moto.phil - a random journey (currently: Colombia)

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by moto.phil, Feb 2, 2017.

  1. moto.phil

    moto.phil Been here awhile

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    Hey ADV riders!

    Today I am 302 days into my journey. I started in April 2016, shipped my DR650 from Switzerland to Toronto together with Pascal and Janine from ERTW but we split up after we got our bikes out of customs. I certainly have a different schedule which is only a next-day schedule :) While initially the idea was to travel for around a year, I can now see my journey extending itself more and more...

    As you might have guessed I am a swiss rider, 39 years and counting. I have done some extended travelling before but it was all backpacking or in rusty old cars. When business and personal things started to change back home I felt it was the perfect moment to go travelling again. Doing it on a motorcycle seemed very intriguing to me, as I like riding and it's possible to experience things you don't when sitting in a bus. I am independent of schedules, I can stop where- and whenever I want, I don't need to book a tour to explore the backcountry and since I am more "vulnerable" on a bike than in a car it's easier to meet the locals.

    That's me and my DR sitting on the White Rim Trail in Utah:

    [​IMG]

    Specifically for this journey I chose the Suzuki DR650. It's a MY 2003 and has enjoyed quite some modifications for this trip. If you're interested in the mods you are welcome to head over to my website and see what the DR had to go through before being ready. If you want to see the whole list of modifications I have listed it on my website: http://www.motophil.ch/dr650se/

    My main reasons for choosing the DR are:
    - Not as heavy as all the fancy travel enduros
    - No fancy electronics
    - The least amount of things that can break (e.g. no water cooler, no fairing, etc)
    - Easy to work on (she's stripped naked in less than 5 minutes)
    - Good for on- and off-road (for me the DR is a real 50/50 dual sport)

    The DR runs still fine, it should definitely be checked out if you consider getting a bike for an extended journey. My own experience but also what a lot of other people have said about the bike taking it around the world!

    [​IMG]


    So here I am, sitting in Guatemala and enjoying the different type of nature and culture. I love riding, on- and off-road but riding is only a part of my travels. I like to travel slow, soak up the atmosphere and get to know people and culture in the places I visit. Among the people I have met are many riders too!

    [​IMG]

    I will try to give you a rundown of the first 10 months of my trip in the following posts... heading down the Appalachians, crossing the plains, exploring the Rockies in Colorado, being amazed in UTAH's Canyonlands, being humbled by California's Sequoias, cursing about sand in Baja, crossing through amazing Mexico, saying hi to expensive Belize and returning to Guatemala after 13 years. Next I am headed south to South America and I have no Idea how long I will be there :)

    After I will post more current updates here. I am always happy to get some feedback, so don't be shy to reply.

    If you are using facebook you can also stop by there, it's my most current way of letting friends and family know what I am up to: https://www.facebook.com/motophil.ch/

    I also have some stories, photo journals and how to's on my website, feel free to have a look: http://www.motophil.ch/

    BTW: I am using a Sony a6000 camera with the 16-70 F4 Zeiss lens. Though I take many pictures with my iPhone too.

    Hop on your bike, get out there and ride safe!
    Phil
    #1
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  2. goodcat

    goodcat Changing latitudes, altitudes and attitudes

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    First post first reply.
    Great to have you on here in New Fashion.
    You know I'll be following :jack

    Cheers mate :photog
    #2
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  3. moto.phil

    moto.phil Been here awhile

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    Thanks buddy! Looking forward to ride together again soon!
    #3
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  4. roadcapDen

    roadcapDen Been here awhile

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    Good Cat finally talked you into a RR? "Shawn has an alien love for ruins"
    Nice to see the "RTW Fellows" getting together.
    Already seen ya thru his eyes, can't wait for your perspective...
    #4
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  5. wanderlusting

    wanderlusting Adventurer

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    Hope you are thoroughly enjoying your journey. Looking forward to following along.
    Travel safe.
    #5
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  6. moto.phil

    moto.phil Been here awhile

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    Haha yeah, after I convinced the ruin hunter to use other platforms he got me on this one now :)
    #6
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  7. moto.phil

    moto.phil Been here awhile

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    Rundown 1, April 2016

    I shipped my DR from Zurich to Toronto, my buddy Pascal from ERTW who worked at the airport got a good deal so I decided to "tag along" on the flight. The bike was loaded on a motorcycle palette instead of a box and covered with some plastic. Pascal was afraid they wouldn't strap down the bike correctly but it was all good and the bikes, which came along in the same plane, were not harmed.

    The bikes being unloaded from the plane in Toronto:

    [​IMG]


    After some paperwork we could finally pick up our bikes:

    [​IMG]

    Two days before the flight I had contact with a rider from Hamilton who offered for me to stay with him told me that it had just snowed. A week earlier it looked much better with around 15°C and now it was around freezing 0°C.

    A last selfie before saying goodbye to my friends from ERTW for a few months:

    [​IMG]

    It was so cold and rained thw whole time that I stayed a few days with Carl in Hamilton. Only when the weather got slightly better I headed out to explore some of the hundreds of Waterfalls before I finally headed towards the USA.

    It was cool to stay with Carl who is also a rider:
    [​IMG]


    Albion Falls in Hamilton:
    [​IMG]

    Devil's Punchbowl:
    [​IMG]

    I crossed into the US at the super touristy Niagara Falls, where a german lady who lives in Canada started talking to me when she saw my swiss number plate. There was also a chinese lady who was totally fascinated by my bike setup and she took a lot of photos of my bike. We'll see if the chinese soon bring out a DR copy that is ready to roll the world :lol3

    Niagara Falls:
    [​IMG]

    Since I wanted to visit friends in NYC my itinerary for the first two weeks included Rochester and Syracuse where I stayed with people I found on couchsurfing. Apparently for a lot of people "New York" equals "New York City" because all of the profiles from people in NY state said "WE ARE NOT IN NEW YORK CITY! We are far away from it" ;)

    Snow again in Rochester:
    [​IMG]

    Exploring Rochester with my Hosts David & David:
    [​IMG]

    Rochester's old underground tunnels:
    [​IMG]

    Rochester High Falls and DIY Motor-BIKE :)
    [​IMG]

    On the way to Syracuse:
    [​IMG]

    Warming up inside, the temperature was still around 5°C
    [​IMG]
    #7
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  8. moto.phil

    moto.phil Been here awhile

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    Hey wanderlusting!

    Yes I certainly do :)
    #8
  9. joenuclear

    joenuclear Ride to eat, eat to ride... all roads lead to pie!

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    N
    #9
  10. hardroadking

    hardroadking Been here awhile

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    Hey Moto Phil, it's great to see your ride report here. It will be a lot easier now for me to ask you 1,000's of questions about your trip LOL!!!
    (inside joke: I've already done that on his blog and Phil was very kind to respond with great information). Wishing you safe travels as you go south.
    Tim
    #10
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  11. moto.phil

    moto.phil Been here awhile

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    Hey Tim!

    Great to see you here too :) I'll be happy to answer more of your questions... Just step by step

    I have just updated my list of modifications (http://www.motophil.ch/dr650se), so it is a little easier now to understand what I actually did I hope.

    Cheerios,
    Phil
    #11
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  12. moto.phil

    moto.phil Been here awhile

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    Rundown 2, April 2016

    After Syracuse my plan was to go to NYC to visit friends, but @Bang42 from the forum who I was in touch with conviced me to head down to PA to join the anual Adventure Ride (http://advrider.com/index.php?threads/8th-annual-spring-adventure-ride-sat-april-16th-2016.1118856/). That's what happens when travelling, plans can change every single day and that's why I usually don't plan. Just a high level plan and then maybe 1-2 days ahead. You don't need more. The good thing now was, I could finally drop some layers on my way south, escaping the winter that was still present in upstate New York.

    I stopped by @Bang42's house to say hello and also met some other riders. Zack and @mslow where also there to join the ride. When we decided to head to town to grab some food and beers one of them guys (I love that "them" that they always use in PA) says "I better bring this" and pulls out his gun while the other guy responds with "I always carry this little one". Being a bit surprised I had to remember myself "Ok, I am in the USA now" :) Just not used to everyone carrying around their gun.

    @mslow invited me to share his motel room which had two beds anyway since everything was booked out due to some gathering of fisherman from all around. He wasn't very delighted by the motel's standards and it's seriously pink bathroom but I knew on my journey I will see worse, saving money is important if you wanna make it far down the road.

    The next day we hit the ADV ride and I was surprised of the amount of people who gathered to be part of it. Pretty cool for my first upcoming dirtriding in the US. I stayed with @Bang42, @mslow and Zack so we formed our own little group to follow the trail. It was definitely a fun day with finally some dirt riding and even more so sharing this experience with a bunch of great guys! To foreclose travelling has always been about the people for me. But even better if it coincides with beautiful landscapes and something fun to do. Travelling on my DR basically means I always have my best toy with me :)

    Hope to see you guys again, was an blast to ride with you!

    Time for some classic american breakfast before the ride:
    [​IMG]

    My gang for the ADV ride, a bunch of cool guys!
    [​IMG]


    Finally off the tarmac:
    [​IMG]
    #12
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  13. moto.phil

    moto.phil Been here awhile

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    Rundown 3, April 2016: Allentown - Poconos - NYC

    After a few days around the Adventure Ride I now wanted to head to NYC, but it turned out that my friends were currently up in the Poconos working on their trailer, so I decided to head up there before heading down to big apple. On my way I passed through Allentown where another good friend of mine lives. Of course I had to stop by to say hello.

    Riding in NYC was crazy. I quickly learned to take care of myself, because no one else does! But I had to go through and for an european it's certainly cool to ride over brooklyn bridge!

    One thing is for sure, wherever you go in the US they always welcome you with a BBQ
    [​IMG]

    Beautiful scenery in the Poconos:
    [​IMG]

    First wildlife encounter, fortunately not in front of my bike, by then I didn't know yet that the USA has actually THAT many deer running around :)
    [​IMG]

    My DR at my friends trailer:
    [​IMG]

    NYC just throw your old furniture on the road, easy to get some new :D
    [​IMG]

    mmmmm :D
    [​IMG]

    Took some nightshots before the rangers throw me out of the park :D
    [​IMG]
    #13
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  14. moto.phil

    moto.phil Been here awhile

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    Rundown 4, April/June 2016: Philly - DC - PA - Blueridge Parkway

    In Allentown I met my friends brother who immediately invited me to come and stay with him in Philly. I couldn't say no, he was a cool guy and I've never been in Philly. Neither did I plan to visit DC but my new friend from Philly wanted to meet one of his friends in DC so we headed down there for the weekend. It was a blast, the guy literally knew all the people in the local bars :D

    Damn I forgot my hoodie!
    [​IMG]

    This is not a political statement! :)
    [​IMG]


    How cool is that for a swiss guy, playing a soccer match in front of Washington Monument!
    [​IMG]

    Trying out my new camera...
    [​IMG]

    Back to Harrisburg to visit my friend @Bang42 again, believe me, not just dirtbike talk... but lots of it anyway :)
    [​IMG]

    Found a dirt road on the TAT heading down to Virginia
    [​IMG]

    My first ADV Rider Tent Space host, thanks @tommysmothers was great fun! (I hope it IS you, how's the house doing? :D )
    [​IMG]

    Almost my first watercrossing, but there was a sign "private property" on the other side so I decided not to take the risk to get shot :D
    [​IMG]

    Another Tent Space host, thanks Joe, still love that car!
    [​IMG]

    Heading down the Blueridge Pkwy I found the REALLY LITTLE Switzerland :D
    [​IMG]

    It was rare not to meet other riders on campgrounds. Walter with his beautiful old BMW. We ended up sharing lots of stories on the bonfire and sharing some whiskey.
    [​IMG]

    Blueridge Parkway offers kind of fun roads to blast through, I still don't know how to convert that mph to kph ;)
    [​IMG]

    Further down the Pkwy I was chased down and intercepted by Doug introducing himself with "Sprechen Sie deutsch?" (you speak german?). He used to work in Germany for some time and as he saw my numberplate he decided to catch me, lucky for him I took some photo stops :D We then were riding together to the end of the Blueridge.
    [​IMG]

    Milehigh Campground at the southern end of the Pkwy offers some campspots with a great sunset view over the Great Smokey Mountains!
    [​IMG]
    #14
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  15. goodcat

    goodcat Changing latitudes, altitudes and attitudes

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    Time to change your name to Slo-Phil
    :jack
    #15
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  16. moto.phil

    moto.phil Been here awhile

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    Hey @hardroadking

    Just wanted to let you know that I just finished my review on the Mule Pac Panniers on the DR650!

    http://www.motophil.ch/20170206/review-acmezoom-mule-pack-panniers/

    Hope it does answer some of your questions, if somethings missing let me know in the comments.

    Cheerios
    Phil
    #16
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  17. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire Just this guy...

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    You can hardly throw stones Mr. Cat.
    #17
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  18. goodcat

    goodcat Changing latitudes, altitudes and attitudes

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    Ya but but uhmm...

    :jack
    :photog
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  19. hardroadking

    hardroadking Been here awhile

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    Hey Phil,

    Very nice review on the Mule Pac Panniers. The only area for improvement that I can see is the attachment system for all the reasons you described so well on your link and the fact that any screw in attachment system that starts on the inside of the box (good for security) is terribly inconvenient because you cannot mount a fully packed bag without first unloading it down to the level where the two mounting screws are. If the contents of the bag in the lower half are heavy, then it might be difficult to balance the bag while trying to match up the bolts to the holes it goes in. In the end, it sounds like you really have to mount the bags while empty and then pack them at the bike or have liners that you pre-pack and then drop them in but liners take up valuable space and especially one that was not custom designed for that stepped out shape.

    The solution may be out there as you mentioned in your write up. The quick release system from Procycle at One Hundred Seventy Nine bucks...expensive but on an long trip (6 months and up) where packing and unpacking and mounting and dismounting is a twice a day activity, I think it's worth the investment...assuming the design works well, holds up to 1,000's of mount/dismount cycles and does not completely blow apart with low speed drops and moderate speed slides or falls. I know the bags will hold up, just not yet sure about the quick release bracket system. Below is a video of the system that is adaptable to any hard bag container. Go to 2:06 in video to see the quick release rack mounting system.

    And of course, I wish the Mule Pac Panniers were cheaper. They look very low tech, the hardware is low tech and looks a bit flimsy but seems to work ok, and the pannier material is not exotic or expensive by any means. The stepped design not only gives it a little more rigidity/strength but may also be a design to aid in manufacture...easier release from the molds. It's hard for me to see manufacturing costs for a set of these to be more than 100 - 150 dollars. And they sell for 580. BUT, if they work, even though they are not slick and look cheap, then I guess they are worth it.

    https://procycle.us/video/moto-mule-luggage-syst-suzuki-dr650-360p.mp4
    #19
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  20. moto.phil

    moto.phil Been here awhile

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    Thanks for the video. I just heard from Bob that they now use aluminium attachment bars and he will send me some of those. Will update once received them.

    The weight of loaded panniers make it a bit more difficult to match the holes, but I always managed.

    I cannot say anything about the price, I have no idea about cost of materials and manufacturing them. I think they are made in the US what makes it more expensive. They look kind of low tech but might not be.

    I don't see why you plan to take them off every day? I have removed mine about 3-5 times in the whole 10 months. I always look for places with secure parking, once I had to take them off to get the bike through the door into the hotel patio. And then maybe a few times for maintenance, but usually they stay on even for that.

    Phil
    #20