Sibirsky Extreme 2012 - The Toughest Ride of Them All

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by Colebatch, Oct 18, 2012.

  1. CharlestonADV

    CharlestonADV I do my own stunts!

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    I just read your web article on ADV bike selection. Wow...what great insight! This should be a must read for anyone thinking about a dual sport purchase.:thumb
  2. JustBob

    JustBob Uh...who me?

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    And wouldn't it be nice if the manufacturers read it and built something to suit. Having to invent a BAM bike is fun for some, but I'll bet there are those who would buy such a bike off the floor. BMW BAM. Why not?
  3. Dancanovas

    Dancanovas Adventurer

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    i dont really post on here although ive been a member for a bit. forget LWR/Mundo End its all about Sib Extreme and walters info about bike selection is like the bible for me and my riding mates
  4. Chip Stevens

    Chip Stevens Been here awhile

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    Hello Rod
    I'm replacing my 640 Adventure. I'm leaning towards a 690 Enduro. My only concern is the subframe fuel tank combo. I see from the pictures that you have a Tourtach pannier rack. Did that combo give you any trouble? About how much weight did you load on it? Any reinforcements other then the weak bolts that have been documented on other web sites? Thanks chip
  5. kito

    kito Been here awhile

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    Hi Walter I was reading your advice on bikes . I agree with most of what you have to say but feel that its still one persons opinion ( mostly shared) and was thinking. As the sibirsky trail is probably the best test of a bike and most people who go out this way probably contact you at some point that you would have the best idea of what model/ numbers of bikes are going this way.
    If this is correct would you be interested in starting a poll were we could collect some usefull information regarding bike reliability,bike prep and bike problems encountered to help others with bike selection.
    If we could have a table of info to compare it would be most helpfull as then it would be fact based and all in one place
  6. CharlestonADV

    CharlestonADV I do my own stunts!

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    IMO, not everyone's opinion carries the same weight. Internet polls are notorious for unbalanced samples. Essentially, the opinions of armchair/keyboard adventurers count as much as the people who actually get out and do it. To refer to Walter Colebatch's recommendations as 'one man's opinion' is a woeful disregard of his extensive experience and knowledge.
  7. motoreiter

    motoreiter Long timer

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    not sure about overall numbers, but the proportion of xChallenges out in the East seems rather high. Personally I'm aware of four xChallenges that were out there this year, and there were probably a couple more. Not bad for a bike that only had a production run of a few thousand.
  8. kito

    kito Been here awhile

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    I have no intention what so ever to put somones opinión down and i think you have misunderstud my intentions. i have total respect for waters opinión.
    what was I sugesting was to get away from armchair adventures and make it as "fact" based as posible and just the people that have riden this trail to say facts not so much weather thet personaly liked there bikes or not.
    we can not do anything about the weather conditions each rider encounters but the miles coverd and terain coverd should be similar.

    I have not riden this trail yet but I have traveled with a G650X
    to give you an example of what I was seeing if could do
    my trip
    2007 G650X
    28,000 mile trip
    2 radiator fans
    3 wáter pumps
    ignition failed twice
    hyper pro rear shock failed
    would blow fuses at random
    thats the sort of thing i was asking but i think maybe yor right and it would be to hard to do on the internet
    that was just my experiance and does not say my opinión of weather i like the bike or not just the facts of the trip
  9. motoreiter

    motoreiter Long timer

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    sorry, it wasn't clear to me if that has been your experience with an xChallenge, or the kind of info you'd like to see?
  10. Colebatch

    Colebatch "Moto Porn"ographer

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    Kito .. yes, as with almost anything, its opinion, but its opinion based on not only my own years of adventuring but its obviously also based on the fact that I am in contact with probably 90+% of people who do the BAM or Old Summer Road, so its all of that experience rolled in there as well. Which is why I am not wedded to one brand or simply defending my own bike model - I have seen several models of bikes do those roads comfortably, not just my own. I am constantly looking at and considering alternatives and ways to overcome the flaws in my current bike. Most people know I have been looking closely at the KTM 690 in recent years. I have also been planning to fully adventurise my Husaberg 570 and see how that goes when thrown into the deep end in remote siberia. What many may not know is when the F800GS was announced back in 2008, I was initially planning to use it for the first Sibirsky ride in 2009, that was until a few months later when I saw the weight specifications and saw / felt the bike in the showroom. I also prefer to keep my own (admittedly quite strong) opinions on my own site rather than on the open forums, unless specifically asked a question that requires my opinion as part of the answer.

    I do recall two-three years ago I sat down and analysed all the bikes that had done anything on the BAM or Road of Bones Old Summer Road and put the results on the HUBB in some bike selection post. I dont have the numbers at hand, but out of about 35 bikes in the preceding 3 years it was something like:

    90% single cylinder bikes, 10% twins.
    60% efi, 40% carbed
    80% soft luggage, 20% metal boxes

    If I had to update it for the last 2-3 summers - it would be much the same, but maybe EFI is up to 75% now. No bikes failed. No bike died on the BAM or OSR. All bikes made it.

    But the raw statistics are one thing, its the opinions that come with them that adds extra weight. You have to remember, of those 35 bikes, how many were doing it as people who knew the conditions and had done it before? Only myself I think. Everyone else was doing it for the first time. So they were guessing how to prepare. They werent necessarily preparing on the back of first hand knowledge. So you have to dig deeper and not only see what bikes did it, but what were the opinions of the guys AFTER their bikes did it.

    For example: if you then look at the few guys who took metal boxes or twin cylinder bikes, almost all said in some form that would take a lighter bike and soft bags if they ever did it again. So anyone looking at taking a twin with metal boxes needs to look at not just - it can be done - but what did the people who did that think about it, and what would they do differently next time.

    So in digging into your question further, there is raw data (without opinion and interpretation out there) but in my opinion, its less valuable than the opinion that comes with it. A guy could take a 1200 and try to do the BAM or OSR (a 1200 has never done either the BAM or Old Summer Road AFAIK). After the first day he might think "this is a total disaster. I have the wrong bike. But its too late know, I am here I am going to struggle through it." ... And no doubt one of these days someone will. It will be misery for the unfortunate who tries, but its not impossible, just not fun or not sensible (just opinion of course). At the end of the day, an advocate for big heavy bikes will say "see it can be done. A 1200 GSA did the BAM. Impartial statistics say it can be done." But for me that has no value. I know it can be done. If someone wants to try hard enough and is crazy enough he will take a goldwing on the BAM or OSR - winching along. To me what is most valuable in that example is the real honest opinion of the guy. If he gets to the end and says privately off record, "yes I was an idiot, I just wanted to prove a point and I will never ever do it again on that bike - next time I will take a 690 with soft bags" then for me, that is more valuable than the fact he he successfully struggled with a Goldwing or GSA, winching it through the BAM - just to prove a point.

    The next piece I was going to write in that series will include info on specific bikes. Certainly there are 3 models that stand out with respect to those roads, that probably cover about 75% of riders there, the KTM 690, the BMW G650X and the Suzuki DRZ400. I personally am not a fan of the DRZ, but plenty of people successfully ride them there and in that sense its one of the bikes I recommend to people, even though its not what I would choose. The fact that statistically many do ride them there is enough to consider the bike BAM worthy.

    There is always a huge weakspot in canvassing peoples opinions on bikes. The vast majority of people are digital in their assessment of their own bike. They either hate it, call it a lemon and want to throw it away as soon as practical (about 10%) and the other 90% will defend it to the hilt saying their bike is the best bike in the world. They refuse to acknowledge the bikes flaws (all bikes have design flaws). Neither of these type of views are particularly useful to anyone else. Its a case of having been sucked up into the emotion of bike ownership, brand loyalty etc.

    What is a lot harder to find are people who are strictly rational when it comes to bike choice. Take the emotion out of it.

    I have seen a thousand bike reports from a thousand people saying something along the lines of "this was my first big transcontinental adventure ride and I chose the (lets say F800GS) to do it on. I had no problems on the ride and never wished for another bike. Therefore its the perfect adventure bike"

    And I think - thats great - but what are you comparing it to? (what I really mean is thats just not useful information to anyone) If you have never done a trans-continental ride on another type of bike, how do you know how good your own bike is. Or have you compared it to other bikes in that category (say a KTM990) and ridden that trans continent to compare. Or have to tried a lighter bike (different category) and seen how a 690 or an G650XC would have been on the same journey. If it was an all asphalt journey, compare it with a goldwing or Ducati Multistrada maybe.

    So opinions too need to be filtered and analysed. Adjusted and weighted for the experience and open mindedness (which is itself just opinion) of the person giving the opinion. Raw data too is also potentially very misleading. One thing is for sure, there is no black and white answers based on opinions, nor can there even be definitive analysis of statistics. Anyone who works with statistics will tell you that they say whatever the compiler of the statistics wants them to say.

    When it comes to bike choice or bike reliability or ability / ease to get the job done, you cant avoid the fact that its a very very grey area.

    Reliability is the same - its opinions. You meet guys with 690s that have had all sorts of problems and yet swear by them. Other guys have ridden the BAM and OSR transcontinental and not had any issues on 690s. You appear to have been really unlucky with your G650X, yet I must know 20 guys who have done trans continental rides including the OSR or BAM roads with them and never had a single issue. I am in touch with loads of guys who ride G650X bikes, and almost all guys who have ridden the BAM or OSR ... and overall, from the picture I have built up concerning that kind of riding, I would say its the most reliable bike that is doing that kind of terrain. I also think differences in reliability between models (overall / in general, rather than specific examples) are much smaller than people make out. Very few RTWs ultimately have to be cancelled because of reliability issues. Most major design flaws (apart from weight) seem to get sorted on the road in dodgy garages in third world countries - and the journeys continue. I have seen or heard first hand all models of bikes sidelined for at least a few weeks while parts were flown in. KTM 690s, 990s, 950s, 640s, BMW 650s F800s airheads, oilheads, 1200s, KLRs, DR650s DRZs DR350s, XR400s, Africa Twins, Transalps, Teneres, XTs etc etc ... they all break down in 3rd world countries and all can potentially throw a huge time spanner in the works of your trip. To paraphrase a well known book: "There is none righteous: No, not one." Nothing is bulletproof. Its all a matter of probability. And probability of unreliability is very very difficult to measure. You cant compare the data of a years worth of 1200 GSAs going across Siberia on the asphalt trans siberian highway to data of 690s going across on an all off road route for example. Unless you have at least 20 (ideally 100) examples of each individual bike model doing each individual route, then your real world data is still mostly going to be interpretation and opinion.

    At the end of the day, even trying to be as rational as possible (which I do) it still comes down to how you interpret other peoples opinions, experiences, and data.

    As a final note I would also mention that all bikes, all brands, all models seem to occasionally throw up lemons. I wonder if you just got a lemon.
  11. tmotten

    tmotten Lefthand ride Dutchy

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    Daaaaammmnnn Walt. You're scaring me here. I nearly completely agree with you here.

    It gets even harder to make any sense off anecdotal evidence when you consider modifications and people's mechanical ability. So it's basically futile.
  12. kito

    kito Been here awhile

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    Some damn good reply.... Better than me posting questions when sat in a bar all day haha:clap
  13. snooter

    snooter Adventurer

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    i do think this guy gets it..kinda refreshing actually..I am not band loyal..i dont care what you own or ride..my top adv bikes always have 1 feature and that is light weight..i dont care for anything but soft bags..now i am totally useless on offering advice but again i dont care,,so take it for whats its worth...only thing i can offer is in 1974 i got my hands on a bike i had dad bring home in a milk crate..well built it and that lil 3.5HP tecumsah ran like a banshee (well i was a kid)..my lust for off road has endured all this time..that said here is my useless drivel of an opinion (not ranked in order of preference)

    F650
    ktm 690
    klr
    DR
    WR

    ride what you prefer..yes you can do anything on any bike just consider bringing along a winch and a heck of a lot of ibuprofen if your bike choice is not in its intended tundra...example like i would not ride a wR250 for 800 slap miles to get to the trails..i just wouldn't..but hey its your bike so have at it

    ps: i own none of the above...prolly never will..i like 40 plus year old iron

    god speed
  14. just jeff

    just jeff Long timer

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    Hi Walter!
    I have been following the bike choice articles and looking for my next bike with a mind to riding the TCAT in the future. Last weekend I went and test drove 2 Husaberg 570s with a mind to purchasing. I noted several things:
    The bars are too low in relation to the pegs. Bar risers and/or taller bars for extended standing required. I am 5'10".
    The seat is too low in relation to the pegs making long cruising on pavement or gravel uncomfortable. Knees sharply bent.
    Fuel tank very small, especially in view of the 40mpg average quoted by the owner. Longest trip about 160k on a tank.
    Rear subframe is plastic. How much weight can it safely carry?
    No rear rack or mounting points for my Magadan panniers or gear bags.
    No wind protection for extended high speed cruising.
    I found the supension harsh. I believe this is due to the mods the owners had done rather than it being a trait of the model. I wish I had been able to ride one in stock form.
    Frontend very light. Easy to get the front wheel up in 3rd and 4th gear. May be an issue when loading more gear on the back.
    I am curious how you are going to address these issues for long distance riding and what other issues you have noticed on your Husabergs and how you plan to fix them.

    I am also looking for a 650 XC but so far the closest is 1000k away so I haven't rode one yet.
    I was interested to see you mention the KTM 690 as that is on my short list as well. What are your reservations on that bike for your type of riding?
    Thanks for any insight you can provide. Your willingness to share your knowledge and opinions is appreciated and valued.:clap

    Regards....justjeff
  15. Colebatch

    Colebatch "Moto Porn"ographer

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    That wasnt that hard, now, was it mate ?

    :clap
  16. Colebatch

    Colebatch "Moto Porn"ographer

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    Hi Jeff,

    690 is also cramped like the 570 (I would add that the 1200 GS and GSA are also very cramped in the leg area). They are designed for sitting down enduro riding. To adventurise them I would look at lower foot pegs, bar risers and probably high bend rally bars (instead of the OEM low bend enduro bars).

    Fuel is basically an issue with any light bike (apart from the CCM 450). They all need more capacity. But dont go overboard. Too much fuel is just carrying too much weight. There are VERY few places in the world (unusually remote corners of the Sahara is about it) where you would need more than 22-25 litres in this day and age. Setting an adventure bike up with 40 litres of fuel is just a guaranteed way to end up with a bike that plods along and handles like a 1920s schoolbus.

    Plastic subframes are here to stay and probably will dominate in the future. They make plastic guns, so I have no doubt they can make a subframe strong enough out of plastic. A better topic for worry would be how much was it designed to carry rather than is it strong cause its plastic. I would guess it will have been designed so a fat bloke (say 120 kgs / 265 lbs) can sit on it and go over jumps. If you are going to throw 30 kgs of luggage over it, and stand up over jumps, or dont jump, then I would reckon its tough enough. Working out a rack / attachment system is something I havent gotten around to yet.

    For what its worth I also find the front suspension on the Husaberg excessively harsh. KTM have put premium forks on the bike but I really dont think its been set up well - certainly not for the way I like to ride thats for sure. I will either be totally re springing and valving the forks or will change the forks to something more "comfortable" like the 50mm marzocchis I used last year or single chamber WPs.

    Front end is light on the berg (the whole bike is light actually) cause as a race bike, you are expected to sit much more forward on it ... throw your weight forward all the time, and have your nuts right next to the fuel filler. If you put a front fairing on it and add 5-6-7 kgs up front with lights and electronics, then add rally tanks (also which keep weight forward) then you can relax a bit more and sit back a bit more. The power to weight of that bike is high and you do have to sit more fwd just to keep the front wheel on the ground.

    My 690 Reservations .... it has a narrow gearbox, unstable steering and not very good suspension. Nothing you can do about the gearbox. But a steering damper and or different triple clamps (less offset) will help the stability, and a suspension specialist can help with the suspension. You need a different rear spring anyway to go adventuring, and many people swap the 690 forks for proper EXC forks. Theres a company of Dutch ex WP engineers called Tractive Suspension that makes a living from making good shocks to replace the less good WP units on the OEM bike. There are a bunch of other necessary mods for the bike. Subframe attachments / bushes, fuel filter, fuel pump, voltage regulator, etc etc, but they are all pretty well documented.

    Just opinions.

  17. Colebatch

    Colebatch "Moto Porn"ographer

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    What I always wanted to do... (but its probably impractical) is to take 6 different bikes, all with riders of a similar riding level, and set them out on something like the sibirsky extreme trail ... a 3+ month off road challenge of all sorts of terrain. Six bikes, modified for purpose of course, but based on the following:

    KTM 690
    G650XC
    Berg 570
    Husky 630 maybe
    CCM GP450
    DR650 or XR650L (one for the air cooled set)
    And whatever others someone wanted to try

    And see how they go - as a test of performance, durability and fun.

    Unless you do it 100 times of course you cant guard against lemons or freak events delivering misleading results. BUt still I figure it would be a worthwhile exercise.
  18. E1Allen

    E1Allen UH-60 Pilot

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    And have them switch rides to see how they compare. Assuming one doesn't weigh 150 and the other 250lbs, set up for specific rider weight

    Sent from my SPH-L710 using Tapatalk 2
  19. bigdon

    bigdon Long timer

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    I was hoping the DR 650 could have made the last trip but it was not to be.


    Need to add in the DRZ !
  20. sigmund freud

    sigmund freud Adventurer

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    And for the X-challenge the mods are;

    - "Hot Rod Welding" 9.5 litre "Jumbo X-Tank" (page 24)
    - "Hot Rod Welding" custom luggage rack (page 24)
    - "Touratech" rallye fairing (page 1)
    - "SR Racing" exhaust (page 64)
    - "Rayz" seat (page 1)
    - "Hyperpro" rear shock (page 2)
    - MaxKools airbox mod, with Unifilter
    - "Touratech" rear chain guide (page 2)
    - Bixenon Projectors with "HID50" bulbs and ballasts (page 5)
    - "Scheffelmeier" wheel spacers (page 15)
    - "Touratech" rear steel subframe (page 22)
    - "Barkbusters" handguards (page 22)
    - "Scheffelmeier" case saver (page 22)
    - "Double Take" Ram mount mirrors (page 22)
    - "WP" 48mm forks and triple clamps from 640 Adventure (page 23)
    - "Hyperpro" fork springs (page 23)
    - "Hyperpro" custom fork revalving (page 23)
    - "Excel" A60 front rim (page 23)
    - "Haan Wheels" KTM front hub (page 23)
    - "KTM" 990 front fender (page 23)
    - "Scheffelmeier" rally bash plate and Odyssey battery (page 25)
    - "Ironman" rear sprocket (page 25)
    - "Excel" rear rim (page 59)
    - Hot Rod "X-Rack" luggage rack (page 80)
    - Hot Rod KTM 690 Rally Replica Fairing (page 74 and p106 & p109)
    - Shorai Lithium battery (page 68)
    - Marzocchi 50 mm dual chamber (closed cartridge) forks (p 112)
    - Adventure-Spec Magadan soft luggage (page 112)
    - OSCO chain oiler (p118)