Switzerland–Australia on Suzuki DR750
|Cédric Egli, a motorcyclist living in the French part of Switzerland, was kind enough to tell about his marvelous a trip of 37,000 kilometers from Switzerland to Sydney in Australia he made with his Suzuki DR BIG 750 back in 1995.
|Not far from home. Traveling light and only 37,000 km to go...
Preparations before the trip
The story began in 1994, at the end of my studies, when I realized that I had already traveled twice around the world by train on the journey between my home in Lausanne and my university in Geneva!
I bought the Suzuki DR750 second hand, with 9,000 km on the meter. It was my first bike. I simply liked the look of it and the price was good. At this time there was no Internet available with reviews and tests to read. Later I found out that I made a good choise!
I told myself that I could make a more interesting trip!
I talked about it to a friend who had the same bike as me: a Suzuki DR BIG 750.
We looked at the map of the world, and saw that the longest journey without taking a boat or plane, from Switzerland, was to go towards Asia. Finally, we decided that the final destination would be Sydney in Australia. That's about 34,000 km (you just have to remember that in 1994, Google maps didn't exist, and the web wasn't super common. Organizing a trip like that was more complicated. Now it's so easy, but much less adventure).
We therefore prepared the two motorcycles during one year (the advantage of having two same kind of motorcycles was that the rare spare parts that we took, we could spare between us, that spared us weight. We wanted to travel as light as possible. Wear parts conserned, we took a chain kit each.
We did a full service (fork, carburettor, steering, etc.),before the trip, we had to learn some mechanics. Neitherof us were skilled mechanics.
The rest of the preparations consisted in obtaining three visas (difficult back in 1995 for Iran, Pakistan and India) and removing unnecessary stuff so that everything fit in our three Krauser panniers that swallowed 60 liters in total.
Let the adventure begin
On the day of departure, in July 1995, my DR had already covered 40,000 kilometers, but I had no doubt that it would make the trip. The countries to cross were:
Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia before entering the target, Australia.
Between Nepal and Thailand, there is Burma. In 1995, it was impossible to cross it, so we flew (with motorbikes) from Kathmandu to Bangkok. From there, we went up to the Burmese border in the Golden Triangle, before descending towards Singapore.
In Singapore we sent our motorbikesby boat to Darwin, Australia, while we toured Bali on a (rented) motorbike. The choice not to do the entire journey across Indonesia, this archipelago nation with multiple islands, with our own motorbikes was due to the security reasons (lots of pirate) and time available.
After three weeks of vacation in Bali, we found our bikes in Darwin. From Darwin we rode down to the Red Center (Ayers Rock), before going up to Cairns, to go down the entire East coast to reach Sydney.
|Welcome to Turkey. Crossing the border and entering Asia
|Another tyre job. One of the rare mechanical problems we had on the trip. This mishap took place in Baluchistan desert, close to the border. When we stopped, there were no people around, A while later, more and more people gathered. The appeared from nowhere...
|Men in the tribal area in Northern Pakistan.We met many interesting people during the nine month long journey. The chief didn't want us to see his face in the picture. One of his people was monitoring, with a Kalachnikov in his hand.
|A few scares on the road
To recover our second set of tyres in Diyarbakir, Kurdistan, was scary. Kurdistan was at war at the time. When we left, there were assault tanks everywhere and soldiers with bazookas. But I didn't change my tyres at that time because the old one was still good. Finally I gave my old Michelin T66 in the middle of the Iranian desert to another biker (who rode an Africa Twin) who had torn his tire. And all this at night with Iranian brigands all around! Finally this old tire rolled from Switzerland to Bangkok, on two different motorcycles!
In Pakistan, we went up the KKH (Karakoram Highway) to the Chinese border (Khunjerab pass) at an altitude of 4,693 meters where the air was thin and the DR750 was weak like a 250cc bike. War zone between Pakistan and India (the area of Cachmire) was not very secure.
In Australia we crossed a "flood way" (with storms, the river passes over the road) with strong current. The height of water in the middle was about 80 centimeters. I managed to pass, leaning the bike a lot, to counter the strong current, and being careful not to crush fish... On the other hand, my friend got off the road and fell... He disappeared under the surface and I could no longer see him or the motorcycle. I dived in with the helmet and all, and I found both the man and the motorcycle! Later that evening, Australians told us that we were crazy. There were crocodiles in this region!
The pictures I chose here are just a few from the collection of 4000 photos I took during the trip. There were no iPhones at the time, the photos were taken with a bulky DSLR camera with a 24/36 mm lens and slide film.
|My used Michelin T66 ended up in another bike. A Honda Africa Twin rider needed one so I gave it to him. A bunch of brigands watched closely what was happening.
|Kalashnikovs with bayonets pointed at our heads
The other biker, to whom I gave my old tire, was an Australian guy who was riding almost the same route with his wife and an another guy. All three were working in London, and decided to go back home to OZ with there bikes. We happened to meet them by chance, six or seven times! They had on their bike a little system that automatically lubricated the chain (see the picture below). I decided to get one of those.
But again, no Internet or PayPal to get this stuff from England when we were in Pakistan.
I had to place the order by fax. So I wrote the message, with my bank details and a copy of my passport. We went to a post office, to send the fax. But when I wanted to retrieve my document, with this sensitive data, the postal worker refused, because when the paper passes through the fax machine it belongs to the state, the paper becomes state paper! The postal worker didn't understand bank coordinate system, nor the credit cards, and couldn't see why it was important for us. After a noisy argument, we tore the paper and traced the account number... And it became a falsification of state paper!
A few minutes later, we found ourselves pointed with bayonets at the end of Kalashnikov, under our necks :-( We ended up in jail for a day, just for this small incident!
The chain lubrication system I wanted to install in my bike in Pakistan. Instead, I ended up in jail...
Sadly, I couldn't afford to ship the bike back home
When you travel through Asia, you need to have a "Carnet de passage", a document needed to take a bike over many borders, removing the need to pay import and export duty as you cross them. To get this doument, you need to make a deposit equal to value of your bike! You also need to get a stamp from customs at the entry and the exit of each country, to prove that you didn't sell your bike in this country. If you don't have both stamps, you don't get back you deposit. This is because in Asia, the import taxes are high. So when we arrived in Sydney, I would ship my bike home, but I didn't have enough money left. My girlfriend, who join me in Cairns, Northern Australia, paid my plane ticket to get me back home – but without the bike. But I needed the second stamp from the customs, otherwise it seemed that I had sold the motorcycle in Australia and had to pay import taxes. The solution was to sell the bikes to a shredder. The import taxesI had to pay were for scrap metal and not for a motorcycle –much cheaper! So i didn't have this bike anymore...
When I came back home, after a while, i bought another Suzuki, a 1990 DR800 that had the same shape as the 750. But with this one, I wouldn't make the same trip, I don't know why. Don't trust it...
After that, because Suzuki stopped making this kind of bike, I bought a Yamaha Super Tenere, BMW GS1150, GS1200 and GS1250! It's almost twice as much motor as the DR750 ;-)
It was a completely crazy trip, at a time where you had to do everything yourself, without the help of Google and GPS. THE GREAT ADVENTURE. For me the most intense, the most extreme and the most interesting country: Pakistan.
The DR 750: brilliant and perfect (lacks a bit of power, but OK).
Length of the trip: 37,000 km
Duration: 9 months
Minor accidents: 1 each
Technical problems: 2 punctures for my friend
Tyres: 2 sets each. Michelin T66 (We did about 25% on the track on stone, sand, trail. That's why we made this choice of very capable and durable road tyre. But in the sand...
Price gasoline in Pakistan: 0.08 Euro!
Temperature: Riding in Australia with +50°C
Altitude: from 0 meters to 4,693 meters above sea level
Weather: during more than 9 months of travel, we only had 3 days of rain! And sometimes five minutes of showers during the monsoon in Thailand – a paradise for a biker!
These DR 750 > only happiness
Good road to all, ride safely! :-)
|Dacht-e Kavir desert in Iran. The Suzuki DR750 worked like a charm, never let me down on the long trip from Switzerland to Australia.
|Crossing a river, actually a flooded road, almost ended up in a catastrophy. My friend fell off the road with his bike and dissapeared under the surface. We were lucky that that crocodiles didn't find him first...
|Ayers Rock is often referred to as the heart of the 'Red Centre' and is one of Australia's most recognisable landmarks.
|Sydney Opera house. Unfortunately my trusted DR750 never got home again. I sold it in Australia.
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