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Requesting advice on Arizona trip


ayrton

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Dear All:
I am starting planning a 1 week motorcycle trip in Arizona for a friend and I who are from Philly.  2 years ago we did Utah.   Neither of us is an ironbutt - Our daily rides are usually 2-4 hours total.  I would appreciate your ideas on route, weather, sites, things to do, good hikes, etc.
 
Thanks for any helpful hints or ideas.
 
My current thinking is:
1. Fly into Phoenix in mid May.
2. Rent 2 BMW R1200RTs
3. Head north on 17 and then cut over to Prescott.  Hike a bit and stay overnight.
4. Take 89 A to Sedona, hike mid day, then 89A north to Flagstaff.   Stay overnight.
5. One day Ride to Grand Canyon South rim on 89 to 64, hike 1-2 hours or bicycle tour.  Back via 180 to Flagstaff.
6. Take Lake Mary Road south to Pine or Payson - stay overnight.
7. Back to Phoenix on 87
 
Thoughts:
- 2nd or 3rd week of May avoids crowds
- cold evenings and mornings, but OK during the day
- very limited chance of snow in the high country (we got caught in snow in Utah)
- warm in phoenix but we are blasting out of there to higher elevations
- we usually stay at chain hotels, but open to options
- We both had older bikes - my bike was a 81 Yamaha Seca 750, his was a 2009? Bonneville.  On the last trip we rented these R1200RTs (which were excellent), came home and bought new bikes.  He has the Versys 1000, and I got the FJ-09.  I feel I got 85% of the BMW for less than 1/2 the price.
- we prefer easy pace on scenic backroads.  We try to plan for 1-2 hours in the morning, do something else and lunch, then 1-2 hours afternoon.  We usually take a break every hour.
 
 
 
 
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Sounds like a fun quick trip. Couple of things:#5 May be a longer day then you think. Try to find a motel close to NAU & older downtown.#6 I'd hang around, get off bikes & walk around Pine/Strawberry area, but would stay in Payson.Phoenix will/can be more than [em]warm[/em] in mid May. :-)Other than that, have a great time. Sedona's beautiful but has gotten pretty touristy, still worth the stop. Enjoy the switchbacks from Sedona to South of Flagstaff!
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I don't want to stray too far off topic but the Versys 1000 was my second choice to the FJ-09 and is still a bike I'm quite interested in. How do you and your friend feel the two bikes compare? Are you both happy with your choices? I felt the Versys was just too heavy for my everyday riding (twisty foothills) but would love to take one across the country some time. Thoughts?
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The versus is more touring and the fj09 is more sport. Both are great bikes, but I prefer the lighter, quick steering, nasty power of the fj.  He like the larger more substantial feel of the versus.  He has an escalade and a hummer, I have a lotus and a civic si. 
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My advice would be stay away from Arizona. Going from the breathtakingly beautiful Utah to the drab and monotonous Arizona will be such a big step down you might pull a hamstring. My mother retired to Phoenix so I drove many times between there and LA and there's absolutely nothing to see. That, coupled with the fact that everyone carries guns everywhere (I was sitting in a bank once when another customer walked in with a 9mm strapped to his hip and walked up to the cashier window without anyone even flinching) means I generally tell people to avoid the place at all costs.
 
Sure, Sedona is nice, as someone else mentioned, but its a solid 3 hours from Phoenix with absolutely nothing to see or do inbetween and in May it might still be snowing there. My advice would be go to Colorado if you want an almost as pretty as Utah experience.
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Sorry sunshine, but I could not disagree more. Granted La to Az can be a bit drab, but the areas ayrton is going through is stunning. The curvy canyon and mountain bits on 89a alone are worth the price of admission. On 89a you also have the ruins at Montezuma's castle and the funky mining town of Jerome hanging off the side of a mountain with tons of history is worth a visit. Toss in the Grand Canyon, Walnut Canyon (near flagstaff), Lovell Observatory and you've got a super trip. The gun comments are ridiculous.
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There are plenty of good roads in AZ but they're a little harder to link than UT. They're also often more crowded with traffic.
 
89/89A are nice, but crowded.
 
One of the highest rated roads in the country: 191 heading north from Morenci to Springerville
 
After you ride 191, it's worth the time to cross into NM and ride 190 and 152.
 
I really, really enjoyed riding 15 north out of Silver City to the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument. One of my favorite roads in the country. Interesting place to spend a few hours, too.
 
Look into tours around Monument Valley on the AZ-UT border. I always wanted to take a Jeep/hiking tour (they're led by local guides), but never had the time.
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So I'm lucky enough to own both bikes.  That said, kind of hard to give a complete comparison since I just picked up the Versys and only put 300 miles on it.  Plus it's sitting 1000 miles away in FL waiting for my next visit.  Early thoughts are that the Versys is better at eating up miles and the FJ09 is better for causing trouble, as in fun.
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Thank you for your suggestions.  But those are too far east for us.
 
I had looked into a similar new Mexico ride - Albuquerque - Sante Fe - Taos and back, but all the rentals in Albuquerque were Harleys.  I was not interested in riding one and neither was my friend.  So we switched plans to Phoenix. 
 
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Thanks for your comments.  Colorado would be beautiful but I was worried about snow on the high passes.  We got caught in a blizzard on our Utah trip - our first one.  We were lucky to be saved by Swiss tourists in a big SUV.  Since they ride in Switzerland (we stay in touch and they both just got new Harleys there), they know to help snow-stranded bikers.  We left the bikes and they took us to a hotel for the night.  We had nothing but sunshine the rest of the trip.  Next time, I'm watching the weather more closely!!!  Especially at high altitudes.
 
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We both like our choices.
 
He likes the heft and smoothness and size of the Versys and a more relaxed touring style of riding.
 
I love my FJ-09.  It fufills my inner Valentino Rossi when I want but is still versatile for highway, short tours, commuting, errands. 
 
We both loved the BMWs, but don't want to spend the money on purchase, repairs, etc.  Plus, I like my sportier ride.
 
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We both like our choices. 
He likes the heft and smoothness and size of the Versys and a more relaxed touring style of riding.
 
I love my FJ-09.  It fufills my inner Valentino Rossi when I want but is still versatile for highway, short tours, commuting, errands. 
 
We both loved the BMWs, but don't want to spend the money on purchase, repairs, etc.  Plus, I like my sportier ride.

Thanks for taking the time to give me your thoughts on both bikes.  Pretty much the same conclusions I had already reached, and I think the FJ-09 was, for me, a much better choice. Although I do think its up to more than short tours, as I have taken mine from Palm Springs to Seattle a couple of times and found it to be plenty comfortable for what is about a 2,300 mile round trip.  
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There are plenty of good roads in AZ but they're a little harder to link than UT. They're also often more crowded with traffic. 
89/89A are nice, but crowded.
 
One of the highest rated roads in the country: 191 heading north from Morenci to Springerville
 
After you ride 191, it's worth the time to cross into NM and ride 190 and 152.
 
I really, really enjoyed riding 15 north out of Silver City to the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument. One of my favorite roads in the country. Interesting place to spend a few hours, too.
 
Look into tours around Monument Valley on the AZ-UT border. I always wanted to take a Jeep/hiking tour (they're led by local guides), but never had the time.
All great suggestions, although I think you mean Hwy 180 in NM. Also I've seen more than one grown man cry in the middle of Az Hwy 191 (666)! :-) Given their short time of the rentals & the fact they said they don't like long, long days in the saddle I think they're route will be just fine. 
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