Trans-Labrador. On a scooter. On the dark side.

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by VladM, Aug 16, 2014.

  1. VladM

    VladM Adventurer

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    I've been lurking here for some time and read a lot of inspiring ride reports but never thought my rides really deserve the "adventure" prefix. Fellow ADVrider I met on Trans Labrador Highway (Eldor) insisted that this one definitely qualifies, so here it is. It's in chronological order, but you can skip straight to Day 1 if you are not interested in preparations and planning:

    Labrador and Newfoundland (Aug. 1-10, 2014)

    ~6000km loop

    The weapon of choice

    Preparing the scoot

    Luggage

    Gear

    A square ride

    Brake fix

    Studying the route

    Final bike preparations

    Test ride

    Where is the point of no return?

    480Km between gas stations??!!


    Day 1: Todonto, ON to Rimouski, QC - 1,100Km

    Day 2: Rimouski, QC to Labrador City, NL - 755Km

    Day 3: Labrador City, NL to Goose Bay, NL - 530Km

    Day 4: Goose Bay, NL to Blanc Sablon, QC - 625Km

    Day 5: Blanc Sablon, QC to Deer Lake, NL - 330Km

    Day 6: Deer Lake, NL to Port aux Basques, NL - 600Km

    Day 7: Port aux Basques, NL to Halifax, NS- 670Km

    Day 8: Halifax, NS to Sussex, NB - ~350Km


    Epilogue - lessons learned

    Photo highlights

    Trip statistics, logs etc.

    Photo album with (even) more pictures is at Trans Labrador Scooter Ride Album 2014

    Thank you for looking and feel free to comment, here or on the blog.

    [​IMG]
    #1
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  2. VladM

    VladM Adventurer

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  3. nick949eldo

    nick949eldo Long timer

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    Attaboy! But you know, you really need an adventure bike with knobbly tires for a trip like that :hide

    Nick
    #3
  4. VladM

    VladM Adventurer

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    Thanks, that's what I thought too. However, after this trip I know I don't need no stinkin' knobbies :D. Adventure bike? I had an adventure bike that wasn't overtaken by a single GS the entire trip :)
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  5. nick949eldo

    nick949eldo Long timer

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    Motorcycle adventure is what's between the ears, not between the footpegs. :clap

    Nick
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  6. VladM

    VladM Adventurer

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    Well said Nick, I'm going to use that.
    All we really need is two wheels and a motor.

    All that said, my idea of adventure is a trip that implies a certain level of struggle, be it fighting the road, the bike, the elements, fatigue, doubt, pain... This one had none of that, at least not to the point that it stopped being fun. Than again, I take everything a trip throws at me as the integral part of the experience and great story material.

    Every road is experienced differently by different people, but Trans Labrador Highway takes the cake, IMHO. I have heard diametrically opposite assessments of the road from people riding it on the same day, sometimes just hours apart. It cannot all be attributed to personality and equipment difference, though. Sometimes all it takes is a grader or a truck to turn fun into torture while the other guy passed through without even seeing one.

    Another example: If I had a penny for every time I heard complaints about washboard and potholes I'd be retiring. I rode that same road on an effin' scooter and it would never occur to me to even mention washboard or potholes...
    #6
  7. nick949eldo

    nick949eldo Long timer

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    Yep. Unless I've had at least one decent breakdown, some major part has wiggled loose, or I've been stalled by a wash-out, it just seems like another ride. It's only through a bit of adversity that a ride becomes an adventure. As a culture, we've become a bit milk-toast.

    Nick
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  8. nick949eldo

    nick949eldo Long timer

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    Vlad - just a suggestion. Most people (myself included) want to see the full ride report, with pictures, on the ADV site. I think a lot of people would be interested in your trip but are reluctant to follow external links.

    You could probably cut and paste from your blog easily enough.

    Nick
    #8
  9. VladM

    VladM Adventurer

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    Thanks for the suggestion Nick. I seriously considered that approach, but it poses some big challenges:

    - The report was originally posted in the blog as the ride progressed. I like to keep it there for several reasons, not the lest one being full control over it's content. I can update the posts and add new information and pictures as I see fit. I don't have that level of control here.

    - There are many potential formatting issues when copying and pasting blog entries to the board. I tried that once on a board I administer and it was a disaster. I may try it here, but only if I find time and when I'm sure there won't be any more updates to original blog posts.

    - Time and effort it takes to clone the report to multiple boards is often not worth it. ADVrider, as dear to me as it is, is just one of several boards I post on. Also, I already made a serious compromise when I decided to post exclusively in English. That excluded sharing my experiences with non English-speaking people from my fatherland, including my own mother.
    #9
  10. jowul

    jowul Been here awhile

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    There is nothing wrong with doing such a tour on a scooter, particularly with the powerful scooters of today. Heck some even do it on a bicycle:clap
    I criss-crossed all through Europe over alpine passes with a 1956 Vespa GS150 and later did the same with my GF in a 1959 Fiat 500 with a whopping 15 HP engine.
    I still would prefer to do the trip on my 800GSA:rofl
    #10
  11. VladM

    VladM Adventurer

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    The point I'm trying to make is not "ride whatever you have wherever your hart desires" even though such an approach has a lot of merit. What I'm saying is that Majesty was the best bike for a trip like this. If someone asked me before what I would choose, I would say a 800GS with knobby tires. Now I know that it would be the wrong choice on many levels:

    - GS is a purpose built machine for those who know how and have the cojones to use it's full potential, like power sliding in corners on gravel. I am not a Dakar competitor and I argue 99% of GS riders aren't either. They unnecessarily suffer because they have been conditioned to think they need a GS (or any other "adventure touring" bike) to ride anywhere off-pavement.

    - Knobbies are bad on paved roads. Noisy, poor handling and wear like they are made of butter. They also really hate steel grate bridges. Not worth it for a trip that is 90% on asphalt.

    - Ride height. Stop in loose gravel, sand or mud with a bike you have to tiptoe on asphalt and you are going down. And the bike will arguably suffer more damage than a scooter.

    - Weight / center of gravity. Once you drop an adventure bike you won't easily pick it up alone. Also, scooters low CG inspires more confidence because it's more composed on bumpy roads and less wobbly in the loose.

    - Price. I can trash ten used scooters before I reach the price of a new GS800 or a used 1200.

    All in all, if you can use a GS to it's full potential - more power to you. I will have more fun riding my Majesty faster, safer and in better comfort.
    #11
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  12. scarysharkface

    scarysharkface Truffle

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    :thumb
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  13. cbolling

    cbolling Here...Hold my Beer.

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    Just read through your blog. Great ride on a great scooter.

    Did I miss the part about the Majesty dying?
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  14. jowul

    jowul Been here awhile

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    VladM, I am in full agreement with you and like I said, I enjoyed my touring on a Vespa very much. But I hated getting off every 200 - 300 meters in elevation gain to adjust the carb. I certainly would not use knobbies on my GS, since like you said, 80% is paved and 20% is gravel on most "touring' trips. Tires like the Heidenau are a pretty good compromise on both. And I don't know anyone who wants to power slide with a GS on trails. That's better left to 250's and 350's endures.
    By the way, I like the name of your scooter.
    #14
  15. VladM

    VladM Adventurer

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    Thanks for reading, I'm glad you liked it. Majesty died and was left in Apohaqui, NB. The engine seized badly in the middle of the open highway after surviving the worst roads of Quebec, Labrador, Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. My best guess is that it died due several hours of high speed riding with severely clogged air filters, but I'll never know for sure (I probably would if I washed those filters after all the dust they had to suck and checked the oil level more frequently).

    We are on the same page jowul, no argument. I apologize if I appeared a little too harsh - it's mostly because I'm upset with myself for being bamboozled into believing the adventure touring bike hype. After this experience I feel sorry for ever thinking I would have more fun on a "Gelande/Strasse". I still think the new V-Strom 1000 may be the right choice for me. Powerfull enough not to put me to sleep in the flat desert yet nimble enough to tackle some canyon gravel.

    Interesting. I expected my Bandit to be succeptible to that issue but never had any problems, from -85m to 3,000m and from -5 to +45c. Granted, it did loose a little power at high altitudes, but nothing really annoying. I guess re-jetted CV carbs make a difference (Vespa had flat slides, right?).

    Thanks. It was hers, so it made sense to call her that. Next one will probably be "his Majesty" :)
    #15
  16. Dont_Panic

    Dont_Panic Adventurer

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    Too spooky, I've been considering this exact same trip except leaving from London, and riding a BWS125. I'll have to give this a thorough reading when I'm done work.
    #16
  17. VladM

    VladM Adventurer

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    It looks like your biggest challenges will be posed by the small tank and 12" tires.

    ~170Km/tank (if my ballpark figures are correct) means that you will need an extra 10L to cross those 400Km of gravel between gas stations. You can take a detour to Cartwright and shorten the longest hop to about 250Km, but it will add about 190km to your trip between Goose Bay and Blanc Sablon.

    I was more than OK with 14"/13" tires on the Majesty, but my rear was a car tire. I don't know how 12" would behave on such a light scooter. I suggest you take it for a test ride on the roughest and longest piece of gravel you can find in your area first. Pay special attention at how it will behave at high speed on relatively loose (~1") gravel.

    It looks like your top speed is under 90Km/h which is OK providing you can keep it at least 80 for hours and stay away from highways. However, count on being often overtaken by 18 wheelers on gravel.

    Let me know if you have any questions, I'll be happy to help you take the trip if you decide so.
    #17
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  18. Dont_Panic

    Dont_Panic Adventurer

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    I was planning on making a bit of a long distance rig, basically turning most of the underseat storage into fuel storage. We'll see how this affects the top speed, milage, handling etc.

    The car tire is a good idea, it's too bad I can't find anything in a 12 inch. Perhaps a South American country would carry them :lol3

    I will definitely look for some advice later on down the road.

    Thanks!
    #18
  19. Bicyclist

    Bicyclist Been here awhile

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    The Geo Metro used a 12" tire, I believe. Try searching for that.
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  20. VladM

    VladM Adventurer

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    Also, get a tire with symmetrical thread if you can find it, possibly a winter one (even better grip). I got this Chinese Achilles and was more than happy with how it performed.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    #20