In case you are considering a longer motorcycle trip, make sure it is not another shorter one. Get the right bike and keep it running. You will need some basic skills, some planning, some parts, some tools. No big deal, but crucial.
For trips like ours enduro-type bikes are the best choice by far. They have the suspensions and ground clearance to deal with bad roads. And if you drop your bike, which will eventually happen, motor, levers and fairing don't get damaged.
When we chose our KTM 1090 Adventure R and 1290 Super Adventure R we had the following criteria in mind: We wanted reliable bikes with enough power to allow for comfortable on-road traveling over long distances. You don’t want to have trucks passing you, you want to pass trucks quickly. We also wanted bad- and off-road-readiness, like 21"-inch front tires and a tank large enough to allow for a reach of 400km. This is great for remote areas and for countries where gas stations are infrequent. It is important to have an engine ready to accept basically any fuel, e.g. the 80-octane-fuel we got in Uzbekistan. Our KTMs had no issues with that.
Enduros tend to have ambitious seat heights. This means that it can be hard to keep the bike upright, especially when it is heavy and when riding off-road or rocky roads. There is only one way to find out: test drives. Seat height can be reduced by lower seats, but there are also alternatives to heavier enduros with twin-engines, especially single-cylinder bikes.
In hindsight this is where we made a mistake. We stuck to street tires for too long. After leaving central Europe we were hardly ever faster than 110 km/h. This can easily be done with off-road-tires, while even shorter passages on gravel, sand or mud can be very difficult on on-road tires. The classic among the off-road-tires seems to be the Continental TKC 80.
If you are planning to take a long trip (significantly more than 10.000 km) you need to think about changing tires. You can either bring a spare set with you, send tires to a place on your way or, third option, make sure you find a place that can order tires for you. Our experience was that after Istanbul the next places where you can find motorcycle tires for larger enduros are Osch, Kirgizstan (check out the Website of MuzToo, this is where we got our Shinkos) and Almaty, Kazakhstan.
Tools and spare parts
Bikes come with on-board tool-sets. You should check if your set is complete and does the job for some basic work. Among that is fixing tube-type tires since chances are high you have a flat tire at some point. If you have never done that, have someone show you how to do it and do it once on your own. Tubeless tires are not recommended for longer travels in remote areas. They can be easier to repair, but if tire or rim are severely damaged, you are really out of luck. We are carrying a repair kit, levers for removing the tire from the rim and for getting it back on, air cartridges, a pump and spare tubes. You also might want to consider fitting heavy-duty-rims and heavy-duty tubes. Make sure you have spare fuses and light-bulbs. We also have spare levers for clutch and front brake and a fuel-filter. We don’t carry extra motor oil or chain lube, since oil can be bought everywhere.