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Which Bike? Comments and Questions on what is the best bike for YOU, for YOUR trip. Note that we believe that ANY bike will do, so please remember that it's all down to PERSONAL OPINION. Technical Questions for all brands go in their own forum.
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  #1  
Old 29 Nov 2007
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Anyone done a trip with old classic?

Like in dvd The Last Hooray, which i haven't seen but anyway. I know Rob Reznik is trying to get to Cape Town with Enfield and someone before him tried the same but is there anyone else? I'm interested how the bikes can take it and what if something breaks how on earth you find parts to fix them? I don't even own a bike. I'm thinking of buying an old BSA B31 or SUNBEAM S8, both seems to be decent price. It would be great to do trip with it.
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  #2  
Old 29 Nov 2007
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The BSA would be a much better choice. In their day they were reliable go to work and touring bikes. boring but reliable. Tuned they became the gold stars. the Sunbeams have issues which make them very difficult to field fix.

AS for parts for enfields, they are ALL easily available from several mail order companies. Hitchcocks in teh uk come to mind. You can easily convert the five speed box bikes into either left or right hand gearchange. ( you can also change the direction of shift). Parts availability would make it or an old Triumph, my bike of choice.
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  #3  
Old 29 Nov 2007
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Vincent?

I once met a Canadian travelling in Mexico on a Vincent Black Shadow. I can't think of a less practical, more expensive way to get around, but hey, he was having fun.
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  #4  
Old 30 Nov 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aijala View Post
Like in dvd The Last Hooray, which i haven't seen but anyway. I know Rob Reznik is trying to get to Cape Town with Enfield and someone before him tried the same but is there anyone else? I'm interested how the bikes can take it and what if something breaks how on earth you find parts to fix them? I don't even own a bike. I'm thinking of buying an old BSA B31 or SUNBEAM S8, both seems to be decent price. It would be great to do trip with it.
to add further, Ted symon did on a 500cc Triumph when he was an inexperienced biker. Only mistake he made was hammering a new engine on high temperatures. He did get around relatively unscathed on the Triumph...Then he did it again on a BMW. I would like to know his opinion of how enjoyable each ride was.

Che Guavara ? went round south america on an old norton.
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  #5  
Old 30 Nov 2007
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Nostalgia, it's a great thing. But, taking an old bike is an indulgence. Yeah, Ted Simon (brand new bike at the time?), Guevara (all they could afford?), Lawrence of Arabia (latest kit?).

The world (including world number 3) has moved on. If you ride at 40 mph you're a hazard, and in danger of being wiped out by every truck that batters across the washboard. Everyone will travel faster than you, bar the cyclists (and even they can get there first!).

Two things I found about an Enfield in Africa:

1) If you attempt to ride with other people, which you will, you're the slowest and holding the others up. You can't do the 300 miles a day that's 'normal', so either they wait and get pissed or you always ride solo. It's fun to ride with others. On an old bike you're gonna feel like a lame duck, sometimes.

2) Cars and trucks don't give you much room when they blast past. You must get used to everyone leaving you in a trail of dust. I was always last, always slowest and always being overtaken. On a bad day, being left for dead can have a funny effect on your mind. Even as early on as Spain I was forced off the motor way by an HGV, horns and lights blazing sitting 2 meters off my back light.

Try riding around Edinburgh town centre at 20 mph, just to get a feel for what it's like being slowest. How long could you last?

And about parts... A KTM or BM is just as alien as an Enfield in remote parts. Though I did get a clutch cable fixed by a welder somewhere, could you on a modern bike? All you need (on any bike) is to carry cables and filters, and have someone back home with a bike shop number and a courier (though lie completely about the cost of the parts!).

Having said that, the old Enfield always made me grin when I was somewhere I had no right to be on a bike like that. It looked so much cooler parked up next to a GS or KTM (eh boys?). It sounded great, and only had one mechanical failure which wasn't really its fault. The grin was silly when scraping the pegs on some hairpins north of Addis, or side ways in the sand in Maurtania.

It's not expensive though, my Enfield was doing 90 mpg. A modern bike is around 50 mpg, so big savings on fuel.

Africa is hard enough, an old bike, for the sake of it, just makes it harder. There's good reasons to take a simple bike, but I'd think twice about it just for nostalgia sake. If you want to see the continent then give yourself the best chance for success, and look at something modern.

Last edited by DougieB; 30 Nov 2007 at 20:29.
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  #6  
Old 30 Nov 2007
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Originally Posted by DougieB View Post
If you want to see the continent then give yourself the best chance for success, and look at something modern.

A voice of experience there indeed.

So far as the need for a modern bike is concerned, how about a new RE?
WELCOME TO ROYAL ENFIELD UK
These guys are the main importers, but there is list of local dealers available in there.

They have just released this new model at the NEC show.
Royal Enfield Woodsman launched - Motorcycle News - MCN

http://www.motorcyclenews.com/upload...ldwoodsman.jpg

The new engine in all of the Electra bikes is reckoned to be good for holding a steady 60 mph - is this good enough for you? If staying off motorways, it could be a useful mode of transport providing great riding satisfaction along the way.
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Last edited by Walkabout; 30 Nov 2007 at 21:17.
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  #7  
Old 30 Nov 2007
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The Sunbeam wasn't the best of bikes in it's day and I personally would hesitate to take one out of Europe, parts and reliability being the main factors [ unless you are an expert in S8s that is ].
The BSA would be a better choice and a B33 even better , all the Brit singles of the era were simple bikes and have a charm of their own .But like Dougie said ,it would be better to travel alone or in similar company on side roads .
If you step up to a 650 [or bigger] twin then you will be able to keep up better with modern traffic .
You can't expect a 40 or 50 year old bike to take the punishment that a modern bike can tolerate and YOU WILL HAVE TO DO MAINTENANCE on the bike.
However taking an old bike on a trip can be a hugely rewarding experience , it all depends on your outlook .
The guy travelling N America on a Vincent was a very fortunate guy.
I bought " The Last Hurrah " it's a great video , anyone who takes a Featherbed Norton and a Panther on bad roads must be crazy and OK in my books .
I ride old bikes and I love 'em for what they are , but I've come to realise that for serious distances and heavily laden two up ,I will have to get a modern 1000cc+ bike .
But for leisurely trips one up ,what more could you ask for than the sound of a big single or a rorty twin blatting out it's own music along country lanes?
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Last edited by Dodger; 30 Nov 2007 at 21:25. Reason: brain fart
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  #8  
Old 30 Nov 2007
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The Enfield engines are definitely (in my experience) bullet-proof. I had to adjust the valves only once in 12,000 miles. It always started with a kick, the electric starter never worked from day 1.

But, those rear shocks give up. The front forks leaked on the first bit of washboard. Thin walled rear frame broke. Erm, but the bike kept going. And the lights, oh the fun off-road at night...

But, it kept going (until I really broke it). Broken rear frame, oil leaking from the forks, dead rear shocks, no clutch cable. And it still went on. It was tougher than I was.

It's not the engine that's the weak point of (some) older bikes. It's electrics and suspension, if you talking about going over to Africa. You can live without electrics, but no suspension will bring a halt to proceedings. Then again, you could go even slower and save the suspension. An XT will do 80 kms/hr over some of the bits I had to do 20 or 30 kms/hr.

I found out, I think in Chad, that my battery had no fluid. It had been bone dry for a while. But the bike still started and ran fine. How would that work on a modern one?

It will be interesting to hear Rob's experiences...
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  #9  
Old 1 Dec 2007
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its nothing to a lot of your experiences but i did 900miles in 3 days around wales on a '77 T140v. came home with no back brake as a bolt rattled out, the caliper moved & snapped the hose.
the bikes will do it, at lower speed & with more care. there is something just relaxing & cool about touring on an old bike.
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  #10  
Old 3 Dec 2007
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Hi Aijala,

I've been just over a year now around Africa on my '55 500 Bullet. There's been a good few problems with the bike - I've done about 25,000 kms sofar and am just about in Cape Town from the UK and hoping to ride it back home up the West Coast. Most of the problems I've listed on the blog which should come up at the footer of this message. To be fair to the bike it's taken a pounding as most of the journey has been two up and we haven't shied away from choosing bad roads.

I'm used to riding classic bikes and am happy to live with the fact that it is a good bit slower than everything else. Most of the time it's not an issue. It just becomes a bit tedious when you have long straight stretches of unchanging scenery.

On the plus side you get a really fantastic reception pretty much everywhere you go on an old bike and it can really open doors. Even breaking down you get to find aspects of a country that you wouldn't see otherwise. Not to forget that I've met plenty of guys on modern bikes who have had mechanical problems too (though not as major as the ones I've had!)

As for choice of bike I would say it depends where you are going to travel. I chose a Royal Enfield because spares are cheap and easy though most have still had to be sent out from the UK when I haven't been able to repair or make in-country. Of course you can do anything on any bike if you really want but I would say if you are coming to Africa or any place where there are a lot of dirt roads then go for something with a swinging arm frame rather than rigid or plunger. Choose something that is fairly common and popular in its day - there was a reason. Plus prepare well and treat the bike gently and you should be alright. A BSA B31 or B33 would be a good tool for the job and definitely what I would have chosen if I hadn't been on the Bullet.

Whatever you choose, enjoy your trip. Best wishes,

Richard
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  #11  
Old 3 Dec 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aijala View Post
Like in dvd The Last Hooray, which i haven't seen but anyway. I know Rob Reznik is trying to get to Cape Town with Enfield and someone before him tried the same but is there anyone else? I'm interested how the bikes can take it and what if something breaks how on earth you find parts to fix them? I don't even own a bike. I'm thinking of buying an old BSA B31 or SUNBEAM S8, both seems to be decent price. It would be great to do trip with it.
I applaud you for making an old classic an option BUT make sure of a couple things:

1. You are familiar with its features/issues.
2. You are mechanically familiar with it and have spent time doing more than the regular maintenance.
3. EVERY bike has its own issues...and you will have to learn how to cope with these...there is no perfect bike, except for the Africa Twin...God I wish those were available here!

I took a 93K75s with 50k miles on the ODO on an around the world trip last year...33k miles...50% of that off road...through North and West Africa(including crossing the Sahara twice), the Stans, Russia(halfway up the road of Bones, the Zilov gap) and Mongolia(West to East), and the K handled well with a minimum of minor issues. You should add this to your list...

Just because a bike is newer, its doesn't make it more reliable. BUT at the end of the day, pick a bike that allows you to enjoy the trip...as that is the most important part of the journey....


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Last edited by MotoEdde; 3 Dec 2007 at 13:47.
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  #12  
Old 3 Dec 2007
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About RE

I have heard that the engine is the weakest link. Mainly the oil thing, it doesnt get enough lubrication(is that real word) or something. "Don't drive more than 50km from home because you probably gotta push it back home", someone once mentioned. I know theres a lots of spare parts for the bike but is there a chance to modify it?
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Old 4 Dec 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aijala View Post
I have heard that the engine is the weakest link. Mainly the oil thing, it doesnt get enough lubrication(is that real word) or something. "Don't drive more than 50km from home because you probably gotta push it back home", someone once mentioned. I know theres a lots of spare parts for the bike but is there a chance to modify it?
There are higher output oil pumps available for the Bullet .Check Hitchcock's website and one of the Bullet discussion groups for further info .
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  #14  
Old 16 Dec 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aijala View Post
I have heard that the engine is the weakest link. Mainly the oil thing, it doesnt get enough lubrication(is that real word) or something. "Don't drive more than 50km from home because you probably gotta push it back home", someone once mentioned. I know theres a lots of spare parts for the bike but is there a chance to modify it?
Far from it, I've happily ridden 400 mile days on my Bullet without a hitch. And without any form of breakdown cover. The lubrication system can be a vulnerability, but not all of the solutions are worthwhile. High capacity pumps may seem like a good idea, however they will only benefit you if you fit a roller big end. Do it alone and you risk causing more problems than you solve by creating high pressures in the engine. The only real lubrication issues that crop up with Bullets is wet sumping, where the sump fills with an excess of oil which is then burnt and blown out of either the exhaust or the crankcase breather, and stripping of the oil pump spindle.

As for modifying - there is plenty of scope to improve reliability and performance, just depends how deep your pockets are.
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  #15  
Old 17 Dec 2007
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Check out Guzzidoug's trip around the world on a 1948 Indian Chief
guzzidoug's home page
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