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Sorry for cross posting this on the Bike Equipment forum but I thought people here might have a better idea about specific road conditions. We're riding from Munich to Nordkapp and then down Eastern Europe to Turkey, Syria and Jordan before crossing over to Egypt. We'll ride down East Africa to South Africa. Are knobbies needed for this route? If so, where? I imagine this is very weather dependent so timing is important! We should be in Egypt around the end of September before heading south. I suspect we'll hit the rains of November in Kenya.
Oh yeah, we're riding an '89 R100GS and an '01 F650GS, both currently equipped with Tourances for the European portion of the journey. If we need knobbies we prefer the Continental TKC 80s. Where would be the last place on our route to get them? Istanbul?
Of course you can find rough roads wherever you go that need knobblies! But if you are going to come down the route you've proposed without any major off road excursions then you don't really need more than general dual purpose tyres. The road through Sudan is pretty sandy in places but we did it on standard road tyres and so do a lot of other people. If you head off road in Ethiopia the going can get quite muddy at times but as far as I know you should be well away from the rainy season there if you are travelling through in october time. You can do a route through the whole of Ethiopia with only about 180km of unmade road (from the Sudanese border to Gondar). The Moyale / Isiolo road in Northern Kenya can get pretty nasty when it rains but again, as far as I know, it won't be raining there in November (best check that out for sure though). After that you've got a pretty good choice of tyres in Nairobi or you can have them DHLed over easy enough - it might be expensive but it'd be a real pain in the arse to carry them all the way. When you've got this far you'll probably need to replace tyres anyway as even if the tread is still OK the wiring will be worn out.
As far as I know the last easy place to get a choice of tyres is Istanbul.
Hope that's of help.
I found a set of knobbies for my R-100 GS in Cairo (but it wasn't easy, I'd plan on getting them in Istanbul) and I really liked having them in Sudan and north Kenya. The previous post points out that you could do it without knobbies, but they sure were nice. You need to carry a lot of fuel and water out there so the bike is heavy and I would not want to be unable to go off the track for fear of getting stuck. The difference knobbies make in soft sand is tremendous.
I suppose anything is possible including using a Fireblade to get through Sudan but it sounds like the comfort level is increased significantly with the knobbies. That has certainly been our experience in the past and we were glad we had them going up the Dempster highway to Inuvik. I guess we'll look at contacting the Turkey community and seeing where the best place would be to get the TKC 80s.
Hi! Normal driving to North Cape is asphalt all the way. But there are quite a few interesting backroads to take if you are in the more explorative mood. I believe the Continental TKC 80 is a very good all-over tire, even on wet asphalt here in the North.
The Turkey community should be able to help you out. You can get anything there. Another good resource in Turkey is the "One More Mile" club. They have a great website in English as well as Turkish. Very enthusiastic riders who can give you great advise on riding in Turkey. Carrying tires from there to Egypt shouldn't be too burdensome as it is paved and if you install the knobbies there, you can have more fun in the Egyptian desert too!
Just to confuse things further: I really dont think Knobbly Tyres are necessary for the E Africa route. Sudan is sandy and yes North Kenya is rough, but unless you go looking for rough terrain the vast majority of your ride will be on tar which eats up Knobbly tyres. I used TKC 80's, they were great, but I could so easily have done it on something like Trailwings... Literally the entire road from Dar es Salaam to Cape Town is now tar if you take the main routes.
Of course its always nice to have the option of going off road, but I dont see that less knobbly tyres would stop you.
Hope you have a fantastic trip! Look me up when you get to Cape Town.
Hi Ekke, Good to speak with you again. I will second that from Dar to Cape Town Tourance/Gripsters/Enduro3....will be fine, even getting off road in nambia where the dirt roads are great as long as they are dry.
Unloading the bikes at the cargo dock in the Munich airport my GS tipped over onto my left knee. The patellar tendon was ruptured and required surgery. I'll be laid up for a couple of months at a minimum, enjoying the summer in Bavaria.
This means we'll be heading straight south from Munich come September/October. I fitted new Tourances just before flying out anticipating that Norway would chew the old ones up before getting to Istanbul. I'm not about to toss the Tourances after the short 1,600 km or so from here to Istanbul so I'll be riding those down into Africa. Audrey's Tourances are about half worn so we might replace them in Istanbul or at least carry along a set of knobbies until we can ditch the Tourances.
Thanks for the great tips!
Rene: We might run into each other on the road somewhere along the line so we'll have to keep in touch. I suspect we'll be on a similar timeline to Mike and Ruby now.
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