Now that summer is coming, the thoughts of red blooded motorcyclists are turning to the Great Love, the open road. It's that touring time of year again. To hear Bertie Beemer speak, you'd think that an 800cc Bavarian twin is vital equipment to make it to the local shops. This isn't necessarily true. Some of the best times on the road are had on the smallest bikes, and anybody can go touring with a bit of savvy.
The first motorcycle I went distances on was a 100cc trail bike. My cruising speed was 42mph, perhaps a bit slow, but I loved every minute. I did 300 miles in one day, but I caught a cold and fell off twice! If you want to take a girlfriend you had better get them their own bike or you'll hate them after twenty miles. It's fun having two bikes and you've got a handy rescue vehicle for those inevitable breakdowns.
There are several arguments for touring on small bikes. You use much less fuel and you feel much more of a hero. You can reach places that you couldn't on a big, heavy bike. One chappie went to an FIM rally in Hungary on a 1926 HRD, a bike with the same power as a modern 100, so there's no excuse for staying at home. Any fool can tour the Highlands on a RS100, but you have to know what you're doing on a CB100.
If you're going abroad things are more complicated. You need an international licence for Italy, otherwise a full licence is fine. You need an insurance green card, available from brokers. The famous AA 5-star cover can be handy. A friend was thrashing down a Belgian road on a DT175 when his engine exploded - to get his bike back home cost only £5, thanks to the AA.
Breaking down in Britain is a less frightening prospect. It's amazing how many friendly people there are willing to lend a hand, as long as you're willing to listen to their tales of 200mph on a Bantam.
There are a few sensible points to bear in mind. Take the trivial but essential spares. After walking ten miles one night after my main fuse blew, I would recommend a spare fuse and a torch. I wouldn't bother with cables and so on unless you ride an Italian bike, but bulbs are handy. If you get soaked through it's a good idea to stop somewhere other than your tent for the night. Bed and Breakfast in places like Scotland starts at seven quid a day, and on a stormy night it's worth it.
Just because you haven't much money, doesn't mean you can't go out and explore the world on your bargain priced bike!
Ralf St Clair