Russia, Mongolia, Stans & Beyond - On a GSXR

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by 7days1shower, May 21, 2019.

  1. 7days1shower

    7days1shower Been here awhile

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    Over the years, I've had a couple of failed attempts at starting and completing ride reports (will see if I can find and link them below)

    It was on this forum many years ago that I first saw a ride report through the jungle of Borneo from where my imagination ran wild with the worlds of travel and motorcycles becoming one.

    So I would like to make the effort to to write a ride report here to document not just the ride itself but also the lead up which has brought me to the point of executing my 'trip of a lifetime'; a decade in the works.

    As of today, I am exactly 4 weeks out from my bike, a 2007 Suzuki GSXR600, being air freighted from Sydney, Australia to South Korea and onto a ferry to Vladivostok, Russia where the riding begins.

    From there, I head West into Mongolia, Central Asia and towards India.

    I feel like I have a lot to share that has led up to this moment both from a personal development perspective but also preparation so I will endeavour to write that as time permits to highlight how an idea gradually developed over time and the challenges to overcome.

    As of last night, I am finally happy with how the bike is after a few mechanical issues so I'll share that picture to start off this RR :)

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    #1
  2. stokerel

    stokerel Adventurer

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    This definitely looks very promising! Have fun on the way and good luck!
    #2
    7days1shower likes this.
  3. Northstar Beemer

    Northstar Beemer Face Plant

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    I'm a little confused/concerned. The general route you've laid out looks like a lot of gravel/dirt and worse? Your selection of a bike is a bit puzzling. Even with aggressive tires your suspension travel and riding position would seem difficult for off-road? I'm sure I'm missing something.
    #3
  4. 7days1shower

    7days1shower Been here awhile

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    A brief history of my riding/travel-riding

    When backpacking in Asia around 2009, I saw a motorcycle rental place in Chiang Mai, Northern Thaliand and decided to see where I could head on an overnight trip. So with my work backpack bungee-d to the back, I did an overnighter to Pai. An awesome stretch of road! Still wasn't aware of the concept of long-distance motorcycle travel though

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    Back in Asia on another trip in 2010, this time I decided to venture further past Pai and do the 'Mae Hong Son Loop' which was even more amazing than the ride to Pai. Still no proper luggage but armed with a paper map of the loop this time. What really sparked my interest this time was seeing another bike parked at a guesthouse along the way with Australian plates. Ever since then I've had a fascination of seeing my bikes number plates in far off places where it shouldn't be.

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    Once back home, I had now gone from being a weekend road-rider to being addicted to track days with a count of 14 in the space of 12 months ... till I lowsided and trashed my precious GSXR; my first bike besides my dad's RG125 that I had learnt on

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    Since it was no big deal to get a few scratches on it now, I figured I may as well explore my own backyard and did two local rides. The first over the course of a week down through the Southern Alpine region of Australia (with a borrowed tailpack and road atlas) and the next up through the outback to North Queensland and back down the coast (with my first piece of luggage, a tail mounted Kriega bag) ... which also taught me how boring the inner reaches of this country actually are.

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    In 2013, my uncle living in India proposed riding the Himalayas region of India, well known for its mountain passes such as Chang La and Khardung La. Although I was already traveling in Brasil, it was an opportunity too good to pass up, especially as he was giving me full use of his baby-KTM

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    All this while, I had still been backpacking through Asia, Middle East, South & Central America but I wanted more. So I embarked on my first 'big' overseas ride in 2014 with 8 weeks through the South-West of USA. The idea had initially been coast to coast after a week in Vegas but I decided to focus on the one region more so as to really get the most out of my time there rather than just miles under my belt. - Half assed ride report here

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    In 2015, my brother who had been studying in Holland was thinking of a ride after his semester wrapped up so it was over to Holland to ride to Turkey and back on yet another GSXR (Yet another incomplete ride report here

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    #4
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  5. 7days1shower

    7days1shower Been here awhile

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    It's far from a suitable bike, however, it is my first bike and the bike I have always dreamt of taking.

    The tyres really aren't going to do much. There are a few riders out there who slap them on sportsbikes for nothing more than a gimmick. I decided to give them a go and found they offer a little more confidence on unsealed roads/tracks so, giving it a go.

    As long as they last the initial 4000km in Russia and then across Mongolia, they've done their job and I'll be switch back to road tyres before heading into the Pamirs as it was hard enough to source these at home in Sydney
    #5
  6. Northstar Beemer

    Northstar Beemer Face Plant

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    You are, as they say, only young once. I'm along for the ride....and I probably hold a record for doing silly things on a bike - as my profile picture will attest.
    #6
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  7. Blader54

    Blader54 Long timer

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    Oh yeah! Huge route....and a sport bike!! Hey, there is a guy out there who rode a Fireblade around the world, so you are in good company with your GSXR!
    #7
  8. boristhebold

    boristhebold Been here awhile

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    In, great to see a different bike to the usual. :clap
    #8
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  9. TropicalDale

    TropicalDale The Adventures of Peter Pan

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    :lurk
    #9
  10. steved57

    steved57 Been here awhile Supporter

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    I'm in
    #10
  11. bungen

    bungen Been here awhile

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    Looking forward to this! Out there having a go. Good onya!
    #11
  12. 7days1shower

    7days1shower Been here awhile

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    There have been a few sportbikes that have done various parts of the world!

    The craziest would be Sjaak who took his R1 across some of the silliest roads around the world as well as to the Artctic Circle and now working on an R1 going to the North Pole!

    With regards to this part of the world, another Dutch friend has taken his Ducati into the Stans but as far as I know, no GSXR has been through Mongolia or Stans as yet!
    #12
  13. 7days1shower

    7days1shower Been here awhile

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    So, it looks like I'm already a month behind from my first post stating I was going to be better at this! As we speak, I am in a hostel in Seoul, South Korea feeling like I am way too old to be in a hostel now. It reminds me that the last time I backpacked was in 2012 when I was 24 and even then I felt too old.

    Anyway, all in the name of cheap accommodation!

    So since, I last posted, my feelings of fear and trepidation kept playing on my mind. It's all well and good to talk about I'm going to do this and that but when it's actually happening it's a bit unnerving.

    A shortlist of fears
    - I've really chosen a terrible bike
    - How can I carry the right mix of spares, tools, and things I need to survive
    - Do I really need camping gear, it takes up so much space and how often am I really going to camp?
    - I really hope I don't screw up bad... when I had always dreamt of this trip all the way up to 2017 where I had to cancel 2 weeks out from leaving, I was single. I got married earlier this year and as cheesy as it sounds, I really would think it'd be nice to come back in one piece

    On Friday 14th June I drove my bike from my home to Matzen Cargo near Sydney Airport who would be sending the bike to South Korea for me via air freight.

    In order to save on freight costs, the bike needed to be sent without a battery or fuel. I thought I'd try and be smart and ride it there with low fuel.

    So, twice in a 50km journey the bike cut out due to running out of fuel on the highway. Luckily, my wife followed me with a jerry can. Now I know how the bike responds when it runs dry but fingers crossed its not an experience I'll be repeating

    After dropping off the bike, removing the battery and running it dry, it was off to the customs house to get the carnet stamped. Once that was dine, that was it, the bike was officially out of the country; on paper at least

    Before I'd even reached home, the bike was packed....next time I'd see it would be mainland Russia

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    Helmet and jacket sticky taped onto the seat...I hope that tape holds

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    I can pretend to be riding a big BMW with the other overlanders I'm bound to meet on the ferry over from South Korea to Russia... at least till the box is opened and they shun me
    #13
  14. 7days1shower

    7days1shower Been here awhile

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    So after 2 nights in Seoul, I am now on the Eastern coast of South Korea in a small town named Samcheok about 6km from the Donghae ferry port (and also where my beloved bike is!)

    I have to say, Seoul was just supposed to be a couple of nights to check out something different but I've thoroughly enjoyed the city, its people and its food!

    A couple of photos from my last 2 days before I venture out to find some dinner for tonight and rest up before tomorrows ferry...which I just realised I dont actually know the departure time of. Should probably check that out...

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    #14
  15. Pongo

    Pongo Been here awhile

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    If it worked for your 3000km out back test ride you should be fine.
    #15
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  16. 7days1shower

    7days1shower Been here awhile

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    The ferry from Donghae, Korea to Vladivostok takes roughly 23 hours and actually comes from Sakaminato, Japan first.

    After crossing immigration and boarding the ferry into my 2nd class room, my first thought was, ok, what am I going to do for the next 23 hours with nothing but 3 meal coupons to keep me company in the form of looking forward to the next meal time

    It wasn't long till I spotted a guy sitting in a common area whom I had seen walking around the port in what seemed to be bike gear.

    From there on, it was all about some of the amazing people on board and the stories they had to share

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    On the left, Taka, from Japan holding a sign in Russian stating that he is travelling across the world with his traditional Okinawan instrument. Not begging but any donations to an artist are appreciated! He also has a bicycle but doesn't consider himself a cyclist as he will be using other forms of transport as well

    On the right, Mehmet, orginally from Turkey but living in Wellington, NZ for the past 30 years. Not his first ride on his well worn old BMW but this time he plans to go to Turkey via Mongolia and the Stans via a route quite similar to myself so we had plenty to discuss!

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    Shoi - A 70yr old Japanese man travelling with his wife who unfortunately is heavily disabled.

    They have been riding from Japan to Europe and back every year for the past 7 years with Shois current bike having 480,000kms on it! His previous bike, a GPX250 had 300,000km for a combined total of nearly 800,000kms over 20 years!

    This trip is a little different though. Nana had a big stroke in March and doctors told her she would need to spend her remaining time in hospital but they were determined to ride on

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    On the right is Okita from Japan. I saw him in my room but didn't get a chance to speak to him till we were nearly at the end of our journey. However the term speak is very loose as he barely speaks a word of English!

    He had also done something strange where his bike was sent on some other ship and not the ferry we were on! Also riding the same bike as Shoi, hats off to the guy for going through without any English or Russian!

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    Straight off the ferry and right to the walking strip in Vladivostok; Taka with his instrument

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    Shoi with his trusty Kawasaki 650

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    2nd class room on the ferry

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    A nightclub on the ferry that I didn't quite get to check out

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    Coming into Vladivostok, I guess I missed a memo somewhere about Russian flag coloured tracksuits
    #16
  17. jobysw

    jobysw Adventurer

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    You'll be fine. XR is in the model name. :thumb
    #17
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  18. 7days1shower

    7days1shower Been here awhile

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    Once we were off the ferry, it was the usual customs procedures but every minute the customs officer took made me feel even nervous about the fact she would be looking at my business visa while I stood in front of her with pretty obvious motorcycle gear. Her calling her superior into the booth to clarify something definitely didn’t help but in the end I was through!

    First bike I saw on the docks

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    It was off to the hostel first with the well known freight agent, Yuri, though as customs formalities for the bike wouldn’t start till the following morning.

    At the Vladivostok Port with Yuri and Svetlana

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    A great chance to walk down to a waterside walking strip in Vladivostok to see people go about their evenings.

    The following morning we were picked up and taken to the port offices to start off some of the paperwork and told that unloading would happen around 3pm after which we wold be able to get our bikes!

    So, more free time and a nap to return at 3pm.

    As other slowly got their bikes and cars, I was the last one standing as my bike had come from Sydney, Australia in a crate and had not been unpacked in Korea but rather transported as cargo.

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    At 5pm, I saw the crate come out of the gates only for the forklift to reverse and take it right back in!!

    So, another hour till I finally got the crate out and started breaking it down to a sense of relief that the bike was in the box just as I had last seen it in Sydney!

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    A new battery and petrol (I had to remove both in Sydney for it to be taken over as non-dangerous goods) and it fired right up.

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    The NZ biker, Mehmet had stayed back with me and after adjusting some luggage we ventured out for the short trip to our hostels….right through 7pm peak hour traffic of Vladivostoks one-way streets

    Not a long ride but my Aussie bike was finally on Russian soil!

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    #18
  19. Desert2202

    Desert2202 Been here awhile

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    Bloody fantastic mate, have a great trip. I look forward to reading more.

    You remind me of the legendary Nick Sanders by riding a sport bike in conditions it's certainly not designed for, now that's what adventure is all about.

    Cheers

    :beer
    #19
  20. Bonnie & Clyde

    Bonnie & Clyde Wishing I was riding RTW

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    :lurk
    #20