Archiv der Kategorie: Preparation

the last preparation entry?

They say the hardest part when doing a long distance travel is leaving. We start to realise why. Not only do you leave your friends and loved once, but also the comfort and security of a home. Additionally, over the last week we faced all kinds of issues when preparing the bikes . Somehow every potently easy task turned out to be difficult due to thinks like stuff not fitting and the necessity of brute force or super tight screws that needed power tools to be removed. The Frankfurt dialect offers the fitting term for this condition with “scheiss gefuddel”. Luckily, Daniels Grandpa has a very well equipped workshop and we made use of that!

Successfully drilled screw from the front brake
Successfully drilled screw from the front brake

And, on the upside we do know the bikes in and out by now.

Daniel and his brother Timur installed a very cool technical gizmo on Daniels bike. Its called a Pi and is basically a small computer collecting data. Daniels Pi collects with two thermometers the engine and air temperature, logs our current GPS position, measures the battery voltage and, with a small camera pointing in driving direction, takes every 15 min a photo. The installation was far from plug and play but they managed to get the Pi going.

Timur and the Pi
Timur and the Pi

We returned to Frankfurt on Saturday night, very tiered. Starting our journey on Sunday was out of the question. I had some weird vibration in my front wheel and used the calm Sunday to disassemble the front wheel and check for potential reasons. Since I don’t have access to a proper garage in Frankfurt I did the working on the street. After working for one week in a garage with perfect weather it of course rained. Plus, temperatures close to 30°C with almost 100 % humidity. Well, neverminde, training for the tropics and the vibration issue is gone as well.

The umbrella is rather handy. Maybe we should take it along.
The umbrella is rather handy. Maybe we should take it along.

So we hope to leave tomorrow morning! Our first day will lead us to Stuttgart where we want to meet with David, a fellow traveller who will go the same way as we do on his BMW F650GS (the 800cc version, I don’t claim to understand the BMW model naming logic) and we hope to meet again along the way in Africa. The night we want to spend at our common friend Bennys place in Stuttgart. The stop after that will be Freiburg and from there we will leave Germany direction south east.

That’s the status for now. Oh almost forgot, the Sudan visa are ready and waiting for us in Freiburg.



The tale of the rear suspension

Once upon a time two young biologists named Daniel and Topher thought about replacing the weak rear suspension spring  of the Honda Africa Twin RD07a with a stronger spring to be able to drive with a lot of luggage through the African continent. Naive as they are they browsed the all mighty internet for answers and found them in the form of online forums where previous travellers told the legend of the rear suspension spring.

So the idea was born. The two will replace the spring in question. After removing the rear shock unit from the bikes they sadly realised they are lacking the right tool to disassemble the unit. Luckily they life in one of the top industry nations of this world where access to good tools is a basic right. So they thought. How hard can it be to find a fitting hook spanner like this one? Very hard!

The mystic hock spanner.
The mystic hock spanner.

So the quest for the hock spanner or a work shop that could help them began! It took them to countless DIY stores, car garages, motorbike garages and motorbike supply shops and everybody looked in disbelive at them shaking their heads in shock “what you want to do is impossible” or “this can not be done” or “pure madness”. Until they found a Honda dealer willing to chalenge the quest! Two days later he texted our two heros telling them “what you want to do is impossible, this can not be done and is pure madness!”.

So, Daniel and Topher went on carrying the two suspensions and the two springs through this country, doomed to continue the eternal quest of the rear suspension.

The endless quest continues
The endless quest continues

The last hope they found was a shining mechanic in white armor who claimed to be able to solve every suspension problem. So the quest took them to the town of Bergen-Enkheim and they would not trust their eyes but the shining mechanic, after a lot of trying and using every trick in the box, managed to replace the springs!

Now let the bad roads of Africa come. We are not afraid!

The moral of this tale: If you have suspensions issues, go directly to in Frankfurt Bergen-Enkheim.


A bit of start and a lot of preparation

The start of our trip was planed to be roughly this week. But, before the start we still needed to do some alterations on the bikes. It’s exactly what everyboys says “don’t do the modifications directly before you leave”. Well, we did it anyway 🙂

So the plan was that I (Topher) leave with my bike fully packed and meet Daniel at his Grandpas place near Rüdesheim at the Rhine river. There we can use his garage to work on the bikes. After this is done Daniel has to do some minor things, like handing in his PhD Thesis 😉 and we are good to go!

Well, as always, live happens when you’re making plans. Last week the ferry service from Turkey to Egypt, we intended to use, was cancelled. Bummer! So the endless story of how do we get to Africa starts again. On top of this we hear all kinds of horror stories from overlandes who just did the Turkey – Egypt crossing. Customs at the Egyptian ports are pure mayham. People take 5 days to get their vehicles out of the port and have pay ridiculous “fees”. There is apperently another ferry going from Iskenderun to Egypt, but our enthusiasm of getting ourself into the egyptian port crazyniss is limited… We are right now looking into alternatives including air shippment of the bikes and ourself from Istanbul to Khartoum, thus avoiding Egypt all together. It would be really sad to miss all the interesseting and amazing places in Egypt. Also the ferry transport across lake Nasser is probably an adventure in itself, but options are limited and we can always return to Egypt as “normal” tourists without paying several thousand USD in “special fees”.

With this in mind I had a small but nice farewell party with my former colleagues and friends in my old lab. The first stop after leaving home then was after 3 km at my favorite döner place in Freiburg where I had a nice goodbye meal with friends 🙂 Next dönerstop Istanbul!

Saying goodbye to Vanessa was a bit hard, but we will probably drop by Freiburg once more on our way south and we will see each other once more before we are off to Africa.

So I left with the heavy loaded bike direction north to prepare it to go all the way south. The day was quite hot and since school holidays startet there were a lot of traffic jams on the autobahn. Sitting on the bike in the scorching sun with the heavy gear on is a good preparation for the African heat 🙂

Almost fully loaded bike. Some spare parts and the extra tires are in Frankfurt.
Almost fully loaded bike. Some spare parts and the extra tyres are in Frankfurt.

After 200 km I had a break next to the autobahn in the shade of some trees. Very Relaxing! The relaxation was over after I tried to continue the drive and the electronic of the bike was gone. The battery had so little voltage, the starter engine made not even the slightest noice, Pushing the bike in the heat with the gear on is an even better preparation for the African heat. I found two very nice people to help me push the bike so I could get it startet. One of them only spoke french but was very much into motorbikes. I think he tried to tell me that he drives an old Yamaha XJ900. Starting the bike by pushing was no big deal and I left the parking lot without any more breaks and reached the place of Daniels Grandpa in the evening where we had a nice BBQ with the excellent white wine for which this region is famous for.

The next days we were working on the bikes from dawn (ok not really dawn) to dusk.

The garage which has been kindly provided by Daniels Grandpa. Who made the stay at his place very pleasant.
The garage which has been kindly provided by Daniels Grandpa. Who made the stay at his place very pleasant.
Changing tyre tupes in the dusk. Easier than we thought. Still a pain.


What bike do we drive again?
Daniels bike needs a case of beer to stand upright.
This looks happier than I was. Stupid break pads...
This looks happier than I was. Stupid break pads…

Most of the things we wanted to do worked quite ok. We did run into issues with the replacement of the rear suspension spring. We simply can’t do that with the tools we have so we took them to some workshops. Intersting enough they as well can’t do it which led us to drive with the rear suspension in the trunk of the car from garage to garage.  We hope this issue is solved by the end of the week.  Obviuosly we can’t start without the suspension.

So right now we are in Frankfurt. Daniel gets his thesis in a submittible form, I look into transport options to Africa and we try to get the suspension issue solved. Tomorrow we probably head back to the Rhine and continue the work on the bikes. So, we most likely won’t be able to start the trip before the end of this week.

Oh, by the way. No news on the Sudan visa. It should be ready this week.



Summer Fun

Hey Guys,

preparations are going well. The Sudan visa is in preparation. We tried to get it from the consulate in Frankfurt. But they said visas can only be issued at the embassy in Berlin. I am not really certain what the consulate in Frankfurt is good for than, but never mind. Since Berlin is quite far away from the places we are right now and we don’t have the time to go their we ordered a visa company to get the Sudanese visa for us. That’s definitely cheaper than driving there. So right now they are working on it. Fingers crossed it will work out well.

In the time being preparations are going well. Not much left to do but some modifications on the bikes, which will probably be done next week.

Until then we can only dream of our trip. Thankfully the toy industry is very helpful.

Summer Fun!
Summer Fun! That dudes bike looks suspiciously like an Africa Twin. It even got the Honda Racing paint job and seams to be equipped with two Touratech Zega cases. Funny.  Though this bike has 1100 cc, an outlook for the new Africa Twin which is supposed to be presented this year??





Hey Guys,

After longer contact with the turkisch shipping agency we determined the 16th of August as our shipping date from Iskenderun to Damietta. So this is our first deadline, yet, its not too bad if we won´t make it since the vessel is leaving every week and they have plenty of space for motorbikes.

The paperwork for the trip is coming together as well. First, we got our carnets!


With the carnet and a tonn of additional paperwork we went to the ethiopian embassy in Frankfurt and got our ethiopian visa 🙂

Happy Ethiopa visa owner.
Happy ethiopian visa owner.

The visa application was relatively hassle free and after only 4:30 h we could collect our visa. It was not very clear which kind of additional information they needed, so we just copied everything we have and handed this in with the application…

Next up: Sudan Visa!

Status update

Just a quick update on the state of planing right now.

Estimated time of departure is roughly the 5th of August.

I am in contact with the freight company UNRORO in Turkey for the shipment of our bikes to Egypt. On the phone they said “no problem, just come here we’ll ship you guys” but we are still waiting for an e-mail conformation which would be nice before we ride the 3300 km from here to Iskenderun…