riding into Canada - K-Bikes.com - Excellence in Motion
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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old Feb 22nd, 2008, 8:30 pm Thread Starter
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Smile riding into Canada

Hi everyone, my wife and her parents have decided for me that instead of riding to the Rockies this summer we will be riding to Quebec City in July for the 400th anniversary bash/thing. I'm very fortunate I have a wonderful wife and great in-laws (no they aren't watching me type this). If I can ride I'll go anywhere.
I've never ridden up into Canada so I have questions I hope you all can help me with. How are the county mounties about speed, is normal license and ins OK, do you have a helmet law, is there anything in particular I should pay attention to, etc.?
The background: Chicago to Quebec city and back on my 03 K12rs with my wife on the back. I've been riding forever. My wife hasn't spent too much time on the bike so I'll probably have to stop a lot. I have saddle bags and will be adding the following by July - topcase, tank bag, autocom or Baehr, upgraded seat, probably Russell day long.
We both have passports, I don't think we need a visa.
From my understanding the 2 basic routes are upto Detroit into Canada and across to Quebec or east bound stateside upto Vermont and then into Canada. Any thoughts?
I'll probably try to figure a route that will have some interstate and some 2 lane.
Any help or suggestions you all might have would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks, Markus, Ride Safe
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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old Feb 22nd, 2008, 10:46 pm
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Hey Markus, a few tips about Canada.

First, the Canadians are now starting to require a special insurance certificate to drive a motorcycle in Canada. Check with you insurance carrier, and they should be able to give you one.

As far as crossing the border, you currently only need positve US ID and a birth Certificate. It sounds like you have a passport, so you are good to go. The passport requirement goes into effect Summer of 2009.

If you decide to cross over in Detroit, they will not let you take the tunnel under the Detroit River. You must take the Ambassador Bridge which is where I-96 ends in Michigan. DO NOT STOP IN DETROIT FOR GAS! The bad guys will see your out of state plate and rob you at the pump... Either fill up in the US in the suburbs, or fill up in Windsor ON.

Lastly, I have made the trip you are speaking about a number of times. I would cross in Detroit and follow the 401 (QEW) past Toronto and up. Once you are past Toronto, the traffic really drops off.

Best of luck!

Pete (Williamston Michigan)
2003 K12RS/GT Options
1995 525i 5spd
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post #3 of 20 (permalink) Old Feb 23rd, 2008, 12:56 pm Thread Starter
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Smile canada ride, thanks

Pete, I appreciate the info on the insurance and gas. If it's ok can I ask you for some more info? Such as how many hours from Detroit or Toronto to Quebec and are there places to stop etc. I drove to Toronto once. I was stunned at how dark it was at night and also what appeared to be not too many gas stations. Is the stretch between Toronto and Quebec also somewhat desolate? I realize my outlook of what is desolate may be skewed since I live in Chicago.
On a lighter note, I saw you noted GT options on your RS. I've been working on the same. I wanted a GT but couldn't find one at reasonable cost/miles, etc. Couldn't pass up the 03RS with 1700 miles last September from my local dealer.
I found the GT comfort seat online, much better than the terrible stock rs seat. I also found the GT hand cluster online so I used that to wire in the heated seat and look original.
I've been thinking of adding the handguards but not sure. Have you added these or the leg guards?
Thanks for your help again
Markus
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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old Feb 23rd, 2008, 2:54 pm
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I lived in Ontario all my life, with the exception of the last 3 years here in MN, including 18 years in Toronto and 10 years in Ottawa. There are many other options for crossing, including Sarnia, Niagara Falls, Fort Erie,, Alexandria Bay and many more. Ontario and Quebec both have helmet laws, and unlike some states that also have helmet laws but tend to look the other way, they are enforced. If you're not wearing a helmet, you will be ticketed.

Passport is the best for crossing the border, although its not necessary. You may also want to time your crossing to avoid long lineups. If you cross at a peak time, you could be waiting in line with your bike idling for quite a while (as in hours). When you cross the border, even if you are frustrated from having been in line for a long time, politely answer all the customs agents questions, and don't volunteer information that they do not ask for. These guys have a way too much power, and some of them can be real jerks. They can ruin your day in a hurry if you give them any kind of attitude. Also, if you have any kind of a criminal record, you may not be permitted entry.

Avoid the 401 through Toronto if you want to avoid traffic. A better alternative, if you are determined to take a super-slab is the 407. Traffic in Toronto is some of the worst in N. America.

Ottawa is a worth while detour. Beautiful downtown and some nice riding along the rivers (The Rideau River and the Ottawa River). Montreal is also definitely worth checking out.

Ralph
St. Paul MN
2004 R1200C Montauk
2000 R1100RT
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post #5 of 20 (permalink) Old Feb 23rd, 2008, 4:28 pm
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Another tip, use of radar detectors are illegal in Ontario and Quebec.

If you want a more interesting way to cross the border without the long line-ups consider this. If you are coming through Ontario in June, then you might find Port Dover interesting on Friday, June 13th.

Brent Boshart
10 R1200GS ADV (his)
09 K1300S Light Grey (hers)
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post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old Feb 23rd, 2008, 8:47 pm Thread Starter
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canada ride info

Ralph and Brent, very good thoughts to remind me of. I usually take a lid with over the road but don't always wear it. I was thinking about getting a detector but should at least keep it off bike while in Canada. I didn't know about the illegal part.
The criminal record thing is not an issue for me. You are though about the border guys. The two times I've been to Canada years ago they were real jerks. Maybe they aren't real Canadians? Everyone else was really cool everywhere.
Clearly I'll have to do a lot of research on what route to take. I have to say that link to the Ferry boat crossing looks totally awesome. I hate to sound too stupid but is that Ok with the bike? I mean the water is choppy right? Am I going to be holding onto my bike feverishly to keep it from falling over? Is my question clearly one from a dumb urbanite?
The rally also looks really great but probably won't work in the schedule. We are looking at going up the 2nd or 3rd week of July.
Thanks for the help guys.
Markus
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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old Feb 23rd, 2008, 9:06 pm
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Arrow Canada Trip

Quote:
Originally Posted by AugWest
Pete, I appreciate the info on the insurance and gas. If it's ok can I ask you for some more info? Such as how many hours from Detroit or Toronto to Quebec and are there places to stop etc. I drove to Toronto once. I was stunned at how dark it was at night and also what appeared to be not too many gas stations. Is the stretch between Toronto and Quebec also somewhat desolate? I realize my outlook of what is desolate may be skewed since I live in Chicago.
On a lighter note, I saw you noted GT options on your RS. I've been working on the same. I wanted a GT but couldn't find one at reasonable cost/miles, etc. Couldn't pass up the 03RS with 1700 miles last September from my local dealer.
I found the GT comfort seat online, much better than the terrible stock rs seat. I also found the GT hand cluster online so I used that to wire in the heated seat and look original.
I've been thinking of adding the handguards but not sure. Have you added these or the leg guards?
Thanks for your help again
Markus
Hey Markus:

From the Detroit crossing, you can make Toronto in as little as 3 to 4 hrs. I have made it from my house (which I am 1 1/2) West of the crossing to the Candian side of Niagra in 5 hrs total. I do agree the traffic around Toronta can be terrible, however it's not as bad as what you are probably used to in Chicago.

The two canadian guys on the board are correct, in that you have several options in which to cross over into Canada, however from Chicago, your quickest route will be to get onto I-94 E/B and cross into Canada through D-Town.

However, with that said, another great option is to run up to Milwaukee, take the Lake Express ferry across to Muskegon and follow I-96 to I-69 and cross over into CA at Port Huron/Sarnia. The ferry is a great trip (I did it last summer going to the BMWMOA in West Bend WI). You need to bring with you 4 adjustable tie downs to secure your bike. There are just a wide range of options for you to consider. Again I highly recomend the ferry, it is a fun relaxing trip across lake Michigan!

As far as my bike goes, I have the white/blue zebra version of the K12RS. I know my avatar has a black K12RS. That is my old K12...

Anyway, I have the heated comforst seat with the K12GT windscreen, and 30mm bar backs. This is a perfect set up for me. I jst don't think the black plastic GT wind deflectors would like right on my bike.

Best of luck on your trip.

Pete
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post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old Feb 24th, 2008, 3:00 pm Thread Starter
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canada ride

Hi Pete, my K12rs is black. I will probably repaint it in a few years once it looks bad, as all black paint jobs tend to. I am not Mr. wax and polish every weekend. I painted my old K11rs the blue and white zebra colors because I really like that pattern. The bike is a whole new ride after adding the 30 mm barbacks, best money spent sofar. I've been thinking about the GT screen or the aeroflow, either is not cheap. I don't mind spending the money if it's worth it but for a piece of clear plastic ... it bugs me.
The ferry crossing is gaining a lot of ground around here. I appreciate the idea it will probably end up being a good route start.
I'm not sure what color you could paint the handguards on the zebra so they don't stand out too much. The blue might be good though.
Thanks, Markus
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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old Feb 24th, 2008, 7:12 pm
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Hey Markus:

The day I crossed lake Michigan we had high winds and fairly rough seas. However the Lake Express ferry has plenty of tie down points on the parking deck, so you should have no problems. I recommend 4 tie downs. My bike made it across without a hitch. Beats the heck out of traffic on I-94!

Anyway, I may re-paint my bike next year to the BMW stock red color, and get the system case lids painted to match. However a lot depends on how gracious my wife is with the checkbook...

Best of luck!

Pete
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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old Feb 25th, 2008, 11:55 am
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Interesting item to mention for a visit.

What does Canada consider as a criminal record? Arrests, only convictions, etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MNCruiser
I lived in Ontario all my life, with the exception of the last 3 years here in MN, including 18 years in Toronto and 10 years in Ottawa. There are many other options for crossing, including Sarnia, Niagara Falls, Fort Erie,, Alexandria Bay and many more. Ontario and Quebec both have helmet laws, and unlike some states that also have helmet laws but tend to look the other way, they are enforced. If you're not wearing a helmet, you will be ticketed.

Passport is the best for crossing the border, although its not necessary. You may also want to time your crossing to avoid long lineups. If you cross at a peak time, you could be waiting in line with your bike idling for quite a while (as in hours). When you cross the border, even if you are frustrated from having been in line for a long time, politely answer all the customs agents questions, and don't volunteer information that they do not ask for. These guys have a way too much power, and some of them can be real jerks. They can ruin your day in a hurry if you give them any kind of attitude. Also, if you have any kind of a criminal record, you may not be permitted entry.

Avoid the 401 through Toronto if you want to avoid traffic. A better alternative, if you are determined to take a super-slab is the 407. Traffic in Toronto is some of the worst in N. America.

Ottawa is a worth while detour. Beautiful downtown and some nice riding along the rivers (The Rideau River and the Ottawa River). Montreal is also definitely worth checking out.

2007 K1200GT
IBA#31809
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