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Old 08-20-2008, 12:21 PM   #1
Tappet OP
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Location: South Africa
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African Enduro

Here's my first RR, of my solo trans-Africa adventure.

I've been lurking around advrider for about two years now, and owe so much to the useful FF's & resources that I thought I'd write a ride report.

THE ROUTE

I'd been thinking about a trip like this since I was a nipper, but in many past years the route has not been possible through the countries I wanted to travel (mostly due to borders being closed in countries like Libya & The Sudan). I've always wanted to go North to South, and along the East coast. So this was the idea:



I contacted each country consulate and read all the other recent Africa RR's I could find and although entry into each country wasn't 100% guaranteed I had worked-out some plan B's, so the game was on.

I had also done some research to find out some more challenging offroad legs through each country. The Chinese are building roads through Africa like it's nobodies business, and my preference with bikes is generally toward dirt surfaces.

THE PREP

This is the boring part. It took me about 6 months part-time and 1 month full-time - and mostly entailed research for:
  • Visa's, carnet, & other documentation
  • Route & local contacts
  • Bike mods, repairs, spares & riding gear
  • Camping, eating, living & medical equipment
I'll spare the boring detail, but visa & documentation requirements were extensive and had to be done in advance. PM me if you want to know more.

THE BIKE

OK, the fun part. I'd read everything I could find written on this route and the overriding bike advice was to keep it light & simple. The shortlist was these usual suspects (ahem, in alphabetical order)
  • BMW 650 Dakar
  • Honda Transalp
  • Honda XR 600/650
  • KTM 640 Adv
  • Yamaha TT or XT 600/660
I gave each contender an equal opportunity. The choice came down to being the most off-road biased while at the same time was strong and most ready out of the box, and most importantly not require a computer to be plugged-in for a service. There was a clear winner for me, which also turned-out to be the cheapest option for me as it required the least after-market parts, which in South Africa are not as widely available or cheap as the Western World.



I decided to buy a brand new one, especially after hearing about them being discontinued and managed to grab the third last model from the importers in South Africa. My research suggested that the newer LC4's were very reliable if given appropriate TLC, and because I was going solo through some pretty unfriendly places I wanted to be 100% certain of the bikes history.

THE MODS

I thought the bike could handle it out of the box, but my extensive research in the LC4 thread index revealed many bits that would aid fall protection and luggage capacity/ease. My shortlist was anything but short, so I trimmed it by 2/3rds and was left with these:
Limbs
  • Sprockets upgraded to steel (Longer life-span thus spares shouldn't be required)
  • Chain upgraded to X-ring Gold (As with sprockets, prolonged lifespan)
  • Stenhouse handlebar risers (Comfortable for taller rider & standing on pegs)
  • Tyres (Standard Metzeler Sahara's for Europe, Continental TKC80's for Africa, Pirelli MT21 purchased on-route)
  • Ultra heavy duty tubes (Ask me afterwards how many punctures I get)
Heart, lungs & stomach
  • Akrapovic silencer (Apart from the nice tune & performance I needed the flexibility of the silencing insert)
  • The usual airbox, carb needle & emission control restrictions removed. Tuned at the average altitude I would be at.
  • VisuFilter inline fuel filter (Extra protection against dirty fuel)
  • Mr Funnel (Even more protection against dirty fuel)
  • Loctite blue (Added to just about everything that could turn on the bike)
Body & clothing
  • Acerbis multipro hand guards (much better than the stock plastic ones)
  • Front high fender conversion (purely aesthetic, but does help in thick mud)
  • Neoprene fork covers (to keep dust & hit out of seals etc)
  • Carbon fibre tank protectots (lightweight bump & scratch protection. By Chris Barnes in the UK)
  • Side stand (In addition to centre stand)
  • Headlight guard Protection against stone-throwing Ethiopian juveniles)
  • Rallye crash plate with side toolboxes (Tougher engine / lever protection plus low-down tool storage)
  • Sheepskin on seat (From Alaska Sheepskin)
  • Tankbag (nice & small, by Wolfman, with rain cover)
  • Front fender bag (Handy for tube spares/repair)
  • Andystrapz pannierz luggage (This is my thread, so I can say soft luggage is the ONLY option for offroad terrain)
  • Pacsafe security netting for pannierz
  • Pelican top box
  • Luggage rack extension for top box
  • Registration number plate (Not essential in South Africa but a useful accessory when traveling abroad)
Eyes
  • Garmin 60CSx with maps from tracks4africa
  • Garmin plastic bicycle handlebar mount
  • Cigarette lighter to hella power adapter
There were two major mods which I couldn't afford, even though they were available locally; stronger rims than the standard behr ones and a steering damper. I thought I'd use my guns as a steering damper (and to straighten the rims). I'll reflect on these omissions at the end of my trip.




My bike with most of the mods installed





Some advrider stickers, one of the few mods I could afford to have shipped from overseas


BIKE PREP

The bike was brand new 5 weeks before my scheduled departure date. I spent this time installing most of the mods and running in the motor for its first 1000km's. I opted for the 'take it easy' run-in method, only opening it up slightly past 5K rpm towards the end. Although I had ridden a number of 640 Adv’s previously I was astounded by its offroad ability while chasing a friend on a 250 2-stroke through the forests. On the road I found it a pleasure, especially when tightening up the suspension. The renowned vibes of the LC4 didn't bother me in the slightest, besides if it was comfort I wanted I would be staying at home in front of the TV with my slippers on dispensing laudanum to myself.



Although the engine had a gentle introduction the suspension was being thrashed through the forests.

During the run-in I had a total of three punctures so had plenty opportunity to test my pathetic 6inch tyre levers and shed much claret from my knuckles in the process.. The 1000k’s came and went in a few weeks and I was off to the dealer for the first service (which sadly they wouldn’t let me watch). At this point they removed the emission restrictions and fitted the one luxury I had granted myself in the mod list; the akrapovic silencer.

After the service I stole a wooden pallet from the dealer (it was actually the pallet that the first RC8 superbike to South Africa had arrived on) and took the bike to the local airport where I proceeded to pack it onto the pallet for freighting to the UK. This entailed taking the front wheel off an undoing the handlebars to lay them long ways, and then strapping everything securely on the pallet with tie-downs. I watched my pride & joy being taken away precariously balanced on a forklift to be inspected by customs, wrapped in plastic and then queued for its flight to London, UK.

My bike was due to land in London in four days so I spent that time packing all my gear, printing out advrider ‘how to’ guides and getting in the last of decent beer and food with friends & family.

Stay tuned for the next post – the start of the African Enduro in London.

Mark
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Old 08-20-2008, 12:27 PM   #2
johnnyandjebus
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suscribed, should be good.
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Old 08-20-2008, 01:08 PM   #3
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can't wait
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Old 08-20-2008, 01:15 PM   #4
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I'm aboard!
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Old 08-20-2008, 01:17 PM   #5
Just_Jake
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Let's do this...
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Old 08-20-2008, 02:54 PM   #6
kave
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Really nice writing, this should be good.
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Old 08-20-2008, 03:37 PM   #7
JackL
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Oh Yeah!

Yeah, this should be a good one. Dang right I'm subscribed. Africa's on the definite list when my next adventure begins.
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Old 08-20-2008, 03:49 PM   #8
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This is something I will wish I could do for the rest of my life, but I just don't see it happening. I'll have to live it through you, so PICS, PICS, PICS!

Don't forget to be careful! Especially around all of those big Ethiopian rear bumpers if you know what I mean .
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Old 08-20-2008, 03:50 PM   #9
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I'm subscribed too. This should be awesome!!!
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Old 08-20-2008, 04:42 PM   #10
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I'm subscribed.... Looking forward to the ride report and pics.
Have Fun.
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Old 08-20-2008, 05:24 PM   #11
Coltz
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I can only say WOW!
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Old 08-20-2008, 06:07 PM   #12
HalfFastMoto
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I'm subscribed - look forward to hearing your bike specific experiences in addition to the usual RR fare.

If you get a chance it would be great if you could add links to sources for the kit you added to the bike.

Have a great trip
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Old 08-20-2008, 06:22 PM   #13
D-Mac
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Subscribed. It's time for the real Long Way Down......
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Old 08-21-2008, 12:33 AM   #14
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Woooowww good luck! Subscribed
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Old 08-21-2008, 01:08 AM   #15
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Wow!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by sakura
Woooowww good luck! Subscribed
Keep us posted and good luck
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