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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by micko01, Jan 18, 2015.
Count me in for sure!
I'm in guys!
I'm IN...Chomping at the bit for more.
Already a great RR and it's only just started.
Hey Mick. Good to see it's all going good for you guy's. I've been reading the bike build and your blog since you started posting. Awesome mate.
Hey macca, great that you joined! hope everything is going well back in WA.
Hey everyone - thanks for the positive feedback! We have been writing our blog since we started and its great to share it with like minded people here on ADV, hopefully you guys will enjoy it. We should have some photos up of our trip preparation in a bit with some more photos.
To keep everyone in the mood, here are some photos from yesterday morning from our last camp spot in the Ugab River near Brandberg here in Namibia, an area known for desert elephants. We woke to find we had a visitor through the night!
A fresh elephant track - I'm going to guess a big male all by himself
An this is how close he was to our camp - maybe 30 or 40m or so. You can see he walked over our bike tracks we left the night before
Hi GoodToGo. Interesting that you ask that, as for a while now I've been drafting a bit of a review of the pannier bags based on our last 5 and a bit months and 20000ish kilometers with them. We bought them based on the positive reviews and good features too. In fact there is so much hype about these bags I'm surprised no one has claimed their Magadan's cook breakfast in the morning and fight off the bears that come to eat it. We have the Gen1 Magadans as opposed to the current spec gen2 versions and in a nutshell, they are pretty good, we are reasonably happy with them, but we have some sore points with them too.
Firstly, the good points.
* The size is good for RTW travel, there is a fair bit of room for the extra things you'll likely carry when travelling long term, like clothes for cold and warm climates, extra electronics, extra maps if you like paper maps like me, extra spares etc. They are pretty big on the DR, but they fit no problems. The volume of our bags goes up and down a bit depending on how much food and water and other things we might be carrying at the time. For the last couple months because it has been warm I've had my jacket in one of the panniers and just been riding in armour and a jersey. Another example is right now we are carrying 5 litres of oil as we are due for a service shortly but will be far far away from anywhere that sells decent quality oil when we do it.
* I like the round pocket at the front and the rectangular pocket at the back, it's a convenient way to carry things you don't want in the bag like fuel/oil, or want access too quickly like wet weather gear. Incidentally, the front round pocket perfectly fits a wine bottle.
* The loops to run a lockable cable through add a visual deterrent to thieves and the slash proof fabric under the outer cordura layer means we can leave the bikes and can be reasonably comfortable our things are secure. We haven't had any issues so far, but that said, we don't leave the bikes out over night when we stay in towns and generally take sensible precautions.
* The saddle straps are highly adjustable and the double Velcro arrangement means it's strong. You could mount these things to just about any rack arrangement. On our bikes I mounted them as low and as far forward as possible to help with weight distribution, but you could mount them just about anywhere. Check out Lyndon Poskitt's KTM he has mounted his very high and rearward; it really depends on where you want them. If you mount them as far forward as we do, it means you end up sitting on the front strap which is rather uncomfortable. We had airhawks which we put over the top for this,
* Due to the 3 layer construction, these things are strong and can take a load.
The not so good points:
* The buckles are poor quality, mine broke tightening my straps only a couple weeks into the trip. I contacted AS and they were good about it, however after telling them that South Africa had a country wide postal strike and not to mail them to me, they mailed them. About 4 months later they still haven't arrived. I'm assuming that some disliked distant relative of a South African Postal worked received some buckles for Xmas.
* The straps (the ones that strap down the roll top) are not so good either, the ends are beginning to fray which is worrying. They still work fine, its just that the ends are wearing and starting to look a bit sad. These straps were actually the first thing I first noticed when I took the bags out of the wrappers, it's a noticeably lighter weight strap compared to what I'm used to seeing on good quality soft luggage.
* The liners are not user friendly, the material is very stiff and thick so they use up space and the roll top becomes excessivly bulky when rolled down, to the point where we stopped actually rolling them down to seal them, we just folded them over to save space. Interestingly, if you look at the video review Lyndon Poskitt did of his gen2 bags, you'll see he is doing the same thing with his liners. With the liner folded over and not rolled they are not truly waterproof. Another complaint you might read is that the liners are difficult to remove; they don't slide in and out very well. This is true, they are not super easy to remove, but they do slide out ok, especially if not overfilled. This doesn't affect us too much as we camp a lot. We used the standard magadan liners for one ~1300km trip in Oz before getting frustrated and replacing them with Sea to Summit (50 litre "Small" I think from memory) pack liners. The pack liners are much more space efficient and we are very happy with them. They slide in and out better and the roll top is compact, meaning we can easily and quickly seal them from the elements. They are the liners these panniers should have. And don't even think about using these panniers without a liner; the outers are not dust or waterproof. Riding here in Namabia, I have on a couple occasions opened the bag to find a handful of sand and dust sitting on the liner. Same in heavy rain, the inner bag gets wet. Actually, that same clip in Lyndon's review where he opens the bag to look at the liner; from memory the top is dusty. That's what they look like if you ride on gravel.
&* Andy from AndyStrapz made a comment about the gen1 bags on the AS website that the cordura outer layer "would peel open like a banana in a fall"; which seemed a little snide, but based on my experience he is right. I had a silly low speed drop (maybe only 40kph) on gravel and the outer layer did indeed open up like a banana exposing the twaron slash proof layer underneath. On the AS website there is a review of a similar experience; an off resulted in a hole in the outer layer. Thankfully these bags are a 3 layer construction so there is some contingency there, even with a hole in the outer layer they are still useable.
* The cinching straps which tighten the front and rear pockets don't slide through the buckles well at all, to the point were those straps are basically impossible to use. With effort they will move, and I've tried to force them to soften and free them up, but have given up and just don't use these straps anymore.
So all in all the bags are good, they get a pass mark because they have some good features and are doing what we need them to do, but they have some QAQC issues too. A ~$500 pair of bags shouldn't have straps and buckles that break and fray and don't work, and bulky non user friendly liners; when you spend big money you expect good quality and when you don't get it; that leaves a pretty bitter taste in your mouth. With better quality materials and better quality liners (or just sell them with Sea to Summit pack liners) the bags could be far superior.
Regarding the reviews that you might have read on these bags, after re-reading them and comparing it to my experience with the bags; the marketing doesn't reconcile to my experience. If you concentrate on the unsolicited reviews and put the rest aside you'll get a much more balanced view of the bags.
Would I buy them again? Probably not the gen 1 versions I have (which are no longer available anyway); there are too many annoying quality issues for the price. ~500 bucks is a lot of money, they should be great, there shouldn't be basic QAQC problems due to low spec materials. The gen 2 versions (which reputedly have better buckles and a couple extra features) I would need to see before I would hand over any money for.
But it also depends what you want them for. The main thing that puts these bags apart from the competition is the security features, but if you were travelling in safe countries like Australia that's reasonably unnecessary. Its even debatable whether its needed in less safe countries like South Africa, as with some planning and basic precautions you can be quite safe and secure there. Buts it's a nice to have feature nonetheless.
Hope that helps!
Photos of the liners - this shows the the standard magadan liner on the right and the Sea to Summit Pack Liner on the left - volume wise its a near perfect swap. You can see that the velcro and buckle on the standard liner are large, and the material is thick enough to stand up by itself. It means that the roll top is massive when sealed.
Loaded S2S liner next to the outer bag.
And showing the nice and compact roll top of the S2S pack liner. Its a much better solution than the standard liner.
Hey GTG, I just keep track of the odometer to estimate how much fuel is in the tank. I've got a fair idea of the consumption in various conditions and can then estimate fuel level from there, that is what we do and have no problems. Looking inside is tricky, its kinda difficult to accurately guess how much is left other than it "looks like lots" or "doesn't look like much" or "now I know why it stopped".
Im in. Awesome route. Nice too see different route through S. America.
Thank you for sharing your ride with us.
awesome... cant wait to follow along!
Rock licker is my new favorite expression.
Another awesome adventure
Thanks for sharing your RR and beautiful pictures.
Funny thing is licking rocks is a legitimate method of identification for some minerals, like talc. Geo's get taught this in uni, and everyone else in the mines gets to take the piss endlessly because of it!
EDIT: I just got told off - geo's don't lick rocks. They just dab, apparently. Tan said its the only real way to tell the difference between a mudstone and a siltstone in the field i.e. without a microscope. You can now put that little factoid into the back of the brain and wow your mates at your next trivia night.
Before we get into the thick of our ride report we thought we should share a bit of the planning process for those of you considering doing the same thing. Alternately some of you may just be interested to know how you go from working professionals with a comfortable life and garage full of fun toys to unemployed motorcycle bums whose every possession smells like foot sweat and engine oil and fits on a the back of a bike.
Believe it or not All this fits on our bikes
Being both long time bikers and travel tragics before meeting each other, we both had the dream to ride bikes around the world. From early on in the relationship we had talked about doing it together at some point. However it was October 2013 that we made the decision that that point had finally come and we were going to go riding for a few years in August 2014. We quickly had our route sorted out and tentative date set for us to give notice with our employers. From October onwards it was a frenzy of saving cash, reading countless ride reports, modifying bikes, planning of ALL things and containing our excitement.
Now Mick and I were lucky as we were both dead keen on the trip and we were able to divide the trip planning workload. I can only imagine how busy it must be for someone going it alone! The division of labour was as follows:
Mick bike prep (a mammoth job that took him about 2 months working 10-12 hours a day every day)
Me most of the other boring logistical stuff (selling of possessions, carnet de passage, insurance, shipping, storage etc.)
I had lists.
I had lists of lists
When facing a few years of no income (besides the $10 my grandmother insists on giving me every birthday thanks Nanna!) we were obviously keen to save money where possible. Where we saved the most money was on the freighting of the bikes and storage of the remainder of our belongings. And much to the detriment of local small business we did a heck of a lot of online shopping. So much so we were on a first name basis with our local postman, Sorry Michael, the packages is for Tanya today. While we did remain loyal to our local bike dealer by buying our riding gear with them due to their fantastic service, the bulk of our kit came from overseas. My apologies to the Australian economy, however the savings were irresistible. We estimate that we saved on the whole about 40% on gear for the trip that way.
We managed to sell most of our belongings easily on Gumtree (for foreign readers: Gumtree is like Craigslist but without the serial killers and marginally less prostitutes). Tragically (but wisely) we made the decision to sell our Italian road bikes, which dont store so well. A lucky Texan living in Perth picked up my Benelli TNT 1130 for the price of a clapped out secondhand Honda demonstrating the major pitfall of owning an obscure make of bike. And Mick offloaded his MV Agusta F4 1000S Nero (only one of 20 released in Australia) to a local guy with a wife that was so incredibly pissed off about him buying the bike that all we wanted to do was make the sale and run inside our house and hide. Poor fella in all his excitement about the bike didnt seem at all aware of the monumental matrimonial strife he was in for. At least now he can get away fast if need be.
My Benelli TNT getting a service before it was sold (the only photo we've got with us unfortunately) - this bike was pretty much the most fun that can be had on two wheels (on tar).
Sadly we don't have a pic with us of Mick's MV, but safe to say it was black and mean and sexy as hell, and fast to the point it could pretty scary if you weren't 100% on your game. It turned so many head you could hear the necks crack as you rode by.
We did keep a bit of stuff like books, a stereo and vinyl collection, tools and a lot of outdoor gear. And then there was the matter of Micks beloved 1977 Holden Statesmen Deville that he wasnt keen to part with. With that in mind I contacted a plethora of shipping container places and got quotes for long-term 20ft container storage then offered to pay 18 months up front for a generous discount on a 3-year hire. All companies approached offered a good rate but one gave us a monster of a discount so we went with them.
With that sorted Mick was left to design and build a racking system that would allow us to store the Statesman and all our gear in the container. Storing the boxes in the car and in a rack over the bonnet of the car worked a treat. Mass money saved and the beloved Statesman didnt need to be sold.
Making a frame for storage
Nearly ready to use
The beast in all its bogan glory
All our stuff for storage in the container.
Geez I hope we put enough dog biscuits in for her
Packing the container - we squeezed as much stuff in the old girl as possible
It was a tight fit, but she fit
The rack then went over the bonnet and then we put the last of our stuff in
The next big expense was going to be the freighting of the bikes from Perth to Durban, South Africa. We were going to fly the bikes as we didnt want to face the near inevitable delays of putting the bikes on a ship. Even a delay of just a couple of weeks in a city like Durban would likely negate any of the savings of putting the bike on a boat in the first place not to mention drive us nuts. So plane it was. We had seen on the Horizons Unlimited shipping information page that the last guy paid $3500 for a similar route which seemed horrifically high even for such an uncommon route. We were sure we could do it for less.
Wash wash wash - Getting the bike ready for shipping
I called around to every freight mob that I could to get their detailed pricing lists. For anyone planning to do this I would say resist the temptation to fully offload the complicated stuff (like bike shipping) to the professionals. Shop around. You wouldnt believe how much prices vary from company to company. It seems to us that a lot of people just drop their bikes off at a bike dealership and pay for them to crate the bike. This is fair enough when you dont have the time but the fact is the bike shops have no incentive for getting that crate to the smallest possible dimensions. And every millimetre costs you big time in the air freight.
So to save us big dollars, Mick set about making the smallest possible crate (a single crate) to transport both the bikes. He did some measurements and guessed that the best way to ship them was with both wheels removed and the bikes sitting on their bash plates. The front forks were pushed up in the triple clamps and the front fairings, handle bars and the rear fenders were also taken off to reduce the final dimensions. Using a motely collection of steel offcuts and various scrap we had collected over months like proper pikies, Mick built the crate with slots to hold the front axle and the rear chain guide to hold the bikes in position. A simple frame and wrapping plastic for walls and a roof finished off the crate. The final dimension of 2.72 cubic metres meant that the crate was sufficiently dense that we were charged on weight rather than volume, which is extremely uncommon and pretty gratifying.
Yep, 2 bikes actually do fit on that crate
Little slot to locate the front axle
With forks pushed up the triple clamps it got pretty low
The slot for the chain guide to sit in
The bike in its near final position
And now for the 2nd one
Pretty snug fit
Wheels in the crate, plus all the panniers and all of the riding gear too
2.72m3 of goodness
Wrapping it up so we've got a pressie to open in Africa
Finished! Packing the crate ended up taking a couple hours
We saved anything up to $3000 compared to if we had just taken the bikes straight to a freight transport place and all it cost us was about $60 in scrap steel and 2 days work to design and build the crate.
To any Aussies out there try to do all the running around for the dangerous goods certificates yourself. The guys who provide these certificates just have a quick glance at the bike and make sure there is no more than a ¼ tank of fuel and remind you to make sure you disconnect the battery terminals. They often tell you that they have to go out to the freight terminal to do all this charging you a hefty fee for it. Save yourself the cash and go to them. That is what I did.
Final curry night at our beloved local pub. Monday Curries were an institution for us
Needless to say the final week of preparations of the trip were incredibly busy with the storage, bike stuff and handing over our rental property. The biggest spanner in the works for us was due to the lull of the mining boom in Perth making it nigh on impossible to sell our Holden Rodeo diesel ute. This meant we had to drive the car back to our parents place in Brisbane where we could leave it with them to sell. So with the clock now ticking to departure we drove in shifts the 4200km across the country in just 52 hours which included a 7 hour stop for a sleep in Port Augusta, about halfway. Ours is a bloody big country. We managed to meet an interested buyer before reaching Brisbane and after checking out the ute and ignoring our disheveled appearance agreed to take the car off our hands. Beauty! We now had a day or to say our farewells to family and then we were off for Africa; Mick and I on discount Asian airlines with our knees around our ears, while the bikes traveled in style on Qantas.
Nothing like an impromptu 4000+km drive across the country
This is a life! Not mine, sitting in bulshit office and looking outside window
Ooh! You get a window?