Well chicks might big Dakars, but after a year of ownership and 10,000 miles I’ve finally sold mine. The Dakar served me well on Trips to Hungary, Spain, and Wales, but I decided that I wanted something a little lighter and more agile.
The xChallenge was a contender, but I just don’t do enough hard off-road rides to take advantage of it. Checking howmanyleft.co.uk revealed that there are about 80 xCountry left on the road in the UK compared to 73 xChallenges and 124 xMotos.
The last few months in the UK have seen torrential rain and many areas of the country flooded. Even now some countries remain on high alert. Adventure riders might take this opportunity to practice their water crossings in the relative safety of their local community.
That’s exactly what 2013 Pike’s Peak superbike winner Michael Henau tried when he heard of similar flash floods in Colorado, USA. Unfortunately for Mike things didn’t go entirely according to plan.
OK so the whole thing is a GoPro commercial, but it’s fun nonetheless.
In the UK winter tyres are surrounded by controversy, but there is no denying that they are proven to provide more traction in damp, cold, slippery conditions than their summer counterparts.
Facing the prospect of a long cold winter, and needing to replace my worn out Avon Gripmaster (or should that read Slipmaster?), I bit the bullet and plumped for a Heidenau K60 Silica M+S winter tyre. Here’s my review after 3,000 miles in the Spanish and British winter.
What’s your dream adventure bike? A F650 Dakar, BMW X-Challenge, KTM690, DRZ400, or perhaps the XT660z Tenere? These are just some of the tried and tested bikes used by overland riders worldwide. (We’ll almost, some Americans are still bitter about Yamaha not realising the Tenere there.)
Now there’s a new overlander to add to the mix, the CCM 450GP. Produced by Bolton (UK) based off-road bike specialists CCM, the 450GP is a new lightweight purpose build adventure bike that looks set to duke it out with the old tried and tested models.
In the weeks running up to trip to Spain I began to research off-roading in Spain. I knew that it wouldn’t really be practical with pillion and luggage for two, but I wanted to be prepared just in case.
I reached out to the ADVRider community, and while responses were slow at first, they did point me in the right direction of two extremely useful sites.
Having been to Spain on countless package holidays in the 90s and early 2000s, i’ve never really considered a tour there, but it’s been growing on me ever since my short break in Barcelona earlier this year.
This will be my second tour this year, but this time I’ll be two up as my is girlfriend keen to see what this touring lark is all about.
I’ve had the Dakar for five months now, and recently put 3,000 miles on it during a trip to Budapest at the end of August. It’s no sports bike that’s for sure, but I’m certainly enjoying it, and whenever I’m reminded by my neighbour that the exhaust note sounds like a Lawnmower, I can reply “chicks dig Dakars.” Continue reading
Having ridden sports bikes since 2008 I decided that it was time for a change. As my interest in adventure travel grew I began looker for an overlander that would be equally at home on the tarmac as it would off it.
Another early start, I must get to Cannes in good time. Just as we were packing up the bike this morning it started pissing it down, not having a front mud guard made things very interesting indeed. Aside from throwing mud and all kinds of rubbish as the radiator, my left leg got soaked as did feet and hands. My textiles obviously aren’t water proof as advertised. We began to make good progress, taking the autoroute from Dijon to Grenoble then switching to the N85 Route Napoleon.
The further south we travel the better the weather until it was too hot to wear a jacket. After Grenoble I’d set my GPS to take me the shortest route to Cannes, I thought this would be Route Napoleon and it was for the most part, but it also took me along tiny D roads, through random mountains and on right-hand hairpins so tight I would struggle to push the bike around. Still Route Napoleon was awesome and it one one of the highlights of the trip so far. Curiously I found that instead of waving as other bikers had done, the ones here did all manner of antics, my favourite was a guy bombing it down the side of a mountain on a right hand hairpin waving his left hand and both legs. It wasn’t the easiest of tasks wrestling the ZXR with luggage and pillion around, but it was thoroughly enjoyable.
I finished work early today which was fortunate as I only made the check-in for the Euro Tunnel by six minutes. After work I met my girlfriend in town and off we went, via the local bike shop. I needed some ear plugs chain lube and visor cleaner. While we were there we thought we’d get a jacket she’d bought a few weeks before mended. Since we couldn’t exactly send it back, the woman behind the counter got out her needle and thread and started sewing. Two minutes later the hole in the jacket pocket was fixed and we were free to begin our journey.
We arrived at the Euro Tunnel check-in just time, and despite having lost my credit card (the one I booked the tickets with) we were able to check-in and board without any problems.
Once in France the campsite was easy to find, though with reception closed (it was about 23:20) we decided to pitch the tent where we pleased. While unpacking I heard a bang, looking up I saw the bike’s side stand had sunk into the ground. I picked it up, checking it over as I do so. Despite a severely bent clutch leaver all was fine.
On the move
Northern France isn’t the most exciting of places so with the aim of getting to the south as soon as possible, the plan was to get up early and make haste down the autoroute. Of course this plan failed at the getting up early part. By the time we’d packed up and eaten it was around 12pm. After a case of mistaken Identity and a crap reception at the campsite we left there without paying.
Every time I’ve been in Northern France it has rained. Of course this time was no exception, fortunately it wasn’t heavy but it was enough to make the southward journey bloody cold. We stopped at a service station for lunch, upon making my way back to the bike I noticed that the front mudguard had mysteriously disappeared. The front two bolts were still attached as was the part of the mud guard that they secured, the rest however had disappeared. Great.
Down in Dijon
The bike hasn’t been doing the mileage I anticipated. Two up with luggage I’m hitting reserve every 140miles or so. Still it helps when you have a six litre reserve. Too tired and too wet to continue the journey to the south, We are held up in an F1 Hotel in Dijon, it’s pretty awful but will have to do. I found a McDonalds near by with free wifi, so that’s a bonus, the bad news though is that is looks like heavy rain tomorrow.