Saturday, June 10, 2006

2344km: 80 km/h

My Gomoto booklet stated quite categorically that I should not drive the motorbike above 7000 revs in the first 1800 km. I followed this religiously (well about 99% of the time).

I realise that since I reached that magical 1800 km mark, I have not taken my bike out on a nice long trip on the open road. All of my journeys were in and around town.

Yesterday, I drove out of Somerset-West towards Stellenbosh to buy some grape juice at the Mooiberge farm stall. This stetch of open road allowed me to get a feel for my motorbike at 8000 and 9000 revs. At 8000 revs it makes a pleasant huming noise and I get to travel at approximately 80 - 85 km/h. 9000 revs and there-around sends me to a more pleasant 90-95 km/h, but I get the distinct impression that the engine is not really supposed to be driven at that speed for too long periods of time.

I settled it in my mind that I should just plan to enjoy travelling through the country at 75 - 80 km/h when I do my long trip with this motorbike.

Then this morning I got two responses to a note that I posted on the Thorntree forum at Both of them have relevance to the thoughts I was just developing in my mind:

You will have to badly mistreat your 125 unless ou manage to travel very light. My best recommendation for overland travel in Southern Africa is a 650 like a Kawasaki KLR or Suzuki DR.

This statement was made by somebody who owns a motorcycle rental business in Cape Town and I am know he is very knowledgeable on the issue.

Another commenter said:

This is something which i have wanted to do for a long while. However, not on that particular brand.
I sometimes drive a Honda Activa 100cc. I have test driven a Gomoto 125 .....Hopelessly under-powered.
Also, after experiencing a blow-out on the back wheel of the Honda, at 80 kmh, I realised the danger of the small wheels on the scooters.
But, touring long distances on a scooter is still something I will probably end up doing. I heard that the guys from Vespa, at the entrance to the Waterfont are currently on a tour of South Africa with their latest models.
Again, this commenter is definitely well informed.

And suddenly I have a whole lot of questions that I want to sort out.

What exactly is this abuse that they mention? Will I be putting too much strain on the engine if I took it out on the road at 80km/h for four or five hours a day? (I know my butt would feel the strain). Or would I be straining it if I drove at 90-100 km/h (where I imagine most motorcyclists would prefer to be, but I don't have a compulsion to be there because I have never driven a faster motorcycle.)

I went hiking in the Cederberg with a friend last week. We carried everything with us for three days. My backpack with the tent and clothes and food for four days weighed about 14 or 15 kg. I definitely took a lot of strain, and I was also definitely under-powered. But I took it slowly, and I made it to the top of the mountain. It was beautiful.

I imagine that my motorcycle trip through the country will also be done with approximately 15kg's of luggage. I won't be doing it for the thril of speed and high-ways. I would like to explore small towns and back-roads at a leisurely pace.

I wish I had more wisdom. Am I being foolish? Am I unaware of the mechanical realities that I am dealing with? Or is it possible to define stress and strain and power in different ways?

I don't know.


Michelle said...

Be thankful you can travel at 80km/hr and above! My (hopefully soon to be acquired) Landy will do 70km/hr max, without permanent damage to bits and pieces in the engine.

It's going to be one long, slow trip through Africa...

Weiers said...

I made the mistake of acquiring a bus license and now I often find myself driving school and youthgroups to camps in the local high-school bus. I think it is also a 1970 mercedes model, 25 seater. The engine is noisy. And under good circumstances I can get the speed up to 80.

On my last trip to a campsite just over the Dasklip Pass near Porterville, I was getting so frustrated with the slow pace of travel and the noise of the engine and kids shouting.

All I could think about was to be on my own little Gomoto, free as a bird with nothing but my own thoughts and the scenery to keep me company.

If I had a bottle of grape-juice with me now, I would make a toast to slow travel.