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Old 02-03-2015, 01:59 AM   #1
AfricaWithAutism OP
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What will be the best for our journey

Hi All,

I am taking a journey from UK to SA at the end of this year with my daughter (who will be 10 years old). I have no previous experience of riding a bike, much less with a sidecar, and in the process of taking my tests.

I have to make a decision on what kind of set up will be the ideal for a journey like this and hoping I can benefit from your experience.

Think - mother and daughter - off road, on road, what ever the african continent throws at us. - think - your wife and daughter doing it or your mother and sister - what would you recommend to them and why?

My thought process at the moment is that whilst it will be nice to have a big R1200gs rig - that actually it will be very heavy to handle and that actually a Ural 2WD would be better, easier to fix en route and all round more reliable.

Really appreciate your input.

AfricaWithAutism screwed with this post 02-03-2015 at 02:46 AM
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Old 02-03-2015, 02:45 AM   #2
AfricaWithAutism OP
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Please don't use this thread as an opportunity to say why not use a particular rig - only why you would suggest a particular rig.
(i've read the Ural dissing thread and it doesn't convince me that it is not the best bike for this journey)
Many thanks :)
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Old 02-03-2015, 04:34 AM   #3
hitmanh
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Urals are capable of the trip. Have a look at http://www.thetimelessride.com/, Hubert has taken his almost everywhere.
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Old 02-03-2015, 06:12 AM   #4
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Maybe the greatest issues are about route and acceptable contingency plans rather than outfit choice.

After all a Panther outfit towing a large trailer made the UK to SA way back

"The Rugged Road" by Theresa Wallach. Problems ? Yes. Job done ? Absolutely !

Good luck.
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Old 02-03-2015, 06:17 AM   #5
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Regarding you 'taking the tests' ....I assume you mean to get your bike license?

A full bike license,and a newly gained one for a total novice in particular, is bugger all help in gaining the knowledge and ability to control and master a sidecar outfit safely and proficiently.

And you're contemplating foreign travel with a passenger too.

You need to get expert tuition and training in sidecar handling.

Then try a few out for yourself.

Then decide for yourself what to get.

I know what's best for me to do that trip....and everyone else knows what's best for them,too.....you're going to have to make your own mind up on that.
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Old 02-03-2015, 06:22 AM   #6
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Somebody has to say it.

With ZERO experience right now, it's unlikely you'll be ready to do "Think - mother and daughter - off road, on road, what ever the african continent throws at us. - think - your wife and daughter doing it or your mother and sister - what would you recommend to them and why?", unless you devote 100% of the next 10 months learning to drive your rig in all conditions, and to repair and maintain it.
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Old 02-03-2015, 06:25 AM   #7
AfricaWithAutism OP
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cool - thx hitmanh - wierdly i have visited the blog - but didn't stay long enough to know what he was riding cos i didn't like the colourful design - have watched a few of his YT films and not realised the connection i'm using one of his photos at the moment - if Ural is the decision - will ask him if that's ok.
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Old 02-03-2015, 06:33 AM   #8
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thx

don't worry about training - i'm not completely daft - not only do i think it is possible to learn to a level to cope with a trip like this - I'm going to do it. Unfortunately however, it does leave me in a tight position in making a decision about the rig - I had several years to try different bikes etc, then great - but as it is i don't :( so calling on your experience as to the pros of the rigs you know about for a trip like this.
Don't worry I won't come back and sue you if i act on advise given :)
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Old 02-03-2015, 06:43 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tarka View Post
Regarding you 'taking the tests' ....I assume you mean to get your bike license?

A full bike license,and a newly gained one for a total novice in particular, is bugger all help in gaining the knowledge and ability to control and master a sidecar outfit safely and proficiently.

And you're contemplating foreign travel with a passenger too.

You need to get expert tuition and training in sidecar handling.

Then try a few out for yourself.

Then decide for yourself what to get.

I know what's best for me to do that trip....and everyone else knows what's best for them,too.....you're going to have to make your own mind up on that.
Excellent advice.

I assume you are not able to fix a bike yourself. No disrespect meant, I cannot fix a bike myself. Your question leads me to believe you can't. If I am incorrect, most of what follows will probably not apply.

If my wife (or even I) were to attempt this trip, it would be on a motorcycle brand that is most common in the areas you will travel. Here in the USA, one can hardly drive a golf ball without hitting a Harley Davidson dealership. A close second would be Honda dealerships. Were my wife and daughter to travel the USA, I would want them on either a Harley or a Honda. It would simply make getting any unexpected repair fixed much easier.

Therefore, I suggest you research what brands are both known for reliability and commonly found along your route and look to see if one of those will fit your needs. You can likely have a sidecar added to a bike you find works for you.

You asked that no brand be dissed. I am not dissing Ural, I happen to own one.
They are fine motorcycles and fun to ride, however, here in the USA dealers are few and far between. Also, they have a tendency to break. That is not a dis, it is a fact. They are old technology, fun to ride and I am told easy to fix. If mine breaks, it is most likely I will need someone to fix it. The chances of me being able to fix it on the road are almost 0. Therefore, my wife would not take a Ural on such a trip since she would not be able to fix it herself and a dealer could be hundreds of miles away.

Those are my thoughts, worth what you pay for them! Lol

Good luck, have fun!
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Old 02-03-2015, 06:52 AM   #10
Tarka
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Thanks JerseyBiker....great advice from you too mate.

The mechanical issues/maintenance scenario is a very valid consideration.

I love/eat/breathe/sleep Ural and will go anywhere at any time in any weather on either of my Urals...

BUT...I will say that if anyone is lacking in mechanical empathy as well as lacking mechanical ability,and don't really know one end of a spanner from another,then they are likely going to find a world of angst,upset,disappointment and expense just acquiring a Ural and heading off into the sunset.
It doesn't matter how new or how 'well set up' or 'expedition prepped' the Ural is or claimed to be....if you haven't got that empathy and ability,I do think you may well be learning how to swim by being chucked into the deep end.
Without your water wings.
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Old 02-03-2015, 07:09 AM   #11
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Great advise JerseyBiker - I will check that out.

My thought on mechanics is that ultimately it can be learnt - the question is, do I want to? do I want it to be part of the xperience. I think it is if it means being a bike that I am better able to manage on tricky road situations. For me it is about confidence in the rig as a whole - if we are stuck in sand/rocks/mud - can i get the bike out? how much resistance is the bike going to give me in those situations? does the set up of the rig help it to save itself or hinder it?

for me the greatest concern though is being stuck in in the middle of nowhere where there isn't a guy with a spanner for 100miles, a guy with a pick up for 100miles - or any guy at all to help. Ural breakdown - if a fix can be done to the next telephone tower (probably also 100miles), fine. modern bike breakdown - i'm screwed no? Of course I will have an emergency button - but really there is no point in taking a trip like this if i make that my constant get out of trouble clause cos i can't work out which end of the spanner to use, or because i have a bike so complicated it doesn't matter which spanner i have...?

well anyway - just thinking it through out loud
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Old 02-03-2015, 07:23 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by JerseyBiker View Post
Therefore, I suggest you research what brands are both known for reliability and commonly found along your route and look to see if one of those will fit your needs. You can likely have a sidecar added to a bike you find works for you.
While very good advice, you'll probably find that any big cc bike is going to be badly supported through most of Africa, the locals generally go for the smaller Honda cg125 or copies off.

I'd put greater emphasis on easy to maintain, repair, and service by yourself on the side of the road and plan for carrying a certain amount of spares.
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Old 02-03-2015, 07:53 AM   #13
AfricaWithAutism OP
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What bikes would you see as falling into that bracket of possibility Hitmanh?
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Old 02-03-2015, 08:44 AM   #14
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You may find that the GS is not any harder to ride then the Ural, some could argue that it is easier. How large and heavy the bike is when set up properly does not make all that much difference. If you think about it, once loaded up with all three of you and your gear the difference in weight between a Ural and a GS rig is a very small part of the overall percentage of the rigs weight. You are also worried about fixing the bike on the trip, yes the Ural will be easier to fix, but chances are the BMW will not need to be fixed, not sure I would want to say that about the Ural but as many people will point out, they are getting to be much more reliable then they ever were in the past.
For me, I would go with a GS however depending on budget, it might not be a 1200GS, My own bike is a water cooled R1200GS rig while it is the best GS I have ever owned, I have also owned the oil head 1200, the 1150 and the 1100 GS, all great bikes. The R1100GS's can be had cheap.
For long distance touring the GS can be equipped with automotive tires that could last your entire trip, I doubt that this would be the case with the Ural. You would also have significantly more power then the Ural but more importantly you will have more brakes then the Ural. Kits are made to convert the BMW (and many other bikes) to sidecar rigs by both my company in several in Brittan and Europe. Here is a link to the page with my own bike which is set up very similar to how I would set up a rig for your trip. Mine is the blue bike http://www.dmcsidecars.com/sidecars/...ition-sidecar/ We also make this in a left side mount. (More photo's including left side mount at this link )http://www.dmcsidecars.com/gallery/t...ition-sidecar/ On my bike all 3 wheels interchange (Urals at one time did) such that I an carry a spare wheel and tire, right now the bike is on motorcycle tires however I have automotive tires that fit right on these rims as well. We are building 2 rigs right now for a couple that are riding the length of the America's on 2015 R1200GSA's The way these are being equipped is with the sidecar wheel and the rear wheel of the bike running a 15 inch wheel with a 165 tire on it. The front of the bike is running the original rear wheel and tire off of the bike and the spare wheel and tire are a BMW rim with a very aggressive off road tire. This way should they have a flat it is possible to run the spare in all 3 places. They also wanted to have a much more aggressive tire for off road use so they can pull the wheel off of the rear of the bike and run the spare when they need a more aggressive tire. The reason for the 15 inch 165 tires as they are a very easy tire size to get where they are going while the 175 17 that will fit on the bikes rims are not. This is also a bit less money as the automotive rims are a lot less money then BMW rims. The rest of these two bikes are being built exactly like mine other then custom paint work. This includes of course widening the front end of the bike and reducing trail for easy steering, front and rear facing WARN 3500lbs winches with synthetic cable. Electric trim, Front and fender racks, extra fuel, extra lights custom upholstery on both the bike and the sidecar, heated seat in the sidecar, power out lets, BMW type, Cig lighter type and dual USB ports. and much more.
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Old 02-03-2015, 09:02 AM   #15
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We had a couple from the UK who were going RTW on a pair of Yamahas stay with us for a week or so. I was surprised to find that the bikes they were riding (XT-660R) were not sold here in the US and parts were not available from the Yamaha dealers here in Southern California!

I opted for the big BMW 1200GSA to be the workhorse for our 2nd rig. I've had no reliability issues and find it much easier to maintain than my Ural was.

There is a young couple who took a trip from Texas to the Arctic on a Ural and later put together a BMW based rig an took it through South America. Great read and awesome pictures of their adventures found here:

http://bugsonmyface.com/
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