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Step-Thru Pan-Am: The Americas, Top to Bottom on Scooters.
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Step-Thru Pan-Am: The Americas, Top to Bottom on Scooters.
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stepthrupanam



Joined: 21 Mar 2011
Posts: 82
Location: Wellington, New Zealand

Post Step-Thru Pan-Am: The Americas, Top to Bottom on Scooters. Reply with quote
Hey guys,

We've been shyly lurking around this forum for a while now, leeching valuable information without being entirely forthcoming about why we are here...time to let the cat out of the bag.

We are 2 filmmakers (better make that 3 and include the camerman) from New Zealand who will be embarking on a 25,000mi+ scooter "ride" from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska to Ushuaia, Argentina. Jealous much?

We decided a while back that we wanted to use 150cc bikes, and they had to be cool. With that questionable decision made, we were left with about 5 options:

4T Bajaj Chetak

2T Bajaj Chetak

2T LML Stella

4T LML Stella

2T Vespa PX

Choosing which of these bikes to use has been one of the more challenging challenges listed, underlined and highlighted in the "Little Book of Big Challenging Challenges" that we have begun to compile in preparation for our trip. All these bikes have their own pros and cons, but given that reliability is our number 1 priority (#3 if you count small & cool) we have been leaning toward the 4T Chetak as our preferential Pan-Am pony.

Despite our obvious superfluity of self-confidence Cool we don't mind admitting we need all the help we can get if we are going to pull this thing off. We are hoping to embark on our journey in May next year, which gives us less than a year to sort our sh!t out. When we can, we try not to "bother the internet" but we thought we should prepare you guys for the onslaught of queries and crys for help that will likely unfold.

But lets save that for another post.

Any questions?
Wed Jun 15, 2011 12:58 pm View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Yahoo Messenger
cane_prevost



Joined: 23 Mar 2010
Posts: 215
Location: Portland Oregon

Post Reply with quote
Sounds awesome! Bajaj is dead reliable. Not sure about getting parts once you leave the US? Vespa parts should not be a problem anywhere. You may have more breakdowns on the Vespa than the Bajaj but you'll have an easier time finding someone to work on it. I imagine if you bring an extra set of cables, a good tool kit and sort out some places to source parts and repairs along your route you'll be fine. Hopefully you guys will blog your way south? I'm sure many of us would love to read about your trip.
Wed Jun 15, 2011 3:09 pm View user's profile Send private message
Grover



Joined: 02 Aug 2007
Posts: 206

Post Reply with quote
Have you secured your machines yet? I could sell you a nice, clean Chetak on the cheap, but I'm pretty far from Alaska.

You might get Genuine or some scooter shop to sponsor or partially sponsor if you took an in-production machine that others could go out and buy if they are inspired by your story. I think the Stella 4T is the only one that fits that bill. Learn to change cables, bring good tires and spares. A comfy seat and gas cans. I can't say I envy you, a 300 mile ride is a bit of an ass-kicker, a 500 mile ride is foolhardy(I've done one--once). 4-stroke manual scooters are great machines, but they were first and foremost intended for Urban and Light-Duty work.
Wed Jun 15, 2011 3:15 pm View user's profile Send private message
stepthrupanam



Joined: 21 Mar 2011
Posts: 82
Location: Wellington, New Zealand

Post Reply with quote
Haha yeah we do realize the incessant nightmare we are lining ourselves up for...but it should make for great viewing Very Happy
I'd be very surprised if any scooter manufacturer would want to associate themselves with us, given the potential backlash that could happen. Three Kiwis found dead beside their melted Stellas in the middle of the Baja probably wouldn't work in their favour, but we'll hit them up regardless.

The question we have been asking ourselves is do we go 2T and do 6+ rebuilds along the way or 4T and try and get away with a couple? 4T Stellas are attractive but the build quality of those things (the 2Ts at least) gives me shivers riding around the block.

We have one 05 Chetak which is probably one of the few in New Zealand, so no we do not have them secured. It would cost about $500US to ship it to Vancouver which we think is good value for the peace of mind of knowing the bike is kitted, tuned and ready to go. The cost of shipping them to Anchorage isn't quite clear yet.

We are scouring NZ for more Chetaks but if we can't find them we will either have to go for PXs or buy Chetaks in the US and have them transported to Anchorage or Fairbanks. If we were going to buy them over there, we'd want to be buying them from some of you guys Wink

The words from well travelled round the world motorcyclists is that it doesn't matter what you ride, as long as you are the kind of person that can deal with things when they go ping. Parts will be a problem. One of many. We are somewhat comforted by the purported abilities of South & Central American mechanics. Somewhat. If we get in a real bind we might have to resort to loading the odd Chet onto the back of one of the many GS1150s we'll no doubt be sharing the road with.

We have facebook/webpage under construction so you'll be able to follow the trip while you wait for the theatrical release ;)

We are trying to broaden our fundraising avenues, any ideas would be well appreciated Very Happy
Wed Jun 15, 2011 4:14 pm View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Yahoo Messenger
rufusswan



Joined: 29 Sep 2007
Posts: 1786
Location: Taneyville, Missouri

Post Reply with quote
Nice 'teaser' of a first post Cool

I doubt that they have acquired machines, but they are inside 12 months to Launch Day so they now have to start making dreans turn into reality. I think the Bajaj would be a great choice (obviously) even though they are no longer being sold. There are a few 'new' ones for sale, but any used one decently prepped would suffice. They could easily buy two additional used ones to serve as a spare parts depot somewhere.

The only change from a totally stock scoot would be extra jetting to handle high elevation conditions. A stock Bajaj would easily get 90 mpg even with funky gas and carrying a load. Required spares such as cables, CDI, and coil can easily be carried on board. They could cruise at 45-50 most all day long with hourly rest stops. Sounds doable to me. Hell, sounds like they want to use them well within original design specs.

So guys, tell us more !!

_________________
"The trick to thinking is the ability to be able to stop thinking." - actual wisdom found on the web !!
http://zenhuckfinn.wordpress.com
Wed Jun 15, 2011 4:23 pm View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail MSN Messenger
stepthrupanam



Joined: 21 Mar 2011
Posts: 82
Location: Wellington, New Zealand

Post Reply with quote
Ok Rufus you can come...
Wed Jun 15, 2011 4:46 pm View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Yahoo Messenger
stepthrupanam



Joined: 21 Mar 2011
Posts: 82
Location: Wellington, New Zealand

Post Reply with quote
Actually Rufus you are on the same page. In terms of spares we will take whats light and likely to wear/break, cables, levers etc. We'd be surprised if we didn't cave in at least one front end along the way but in a worst case scenario these things can generally be posted one way or another. We have been using a few cycling forums to help negotiate a "safe" passage through Canada and the US, where possible. From Fairbanks its about 600mi of single lane gravel road to Prudhoe Bay in the Arctic Circle, and we get to share that lane with 100+ trucks piloted by the cast of Ice Road Truckers. Great way to kick things off. Trip of a lifetime and you can take along your Tak!

We don't want to "itinerize" our trip too severely. We'll take the roads we want to at the speed we want to and eat/sleep as cheaply as possible. It'd be awesome to meet a few of you guys who live down the West Coast as well!
Wed Jun 15, 2011 5:12 pm View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Yahoo Messenger
rufusswan



Joined: 29 Sep 2007
Posts: 1786
Location: Taneyville, Missouri

Post Reply with quote
Dudes, if I weren't 60 years old and grumpy I'd say Hell Yea!

Anyway, my folks rigged up a Chevy Suburban in 1950 and with newborn me in tow, took off and toured western America. Some 5 years later they left Las Vegas and spent 4 months riding the AlCan to Anchorage where I started school. Probably my fondest memory that trip. Read "ify3:radiated baby" on my blog.

We have members from southern Alaska all the way down to Mexico so you won't run short of Bajaj riders to meet. Then there is the total scooter community in general.

So, a couple of general questions:

Is this going to be an inter-active web adventure during the trip?

The camera guy, is he riding a scoot or a "follow" vehicle, or what ...?

When the trip is over and you have a kick-ass adventure (with film) notched into your belt, then what?

_________________
"The trick to thinking is the ability to be able to stop thinking." - actual wisdom found on the web !!
http://zenhuckfinn.wordpress.com
Wed Jun 15, 2011 6:59 pm View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail MSN Messenger
stepthrupanam



Joined: 21 Mar 2011
Posts: 82
Location: Wellington, New Zealand

Post Reply with quote
We are pretty excited about Alaska! It must have been a cool place to live as a child. We are considering a route from San Fran through to the Yosemite National Park, then down to Las Vegas via Death Valley, then back to Los Angeles on the regular route. I dare say you've done some wandering in these parts?

We want to avoid having a "support vehicle" travelling with us so the cameraman will be scooting as well.

After we are done, what then? Hmmmm, Africa? We have had plans for an OE together for quite a while and decided on this trip as it would give us the opportunity to put our filmmaking skills into practise. Our main goal is to enjoy ourselves and to capture as much of it as possible with quality footage. At this stage the medium of the final product is undecided. It might even stay that way and the journey itself may determine what we eventually chop it into. There will definately be an interactive blog that will will update as we go, maybe with some footage if our 10 inch netbook feels up to the task.
Thu Jun 16, 2011 9:51 pm View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Yahoo Messenger
Desert Dweller



Joined: 24 Feb 2009
Posts: 49
Location: Phoenix, Arizona

Post Reply with quote
This sounds like a great adventure! If I were thirty years younger, I'd be begging to join you.

Here's some considerations you may already be wise to, but I'll mention them just in case.

1) My understanding is that there are LITERALLY no roads from Panama into Colombia. The boat ride will be expensive and possibly difficult to arrange for the scooters.
2) Four-stroke Bajaj Chetaks are very, very reliable. I've gone 6,000 miles at a stretch (on city streets) without any issues other than one clutch cable adjustment. I got 9,000 miles out of the stock Nylogrip tires. That's not a recommendation, just an observation. Beware of the valve stems on the original tubes. They can shear off if you don't keep the inflation pressure where it should be.
3) You will want to avoid the 2002 model Bajaj Chetak unless you are prepared to make most of the upgrades that went into the 2003-2006 model, especially the regulator. "Like new" Chetaks are still around and not expensive. Here in Phoenix, just a few weeks ago I bought a second 2002 with only 236 miles on it for $1,000 out-the-door. Seemed like a good deal to me.
4) Bajaj has a long-established presence in Colombia. I would expect parts to be readily available in the major cities, but maybe not.
5) Google "Auteco Plus 150" to learn about Colombia's version of the Bajaj Chetak. They may all be two-strokes, I don't know. If you can read Spanish it shouldn't take you long to find out.
6) After a 30 year career as a Hollywood movie soundman (and occasional 16mm documentary cameraman), I can tell you that keeping your camera and recorder batteries charged is going to be a serious challenge. After the first week, carrying a six bank charger and a dozen batteries is going to feel like carrying a cannon and a stash of cannonballs. And traveling at scooter speed, it could be a long time between accessible electrical outlets.

Keep us posted on how you pull this off! And let us know what you fnd out about Auteco Plus 150's.

_________________
Never say never. The long term odds are against you.
__________________________________________
2002 Red Bajaj Chetak (two of them)
1984 Gold Honda Aero 125
1974 Orange Vespa Primavera 125 (out of service)
Sun Jun 19, 2011 6:02 am View user's profile Send private message
stepthrupanam



Joined: 21 Mar 2011
Posts: 82
Location: Wellington, New Zealand

Post Reply with quote
Thanks for the info DesertDweller, our Spanish isn't exactly conversational at this stage but we will look into the Auteco 150. The infamous Darien Gap between Panama & Colombia has apparently been crossed by fewer people in the last 10 years than Antarctica, not including the FARC and their homies, and I don't think we will be giving it a whirl. There are plenty of RoRo options from Pananama City to Cartagena but they seem to have tripled in price post "The Long Way Round", up from $500US for a bike and rider to almost $1500.
We are starting to think that we will need to buy 1 or 2 Taks in the US as there really don't seem to be any for sale over here. It would be great to buy them off some people on here if possible because it seems the people on this forum are all decent enough to provide an honest evaluation of their bikes. Transport to Alaska could be tricky/expensive so we will spend some time exploring what options are available.
Our Tak has 2 cigarette lighter mounts onboard at the mo, one external "all weather" and one inside the glove box. We have found charging the camera batteries inside the glovebox to be relatively quick and painless but you are right about the number of items we will have that need to be charged, our warm-up lap round NZ will put sort of thing to the test.
These Nylogrips are something we haven't had the pleasure of using but they sound like they might not be bad for some rougher road riding? the sort of thing for our first 1200mi of gravel?

Tig n Tim
Sun Jun 19, 2011 6:52 am View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Yahoo Messenger
stepthrupanam



Joined: 21 Mar 2011
Posts: 82
Location: Wellington, New Zealand

Post Reply with quote
Another option we are thinking about is flying into Vancouver, crossing over the border and grabbing some bikes in Washington and then catching the ferry from Bellingham up to Alaska. It's not cheap but it might be cheaper than having a company haul bikes up there for us.
Sun Jun 19, 2011 8:29 am View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Yahoo Messenger
Desert Dweller



Joined: 24 Feb 2009
Posts: 49
Location: Phoenix, Arizona

Post Reply with quote
A little more web surfing reveals that there are definitely four-stroke Auteco (Bajaj) scooters in Colombia. Check this .pdf file which appears to be either a brochure or a magazine story. Note the two ads for dealerships/shops.
http://www.demotos.com.co/media/pdfs/pruebas/bajaj_legend_prueba02_ed26.pdf

I've seen other references to Auteco Legends and another model that I am unfamiliar with, the Auteco NXT 150. It looks like Bajaj service and repairs might not be too difficult to find in Colombia. More web surfing shows a Bajaj presence in Mexico, Chile, and Argentina, also. It might be easier to find Bajaj service in South America than in the USA.

_________________
Never say never. The long term odds are against you.
__________________________________________
2002 Red Bajaj Chetak (two of them)
1984 Gold Honda Aero 125
1974 Orange Vespa Primavera 125 (out of service)
Sun Jun 19, 2011 5:41 pm View user's profile Send private message
stepthrupanam



Joined: 21 Mar 2011
Posts: 82
Location: Wellington, New Zealand

Post Reply with quote
We found a Bajaj page a while ago that claimed they were the largest exporter of motorcycles into Central & South America during the same years the 4T Tak was produced. Unfortunately it didn't shed much light as to which models were being shipped over but it's good to see they do have a presence. We have heard that Mexico has tonnes of Bajajs and not a lot of Vespas but once again unsure if the Taks are a dime a dozen or if they are all motorcycles. At the end of the day we will probably get a better idea about supply and repair options when we head into these areas. "Auteco Plus 150" is definately one to jot down though, thanks heaps!
Mon Jun 20, 2011 1:54 pm View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Yahoo Messenger
jacklun



Joined: 29 Mar 2007
Posts: 46
Location: Portland, Oregon

Post Reply with quote
Random info:
Bajaj 4T parts and service at Columbia Scooters in Portland, Oregon. The entire Oregon coast (Highway 101) is lovely. Of course, see those giant Redwoods of N. California. I only saw one classic Vespa in Guadalajara, Mexico (btw- they drive insane there).
Mon Jun 20, 2011 7:52 pm View user's profile Send private message
danman1178
Site Admin


Joined: 25 Mar 2007
Posts: 336

Post Reply with quote
Hey, Thanks for stopping by the site - We would love to help in any way we can. Obviously we will be a bit biased towards the Chetak- but as noted in many of the posts here, they are the tanks of their class. I am not sure if any one has mentioned this but I would recommend a more cushy seat for long trips. I have done 300 miles I know this does not compare to what you are facing. With a front rack and rear you can load it down pretty good - if you balance the front and rear it can be quite stable. I would also recommend getting a better set of tires I just picked up some rated for all surfaces and did some OFF roading with the custom rear carrier I made (FULL) and it performed pretty well with a full load out for camping. A spare tire, tool kit and cables are a good list of essentials. The stock cables don't seem to last as long as the replacements. You may want to change one out before you go just to get familiar with the process. I run Amsoil synthetic 4t scooter Oil, this may be a good idea to keep it running good for the long haul. I wired up a cigarette lighter DC plug under the glove box that I use on long trips to keep my GPS / Phone running, this is a good upgrade and easily done. Let us know how we can help!!!
Tue Jun 21, 2011 12:53 am View user's profile Send private message
danman1178
Site Admin


Joined: 25 Mar 2007
Posts: 336

Post Reply with quote
It just hit me.... I want to come too!
Tue Jun 21, 2011 1:48 am View user's profile Send private message
stepthrupanam



Joined: 21 Mar 2011
Posts: 82
Location: Wellington, New Zealand

Post Reply with quote
Thanks for the input Dan, keep it coming guys. We haven't noticed the seat being too uncomfortable, but then again we haven't been pushing long miles at a stretch so far. We did try replacing the stock double seat with a single to open up a bit of room toward the stern but we didn't like the singles positioning at all. Tim is short, I'm tall...if you were to combine our physical attributes we would probably make the ideal rider. We managed to acquire a rear rack from Cleveland (it turned out to be rigid rather than folding) that should work quite well on the back but so far haven't had any luck finding a front rack that won't cost us hundreds of $$$. Engine oil is probably something we need to take another look into. The stuff in there at the moment had the right "code number" so we tipped it in, from memory its a standard 4T "older engines" oil. Next fine day we will take some pics of what we are working with.
Thu Jun 23, 2011 10:16 am View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Yahoo Messenger
donarntz
Site Admin


Joined: 01 Jul 2007
Posts: 241
Location: Austin, TX

Post Reply with quote
In either the vespa club of america magazine or scoot magazine there was an article about a well known scooter enthusiast riding his vespa down below Mexico in the 1960s.
Thu Jun 23, 2011 12:57 pm View user's profile Send private message AIM Address
stepthrupanam



Joined: 21 Mar 2011
Posts: 82
Location: Wellington, New Zealand

Post Reply with quote
An Italian named Giorgio Bettinelli clocked some pretty serious miles on a PX200 around that time I think. From memory he had travelled most of the world on his Vespa before dying in China from an infection. Unfortunately most of the information regarding his travels is only written in Italian. He's not the only one who has been on ginormous scooter trips but he is probably one of the more well known. We haven't heard of anyone riding Taks over huge distances but I dare say some of our brothers in India have probably been on some noteworthy journeys.
If we can we would like to make our trip as accessible as possible so others with similar delusional ideas can see what they'll be getting themselves into Smile
Mon Jun 27, 2011 8:37 am View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Yahoo Messenger
Aggroton



Joined: 21 Nov 2008
Posts: 438
Location: Mechanicsburg PA

Post Reply with quote
WOW. You guys are awesome.
Cant wait to see the film.
Regardless of your choice of steed.

_________________
Thats a sweet bike.

I have MotoStrada's left over stock.
If you need anything please let me know.
Email is best
Mon Jun 27, 2011 11:51 pm View user's profile Send private message
stepthrupanam



Joined: 21 Mar 2011
Posts: 82
Location: Wellington, New Zealand

Post Reply with quote
I don't think we've earned the title of "awesome" yet, not in regard to scooting at least ;)
Should be a fun film to make, if it turns out to be watchable that will be an added bonus.
Wed Jul 06, 2011 11:09 am View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Yahoo Messenger
Aggroton



Joined: 21 Nov 2008
Posts: 438
Location: Mechanicsburg PA

Post Reply with quote
Watchable or not...just add some ska music and will buy it....

_________________
Thats a sweet bike.

I have MotoStrada's left over stock.
If you need anything please let me know.
Email is best
Wed Jul 06, 2011 4:26 pm View user's profile Send private message
zephoria



Joined: 09 Jul 2011
Posts: 3
Location: Abilene, tx

Post Reply with quote
hey, when you guys roll through texas I'm sure my wife and I can put you up for a night or two. we live in Abilene but have been trying to move to austin for about a year. hopefully we will be down there by years end. good luck, happy scooting and let me know what imcan do to help in texas!
Sun Jul 31, 2011 6:15 am View user's profile Send private message
stepthrupanam



Joined: 21 Mar 2011
Posts: 82
Location: Wellington, New Zealand

Post Reply with quote
Hey Zeph, thanks for the offer! The tentative plan at this stage is to travel down the Pacific coast, through SanDi/Tijuanna and down the Baja, in which case we would miss you and your wife and the rest of Texas' world famous delights. If we do take a detour into Texas we would be most appreciative of some sympathetic hospitality Smile
Sat Aug 06, 2011 5:27 pm View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Yahoo Messenger
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