I&G plans for the Trans America Trail by CCM GP450 & Honda CRF250L

Discussion in 'Americas' started by Drumbrakes, Jan 4, 2016.

  1. Drumbrakes

    Drumbrakes Been here awhile Supporter

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    Hi All,
    I'm starting this thread as a log of our plan to do the Trans America Trail in the late summer of 2016.

    My Bike, Toothless, a CCM GP450 (on the left)
    [​IMG]

    I live in Scotland, so most of our planning issues fall into the following categories:
    Transport: Us and our bikes to our starting point in Charleston SC (makes it a coast to coast trip) and back again from Port Orford, along with all the necessary customs paperwork - EPA exemptions, Visa Waivers etc.

    Other paperwork: Medical and Motor Insurance.

    Bike preparation: luggage, general trail durability and fall protection, theft protection + long distance comfort.

    Pre-arranging suitable maintenance stops for the bikes, at reliable garages who can get in the correct service parts (The CCM is not sold in the US yet)

    Kit for the trip - What kit will let a pasty Scottish person get across the desserts of the Central US without melting, whilst still being protected when we fall?? I don't think I've ever ridden a bike in temperatures much over 20c (70f), but I'm well practised at falling off.

    As for the route it's self, we have Sam's Roll Charts and will following them as closely as possible from Andrews NC onwards, but will have a GPS each as well.
    We're loading the rollchart points into Garmin Basecamp as waypoints, checking each Junction on Google Earth, then putting together the tracks for the route. Very time consuming, but it means We've looked at every section of every trail on the map personally before we start.

    This is intended as a log of our progress but general advice is welcome, and if I have any specific questions, I'll let you know.

    Cheers,
    Iain
    #1
  2. ojo

    ojo Adventurer

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    Subscribed to thread! Really interested on how you get along. Preparing is a lot of work, interesting and pretty much some fun too. In 2011 i shipped my AfricaTwin to Australia and back (from switzerland) and we really had a great trip. TAT has been in my head for quite some time now ....

    Great looking bikes :-) you even seem to plan taking a supporting vehicle with trailer are you? (the green and red one on first pic ;-) ... )
    #2
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  3. Tommyturtle

    Tommyturtle Been here awhile

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    Good luck! subscribed!

    P.S. let me know if I can be of any help too. Paperwork/logistics/insurance etc. I found the usual info from inmates very helpful but did one or two things differently - sometimes for the better and sometimes not!

    I'm planning on leaving T.P. mid August but maybe a little beforehand. All depends on work and to a lesser extent weather.
    #3
  4. Drumbrakes

    Drumbrakes Been here awhile Supporter

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    I like the idea of a support vehicle with a roof, Although the steering is a bit knackered, it goes very quickly if you make the right brum brum noises, but the owner (our neighbour) isn't allowed out the courtyard after dark.
    It'll just be the two bikes and two humans supporting each other.
    #4
  5. kwakbiker

    kwakbiker Been here awhile

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    Good luck with the trip, subscribed
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  6. drdubb

    drdubb OFWG Supporter

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    The roll charts are very difficult to follow, the GPS tracks are fairly easy, although there are places where a map comes in handy.
    #6
  7. Drumbrakes

    Drumbrakes Been here awhile Supporter

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    Riding Kit:
    This is probably the area we've made most progress with so far.
    As a mountain biker I'm a fan of proper body armour that attaches firmly to the person, rather than hanging in pockets in loose fitting clothing, so let's start there.
    I have POC Bone leg, arm and torso Armour, as well as padded shorts. These pics are from the PC website, my stuff is not this shiny.
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Don't think pedal bike armour is inferior to stuff made for motorbikes, from my experience it's usually tougher as Mountain bikers tend to come off more, and also land on more lumpy ground, It's also built to allow more movement at the knees and elbows than any motorcross type armour I've seen.
    The POC back protector meets the highest EC motorcycle back protector rating and is longer and wider than anything that fits in the back of a motorbike jacket. The leg and arm armour isn't EC rated, but is thicker than EC rated motorbike pads. I have had quite a few major falls in this stuff, including 6 foot drops onto rocks. It absorbs the impacts spreads them over a wide area. You may be left a bit winded, but you can get up and keep going.

    As mentioned above, we're fairly worried about the heat, whilst cycling body armour is made for people who are excercising, neither of us are used to hot climates and keeping cool will be a challenge.
    I'm working on the basis that if it's way too hot for me, I can take the bike jacket off, but I'll need to keep my trousers on. (i believe the South of the US are quite firm with their public decency laws. I'm sure I've heard some areas have specific laws to prevent teenagers showing too much of their boxers, so I don't want to get caught out.)

    With that in mind - I've gone for the RST Adventure II jacket - The bits that look like chest pockets are in fact large vent sections. The outer covering folds away leaving an open mesh and the arms have full length zips which reveal more mesh. (the neck guard is removable and will be left at home)
    [​IMG]
    I've noticed the left chest vent is actually blocked by a pocket on the lining - that's been cut out of mine.

    There are matching trousers for that jacket, but I'm not a matching suit kind of person. Whilst they have the same types of vents on the thighs, that may not be enough. I'm going for full mesh trousers in the form of RST Ventilator V "Pants"
    [​IMG]
    It doesn't show well on the picture but the entire front of the thighs and calves are mesh. Hopefully that will make up for being black.

    Both jacket and trousers have a removable waterproof lining and a thermal one. The thermal ones are getting left behind, but the waterproof ones will be packed. The waterproof liner for the jacket can also be used on it's own making a handy off-bike jacket for rest days.

    Boots - I have narrow feet, I wanted something light in colour with some good grip on the sole, So I've bought a pair of Alt-Berg Desert Hoggs. You won't find these listed on their website, but they are displayed in the factory, and can be made to order.
    They are like the Classic All-weather Ultralite Hogg boot, but in their military desert boot materials, and without the waterproof lining. (though the leather and textile sections are still water repellent.) They look like this, but with a double layer on the toe for gear-changes, and a bit bulkier round the ankle where they have proper impact protection.
    [​IMG]

    Helmets.

    I spent ages trying to find helmets we could try on and buy in the UK that meet the US legal regulations, i.e. DOT or SNELL approved. Unfortunately it seems only a couple of very expensive helmets available in the UK actually come with the DOT / SNELL stickers, even if they do meet the standards. It seems helmet manufacturers, even in the adventure touring sector, don't expect you to ever wear it in a different region from the one you buy it in.

    On top of that, we wanted a light coloured adventure style helmet, with a peak, a proper visor (don't like goggles) extra room around the mouth for breating, and a drop down sun visor.
    I went for the Nexx XD-1. I needed a size larger then I do for my current Caberg Konda, but it fits well and is very comfy. This helmet is sold in the US with a DOT sticker, but the version I've got only has the EC sticker.
    (I did try the Caberg Tourmax, as I love my Konda, but i found I could not see the peak at all with the helmet on, which means it will never shade my eyes from anything, but will still catch the wind at highway speeds + No Cabergs are DOT or Snell approved as they don't sell in the US)
    [​IMG]
    If I get stopped by the fuzz in a state that requires helmets, and they're in a bad mood, and they check our helmet, I'll just have to explain we made the best attempt I could.

    I've got a variety of wicking technical fabric under-layers for to help keep cool under the body armour (and keep the armour clean). These fabrics are great as you can wash them in the evening and they'll be dry in the morning. In the right weather you can just wrap them in a towe then wring them out after washing and put them straight on again, though we will be taking one set to wear + a spare set. Mine are under-armour "Heat-gear".

    I'm not yet sure How cold the colder sections of the journey will be and am hoping that adding a few extra layers + waterproof liners will keep me warm enough on the higher mountain passes.

    Cheers,
    Iain
    #7
  8. kwakbiker

    kwakbiker Been here awhile

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    Iain, why were you worried about the safety standards. My understanding is that they only apply to helmets being sold in that region not if you are riding there and bought another helmet with you....would make it fun on a RTW trip, changing lids all the time
    #8
  9. Drumbrakes

    Drumbrakes Been here awhile Supporter

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    I looked into US helmet laws, and as far as I could make out, about 1/2 the states we will pass through require motorcyclists to wear helmets, and most of those require the helmet to be DOT or SNELL approved.
    I did think it would be easier to find a helmet that met both EU and US standards, because it would so annoying to get a new helmet for a different country.
    Various people I've talked to say they had never thought of it, and never had any issues using an EU / UK helmet in the US. I definitely got the impression a few thought i was being a knob for even asking about dual standard helmets.

    Here's the law from Mississippi:
    "No person shall operate or ride upon any motorcycle or motor scooter upon the public roads or highways of this state unless such person is wearing on his or her head a crash helmet of the type and design inspected and approved by the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators. "
    http://law.justia.com/codes/mississippi/2010/title-63/7/63-7-64/]/URL]
    #9
  10. Drumbrakes

    Drumbrakes Been here awhile Supporter

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    Outward Transport.
    There was an episode of Adventure Bike TV that really inspired me. It covered a couple setting out on a tour by boarding a freighter ship. The got a cabin on the boat and rode their bikes onto the Cargo Deck, then cruised in peace and quiet to South America (I think). A normal leisure cruise ship covered in swimming pools and sunbathers is my idea of hell, but a commercial freighter with just a few passengers, sounded brilliant. Arriving in the US by ship seemed to tie in with the concept of traveling East to West across the country along unsurfaced roads, past deserted frontier towns and over mountain passes first used by settlers.

    I couldn't find a roll on roll off freighters which take passengers going from Europe to the US, but I did find a container vessel - the CMA CGM Jamaica which goes from Rotterdam in The Netherlands to Charleston SC, only 300 miles to Andrews NC. The crossing is 13 days, at €120 per person per day. maybe more expensive than a flight, but it's 13 days accommodation as well (might even include food?) and a fortnight to relax and pour over the maps before we hit the trails.

    If you arrive in the US at the Port of Charleston on a freight vessel, it seems the normal Visa Waivers available to UK citizens are not accepted. We would need
    full US Visas, which requires us to fill out various forms and then visit the US Embassy in London. That's an extra inconvenience, but one we're prepared to put up with.

    Rotterdam's not exactly local for me, but a 2 hour ride will get us to Newcastle, and from there we could take an overnight ferry to Ijmuiden near Amsterdam, about 40 minutes ride to Rotterdam.
    There's still a problem here though. Maris Freighter Cruises would book us a cabin on the ship, but can't help at all with getting the bikes on. Their website had some links to a few cargo agencies. some not in business any more, and none that looked like they regularly deal with motorbikes.
    I tried to find a motorbike shipping agency that could receive our bikes in Rotterdam a day before it leaves, get them into a container on our ship, then unload them again in Charleston. That turned out to be trickier than you'd think. I finally found one called SCL Rotterdam, unsurprisingly, based in Rotterdam, within the same docks as our freighter would leave from. They were confident they could sort us out once we knew our dates.
    We tried to book a cabin for Early August 2016 in August 2015, but were advised this is too early. The ships leave on this route every week, and there are 5 boats that do the route, only one takes passengers, so the dates aren't set that far ahead.
    I enquired again at the end of December and were told we could get a cabin for a departure on the 17th of August. That would get us into Charleston for the start of September. For us that's too late. We don't want to be rushed, and we don't want to be trying to cross the Rockies in October with a risk of snow.
    The pervious dates available are for the 6th of July. Unfortunately I have work commitments that prevent us leaving that soon.

    Shame. That means we'll be flying over instead, but we still plan to start in Charleston and dip a toe or wheel in the Atlantic before we set off.
    #10
  11. cwegga

    cwegga Been here awhile

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    It's unlikely that the police will check your helmet unless you purposely get on their bad side or are wearing a novelty style half helmet with horns or something. I would think since you have real style helmets they won't bother.
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  12. Tommyturtle

    Tommyturtle Been here awhile

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    I honestly can't remember seeing a single police car or patrol car the whole time I was on the TAT.
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  13. Paul_C

    Paul_C R1200GSA. CCM GP450. Moto Guzzi LeMans II

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  14. drdubb

    drdubb OFWG Supporter

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    There's another route called the TETand TET-S, (Trans Eastern Trail) that you might incorporate if you are starting on the Atlantic. It runs up the Georgia/south Carolina line from Savanah. There is a thread on ADV from which you can request the GPS routes and some old ride reports about the trail.
    #14
  15. Drumbrakes

    Drumbrakes Been here awhile Supporter

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    Thanks for all the replies.

    That's the guys. One freighter cruise company did advise that the only shipping line they could book both people and motorbikes onto was the Grimaldi line to Uruguay. So it seems the Nomads either picked their destination because they could get a boat there or were particularly lucky.

    That's what I'm hoping for too, but as I was buying a new helmet for this trip, it seemed logical to get one that meets the local legislation. Logical, but not really possible.
    At the end of the day I'd need to really piss them off for them to try and charge me with not having helmet that meets US regulations when I'm on a foreign registered bike to start with.


    I found this thread: http://advrider.com/index.php?threads/tet.508552/page-76
    but the last comment on it is this: "I checked with Chip and the files for the TET will not be available until the point he can devote time to the project once again."
    There's 76 pages on that thread I'll have look through and see if there's anything useful for SC still available. However one day of highway riding will get us to the start of Sam's TAT route, so it's not too bad.
    #15
  16. kwakbiker

    kwakbiker Been here awhile

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    Fair enough Drum, least your getting prepared
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  17. Drumbrakes

    Drumbrakes Been here awhile Supporter

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    Thanks very much for suggesting this and bringing it to my attention.
    It won't help us much this year, but might consider it for future trips.
    I found a high level map of the route for South and North Carolina. It looks like it passes through Andrews NC, the start of Sam's TAT route for us, but it stays inland as it cones south, so any route we took to join it would be about the same distance from Charleston.
    Maybe if we'd been starting from Florida or NY...
    #17
  18. Drumbrakes

    Drumbrakes Been here awhile Supporter

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    Action Cameras.
    In 2008 I used an Oregon Scientific action camera on my mountain bike. It gave about an hours recording in 640x480 on a 2GB memory card, and used up 2 AA batteries in the same time. This meant carrying a number of spare batteries and memory cards on every ride, and frequent checking to see if the card needed changed.

    On trips where we went riding every day it was also a tedious task to copy the files from the memory cards onto a laptop, and get them named in the right order for editing later, as well as recharging several sets of batteries.

    The footage was usually very shaky, with the image warping due to movement across individual frames.
    The result was footage that helped you remember what each trail was like, and the good, bad, tricky bits, but nothing really worthy of youtube. It was also good for fine tuning suspension settings as you could clearly see when the ride got smoother.

    Fortunately cameras have improved a huge amount since then.
    Go Pro seem to be the top brand, but there's loads of choice.
    The one that's caught my eye for this trip is the Garmin Virb XE.
    It doesn't do 4k, but I can live with normal HD I think (don't have a 4k tv or computer screen anyway)
    I can't see how much storage is needed per hour of footage, but it's likely to be similar across all camera brands for the same quality of recording. The advantage would be one that can take multiple of extra high capacity micro SD cards compared to others.

    It does have good image stabilisation / vibration control according to all reviews, though we'll see how it handles being bolted to a 450cc single cylinder bike!
    It also has an option for a rugged, water proof 12v power connection whilst in use.
    Being Garmin, it has built in GPS, so logs your location, speed and altitude as you go.
    On top of that, it has accelerometers to log G forces, encountered, so can log the bumps of the trail, as well as cornering braking and acceleration. ( and how hard a particular fall was).
    It has an option to connect to external sensors including a temperature sensor, so I we know how hot it was.
    All that's great, but the real standout feature is the option of an ODB2 Bluetooth adapter which gives a feed from the bike's ECU.
    This can give engine speed, throttle position, gear etc.

    All this can be added to a dashboard style overlay when you edit the videos on your PC later, a bit like you get on the onboard MotoGP footage.

    Of course motorbikes don't all have a standard ODB2 connector ( only triumphs as far as I can make out...)
    But after a lot of web searching I've come to the conclusion that the CCM is probably ODB2 compatible. Some clever folk on the Café Husky forum have found a way to amend an Aprilia ODB2 connector cable to fit their Husky diagnostic ports. Although the CCM has a BMW branded engine, they seem to use the husky engine harness, so this should work for me too.

    The ODB2 connnector has 16 pins, only 3 are of any real interest for getting the ecu data.
    pin 16 - 12v power from the battery.
    5 ground.
    7 data feed from ECU.

    The CCM diagnostic port has 4 wires that go to a 6 way econoseal female connector joined to a fully blanked off male connector. To hook into this, I replace the blank male connector with one I've made myself that leads to a proper ODB2 socket. It's just a matter if mapping the wires to the right locations, no electronics of any kind.
    the 4 wires are: 1 ground, 1 data from ECU and 2 that are labeled as node 2 (blue with green) and node 3 (red with white) respectively.
    I suspect one is ignition switched power, and the other is constant power. I'll put my multi-meter onto these in due course to find out.
    If possible I'll use switched power so I can leave the Bluetooth adapter on without draining the battery.

    I've purchased the Aprilia cable and a 6 way econoseal connector to fit the husky loom and once these arrive I will butcher them together and see if it works, using a friend's ODB2 connector. The official Garmin product will not be available to buy until February.
    #18
  19. chasbmw

    chasbmw Long timer

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    Subscribed
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  20. Drumbrakes

    Drumbrakes Been here awhile Supporter

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    Flights booked (for the humans only)!
    #20
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