Tallinn to Dakar Rally

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by memento13, May 25, 2019.

  1. memento13

    memento13 Travelling in Africa

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2016
    Oddometer:
    77
    Location:
    Estonia
    Several people have requested more information about by bike setup and trip, so here's some information about it.

    I started my trip in Tallinn on 4th October last year on my 18' KTM EXC 450 Six Days. Next 5 month I rode TET tracks through Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal. This was around 15k km and I estimate that something like 70-80% of it was on TET tracks.

    2018-10-25 12.32.40.jpg

    2018-12-21 12.41.42.jpg

    On 13th March I arrived in Morocco and so far have continued through Mauritania, Senegal, Guinea Bissau and now I'm in Guinea.

    2019-04-02 11.50.55.jpg

    d9e8af68-960b-455c-ab92-b21fcdfcdda8_large_image.jpeg

    469aebe5-ffc3-40dc-9178-da2084b10607_large_image.jpeg

    Thats now total of ~25000 km and ~500 hours so far:

    trip-guinea.png

    I called my trip Tallinn to Dakar Rally, because riding to Dakar was small goal in my mind for obvious historic reason. Dakar is now several thousand kilometres behind, so the name is misleading, but I sometimes joke that I'm actually heading home now, just not the most direct way.
    #1
  2. memento13

    memento13 Travelling in Africa

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2016
    Oddometer:
    77
    Location:
    Estonia
    Most people traveling with KTM EXC choose pre 17' model and 500cc, but there was good deal available for 18' 450cc and i decided to go with it.

    Bike has currently following setup:

    IMS 17L gas tank
    Obvious choice, biggest tank available for 2017+ year models. Very strong, no sign of damage after numerous falls. Also helps to protect radiator.

    I also run Twin Air fuel shock inside it to avoid dirt when filling up from bottles or canisters in Africa.

    Haan Wheels with cush hub
    I contemplated long whether to do this modifications as this is quite expensive. I'm really happy I decided go with this as the ride is a lot smoother and there is less stress on other parts of the bike like countershaft. Whether you want or not, there will always be long stretches of tarmac and both you and bike are happier with cush hub.

    I run regular tubes and carry extra for both front and rear. I started with UHD tubes as bike came with these, but don't see much benefit when travelling and they take a lot more luggage space. No punctures in last 15k kilometres.

    I also have Motion Pro rimlocks. Front is probably not needed, but don't see much disadvantage having it.

    Wheels are never been balanced, but they are quite vibration free even without it, so haven't seen much reason to balance them.

    BRP rubber sub mount with Scotts stabiliser
    I went with BRP rubber sub mount because it solved two problems for me: reduced vibration in handlebar and raised it higher so standing up riding position is more comfortable. I also wanted steering stabiliser to reduce chance of odd rock causing adventure ending fall and it also helps to decrease fatigue. Only problem with this is that it obstructs fork preload adjusters, you have only 2 positions available, to get third one forks have to be turned.

    Nomad ADV rear and side rack
    17'+ KTM has only plastic subframe. In the beginning I was quite sceptical as this rack only reinforces plastic subframe, it does not connect anyway onto steel frame. But after installing it, I could immediately feel that subframe got sturdier. It has held up very well, no problems so far, even when I have been quite overloaded sometimes. Would definitely recommend it.

    Luggage
    I already had GiantLoop Coyote saddlebag and Fandango tank bag from previous trip, so just added Tillamook to increase luggage volume. I also have Kriega fender bag, which I use to carry my spare tubes and tire spoons, and Kriega R20 backbag.

    Gearing 14/44
    I have mostly run 14/44 gearing. For slow sections some clutch slipping is needed, cruises easily 90-100kmh on highways. Most people like 15/48 which is very similar to 14/44, but there is not enough clearance to run 15 tooth front sprocket with KTM Powerparts clutch slave cylinder protector! I tried this, when 44 tooth sprocket was not available in Spain, modified plastic chain guard, so there would be more clearance, but at one point I noticed that chain started to eat also into billet cylinder guard. I changed to 14 sprocket, so I'm currently running 14/48, which is good if you're ok cruising 80-90kmh. I'll probably go back to 14/44 with my next change.

    Supersprox Stealth rear sprockets last forever, KTM front sprockets not so much (~5000km). My experience is that O/X ring chain lasts 2 front sprockets and Superprox Stealth rear lasts 2 chains. A couple of times I have not changed front sprocket in time and have probably reduced chain life. Probably will try some stronger front sprocket next time, but there is small change of countershaft damage.

    Tutoro chain oiler
    I wanted chain oiler because it supposedly increases chain and sprockets lifetime, which would be great in Africa, where supplies are scarce. Don't think I have achieved increased lifespan so far and still struggle to find good place for the oiling nozzle. Chain and sprockets can easily be under the mud, which causes the nozzle to be wiped out by sprocket or chain. Can also create mess near countershaft and rear wheel when opened too much.

    Some other small mods:
    1. TM DesignWorks chain guide - added this as it has increased lifespan compared to stock and has replaceable slider
    2. KTM Powerparts radiator protector sleeves - cheap mod that keeps mud away from radiators, hence increases cooling and makes cleaning easier.
    3. SKF fork mud scrapers - i started with neoprene fork protectors, but I really didn't like not being able to see under them, so I removed them. After my seals blew in Romania, one repairshop recommended SKF mud scrapers and still using them, no major oil leaks since.
    4. Neoprene PDS shock protector
    When it was still new and shiny:
    2018-10-02 14.55.54.jpg
    #2
    garfey, JDWander, Saso and 4 others like this.
  3. memento13

    memento13 Travelling in Africa

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2016
    Oddometer:
    77
    Location:
    Estonia
    Only thing I really regret not upgrading is the notorious kickstand.

    Knob, that is part of the frame and goes inside the kickstand, broke off in Spain. For some weird reason KTM decided to use shorter bolt and it didn't go all the way in, just the knob part. So as a temporary fix, I just bolted the kickstand back with longer bolt. But because the knob was broken off, it was not as strong anymore and as expected the bolt also broke when I just arrived in Mauritania border-crossing. Not the best situation to be with a bike without kickstand.

    Now I just added GiantLoop luggage hooks to the top of the kickstand and connect it to the footrest. Added tennis ball to the tip of kickstand to avoid slipping. Not the most comfortable solution, but works.

    So upgrading to a better side stand is a must, if you plan to use Ktm Exc with heavier luggage! Or at least use longer bolt to connect it to the frame.
    #3
  4. satchmo3

    satchmo3 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 20, 2008
    Oddometer:
    155
    Location:
    Portland, Oregon
    Thanks for posting this!
    I have a 17’ 450. Have you done any major engine work to the bike? Or just regular maintenance?
    Keep the photos coming :)
    #4
    JDWander likes this.
  5. memento13

    memento13 Travelling in Africa

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2016
    Oddometer:
    77
    Location:
    Estonia
    The engine has worked great, haven't had any problems with it. Piston was changed in Spain at 15475km, 370h. There was really no need for it yet, but just for peace of mind decided to do that before entering Africa.

    Old piston:

    2019-03-05 20.08.27.jpg 2019-03-05 20.08.51.jpg

    Also two valve clearances are a little bit loose now, so will adjust these in Ivory Coast. Valves have not needed adjusting before.
    #5
    cyclopathic likes this.
  6. Critic

    Critic More or less!

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2005
    Oddometer:
    2,011
    Location:
    West of the Illinois, heart of the state!
    How about some detail photo's of set-up and mods your speak of above? Thanks for your photo's and written information. More please!
    #6
  7. Richarde1605

    Richarde1605 Long timer

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2015
    Oddometer:
    3,454
    Location:
    NSW Australia
    Do you tell that joke to yourself, and still laugh at it?
    Awesome :-)
    #7
  8. satchmo3

    satchmo3 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 20, 2008
    Oddometer:
    155
    Location:
    Portland, Oregon
    Great to hear that!
    Thanks and hope the trip continues well.
    #8
  9. memento13

    memento13 Travelling in Africa

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2016
    Oddometer:
    77
    Location:
    Estonia
    Don't have pics now, will take some shots when I have maintenence break in Ivory Coast.

    There is some more pics in Instagram, but not detailed pics from the bike.
    #9
  10. memento13

    memento13 Travelling in Africa

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2016
    Oddometer:
    77
    Location:
    Estonia
    There is a lot of alone time in the helmet, so have to get along with myself. Have noticed that I talk more with myself than usual :D
    #10
    garfey and Richarde1605 like this.
  11. memento13

    memento13 Travelling in Africa

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2016
    Oddometer:
    77
    Location:
    Estonia
    Everyday life in Africa not the easiest. I'm in Nzerekore, second biggest city in Guinea, and planned to do oil change, but there is no good motorcycle oil available. So as last resort poured out 800ml of old oil and topped up with my spare from last oil change.

    And on top of that, city has run out of petrol, have to go and ride around and see if I can gather enough from "aftermarket" bottles to get to Ivory Coast.
    #11
    JDWander and Pcq like this.
  12. JDWander

    JDWander n00b Super Supporter

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2019
    Oddometer:
    2
    Location:
    Texas
    I have a '19 500exc with the same fuel tank and ADV-nomad rack using Mosko 40 luggage and a custom Fisher seat, been having trouble trying to find the right spring rates. Seems like its just too heavy on the rear end of the bike period. I just built a 4" extension between handlebars and a LP6 Baja Designs head light so I can try and move some of the tools and other weight onto the front end. Any thoughts on spring rates ?
    #12
  13. memento13

    memento13 Travelling in Africa

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2016
    Oddometer:
    77
    Location:
    Estonia
    JDWander, I'm still using stock spring, so can't recommend anything yet. It is too weak indeed, so plan is to upgrade shock spring this month. I think I'm going with 115-125kg 75/78/81-225N/mm spring.

    Other thing I have in plan is to get Nomad Adv bashplate with toolbox. This would get some weight of the rear also. Hopefully my toolbag and 1L of oil fill fit there.
    #13
  14. memento13

    memento13 Travelling in Africa

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2016
    Oddometer:
    77
    Location:
    Estonia
    Found some nice trails last couple of days.

    Guinea:
    20190531_101012.jpg

    Ivory Coast, rainy season has started:
    20190603_134131.jpg
    20190603_131115.jpg

    There has not been much rain yet, but saw 3-4 trucks stuck today and small roads were already quite bad.
    #14
  15. BubbaZanetti

    BubbaZanetti for a corrector life

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2005
    Oddometer:
    13,184
    Location:
    DC Metro
    Very cool, I lived in Guinea for two years, the mud between Kissidougou and Macenta is amazing in the rainy season:

    [​IMG]

    I'm curious, did you cross at the little border post near the river on the backside of Mt. Nimba....Lola perhaps?
    #15
    memento13 likes this.
  16. memento13

    memento13 Travelling in Africa

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2016
    Oddometer:
    77
    Location:
    Estonia
    Yes, took that border crossing. First picture above is between village Bossou and the border, near Mt. Nimba.
    #16
  17. memento13

    memento13 Travelling in Africa

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2016
    Oddometer:
    77
    Location:
    Estonia
    I went straight through the country side trails from Kissidougou and Macenta, not through Gueckedou. It was without mud, but was still great riding.
    #17
  18. BubbaZanetti

    BubbaZanetti for a corrector life

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2005
    Oddometer:
    13,184
    Location:
    DC Metro
    Nice, it's a beautiful part of the country and early rainy season is great because everything is becoming green again.
    #18
  19. memento13

    memento13 Travelling in Africa

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2016
    Oddometer:
    77
    Location:
    Estonia
    Small flashback to Mauritania:

    #19
    ExplorerFrog, Riel, AngusMcL and 6 others like this.
  20. memento13

    memento13 Travelling in Africa

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2016
    Oddometer:
    77
    Location:
    Estonia
    Found out why people use dielectric grease on electric connectors. Got my bike washed and it suddenly started ignite starter, as it was in the first gear, it fell down.

    Pushed it up and pulled in clutch lever, starter continued like 30 seconds more. Strange is that I have added ignition key (from Slavens Racing) and removing the key didn't help. So I assume it is not starter button wiring, has to be something closer to starter.

    Seems like nothing go damaged, but going over the wiring will be the next job. Anyone has idea which wire should I specifically pay attention to?
    #20