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q-for-question

Do you have the skills to take your dual sport motorcycle anywhere?

q-for-question

Can you ride your bike through loose sand, mud and water?

q-for-question

Can you ride your motorcycle through a steep, dry riverbed?

African Long Distance is a specialist adventure, off road motorcycle riding academy. We offer turnkey training and preparation for those venturing out into rural Africa on large dual-sport motorcycles e.g. BMW GS, KTM, Kawasaki KLR, Honda African Twin and Transalp etc


  • “Arrive and Survive” Training.
  • Zero tolerance for errors.
  • We are well respected for our deep, loose sand training.
  • Two different training venues in and around Johannesburg.
  • We train 7 days a week.
  • Personal and group training.
  • Novice to expert training.
  • Overnight camping for riders to test items like tents, sleeping bags, pots.
  • Motorcycle preparation, accessories, route planning and consultancy.
  • Minimum damage to motorcycles.

More information can be obtained at our website www.africanLongDistance.co.za

Adventure motorcycling academy

Adventure motorcycling academy

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Tours for Africa and African Long Distance opened a new off road ride along the Klip river recently. This afternoon ride offers mud, river crossings, stones, insane humps and some very fast sections to clear your head.

More pics to follow  . . .

Off road Klip river ride - Johannesburg

Off road Klip river ride - Johannesburg

Roll starting your motorcycle when the battery is flat is no easy task but with everything, their is a secret to success!

Don’t wait until the battery is completely flat; roll start early while it still able to turn the engine, if only very slowly.

Pull the choke out if the bike has one.
Choose 3rd gear as the compression on single and twin cylinder motorcycles is too great.
Sit far back in the saddle to prevent the rear wheel from locking up.
With the ignition on, the motorcycle in gear, the clutch in, get the bike moving quickly downhill with some run-off at the bottom.
Before you let the clutch out, hit the start button and hold it – this will get the engine turning over – NOW slowly release the clutch – the choke will give it all the gas it needs, so do not accelerate unless you have a lot of clear space in front of you! Release the start button as the bike starts.

A pillion passenger is also a great help in preventing the rear wheel from locking up due to engine compression – this is especially necessary if you are roll starting on a dirt road.

Sometimes its the small things that can enhance or spoil a day of excellent adventure motorcycling – like being able to clean your hands.

Repairing a puncture or digging yourself out the mud leaves your hands filthy and not being able to clean them effectively is a problem when eating or drinking once the job is done. In addition you don’t want to put dirty hands into your gloves that cost you a small fortune. Here is a useful list.

A bandanna around your neck not only prevents sunburn but is an excellent way to clean anything on the trail. In addition it can be washed and will be dry for the next morning’s riding.

Also a general purpose cloth for dirt, a general purpose cloth for oil, water-free hand soap, hand cleaner, nail clipper, nail brush and aquaeous cream are all great things to have on a long tour and many of them can be used for a variety of other uses as well.

It is no secret that in South Africa we ride BMW motorcycles off road* even when they were never intended for that purpose. Most of these riders are GS owners.

* I mean radical off road stuff – like jeep tracks, mud holes, deserts and dry river beds.

Occassionally standing around the braai fire (barbeque) the average modern GS owner wonders about the other R series BMW boxer engine products. Here is a quick overview so the other guys dont laugh at you . . . ( launch year followed by model).

The R Series boxer story broadly breaks up into two eras i.e. 2 valve and 4 valve.

Two valve era – R Series

1923 – R32 – This motorcycle, and all the R models that followed, are identical in concept – all the way to the 2009 R1200 – a period of 85 years.  Two cylinder, opposing, air cooled, crankshaft in line with the direction the bike travels, dry clutch plate like a car and a final drive shaft  – together fondly called the boxer engine.

BMW R32

BMW R32 Boxer engine

1925 – R37

1928 – R62, R63


1939 – 1945 – R75 for the German army often with a sidecar


1951 – R51/3

1952 – R68

1955 – R50 (500cc), R60 (600cc) R69 (600cc), R69S (600cc)
Slash 2 bikes are variations of the above
R50/2, R60/2, R67/2
This was the line up of BMW motorcycles during the 1950’s and 1960’s


The 1970’s saw the 5, 6 and 7 series – 500cc, 600cc, 800cc and 1000cc engines

1969 – R50/5, R60/5, R75/5

1974 – R60/6, R75/6, R90/6

1977 – R60/7, R75/7, R80/7, R100/7


Motorcycle description codes

From 1977 the slashes now dissappear and are replaced by a motorcycle description code. These codes apply to the K series as well.

CS – Classic Sport
G/S – Off road street
GS – Off road Sport (Enduro)
GT – Grand Tourer
R – Roadster, usually naked
RS – Travel Sport
RT – Travel Tourer
S – Sport
ST – Sport Tourer
T – Tourer
L – Luxery
C – Cruiser
Adv – Adventurer


1976 – R100RS

1979 – R65, R65LS, R100, R100 RT, R100S

1981 – R80G/S, R100CS

1982 – R65LS, R80RT, R80ST

1985 – R80

1988 – R65GS, R80GS

1989 – R100GS


Four valve era – R Series

1993 – R1100RS

1994 – R1100GS

1995 – R850R, R1100R

1996 – R1100RT

1999 – R850GS, R1100S, R1100SS

2000 – R1150GS

2001 – R1150R, R1150RT

2002 – R1150GS Adv, R1150RS

2003 – R1150R Rockster, R1200C, R1200CL

2004 – R1200GS

2005 – R1200ST

2006 – HP2, R1200 GS Adv, R1200RT, R1200S

2007 – R1200R

2008 – No new R series models launched

2009 – No new R series models launched

BMW 1200GS Boxer engine

BMW R1200GS Boxer engine

ADDITIONAL NOTES:

K Series launched during the 1980’s featured a completely different engine and is 100% a road motorcycle i.e. the 3/4 cylinder water cooled engine.

F Series launched in 1994 featured a single 650cc cylinder chain driven Rotax engine with a wet clutch. Modern versions of this motorcycle include the 800cc and two cylinders.

G Series launched in 2006 features motorcycles with smaller engines i.e. 450 and 650cc. These motorcycles are super motards or street legal enduro off road models.

S Series is the new Sport series intended to compete with the best that Japan has to offer.

HP2 is not part of the R Series but briefly included above for convenience as it makes use of the same engine.

For more information check out Bikez.com

Potholes in Africa - source unknown

Potholes in Africa - source unknown

People think of travel through Africa in terms of dirt roads – which leads them to think knobbly tyres (tires)

All main arterial routes south of Nairobi are tar (hardtop). You don’t want to travel on tar, especially in the wet, on knobbly tyres – they do not offer the traction you need especially when you round a corner to find a herd of cows on the road. In addition, knobblies need replacement every 5000km and tyre shopping north of South Africa is difficult and frustrating. Ideally you want to leave Johannesburg, travel 15000km, and return on the same set of tyres.

The challenge on these rural African roads is not the dirt but the potholes which buckle wheel rims and cut through tyres. Therefore general African rural touring is done on tyres that are 20% over inflated to protect both rims and rubber. Naturally tires should be returned to normal pressure or even less if the conditions demand it (mud, loose sand, fine round pebbles, strong side winds, rain and wind etc)

Off road motorcycling is an awesome lifestyle – but things do go wrong and sometimes, they go badly wrong.

In my 10 years of studying ‘things that go wrong‘ on long distance African rural tours there is a consistent pattern (and it is the same pattern to be found in aircraft accidents).

A major incident is not isolated – it is an accumulation of 6 minor incidents or circumstances. Note however that the  major incident could have been averted if just one of the minor incidents had been solved or attended to. Therefore attention to detail and a zero-tolerance attitude is critical to successful rural touring.

Stop and think motorcycling

Stop and think motorcycling

So what are those ‘small things’ that accumulate to big problems? An example – A tie-down that is old and frayed could potentially be the first of 6 circumstances to lead to a major problem down the line.

More examples . . .

A defective helmet buckle
poor weather conditions
a printing error in a guide book
illness
lack of sleep or rest
a small wet patch under the motorcycle (indicating a leak)
the decision to push on to the next town for fuel
the punctured 5l water canister
the new vibration when cornering
the rude comment to the border official
leaving late on a BIG kilometer day
the ‘el-cheapo’ DIY repair on a piece of important equipment
the chaffing inside your pannier that damages critical equipment
. . . any of these insignificant events can be one of the six steps to disaster.

The ability to recognize these small steps is important. Being able to think your way out completes this two-step survival skill.

A long distance motorcycling veteran who experiences very few problems is not therefore ‘lucky’ – he is a proactive thinker outwitting the hand of fate on an hourly basis.

Here is a great pic of excellent packing – low, low, low for balance and to avoid a sail effect in high winds.

Pic - Sirby - Silverado

Pic - Sirby - Silverado

Click here to view original – scroll down.