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Offline Xpat

Re: Rat racer's weekend getaways
« Reply #80 on: September 11, 2020, 11:50:55 pm »
A km or so past the first gnarly section was pretty mellow when the track basically followed the contour of the slope. But then another sharp left turn brought me to the bottom of 300 meters steep section running straight up the mountain on what I presume used to be in the past rough concrete causeway. By now the concrete was almost indiscernible and the road was basically just pile of very uneven rubble. The kind of section that requires proper commitment from the get go, as there was no run up to build some speed. The ideal was to make it to the top in one go, as stopping anywhere along the way and trying to get going up steep slope on lose rocks was quite unappealing option.


I have managed to make it almost to the top, but did have to stop and after a bit of struggle to get going again eventually managed to clear the top. The higher I got, the better the views of the valley bellow became.












































« Last Edit: September 11, 2020, 11:55:51 pm by Xpat »
 

Offline billy-joe

Re: Rat racer's weekend getaways
« Reply #81 on: September 12, 2020, 12:47:11 pm »
loving your work, as usual.  Many thanks!   :thumleft:
-There is no road to happiness...Happiness is the road.
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Offline Sheepman

Re: Rat racer's weekend getaways
« Reply #82 on: September 12, 2020, 01:10:08 pm »
Very gnarly route but quite scenic  8) Its amazing where you take the big blue in and over  :thumleft:
 
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Offline Xpat

Re: Rat racer's weekend getaways
« Reply #83 on: September 12, 2020, 11:19:23 pm »
Time for an interlude to provide context for what comes next.

990S and I had very rocky start of our relationship. On the one hand I really liked the bike a lot from the get go (not an usualy thing for me, as I consider bikes tools, not objects of glorification). With its ample power and more importangly suble poise given by high quality suspension (mine came already set-up by Hilton Hayward) it gave me the confidence and indeed nudged me to push the limits either on good dirt roads or offroad in places where theoretically had no business being any good due to its heft.

On the other hand, out of our first 4 weekends together I have made it home under 990's own steam only once. All other instances required recovery by vehicle. Granted, two of those occassions were 100% my fault - one on the very first weekend when I drowned the bike in little puddle right after I crossed the Oliphant river without glitch, and second when I didn't torque the rear sprocked well enough when I changed and it ripped off my rear hub in the bush in Botswana - that one was quite a mission to recover.

But the last one hinted at possible fatal design weakness of 990 for the kind of riding shown in this thread, tha might force me to part me with the bike, regadless of how much I like it. On my second weekend I have killed brand new clutch in 15 - 20 minutes straight going up Orrie Baragwanath pass in Limpopo (this was just a week after I tried it first time and drowned the bike...). Sure, OB pass is getting somewhat gnarly nowadays, but nothing really extreme - the main challenge is psychological as there is massive drop off right next to the road that entices people with weaker stomach like myself to take the more gnarly line away from the precipice.

And it wasn't some flamboyant last ditch effort with rear wheel spinning in the cloud of tyre and clutch smoke. Exact opposite, I was very dignified controlled ascens with me just feathering clutch here and there. And yet - just within the sight of the gate at the top of the pass, at the last gnarlier section that required a bit of clutching, the clutch gave up. After walking around for few km to catch a whif of mobile signal, I have consulted with @Runner about the checks to be done to confirm that the clutch is really kaput (most notably to check that there is still play in the clutch lever) - and I verified conclusively (after the few km walk back to bike) that that indeed is the case. So I went hiking for signal again and arranged with Runner that he will come to fetch me with his bakkie. He didn't have much choice after he blurped absent mindedly after my drowning mishap week before that he would have came to fetch me if I would have called him. So it was his turn now - I wasn't going to call again Gerrit du Toit, who came to my rescue week before after the drowning, I couldn't handle the humiliation and would rather leave the bike there and walk back home...

Anyway, while I'm sure my lack of skill have contributed to this mishap, I have ridden 100s of thousands of kms through Africa including passes like this and much gnarlier on bikes ranging from KTM 500 to 1150GSA, and was never stranded because of clutch - especially afte just 15 minutes of not particularly abusive riding.

Well, that is not truth - I got stuck once due to clutch going up Van Zyl's pass on XT660Z Tenere, but that was after thousands of kms of riverbeds and deep sand tracks as well as much more gnarly gradient of VZP (basically it was my fault, but I still blame it on Tenere - I just came to dislike that bike a lot over the years I had it). And even then, after some bush repair, I was able to limp back on the wounded clutch from VZP all the way to Maun in Botswana, where the clutch gave up the ghost for good and I had to fly out to get new one.

While on  990 - 15 minutes of not partuclarly cruel treatment and any sign of impending doom and then, without any warning - finished, kaput. If this couldn't be resolve, this was basically the end of the road for me and 990 as this is exactly the kind of riding I wanted to do with it, and at this rate I would be coming back home every weekend on bakkie and getting new clutch on Monday.

There were some potential remedies - the most obvious being the gearing. I had it changed from 16/42 the bike came with to significantly shorter 16/45, which did help a lot to minimize need for clutching at slow speeds. I confirmed that on my third and finally victorious run up the OB pass, which went without glitch.

But the concern about the 990 clutch durability sat at the back of my mind heavily ever since. And it was particularly pronouced on this trip as I knew from other reports that the road has deteriorated badly in the past few years and is nowadays more suitable for plastics, which on big hippo meant inevitability of slippin the clutch. I came prepared with complete spare clutch in my panniers, but still too much of my mental focus was on trying to detect slightest clutch slip, instead of on looking at the best lines and enjoying the ride.

Universe knew that and devised a practical joke at my expense around the next corner....
« Last Edit: September 12, 2020, 11:32:14 pm by Xpat »
 

Offline sidetrack

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Re: Rat racer's weekend getaways
« Reply #84 on: September 13, 2020, 12:04:03 am »
Would you consider a T7 ? Remember you rated the CP2 motor highly as well. More nimble than 1000 class bikes. So far it has shown itself as pretty reliable too. Oh yes you must give that 660 credit too for doing those trips with a semi functioning oil pump  :deal:
« Last Edit: September 13, 2020, 12:20:25 am by sidetrack »
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Offline Xpat

Re: Rat racer's weekend getaways
« Reply #85 on: September 24, 2020, 07:57:49 pm »
Would you consider a T7 ? Remember you rated the CP2 motor highly as well. More nimble than 1000 class bikes. So far it has shown itself as pretty reliable too. Oh yes you must give that 660 credit too for doing those trips with a semi functioning oil pump  :deal:

There is a reason why I don't get involved in that T7 thread...

I don't want to turn this report into off-shoot of that discussion, but since you asked - would I consider it if for some reason I would be looking for new bike? Sure I would - there are only two twins in the current line up I would consider 790R (with that extra rally suspension) and T7.

I have ridden 790 for a bit on a dirt highway and realized I was wrong when I said it is successor to 990. It isn't - its a different category of bike: while 990 is 'rally bike' - basically great at open tracks and surprisingly capable even on rougher terrain (whoops, rocks), once you get into tight corners (where most people don't ride big bikes) it hits it limitations. 790 seems much more like a dirt bike then intercontinetal cruise missile - while it was perfectly stable on dirt highway at about 130 kmh running over criscrossing sandy lines, my feeling is that it would really come to its own in tighter and more technical trails (which I do tend to ride most on 990 anyway).

I suspect T7 is much closer to 990 in terms of its intended usage, than 790, which seems to be in category of its own (big dirt bike that is better on dirt highways / tar than 690). I obviously like the lack of electronics (that ABS can be disabled once and for all I hope by pulling fuse) compared to 790, but I suspect it will come short in number of ways for my usage - it is top heavy in technical stuff (same as 660 annoyingly was) and most importantly for me the suspension is very basic, and it shows in the videos where people take it to the kind of riding I like (which most people don't do). And the worst part is that there isn't any obvious upgrade path for T7 suspension - as you know I have tried hard to make 660 suspension good and failed miserably) - they really missed the boat here, if they would use some kind of tripple clamps that would take better suspension (as KTM somehow did on 790 standards, tripple clamps of which somehow can take 790R suspension without change, despite S suspension being only 43mm) and make provision for longer travel at the shock (which was impossible on 660), I would really seriously consider it.

But as we stand, I love my 990S, which has even less electronics than T7 (no stupid ABS to forget to switch off on photo stop, just to have that oh shit moment later on) and has vastly superior susension out of box. And that suspension, if set-up correctly, makes all the difference - that is the reason why I dare to ride it where I do and actually enjoy it ((I wouldn't buy 990 with standard non S suspension though). And 990 can be get for R65-70k, so for R135k I have two of them actually (how much are those other two, especially T7 with vastly inferior suspension?). So I'm not seeing myself looking at another twin for quite a few years to come.

And 990 is perfectly reliable for my riding. I think you got excited seeing my clutch troubles - and yes they would be potential showstopper for me - but it turns out there is easy and cheap solution I wasn't aware of. THe clutch plates need to be soaked in warm oil for about 24 hours before installation and then  last as well as any other bikes. And that is while taking much more abuse - just ask Mark Taylor.

Offline Xpat

Re: Rat racer's weekend getaways
« Reply #86 on: September 24, 2020, 08:15:36 pm »
Back to the report:

After a km or tow of mellow countour ride I came to another gnarly bit. Much easier than the other two so I didn't pay much attention and managed to drop the bike. Which pissed me off as I was getting low on energy and lifting that 250 kg behemoth didn't help with preserving whatever I had left.

Annoyed I pushed on having unpleasant conversation with myself in my head and - again not paying attention to the track ahead which was pretty mellow. The universe seen the opening and threw big loose rock into the grass that I failed to see in my brainfog. The rock out of blue threw the bike almost 90 degrees right and off it went over the edge down steep slope. I managed instinctively to roll off the bike and grab little bush so I didn't follow.

Luckily, the bike got stuck on a rock as well and didn't continue cartwheeling down to the valley as would most probably been the case.











« Last Edit: September 24, 2020, 08:16:12 pm by Xpat »
 

Offline Xpat

Re: Rat racer's weekend getaways
« Reply #87 on: September 24, 2020, 08:42:41 pm »
That snapped me out of my funk right away and I started contemplating my options.

I gave the rear wheel cursory tug, but it was very clear that there is no chance in hell to pull it back up on my own. I walked around and the only option seemed to be to drag the bike down the slope and try to zig zag it up on catlle single tracks near by. But it was far from sure that I will manage as the slope was steep and the ground was very dry dirt and hence didn't provide much traction to navigate steep offcamber tracks.

But there was no other obvious solution, so I dragged the bike down about 20 meters in few installments that cost me most of my energy reserves.



After long break I tried to walk the bike along the slope towards the cattle tracks, but the rear wheel just kept slipping downslope. This was hard work and I was spent.

After an hour or so a Lesotho herdboy appeared and through sign language (which he was particularly inept at comprehending) I commissioned him to provide side support, while I sat on the bike and tried to ride it up. With plenty of heaving and back breaking effort we have managed to get it to the cattle tracks, where I had to turn it around (while the boy stand in the way) and eventually managed to ride it up the track back to the road. Almost there I had to clear two big boulders and could clearly feel the last grains of clutch plates leaving this world.

This whole exercise costed me about 1.5 - 2 hours and by now it was about 4 pm and sun was getting low. I had a choice to make - either turn back and navigate the gnarly bits again, this time downhill, or push on in the hope that the track gets easier further up. I choose hope. The clutch was slipping badly, but there still whiffs of friction. And I had ace in my sleeve - spare clutch in my luggage, so I could always swap it out.

I have managed another 2 - 3 km to the point where track turns sharp left and gets properly gnarly again. I pushed on for about 200 meters through deep uneven washouts, but eventually the clutch said enough and that was that. Scratching my head, I decided to turn back and freewheel down to more even ground about 500 meters away where I came to the final stop.

Out of options, I dropped the bike to the ground, opened the clutch and swapped the spare one.












And straight away even I could see something was wrong. I could turn the wheel freely with my hand even though the bike was in the gear - there was no friction in the clutch. I opened it up again and even with my  untrained mechanic eyes could see that the plates weren't reaching to the top of the clutch basket. I was perplexed for a bit as I counted them and they were the right number of them - until I noticed that the friction plates were much more narrow than the ones I took out. And then it dawned on me - in my eternal wisdom I have brought with me 500 clutch, instead of 990 one.

« Last Edit: September 24, 2020, 08:43:35 pm by Xpat »
 

Offline billy-joe

Re: Rat racer's weekend getaways
« Reply #88 on: September 24, 2020, 10:25:54 pm »
 ???  Oh man... keep it coming!
-There is no road to happiness...Happiness is the road.
-One cannot drink beer all day long if you do not start early in the morning says Welsh!!
 

Offline Xpat

Re: Rat racer's weekend getaways
« Reply #89 on: September 28, 2020, 08:46:41 pm »
Out of my wits I called Runner, who tried to improvise some kind of solution. He recommendd to break one of the original used up friction plates in half and position them so that the thickness of stack will increase and provide some traction. I have tried that 4 - 5 times, including putting some of the 500 friction plates in between the original ones, each time disassembling and assembling the clutch back together, but no luck.

Eventually at about 11:00 pm I have conceeded thje defeat, reassembled the bike, parked it on the side of the road, packed up necesities into my back pack and set-off walking to the OMD farm about 10 - 15 km away. The plan ws to make it there in the early hours of the morning, sleep over in their room if I can wake up somebody (I tried to call them but nobody picked up) or alternatively on a porch somewhere and organize in the morning bakkie to come fetch the bike left on the pass.

About km into the walk Runner called back and said he is going to come next day in the morning from Pretoria to fetch me with his bakkie. I have put up a token resistance (since this was second time in half a year he will have to come save my ass and I knew I will hear no end of it), but beggars can't be choosers, and so we settled on that plan. There was no point now to walk dozen km to the farm and then back in the morning, so I returned to the bike and started figuring out the sleeping arrangements. I didn't have any camping gear - this was supposed to be just 3 - 4 hour max crossing of a pass with lovely overnigther in one of the many nearby (as the crow flies) local establishments. So I just put on all the clothes I had including the rain gear, found relatively flat spot, put down some of my luggage as a pretence of ground sheet (on a dried up horse shit as I found out in the morning) and layed down for what I knew will be uncomfortable night.

The evening was actually very pleasant with balmy temperatures and nice views of rural scenery below me with a fire or two burning on the opposite slope in Lesotho where herdsboys were spending their night. I fell asleep quickly, but as expected woke up in few hours frozen solid. I have managed few more fits of interrupted sleep in different positions, but eventually I just raised up keenly looking for sunrise and some warmth.

When the sunrise came it was pretty spectacular:





































« Last Edit: September 28, 2020, 08:47:51 pm by Xpat »
 

Offline Offshore

Re: Rat racer's weekend getaways
« Reply #90 on: September 28, 2020, 08:52:43 pm »
What a Stunning Sight. :thumleft:
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Offline Xpat

Re: Rat racer's weekend getaways
« Reply #91 on: September 28, 2020, 08:58:39 pm »
Once the temperature raised and my blood started circulating again, I shed some layers, broke the camp (i.e. picked up the shit from the ground) and packed up everything on the bike. Runner said he is going to start early, but I didn't expect him before 10:00 am, so once packed with nothing else to do I settled down again and dozed away for a bit. I got woken up by three 690s coming up the pass. They stopped to check what is up - one of the guys even recognized me from WD I think (sorry I cannot remember your name by now), kindly offered to tow me off the pass, but I explained that Runner is coming and they continued up the pass. One of them called me later to check if Runner did arrive - appreciate the check in gents!  :thumleft:

Also this fellow with a goat passed by and insisted that I take few pics of him (goat didn't share the enthusiasm), and who am I to say no, especially as there was nothing else to do. So here is my attempt at native portrait serie:













« Last Edit: September 28, 2020, 08:59:26 pm by Xpat »
 

Offline Sheepman

Re: Rat racer's weekend getaways
« Reply #92 on: September 28, 2020, 09:09:03 pm »
In one of your previous reports you wrote that you are anti " hardcore trips ", for various reasons.This, to me at least, is very hardcore  ;) I can now understand why you took issue with the 990's clutch being suspect under strain.I haven't had such experience with my S's clutch, but then again, I never put it through so much strain.
Beautiful morning after pics and Runner is no doubt your go to man for recovery and repair  :thumleft: I don't know of any other shop owner that will go to such extent and just based on that, I will start to support him henceforth.
 

Offline Xpat

Re: Rat racer's weekend getaways
« Reply #93 on: September 28, 2020, 09:19:34 pm »
Runner eventually arrived later than expected in the oposite direction from the top of the pass as the road deteriorated significanty since the last time he was there about 25 years ago. After the standard exchange of niceties centered around the root words 'fuck' and 'twasshole' we loaded the bike on the bakkie and set-off down the pass, as Runner was sure that he doesn't want to go back the way he came (which so far costed him already one rim).

So we backtracked through all the nice juicy places I have negotiated the day before, and Runner confirmed that they were preferrable to what he came through on the way there. So maybe the dead clutch was a blessing in disguisse...

Here Runner navigating his super duper Nissan down the OMD pass with the injured 990 strapped to its back:
















The man himself building new OMD road (while the reason why he is there is taking pretty pictures....)












Well, what can I say to the distinguished gentleman from the northern Pretoria (he was carrying hipster like faciail hair at the time for some reason)? Thanks for the ride back home!  8)



« Last Edit: September 28, 2020, 09:21:51 pm by Xpat »
 

Offline Xpat

Re: Rat racer's weekend getaways
« Reply #94 on: September 28, 2020, 09:26:04 pm »
In one of your previous reports you wrote that you are anti " hardcore trips ", for various reasons.This, to me at least, is very hardcore  ;) I can now understand why you took issue with the 990's clutch being suspect under strain.I haven't had such experience with my S's clutch, but then again, I never put it through so much strain.
Beautiful morning after pics and Runner is no doubt your go to man for recovery and repair  :thumleft: I don't know of any other shop owner that will go to such extent and just based on that, I will start to support him henceforth.

Did I say that? Sorry, cannot recall the comment now, maybe I was trying to be funny. I do generally like to push the envelope on the trips and get out of the comfort zone.

Maybe you are referring to a comment I made that I prefer nice lodge to camping, which I definitely do. But when there is no choice I wll rough it in horse shit no problem.  ;)

And yes, Runner is the guy to watch your back if you are stupid enough like me to overshoot your abilities... :ricky:

Offline trevo

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Re: Rat racer's weekend getaways
« Reply #95 on: September 29, 2020, 09:19:17 am »
Done OMD in August, as mentioned in a very poor state, loose rocks, deep ruts, high step up and overgrown. Took my son on his first proper "adventure trip" Baptism by fire, lol. We ran out of water but managed, going down on Rebellie farm is also challenging mainly to the same reasons but you are rewarded with spectacular views. Picture is close to the top. Just bought myself a 990 but opted to do it with the DRZ`s for reasons mentioned
« Last Edit: September 29, 2020, 09:23:03 am by trevo »
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Offline Xpat

Re: Rat racer's weekend getaways
« Reply #96 on: September 29, 2020, 07:10:13 pm »
Old Mill Drif Road - part 2


I don't like unfinished business, so two weeks later with lockdown about to kick in I gunned it back down for second serving, this time on more appropriate 690. And on that bike OMD is a breeze, so I have no drama to repor, so I will let mostly the pictures tell the story.

Getting there:















I've made it to the start of the gnarly bit quickly and hit it with a gusto of a much lighter bike:














« Last Edit: September 29, 2020, 07:11:21 pm by Xpat »
 

Offline Xpat

Re: Rat racer's weekend getaways
« Reply #97 on: September 29, 2020, 07:19:51 pm »
I cleared the bottom half that last time took me good 4 hours (with all the cock-ups) within an half an hour or so and hit the upper part with majestic views of the Caledon river valley below:

























Top of the pass with storm brewing on the horizon:






















From the top it was easy ride down the other side and onto Clarens. I filled up the tank, took the ride round the main square to reconfirm that I do not like the place and headed to my preferred overnight haunt - Country lodge in Fouriesburg.
« Last Edit: September 29, 2020, 07:21:19 pm by Xpat »
 

Offline Dacquiri

Re: Rat racer's weekend getaways
« Reply #98 on: September 29, 2020, 08:42:55 pm »
Thanks Xpat!! Those challenges are the stuff of memories. The Malutis are a magical place and make me wanderlust to follow your adventure there. Canít imagine how cold and uncomfortable it must have been out there.  Reminds me of some of Deneys Reitzís stories of the uncomfortable nights the boers stayed out in the open veld with their horses. If I recall correctly there is a famous Boer War battle site close by to OMD where I use to collect shrapnel with my dad years ago. Runner is a good friend!  Share your thoughts on Clarens- it sold its soul to the commercial devil years ago but at least you could grab a hot cuppa there after that ordeal.
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Offline sidetrack

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Re: Rat racer's weekend getaways
« Reply #99 on: September 29, 2020, 09:02:28 pm »
You are lucky returning to the scene of the crime on a 2nd bike  :biggrin: Keep it coming so I can get my adventure fix  :thumleft:
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