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The Bike – 1987 Honda C90 Cub

What can I say, the bike, on the face of it could there be a more inappropriate machine to traverse 2 continents and over 20,000 miles but dig deeper and what I am taking with me is the most reliable bike on the planet with spares readily available throughout the world. It is almost completely mechanical, no fuel injection, no water pump, no fancy engine management system, no catalytic converter, no electric start. These  are all items which have the potential to fail and are items that cannot be fixed by Joe Soap on the side of the road. In my view this makes the Honda an ideal overland machine and for me it fully fits into the ethos of my trip.

The bike features the mighty Honda 90 engine, which has a whopping 85cc capacity. It can reach dizzying speeds of 55mph, though I wont be taking it much over 40mph! Half by choice and half.. well it just wont go that fast when loaded up! A few mods have been made to the bike which include:

  • essential front basket for carrying a 5l jerry can of fuel, and other small items, the standard tank only carries 3.5l of fuel!
  • a tank bag for maps and things I will need throughout the day
  • Widened legshields for additional protection from the elements and rocks..
  • Pannier bags (not shown)
  • USB power socket

On the subject of bike preparation I cannot thank  Mick and Declan  enough at Motorcycle City, Blessington St in Dublin for really taking an interest in my trip and doing their utmost in helping me to get this bike in to tip top condition for the journey. Thanks guys!!… By all accounts they are about to break up with their wives and join me on the trip. See you in Colombia lads!!


Camping Equipment

The Tent


My former tent was an MSR  Hubba Hubba, that cost me $300, I slept in it 3 times. It fell off my bike and on to the exhaust while riding and I burnt a large hole right through it!

My new tent,a Marmot Limelight  was less expensive and easier to set up.







Tools and Spares

To  carry out essential maintenance and repairs along the way I need to bring some essential tools and spares. Tools and spares carrying is always  a compromise between what you NEED and what you would LIKE to have. Due to carrying capability of the Honda I have to be very watchful of weight, therefore there are a lot of items I would have liked to bring but I’ve just had to make a call and bring only what is essential and leave the rest up to fate. Below is a list of spares I will bring, which I will update once I leave.

  • 2x Inner tubes
  • 1x puncture repair kit, incl valve remover, tyre irons, extra tube of solution, extra patches, bicycle pump,
  • 1x throttle cable
  • Spare bulbs (though I’ll be avoiding riding at night)
  • 2x spark plugs
  • Spare chain link
  • Oil, WD 40
  • More to come…


Power – USB Charging Socket

  To get around the the issue of constantly trying to maintain a charge on  my camera, phone and my spot device I have installed a USB power socket on to the bike. As long as I have my bike I will have a charge, though holding on to my bike may be the greater challenge in some parts of South and Central America!












This is a great little device, the Spot GPS messenger will allow anyone to track my progress and will automatically update my location to my website and a shared Google Map. The device works using GPS satellites and works when there is no mobile signal, I can even update my status of Facebook if wanted.  More importantly it will allow me to send “ok/check-in” messages to predefined contacts and can also send an SOS message to GEOS International Emergency Co-Ordination Center, and I am insured to the tune of 50k for someone to send a chopper to pull my ass out of a ravine should the occasion ever arise.





In this section I was going to tell you about the camera, phone,  netbook, mp3 player to allow me keep in contact and post my blogs, however I have decided to simplify. All these devices have now been rolled into one – the iPhone 4. Damn Apple for making such a sweet  piece of kit. I have resisted smart phone fever for a while, my own phone not even having a camera or any such fancy capabilities, though I gave in when I found the iPhone could replace all, so in the interest of weight and simplicity I have got myself an iPhone, which will be jail broken imminently.. :-)


46 Responses to Equipment

  1. Ian Moore

    Good luck! Nothing much else to say really bud. All the very best with what will be the trip of a lifetime. I’m jealous.

    *one thing I can’t get out of my mind though is the section of the film Dumb and Dumber when LLoyd and whatever the other fellar is called swap the dog mobile for the scooter and get frozen too it driving through the monuntains. Wrap up warm. :)

    • sean

      Cheers Ian… haha
      “Just when I think you couldn’t possibly be any dumber, then you go and do something like this…..and totally redeem yourself!”

    • Bogger

      Hiya mate, fantastic trip. Can I make a sugestion? take a set of front and rear wheel bearings and a sprocket carrier bearing. Hardly any weight or size but a definite must. I talk from experience :>(


      • sean

        Thanks for the tips mate… my list is growing!!!…
        drop by agian!.. dont forget to add HondaVsTheWorld on facebook, and it will let you know when i’ve post new info!
        Thanks again

  2. information

    Nice Blog with Excellent information

    • sean

      Hi Thanks for your comment!.. Nice to have a few strangers finding me :-)

    • sean

      Hey, Thanks very much for the feedback!!… like of FB to follow!!

  3. Willy Wonka

    I look forward to reading your blog as you progress.

    The little Honda just has to be the greatest big ever produced. Even though I wouldn’t want to be seen on one! lol

    Good luck chap.

    P.S. Ditch the iPhone they really are rubbish. All hype. Go for another make.

    • sean

      Thanks for the comments Mr Wonka… yeah the bike is hardly a chick magnet alright, i will have to keep her shiny, the girls like shiny things 😉
      wont be ditchinig the iphone anythime soom tho.. bloody expensive piece of kit…
      follow HondaVsTheworld on facebook and i will let you know everytime i post a blog..

  4. Fuzz

    Good luck mate
    KEEP your engine oil changed & TOPPED up!

    • sean

      ah… funny you should mention that… she’s buring a little more than usual!!.. time for a swift ring swap i think..

  5. Trev

    Sean, no need for me to tell you you’re mad, plenty of others have done that already :-) 5 litres of fuel weigh a bit and having it over the front wheel could make the steering heavy and less controllable, particularly in the wet. It will also put extra stress on your arms, neck and back, plenty tiring over a couple of kms. Think about relocating it to the rear of the bike or maybe in 2 smaller cans fitted like panniers. Good luck, go well. Trev (Sydney, Australia).

  6. Dave

    Have you got a good umbrella? I remember Ted Simon of Jupiters Travels fame saying it was one of his really useful items, giving instantly erected shelter from rain, wind and hot sun. Can also be used for fending off crocodiles and such like.

    • sean

      ah.. no i havent got one my yet, but will add it to the burgeoning kit list!! – cheers!

  7. Bogger

    When you have your full list of things to take all sorted……..ditch 3/4 of it as you won’t need it. If you do need something buy it on the trip. As long as you can keep warm and dry and fed and the bike rolling that’ll do.


  8. Ali Khan

    Hi Sean. Im thrilled of hear of your fantastic NS trip. Tons of best wishes. Im a Honda 70 user since ’86. Which engine oil will you use from arctic cold to equator? Hope you have in line fuel filter and spare air filters. Will you have a compass/gps? Which camera? Due to chill factor, many layers are needed in cold air. Will battery acid take minus temps? What max speed will you use? I hope its not too fast to keep bike healthy and get more mpg. What tire pressure? Keep a gauge and pump. Will you put foam on seat? Added 4-6″ foam greatly reduces bumps. Photosun glasses are good as they change. Mosquito repellant. Chap stick. Sun block. Binoculars to view starry skies. Ear plugs are good or music. Drink filtered water. Get petrol whenever you see a station. Can you carry more petrol? Are your chain sprockets 14-41 teeth? Tons of best wishes.

    • sean

      Hi Ali!!!

      Many thanks for your interest!! a lot of what you have asked is yet to be decided!!
      BUt it will be summer in Alaska when Im there so it shouldnt be too cold. I will use a 10W40 oil for Alaska and probably switch to a 20W50 for the warmer climes.

      I have the standard 14 tooth front sproket, and standard rear. There are plenty of mod i could have undertaken, but to be honest it is difficult enough, just trying to get the trip organised that do do all the mods on the bike, so i have done a minium…!!

      Regarding fuel, i will carry jerry cans!..

      follow of facebook also !
      thanks for you comments again!!
      drop me a line any time,

      • Fuzz

        Standard front is 15t.
        A 16t will help keep the revs down
        A 17t will struggle on the hills !

  9. Ali Khan

    To reduce punctures, some put one or two layers of old tubes in tires before putting in the real tube. Avoid any pits in road. Inspect tires at the end of day. 40psi rear and 35 psi front is ideal. You will use 40mph while I daily use 40kph. Centre nut should be tight. Once my silencer broke when centre nut came loose and put stress on weld joint. It happened on a very bumpy road.

  10. Ali Khan

    A great thing to have would be a video camera constantly recording everything. Recording or uploading via satellite.

    • sean

      I hope to have a helmet cam… still have to get that… i’ll add that to the long list of stuff i dont have!!!

  11. Jon Yoon

    It’s guys like you that were of great inspiration of me to get my own Honda cub running. I would love to take a trip like that – but i’m just a broke college kid and can’t afford the prep expenses. My advice to you: If you arn’t already, be your own mechanic – know your bike inside and out and how to fix anything that can be fixed on the road.

    Another addition to your list – tires. You may want to have a set of spare tires and tools to replace them. Just loop them around that rear box and tie them down. You never know what can happen in the wilderness between cities. A ripped tire with hundreds of miles to the next bit of civilization might not be very pleasant – a good learning experience (I’ve had far too many of those), but not fun at all. Are you bringing any hand tools?

    You can tell I’ve been stranded on the road many times… But I was always within my local city when it happened, imagine what it would have been like if I were between cities.

    There are hooks you can purchase that will let you hang bags on the inside of the leg shield if you need more carrying space.

    A most sincere good luck to you! Keep us posted!


    • sean

      Thanks John!!

      Regarding tyres, i am hesitating bringing a set with me for weight purposes. An old trick which got me by years ago on bicycles was to bring some old tyre sections or strips. If i have a blow out, I will insert to strip into the tear or blown out section, and it should get me by until i reach civilisation…. i hope…

      just interested what situations have led you to rip your tyres?

      • Jon Yoon

        The tire tear was on my C70 when I jumped from riding in a construction area, the road was unlevel and the rear tire ripped right open – must’ve been a bit sharp too. Well I was also going quite fast – about 45mph when I did it. I just wasn’t paying as much attention as i should have. I also had a blowout on my C70 when I hit a nail.

        I guess pieces of tire would work in a nail puncture case. Just be aware of the road and don’t run over anything that might cause a rip. I’ve seen photos of other guys who have done trips like yours and at the end of it, they always had spare tires wrapped up with all of the other gear they picked up along the way.

        I’ve been stranded so many times, but at least it was in my hometown. More than once, my cheap oil cooler leaked out all of my oil. I now have a more heavy duty one so no problems yet. Just be sure that you can fix anything should it happen to break a long the way.

        Good luck!


  12. steve

    and i thought a friend of mine was mad for doing the Iron Butt rally on a 1960’s triumph trident. he did finish by the way.
    best of luck and look forward to the blogs

  13. Fishman

    Dont know ya but wish ya all the best and a safe journey. Ill be following your progress on here for sure. Ride safe. Fish

  14. Don Graves

    Good to see you in Surf City, Sean. A little different from Spenard. I believe you now have the right amount of gear to go the journey. I liked the GPS device. I am going to have to get one like that for my trip to Maine in May.Keep the rubber side down and the shiney side up. I look forward to seeing pictures of you on the tip of Argentina!

    • sean

      Thanks Don,
      Thanks for the meet and advice!!
      The Spenard Hostel in Alaska sure was a long time ago !!!
      Take care !

  15. Stephen in Dublin

    Brilliant journey, great to see you meeting so many Honda fans. Keep up the good work…

  16. Mick O'Shea

    Sean, why did you decide on an open-face helmet rather than a full-face or flip-up? Money aside, which type would you recommend for a trip like yours (ie lowish speeds and lots of back roads).

    • sean

      Hi Michael,
      Thanks for the comment. I had a full face starting out and it served me well, you may have read it met a sad demise… long story. Anyway i decided on the open face as I was getting very hot under the helmet, plus i had all the gortex gear.
      My rational was that when I was hot and frustrated i was more prone to making mistakes, I’ve dropped the bike a couple of times and I was quick to get pissed off.

      I couldnt find a flip face that fit me at the time and i went for the open face. I love the freedom of the open face, being cool but require a scarf for sun protection, no need to remove when refueling, speaking to people.
      but there is no doudt it does not provide the protection that the full face does.

      So I wont advice you to get an openface, a flip up would be better.

      Any more questions id be happy to answer!

  17. Jason

    Go honda go!

    A guy i work with in chicago told me about your trip last summer. Glad to see you are still at it. Good luck with your journey!

    *An Old Irish Blessing*
    May the road rise up to meet you.
    May the wind always be at your back.
    May the sun shine warm upon your face,
    and rains fall soft upon your fields.
    And until we meet again,
    May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

    • sean

      Honda is holding up great its owner that is not doing so well at the moment, getting over some stomach problems, but will be fighting fit soon!
      thanks for the comment and the Irish blessing!!

  18. Alex

    Hi Sean.

    I´m a friend of Kano (spanish guy on a honda bros you have met). I´m interesting in know wich clothes are you using while riding, helmet etc.
    We are traveling in two honda bros 125cc this summer and I don´t want to wear the hole motorcycling equipment but afraid of what cuold happen.

    Sorry for my english by the way how´s your Español??

    • sean

      Hola amigo, mi espanol is bastante mal, pero yo trato..

      I wear a big jack and a open helmet, the big jacket is very heavy and HOT, but well i crashed i had no injuries to my arms which was good.

      YOu guys never wear safety gear anyway!!!

      Como esta Kano?

      Donde vas n su moto?

  19. Thierry

    Hello Sean. Perhaps you have writen something before on your blog. But I never read if you have got problem on your engine. I know that you have problems on your tire (flat tyre) but i never read something about your motor (moteur in French). I ride an Innova (sorry in France we do not have CUB I prefer CUB) and I enjoy it.
    I am happy to read your blog. But I do not have enouth time to read all the post.
    Have a good trip.
    Bye Thierry.

    • sean

      HI Thierry,
      Sorry for not reply sooner!!!!

      So far I have only one problem with the engine, but actually my suspecions it was more human error. In Vancouver this HOnda service guy was very pushy with this semi synth oil. The clutch started slipping from them on, after i cleaned the plates it seemed to work fine. you will find more infor in my blogs on that issue. Dont use semi synth oil!!!!!!

      I changed the air filter and the milage per tanks has increased 30% !!

      I ut alot of new information on Facebook.. join in!!


  20. willi

    Very good selection of motorbike for your travels…! I recall seeing Charlie Boorman dropping same moto off the roof of a 5 storey building for a tv show….then starting it right up after the crash… problem….!

    One great suggestion i could make would be to switch out the two wheels for tubeless solid rims….i see this done here in Thailand frequently and the big advantage is that tubeless tires are much safer and far easier to repair at the side of the road….just need a plug kit and small air pump to be on your way….

    I’ve had a few high speed blowouts in SE Asia on rented motorbikes with tube type tires and they are no fun at all… will lose control immediately and be lucky not to end up in front of oncoming traffic…or worse.

    i recall seeing a Japanese lad doing a similar RTW trip some years ago up in the Himilayas on your same moto Honda Cub…..

    Truly a great choice…..


  21. willi

    Further to my previous comment, the great joy of doing this trip on a Honda Cub is the incredible fuel milage….keep smiling all the way past the bank.!!! The big macho’s on their 1000 cc BMW’s have to feel a bit stupid or at least chagrined to be hearing of your comfortable, frugal and simplistic choice of ride….
    i speak from experience…..go see Willi,s ride from the past years…..

    55 kms. per liter just can’t be beat , and no engine computer to completely shut dowm the bike when a fault developes……as happens with the big BM’s on occasion….(speaking from experience again).

    Take lots of fotos as you progress…..and send to Honda…..just maybe they’ll sponsor you……really..!

    Cheers, :-)


    • sean

      Hey Willi,

      Thanks for the messages man. Yes the were alot of positives to choosing this bike, and I really like the slightly essentric feel it gives. Especially when rolling into new towns, it always brings a smile to people faces and kicks off many a conversation.

      Off course in certain situations its a bit slow, I ony feel that when on big roads with trucks hurtling past, otherwise I can cope with going up a hill at 15 mies per hour!!.. you just have to tune into the bike and the environemnt and enjoy the sofa ride up to the top hahaha.

      regarding the tubles tyres they are probably hard to come by but im pretty happy with they Michelin Gazelle tyres, they are very tough tyres, and its so easy to fix a flat on this bike… taking extra care not to pinch the tyre on the last lever which i have donw a couple of times!

      Are you following on Facebook Willi….. most days i put up photos and status updates.. more so than the website!.. set up a dud profile if you like and join in!

      thanks for the messages and glad your along for the trip!!!!!

  22. michael nelson

    hi there..just reading about ya trip and dont know if ya have being or are going..but i just wanted t say good onya. .as im planning to tour france next year on a cub even going that far im jacking my job in t tour for a min off 6 months.really just go were the rd takes me..any tips for me.cheers mike

    • sean

      Great Stuff Michael.. sorry for the length of time it took to reply..
      well if you are taking a Honda c90 you will be in for a bit of caric anway.. always funn!!!
      I am now in Tieraa derl Fuego at the end of Argentin.. I will go to Buenos Aires and plann for coming home.. bu not too soon.. and have plenty of stories to come!!

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