way (under 200cc)

Thanks Mike. Your thread was part of my research / inspiration. I'd forgotten the name, but you are right, it's Cargo 125 / Titan 150cc and it's the popular bike in all it's iterations, both from Japan and China. Good advice on the permit. I've been through Laredo at midnight and it's a ghost town, but paperwork still gets done. Being that you are from Houston as well, why do you (and others) choose Del Rio and Eagle Pass to cross?
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Old 02-11-2009, 08:14 PM   #4
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Re: Mexico the Mexican Way (under 200cc)

You need to go to the BMW National rally this October in Tampico and see "the Mexican way." High end BMW bikes and appereal from head to toe. Each to his own. I'll have to admit, everything is well over 200 cc's.
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Old 02-11-2009, 09:06 PM   #5
Mike in Clear Lake
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Re: Mexico the Mexican Way (under 200cc)

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Originally Posted by Shadman View Post
Thanks Mike. Your thread was part of my research / inspiration. I'd forgotten the name, but you are right, it's Cargo 125 / Titan 150cc and it's the popular bike in all it's iterations, both from Japan and China. Good advice on the permit. I've been through Laredo at midnight and it's a ghost town, but paperwork still gets done. Being that you are from Houston as well, why do you (and others) choose Del Rio and Eagle Pass to cross?
Actually I think I am one of the few that crosses there, along with ChangoGS. I think tricepilot and most of the others like to cross at Laredo inbound to MEX, and cross at Colombia outbound. In fact I am following tricepilot on SPOT now and I see he is across the Yucatan. He crossed at Laredo earlier, once again. The issue is destination, and time for the most part. I like taking MEX57 into the interior, and enjoy the 400 mile ride from Houston to Del Rio. Cd. Acuna and Piedras Negras are both small towns, and hence not as busy as Nuevo Laredo or Juarez or Tiajuana, etc. I have even stopped in Piedras Negras for evening mass at the Catholic church followed by Nachos (the place where they were invented). These border towns are also okay for loitering.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hardybaker View Post
You need to go to the BMW National rally this October in Tampico and see "the Mexican way." High end BMW bikes and appereal from head to toe. Each to his own. I'll have to admit, everything is well over 200 cc's.
True! I met up with the Zerrweck brother is Monclova. They had been to the BMW rally and ride GS bikes. Ricardo was also there, another GS'er. Nevertheless, the majority of bikes down there do have smaller displacement engines, and this is how I see it around the world except for the US/Canada and Europe.

Cheers,

Mike
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Old 02-11-2009, 10:06 PM   #6
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Re: Mexico the Mexican Way (under 200cc)

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Originally Posted by hardybaker View Post
You need to go to the BMW National rally this October in Tampico and see "the Mexican way." High end BMW bikes and appereal from head to toe. Each to his own. I'll have to admit, everything is well over 200 cc's.
I'm no stranger to that style of travel, but it's a completely different world than what I plan, and to me that is how you should tour Europe or the US. When a BMW rider pulls into a Mexican town, probably every local says, "look, another Gringo!" and comes over to check out the gear and electronics that got that hopeless USA'er to their slice of heaven. I've never had the urge to ride my big bikes to Mexico.

I want to coast into the town square, thump thump thump, and no one takes notice cause I almost blend in.

And besides, isn't Tampico so much more fun at Mardi Gras time?
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Old 02-11-2009, 10:08 PM   #7
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Re: Mexico the Mexican Way (under 200cc)

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Originally Posted by Mike in Clear Lake View Post
Actually I think I am one of the few that crosses there, along with ChangoGS. I think tricepilot and most of the others like to cross at Laredo inbound to MEX, and cross at Colombia outbound.
Oh, I forgot about Chango. He's got a sidecar rig just like mine. If he can ride that to Mex Trex then I guess I can ride anything.

I guess I should step back and look at other points of entry and alternate destinations. I just know I want mountains and small roads as close to the border as possible.

Thanks for the advice and well wishes.
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Old 02-11-2009, 10:12 PM   #8
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Re: Mexico the Mexican Way (under 200cc)

One thing I am considering as well: A good friend of mine grew up as a blue blood in Monterrey and his family has property and houses there. I could easily just drive all the way there, then unload and ride. My Nissan could probably haul 4 150cc bikes and gear and 4 riders without using a trailer (2 in the bed, 2 on my Joe Hauler hitch mount). Would I have to do something special to take a truck and a bike at the same time, or just get two different permits? It seems to me that no one takes a truck over, but I attributed this to possibility for theft.
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Old 02-11-2009, 11:09 PM   #9
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Re: Mexico the Mexican Way (under 200cc)

Oh man this sounds like a fun trip. My XR250 is just a wee bit outside of the displacement range, but I bet there are a few of them rolling around down there too.

Dang... there I go thinkin' again.... that sometimes costs me.

Maybe I should get a lighting coil for the 80.......
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Old 02-12-2009, 01:35 AM   #10
Shadman
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Re: Mexico the Mexican Way (under 200cc)

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Originally Posted by ed29 View Post
Oh man this sounds like a fun trip. My XR250 is just a wee bit outside of the displacement range, but I bet there are a few of them rolling around down there too.

Dang... there I go thinkin' again.... that sometimes costs me.

Maybe I should get a lighting coil for the 80.......
250 is way inside the range. As long as you are content to just thump along. I have an XR80 as well, 2003. It's final drive, in 5th, is the same as my 150 in third gear. So probably not an ideal scoot, even with revised gearing. But those XR80 seats are as comfortable as they come. Bring either one!

Every time I've been to a beach town in mexcio there is always some 80's / 90's XR 250 or 350 sitting exactly where it looks ready to go. once there was one in the middle of the street idling away. I just think, dang, if I could ditch the wife and kids and ride that thing for a few hours, this vacation would be worth taking!
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