Tunisia by off-road motorcycle: preparation and equipment

giantloop alpinestars anlas risemousse uswe ariete garmin polisport acerbis enduro rally cross dual
Alpinestars clothing and protections - Ram Desert 8K goggle

At the beginning of November we were on a motorbike among the dunes and tracks of Tunisia, for a week entirely dedicated to adventure: here's how to prepare motorbike and rider.

Those who practice off-road riding know it well, nothing should be left to chance when traveling far and where you have to know how to get by in every situation. For this reason, in this article we tell you what we did to the bike before setting off, how we equipped it for the desert and what we did to prepare ourselves for a very busy week.

Content index

  1. Motorcycle preparation
  2. Pilot preparation
  3. Equipment and electronics
  4. Motorcycle and rider bags
  5. Technical and protective clothing

In our case, the week of Tunisia desert stage with Oscar Polli, was mainly dedicated to single cylinders, but there was also a very good rider with KTM 1290 Super Adventure, therefore, all (or almost) of what follows is aimed at enduro and maxi-enduro owners.

How do you prepare a motorcycle for the desert?

Under the sign Husqvarna FE350 of 2020, like all the motorcycle that have to face the sandy soils of Tunisia, must be prepared for a very different use from the classic enduro ride through the Italian woods. First of all the engine, that goes trimmed to perfection and above all protected with: air filter new, cover dust filter e sand cover. Then you have to take a tank filter, to prevent dirt from ending up inside during refuelling. For fuel we then recommend a oversized tank, like those of Acerbis.

giantloop alpinestars anlas risemousse uswe ariete garmin polisport acerbis enduro rally cross dual
Anlas Capra Xtreme and Risemousse Enduro tires on Husqvarna FE 350

Service: the enduro ones are fine, better if new and combined with the anti-puncture mousses, because in a week and almost 1.000 km an already worn one would hardly reach the end. We have chosen the Anlas Capra-Xtreme, always performing on all types of terrain (even on typical Italian routes) and the mousse enduro standard by Risemousse, among the best on the market for durability and resistance. Suspensions: it is advisable to remove the forks to raise the front end and then find (perhaps with a professional) the right setting for tracks and dunes.

How do you train for the desert?

The desert does not forgive and is as beautiful as it is demanding, but at the same time accessible to all. Our advice is to prepare well both technically and physically because the sand hides many pitfalls and requires a minimum of specific technique.

Tunisia by motorbike - Desert Stage with Oscar Polli freeracing school enduro maxi cross travel adventures
Oscar Polli – World Rally Raid Champion

In our case we turned to Oscar Chickens (Freeracing School), not only because he was the one to take us around the dunes, but because he taught us and explained well how to train first. So we did a few sessions training and school a Ottobiano, where we refined our technique on softer and sandy terrain and then in a couple of off-road outings to complete the route and also understand the commitment from the point of view physical.

As regards the latter aspect, we relied on Mario Bellavia (MB Training Program), federal trainer of many enduro and rally champions, primarily to enjoy the fun and spectacle of the dunes much more without being exhausted, and then because the risk of injury is significantly reduced.

Mario Bellavia - MB Training Program
Mario Bellavia – MB Training Program

So, a month before leaving we started a specific training of joint mobility designed for motorcycle movements, not only on the saddle but also to absorb shocks, falls, lift the motorcycle, etc. At the same time we dedicated a few hours a week to aerobic activities such as bike, running, rowing machine, et al bodyweight muscle strengthening with 6 key exercises that cover the muscles and joints for this sport: squats, deadlifts, pull-ups, flat bench with barbell, military press e dip to the parallels. Last but not least, nutrition is a fundamental factor to be taken into serious consideration

What should I bring with me?

There are no shortage of them accessories indispensable for an adventure in the desert, first of all the satellite navigator, which allows you to orient yourself, follow tracks and routes. In our case we used an old but still efficient one Garmin Montana 600, compact and light also mounted on the handlebar. Our advice, however, goes to the most recent version, namely the montana 700i which also includes a subscription-based messaging and satellite SOS system.

New Garmin Montana 750i 700i 700 GPS
montana 700i

As for spare parts, in addition to the inevitable nylon ties, in different thicknesses and lengths, don't forget a couple of replacement levers, for an air filter cleaned and oiled and the tools necessary for basic operations. As far as levers are concerned, we then recommend mounting a pair of handguards, also in plastic, such as i Bullit di Polisport which we have combined with the specific gray plastic kit for Husqvarna FE.

What backpack or bag do I take?

To carry some spare parts, water, petrol and a few accessories, we decided to mount very light and well-studied ones enduro bags, model Mojavi, produced by Giant Loop. The bags adapt perfectly to the fairings of enduro bikes, without hindering the rider in movements, allowing you to carry and store much more than you are used to. To these bags we then added the Buckin' Roll Tank Bagvery small and very useful tank bag, to have what you need close at hand without getting off the bike, and a Armadillo Bag to carry 4 liters of extra petrol.

giantloop alpinestars anlas risemousse uswe ariete garmin polisport acerbis enduro rally cross dual
Giant Loop enduro bags

We chose it Raw backpack 12 liters and alternatively the Zulu pouch from 6 liters of the Swedish company ETC. The materials are extremely resistant and light, with a single central hook, with many pockets and an abundant bladder for liquids. In this way we always had drinking water, bars and other small things close at hand, practically without feeling their weight or bulk.

What to wear in the desert?

As you well know the temperature changes in the desert they are remarkable, especially in spring and in autunno. For this reason it goes from about ten (even less) degrees at night to over 25 during the day in full sun. That's why we dress up like the pilots of the Dakar Rally, onion, and undress along the way.

giantloop alpinestars anlas risemousse uswe ariete garmin polisport acerbis enduro rally cross dual
Alpinestars clothing and protections – Ram Desert 8K goggle

For the clothing we have therefore chosen Alpinestars, with a very light, resistant and comfortable enduro outfit, the Techstar Arch alternating with Venture XT, slightly heavier. We then put the technical jacket on top Venture-R Jacket, with detachable sleeves, for perfect external thermoregulation, with various air intakes, a comfortable back pocket and the predisposition for the water bladder.

Alpinestars: Tech 7 boots and Supertech M10 helmet
Alpinestars: Tech 7 boots and Supertech M10 helmet

Turning instead to the protections stivali Alpinestars Tech 7 they have always been a guarantee, for the comfort and safety of the lower limbs. To these we have combined the Supertech M10 helmet with mask 8K Desert ram, light and comfortable from the first use, really above average and protection for the body Bionic Tech V2 Protection Jacket, which saved us from a bad speed crash on the rocky tracks of Tunisia. I know that next time I'll opt directly for theenduro airbags always by Alpinestars.