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  #1  
Old 3 Jan 2014
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Africa Twin long range tank

I am planning on riding my Africa Twin RD07a from Cairo to Cape Town this year. One of my concerns is the availability of clean fuel along some of the less frequently used roads and therefore I am looking at increasing the fuel range of the bike. Somebody offered to sell me a 43 liter Touratech tank. I am a bit concerned about the center of gravity with so much fuel. Has anybody used one of these big tanks? The alternative of course would be to use plastic auxiliary cans like the Rotopax but then I would have to find the space for that again. Pros and cons.. Any thoughts out there?
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  #2  
Old 3 Jan 2014
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There is nowhere that you need more than the 220+ range on your AT. unless you're really going off into the desert and that's just stupid on your own.

A 5l fuel container makes more sense..

If you're worried about clean fuel, put an inline filter on or filter if from the source using a micro gauze.. Imo, a 43l tank on an already heavy bike is a bit crazy.

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  #3  
Old 3 Jan 2014
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I've got one on my bike. If you don't already have progressive front springs, you will for this tank.

Advantages:
Plastic tank- can take quite a beating without issues.
Plenty of range
Easier to remove tank than standard tank with that stupid valve at the back
Excellent wind-shield for your legs.
Looks cool.


Disadvantages:
Cost compared to other solutions, i.e. carrying two jerry cans mounted on the crash bars lower down
Bit more top heavy
Does restrict airflow through radiators a bit, especially if you have tankbags hanging down, e.g. VP45 Touratech type
Lot more difficult to get to engine without stripping tank off.
When going downhill (such as mountain passes), the last 5-7 liters of fuel sits in the front of the tank and the fuel-taps are above the the fuel line
Hard to find crash-bars that fit around the tank- think only Touratech makes some and be prepared to make your own or modify.
Other bits, such as Boano fairing not compatible with big tank and be prepared to modify.

As for fuel-availability- can't speak for everywhere, but places where you might have issues with a fuel range <400-600km include Angola, Botswana, Mozambique and Zimbabwe (especially of the main roads, which I think you were asking about). You'll get some fuel on the black market, but quality is dubious and it's an adventure to find fuel.

My AT with standard tank and jerry cans




My AT with big tank and standard fairings
http://i692.photobucket.com/albums/v...3596Medium.jpg

My AT with big tank, Boana fairings








So in the final analysis- do I think the big tank was worth it?

I will never buy one of these new from Boano, Touratech or Africa Queens- just too expensive. But now that I have it, I don't think I'll ever go back to the standard tank (which I still have). Only time you have too much fuel, is when you're on fire. I sometimes still pack an additional 10liters of fuel- we live remote.

And you get used to the weight and the feel of the bike. One advantage of the jerry-can system though: the bike lies at a convenient angle for easier picking up (and thus the bike is easier to handle compared to the big tank)
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  #4  
Old 3 Jan 2014
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Quote:
Originally Posted by *Touring Ted* View Post
There is nowhere that you need more than the 220+ range on your AT. unless you're really going off into the desert and that's just stupid on your own.

A 5l fuel container makes more sense..

If you're worried about clean fuel, put an inline filter on or filter if from the source using a micro gauze.. Imo, a 43l tank on an already heavy bike is a bit crazy.

Sent from my XT1032 using Tapatalk
Hi Ted
Thanks very much for your thoughts. I would prefer not having my route dictated by fuel availability if you understand what I mean. Some of the main roads have so many big trucks and busses speeding up and down in clouds of dust that the smaller quieter roads are quite attractive. Which means longer fuel range is required, either with a bigger tank or, as you say, additional fuel containers. I was thinking of the Rotopax fuel packs until the TT tank came up.
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  #5  
Old 3 Jan 2014
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IMHO it's better to use a big tank then containers. Cointaners often leak and they break when you crash, even thorns can rip them apart.

More then once I have had to change my route because of lack of range (700kms) and it's not fun.
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  #6  
Old 3 Jan 2014
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AliBaba View Post
IMHO it's better to use a big tank then containers. Cointaners often leak and they break when you crash, even thorns can rip them apart.

More then once I have had to change my route because of lack of range (700kms) and it's not fun.
I've crashed A LOT .... Never broken a fuel container. Depends how and where you stow them obviously.. Coke bottles are going to break. Jerry cans on the crash bars are going to break..

Put your fuel in thick, plastic, flexible containers away from drop zones and you're on to a winner.. It's like having a mini Acerbis tank as back up..

But yeah, fuel in the tank is the best place.. I just thought a 43 tank is MAJOR overkill... I never got less than 280 miles from a tank on my AT. And I've never had more than 220 mile range of fuel while travelling ANYWHERE. Nor did I need it more.

That piece of mind knowing you're not going to run out of fuel is a nice one... I can't deny it.
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  #7  
Old 3 Jan 2014
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Hi Squily
Thanks for the information. The restricted airflow that you mention through the radiators concerns me a bit. Does it mean that the bike will run hotter? If so, anything to be worried about?

You are quite correct about the fuel situation in some of the Southern African countries although it has improved substantially in the last few years. Unfortunately it also means that there are a lot of big trucks on those roads. So much so that I have on occasion felt very uncomfortable driving there in a big 4X4.... The moment that you go of the main roads the road surfaces are much worse but the traffic situation a lot better.

Wow!! Your bike seems to be very heavily laden! How did you mount the jerry cans to the crash bars? Can the caps on your jerry cans lock? It seems as if they can. I won't be able to attend to my bike and luggage the whole time so theft is a concern.

I am also toying with the old "tubeless tires" issue. Do you have any thoughts about that? I would love to be able to go tubeless if I safely can do so.
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Old 3 Jan 2014
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Quote:
Originally Posted by *Touring Ted* View Post
I've crashed A LOT .... Never broken a fuel container. Depends how and where you stow them obviously.. Coke bottles are going to break. Jerry cans on the crash bars are going to break..

Put your fuel in thick, plastic, flexible containers away from drop zones and you're on to a winner.. It's like having a mini Acerbis tank as back up..

But yeah, fuel in the tank is the best place.. I just thought a 43 tank is MAJOR overkill... I never got less than 280 miles from a tank on my AT. And I've never had more than 220 mile range of fuel while travelling ANYWHERE. Nor did I need it more.

That piece of mind knowing you're not going to run out of fuel is a nice one... I can't deny it.
Hi Ted
Where would you recommend storing fuel containers? As my Hepco & Becker panniers are sitting quite high I was thinking about mounting Rotopax fuel packs underneath the panniers. The pannier floor material does feel a bit flimsy though... In front of the panniers could also work I expect.
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  #9  
Old 3 Jan 2014
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Quote:
Originally Posted by *Touring Ted* View Post
But yeah, fuel in the tank is the best place.. I just thought a 43 tank is MAJOR overkill... I never got less than 280 miles from a tank on my AT. And I've never had more than 220 mile range of fuel while travelling ANYWHERE. Nor did I need it more.

That piece of mind knowing you're not going to run out of fuel is a nice one... I can't deny it.

If you don't need more then 220 mile range then it's probably not a problem to store a few litres somewhere, but some of us looks for 2-3 times that range.

Here is a setup with a 10 litre canister in front of luggage (and a 5 litre on the left side). The 5 litre was destroyed by thorns the day after the picture was taken and I lost all the petrol - still a long way to go..
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  #10  
Old 3 Jan 2014
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AliBaba View Post
If you don't need more then 220 mile range then it's probably not a problem to store a few litres somewhere, but some of us looks for 2-3 times that range.

Here is a setup with a 10 litre canister in front of luggage (and a 5 litre on the left side). The 5 litre was destroyed by thorns the day after the picture was taken and I lost all the petrol - still a long way to go..
Hi Alibaba
Do you perhaps have another picture of what you are describing? I would love to see what you have done.
Thanks!
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  #11  
Old 3 Jan 2014
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Hi Alibaba
Do you perhaps have another picture of what you are describing? I would love to see what you have done.
Thanks!
I used to have 10L on the right side and 5 litres on the left. The canisters rested on the rear pegs and was secured to the boxes.
The petrol from the canisters was poured into tank as fast as possible.

48 litres of petrol, 13 litres of water and food for a few days:


When the cansiters were empty i moved them to the rear of the boxes.




But as I mentioned this failed from time to time... Now I use a 43 litre tank and rarely need more.
The problem (for Africa) is that when you need to carry a lot of petrol you also need a lot of water so it sums up. I might add a 7.5 litre rear-tank for water.

But, as Ted says, you don't need this if you follow main routes.
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Old 3 Jan 2014
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I packed up extra fuel crossing the desert in Sudan..

There I did need more fuel.. I had a 10L jerry can which was in a specially made cradle where some would put a top box. It was empty 99% of the time through Africa. I knew there was fuel half way to fill up. For me it wasn't feasible carrying an oil tanker on my bike for a tiny part of the trip..





I learnt the lesson with badly mounted 'extra' fuel doing the Ruta 40 in Argentina. I just filled up coke bottles and a 4 litre plastic container..

After a few spills the coke bottles were shagged and the 4L water container was bloating and leaking in the extreme heat.

I got to the only fuel station and it had no fuel.. I was stranded. VERY luckily the guy listened to my sob story and took my remaining fuel to get his syphon pump working and dredged his tank for me to fill my tank.... Lesson learned.

It's not about "sticking to the main routes".. It's about planning your journey better. Make sure you know where you can buy fuel. Even if it's a shack with plastic bottles or diverting your route to fuel stations. It's all information you pick up on route from other travellers or the locals. That's why I carry a paper map and a marker pen..

There are VERY few places in the world where you need 600 miles of fuel. Where there are people and roads, there is usually fuel...

Those needing 600 mile fuel ranges are the extreme. Good on you.. There's only so much desert I like riding. I find it quite boring.

You pack and prepare for what you are going to do... If you're specifically intending on doing long trips out into the desert then that big tank makes sense. If you're not then it's just a waste of money and a lot of weight to drag about.

Like everything... Personal preference.

Ted
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  #13  
Old 4 Jan 2014
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Thanks Alibaba!! Nice pictures and it looks like you had an awesome time. I do believe that your fuel needs are somewhat extreme but an eye opener though )
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Old 4 Jan 2014
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Originally Posted by limpopo View Post
Hi Squily
Thanks for the information. The restricted airflow that you mention through the radiators concerns me a bit. Does it mean that the bike will run hotter? If so, anything to be worried about?

...

Wow!! Your bike seems to be very heavily laden! How did you mount the jerry cans to the crash bars? Can the caps on your jerry cans lock? It seems as if they can. I won't be able to attend to my bike and luggage the whole time so theft is a concern.

I am also toying with the old "tubeless tires" issue. Do you have any thoughts about that? I would love to be able to go tubeless if I safely can do so.
I don't think it's a major issue, but it means you might have to keep an eye on your temp gauge in really hot weather (40C+) if you're working the bike hard. Or plan ahead and make sure you don't cover the ports by putting in some spacers, etc.

Yes, the bike was way to heavy for Namibia and the sand. The balance was good, but being my 1st 'real' sand trip, it was an eye-opener. As long as you can keep the speed up, it's perfect, but slowing down below 2nd gear is a chore. Now, I ride lot more sand and more remote areas, so I've adapted the AT for the terrain I'm riding: e.g. soft luggage instead of hard, lighter bike, etc. Incidentally, I don't like soft luggage, but it is safer in sand, as Your feet don't get caught up underneath. But the bike is a lot harder to pick up. The bike still handled better than a big beemer. On this specific trip, I helped out a mate on his 1150GS a few times, and my bike was much easier to ride, better balanced, etc. But such is the case when you're doing 'worst-case-scenario' planning, food for a week or more, tools, spares, etc.

The jerry's can lock. I made simple angle iron squares, where the jerry sits inside the square and is held there with a tie-down strap. A lock around the handle/square secures it. And the lid is 'inside' the square, so you can't open it without removing the jerry. The squares simply bolt onto the crash bars. And if you have a major off and they break, just repair them. And steel jerry's can be welded and repaired to. AND, if you're willing to go the effort, you can weld in some fuel pickups in the jerry's and use outboard fuel tank quick release couplings to plumb your fuel into the existing line.

As for tubeless: yes it can be done. Take it to a commercial rubberising agents and ask them to rubberise the inside of the rim (where the spokes are). You might still loose some air, but if not nearly enough to be an issue. The back tire works better than the front (most 21" fronts aren't really made tubeless, where as most 150x17" rears are). And something to consider is some (short) self-tappers through the front rim into the bead to help prevent the tire from slipping and leaking when you deflate (if you do) for sand. About 8 on each side should do it. But tubes in the front is still better.


And lastly- I agree with you on fuel. I hate to plan my trip around fuel stops. When we rode from Chitlango to Vilanculos (West to East from Malawi through Mozambique), we had 400km between fuel stops. People yes, but no fuel. And on the way out South through Maxixe (which has 4 fuel stations), no-one in town had fuel and they said it might be a week or more before the fuel-trucks came again. Wasted a day trying to find fuel on the black market.

And the harder you work an AT, the more fuel it uses. In the sand, 10-12km/l. That gives you a range of around 250km if you're lucky.

And when Onno & Anne went of to Tanzania through Malawi and Moz, they constantly had to worry about fuel. I prefer not to.

And final finally- you don't have to fill up the big tank if you don't want to. When the tank is half full, it still holds more fuel than the standard AT tank, but the weight sits much lower and provides better balance.
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  #15  
Old 4 Jan 2014
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Hi Ted
Thanks for your thoughts. I have to say that if I can safely carry additional fuel in such a way that I won't lose it or it wont be "lost" while I can't attend to the bike I'll do so. On the other hand the TT tank I was offered is not much more expensive than what Rotopax cans and fixtures would cost. I would still need to sort the water out as well though. The heavier the bike gets the harder it is to handle and the more of a pain everything gets to be in general. Nothing you did not know...just thinking out loud...
Thanks again!!
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