How we ended up with motorcycles…

The beginning…

So I figure it’s a good time to explain the who, what, and why of how we ended up strapping two motorcycles to the front of MogTug. It all started with a few minutes of browsing uncrate.com while we were in Idaho putting some final touches on the truck at Christmas and visiting Pat’s family. I saw a snippet about a new take on a moped called a Motoped (www.motoped.com). It’s basically a mountain bike with a 50cc engine on it and it can be pedaled or driven by engine power only. I was instantly smitten with the idea. They were lightweight at 80lbs and would be immensely useful to explore the small cities and towns of our trip, as you don’t want to drive around town in the Unimog to sightsee and parallel park (though we have done it in Chicago, Phoenix, Los Angeles and other cities). As with most things with us, it all happened very quickly. We found a dealer for the motopeds close to Twin Falls and we headed over to take a test ride. The downside was that it was December and the ground was covered in ice, so we didn’t get a chance to really have a go, but we loved the bikes in person. They had upgraded the engine from 50cc to 140cc. The big negative was the cost, $2495 + tax each! So we would be looking at $5000 plus the cost to make a mount, buy riding gear, etc. After thinking it over, we decided we could both ebay some more personal belongings and make it happen. So we emailed the dealer and said we had a deal and to let us know when we could arrange pick up. We waited and waited and heard nothing back from the dealer!?! Crickets! So while wondering wtf, it was back to Uncrate to browse what other cool stuff was out there, and then we stumbled upon the SACHS MaddAss, a little 125 or 50cc motorcycle/ scooter, that had a ton of personality and not a lot of weight. Plus I thought they just looked cool. So I told Pat, I would go with the Madass and he could stick with the Motoped, if he ever heard back from the dealer. In the span of a few hours I was in contact with the importer to get a customized one shipped to us and for less than the Motoped! And then craigslist happened. I was randomly searching craigslist to get an idea of used prices and I found two madasses for sale by the same guy, that had less than 50 miles on each one! And they were right in Nevada! After some emails the deal was done, we bought both and said good bye to the motopeds and were in a rental Ford Expedition to pick up the MadAsses. Oh, and both of them together cost about what ONE motoped would have cost. The seller was an awesome guy and had a collection of bikes. He had bought these to carry with his Class A RV and simply never got around to using them. We rented a uhaul trailer in Las Vegas and brought em home. We now were the owners of two motorcycles but neither of us had motorcycle licenses nor experience riding on the road. Oh and we hadn’t sorted how to carry these on the mog. Hmmmm image Driving Home

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Building a Mount

So with the bikes back at the garage, we opened a new task to figure out how to carry the bikes. We researched online and found several dual motorcycle carriers that are meant to go into a hitch but two things gave us pause. One, we don’t have a hitch and two, they looked pretty flimsy and we were scared they wouldn’t hold up to the beating they were going to get. So we decided to build our own mount. The problem with DIY construction projects is that there aren’t easily obtainable engineering specs if you aren’t an engineer, so you end up having to look at what’s on the market and then assume that they must know what they are doing and build from there. Most motorcycle carriers are made with 2 x 2 tubing that has about an 1/8 inch thick wall. Using that as a starting point, we built ours out of 6 x 6 tubing with a 1/4 inch wall 🙂 The idea was that the bikes could sit down in slots in the tubing that would ensure they wouldn’t fly out on bad roads. We decided to mount the carrier on the front of the truck because we were already heavy on the rear axle and we didn’t want to decrease the departure angle any further. There is a lot of thick and heavy steel up front with direct connections to the frame, so we were confident we could get to solid mounts. I sketched it all up on paper and we ordered our metal and got to work. Thus far the mount has worked perfectly and it’s been beaten pretty hard and nothing has failed. We have liberally used bolts where possible to further support the welds and overall we are happy with it, but will be vigilant throughout the trip to be sure it stays solid. I am hoping we never have to use our onboard welder on it.

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Getting training…

So we had two motorcycles, a mount, but still no motorcycle knowledge or training. We were nearing our deadline to leave the US for mexico and most of Idaho and the rest of the country was frozen. So we researched and found sun and warmth in Arizona and a well respected motorcycle school there. We signed up and pointed MogTug south by way of California first to see some friends. We did the basic rider course at Team Arizona (www.teamarizona.com) and I have to say that it was fantastic and I am beyond pleased and grateful for the experience. The course started at ground zero with the explanation of the basic controls of the motorcycle and then progressed to theory and principles of riding. Then came the fun part, getting on the bikes and running through the exercises. This course and the instruction team were fantastic. We went from no knowledge to very real practical skills to take away and hone on the motorcycles. More than anything it made us even more confident and excited to ride. And honestly I think the instruction made all the difference in me not getting seriously hurt in my accident with the truck (see my post on getting hit by a gringo). So if you are a new rider definitely check out Team Arizona and do it.

Making them ours…
Pat took the red bike and he has mostly left his stock with the exception of tires and he is running a solo knobby rear tire due to his front knobby not coming in the shipment before we left. I have changed my handle bars to a flat bar to give me more space, changed my intake, and gone with knobbies front and back and also changed the needles in my carb. I am a lot heavier than Pat, so my bike needs all the help it can get!

Overall thoughts…
So now we have the motorcycles here in La Paz and we have put a few hundred miles on them already. We drive them exclusively everywhere and I can’t imagine what this experience would be without them. We have met other motorcyclists and they seem to get a kick out of our ‘baby’ bikes (as said by a German overlander on a huge, heavy, BMW GSA motorcycle). We keep up with traffic just fine here (most motos here are 125-175cc) and we have seen a lot more than we could have on foot, and with a lot less stress than driving MogTug into town and parking him. So I am definitely glad we have em and honestly with a rig as big as MogTug the additional length at the front has has little real impact on what we can and can’t do. So thus far it’s all sunshine and roses, let’s see how time fairs.

– RandallB3

4 replies »

    • It’s actually not bad at all. The bikes extend about 18 inches in front of the bumper and they are in the lower 25% of my view. I can also see ‘through’ them to the road. We tried putting them under covers and that wasn’t comfortable at all, it felt like putting up a huge flag in front of us. On engine temps, we do run a little hotter, just barely, about 2-3 degrees on average.

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  1. Those two bikes seems to be excellent urban street vehicles. I love my bike, but its not good in the cities. I would much rather have something that is smaller and more nimble. Also if you want you can take those on trails. Have fun, ride and be happy. That is what two wheels are all about.

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