TE(s)T ride Turkana MadMules

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TE(s)T ride Turkana MadMules

Peter hit the road with the new prototypes of the Turkana MadMules. Together with Sander he is riding the TET Spain from Barcelona towards Gibraltar. He would love to take you along and share his experience about the trip.

Honestly I want to go away on a motorcycle trip at least once a year, but with my own business and a family, it's always a puzzle. Last year, we have been busy developing the MadMules. Now that they are almost ready for production, this was an excellent opportunity to plan a trip and push the bags to their limit before they go into production.

In preparation for the trip the key question was of course which bike will I ride, the CRF250L or the Yamaha Tenere T700. Normally I am fine with traveling alone and since I knew I would be testing the MadMules and I would be riding quite a bit off road for this, the only option was really the CRF250L. I never really fall with the CRF because it's lower and lighter and that's important when riding hardcore off road solo. However, the bags do better on the T700 and riding a heavier bike off road also gives more kick I think. The disadvantage is that if something goes wrong and you're on your own it can go very wrong. So I soon realized what the best solution was, I should not go alone. So I asked a friend along, Sander. Sander is a former customer who has made a trip around the world and has now returned from it and was also ready for a nice ride. Sander made the trip on his Yamaha XT600E with the existing Turkana HippoHips mounted on his pannier frames.

 

When the travel party was complete and the choice of bike and bags was made, the trip could be planned. In terms of relaxed travel planning, things were unfortunately a little different... The bikes had already been shipped (because that takes at least 1 week) but the MadMule prototypes had not yet arrived. Fortunately, the prototypes arrived at the last minute just before we left and I was able to take them with me on the plane. With the prototypes and extra straps in my pocket to mount them in all possible ways I could start the trip with an easy mind. Sander was not bothered by this because the HippoHips are already part of the Turkana assortment so he had already mounted them on his bike before the motorcycle was transported. Unfortunately, the stock for the new lightweight tent in our range arrived just too late, the Sea to Summit Telos TR2

 

 

Just before that, we had already overcome another challenge in the trip planning. The plan was actually to go to Morocco but for a long time it was uncertain if the border would be open. Because we only had 2 weeks we decided to have the bikes transported to southern Spain. From there we could take the ferry at Gibraltar to Morocco and if the border was closed, plan B was to ride the TET in Spain. Eventually, just before departure of the bikes, it appeared that the border of Morocco would remain closed, so we had to go for plan B after all. We then quickly decided not to have the bikes dropped off in Malaga, but to have them transported to Barcelona, and agreed with Nord Cargo that we could return them in Malaga for transport back to the Netherlands. That way we could ride a nice part of the TET without having to ride the same part back. All in all, plan B was not a bad choice at all and it was really great riding and camping in South-East Spain.

Enough about the preparation. Once we arrived in Barcelona we took a cab to the Nord Cargo warehouse to put the new prototypes on my bike and head straight for the TET. The first days we didn't do many kilometers. We didn't make it to the planned 200 km a day. The trails were a bit more technical and completely off-road all day (for someone who rides in the Netherlands for most of the year, that's Valhalla). What perhaps also played a part was that we were quite slow in the morning. At 8 o'clock the alarm went off in the dark and before we were on the bike it was soon 10 o'clock. Around 5 pm it already started to get dark so we had to look for a place to wild camp and prepare food. The camping in the wild was wonderful and always easy. We always looked for a place out of sight, often in an olive orchard but also sometimes in an old ruin or in the woods. We have really been in the most beautiful places. The first night we were immediately visited by a herd of wild boar, which is just like home on our own Veluwe.

 

The first 2 to 3 days were really tough off road sections. Hard Enduro with big rocks and steep climbs and descents. After that it went smoother, with beautiful views, hours of unpaved riding with hardly any asphalt connections and few other people. Only on the weekends were there occasional hikers.

In slow maneuvers I did drop my bike a few times. Sander also had to lift the bike from me once, so besides the fun it was a good choice not to go out alone with this heavier bike. That does not diminish my enthusiasm about the T700 by the way. I was already happy with it but now I am absolutely sure that it will stay. I can't wait to optimize it further and to give it the full Hyperpro suspension treatment soon.

 

Meanwhile we got higher and higher into the mountains so it was very cold at night. So we decided to go to a hotel because otherwise we would really freeze. Which turned out to be quite difficult because there was not much open. To avoid having to spend the night in the cold again or having to look for a hotel we thought, we'll go in the direction of the sea. Then in the evening we ended up in the high mountains again and still had a very cold night under the stars.
While camping, we had emergency meals with us from Summit to Eat. Especially in the morning, these were perfect. Most importantly, they were very tasty. Especially oatmeal with raspberry and the Scrambled egg are highly recommended. The packaging consists of a resealable aluminum bag to which you add hot water until the right mark, depending on the meal. After waiting for 8 minutes and deliciously warming your hands you could eat directly from the bag, ideal without have to washing up. In the evening we often cooked simple one-pot meals with pasta or couscous and canned sauce that we got from the the local supermarket.

 

Because I mounted the 22L Acerbis tank on my bike just before the trip and we didn't do many kilometers a day we could ride a few days without refueling so that gave a lot of freedom. Sander already had a 23L tank on his bike and I still had the standard 16L but of course I didn't want to be the one who had to fill up all the time so luckily I had the Acerbis tank in the warehouse. That worked out really well. Depending on how aggressive you ride it has a range of 400 to 500 km and it also looks nice, it's like it just comes standard with the bike.
Now back to what this was all about, the MadMules bags. We have ridden hard over very rough terrain, made jumps, fallen several times and the bags continue to hold up well in these extreme conditions. So we can confidently put them into production. During the trip I changed the setup several times to find out what I liked best. In the end, the nicer solution didn't win out over the functional one and I went back to the Keep It Simple Stupid rule. Now you might be thinking nice these MadMules but what kind of bags are they really? The MadMules is a rackless luggage system that can be used on almost all motorcycles. The base of these bags is rigid and has many mounting options because of the MOLLE panels. The system is adjustable both in width and in the angle under which the bags are attached to the motorcycle.

The bags are designed for minimal luggage, so I had to make some cuts in my packing list. Curious about the packing list? You can find the packing list here. In terms of volume I had two 15L bags on the side and a 25L Duffalo bag (also a prototype) on top. We provide bags of 5L, 10L or 15L so you can make the composition that fits your trip. Because of the MOLLE system you can also mount other bags on it. I myself had mounted an OxPacker and a BushBaby on the side of both bags. For a detailed introduction to the MadMules you can also watch the video I made.

The time flew by and before we knew it we had to return our bikes in Malaga. This was the trip and my experience about the TET Spain and the MadMules.

If you prefer a short overview, take a look at the tips here.

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