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Equipping the Bike - what's the best gear? Anything to do with the bikes equipment, saddlebags, etc. Questions on repairs and maintenance of the bike itself belong in the Brand Specific Tech Forums.
Photo by Michael Jordan, enjoying a meal at sunset, Zangskar Valley, India

I haven't been everywhere...
but it's on my list!


Photo by Michael Jordan
enjoying a meal at sunset,
Zangskar Valley, India



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  #16  
Old 19 Dec 2017
mollydog's Avatar
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Scott View Post
Great line. Sticky that on the 'Which Bike?' forum and we can all go home!
"New Bike Lust"!
Good point! Really hard to resist that one! But the "new" Africa Twin is no longer truly new. Good news is LOTS and lots of actual owner feedback ... which may temper that lust with a bit of reality.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Scott View Post
For options on tubeless conversions, see this page.
One idea might be to fit TL wire rims from a KTM V-twin which runs the same sizes / spoke count. Or buy an off the shelf DID or Excel spoke rim with the safety lips then seal it. As MD suggested, the flat-prone rear is a priority.
But really, a native TL bike is best.
IMO, excellent suggestions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PatOnTrip View Post
I would keep the wheels with tubes. If you hit a huge poth hole and bend a rim you are done with a tubeless setup.
Patrick, have you had this happen on your bike? What bike was it? I've seen weak tubeless rims break and crack once or twice in Baja ... our crazy group rides has guys riding WAY too fast.

But on my Vstrom 1000, I dented my tubeless cast wheel 4 different times (all in Baja). Never lost air. I had the wheel straightened once back home ... after the 4th time the wheel developed a crack. I retired that wheel, bought a nice replacement from a Vstrom being parted out.

If you do manage to hit something hard enough and dent rim badly enough to release Air .... remember ... you can ALWAYS put a tube in that wheel.

Several of my R100GS buddies did this in Baja after damaging the wheel. So, yes, carry a tube with if running tubeless and riding serious off road terrain.
BTW, I put 90,000 miles on my 2002 Vstrom 1000, many LONG trips into Baja
and beyond.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PatOnTrip View Post
If you have a flat with a tube type setup you have 2 options: change it now if you are in the mood or just use a tire sealent spray can to seal the puncture. Let it sit a few minutes and take off. You can then deal with the flat tire later when you want it. Most small towns have tire repair shop. They'll do it for you a dollar or two.
Great advice on finding local tire shop. Done it many times in Mexico/Cent. America.

Also, I would not use the product sold here as "Fix-A-Flat" it's crap. Much better to put SLIME or the better product, Ride On into your Tube. Works great with tubeless as well.

Ride On goes in BEFORE you get a flat, and stays there. It's actually pretty effective, especially for smaller punctures, small nails, staples, Sheet Rock screws, Cactus thorns and such. May NOT stop leak if you have big spike in your tire. I run it all the time, sometimes it can turn a FLAT into just a slow leak, allowing you time to ride to repair shop.


Vstrom DID rear wheel ... this dent happened in Baja when I hit an embedded Rock at 70 mph. Advice? Slow Down!
I continued the ride, did not lose even one PSI of pressure. Rode it home another 1000 miles.
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  #17  
Old 27 Dec 2017
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IMHO tubed tires are far better choice for Africa. The only advantage to tubeless is easier repair… heh, every day in Africa brings some sort of challenge; 90 minutes to patch a tube vs. 20 minutes to plug a tubeless tire hardly ranks on the scale of things, IMHO.

I look at it from a risk mitigation perspective -- riding a part of the world where parts and repair options are far less than in western countries.

If you get a flat (or multiple flats) especially early in the trip, you could be looking at riding thousands of miles or kms on a plugged tire. Opinions differ on the safety of riding on a plugged tire, but I’d prefer not to.

Cast rims are more susceptible to damage. Spoked rims are far more resilient to the pounding that a bike can take in Africa.

Bend a rim edge on a tubeless wheel, or get a little crack in that wheel, and it’s a world of hurt. All it takes one pothole, hit the wrong way under the wrong circumstances… e.g., you “had” to hit the pothole because some taxi driver was pressuring you straight towards it on a busy highway.

So you need a tig welder to fix that rim… good luck, you’ll find tons of steel welders but not so many tig welders.

Suffer an unrepairable gash in a tubeless tire and it’s another world of hurt. Depending on the severity, even installing a tube may not solve the problem

If you do need a new tubeless tire because of emergency, you’re looking at hundreds of USD in shipping expense from Europe or South Africa. Plus customs charges. On the other hand, if you need a standard say 17” or 18” tire it’s often possible to find a used one. Could be a piece of crap, but as least you can move forward and find a better option.

If you go with tubed tires, think about heavy-duty tubes. I’ve run the heavy-duty tubes thru 29 Africa countries (and throughout Latin America) and with good luck haven’t suffered a single flat. I carry standard tubes front and rear tube as backup.
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  #18  
Old 27 Dec 2017
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Keep in mind that you can ALWAYS put a tube in a tubeless tire, and treat it as a tubed tire. In fact tubed tires are getting harder to come by, most tires in the western world for bigger bikes are tubeless, and you just run a tube in them, and it works fine. Note the speed rating is knocked down a notch when you do that, so top speed may be 112mph instead of 130mph...

Also note you can put a tube-type tire on a tubeless rim ok - but it's NOT now TUBELESS - you must run a tube!

Ideal in my mind is tubeless tire on a tubeless rim, and if you NEED (like I would have liked at dusk on the Colombian border when that was the favourite time for kidnappers to grab tourists off the road) to fix it quick you plug it. When you have time you PATCH the TIRE properly from the inside with a plug-patch not just a plug, and you're good to go. OR you put a tube in it and you're now running tube-type but on a safety bead rim, so much better than just a tube tire on a tube rim. All the benefits none of the negatives.

Hope that helps!
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  #19  
Old 28 Dec 2017
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ride Far View Post
IMHO tubed tires are far better choice for Africa. The only advantage to tubeless is easier repair… heh, every day in Africa brings some sort of challenge; 90 minutes to patch a tube vs. 20 minutes to plug a tubeless tire hardly ranks on the scale of things, IMHO.
It's not so much the TIME ... but the degree of difficulty breaking down the bead on certain very tough tires, then spooning that fookin' tire off, pull tube, now remount, spoon back on, now remount wheel to bike.

Typically, installing a Plug takes about 15 minutes if no complications.

Dirt bike tire beads break pretty easy, but more road oriented ones can be near impossible to break ... even with help and all the right tools and technique.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ride Far View Post
If you get a flat (or multiple flats) especially early in the trip, you could be looking at riding thousands of miles or kms on a plugged tire. Opinions differ on the safety of riding on a plugged tire, but I’d prefer not to.
About 30 years ago when I first started using plugs in tubeless tires, I also felt suspicious about plugs holding too ... no longer.

Over time and many plug repairs using good technique, I gained confidence in a properly installed tire plug. Good technique is everything. I've only had ONE plug leak in 20 years ... and that was a tire that had SLIME sealant inside which allowed the plug to move and let air by. (slow leak)

Removed plug, washed off SLIME, inserted new plug (using TWO string plugs this time) ran that tire until bald ... like so many before. After plugging I always keep close eye on pressure to make sure it's holding air.

After a couple days ... I ride normally and never worry. I've never bothered doing an inside Mushroom plug but good news is, in much of 3rd world this can be done and done well and inexpensive.

So worth it if you don't trust your simple String plug. I've ran my old Ninja up to about 130 mph with a plug in the rear tire. No worries! Do you average 100 mph riding in Africa?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ride Far View Post
Cast rims are more susceptible to damage. Spoked rims are far more resilient to the pounding that a bike can take in Africa.
Some cast rims are weak, some strong. And guess what? Some spoked wheels are weak too. I guess my Vstrom wheels were pretty tough.
I've seen plenty of spoked dirt bike wheels badly bent from high speed rock hits. My DR rims are pretty tough, but see below for one I got going too fast on a bad rocky road in Baja.

A GS guy cracked a spoked wheel in Baja. We found a TIG welder who welded it up. It was not pretty but held fine for the 1000 miles back to USA.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ride Far View Post
Bend a rim edge on a tubeless wheel, or get a little crack in that wheel, and it’s a world of hurt. All it takes one pothole, hit the wrong way under the wrong circumstances… e.g., you “had” to hit the pothole because some taxi driver was pressuring you straight towards it on a busy highway.
This is certainly possible but not likely. Also, as mentioned,
wheels can be welded up and most times with a BAD rim dent ... you can run a tube. I've never seen a totally exploded cast rim leaving rider stranded ... but I'm sure it's happened. Not too common.

But my last rim dent never even damaged the tube ... I just kept going.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Ride Far View Post
So you need a tig welder to fix that rim… good luck, you’ll find tons of steel welders but not so many tig welders.
True in remote villages but most BIG (over 50K pop) towns will have a TIG guy somewhere, no?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ride Far View Post
Suffer an unrepairable gash in a tubeless tire and it’s another world of hurt. Depending on the severity, even installing a tube may not solve the problem
Been there, seen this. It was Vandalism in Baja. Someone didn't approve of this Gringos parking job, slit side wall 4".

A new tube would probably have done the trick but why do that when you've got Llantero shops all over the place? It was Childs play for them. El Jefe' said he does this sort of repair all the time on car tires.

The Llantero did a nice and very smokey Vulcanized repair using a carefully shaped piece of old tire to totally cover the slit. He then set it all on fire and "melted" it on there nice as you please, A seamless repair. 1400 mile trip, no issues with that tire! So, there IS a way.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ride Far View Post
If you do need a new tubeless tire because of emergency, you’re looking at hundreds of USD in shipping expense from Europe or South Africa. Plus customs charges. On the other hand, if you need a standard say 17” or 18” tire it’s often possible to find a used one. Could be a piece of crap, but as least you can move forward and find a better option.
Any tire of the right size will work fine ... as Grant says above ... just use a Tube in it if tube type tire. Surly you've done this?
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  #20  
Old 18 Jan 2018
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Hi Zenbiker,
great idea to plan this trip with your Partner. I did a lot of trips in Africa with my wife on the back, including Libya, Mauritania, Mali or Namibia and South Africa.
A lot of recommendations have been made, but what I would see first as the Basis: which route do you want to go and what Kind of tracks to you want to take.
Currently I´m on a trip on the western side of Africa - just back from Yaounde/Cameroun: we have seen fantastic landscapes enjoying tracks in the bush or the rainforest. But here I´m very happy to have a KTM 690 with just 15kg of luggage. Even so, I´m getting tired after our daily 200km trips. With my wife I made it with a KTM 950/990 ADV-S but less Kilometers per day!
Other Story is, if you stay on main roads and tracks on the East side of Africa...
Even though everybody should do it his way (People did it even with Vespas or Harleys), I found that the real difficult situations are not showing up on the tracks but on the way finding a nice campsite, a rivercrossing by canooes, the detour from a main road or the unexpected condition of a road that your map shows as tarmac (f.e. the main road in Senegal between Tambacounda and Kedougou has thousands of big potholes and a lot of big trucks Surfing around them - so most of the time you are riding on a 20 cm sandy Strip between bush and tarmac.
Reading that I think you know what my recommendation would be:
1. as light as possible. (At Speeds of no more that 80 km per hours power does not Count that much)
2. I always take knobbies (preferred type: Pirelli Scorpion Rallye). Even when you habe 95% tarmac and no Problems, it´s the 5% sandy track that Count - especially when you have the responsibilty for a Partner on the back.
3. you should know your bike very well. Even though you will find helpful mechanics everywhere, you should lead them. I personally check every screw by my self, because I have to rely on my bike in situations that are not comparable to Europe.
4. I never cared about tube tyres. You can repair them by yourself or find easily tyre repair - leaks are a common Problem for everybody...
So I hope you are not confused by all These opinions - I think you will find out and do it your way! Africa is fantastic!
best regards
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