I have had lots of requests to make up toolkits for riders and my advice is almost always the same, you only need to worry and carry the tools you both know how to use and will fix the bits on your bike you know how to fix… That said, as promised, apart from spare tubes here is what I carry in my CRF1000L toolkit…
- 8mm, 10mm, 11mm, 12mm and a 15mm open end and ratchet spanner (all these will do the chain adjusters, and all the remaining odd nuts and bolts on the CRF).
- Three MotionPro tyre levers (08-0284 12-13mm), (08-0288 27mm), (08-0286 22mm).
- Two MotionPro Rim Shield II plastic covers.
- 27mm and 22mm socket and drive (you will not break the rear axle torque with the MotionPro levers so either under torque your axle or carry these).
- 8mm, 10mm and 12mm long reach socket and small driver.
- HW5 Hex.
- 17mm Axle key.
- Flat and cross head screwdriver.
- Tube patches, glue and rubber gloves.
- Cable ties.
- Spare brake lever (53170-MEJ-016) – the only thing that has stopped me dead on the CRF is a broken front brake lever.
- All in a Kriega tool roll and wrapped in a Karrimore waterproof kit bag.
Today is different… the sometimes oppressive overhanging green canopy has broken away and the trees have been replaced with scrubby conifers struggling for purchase in soft sandy soil. The smell is different as well and the unmistakable fragrance of pine sap fills the air. Sand… oh joy the bikers nemesis… its hard packed but goes on for mile after mile and in the end I am glad when the gravel makes a return shortly to be followed by Spanish tarmac, not as smooth as the French type but very welcome all the same. Riding in sand is counter intuitive, going slower does not help and the Africa Twin is a heavy bike to rock back and forwards as she digs a trench with the rear tyre. The DCT gearbox is a revelation and Honda have certainly got that right and as Jeremy Clarkson would say “more power required” and the sand is a distant memory.
The best laid plans of mice and men go up in smoke with the european civil unrest which culminated in my travel plans being cancelled by my insurance provider at 23:00 on the night before I was due to leave the UK… now I am not a reckless man nor neither am I stupid, and to travel when expressly discouraged by the FCO and my Insurance Provider to me just seemed foolhardy… so I took the ribbing and rebooked at short notice all my crossings. So in 2016 having been north (twice) and east (twice) I have decided to go south again to explore the dirt trails of the Picos de Europa.
The Picos are really three separate mountain ranges with a network of maintain trails and passes split midway by the Cares Gorge. I am relieved to know that after my nights in a bivvi bag in the Scandinavian forests in both 2013 and 2015 that the native cantabrian brown bears are reportedly very timid and will avoid human contact but even then the thought of a 150kg bear snuffling in my pannier is one that might wake me when the wild boar or hedgehog trundle past my head!
Testing and preparation are the two key points to ensure a successful road trip. As it was last week when I found myself alone for the first time on an early morning Eurostar bound for Calais and onward to Berlin. The plan was to test the new DCT Africa Twin in anger – to see what was missing and what would break. I am pleased to report that in the first 1800km since leaving the UK apart from about 80ml of oil being used by my ScottOiler and frequent stops for fuel, all is well with the Honda. Pit stops have become lengthy as almost inevitably a few people come and talk about the bike and the travel plans – there are only a few CRF1000D’s on the road in mainland Europe and so far I have only seen one other bike perched on a dealers trade stand when I stopped at the Spinner Brucke bike meet. Onwards to Berlin and a true autobahn speed test.
Some of you have asked for a copy of the Honda CRF1000 A-D Owners Manual so at 7Mb here it is…
Africa Twin Owners Manual A4
My 15 year old R1150GSA has now taken me on trips covering at least 210,000 km and each year I struggle a little more with insurance, breakdown cover and parts availability. Last year BMW deleted thousands of spares from their catalogue making it more and more difficult for old bike owners to keep their beloved bikes on the road as daily rides. I am not a cynical man but clearly this move was made by BMW Accountants who want riders to buy new bikes every few years rather than keeping models on the road. Even Motorworks and James Sherlock are struggling with some obscure new parts and I keep a good selection of secondhand parts from breakers in stock but it is getting harder…
Now before anyone shouts there is no way I am getting rid of my GSA but I need to be realistic about what I can do on my extended solo trips and have to be self sufficient. For those of you looking at my Overland Motorcycle Workshop resource you will have seen the increasing electrical troubles no doubt caused by older and increasingly brittle wiring and whilst a complete rewire may be the answer perhaps I need to just accept a new bike is required and retire the GSA – she owes me nothing. So the question is what option should I take. I have a refundable deposit on a new Honda Africa Twin but also have my eye on the older technology packaged in the Yamaha SuperTen. Next week sees the launch of the Africa Twin in the UK but I am open to suggestions… anyone…
Riding south from Ravaniemi on the E75, I spotted a small side turning leading east marked Tervola and slipped quickly of the rough north south route, into the unknown. The brilliant sunshine glimmered of the the new bridge over the Kemi, as I stopped in the shade of the Kirk. Finland’s wartime past is not widely publicised but knowing the Russian pacts and advance from the east and the Finnish resistance and the earlier Lapland War, the number of German and Finnish war graves with similar dates reinforces the strategic importance of this river crossing in 1944.
Riding down the coast road near Ytre Svartvik, I was pondering the need for waterproofs… if you ride you know that time. Picture this, it looks like its going to rain so you need to decide if the chance of wetness is greater than the faff required to put on a one piece over-suit designed to keep your textiles from dripping all over the place at the campsite? Trust me putting on wet clothing the following morning is not a pleasant experience but then is neither squeezing yourself into your boil in the bag waterproof over-suit. As I waited, contemplating outpacing the clouds, an Italian scooter rider stopped and with the international language of gesticulation we agreed he needed petrol and with the R1150GSA holding 30 litres I gave him enough to see him on his way, I thought that was my good deed of the day but then I got a puncture…. so much for karma!
I love maps, I masochistically enjoy the whole tactile experience as I struggle with my unwieldy foe in the wind or rain. Whilst a Sat Navs may get you to a destination with little stress they fail to give you any sense of the place or the terrain you are travelling through. I spend hours pouring over my maps, the flat two dimensional representation of my three dimensional world and then by adding time scales into the mix the adventure starts. Ten cm on Michelin 711 is only 100km but that takes a whole day, standing high on the pegs of the bike as I navigate the 890 to Kjolnes and onward to Gulgofjord – getting lost… what’s the worst that can happen?
Why ride a bike… the connection to place, to the land, the wind, the sun, stars, the moon… it sounds romantic, but it’s true – the visceral experience of motion, of moving through time on some amazing machine – a few cars touch on it, but not too many compared to motorcycles. I always felt that any motorcycle journey was special – Antoine Predock