Category Archives: Flinders Ranges and Australian outback

Day 1 Melbourne to Horsham

First day of the trip
Finally packed all the gear: cloth,food, tent,sleeping mat, sleeping bag and other camping gear.
I was a sunny warm day with temperature floating just below +20C.
Finally we took off i think it was around 5-6pm .
After we left home just couple of blocks down the road I have noticed one of my mirrors was getting lose, I would straighten it and with a bit of wind and acceleration it would fold back so we needed to stop and make a quick fix. We probably spent good 10 minutes searching for the right size allen key, I was almost ready to go back home to get it when Greg finally found it. Removing the spring washer and re-tightening it again seemed to have worked.
Next stop was in South Melbourne servo on Kings Way to get some gas,as Greg was turning into it, his front washed out, he barely saved it by putting a foot down. He had a new Pirelli Scorpion Rally knobby tyre installed on the front for the trip and haven’t scrubbed it in yet.
Next fill up was in Ballarat, temperature dropped significantly ,we were freezing , the hands and the whole body was freezing.
I went around the back of the servo and put the the thermals on. The servo assistant started cracking up some jokes about Horsham as soon as he found out we are heading that way.
Next hour and half was reasonably boring ride in the dark to Horsham.
We got there probably around 9-10pm. We stopped overnight at my brother in-law’s home. Had some food , drink and went to sleep. That was the end of the first day with total distance covered only around 316kms (technically i think we only rode for an hour in daylight).


Luggage pannier rack

Worked for 2 weekends on these pannier racks with my dad. Its taken about 10 hours of welding and grinding in total  and 4 hours of priming and painting.

On first attempt we used the tube bender from Bunnings. We spent couple of hours bending the pipes to match the Ventura rack but the handles of the tool were bending before the pipes would. So i have returned it to Bunnings after an hour of use, with both handles fallen off, bolts and nuts come of too. That pipe bender is only capable of bending garden hoses i think.While it would be nice to have a pipe bender at home hydraulic or similar, we still had to go and make rack just by bending all the pipes around the knees.

On the night before the long trip ,not perfectly shaped but close enough we got the rack ready. We tried to follow the shape of the Ventura rack, but It came out bit wider near the seat and the brackets that we welded on to go under the seat into the same spot where Ventura racks were appeared to have a lot more flex then original Ventura. so we decided to add another set of brackets as there was another set of holes  we could use on both ends of the pillion grab handles. 

That gave it a lot more stability and rack was flexing a lot less. we then added side pannier frames ,rectangular loops, it was now getting more solid. Tested with the heavy rear bag and tried to shake it. It could still flex a little bit, I didnt want to have a tired metal in those places where we bent the brackets so we welded little plates to the side of the brackets to stop them from flexing. Now its very solid.

I sanded it and used a round file at place where joints were.
It was already around 8-9pm when i started applying the first layers of prime coat and being in a hurry and having to leave around lunch time next day I had little time to spare so I was applying more layers of primer every 20-30 mins as soon as it touch dry.
Then started sparying with black paint and primer started to float above the paint in multiple places. I guess it wasnt set yet.
I have applied probably 2-3 layers of paint on top and started installing the rack around midnight.

even next day when we left to horsham when i taken the bag off the rack the paint still wasnt set properly in some places as touching the bottom of the bag was leaving stain marks.

After the trip a lot of the paint got stripped at the places where bags were rubbing it and playwood that supported the bags also was like abrasive to the paint.
now i might take it of again and do it properly this time spray and dry for few days before recoating and leave to set for few days idealy in the sun


Trying the rack on the bike




Fuel and Water containers

As we are going to the Australian Outback where the Gas station are as frequent as polar bears in Moscow
,some OZ people actually believe its still the case – bears walks the streets and everyone just drinks litres of vodka every day to prevent the blood from freezing.
While there might be just enough petrol in the tank to get from most of points A to most of the points B. Some Gas stations only operate during certain hours of the day and there is a chance that some might run out of fuel.
I was thinking of extending my range a little, I didn’t want to pull a fuel cistern behind me so I wanted something compact and within the budget.
There are few nice cans on the web like Rotopax, they are not too expensive but I don’t have hard panniers to attach them to.While a collapsible can like a bag from the wine cask would have been good for my setup I think they are around 100$ mark and still need to wait for them to be shipped interstate which I might not have enough time for now,
so I have found really cheap solution at SuperCheap Auto 15$ 5 Litre plastic fuel can looks good, its skinner and taller then standard cans, and fits well on the passenger footpeg with 1-2 straps.
I got 1 petrol and 1 water container. Water is as rare in the Outback as petrol too. I bought a 2 litre camel backpack for that as well,but I think it would be more comfortable to carry nothing on your back







Wiring electrical chargers etc

On the trip I need to charge few devices: CB Radio Uniden UH076 – cigarette lighter plug, GPS Garmin car type- USB/Cigarette lighter, IPhone – USB,
GoPro battery chargers -cigarette lighter x 2 ,plus I got a portable USB battery bank- charged via USB and Scala Rider Intercom – USB)
Total : 4 USBs and 3 cigarette lighter plugs at the most with most likely 2 USBs and 2 cigarette plugs at the same time.
1st plan was to create a circuit-board/distributor box with one incoming wire and multiple outgoing wires with bullet connectors. Then cut and convert all cigarette lighter plugs to bullet plugs.
including the cigarette to USB adapter.
Then I thought doing the same distributor box with multiple connectors but using Anderson connectors.
when I realised it would still take a while to wire all that,I decided to run a cable from battery to the handlebars and have an Anderson plug on the end. I bought 1 splitter box which has cigarette lighter plug on one end and
3 cigarette sockets and 2 USB sockets on the other end. so I will replace plug with Anderson connector and will connect to the main wire with the same anderson plug which dangles
near handlebars
all the devices when connected will be sitting in the tank bag, where it will keep it away from the dust and rain if any happens.
Main wire at the battery end I crimped using eyelets and added in-line fuse holder, Connecting eyelets to the bike battery was a !#%!$%$ nightmare.
the nut on the terminals which fell into the bike intestines few times is hard to keep in place, and bolt is too short to reach it even if nut sits on the battery.
so the nut needs to be in the air for the bolt to reach it especially after you add few extra eyelets to the terminals, I have now 3 extras( 1 for the LED lights,1 for the under-seat plug and now the front connection)
to make it work you need to jam something into the battery terminals first like a bit of cardboard or I used wire rubber insulator ,
then jam the pesky nut there, only then you will have some luck of getting them hooked together.
who ever dealt with that probably understands me now how frustrating it can get.
So if you gonna project manage the trip preparation process, this battery connection should be done as a task of its own, after accomplishing which you can have a beer!
Also next time I might try using a longer bolt.
It was quite fiddly to route the cable so I had to remove all the fairing and fuel tank to make this work easier, and that way I could place them into the same spots as other cables and tie them properly





Choosing boots

Last week of preparations before the trip to Flinders Ranger and the Australian Outback
This weekend I have been running around between bike shops, Bunnings,Masters, Jaycar and SuperCheap Auto.
One of the items on the shopping list was the adventure boots which would offer more protection then my city riding AlpineStar Touring boots but also wanted something reasonably comfortable.
after searching around ,a bit of research ,and trying few boots, Forma adventure boots looked like the best choice. They much comfier then standard off road boots , comfier then couple of other brands boots I have tried,
still offer good protection,
they are waterproof, they dont feel like ski boots ,you can still walk in them like normal hiking shoes and not bunny hop like Armstrong on the moon , the sole is similar to the hiking boots , so it wont slip in a mud, sand or wet grass,
as oppose to some AlpineStar boots i have seen which had flat sole, and with RRP price of 350$ they are 50% cheaper then Alpinestar or SIDIs which go for around 600-650 at PeterStevens.
I have spent few hours at A1 store deciding what size to get – 41 or 42. 42 was a bit lose with normal sock but fits ok with hiking sock and makes walking easier(still a bit of movement around the heel).
41 fits all-right with thin socks but big toe touch the front of the boot, and starts pushing against the wall during walking, but sitting on the bike is fine.
so been trying them on and off few times and decided to for the 41s after trying them with thicker sock, which sort of fixed the problem of toe touching the toecap
yes this boots have a bit of toecap,not sure if its metal,plastic or just hardened leather, my touring boots dont have it, and maybe the toecap is actually the cause of this discomfort
when I was choosing hiking boots I also found the Catterpillar boots uncomfortable in that area with them having the toecaps,
so opted out for the ECCOs at that time. I love ECCOs,I have 4 pairs of different kinds, the most comfortable shoes, can recommend anyday ,
and none of them had any issues over the years.I have had some for about 9 years , I wish they did motorcycle boots ,
as they would be the most comfortable motorcycle boots.
sidetracked a little here, so I got the 41s with the hope of them stretching and moulding to my feet a little
here is the picture of them , side by side with touring shoes:

Friend of mine has the same boots and used them on couple of trips to outback in NT and back
where he tested them in river crossings and a fall in a soft sand, where he said his bike fell on him , yeah not him falling off the bike .
sort of like jockey been thrown by the grumpy horse over the barrier, and then because his leg was stuck in between the bike or foot-peg
and the panniers he pulled his bike along during the flight, so when he landed on sand , his bike landed on top oh him ,
he was twisted like a pretzel but the boot kept the foot straight and protected from twisting and pulling the muscles or whatever that can be pulled
and my road boots they are quit soft, fit like a sock but also can rotate around a little like a sock too.
so here are some of the reasons I decided to go with Formas. Will probably also write a report on them ,how they performed on the trip