OUR CHOICE OF MOTORCYCLE PROTECTION

30, Apr, 2020

We continue our series of insight to the various parts and accessories we use on our motorcycle fleet. In this post we will provide some information on the most needed set of protective equipment – crash bars and skid plates.

As with most accessories and parts, we have tried and tested various models of different manufacturers in the past years, before recently settling for what we see as the best of the best on the market.

We equipped our fleet with the crash bars and skid plates of the Canadian company named Outback Motortek. While well known in North America, many might not have heard of them – yet.

They offer and extremely well thought and extensively tested option when it comes to motorcycle protection. Suffice to have a look at their website and their crash tests to see they are taking things seriously (you can find many examples at https://outbackmotortek.com/)

As usual, it is very important to highlight that we are not paid to advertise any of the brands we write about, nor did we receive any payment or sponsoring for the reviews or the use of products. Over the years, we have purchased and tested various brands and while some are better than others in terms of quality, they all have the same downside – especially when it comes to protecting the valve covers of the R1200GS/R1250GS.

We have had products from BMW, Touratech (the two most pricy ones), Givi and SW Motech. We have used the latter for a long period, as the price/quality ratio is the best on the market, but even their set-up leaves the covers vulnerable in case of a sideways fall.

When sliding on flat tarmac, BMW, TT and SW Motech products all perform well. They will grind down to different level, but will show little sign of distortion and will protect the valve covers, screws and gaskets. Givi is a the weakest of all as experience shows. Their thin wall is prone to distortion and the holding screws are weak. On occasion, they will break in the engine block, especially on the bigger bikes, like the R1200GS.

The weakness shows when heading off-road. On our tours, we face various terrain types, from rocky riverbeds, gravel tracks, sand, you name it. Most of the riders joining our tours are experienced, so luckily we do not have big offs and very few accidents. Actually, most falls occur at slow speed or at standstill. On rocky terrain or in gravel, the bike leans over and ends up on the hand guard and crash bar. When the terrain is flat, that is seldom an issue, but as we know, the terrain is rarely flat off-road, so rocks and stones scratch and dent – sometimes even punch – the valve cover. As a side result, the gasket will be compressed or some of the holding screws will bend and start to leak oil. The result is a hit on our customer’s wallet as these parts need changing.

That is where Outback Motortek and their protection excel. On the R1200GS/R1250GS, the crash bars provide stunning protection at both high speed and standstill falls. Their welded plated on the side of the bars ensure that rocks or other items do not touch the valve covers, thus saving money but also time spent on repairs. The construction also ensures that the bike is well protected. Although they do their own crash tests, we also can ascertain from experience, that their equipment holds the ground.

Another good thing is that you can change a single element in case you don’t like the look of a scratched crash bar (which we always do). At BMW, you can also purchase each side separately but the cost is very different. TT and Motech will sell you the whole protection set (at least in Morocco) and you will end up paying more for a simple replacement.

Some say the downside of the Outback Motortek product is that you have to dismount the bars and the skid plate for servicing. Well, yes and no. If you just want to change a spark plug, no need to take them off as you can get access while they are on (we’ve done it). You’ll need to take the skid plate off to change the oil as they do not have a drain hole, but then again, we always take off the skid plates when servicing the bikes. Gives you the opportunity for a better inspection, thorough cleaning and will avoid getting the inside of your skid plate full of oil (yeah, don’t tell me you can drain the oil cleanly on any bike), which will then attract dirt, dust and sand.
For valve clearance check or other major servicing, you need to take off the bars for sure, but you’ll definitely need to take off all of them, so no real change here.

Again, the above is based on our experience and based on our usage of the bikes. If you only ride tarmac, get the bars of your choice. If you take your bike off-road, especially the big boxer, then we highly recommend OM products. They rock!

For those who never fall, well… wait and see ?

R1250GS with OM protection

One of our R1250GS bikes with the Outback Motortek protection

Motorcycles from our fleet

Two bikes from our fleet, equipped with Outback Motortek protection

R1250GS in Morocco

R1250GS from our fleet equipped with Outback Motortek protection

OUR CHOICE OF TIRES

21, Apr, 2020

As we organise tours in Morocco 10 months out of 12, our fleet and guides cover a rather impressive mileage each year. We ride all kind of terrain, from perfect twisty tarmac roads, through potholed small roads, rocky riverbeds fast gravel tracks to deep sand. We therefore use dual sport tires as those offer the versatility needed in Morocco.
Over the years we have tested many brands when it comes to tires (without the full list, we ran Michelin, Metzeler, Continental, Heidenau, Alnas, Pirelli, Motoz and many more) and we could provide a great deal of input on each one of those.
Some are great rubbers. The TKC 80s for instance are as good as it gets, but with the grippy, abrasive tarmac, dry, rocky off-road sections, they last a mere 3000km on the rear of a 12GS. Metzelers and Michelins are good tires as well but again, the durability is the weak point.
Some are less efficient or less suitable for our use, like the Anlas as they are too stiff and offer less grip than others on tarmac. The Heidies for example are a great compromise on most of the bikes and offer good grip (save for wet tarmac) and duration but put them on the front of a heavy 1200GS/1250GS and you get a deafening noise between 70km/h and 110km/h on tarmac. Just the range of speed we usually ride.

We usually go through a set of rubber every second month on our fleet bikes. As consumed several sets of tires in the first years, we got hold of the @Mitas E-07s (and the Dakar version) and the more we put them to the test, the more impressed we were. No wonder why many opt to use them on RTW travel. Durability is impressive, especially the Dakar version. We ride hard, most of the times, whether on tarmac or off-road and the Mitas lets you lean in until you think you’ve fallen over, still gripping on the rough tarmac. The compound is excellent. Over the last 2 years, we had one flat tire, despite crossing the desert about 7 times on those tires.

They were not yet available at that time for the big GS so we had to wait and use other brands or the equally great but less durable E-10s. When Mitas Moto finally came with the E-07+, we immediately tested them. They are as good as it gets and offer great durability as well as excellent grip. Both on and off-road. The E-07+ Dakar is even better.

Part of those who join our tours are sometimes scared to tackle the twisty tarmac sections on dual sport tires but Morocco offers great quality tarmac and the tires offer impressive grip. On a usual tour, by day 2 or 3, many riders swear to change once they are back home.

The Mitas tires are best suited for our use and have very little noise effect. That said, there are of course better specific tires for those only riding tarmac or those who primarily ride off the beaten path. On smoother tarmac like Europe, these tires might offer less grip than on the abrasive surface of Morocco’s roads, but we are satisfied with their performance and keep them when we venture to Europe.

The only drawback we experienced, is that the front tires

Although every rider has a different style and uses the throttle differently, on average, we get the following mileage out of the E-07 Dakars (based on average of 40-50000km/year on each bike for the last two years, with different riders):
F800GS – front: 20000km, rear 15000km
F850GS – front: 18000km, rear: 13000km
R1200GS/R1250GS – front: 16000km, rear: 9000km

We usually ride 2,2 and 2,5 bars on front and rear, respectively when on tarmac and 1,8 and 1,5 off-road. For pure sand riding,

Some would still run the tires we change as they would still have enough profile for shorter rides, but for safety and also comfort, we provide our clients with good quality rubber and we rather change a tire before the tour, then having to fiddle with tire change during a trip.

The above is just an opinion. We are not paid by Mitas or other manufacturers. We are however interested to know your experience or your preference when it comes to tires.
Those of you who have ridden with us can confirm or deny the above ?

F850GS with Mitas tires

Mitas

Wisdom Crew – (2) Helmet

18, Sep, 2018

We all know that riding a motorcycle is a big thrill and great fun, yet a dangerous activity. In order to minimise exposure to injury we always ride with all the gear, all the time and so should you – especially if you join one of our guided tours. When it comes to motorcycle safety gear, a helmet is definitely on top of the list. You should choose a high-quality helmet to offer maximum comfort and protection and that will often come with a price tag, which might be daunting. Considering a helmet will potentially save your life, it is a price worth paying.

BMW helmet 2

Our guides use different helmets with two things in common. One being the high premium quality of protection and comfort and the other being the style. We spend long days on the bike and ride throughout the whole year so we opt for dual-sport style helmets that all boost a shield – a very useful feature in a sunny environment like Morocco.

Arai 1

There are multiple great and reliable helmet manufacturers out there and you are surely able to find the best fit for yourself – both in terms of protection and comfort. Have a look around and choose a helmet that fits with your riding habits and style, be it modular, full face helmet or a dual-sport helmet. Check the weight, safety features and standards it provides. One thing for sure: always wear your helmet 🙂

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