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Northern Asia Topics specific to Russia, Central Asia (also known as "the 'stans"), Mongolia, Japan and Korea
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  #1  
Old 27 Mar 2012
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Siberia/Mongolia Road conditions July/August, lighter v. heavy bike, Transalp v. DRZ?

Hi Guys
I posted this at http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/hub...2012-a-59454-4
post #60, but possibly it’s slipped under the radar in such a long thread, so I’ll start a new one,
It seems that lots of people head for Siberia and Mongolia earlier in the year (May/June) because it tends to be dryer. I’m restricted to dates and will be heading that way (partly this year and also in 2013) in July/August. Here’s what I posted in the above mentioned thread:

My latest 2012 plan is as follows: Ship bike to Almaty/Kaz and ride 7 weeks in Central Asia and via Altai/Russia to Mongolia (16July to end August). Then in 2013 in the same timeframe ride more of Mongolia and a lot of Siberia.

My dilemma is as follows: originally I planned to take a lightweight DRZ (160kg incl luggage), but now I’m in 2 minds and need to make a decision between the DRZ and a 600cc Transalp (with stronger than stock suspension, big tank, soft luggage: maybe 220kg including luggage, but no fuel).

Central Asia in July/August should be hot and dry and I’ve been told most of the roads are paved/gravel, as is Altai apparently. So Trannie will be fine.

However, with regard to the following routes, I’m unsure if the Transalp will be too much of a shed to handle. FWIW, trail ride regularly in the UK on my DRZ.

Western Mongolia border to Ulan Bataar
It’ll be the wet season: Mates of mine have ridden it on big fat R-GSs with hard boxes and F800GSs. But it was dry...

Vilyuisky Trakt
No idea. But it’ll be the “wet” season, I think.

Western BAM
Stephen/Allchin gives a good description: Assuming the rivers/bridges are passable, how’s the road?

Old Summer Road
The New Federal Road should be passable, whatever rain there’s been. I’m imagining the OSR is a no go in/on whatever vehicle, just because the bridges are down.

The rest: Overall, the highways/ gravel will be a lot easier/less gruelling on the Trannie.

But, how hard are the "hard" bits? What do you think? DRZ or Transalp?


Thanks for any input,
Chris
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Old 28 Mar 2012
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I don't think that May/June in Siberia is any drier than July/August, in fact IIRC late July/early August are considered the best time to do the RoB (that is, the OSR, on the new road I don't think it matters). In any event, drier is not always better, because of the resulting dust if there is any truck traffic.

I rode to Yakutsk up the Lena highway in late June, and then to Magadan in mid-August, both times the weather and road conditions were generally quite good. I was on an xChallenge but certainly could have done these sections on a GS1200, probably on a Goldwing.

If you have not done so already, you should certainly look at xDream's BAM ride report on ADVRider, he rode the Western BAM solo on a F650 Dakar without incident (although perhaps a "kids don't try this at home" warning would be appropriate). Then of course there are Colebatch's and TonyP's ride reports).

Personally, I think the bike you take is less important that if you decide to try some of these sections solo; it might be a good idea to not do some of these parts at all if solo, and if you are not solo, the choice of bike might be less important. A final consideration is your fuel range on the DRZ?
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Old 28 Mar 2012
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BAM might be tough on a trannie ... crossing railway tracks etc. But a determined man will always get the job done
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  #4  
Old 30 Mar 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by motoreiter View Post
I don't think that May/June in Siberia is any drier than July/August, in fact IIRC late July/early August are considered the best time to do the RoB (that is, the OSR, on the new road I don't think it matters). In any event, drier is not always better, because of the resulting dust if there is any truck traffic.

I rode to Yakutsk up the Lena highway in late June, and then to Magadan in mid-August, both times the weather and road conditions were generally quite good. I was on an xChallenge but certainly could have done these sections on a GS1200, probably on a Goldwing.

If you have not done so already, you should certainly look at xDream's BAM ride report on ADVRider, he rode the Western BAM solo on a F650 Dakar without incident (although perhaps a "kids don't try this at home" warning would be appropriate). Then of course there are Colebatch's and TonyP's ride reports).

Personally, I think the bike you take is less important that if you decide to try some of these sections solo; it might be a good idea to not do some of these parts at all if solo, and if you are not solo, the choice of bike might be less important. A final consideration is your fuel range on the DRZ?
Many thanks for the detailed input Tom. I'll take a look at xDream's RR and also revisit Tony and Walter's RRs. I won't intentionally ride solo and will plan my route according to local conditions and possible ride-buddies.

I have a 27 litre tank for the DRZ so range is less of a problem.

However I'm now definitely taking the Transalp. Reasons include:
  • It's expendible if the motor goes bang: I have very little invested in it.
  • The road miles will be much more tolerable
  • I can fit in more things that are a larger distance apart of the TA and some other logistics might be easier.
  • Central Asia on the TA will be more enjoyable, I think
  • I'm doing my token bit for the "lighter is better" methodology by using soft luggage an packing a minimum of sh!te
  • The TA has a 30 litre tank so range is less of a problem too
  • The DRZ has the e-motor and has alleged service intervals of 800miles! I also need the DRZ for trail riding in the UK...
Everything is a compromise. Currently my budget doesn't stretch far enough to a prep a xChallenge or 690/640 (I also don't like the colour orange and I swore on the snapped chassis/disintegrated transmission of my old RTW Airhead, I'd never buy another bike made in Berlin )


Quote:
Originally Posted by colebatch View Post
BAM might be tough on a trannie ... crossing railway tracks etc. But a determined man will always get the job done
Yeh Walter, I think I know where you're coming from. I am a determined man . Ideally I won't be riding solo. (Anyone need a ride buddy for the western BAM in July/Aug 2013?).

cheers
Chris
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Old 31 Mar 2012
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I think there was a guy on ADVRider looking for someone to do the BAM; will PM you if I find his info.
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Old 24 May 2012
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Bike choice

Your physical size will play a big part in choosing a bike to ride off-road.

I'm 5'4" with particularly short legs and originally left home on a F650 GS/Dakar hybrid (suspension height mid-way between the two). I was surprised where I managed to go on it but it was a struggle.

I swapped to a DR650 (losing 80kg fully loaded inc fuel) and that transformed my journey beyond belief. Suddenly I could (and did!) go anywhere without worrying about getting stuck, access bush camps I couldn't have considered on my Beemer etc.

ADV's Throttlemeister is a big lad at 6'+ and manages to muscle his inconceivably loaded F650 through anything, proving that the rider plays a big part.

Personally I found the smaller, lighter set-up WAY more fun.

After recently selling my US registered DR650 in the US I've downsized again and will head east in the spring on a DRZ400

I reckon your 'E' would be fine if you replaced the base gasket with the one from the S (lower the compression to allow for low octane fuel) and are clever about where you place your luggage with regards to the E's shorter rear subframe. (I understand Aussie E's come with the S subframe)

See you on the road

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  #7  
Old 24 May 2012
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Good advice Adam
I've taken everyone's views into consideration and done what I wanted anyway.

As mentioned, I've gone for the Trannie. I'm 6 foot tall, 16 stone with a 32inch inside leg (sounds like the start of an ad on a dating website... No I'm not in the market ).


There will be times when I'll regret not being on my lightweight DRZ, but it won't be when I've ridden 4 or 500 highway miles in a day.

Here's the bike loaded, just before it went into the container:



cheers
Chris
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  #8  
Old 23 Jul 2013
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Just reviving an old post...

The answer is light is the way to go for the BAM...

See post #78 at http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/hub...8-6#post430220

I've learned 2 things over past couple of days...

1. Take advice from the people you trust on the HUBB
2. Trust Russian truckers in the middle of nowhere who say they can replace a fuct clutch, despite nor having the right Honda tool.

I'll be back to do the BAM in the near future on a little bike. Maybe a Drz with a long range tank? Like the one in the garage at home in Blighty...
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