YARBA (Yet Another RTW But Amphibian)

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Toi, Feb 15, 2014.

  1. Toi

    Toi -

    Joined:
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    Grenoble,France
    I plan to leave my village near Grenoble (French Alps) in early May for a trip through Europe, Asia and America. I will ride East. At the moment, I don't know the exact route I will follow (at least for the first 10K km), but my target is to reach the Bering Strait, and to cross it on my bike. Once in Alaska, I will join the first roads and I will see what could be my final destination that is not very clear in my mind: if I reach the Bering Strait, I will be very happy. If I cross it on my bike, I will be even more happy. Anyway, I am already very happy to prepare this trip. I am a lucky guy.
    To reach and to cross the Bering Strait, I need to make my bike amphibian. So, I built a simple transmission (based on belts and pulleys) to make my engine (KTM690) powering an out-board propeller. And I forget to say that I will carry on the bike an inflatable boat that will used on water. The boat on the bike, then the bike on the boat. That's quite simple (but cumbersome).
    [​IMG] The general goal of this trip is to prove that we could go everywhere by ourselves, with a bike. At the moment, I exclude to go to Antarctica and to New Zealand, that are obviously too far for my small boat. But I would say that almost any place where the terrestrial mammals exist could be a possible destination. Our Earth is small, and all the lands are more or less connected together by relatively small straits (smaller than 100 km). I said “with my bike” but if I was younger, I would like to try with a push bike and an inflatable canoe... But I am already too old, too lazy, and I don't have enough courage for riding a push bike on a long distance. And I like motorbikes.
    To summarize this project, I can list the main issues:
    • First I need several authorizations. I had to take a one year visa for Russia, that is not the most complex point. I am currently dealing with the Russian administration to get a special permit to cross Chukotka, the most easterly republic of Russia. A big concern: for administrative reason, I will have to leave Russia in Provideniya, that is still a bit far from the Bering Strait (but the closest place with an Immigration Office). From Provideniya, I will follow the coast for 250 km, then I will cross the strait (100km more). But in case of emergency, I could stop before crossing (case of force majeure). I will have also the possibility to have a break at the Diomedes Islands (mid distance between Chukotka and Alaska). At least at the small Diomede (the American one). On the American coast, I will have to pay the Immigration Police to fly from Nome to Wales (a village front of the Bering strait) to stamp my passport. At the end, I believe that I am going for a fully “legal” trip...
    • The main difficulty is to reach Chukotka. I read on this forum a (nice) thread written by 3 Polish bikers who already rode to Egvekinot after taking a ferry on the Kolyma river to Aniusk. I will follow the exact same route, but I will try to sail with my own bike-boat on this river instead of getting a ferry. My only concern is that there are about 1100 km to sail... Perhaps I am a bit ambitious.
    • Once in Alaska, things will not be much easier, and I will have again to sail (on the Yukon river). When sailing, I am on my bike... but I guess that it will be sometimes tedious. Between Grenoble (France) and Fairbanks (Alaska) I expect to ride around 25000 km (20000 km on paved road) on land, and to sail 2000 km (500 km on sea, and the rest on rivers).
    • There are also some technical issues, including carrying petrol. The max distance without a petrol station will be 1100 km on (unpaved) road, and 550 km on water. I added to my original 12 liter tank a 14 liter Safari tank, and I bought three 12 liters bladders. Total=62 liters. Quite a big load for a lite bike that already carries a 30 kg boat plus 20 kg of mechanical parts, plus my body (not so light), my toothbrush, etc...
    • Another issue is the river crossing. As read in the report of the Polish guys, the numerous rivers could be sometimes very deep... I will use my boat (without setting up the propeller) when I will feel that crossing is too risky. It could be long to inflate/deflate the boat, but safer.
    • What else ? The KTM 690 is for sure not the most reliable bike on the world, but I am now too far in my project to change. I still have my old Yam 600TT (that is a very strong bike), but it has already more than 100k km (it has been used for a previous RTW), and I feel that I could now encounter some problems with it as well. I have also to say that my PVC boat does not like rocks, but fortunately, this concern should appear only when landing.
    I stop this post for the moment. If people are interested by this concept of travelling, I will try to post some messages from time to time on this forum. I know I have in several countries some good friends who read it. If you want some technical details you could find more information on this web site: www.summer-ride.com I have the project to publish all the technical information, including the drawings. I just need more time... I also plan to use my old web site (www.route-estivale.fr) as a diary blog, but this one will be in French for my mother.
    To see more details, you could also look at a video made by “France3”, a French tv channel about this project. But it is in French.
    #1
  2. Throttlemeister

    Throttlemeister Long timer

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    This should be pretty wild. I wish you luck and hope you have a huge budget.
    #2
  3. Toi

    Toi -

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    The budget is important, but not huge. The main cost would be to manufacture the specific mechanical parts, but they are made for free in an university (I have to pay only for the bearings, the belts, etc...). Then the budget for traveling will be quite low (no hotel in these areas). And I will save the cost of crossing the Pacific ocean ...
    [​IMG]
    #3
  4. SilkMoneyLove

    SilkMoneyLove Long timer

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    Couple of Russians kite surfed the straight. Look it up on YouTube.
    They stated their support boat could not launch due to the heavy waves. They also encountered whales.
    Just things to think about
    #4
  5. Throttlemeister

    Throttlemeister Long timer

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    I figured you would need some logistical support during the crossing of the Bearing strait and along the long Russian coast for fuel/food depot, a long range helicopter on stand by would be very nice:wink: Wonder about the sea state in the narrows, the crossing would be totally weather dependent with a short window of opportunity to find the seas calm enough for a zodiac with a bike. Going to be interesting challenge. If your path leads you through the middle of the US I'm in Oklahoma and I'd be happy to put you up with room and board and hear and see more about the big plan, just let me know if you route takes you down this way.

    Our paths have already crossed once before as I recognized your sticker.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]


    I met you briefly in Medellin a few years back when you where on your XT600, I still remember that huge desert tire on the back. My travel bike is still waiting on me in SA, just over the border in VZ know:lol3 I could barely leave Colombia.

    Good luck with your trip, its about as wild as they come, the Polish on 3KTM go East was one of my favorites, some extreme tough going:eek1
    #5
  6. TUCKERS

    TUCKERS the famous james

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    I saw a film of a guy who walked from Alaska to Russia!

    He wore a dry suit and hopped and waded from ice to ice. In most places it was knee deep is all. A couple of times he went in up to his chest.

    He walked ashore in Russia!
    #6
  7. Toi

    Toi -

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    The Bering Strait has been already crossed by several ways (windsurf, kite surf, jetski, ski, ...). Until a few centuries ago (before the strait was a border), native used to cross it very often on canoes. The same peopla was living on both side. In supmmer 2008, 2 Englishmen crossed it on their landrover. This experience gave me the idea for my "bike-boat".

    The strait could be very calm, like a lake (see video from the English guys). I will try to arrive at the strait mid July, the best time.
    Yes there are some whales (native leaving there hunt them) but I assume they will be more afraid than I because of the noise of my bike... There is a very nice movie "Les Enfants de la Baleine" made by a French who stayed in Uelen (the closest russian village). This movie show how they hunt the whales (and they do not look aggressive). I believe the danger could be more with bears on land.

    I remember you as well. It was 2 days before Patrick's day (I helped as barman for the night in this Irish pub). You were leaving when I arrived in Medellin. You gaved me some maps for Central America. Thanks again, they had been very useful! Nice hearing from you.
    #7
  8. SilkMoneyLove

    SilkMoneyLove Long timer

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    My points were not meant to try and dissuade you from crossing, just things to think about and it seems that you have.

    As for bears, I carried bear spray in Alaska but have never had to use it.
    #8
  9. Toi

    Toi -

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    Thanks.

    I am preparing this trip for the last 2 years (I prepared my previous RTW during only a couple of weeks), and I am convinced that I am very lucky to have this project.

    I would like to buy such spray but I don't know if I could find some in Russia. I should send the question to my friends at the Vladivostok motoclub. In Alaska, I will have some offroad before joining the Yukon river, and I guess the probability exists there...
    #9
  10. rgon

    rgon explore cordilleras

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Baguio City Philippines
    ...another epic ride in the making, good luck!

    prayers for your safe travel.

    rgon
    #10
  11. Hunter-Douglas

    Hunter-Douglas rube

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    Location:
    Truckee-Tahoe Int.
    More motorcycle powered watercraft! Guaranteed to be epic no matter what!!!

    SUB.
    scribed.
    #11
  12. Toi

    Toi -

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    The difficulty is not to power a boat with a motorcycle, but to carry everything through a continent. On the picture below the specific parts (including the propeller at the bottom of the pannier):
    [​IMG]

    and the difficulty is not to cross the Bering Strait, but to reach it (with or without this load).

    [​IMG]


    Thanks for your offer. I know the probability to reach Oklahoma is quite low, but I will try. Hope you could get back your bike in Venezuela. If I reach the US, perhaps I will try to cross the Darian gap in the same way.
    #12
  13. Tallbastid

    Tallbastid Let's get tropical

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    This is wild, I can't wait to read more!
    #13
  14. Johnnydarock

    Johnnydarock Been here awhile

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    Wow...you have one set of BIG balls. I wish you the best and wish I was going with you. Be safe.

    Johnnydarock
    #14
  15. Toi

    Toi -

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    Thanks Johnny... I measured them and they look quite normal.
    I will have a satellite phone, that is a good insurance. The main risk is to break the bike, or to loose it in a river before the Bering. If I don't reach Alaska because of such an issue, I will not be too frustrated, even if I have spent a lot of time to prepare this trip. This preparation is already a nice experience. Trying something new is already a pleasure.
    #15
  16. SilkMoneyLove

    SilkMoneyLove Long timer

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    Is there a way you can send packages to a certain town that you can pick up when you get there? Maybe a hotel? You can hotel it a night to do laundry and get decent rest before pushing on.

    When you start your trip, it is unlikely that you will need all of the same gear as when you end your trip.

    Figuring out about where you will be and what the weather is at that time might help you pack lighter instead of taking it all with you for the whole trip.

    That is just me thinking about solutions to the trip concerns. Riding a bike is fun. Riding a bike so loaded down it feels like a big truck isn't as fun.

    I think your trip sounds exciting and it has been fun for me to think about it and research it some.
    #16
  17. Toi

    Toi -

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    I will contact some friends in Russia (I already rode to Vladisvostok 3 years ago) to try to find a contact either in Ulan Ude or Yakoutsk. The idea would be to ship a spare-tire (and possibly some other spare parts) before riding the unpaved "road of bones". On the principle, I know that the frame of this bike is weak, but I would like to carry everything from home, just to prove that it is possible. It's quite heavy, but similar to the weight of a passenger. When I was in Patagonia, my daughter joined me (with her luggage), and was my passenger on a TT600 for 2 weeks of unpaved road (Ruta 40 then Carretera Austral). That was not a problem neither for the bike, nor for me.
    Anyway, you are right: the lighter is the safer when riding. But I will not be only on road, and I need specific equipment for water.
    Another possibility would be a trailer, but I don't like this idea.
    #17
  18. 805gregg

    805gregg Long timer

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    How are you going to cool the radiator? And how are you going to carry all that weight on a motorcycle without a subframe?
    #18
    chuppie likes this.
  19. Toi

    Toi -

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    It’s still an active issue for me. I already got the red light while trying to plan on a lake. It occurred only once, in a winter day… I was pushing the engine too far and too long.
    On the other hand, the temperature in Siberia is cool, even in summer (I expect an average temperature lower than 10°C). And I am still optimizing the propulsion system to go as fast as possible while consuming as low as possible. I still have 10 weeks to reach this target. If I am successful, I believe that I will not need to improve the existing cooling system.
    If extra cooling is mandatory, I will have a small spray (for plants). On the boat, I will have time to spray water on the engine/radiator…


    Again an active issue. I assume that if the bike has been designed to carry a passenger, it could carry this load. But it's probably too optimistic.

    Now, most of the weight is in/on the panniers that are supported by the rack. The rack passes a part of the weight to the tank, and the remainder to lower part of the frame. I am thinking about transferring some of the load from the tank to the frame through the rack.

    Some numbers:


    • the boat: 28kg
    • the propulsion system: 15kg
    • the pipes to suspend the bikes on the boat: 5kg
    The main issue will be between Bilibino and Egvekinot where I will have to carry a lot of petrol. I am confident for the rest of the trip.
    #19
  20. jfman

    jfman Long timer

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    This is insane :clap

    Can you ship the floating rig to the egde of the continent rather than hauling it all the way?
    #20