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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
The Cheap way down Part 1

I had taken the dog out for a walk on boxing day and thought how great it would be to go for a ride with the roads being empty but I couldn’t even do that since I had sold my Africa Twin a month ago thinking that I wouldn’t be doing much riding over the winter and it would be a shame to let my bike rot on Brighton seafront for another winter.

So I was bike less and bored on Boxing Day. I was not going to stick the Long Way Down DVD on again for fear of being attacked by my normally very tolerant girl friend, I resorted to aimlessly surfing the web whilst the T.V droned on in the background with some Christmas T.V drivel. I ended up on eBay looking at bikes for sale and came across a listing for a company called They were offering last minute bookings for a bike delivery service to visit Morocco and the Dakar route. What a cool concept I thought. They were offering to collect your bike from anywhere in the UK and load it onto a truck in a special motorcycle stillage and you collect your bike again in Malaga just few days later. How cool is that? No freezing cold boring January motorway endurance stints down through Europe. No wear and tear on your bike and it would be cheaper than riding with fuel costs, hotels, meals etc. So on the spur of the moment I decided it was for me… Just one problem. I had no bike, Could I hire one could I buy one. Fat chance with just a few days to go before the truck left, I would need to plan and kit the bike out for an African adventure, I had nothing and I would require panniers, camping gear, route planning insurance and I knew nothing about travel in Morocco. I knew it was an arabic country but was it friendly , was it safe. I was interested but It was not going to happen the shops were all closed I wouldn’t be able to buy gear even if I knew what I wanted. And besides where was I Going to find a cheap reliable bike at short notice? I gave up on the idea I closed the laptop and went back to watching the drivel on the T.V. Next year perhaps I thought.

I went to bed that night thinking about how I could make it happen but I was just asking to much at such short notice. Or was I. I remembered the guy I had bought an Aprilia RX 125 bike from earlier in the year. He worked out of a barn fairly local to me and always had a stack of bikes in stock. He imports bikes from Italy on a regular basis and his workshop is like an Aladdin’s cave of bikes. It was worth a try I. So the following day I dug his number out and asked if he had anything suitable for my little Moroccan Dakar adventure. “How about a Transalp “ he replied? I have never been a fan of the Transalp, They just never looked substantial enough and just a bit lightweight. He had brought it over from Italy from a guy who was not using it much. Its in great nick he said, come and at least have look. I jumped in the car and drove the 20 mins to his workshop. He was tinkering on it when I got there and searching for a battery to fit it. This will do he said as he slapped the battery in place and screwed it in. There ya go take it round the block. I hopped on and started her up. She fired into life on the button and I revved off down the gravel lane. The breaks screeched into life at the junction. The bike had obviously been sitting for a while. It made me nervous. The bike seemed to be running ok but I had no real time to test her for real should I even be thinking about it? Oh what the heck I thought. What could possibly go wrong that couldn’t be over come? If I broke down I’d just deal with it! I paid the man his cash left my car and rode her home. Right! I’m committed! I’m doing this I thought. All I need is a luggage system. I’ll put a request out of the Forum just incase anyone had something I could beg borrow or buy. I didn’t expect any replies and at worst I would just ride with a backpack. To my amazement Stumpy fingers replied offering the loan his soft panniers. How cool is that? Ok so they are not flash Ali panniers but I’m not going around the world. And they are free. I rode to Coulsdon near south London to meet Stumpy before heading back to Brighton. It was a good shakedown for the bike and I would get to stretch her legs a bit. I stopped at the one bike shop that seemed to be open over the holidays and bought a tank bag and things were starting to come together. I had 2 days to organize what I was going to take and have the bike ready for when collected it. I spent a day organizing what I should take and buying last minute odds and sods like camping bits and pieces and a Camel hydration pack and first aid kits. I’ve got a day spare I’ll load it on the bike tomorrow and make sure It all fits and make any last minute adjustments.
Disaster struck the next day when I that nasty bug which was doing the rounds over Xmas took a grip on me. I spent half the day either on the toilet or hugging it. It was a grim day and put me out of business. I had lost a whole day. I wasn’t much better the following day and I had to take all my gear to the truck meeting point. I hadn’t even had chance to see if the panniers would fit. I was so ill I could barley ride the bike. My girlfriend followed me in the car and took all my luggage. I’d just have to deal with it in Malaga when I would see the bike again in a 4 days time. I was about a mile away from the service area on the M23 and the bike started to splutter…. Oh no. Not now I thought! It wasn’t fuel. I had plenty. Could it be plugs? A dirty carb or worse the infamous dodgy ICU units that the Transalp of this vintage were so notorious for acting up. I pulled over shook the bike a bit and fiddled with the reserve tap hoping it was just something simple. I hopped back on and fired her up. She seemed ok. But I was hardly filled with confidence. I was moments away from loading the bike onto a truck, which was going to deliver it miles away from my motorcycle dealer who would have been able to fix it. What could I do? I couldn’t pull out. I bought my flight. The truck was committed to pushing on to Portsmouth. I just crossed my fingers. Loaded the bike and luggage onto the truck and dashed into the service station loo’s for one last offering.
What ever it was I would just have to deal with it at the other end and at least I had a few days to see if anyone on the Forum could shed some light on what the spluttering might be!
Tune into part 2 and see if the 20 year old Transalp will make it beyond Malaga.

The Transalp arrives in Malaga and is unloaded from BIKETRUCK . She has yet to be fitted out with the luggage. Will the panniers even fit?
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