Cape Town to Shanghai - KTM Adventures
We have completed Arniston on Southern tip of Africa to Alexandria on the northern tip - just under 20,000kms in all on our KTM 990 Adventures which have been brilliant. Fanny, a former professional volleyball player fromChina hadn't ridden a bike before and only got her driving licence in January 2011. Now she has crossed Africa, and experienced every type of road (incl.some tough roads in north Kenya) and all weather conditions except snow which we have to look forward to in Europe. The adventure and pictures and details of bikes is at:
--- www.bigbiketrip.net (English);
---and the very popular Chinese site, 方怡的环球摩旅fangfanny_新浪博客
We have been trying all sorts of options to get from Egypt to somewhere in Europe. We were nearly successful as the Chinese Ambassador to Egypt stepped in to help Fanny and arranged a COSCO cargo ship to take us from Port Said in Egypt to Piraeus port in Greece. We prepared all the documentation and rode 500 kilometers through the Sinai desert from Dahab to find out that Greek Immigration has scuppered the plan by demanding a pointless and unnecessary indemnity letter from COSCO, which as a Chinese State Owned shipping company they cannot provide as we are not employees.
Fanny has a Schengen visa for all EU countries for a year. I am British and therefore hold an EU passport which I believe Greece is still a member of. We have Carne de Passages for both bikes ( which are not required for Greece anyway), we have European motorcycle insurance, and we ride Austrian motorcycles that adhere to the strictest EU emission controls. If we were to arrive at a Greek road border on our bikes there would be no issue and so we remain confused why this demand is being made by the Greek authorities. That said we have solicited help from a Greek law firm based in Piraeus that will try and help us, including lobbying the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs on our behalf. My own attempts to solicit any help whatsoever from my own consular representatives at the British Embassy in Egypt resulted in the usual 'Computer says Noooo' responses, much as they did in Nairobi. Hey Ho.
So until we hear any news we are back to square one and will have to decide between riding through Jordan, Syria and to Turkey and on to Greece (ironically) etc... or through Libya to Tunis and a boat to Sicily and north through Italy OR Tripoli to Malta on the newly running ferry. According to local Islamic beliefs, if we get shot or any other misfortune befalls us in either Libya or Syria then its Allah's will (Insha'Allah - إن شاء الله) ... so that's reassuring.
Regarding the Libyan route option, we have seen on TV and could actually hear the sickening and blood thirsty celebrations outside the Libyan embassy from the great Mayfair hotel in Cairo, that my favourite and most eccentric African klepotomaniac despot tyrant had been butchered. Is it a safe route now? Who knows
On the Syrian route we have just heard that Syria is no longer issuing visas as journalists had been posing as tourists. Our Syrian contact / visa fixer person has fled to Dubai, such is his confidence in his safety and well-being in Syria. His email said bluntly, 'don't go, its dangerous'. Whatever the reality or rationale, the Syrian option has been struck through for now.
KTM 990 Adventure R 2011 (Rupert's)
KTM 990 Adventure R - 2011
KTM 990 Adventure 2008 (Fanny's)
KTM 990 Adventure 2008
Extras for bikes:
Both: Touratech aluminium 37 litre panniers and mounting frame; engine crash bars, KTM touring tall windscreen; heated grips, orange headlight protector; KTM tank bag; Touratach sump guard; heavy duty inner tubes; North face water proof bags; Stotts steering dampeners; Ergo gel seats; Swing arm and front fork KTM Cape Town/WP protector stickers (Rupert's bike only) Garmin Zumo 220 GPS
Tyres: Pirelli Scorpion MT 90 A/T front and back up to Nairobi. From Nairobi front tyre replaced with Pirelli MT21. (Ordered Continental TKC 80s but not set by KR Motorcycles in Polowane, RSA who conned fanny's aunt ).
Fanny - Arai helmet, dual rocket trouser, speed and strength jacket, Fox summer and winter gloves, silk inner gloves, Chinese brand balaclava, Alpinestar Tech 3S boots size 8, Chinese team volley ball socks, 30 RMB Chinese sunglasses, fleece, water proof m/c suit, two trousers, MC hammer trouser from Pam in Tanga, t-shirts and Salaomon casual water proof fleece jacket from Jono CT, an optimistically packed dress for UK, flipflops, and trainers
Rupert - Airoh helmet, Lookwell (SA) motorcycle trousers and jacket 5 years old, red fleece, black KTM jacket, Alpine star Tech 3 size 13 boots, ski socks (x2), threadbare and patched Jeep cargo pants, running shorts, assortment of underwear socks and t-shirts, waterproof m/c suit, Fox summer and winter gloves + silk inners, sun hat, bondi blu sunglasses (broken and held together with tape), flipflops and trainers.
Vaude MK II Light + Chinese brand ground sheet (from China OEM manufacturer)
Thermal Comfort inflatable mats - 7.5 cms... both broken and seriously patched up but surviving just with a blow up every 3 hours.
generic brand sleeping bags (three season)
15 degree sleeping bag inners
cheap inflatable pillows
cheap Chinese lamp
Two Chinese head lamps - fairly cheap - eat batteries
Cooking equipment - MSR whsiperlight and petrol cannister, pots and pans,
extra fuel : the 990 A has a 19.5 litre fuel tank .. way too small.. so I carry a 20 litre can (ex Exide battery acid can); fanny carries a 10 litre fuel can
Tools box.... One set of KTM bke tools, an assortment of small spanners and screw drivers, alun keys, knives, micro screw driver, a piece of rope, chain cracker, some glue.
Multi -meter - broken
12-240v converter cannister
cheap electric pump - overhauled but takes an age to pump
hand made funnel, with tea strainer and sock to filter bad fuel
spares -- 10-60 synthetic oil, clutch fluid, brake fluid, oil filter (x2), petrol filter (x2), spark plugs for both bikes (different for R), Chain cleaner, chain lube, chain links, octane booster, injector 3 in one cleaner, WD40,( Q bond missing)
washing kit + vitamens (run out) + towel each.
well stocked 1st aid kit with various medication (malaria and antibiotics )
30 litre water bag - given to us by Dutch riders moving south
2/3 liter hydration packs with tubes
spare 3 liter hydration pack
water seriliser fluid
Communications: 2x 10.1 inch laptops; one Nokia phone with Chinese sim (fanny), one iphone 3 (rupert) no sim, 2 nano ipod, a cheap nokia phone for local sims. Assortment of thumb drives and memory cards and cables abd chargers (too heavy).
Documentation: softcopy on USB drive and PCs + hard copy of all documents such a licences, carne de passage, bike manuals, passports, visas, banking details
Software : ECU Tune software for bike mapping and diagnostics ... no cables though.
cameras : Canon IXUS 860 (lost in Namibia), Panosonic press and go camera (fanny); GoPro camera (rupert , but lost screws and attachments so have to carry on bungee).
Flatstone bob .. to put under the side stand ... he changes shape and size often.
Nice report and good info about the equipment, I'm in the last planning stages before my own Africa trip.
How long did the Pirelli MT90 rear tyre last?
Great reading! I can live vicariously.
Be interesting to know how much you guy's are spending. Fuel, food, lodging and crossings.
Thanks again! enjoy and stay safe!
We did put an M/T 21 on the thr fronts which wqas awesome for the technical bits, very nice balance, but at 8,000kms the tread is now uneven in parts and we have put back on the original MT90s for the road which still have a decnt amount of tread. The MT 21s are on the back, but just as an emergency and we will change tyres again in Europe.
An interesting thing is that MT21 handled much better tha the MT 90s on the front that cause a wobble at 55 kph ... but only with the luggage and panniers at full weight. The MT 21s did make a humming noise at 90kph +
We had no sponsorship whatsoever, but we have met people who have and its eased the burden (tyres, panniers, radios, GPS etc etc..)
But briefly, the expensive things are the deposit for carnet de passages.. which I will get back. (twice value of bikes deposited with the AA of South Africa) The service at KTM Nairobi was ridiculously expensive. KTM cape Town are also more expensive than the UK or USA.
Entry to game parks, seeing gorillas, climbing the mountains etc etc is most expensive cost once you get going and we generally haven't done these things.
Shipping/courier spare tyres is expensive.. best to carry tyres I think. Peace of mind. Also carry a few spares - depends on which bike you use. Our bikes have been awesome... no problems except for starter relay which decided to break in middle of desert... and we replaced with a generic Chinese one found easily in Africa for 3 US dollars.
New KTM 990 R was 135,000 Rand and Fanny's bike 2008 was 88,000 Rand and then we added panniers (too expensive and got ripped off a bit), engine bars and pannier frames. basically KTM cape Town gave little change back from R300,000 for all the bikes, the kit and set up.
Sudan and Egypt are expensive at the customs, but fuel and accommodation is cheap.
The rest of Africa is pretty cheap if you camp... ca,ping about 10 US$ a night for two people for all the facilities and peace of mind... bush camping is definitely possible in most places (animals and shiftas aside)
I think its going to be about 50,000 US$ each
Video of Big Bike Trip
Tires and equipment
The tires have been amazing. basically the rears lasted 12,000kms but had nitrogen in them which extended tarmac life by reducing temperature and decay.
The fronts have swapped between Pirelli Rally Cross MT21 and Pirelli Scorpion MT 90 and have 21,000 kms between them and still going strong. All have heavy duty inner tubes and we only had one puncture from a screw as we rode in a risk area in kenya full of rubbish.
More at www.bigbiketrip.net under "Bikes and Equipment chapter" on Diary
Also, a short very amateur video at
Big Bike Trip on KTM 990 Adventures - YouTube
We are now crossing to Europe and will head east to Asia in late spring.
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