The world is vast and the expanse of it is sometimes beyond comprehension. We are trying our best to see as much of it as possible but it is inevitable that we are going to miss out on a big chunk of it. We have been touring on motorcycles for a long time now and the motorcycles that we have used for that purpose have rarely been… suitable… for that purpose.
A roadtrip around India on a Fireblade, then on an R1, and then 20,000 km around Australia on a Panigale 1299 and a Ninja H2. Many might call it absurd and many are fascinated by the thought. Regardless of that, we found another person doing something similar. Ashim, from Australia, is travelling on a Suzuki GSX-R600… with knobby tyres… somewhat knobby anyway.
The last time we saw a motorcycle that combined these two features, superbike attributes and off-road-ey stuff, was the Ducati Terracorsa and this is probably the second one. His bike wasn’t the only quirk about this person. More than that, it was his social media handle… 7Days1Shower. That alone is enough to make it clear that Ashim has been travelling and that too for a long time. Though having toured and ridden off-road on a Suzuki GSX-R600, Aching Muscles Cracked Bones might not have been completely absurd!
This interesting choice of motorcycle for a roadtrip like this demands a solid reason. And Ashim gave us one. He told us that this is his first motorcycle. There goes the learning curve! He told us that he started riding on his father’s Suzuki RG125, which is a 2-stroke motorcycle. And after that, he jumped straight onto the saddle of his current steed, the GSX-R600. It has served as his weekend bike and he has done a lot of track days on it too.
He has crashed on this motorcycle too and he believes that once that happens, one does not care if the motorcycle looks pretty or not. He started travelling around the same time and that is how he started using a track-bred GSX-R600 for touring. Another reason for his choice, as he told us, was that the Suzuki is a forgiving motorcycle when compared to the R1s and so on which he believes are a bit more twitchy.
About the roadtrip, he told us that he started from Vladivostok, a far east port city in Russia. Then he rode through the Siberian region and across Mongolia. He also told us that his might be the only sportbike (or second) to have crossed Mongolia. Then he went back into Russia and rode towards Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and all the way to the Afghan border. From there on, he rode along the Wakhan Corridor, back to Kyrgyzstan, China, and Pakistan, before landing here in India.
Another interesting fact about Ashim is that he was born in India. In a village named Wai, in Maharashtra which is around 6 hours away from Mumbai and is situated at the bottom of a familiar hill station, Panchgani.
After talking about his roadtrip and our next question, predictably, was about his quirky handle. He believes that if one is to impress girls, taking a shower is important, despite owning a sportbike. He started travelling and backpacking a while ago and alongside that, he was doing track days as well.
That is when he thought of starting a blog which he wanted to do just to share his experiences with people and not with a commercial or profitability point of view. When he thought of the name, 7Days1Shower, according to him, a lot of backpackers and travellers were able to relate and if we are being honest, we do too… even though 7 days is just pushing it too far!
The tyres on Ashim’s GSX-R600 were another thing that we asked him about. He told us that he (at that point of time) had a Mitas EO7 Plus at the rear and Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR on the front. And if you think those are outrageous, he said that he had those on because that is all he could find in Russia. He told us that when he set off from Australia, he had a TKC 80 (the one used on the Ducati Terracorsa) on the front and a GT 723 from Golden Tyre on the rear. Now that, our friends… is outrageous. Even more so on a GSX-R600.
He went on and told us that like us, a lot of people told him that the tyres were overkill but riding through Mongolia, Tajikistan and along the Wakhan corridor, where the GPS took him on extremely muddy roads, he realized that the tyres were what saved him. Where regular tyres would have totally given up, the 50-50 tyres stilled gripped and bit the surface to keep him going. If those are the conditions, then we’d say that the choice of tyres is justified.
But we always say that it’s not about the ride but the rider and Ashim is another example. He had no experience in off-roading before this so this ride was like ‘trial-by-fire’ for him. He said that sometimes he’d find just sand and rocks but he had no other option than to keep going. He is not particularly fond of off-roading but for him, its more about getting from Point A to Point B, no matter the route or terrain.
Being a 600, we asked Ashim if the power produced was enough for him and he said yes. He said that on some stretches he was not able to go beyond the 1st and 2nd gear and 10-12 km/h. But he said that despite his ‘Gixxer’ being neglected and abused, his bike stood firmly beside him.
About his route in India, he came in through Wagah Border and went to Himachal Pradesh. He did not go further North because he had already toured Leh and so, 5 years ago. From there, he came to Punjab, then to Delhi and plans to ride through Rajasthan, Gujarat, and then into Maharashtra. We were also curious (and a bit jealous) about his riding experience in Pakistan which is something of a far-fetched dream for an Indian. He told us that while not many Indians may have had the chance to visit Pakistan, he was free to roam around from the north of the country to the south. He was appreciative of the scenery and the people there.
When we met him, Ashim had already clocked more than 20,000 km so we asked him about his most memorable experience. He told us while riding, sometimes one feels miserable. Being on the road, tired and sweaty, it is tough and we agree with Ashim there. But despite that, he had some stellar experiences and one of the most memorable he could recall was riding through the Wakhan Corridor in Tajikistan, which he says is a very remote valley situated south of the country. He told us that at one point, Afghanistan was just across the river, literally a stone’s throw away. He says that people there led very simple lives and were very hospitable.
But it was challenging too as that stretch, by most adventure riders, is regarded as the Holy Grail. He recalls that it was extremely isolated, there were no roads and the route was a combination of deep sand, gravel, and rocks. He said that he even contemplated not going there but then, he had come a long way and he did not want to miss out on the opportunity. He was glad that he managed to get through that stretch without crashing or falling.
On that stretch, Ashim went slower and on some days, covered just 40 km but seriously, considering the terrain he described, we think it was commendable. He also takes it as a personal achievement. Many people advised him against taking that route as they feared that either he or the bike will give out but he did it!
With this leg, Ashim’s trip is almost about to end and we asked him if he was sad. He said that while on the trip, all he looked forward to was resting at the end of the day. But when the realization of the trip ending set in, he felt a bit sad. But for Ashim, the end of this trip is the beginning of a new one as post the end of this ride, he plans to go to Europe and from South America to Canada in a span of 9 months! Not on a motorcycle though. It’d be in a van… with his wife. And even before this ride of his ended, he started planning for that one.
We were also curious to know that if it was not the GSX, which motorcycle would Ashim prefer. He told us that there are some options like the Kawasaki KLR and the DR650. While we wondered if these motorcycles were too underpowered for a trip of this magnitude, he told us that usually, people go for the biggest GS they can get their hands on but more than being powerful, the motorcycle should be manageable. Something that one can pick up in the case of a fall. Other than that, it should be easy to fix and does not need to be the newest and the best of everything. We agree as his own GSX is more than 10 years old and according to Ashim, pretty beat up. But then, he thinks it’s more about the rider being comfortable with the motorcycle they choose.
About the modifications to make the GSX more touring-friendly, Ashim had been conservative about modding the bike dramatically. He told us that the ergonomics were unchanged… which is even more painful than it sounds. He said that bracing the chassis was the most important thing as sportbikes feature frames that are meant to be light but the constant vibrations, potholes and bumps make it prone to snapping. So he added welded plates to both sides of the subframe.
In addition to that, he also had a bar from the pillion pegs to the rider pegs to provide more support. He said that since he had no engineering background, mistakes happen and that bar made frequent contacts with the swingarm. It was dangerous as it was slowly chipping away on the swingarm but since he had the right tools and spares, he was able to space the two out. That is a nifty trick and an advise that’d we’d like to pass on to our fellow riders.
Electronics of the motorcycle are another thing he thinks are prone to failing. He had a complete failure of the same in Pakistan but then, he had the right spares and with the help of some people, he was able to fix it. He also mentioned another incident in Mongolia, where because of the poor quality of the fuel, he found a handful of dirt upon pulling off the fuel tank. Again, he had a spare fuel pump too and this tells us a lot about how important proper preparation is for a ride like this. On the ending note of our interaction with him, he said that while one cannot carry spares for everything, they should have the most important ones and then, just hope for the best.
We wished Ashim best of luck as he went on and also told him that if he needed anything, the xBhp community would be there to help him. Out of courtesy, he also started and revved his GSX-R600 so that we and our viewers could get an aural taste of how one of the best middleweights ever made sounds!
You can also watch the video of our interaction with Ashim:
A rendezvous with superbike adventure long distance rider ! #xBhpTalks 7Days1Shower
xBhp द्वारा इस दिन पोस्ट की गई शुक्रवार, 1 नवंबर 2019