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Discussion in 'Land of the Rising Sun: ADV Bikes from Japan' started by twinrider, May 6, 2016.
Finishing up Section 8 of the AZ BDR
Honda have taken a bold step and are rolling out Honda Quest.
"A thrilling 2500 km adventure biking expedition that will take 20 brave finalists through the Namibian Wilderness, each geared with a Honda CRF1000 L Africa Twin. This 12 day adventure will include a variety of challenges to test perseverance as man and machine team up to take on Africa..... The winning team gets to ride home the bike they competed on!"
Rumour has it that they will run something similar around the world and then a multi-national one that will be run someplace special.
Anyway, last month, I was one of the lucky fish to make the finals of the inaugural event. I podiumed but didn't take top spot sadly... but what a journey.
22 bikes completed the 11 day 2500km route in the very wild and remote Northern regions of Namibia. We had to turn around in one riverbed because of elephants and there was much lion about.
Not one single mechanical issue. Tons of punctures but we were running bog standard tubes and not ultra heavies that work better in that environment. Hottest temperature one day 50C degrees or 122F. On average we were drinking 8-10 litres a day.
The bikes were dropped and crashed often, we only lost one brake lever and a hand guard. They came with bash plates and crash bars and TKC's.
Watch all the days on short video clips. Day 10 has an epic crash. Charl, the chap who binned it, eventually went on to win with his partner Hennie. The lucky buggers!
Here's the official website where you can go watch all the videos and see some of the stunning footage.
All 20 of us made it, but it was touch and go for some.
Each team of two had a DCT and a Manual that we were required to swap each day. My partner Phillip was less experienced than I but nonetheless an above average rider.
Some of our observations about the bikes in this extreme environment;
2nd gear in slow technical is a beast. It just tractors along. The torque at low revs makes it very ride-able in the slow stuff. When needed though, it doesn't mind being revved. The engine is very smooth.
Tar riding it's smooth and comfortable (we only did about 100km on tar)
It is geared a little high in first
The suspension needs a little firming but was not bad out the box.
Exceptional wind deflection, mirrors and lights.
Great seating, small pegs though.
DCT - In seriously deep sand, the inability to select 2nd gear to start with is a drawback. It takes huge revs in first to get going and then the bike in any mode won't go into 2nd without having to slack off a bit. Apparently, this is a software issue and will be rectified.
I found in extreme technical rocky bits that I preferred the clutch version. The DCT is extremely clever but that last bit of feeling that a clutch offers isn't there. Conversely, my partner, who was less comfortable in extreme stuff, categorically stated that he wouldn't have been able to finish the technical bits if he wasn't on the DCT. On one of the extreme days he started on the manual but after a few climbs where he was struggling, we swapped and he then enjoyed the rest of the day.
However, on 2 of the days where there was serious sand - one of 70km of deep riverbeds and the other 40km of soft dunes, he was found the manual easier only because he could get onto the plane quicker because he had the option of being able to start in 2nd. I liked both in the sand but it did take a bit of skill to get the DCT going. Once going though, they both were rockets.
An irritation was on severe bumpy washboard or rocky bits, the good looking plastic black bits on the exhaust rattled. It sounded like there was a chain issue and it took me a while to work it out.
The bikes, even in the extreme heat and working hard never overheated.
These are Himba people. They are a very ancient semi nomadic culture that lives in an incredibly inhospitable land. How they do it is simply astounding. These ladies' different headdress denotes status and marriage status. They are regal and proud and though the clan is led by a Headman, unlike almost every other culture on earth woman are seen as equals. Even more, the inheritance follows the female line rather than the male one.
because the bikes were brand new - mine had 55km on it when I started - we had been taught by a Honda Master Technician whilst on the semi-finals how to service them. So, as not to lose the warranty, we had a rest day where we changed oil and filters. All the bikes had filters that had clearly been tightened by a gorilla. We broke the filter removal tool within 5 bikes and had for make a plan for the rest.
The usual trick of driving a screwdriver through it to get it out wasn't tried as we couldn't risk breaking something else or still not being able to get it off and then not having a bike at all. We were in a very remote area 4 days drive from the nearest workshop.
All were overwhelmingly positive about the DCT, many were surprised that it faired so well.
This chap on the left Johannes Haasbroek is an Elephant conservationist and quite the character.
Grant Pentalow the chap, on the right rode the last 2 days, one of them being 40km of deep red dunes and about 100km jeep track, the other 390km of good gravel and tar, with a broken collar bone!
We came across some Dutch tourists stranded after they'd ruined their spare and helped them out. Here's the non Trump and correct way to spell the countries name.
This travelling family were on the way from and to who knows where.
That's half a butchered goat he's using as a saddle. It's brutal practicality. Why carry it when it fits perfectly where it is? There are no fridges and they would probably be eating it that evening. They almost certainly killed the goat the day before on the start of their journey. Nearest shop is many days walk away. Nearest burger joint is thousands of kilometers away. Notice, though they have a bucket for scooping water out, no-one is carrying any. They get their water from local knowledge of springs and the holes the elephants dig in dry riverbeds.
Yours truly with Barbara, the only lady who made it into the top 20. She owns a KTM690RR factory rally and 950 so she's no stranger to the deeper end of the pool. Many of the guys had to suck in their ego's.
A huge thanks to Honda for the most unbelievable journey.... they say there's no rule against entering again next year!....
some bold graphics on the bikes - special for the event or 2018 colours?
I did not even know about the Quest - was it only open to RSA riders or did they offer/advertise internationally?
And non-OEM crashbars?
1 - Those were sticker kits.
2 - Just Southern African contestants.
3 - Rumbux crash bars. They are far superior to the Honda ones and they came with an integrated bash plate. With out them I am certain we would have left a lot more of the bikes all over the Kaokoland. I have seen the Honda OEM ones up close and they are not nearly up to it.
Yes, some toilets are this basic. Just a hole with a toilet. No walls. Fortunately it's not a spectator sport..... yet!
And they are barefoot in that terrain!!
Look carefully, there is a Mother and baby Giraffe
All competitors were given the voluntary option of a vitamin B12
What an adventure.
Thanks for sharing.
Shoes are a luxury. Actually, EVERYTHING in that part of the world is a luxury.
Here's a foot study.
I once sat and watched the guy who made those ankle bracelets. It took him the whole dat to make one,
I spent a lot of time looking at crashbars and Rumbux was my choice. Were there any tipovers or crashes that defeated them to any extent? Also, what filter tool(s) did you end up using to spin it off? I need to move to a filter with a hex end and an adapter to pull once I drop the skidplate. Love the pictures! Thanks for giving me another reason to dream big.
@kamanya, I'm so glad you reposted your trip. Fantastic experience, thank you for sharing it with us.
Interesting observations. Would be great if they can improve on (Imo already great) software
I do think a lot of its personal preference. I ride a lot of sand and find the dct easier to ride than a manual bike. I also found that eliminating all throttle play in the cables made a massive difference off-road (Honda specifies 15-20mm ?)
The service manual specifies between 2 and 6mm, unless there's some other throttle play if which I'm not aware (entirely possible).
Took my twin to the track haha
The current programming allows too much lag in throttle response. Compared to manual transmission gearing is taller in lower gears. IMO, they need to tighten it up but Honda likes to play it somewhat tame.
Sent from my XT1254 using Tapatalk
Yeah, thanks for that. Could not remember how much (hence the question mark), but waaaaayyyy too much. LOL. Certainly feel like you move your hand/wrist that much more
If you watch that official vid, there’s a monster crash. Nothings except a hand guard broke.
Everybody fell at some stage, nothing defeated the bars. On doing the filter and dropping the bash plate, both our bikes showed big hits to it but no damage to the bike. I was asked to give feedback back to the owner of Rumbux. We felt that the design was excellent and that it worked above expectations. One area that I criticized were the button headed bolts that hold the bashplate on, they take a hammering and some of them then become difficult to get the allenkey into. I suggested countersunk ones.
He said he knew of that but made the observation that countersunk ones also get a bit of a beating and then get jammed in and then are very difficult to remove. At least with the button heads a pair of pliers can still be used to get them out. I then agreed with him.
Our tool for the filter was a cup with a 14mm socket spot welded onto it. It was the welds that failed.
Two did not finish? What happened?
"All were overwhelmingly positive about the DCT, many were surprised that it faired so well."
As a DCT owner and fan, I'd like to know if any of the contestants have an AT in their stable or
were most of them new to the bike? let alone with 'DCT'???
Managed to sneak away from the shop for a couple days and get some pre-snow riding in. Did some exploring and rode up to a couple old mines in the interior of BC. Great riding, awesome weather and got to spend a couple days with one of my favorite riding partners, Pat.