October 27, 2005 GMT
Good and bad in Central Europe

Suddenly there were motorcycles everywhere, a stark contrast to the empty roads further east. I could say a lot about the many Austrian alpine resorts and the Grossglockner Road, but obviously it would be old news to road travellers. But it was all very nice. At the same time everything became very straightforward, and when stuck for a few days in the tent in rainy Lichtenstein I made the decision to do a U-turn and continue the excursion to some more far away places. It had to be a new continent. Yes, why not really go to Asia, to Istanbul and do the classic overland route to Kathmandu.

Bliss in Austria

A lot had to be done before I could do the U-turn. After a quick look at Switzerland I parked the bike at Knopf Tours (www.knopftours.com) in Heidelberg, Germany. Then I flew home, not without problems, because a can of WD40 had emptied itself in my luggage bag and mysteriously erased all ink print on the airline ticket. I worked at the Arctic stations to save some greens, and I applied for the necessary visas. A new international driver’s license was necessary too. So was the green card. Not to forget the Carnet de Passages that was obtained at the Norwegian Automobile Association. The trip would for sure last longer than the six week limit on the travel insurance, so a costly extension was made. A vast number of vaccines were taken. Some back-up medicines was provided by my doctor, and a letter of content was written by the pharmacy. My Dad volunteered as manager of the Bureau of Domestic Affairs, and Torger and Christina agreed to quickly forward all mail from my home address in Tromsø. Finally, Grant and Susan kindly provided me with this web log so that friends and family knows what’s going on. Thanks! And while all this was happening, Knopf in Heidelberg made sure that Balto the bike was safe and given a full service. Grrreat work!!!!

Knopfs: The garage every motorcycle dream about

The first drive on the second stage took me to Frankfurt where I met the legendary Ingo the Raumfahrer. He told some exciting stories from recent trips in Venezuela and Ecuador, and in the spirit of travel I gave him a bottle of Linie Aquavit, a Norwegian specialty famous for being shipped around the world before being offered to customers. Ingo insisted he would not open the RTW bottle before I returned.

OBS: TO ALL OWNERS OF XT600, XT660, TT600 etc...

I continued to Köln for an appointment with Off The Road AG, a company that promise to make your adventure bike better. Don't be fooled. They mounted a vacuum fuel pump (which loosened and caused oil spew through an engine gasket), a chain lubrication system (which fell off), and an oil cooler (which fell apart and caused the loss of half of my oil reserves). Thank God these things didn’t happen somewhere remote like in a desert. In addition they recommended their so-called 30 litre aluminium tank which in reality was smaller. Petrol was leaking from it when new, and the tank was still dripping like a coffee machine after they repaired it. At this point I expected some efforts on their part to solve the situation. After all, they made the thing and I had not yet been able to drive a single meter with it. But their suggestion was that I buy some glue and fix the problem myself. Say again???!!! Naturally I returned the thing with request for a refund or a replacement. Bizarrely they refused to pick up the parcel at the post office in Köln. After a week of no reply I received this mocking message by email (quote): "It is not possible for you to say: Oh, I do not want the tank anymore."
They claimed no responsibility whatsoever. The only comfort was their promise to send the repeatedly asked-for receipes for the tank payment and the job. They never did.

This bulky thing is a new product from Off The Road AG. They pretty much work like the carpet salesmen in Istanbul. After some fancy talk they make you pay a lot for rubbish. Some people call it swindle.

The so-called repair

It’s sad. I trusted these people with more than a thousand euro from my travel budget. But I received zilch benefits, just hassle, and I regard the money as stolen. I wish I knew then that you’ll find a much wider collection of Yamaha TT and XT stuff at www.kedo.de , more reliable wünstertanks at www.rikycross.it , and better travel gadgets at www.touratech.com

Posted by Erik Saue at October 27, 2005 12:12 PM GMT

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