UK-Australia - how much dirt
I've been looking to upgrade bike but this will be unnecessary if most of the road is tarmac. I'm trying to find out just how much dirt is one the route through Iran- Pakistan - India.
If theres more than 1000kms of sandy gravel I'll get more off road style, if less then perhaps my existing road bike willdo the job nicely.
I know some countries it is possible to stay on tarmac but Im unsure about the middle east and parts of Asia.
I'd hate to take off road bike then see miles and miles of wonderful tarmac, then again I'd never be able to venture off the beaten track with the big road bike. Im no Nick Sanders!
Thanks for any comment.
Practically all main roads were sealed, the exceptions were usually only some roadwork areas. But the condition of the tarmac might vary (a lot!!) and sometimes you go through every imaginable road condition in 5 minutes.... :rofl:
And especially Iran, Pakistan, India, Indonesia have some very big speed bumps, that you cannot detect sometimes, and what´s even more dangerous, though it´s more rare, even the sewer hole lids might´ve gone missing (I dropped my front wheel into one of those in Pakistan, but luckily I was going very slow at the time – one of the good reasons not to ride in the dark!!)... so no matter which bike you choose, get some proper shelter underneath the engine. This is of course easier to find ready-made for dualsport-machines.
Indonesia probably had some of the most challenging roads, when ´main´ roads are concerned. There were some very steep hills, where the surface had practically come off with the rains (and they used Caterpillars to pull some heavier vehicles up!) Luckily those places weren´t too many. But still it was some 2500 kms across the islans, and the route we chose went in the mountains a lot (a good way to escape the intolerable heat BTW!) and it was mostly very twisty and slow... you could not go very fast, because drivers coming across might "borrow" you side of the road on the bends, traffic in general was almost as wild as in India, and often the braking zones just before the curves were, for some reason, extremely bumpy, and sometimes this was hard to see, because of trees casting shadows, etc. Just 300-400kms could feel like a VERY long day, I think you can do triple amount in Europe or in Oz, and not feel as tired in the evening!
But if you plan to go off the main roads, then you can find basically anything, and maybe a more off-road capable machine would have an advantage. But how much time have you got available – it´s a long route, and you WILL need lots of time to be able to do that a lot!?
If you´ll mostly stick to the main roads, then comfort on the highway is far more important in my opinion. But even the paved roads will often be bumpy, so the bike should be able to handle that. Also wheels that are made of cheese, might have a hard time, when you hit the bumps at full speed with a lot of load on board (and I can almost guarantee that it´ll just happen sometimes, even though you try to avoid that!)
To sum it up:
I think this particular route (and especially if your going to India via Turkey & Iran, and not around the north side of Afghanistan) generally had surprisingly good roads. India was the only place, where I expected them to be better (but every main road is paved there!) Also don´t forget your mileage, that you will do in Europe, and in Oz. I would not have a problem to do this route even on a streetbike. The big trailies are an excellent choice, because they handle the potholed roads much better, and still aren´t totally in the wrong place, even if you want to do the backroads a bit. The bike´s "real" off-road abilities will only be important, if you really are looking to go off the beaten track a lot.
(But this is only my 0.02, and you might hear very different opinions on the subject. I was riding 2-up on a DL650, and as you can imagine, this ain´t the perfect setup for very bad roads!)
How much do you want??
If you want to go the most direct route then you won't have much problem.
But from my research (not exprience) if you want to get off the beaten track into national park etc then a dirt minded approch might be better.
In my opinion you are better off taking a dirt bike and suffering a bit on the roads (If you are taking your time and travelling slow then you won't suffer that much) than taking a heavy road bike and getting stuck up a thick mud track.
in the process of doing the trip, roads can change so fast it unreal, Indias roads are terrible in places but for different reasons, the national highways are great but often traffic is exceptionally dangerous and some of the back roads through the parks are sandy and have river crossings but are beautiful and easy to ride on from the point of view of im going to fall off in to relatively soft sand not under a 10 ton lorry.
I would look at something that can do both, or at least get out there and practise on your bike to ensure you can manage both, you could avoid dirt altogther if needed, but i think you would regret it if you did, im 2 up on a ktm 990 and it has taken a battering in india on some of the roads and has a few dents in the wheels etc but we have had a great time and on both tarmac and gravel she is excellent.
Make sure you get something that you can get spares for easy, i could not get a spare tyre in india and had to cut out alot of my plan due to it, also finding the right size innertubes was also impossible.
The important thing to remeber is there is no right or wrong bike, do it on a bike you want to do it on, could a a vespa, harley, R1 or trike it doesn't matter its your trip and despite what most people will tell it will make very little difference esp if you love the bike.
Some people are idiots, i got an email from a guy once who i had never met or heard of before saying "hi i came across your website good luck on your trip it takes big guts to do what your doing but i thought i would message you and let you know your doing it on the wrong bike" I mean what kind of D**k messages a total stranger who is commited to a trip like this with that kind of crap, some people watch to much TV me thinks!!
cant make up my mind ... guess the decision will be forced upon me
Thanks Guys for all the help. Much appreciated. I've been reading many of your blog sites so you're not complete strangers to me :)
I was thinking the best bike for this trip would be a XT660 or similar in Asia but any bike willdo up to that point.
I've already sorted out a Triumph Tiger in UK ( I live in Australia) with most of the bits I reckon it needs. Im about 95% there and only need a few small parts fitted now. I've spent a fair bit of money and I'm reluctant to change at this late stage hence the indecision.(I had originally planned a different route via china but that fell through)
I have another Tiger here, exact same model and year so I know the machine well and love the bike, comfort and handling. Never taken it off road though so maybe that's the next move I think.
I test drove an XT660 Tenere yesterday and realised it would be perfect for the off road sections, not bad for the tarmac either but that would mean sorting out another bike, either buying one here and shipping to UK or flying to UK, buying one there, kitting it out and flying back & so on. That leaves me with two bikes in UK and I live on opposite end of the planet. Buying is way cheaper in UK than Australia by the way, we seem to be ripped off here, with the costs for a bike can be as much as 50% more so Im more attracted to buying in UK.
I've been to India and drove in the North, some great roads although a bit mental at times, especially coming around a corner to find the road full of traffic coming other way! I've also been driving in Pakistan mostly 4WD which is pretty similar to India really. Europe & Australia is my home ground so no issues there.
I was listening to Austin Vince on a video thingy and his comment "you will never wish you had a heavier bike" sticks in my mind. Then again, I if I was taking a pillion, I'd plump for the GS or larger KTM's which are able to take the load ...
I'm starting to think that no matter what I do there will be times I wish I had the larger/smaller bike so maybe its not such a big issue either way.
Better go and make a coffee, its 7:30 am on Christmas day and I have my head in travels rather than with the kids ... how bad is that.
Thanks for all the help guys! Really appreciate it .. oh and hope you have a wonderful Christmas, wherever you are! :)
And same to you Steven, remember whatt ever bike and whichever route, you are going to have a great Adventure, may see you in Skipton for a beer or two before you leave.
The tiger will be fine, just make sure you got the important spares and know the weaknesses (i sure you have already covered this) I have a fantastic Mechanic that will have a look at it for you if its in the uk, hes a good mate of mine and is Desmo qualified so hes very good if you need anyone, he sortd the ktm before we left and so far no mechanical issues!!!
A friend of mine just rode the tiget from england to Uzbekistan no problem its a good bike!!
If you want some idea of what long distance travel on a Tiger is like, read this blog. .
It's an interesting story in its own right regardless of the Tiger content. And both the guys were on the same bike so you'll get the benefit of two views.
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