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Royal Enfield UK - Cape Town - Practical or mistake?
My first Post on here so dont be too hard on me :-) - I'm planning an overland trip from the UK to Cape Town and am contemplating which bike to use. I currently own a BMW R100PD, XT600 Tenere (3AJ) and a 2002 Enfield Bullet 350 which I've only done 250 miles on. I know which of the bikes I should be going on but there is something which attracts me to the Enfield. I've read a few stories of them coming back overland from India but nothing much of travel elsewhere.
Has anyone travelled accross Africa on an Enfield or is there any literature I can read to help me. I'm hoping to do the trip in 3 months which I feel should be enough. I've also done a few mods to the bike for UK use including change of Exhaust, Air filter, electronic ignition and seats.
Hi and welcome!
An Enfield would make a nice pleasant bike if you understand it's capabilities, a great way to travel and by using the RE you will not have the opportunity to travel too quickly thus missing out in appreciating the countryside. You will obviously have to 'keep on top' of maintainence more often than perhaps the BM or Xt, but if you have confidence in your own or local mechanics the 'go for it and good luck. It may be a good idea to visit the RE owners club website and even join the club to find out any particular things that may be a weak point on the bike for extended touring and attend to anything before leaving.
All the best
I see no reason why it would not be possible. I suggest you contact Hitchcocks Motorcycles -- Royal Enfield and Amal Parts and Kits
they do a massive range of goodies and upgrades for the Enfield range. Be aware though they will want to sell you stuff. So think carefully before parting with cash to see if it will benefit you. There is a 20 litre tank available for about £120. See also the german Enfireld websites, as thes bikes are popular there too so many goodies can be had.
The 350 is the model still using the original 1955 tooling, and is pretty much the same as then. It will be probably be well worth checking over carefully. It is my favourite offroad bike.
A 500 with electric start is a better bet. Not because of the electric start, but because when they fitted teh electric start they did the job properly, so rather than just hang it on, they redesigned the crank case and made it much stiffer.
no reason not to use a 500 bottom half and keep your 350 barrel and head.
or part exchange the bike.
by far the best is the Electra, which is a totally new and different motor. In five years time people will start to realise this. The whole bottom end is much stiffer and designed by AVL to run reliably continuously at 44hp, It actually comes to you with 25-31hp so they are very robust.
Your 350 has a RH gearchange, if you prefer this the new Electra can be converted to that for about £125 or so. ( if it hasn't already been done)
Whichever bike you choose the high mpg will be a help and I wish you well.
Well, it has certainly been tried before...........
I suggest you contact HUBB member DougieB, who has considerable experience about the joys/pitfalls of riding an Enfield in Africa. I won't pre-empt his answer, but last I heard maybe Dougie was shopping for a KTM instead?
Dougie - if you are out there, care to shed some light on your fine machine in Africa??
I rented an Enfield 500 in India back in 1999 and spent three weeks riding around on it. I also owned one for a time in Canada.
IMHO... this is a bad idea. I don't think the Enfields are quite as unreliable as some people make them out to be - but you would definitely have problems on a ride of that length - and then what would you do for spare parts?
Enfields are great for India, where a mechanic who knows the bike is usually only a few kilometers away. Africa is a completely different story.
Again, IMHO... get a Japanese-made bike instead. The reliability is an order of magnitude (or more) better.
Many thanks for the replies to date - they are as I would have expected. I cannot yet contact DougieB as I need to post 8 times before sending a personal message. I have however spent many hours in the past searching the Hubb for Enfield travellers and DougieB seems the only one who has done what I am planning. I know he had some pretty major problems requiring a new frame at some point but I cannot find his diary which I'm sure I read some months back so dont know the current situation.
I feel that with the 'unreliability' of the Enfield - preparation would be absolutely crucial - maybe dismantle the new bike and rebuild from scratch? - whilst the PD would need relativly little work for a tour the XT600, due to its condition, would need a total rebuild before I would entertain a trip of this length
I like the thought of a slow ride so that I can see something of the countries I am passing - I also own an R1 and enjoy riding it fast where its safe and suitable but apart from the track places seem pretty limited now. Maybe its my age (47) but even with the limited miles covered my favorite bike is the Enfield as I can spend time watching life go by instead of just holding on and hoping I'll last to the end of the journey. I did ride one for sometime when I spent 3 months in India so know that they are capable of riding in the extreem conditions - maybe its that we know that other bikes are more reliable that steer us away from the likes of the Enfield - when Ted Simon started his travels his triumph was good enough and the engine rebuilds were just part of normal life - I think if you are aware that you are going to have problems its not as bad - I have a good mechanical knowledge so engine rebuilds on the side of the road would not scare me too much but the practicality of getting parts would be of concern however with modern technology parts can be shipped to most parts of the world.
I think another point would be the frame of mind (character?) of the person riding the bike - mine is 'laid back' acording to the wife - its been many years since I worried about anything in life so maybe this could/would help.
Is getting any spare parts to you in Africa for a Enfield any different than getting them for any other bike? If you have internet access or even a mobile phone signal, you can get parts for anything anywhere anytime. Take the Enfield and I look forward to hearing of your experiences after your trip. I ride a Aircooled BM and like old Brit machines can 'lend itself' to a certain amount of 'Bodgeability' from time to time!! so would feel comfortable on either BM or RE anytime
my name is robin.... listen, im also planning on going on down to cape town. when are you thinking of leaving? i've got rough plans for leaving in october 07. and am wanting to take it easy... like 8 months to a year.
im a south african, (from cape town - its a homecoming mission) and am 27 years old.
Rob , I think you have answered your own question .
Anything is possible with the right frame of mind .
I once read the blog of a couple that rode up through Africa on an Enfield pulling a trailer . Is that cruelty to dumb Enfields or what ?
If I find that blog ,I'll send it on to you .Another blog was about a guy who equiped his bike with TKC 80 tyres and was doing reasonably well until he had his bike stolen at gunpoint . So the bike's reliability may not be the only issue you have to worry about .
Hell ,you could even take your R1 that's been done as well ![ you would be able to outrun the bandits anyway !!!!] .
I say go for it. It may require more maintenance than a more modern jap machine but it's much easier to fix at the roadside with minimum tools if you need to and have the skills. I'd happily attempt such a trip on our Bullet. Good luck.
Robin - I'm planning to go Sept 07 but can only really take 3-4 months as we have 4 young children at home and my good dear wife can only take so much with a full time job as well!!
Well I've been doing some thinking and feel that with some good preparation the Enfield could work and will be spending some time doing some mods to it. If anyone could get hold of DougieB I could do with finding out which parts of the frame broke so that I can get them strenghtend - I may possibly buy another frame and get the whole thing re-welded just to be safe and swop all the bits over to it.
Will be posting over the next few months with progress and will be going to the UK HUBB meeting which I missed last year
from the reports it looked like the rear mudguard supports broke, not the frame itself.
I say go for it...we are going to do a rtw on 2 enfield electra's that i'm preparing now.done thousands of trouble free miles so far .
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