Cross country expedition on a bike...

Discussion in 'Motorcycles' started by ferrari_chris, May 20, 2008.

  1. ferrari_chris

    ferrari_chris Premium

    Messages:
    4,728
    OK, so I know bugger all about motorbikes.

    I'm planning in the future to do a (more than one) cross-country expedition on a bike. I think it will be quite fun.

    So, I have three questions:

    • What sort of bikes should I be looking towards? I know there's the BMW ones (example 1, example 2, example 3, etc.), and they were my first thought, but what other models and brands should I look at.
    • How much stuff can I expect to carry? Doing this sort of thing in a 4WD allows a lot of room for a lot of kit. The bike can't carry as much. I'll be getting those saddle bags to go on there, but how much can I expect to get in them? How many changes of clothes? A tent? Food/water? And should I anticipate wearing a pack?
    • What is fuel milage like on these sorts of bikes?

    Thanks for any feedback. :)
     
  2. wfooshee

    wfooshee Premium

    Messages:
    4,593
    So what's your riding experience? Are you a novice rider expecting to be immediately comfortable with multi-hundred mile days? By Cross-country, so you mean riding from end to end, or going off-road? What's the terrain and road quality you're going through, paved, unpaved, off-road?

    The bikes you show imply off-road capability, which I have no personal experience with.

    For packing the bike, all kinds of additional bags are available, as well as larger hard bags to replace the bike's stock bags. You can put a bag on the top case lid, one on the passenger seat, and a tank bag.

    As for what to carry, you'll need tire repair, a flashlight, batteries, at least one GPS, some kind of 2-way radio besides a phone. First aid kit. Spare bulbs for the bike's lights. The bike probably has a tool kit, but you want to be sure you can remove either wheel by yourself with what you have on hand.

    There are lots of one- or two-man tents that pack microscopically.

    Clothes, you probably already know, but that's how you fill all those extra bags. You'll need waterproof riding boots, gloves and riding gear, which you should budget well for. Good gear has removable waterproof and thermal liners which come out when not needed for all-season comfort, but they have to be packed when not worn. Rain gear to go over it. A waterproof liner may keep you dry, but the shell will be soaked when it stops raining if you don't have a rain suit over it.

    If it's going to be cold, investigate heated gear, which is powered by an electrical connection to the bike. Be sure the bike's charging system is up to the load.

    If the BMWs are a bit rich for your budget, a lot of "adventure" riders choose the Suzuki V-Strom, a very capable V-twin bike.

    That's all off the top of my head.
     
  3. ferrari_chris

    ferrari_chris Premium

    Messages:
    4,728
    Thanks for your feedback. :tup:


    Minimal.


    Yes.


    Not 'off-road' per say. I'm not planning on crossing deserts or forging my own raod anywhere. But, if the road turns to gravel, or is a little less travelled, I certainly don't want a bike that will be left flummoxed at the first sign of a little rough stuff. ie: a sports bike.


    Thanks, I'll look into these.


    This raises an interesting point that I haven't thought of before: flat tyres. Is it normal to use some sort of tyre repair that will allow me to get to the next town? I think GPS/SatNav is a must, but I don't know about the 2-way radios at this stage. I don't plan on getting too far off the beaten path... :scared:


    Thanks, I think I'll look into this stuff a bit further down the track when I have a better idea of what I'm getting myself in for on the bike side of things.


    I'll check them out, thanks.

    :tup:
     
  4. wfooshee

    wfooshee Premium

    Messages:
    4,593
    For tire repair I carry a "sticky-string" kit, basically two tools, one to ream the nail hole, another to apply the plug. The plugs themselves are, well, strings with sticky goo on them. The tool forces them into the hole and then comes out, leaving the plug. Tire can stay on the rim and rim stays on the bike. (If the hole is towards the edge of the tire surface, or actually in the sidewall, you'll need a new tire, though, don't try to plug a sidewall.)

    I removed the guts from a cheap 12-volt compressor and I carry that under my pillion seat in front of the taillights, wired into a fuse box I've installed under the seat.

    Avoid the temptation to carry a can of that fix-a-flat liquid stuff. VERY messy when the tire has to be changed, and is intended for car tire volume. Afterwards you'll need a real scrubbing of the wheel, new valve, and a big tip for the tire changer who has to do that crap. He will not be happy.

    The bikes you've pictured are made for what you describe, occasionally unpaved travel.

    All the GPS makers have motorcycle-friendly units, which will be water resistant, usable with gloves, etc. They'll also have mounting and wiring kits, although you'll still need the actual attachment to the bike from somewhere. RAM-mount is a really good source of these.
     
  5. ferrari_chris

    ferrari_chris Premium

    Messages:
    4,728
    Thanks. :tup:
     
  6. ferrari_chris

    ferrari_chris Premium

    Messages:
    4,728
    OK. So, I've got started on this now. I have extra motivation as a mate has shown interest in coming along too, and he is also right at the start of his motorcycling life.

    I have bought myself a Suzuki GN250.

    It's a perfect learner's bike, as we can only ride up to 250cc on the learner license here in NZ. So this bike will do me for 18 months while I work my way through our graduating license system.

    It's a 2005 model, with only 5,000kms. It has had two previous lady owners, who both used it to get their licenses.

    Win!

    I started riding it today - just around my yard as I can't legally go on the road yet - and I didn't drop it once. :) Although I did come close at one point. There's a few techniques I need to learn, but I'm very happy with my progression after only an hour of riding today.

    I may post up some pics of it, when I get them. :)
     
  7. wfooshee

    wfooshee Premium

    Messages:
    4,593
    Learn the friction zone on the clutch. People have been brought up in cars and taught "Don't slip the clutch! Don't ride the clutch!" Bikes are different, with their wet clutches, and slipping the clutch is how you ride slow. In a parking lot turn you leave the throttle alone, just a bit above idle, and contorl power to the wheel with the clutch. For tightest turns you lean the bike over hard and actually sit up on the top side.

    Clutch drill: Bike running and motionless, in first gear with the clutch pulled. Give it a small amount of throttle and a small amount of clutch, just till you feel it engage, then pull the clutch back in and let off the gas. Just rock it back and forth a few times. This is the first drill in a basic rider course, designed to show you the friction zone.

    While riding around, always look where you want the bike to go. It follows your eyes. If you're in a tight turnaround and you look down at the front wheel, you will fall. If you look at the end of the turn, towards where you want to end up, you will get through it perfectly.

    Your situation is a perfect example of why a graduated licensing system is so good. Over here a kid just starting out can get a Hayabusa if he can afford it, and we have a lottery on how long he lives after that.
     
  8. ferrari_chris

    ferrari_chris Premium

    Messages:
    4,728
    Thanks. The looking forward and up is important I've found. I was doing tight turns and wasn't completely comfortable with it. I was looking 2-3m in front of the bike. Then I started looking way up the road, like 20m, and it was much easier coming out of the turn.

    :tup:
     
  9. ferrari_chris

    ferrari_chris Premium

    Messages:
    4,728
    • I bought a helmet on Friday, but I'm not 100% sure it is the right size for me. I'm going to go back and see if one size smaller is a better fit.
    • I had my (already riding) mate look over my skills and he says it's all very good and I'm ready to take my first license test. So I need to book that in some time.
    • A friend (who is also getting his license) and I went to a local wholesaler this afternoon and got us some riding gears. I bought a jacket, pants and kevlar jeans. He bought a jacket, jeans, boots and gloves.
    Pics may follow.