Author Topic: Original suspension good enough for Pamir Hwy?  (Read 823 times)

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Offline PHIadv

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Original suspension good enough for Pamir Hwy?
on: February 22, 2020, 10:14:18 AM
Hi all,
What do you think, is the original suspension ready to tackle Pamir Hwy or similar road conditions or should I go for Rally Raid components? Any options beside Rally Raid? I weight with my riding gear around 75 kg. I start this coming August from Finland to Bali and don't want to find myself stranded in some isolated place with broken suspension. Any thoughts?

Offline VA-CB500X

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Re: Original suspension good enough for Pamir Hwy?
Reply #1 on: February 22, 2020, 12:24:59 PM
*Originally Posted by PHIadv [+]
Hi all,
What do you think, is the original suspension ready to tackle Pamir Hwy or similar road conditions or should I go for Rally Raid components? Any options beside Rally Raid? I weight with my riding gear around 75 kg. I start this coming August from Finland to Bali and don't want to find myself stranded in some isolated place with broken suspension. Any thoughts?

What year is your CB500X?  Model years 2019-2020 have an upgraded suspension over earlier generations.  But that doesnít mean an earlier model canít make the journey.

Sounds like an adventure!
Last Edit: February 22, 2020, 12:39:13 PM by VA-CB500X

Offline PHIadv

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Re: Original suspension good enough for Pamir Hwy?
Reply #2 on: February 22, 2020, 12:40:35 PM
*Originally Posted by VA-CB500X [+]
What year is your CB500X?  Model years 2019-2020 have an upgraded suspension over earlier generations.  But that doesnít mran an earlier model canít make the journey.

Sounds like an adventure!

Sorry, forgot to mention...2019. I don't have it yet, since plan is to purchase used one this spring. Should I go for RR?

Offline richardbd

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Re: Original suspension good enough for Pamir Hwy?
Reply #3 on: February 22, 2020, 12:50:25 PM
I've ridden a CB500X along the Pamir Highway, down through the Wakhan Valley from khorog to Langar, on to Murghab and across Tibet.

My 2016 bike has the full Rally Raid Level 3 conversion and performed brilliantly.

I reckon the stock suspension might cope, as long as the bike isn't overloaded.  That said, we had three BMW GSs whose suspension all failed under provocation of the Wakhan roads.

My bigger worry with a stock bike would be the wheels.  No way would I want to be out there on cast wheels.  Even the GS spoked wheels took a beating.  The RR spoked wheels were bullet proof.

Of course, you might not have a problem on a stock bike - people do it on even simpler, more basic bikes.  The key thing is playing the odds.  A cracked cast rim and it's game over.  A broken spoke can be repaired...

Offline PHIadv

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Re: Original suspension good enough for Pamir Hwy?
Reply #4 on: February 22, 2020, 01:04:18 PM
*Originally Posted by richardbd [+]
I've ridden a CB500X along the Pamir Highway, down through the Wakhan Valley from khorog to Langar, on to Murghab and across Tibet.

My 2016 bike has the full Rally Raid Level 3 conversion and performed brilliantly.

I reckon the stock suspension might cope, as long as the bike isn't overloaded.  That said, we had three BMW GSs whose suspension all failed under provocation of the Wakhan roads.

My bigger worry with a stock bike would be the wheels.  No way would I want to be out there on cast wheels.  Even the GS spoked wheels took a beating.  The RR spoked wheels were bullet proof.

Of course, you might not have a problem on a stock bike - people do it on even simpler, more basic bikes.  The key thing is playing the odds.  A cracked cast rim and it's game over.  A broken spoke can be repaired...

Thanks for the valuable feedback! Yeah, this is what I have thought. Beside suspension upgrade, been little worried about cast wheels on those conditions. RR seems to have now only two levels, Level 1 and 2 (2 being former 3). I am almost ready to bite the bullet and order fully Level 2 kit with spoked tubeless wheels, but I just have to somehow justify myself pretty steep purchasing price. BTW: Did you RR suspension components were same brand and models as todays offering from them? Again: How did you were able to ride through Tibet? Love to do that, but independently I quess impossible?
Last Edit: February 22, 2020, 01:16:30 PM by PHIadv

Offline richardbd

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Re: Original suspension good enough for Pamir Hwy?
Reply #5 on: February 22, 2020, 02:28:00 PM
Good choice on BART tubeless wheels.  I bought my RR CB second hand and it had tubed wheels.  John at RR sent them back to the factory in Italy for me and had them converted.  Tubeless is so much easier where youíre travelling and if necessary, you can always stick a tube in if needed.

I believe the suspension is the same now as on mine - made by Dutch company Tractive (who also make the Touratech suspension too.  I guess the linkages will have changed for the 2019 but the key components are probably still the same.  The quality of the suspension is excellent.  Really comfortable and WAY better than the ESA system on my 1200GS.

Tibet was amazing.  We entered into China from Kyrgyzstan at Kashgar, in Xinjiang province.  We were in an organised group (Globebusters) and had all our permits pre-arranged.  It still took us three days to get across the border though!  Apparently itís getting more difficult every year.  The other (eastern) end of Tibet may be easier to access these days.

Offline SilverCycle

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Re: Original suspension good enough for Pamir Hwy?
Reply #6 on: June 04, 2020, 08:19:30 PM
I'm intrigued - I'm an newbie motorcyclist with a CB500x, but an experienced long-haul cyclist. And I've circuited the Pamir Highway in a Toyota (ok, a LandCruiser, and I wasn't driving). Although a lesser vehicle maybe would have bogged in the sand and possibly the snow (it was late in the year), I don't recall any suspension-hammering stuff other than occasionally the corrugations dirt roads are prone to. The car looked pretty basic/factory standard and the driver never deployed the old-school selectable 4WD except to haul a mate stuck on packed snow. However, he drove pretty sedately. I know my standard X bounces & rattles my teeth on rough tarmac when a friend on a big GS glides over it - but what is it about the road that breaks motorcycle suspension and wheels? How fast do you go? That's a request for info not a criticism!

Offline richardbd

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Re: Original suspension good enough for Pamir Hwy?
Reply #7 on: June 04, 2020, 09:28:37 PM
*Originally Posted by SilverCycle [+]
I'm intrigued - I'm an newbie motorcyclist with a CB500x, but an experienced long-haul cyclist. And I've circuited the Pamir Highway in a Toyota (ok, a LandCruiser, and I wasn't driving). Although a lesser vehicle maybe would have bogged in the sand and possibly the snow (it was late in the year), I don't recall any suspension-hammering stuff other than occasionally the corrugations dirt roads are prone to. The car looked pretty basic/factory standard and the driver never deployed the old-school selectable 4WD except to haul a mate stuck on packed snow. However, he drove pretty sedately. I know my standard X bounces & rattles my teeth on rough tarmac when a friend on a big GS glides over it - but what is it about the road that breaks motorcycle suspension and wheels? How fast do you go? That's a request for info not a criticism!

Brilliant question...

If you've cycled the Pamir, you are obviously way more intrepid (and probably way fitter!) then me.

As an aside, have you noticed that just when you think you're properly "out there" in a place where only "adventurers" go, you always come across somebody doing it harder, faster, simpler, more basic or whatever than you are?  On an Enfield Himalayan at the top of Kardung La (which claims to be the highest year-round motorable road in the world) last year, I came across two Japanese bods coming the other way on BROMPTONS!!

Back to the question...

The Pamir is actually not that challenging to ride (or even to cycle) if you're that way inclined.  The much more "interesting" route is to follow the Pange River, through the Wakhan Valley and along the Afghan border.  Where the Pamir is basically broken tarmac, the Wakhan makes you dream of broken tarmac.  The whole route is dirt and long stretches of the "road" are badly corrugated.  It's that that shakes a bike to pieces.  On most dirt roads (even corrugated ones) you can find a speed that allows you to ride the ridges.  Even if it's 10 -15mph faster than you ideally want to go, you find that sweet speed and you ride it.  Through the Wakhan, especially beyond Langar, that sweet speed doesn't exist - or if it does it's beyond what anybody other than a Dakar racer would dare to tackle.  I tried 70mph and then lost my nerve.

Consequently fear slows you down and you tolerate hour after hour of bone-shaking, bike-rattling progress - even if you're doing 50mph.  That's when you find out how good your BMW GS really is as an "adventure" bike.

On my trip we had 19 bikes - mainly GSs or Tigers.  Only two emerged unscathed.  My Honda and (ironically) a brand new R1250GSA.  The GSs all broke spokes or dented rims; three of them broke rear shocks and one broke a front shock (which is a whole different world of pain).  The Triumphs tended to shake their head bearings loose - repeatedly - and the Ducati needed an ambulance  The Wakhan even "killed" our support truck, a rally-prepped Mercedes Sprinter 4x4.  One of its shocks gave up.

Sound like a nightmare I know - but I was there a year ago right now and I wish I was there today...








Offline SilverCycle

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Re: Original suspension good enough for Pamir Hwy?
Reply #8 on: June 04, 2020, 10:47:11 PM
I mustn't let Richard continue under the misapprehension I cycled the Pamir, I didn't, I was a passenger in a Toyota on that road. We did cycle the first leg - England to Kyrgyzstan, but for reasons of snow and bad tummies we swapped to four wheels for a southern loop on the Pamir. Oddly enough, like the OP, we carried on to Bali. It was Myanmar where we realised how mobile small, basic motorcycles could be!

Anyway, it's good to hear you found a more challenging road to break bikes on. And it's good for me to hear what breaks.

Incidentally, on the Pamir, we did meet, coming the other way, a young American or Canadian on a small MC he'd bought in India (a Hero Honda I expect  :001:). It kept dying on him, but then going again. I knew doodly squat about MC then. Subsequently, I guessed it was probably carburetor icing (being well over 3000m at that point, the route exceeded 4000m at times). Is that a good guess? I'm sure the X doesn't have a carb, but (OP) might be worth thinking about other altitude issues (including human ones), and I guess dust and tolerance to dubious fuel. Anyway, I attached a Pamir M/C photo for encouragement.



Sidecars not terribly fashionable here in the UK, are they, but I imagine pretty useful in case of excessive snow or vodka.

Hope there isn't too much off-thread there, sorry.

Offline timur

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Re: Original suspension good enough for Pamir Hwy?
Reply #9 on: June 05, 2020, 09:01:54 AM
*Originally Posted by SilverCycle [+]
Anyway, I attached a Pamir M/C photo for encouragement.



Sidecars not terribly fashionable here in the UK, are they, but I imagine pretty useful in case of excessive snow or vodka.

Hope there isn't too much off-thread there, sorry.
This old Ural almost made my shed some tears of nostalgy. I'm native Russian but my grandfather is Uzbek - spent a lot of time there. And this route is something I need to do someday.

However should I made this route I would probably use local bikes - sure you can buy in Uzbekistan some old Izh Planeta or Vosjod (had one when lived in Russia) for less than 50 dollars. They're light, simple, can withstand low octane fuel and has 160mm fork stroke - and you can repair them with a hammer and chewing gum. They're not as fast as GS and CB but it's soo much cheaper.

 



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