FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS


Why VRTW? What makes riding with VRTW different?

Flexible and supported ‘ride ventures’ to faraway places. Personal freedom for exploring. We are explorers at heart and therefore, we prefer experiencing the true nature of the places though which we travel. We don't insist on 'large convoy' riding, preferring instead to set daily ride routes which allow you to fine-tune, adapt, detour, ride at your own pace, or with one or two other riders along the way, just as you like.

We plan good time for rest stops and time away from the bike, to simply explore our surroundings, meet the local people, and absorb the land and it's inhabitants, as we find them. You will have plenty of opportunity to experience the ancient Silk Road and Asian culture as you journey to the Great Wall of China and beyond, into the vibrance of Asia, through some truly fabulous terrain, interesting food, nice people, magnificent sights, sounds, and of course, the unforgettable motorcycle riding experiences.


What does the "V" stand for, in "VRTW"?

Venture? Voyager? Vagabond? Vagrants? V-twin? ....what would you like it to stand for?

Ride with us and find your own meaning for it :)



RIDING TO CHINA


How do I ride to China?

VRTW will take care of all of the formalities for you. We will personally guide and support you through every step of the preparations. We run our own European-based support truck to China, and we're with you in the background, to assist your journey to the far side of China. We have years of in-depth experience from running overland motorcycle expeditions to China, as well as preparing all of the required paperwork, permits and licenses for this type of overland motorcycle travel, for foreign-registered vehicles.

Our licensed and government-approved guides will meet us at the border and handle the customs and traffic regulations. You can then travel freely, throughout the ride, as you choose how you like to travel, at your own pace. Your guides will take care of all formalities, hotel accommodation, customs, and all of the arrangements to support you throughout the expedition.


What’s it like, riding to China?

You can read some of the feedback from previous riders, but every journey is a totally different experience for every rider, on each type of motorcycle. One of the most positive responses we always get is just how friendly and inviting the local people are, offering selfless hospitality and kindness to strangers. It’s part of their culture to be open, inviting and supportive of foreign travellers, and they certainly are!

As we cross from Europe, everything starts to look different from Russia onwards, but the real changes kick in from the border to Kazakhstan, where you enter a wild and vast expanse of land, roughly the size of Europe. There are a few bumpy roads along the way, but, generally the asphalt is of a much better standard now than it used to be, as the Chinese construct their new interpretation of The Silk Road, linking China to Europe once again.

Kyrgyzstan is a real gem. It’s cooler, fresher, more mountainous and where we’ll meet supremely generous people, often living simple nomadic lives throughout the summer. We include the best motorcycling routes, all of which are very well suited to your Harley-Davidson. Kyrgyzstan on a Harley is a really fantastic experience!



VRTW EXPEDITION ROUTES


What type of route will we take?

Generally we aim to include plenty of variation, usually on good cross-country roads, passing plenty of smaller villages and local communities. Where distances dictate, we also suggest a few faster dual lane highways. Services are plentiful along the Silk Road, once again!


Is it possible to ride shorter sections? Europe only? Asia only?

You can ride RTW in 2 stages, SILK66 - 66 days from Europe to China, and ALASKEY50 - 50 days, from Alaska to Key West. 115RTW is both of these expeditions, back to back, or stage by stage. You can also spread both stages of the 115RTW over 2 different years, if you want.


Are you planning any other routes in the future?

Yes, many! watch this space.



BOOKING A VRTW EXPEDITION


Sign me up! How do I reserve a place on a VRTW Expedition?

VRTW provide simple payment options for all expeditions, which are priced in € Euros:


1) FAST TRACK DEPOSIT: Make a quick reservation to secure your place, Eur 500 via Paypal.


2) ONLINE TRANSFER >> More details about payment methods are available in the PAYMENT section.


In the REGISTRATION section you can use the registration form to send your details. You can include a brief overview of your riding experience and which type of motorcycle you'll use. We will send you the information pack, invoice and payment details.


Can anyone join these VRTW rides?

Yes! Travellers just need to be in generally good health, fit and happy to ride in hot conditions, experienced and comfortable with riding 300-600 kilometers per day (with rest days). You’ll also enjoy the ride more if you are generally flexible, and understanding of different riding environments and conditions, and are open and willing to appreciate them.


Once I qualify, what happens next?

After you pay your deposit we will start the paperwork process, and provide regular updates and all the information you need to prepare for your expedition.


What duration are the individual expeditions?

The SILK66 Expedition is 66 days, the ALASKEY50 Expedition is 50 days, and the full 115RTW Expedition is 115 days around the world (plus 1 day for free!).



Is my booking deposit and expedition fee protected?

You have the benefits and security of booking with an experienced nothern European operator. We always have a financial contingency in place for each expedition, and go beyond the basic requirements of the travel package tour regulations, which will reimburse you in the unlikely event of company insolvency.

VRTW Expeditions also include our own VRTW ASSIST and repatriation procedures to assist you with onward travel, in the unlikely event that we are unable to continue our planned journey, due to unforeseeable circumstances.

All participants booking with VRTW are fully insured for the initial deposit and the balance of monies paid as detailed in your booking confirmation form. The policy will also include repatriation if required, arising from the cancellation or curtailment of your travel arrangements due to any insolvency of VRTW.



EXPEDITION AND GROUP RIDING


Do we ride in a convoy?

No, it’s not a requirement. We think you enjoy the journey more, riding your own pace, stopping and starting as you please. We provide easy navigation notes and GPS co-ordinates, which means you’ll never be lost, and can easily find the correct route and the evening’s hotel, should you choose to ride alone. The group will stick together in some key areas, such as some remote areas of Alaska, The Yukon or Death Valley.


Is there a guide and lead bike, if I want to follow?

Yes, it’s an option, although we’d still encourage doing certain sections at your own pace.


How many riders will be in the group?

Generally we aim to ride with 8-15 bikes maximum, per group.


How many kilometers do we ride each day?

300-500km average, with some longer and shorter days. There will also be rest days now and then, to explore on foot.


Can I take a passenger?

Yes, pillions are welcome, just aim to travel as light as possible in relation to baggage and equipment.


Can I choose to explore on my own, and meet at the hotel in the evening?

Absolutely, it’s the best way to explore, to be able to see and do exactly as you please, and it’s also a great way to get in contact with the locals.


How much riding experience do I need? And on what types of terrain?

Riding large CC motorcycles for more than 3 years, being comfortable in hot riding conditions, be able to navigate occasional busy traffic, varied road conditions, 300-600 km per day.


What happens if I have an accident on the road?

The Support Team will assist you, until the local medical services arrive, and take over. You should notify your travel insurance company, and your medical insurance company, immediately. We will assist and advise on any necessary repatriation procedures, for you and your motorcycle.



ROADS AND RIDING CONDITIONS


What speed will we ride at, in the different countries?

We will always ride within the local speed limits, both from a safety point of view, and to avoid fines and attracting the attention of the local authorities. Generally, all countries have similar speed limits to Europe, with occasional lower limits in urban areas, near schools, etc. We will advise on ways to avoid any unwanted attention of local police, and how best to deal with any incidents of excess speeding! Generally minor incidents are quickly and easily dealt with at the roadside.


Can I get fuel everywhere? Do I need to carry spare cans?

These days, fuel is plentiful along the Silk Road, but we would recommend carrying a backup 10 litre can, in case you want to explore any remote areas. For Alaska and The Yukon we’ll each carry spare fuel each day, until we reach the lower Canadian border into the US, topping up wherever we see fuel for sale.



PACKING FOR AN EXPEDITION


What type of weather conditions should we pack for?

SILK66 - High temperatures, usually dry heat. Just a few colder days or nights, mainly at altitude, use configurable clothing layers, it works well when you need to adapt to varying climatic conditions.

ALASKEY50 - Starting in colder areas, bring Merino Wool shirts, thermals and waterproof riding gear, until we arrive in the US, where we’ll be traversing deserts and arid regions, where you’ll need suncream and riding gloves. So prepare for everything.


What type of riding gear works best for this type of expedition?

Lightweight, well vented, with ability to add waterproof layers, or a lightweight GoreTex laminate layer.


Will I need thermals under my riding clothes?

Again, Merino wool is the way to go, lightweight, warm, comfortable, quick easy to wash and dry.


What sort of temperatures during the day?

Temperature averages are C. 20-40 degrees.


What other equipment do I need?

After you place your booking, and pay your deposit, we will send you a PDF list of recommended equipment to bring, and what not to bring!



MOTORCYCLES AND EQUIPMENT


Do I use my own motorcycle?

Yes, our expeditions are best experienced with the familiarity of your own motorcycle.


Is it possible to rent a motorcycle for these expeditions?

We can assist with sourcing motorcycles, but generally it’s best if you are the registered owner. We can assist with a buy-ride-sell deal, which is better for you.


What type of motorbikes do you recommend for the different expeditions?

Depending on your stature and riding style, we’ll be using V-twin cruisers and touring motorcycles of varying sizes, from Softails, Road Kings to Street Glides, with good suspension, comfortable saddles, comfortable riding position, and space for your baggage or passenger, and their baggage. We wouldn’t recommend choppers or custom motorcycles for these expeditions, due to the large distances and challenging terrain.


Do we need to make any modifications, or accessories?

A sump guard / engine plate is a handy addition, to protect the engine from bumps and the occasional stones on any loose-surfaced roads. We can assist with a custom plate for most bikes.


Which type of spare parts should we bring?

Depending on your model and age of motorcycle, spare brake pads, a spare belt, spare helmet visor, etc. We can carry these in the support truck for you.



VRTW SUPPORT VEHICLE


What happens if I break down somewhere? Is there a support vehicle?


Yes! No-one likes being stranded in the middle of Kazakhstan with a flat tyre! VRTW provides our own fully equipped Moto Support Truck, operating out from Europe which will accompany you through Europe, to China. We also operate our own Expedition Support Truck on routes to and from Western China and the Stans.

We also work with trusted local guides and travel partners in Kyrgyzstan and China to provide vehicle, guide/fixer support throughout the expedition. If you have any incidents, our support vehicle can usually get you moving again quickly, or in more serious situations, assist you getting to a safe location.



SERVICE AND MAINTENANCE


Should I have a full service performed on my motorcycle, before starting the trip?

Yes, and it can also be maintained underway, at our recommended service stop in Moscow. It’s your own responsibility to have your motorcycle in perfect working order, before the expedition starts.


Should I replace the tyres before the ride?

Definitely, and you can also have them replaced again, at our recommended service stop in Moscow, if necessary.


I'm no mechanic, how do I maintain the motorcycle, on the road?

Modern, well-maintained motorcycles will usually be able to comfortably complete the riding distance, with just a few nuts and bolts to tighten along the way. We can assist with general maintenance, i.e replacing brake pads, spare parts, etc.



MAPS, GPS AND NAVIGATION


How do we navigate? What type of maps do we need?

We provide easily readable waypoints, and can loan you road maps as you ride. We’ll supply you with GPS co-ordinates to get you to the exact location, day by day, plus guidance on how best to use them.


What brand / type of GPS would you recommend?

Garmin. Next Question?


What do I do if I get lost?

Use your Garmin? Maps, compass, the Sun, ask the locals. We assist providing local SIM cards, so that you can keep in touch, plus an easy system to provide us with your exact location, using your GPS / SPOT tracker.



SLEEPING AND ACCOMMODATION


What’s the accommodation like in the different countries?

Generally good quality, clean hotels, with en-suite bathrooms. Occasionally some local lodgings / home-stays, where they are all that is available. Always clean and professionally managed, with adequate bathroom facilities.


How many riders per room?

Twin rooms, 2 people sharing.


Are there single rooms available?

Yes, it’s an option to have your own room, assuming the hotels have single rooms available.



YOUR VISAS AND DOCUMENTS


What visas do we need?

Check with your own consulates, for each country we’ll be visiting. We provide an overview in the riders notes.


Where do we get the visas?

Each country has it’s own consulate or visa agent, in your own country of residence.


Should I apply for all the visas myself?

Yes, or in conjunction with a visa agent in your own Country. You can search online, or see our selection of recommended agents.


Do we need a Carnet for the individual countries?

No, Carnets are not required on our routes.


What documents do we need?

You must acquire, and carry on you at all times, originals of the following documents:

Entry visas as required.

Vaccination certificates (where appropriate).

Personal Identity Card from your home country.

Passport valid for six months after the end date of the Expedition, with 10 blank pages for stamps. Spare passport photos of you, the rider.

Personal health and travel insurance documents, with motorcyclist cover.

Online codes and passwords - just in case.

Driving Licence from your country of residence.

IDP - International Driving Permit.

ICMV - International Certificate for Motor Vehicles.

Motorcycle registration documents. Ownership / registered keeper document.

Motorcycle insurance documents, including 3rd party, Fire and Theft (international coverage).

Breakdown / recovery insurance documents, Europe-wide.

Motorcycle service / maintenance approval documents.

Motorcycle Road Tax document, up to date.

You could also bring printed, laminated and waterproof copies of these documents, and keep an easily-accessible digital online backup on Dropbox, OneDrive, or similar.



INSURANCE - PERSONAL, HEALTH, VEHICLE, TRAVEL


What types of insurance do I need?

You will need the following types of insurance, to participate in a VRTW Expedition:

Personal travel insurance, valid for international motorcycle travel, and covering personal accident, medical expenses, repatriation, loss and damage to personal effects. In the event that you do not have suitable travel insurance you will not be allowed to join the Expedition.

For European touring you should arrange insurance for breakdown recovery and/or repatriation of your vehicle.

For European touring, as a UK citizen you must, if eligible, obtain the new European Health Insurance Card (replaces the old E111).


Where can I get the right type of motorcycle insurance?

We can recommend agencies to issue a Green card, third party liability insurance for Europe through to Russia. From Kazakhstan onwards, we arrange basic third party insurance with local agents, or on the borders (included).


Where can I get Personal Travel Insurance?

Search online, ask friends recommendations. You should have personal travel insurance in place from the time you book yourself onto the expedition.



HEALTH AND MEDICAL PREPARATION


Do we need pre-expedition medical examinations and inoculations?

Yes. You should visit your own GP for advice and inoculations, well in advance. Ideally six months ahead of the expedition, if you need to get up-to-date with travel inoculations, i.e. against Rabies, Malaria, Tetanus, Cholera, etc. Your own GP will advise what is suitable for you.


Should I have a dental check-up before the expedition?

Yes, we would definitely recommend it. We’re not so good at performing emergency dental work in the middle of the desert, using whiskey and motorcycle tools. Better to get a real dentist to do it, beforehand.


Can we bring our own medication on the expedition?

As well as general medical first aid kits, and your own personal medicine, bring a supply of general antibiotics. Your GP can assist you with this. Generic brands can also be purchased at pharmacies while travelling, but you should still take some of your own.



Do I need to bring paperwork for the medication that I’m carrying?

Yes, Bring the instruction labels also, in case customs officers want to clarify any medicine types that you’re carrying.


What about medical facilities on the expedition?

Generally we are never too far from towns and cities with varying degrees of medical facilities. Larger cities have modern, well equipped facilities, where smaller towns will have more basic facilities available.


Do you have a Heart Starter / defibrillator in the support vehicle?

No, it would be unlikely that we’d be with you, if it were needed. We also advise against travelling if you have a known heart condition.


What happens if I can't continue the trip, due to a medical issue or motorcycle damage?

We will assist you getting to a safe location, from where you can arrange repatriation.



FOOD, NUTRITION, HEALTH AND HYGIENE


What is the food like, in these countries?

There is plenty of variety, and good, quality food available, all along the Silk Road.


Do you have scheduled lunch and dinner stops?

Nope, we believe in personal freedom on expeditions like this, so feel free to stop for lunch wherever and whenever you want to, and dinner, also. If you feel like crunching through a bag of dried, crispy Tarantulas, then by all means, do so. It’s good to sample the local dishes and delicacies, but don’t feel under pressure to eat anything you don’t want to eat. On our expeditions, we have meat-eaters, vegetarians, vegans, maybe a cannibal or two, so eat whatever you feel like, as long as it’s ethical and legal - in that particular country.


Are there any food types I should avoid eating?

Avoid Chickens, spiders, and street food which you haven’t seen being well-cooked. Avoid ice/cream in hot climates, it’s a favourite medium for carrying bacteria you don’t want in your system!


Should I carry my own food, then?

We recommend you carry some basic food supplies, especially if you are in any way intolerant to unusual or spicy food! i.e. Some packet rice foods, dry cereal bars, and nuts are handy for emergencies, also.


How can I prevent becoming ill, while on the road?

Keep your hands hygienically clean, and wash them in clean water at every convenience. It’s a simple thing, that makes a big difference in relation to keeping bacteria at bay, on these expeditions. Carry a tube of hand spirit / antibacterial hand cleaner, for places where you might not find access to water.


What happens if I get food poisoning from eating the wrong thing, on the road?

We recommend that you are careful about what you eat on the road and avoid taking unnecessary risks with foods. We suggest you carry decent supply of stomach bug medicine, such as Imodium, or similar. Remember, you’re on a schedule, and staying healthy is imperative, as you have got to cover the distance, one way or another.



COMMUNICATION


Will my mobile phone work in China? Will I need to bring an extra phone / sim card?

Many network operators now provide coverage agreements all along the route. We can also get local sim cards as we travel.


Should I deactivate international roaming on my mobile phone?

YES. Even though some European countries now have a “Roam like Home” pricing policy, you should be very aware of the countries where you have data roaming activated. Check your Mobile Service Provider’s roaming coverage, and take care not to activate data roaming anywhere outside that particular coverage area, to avoid unnecessary and uncomfortable mobile roaming fees, when you get home.



ONLINE SECURITY AND DOCUMENT BACKUPS


Is it safe to log onto hotel Wifi in the different hotels, also in China?

It’s never completely safe to use unknown or public Wifi networks, as there is no way to know who can access them, or how easily. You could be opening up for direct malicious access to your personal data. We always use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to protect our personal connections when we’re in hotels, airports, or when logging on to any public networks that we don’t trust. We use F-Secure Freedome VPN to protect our data.

You should also install some strong antivirus software onto your laptop. F-secure has a combo pack, with VPN and Antivirus software.


Do you keep a backup copy of my documents on Dropbox?

Yes, we do, and we advise that you also keep easily-accessible digital copies of all your important travel documents, yourself.


Really? Should I keep my own backups on Dropbox also?

Yes, we recommend that you maintain your own backups of all your important documents in a secure and safe online location, in case you need to access them yourself. This is also why you should use a VPN when accessing online networks via untrusted public networks.



SOCIAL MEDIA SHARING ONLINE


Can I share the photos on my social media platforms, while we’re on the road?

Yes! Both before, during and after the expedition, and we encourage all participants to share your best photos on your social media platforms, as well as on the VRTW social media channels, Facebook page and group, to share your great experiences with everyone!



A fast and easy way to simultaneously share photos and updates to all of your social media profiles in one shot, is to use Buffer (www.buffer.com). You can set up scheduled posts for the next few days, posting your updates across all your social media platforms, in the background, while you’re on the road, enjoying the ride!



SOCIAL INTERACTION ON THE ROAD


How well do people get on together, for all those weeks on the road?

Very well, and best when people are themselves, open and flexible, and at the same time, happy to spend some time in their own company, also.


What nationalities are the other riders?

Riders can come from all corners of the globe. Even from parts where it doesn’t have corners.


Will we all be able to understand each other?

What do you mean? :) Yes, most riders speak fluent English, and you can usually find one or two different languages to communicate in. Sometimes three.



START POINT / END POINT


When does the expedition actually start, when we meet, or start riding?

The Official Day 1 is the day we meet at the hotel, hold the briefing, prepare the motorcycles, and prepare your fellow riders for the expedition. We start riding on Day 2, once everything is in place.


What happens after we arrive at the final destination?

The motorcycles are delivered to a freight loading centre and we will arrange local transport back to your hotel. You should have flexible onward flights pre-arranged, for the end of the expedition.



MOTORCYCLE FREIGHT AND SHIPPING


How do we get the motorcycles back home, after the ride?

VRTW take care of all shipping arrangements after the ride, depending on where you want your motorcycle delivered.



AFTER THE EXPEDITION


Will you share the expedition photographs after the ride?

A lot of them. After we have processed the photos from the expedition, will send you a download link that you can use to download the VRTW Crew Member’s photographs, and individual riders can also send us their best photographs, if they want. We’ll forward these to you, also.