Mongolian entree with a Russian side dish. (2 x F800GS, 15000km, 25 days)

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Miikka, Jul 19, 2012.

  1. Miikka

    Miikka Sir Fallalot

    Sep 11, 2008
    Bellingham, WA / Finland
    Hello inmates!

    This is a ride report of two family guys taking a month off from family and work to ride through Mongolia!
    In order to reach Mongolia from Finland we had to cross half a Russia…twice.
    We had to go home as well you know.

    Trip had been on the table for years and finally in June 2012 there was an opening to do it! :freaky

    So here's the storyline in short:
    - 2 guys on 2 BMW F800GS's
    - 4 weeks to spend
    - 15000km's to ride.

    No time to waste, so let's get the wheels rolling!

    Meet MC Chicken Wings:
    (Wings, because we fly for living. Chicken, cause our track record shows more U-turns than passed shortcuts):shog


    - 37 years old
    - wife and 2 kids
    - big mortgage
    - basic riding skills and itch to travel


    Jani (you get to guess which one)
    - 36 years old
    - wife and 3 kids
    - bigger mortgage
    - similar riding skills but longer feet. Also willing to travel

    And our backup crew / helicopter / support vehicle:

    - able to organize a helicopter, Starbucks latte, new chain or swedish twi…I mean
    meatballs in a record time if needed. (disclaimer: as long as FedEx delivers)
    - valuable asset, expensive to hire, only accepts payments in Calvados
    - was responsible for organizing someone to go and collect our belongings if our
    Spot track got stuck for longer than 48 hours.

    And our original plan:

    Helsinki to Vladivostok...put the bikes on a ship and fly home.
    (of course we didn't stick with the plan)
    Tenacious B likes this.
  2. Joeman68

    Joeman68 Be all you can be..

    Jul 11, 2012
    Somewhere in nowhere...aka Sweden

    Waiting for the next episode..
  3. Miikka

    Miikka Sir Fallalot

    Sep 11, 2008
    Bellingham, WA / Finland
    Getting ready to go!


    We've been doing all the maintenance on the bikes ourselves in order to learn and gain
    some hands on experience on stripping / building the bikes.
    So we did the 10000km maintenance during winter and we noticed that both bikes have
    weeping valve cover gaskets. :( Both bikes were past warranty but BMW stepped up and
    covered the labour and parts on our bikes! :clap

    - changed all wheel bearings and brake pads just to be on the safe side.
    - had the chain&sprocket recall job done (=fresh set of chain and sprockets for trip) at the dealer
    - paid 30 euros to get the lower octane mod done.
    - installed lithium batteries on both bikes (lots of controversy on that, I know) to diet few kilos and
    make room for our own electricity mods.

    Jani's bike was equipped with VIO pov camera shooting forward and mine has a Chasecam
    setup shooting front and rear. (I said I like gadgets, didn't I?)
    Both bikes have inverters and cig.outlets at the rear box for charging various gadgets.

    We chose Heidenau K60 Scout tires.
    Rear tire was 140 (instead of stock width 150).

    Most of the other mods on the bikes had been installed over the past 2 years basically this trip
    on our minds. To be brutally honest (to myself), many of (my!) mods are totally and utterly
    unnecessary and too vulnerable for a trip like this…but I happen to like mods and
    guilty as charged! :wave

    Öhlins front and rear suspension are great, but not necessary. Jani went with stock suspension
    and had no issues.
    Stock downpipes and muffler work just fine, but I wanted to lose extra kilos and went with
    Akrapovic muffler and Arrow headers. Jani had stock and I think his bike napped way less
    than mine during the trip. Conclusion: Lighter and more expensive pipes don't hold the bike
    upright for you..?

    Anyway, this is supposed to be a ride report, not a mod report.

    If anyone's interested in any of the mods, just ask and I shall respond!

  4. Miikka

    Miikka Sir Fallalot

    Sep 11, 2008
    Bellingham, WA / Finland
    Day 1, June 1st
    Helsinki - E of Veliky Novgorod

    Plan was to accelerate out of Helsinki at 8am and cross the border to Russia as fast as possible.
    Naturally, that didn't happen. Our last piece of spare parts (chain master links) had to picked up
    before departure and we ended up departing 9:40am.

    We were on a tight timetable from day 1 so we planned to avoid big cities at all cost. Accommodation
    plan was to camp out a couple of days in a row and then "treat" ourselves with a gastinitza
    ("a truckers stop/motel") with a shower. :bubba

    About 200km ride to FIN-RUS border, normal minor mayhem to get across and we're in Russia.
    We've been to Russia 2 times before on shorter (3-5 days) trips so we already knew the ropes
    at the border. Crossing took less than an hour this time.

    We had 1 year multiple entry Visas for Russia. Cost was only slightly higher than double entry and
    we didn't want to be restricted by 30 day visa in case things went south. Our visas were of the
    "humanitarian" category (not tourist nor business) and reason for applying was "cultural exchange". :beer

    Ride from border past St. Petersburg was normal russian traffic race without unusual incidents.
    We hit traffic big time after passing St. Petersburg once we reached M10 highway. Took us nearly
    2h to proceed 10km's even though we used every opportunity to split lanes and overtake via shoulder.
    But you see, russians try to overtake each other left and right whenever possible. So instead of 3 official
    lanes there were 5 lanes in use. Lanes were packed so tight that lane splitting was possible only at times.
    And always with a really small margin.
    After making contact with couple of trucks (with panniers) we decided to use the shoulder as much as possible..



    Bikes felt good on the road albeit heavy to move around when stopped. I weighed all my stuff before the trip and my load was staggering 59kg's. (=130lbs) :huh
    Load was shared equally, so Jani was in the same boat with me.
    That DOES include the weight of the panniers / rear box / tank bag (not just stuff inside) and also our emergency/reserve water and fuel.
    We carried about 5 liters of water and 6 liters of fuel per bike. (when tanks full)
    Also about 2 liters of cooking "fuel" per bike and Jani had 2 liters of oil. All that summed up close to 15kg's per bike when reserves were full..

    We also had food enough to be self-sufficient for 10 days! All these reserves were a bit of an overkill, BUT it was all planned in the name of fast crossing to Mongolian border. No need to waste any time on searching for supplies…time is money! :deal

    Hesitated quite a bit with choosing our first campsite. Mosquitos everywhere…took a while to accept the fact that we are not going to find a campsite without those blood sucking insects. Finally at 11pm we called it a day and set our tents. Hours later than planned. But there's always a learning curve..?


    Managed to ride 600km's despite the border crossing and M10 traffic jam.

    Ritsikirja notes: (Inspector Sakari Koskinen always had a ritsikirja in his pocket. Author: Seppo Jokinen)

    - first refuel break, Miikka's foot gets caught on Airhawk and breaks the front strap. No biggie, stays
    put with rear strap. "Will repair that once we camp out at some idyllic waterfront spot." (Never

    - Miikka's chase cam recording system doesn't work! Problem with rear box power button. M doesn't
    take the blame for bad wiring, we blame the button!

    - Turned clock forward 1h when entering Russia

    Stay tuned..
  5. Wildman

    Wildman Long timer

    Feb 12, 2007
  6. Tiwaz

    Tiwaz Adv pro - Bike noob

    Jan 1, 2012
    The Alps
    you have my attention...

  7. Arek Kontrol

    Arek Kontrol Been here awhile

    Aug 21, 2011
    Ex-pat Poles in Adelaide Hills, South Australia
    Great ride report so far! :evil
  8. GirlieS

    GirlieS Adventurer

    Dec 17, 2011
    Zeijen (Assen), The Netherlands
    I'm in! Nice report :clap
  9. yeuop

    yeuop Been here awhile

    Dec 21, 2008
    I can't wait to read this one..
  10. Blue Icebreaker

    Blue Icebreaker Been here awhile

    Jan 1, 2012
    Sounds awesome, I'm in!
  11. Clansters

    Clansters Tour Aegea

    Jun 2, 2009
    Good luck guys :1drink Have a great trip and don't take too long for posting :deal
  12. Gale B.T.

    Gale B.T. Long timer

    Jun 14, 2005
    Pagosa Springs, CO.
  13. arizonagirl

    arizonagirl Adventurer

    Jul 20, 2012

    i'm so sorry , but 1923turkish hack team will be attack this site . I complained to the you
  14. Cambi

    Cambi Adventurer

    May 31, 2010
    Budapest expat
    Kiitos for pulling this report - I am eager to read it. :lurk
  15. horsti

    horsti Adventurer

    Dec 29, 2009
    Germany / wild Westerwald
    Subscribed, waiting for more good stuff !:clap


    Jun 5, 2009
    Arizona--Semper Vestibulum
    OK, so let me get this straight, we're doing a Hi-speed low level bomb run across Russia just for the shits & giggles of it, right?:lol3

    Sounds like fun I'm in :clap
  17. bujas

    bujas Adventurer

    Jun 19, 2011
    Alhos Vedros, Portugal
    This trip sound really interesting, looking forward to see the rest of the diary log.
  18. Miikka

    Miikka Sir Fallalot

    Sep 11, 2008
    Bellingham, WA / Finland

    Isn't every ride just for shit & giggles unless one is doing something noble on the side such as raising funds for cancer research..? Like these two guys who we met in Ulanbator: Round the world on a DR-Z400 Pete and Jon are good fellas. Sissies, cause they ditched their chinese pink inner tubes without giving them a chance, but great chaps. :lol3

    And no. We had to bomb through Russia because we wanted to experience Mongolia.
    Taking a year off from work...hefty sum of money.
    Taking a month off from family...difficult and heartbreaking.
    To ride through Mongolia...priceless! :1drink

  19. Miikka

    Miikka Sir Fallalot

    Sep 11, 2008
    Bellingham, WA / Finland
    Day 2, June 2nd
    E of Veliky Novgorod - Vladimir

    Jani slept like a baby (or so he claims) and I didn't. First night went thinking of days to come, stuff
    that we may have left behind and scenarios that we haven't prepared for. Also, I think I stayed in
    guard (with Mora knife:huh) for most of the night for no obvious reason. So I didn't get too much shuteye.

    Morning activities were supposed to be familiar and speedy but I managed to pack and repack
    my stuff in many different and weird ways spending extra time on the simple task. Nervous?

    Wake up was 8am and we finally started engines at 9:30.
    That lollygagging was crowned by dropping my bike (sloooow speed) once leaving the campsite.
    No biggie, but totally unnecessary.

    Generally speaking, I'm not afraid to drop my bike. My bike is a "tool" not a showroom item. But when
    you're on a trip and heavily dependent on your bike and gear for the next 4 weeks…dropping the
    bike always posses a risk of a damage.
    Should have made a graceful exit/jump and let the bike go, but dreading the "first drop" (like a
    proper noob) I fought back when bike disagreed with me on which line to choose on the muddy track.
    Stupid thing to do since I weigh about 180lbs with gear on and my bike with all gear weighs 600+ lbs.. :becca

    Bike won the argument and since I wasn't concentrating on a safe landing I managed to land on a
    hard spot hitting my left side. First thing to do is naturally to check if anyone saw my embarrassing
    tumble..? :shog
    Next you check your valuables:
    All good, finnish miniature vodka bottles didn't break! (our "bribes" / gifts)

    Got first rain in the morning. Could have done without a few more days..
    Riding in rain is never fun but riding in rain in Russia in heavy traffic and/or traffic jam is slightly terrifying.
    These guys don't slow down for rain and I bet the average age of their tires is 10+ years.
    (that's why you see cars /trucks with flat tires along the road all the time!) So visibility is poor as hell,
    speeds are same as any other given day…bikers are responsible for their own health more than ever!
    You get used to that sooner than you think but that doesn't make it any safer.

    Bors lunch

    M10 heavy traffic continued and had lots of road constructions going on. We passed more cars via
    shoulder than we could count. More than we've passed legally in the past 20 years! At first we used
    shoulder only when the line wasn't moving but in the afternoon we graduated into passing from the right
    when the traffic was crawling less than 20km/h.. :wink:

    Crossing the white solid line is a big no-no in Russia. Costs more money than speeding when you
    get busted doing that. Passing from right can't be any lesser offense but we decided to take our chances
    anyway. Traffic was at standstill and we weren't going to get any younger waiting!

    No funny business here, just an example how to proceed:
    <iframe src="" webkitallowfullscreen="" mozallowfullscreen="" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="300" width="400"></iframe>

    Set camp at 9:30pm with our mosquito friends.


    730km on day 2, total 1330km.

    Ritsikirja notes:

    - Miikka dropped the bike exiting campsite. Crashbar pannier rips and breaks off.
    Vodka bottles survive, all good!:D
    (Fixed with our good friend the Gorilla tape)
  20. Sutherngintelmen

    Sutherngintelmen around the bend

    Mar 12, 2009
    ATL or AVL
    Nice :thumb