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Offline bertrand

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Re: African Enduro
« Reply #200 on: December 02, 2009, 04:30:09 pm »
Excellent report. I enjoyed reading it a lot. Inspirational.
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Offline Kaptein Bos

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Re: African Enduro
« Reply #201 on: January 08, 2010, 12:40:23 pm »
Yet another legend amongst us... :laughing4:

Offline MOGGIE

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Re: African Enduro
« Reply #202 on: July 18, 2010, 10:46:59 pm »
Hi Mark. I enjoyed the report and all the other African trips,
I am starting a support vehicle to acompany riders through Southern africa. It is a Unimog with a Unimog trailer.
I live in Hoedspruit
My bike is a 650GS Dakar.
We should keep in contact

Online Ian in Great Brak River

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Re: African Enduro
« Reply #203 on: September 13, 2010, 08:46:14 pm »
What an inspiration to the rest of us !!

Great photo's and well told, in all an excellent read.

Big thank you.
1978. It's 6am, mid winter...two up on a XL 185S ... off to my first casino ever with all of R40 and we've got a full tank of fuel, so enough to get there we reckon.... that's determination...

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Offline schalk vd merwe

Re: South Africa
« Reply #204 on: March 07, 2012, 09:56:35 am »

So there I was - at the Mozambique / SA border with my awesome trip almost, but not quite yet complete. The border formalities were a piece of cake and I took the opportunity to place another ZA sticker on the KTM. I didn't experience any xenophobia backlashes while in Mozambique, which was nice.

Very close to the border in Komatipoort I paid a visit to my sister and brother in law - who farm in the area. I was quite apprehensive of seeing people I knew for the first time in a while and if I knew my sister there would be a trick up her sleeve. As I rounded a corner to the start of their farm there was the said trick; the security guard at the boom gate was waiving an orange checkered flag that she had painted, standing beside a welcome home sign. I had a substantial grin, and that was increased when I saw my brother-in-law (Shane) coming towards me on a KTM 525, on one wheel. We settled down to a typically wild Komatipoort braai of guinnea fowl & nyala which Shane had shot recently. This was to be the first of my dietary rehabilitation program - I had lost over 10kg's during the trip.

The security guy with the orange race flag.

My swaer.

The wildsvleis braai.

It was very tempting to stay for the night so Shane & I could get amongst the klipdrift and try & pull in a few tigers from the Komati but I desperately wanted to finish the job and get the final 100km's done.  I rode up out of the Kaapmaiden gorge and past a large rock in Karino where my grandfather once sat when he saw his first motor car (the first one in the slowveld). As special moments go, riding past that old rock was pretty much up there. Miraculously the chain was still holding and I made it all the way to my home town of Witrivier. As I drove through the town on a quiet Sunday evening I started to get excited about having completed the trip, and as I was nearing home I realised I could even push the bike from here so started giving the KTM plenty, over cooking the corners and liberating the front from terra-firma. I pulled up the driveway to a small welcoming party who had heard the bellowing akra from some way away.


A happy & relieved old lady when I finally arrived home

The odometer distance from London to Witrivier

Although I was very tired and needed rest I was 'buzzing' for quite a few days afterwards, and found it strange having to sleep on a bed and being able to eat good chow whenever I wanted to. I also realised that my hands were shaking uncontrollably and that I had lost much dexterity in fine motor skills - probably from hanging onto a bike all day every day for the last few months (and a nice vibey one like an LC4 at that).

I spent a few days cleaning up my gear and my bike was in the capable hands of the best mechanic I have come across in a third of the planet - who happens to runs a small KTM workshop in Nelspruit. He confirmed that I had over-tightened the valve clearances and other than that the engine was in perfect shape. After the full service and a few new bits (like sprockets & chain) the KTM looked and felt like it had just been run-in.

I was missing the daily routine of riding so decided to take a small warm-down trip, as I hadn't enjoyed the paranoia filled last part of Mozambique. I packed on all my trip gear and rode 700k's to a the Alfie Cox dual sport festival that some of you dogs were at.  It was very lekker riding without luggage and with decent tyres on, especially when I was in a small pack of LC4's. I had to leave before most people got back to the ranch on the Saturday so lost contact, but if anyone of you okes I rode with is reading this please shout. I was surprised how much my riding abilities had come on since the trip, probably the most important one being the ability to stay on the bike at any costs. I suppose this is the number one requirement when you're riding alone on a trip through some pretty unfriendly places.

The highveld in Northern Natal, one of the last roadside poses for the KTM.

A pack of us taking a rest during the Alfie Cox jol.

Happy days for this petrol station.

A few of the other 640 Adv's I rode with for a while.

The main oke doing what he does best.

After the event I spent the weekend with my sister who lives in Umhlanga and also picked up a few more bits from Alfie's shop before heading back to the Slowveld, via the North coast and then into Swaziland. Swaziland is a very cook place to go riding, as you can ride just about anywhere  you want without picking up any kak from the authorities (we pick up a bit of flack from the forestry people in the Slowveld sometimes). After Swaziland my trip was well & truly over, and it has been very difficult since then to try & get back on the straight & narrow of leading a normal life and not becoming a full time boomelaar.

The mountains in the West of Swaziland.

As promised, here's a bit of a report on the most crucial member of team orange.

As I said in my first post; I am a fan of the orange equipment but did much research which suggested this was the bike for the trip. It was simply phenomenal. I always put the bike first, some nights searching for good fuel for so long that I went without food, and servicing it religiously and performing 'inspection services' between each interval (I inspected 5 times on the trip). Although I'm quite partial to the 990 Adventure I don't think I would have had as much fun on the heavier bike, and its better road manners wasn't really a factor as I always tried to stay off road. So in summary...

The Engine

100% reliable and never missed a beat. It now has 20,000 trouble-free km's on it and is only six months old. The radiator pipe incident I put down to my good self not checking the hose clamps when doing inspections and I think the pipes were just getting a bit soft in the ultra-hot conditions. I did experience a small bit of low octane pinking before switching the CDI but haven't inspected the piston for damage as I don't see the point of opening up an engine that has been otherwise untouched.

The Wheels

The standard Metzeler enduro's were very good on road and justifiably crap on the dirt. The TKC's were very good on road and quite good on gravel, especially the rear. The front was very sketchy in the soft desert sand. I'm not sure if it was the tread pattern but it often took some very strange lines through the soft sand (opposing lines to the rest of team orange). An ex Dakar rider I met in the UK had told me not to use them in the sand and he was right. In Kenya I switched to a Pirelli MT21 rear and it was just as good as the TKC's on road and even better offroad. I bought a couple of Michelin Deserts form Alfie Cox and they were phenomenal offroad and really shite onroad. The TKC & Pirelli rears both gave in about 8-10,000 km's which is good, and probably due to adventure riding being a bit more sedate than the thrashing we give our bikes on an average w/end ride.

The Behr rims were quite soft. Although they took some serious abuse they are now littered with dents. I couldn't afford Excels for the trip but will be making that upgrade when I can.

The Suspension

I think this is what puts the bike very far away from anything else on a trip like this. The knocks that it soaked up were staggering. At one point I smacked a rock so hard I thought I had broken both wrists, but I stayed on. I don't want to brand bash but I met a total of seven other bikers on my trip, all going North and none of them on bikes like mine. Two of them had spent quite a bit of money upgrading their standard suspensions, and the other five ALL had suspension breakages or leaks. Two of these five I met in Nairobi, waiting for new suspension parts to come from Europe after that bad road in Northern Kenya.

Chain woes

I rode the stock sprockets & chain until I got to Cairo and although they were still in good shape I changed them to the steel ones I was carrying and put on the flippen expensive high tech Gold X-Ring chain. On paper this combo was rated for around 20,000km's and I only had 10,000 left on the trip. The chain broke after 5,000. When I inspected the damage I noticed two of the o-rings at the break were missing, they probably expired from all the desert riding in temperatures over 50 degrees C. I didn't lube much in the desert to stop the chain collecting bull-dust. Anyway as far as drama's go this was a pretty small one to contend with on such a big trip. Next time I'll be carrying spares for the spares.

The Rest

Nothing wrong with the chassis or subframe - in all the tumbles I took the only break was to a pannier frame. The seat wasn't too bad, but I did use a very thick sheepskin on the longer rides which worked great. The tank size gave me plenty of range and those carbon fibre protectors were magic - they're full of scratches now, which is good. The soft luggage was awesome. I kept valuables in the top box and the bags soaked up the brunt of my off's - the only damage was a few dents in my cooking pits & tin mug. The GPS was tough and very useful for working out distances & using as a compass. I had tracks4africa loaded but they didn't feature any roads on quite a bit of the journey and were pretty inaccurate at other times. They were however very useful showing the major roads that lead in & out of the big cities like Cairo, Nairobi & others. The one other thing I really could have done with is a steering damper for the soft stuff. I'm sure I would have had less off's with one of these but couldn't afford it - maybe next time.

Well sadly thats all folks, thanks very much for reading and thanks for all the kinds words. Really appreciate it.

I updated a website while I was on the road, and it has a few more photo's if you'd like to take a look.


My GPS logged just about every second spent riding on my trip, but the file is far too large for the web so I cut it down by about 99% and plotted it on a google map here:


LASTLY, if any of you are interested in joining me on my next trip feel free to leave me your details. I'd like to do a lap of Southern Africa, probably taking in bits of Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia & ZA. Nothing planned as yet but I'd like to do it some time in 2009.



PS. I know video was a bit lacking in the last few posts so here's one taken from a typical weekend ride around the plantations where I live. Apologies for the video quality - I cable tied my camera to the passenger foot rest and it obviously wasn't up to the challenge of so much fast movement. Following me is my best china on a Husky 250 2-stroke. He's since upgraded to a spanking 300xcw so now I ride at the rear.


Hi Mark I think we took the same boat on our trip than you, see our photo below. I enjoyed your RR Schalk
« Last Edit: March 07, 2012, 10:00:46 am by schalk vd merwe »
1/The only way to get experience is to get experience-Schalk                
2/Ride Reports>Long Tours>Africa Tour To The Equator And Back In 40 Days
3/A stranger is just a friend you have not met yet
4/Whatever you vividly imagine, ardently desire, sincerely believe in and enthusiastically act upon must come to past-Paul J Mayer
5/Use the rocks in the your way to build stepping stones-Herman Zapp

Offline onderbroek

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Re: African Enduro
« Reply #205 on: January 16, 2013, 07:30:11 am »
What a nice surprise it was to discover this RR!
Awesome trip and respect for doing it alone!

hak vrystaat

Offline jorust

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Re: African Enduro
« Reply #206 on: January 18, 2013, 04:55:14 pm »
Don't know how I missed this. What an awesome RR!!!
Respect!  :thumleft:

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Offline Optimusprime

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Re: African Enduro
« Reply #207 on: February 09, 2013, 02:06:45 pm »
Legendary Mark, Great RR, thanks.

Cape to Cairo 2017

Offline wallyengles

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Re: African Enduro
« Reply #208 on: February 14, 2013, 11:03:14 pm »
I just read this report beginning to end, couldn't stop reading.  You should write a book, because your report is fantastic!

Offline Mr Zog

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Re: African Enduro
« Reply #209 on: March 05, 2013, 02:52:42 pm »
Also just saw it and read it after the other guys ressurrected it. What an awesome adventure! This IS the stuff that the rest of us mere mortals dream about  :thumleft:
Young enough to know I can, old enough to know I shouldn't, stupid enough to do it anyway.

Offline BuRP

Re: African Enduro
« Reply #210 on: June 02, 2013, 04:38:54 pm »

I know, yyeeaarrss laters, but I missed any comments on that 'Mr Funnel', this whilst you did use it judging by the photos.
Does it work, would you use it again?
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Offline Jondu

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Re: African Enduro
« Reply #211 on: June 02, 2013, 04:49:14 pm »

Offline katana

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Re: African Enduro
« Reply #212 on: April 27, 2017, 05:38:53 pm »
I am trolling the Roll of honour as I am craving a trip again.  Bump for all the guys who haven't seen this yet.

If you want to haul ass, you gotta mix gas.

Offline billy-joe

Re: African Enduro
« Reply #213 on: June 20, 2017, 07:45:12 pm »
that would be me!  many thanks to you and Mark!  great read
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Offline Sardine

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Re: African Enduro
« Reply #214 on: June 28, 2017, 08:56:50 pm »
Fantastic RR!  :thumleft:

Offline Rotten

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Re: African Enduro
« Reply #215 on: December 14, 2017, 11:04:10 pm »
Inspiring RR.Great writing.Reads like a good novel that cannot be put down. Does anyone know where Mark is ? Has'nt been on the forum for more than 4 years.