A Little Work Before I Go

March 31, 2016

It’s almost time to begin my trek into real Africa. Before heading north into Namibia, I put a new set of Pirelli MT21 knobbies on the bike. This will be the third set of these tires that I’ve used on this trip (and the fifth set of tires overall), and I really like them. I’ve been surprised at how well they work on the pavement, for full knobbies, even in rain. And I’m able to get about 10,000 kilometers, or just over 6,000 miles out of a set.

This morning as I was packing up to head to the shop for the tires, I noticed another break in my pannier racks. Exactly the same place as the broken rack on the left side, which I discovered in Cochrane, Chile and had welded in Gobernador Gregores, Argentina. Only this time it was the right side. Fortunately, the local Yamaha dealer, Helderberg Yamaha, knew of a welder nearby, and MCR Specialised Welding was quick to help me out.

New tires installed; panniers, top rack, Rotopax gas & water cans removed. This is the first time in many months that I’ve ridden the bike without all of the weight on the rear, and I was surprised at just how light and fun it felt.


Rear rack in the shop, having its’ arms welded back on.


Due to the location of the re-located turn signals (necessary in order to open the panniers), the exhaust blows directly onto the bottom of the right rear turn signal, and before long melted a hole in it.


The guys at MCR Welding put an extended and angled tip on my exhaust to route the hot gas away from the turn signal. The flasher still works, so I’ll patch it up and keep using it for now.


Chris at Helderberg Yamaha was a huge help. He found the tires I wanted, ordered them for me, and had them ready when I returned from Plettenberg Bay. The shop mounted and balanced the tires quickly and pointed me towards the welding shop just a few blocks away. Great service all around.


A couple more days in Cape Town, then it’s off on the real adventure.

14 thoughts on “A Little Work Before I Go

  1. Lions? Baboons? Figured out how to keep the windows rolled up yet? Camping should be more interesting now…

    • Fortunately although the baboons have figured out how to open doors, they haven’t figured out how to unzip tents yet. So I should be perfectly safe on the other side of that nylon parachute material…..

      Yep, I may start pitching my tent on top of other peoples’ motorhomes.

      • pfft. Yeah like moving it up 10 feet in the air is gonna help keep a monkey out 🙂

  2. Happy Trails told me that their rack is not designed for all that weight. That is why it keeps breaking on you. Good trick to change the muffler pipe facing down. I’ll do the same to mine. Thanks for the tip. You are my hero.

    • They (HT) are absolutely right…their rack is definitely not designed to carry all that weight (then again, it’s also not designed to accept the top plate that they sell for it either!). And yes, I have 53 pounds on the rear rack, which is probably designed to carry 15. I’m definitely not blaming their product. The rack broke in the same place on both sides due to the excessive loading and the constant vibration of the ripio (corrugated roads) in South America. I reinforced the tubing this time, so hopefully it will make it a bit further.
      If adding a turn-down to your exhaust, be sure it’s a short one, and not too sharp of a bend; the XT doesn’t like much more restriction on the exhaust, and will bog on initial acceleration if the pipe is too restrictive. Just fyi.

      • Funny you mention the large top case they sell for the rack. I ordered it and once I received it I realized it was not going to work on the rack. They took it back and told me I was right…… They are super nice. I will use a canvas top case for my clothes. Hopefully the new petro tank is completed by the time I launch on my world tour, if not, I have another solution for extra fuel.

  3. Outstanding reports and story continues. The photography and the items you capture are breathtaking. The vicarious life of living through your adventures makes for several hours of enjoyment just catching up. Continue to take care out there and chose wisely.

  4. Hmmmmm, wonder if a moving motorcycle will trigger the “prey response” of the local predators. A hundred kph may come in handy. Ha!

    • Oh, yeah….”mating season”….”prey response”….not nervous at all. Thanks Mike! 🙂

  5. Pat the bike still looks new. I have the exact same motorcycle and look forward to adding your tested farkles to my bike when I have the spare cash.

  6. Pat – can you tell me the size of the tires (Pirelli MT21) you used for the front and back?
    I would like to put those on my XT225. Much appreciated. – Jordan

    • Jordan: I have a 120/80-18 rear and a 90/90-21 front MT21 on my XT. They’ve been great. The front is a bit more twitchy on pavement under initial acceleration with the heavy load I have on the back (ie the front end gets too light), but it settles in nicely once moving and with the weight more evenly distributed it’s always great.

  7. Again, I’m up late catching up, losing sleep without regret until da alarm clock rings in da mornin. I those tires Pat, close to da look and feel of da offroad only tires I had on when we went to Galeana last May, and I was also surprised how good a grip I got with them on da pavement. Of possible predators u might encounter soon, keep most in mind da venomous snakes like da mamba that like to jump at u from trees, not just from da ground, especially to da top of RVs. I’ve heard they can jump up in ur lap from being run over da front tire.

    Miss rider : I suggest u extra spot weld right now before u r on da road those areas that broke on Pats rack, it could save u a lot of trouble, expense and frustration later.

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