Infamy Infamy they've all got it......
Old thread, but in case anyone is thinking of it:
As B of B said the chains are a PITA. I've done one Elefant solo and two on an outfit. Tips would be:
1. You need a bike you can ride in sand, it's pretty similar to snow in that it varies and you fall off a lot. For me this would be something light like a DR350 while my mate Simon could probably get away with a full dress Harley. Anything will actually make it most years but on a bad one you don't want to be the bloke 1500 miles from home on a 2 month old 1200RT with a pillion.
2. Tyres really are key. My trip on road tyres was a disaster, while a pair of Heidenaus make a Triumph Bonneville usable. M&S markings really do make the difference, the compound works when cold.
3. The chains work, but are only any use up to 30 mph tops. The year we used them we arrived about 2 minutes ahead of a bloke on a Guzzi who'd simply used a kiddies beach shovel when his back end dug in, pick it up when he'd fallen off and pootled along in first gear. We'd spent so long chaining up, our second gear run was hardly any better. Any sort of strap on chain will fail, I lost one out of 8, a lad on the bought claw things lost one out of 6. Of welded up, fitted chains I've seen two home made break while bought ones fitted to outfits with car tyres live and live. IMHO don't bother for the elefant, just buy K60's. For events where you'll ride for days on ice you'd use studded tyres.
4. Plan the run. The Elefant site is open from the Wednesday, so arrive early and you've got 25 miles of actual uncleared road but get to pick your camping spot. On the Saturday they clear the road so unless it's snowing you've nothing really to worry about. Stay the night in say Regensburg then have the whole day to do the last 50 miles and pitch up in daylight and you'll have a way easier run than coming in through the ice at 9 pm.
5. Be prepared to turn back or wait it out. If it really does snow a solo bike, snaking and kicking with the rider unable to see ten yards at 25 mph is *****y dangerous on the autobahn when the trucks are doing 60. Don't try to be macho, riders who stay in cheap hotels on the way down enjoy it more than those that try to bivvy on the services.
6. The elefant will find any minor electrical defects and the salt will trash your bike. Strip, clean, WD40, grease, tighten, ACF50 and make sure everything is 100% before you go. When you get back you'll have it all to repeat. Your battery needs to be close to perfect and WD40 should be on the packing list.
7. Don't go mad for gimicks. You don't need charcoal handwarmers, army ration packs and titanium pee bottles. You want M&S tyres, an arctic rated sleeping bag and a stove that'll light from freezing. Lighter is better.
8. Don't get ****ed, it is cold enough to really make a difference to how you sleep. A Cocoa at bedtime and getting your sleeping bag zips right means days of fun, waking up shivering with a hangover at 3 am starts to get silly.
9. Stay warm because once cold it's a lot harder to warm up again. You'll need to layer up so will probably need to buy an oversize jacket and rain suit. Three Norgies, a one piece thermal bought from the Everest expedition shop and the cardie your auntie gives you at chrismas will be really warm until you cram your summer jacket over the top and squash all the air out. Don't rely on heated kit, would you really want your comfort to depend one something with a dangling wire?
10. Things take longer in the cold. All those minutes getting inner gloves sat right in the outer after you've had to take one off to muck about with the GPS add up. Allow for it when you plan.
Go enjoy it, if you've never done a rally like this it really is worth seeing.