Saturday, February 6, 2010

The WRONG way round... adventuring with Doug.

As I was saying a few posts ago… you should never think of your rigid framed bike as a non-usable, or unpractical motorcycle. You should ALWAYS think of it as a Valid Mode of Transportation and should never hesitate to use it.

I also stated that you should not worry about having an “adventure” bike with which to have your adventures.
You don’t have to do it “The Right way” to have fun, or travel or commute, or have and adventure on your bike… you simply need to get out there and do it.
Case in point:
This is Doug… or RTWDoug as he is known on the ADVrider forums.
Doug is from Alabama and has been around the world twice and has taken many other trips overseas on many bikes. He LOVES all kinds of motorcycles and is not a Harley guy, chopper guy, or any brand specific guy.
He owns tons of bikes, and loves them all.
He did his previous round the world ride on a 48 Indian Chief.

In 2009 he did it again on a raked out, jockey shift, kick only Panhead in a rigid frame with no front fender… because he thought it would be “fun”… what an interesting concept!

It took him 6 months and was about 26,000 miles.
You have no doubt seen some of his articles in THBC magazine about this same trip, but if you would like to see more pics and read more of his story, then hit this thread and check it out.
It’s probably some of the best reading out there.
And check out his website!

Some things to note… for starters he rode some NASTY roads in Russia. VERY nasty… and the bike survived, and he made it. He also rode through Mongolia, Japan, Korea, Romania, the US, ect…
He didn’t break down a lot, but have some things shake loose, or move out of adjustment.
I'm not saying that it wasn't tough, or hard, or that this guy isn't cooler than Chuck Norris... (casue he is!) ... I'm once again saying that this is sort of adventuring on a rigid is possible acheivable, and desireable.
NO... it's not always easy... That's why it's called Adventure.
If it was easy it would be called "A nice Sunday ride".

He did question his judgement several times and thought maybe he shouldn't have used the chopper... but we all do that from time to time... and then we are glad we did later. Remember... being cushy, comfotable and safe isn't ALWAYS the best option.

"yeah... I rode 500 miles to get here, in the rain... on a brand new Goldwing. Yeah... it was pretty awesome."

Not that intersting is it?

He also did not have the “right” gear… (Helmet, jacket, gloves, boots, the newest and pimpest aluminum panniers, a BMW GS or KTM Adventure, blue tooth links, cameras, spare parts, tires, PIAA lights, skidplates, crashbars, satellite phones, hydraulic suspension, suspension travel, ultralight backpacking camp stove, firestarting devices, armored laptops, ect, ect.)
The dude did it, had a blast, met tons of cool people, didn’t die, get arrested, crash, or regret it…HAD FUN... and he did it all the “wrong” way.
Maybe we should all just leave home on our choppers, and have an adventure…

I have posted some random quotes from his ride report on ADV rider that I think are rather pertinent…
What’s that? They are out of context you say?
No, they aren’t … I just told you the context… if you want more, you have to read the whole report yourself!

If people can go around the world on a ridid... why can't you ride yours to work every day?
Or to the next town for a cup of coffee?
Or to the next state for a vacation?

…There were many fully outfitted adventure bikes there, sadly, very few will ever see much 'adventure' Some looked like they had been dragged thru the latest Touratech catalog.

I open up the kicker cover, & poke around a bit, & find out the nut that holds the mainshaft bearing in place had come loose. WHEW! not a big deal.
except I dont have the tools needed to tighten it!
I had a chisel tho, & borrowed a hammer, & got it all back to harley torque specs, two grunts & a drop of sweat.

...yeah, I've had to do some work on it, but mostly its just been stuff coming loose, or problems that should have been found earlier, but I only had a week of shakedown time between finishing the bike & hitting the road. nothing has really 'broken' yet
As the roads get worse, stuff comes loose more often. I'm stopping about every 100km to look the bike over.
The Indian didn’t shake stuff loose as much. I do miss the Indian, much more comfortable & seems to be more dependable so far. The chopper was comfortable until I left the good roads, a decent bump now will put air between me & the seat. I haven’t had the bike completely airborne yet though, but both ends have left the ground!

I'm a sucker to go anywhere people tell me I shouldnt. and 99% of the time, I find the fears of others have no real basis in reality.

yep, a chopper! what a great idea, when I'm sitting in a warm dry house in Alabama, on a cushy couch, flipping thru channels on the boob tube.
a chopper. no front fender of course, no shocks, jockey shift, springer, etc...
how cool would that be!?
well it was pretty cool. then today came along. Started out nice enough, sunny at 6am, so I hit the road to enjoy it. clouds off to the east, but oh well. 650km to Perm. Long way, but I got an early start. 1st 200km were fine, then the rain started a bit. and then it didnt stop. and cold. How cold? well I even saw a hooker alongside the road with fur leggings under her fishnets (or maybe she just needed to shave?)
Anyhow, the road went to shit above Izhveck. much 'repair' going on, which usually means they chew up the surface, sometimes for a few km, sometimes for 20 feet. They'll come back & finish one day....maybe.
Through one town, it was dirt. the whole way thru town! And a lot of traffic. Then I'm in the middle of nowhere, gas is running low, & I see a sign, 'rough road ahead'.
The pavement sort of ends into this 'bog' the big black thing in the middle? Yeah…buckled pavement.
I didn’t fall down, well almost from exhaustion, and I slid around a good bit, but never dropped it.
Charlie & Ewan would have had a good cry after this stretch.
fenders? bah!

I should have taken more pics of the road, but it was a pain to stop & dig out the camera.
I finally made it thru the mess, & about 10km later was a gas station. Of course they had no water, but I found a clean puddle & washed my classes, shield, & lights, as you couldn’t see them. Right past there was a police checkpoint. of course he stops me to see my papers. I'm covered in mud. Mr. Obvious points out that I don’t have a front fender. yeah. its a chopper.

...The road was ok today, crap yesterday. probly crap tomorrow. and rain storms movin around.
I love how everyone keeps pointing out that I have no front fender. Now for fun, I look in amazement & say "WHAT!? Where did it go?!?" hahaha

The jockey shift really blows their minds. Most have never heard of such a thing. I tell em a hand clutch was invented so girls could ride.

I’m in Krasnoryask. Tomorrow shouldn’t be bad, but then the road sort of ends for a couple hunnert miles. The GPS even says I can’t get to Irkutsk, as there are no roads going there. This stretch took 2 days on the Indian, and it was easier to ride. If the pan stays together for this, I'll be impressed. I’m already impressed with it, I never thought a Harley chopper would do as good as it’s done. Other than tightening up some stuff, nothing has broken (yet)

Well, the good news is, that the churned up dirt must have gotten washed away during rain & snow, but all the rocks were left behind!
It took 2 days, but I’m pretty much past the bad stuff.
I swear its worse & longer now than 3 years ago.
fix the road? not hardly! One stretch that was about 40km long was cut thru the forest while they build the road. but by the looks of the 2 guys with shovels I saw working, it'll take awhile.
I am amazed the bike held together. really. I got both ends off the ground, but never at the same time. Oh, and if you go 15kph, the biting flies can keep up with you. at 20 kph they cant, but the bike gets thrown all over the place.

I met a couple other Americans here, they are also taking the boat to Japan, with an 04 & an 08 BMW GS. The 08 blew the motor, & the 04 won’t run, fuel or electric problems.
Of course I am always ready to point out to them that my 47 year old Harley is still running fine. I think they may be getting tired of the BMW jokes, but damn….. it’s hard to stop! All of the people that said the Harley would break, I should get a new bike, etc…etc….

We went to the hold, as the guys wanted to work on their bikes. Mine didn’t need anything, so I just rearranged my saddlebags, just for something to do. I helped Mike flush out his fuel filter, but I think he just needs a new one. What a pain in the ass to get to. The more time I spend around new Bmw’s, the less I want one.

Also, the battery has gone kaput. It was acting up in Japan, but started acting a little better, so I didn’t worry about it. Now, even when I have been running awhile, when I shut it off, I have no headlight. Luckily, these cycle electric generators work so good, it still starts easy when hot. After sitting all night, it takes quite a few kicks to build up enough juice to fire the points. One more day….. I’ll get a new one in seattle.
Thisn should be under warrantee still, but as I didn’t bring the receipt, that wont help much. Still, it did better than the battery in the Indian did, it died in Russia after the real bad part of the ‘road’

Also, I know that Doug would appreciate it if you paid special attention to page 27 of his ride report.
Doug is trying to round up donations to help some freinds who run a special kind of
orphanage in Kiev.
Check it out. I'm sure you will agree that it a good deal.


  1. amazing :) and i complain about my sporty, great blog. Im a fan :)added you up on our little blog

  2. Thanks for the add and the visit man!
    I will check out your blog ASAP!

  3. Hey!
    Im glad you enjoyed my trip. I just got done buildin a rigid shovel, & have shipped it to germany. Im gonna ride to the middle east this summer & see what them talibanners is up to....