Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Two Years On The Road And The Heart Speaks

3rd May 2012 - 3rd May 2014

Here we are two years into our one and a half year trip with another year to go.

So after a swag of stunning destination photos I will bore you with some writing.

A few things I have learnt,

By two years most of what you have will be stuffed or will have already been replaced from being stuffed already and one year warranties expire the day before something shits itself, also while travelling warranties are worth nothing unless pretty much in the same town or at best in the same country ... rest of the time forget it.

At the two year mark the costs for maintenance, repairs and replacements has really hammered our budget, that is the price to pay for long term travel.

Our original thinking of getting sorted for the whole trip was logical and would have worked if we had been 1.5 years, also while a medium size bike was great for USA north a smaller bike from Mexico, Central and south America at least down to Bolivia would have been superior.

For two up the 950 is great for carrying two peoples gear etc and the long wheelbase adding outstanding handling for gravel roads and offroad as well as comfort space.

Clothing takes a beating when you wear the same thing day in day out and at least for us our favourite being merino wool Icebreaker are not readily available or are FOOKIN expensive.

Forum “Armchair travellers” .... some have said “ouwh you are doing the easy one” meaning the Americas, well I can tell you that buying fuel, food and accommodation is as hard if you don’t know Spanish as it is in Icelandic if you don’t understand their lingo.

Same as learning new currency and what that currency SHOULD buy before you find out you have been stiffed by gringo tax.

Also riding in different countries with different rules is more difficult with its own challenges and this will apply to ANY country in the world when the signs mean nothing to you, learning Spanish in Central America gives you a basis of understanding which then change further south then you get to Argentina and Chile where they talk twice as fast with a different accent and vocab.....this creates many larfs and well as some frustrations.

The Moto, USA down

The bike, through the needlessly heavily over bordered Central America and border swapping here in South America I am firmly of the belief a carne is the simpler way to go, get the main paperwork sorted at the front end then everything else from there is easier, we must have copied hundred of useless document stuff that will end up as trash, what a waste to say the least.

More on the bikes, we did start on DR650s for reliability and simplicity however this fast became not the case with two shitters, now the KTM 950 Super Enduro has outreliabled out DRs and has had a much harder time than the DRs put together despite what some think, we have had a few things to do with Maya but with 51000 km on her now it is expected that things will need doing.

For someone wanting to travel and see the place at similar pace and mileage to us I firmly believe a 400 cc bike is well plenty big enough and for lot of the time a 250, the likes of a Kwacka 250 Sherpa or XTZ250 Yammy with injection makes for an extremely cheap reliable and low fuel use travel bike ....just lacking for those big open road uphills or a stonking head wind, no biggy if you have time ... which we do.

Venders, suppliers and general stuff, this is an exercise in management, not difficult but you have to have the ability to look ahead, while most parts are available in one way or another if they are KTM specific they are expensive or if aftermarket then the quality is lacking particularly in Latin America.

We have had tremendous support and a few trials and tribulations, Alex at Konflict Motosports http://www.konflictmotorsports.com/ stands out as probably one of the most helpful with our shock woes getting a shock from the UK, getting it fixed and sending it to Chile, that is realtime active support, talking around the traps with other travellers we are only one of many that Alex has gone out of his way to help so he does deserve the big thumbs up, onya man, your good work is noted worldwide.

As with always there is a winner and loser and CJ Designs would have to have been the worst by a country mile with the CJ stuff failing and costing us a lot of grief and money (noting we bought Maya cos she was kitted with a lot of CJ stuff), on top of that the lack of return communication which we tried by phone, email, pm on ADV etc.

Some people (OCers) say times are tight and he is a one man band but I contacted him about 17 “ motard wheels for Maya as well with not a single response so I call BS as that is just bad business with bad attitude, seems he has the pip because of the 700 mile old water pump failure that some Ocers won’t let go of as his gear does not fail ....sure, for me there are plenty of other suppliers to spend my money at who will actually respond (noting Konflict and pretty much everyone else we have dealt with).

Parts wise, our DID ZVMX chain stands out as a big winner for RTWing with wear life and well and truly worth the extra money, we know other guys who have greater mileage on the same chain but on an angry 950cc V2 46000 km in my view is good life, our chain was cleaned twice and tightened 4 times, great product when you don’t have to be at it every five minutes.

Heidenau tires, our fav for adventure touring, they do nothing special but they do everything nice and they last as well as taking a beating on sharp rocks taking it in their stride.

Our lifesaving (Rigid Industries) LED lights are fantastic, although we have no affiliations to them they deserve a shout out for safety (especially in Peru) and their customer service has been outstanding, for power conscious people you can turn off your main headlight giving another 60 watts to GPS, grips, vibrators and other important things.


Klim gear, all I can say is yes, outstanding to say the least, it has been crash tested, in seriously hot temps and seriously low temps including snow and for me it has performed to perfection standing up to its earned label of quality.

ARAI helmets, what else can I say two years on we are loving them, the padding has taken a beating and is showing signs of wear that could be expected after two years of constant use and to be fair abuse.

Forma boots, adventure or quad model, seriously comfortable, flexible enough to walk some distance in and waterproof, for adventure touring I rate them highly.

The People

For the most of it you will find 99% of people you meet to be straight up honest and friendly who are interested in your travels and tails, there are of course the small contingent who view us purely as money pits and an opportunity to rip you off if possible.

Colombians still take the No 1 spot for being the nicest mob and genuinely interested, most other countries we have really enjoyed too, our only ho hum country was Cuba with a lot of them of a daily basis and sometime hourly basis saying “give me money”, like Gene and Neda said it just wears you down and takes the shine off the place.

While Bolivia hasn’t been a good start I am sure when we leave the touristy style place of Copacabana it will be better, I hope so as Bolivia hold the most interest to me and I am going in with my positive head on board will a list of places I want to go to, we will do the typical Kiwi friendly approach and if that fails I guess I will have time to write more, we did have a wee scuffle in Uyuni which involved the police ...you will have to read about that later.

So far I would say our trip has gone pretty much to plan cos we really don’t have one, we have had our ups and downs, crashes and thrills, activity with the Police but to be fair on a good basis and for the most of it.

We are approx 24 weeks behind where we thought we would be from crashes and moto fails etc, something we didn’t really factor in hence we have extended our trip out rather than rush it through just to get to the bottom because.

We are lucky to have the time to be able to take this in our stride as we are well aware that a lot of people don’t get to travel for 24 weeks let alone have these as “sick days”.

Favourites For Us

Northern Chilean desert, San Pedro de Atacama, North Western Argentina and South Western Bolivia, this area encompasses scenery like we have never seen before, a seriously harsh simplistic desert loaded with more colours than a rainbow.

Weird photos

This one I could not find a reason to post for the fear of upsetting someone but here it is, the dog died snarling at something behind it, it was trapped/wedged between two rocks ... have never seen any thing like it.

Thank you to all who have contributed and enjoyed the ride with us, hope this next year coming provides more good times.

Cheers and regards

Andi & Ellen

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