Deciding to ride around the world on motorbikes was the easy part. What has proved far less easy is choosing The Bikes to do it on! We started out avidly reading all the books and articles we could get our hands on. We picked the brains of various folk who’ve been on long overland trips. We’ve been out test riding various options. It would appear that there is no perfect bike for the trip – everyone has their own opinions, favourites and views, and of course everyone’s journey is their own.

It’s fair to say that we are in a complete quandary! Everything we’ve thought of is a compromise of one sort or another. How much road riding will we be doing? What about when the tarmac runs out and we’re on dirt or mud tracks? How much luggage can we carry? Will we be able to pick the bikes up when we drop them, as we’ve been assured we most definitely will?

We started off really not wanting to be Ewan and Charlie clones on BMW GS’s. Tony was keen to stick to his beloved Moto Guzzi’s, maybe even setting off on a pair of 30 year old V50’s that he owns. Small, light, reliable and easy to fix are all big plusses. Old, high mileage, on road design, and spares issues are the down side.

So we thought we’d take a look at the BMW’s after all, as they do seem to be built for the job. First off we test rode the GS800. A good bike, but too tall (we’re not!), not a particularly comfortable seat, chain drive, and most importantly, Tony just didn’t feel at home on it. Next we thought, to hell with it, we’ll give the GS1200 a go, as we’d seen one out at a friends and realised how much lower than the 800 it was. Bizarre with it being a bigger bike overall, and worth a go. That and the fact that every one of our friends that we spoke to who owned a GS1150 or 1200 absolutely loved them. It was a lovely, bright and sunny week back in October 2009 – you know the sort, of the warm Indian Summer variety. Every day that week except the day that we had booked the test ride – that day it absolutely tipped down! We were soaked by the time we’d ridden the 20 or so miles to the BMW dealer. Tony went out first, seemed to be gone for ages, and came back dripping but with a big grin on his face. I went out and did the same – rode nearly 30 miles around the back roads and up the motorway and felt like I could just have kept on going! A good omen – we both felt very at home on the thing, and as if it would really look after us. We were still a bit high up and couldn’t get our feet flat on the floor, but there were options to lower the bike enough to take care of this. I was still concerned about the sheer size of it though – how would we manage with them when we were off road?

We decided to think about our options for a while, partly as we just didn’t have the dosh to buy them then and there anyway – we had other vehicles to sell before we’d be in a position to shell out that kind of money, and October was not the best time of year to be selling bikes, even if they had been done up to saleable condition. We were also concerned about the cost of the bikes which would have a huge impact on the cost of the Carnets for the bikes (the bike “passports”), as this is based on the value. Hmmm, time to take stock and think…