The Bike

About 18 months ago I purchased a Kawasaki KLR650 with full intentions to do this trip with the bike. The bike was great and I put many kilometres on the clock and spent a lot of time and money on the bike adding on extra's and getting the bike ready for this trip. The KLR650 is renowned for being a solid and reliable motorbike, although not very quick (which I am not saying is a bad thing). There are many websites out there have some great write-ups on the KLR650 and I have no doubt that it would have got me safely through Africa.

However, I was never comfortable with the bike. Although very comfortable to ride, I felt it was slightly underpowered and sluggish. I wanted something bigger! Towards the end of last year, I decided to sell the bike and started looking at a bigger, but equally reliable bike.

The first bikes I looked at were the BMW range (F800GS and R1200GS). They are both great bikes, but I thought they were both far too expensive for what you are getting. The F800GS I thought was a bit too small for me (it has a really low saddle) and the R1200GS, with its big 'boxer' engine is very heavy. As the majority of the trip will be solo, I will need to be able to handle/lift the bike on my own without the help of other riders.

For those of you who watched "Long Way Down", all three of the R1200GS bikes broke down with suspension (and other) problems which was a bit of a concern for me. I dont want to be carrying a full repair shop with parts across Africa!

I also had a look at some of the other makes. The Tenere, DL650, Trans-Alp etc are all great bikes but not quite what I was looking for.

Eventually, I decided to get a KTM990 Adventure. The KTM is big on power and touring distance and is an absolute showpiece of technology. Nearly all of the riders in the Dakar Challenge are riding KTM's (albeit on the KTM690cc) and it has been years since any other bike has won the race! It is renowned for its jaw-dropping performance offroad. There's plenty of good bits bolted on, including Brembo brakes. But the bike is'nt all about performance, with a large seat and a full fairing to protect the rider from the oncoming wind. The bike is probably more at home offroad than on - but is well renowned for both.

I have also since added (and will be adding) a few accessories to the bike to get it prepared for the trip:
1) 41-litre Aluminium Side Panniers (Hepco Bekker)
2) Crash Bars
3) Radiator Guard
4) Skid Plate
5) Brake Master Cylinder Guard
6) Tank Bag
7) GPS cradle
8) Enlarged side stand base (to hold the bike up in the desert sand)
9) Additional Spot Lights (for night riding)
10) Stebel Hooter - extra loud!
11) Michelin Annakee Tyres (front and back) with Ultra Heavy Duty Tubes
12) 17'' rear wheel conversion
13) Heavy duty front suspension
14) Front Light Guard


Timothy Johnston said...

8) oh, not for your large foot?

Bok said...

What are you on about Ribbetjies??

Chris Dickinson said...

Hi Bokkie
Looks good. I am a BMW fan and would have chosen the 1200GS. I ride a R1200RT and its not too heavy for an old top like me. We have just come back from a trip to Balito on the bike 2 up and with top box and panniers. No problems at all. Enjoy your trip and try and see us befor you go.

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