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Morocco Topics specific to Morocco, including Western Sahara west of the berm
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Elephant at Camp, Namibia



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  #1  
Old 17 Feb 2014
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Route / tyre advice for novice rider's first trip to Morocco

Hello all!!

My girlfriend and I are planning a 3 month trip from the uk, down to morocco (maybe for 3 weeks), then when Europe gets a bit warmer, head back north, go along the top of the Mediterranean Coast, down into Italy, then back up through the alps home to the uk. Can't wait!! We leave in April this year.

I'll be on a xl700v transalp, and my gf on a cb500x. The cb500x is a nice bike for my gf as she is a novice rider and this is her first big bike.

However, I need your help!

Neither of us have done much off road (my gf none, and me some as a kid up muddy fields and tracks). We would love to get off road a bit in morocco. But our bikes have trail tyres only.., the transalp has Tourances, and the cb500x has Scorpian Trail tyres. They are both about 90/10 I reckon, however neither are knobblies... And Chris Scott and others recommend knobblies and knobblies only. completely. 90% road 10% off road would be about right for our whole Europe trip, but I'm worried for the morocco bit. I don't really want to take a set of tyres just for morocco, or have to just stick to tarmac.

Obviously we don't want to go mad mental off road in morocco due to my gf's novice riding ability (and relatively non-hardcore adventure bike), but it would be nice to get off the tarmac and get away into wilderness a little bit.

(Finally my question!)

So... May I ask, are there pistes that we could suitably get on fine with, with our trail tyres? Or do we really need to get knobblies? The morocco overland routes don't really give this type of detail. Are these graded roads I read about doable?

If the tyres and our skill levels are suitable for some areas, can anyone recommend some interesting routes that might be suitable for our first trip??

Thanks so much!!

Stretch


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Old 17 Feb 2014
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Considering the distance you're planning to travel, 90% of which is on sealed roads, I'd say stick with the tyres you have now.
With your limited experience riding off road I don't think you'd benefit from having 'knobblies' fitted, especially on a cb500, and the 90% tarmac riding would suffer.
There are a few tour companies in Morocco where you can ride off road bikes; why not keep road tyres on your bikes and pay for a few days off roading. Alternativly hire a bike from one of the rental firms recommended if you want independence.

If you're set on fitting off road tyres a good choice would be to use continental TKC 80's and there's now a 17 inch front available to fit the cb500.
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Old 18 Feb 2014
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Thanks for the info, dommiek, good idea about renting for a day or two.

However, does this mean that all non-tarmac roads / pistes in morocco are too "off road" for trail tyres?


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Old 18 Feb 2014
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If you haven't already seen this site:

Knowledgebase routes, photos and updates

it might help work out what you might expect, though it seems all it needs is a good downpour to dramatically change some of the pistes.
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Old 18 Feb 2014
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Thanks John - that database will be of great help!

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Old 18 Feb 2014
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Tourances are fine for what I expect you to be able to tackle. TKC80s are better on pistes when it's wet or deep sand, but I think you should avoid those conditions.
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Old 18 Feb 2014
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I agree with Tim, let the condition of the pistes be your guide more than what tyres you have.
Last November I hired a 650 Husky with Tourances and was surprised how well it managed the albeit dry, stony pistes, considering they're effectively road tyres.
The luggage was in a car and obviously one rides appropriately, but that's still a heavy bike.

Go on what you have, head south to enjoy the empty roads and the dry desert pistes with little sand. If you leave on new tyres they may well last your whole 3 months. I don't think I'll be getting TKC ever again: K60s will do me.

Pick a piste that's short and manageable like the crossing from Akka to Imitek (start of MA3) or the flat ride between Akka Ighern and Foum Zguid (MA9, maybe already sealed). Great roads all round there too. Or the short MW routes around Tadait (Assa). Perfect for short off-highway excursions providing it's dry.

Even the popular MH4 over Jebel Sarhro ought to be doable, certainly from the north coming down to Iknioun (mostly wide dirt motorway atm) where you can nip up on the piste to the pass and then come back and take the tarmac road back north to Dades if you don't fancy the ride down to Nekob.
Another good place is simply gunning around off piste on the flat gravel west and north of Merzouga, away from the dunes.

All you have to remember is that if it all gets too gnarly simply turn back and go somewhere else.

Let us know how gf gets on with the 500X - that looks an interesting travel bike.

Ch
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Old 18 Feb 2014
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Another vote agreeing with the above two. Your road oriented tyres will get you a long way offroad. Due to questionable planning I ended up riding alot of gravel (and offroad finding camps) on a fully loaded bike with a 100% road rear tyre. Not optimal, but no big problem either.

So plan to do the routes you want, and if it turns out that you don't feel comfortable on them, you can turn back and find a better road.
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Old 19 Feb 2014
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Thanks guys, this has been great information and will really help our planning. Fantastic to know that we are still going to have fun... Sometimes you read too much that you must must must have this type of tyre or the other etc etc.

We will ride within our limits, and just turn back if it gets too tough!

I'll be sure to post up some stories of how the cb500x holds up too

Thanks again!!


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