Since Glyn had promised to write again about adventure biking, he called on Heine Engelbrecht of ADA. He wanted to establish whether bikers “accessorised” their machines in the same way that 4×4 owners enhance their vehicles’ performance, reduce risk and increase comfort.
How should one go about deciding on accessories for a motorcycle? Heine Engelbrecht of ADA took me through a generic list of basic accessories and modifications, and advised that one should avoid cosmetic additions as they simply added weight. On a long trip, one would then need to carry additional fuel and water.
“Keep it low and balanced,” says Heine. ”In that way you will keep the weight close to the centre of gravity and not unbalance the bike.
“If you find it necessary to carry extra fuel, a good option is to fit a larger tank if your manufacturer has one. Alternatively, they are available from specialist shops.”
Off-road enthusiasts tend to spend a lot of time on their bikes, so a comfortable seat is essential. One possibility is to fit an aftermarket seat designed for long trips. It’s certainly more gentle on your rear end!
Then look at your suspension. You may need to change the set-up if you are going to carry a load and want to improve the bike’s response and prevent it from bottoming out.
Changing your foot pegs to a wider type is the next step. This is especially useful when you are likely to stand up for extended periods, or are riding technical sections where you need the benefit of added stability.
Ensure that you don’t get lost in remote places by fitting a GPS. Various brands are available that you can use with gloves on. The unit should be waterproof and well mounted. The RAM mount works best in most situations.
You can also add a windscreen spoiler, which will reduce airflow and noise.
Some bikes do not come standard with crash protection, and as you are likely to fall at some stage, it’s worth looking into something that will protect handlebars and controls as well as the engine casing.
“Protect your headlights with a polycarbonate cover and fit some additional lights,” says Heine. “You never know when you will need them. Extra lighting also makes you more visible to other road users.”
If your bike does not have a sump guard and you are likely to traverse heavy terrain, you should fit one. And as you will definitely hit sandy sections, its worth adding a larger base plate to your kickstand.
Tyres are important. You can run on a dual purpose tyre should you be doing long stretches of tar and also hard gravel. However, if you are likely to do most of the trip on rough terrain, a more “knobbly” type of tyre would be best, although the dual purpose tyre can cope with most conditions.
Lastly, there’s the issue of luggage. You have a choice of taking hard luggage and soft luggage, but remember that soft luggage offers little by way of security.
Aluminium panniers seem to be the luggage of choice nowadays. But you will need a mounting rack for your panniers. Ensure that it is of such a design that it will take the load as well as facilitate the easy removal of the panniers when required. The panniers must be strong enough to handle the weight of the bike should it fall over, and they must be waterproof and dustproof.
“Try fitting panniers with handles as they are easy to carry,” says Heine. “Avoid fitting ultra wide panniers. Bikers tend to overload them, and this affects balance and manoeuvrability.
“And don’t forget about the implications of the accessories for your insurance. You need to advise your insurance broker about them, as the premium will have to be adjusted to cover the additional value they represent. Ensure that your policy covers off-road travel and the replacement of accessories should they be stolen or damaged.
“If you are going across the border, check that your cover extends to other countries and that it includes medical cover and repatriation of yourself and your bike in the event of an accident or illness. The Dirtsure policy is one most suited to this type of biking.”
* For information on training, contact Heine at 083-226-1494 or log on to www.adasa.co.za. For more information on Cross Country’s Dirtsure insurance policy, visit www.ccic.co.za.