Riding through Sahara, advice needed

Discussion in 'Thumpers' started by Lykias, May 10, 2019.

  1. Lykias

    Lykias n00b

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    Greetings fellow riders,

    I have spent many, many hours reading through your fantastic forum and I believe I am ready to ask my first question now, even though I must admit I have not yet managed to get through all 478 pages of the KTM 690 thread. [​IMG]

    I am planning a road trip from Spain to the border of Senegal in Africa. This journey will take me through Spain, Morocco and Western Sahara on my KTM 690 Enduro R (2016). The bike has done 6.000km (~3.700miles). I will undergo this journey with a friend of mine, riding his Yamaha 660.

    I recently finished To Dakar And Back (by Wil De Clercq & Lawrence Hacking). Afterwards, I became very, very worried about the air filters on my 690, due to the extremely fine grained sand in the Sahara (and the many posts on this forum debating the dust getting through the air filter). I am unsure whether I should go for a foam or "regular" air filter? My idea so far has been to either go with a UNI Filter (foam) or K&N filter.

    The UNI filter would consist of:
    - AU 1417PC
    - AU 1440
    - AU 1445ST
    (Please see this link for all 3 products)

    The K&N filter would be this.

    I would highly appreciate any input you guys could provide me with! Keep in mind that I can not bring unlimited spare air filters with me. Also, cleaning them will at times be impossible or at best only possible with very minimal water/soap/oil.



    For those who might be interested, here is a list of my current mods I am planning on bringing along (please do provide suggestions!):

    1. Rally-Raid Radiator Guard
    2. Break Master Cylinder Guard
    3. Seat Concept Seat
    4. Double-Take Enduro Mirrors
    5. IMS Rally Foot Pegs Raw
    6. Windscreen
    7. Wings Exhaust
    8. Reckless 40L System (v2)
    9. Wolfman Enduro Tank Bag
    10. Radiator Cooling Fan Thermo Switch
    11. NGK Spark Plug
    12. RAM Setup To Hold A Mobile
    13. MotoPower MP0609A 3.1Amp Waterproof Motorcycle USB Charger Kit SAE to USB Cable
    Here is a list of some essentials I am (we are) bringing along (please do provide suggestions!):

    1. Set of spare screws and bolts
    2. Tools
    3. Manual Tire Pump
    4. Gas And Water Fuel Bladders
    5. Extra set of Michelin Heavy Duty tubes
    6. HiFlo Oil Filters (2x HF115 and 2x HF651)
    7. Various Locks
    8. Compass
    9. Tent & Sleeping Bag + Pad
    10. Medkit, 690 Manual, Phone Charger, Headlamp, Fuel Bag Filters For Cleaning Dirty Fuel
    11. Earplugs
    12. Various Clothes
    13. Various Oils
    14. Hydropack
    15. Air Filters (HELP!)
    In advance - thank you so much for any valuable input you can provide!
    #1
  2. cyclopathic

    cyclopathic Long timer

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    K&N filter. It may not Give best protection but will last the trip without cleaning.
    #2
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  3. Lykias

    Lykias n00b

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    Hi cyclophathic,
    Thank you for your input! I greatly appreciate it. :) Could you elaborate just a little why you suggest K/N filter over foam when riding in the desert?
    #3
  4. RideFreak

    RideFreak Torque Junky

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    it's a well known fact that K&N filters often pull fine dust through them until they get dirty. Offroaders typically put a 3 stage system if they are using a K&N type filter, it consists of an Outerwear (first stage), Foam Stage and the K&N paper element. Since that system is very difficult to install on a motorcycle with any kind of reliability K&Ns don't get used much off road by riders that are aware of it's limitations.
    #4
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  5. Lykias

    Lykias n00b

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    Hi RideFreak,
    Thank you for the input, it's really appreciated! I guess I will buy 3 K&N filters, install the first before departure and change filters twice during the journey. It's far from perfect but I hope it will see me through the desert, without getting too much dust past the air filter.
    #5
  6. SKINNY

    SKINNY Been here awhile Supporter

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    Foam filter with filter skins is the best solution...you can pre-oil several filter skins and carry them in a zip-lock bag to use as needed.
    When one gets dirty, discard it and put a new filter skin on...the foam filter remain clean.
    I've ridden my 690 for weeks on end using this method and no dust gets thru...
    #6
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  7. Lykias

    Lykias n00b

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    The issue will be carrying enough foam filters. I can probably carry 2-3 spare at the most, and AS mentioned it will be difficult to wash them at times? Would it still be your preferred choice over filters such as K&N’s option?
    Also, thank you for the input mate. :)
    #7
  8. SKINNY

    SKINNY Been here awhile Supporter

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    you only need 1 foam filter and it doesn't need to be cleaned...the filter skins are fine mesh cloth outer filter covers that catch most of the dust and dirt before it gets to the foam filter.
    They are made from a stretchy material similar to panty hose...:-)
    4 or 5 of them fit in your pocket with no problem.
    Most are made to fit a round filter but if you look around, you can find a size to work with the 690 foam replacement for the stock paper filter.
    Do a web search for filter skin....
    #8
  9. RideFreak

    RideFreak Torque Junky

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    I didn't want to come right out and say it but I will, skip the K&N. Buy some filterskins, use a foam type filters and carry a couple spare filterskins, possibly a spare foam filter in a ziplock bag. Ride spaced out so you aren't in the next guys dust. We ride desert 6 mos a year and it's not a big deal.
    #9
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  10. Cartera

    Cartera Been here awhile

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    Another vote for foam filter with filter skins/prefilter.
    Definitely ride spaced out or staggered to avoid most of the dust. Leading the ride is always best to keep a clean filter and bike!
    #10
  11. cyclopathic

    cyclopathic Long timer

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    The only reliable scientific study I have seen on k&n (study called it "gaze" not kn specifically) found that K&N was inferior to paper. There was 20% reduction in time between engine rebuilds 18000hr vs 22000hr. 20000hr @30mph = 600000 miles and the study was done on open mining equipment in conditions similar to what you would have. Considering the costs ($250k for rebuild, 30k for paper elements) study suggested paper over gaze.

    I have ran oil analysis on oil with 14.5k (about 2.5k on dirt, about half in very dusty conditions) and silicon content was at the limit but wasn't overly high to suggest that filter didn't do it's job.

    Yes paper or better multi-stage are superior but K&N is good enough for filtration and has superior dirt holding capacity many times over paper. Very dirty k&n will let through as much air as new paper element. If it gets completely clogged you have an option to wash and re-oil it. From logistics point of view it's a lot simpler.. just saying.
    #11
  12. Lykias

    Lykias n00b

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    Hi guys,

    I am so happy for all the great inputs and opinions you've provided. It sounds to me that whether I go with foam or a K&N filter, I should be okay through the desert as long as I perform a daily review of the air box for dust/dirt, while also cleaning the air filters if they become "excessively" dirty.
    #12
  13. Schmokel

    Schmokel Key to Happiness: Low Expectations

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    Bring water.

    That's about all I can really help with.
    #13
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  14. Lykias

    Lykias n00b

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    Absolutely! And seeing as we'll be going from the 2nd of July to the end of August.. We'll definitely need A LOT of water on the back of both motorcycles! It will be insanely hot and uncomfortable.. :&
    #14
  15. Schmokel

    Schmokel Key to Happiness: Low Expectations

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    Wait. Sahara desert in the middle of July and August? Perhaps my geography is a bit hazy, but isn't that a little insane? :lol2
    #15
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  16. Lykias

    Lykias n00b

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    Perhaps more than a little insane :loco But we're searching for the opposite of a joyride. This tour is supposed to be something we look back on, not something we enjoy in the moment. I know it literally sounds crazy but that's the plans for our upcoming tour. :)
    #16
  17. Schmokel

    Schmokel Key to Happiness: Low Expectations

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    wow. be sure to take pics and follow up here. perhaps even a ride report. I'd love to read through it.
    #17
  18. Lykias

    Lykias n00b

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    Unless my air filter solution proves to be insufficient, I will owe this forum the documentation and experience of my ride, in which case I will be sure to share it all of you.
    #18
  19. sprouty115

    sprouty115 Long timer Supporter

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    Personally I don't like foam filters, so I use a DNA filter.
    https://www.e-dnafilters.com/produc...MIsqSMvt-R4gIVXEwNCh0pLAIXEAQYAyABEgIYTPD_BwE
    I haven't found any dirt in my airbox since switching to them.

    I suggest water-based oil for the filter and you'll be able to clean it on the road without much mess (or at least less of a mess than solvent-based filter oil).
    https://notoil.com/no-toil-classic-evolution-oil/

    As for tools - do you have a tow strap? It should be a mandatory item when traveling any place you can't walk out of, or more importantly, can't just hang out.

    A small DMM, fuses, wire, etc...?
    Patch kit for tubes?
    #19
  20. cyclopathic

    cyclopathic Long timer

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    Just make sure that if one bike croaks you have an option to ride it out 2up on 2nd. Get information on all watering holes, gas, etc etc. Bring tubing to be able to suck gas from the tank. Spot or different personal locator. Tube patch kits, several. Reflective tarp and poles to be able to setup shade if god forbid you need to work on bike in the sun. Big hydration packs and rotopax for water and gas but this is granted. Good lights to be able to ride in early hours to avoid afternoon heat. Get in habit of getting up and hitting road before sunrise.
    #20
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