South America by Motorcycle

A Kawasaki Motorcycle Tour

| July/August 2010

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    Dan Ricker looks out over the road to Abancay in central Peru as the Crazy Gringos head into the mountains toward the end of their trip
    Photo by Neale Bayly
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    Ron Klima unpacks Neale Bayly’s Kawasaki upon arrival in Guatemala City.
    Photo by Neale Bayly
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    A little bit of heaven — smooth highways pave the way to Honduras.
    Photo by Neale Bayly
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    The Crazy Gringos’ bikes lined up outside the bar in Costa Rica where they “lost” Joe.
    Photo by Neale Bayly
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    Ron rewires Dan’s 550 after his harness fried riding across El Salvador’s rough roads.
    Photo by Neale Bayly
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    Heading for the Nicaraguan border.
    Photo by Neale Bayly
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    Ron working through typically dense traffic somewhere in Colombia.
    Photo by Neale Bayly
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    Photo by Neale Bayly
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    Ron squeezes past a crowd burning a car in Ecuador.
    Photo by Neale Bayly
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    Snow-capped mountain outside Quito, Ecuador.
    Photo by Neale Bayly
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    Freshly tarred road outside Loja, Ecuador, felled two of the Crazy Gringos but didn’t stop them.
    Photo by Neale Bayly
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    Photo by Neale Bayly
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    Military check point in the mountains of Ecuador.
    Photo by Neale Bayly
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    Out of gas, Dan gets a pull from Ron across the Peruvian desert.
    Photo by Neale Bayly
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    The road from Nazca, Peru, heading up to the Altiplano, the high plateau that spreads from Peru to Chile and Argentina.
    Photo by Neale Bayly
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    Father Mike (in black leather jacket) gets ready to ride Neale’s bike as Father Gio (in sweater) and a local band look on.
    Photo by Neale Bayly
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    The Crazy Gringos take a break before Neale sets off to find gasoline.
    Photo by Neale Bayly
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    Dan, Ron and Neale at Machu Picchu and trip’s end.
    Photo by Neale Bayly
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    Photo by Neale Bayly
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    Photo by Neale Bayly
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    Photo by Neale Bayly

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Customs Office, Guatemala City, Central America: Each of our four Kawasaki 550 motorcycles now has 31 different sheets of paper, ranging from photocopies of passports to typed forms with VIN and registration numbers. Thirteen people at 13 desks had to stamp each piece of paper. Mercifully, not all of them needed to be bribed.

The strain was beginning to show on our faces, along with the sweat. Maybe we had made a big mistake; maybe our motorcycles would be stuck in Guatemala City forever; maybe we should have just ridden down through Mexico.

The idea had seemed simple enough: Buy four beater motorcycles, ship them to Guatemala, and tour Central and South America by motorcycle riding as far south as we could in five weeks, but sometimes things don’t quite go as planned. Spending two days in the middle of an expensive Latin American paper chase was not the start we had envisioned in Florida during the planning stages.

Getting started

The story actually began for me in 1988. Having returned to the U.S. after riding around Australia, I was working on a new motorcycle adventure to South America. An industrial accident requiring two major spinal surgeries to correct put an end to that trip, but not the dream. Fast-forward to 1995, and while working at Precision Cycle in Sarasota, Fla., a new motorcycle tour was planned. Ron Kilma (owner of the shop), Dan Ricker, Joe Eriei and I bought four $300 mid-1980s Kawasaki 550 motorcycles and made sure they were mechanically sound before sending them on ahead to Guatemala City. With each of us riding a similar motorcycle we could carry one set of spare parts that fit all, minimizing the amount of equipment we needed to carry.



We used the shipping time to get our shots, passports and other details together and, after our wonderful Latin American paper chase on arrival, saddled up and hit the Pan-American Highway by motorcycle.

Nightfall of our first day’s riding found us on the border with El Salvador. A miscommunication caused us to ride 30 miles of incredibly rough road after dark, costing us two speedometer cables and two sets of fork seals. We certainly couldn’t afford too many mistakes of this nature. The next day things settled down, but by the time we arrived in Costa Rica, things were getting set to change.

Bruce novanham
12/5/2017 3:39:01 AM

This is great. Travelling in south america on a motorcycle is so awesome but choosing motorcycle is difficult. I was thinking about new Raybar motorcycles. Just saw the new motorcycles on www.raybarmotorcycles.com/es please tell me are these bikes good?







November December Vintage Motorcycle Events

Blue Moon Cycle Euro Bike Swap Meet and Vintage Ride


Make plans for the 28th Annual Blue Moon Cycle Euro Bike Swap Meet on Saturday, Oct. 27, followed by the Blue Moon Cycle Vintage Ride on Sunday, Oct. 28!

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