Frequently Asked Questions

Hi there, glad you have a dive in! 
We provide answers and free travel information.    

We trust that this freely provided information will help develop the region
and come back to us in one way or an other. 
Collected and provided by Zorro Moto & partner Iron Horse Nomads.

Precious advice

  • When you ride in this arid region, make sure you drink enough. We recommend a drinking camel bag in a small back pack. For example from Scott, or backpack.

  • Central Asian dirt produces a special dust, it contains quartz. Clean the air filters regularly, otherwise this stuff gets into the cylinder and can cause great damage. 

  • Skills required: Out here in the desert, there is no motorbike shop. In some corners you may also be totally alone on the road. For our rental bikes Zorro Moto expects that you are able to change a tire and replace a tube on your own. We can provide phone assistance and have a pick-up wagon, but consider, there are many places without phone connection and pick-up access is only available inland.

  • Kyrgyzstan is famous for its corruption. Police at the road tend to stop westerners. Officially, they are not allowed to collect your drivers license and play on you. Do not pay big penalties in USD! If police try to press you on money: most helpful is the game on time: you have endless time, you have only local currency, you do not understand local language, etc.
    Here a blog advice on this topic > Horizon Unlimited

Where do I learn about travelling in Central Asia in more detail?

There are two famous websites:


Horizon Unlimited, Central Asia section: 
https://www.horizonsunlimited.com/hubb/northern-and-central-asia/


Caravanistan, has detailed road conditions in their Forum-Section about Central Asia: 
https://caravanistan.com/forum/

How can I make a tire/rental - reservation?

Click "Contact" and write us an email with your specifications. We will answer you with a proforma invoice. A down payment for reservation is required via our site. After your down payment your invoice will be updated and tires put aside.  

Is a tire reservation required?

A reservation for tires is not required. You can come to Osh and check the availability on the spot. All tires not on hold for reservations we try to market. The availability is not guaranteed throughout the whole year, since we can only make one single import per year.  

Which airlines fly between Bishkek and Osh?

There are several companies and you can book online and pay by credit card. A flight takes 40 min. and costs between 35$ - 55$. 
- Air Manas
- TEZ Jet

- AVIA Traffic
Further informationAirport Bishkek

Are there international flights directly to Osh?

Yes, from Moskow
- Aeroflot
- S7 Airline

Further information: Airport Osh
Important: There is no direct flight from Istanbul. You have to fly to Bishkek first!

When is the ideal time to ride in Kyrgyzstan?

Early season is end of April / beginning of May. Osh is on 1000 MASL, the passes cross high altitudes and can be snowed in until end of June. Kazarman-Jal pass is usually pretty free beginning of June. May/June is good to ride at lower altitudes and not too hot yet. The best time in my opinion is end of summer, end of August and September - it's not baking hot around Osh anymore, snow free in the mountains, still very sunny an nice weather granted, no land slides and comfortable temperature between 10°- 20° / night 0°-5°. The Yurt camps mostly close end of September latest. 

Border Crossing & VISA

First of all it depends on your citizenship and this following information you have to verify on your background. EU (Schengen) passport holders or general western countries like USA, the following information works. Generally said, it's quite easy to cross borders, if you have time.

  • Kyrgyzstan: entry upon arrival 60 days

  • Tadjikstan: requires VISA which is accessible online. The Pamir Highway needs a special permit called GBAO which is also available online and needs to be purchased separatly.
    > VISA for Tadjikstan: https://www.evisa.tj/index.evisa.html 
    > The visa should be $50 and a GBAO permit $20 (you can get it together with your e-visa).
    IMPORTANT: The VISA needs to be printed out, if possible in color, due to many checks.

  • Kazachstan: entry upon arrival 60 days.

  • Uzbekistan: usually a 30 days / one entry for the most common western countries.
    > VISA for Uzbekistan: https://www.uzbekistanvisagov.com

  • Turkmenistan: you better don't ask. :-)

Currently we have experience with 4 border crossings on a regular basis.

  1. Karamyk: A lot of people plan to use this. It is located west from Sary Tash, Kyrgyzstan and appears to take you to the Pamir Highway just outside of Dushanbe. Except, it’s closed to foreigners! Do not attempt to go through, you will be turned around. The crossing is only for Kyrgyz and Tajiks to use. https://goo.gl/maps/VVa4nV6sYxbk5nSM7.

  2. Kyzyl Bel: This is the recommended crossing from Batken. Fairly straight forward. Expect some delays as the have frequent power outages and the guards on the Kyrgyz side tend to move very slowly. https://goo.gl/maps/1Su7vt4VFd3iUhZW9.

  3. Panjakent – Samarkand: Reopened in 2018, this is a fairly efficient border crossing and makes getting to Samarkand from TJ quite easy. https://goo.gl/maps/6A7YpVJ2uPYJUjBd8.

  4. Kyzyl Art / Bordobo: This crossing is quite possibly the most corrupt (on both sides). There is also almost no cell signal meaning they can mess with everyone and no one can call for help. It’s unavoidable for the most part. The Tajik side usually demands papers you couldn’t get. The Kyrgyz side may come up with anything and everything. Just go into with patience and politely stand your ground and everything should work out. If you have to pay a bribe it shouldn’t be more than $5-15. Also be aware that no man’s land is quite long (5-10 km). https://goo.gl/maps/1pi5UBFdAazVVfP28.

Many people drive from Osh straight south to Murghab, we recommend going the other way. This is primarily for two reasons:

  1. Elevation gain is more gradual reducing the chances of altitude sickness.

  2. The sun is at your back most afternoons rather than in your eyes.


The only possible negative with this is that you are on the river side rather than the mountain side of the road through the Wakhan.

As much as possible, try to avoid buying fuel in the Pamirs. Fill completely in Khorog and try to wait until Sary Tash to fuel up again.
 

Some places to consider adding:

  1. Bahoristan Resort: a “health resort” outside of Khujand. Very strong mix of Soviet and Tajik elements. Interesting place to see.

  2. Yaghnob valley: a gorgeous valley with a unique people, the Yaghnobi. They are probably the last living direct descendants of the ancient Sogdians. They still essentially speak medieval Sogdian. Very hospitable and off the beaten path. They are 50km down a mountain road off the Khujand Dushanbe highway.

  3. Panjakent: Worth a stop to see the ruins. Should be more to see around that valley, but we haven’t had a chance to explore it yet.

  4. Coming from Dushanbe to Kalaikhum we recommend the northern road. However, it is not for the faint of heart as it is very high and narrow with no guardrails.

  5. Wakhan: It’s worth the time to drive through. The Pamir people and culture is fascinating. Great old fortresses along the way as well. The hot springs outside of Langar are also worth a visit.

  6. If you are very comfortable with 4x4 driving and are in a 4x4 with good clearance, the Bartang Valley is worth exploring. It’s very remote, so be sure you can handle self-recovery if something goes wrong.

  7. More exploration needs to be done in the south west.

How safe is the Pamir Highway and Tadjikstan?

It is quite safe and ok for westerners to travel. Tajikistan tries its best to provide safety. Here a few things we recommend: ​

  • Listen to your intuition, if you feel not safe, don't stop or leave immediately 

  • learn to monitor your environment notoriously

  • Talk with bikers along the road and in the guest houses.

  • If you stay over night in nature make sure you stay away from the road where nobody sees you (but leave no trash) 

  • check safety guidelines officials and your embassy provides

If you like to equip yourself - GEAR UP!

Do you have chains and sprokets?

Yes, we have endless chain 520 and 525. With the chain a lock is provided, we have two options: bolt and spring.
Sprockets: we have a few sets here for the most common bikes. Have a look at our consumables/chain-kit assortment.
Please ask and check for availability. Also provide your exact specification of your JTR Sprocket number. You can find out about it on their webpage here: http://www.jtsprockets.com/catalogue/ 

Do you have my specific Oil-/Air-Filter in stock?

Filter dimensions vary in every bike. The most common ones we have on stock. The specs on stock are published on our product site under consumables. We cannot order your specific filters across the globe.  
If you want to find out your own specific filter specs for HiFlo brand, check in their catalogue here: http://www.hiflofiltro.com/catalogue

Rental Bike Equipment: What does Zorro Moto provide?

Our bikes are equipped with all gears to keep you on the road. You will be able to fix a flat tire with provided tools, have front/rear spare tubes, and an electric pump. In addition we provide a tool roll containing levers and tools, cable straps, plastic gloves, tape, fuses. 

What do I have to bring myself when I rent a motorcycle?

  • Helmet (allowed to carry in hand luggage) 

  • Biker boots

  • Gloves

  • Motorbike clothing (Important: The weather can be hot an demanding, you may likely overheat in leather cloth.)

We recommend in addition:

  • Drinking camel bag in a light back pack.

  • Important: The helmet should not be a front-open-helmet like a scooter helmet. It has to protect your chin.

Rental bike deposit payment

At pick-up date you have to provide a deposit in cash for the vehicle. For an XT it is 500$ and for an SWM it is 800$. If you'd like to pay in Euros in about the same amount, this is also possible. 

Rental bike insurance

We offer optional a full comprehensive coverage for Motorbike rental. This would be 10$/1day. It is quite simple in its terms and conditions, if you take the full comprehensive, all damages on the bikes will be covered by Zorro Moto. Without insurance, you have to cover all the damages. Insurance excludes all transportation assistance, this will be evaluated according to whose fault it would be: provider or customer.

Rental bikes storage, luggage & panniers

All our bikes are equipped with panniers left & right.
Panniers & equipment is included in the rental price. 

The volume is:
- Yamaha XT600E: Enduristan Monsun3 = 30L (each pannier)
- SWM Supderdual X: GIVI Canyon = 35L (each pannier)

If you'd like to pack more, we recommend a soft bag for the top with straps. This top bag you have to provide yourself. Useful as a top bag is for example: Enduristan Tornado, Biltwell Roll, etc. 
- Our bikes have no tank bags.
- You can fly with your big suitcase, store your luggage at our shop, pack the bikes and ride.

Phone access in the Pamirs

In the Pamir Mountains there is no phone connection. In case of an accident, you have to organize yourself and you need to know what you are doing. We recommend to connect with the  taxis or the Pamir guide network for help and assistance. You can load your bike to a porter and get yourself out of the hazardous zone. 

Some travellers like to use a tracker (for example TrackMyTour) for their followers, thus working directly with GPS Satellites  but data upload still needs connection. There are also a few emergency signal devices available or consider a satellite phone. 

Prepare your skills!!

Do not underestimate gravel roads! We recommend you go for a ride and bite the gravel before you come here. Helpful as well is a 1-2 day course, for example:

How can I pay?

For rental / tire - reservation we provide bank transaction information and credit card payment option.

At our shop in Osh you are able to pay cash in Kyrgyz Som, USD, Euro or then by credit card VISA/Master. 

A word on commission and fees

Zorro Moto intentionally works to keep the fees as transparent and as low as possible. Therefore, we changed from PayPal to TransferWise. They claim to be 19x cheaper than PayPal

For your down payment by transaction, please check the currencies we offer to reduce your fees! 

For online credit card payment options however, we do not come around commissions. STRIPE is the provider for our online credit card payment and charges 2.9% + 30 cent. 
In-shop credit card payment has to be charged in Kyrgyz Som due to Kyrgyz law. VISA is commission free, Master has an additional charge of +1%. 

In what currency can I pay?

We provide credit card payment option online in Euro only and at our shop in Kyrgyz currency. For payment via transaction we accept the most common currencies by TransferWise (Euro, USD, BP, CHF, AUD). 

What are the currency exchange rates at Zorro Moto?

Our leading currency is US Dollars. We have a fix exchange rate for the domestic Kyrgyz Som. This is 1:70 for season 2020. Euro currency rate may change due to stock exchange, currently (28.1.20) at 1US$: EU 0.9100.

For travelers we recommend the handy App "XE Currency"

Recommendations on GPS navi-apps

Several apps we warmly recommend for your navigation. 

  • Maps.me: download your regional map and navigate without data usage - most useful for overland travel

  • 2GIS: most useful for cities, provides additional information for public services and shops

  • OsmAnd: offline travel, maps & navigation, imports tracks

  • iOverlander: provides local shops and information

  • ViewRanger: imports and navigates tracks

  • GPX Viewer: Tracks, tours & waypoints

Do you provide GPS tracks for riding rentals?

The short answer is "YES & No".

  • No: For your individual rental, we help and advise you as best as we can for your plans at pick-up. However, we do not provide digital material with your rental.

  • YES: Zorro Moto provides a service in the Tour-Section: WE PLAN - YOU RIDE


> see  GARMIN / Maps & Tracks below for more information

GARMIN / Maps & Tracks / Open-Source

Open Street map is the standard data source of most map devices like Garmin or Maps.me. It's open source and anybody can change and add. What you change there, the world will have on their device a few updates later. Many people use Garmin navigation devices and lots grumble, now if can help a little bit we hope to avoid some bluster. 
 

  • You can use a Garmin Navi with open street maps. You can prepare your own maps in the exact size you need for your regions. > Klick to Garmin open street maps

  • Recently found a useful Garmin map for the Stans V4 light, it costs 39AUD, loads of information and more details than on the open map. > here

  • GARMIN maps for the ones with extra money :-) > here

  • GPS File depot: > custom maps open source

  • There's a collection of way points available for Central Asia.
    Colebatch: Horizon Hub Blog

How to manage, plan and handle maps & tracks?

  • For GPX tracks you need Garmin Base Camp or Garmin Map Source. 
    > Download from GPS File Depot
    > Download from GARMIN Software

  • Wonderful map tool where you can overlay maps and plan your tracks: > SASPlanet

  • Google Earth Pro, 3D planning, drawing and export your track > download

Are your rental bikes equiped with GPS?

The rental bikes from Zorro Moto provide a USB socket for power plug at the handle bar of every bike. In addition, you will find a RAM mobile phone holder. We do not provide acctual GPS devices. 

Does Zorro Moto run tours?

There is an entire section about that, what and how we offer tours.

The short answer is: YES, but we don't commercial tours. They are individually planned and custom made for you. 

Have a look at >TOURS

Cyclist: Do you have cardboard boxes for bicycle air shipping?

Randomly I'm getting asked by cyclists for cardboard boxes to ship their bikes. Our standard answer: "Sorry, we do not have such boxes. But go to a local supermarket, they may have big cardboard for air cargo. The super markets are FRUNZE Gypermarket (40.535869/72.808549), or GLOBUS (40.532372/72.807619).

Is Zorro Moto selling motorbikes?

Zorro Moto is an official importer of SWM brand. Import & preparation upon your purchase.
Ask us for more details. 

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© 2020 created by Dave Fuchser