Second place in the Brit Butt Rally!

The positive side: I didn’t expect that, the small XBR left all the big bikes behind. It was a very challenging, but a beautiful ride. Great!
The tragic side: I was about to win the rally, but I decided the end the rally when I still had four hours left because I thought I had a carburettor problem and the XBR would not make it back. Wrong, it was just a bent fuel tubing of the aux tank. I didn’t visit the last bonus point worth a 1000 points. In the end, Rob Roalfe won by 200 points difference….
Detailed report will follow!


Ready for the Brit Butt Rally


Ready for the Brit Butt Rally

Everything is prepared….let’s have dinner, get the rally instructions and then the planning starts!
Tomorrow morning at 6 p.m. we will all start from Castleford. It looks that the weather will be better, what a strong wind and heavy showers today! Will I drive south or to Scotland? I’ll know around midnight….

You can follow my track under

Lastminute disaster! No Brit Butt Rally for me???

When I left work on the XBR today, I noticed immediately that something was wrong. I looked at the cockpit and…..was shocked! The holder that connects the upper part of the fairing to the steering head was broken! A nightmare! In other words: Drama! Disaster! My worst-case scenario for the Iron Butt Rally: Remove the fairing, throw it into the ditch and ride on. At a closer look, I realised that the thick steel bolt was neatly broken through:

Broken steel pin that holds the upper fairing in its place.

Broken steel pin that holds the upper fairing in its place.

What could I do? This was the end for the Brit Butt Rally this weekend, wasn’t it? Maybe I could remove the fairing….or try to fix the auxiliary tank to the BMW in a night-shift and leave with more Boxer power? But maybe there was still hope….I would pass by the house of Heinz, the magical mechanic. Maybe he had an idea. He had helped me two days ago to get my baggage rack welded, what a relief! But this would be too delicate to fix….Let’s give it a try. I met Heinz in front of his house, walking his dog. I expressed my frustration and we investigated the problem. The pin was actually a kind of screw that was screwed into the large nut. Heinz is a man who likes challenges and he immediately was looking for a solution. He drilled out the remaining bolt with the thread and looked for a larger screw that he could transform into a bolt. He luckily has a turning machine…and he can do miracles with it!

First, the screw was turned into a steel with the right dimensions...

First, the screw was turned into a steel bolt with the right dimensions…

...then a thread with the right pitch is carved (turned) into the bolt...

…then a thread with the right pitch is carved (turned) into the bolt…

...correct measurements are important...

…correct measurements are important… voilà! Old broken vs. new bolt.

…et voilà! Old broken vs. new bolt.

And this is the final product!!!:

Finished new bolt!

Finished new bolt, screwed and glued into the screw nut!

A masterpiece of fine mechanics! I’m so grateful that Heinz could help me out of this mess!

This means that tomorrow I can leave for my third Brit Butt Rally!

Saddle Sore 3000 accomplished

Planned route for Saddle Sore 3000 - 3000 miles or 4827 km in less than 72 hours.

Planned route for Saddle Sore 3000 – 3000 miles or 4827 km in less than 72 hours.

I left on Wednesday evening after work and had planned to reach Poitiers after a 750 km (466 mls) ride that night. In my hometown, I had to put petrol and to document the start of the Saddle Sore 3000 with a receipt. But…the machine was out of paper! I rushed to the next station and tried hectically to put another litre of petrol in the tank, this time I received the receipt I needed. Quick, quick, I wanted to get going. Three hours later I passed through Paris, fighting with my new Zumo 350. As it crashed the fourth time, it erased all the data and programmed waypoints. Luckily I had still the Zumo 660. The rules for the IBA rides specify that unlike in rallies, a fuel stop has to be every 500 km at latest. I had programmed a stop after 480 km and when I got off the bike I realised that the bag of the auxiliary tank was open?? And the tap of the tank as well??? Where was the tap? I realised that I had lost it: Normally, I follow a strict routine when putting petrol, but the missing receipt had distracted me. This meant I had ridden with an open tank for about 500 km! Gulp! I found an emergency tap in the shop that should work for the moment. At 23:15 I arrived at the hotel, checked in, had a quick shower and had a sandwich I had purchased at another petrol station before. I had a five-hour sleep and after a quick cookie breakfast I checked out, put my rain suit on and was back on the road at 6:20. The morning was fresh, but dry. Before Bordeaux, I had another fuel stop, as I only had filled the main tank. I passed the famous Pilat Dune, the Landes and Biarritz. I entered the Basque Country and passed San Sebastian  and Bilbao. The atlantic climate welcomed me: rain and wind. I passed a truck and a wind blast almost made the bike slip when I rolled over a wet arrow on the tarmac. Woah! I rode along the Cantabrian coast and soon reached Santander, the capital of Asturias. Rain. Soon I had to stop at the planned petrol station before the 500 km limit. When I filled the tanks, I noticed a strong smell of petrol – and noticed a growing puddle under the bike….what the…? Instinctively I closed the fuel tap. What was this? The carburetor overflowing?? I made my planned lunch break and munched a sandwich, the usual riding diet. When I went back to the bike to make an oil check, I noticed that there was again a petrol lake under the XBR. Damn! I had forgotten the second tap of the aux tank! The friendly owner provided me with a funnel for the oil…and looked worried when he saw all the petrol on the floor. I started the engine, but the petrol kept flowing. „your motorbike….“ „I know, I know, but I have to leave!“ Brooooooom. When riding, the carb was fine, just stopping resulted in a mess under the bike. Rainy Asturias had me back again. I continued to Oviedo and turned southwards towards the mountains and the Pajares Tunnel. It got colder and colder and finally I disappeared in the fog. On the other side of the tunnel, the rain stopped, but it was still pretty cold. I passed León and rode through the high plain of Castilla, still accompanied by some occasional showers. I finally understood what happens sometimes to the Dispatch 1 distribution touch box. When I touch the light switch that triggers the distribution box, the display sometimes would not recognize the box. I have to try another time and to switch on all the devices via the display as the box apparently does some „hard reset“ and erases the settings. At least now I know how to handle this.
At the toll booth before Madrid, I had to do some multitasking: close the rear fuel tap, grab the toll ticket, find the credit card, open the front fuel tap a bit, pay the toll and close the tap. An official walked around my bike and seemed to be very curious. Suddenly he pointed to the side: this way! Ooops! I realised that this was a control by the Guardia Civil. And I was listening to music on my iPad and couldn’t hear what the cop was probably telling me. I tried to switch off the music, but I couldn’t manage as I had put the rain cap on the tank bag. Finally I took off the helmet. Not too late, because the cop was apparently already pissed off. „Hooola!! De donde vienes?“ (Where are you coming from?) „De Alemania!“ „Qué bandera es esa en la matrícula?“ (What’s that flag on your number plate?)…[….]..

Oho! So that’s were the wind is blowing! I’m close to Madrid, in the middle of a raid of the Guardia Civil and this guy wants to know what that flag with red and yellow stripes is on my number plate. Sooo, if I tell him the truth that it’s the Senyera, the catalan flag? Although I had placed it upside down, so that it was basically the flag of Barcelona. I had put it there 13 years ago when I lived in Barcelona to make it clear I was not a tourist. Nobody ever complained about it. Hmmmm….so the truth would be like a red rag to a (Spanish) bull. This would mean they would shake me down, for sure. Something I wanted to avoid, as I carried the Valentine One in my cockpit, ehem. Two of his colleagues were already curiously watching my gadgets…..OK, let’s try this… „Es de la Provenza“ (It’s from the Provence [it’s actually the same flag]) …“De donde? (Where?)….“de la Provenza“….“Quééé?….“de la Provence„……[…..]…..“Eso está en Alemania?“ (That’s in Germany?).

Ouch. At least this conversation had confused him so much that I could go on. What a strange encounter! I chose the M50 that lead around Madrid in a large circle, but at least I avoided the traffic jams in the city. Suddenly I was riding in the sunshine! On the way down to the Valencian coast, the air got warmer and I only had to ride one hour in the dark before I reached the place of my cuñados in Valencia after another fuel stop at 11 p.m. We had to chat a lot and I was served some delicious food, what a change after all the sandwiches. I had some 5 hours of quality sleep and on 6:20 in the next morning I was back on the road again. It was a lovely morning and I was more than one hour ahead of my schedule. I made good progress and at a quarter to ten I made my first fuel stop in Andalusia in the sun. My next stop would have to be in Sevilla for a fuel receipt as it formed the turning point of my ride. At noon I reached the planned petrol station in Sevilla, got my fuel receipt and munched again …a sandwich. I took off my warm underwear for it was hot now. I could feel it in my legs: the heat of the motor was channeled by the fairing and transferred directly to my legs. Hmmm. An interesting experience, I’ll have to find a solution for this problem because the temperatures in the IBR will be higher than this 30°C.

I had reached my turning point and continued north to Extremadura under blue skies. The highway was lined with many of the famous cork oaks, a beautiful sight. The ride was very relaxing, good weather, scenic sights and no traffic. It was still warm, but when I passed the border to the Castillian high plain, the temperature dropped and the air was rather cool now. Past Salamanca, I had to stop and to put some petrol, oil check, drink and ….munch a sandwich. In the morning, I had reserved a hotel at the border in Irun, so I knew that I had to ride 1600 km on that day. My calculations showed me that I was 90 minutes ahead of my planning and that I would reach the hotel already at 9:30 p.m. Without a reservation, I would have continued two hours more, but I still would have enough time on the next day to the Ride to Eat meeting point in time. I passed Valladolid and Burgos and when I entered the Basque Country again, the temperature dropped from cool to cold. The weather was sunny but this was a bit too chilly for my taste now. I was still riding in the same gear as in hot Sevilla, but the temperature had dropped some 25°C. When I missed an exit at Vitoria, I had to take the next one, so I could stop on the secondary road and put on at least a jumper. Before that, I had passed a special force raid. Not just a police control, this was really serious. Equipped heavily with bulletproof vests, big machineguns and determined looks, it was obvious it was better not to make a wrong move. [Apparently some ETA terrorists were captured on that day]. The road down to the Atlantic sea was winding, but very beautiful. Very scenic, this reminded me of Switzerland: densely wooded mountains, deep valleys, picturesque villages. At least it got a bit warmer now. Finally I stopped for another fuel stop and bought my breakfast for the next morning. The booked hotel was not far away from the motorway and after the check-in I took a quick shower and enjoyed the luxury to go down to the restaurant and to have a real dinner. I was well in time, but I better wanted to leave early the next day. The distance to the ride to eat meeting point, the western tip of France, was some 900 km away and I wanted to be there on time at 4 p.m. I got up at 5 a.m. and by 5:45 a.m. I hit the road again. The weather was cool with some occasional short showers and a stiff breeze from the Atlantic sea. After 400 km, I stopped before I had to and warmed up 5 min with a hot coffee. I was still almost two hours ahead of my plan and could enjoy a relaxed pace on that day. When I reached the Bretagne, the speed limit was only 110 km/h, but I was not in a hurry. Some 150 km before Brest, I stopped for another fuel stop and munched the sandwich I had bought the evening before in Spain. Disgusting, there should be some physical punishment for people who produce or sell things like that sandwich. Some kilometers later I realized that the speedometer did not work anymore! Not again! Was it the same problem with the speedometer gear like in South Africa? Luckily, I had still the odometer reading from the GPS. Finally I arrived at 14:30 at the hotel in Brest and left my luggage in the room. It was only here when I realized that I still needed a fuel receipt to document the end of my Saddle Sore 3000! I had 2996 miles so far; this meant that I needed a petrol station between the hotel and the Pointe de Corsen, the meeting point. This was not that easy, but finally I found one in the Sat Nav and a couple of minutes later, after 3005 miles (4835 km) and 71 hours, I had finished this task and had only some 20 minutes to go to the Pointe de Corsen. I arrived some minutes before 4 o’clock and found many people there. We made the obligatory picture, without rain! After the picture, Jo turned up with this new KTM 690 Duke and was about to finish a Bun Burner (1500 miles in 36 hrs). Jo and I did our first Saddle Sore 1000 during the EuRR Rally in 2002 – both on XBRs. So it seems he’s back in business *g*.

Pointe de Corsen, end of the Saddle Sore 3000 - mission accomplished!

Pointe de Corsen, end of the Saddle Sore 3000 – mission accomplished!

We both went back to the fuel station where he could also get a final receipt for his ride and then we changed bike back to the hotel. I knew that the KTM is no ordinary thumper, but this….WOAAH! Amazing! It has a punch like a hot small V2 combined with no weight and excellent shocks. Heidewitzka!

After some quick check, I tried to fix the speedometer gear (I couldn’t) and a shower later we all met for dinner and a lot of petrol talk. Frank’s 1100 GS was losing oil from the rear drive so he was busy to find another mode of transportation to return home the next day (rental car). The next morning, everybody left home and after another 900 km and a lot of traffic jams, I arrived back home. To my surprise, this was an easy trip and I was not tired at all. 7 hours of sleep were very refreshing and I concluded that the fairing and the day-long saddle really change it all. Staying 17 to 18 hours on the bike riding pose no problem at all.

Ridden track - first I wanted to save battery power and only sent OK messages, at the end I switched on the tracking modus.

Ridden track – first I wanted to save battery power and only sent OK messages, at the end I switched on the tracking modus.

This was exactly what I wanted to know and I’m looking forward to the Brit Butt Rally next week. The only technical problems were the odometer and the overflowing carburetor. In the meantime, I realized that the root cause for the damage speedometer gear was the cable. I have cannibalized the caferacer XBR for the time being and the speedometer is fine again. I have opened the carburetor (seemed to be clean) and I have installed a petrol filter. A new rear tire was installed and a problem was detected: When I removed the auxiliary tank (I wanted to move it a bit to the front), I realized that two bars of the holders were broken.

Broken luggage/petrol tank rack - some welding needed!

Broken luggage/petrol tank rack – some welding needed!

This means I need some quick welding before next Thursday, because I’ll be leaving for the Brit Butt Rally then.

Conclusion: My confidence in the endurance of the bike and also in mine have increased a lot, if I get enough time for sleep, the pace of the Iron Butt Rally should be no problem.

The ultimate test ride: an attempt for a Saddle Sore 3000

Hi friends,

Tomorrow it’s time for another test ride through Europe. As I will have 72 hrs to the Ride to Eat meet in Brest on Saturday, why not trying a Saddle Sore 3000 (3000 mls in 72 hrs)? It is exactly the pace I’ll have to face in the Iron Butt Rally and it should be a good training of my endurance skills.

The bike has received a fork oil change with more viscous oil (what a difference!) and a last-minute oil change. After 2500 km of error messages, the Zumo 660 stopped showing these messages when I went to the Sat Nav shop this evening. Spooky. I discovered the problem for non-charging of the new Zumo 350: a broken ground (!) cable.

I have received my new headset from AKE: good-bye SRC! Superior quality, a high volume and clear sound will give less problems. I hope.

Another feature I am testing for the first time is the Spotwalla homepage: You can follow my test ride live here:

Let’s go south!

Update Thu 0 a.m.: Greetings from the hotel in poitiers, everything is on schedule. good night.

First test ride: Ride to Eat in Avignon

So it was time to go for a first real long test ride. I had done some minor modifications, trying to fix problems and to do some maintenance. I changed the brake fluid and installed a new chain with new sprockets. The Dispatch 1 gave me same problems – the iPad and the smartphone wouldn’t charge! After a discussion with the manufacturer it turned out that the USB connections supported the USB standard, i.e. 5 V at 0.5 A. However, the iPad requires a 2 A current. So, I had to find another solution: I connected a 2 A USB socket to a 12 V output (normally used for heated garments) – and it works! So this is solved. I had another problem with the new Zumo 350: the cradle wouldn’t work, so I had to change it for a new one – but it didn’t work either.
I was quite worried about the fairing, the upper holders are vibrating a lot and I thought to spot some play in the system. In a short test drive I had to admit that the fairing touched ground way too early and I bent the lower holders to bring the lower fairing closer to the bike. A bit of fairing had to be cut as well. The fairing was slipping downwards and damaged the label with the chassis number. So, would the fairing be stable?
The temperature sensor of the Dispatch 1 that is connected to the oil hose seems to work well and reflects very well the temperature in the oil tank.
So I went on the 3000 km trip to Avignon where the Ride to Eat of the IBA UK was scheduled. I started on Friday afternoon and planned to get to Dijon where I had reserved a hotel. I started in the rain with a full tank and envisaged to avoid a fuel stop. In Luxemburg, heavy rain was bucketing down and I realised that the bike showed some heavy vibrations at 130 km/h?? I continued at 110 to 120 km/h (speed limit in France in the rain: 110 km/h) and tried to forget the nasty rain. After 560 km, I had to stop for the first time: my bladder refused to resist any longer. Anyway, it was the longest stint ever on a motorbike without any stop. In Dijon, I had a problem to leave the motorway: the ticket was wet and I had to call for assistance to be able to pay the toll. Before reaching the hotel, the Zumo 660 started to give me error messages that I still haven’t managed to get rid of (the accessory is not supported). I checked in the hotel and had a small dinner.
The next morning the rain had not stopped. I first had to escape Dijon to ride on the national road through one of the best vineyards of France – Gevrey Chambertin – Vougeot – Nuits St. Georges – Vosne Romanée to Saligny-lès-Beaune where I bagged one location of Grim’s „Motorcycle Museums“ ride.

Savigny-les-Beaune's motorcycle museum - another Grim Trail location

Savigny-les-Beaune’s motorcycle museum – another Grim Trail location

The gate was closed, but I took a picture of the entrance and continued my way to the motorway. Rain, rain, rain. While riding through Lyon, the oil temperature reached only 41°C! I thought I had enough time to stop for lunch in Montelimar, but the situation in the service area was chaotic. The stop took longer than expected so time was running out and I had to push a bit to arrive in time at 4 p.m. in Avignon under the famous bridge. The group was small but we were happy to have reached the destination – not big fun after temperatures around 5°C and all the rain. Michiel made only a stopover and continued to the Pyrenees!

Sous le pont d'Avignon -  Ride to Eat

Sous le pont d’Avignon –
Ride to Eat

After the obligatory picture the remaining 6 riders went to the hotel where we met for dinner after a refreshing shower. We had a nice evening with the usual „petrol talk“. I received a lot of useful information about the Iron Butt Rally from Gerhard, the IBA Germany president. It was so interesting that I didn’t realize how late it was and how many beers I had. Only the next morning I tried to remember and I concluded that the beers were OK, just the red wine was probably the factor in the equation that shouldn’t have been there. So I decided against the planned early start and gave my stomach a couple of hours more rest. When I finally got up for breakfast, everybody was already gone, of course. It was only after 10 a.m. when I hit the road, direction Côte d’Azur. Of course in light rain. The toll booths with its long congestions were a bit annoying, but a slim XBR can pass quicker than an average car….Finally I was in Italy and went on the nice coast motorway to Genova with its tunnels and nice sea views. And the horrible metal slits in the bends where the bike is drifting a bit, releasing some adrenalin into the bloodstream every couple of seconds, woah! I was surprised when I had to turn the fuel tap only after 690 km (429 mls)!! 20 km later I stopped at a service area, after 710 km (441 mls) with one tankful! Another record. As usual, the cashier was flabbergasted when I had to pay more than 35 L of petrol („is this correct??“). As I was in Liguria, I had to eat a pasta dish with some real Pesto Genovese. The rain had mostly stopped, but now the motorway was jammed and I had to filter for about 50 km between the cars, urgh! Finally I could turn north, direction Milano. In the Padan plain, I had some tailwind and the XBR wanted to run faster. As the vibrations at 130 km/h were annoying, I decided to go at 150 km/h. Temperatures were rising and finally I was riding in the sunshine. Time to stop and to take off all the excess winter pants, sweater and winter gloves. The bike liked the high speed and I saw the oil temperature raising to 105°C, still a very good value. At 120 km/h, it was immediately down at 90°C (air temperature 20 °C). I passed the Garda Lake and stopped in Kurtinig in the well known Hotel Teutschhaus that I had reserved in the morning. Bueno, bonito, barato, as the Spanish say. Some relaxing 850 km were sufficient on that day. The next day I continued to my hometown in Germany where I had some issues to take care of. My SRC headset again went nuts and refused to work properly. That’s enough. I had returned it 4 times within the last 2 years.

I arranged a short-notice visit to Mart!n’s garage where he exchanged all the wheel bearings – a preventive maintenance action.

Wheel bearing change by Mart!n

Wheel bearing change by Mart!n

I discovered the reason for the vibrations: I had lost a screw that secures the front axle. Ooops. The next day I went north to Belgium, not without visiting Johannes in Fürth, I had to show him the Naughty Little Rascal in personam. The XBR enjoyed the German Autobahn and I went again at 150 km/h, once I even banged at 170 km/h (105 mph). This would be enough to end up in a county jail in the US.

After 3000 km, I returned well and the bike is in an excellent state. I can’t say this of some electric gadgets. The Garmins…annoying, as usual. The SRC…will be replaced by a deluxe headset from AKE. But overall, this first test ride was successful. In three days, the next test is about to start….R2E Avignon