Gonzaga Bay Panorama "Taking you off the beaten path... to a beaten path."

Frequently Asked

I don't get your "beaten path" motto...

It's a play on words where the first "beaten path" is the cliché that means "the well traveled route taken by others", and the second "beaten path" is the literal that means "a crude trail formed only by the passing of another".  It symbolizes the utility and versatility of a dual-sport motorcycle, that is, the ability to take you from crowded freeway to  nothing more than a mere trail through the woods.

Where am I?

Not in Kansas anymore, that's for sure!  Check your GPS....

I've heard you have to watch out for banditos in Mexico...

Yeah, we've all heard the stories of a friend's sister in-law's step-son who was robbed at gunpoint in the middle of nowhere.  While no doubt someone at sometime has had a bad run-in with a bad person while in Mexico, the fact is that most of these horror stories are nothing more than tales that have been over exaggerated into urban-legend mythical status.  It is true that caution and diligence must be exercised when traveling abroad, however the same holds true for traveling anywhere here in the good ol' U.S.A. as well.  The fact is there are bad people everywhere, and folks who have spent much of their lives visiting Mexico regularly will assure you there are less of them south of the border.

How did I get here?

You rode, of course!

Should I bring cash or a card with me to Baja?

Debit cards are pretty much only useful in the bigger towns and cities. Relying on an ATM in Baja has always been a risky endeavor, though the bank ATMs are more reliable than they were years ago. I've always carried enough cash (in Pesos) to fund riding trips of two weeks or less, with a debit and credit card available should the ability and need to use it arise. Also, make sure to exchange your USD for Pesos either at or before you cross the border. Having some amount in dollars in small denominations can be useful for bartering with the souvenir sellers, though.

What about Mexican gas?  Isn't it bad for your engine?

Good question.  In theory it is supposed to be the same blend we use here in the States.  And if you can get Premium grade, that might be true.  However, outside the larger more populated areas like Tijuana, Ensenada and San Felipe, premium is likely to be either sold-out or not available.   Depending on your bike, using the regular grade unleaded "Magna Sin", you may or may not notice something different about the way your engine performs and even sounds.  I use it in my bikes, and although it lacks a certain "something", I've never suffered any damage that I could relate to the use of poor quality fuel.  The newer model KTM LC4s have an ignition module that can be switched to run low octane fuel, which I would recommend doing if you have one.  If you are concerned about it, you could carry bottles of octane boost, but that's not so convenient.  Buying fuel out of barrels from roadside vendors has the most potential for getting "watered down" fuel, but I've done this many times with no ill effects so far.  And switching back to U.S. fuel has always returned my bike's power plant to it's smooth, quiet self.

Do I really need Mexican Insurance?

Oh yeah, I would say so!  In Mexico, if you have an accident you are held until fault and the ability to pay for any damages have been determined.  Napoleonic law there states that you have to prove your innocence, which could take a lengthy amount of time.  And in Mexico, damages could include crazy stuff like the gouge you put into the fine Mexican asphalt or the signpost you broke when you plowed into it.  Having liability insurance is like having a get out of jail free card.  Note that if you do not hold the title to your motorcycle, you'll need a letter from the title holder giving you permission to take it into Mexico.

Do you have a word or two of wisdom about how to ride through deep, soft sand?

Speed and acceleration. Keep your speed up to a level that would be the same or just a bit lower than it would be if there was no sand at all in that same place. The gyroscopic forces of the spinning wheels are what make the bike resist tipping over or quickly changing directions. The faster the wheels are spinning, the stronger this gyroscopic force.

Unfortunately, when starting out from a dead stop in deep sand, there is none of this gyroscopic force to do it's "thing" until you get some speed going... which is the hardest part of riding in the stuff. What you want to do is accelerate up to speed as quickly as you can, because like a boat in the water, your bike also has a minimum speed at which it will remain up on a "plane" in sand. Heavy acceleration is required below this speed, and the bike will be extremely squirrelly or unstable feeling at these slow speeds, and your front tire will want to turn abruptly and plow into the sand.

But getting up onto a plane sometimes requires accelerating to a speed faster than you think you should go, especially when your bike is throwing you all over the place. Listen to what I tell you now: The very moment you have your bike moving forward and steady on course... give it full throttle immediately until you get up on this "plane". You'll think I must be crazy, but once you see that it works, and your bike becomes much more steady with the speed, you'll have a new confidence and understanding. Until then, just remember that if you don't gas it, you are doomed to eventually plow the front tire in and either fall over or have to stop to keep from doing so. If you're really squirrelly still... then you're not going fast enough!

So, relax. Don't be anxious or intimidated by the sand. I would tell you not to have too stiff a grip on the bike, but you likely won't be able to help yourself. Besides, at slow speeds, the tire can really turn into ruts, ridges, and the like with a LOT of force, so sometimes a bit of tension or "firmness" can help there. But it will wear you out very quickly if you ride like that. Just try to think about not being so overly puckered up, and that may help you to relax, at least for a second or two. And that's a window of opportunity to accelerate up to speed, where it's WAY easier to ride.

Also, scoot back on the seat to keep weight off the front wheel.  If possible, avoid riding in or near ruts in otherwise fresh, wind blown sand.

Don't be afraid to fall over or bite it occasionally. Except for the bitch of having to right your big bike, sand is soft and forgiving.

It can't be stressed enough. Speed and acceleration are THE keys to riding in deep sand.