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sub-Saharan Africa Topics specific to sub-Saharan Africa. (Includes all countries South of 17 degrees latitude)
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Old 21 May 2003
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How many tires for 25000 km in Africa?

Hi there,
In few weeks I`m planning to go to Africa (with my motorbike) and ride from Cape Town to Cairo then Jordan, Syria and Turkey back to Europe about 25000 km. How many tiers will I need? One for the front wheel (Michelin T 63) will be enough? For the rear I want to take two (Michelin T 63 and another for paved road....? What would you propose?)
Any others suggestions?
Thank you in advance.

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Old 22 May 2003
Ian Ian is offline
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So many variables to consider here, but if it's any help I got almost 10000kms from a set of Michelin deserts on mixed tarmac and piste going. They (front and back) were really worn out when I changed them though and I wouldn't have liked to use them further.


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Old 22 May 2003
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Also depends a lot what bike you use and how heavy the bike is loaded and what kind of roads you gonna travel.
I would say two rear and one front should be sufficcient. Be sure to have the front wheel proparly balanced (I once ruined a Desert fronttire in 4000 km, because of unbalance). Also taking it aesy on the throttle and not cruising to fast helps a lot to make the tires last.
In countries like Kenia, Egypt and Turkey you should be able to get tires in the bigger cities.
Taking a extra heavy tire all the way is quite a hassle, especially when you ride off road and want to be as light as possible. I wouldn't take an extra tire with me, but try to find out were I can get them along the way. But thats just my opinion.

I've used different tires in Africa and found the T63 but also the Continental TKC80 very allround and lasting tires. Do use heavy duty tubes, they are worth it! They are a bit expensive, but one flat tire in 30 degrees and you regret saving the money :-)

Have fun,


[This message has been edited by peterkik (edited 22 May 2003).]
Peter Kik
Zaandam, Holland
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Old 26 May 2003
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I am now in Nairobi, having just done 10500km on mixed piste.
I am using Pirelli MT21's, which are still looking good, although I will rotate my front tyre soon.
I changed over my rear tyre for a bridgestone trailwing in Khartoum, for the trip through Ethiopia (3000km of Ethiopian roads and it is almost knackered).
I put the Pirelli back on for Omo and I reckon it's good to last me home to SA now.

Just to give you an idea, I weigh about 85 and caryy 45 kg of luggage.

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Old 27 May 2003
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Arrived in CT from London yesterday after +- 23000km on a KTM Adventure 640. I have found the best combo to be a Mich Desert for the rear and Metzeler Karoo for the front.

The Mich desert front gives great performance on the piste but wears very quickly on tarmac stretches. The Karoo gives almost as much grip on the loose stuff but lasts far longer.

On the rear I found a Desert lasts very well (easily 12000km and problably much more), much longer than Pirreli MT21.

I started the trip (Spain & Morroco) on a set of Metzler Sahara's, with a set of Deserts tied on the back, and ditched them at the start of the desert piste in Mauritania when I put the deserts on.

I also rate the deserts for their "puncture-proofness". We (2 KTM's) had no punctures for the whole trip except for 2 torn valves because I didn't have a rim lock in the front wheel. Definately use rim locks!

It's worth planning ahead for tires as Deserts are heavy to carry and difficult and expensive to find in Africa. If I was planning the trip again I'd investigate the possibility of paying an overlander truck company a bit to carry a few bits and bobs (spare tires, good oil) for me and then catch up with them when they are needed. I don't imagine they'd charge much and it could end up saving you some cash (I had to fork out over USD 200.00 for a rear Pirelli in Kenya).

( www.tifua.com )
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Old 29 May 2003
hed hed is offline
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I agree totally with Tifua. I also crossed the continent coming from West Africa via Tchad Sudan and then down via Rwanda/Congo, and I had a pait of Deserts, front and back. They laste me about 14,000 kilometres, and would have given more, but were starting to get dangerous on tar due to no profile left, i.e. too slippery, but going a bit slower I would have been able to do another 1000 or maybe 2000 kilometres in an emergency. I was riding on an old XT600 '83 model and would never take any other tyre, well worth the extra cost. I also had heavy duty tubes, which is well worth the extra cash as well, also never had a puncture on the rear throughout the life of the tyre, had one or two slow punctures in front, one puncture one valve related problem. I had no tube lock, or whatever they are called in front, I think I would get one for next time. I therefore had soem valve slippages. Important to right this every time you see it, otherwise you will eventually lose the valve. On rear and front, I never fully fasten the valve nuts, I keep them about 1 centimetre off the rim, so that the pump just fits on, this way you can see immediately if the tube is slipping inside the tyre. This works well.

One additional word of advice: I met quite a few germans and others, later in East Africa, with buckled rims etc. who had followed the advice of various "advice" websites etc. which told them to let their tyres down in soft sand to get additional traction. I personally believe that this is total crap and will just soften your tyre, thus reducing life and will get you punctures and possibly buckled rims. I ave done extensive off roading in both cars and bikes and ALWAYS keep my tyres very hard. I never carry a pressure gauge and go according to "thumb rule" by pressing against the side and top of the tyre with my thumb. This has stood me in good stead all the time. If in doubt I rather have too much pressure than too little. I realise that this leads to quite a bit more spinning in soft sand, and thus necessitates air filter cleaning every night, but that is fine. Other downside is that on badly corrugated roads you get a lot of vibration, but rather that than lots of punctures and bucked rims.

Hope this helps, Cheers

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Old 19 Jun 2003
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Coming down from Europe to Namibie so far Ive used the front/rear TKC80 coming down all the way to TOGO. The rear was completly gone so lot of punctures -nails- and had it replaced with the same tyre. 17" tyre availability is very very limited in west/central afica so had to use the services of DHL to fly it in. No custom hassles as Togo is a tax free port... The TKC80 did a excellent job in various circumstances...

At the KTM place in Cotonou - Togo you can get everything as long you have 18/19/21 inch.

Got a Bridgestone ED661 -very enduro- for the mud in Gabon/Congo/Angola and needs replacing at this stage...

Tyre availability in Namibie is pretty good at reasonable prices...


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