Establishing Boundaries and Hauling the Honda Rebel 250

The Rebel rolled up on the rack I carry it on.

The Rebel rolled up on the rack I carry it on.

The RTR ended last week and we have since moved back over to our Ehrenberg, AZ camp. After most RTRs there is a group of us that leave and then camps together afterwards, and this year was no different, 15 of us moved to this camp and another group went down to Yuma, AZ.  I love the chance to make so many new friends at the RTR, but I am such a private person that in the past it has been very stressful for me. This year I was much more careful of my alone time and tried to establish some boundaries for myself and then stay in them. It worked very well!! It helped that everything went perfectly and we had a remarkable group of people who were just so very nice!! For me, it was by far the best RTR and I heard many other people say the same thing. Of course the perfect weather and best-yet location didn’t hurt either!

Ehrenberg-sunset

Arizona just can’t help herself, she has to give you a gorgeous sunset wherever you go! This is our new home in Ehrenberg.

So when we moved to our new camp I wanted to continue with establishing boundaries. I promised myself that when I got here to Ehrenberg I would make sure I had more privacy and was more alone. I found a nice tree near a wash that is a much prettier campsite than I’ve had before and it’s a little further away from the main group.  I have to say I am happier here now than at any of the other times we have been here. I love having people around, I just need my “alone-time” and having people all around me doesn’t let me feel “alone” even when I am.

Our camp looking down from a nearby hill. Judy and I are at the bottom on the far right.

Looking down at our camp from a nearby hill. Judy and I are at the bottom on the far right. There are 8 of our rigs you can see in this hot and two you can’t.

So I guess the lesson is that we are all so very different that each of us needs to be honest with ourselves and learn what “I” need for myself. And then take care of yourself! Don’t be embarrassed because you want to be happy!  I love this quote from Audrey Hepburn:

As you grow older you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others. ~Audrey Hepburn

What are you doing to take care of yourself? Could you be doing more?  What are you doing to help someone else? Could you be doing more? For the best possible life, keep both arms exercised and very strong!

Our Ehrenberg camp and the rack for the Rebel.

Our Ehrenberg camp and the rack for the Rebel.

Transporting my New Honda 250 Rebel

I told you in an earlier post that I bought a used Honda Rebel 250 motorcycle to ride on quick trips to town. My goal was to save money on gas by riding it instead of driving the van. The van only gets 12-14 mpg and that’s just the cost of gas. The total operating cost is much more than just the gas when you factor in maintenance, deprecation and repairs.  The Honda is getting 70 mpg and because of its simplicity and very low mileage (1076 miles when I bought it) its total operating cost is going to be extremely low.

It's a 1996 Honda Rebel 250.It had 1076 miles when I bought it in Deember!

It’s a 1996 Honda Rebel 250.It had 1076 miles when I bought it in December!

In the last three weeks I’ve only driven the van twice, once to drive to Parker for a stock-up trip to Walmart and the second was to move camp from Quartzsite to Ehrenberg. Other than those two trips, all my local trips to town have been on the Rebel or with Judy. The bottom line is my total operating costs for a motor vehicle are going to dramatically drop because of the Rebel.

As a huge bonus, the Rebel is fun; it’s just a blast to run around town on it! It’s small, light and very low to the ground so it’s extremely easy to maneuver in parking lots and traffic. Most important, it isn’t very powerful! In the past I have owned several very fast, very powerful motorcycles and I always thought how easy it would have been to get in an accident. Speed is addicting! When all you have to do is roll the throttle a little bit and you can be going 120 mph  in a few seconds, that spells trouble for me!!  The Rebel is strong enough to drive comfortably on the freeway at 55-60 mph, but by 65 mph it is working hard so I keep the speed below that. Plus, it is not a strong accelerator. No problem keeping up with the flow of traffic but I’m not going to be winning any drag races!!

Some of you have written asking how I carry it, and that’s a good question. I bought a motorcycle rack that mounts to the receiver hitch. I like to buy too big and not too small so it has a 600 pound capacity even though the Rebel is only 300 pounds. That way I can be 100% confident it is plenty strong enough! You might be wondering how I will use it because I tow my cargo trailer on the back hitch. I found an easy solution by putting a front receiver hitch on the van and carrying the Bike up front.  I bought it from Amazon.com and had it installed at a local RV shop. Curt Manufacturing Front Mount Receiver

I just now finally got everything ready to carry the Rebel. Up till now I had only moved from Quartzsite to Ehrenberg and then back and each of those moves was only 20 miles, so Judy and I just shuttled the bike back and forth. But because everything was done, this time I carried the bike on the rack instead of shuttling it. Everything went well, just like it was supposed to! Pushing it up on the rack was no problem because it is low to the ground and the angle is very low. Once on the rack, Judy held the bike while I used ratchet straps to secure it. While driving, the van handled the weight up front like nothing was there. There was no wander, shimmying or steering problems at all. You can see in the pictures that I had no problem seeing around the bike while I was driving.

I took shot on the freeway from Quartzsite to Ehrenberg. I had no problems at all with the bike up there.

I took this shot on the freeway from Quartzsite to Ehrenberg. I had no problems at all with the bike up there.

The one real problem is that it blocked the headlights and turn-signals For sure blocking the turn-signals will be illegal, but I’m not sure about the headlights during the day. I can solve the turn-signals by getting a magnetic trailer lights setup and putting them up on the front hood. I’m hoping that by only carrying the bike on nice days I can get away with blocking lights.

You can see in the pictures that the Rebel is a long way out from the front grill so overheating won’t be a problem. But I am concerned about having that much weight on that long a lever. I can easily get a welder to cut down the length of the rack so it is closer to the van.  I’ll probably do that.

Here you can see just how far out the bike is from the van. I an get it cut down and it will be about 18 inches closer.

Here you can see just how far out the bike is from the van. I can get it cut down and it will be about 18 inches closer.

Because I have a 1 ton I’m not concerned about overloading the van, but my friend Forest thinks carrying the weight up on the front might lead to more front-end wear and cause the alignment to go out sooner. I’ve got it set up to so that I can put the bike rack into the rear receiver hitch and still be able to tow the trailer. That means the motorcycle will be between the van rear door and the trailer. Again, because it is a 1 ton it will just laugh at that small amount of weight, but it does exceed the tongue weight of what the receiver should carry. It’s a 500 pound receiver hitch and between the rack (80 pounds), Rebel (320 pounds), and tongue weight of the trailer (150 pounds?). I’m about 50 pounds  over its 500 pound limit.  It’s only 50 pounds but I’m still concerned about it. Next time I move it I will put it on back and see which seems better.

The main thing is that I will seldom carry the bike in either place. During the summer the trailer will be in storage somewhere in the desert southwest while I travel with just the van. In that case I can carry the bike on the back receiver with no problems at all—400 pounds on the back of a 1 ton is nothing! If I’m not traveling, I expect to be within 500 miles of Quartzsite; that means the bike will only be on the rack less than 1500 miles a year and most years it will be less than 1000 miles.  If there are problems, it will take a long time for them to happen at that low rate of driving.

I am so delighted to have the Rebel. Its fun, cheap and in the long run will save me a bunch of money. When the price of gas starts to skyrocket from increased demand and decreased supply, I will be even happier!!

Looking at the bike loaded on the rack from the front.You can see it covers the headlights.

Looking at the bike loaded on the rack from the front.You can see it covers the headlights.

This is a map to our current camp. You are welcome to join us!

This is a map to our current camp. You are welcome to join us!

Bob
About

I've been a full-time VanDweller for 12 years and I love it. I hope to never live in a house again!

41 comments on “Establishing Boundaries and Hauling the Honda Rebel 250
  1. offroad says:

    Really like the motorcycle rack you set up. Agree that speed can be addicting as found out with my Honda VTX 1300. Am now thinking want to find a touring motorcycle that has full fairing up front like a gold wing, and a small engine that can get high MPG, and light weight overall, and can handle 70 MPH on the highway. May be too much of an imaginary motorcycle to find. Am going to do more reading about the IRON BUTT motorcycle folks and lifestyle of riders who can do 1000 miles at a time, just to learn from them.

    • Bob Bob says:

      offroad, I would love to hear what you learn! Remember the Honda Silver Wings from the 70s-80s. I think they are close to ideal. A 650 full-dress is what I am longing for.
      Bob

    • ResidentAlien says:

      Iron Butt is right. It takes a toll on the old tush racking up a few thousand miles on a bike. 🙂

      • Bob Bob says:

        ResidentAlien, I’ve put in a few 1000 mile days on a Gold Wing. They are such wonderful bikes that it was doable, but not much fun! I’m glad I did it just so I can brag about it, but NEVER again!!
        Bob

  2. Irv Oslin says:

    Right on with your comment about balancing privacy with your social life. Like most people, I had a hard time reconciling these needs in my earlier years — had to get over that unjustified guilt feeling. There is much to be said for solitude.
    Irv Oslin recently posted…Blizzard of ’78 RememberedMy Profile

    • Bob Bob says:

      There is a lot to be said for solitude, Irv! One of the hardest things about this life is getting over the guilt trip other people try to lay on you about choosing to make yourself happy.

      It isn’t easy, but you just have to ignore them!
      Bob

  3. Calvin R says:

    I have wondered whether you might get too much company. Your life as shared through this blog sounds “almost” wonderful to me, the reservation being that I would want to limit my time with people. I am happy as an introvert and I see that as an advantage for living small and/or travelling. You have led the way in forming community among those of us who enjoy alone time, I think. That’s a remarkable feat, but remember to take care of yourself.

    I have been aware of the Honda Rebel for some time because it’s one of the few bikes that I can ride with my short legs (25″ inseam). I’m glad to read your report on it. I’m still waiting to see what comes my way, but you have given me information I can probably use eventually.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Calvin, one of the great things about the Rebel is it is usually bought as a first-bike and then the person decides he/she doesn’t like it, so they go in storage for a long time. That’s just what happened with this bike. I guy bought it new for his wife, she didn’t like it and it stayed in their garage for years until it was bought by another guy for his wife and she didn’t like it either. So it went back into the garage. I bought it from him!

      The results are there are tons of them around with low miles and in great shape. Very easy to find them. Maybe one of these days one will be you new home!
      Bob

  4. openspaceman says:

    Bob_

    Any fool can copy and paste a quote from the internet…

    Myswell be me.

    “A man can be himself only so long as he is alone; and if he does not love solitude, he will not love freedom; for it is only when he is alone that he is really free.”

    ― Arthur Schopenhauer

    *Seems to me you would have to do a careful rig check before hitting the road with the bike on the front and pulling the trailer…safe travels.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Openspaceman, I am generally pretty safe whenever I move the trailer. But you are right, multiple checks of everything is a requirement to be safe. The single most important thing is to buy a vehicle that can handle the weight you want to carry, especially the brakes. Fortunately, the trailer and bike are nothing for my 1 ton Express. They don’t provide a challenge at all.
      Bob

  5. Peggy says:

    I totally get your need for private time…I’m the same way. In fact, the thought of having people around me all the time kind of freaks me out.

    That’s a cool bike & setup you have there, Bob. Did you find you just weren’t using your electric bike? They intrigue me.

    I’m glad the RTR was such a huge success and I’m sorry I missed it! One of these days…
    Peggy recently posted…Roosevelt ElkMy Profile

    • Bill says:

      Hello Bob. A couple of thoughts here today. What adout the ebike, I know you probable told us about it but I missed it and cant seem to search it out. also where do you store your Honda when camping? plus how do you intend to keep it dry, I am sure extended sun and rain will afect the electrical systems and paint, plastic etc? I ask becaus I just got a ebike to take with me when I head out March 1st and I will be carrying it on a hitch on the rear of my truck and am not happy with it getting sand blasted at 60 mph and rain and all. I intend to not drive in the rain or after dark, hey I am retired so can be that flexible. RVing should be comfortable and relaxed. I really dont think anyone can claim that driving in the rain is fun, scenic or relaxing, ditto about the dark,

      • Bob Bob says:

        Hi Bill, I just answered Peggy about the eBike and I will repeat that reply to her at the bottom of this reply so you are sure to get it. I’ll answer your other comments here:

        Like you I am very concerned about the sun and elements so I try to park both the eBike and Honda in the shade on a daily basis to protect them from the sun and I bought a cover for it and the eBike from Amazon for rain. Like you, I rarely drive at night. It is a very unusual circumstance for me to drive at night. Same with the rain, but last year at Flagstaff we had constant rain so I ended up driving the van in the rain pretty often. But that is very unusual. When I go to Alaska next summer, there will be no nighttime! But it will mean driving in the rain fairly often. But in Alaska we rarely get heavy downpours, it’s usually just a drizzle or mild rain. But of course there are exceptions. I was there in September 2012 and it poured the whole 2 weeks I was there.
        ===========
        Here is my reply about the eBike:
        Peggy, I’m going to do a report on the electric bike soon so I’ll cover it in detail then. I still love electric bikes, but I was camped for 6 months last year where the only way to get to any town was on a freeway so I couldn’t ride it. I also hated that it didn’t have full-suspension because I’m often on bad roads that beat me to death! So I gave that bike away to a friend. At this point I am still planning on replacing it with another better quality electric bike, but I’m not sure.

        Very soon I will write a detailed report.
        Bob

    • Bob Bob says:

      Peggy, I’m going to do a report on the electric bike soon so I’ll cover it all then. I still love electric bikes, but I was camped for 6 months last year where the only way to get to any town was on a freeway so I couldn’t ride it. I also hated that it didn’t have full-suspension because I’m often on bad roads that beat me to death! So I gave that bike away to a friend. At this point I am still planning on replacing it with another better quality electric bike, but I’m not sure. I’m still a total fan of electric bikes!

      Very soon I will write a detailed report.
      Bob

  6. sameer says:

    It is wonderful here. As private as I am it is nice to have a friendly wave or hello in the morning it warms my heart My dog is SO happy meeting and greeting other dogs too. He is more social than I am Hahaha! I am not a introvert but LOVE my privacy. To quote from a previous post….”You have led the way in forming community among those of us who enjoy alone time” Wonderful experience, good job, Bob……Love the bike too!
    sameer recently posted…Establishing Boundaries and Hauling the Honda Rebel 250My Profile

    • Bob Bob says:

      Thanks so much Sameer! I think everyone who lives in a van is more private than most people and some of us are extremely private. I tend toward the very private end of the scale and so I love having people like you around!!
      Bob

  7. Chris says:

    Hi Bob,

    Love the subject…..I know I struggle with finding the balance between my need for alone time and my need for social interaction. On another subject…..are there still plans for a East Coast RTR?

    • Bob Bob says:

      Chris, I think that is nearly universal among vandwellers and other nomads to struggle with wanting to be alone but wanting to have people around! Each of us has to solve it for himself, one size does NOT fit all!

      I just heard from my contact on the East Coast and she just went and looked at a place on the Atlantic coast of SC. It was wonderful, but, too small!! So I have given up on a East Coast RTR for 2014. I don’t have time left to find a place, buy a plane ticket, rent a van, and get over there.

      She is a big camping person so she and her family will keep looking for a place for next year. hopefully it will happen!!
      Bob

  8. Walt says:

    Bob,

    Not knowing about these things, forgive me if I ask a stupid question. Is there any way to mount the bike rack on the back of the cargo trailer? If so, that would eliminate (I think) the problem with exceeding the tongue weight limit and the headlight/turn signal visibility problem in the front, although you might still have issues with your back turn signals. Don’t know if it is a viable idea or not, but I thought I would throw it out there.
    Walt recently posted…#141 – When Explanations FailMy Profile

    • Bob Bob says:

      Walt, it is actually a very good idea. Many people with 5th wheels and travel trailers do just what you are describing. I did consider it! There is very little steel back there so a hitch would have to be custom fabricated to mount from the frame. I think it would be expensive but entirely possible.

      My big concern would be that with the light weight of the trailer that much weight in the rear would actually create a negative tongue weight and it would pull up on the trailer ball instead of down. That is an extremely dangerous situation.

      Even if it were true I could possibly move weight forward and solve the problem. for now I am just going to try these ways ad if I’m not satisfied I can try to hang it off the back of the trailer.

  9. Doug Rykerd says:

    Glad the Rebel is working so well for you! I’m also glad you were concerned about how far out the rack was from the van, that was the first thing I noticed. It may only be 400 lbs, but when you add that kind of leverage I bet it sees a lot more going over bumps. I sometimes haul my KLR on a similar rack, but it sits a lot closer to the truck. It weighs about 100 lbs more if I put it on there full of fuel and leave my bags on it. I’ve had no problems. I wouldn’t worry to much about the rear hitch weight. The weight rating is more a function of putting that much out the back of the vehicle -again, leverage and it’s affect on handling. The strength of the hitch isn’t the question and I bet if yours still has the rating sticker on it, it will say 1000 lbs with a weight distributing hitch. as long as your van handles the load fine, I’d run with it. Remember, on a standard van like yours the hitch is already much closer to the rear wheels than on something like a Ford extended van or my long bed pickup. Best wishes and enjoy the ride! BTW yes spead is addictive, along with long rides. I’m thinking of trading in my KLR for a new KTM 1190R Adventurer – who doesn’t love 150 Hp on a true adventure bike!

    • Bob Bob says:

      Doug, I am a huge fan of the KLR! I can’t ride one because I have very short legs. Hence a Rebel 250!

      The van didn’t have a hitch on it so I put the rear one on it. I could have gotten a Class IV or V but did I? No, I got a III instead. Dumb!!!! So I know it has a 500 lb limit. Yeah, it’s the fulcrum affect that has me worried. I can easily bring the bike closer so to problems there.

      I gave serious thought to living off a Gold Wing and a trailer. But I got to have a dog!!!
      Bob

  10. Bill from NC says:

    Hello Bob, on the Honda carrier. With the trailer being so light weight why couldnt you put a hitch extension reciever plug in and then with the extra space created between the van and trailer you could run the bike up on your channel iron mounted on top of the trailer next to the trailer. This should allow enough room so that the van would not hit the bike. I have seen pickup slidein campers that stick way past the end of the truck bumper and they had the hitch extension past all that to hitch and pull a horse trailer or boat etc. Just a thought.
    Bill from NC recently posted…Natural disaster….freezing rain, ice, sleet, SNOW…Yea!!!!My Profile

    • Bob Bob says:

      Bill I did consider putting the bike on top of the trailer tongue, but because it is such a short trailer (10 foot) it has a very short tongue. There isn’t room for the bike between the trailer and the jack. Even if I took the jack off every time (or got a swing-away jack) I don’t think there is room.

      I’m familiar with the very long extensions on Slide-in Campers. Lots of them use 4 foot extensions to clear the overhang of the camper and then tow very heavy trailers. But those are usually Class V hitches rated at 1000 pounds, and I foolishly bought a Class III rated at 500 pounds.

      Still, I’m not that much over and I can cut the length down so it is shorter. Because the trailer tonge is too short to put the bike on it, my current plan is to use the bike rack as the extension between the van and trailer and carry the bike on the bike rack. I think it will be safe enough that way.
      Bob

  11. Andy says:

    Hi Bob
    Your bike is not very wide, except for the mirrors higher up. Any chance the motorcycle would actually fit in the trailer? When the trailer is parked you could then use the rear hitch. I have fitted motorcycles in some tight spaces 🙂

    • Bob Bob says:

      Andy, no problem putting the bike inside but my lay-out has the bed across the back and the only way to get the bike in would be rebuild it. I can if I have to but I want to try everything else first.
      Bob

  12. gary green says:

    HEY THERE BOB, I THOUGHT YOU WERE GOING TO STORE THE BIKE INSIDE THE TRAILER!!!!

    • Bob Bob says:

      Fary, no, it was never plan to store the bike inside. Inside is my home and I am very happy with it. It has never been anything but my home. That’s why I got barn doors instead of a ramp.
      Bob

  13. jim says:

    Mr bob if you live on a gold wing you will have to change your website from van living to motorcycle living lol, that seem like it would be a very hard way to live maybe you can do a post on someone that is doing it i would love to read about how they get by doing it

    • Bob Bob says:

      Jim, I have taken multi-month trips on motorcycles but never lived on one. I agree, it is a great adventure but not a good life. I’d go with a small car long before I went with a bike and I’d go with a van long before I went with a car. I didn’t think about it for long!

      One thing i say all the time is vandwelling is an attitude not a choice of vehicle!!!
      bob

  14. Rob says:

    I think hauling the bike on front of your van is not really ideal for your engine. It blocks air flow into your grill that is crucial to your engine. You may experience overheating and premature engine wear over time without adequate engine air flow. I remember reading my owners manual to my ford van and it saying never to place objects or license plates in the grill area because of the air blockage. “Versa Haul” makes the best bike carrier money can buy. It mounts on your rear hitch and also includes an external hitch for your trailer. So you can haul the carrier and a trailer at the same time. They are rated 1000lbs and I by far recommend it for carrying any bike. Bob, you are right about the easiness of transport/riding for Honda Rebel. However, I find having a bike with a bigger engine is safe in the long run. You never know when you might find yourself in a situation on the road when you need the extra power to get out a dangerous lane or from a unware driver. Seems great for where you use it though, rural desert areas are more ideal for that bike than more urban environments. Best of luck to you Bob!

    -Rob

    • Bob Bob says:

      Rob, as far as the bike is out front now overheating is not a remote possibility! I’m sure it won’t be when I bring it closer either.

      I doubt if I will ever ride the bike in a big city so I’m not too concerned about a lack of power.
      Bob

  15. I chuckled — and totally understood and sympathized — when, speaking of post RTR plans, Judy said something like, “I hope all these people aren’t going to follow us.” Gotta have one’s private time after something like RTR. I had to leave the country for a few days in order to recoup.
    Al Christensen recently posted…Useful movesMy Profile

    • Bob Bob says:

      Al, why didn’t you take me along!!!! Oh, yeah, you wanted your privacy!! I’m glad you got it.

      I knew there was a reason why I like having you around so much, you are the only guy I know who needs more privacy than I do!
      Bob

  16. Calvin R says:

    Bob, if you know someone who does this lifestyle via motorcycle, I’d be glad to know more. I am trying to visualize it but I have some gaps, such as what to for overnight stops while travelling. Parking lots and rest areas would not work with a tent the way they do with an enclosed vehicle, and there are some other issues.

    • Bob Bob says:

      I do know someone but I can’t remember his name. When it comes to me I’ll post it here. No, it’s only possible for boondockers or people who can afford to stay in campgrounds/RV parks some or all of the year. I’ve heard of a guy who was going to try to do it in the city, but I can’t imagine how he could succeed.

      I do think there are people who have been doing it for awhile on bicycles. Google “Aimlessly Wandering Artist” he has been.
      Bob

      • Calvin R says:

        I think I’ve seen an article or two about Aimlessly Wandering Artist and I think one on another guy. Bicycle wandering is unusual but not completely unknown. My worry about that is personal; I’m working my way through health issues that might make it even more difficult. Bicycle wandering is cheap, easily understood, and probably has better acceptance by others than any other form of mobile life. The health issue, the need for higher mobility in the event of family emergencies 2000 miles away, and the easier life in enclosed vehicles weigh against cycling, though. I am still learning about the health issue and considering what to do and how to do it.

  17. M Jason says:

    “Big men, on small bikes” ?? Lol I would give anything to see lemy on a honda grom

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