Two Aussie blokes riding their BMW R1150GSs from Australia to Europe

Month: November 2015

Bike Preparation

Both James and I are taking our 12+ year old BMW 1150gs’s with us, each with well over 100,000kms on the clock. Although well maintained I’m sure many other Adventure riders would consider them too much of a risk for such a journey. I purchased my beast over 5 years ago replacing a Ducati 750 Monster; I was sick of getting to the end of the asphalt with the only option to turn around and head back to the big smoke. I didn’t want a glamour machine like my monster anymore and my budget at the time could only just stretch for an 1150GS. Rough around the edges but with a good heart it made it from Brisbane to Melbourne easily and with a fresh set of rubber I started to get to know the big beast. It didn’t take long to realise just how well these bikes handled and I’m still convinced that I can outride the Monster on it. I fitted the remus cat eliminator and muffler to get a note and some extra torque down low.

The clutch started to slip about 10,000km’s into my ownership and I fitted a new clutch kit and slave cylinder. Being a vehicle mechanic I have completed all the repairs myself; the is clutch is a big job but not hard. I was surprised to find the set-up and clutch plate location on the input shaft was somewhat questionable. The new clutch plate fitted the input shaft well and we all agreed that with new splines on the plate it should be serviceable for a while yet.

But it is in the back of my mind whenever I ride – I hate knowing how my vehicles work and the possibilities of failure but I also believe in the ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ approach – I cannot make 16 year old bike ‘new’ and it has served me so well for the last 5 years. With all this in mind I still need to be realistic about this journey – my haphazard approach may be ok for a long weekend ride to the Snowy Mountains, but given I have the skills and a workshop I have just ordered the following parts from BM Motorcycles in Ringwood Vic and plan the have them all completed by Christmas.

  • Engine, Gearbox and final drive oils.
  • 2 new spark plugs
  • Valve clearances.
  • Alternator Belt
  • Final drive bearing and seal
  • New fuel pump and filter
  • 2 Air-filters
  • 2 Oil Filters
  • New battery
  • Quick Release fuel lines for neat fuel tank removal

About 5 years ago James was home for Christmas (he worked in China for a few years) and needed some wheels.  I lent him my GS to get around town and a few days later I was receiving photos of my bike in some of the best locations in Victoria! Upon return he was raving about the GS. When I found a similar example for sale on the net a few years later I emailed the link to him just to stir the pot a little. 5 minutes later he was on Skype asking me to go and buy it for him! It was a much better example than mine with full service history and only 2 owners. It was also the twin spark model. So when James returned from China there was a 2003 GS waiting for him at my place. We soon had it registered and starting venturing beyond the city limits together.

The first time I took mine on a dirt adventure was on a return leg from Eildon to Melbourne, I decided to follow as much dirt as possible and managed to drop it on the first tight corner; I lost the front wheel in some soft mud and down I went ripping off my left pannier and almost losing the bike off the side of the track. I was lucky enough to rite it again and rectify the pannier mount – hats off to Lachlan from MTD panniers and luggage as the pannier mounts can easily be repaired on the roadside. I was pleased I had dropped it early in the ride and I continued to push hard enough throughout the day playing caution when the front wheel was carrying weight.

James’ is planning to replace most of the same parts as I will be, we are hoping to find time in the first week of January.

Burma is Booked!

The old girl, looking pretty for the processing of Burmese entry permits

The old girl, looking pretty for the processing of Burmese entry permits

Yep, last night we put a deposit down on the mandatory tour we must take in order cross through Burma, and for this we employed Burma Senses, recommended by several overland motorcyclist’s who’ve gone before us.

This is a ceremonious occasion, as after all the talk, phone calls, emails  and planning, this is the first thing we’ve actually confirmed for the journey.  Feels great to officially get the ball rolling!

We’ve also sent our passports off for the first of many visa’s – hopefully they come back in a hurry because they’ve got to visit a few consulates before we hit the road.

A Mad Skype Call


Yesterday Drew and I had a fantastic Skype call with David Madell, author of A Mad Ride, who earlier this year did the exact same trip as us but in reverse.  Not only did David offer some great inspiration for our trip, but being a mechanic who now works in insurance he was able to offer some great insights into looking after our bikes as well as risk management.

Some things he suggested that we hadn’t yet put much thought into:

  • Using washable/reusable air filters so that we can clean them on the road
  • Installing the low octane plug so the bikes will run better on low quality fuel
  • Take a fuel bladder so that we can fill up with better quality fuels in bigger towns, to avoid putting dirty fuel in from smaller roadside stops. David rode a GSA, which had a 34 litre capacity (12 litres more than we can fill!), which gave a range of 500kms. He said this was really helpful
  • Run 10/60 oil in the bikes – it’ll be better for the hotter countries
  • Cash only in Iran! No access to ‘western’ banking facilities
  • The Pakistani and Iranian people were some of the nicest people he met along they way, who’d do anything to make you feel more welcome in their countries
  • Get vaccinated, and be prepared to pay for it
  • Buy and use a big camel back  for water. You can go a day on the road without food, not water
  • Check rainfall data of each country before we leave, and don’t plan to ride during the wet season!
  • Store camera valuables in a Pelican case, so that they’ll survive a fall
  • 3-4 pairs of jocks and sock should be more than enough. What are we going to do with a week’s worth of dirty laundry whilst we’re on the road?!
  • Ship tyres to Dehli for the ‘halfway’ service. We won’t be able to buy them off the street

We can’t thank David enough for the time that he gave us – what a legend! Now it’s time to get to work…


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