|09-26-2013, 02:24 PM||#76|
Joined: Aug 2011
Thanx for the motivating words. On a day like this one where it seems that I need to do the job of the sidecar builder I can really use it
I already started the story of SilberWolf building. Some stuff is on our webpage however full story and more pics will come soonish
|10-06-2013, 03:19 AM||#77|
Joined: Aug 2011
The full story of SilberWolf - a GSA and a sidecar for our dogs
It was 20th of September 2013. Almost one year, 17.000km and a few modifications later, I was full of hope and confident that the building of our sidecar would be finished with this last visit to Peter and Elsbeth. I need to say at this point that obviously I am too much used to "ready bikes"
I learned now that building a sidecar has a touch of prototyping and requires a good degree on experimenting. My hopes of finalizing the sidecar now shattered like breaking glass on a floor. I really did not like it at first and it took me quite a moment to digest what was about to come (see Modifications part III)...
Anyway, since the building is almost done (I found my optimism again), I thought it might be nice for my fellow sidecar enthusiasts to summarize the story of the building of SilberWolf. Let's go back in time and see where it all started...
Let's go back in time and see where it all started...
It became obvious in the beginning that there are no limits to what kind of sidecar to built. The only limiting factors might be my wallet and time. It was all about
Decisions .... Decisions ... Decisions
April 2012 - the first question: Which bike to choose for the sidecar R100GSPD or R1150GSA?
At that time I owned a R100GSPD with a sidecar and a R1200GSA.
The R1200GSA was instantly out of the race. I had one as a rental bike in NZ in 2011. After a day's ride we stopped at our hotel and when I wanted to start the bike again it did not do anything. It was also not possible to jump-start the bike. Obviously the CAN-bus is very sensitive when it comes to the battery voltage and does not allow starting the bike unless the voltage is within a certain range. Sorry BMW, this bike is not made for adventures with no service station around for hundreds of kilometres
Back to the R100GSPD. The way this bike was built, it was only good for asphalt streets and easy gravel roads – nothing for a little more heavier terrain. Neither was it suitable for carrying all the dogs and our luggage for this journey. A new frame and a new boat were required one way or the other – so its all about the bike itself: to buy a used R1150GSA or to use my R100GSPD.
There would have been some work needed to make the PD ready to go (generator, ignition, clutch, kardan, front fork, back tyre with new brake and size for car tyre, smaller first gear). If I would buy a R1150GSA, I would also need to do some modifications (clutch, rear shock, front fork, remove ABS, exchange end-drive from 850, buy a tester device for ignition, exhaust pipe). I had both bikes for many years and they served me both well, so it was a tough decision. However the advantage with the 1150 would be more power, injection (ok - also a disadvantage due to electronics), newer bike and a much (much!!!) better sitting position. Those were the factors which lead to the decision to go ahead with a R1150GS Adventure.
The next question was which one?
Early or late modelyear? How many km shall be ok? What extras are needed? Which gearbox is used? And so on and so on ….
Here are my few findings.
The differences between 2003 and 2002 models are those:
On 24Apr, the decision was made: It will be a R1150GSA - MY02
My "new" GSA in May 2012
Additional thoughts from 23Jan13: I think it would have been easier and cheaper to get a R1150GS from Finland and take the Touratech 40l fuel tank (I really missed that). The Adventure 30l tank is not that big for a sidecar. The front fork was replaced and the rear suspension changed. In the end, I think all "Adventure" advantages were either removed or not advantage enough.
And some more thoughts from last week: The GS might only have a 40A generator, the GSA has always 50A version. The GS does not come with a GAN - gearbox. If a GS gearbox is used, the difference from short first gear to normal second gear might be rather big. With a GAN gearbox and long sixth gear, the difference between fifth and sixth gear is more manageable. So GSA was a good decision after all.
Some thoughts on the transmission ratio
The transmission ration appears crucial on such a journey - there are mountains to climb and rough terrain to be mastered and I might get stuck with the sidecar. Also fuel consumption needs to be watched. One advice which made sense to me was that the ratio can never be short enough. I decided to go with the GAN gearbox (short first gear), in combination with a rear-axle-drive from the R850GS (ratio 37/11 part number: 33112330973 or 33112330974 with ABS). The change from 150/70R17 to 175/75R15 has no impact to the ratio. In order to reduce fuel consumption, I change the sixth gear from the original short to a long version (The long/normal sixth gear is standard in other GS gearboxes).
In hindsight, the change towards the 850GS rear axle drive was an excellent decision. I recommend this for anybody who wants to go offroad with this monster. Also the change of the sixth gear had a significant impact on the fuel consumption.
Strengthen the rear support frame
The subframe at the GSA is known for its weakness and the internet offers several ideas what and where to strengthen the frame. I went to a local welding shop and they welded some extra support pieces to the rear frame. Of course I forgot the sample pics at home and my explanation what to do was a little vague with the result that the two pieces in the most front part collided with the air filter housing. So I flexed them away and it was fine :)
R1150GSA strengthen sub frame to avoid bending
R1150GSA strengthen sub frame
After one ride in lousy weather, the frame started to rust badly. I realized my selfpainting attempt did not succeed. I needed to take it to a real paint shop.
The next decisions - which boat and where to built it?
I looked at the following boats: Stern - RX overland, EZS Rally XC (maybe EZS Rally XC, Mobec ZeroGTO) and then it came: Mobec Enduro Cross - seemed perfect for our purpose :)
Mobec Enduro Cross and Zarges Alu box - could look like this...
Another major issue was to find a reliable company which can build the sidecar. I did not find any firm in Finland which would build sidecars as a profession. Most companies do it as a "hobby", some people built it by themselves, none of those options were feasible for me. So back to Germany - the land of sidecars and sidecar builders (it would be also easy with the language). I contacted many firms in Germany. Some told me instantly that they are busy, others were so kind and informed that they do not build such kind of sidecars. I also had a longish talk with Martin F. who explained me many things, gave me several good advices and helped me in making my decisions. In the end I needed to choose from two firms. Since one firm (Mueller-Gespanne) did respond to my emails and answered my phone calls, I went with Elsbeth and Peter. The other firm had a many days delays in answering emails and I could not reach the people by phone for days - so no thanx.
Back to the sidecar. Of course the Mobec boat needed a few modifications since we do not have a human passenger. Instead there will be three sweet little dogs and a need for plenty of storage room.
One 10l reserve canister could fit here?
In my previous sidecar, we needed to lift our girls always in and out of the boat. This was not a solution for the future. When I saw the Mobec boat, I got the idea to have a ramp like an aeroplane (like the one from Ryanair). The ramp is attached to the boat, and closes the boat so that the dogs cannot escape during riding. When the ramp is open, the dogs can use it to enter and climb out of the boat by themselves. The idea was realised with the modification that the ramp now folded so that it is longer and not too steep.
sidecar mounted on frame
Shortened boat and alu cases behind
Bringing the bike and first rough alignment
Bike with sidecar frame
Almost ready... only the boat is missing
The new extra-heavy-duty front fork
Done... well almost
During the long Finnish winter... planning continues as well as some other modifications like the rear-axle-drive, Xenon lights, day-driving lights, clutch, gearbox etc.
The winch could fit here...
In meantime the bike looked like this:
Bike during winter maintenance
Modifications - part I
Occasionally small mistakes (at least in the eye of the customer) might happen like these two:
1. One trouble spot - the alu case lid does not open much
2. These are potential spots to hang on to a rock when riding rough terrain
With all those items and a few small other ones (mounting the winch, improving the rear suspension), we went again to Müller Gespanne and stayed for almost two weeks there in order to fix them (It took so long because the frame needed to be re-painted). On the way to there, I noticed that our belts, which hold the big alu cases are not of good quality, so I got some proper ones for professional use (see also some earlier post).
Top view, finally found another place for drinking water
SilberWolf from front - ready to go
... and from the back - quite loaded ;)
Our precious cargo - three little monsters
Modifications - part II
Since I met Skippy again in Neumünster (she was there for her black belt exam), I decided to pop by Müller Gespanne again. The sidecar wheel did look a little bit out of line. Peter and Elsbeth told, that the load is quite heavy and in the end, we decided to change the spring at the sidecar suspension. They also noted that the rear suspension seemed not to be able to hold the load either and suggested to visit the firm which has done the rear suspension. So, off we went to visit a little town close to the dutch border.
Modifications - part III
Instead of going East, we went west and a few days later we were at this company. Pretty soon it became obvious that a much stronger rear shock needs to be used. The original option to "only" change the spring would have not been sufficient. Lucky for me, they told they were able to build one the next day. The rear shock came so late in the afternoon of the next day, that I was suppose to come the following day in the morning (good for us we had booked the hotel long enough).
Trying to fit the new shock...
However and for some strange reasons, this shock did not fit into my standard (and to my knowledge not modified) rear frame even though the same shock was built and installed into other GSs. Instead of having a day off and "I'll be back soon", I drove across the border to Netherlands to visit the shock building company myself and they could see what is the problem.
The same procedure again...
After a while of experimenting with different alternatives, the guys told me that they do not have a ready solution. Instead they will need to manufacture a special (extra long) version of the upper part of the shock, so that the new shock can be adjusted in various ways to adopt to the different load conditions of the hack. Now I need to wait (I really hope the rear shock comes before we hit Africa)...
I was not happy since I did not want to spend time this way and I had a feeling of wasting my time with this stuff
On a positive note, I must say that this was exactly the reason why we decided to tour first through Europe and not go straight to Africa: to drive around and remove the "Kinderkrankheiten" of our SilberWolf
|10-14-2013, 02:55 AM||#78|
Joined: Aug 2011
From Kappeln (Germany) to Mako (Hungary)
I found a few pictures which I forgot to put into one of my previous posts, so here they come.
It was Monday the 23th of Sep. and it was time to hit the road. My bike was good to go, Skippy did make her black-belt and we both had a good rest in Neumünster. First we went to Hamburg St. Pauli. Whereas a typical tourist goes there for all kinds of amusement, we went there (again) to visit a vegan shop which had plenty of goodies and some more dog food :)
We rode via the Teutoburger Wald (there we had our first Sauna since we left Finland – felt great!) to Kalkar near the Dutch border to get my rear-shock fixed. As this did not work out (even though I rode to Netherlands to visit the manufacturer), we continued towards east, got a little lost in “Thüringer Wald”, rode across Rennsteig and spent two nights in Ziegenrück.
On a positive note, due to this criss-cross riding through Germany, I got to know it much better than at the time I lived there
We continued towards Czech ...
... where we had booked a cabin on the lake.
Then we made our way through Austria to Bratislava, Slovakia.
Since we left Neumünster, we had mostly good weather – cool and sunshine. The trees along the road were shining in their autumn colors – a stunning view.
One topic occupied us for several weeks: do we go to Romania or not? We spent the night in Mako, only a few kilometres away from the Romanian border and the hotel in Romania was already booked. Skippy will tell more in the next post...
|10-15-2013, 04:37 AM||#80|
Joined: Aug 2011
No to Romania
In the beginning of our trip we were heavily fantasizing of going to Romania. Especially because of the beautiful Carpathian mountains and the famous Transylvanian area. Unfortunately bad things started to happen in the late summer and we were several times pondering is it a good idea to go there or not... So just when we were at the border we changed our minds and decided not to go to Romania. Mostly because of the safety issues, but also because some of the roads we wanted to take were already closed due to snow and ice.
So what is really happening in Romania right now? I hope many of you have already heard the news, but for those who haven't: They are mass slaughtering stray dogs there!!! I would say it's a real holocaust for dogs right now!
Some news in English:
Many say that the situation is not bad just for the stray dogs, but for all dogs! The catching and killing of dogs in Romania is a huge business and therefore many people don't care at all who's dogs they're catching! So we wouldn't feel safe there at all with our beloved little girls. Couldn't leave them out of sight for a single second, couldn't play outside and would have to have all the papers with us constantly (advised by the German consulate), just in case there would be some doubts about the ownership! This sort of traveling is not for us! Anyway we don't want to go to any human war zones (eg. Syria), so why would we take our girls to a war zone for dogs?!
Luckily we are not alone with our thoughts and there are many people trying to help the poor dogs and bring awareness to others, like for example this German couple:
My heart is totally broken because of this thing (and because of many other animal cruelty issues as well!!!) and if I just could I would adopt them all... Well we all know I can't do that, but at least I do what I can: I'm talking about these things out loud and writing about them, signing petitions and for example last Christmas I donated all my gift moneys to different animal rescue charities in Europe and in Finland. And one day when our family is ready to have room for another fur baby, it will definitely be adopted!
What can you do?
Let's be kind to all living beings, no matter what color, size or age we are, or how many legs, wings or fins we have!!! Make love, not war!
|10-17-2013, 09:16 AM||#81|
Joined: Aug 2011
Via Serbia to Croatia
After we decided to skip Romania, we needed a new route and decided to ride to Novi Sad in Serbia. We left the EU and got our first stamp on our "virgin" passports. A few kilometres later we got into our first police control :) ... well nothing bad, the gents only wanted to know from where we come and where we are heading to. They smiled when they saw our dogs in the sidecar and let us go on.
We had booked an apartment in the outskirts of Novi Sad and wanted to spend a few days there to explore this part of Serbia. When Skippy saw the surroundings of our accommodation she only said "max one night". Ok, I changed the booking and we had only a one night stand in Serbia. We arrived quite early and this gave us time for a bit longer day walk.
We needed to give the owner our passports, so she can go to the police station, got us registered and along with that, she got us the exit cards which we needed to exit Serbia. Since we stayed a little over 24h in the country and I did not feel like pushing my luck at the border, so rather follow the procedure since it did not cost me any extra.
As we walked our dogs we got the usual attention and some older guys were asking from were we are. As we told we came from Finland (I have a Finnish flag on my jacket), the first thing they said was "Kekkonen". We had a really good laugh at this one and it was very nice to hear that Finland is known for Kekkonen and not only for Räikkönen or Nokia
Then we went food shopping and caused quite a fuzz in the shop. As usually, we took our self-made veggie bags and filled them with all sorts of fruits and veggies, when all the sudden a sales lady jumped by trying to explain to us that we MUST use plastic bags. Because when she weighs them (we were not allowed to!) she can put the sticker on the plastic bag. She also offered to put our veggie bag in her plastic bag and we kindly declined this idea. She called for back-up and some young guy came and told us that we should use the plastic bags and if we do not want them, then we can throw them away AFTER we did the shopping and left the shop. Sadly also he did not understand our point of not using plastic bags at all. We kept on filling our bags with veggies and fruits and finally the security guy came and looked what all this hazzle was about. He also asked from the sales lady why we cannot use our bags as he seemed to have understood our point. I kindly demonstrated to her (by operating the scale myself - OMG!) how easy it is to push the button of e.g. oranges and clue the price sticker on our veggie bag. It would hold until we would have paid at the cashier. She just shook her head and continued with the other bags. The cashier had no issues with our bags :)
Since the internet was working (after we got a cable from the owner), we booked us a hotel in the middle of nowhere in one of the vineyard areas of Kroatia. I had some maps from ADAC and they suggested (for motorbikes) to ride around in this area. So it looked like a good place to spend a few days.
We did consider to ride through Bosnia-Herzogovina, but then because of the need for a doctor's certificate stating our dogs are healthy, we decided to skip the country. We went straight to Croatia and had a little surprise at the border. It appeared that Croatia joined the EU since we left Finland. Congratulations!
We showed our passports and bike papers and we were good to go. So I started my engine and drove the 3 meters (!!!) to the barrier which did not open. Hmmmmm - what now? I stopped the engine and looked around - aaahhh: customs. OMG - I am so used to crossing borders between EU countries within the Schengen agreement This customs guy was nice, spoke a little German and asked even for the papers of the dogs. Anyway, nothing to declare, so off we went.
We arrived at our hotel and became really worried since it looked closed. I called the owner and after some minutes on the phone he explained me in some words of German, that he would be there in 7 minutes! When he arrived, we did get a warm welcome and the owner insisted that we tasted some of his wines while waiting that the wife prepares the room. The first glass was not so great and then he decided to offer a "Spätlese" for the lady. Wow, now that was delicious and according to both of our tastes. We did not had lunch yet and since we drink almost no alcohol, we already felt a little drunk after one glass and waved up the stairs to our room. Nevertheless we took a bottle of Spätlese for the night :)
There was a slight "danger" when going out and having a chat with the guy. Almost all the time, I found myself pretty quickly with a glass of wine in my hand. Yep, that was his area of expertise. Unfortunately all attempts failed and we had three days no internet. That always means that we are late for our blog-writing :( and the next riding day has an open end.
We drove a nice and small road (also recommended by ADAC) along the river Sava. There were a few houses offering accommodation, so we just stopped somewhere and found a nice little apartment in one of those beautiful old log houses.
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