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Old 29 Apr 2007
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Is this the right bike for morocco?

Hi all,

my motorcycle adventure riding is like riding in the past. Are Gsser or KTMs the only bikes, you could go on a motorcycle adventure? What´s with the great motorcycle journeys of the past.
Since my new old adventure bike is finished, I did the first ride in my home area. I didn´t want to get far away in case of some seríous problems. Yesterdays I made the first longer ride to a business meeting. Oh god, the discussions at the meeting where mostly about this combo.
However, I did the trip without serious problems and this keeps my plans, riding to marocco in autumn.
May be, this thread will start a discussion about adventure riding, the way to do it and the philosophie of motorcycle journeys.
But before you´ll post an answer, let me explain my intension for doing this this way.
This combo is a long time dream. I admire the old motorcycle adventures riding in the 20s and 30s, like B.H. Cathrick with his BSA-Twin round the world, or the guys, who crossed afrika in the 30s. I have a great collection of old motorcycle adventure books. Looking at those pics, reading of muddy roads and unbelievable adventures kept my mind for years, building one bike for my own, riding to afrika and living the past.
Four years ago, I decided to realize this dream. First, I ordered the hardtail frame in Holland for my specification. Vtwin-Servive is building frames of different styles. The trial was reduced for sidecar use. Second step was buying a used Sportster 883. It was completely disassembled. Most of the parts I used for building up the combo. The rolling chassis I sold for some bucks. To keep the costs low. I bought mostly used parts, like the floorborads, the wheels and the tank. The springer fork is a new one, built for original specifications.
The rear wheels is for 185 x 15 tyres, it was made for my specification. Step by step the bike was mounted. The sidecar was made by a manufacturer, who can do the metal work for a reasonable price. That´s only one in Germany. Unfortunately I had to wait one and a half year, until it was finished.
The style is Harley-like, as it was in the 20s. The earlier sidecar had no trunk, but I need one for my camera equipment. So, we designed the small trunk in the rear of the sidecar. More luggage can be transportetd on the luggage carrier, as it was in the early years of motorcycling.
The fenders were made by a friend, who had a small custom shop (that is closed now) He also did the engine conversion from 883 to 1200 ccm. The seat has a dampener from Bilstein. I had to do something for my comfort. I don´t want to get problems with my back when riding long distances.
Last year, the combo was completely assembled and first rides were done. Some small problems didn´t stop me.
Now, I´m preparing the ride to Afrika, to Morocco. It should start in the end of september and if everything runs well I´m back in die mid of November. Therefore I´m still looking for some 13-spoke-cast-wheels, because they are allowed for sidecar use and I don´t want to change spokes every mile. The spare wheel is interchangable with the front and sidecar wheel. With some spacers it could also be fitted in the rear.
My equipment is as in the 20´s. I bought an old 6 x 6-camera (the digital camera I hide in the trunk.) Clothes are equivalent to that ones, you could see in the old pics.
Many people tell me, I´m crazy to go with this combo into the desert. Yes, I´m a little bit crazy. But I want to feeel what our fathers and grandfathers felt, when they were on the road, when the explored the world behind the horizont.
So, when I´m on the road, you won´t hear anything from me. In the 20s, there were no Internet, no mobil phones, no GPS. All the modern equipment, I leave at home (if I have). For orientation I´ll use a normal map – or ask the people. The only thing I do, I´ll post a limited edition of postcards of the most southern point I´ll reach. My plans say, this should be Dahkla, a small town on the west coast.


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Old 29 Apr 2007
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Good looking combo. People have gone to Morocco on all sorts of bikes, my first trip 30+ years ago was on a TriBSA café racer.

You should also be fine on the better maintained pistes and flat offroad, though I'm not sure the front of the sidecar has enough clearance for rough stuff?

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Old 29 Apr 2007
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I don't know how it will behave in the desert but it looks very nice and vintage.
The new Sportsters are reliable bikes so that should be no problem.

Do you have a good airfilter and an oilcooler on the Sportster ?
Jan Krijtenburg

The bikes I ride are a Honda GoldWing GL1200 Aspencade and a 1978 Honda CB400T
http://jkrijt.home.xs4all.nl/ (my personal homepage with trip reports)
http://www.krijtenburg.nl/HU_BoZ/ (The HU Motorcycle Travellers Community in my area)
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Old 29 Apr 2007
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I've just come back from a couple of weeks in Morocco myself. From the look of your combo you should be fine on some of the easier pistes which are pretty hard ground with a few rocks to look out for.
The limited ground clearance may cause you a few problems - a lot of the pistes cross dry stream and river beds which you may have problems getting into and out of. The other problem is sand - in the south of the country there will be areas of sand which the pistes cross. I'm guessing the combo is quite heavy, and with only one driven wheel you may struggle.
When we were out there we saw a group of vintage french cars on tour doing some of the easier pistes, so it is possible. Make sure you do plenty of research before you go and as long as you're realistic about what your combo's capable of you'll have a good time.
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Old 29 Apr 2007
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Basically you can drive to Dakhla on an asphalt road, if you choose, so that is not a problem (there are many European seniors in winter driving camper vans). You don't need to "cross" Sahara or drive difficult pistes if you don't want. You can drive down to Cape Town and back on your bike, I'm sure. The problem is everyhing is now much easier than in your books, and probably also less adventurous.

Last edited by Rebaseonu; 30 Apr 2007 at 13:47.
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Old 29 Apr 2007
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It is your fantasy, your dream. go for it. If you dont you will regret it for the rest of your life.
I also beleive it is perfectly do-able. My choice for a sidecar rig would be a ural with 2 wd. maybe with a punsen V twin diesel engine

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Old 30 Apr 2007
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Hi again,

thank you very much for your interesting input. Test rides in the last days were o.k., although I lost some scews. Now we´re preparing for a big test ride to Italy in the end of May. To check the load capacity and how the hack is going full loaded, it will be loaded with the complete camping gear for two persons.
Also I put together the tool kit and spare parts – weight of about 15 Kilos complete.
However, I´m glad for preparing this ride.

I´ve about 5,5 inches ground clearence. That´s a bit more than my old Guzzi-hack I´ve been to morocco 26 years ago. I guess this will work. The bike isn´t as heavy as it looks like, about 340 kilos, modern sidecars have about 50 to 100 kilos more. On the back I´ve fitted a wide 185 x 15 car tyre. With less air inside I guess I can ride sand. However, I think most of our ride will be on paved roads, as Rebaseonu says, the road to Dakhla is paved.

Air filter is original, but I´ve fitted a KTM oil-cooler. It works fine.

The new Urals are mechanically perfect, I know. But in former days, most of the adventures had V-twins or big singles.

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