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Kembara Pengubat Rindu

 Kembara Pengubat Rindu Alhamdullilah, kami telah berjaya mengadakan satu pengembaraan setelah hampir 2 tahun kami tidak ride bersama-sama. Ride terakhir kami adalah Ride Himalaya pada tahun 2019. Route kami kali ini adalah: Kuala Terengganu - Sungai Petani - Hatyai - Yala - Pattani - Betong - Penang - Jeli - Kuala Terengganu Day 01: 14 May 2022 Kuala Terengganu - Sungai Petani (412 km) Kami memulakan perjalanan agak lewat sikit harini kerana aku terpaksa menunggu isteriku tiba di Kuala Terengganu dari Kuala Lumpur menaiki kapal terbang. Kapal terbang AirAsia mendarat pada pukul 10:50 pagi di lapangan terbang Kuala Terengganu. Selepas saja makan tengahari kami terus pulang rumah untuk bersiap-siap. Kami memulakan perjalanan pada pukul 12:40 tengahari. Kami melalui Banjaran Titiwangsa (Jeli - Gerik) yang mengambil masa 4 jam 30 minit untuk sampai ke Castella Cafe. Cuaca harini sungguh panas sepanjang perjalanan. Sampai di sini saja, isteriku terus terjun dalam air sungai sangat sejuk. T

Adventure Motorcycling Handbook

Engagingly written… all the guides from this stable are first class - Traveller
Adventure Motorcycling Handbook

Adventure Motorcycling Handbook

Choosing a motorcycle

Bike choice and preparation

Riders have been around the world on everything from scooters to 2.3-litre cruisers, covering vast distances from a fortnight up to a lifetime. Any machine that starts, turns and stops will do the job, but ask yourself would you like to chug across the Bolivian altiplano flat out on a 125 while llamas trot past, struggle over the Grand Erg on a tourer weighing half a ton, or ride a bike they stopped making before you were born? Probably not.
The fact is it’s more common for the bike to choose you, in as much as you know what you want – all you have to do is find the time, money and motivation to go somewhere. One of the factors mentioned below is ‘image preference’ and as adventure motorcycling becomes mainstream, riders are less led by what’s conventional and are instead guided by what ‘starts, brakes and turns’.
What is an adventure motorcycle? According to manufacturers keen to capitalise on the trend, it’s a big trail bike and it’s no secret that everyone’s after a bit of BMW’s flat-twin GS action, the bike most associate with ‘adventure motorcycling’. But in a decade of dominance the GS has developed a refinement few can catch, so all competitors can manage is to try and outpower or out-gadget them. In 2012 Triumph released a 260kg, 140mph Explorer and Honda came out with the even heftier Crosstourer 1200, based on the old VFR1200F but with high bars and the all-important beak. At the same time Honda introduced the progressive NC700X; something you’ll either ‘get’ or not.
Doubtless these are brilliant tourers but the chances of seeing a Crosstourer passing an Explorer on the trans-Sib’ are slim because what sells in the name of adventure to affluent middle-aged road riders and what’s actually used out in the AMZ are, in most cases, different things.
Most riders accept that part of a real adventure will mean dealing with inadequate infrastructure which will include riding on broken highways, unsealed roads and gravel tracks. By the nature of their layout, weight and not least, tyres, some bikes handle such roads better than others. In fact tyres have a lot to do with it (see p74), but the upright seating, wide bars, sump protection and long travel suspension of your GS, Suzuki DL or Honda XL-V will all work well on dirt roads at an appropriate speed, while on normal roads and fast highways you’ll have a smooth, comfortable and fast machine. For those who like a lighter and potentially more agile motorcycle for off-highway riding, the big singles currently made by Yamaha, BMW, KTM and the air-cooled dinosaurs like the Honda XR650L, Kawasaki KLR650 and Suzuki DR650SE will fit the bill for most adventure riders, even if they’re probably approaching their last days – in carb form, at least.
Which bike: factors to consider
The bikes listed above are the obvious choices. Here, in no particular order, are some factors to consider. They’re then discussed in more detail on the following pages: • What’s available in your area at your budget • Your itinerary • Your marque and image preferences • Weight • Comfort • Mechanical simplicity • Build quality and reputation for reliability • Fuel economy • Parts availability and service know-how en route And here’s another thing to consider: the bike you eventually choose is going to be loaded with up to 40kg (88lbs) of gear, more if you’re riding two-up. This weight will reduce the machine’s agility and braking performance as well as accelerate wear on all components, especially tyres and drive chains. So whatever bike you settle on, consider the worst-case scenario: riding it fully-loaded on a muddy track in a downpour, falling over and then trying to pick it up.
If you’re not concerned about making an outlandish statement on two wheels and just want a machine to ride, then settle for a single or twin cylinder machine of around 600cc. A 40hp engine of this capacity produces enough power to carry you and your gear through the worst conditions while not over-stressing the motor. It ought to also give reasonable performance and fuel economy of at least 50mpg (17.6kpl, 5.7l/100km or 41.5 miles per US gallon). Multi-cylinder engines may be smoother but are unnecessary and, in case you hadn’t yet guessed, four strokes are far superior to two strokes on a long trip, despite the latter engine’s power-to-weight advantage.
Budget and availability
How much should you spend on an overlanding bike? Or perhaps it’s better to ask: why do riders spend so much? Around £2000 (or about the same in dollars in the US) for a mid-weight or bigger machine is a good figure to start with. Double that could get you a suitable motorcycle that’s just a year or two old. Don’t forget you’re likely to spend at least another £1000/$1600 or so equipping the machine.
Once you decide, don’t make life too hard on yourself by coveting a machine that’s not available in your market and is too expensive to import. As a rule the range of bikes in North America is a little different – and for some marques much reduced – to those found in Europe, South Africa and Australasia, and the latter two will also sell a bigger range of farm bikes too (see p43). It was not till 2011 that the US finally got their hands on the Yamaha Super Ténéré when in fact what many riders had wanted was the 660Z single. America also missed out on nearly all previous Ténérés and the Transalp and Africa Twin. But they do still have the old KLR650s, long gone in Europe, as well as the ancient XR650L which for what it cost at the time, we didn’t regret importing into the UK from Australia one time for Desert Riders.
Your itinerary
Some continents are easier to cross or explore than others, while some riders actively seek out gravel back roads as part of their overland adventure. While ‘adventure motorcycles’ claim to offer some off-tarmac utility much as an SUV car does, you can actually see enough of this planet from a sedan or station wagon equivalent of a bike. All you have to do is appreciate its limits when it comes to dirt-road diversions. You could potentially ride all the way from London to Kathmandu or Cape Town, or down the length of the Americas on tarmac, and in doing so not feel you’ve missed out or had it easy.
Image preferences
For many, especially first timers, the motorcycle they choose is central to the whole endeavour. It may not be cool to admit it but our vanity and perceived self image has a lot more to do with what we ride than whether the valves are shim- or tappet-adjusted. A rugged-looking KTM, an alloy-clad GS or a matt-black Bonneville – all send out signals about how you’d like to be seen by others, even if to a Nepali peasant the V-Strom was the obvious choice.
You want to feel inspired by your adventure and what you choose to ride for the months ahead is a big part of that so you’ll feel good about yourself. Some choose to make an ostentatious statement, be it goofy or over the top (possibly to assist with self promotion), while others, many experienced travellers among them, recognise that it’s not about the bike anymore, and adopt a lower profile astride an ordinary machine.
Whatever you decide on, remember it’s your adventure and you’ll probably only do it once. You may never need to use your trail bike’s off-road ability, but until you found that out for yourself it was nice to know it was there. Tick off all the other sensible factors listed here, but don’t forget the value of a machine that, even after weeks on the road, still gives you a thrill to look at as you crawl out of your tent each morning.
Few adventure riders come back grumbling that their bike was too light, but the other extreme is a common complaint. When everything is going steadily, what can be 400kg (880lbs) of solo rider and loaded bike will have no issues. But add in some potholes, crazy traffic, muddy diversions, sinking sidestands, steps leading to safe overnight parking or airfreight priced by the kilogram – all part of the overland motorcycling scenario – and your big rig can become a handful. Is it even possible for a normal person to pick up a fuelled and loaded Triumph Explorer which clocks in at around 260kg (575lbs) and yet claims off-tarmac aspirations?
In a European or North American touring setting, such heavy bikes are in their element cruising pristine highways, but no matter how much you hope to keep it that way, one day somewhere out in the world you’ll be steaming from your ears trying to control or right your sled. I first crossed the Sahara with a guy on a BMW R80. I made it; his bike ended up a burned out wreck halfway across. Even at less than walking pace, soft sand and especially mud are misery to ride on a heavy bike, as effectively bald tyres slither around to dump you again and again. Lighter bikes of 600cc or less will be more manageable, but anything over a litre can become near unrideable in tough off-road conditions.
The worst thing is that you’ll get scared off taking even some mild off-highway detour because you’ve lost confidence in piloting your tank. Without confidence it’s hard to summon up the assertiveness needed to blast through an obstacle like a sandy creek bed. And so, like the R80 guy, you keep falling over until you’re not able to get up again. It’s not all just the bike’s weight but gear too, and here again it’s common to take too much stuff. More about that later.
You’ll be riding your bike all day for weeks and months at a time. Loaded like a pit mule, the finer points of handling and throttle response promised in the brochure – things which magazine reviewers get so worked up about – will be lost. What you want is to get off the bike at the end of the day without feeling like you’ve had a bad day on the Dakar. This is where the big touring bikes pilloried just a paragraph ago have an advantage. Even loaded, they’re supremely comfortable and stable over miles of highway, running fat tyres on small wheels and big torquey engines.
Comfort doesn’t just mean the thickness of the saddle (more on p67). It adds up to quiet, vibration-free engines with smooth power delivery, supple suspension, powerful brakes and aerodynamic protection from the wind (p69). All this enables you to relax, deferring the inevitable fatigue. And when you’re not tired, cramped, aching and deafened, you cope so much better with the 101 daily challenges long-distance riding throws up. Comfort also means the clothes you’re wearing, and your state of mind: these latter two subjects are covered on p107 and p113. And comfort also means the space and power to travel with a pillion passenger for an extended period, if that’s your plan.
If you expect to be using electrically heated clothing (more on p110) you need to consider your bike’s electrical output as it’s not something that can be easily uprated. Big touring bikes are typically well endowed with high wattage alternators which produce ample current to recharge the battery. As it is systems like ABS, suspension levelling and EFI all require more electrical power than older or smaller bikes which will be less able to cope. Running heated clothing at night at low engine speeds is not an unusual scenario in icy conditions, but one where the battery could discharge quicker than the alternator can replenish it. If you can forsee such a situation on your trip, ascertain that the bike you choose has the wattage you need.
Mechanical simplicity
This is particularly something which old school riders may agonise over. The bikes of their youth which they learned to maintain or fix by the roadside are no longer made. Home maintenance is now discouraged or impossible without special equipment – instead an official dealer has become a vital link in maintaining your machine’s composure. That’s all very well if you’re living a conventional, ordered life as a commuter or a weekend rider; it’s not so handy once you head out into the Adventure Motorcycling Zone where your bike’s as exotic as a space ship.
For regular touring that’s safely covered by recovery insurance, any flash bike will do and doubtless be great fun to ride – not least because you can be sure if anything goes wrong you’re covered. But one definition of adventure motorcycling could be touring beyond the range of freephone vehicle recovery. You can always get recovered of course, but it’ll require organising locally. So, the further you wander and the more challenging your route, the simpler your bike should be so that you, or local mechanics (to whom diagnostics is something to do with Ron Hubbard) are more easily able to fix it. It has to be said though that modern bikes are extremely reliable and the ones that aren’t are well known. Very often that can be a new model with several ‘teething problems’; a curse which can burden a bike’s reputation for years.
Take water-cooling; it may not be essential but is now the norm on modern, big-engined bikes not because it’s better, but because a water-cooled barrel expands and contracts less and so can be built with finer tolerances to enable higher performance. Water-cooling also greatly reduces engine noise which, along with cleaner emissions, is an important requirement. And there’s no doubt that because the heat dissipation is more even, water-cooled engines last longer than air-cooled. But you have the additional risks of radiators and fans that get damaged or clog up with mud, fuel pumps that pack up, hoses that split or leak. Even though mechanical simplicity is desirable and water-cooling is another thing to go wrong, it’s not a valid reason to avoid a water-cooled machine; just choose one where the radiator and water pump aren’t too vulnerable to road crashes or can be securely protected.
Despite the impression, a machine with a water-cooled engine will not run cooler in extreme heat and it can certainly overheat if you’re progressing slowly and revving high and the radiator fan can’t cope (in soft desert sand for example). You’d think a water temperature gauge will warn you, but be aware that some competition-oriented bikes like KTM 450s don’t have this. If you choose a water cooled bike make sure it has a water-temperature gauge or fit one yourself – see p59.
These days air-cooled engines are really only still used on some single-cylinder bikes – most modern multis have liquid-cooling of some sort, but as long as it’s in good condition and well maintained, an air-cooled engine is no worse than a water-cooled equivalent and you have no radiator, fan, hose or water-pump worries. Choose a bike with a relatively lowly-tuned (low compression) engine, it’ll make less heat and so be less prone to overheating in tough conditions or on bad fuel. One of the best ways of maintaining an air-cooled engine while on the road is by making regular changes with quality oil and making sure the air filter is clean.
We all managed without ABS for years too, but as long as you’ve the ability to disable it if you wish (more common on trail or dual sport bikes where poor traction can make it come on too early), most riders will learn to appreciate if not depend on it when engaged in the unpredictable traffic conditions on a long ride. Other electronically controlled wonders also include traction control on higher spec machines – something that could be useful to novice riders on the dirt. On the highways of India or Peru you’re unlikely to be riding at the limit, but being able to detune your over-powerful adventure bike to ‘rain’ mode as you climb a slippery series of hairpins has a lot going for it.
Transmission and electric starts
Final transmission is either by shaft or chain, or in a few cases by rubber belt. Shaft drive is heaviest, more expensive, absorbs a little power and can make for a clunky gear change, but these drawbacks are balanced by much less frequent maintenance – a chain and sprockets can require replacement in 10,000 miles. A lot will depend on how you ride; if you’re an aggressive rider shaft may not be for you and at any time off road a rock can kick up and smash through the final drive housing. Shaft drive benefits from a smooth riding style which bigger, heavier and less sporty bikes that feature it encourage anyway.
Chains and sprockets are said to be very efficient when correctly tensioned and oiled and are a light and inexpensive means of transmitting power from an engine to a back wheel. Although they’re exposed to the elements, modern ‘o’-, ‘x’- or lately x-y-z-ring chains can now last for thousands of miles with just a bit of cleaning. So when it comes to transmission, settle for shaft drive on a heavier machine or use a chain-driven bike with top quality chain and sprockets. There’s more on chains on p61.
And if you happen to be deliberating over a kickstart or electric start only model: go for the button. Some 125s may still have kick-starters but one hot day, when your bowels are in freefall and you stall on a hill in Lima with traffic blaring, you’ll bless that button in getting the engine running again. Having a kickstart as well is a handy back-up, but rare these days. If the starter motor fails any bike can be push- or jump-started (see Troubleshooting on p170), though doing that on a muddy trench in the Amazon with a full load of gear is not so easy.
Switchable electronic ignition
On a bike controlled with an ECU and in most cases fuel injection, switchable ignition mapping – either literally a switch on the bike or done by replacing an electronic component or reprogramming the ECU chip from a computer – can be a very useful feature. Most bikes are reviewed on their performance figures, not how they ride, yet these are not key attributes for non-competitive adventure motorcycle touring. And even domestic riders will have days when they just want to ride normally. In the AM Zone as mapped on p11 where few local bikes exceed 125cc, chances are you’ll be top dog in terms of raw motorcycle performance and ought to have nothing to prove.
Originally, in the late 1990s, something like the KTM Adventure simply had plugs you switched around to retard the timing on electronic ignition and so enable the engine to cope with low octane fuel. Low octane fuel, as found out in the sticks, can cause harmful detonation (also known as ‘pinking’) especially on lean-running or high-compression engines. Go back another thirty years and you could alter your ignition timing with a screwdriver, but then you needed to as it was always going off. Now, as you’d expect, ECUs have become exponentially smarter and the ignition ‘map’ can be switched between ‘sport’ or ‘touring/rain’ or ’birthday’ modes (there’s more on p57). The good thing is that bikes are getting cleverer and at the very least, a simple lower power/better fuel consumption mode (pictured above) suits the knee-sliding weekend warrior back home, or you on the long road to Mongolia. Benefitting from the gentler setting something like the 109hp XT1200Z will be more than adequate, use less fuel and reduce tyre wear.
Carbs or EFI
Electronic fuel injection (EFI) has become the norm on bigger motorcycles because it offers smoother and more consistent fuelling and superior economy even at high levels of tune, as well as cleaner emissions. Don’t think fuel injection is new fangled – automotive diesel engines have been fuel injected for decades, only now it’s electronic, like most petrol engines. EFI is also maintenance-free, something that carb-balancing BMW Boxer owners will be pleased to hear. A fuel injector does what a crude carb tries to do: fire a fine jet of fuel on time and at high pressure so it atomises instantly and so mixes with the air and burns more completely in the combustion chamber. A fuel injector’s nozzle is much finer than any carb jet and so you’d think would be prone to blocking, especially with the dirty fuel you’ll find on the road. In fact this is a rare occurrence with bike engines because filtration systems are up to the job, and when they’re getting blocked a warning light will probably come on.
Injectors seem to be trouble free; it’s the EFI management system that’s more prone to problems. Early examples of some BMW and Yamaha singles (and doubtless other bikes too) were notorious for lumpy or inconsistent fuel delivery at lower speeds, but this got dialled out on subsequent models and it’s no more unusual than other teething problems exposed by online opinions. The engine’s electronic management computer (ECU or EMU) is constantly measuring various parameters in the engine (air and engine temperatures, throttle position, road speed and so on) to deliver an optimum fuel charge to the combustion chamber and this alone puts it miles ahead of any carburettor – once well described as ‘a brick with holes in it’. Think of all the YIPS, YOPS and YAKS induction tricks they’ve tried over years to smooth out carburation, especially on lumpy singles – well EFI fixes them in one go. Ride an old carb’d BMW Funduro alongside a 650GS and you’ll feel the difference.
Another advantage of EFI is that it’s much less affected by altitude (see p174) – the system compensates for the lack of oxygen by feeding less fuel; soon you’ll be running up and down between Chile and Bolivia just for fun. There’s nothing wrong with carbs and of course they can be taken apart and cleaned, unlike an injector, and like water-cooling, EFI on motorbikes may appear an unnecessary complication, but it’s a real step forward and has brought a new lease of life to a lot of ropey old engine designs.
Catalytic converters
Many EFI bikes now also feature catalytic converters (or ‘cats’) built into their silencers to clean up emissions. Normally these must be fed unleaded fuel which isn’t always available in the sticks. This is despite the confident claims of the maps featured on the UN Environment Programme website (: which, since 2006, has claimed that leaded petrol is no longer available in Africa because the entire continent magically got together and agreed to ban it.
It’s not quite so rosy but you can run a cat on leaded fuel for ‘a few months’ before the lead neutralises the fine matrix inside coated in precious metals. When this happens it won’t alter your bike’s performance, but it will affect its ability to reduce emissions which may see you fail your next roadworthy test. Over-sensitive electronic sensors may have their own ideas though and could flip out on leaded fuel; removing Lambda sensors can help.
On any bikes fitted with a cat, you can replace the stock silencer/cat with a regular aftermarket pipe. The bike’s electronic emission sensor ought to adjust the fuel injection accordingly, meaning the machine should run fine.
Build quality and reliability
Anyone who’s been riding for decades will recognise that the build quality of many modern motorcycles (and much else besides) has gone down while at the same time they’re more reliable and perform better than ever. ‘Built-in obsolescence’ used to be the cynical explanation to why new things wear out early, but it’s as much to do with what were once excessive manufacturing costs being trimmed, while more attention is paid to designing a superficially good-looking machine with as many electronic gizmos as the ECU can manage. Such a product is easy to sell and wins positive reviews, even if once you look below the surface you find cheap components and a rough finish.
It’s a situation that’s going to get worse until the current global financial crisis is worked through; just about all brands now have models which suffer from premature wear of cheap components. So while your modern bike is unlikely to be handed down to your descendants, as long as it runs it will do so as reliably as any machine ever made, particularly once you’ve replaced possibly cheap original equipment (OE) such as chains and suspension.
Nowadays more than ever it’s possible to get abreast of a particular model’s foibles with the mass of information to be found online. Owner-enthusiasts’ forums and wikis will minutely dissect the beta on their machines, suggesting which upgrades and accessories work best. Horizons Unlimited has forums for all the major brands focussing on the most used models for overlanding.
Fuel economy and parts availability
Even with the current range of fuel-injected engines, advances in fuel economy haven’t quite kept up with cars, partly because to most users in rich countries, motorcycles are used to blow away the cobwebs on a weekend rather than as a functional, day-to-day means of transport. Fuel injection does provide economy as well as power: the BMW F-GS parallel twins are as good an anything in their class. But plain old carb bikes can be nearly as fuel efficient at the cost of capacity and so power. Bikes like a Yamaha TTR250 will return up to 80mpg, a Suzuki GS500 will get over 60mpg at normal speeds. Neither bike will necessarily tear the skin off a well cooked rice pudding, but how often are you likely to need to do that? They can sit on 60 all day which is enough.
Parts availability is a quandary, but the best attitude to take is that out in the AMZ there won’t be any specialised parts to be found, especially in Africa north of the Zambezi. The richer countries of South America may be better off, with much of Asia falling somewhere in between. And what you do find out there in terms of tyres and chains will be of a lot lower quality than stuff back home, and often not of a size that fits big bikes.
Plan for the worst, leave with new consumables (tyres, chains, brakes), some key spares and maybe send some stuff on. Just recognise that your adventure includes unpredictable events which will require resourceful solutions. If something can’t be fixed or diagnosed locally despite all your efforts, then consider DHL and the like, having someone fly out what you need or even flying to a nearby country where the component can be bought. Remember, with DHL you can often get bogged down with customs clearance which can drag on for weeks. And depending on where you are, that wait may well exceed the cost of simply flying somewhere and getting the part.
‘Two wheels and an engine’
Over the page there’s a closer look at ten overland-suited bikes that tick most of the boxes most of the time for most people, or that are otherwise worth considering for the big trip. It’s followed by a pick and mix of other machines. Hopefully yours is in there somewhere but in the end anything that has the above two characteristics could be the star of your biking adventure. It’s possible to get fixated on the ten bikes and their alternatives, and think that anything else will be less good. That is not a good idea.
Only across Africa might the need for off-road utility be desirable, but even then such stages are becoming shorter by the year. Unless you’re purposely seeking off-road challenges (and so you should, it’s a big part of their adventure!) for trans-Asia or the Americas any road bike will be fine just about all the time. You’ll find that dual-purpose rather than full on motocross knobbly tyres will make your road bike more stable on dirt roads while still keeping it steerable on the highway – though it’s amazing what you can ride with knobblies. In fact the main adventure bikes – not least the big GS BMWs – are becoming so obvious that more and more riders are going out of their way to be different and you hear of big trips taken on step-thrus and other scooters which, like regular bikes, have come on in recent years. If you’re new to this game sticking to the well-known or popular machines initially makes things a lot easier. You know you have a proven set-up, plus know-how and equipment will be easier to come by. If you like to be different or have experience and know that the following selection is rather conservative and self-perpetuating, then the only limit is your imagination, your budget and Newton’s Three Laws of Motion.
Still agonising? Then think about buying a bike abroad; it may help narrow down your choices. For example at current prices (early 2012) you can buy a Suzuki V-Strom 650 in the US for 12% less than in Australia. Still in the US, less fashionable bikes like KLR650s or XR650Ls are incredible bargains by European standards and with plenty of kit and know-how available there too. In Brazil you can pick up a snazzy Honda XRE 300 (with a full beak), or a similar Yamaha 250 Ténéré for under R$13,000 (though check you can leave the country with it first).
If you’re European and wanting to ride the Americas or start your RTW there, it makes sense to buy there, saving a whole lot on shipping costs. Check out the HU bike sales and swap forumtoo. Many riders are looking to sell their bike or buy yours in South America, or are willing to swap anywhere.


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