Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Horizons Unlimited

I found an amazing website which tells the stories of Motorcycle Travelers throughout the world.

This particular blog entry by Robert Bielesh, who travelled through South America on his motorbike really inspired me. I copy one relevant piece here, although the whole travel blog is worth reading.

April 22, 2006 GMT
(1) Peru: The South

While visiting a museum on the outskirts of Arica, we met a Japanese couple who were travelling South America, for one (1) year, on their Yamaha....Yamaha 90 that is.

They were a retired couple in their 60s. They had special panniers built, a triple deck luggage pack on the back carrier, a large front basket, not unlike that found on a bicycle and double capacity gas tank giving them 10 liters of capacity and a range of almost 400 kms. I was astounded. I evaluated my 1100 cc brute, weighing in at 525 lbs plus 100 pounds of luggage plus 200 pounds of rider, tipping the scale at 700 lbs.

Their combination was about 200 lbs for the bike plus 100 lbs for the luggage plus 200 lbs for the rider and passenger coming to about 400 lbs. I was simply amazed that the suspension system was up to the load and the pounding. On my bike and other large bikes the weakest link seems to be the suspension. The rear shocks inevitably fail...and yet their tiny 1-1/2" diameter rear shocks and simple front suspension just kept on working and working and working. The motorcycle world could learn a valuable lesson from Yamaha here.

Japanese Couple.JPG
(Photo taken by the author of the particular blog - URL above)

(At another place he publishes a photo of people who make a business by using their 125cc Honda Motorbikes as taxis to get around town. They charge 30c per ride.)

Surely I can travel through South Africa on my 125cc Gomoto Gt motorbike.


Michelle said...

Reminds me of this (from the travels of Olivia the Landy):

"We spent a few extra days in Gondar, doing what we could (mainly information gathering) toassist with Alan’s stranded Landy. There we met one of the kings of low-budget over-landing: an Irishman on a 250cc Yamaha street bike patched with fibreglass and duct tape, who didn’t think he’d make it past Turkey, but since he had, he thought he may as well continue to SA, where he’d heard the surfing was great (a skill he wished to learn). True to Irish form, he carried theworkshop manual for another bike – his main aim for the trip was to learn about mechanics thehands-on way – and was unaware that Africa had such a large desert until he disembarked theferry at Wadi Halfa and there was not a hint of tar. In Bahir Dar we met an equally determined German couple travelling from Cape Town in a clapped-out and patched up 230 Mercedes sedanwith a boot full of stuff, cooking and sleeping in the car all the way. A humiliating lesson abouthow little kit one actually needs to traverse the Dark Continent – out-door accessory shops just have a good marketing ploy that has caught most of us hook, winch and sinker. (Ian, there’s hope for you getting to Cairo in the Pink Peril yet). Determination, persistence and a sense of humour are all that is really required (OK, and some money too). "

Weiers said...

WOW! I'm inspired. I hope that one day my blog will have interesting content like that!

It is interesting that Olivia is a 1976 Landy. So most people with their new 2006 Toyota Land Cruisers who go flying past you on the newly built high-way in Tanzania, will probably also look at you and say. Damn! Why did we spend so much money! Look how happy she looks. (Even thought the kid might be bored out of his mind without a playstation hehe)

Michelle said...

Further along in the tale, one of those fancy vehicles DID go flying past Oliva - only to crash and kill 2 people and seriously injure 4 others 500m down the road... The Olivia drivers had to stop and help, then go find an ambulance/police at the next town. Unfortunately the authorities didn't even have vehicles, and they had to flag down a passing truck.

Michelle said...

And then there's this guy, who did it in a 1975 VW bus.

Weiers said...

Thank you again Michelle

That link looks like a really great read. I will definitley read it tonight. (Before I dreamt of travelling through Africa on a Gomoto, I thought that I would like to do it in a Fiat Uno. So it has been a dream of mine for a long time. Fiat Uno's are now not being made anymore... (I guess ... neither are 1976 landys).

And yes... driving fast through Africa is not a good idea safety wise. I think you also miss out on what Africa really is like. I actually do not think that Africa is so much about the Serengeti as it is about the small villages and communities that a person encounters on the way.

Interesting, as I respond to you I think of so much a person could blog about. One of my lecturers in the masters programme at the University of Pietermaritzburg travelled through africa by using whatever public transport services were available to them. (I've experienced that once, travelling by bus between Nairobi, Kenya and Mwanza, Tanzania). His purpose was to collect oral histories and local wisdom.

There is so much to do in Africa. We live on the best continent of all.