To intrepid motorbike riders considering Russia as a destination, there are many things to be aware of and not what could be expected of, for instance, petrol. Not all filling stations carry standard fuel for motorbikes, so plan – many vehicles use propane. Bikers may have to resort to buying fuel on the black market- not the ideal scenario for a tourist trying to stay out of trouble!
Russia is a land of contrasts – cities equal to any European city, but villages out of the old days with hardly any changes. Russia has a varied and fascinating history, having been invaded by such nations as Mongolia to Germany and having survived many internal wars and ruthless leaders. Having lived for many years under the Communist regime, Russia has dragged itself into the 21st century, but from this has evolved much poverty and social problems such as the street children with millions of kids roaming the city streets.
As a biker you will cover many different landscapes from grasslands stretching for mile upon mile, mountains to traverse and dry soul-destroying deserts, so be prepared for big temperature swings! Crossing Russia is crossing seven time zones, sixteen significant rivers. There are many historical sites to be seen, including crumbling Kremlins (walled cities) to the famous Moscow Kremlin, a sight to equal any architectural buildings in the world.
There will be signs of warfare, including statues to war heroes. Many nomad groups still roam the desolate countrysides, unchanged for thousands of years. On these roads, people you meet will be most welcoming and hospitable, but few can speak English. They may even put you up for a night or two and feed you strange but plentiful meals and quite a few vodkas!
For those contemplating a ride in Russia, it may be best to join a tour. These tours supply a guide to ride with you to ease the language differences, find accommodation, find the best sights to be seen and to deal with the many police stops. This helper might make your journey a much better experience. Some tours even supply a support vehicle. On the average expect to cover about 500 miles a day, and the guides can take you straight to your destinations and save much heartache.
Hotels are expensive so that a tent may be a good alternative. Even rentable rooms can be inferior, from homemade beds to no TV or internet access to noisy plumbing and very poor ablutions. Finding a place to pitch a tent could be the best alternative and a lot cheaper, free in fact!
Roads throughout Russia go from good to bad- and back to sound again! Distances are vast, thousands of miles at a stretch and nothing like those experienced in Europe. All types of bikes will be seen on the roads, from Hondas to Harleys to Urals – Russia’s own bike and sidecar.