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Reviews of "Burro Has 3 Wheels" includes episodes

(1) Mexico, (2) Central America (3) Colombia Ecuador (4) Peru Chile Argentina

Jean (Seattle, WA)

"Not since Bill Nye the Science Guy has there been a more "homespun" genuine and enthusiastic guide.  Your heart at being on the road jumps right out and infects the viewer.   This film is way better than "Grizzly Man".

First of all, the Burro, a beautiful and unique bike, is a talisman in itself.  What an icebreaker!  So anyway, there's your spirit of adventure dragging all of us couch potatoes right along-making friends and having narrow escapes.  Jeff said, " what was that movie, Motorcycle Diaries:- It's that without the politics-much better".

I really liked the English class.  Always fun watching you interact with the locals.

The scenery was great but the real charm for me was being a passenger on an unrehearsed-slightly imperfect and totally spontaneous journey.  Your ease in talking to the camera makes the viewer feel like the buddy in the sidecar.  I personally appreciated all the asides to Marilyn too-truly, she deserves Producer Credit-plus very romantic.

The commentary was spare and philosophical-humorous and warm.

We LOVED the music.  Added a lot of color and power to the visuals without detracting at all.

Really several notches above a documentary.

Seriously better than anything on TV.  I'm thinking Sundance.  NICELY DONE!!

Eric (Vancouver, WA)

I had the opportunity to meet Gary Smith at a recent motorcycle gathering and hear his amazing story.  After  seeing "Burro Has Three Wheels" I was ready to go riding.   I watched it 3 times that weekend and was inspired.   It's not "Hollywood" and that makes it even better!
A must see...
Eric Folkestad
Hells Canyon Motorcycle Rally Director

Tom (Victoria, BC)

Hi Gary.  I have watched the first of the DVD's and enjoyed it a great deal!  I will get a chance to view the second part this week.  Looks like a fantastic trip!  The highlights so far have been the incredible scenery, and the hospitality of the people you met along the way.  In particular, your experience is Colombia was in such contrast to the way the media portrays the country. 

Maybe one of these days I'll be in a position to take a trip like yours.

Jim (St. Augustine, FL)

Riding the centerline of the roads from the Pacific Northwest to the southern tip of our world was an adventure that I could only make with Gary watching this incredible DVD.  My attention was focused at all times. I enjoyed the day by day journey experiencing the beautiful landscapes, lodging, food, local amigos and even getting lost along the way. It is truly amazing how one person could make this trip alone and make this trip available to ALL. If  this  was rated in a movie guide  I would give it an A+. Last but not least the accompanying music is a treat by itself that will stay with you during and after the trip.

Michael (Neesbach, Germany)

I still havenít seen the whole film, but about half an hour of it and I found it interesting and entertaining, especially because of the sometimes quite unconventional camera work. 

For me personally this film is very important for two reasons:

  1. I am collecting motorcycle travel literature and films (my collection contains about 920 items)

  2. Three years ago I also made a motorcycle trip to South America (just the Altiplano in North Chile, a 7000 KM trip from Santiago to Arica, Putre, San Pedro de Atacama, several passes and back to Santiago.

(Hoping you publish another motorcycle travel film or book!)

Chuck (Portland, OR)

Gary... Bought your DVD trip "Burro Has Three Wheels" today at our Rose City MC
breakfast. Eric was right... Great DVD. Enjoyed it a lot.

Buck (Yacolt, WA)

Gary , I just finished watching the end of the Argentina portion of your movie.
I enjoyed the movie very much , It was entertaining  and I enjoyed the narrative.

Robert (Tri-Cities, WA)

This is a must watch DVD.  After spending an evening and watching the whole film
we are now considering a trip to South America.  Gary has always been available
to take my calls and answer my questions.  He's a true motorcyclists, a
wonderful person and created an excellent DVD.  Be warned though, you will be
inspired to travel after watching this soon to be classic film.

Robert (City unknown)

I enjoyed the slow paced, down home, true story. It's a welcome change from the glitzy motorcycle travel DVDs and tapes I have.  A real sit back and relax kind of viewing. Thanks.

Kya & Hayden (Portland, OR)

Thanks for the movie- it gives us a way of living vicariously through you... You
make the journey seem so easy, and we really admire your sense of adventure! 
Let us know when you're going on your next trip...or maybe just a day ride from

James (Sealy, TX)

Wow!!!  , I liked the film.  And especially where Gary was stopped and asked  if
he made any friends on the trip.... Gary said he reached over and put his arm
over the officials shoulder and said " I just did"  Now that is classic.  Also,
the scenery, the people, the music was interesting from start to finish.  Thumbs
up !!!!

Rick (North Carolina)

Outstanding adventure, changed my perception of South America. Gary is
the star of the show - I'd travel with him any time. I liked it so much
I ordered two more copies for pals. If you're reading this you must be
at least a little interested; splash out and buy it! Save time and buy a
couple for friends while you're at it.

Fred (Steelville, MO)

Gary I really enjoyed trip. I have spent some time in Costa Rica and I love
Latin America.  I am worried about the Burro, hope she is being well taken care
of and looking forward to your continuation of your travels.

Elie (Brookdale, CA)

Gary you hit a home run, great film, I feel that I have known you for a long time
after watching it. I just bought a Ural 2 weeks ago, and am looking
forward to many miles in the Southwest desert with my dog Wyatt, in the
sidehack. Again GREAT JOB !!!!

Sanciuk (Italy)

Sei un mito!!  (a sixth myth, you are a myth; in reference to after the fifth sense, "unbelievable".  I am not sure if this individual has seen the movie.)

Doug (February 24, 2007 Portland, OR)

Thank you Gary, I have a hard core group of bike riding comrades and we will be having a party in your honor. A Portland guy!  How excellent.

Brad Steffey (Springfield, Oregon)

Spectacular film Gary! The music was great and the footage was awesome. It was if I was riding right along with you, from the comfort of my sofa! I especially enjoyed the Central America section in Guatemala and Costa Rica. You endured what must have been enormous threats to your spirit and enthusiasm at multiple spots along the way, and yet continued on with an amazingly calm presence. I salute your adventurous spirit and dogged determination. Good luck on your next adventure, I'll be anxiously awaiting your next documentary.

Thanks for the experience, it's an inspiration to any rider or adventure seeker of any kind.

Jeff (Eugene, Oregon)

Gary. I enjoyed the DVD's. For a one man show I thought it was great. Now on to
S.E. Asia with one more camera.

Dale Bezzard

Just finished the DVD set last evening. What a wonderful adventure!

Thomas Warden (Hephzlbah, Georgia)

Hi Gary, Met you at John's Rock & Ride in Daytona Beach Florida during bike
week. It was a pleasure to meet someone so enthusiastic and savvy about
motorcycles and traveling.  Your web site is great and after viewing your video
clip I just had to have the video for me and my friends. Thank you.

David Pitzer (Coos Bay, Oregon)

A very good movie, just like being there. Well worth the price and very fast

Bill Altland (Prince of Wales Island, AK)

I am planning on a similar trip. What I really liked about the "Burro Has 3
Wheels" DVD is Gary's attitude while on the trip. He is motivating me to take my
own trip because of the obvious enjoyment he had in taking his. I have read
books about other trips to South America on motorcycles. They seemed to often
dwell on the negatives. Gary dwells on the positives: the friendships, the
experiences, the scenery, the unknown. I greatly appreciated that point of view.
Even the breakdowns presented opportunities rather than setbacks.

Malcom Mason (Canaan, CT)

The DVD set is superb.  Real, no gloss, as-it-was and above all totally inspiring for all the right reasons.  Ewan McGregor with out glitz.  Really great job Gary.  I have already watched it twice.

Dennis (Bodega Bay, CA)

I really enjoyed the Burro Has Three Wheels.  I'd love to do that ride someday.

Charlette (Kalispell, MT)

Thanks for the inspiration!  My family, myself and a few friends just got done watching your film (It was a 2 night session!)  You did a great job and we really appreciated your upbeat attitude through the whole trip, come what may.
We are planning to drive the Pan Am from Montana to Argentina next Feb in a Winnebago motor home van.  Your video also inspired my 16 year old daughter to make a documentary of our trip as well.  We plan to watch a few more times before we leave to keep us going. Thanks again!

Doc (Vancouver, WA)

GREAT adventure!  You have real charm as well...what ain't said shines clean.  Long-long road...twists and turns all taken in stride <G> Thanks.



Frank (Alberta, Canada)

I had fun watching the video.

Neal (Carrollton, GA)

I really enjoyed the Burro Has Three Wheels. Fast shipping.

Steve (Avondale AZ,)


John (Indianapolis IN,)

Fun to watch, I'm envious. Thanks very much!!!!AAAA++++

Editorial by Chris Dodson in Hack'd Magazine, (Spring 2007 Volume 21/4)

Well we had some interesting entertainment this Winter, it helped pass the time till we could take a ride!  Gary Smith, an Oregon Sidecarist,  Thank you!  Burro Has 3 Wheels is a good watch!  Gary Smith did a great job of producing this DVD with his personal experiences and thoughts in real time, real life.  If you are curious of the Ural Sidecar Trip to a part of the world that we see little actual footage of, you might really enjoy this.  The background music is great too!

Don Doyle (review in Hack'd Magazine, Spring 2007 Volume 21/4)

It is among the most terrifying phrases in the English language, one that strikes terror into the hearts of people everywhere, of any age.  It's only ten small words, but "Would you like to watch a video of my vacation?", can reduce a strong man to his knees.  How do you react to such a question?  If you tell the truth you risk ruining a relationship.  The wisest course of action is to politely decline, if possible, or resign yourself to one of the longest evenings of your life.  The demise of the three minute, fifty foot, 8 mm reel of film has resulted in videos of two hours or even more, of unedited footage of everything from baby's first steps to epics of aimlessly wandering Disney World.  Of course there are exceptions to every rule, and if the questioner is Gary Smith, you would be making a big mistake if you were to decline his invitation.  Gary took some vacation!

Smith, a native of Portland, Oregon, left home one day and three months later was standing in Tierra del Fuego, Argentina.  Tapping in the Walter Mitty in all of us, he stopped daydreaming and made it happen.  How did this man, who had never ridden a motorcycle more than 150 from home, traverse 2 states, and 11 countries?  If you can spare 3 hours he will both show and tell you in a most personal way.

The way the 54 year old Gary tells it, November 2005 found him bored and restless in rainy Portland.  His wife Marilyn suggested he take "Burro," his teal and cream colored 1998 Ural Deco, out for a ride.  The rest, as they say, is history.  Although no real details are revealed, the twin concerns of preparation and bad weather stalled his exit from Oregon until February 6, 2006.  Upon driving off Marilyn called to him, "When do you think you'll be back?'  To which he replied, "Heck, I might be back tonight, we'll see how it goes."  Well, it went very well.

Filming the adventure must have been an afterthought.  No footage is shown of the USA, only animation and voice-over describe the route; (this technique is used throughout the DVD, and is quite effective).  In Mexico, filming began with a cell phone until a true video camera was put into service in the town of Zihuatanejo, (17 minutes into the Mexican footage).  It must have been a challenge to film while riding; remember, this is a one man operation.

UDF, (Ural Delay Factor), familiar to all Ural riders, is put to good use throughout the film.  As any sidecarist can attest, people of all ages are fascinated by the sight of a hack and pilot.  Gary revels in the opportunities provided by his rig.  His friendliness and easy-going nature, (coupled with a genuine love of meeting new people) draw the viewer into the adventure.  He radiates a non-threatening approachability that others can sense.  Everywhere he goes people come up and want to talk to him.  Capitalizing on this, he tutors children in English and practices his Spanish as he moves from country to country.

As in any travelogue, the challenges of moving from one country to the next are detailed, as well as the fatigue, both physical and emotional, of an extended trip.  Smith's no complainer, and he hints of being an experienced traveler with comments such as, "Marilyn and I like to stay here..."

The scenery is beautiful, at times breathtaking.  The roads, for the most part, are a cyclist's dream: well paved, tree lined, and lightly traveled.  The "blue highways" of William Least Heat-Moon come to mind as Smith travels from village to village.  He obviously prefers the small towns to the larger cities.  Small roadside cafes offer local dishes to sample, and Mom and Pop hostelries are featured in every country.  Anyone can hop from city to city with a guidebook, speeding past the people and villages that make up the true fabric of a nation.  On the other hand, a motorcyclist can take advantage of the personal nature of this method of transport.  Smith shows the viewer the architecture, landscape, and oddities he encounters, but offers just a little, if any, explanation.  He is not a tour guide; he is a teaser.  It is almost as if he is challenging the viewers to come see for themselves if they are interested.  It is a nice touch.

At the end of the film it is obvious that is not really the end at all, only a pause until the next trip.  The adventure continues.

I would be remiss if I did not provide some details on the machine at the heart of this adventure.  The hack is a 1998 Ural Deco fitted with a 2006 750cc engine in anticipation of the long and difficult journey.  Several days into the trip, in San Diego, California, smith needed to replace the top end of the right cylinder.  Fortunately, he was able to make the repairs himself.  Raceway Services, a Ural dealership in Salem, Oregon, was supportive by sending parts and tools.  Other minor mechanical problems were encountered, including an apparent ignition problem with a surprising solution.

I did have some problems with the film.  The camera phone footage is annoying, as both the sound and picture quality are poor.  Mercifully the use of the phone footage is limited.  While I enjoyed the music - a Texas roadhouse bluesy mix that reminded me of Delbert McClinton (my personal favorite), at times the engine noise, wind, and music prove overwhelming, making the narration difficult to understand.  More attention to the "mixing" of the sound levels would have been helpful.  Additionally, the arrangement of the chapters on the discs was confusing to me.  The chapters aren't numbered, and the disc isn't designed to play straight through, so I ended up watching the segments out of sequence:  I watched "Colombia and Ecuador" then "Extra Footage Mexico".  On disc 2, first I viewed "Peru, Chile and Argentina" followed by "Central America".  It was all good, just out of order.  I would have thought that the chapters would be arranged chronologically.

I recommend this film to anyone with a sense of adventure and love of travel.  If you ride a motorcycle, you already have both.  Watching the film I was reminded of another Ural diarist, Sheldon Aubut, of NARMA, (North American Russian Motorcycle Association), fame.  Aubut's blogs, (, detail his ownership of various Urals, including coincidentally, a '98 Deco Classic.  The major difference between the two is that Aubut writes almost as much about his personal life as he does about the motorcycle.  It is interesting to contrast the styles of the two journalists.  I found both to be very entertaining.  To paraphrase Robert Louis Stevenson, "It's not the destination; it's the journey that matters."

John (Midland, VA)

Trip of a Lifetime.....Great item. Thanks.

John (Kingwood, TX)

Successfully combines two of my all time favorite things: Russian-built sidecar
rigs and foreign travel. 

As a former Peace Corps Volunteer and my Wife who has extensively traveled and
resided in Central and South America, we could both completely relate to the
antics of Gary's adventures.  Granted the cinematography ain't ever going to win
any awards but it is as real as it gets.  A modern day Motorcycle Diaries
(politics aside).

I highly recommend - two thumbs up. 

If you've ever had such an adventure, you will knowingly smile and if you
haven't, maybe you'll want to start planning one.  Thanks Gary.


Great trip and very fun to watch..makes me yearn for the road...!!! my wife and
best friend enjoyed it thoroughly

Tom Niemela (Hood River, OR)

I called up Gary's phone number and ordered the DVDs. He's a very likeable guy
and was happy to chat about his trip and experiences. I received the two DVDs
promptly a couple days later and my girlfriend and I sat down and started
watching. We figured we'd 'maybe' get through part of one DVD in an evening
before nodding off. We ended up watching both DVDs in one sitting, so needless
to say, we really enjoyed them! There's just something interesting that piques
my wanderlust about saying, "I'm going out for a ride and don't know when I'll
be back, Honey!" and not turning around till Tierra del Fuego!

My only squirm about the DVDs are the cell phone videos, as they are tough to
watch and very blurry. On the other hand, clearly Gary had no planning of this trip to go as far as he did, so it was entirely ad hoc. No doubt he was thinking that, "Hey, I'm getting farther and farther from home I may as well record some of it. I do have my cell phone, so I'll try that." And it just
progressed. So even the cell phone vids have some charm to them, due to that

There are many good things to enjoy on these DVDs. I'm a HUGE blues fan and it's
almost entirely colored with some excellent bluesmen. The little things that
happen along the way are choice, like when Gary decides to stay a night in a
hotel that, to his surprise, rents by the hour and he has fresh towels and a
condom on the bed - very funny! Once he upgraded to a real video cam, the
scenery is stellar and it's one daily adventure after another. You can almost
feel the heat and the cold as he encounters extreme temperatures along the way.
And the locals love the novelty of a sidecar.

On a Tom's Thumb 1~10 scale, I give it a solid nine. Go buy his DVDs and I think
you'll enjoy them also.

Rob (Walla Walla, WA)

Gary and Burro are two of the best traveling companions I've ever had,  I stayed in my living room and slept in a warm bed with running hot water and they did all the riding and paid all the expenses. Very interesting travel documentary from where it counts- the riders heart and behind.  If we all had an attitude like Gary's, the world would be a nicer place , really. I almost cried when I heard of Burro's demise but am cheered by the fact the she is alive and well and roaming around down there somewhere in Argentina. This is a very interesting , easy to watch movie that allowed me to see things and go places that I'll probable never be able to do in real life. Thanks Gary for the great ride.


I watched the DVDs and thought they were a great inspiration!  Thanks for making
your experiences available to us all.  Thanks and good luck to you!

Les & Michelle

We got the DVDs on Saturday and watched the entire adventure in one sitting.
Well worth the money

Gary (Oneonta, NY)

Great movie!  Enjoyed it immensely!  And...I want to buy my own "Burro"...

Harold (Augusta, GA)

Hi Gary, I got the disc you sent and have already enjoyed them. Thank you again and are you planning another trip somewhere.   See you on the road somewhere.

Greg (Seattle, WA)

I have the DVD on the South America trip and I enjoyed it.  When is the DVD on
the Alaska trip available?

Dave (Ontario, Canada)

Gary, I truly did enjoy your film. I had not realized until just recently that you had
ridden to Prudhoe Bay.  I too am planning on riding there this spring. I will be
towing my Ural out to White Horse (from Ontario) and then riding up from there.

Tony (Australia)

G'Day Gary,
Really enjoyed the DVDs of your Central and South America trip looks like you
had a ball. Will certainly pass on your website to others who may be interested.
Great to see someone doing this without the mega dollar sponsorship and on a

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Adventure Travel by Motorcycle Movies on DVD & Book

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