What to Expect - Getting Started
We usually gather at the RetroTours homestead the evening before day one. After a brief tour of the garage, each rider selects his first day’s mount from the eligible bikes. Don’t worry, in the course of our adventure, you will get to try every bike. The differences and similarities are fascinating; each machine its own unique solution to the riddle “how best to build a twin cylinder motorcycle”. What’s really cool is that for all the differences, they all work, while retaining an individual character and feel which reflects the nationality and personality of the designer.
Loading is next. A full sized tank bag provides space for your wet and cold weather riding gear, along with a small degree of weather protection: it blocks the wind blast from your abdominal core. We ride through all weather, so a full rain suit including boots and gloves is essential. Remember, these are open bikes, and generally, there is no windshield fitted. At certain times of the year, at certain altitudes and latitudes, temperatures can get frosty, so over-pants, heavy gloves, and coat liners may also be needed. In other words, the tank bag will be quite full.. In the map pocket, you may wish to display the map and or route sheet that is supplied each day. You also will receive registration and insurance documents, along with a list of participants’ cell phone numbers.
Your clean clothes and personal baggage will fit into a water proof duffle that is tied down to the luggage rack and/or passenger seat. It’s best to travel light, we will do a bit of laundry on longer trips. A bungee net is perfect for storing loose items that need to be accessible, such as a sweater or a bag of food. The first time we load your baggage onto your chosen bike is time consuming, so it’s best to finish the night before departure when possible. Your baggage will remain on the same bike every day, so loading becomes quicker and easier each day with practice.
The bike that you select becomes your ‘baby’ for the balance of the trip. You will be given a thorough explanation of controls, idiosyncrasies and things to watch out for. At the conclusion of each riding day, you are encouraged to look over your chosen bike, and to do a quick wipe-down, checking oil levels and for leaks, chain tension, tire condition and the like. You might choose to interview the last rider regarding the overall on road performance, and in general, help us to monitor the condition of our fleet.
You may elect to perform minor adjustments within range of your mechanical expertise with supervision, using the on board tool kit and manual. When more substantial repairs or adjustments are required, you will become the assistant, and possibly be asked to locate and obtain parts or supplies locally. Remember, there is no chase vehicle, so we rely on the ingenuity, industriousness and talent of the group to keep things rolling along, making each RetroTour adventure unique. Your hands will probably get dirty; an integral part of the classic touring experience. Are you getting worried? Relax, these bikes are generally reliable, and while minor repairs and adjustments are common, major failures are rare.
We have never had to abandon a machine, but these machines are not appliances: this is the real thing baby. Here is a testimonial from Chuck in Boston: “I think all the bikes worked fine. The minor breakdowns add to the adventure. I felt like McGyver, fixing things by the side of the road. I keep telling people that we fabricated a complete crank, connecting rods and piston for the Ducati using only a styrofoam cup, duct tape, and an old tampon. Everyone is really impressed!”