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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    Thats crazy!

    It will still be an amazing trip and in fact just last night I was talking with some others that are on more appropriate bikes that I have limitatinos

    Even if there is something off in the distance that looks good, I may not be able to get to it

    Add to that my body being in all sorts of pain, a GS would most definitely be better!!
    #61
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  2. 1854cc

    1854cc n00b

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2016
    Oddometer:
    2
    A Gixxer and a Monkey through central Mongolia.....love it AND its is special to do it on a non adventure bike. To be honest the main reason I started following this thread WAS because it wasn't an adventure bike story.
    #62
    08StangGT_CS and Lopburi like this.
  3. willibauer

    willibauer Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
    111
    Location:
    Germany, wild western woods
    great report, keep it going! really cool landscape, I'd love to go there some time. Thanks for the pics
    #63
  4. 7days1shower

    7days1shower Been here awhile

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    Unfortunately there was no birthday pizza but by the time I got all cleaned up, 3 more bikes arrived at the hotel; 2 riders from Italy heading East and a Canadian rider heading West

    Funnily enough the Canadian rider recognised me as soon as I said I rode a GSXR as he had been following my journey online!

    After a night of a few drinks and sharing stories, the Canadian rider decided he would join us heading west making our odd couple of a Monkey and Gixxer a trio now with a KTM 500 added to the mix.

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    One great piece of news the Italian bikers delivered was that from here on till the border It was perfect tarmac with the exception of an unpaved 30km right before the border

    Whilst most people would have done the 400km direct to Khovd, the 3 of us decided to camp halfway based on a campsite suggested on the iOverlander app

    A collapsed bridge marked as collapsed in 2017...a 2019 update in iOverlander simply said "Still collapsed". A rider on Facebook shared a photo next to it in 2016. Its like they have done all the work to build the highway but really can't be bothered with the bridge!

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    They literally pull up alongside us, take a photo and then zoom off!

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    As we rode on, I probably saw close to 15 foreign bikes both solo and in guided tour groups heading the opposite way; more than I’d seen in my whole time in Russia

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    About 30km out from our intended camp site, we were flagged down by 2 Russian bikers from Omsk on the other side of the road. Turned out that one of them had a large gash in his rear tyre that although was plugged with about 3 pieces was still leaking. They were trying to find an inner tube to run inside the tubeless tyre as a solution but didn’t have one the right size!

    Although we couldn’t help, they were glad to know that it was just 10km further in their direction to a town with hopefully some services that could help
    With a very large thunderstorm looming very close to us, we set off again in hopes of missing the rain or at least getting camp setup before it hit!

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    Not even a kilometre later, another 2 bikers flagged us down! More Italians!

    Luckily this time it wasn’t for a problem but just to say hi. They told us that they’d been rained on and also gotten a lot of dust from the high winds now sweeping over the steppe

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    After a hasty goodbye, we pushed on, another 15km to go till the suggested spot.

    Whilst the storm cloud still loomed, it turns out the other haze we’d been seeing was dust, a lot of dust.

    To make things a little tougher, we couldn’t find a way off the road and into the hills!

    We had to find a place quick before the dust got worse or the storm hit so we managed to nestle ourselves between two piles of rocks in what seemed to have been a quarry used for the stone in the road bed.

    Setting up the tents in the strong winds was another challenge; whilst we did have protection on 2 sides of our sites, it was angled just right so that it actually funnelled the wind in even more! It didn’t help that the ground was so solid that it was bending our tent pegs but at least we had no shortage of rocks to weigh down the ropes.

    Finally, with camp setup, the winds also died down and slowly our not so great camping idea turned into an idyllic evening with a little kitchen setup for cooking and a view of the sunset over the Monglian steppe and if you looked far enough, the snow capped glacier mountains out towards China

    A perfect end to a great day but the hunt for pizza continues

    In the kitchen

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    Accommodation for the night

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    Not much meat available here to add to our meal

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    Sunset over the steppe

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    Sun and rain meet

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    #64
    td63, Peter640, Merlin44 and 14 others like this.
  5. 0theories

    0theories Enthusiastically Skeptical... Supporter

    Joined:
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    Merced, CA
    Great report man! Really enjoying it. Look, we rented the same bike in Thailand :rofl

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    #65
    td63 likes this.
  6. rjnutt

    rjnutt Desert tortoise

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    Really enjoying your report.
    #66
  7. oldjackd

    oldjackd 2005 Suzuki s50 huh?

    Joined:
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    east TN
    fantastic perfect ride what ya got have fun be safe

    thanks for sharing
    #67
  8. 7days1shower

    7days1shower Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Thats awesome haha!

    It was a sweet bike too!
    #68
  9. 7days1shower

    7days1shower Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2011
    Oddometer:
    167
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    While I'm tying my best to keep my Facebook page up to date (7days1shower) I havent had as much luck here. Currently in Kazakhstan (and loving it!) but will slowly bring this one up to date too

    It doesn't help that Kazakhstan has just introduced some new Internet policies which is making access a bit tough!

    So...going back a little....

    After our first hotel choice in Khovd wanted about $150 for the night we moved onto our second choice which had mixed reviews online. And for a while we thought we were in for a rough stay after finding out that “no hot water for now” actually meant no running water at all!

    Thankfully, once the water was on a perfect hot shower was served up along with decent beds!

    Unfortunately the rest of the town was still a dump with attempts to find food outside the hotel only ending in being caught up in more dust storms.

    The hotel staff did engage in the now common occurrence of photoshoots with the Gixxer.

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    The next morning was looking like it was off to a rough start too after I followed GPS directions to the main road to Ulgii….a dirt road!

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    At first I thought this must just be a small section but after a few kilometres, luckily, Mark realised that we were on the old road!

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    A quick backtrack and navigation through town and we were back on perfect asphalt.

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    "The Misfits"

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    Riding with the power of Gengis Khan

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    The trip was fairly pleasant with only a couple of small sections offroad along with more Mongolians stopping for photos.

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    More people?

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    Ok fine, one last one

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    The most noticeable difference was that it was getting cold, REALLY cold.

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    Combined with the odd drizzle, this made for some very cold hands.

    It was then that I realised that pretty much everyone was using heated handgrips….wish I’d thought of that modification for my bike.

    As we pulled into town and were about to go to the Blue Wolf Ger camp we saw a Czech couple pull up on a Transalp who suggested another camp very close by that was rated better than Blue Wolf.

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    Whilst the initial impressions were ok, turns out the gers flood! So a soaked helmet and jacket were more things on the to-do list to sort out.

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    I did get my pizza though! Worth it.

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    The plan was to head to the Russian border the next day but all night it rained, hard, continuing into the morning.

    Whilst Mark decided to head off anyway, Yosuke and I have decided to wait it out till tomorrow in hope of slightly less rain.

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    A coal delivery to the dump of a place in Ulgii

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    A good lunch of kofte in Ulgii to lighten the mood of being damp and cold

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    Although things outside were still miserable

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    A possible solution to my cold hands?

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    So now, an early 4am start to get to the border. Only 95km away but 30km of that is unpaved which with the rain, could mean mud. That combined with stories I’ve been hearing from others coming into Mongolia at the same border to 8 and 11 hour crossings, the earlier the better. Just hope its quicker the other way…
    #69
  10. squonker

    squonker Stupid is the new norm

    Joined:
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    Bloody Norah! You don't do things by halves, do you?:clap What a fantastic Ride Report - and your bike looks bitchin' with those tyres :thumb
    #70
  11. 7days1shower

    7days1shower Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    First sportbike to cross Mongolia? Probably not (I've heard from 2 people now about a Slovenian R1 crossing through around 7 years ago)

    First Australian sportbike to cross Mongolia? Maybe

    Either way, it’s done!!!!

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    The tactic to try and wait out the rain by a day paid off!

    I definitely didn’t want to stay any longer than necessary in the dump of a place in Ulgii. The rain had flooded my gear, the roof leaked onto the bed and everything just smelt damp.

    We woke up at 4am the next morning in anticipation of a wet and muddy off road stretch to the border and were on the road by 5am.

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    While Mongolia had tested me and worn me out, I was very lucky not to come off and experience any real pain…till now.

    The cold! The cold on my fingers was unbearably cold and I had to keep pulling over to get some blood back in my fingers from the warmth of the Monkey engine since my engine had case covers on it!

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    The Monkey had heated grips and the Tenere had wind protectors; I had nothing. If I was struggling with the cold at 2600m, how was I going to deal with the temperatures on the Pamir at 4500m. I need to look into something ASAP

    Thankfully, we did have some luck on our sides yet again. Yesterday was pouring rain and today was forecast to be rain again but a little less. But lo and behold, not a cloud in the sky! The offorad sections were as long as promised at about 30km and definitely not difficult, in the dry. In the wet, they would have been fairly muddy.

    We got to the border at 830am, a decent time given it doesn’t open till 9am but there was already a line of at least 50 vehicles. Thankfully, at most border crossings, motorcycles get priority and here was no different; right to the front!

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    After paying a small fee for road tax and changing any remaining Mongolian Tugrik to rubles, the Mongolia formalities didn’t take long at all; 30 minutes. Off to a good start from the horror stories we’d been hearing.

    From there, it was a 26km ride through no-mans land; neither Mongolia nor Russia and to the Russian border post. We had done it, we had actually crossed Mongolia!!

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    The Russian side was a bit of a longer wait as each person ahead of us seemed to be in a van with a dozen people; meaning a dozen passports to process

    On top of that, of course there was going to be the odd Mongolian who would argue and push and shoe to try and get in front. In the end, the immigration officer takes the motorcyclists paperwork instead and I’m free to give the Mongolian guy a polite smile to let him know he can keep waiting

    At the crossing I also met a Dutch group of campervans on a guided tour led by a Ford Ranger; the same guy who I had seen days ago in Tosotsengel while I slowly crawled through the potholed roads, notably so because he stopped up ahead to make sure I was ok

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    Once we were finally in Russia, I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face!

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    Finally a chance for good food that didn’t consist of smelly mutton or old and tough beef.

    Accommodation that was half decent and reliable hot showers!

    There was no place to stay in the border town of Tashanta so onwards another 60km to Kosh Agach.

    Once we got there, we did ponder if we should keep going on but after an early morning start and possible rain ahead, this was good enough for today.

    Upon getting to the gastinitsa it was so good to hear ‘zdarsvitsya’ (hello). While there were 3 of us now, I just wanted my own space tonight so I opted to go for a single room instead of sharing across 3.

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    The shower wasn’t great but the bed was good enough!

    Combined with some good wifi for Breaking Bad and a delicious meal at a nearby café, this familiarity of Russia was just what I needed!

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    #71
  12. MadRider777

    MadRider777 Been here awhile

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    Moscow, Russia
    Congratulations!
    #72
  13. 7days1shower

    7days1shower Been here awhile

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    If I was happy about getting back into Russia yesterday, today Russia just took me to a whole new level of happiness!

    Everyone had been saying how beautiful the Altai region of Russia was but so far, we hadn’t really seen it. What I assumed was clouds blocking our view was actually thick smoke haze that was blanketing much of Siberia due to wildfires!

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    However, as moved further north, the haze dissipated enough to reveal the beauty of Altai.

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    And it was as if every overlander was enjoying this region just as much as us; from cyclists to bikes and cars as well as huge expedition trucks, there were vehicles from all corners of the world going up and down through the Altai. It was my favourite game of spot the numberplate!

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    The distance from Kosh Agach to Barnaul was just shy of 700km but a downside of so much beauty was that I kept stopping for photos and videos which made the planned 350km seem more improbable by the minute.

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    We also came across the Czech couple on the Transalp whom we had met and had dinner with in Ulgii. I thought my chain had problem, his was literally hanging off the swingarm while at full stretch!

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    But it wasn’t just foreigners taking in the beauty of the Altai; there were so many holidays Russians camping all along the riverside in their tents or caravans

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    While I had planned to stay at a gastinitsa, seeing all this made me want to camp too! I had enough food and water so why not!

    A quick check of iOverlander showed a campsite over a bridge and on the other side of the road which should be secure enough.

    The camp site was not hard to get to at all but still secluded enough along with a flowing river nearby for soothing soundtrack to sleep to as well as fresh water!

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    A perfect day capped off with some hot noodles and a Bounty and Twix for dessert

    What will tomorrow in the Altai bring?!
    #73
  14. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town...

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2016
    Oddometer:
    927
    Location:
    Here and there... but more there than here
    Where’s they guy you traded Mark in for from?

    Excellent report!
    #74
    08StangGT_CS likes this.
  15. fabian_s

    fabian_s Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2012
    Oddometer:
    17
    Location:
    Bavaria, Germany
    Very cool ride! Keep it coming please. Just followed up with the four pages so far.

    Would it be possible to share some pictures of the monkey luggage solution? Planning to do sth similar with a monkey end of the year :D

    Have fun and enjoy the ride!
    #75
  16. 7days1shower

    7days1shower Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2011
    Oddometer:
    167
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    He's from Japan too!

    I'll get some pics soon but he has been through some changes as well

    Initially when he left Japan he had a basket on the front that was loaded up but this very drastically affected his steering to the point that he crashed in Mongolia.

    He at that point also had a GIVI box on the back with other stuff tied on top.

    The other stuff fell off in Mongolia and was lost

    By Russia he discovered that the GIVI box being offset so far back bent his rack so he left it in Barnaul and purchased a 70L hiking backpack

    Initially he was wearing it but this was far too heavy for prolonged use. It is now tied sideways behind him on the seat.

    He has 2 soft side bags which have been constant just added a rubber slipper behind one side and a wooden cutting board on the other to protect them from heat

    A lot of trial and error
    #76
    iatethepeach likes this.
  17. 7days1shower

    7days1shower Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
    167
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    Very pleased with the decision to camp instead of stay indoors on our first day through Altai.

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    I was wondering how the next day would be and within 50km of leaving camp it went from beautiful twisties to traffic.

    The road was now passing through small towns which bottlenecked all the holiday-goers.

    I started to wonder how we could achieve our lengthy 450km target at this pace nd then the dual carriageway opened letting the pace go up to 110kmh.

    But with the speeds going up, another danger emerged; Russian driving speeds.

    The road was now a single carriageway again and even though I was doing around 100km, I was being passed as if I was standing still by cars doing easily 150kmh.

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    Making matters worse, the combination of both right and left hand drive cars in Russia meant that many cars were hanging out nearly all the way into oncoming traffic in order to see before passing.

    Just as these thoughts were going through my mind, traffic started slowing down up ahead and I saw the cause; a car flipped on its roof. Thankfully the occupants were all standing outside seemingly unharmed but this was definitely a dicey stretch of road.

    As if that wasn’t enough, as I pulled out to pass a truck doing 100kmh due to it billowing out diesel fumes, the bike suddenly started hesitating to accelerate any further whilst I was already in the oncoming lane with a car approaching.

    I managed to pull in just in time but a little more testing showed the bike was struggling at exactly 6000RPM, hesitating and choking to rev any higher. Maybe a fuel delivery issue? That’s about one of the only things I am a little familiar with so hopefully it’s something I can fix. At least its working seemingly well till 6k RPM and allowing speeds of upto 100kmh without issue

    Getting into Barnaul was a big relief after along day with just a final 45 minutes of peak hour traffic to get through but the thought of a 4 night rest in an Airbnb apartment was worth the days effort.

    While I initially was worried the apartment was too far from the centre it turned out to be great with multiple supermarkets downstairs and a 24 hour fast food place within 5 minutes walk.

    For dinner? Pizza of course.

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    #77
  18. iatethepeach

    iatethepeach Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 4, 2016
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    USA
    Maybe it's time to check the fuel filter. I don't have a GSXR, but I believe yours may be a screen located inside the pump.

    This trip report rules. Thanks for sharing, and good luck with the rest of the journey.
    #78
  19. 7days1shower

    7days1shower Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    The whole reason I was in Barnaul was because of tyres.

    Before I set out on this trip, I did a lot of research into tyres for both the front and rear that would get me through Russia, help me cope with Mongolia and continue on without needed a change.

    Not an easy task but I finally decided on a Continental TKC80 for the front and a GoldenTyre GT723 for the rear.

    The first 4000km through Russia would be mostly pavement although the tyres did save me through some muddy detours my GPS took me through early on in Russia.

    If it weren’t for that, it may have made more sense to run road tyres till Ulan Ude and then buy something new there; although easier said than done since my tyre sizes aren’t the easiest to find.

    With regards to my first change, the initial plan was Osh, Kyrgyzstan which was then revised back to Almaty, Kazakhstan; at both places I contacted retailers and prices were sky high

    I then found a guy in Moscow that could supply a wider range of tyres at a reasonable price shipped anywhere in the Russian customs union (Russia, Kazakhstan & Kyrgystan)

    So I had now decided Osh would be too far to stretch the current tyres, so should I go for Almaty in Kazakhstan or Barnaul in Russia?

    The difference SHOULD have been about 1500km based on the most direct route until I started learning the information that the direct route was so bad it was smashing peoples bike frames, wheels and in general just nearing impassable. So, the longer way around was an additional 1500km making it a drastic difference for the tyres

    I had to make the decision in by Ulan Ude and after much deliberation I settled on Barnaul as the shipping point for my new tyres; Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR for the front and Mitas E07+ on the rear. Perhaps not as great a combo as my first but hopefully suitable to take on the Pamir Hwy

    Now that I was actually in Barnaul though I was wishing I had gone with trusting my own research as both the front and rear still had life in them, probably enough to make it to Almaty via the longer route even!

    But it was too late, it would take too much time to get them shipped again to Almaty and add even more cost so the best solution we could come up with was to change the rear, especially since the new rear is supposed to be long life, and I will carry the front with me so that I can change it in Almaty or in case the current one goes before then, at least I have a spare with me.

    TKC80 front after 7500km. Still plenty of meat left

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    GT723 Rear after 7500km. I loved this tyre and sad to see it go with life still left on it

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    Luckily a 17” front fits snugly with my current luggage setup and in fact even acts as a bit of a luggage rack. I may even consider carrying my old front with me after the change in order to help carry fuel.

    So, in Barnaul, the tyres had been shipped to a local biker, Andrei, who was going to help us fit the new tyres and any other work we needed done such as luggage rack welding for the Japanese guys and a new chain for me; all free of charge of course.

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    Andrei had told me in messages that he wasn't a service centre but he knew how to get the job done as the best mechanic in Barnaul! Breaking a very tough rear tyre bead

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    As I waited for Andrei to arrive I thought I would look into the hesitation issue from yesterday and pulled off the fuel tank. As I took the fuel pump out the most ridiculous amount of gunk started falling out; dirt, all dirt.

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    Easily a handful of dirt had accumulated at the bottom of the tank and clogged up the pump assembly.

    Mark on the KTM from Canada had mentioned to me that he was using an Australian made pre-filter sock for fuel in Mongolia since he had heard the fuel was bad there. I had told him then that oh, I have been filling up at petrol stations only so I hadn’t been using the same pre-filter that I was also carrying. Damn I felt silly.

    Thankfully, it seemed that no major damage was done as the pump was still working and despite the amount of dirt, the low pressure filter itself was not too bad. Even more luckily, I had diagnosed the issue perfectly and was carrying 5 spare filters and a spare pump.

    A thorough clean of the assembly as best I could, a new filter and it was all back together again. A quick test didn’t show any hesitation revving to 8k RPM

    From there, it was a couple of afternoons at Andreis place while he helped us out with our other mechanical needs and told us crazy stories of his rides in the Siberian winter such as riding a scooter across a frozen Lake Baikal as well as a big power Harley with side car also across the frozen lake!

    After the bike was done, Andrei was even kind enough to take us on a tour of the city including to the local biker bar

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    While the bikes got some care, it was also great to take a day or two off in Barnaul with a nearby fast food store serving everything from pizzas to wrap and burgers and the general calmness of a residential neighbourhood giving us some nice peace and quiet

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    Hopefully all rested up and ready for the next challenge; Central Asia, starting with Kazakhstan
    #79
  20. rjnutt

    rjnutt Desert tortoise

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,037
    Location:
    Washoe Valley, NV
    Keep it coming! Really liking your report.
    #80