Forgive my long-winded-ness... this is a long flight home! This info was compiled from our own experiences as well as those of several other parties on rented bikes we met along the 2 week trip. I hope this covers some of the info you might find helpful before heading to Laos. Will be posting a trip report soon. There is only one option (Jules Classic Rentals) The bikes are mostly tired and past their service life.... although you might get lucky and get one of the couple newer ones in the fleet of 40 if they are in when you show up. There is a reason none of the speedometers and odometers work on any of the bikes.... the number of kms is staggering. There are only 250cc bikes available, although 450’s are advertized as available. Really nice guys there, just not putting the care into the bikes that is needed before sending people on their way into nowhere with no bike support options other than Vientiane. I am giving you the straight goods here... there is no competition, so they’re not going to lose any business by people going elsewhere. But info on how to get your bike back to Vientiane in one piece will be valuable. Gear We brought our own moto boots, knee pads, jerseys, gloves, goretex jacket/pant layers, goggles with bright and low light lenses. We got two good helmets from Jules.... others were not so lucky. Just depends on your size and what they have in at the time you get your bike. We didn’t want to lug our own helmets around on the plane and after the bike portion of the trip. You can buy stuff at one moto shop in VT if you need to. Jules has some pant/jersey options and goggles but bring your own. I’d also suggest some dust masks from home. The 3M disposable ones. There are some roads that are horrendous for dust... not to mention if you’re following someone or in a group of riders. Your lungs will thank you on some days. In later Nov, in the north east of Laos (coming from ViengXai, Xamneua, Phonsavan) at elevation... very unexpectedly, I was wearing everything I had in my pack. 4 layers of smartwool shirts, goretex jacket and pants... and I was freezing my ass off at 1500m elevation. Until the sun comes out it can get cold there at that time of year, FYI. Jules also has some Gopro cameras for rent as well, if you don’t have your own and are into photography, it’s a cool addition to all your photos you’ll take. All the bikes has small racks on the back. They have bungee cords.| We ran small drybags (20L or so) stapped to the rack and wore 40L packs. I found this to be ideal with most of the weight on the rack, but not so much stuff strapped to it (like a 50L pack) that you can’t sit back on the bike in comfortable riding position. We saw lots of people with big packs strapped to the rear rack and their riding position jammed up forward onto the hard part of the seat. No thanks. Phones, money We didn’t do this... and looking back, it was stupid. Get a cheap cell phone and pre paid card in VT. Plug in embassy, hospital numbers (vientiane), Jules contact, GPS guy, Thailand medical helicopter, etc. You’d be surprised at the remote places some villagers were using cell phones! I used skype on my netbook.... but that’s not going to help when I’m lying in a heap in the ditch. Contrary to my research before I left, wi-fi/internet are available somewhere in almost every town over a thousand people. Same with ATM’s. Change your US $$ when you get into the country, useless outside of VT and only occasionally useful there. All Kip all the time. I wouldn’t bother with travelers cheques myself. ATM’s have found their way to most places. You had better be mechanically inclined Fortunately we are, but I am not a moto mechanic. You will 100% have mechanical problems on your trip. Maybe they will be of your own doing/crashing, maybe the bike will just break down... but it will happen, only once if you’re lucky. Take the Lonely Planet Laos phrase book and bookmark the page about car trouble. Learn how to say motorcycle mechanic in Laos... if you don’t learn it almost perfectly, they won’t understand you. And pointing to the Laos spelling of the words in the remote villages is not going to help you. There are no parts for your bike in Laos outside of Vientiane The only dirt bikes you’ll see in Laos are rented ones from Jules in Vientiane (or ones from Chang Mai or Vietnam). We needed brake pads (as in zero rear brake power), splines on the gear shift lever were stripped as well as on the shaft entering the gear box, one of the exhaust pipes on the manifold was crimped closed from a previous crash.... etc etc. If you can’t weld it or fabricate it in a basic metal shop... you’re f-ed. They will bus something to you if needed but you’ll be wherever you are for a couple days. There were no kick start options on our bikes, not sure if all are like that... but you’re married to your starter :thumbdown: Know how to jump start. Don’t waste too much time trying to find mechanics/parts in towns If you need something welded/ground down, a bolt, etc.... then have a drive around town and see what you can do. If you have something more complicated, just call Mr Thinga or whatever contact Jules gives you and let them figure it out. They have contacts in the larger cities (Luang prabang, Phonsavan, etc) and it will save a lot of your time. Get a toolkit together on day 1 in Vientiane. Although advertized, they don’t have them at Jules. We were under the impression we’d be given one to use when we picked the bikes up. It consisted of a spare tube and chain lube. We were told the kits came back incomplete sometimes so now they don’t send the bikes out with toolkits?!?!??!?:shock: We put together a long set of metric Allen keys, 7/8/9/10mm wrenches, crescent wrench (adjustable spanner), vice grips, leatherman tool, small cordage and zip ties. Ideally you would have a set of tire levers, patch kit and a pump as well. I’m sure you mechanics can think of something I’ve missed. I needed the vice grips to shift one day as my gear shift lever was stripped. Worth the extra bit of weight! Ride your bike for the afternoon in Vientiane before leaving the next day. Do I need to mention “fine tooth comb”? This is where that mechanically inclined thing will come into play. Brake pads. Oil leaks. Grips twisting, etc. I received mine with no fuel, on reserve tank and scary low on oil. The grunts at jules waxed all the plastic pieces for 30 mins while we did the paperwork though... Fuel n Oil Bikes were going through oil at a decent rate (1/2 quart per day). You need to check the oil after 5 or so minutes of running the bike so the pump has a chance to circulate the oil. Checking cold or too quickly will always show no oil. CHECK EVERY FUEL UP..... Forget what they tell you about range. There are no fuel gagues (other than the piece of grass you stick in the fuel tank). Just plan for every 100km-ish and you’ll be fine. You might be able to get 150km in ideal conditions, but we ran out day 1 at 145km after being told we had 175 to 200km range. Fortunately 1km from a station. You’re never more than 100km between fuel spots. All the fuel we saw in the bottles in little villages was clean. Everywhere has oil. Know about proper air filter cleaning. They will tell you not to touch the air filter. If you are following people for a few days on dirt, your air filter will need cleaning. My buddy’s was f-ed after 650km on dirt. I was in front most of the time and mine was fine. Use a GPS and get the Laos GPS micro SD card Mentioned on GT Riders. I used a Garmin Oregon 400t with handlebar mount, zap-strapped the handlebar mount to the bars (with some cut up mountain bike inner tube wrapped around the bars to prevent twisting). Worked like a charm. I have used my Oregon on lots of snowmobile/mountain bike, alpine trips, so I know my way around the machine... had no issues. The amount of information they have included in this GPS map is staggering! It was all accurate and invaluable. Kudos! Including guest houses, points of interest, attractions, every dirt and paved road in the country it seems. Don’t get the GT Rider map. Do get one of the other maps available, and use a map case. The GT riders map doesn’t have much detail and the scale is too large to be very useful. The regular German (i think) driving maps we saw some people had were much more useful. It’s tough to look at routes in large scale on the GPS obviously, so a good map is really helpful to plan out your overall route for the day and look at options, just follow the GPS the rest of the time. I also use Lonely Planet guidebooks in all of the countries I travel in. The book for Laos was a great tool here, in my opinion, and again... LP has never let me down. Route decisions Use the GT Riders forum to get some ideas, and bounce ideas off the experienced peeps you’ll find there. Check on the status of the dirt routes with guys there, some of the more technical routes aren’t necessarily labeled as such on the maps. Leave yourself some wiggle room for time and a couple flex days to get back to VT and to your flight.... shit happens here. My daily moving averages were anywhere from 30km/hr to 55 km/hr depending if I was on more technical stuff or straight-ish paved roads. You won’t be making time like you expect on the twisty northern paved roads. Most days on my trip were 200-250km.... so start early and allow yourself room for an incident and still time to get in before dark. You don’t want to be riding here often in the dark if you can avoid it. Market breakfasts get you on the road early, every town has one. Know how to properly cross a creek/river and know the limits of how deep it can be. I probably crossed 20 or 30??? The locals always want to see you try, so don’t take their word for it ;-) Hope that helps a first-timer get the most out of your trip... stuff we didn’t know, or didn’t dig deep enough for before heading on our first moto experience in Laos! It will be a trip to remember and you will meet some of the kindest, most genuine, authentic and happy people anywhere in the world!