After much debate and consideration, we decided on two KTM 690 Enduros for Ireland to South Africa.
Why? The main reason was it is lighter than the bigger touring bikes, but still large enough to pull some good highway speeds which we will be doing seeing as we only have 3 months to cover approx 20,000kms through some pretty rugged terrain. A big part of the decision though were these wise words from Chris Scott in the Adventure Motorcycling Handbook.
We did make the following modifications based on research and what seemed like common sense to us before we started. Keep in mind neither of us have ever done anything like this before. We will be able to provide better feedback on what was worth it and what we missed when we are finished the trip.
John Mitchinson at Rally Raid took one of the first KTM 690's and made it into a rally machine. A motorcycle fanatic and engineer, his Rally Raid company make all the fundamental mods for the 690 that are designed for rally and overland use. Plus they are just really solid folks with lots of good advice and time for inexperienced punters like us. If the bikes make it to Cape Town, it will largely be on the back of their products.
Rally Raid Evo 2 Fuel tanks- Extend the range between gas stations. Richard went with the clear, natural color which proved the right choice. Allows you to visually see how much gas is in the tank.
Rally Raid Air Filter- Washable in the field and more reliable apparently.
Rally Raid Sub Frame Tank Bolt- No subframe on the 690 requires managing the stress on the rear fuel tank.
Rally Raid Lower Tank Mount Kit- Same as above.
Rally Raid Bash Guard with Extra Tank- Protects the engine and allows us to carry 2L of engine oil low and out of the way on the bikes.
Rally Raid Golan Fuel Filter- Keep the fuel clean.
Rally Raid Billet Rear Brake Lever- Richard broke Anthony's on a test ride so made sense to replace with the stronger RR product.
Rally Raid Injector Hex Screw Kit- Makes accessing the fuel injector easier than stock. Highly likely if we get bad fuel in Africa.
Rally Raid Billet Filler Adaptor- Replaces the key locked rear fuel cap and gives a raised lip to help prevent getting dirt in the fuel tank.
Scott Ohlins Steering Damper- Nice on the highway and a saviour thus far in softer ground.
Lynx Fairing- Cheaper than the Rally Raid fairing by a large margin and much lighter. Gave us better headlights and a large dash for navigation and a 12V and USB Charger.
Wings Exhaust- Lighter and not as hot as the stock exhaust. Much cheaper than the Akropvic for the same performance. Plus it sounds amazing.
Scott Oiler- Oils the chain as we travel.
Seat- Richard went for the plush, suede leather seat from Renazco. Anthony went for the SEAT Concepts. We may yet add a sheepskin, but wanted to give our backsides a fighting chance at least.
Mitas E-07 Tires- Will run these to Togo, or until they run out. Then switch to Continental TKC80. Watch this space.
Sprockets- OEM steel sprockets front and rear. We geared the bike down from stock to 15:48 and will swap out the front sprocket for a 14T when the going gets slower in the Congo. This decision was all speculative based on how tall the 690 is geared, and managing high speed with the reality of slower speeds and protecting the clutch through places like the DRC.
DID 520 Chain- Hopefully gets us all the way to Cape Town. Riveted after a quick link failed and Richard's chain broke.
Double Take Mirrors- Adjustable and the ability to fold them away if we get really rowdy off road. The later being highly unlikely.
Richard added the following:
Rally Raid Thermostat Switch- turns on fan at lower temps.
Rally Raid Billet Front Sprocket Guard- Protect the clutch slave cylinder in case the chain breaks, which it did in France. This proved well worth it.
Rally Raid Side Stand Override Switch- In case the side stand wont allow the bike to start, we have an override between us.
Rally Raid Radiator Guard- Basically because Richard is scared of everything.