Who, Why and When

Hello and welcome to our mid life crisis. We are two thirty something blokes with a love of motorcycles and wide open spaces. This blog not only follows our four week trip into the unknown but also contains information and links on how we set up our bikes for the trip. Hopefully our story not only inspires you to get out of your comfort zone and do something mad and liberating but also gives you a bit of a laugh.

Cheers Mike and Rod

Monday, May 27, 2013

Slack Bugger!

Well what a slack bugger I've been. No posts in over a year!

So what's been happening? Unfortunately the bike trip to NZ last Christmas didn't happen. 1) because I'm slack an didn't get organised 2) The dates to ship the bike over didn't quite fit with the family commitments anyway.

However I did manage to catch up with my good mate Cliffy and babysit his KLR while he was away. Naughty boy though, I found that the handlebars were bent and out of alignment (after an off), his front tyre was bald on one side and he had a small oil leak from the main engine casing. I nearly came off on the first corner. How the hell he rode it like that I'll never know but apparently he just got used to it. Mmmm. Needless to say when he got it back a week later it had a new set handlebars, a set of bar risers and was topped up full of oil. Not much I could do about the front tyre on short notice though.

Anyway it was a pleasure blatting around the Wellington region again on a bike. I had to learn to learn corner  sharply, at speed, up/down hills, on badly cambered roads in the wet.....very quickly. Lots of heart pumping fun.

Anyway I've been home for a few months now and I'm looking forward to this end of year trip. The family is travelling to the Sunshine Coast in Queensland for Christmas with the in-laws. As soon as the festivities are over I'm planning to ride the eastern/southern coastline all the way from Brisbane to Perth. I've always wanted to travel through this area but so far I've only managed Brisbane to Sydney and there's so much more to see.

So the next Crisis is going to be 99% on the bitumen. Originally I had planned to save up and upgrade to >1000cc adventure tourer (not that I would sell the KLR!). My potential wish list included:

  • Kawasaki Verseys 1000 (tried to test ride this one but the dealer was being a pain, no demo at all but still wanted me to buy one!)
  • Yamaha Super Tenere
  • Triumph Tiger Explorer (I actually gave this one a test ride - nice but heavy and the ride by wire is a bit weird)
  • New BMW R1200
Unfortunately a combination of the end of the mining boom, flood levies, carbon taxes, medical insurance increases and increased medicare levies have all got in the way so the mighty KLR will making the trip instead. It's just had it's 36k service and still purring like a kitten.

The next question was do I take it in it's current form or do I look into a few road friendly mods? When I got back from the first Crisis I did have to replace the front windscreen. It had gotten scratched up after an impatient owner stupidly tried removing a camping sticker and black marker pen in a hurry with a not so gentle synthetic scrubber. I had a look around at the various replacements. I didn't really like the taller screens you can get because they'd interfere with your off road riding when your up on the pegs however I did want some better wind protection. In the end I settled on the MRA Vario touring screen. It's been pretty good so far, its better than the stock screen but you have fiddle a bit to get the right setting.

During the last service I also had to get a new set of rubber. After the first Crisis I put on a new set of Dunlop Trailmax tyres to see if they were any better than the Bridgestones. Much of a muchness really, no better, no worse. However with all the of the bitumen km's ahead I wanted something more road orientated but still able to take a quick blat up a convenient trail. I ended up getting a set of Metzeler Tourance's put on. One week in and they fell fine on road. Still have to see how they go on the gravel and how the wear but I'll keep you posted.

One shock I had during the service was that the high tensile 10mm bolt I'd installed through the sub-frame had snapped. I'd hit something solid like a brick on the freeway a few weeks earlier (it was dark, 100km/hr, didn't see it until I was on top of it, blah ,blah,blah). I'm assuming it got damaged then because that weekend I hit the fire trails with a mate and after that the bike felt a bit unbalanced. I thought it was the back tyre being almost worn out and I didn't (thankfully) ride it much after that until, I took it in for a service. Luckily my mechanic (Luke from Mack1) picked it up straight away with no damage done- legend! 

Finally I've been researching the front fender. Having a trail bike fender on an adventure bike is cool in the mud but not cool when doing long hauls in a cross wind or when your following a road train. The KLR can get very unstable with the big wing at the front acing like a sail. I've seen a few guys in the States modifying their KLR's by mounting a universal supermoto fender lower down and removing the stock fender altogether. Apparently it cuts right down on the turbulence, improves airflow into the radiator and doesn't effect the offroad capability. There appears to be a number of options out there:
  • Acerbis universal supermoto fender
  • Polisport universal supermoto fender
  • UFO fender (not to sure which one)
  • KTM supermoto fender (apparently it fits)
I've gone for the Polisport one as it seems to provide the most coverage at the back. I'm going to mount it on a fork brace supplied by Eagle Mike Engineering. He sets it up to mount the lowered fenders.

I've just ordered the fender and the fork brace and they should here in a week or so. Once I've fitted it I'll post a few pics, it should look different, maybe a flash back to the Tengai?

Apart from that I think it's ready to go. I just have to look into shipping the bike over. A quick search on google comes up with a number of companies willing to ship your bike around Aus. I'll research the prices ranges and conditions and write a post about it however if anyone's done it before and had a good/bad experience please leave a comment a let me know.

Cheers Mike

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The return of the itch!

Hi everyone and happy New Year.

It's been a while since I've done anything with the blog and I thought it was high time I added a few more pictures of the trip. I've added a page with quite a few more photo's (see the page link) and I might even get around to adding captions so they make some sense. I've also been meaning to update Tony's Harley page with an accurate photo since I was told:

 "My bike dosn't look like that. That's just a stock Dyna Glide! Mine is now a Screaming Eagle Custom Dyna Glide!!!!"

Well Tony I had to sort through all of the trip photo's for just the right shot. Hope this is better!

You can now post comments on the page if you so desire. I purposely turned this off during the trip because we didn't have any time to reply to anyone. Still it would be great to hear from you, especially anyone else doing or planning a motorcycle trip.

Finally after a bit of nudging from a few people (and some serious sweet talking of the wife) planning has started on the MLCOAB version 2.0. It's still in the early stages at the moment but Me, Rod's brother Mike and my great mate Cliffy are going to tackle a number of the back country gravel roads in the South Island of New Zealand. Rod swore he'd never do more than three days in the saddle again, never, no way, forget it! But I expect he'll be on board in about two minutes once I show him the planned route, then I can spend the next year or so stressing out about Rod riding on NZ roads!

Cheers Mick.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The end of the Crisis, well sort of

Day 25 Geraldton to Perth

We got bugger all sleep that night. Backpackesr like to stomp to the toilet and do their laundry at 2am. Still all of gear (including the bikes!) were all accounted for so we packed up and headed off on the final stretch of our epic trip. The weather report said a strong front would cross the coast from that morning so we wanted to get home as quickly as we could. We were 35km south of Geraldton and I was following Rod when I saw his chain snap, I though the chain would flick off but it didn't, not good. We pulled up and Rod pulled tried to free the chain. It had jammed up around his front sprocket. After five minutes of unsuccessful tinkering Rod was about to loose it when the chain fell free. It had broken around the master link Rod had installed in Broome and he had a spare so we thought no dramas.

We then noticed a small oil leak where the chain had knocked a small hole in the engine block. My heart sank a bit but Rod reckoned he'd still be ok. He then laid out the chain to fit it back on and oh no it was bent, Rod was stranded with 370km to go. We got on the phone and called Rod's wife to be in Perth. She took off straight away to grab a trailer and come pick Rod and bike but she would be at least four hours away and we could see the weather rolling in. Luckily there was a roadhouse 500m up the road and Rod decided to wait it out there. I was torn, I didn't want to leave Rod, I wanted to ride in to Perth with him and finish the trip on a high. We both realised though that if I hung around I'd be riding home in the rain and the dark so I had to go. My last view of Rod was him pushing the CRF down the road while I took off in the opposite direction.
The last photo, love the bum fluff aye
So I took off for the Perth in a bit of down mood. I could travel a bit faster now but after three and a bit weeks it felt strange not riding beside Rod. The weather got progressively worse, I managed to dodge most of the rain but the wind was horrible. The traffic had built up as well which was a pain after being so long out of the rat race. I made it home around 2pm, tired, smelly but happy to see the wife and kids. I rang Rod straight away but he was still holed up in the Roadhouse. Thankfully they made it home safely but not until 11pm that night after driving through horrible weather and having a few car dramas.

So we're home safe and well. I'm sorry it took me a few days to finish the blog but there's been a lot of catching up to do as well as unpacking and cleaning all the gear. The bikes a both running a little worse for wear but hey they've just completed a marathon what do you expect. I need to service the KLR but I'll let it rest in the shed for a week or to, it's earned it.

All in all this trip has been awesome. It's tested both of us in many ways but I've personally loved the highs and the lows. That's why I planned this trip, I knew it would be a challenge and I'm proud of the way we meet it. Would I do it again, hell yes but not for a few years. I hope you've enjoyed the blog and I'm hoping to get Rod to update the posts from his perspective, should be fun.

Long road, wildflowers, crazy drivers and the BACKPAKERS

Day 24 Carnarvon to Geraldton

We took our time packing up and having breakfast. We had a 400km+ day but we knew we had plenty of time. Rod complained he had finally got used to sleeping on his mat on the last night, typical. We had a good ride south but the CRF was starting to have problems. Rod had noticed that his back sprocket had five worn teeth and he still couldn't keep tension on the chain. To compensate we had to travel at 90-95km/hr but that was cool, lots of time to check out the scenery. Rod found a great lookout about an hour out of Carnarvon where we meet a bloke travelling around Oz in an old bus. He also had two beaut motorcycles in a trailer on the back, nice big yamaha cruisers. He liked our bikes and we offered to swap ha ha.
Rods lookout
As we were going south we were noticing more and more wildflowers. The recent rains had done the region good as all of the fields were green as. Rod called a stop and we had to have a photo shoot with the bikes amongst the flowers. We also found an old Yama that's been there for years as part of a road safety campaign. The sign is gone but luckily the Yama is still there. Lots of fun.
"Bikes in Urban Wasteland"
Rod's Masterpiece
After a quick coffee and dodge the law stop in Northampton we rode into Geraldton. Rod had insisted we stay in a backpackers on our last night so we could sleep in a real bed. We pulled up and it was a typical modern day backpackers; dingy and dodgy. Rod was a bit taken aback, I think he had expected a beer garden and spa pool all full of nubile blonde 20 year olds partying all night. Reality was a let down! Rod was also stressed about his bike. The back sprocket was almost worn out. I asked him if he could make it to Perth and he was still positive so...after securing all of gear the best we could we headed into town for dinner. We were going to go the local pub in town but after having a quick beer there it looked a little dingy. We moved on and found a delightful little Italian Cafe with Bee Knees on tap and a wonderful chef in the kitchen. Great meal! We made it back to the backpackers early and watched a little TV. We meet a few young (18 year olds) German backpackers who had been the country 14 days and looked like roos in the headlights. Oz wasn't quite what they had expected. We gave them a few tips on where to stay along the coast and that seemed to set them right but we were blown away at how young and niave these kids were. Where they get money to travel like that I'll never know, they were straight out of high school.

Through the Inversion

Day 23 Robe River to Carnarvon

While Robe River is a beautiful place to camp it can be a bit noisy because you're only 20 metres from the road. A big thanks to the dickhead road train driver who insisted on letting off his air horn at 3am over the bridge! Still, after a quick breakfast, well not so quick, I broke our stove but luckily our new mate Ross lent us his so I could cook up the quick oats. Anyway with handshakes all around and a few good lucks (you mad bugger) to Ross we were off. The wind was still blowing but not as intense as yesterday thankfully, so we made good time to Nanutarra Roadhouse. Somewhere along the way Rod finally lost half his number plate which had been threatening to self destruct since the Gunbarrel. We pulled in for fuel and a coffee milk and yes Nanutarra is still run by a Pirate. Expensive fuel and $5.25 for a coffee milk! We pushed on down the road and Rod found a cave, he was a happy boy.
Just south of Nanutarra Roadhouse
Rod in his cave
  As we were cruising down the road we were suddenly overtaken by a Queensland couple we had met on the Gibb. These two were a screech, they both hated camping and 4WD'ing but were on this across Aussie epic just so they could say they've done it. They got in front of us and pointed to a rest stop and caught up over a cup of tea and biscuits. Rod then tried fixing their camper trailer which had thrown a leaf spring by taking apart the rest stop's dunny door and park bench. I think I'll stop letting him near the KLR!

We had lunch at the Minilya roadhouse, much better value than the Pirate up the road and meet a (German) NZ couple who were roaring around Oz for 3-6 months on motorcycles. Great couple with just as many funny stories as we had. Rod also found a steam engine to ride on.

On ya Rod

Packing always packing

Ride that perfectly normal beast Gingerbeer
We then pushed for Carnarvon and half way along we hit an inversion layer in the weather. On moment we were riding along with a gentle hot easterly blowing then boom it felt like we hit a brick wall and we were riding in a strong cool westerly. We then set up camp for the last time (backpackers tomorrow) and stuffed ourselves on microwave meals, garlic bread and oranges. A strange combination it's true but at least it wasn't a pie or chicko roll. We then went for a walk and found and crashed a small bistro so we could have a beer on Fathe'rs day.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Sick of FIFO in the Pilbara

Day 22 Pardoo to Robe River

The next morning we were fighting the cross wind again but at least we had made it into the Pilbara where the scenery had kicked in again. I hadn't driven this stretch in a while and instantly noticed the new mine sites and gas plants springing up everywhere. We came across the dressed up termite mounds pretty early and they seem to be breeding!
Ha ha
We only stopped in Port Headland to fuel and grab a coffee milk but while I was there I rang my wife and found out about the Christchurch earthquake. While I have no family there I do have a few friends so I was bit worried. We cruised onto the Whim Creek pub which has now been fully rebuilt after being flattened during a cyclone in 2000. Unfortunately it now also doubles up as a fly in/fly out mining camp so a lot of the soul has gone out of the place.
Cheers Rod
We made it to Karratha for lunch and I demanded Macca's. I managed to ring my Mum for her 65th birthday which was cool as I thought I'd be out of phone range that day. Unfortunately for Rod his rear wheel kept moving in on it's mount causing the chain to go slack. He tried buying an adjustable spanner to tighten the wheel up but to no avail. We then continued south hoping to make the Fortescue River roadhouse. We made it ok but the caravan park had been converted to, you guessed it, a FIFO camp, so there was no place to stay. Instead we rode another 40km south to a free campsite we knew of beside the Robe River. We just found a space for the tents in amongst all the caravans and settled down for the night. We meet a mad bugger Ross (in his late 60's/early 70's) riding a push bike from Darwin to Perth. He had some mad stories to tell us around the camp fire that night. Hats off to him though, we couldn't do it!
Camping at Robe River

Cross winds and footy

Day 21 Broome to Pardoo

We took off from Broome quite early the next morning. Unfortunately there was a nasty SE cross wind blowing. We would be fighting this wind for the next couple of days. Unfortunately this stretch is pretty boring and just what Rod had been dreading on the CRF. Still we made good time and pulled into Pardoo roadhouse around 2pm. We then ummed and ah'ed about whether to stay or push on to Port Headland. In the end we stayed which was a good decision of Rod's because we had a nice relaxing setup, and hour or two reading in the sun and then a nice night in the bar watching the footy.
Pardoo Roadhouse Camp