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Sahara Travel Forum Topics specific to North Africa and the Sahara down to the 17th parallel (excludes Morocco)
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Desert Travels - Motorcycle Journeys in the Sahara and West Africa!

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  #1  
Old 22 Aug 2002
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Low Rider

Hi I am thinking about building/preparing a bike for my girlfriend to ride across Africa.
(she does stuff like that)
THE main issue is seat height she has roughly 65cm inside leg .So any suggestions based on experience?
I could do a cut down BMW since the rear sub-frame could be replaced,.How much ground clearance is Enough??
The other question is How much power/ Torque
will do for the main pistes?
any help greatfully received.
Zippy
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  #2  
Old 22 Aug 2002
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Which BMW were you thinking?

I'd start with the F650 not an R80/100/1100!

The F650 can be lowered dramatically by various methods. As for how much clearance is enough - make sure it has a decent smooth bottomed skidpan and that's all you can do - she has to be able to touch the ground. Many shorter riders use tall heels/soles on their boots.

FAR more important than power is ability - send her off to appropriate dirt riding schools, then she can embarrass you with how to do it right

The F650 has more than enough power for the job, especially for a smaller person.

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  #3  
Old 22 Aug 2002
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Hi,

I'm working on the same 'problem'. My girlfriend is only 1.57 meters tall. I'm rebuilding my old XT500. My goal is to produce a very light bike(apr. 120 kg) by stripping it from everything not really nescessary and replacing the remaining 'heavy' stuff bij plastic (rear mudguard, big plastic Acerbis tank etc). Then make it as low as possible by lowering the frontfork (from a XT600, with diskbreak) as much as possible and make a low saddle.
I hope this will be enough. If not im thinking of having the 18 inch rearwheel respoked on a 17 inch rim.
This in combination with me carrying all the heavy luggage should quite compensate for her inexperience with off road riding and the bike hight.
And about power and torque: this XT500 has done over 50.000 km in Africa and only very few times I really needed more power than the 33 Hp/39 Nm it has. A smaller front sprocket does most of the trick, travelling light the rest.
Keep me posted on what you do

Peter
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  #4  
Old 23 Aug 2002
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Thanks for the swift reply
Will your girl friend be carrying her own fuel /water supplies, and approx how much in litres?
Can you still get late manufactured xt500s
in holland.
cheers Zippy

[QUOTE]Originally posted by peterkik:
[B]Hi,

This in combination with me carrying all the heavy luggage should quite compensate for her inexperience with off road riding and the bike hight.
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  #5  
Old 26 Aug 2002
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No Sahara crossing for us (yet?).
Our first trip will be 4 weeks to Morocco to see if she likes it and if the bike's ok. Overlanding is a (possible? logical?) next chapter.
The XT500 has a 33 liter Acerbis (XT600) tank, so no extra fuel is needed (I even guess we wont fill it up completely if its not needed when going off road). Not much extra water needed either.
By the way, my experience with fuel and water is that if you plan you trip carefully you almost never need a range more than 300 kilometers (= about 20 liters for most bikes). For those rare occasions you do need more a (bought on the spot) jerrycan will do. Crossing the Sahara you may even give your extra fuel with some cars you team up with.
Only if you planning to do some real unsupported desertriding you will need much more (and should be quite experienced too).

Descent XT500's are rare in Holland too. But as its a very simple bike to work on, making a good travel bike from a wreck is not so hard. Especially as most parts are still available.
There is another practical thing you should realize when choosing a bike like a XT500 compared to a BMW: A XT500 does need more attention and maintanance then a modern BMW. But almost most of it you can do yourself easily. And if it breaks down it ussualy is much easier to repair.
My experience: Travelling light it the most efficient way of to avoid breaking down as most breakdowns are directly or indrectly caused by overloading.
Keep me posted on what you do.

Peter
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  #6  
Old 26 Aug 2002
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Hi Peter
Thank you for the Information.
Good luck on your trip to Morrocco.
I look forward to finding out how you get on.
Ride free
Zippy
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  #7  
Old 12 May 2003
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Hi Zippy,

Just returned from 3 weeks Morocco. We went there with three persons and three bikes: my grilfriend (XT500) myself (XT600Z Tenere) and a friend (XTZ750 Supertenere).
The XT500 worked great for my girlfriend. She enjoyed riding it and was able to ride even the worst roads with it. She dropped the bike a couple of times when riding over big pieces of rock but mostly she had not more problems with the roads then I had.
The biggest problem for her were the vibrations of the XT500 when riding long distances on tarred road. Especially her hands felt 'dead' after an hour riding, giving her trouble controlling the bike.
Kickstarting the bike was not a real problem but was a bit annoying being the only bike without an electric starter.

I'll let you know when i put the pictures online later next week.

(The low XT500 was a succes for this trip (or a bigger African trip) but is no real alternative for daily use. With her liking this kind of bike better than her XJ600 Diversion, we now are concidering a BMW F650 Scarver or GS, which both are about the lowest bikes on the market.)

Peter

[This message has been edited by peterkik (edited 12 May 2003).]

[This message has been edited by peterkik (edited 19 May 2003).]
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  #8  
Old 19 May 2003
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We are nearing the end of our trans Africa bike trip. My wife rides a modified KTM LC4 400 LSE and I'm on a KTM Adventure (by riding almost identical bikes we are able to half the number of tools, spares etc).

The LSE (Low SEat) model is lower than the normal KTM seat hight so she can get both feet on the ground. We modified it for the trip by replacing the standard tank with an Adventure tank (28 litres) which gave enough range for almost all the trip except for the Noudhibou to Naoukchott desert piste. We strapped 2 x 5 litre plastic jerry cans to the sides of the bike which we used for water. We fitted a fuel pump because the new tank carries the fuel weight low down, below the carb, and so has to be pumped up. This was pretty easy as all the points are there to drive the fuel pump off the vacum from the carb and it all pretty much plugs into place. The big tank fits perfectly around the radiators along with the mounting bracket, also off a KTM Adventure, which gives plenty of support for the weight of a full tank of fuel. We also replaced the LSE wheels (17inch rear and 19 inch front) for a 21 inch front and 18 rear (much easier to find 18" tires in Africa) so that we were both on the same size wheels and could share spare tubes, tires, spokes etc. have a look at our website ( www.tifua.com ) for some photos - send us an e-mail (e-mail link on the website) if you have any queries or questions.
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