Travel Diary

Online Journal for the 'Right Around Australia' project.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


Torsten: Work with Paul on the luggage racks is coming along. The biggest problem we have is the sheer size of the bags.

The rear support plate & cross brace

Earlier in the year we were trying to work out what hard luggage we could use. Aluminium panniers are too expensive, and in the end we decided to go with Pelican Cases. Made of ABS they're tough as nails, and waterproof. Primarily used for camera equipment, they'll be up to it, but unfortunately here in Australia they are so expensive. Twice the price of what others pay overseas. So we looked to Ebay.

Top plate and tank mount

We found the ideal case in the 1550 model, but there were only ever one for sale at a time and we needed four. There was a seller with four of one model but they were the 1600's. Larger than we wanted, but the right number and within our budget. A few bids later and they were ours.

Once they arrived the first thing that sprang to mind was 'shit these are big!'. At 39 litres each Ulick and I were wondering if we'd made a mistake. After going through the pro's and con's we figured we weren't going to find anything else, and it was better that they be too big than too small.

Pelican 1600 case and mounting loop

Fast forward to now and it looks like they'll be fine. They will create a bit of drag, but we wont be breaking the speed limit anyway.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Torsten: I've been reading a book 'Peking to Paris - The Great Expedition' ( ) which chronicles the journey to recreate the original 1907 Peking to Paris 'raid'. The book follows the the drivers and their five vehicles of the same make as the original journey from China through Mongolia, Russia, Lithuania, Germany and on to France. The ABC broadcast a series ( ) which unfortunately I missed. The book does capture the sense of adventure and the troubles getting these 100 year old vehicles through. Some of you may even recognise the rider of the Contal 'trike' as Mick Matheson, editor of Australian Motorcycle News. The book is available from ABC shops and most good bookstores.

We haven't even left yet and sometimes it feels like i've been going for months. The hardest part of any large trip is the planning. It can be very draining especially when things aren't going to plan. Reading books about other peoples adventures definitely helps keeps the spirits up.

There are plusses too though. Like when something you feared would bring everything unstuck goes to plan. One of those fears I had was our luggage system. From the beginning, looking at big Vespa trips others had done I noticed that the luggage was always piled high behind the riders - mostly because this is one of the few places you can put it. The Vespa already has a lot of its weight located at the rear and from the few longish trips i've taken, the handling of the bikes becomes progressively worse in proportion to the amount of stuff you stack behind you.

Just like any bike, the ideal place to keep the weight is low and central. We also needed something waterproof and robust for the camera gear. We were certain hard luggage was what we needed, but how do you do this on a Vespa?

As far as I can tell it hasn't been done so we looked for help. And we found it in Mr Paul Keys, a biker and do-it-yourselfer. Pauls garage is filled with things he's made for bikes, including a trailer and hitch for his 1200cc Yamaha cruiser. After 5 minutes of talking with Paul it became clear that nothing was impossible. We talked and worked out what what we needed and he said 'No problem'.

Pics to follow...