2023 trip planning for the Arctic Circle

Its 180 miles from Hoek Van Holland to Eemshaven where a brand new ferry company has just started a route to Kristiansand on the southern tip of Norway, saving one night in Germany compared with the journey from Kiel to Oslo. And the price is a little cheaper. The cost in time is a rather longer journey in Norway.

From Oslo the route to Mo I Rana is 623 miles; from Kristiansand its 793 miles – 3 hours more riding on day one.

Mosko Moto Tank bags compared – Nomax and Hood

About a year ago – or was it two? – I bought my first piece of Mosko Moto kit, the Nomax Tank bag, for my then new KTM 790Adv. When it arrived, I was surprised, maybe a little disappointed, that it was so small, and not only small but divided horizontally into compartments that made it even smaller. This was not the tank bag that you could dump a small supermarket shop, or your large DSLR into and ride off. It encouraged or rather forced you into organising the number of necessarily small items that you might want to have at hand. Even the additional map holder was so small I had to search for an A5 size road atlas to fit into it. But then the KTM, and other off-road-ish bikes, are smaller than BMW R1200s that my previous Touratech bag perched on. Touratech tank bags are described as being 15L in volume, compared to a third of that for these MM bags. That’s got that out of the way.

I think it was the influence of a Youtube motorcycle traveller that brought the Hood tank bag to my attention first. I liked its simple design and the fact it seems to be one large compartment and one that’s meant to be highly waterproof too. So I shelled out and it arrived from somewhere in Europe without me having to pay any extra tax. I wanted to know whether it had the carrying capacity of the Nomax so tried this experiment:

Soundtrack inspired by David Lynch

Pretty much all of those small tools for minor maintenance and some personal things like Ibuprofen and folding cutlery fit into the two separate pouches that fit inside. That leaves the centre of the bag for the usb charger and the tangle of wires and battery chargers that most motorcyclists carry around on their trips. The bag has some waterproof holes and routes for a charging cable to reach the bike’s usb charging socket installed now by the new tower. And that’s just about it. So just like the Reckless 80 that I also have, instead of opening it and reaching for the item you need, you have to take a bunch of things out first to find what you want – maybe not so much fun if its raining and you are by the side of the road. That’s the price of the ‘light is right’ approach, I suppose.

The real test is to try it out on the bike which I haven’t done yet.

Old School motorcycle garage in South London

Everything I do ends up with lashings of anxiety. My bike was/is due its first MOT just after Christmas so at my KTM dealer getting a service done a couple of weeks back I asked whether my high beam Baja Squadron Pro would pass its test. I knew that it was sold as not street legal and I also know that it is blindingly bright. I was told that it would be ok but the dipped headlight would bring ‘an instant fail’. And why? Because its beam sloped up to the right rather than the left which is how LHD countries require headlights to point. (See below – subtle, eh?)

So, on the mail to Aurora Rally equipment, based in definitely RHD Greece. They pointed me helpfully to a Hella light on Amazon with a LH slope, ordered then delivered a few days later. I thought I would replace both headlamps and brought the bike back home from its usual location in Cambridge. Its not really that difficult to remove the front of the tower, just a little time consuming. For me though, the new light looked like it could never fit because the connection seemed totally different, so every step proceeded with a sense that everything would go pearshaped on this job at any moment.

Needless to say everything worked out well. The dipped beam is a small LED (over €100) which easily replaced the halogen bulb that came with the new light, though the Aurora tower does not seem to have enough upwards adjustment for the dipped beam.

So, rather than head back up to Ipswich I took the bike to a local MOT and mechanics, ChasBikes on Kennington Road. I was uncertain that the bike would get through.

It was easy to book, and there was no waiting time when I arrived and the test was done in half an hour, possibly less. The place is great and a welcome antidote for those corporate dealers where you get a coffee from a machine while your bike is whisked off and the mechanic’s space is out of bounds to customers. This is an Old school motorcycle garage at its best. I sat about 10 feet away from the mechanic testing my bike and could explain its oddities – like the headlight only comes on after the bike has moved a couple of yards. Chas and his mechanic both have an enjoyable dry humour (‘when electric starts came out I thought this won’t catch on’). I’ll be back for sure – next year at least. Chas mentioned that he had lived in East Africa, but I didn’t enquire further. The bike passed and I learned a few things about how the bureaucratic MOT system works. Interestingly this is what I found when looking them up to do a Google review:

‘CHASBIKES was started in 1984 by Charles Holt M.A.(OXON), a former East African wildlife biologist. Originally located on an industrial estate in Greenwich, the company hired out Honda CX500’s to dispatch riders, before beginning to specialise in repairing them for the public. The company then moved on to work on other popular dispatch riding models….’ https://www.yell.com/biz/chasbikes-ltd-london-6519580/

And here he is: