I’m a champion at doing important things at the last minute, and this time was no different. I can’t believe it all came together in time and it was a wild ride making it happen. In a week and a half I did everything that should have took over a month. For anyone contemplating a similar trip, here is everything I had to prepare:
CARNET DE PASSAGE
The carnet is required to enter many countries along the way with your own vehicle. To sum it up, it’s pretty much paperwork that you have to show at the border, which guarantees you will exit the country with your vehicle. To get my carnet I worked with the amazingly helpful Tahlea from NRMA travel (www.mynrma.com.au/). As far as I know, they are the only ones who will do it in Sydney. I had been told that it takes approximately two weeks to receive the carnet after application. I really wanted to get my bike to Malaysia around the 20th of November, which meant I needed to get it on the ship leaving the 31st, and the cargo cutoff date was the 27th. I bought the bike on the 13th, rushed to the RTA (Australian motor registry) to get it registered in my name, got the application all filled out and scanned, scanned my licenses and passport, and then right as I was about to email everything to Tahlea a massive storm hit and the power went out. It looked like a scene from one of those storm chaser shows. I’ve never seen a wall of nastiness like it before. Very ominous. It proved to be the start of the snow storm which would trap me in Blackheath for a few days. I wasn’t able to get the paperwork to her until the late afternoon on the 14th. I told her that I really needed it by the following week, and she made it happen. I was stressed out worrying about it, but for no reason. She had it ready for me first thing in the morning on the 22nd. It’s amazing how much joy can come from an envelope of paperwork.
SHIPPING THE BIKE
This was another big thing to organise, but it was made easy by Stewart Grimley at Tradelanes Global Solutions PTY LTD. His company is an international freight forwarder (http://www.tradelanes.com.au/). The company used to ship the bike is AGS World Transport, which has their offices at Port Botany. I was helped me at every step, and every little question I had he would reply immediately via email. He can organise shipping motorcycles from all the major ports in Australia. I found his info on The HUBB, and would definitely recommend him. It’s a bit overwhelming trying to figure out where everything needs to go and the logistics, but Stewart and the AGS staff helped me all along the way. My bike will be going from Port Botany, Sydney to Port Kelang, Malaysia. It should take eighteen days and arrive on the 17th of November. The ship will be leaving on Halloween, so I’m hoping dearly that my bike doesn’t end up haunted.
There were only a few things that I had to handle; Picking up a motorcycle crate from the dealer (I got mine at Sydney City Motorcycles in Campelltown), take in my carnet to AGS’s head office at the port so they could get it cleared with customs, and crate the bike up. They were super helpful and let me drop off the crate a few days early to their air freight warehouse. This was super helpful because sold Moby II on Saturday, and would have had nowhere to store it until monday. Crating it up wasn’t the easiest job. It actually took me most of the day, and wasn’t helped by the gusty winds blowing everything around. The crate came as a bottom, top, front and back piece, piece to hold the front axle down, four side bars, some tie downs, and a whole bunch of bolts. A guy at the warehouse said that people pay a lot to get their bikes crated up, and was surprised I did it myself for fifty bucks. To get the bike to fit in the crate I had to remove the front wheel, handlebars, windscreen, mirrors, handguards, rear top case, and the ammo cans. Also, it had to be empty of fuel and the battery disconnected. I was able to pack most of my stuff into the crate as well, and then put a cover over it.
Stewart has people at Port Kelang who will help me when the time comes.
SETTING MOTORCYCLE UP
Since I’ve had a KLR before, I know them fairly well. It was kind of like being with a long lost lover. Things feel a little strange and awkward at first, but then you slowly get the feel for each other again, and it’s like you were never apart.
She only has 6000KM on her, and looks like a new bike. So there wasn’t anything major to deal with. I did the following:
#Changed the oil and filter
#Clean the air filter with solvent and re-oil
#Topped up the electrolyte levels in the battery and charged it
#Topped up the coolant
#Cleaned it meticulously per import regulations
#Installed an inline fuel filter, for all the crapy fuel I’m sure my bike will deal with along the way.
#Installed a cigarette lighter charger outlet on the handlebars. You can pick them up for cheap. I got mine from a motorcycle shop fro fifteen bucks. It has a ground wire and a (((((((( wire with an inline fuse. You can connect them straight to your battery or splice into something like your headlight, so that it will only draw power when the bike is on. I have an aftermarket headlight switch on my handlebars that I spliced into. The way I did it makes it so the adapter is powered when the headlight is switched off, and has no power when the headlights are switched on. Works just fine for me.
#Bought a tank bag with plenty of space and a clear top for viewing maps or GPS
#Already has a large rear top case, Mo-Tech crash bars, and a centre stand installed
#Put on a pannier frame/rack and ammo can panniers (luggage carriers), which was a big project. For solid panniers from a shop I was looking at upwards of a thousand dollard, so decided to make my own custom ones. I searched military surplus shops in Sydney for 20mm ammo cans and found two in great shape for $70 total at Surplus City. I slept with them in the back of the van for a week, so we already have a tight friendship, nothing weird or gross. The toughest part was getting a frame to put on the bike that I could hook the cans to. At first I thought I could find a welder to make me something, but this proved impossible. Nobody I talked to would mess with something like that. So I moved on to checking at the motorcycle shops for a pannier rack custom made for the KLR. Not one shop in Sydney had one in stock, and would be up to two weeks to order one in. I started to get super worried. My final call was to a kawasaki dealer out in Penrith, an hour west. They saved the day and were able to order one in just three days. It’s a Mo-Tech rack custom made for the KLR. I was expecting something mostly put together and would just entail bolting it on, but ended up in there shop for five hours getting it assembled and hooked up. The tail signal lights had to be extended, and because of ridiculous installation illustrations I put pieces facing the wrong way too many times to count. I think they might have had a drunk guy create it.
The rack is absolutely perfect for the ammo cans with 6mm holes spaced around it. I held the cans to where I wanted them on the rack, marked where holes needed to be, drilled 6mm holes through the can, and used 40mm long 6mm bolts with washers and wing-nuts to hold them on.
I’ve seen people paint them, but I dig the look. They definitely are heavy, at about 20 pounds each, but indestructible. I tested one of them when I loaded the right side without anything on the left, which caused it to crash over when a breath of wind came by. It’s almost like armour for the bike.
SPARE PARTS & BITS THAT I’M PACKING
#Front & rear brake pads
Throw in some camping gear, cameras and electronics, and clothes, and theres my motorcycle ready to go.
I miss her already and can’t wait for the reunion in Malaysia.
My last night camping in Moby someone called the cops on me and I had to move on, so lame. Happy to not worry about that anymore. Tomorrow I fly down to Melbourne to visit a friend for a week and then I’m heading up to Indonesia, Sumatra, for a couple weeks while I wait for the moto. Need to get up to cheap SE Asia!