Research, research, research. And the mother of all shopping lists…
The last 2 weeks I’ve spent with my girl at her mom’s cabin. Great place and a lot of free time to research trip routes and the enormous list of things neede to make the bike adventure worthy. Everything from crashbars to paniers to gps to ridinggear..
Tomorrow is the day when I order a Mudsling from http://www.nippynorman.com, adventure crashbars from http://www.wunderlich.com, skidplate from http://www.motooverland.com. In addition I’m sending a list to Touratech Nordic to get a quote. There’s so much stuff i want/need from these guys that they hopefully will give me a proper discount…
Can’t wait to upgrade the bike 🙂
I’ll post before and after picks when it’s all said and done..
3 days, a couple of hundred exzibits… what’s not to like?
What a fantastic weekend! The first day was spent getting a rough overview. Where the different exzibits where placed. Discovering that KTM, BMW and Touratech was placed right next to each other (YAY). Then walking around talking to people, testing a couple of the favourite bikes, pestering the nice sales reps from BMW and Touratech with questions..
I do admit that I was biased towards the BMW before I came to Lillestrøm, but I had decided to look around with an open mind. Had I missed any details? Maybe one of the other bikes where a more comfortable fit both in height, ground clearance, seat comfort etc. So I shopped around a little bit. And I kept coming back to the BMW and Touratech stand pestering them with new questions, or just to try to compare other bikes with what for me turned out to be the benchmark.
The last little Honda, although an offroad capable little maching, is more in the category “Liferaft”. I may concider putting this in one of my paniers. Seems like a good idea, no?
But, after all is said and done, there is no doubt in my mind or my heart that the BMW R 1200 GSA is the way to go for my 15 month adventure around the world. The pros and cons I have earlier stated in this post http://lostbiker.net/2012/09/01/bmw-or-ktm-trying-to-choose/
However again having tested and prodded and poked and gawked at all the likely and unlikely competitors, I am now firm in my decision.
Now, I’m not trying to pick a fight over which bike is better, I only now feel very strongly about which bike is best for me.
May all riders, male and female alike, pick and choose wisely for their own needs, unencumbered by any kind of external pressure.
Walkin around on the last day of the fair, we stumbled upon EARfoon’s stand. It took very little convincing for me to order and have custom molded earplugs for the MC-riding. Tom, my mate and photograher on the fair, found the moulding-process picture worthy.. Anyone seen Shreck?
Lastly, a big milestone for me was getting in touch with a very helpful Offroad Instructor from Touratech, Torgrim. So nice to get hints and tips form people who have actually made fairly long trips. There are plenty of people who have strong oppinion on stuff they know very little about. But here was someone who knew what he was talking about.
Anyway, as an end note to my meeting the nice guys at Touratech, I booked a 2 day basic offroad / gravel cource in Sweeden at the end of may 2013. Here I’ll get som proper training on a rented BMW R1200 GSA.
Chrck it out: http://offroadschool.se/vad-lar-jag-mig/
I can hardly wait! Looking forward to it so much that I added a new countdown widget on the front page right side. Awsome days to come!
Only 7 days until my mate Tom and I head to Lillestrøm for the annual MC fair.
Bikes, gear, likeminded people and beer for three days 🙂
There is a first for everything. This MC expo is one of them.
I have never really understood the need or point of going around gawking at equipmen and drinking beer for 3 days.
Today I recieved an email from one of the Touratech (click the link..) reps regarding a question I had. (I was wondering if the 45+38 litre Zega Pro paniers would be wider than the BMW GSA 1200 handlebars..). In passing the Touratech rep asked If I would be coming to the MC Expo at Lillestrøm (click the link..) ..?
As usual my first reaction is “MC expo? Really. Who would walk around for 3 days gawking at MC stuff and drink beer?”
But I soon realized that te correct question is “who the hell would not go to a MC expo and gawk at mc stuff and drink beer for 3 days??”
This is going to be great! It’s like grown up x-mas!
Check it out! http://www.messe.no/no/MCmessen/
Found my self alone in Bergen with time to spare after a great KFM-seminar, and I wandered into a nice little travel-store called Chillout.no.
Before long I had increased my research collection with the following titles :
1) Lonely Planet: “Mongolia”
2) The Rough Guide to: “First Time – Latin America”
3) The Rough Guide to: “South America on a budget”
4) The Rough Guide to: “Central America on a budget”
Planning this adventure of a life time I have to figure out which ride to choose.
It´s not easy. There´s sooo much information out there. I had to start researching, and those of you that know me know that I can kinda go overboard on the detail-oriented research and any-scenario-based eventuality.
Safe to say I did the same thing once again…
In order to figure out what I needed I had to try to establish the parameters for the trip. In short order they are as follows
- Tarmac travel; A lot of places will have great roads; Europe, parts of Russia, Japan, South America, North America and Canada.
- Dirt road travel; A lot of the places I want to go to in Russia, Kasakhstan, Mongolia, South America and Canada
- Off road travel; A few of the places I want to go to, or through, may not have anything as grand as a dirt road. This is perhaps where the real adventure is. Kasakhstan and Mongolia, South America and Canada come up as likely hits here.
- Varying fuel qualities; from pristine 95 octane form a clean and pretty gas station, to something that resembles fuel that comes out of a bucket on a dirt road.
- Unreliable distance between gas stations. Range is an issue I have looked into a lot
- Varying access to MC service and spare parts. Where there are no roads, there is a good chance mechanical assistance will be few and far apart. So the ride need to be either very reliable or easily fixable without being a certified mechanic.
- 3 seasons; No its not a hotel. I expect to travel in three seasons; spring, summer and fall. I hope to manage a route so that I can circumvent the world in 12 months and at the same time avoid winter altogether
- A very long ride; Understatement. 12 months on a motorcycle, NOT taking the shortest possible way around the world. Rider comfort is an issue.
After a few weeks of research I think I may have a solution. -ish
For me there are really just two alternatives, and so I focused my research on these.
I tried to specify the technical categories that would let med try to quantify the differences. The rest is just gut feeling..
BMW R1200 GS Adventure
Overall: Easy to ride. Also described as very comfortable and forgiving. Or as my friend and fellow traveller Andreas put it:
“Its a couch. On two wheels. For old people”.
Being somewhat of a stubborn big kid that almost made me choose the BMW just to spite him. Yes, I know, Get over yourself..
Engine : Boxer engine, very reliable.
Twists & Turns: Due to well balanced and small-ish front wheel (19“) its really easy to ride in all twists and turns on a proper surface.
Brakes: ABS & Traction control plus the tele-lever front suspension gives the the BMW R 1200 GSA an aoutstanding in its ability to break, hard, fast. Especially on a hard surface like tarmac and the like.
Overall Dependability: Outstanding
Ease of maintenance: Easier of the two.
Electrical: Alternator: 720 W, Battery: 12V / 14 Ah. This is a LOT of electricity, great for all the extra gismos I will need on such an extended trip. GPS, Laptop, cameras, iPod (Can´t ride for 12 months without music. Impossible), Heated handles and a lot of extra lighting on the bike.
Range: Standard 33 liters fuel tank! With an average speed of 90 km/h consumption is stated to be 0,46 liters pr 10 km =>; 710 km. With an average speed of 120 km/h consumption is stated to be 0,61 liters pr 10 km =>; 540 km. Add a few spare fuel cans from Touratech and I should be fine. Total fuel range would then be 39 liters = 847 km
Length: 2.240 mm
Width: 990 mm
Height (seat): 910 mm
Clearance: Could not find any data on this 😦
Price: New price is NOK 240.000,- Used around NOK 200.000,- Which also brings up Carnet price
Engine: Boxer engine, very easy to damage the cylinder heads, setting it down at any speed. That would suck given that there is a higher chance of setting it down on the side (and the cylinder heads) in places where mechanical services are few and far apart..(!). Solution is of course engine guard crash bars (standard on this model) but still…
Suspension: Good on hard surfaces, but not ideal on off road surfaces due to the tele-lever suspension in the front.
Wheels / Rims: 19“front wheels. Both tubeless. Higher price, Smaller front wheel is a definitive minus on off road conditions. Tubeless tires have great merit when fixing or getting new ones is easy. If not, I think I prefer the tube-tires. So I would have to spend some cash on fitting tubed tires instead..
Transmission & Shifting: Dry cluch, «clunky». It works but has gotten a few less than stellar reviews.
Weight: Roadready (33 liters fuel) 256 kg
Rekitting: Nessecary, Touratech and others. Its just not road ready in its stock state, in my opinion.
In short: expensive, reliable, heavy, easy to ride, poor off road..
KTM 990 Adventure
Overall: More for the adrenaline Junkie
Price: Plus! 199.000 for a brand new, 150.000 for a used. Considering the budget for this major adventure; 12 months on the road, this is an almost unfair positive factor.
Brakes: Good. ABS, no traction control, just not as good as BMW.
Transmission & Shifting: Very good. A few Bike magazines described it as a «Masterpiece». However I also read many collaborating reports on people having to change the transmission every 40.000 KM or so.
Range: Standard 20 liters fuel tank. Average consumption is reported to be approx. 0,65 liters pr 10 km. So a standard tank would give a range of 307 km. However if I choose this ride for a world tour companion I would upgrade to a 45 liter tank from Touratech. In addition I am seriously considering a rear fuel tank. Dakar-rally bikes from KTM often sport a solution where they lead two exhaust pipes into one muffler, thereby gaining both extra torque on low revs and also space for a rear fuel tank of 2,2 gallons or 8,3 liters. In total these adjustments grant a total of 53,3 liters = 820 km range with no loose extra fuel tanks..
Suspension: very good, especially on less than perfect conditions.
Wheels / Rims: 21“ front wheel, better for off road, a sacrifice on tarmac? Smaller front wheel is better for fast tight turns on tarmac..
Weight: 249 (45 l bensintank)
Height (seat): 880+20 (mod seat) = 900 mm
Clearance: 261 mm
Rekitting nessecary (Touratech): less then the GSA.
Twists & Turns; not the best due to the large front wheel. 21“ front wheel, a sacrifice on tarmac? Smaller front wheel is better for fast tight turns on tarmac..
Overall Dependability: Not fantastic apparently. Need to watch fuel pumps (2), all filters and the like.. Get it serviced before I leave, in Japan and in Dallas.. One rider had this to say: (I forget where I found the quote right now, I specify it is not mine, and pray forgiveness for the repost..)
«The frequent need to change the water pump seal can lead to enormous problems if unattended to, and the clutch pump seems to be an issue year after year for riders. Set aside those few glitches however, and again, this is an extremely reliable motorcycle. «
Ease of maintenance: Hard. Everything is more complex.
Electrical: Alternator: 450 W, Battery: 12V / 11,5 Ah. Need to get an alternator with a greater output. I would have to replace the battery with a GEL-battery anyway.
Length: 2.240 mm
Width: 990 mm
In short: cheaper, less reliable, not as heavy, fun to ride, great off road, worse fuel consumption…
Now, I have yet to test ride any of these two alternatives properly. The local BMW dealership is giving me a BMW R 1200 GS Adventure for a test run soon-ish. And my friend Andreas has agreed to let me try out his KTM 990 Adventure. (…fool… he may never get it back..)
Without having properly tried out each of these bikes, just looking at the facts; I am angling towards the KTM based on price, off road capabilities and the lower need for refitting with third-party parts to make it (off)road ready..
Planning this adventure of a life time I have to figure out a way to do it so that this is just the first in a series of horizon conquering trips..
You´ve got to understand that this blog serves three purposes at this stage:
1) It´s my diary in this process of planning and preparation
2) It´s my medium for talking on and on and on about the thing I´m really interested in , the big trip!
3) It´s my planning tool. And as a planning tool I use it to store all of the information that I find at least semi-important to the project. So all the links are for me in order to get equipment, documents or training that I need for the trip. They are also for you, if you are planning anything similar.
Go nuts! Klick `em all! They are there for a reason 😉
Yay! The world map I ordered for my project planning, or “WarRoom”” as it will be referred to henceforth, arrived this morning.
My first reaction was : WOHO!
My second was : damn thats huge (measuring 175 x 115 cm)
It will look better once it´s up on the wall, with my preliminary route plotted.. 🙂
So, I´m going. alone if I have to, but I´ll be happy to share this adventure with someone else.
Prerequisits: Anyone going must have the following
- Motorcycle licence, valid internationally
- Your own MC capable of going off road, as there will be something of a road-shortage where I´m / we´re going
- Be completely self-sufficient int terms of equipment and funds. Motorcycle riding is all about freedom, and tha also entail the freedom to go your own way.
- Necessary training (before departure at least); first aid, some mechanical skills, MC-offroad skills.
Over the last two weeks I´ve read 5 books on different aspects of adventure motorcycle riding. A lot of good info here:
The best where probably “Adventure Motorcycling” and “Building the ultimate Adventure Motorcycle” by Robert Wics
But, “The Unleash your adventure pack list,- what to take, what to leave & the hows & whys of overland motorcycle travel” by Sherrie McCarthey & patrick Schweizer is al LOT more practical and down to the point then the title indicates 🙂
However, current research is the DVD series “Long Way Around” with Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman.
Good times 🙂