Here is the 5th and final part of this nice ride from Oslo to Bergen. Soundtrack by Iceferno (@IcefernoAJB). Now the restoration process will begin, a long winter, but the RF900 will be great again and soon it will be a rear tire destroyer:
Here you have the 4th part of the ride Oslo - Bergen. Approaching Voss. Hope you enjoy.
Here is the third video of the ride from Oslo to Bergen bringing the RF900. This time I decided to put some background music, as I used to do in many of my videos, because all you can hear is the wind anyway, the stock muffler is almost silent.
The featured soundtrack is Final Love, a great composition from IceFerno, check his work in youtube, look for "Iceferno" and "Iceferno Remixes", his work is amazing and if you enjoy electronic music, this is a must stop. You can follow him at @IcefernoAJB.
Finally I can post a few shots taken along the trip. Unfortunately they are not nearly as good as I wanted, in fact, they are shots just to keep the memory of this trip. They are not artistic in any way, but I am glad I have them.
So what you see is (click to enlarge):
1 - At Genève, parked at Rue Crespin. I visited my brother who was spending a few days with his girlfriend who lives there, and allowed me to sleep a couple of nights, after the rather expensive sleep I had at Alteuil Hotel. Oh, and the many casualties at the front of the bike.
2 - At some gas station on my way from Genève to Göttingen. At this point my GPS was already dead and I decided not to waste any more time and just return home. So I stopped to refuel, eat and replenish some engine oil.
3 - On my second stop to Göttingen I met 2 couples of Danish riders to check if their navigation was working and if I could get some directions. We rode together and found a hotel around Göttingen and left the next morning, me to Norway, them to Denmark. Here we see Flemming (who rides the V-Rod) and Monika (who rides the red Ducati), and Peter on the back. His girlfriend, Møde, was buying some gloves after they were soaked by the rain. They were on a Dyna. Guys, if you are reading it, thanks a lot, it was my pleasure. Make contact so we can meet in Købehavn, I will be more than happy to ride there.
4 - The apparel drying under the sun.
5 - Peter and Monika chilling with a smoke.
6 - My GSX600F reflected on the Dyna's air filter cover.
7 - The only picture of me on this trip, courtesy of Peter.
Here is the second part of the ride from Oslo to Bergen through the E16 and its amazing view with good weather. Enjoy.
It seems that my mission in life is to save poor motorcycles from stupid owners. With the exception of the Katana, that the previous owner kept in immaculate shape, my other bikes pretty much needed a complete rebuild.
If I think rationaly, something that only Honda owners seem to be able to, all the money and time I spent on the GSX600F was not worth it, considering it is a cheap bike. Suzuki made those GSXF out of what they had left from other models and came up with a bike that was very cost effective but nowhere nearly as collectable or "must have" as the late 80s GSXRs. They are everyday use bikes, to take the beating and punishment without the owner worrying about an expensive repair bill later. Well, unless you are willing to make the 600F a laboratory, as I did. The modifications and experimentations are far more expensive than the bike is worth.
The 600 was supposed to be a temporary bike while I transitioned from the custom style, which really I have no intention to return to. What I really wanted was the RF900R, a stonking big sport tourer that is as fat and fast as it is difficult ($$$) to repair if something "happens". There are far less of them out on the market compared to the GSXF. While I was on tour to Denmark/Germany/Switzerland, I realized the RF900 would be my next bike to replace the 600, so I wasted no time and found 3 of them for sale in Norway. Picked the one in the color I wanted (red), negotiated the price, paid on sunday and this last tuesday I travelled to Oslo to pick it up. You have the videos of the ride if you read the other posts.
There weren't much details on the photographs posted by the seller, and from the answers I got from him it was safe to assume the bike would need major work. But I just didn't know it had been to abused until I saw it in person. Poor little RF900, the fairing had many paint flaws, scratches, cracks, the choke cable was a stupid improvisation that I would be ashamed to ever think of doing on one of my motorcycles. Strips everywhere because the fairing bolts were missing. I was afraid of the whole thing coming apart while riding it back to Bergen. It didn't. Today I ordered a complete set of bolts for this bike.
But the question is, why are people a bunch of idiots to take care of their motorcycles? Why do these guys even have a motorcycle? Why do they get a RF900R if they don't remotely know the importance of this model? They are the last Suzukis to feature the "big block" GSXR 1100 engine, this absolute indestructible endurance legend. Of course, it has the 937cc piston kit, but it is a water-cooled 1100cc block. And then you ask me, "why don't you pay more for a well cared sample"? You think I haven't tried? The answer is, the good ones are not for sale because their owners know exactly the value of a well maintained RF900. So what we can do is buy one on the market and be prepared for lengthy and costly restoration, but in the end it will be a cracking beast.
Mine was in so bad shape, and the guy was so ignorant on the subject that while he told me the oil was new, he couldn't answer what was the oil and when it was changed. When I took it to Minde Motorsykkel yesterday for an emergency repair, no wonder the shifting was so hard and impossible to find neutral, the clutch is hydraulic and it was almost empty of fluid, and to my amazement (but not to Arthur's), some idiot put fluid on top of the rubber that seals the container!!!! The previous owners were complete retards. The front tire needed to be changed badly, I knew, the front axle is slightly bent, we already ordered one new from Suzuki. The battery, what could I expect? It was the cheap Biltema shit, and this fucking idiot saying "ooohhh, I am going to miss the bike". Are you fucking kidding me?!?! This RF900 desperately needed a proper owner, you retard!
I was saddened to see some many holes everywhere on the fairing to put the stupid plastic strips to hold the shit together. But these days are counted, we will make it perfect. And the electric system? I don't even know how this bike started!!! There were quite a few cables broken and the instrument panel had no light, and also the parking rear light was off, easy target for a police patrol!! The air filter, of course, is a joke, that paper junk and most likely the original from 20 years ago! We are replacing this piece of shit with a K&N and a Yuasa battery, so the next maintenance will be the fun part: getting more power from this immense engine. In a few days it will be a destroyer of rear tire.
Ok, so is there anything good about it? Yes, sure, this GSX 937cc engine is an absolute demolition machine. Enormous torque, not as insane as the Katana, but huge anyway, and it will be even better when the carburation is fixed. It is incredibly fast when twisting the throttle properly, exactly the power I missed on the 600. The suspension we don't know what is in there, but I would say that it drives at least as good as my 600 with Wirth-Federn springs, that is, it goes as if it was on rails. The front tire was a Pirelli junk, and even with this terrible tire it felt great on the E16, and now with the sticky Metzeler it is absurd. The rear suspension is a bit hard, but I can only tell for sure when I put some luggage. Owners say that it improves when it carries more weight.
All in all, one really has to want a bike like this, then take the time and resources to return it to proper shape. But I will do it, I have done with an ordinary GSXF and had fun, so it will be a pleasure to see this RF900 beast riding as if it came from the dealer.
This sunday I bought a red Suzuki RF900R from a guy near Oslo and yesterday I travelled there to pick it up and bring to my garage. From Oslo to Bergen it can be from 500 to 600km depending on which route you take. I was following the E6 to Oslo and took the E16 in the hopes I would find signs pointing to Sandvika, where I would take the Rv7 all the way to Voss and then to Bergen.
But for some reason the sign never came, it was either the E6 to Gothemburg, which I didn't really want to go to, or E16 to Kristiansand, which would make me drive the entire south of Norway for nothing. Basically a 12h trip. But at some point the signs showed E16 Bergen so I just followed it. The trip was about 550km and this is taken in 7 or 8h depending on your pace, stops and road conditions. Because the bike needed new front tires I couldn't really push, and the weather was so surprisingly good that I took my time to enjoy the ride. I caught a few stuff on camera, so you can watch the videos as I post them. Here is the 1st. More on the RF900R later. I hope you enjoy the ride, 1080p available.
It has been a couple of days since I returned, and what a return trip it was...
On 10th of august I was in Göttingen with some Danish fellow riders, they made their way to København while I followed north to Hirtshals, with a stop at Flensburg to sleep. This was strategic because Flensburg was not terrible far from Göttingen and, being the last big German city before Denmark, it wouldn't be difficult to find a hotel (remember I had no GPS at that point), which also also means I could stop earlier, rest properly and start early the next morning for a really tough stretch. I just didn't imagine it would be so tough, at least to my conditions.
I chose day 11 of august because it was the only window of sunny weather before the rain of friday. I just couldn't take another Denmark-Bergen under, I have had enough on the start of the trip and would be impossible to do in 1 day. So I started riding at 7:00 and had a full tank, no breakfast, so I needed to ride 250km to refuel and eat something. So I was greeted with good weather in Denmark but a lot of crosswinds from the upper mid part of the country. For cars and probably to heavier motorcycles it wouldn't make much of a difference, but for the 600 it was very, very tiring to keep the 130km/h needing to compensate the bike for at least 2 hours. I stopped at around Randers for fuel and food, and realized how taxing it can be, but I was pumped for the comeback ride, I would be at home that day and, what was really important, I absolutely needed to be at Hirtshals by 11:15. The Color Line boat to Kristiansand departs at 12:15 and one needs to arrive at least 1 hour ahead.
So it was fighting against the wind until Hirtshals, and when I reached the ticket cabins, I asked what time it was: 11:10. I was very happy I made it just in time, half the trip was done. Then I would have the whole boat trip to rest a bit and do the next 420km in Norway back to Bergen. The boat trip was nice, weather was perfect but kids screaming all over the place prevented me from relaxing. I managed to buy some stuff at the Tax Free, ate something and prepared for the next stage. We arrived at Kristiansand at around 15:30, plus some more minutes to untie the bike, let some vehicles go before the bikes can, and then take the E39 north. However, it was rush hour in Kristiansand, everybody returning home and the traffic basically didn't move.
That was the sad part of coming back home: I left the fast flowing motorways of Germany and Denmark to go back to the crawling traffic of Norway, and what is called "motorway" with 1 lane for each direction and 70km/h of speed limit. At very few stretched the speed is 80 or 90. I was already worn out due to fighting the wind for hours and then faced slow traffic, it could only be worse with rain, as it was when my journey started. I filled the tank at Kristiansand and then a few kilometers before Stavanger, where I ate dinner at 19:30 and then started feeling tired for being up on the bike since 7:00. I reached the first ferry at around 20:40 and was really tired, so I had some coffee on the ferry to stay awaken. The drive from Haugesund, Bømlo and then Sandvikvåg was unpleasant, first because the was little natural light, and also because there is little to no illumination along the E39, so you can only read signs with your vehicle lights. If you are driving for a couple of hours it is no problem, but if you started 14 hours ago, then it is annoying.
I reached Sandvikvåg at around 22:40 and the ferry was about to depart. Another coffee, temperature was dropping and we finally arrived at Halhjem at 23:30. This was the longest 50km I have ever ridden, from Os to my house. Little illumination, had to be paying attention to signs and other traffic. By the time I opened the door it was exactly midnight, exactly. After a shower I tried to sleep but, even though I was completely worn out, I couldn't sleep due to the coffee. The distance itself was not the problem, it was around 840km from Flensburg to Bergen, driving, not counting the boats of course, but with the crosswind fight, leaving a high speed traffic to a crawling traffic, this ride was excruciating. But in the end I made it safely and had some days to rest.
What was the outcome? Today (sunday) I have just bought a Suzuki RF900 to replace my GSX600F. Yes, my loyal iron horse will find another owner. For city use and touring it is an amazing little bike, but for the high speed cruising of Germany and the wind fight in Denmark, which we have to face when getting out of Norway, it is not powerful enough. It screams at 170km/h and shakes too much, it is uncomfortable, so I am going to this bigger and much more powerful cruiser, which was my first choice anyway when I retired my Harleys and switched to Suzuki. The GSX600F is incredibly enduring and can take whatever you throw at it, but the toll will be on the rider when the speed exceeds the comfort zone of this 600cc. Of course it can take the beating, it is a GSX, but it was no match for the big BMWs and Porsches on the A7. More on it later.
Yesterday I left Genève and wanted to drive to either Stuttgart or Frankfurt to visit a Suzuki dealer and have my tank and carbs cleaned, so I could have a chance of spending some time on slow driving cities. On the autobahn it is no problem, fortunately. But not only I had this issue, the GPS just died after some time and I think I know why: vibration.
A few friends have lost their GPS device to vibration and the same seems to have happened to me. Every time I hit 130km/h the GPS would either power down, reset or stay stuck at the ProLech start screen. I will write about this GPS when I come home. So yesterday exactly when I left Switzerland, it no longer loaded the navigation program, just the games, multimedia, options... at that point it was a matter of just heading towards Frankfurt, then Hannover, then Hamburg and finally Denmark, the difficult part was behind: leaving Genève. With no detailed maps and no navigation, I couldn't leave the authobahn and instead, have to find hotels on the Autohofs. When I stopped for gasoline I met 2 couples of Danish riders who had their navigation working and were on their way home, that is, most of the way I had to go.
To make a long story short, they allowed me to join their group and stop after 200km more for a hotel. It would be great for me, since I was already riding for around 600km and would need a break soon. We managed to find a very nice place called Hotel B&B, which we thought was a Bed and Breakfast but when we arrived, it was by no means an ordinary B&B. It was a large hotel near Göttingen with a Burger King in its reception and a nice room, and parking. So we could rest and leave early today to continue. But they were going to København, which is a different way I had to follow, so after a couple of stops, we parted ways. They went in the direction of Lübeck, if I am not mistaken, and I followed to Flensburg. I could probably arrive in Hirtshals before the last boat to Kristiansand, deparing at 20:45, but then I would arrive at midnight and finding a hotel in the same conditions as in Genève was ot for me again.
So here I am at the nicest Autohof I have been so far, at Flensburg, U71 if I recall correctly. Large infrastructure, a nice MC shop that I already bought a new pair of gloves (my gloves were wet since 03 of august, so you imagine how bad it was smelling). Those Alpinestarts Drystar gloves look nice and are waterproof, until you get some decent rain, then it is no longer waterproof. It sucks. So I got a pair of Dainese gloves and hope I don't need to spend money twice. This Autohof had many shops, electronics, sex shops, video cabins for the desperate ones, and a large Burger King on which I will have my dinner in a few minutes, among other stuff. The hotel is an IBIS Budget that is a true godsent. Fully automated, you checkin yourself at a machine, get a PIN code to unlock doors, choose to have or not the breakfast and pay an excellent price. Simple room, has everything I need, a nice bed and a shower. Very, very nice, I recommend to ANY MOTORCYCLIST IN THE NEED OF A HOTEL AT THE GERMANY/DENMARK BORDER. The exact address is: IBIS Budget, Flensburg Handewitt, Scandinavian Park, 24983 Handewitt.
And speaking of rain, of course we got a lot of it before Hamburg. And on my way to Flensburg there was a road work on the A7, which slows down the speed and narrows the lanes, and a damn motorhome was being towed exactly where the lanes were the narrowest. It didn't move, I had very little space to filter and at some point it was no longer possible to filter. This definitely delayed my arrival at Hirtshals, but it was for the good. I would sleep at Kolding/Denmark, but I gave a try at this Autohof and here I am.
That's it. I didn't make the photographs I wanted, just a few of the ordinary "man on the highway" style, bike parked at the gas station, fellow riders and stuff, nothing really impressive. I will download to the computer when I get back home.
Yesterday I spent the day with my brother and his girlfriend, who lives in Genève. Last time we met was in 2011, so it was about time. I was supposed to be here at the after of day 6, but due to the many delays along the ride it was impossible.
They took me for a quick tour around Genève, which doesn't seem to be a large city, but we were on foot and just took a couple of buses to eat some good chicken at one of the few restaurants that open on sundays. However, I am not good to memorize french names. They also let me use the washer and dryer for my clothes, and believe me, I was needing it, the pants specially. They are waterproof, so no ventilation, and have 2 internal linings, one to hold the knees and ankles protectors, and another one that is in contact with the skin. Now you imagine this with sweat, wind, for hours non-stop...
Fortunately the weather is great here, so I can do some quick maintenance like chain lubrication and an attempt to drain the water from the bowl and have all the cylinders firing in low RPM again. Then pack up and go in the next morning. If I don't manage to fix this carburettor issue, I will need to find a Suzuki shop and have this properly done. And also change the oil, because it is far hotter here than I thought.
Today my brother and his girlfriend had to travel but allowed me to stay for a bit more, which is great. This way I can rethink my packing because so far I haven't pulled the camera once, and maybe because I placed stuff at the wrong bags. The tank bag I always keep with the rain cover on, which makes it more difficult to get something from it, and this is not the place to stash things that need quick access, like the cameras and the 1st aid kit. So I will probably move them to a side bag and put some clothes on the tank instead. This way I only need to open it when I stop at a hotel.
I will go find some food and try to get at least a couple of shots before I leave.
Photographer, motorcyclist, traveler, gamer. Your host.