The appointment was planned for 10:15 this Sunday morning. The weather is smiling at us, the rain has stopped and at last the wind has abated !
So here we are fully kitted out, the shutter of the garage slowly opens to reveal our new toys .
I eagerly sit astride my new motorbike, with trepidation I turn the ignition key and … first disillusionment Ha ! no ignition , nothing . Damnation and blast ….I must have forgotten to switch off the ignition the day before yesterday when I adjusted handlebars. Hey ho – as excited as a child on Christmas day we revert to the old fashioned running jump start.
François is on hand and I explain to him in two words what appears to be the and we push the bike together under the half-amused, half-worried look of Françoise : pain lost, the motorcycle refuses to start …
“Are you sure that the ignition is fully switched” on asks Francois ? ….. “Well yes” I tell him a little pissed off.
And then …… with a sure gesture, François turns the key one step further to the right , miraculously the dashboard comes to life, the “Ready To Race light, as if to say “You are welcome”. Tthe engine begins to roars into life at a quarter of a turn. What an ass I tell myself! We plan crossing Africa and failed to start the bikes on the test run !
Anyway, here we are. We drive three hundred meters and could not change gear. I did not check the position of the selector impossible to slide the boot under it. Two small turns of the key will solve the problem. Another learning curve solved.
So here we are at last ignition and gears sorted on the forest track, confident and hop standing position, the state of the waterlogged paths with the bad weather quickly shake my confidence, the front wheel slips and slides in all directions. The bikes are equipped with mixed tyres and not all terrain studded tyres and on mud it is anything but easy.
We decided to opt for the off road mode without ABS by keeping the traction control ON. Off road to play it cool. It is a hell of a balancing act requiring total concentration – remembering not to lock up your arms when the front wheel drifts, tightening the abs, tightening the legs, pushing on the footrests. Maintaining confidence to take on inclines in these muddy conditions.
Even the snow will not have overcome our motivation
After the trial run , we both come to the same conclusion “Fully loaded and kitted out it will be hot in the mud in Malawi in the middle of the rainy season”.
Never mind, the trial was fun and lessons learned . Here we are back for aperitif time. Eager to get back out on the “road “ as soon as possible.
Obeservations on bikes handling and ride
- Raising the handlebars will be improve the comfort and handling characteristics in the standing position.
- We found that removing rubber pads from the footrests gave better control with the rubber pads in situ It made them way too slippery in wet and muddy conditions.
- The traction control gives formidable efficiency on the wet and muddy terrain where lack of grip is constant.
- In the original setting, the suspensions already show great potential. It will certainly be necessary to fine-tune the settings when the motorcycles are fully loaded.
- The high saddle chosen by François is ideal for riding comfort due to its large size.
- The narrowing of the saddle towards the front is appreciable when standing.