Coleman Tatra 3 – the suitability for a motorbike adventure

Now, after three months, it would be a good idea to give a small feedback on the Coleman Tatra 3 tent that I chose during the winter. To be specific, in the biking context, given that there are two hikers and one motorbike. When traveling on one single ride, compactness and weight are considerably more important than travelling with two bikes. I’ll try to be as objective as possible.

Size packed. After some tests, we separated the tent and arches separately. The tent goes to the side case, arches in the back pocket of a soft suitcase. Very ok. The minus is the too good original bag. It is based on the principle of a pipe bag and is quite hermetic. And since it is hermetic, when closing, there is always one part where the air can not be removed. This, in turn, will take more space. The original bag is probably quite good if the tent is attached to the outside of the suitcases, but inside the suitcase there should be a somewhat simpler compression bag. Without a bag, you can not pack a tent compact enough.

Installation comfort / speed This is a great blessing that the whole tent stands up only with arches. Yesterday it was the first time in three months that I tightened some ropes and installed the pegs. That’s because there was heavy rain. Putting the tent up and packing is quick and comfortable. So fast that I would not have believed it. The fact that the arches have to be pushed into the channels is no problem at all (time will tell how long they hold up). The fact that the tents stands without pegs and cords is extremely necesseray. In Africa, the ground is usually hardened with burnt clay or soft sand. In some city camps also concrete. All of these surfaces are unfavorable for pegs. They do not stand inside the sand, and you can’t push them in the hard surfaces. Car hikers have a separate hammer with them. For easy installation, the ends of aluminum arches are designed with a “collar”. Once arranged in the ring, they stay there well and you don’t have to ask a companion to hold on to anything.

Size It’s suitable for two travellers. Luggage and riding clothes fit into the front room, and there’s enough room in the bedroom for sleeping and spreading out all the rest of the stuff.

Ease of use A small minus, a relatively low “exterior door”. The bigger the man needs to duck a bit more than he would like to. Because the front room is low, you can’t move around there. To enter the tent, you must open both the exterior and interior door, and then either climb in or out immediately with one stroke. The tent has two exterior doors, but in reality only one is used, since the inner door opens to one side. This is not a special minus, just another door we can not find use and is relatively meaningless. At the same time, the entry from one side leaves the front room entirely to luggage and riding gear and you don’t have to climb over them. Footprint could be added, but it has to be cleaned up and it adds weight / volume when packed.

Ventilation Ventilation is so and so. No condense has occurred, even in the overly humid climate by the sea. However there was lack of air. Especially in the hot and humid climate by the sea when there was no wind. There’s too little mesh surface on the inner tent and the existing mesh is so tight it limits the movement of the air substantially. The ceiling of the tent should also have more mesh. The fact that when the tent is installed only with arches and the cords and pegs have not been tightened and the shape of the tent is not really as it should be, could play the part of the bad ventilation (the air channels are shut). All in all, the ventilation was incomplete only in the aforementioned ultra-humid, and especially hot and windless conditions. At other times, it’s totally tolerable. However, I am considering tuning the inside door so that it is fully made of mesh.

Conclusion In the light of the aforementioned, I will give 4+ (on the scale of 5) to the Tatra 3 as a tent for motorbike travelling. Entering is a bit inconvenient and that can’t be changed. Internal door could be made of all mesh, that can be changed. At the moment it seems that everything was said. If I remember something else I will add it later.

 

About the brakes and ABS

About the rear brake cylinder.

It is now clear that the “window” of the rear brake cylinder is not a separate spare part. Also, the brake cylinder without the window is not an original spare part. The price of the new cylinder is 135 €. The good thing is that the price also includes a new piston with cuffs. But still, the price is high to repair the mistake of the manufacturer. So what, in fact, is a good solution? At the moment I can think of such variants:

1. Focus on the correct and good brake fluid in the future and hope that the new brake cylinder (or rather the window on its side) lasts at least as long as the first one, i.e. 64000km.

2. Remove the existing cylinder and weld the window should. Perharps it is possible? I would be happy to receive comments on this solution.

3. Try to find a suitable brake cylinder from other bike models and rebuild the system a little bit. There, of course, will be other things to consider, from fastenings, to the suitability of the levers to the hoses.

ABS on this particular model.

Already in the winter, when I was preparing the bike for the trio, I was advised to throw the ABS away. At that time, I could not do it. It spent a lot of time and money on redevelopment, new hoses, etc. Today I can say that I should have been listening and just thrown it away. If we ever get home with the bike then I’ll do it.

Public transport to the island and on the island

After some thought, we decided to go to Zanzibar. If we are already here. I investigated from here and there, and check the harbour just in case. It turns out Zanzibar is a bit like Tanzania and then again, is not. Moving around with your transport requires a lot of customs procedures, some sort of paperwork, payment of some taxes and a pretty decent additional fee in the form of a ferry ticket. And in both directions. Thus, we leave the bike at the guesthouse yard and go with a particularly small bag.

All that is necessary (and as it later turns out unnecessary) fit into a tank bag. I hadn’t used it that way before but it’s quite comfortable. The bag also has a shoulder strap that makes it especially comfortable to use.

The ferry leaves from the city center and the economy ticket costs 35$. Business class 40$ and Royal 50$. We are simple people …. The 2.5h is a bit surprising since the ship is a fast catamaran, the same as the new Lindaline ferries. Although Zansibar is not far from the shore, the distance between ports is the same as between Tallinn and Helsinki, that’s why the relatively long crossing.

We reach Stone Town when it was about to get dark. Aggressive taxi drivers and other intermediaries are so much that it’s really angering. Since the accommodation we have chosen is on the opposite side of the island, we needed to do two things. First, get some cash, and then find a dala-dala that would take us to the right place. After a bit of searching, we found the right ATM. Then we set out to find the right dala-dala. It turned out to be a headache. We found the right direction quite easily but it got complicated after that. You ask someone which bus goes where. Immediately there are several people ready to help you find the right bus. The bus found, we sit in and, as magically, the same assistant who led us to the right bus, is also a conductor and asks for money. Give 15 000! Yeah, right. No, okay, give 10,000. No, no, you will get 5000. No ok, give 6000. Okay, you’ll get 6000. Everything goes very fast, the people gather, the bus is so full that I stand on one leg. Then it turns out that this bus leads only to the city border, and we’ll have to switch to another bus there.

When I arrive, I see that others pay 500 per person. Damn. Since the same character is missing, there’s nothing to do. We go in search for the right bus again and everything is the same. Again, there is an intermediary who guides us to the right bus and again tries to cash in. This time I’m wiser and say that no money can be received before arrival. The guy protests and people on the seats next to us say that we have to pay. I explain that I have already paid and do not intend to pay more for some random guys. It makes a difference. The guy tries to save the situation by saying that we have to pay him for carrying the luggage. Since we do not have any luggage, it’s clear to the audience who is who and another mediator is being thrown out of the bus. Later, passengers apologize for the fact that even they sometimes can not understand who is the conductor and pay twice. That’s why it’s better to pay when you arrive. The correct number is 2,000 for driving to the other side of the island.

Let’s be honest, we are talking about small amounts. But the numbers are large and it creates confusion. And every cent counts when paying for nothing, especially if it is bluntly demanded. Moreover, there is different currency in every country and when you are already tired by the evening it’s really difficult.

The last 5 km we ride on the back seats of small motorbikes. The bus turns to the left, but we needed to go the right. It’s okay. The moped does not break down and we arrive safely.

Gods, karma, paranoia etc

 

The climate by the sea is significantly different from that of the inland. The temperature is the same as it has been throughout the journey, 32-33 C but the humidity enhances heat. Although we shower few times a day, the continuous sticky state is quite uncomfortable. Clothes are also moist. The tent is like a sauna. We sleep without any sleeping bags, blankets or linen, not to mention clothes, but still everything is sticky and damp and really hot.  And, like out of spite, although by the sea, the air does not move at all at night. Absolute silence. The sea is like a mirror when waking up in the morning. And if there is no wind at all then the ventilation of the tent will not work well and in addition to the heat and moisture, there is lack of air.

Because of all that, we decide to change our lodging and move to a local guesthouse not far away. I found it quite casually a few days ago. Good room amenities, hot water, air conditioning and a refrigerator. The guest house is even closer to the city centre. And the price is more favourable than for two persons in a tent, a 15 $ room compared to 20 $ for camping. So, we packed our things and got on the road.

After a couple of kilometers happened something we should have gotten used to by now – we have a flat front tire.

Oh, how I do not want to deal with it again. Fortunately there’s a man about 10 meters away under a tree that repairs rubber things. So with the help of locals, we lifted the bike central fork and I took of the front wheel.

I took the tire completely off the rim to find out what’s the deal. The man under the tree cut patches from an old bicycle inner tube and glues them at the right spots. There are two holes. The pattern is the same. I found the same gash from the tire as previously. This time it’s a little longer.

I could no longer remember whether the whole tire was correctly checked over the last time, whether the gash could have been there the last time and just did not notice it or it was a new one. The whole thing with the front tire is like one big gray horror, I am no longer able to distinguish details. But life goes on. We also patch the gash and it should hold up at least until to the guesthouse. We’ve reached to the level that I don’t even have to tell Oksana what kind of tools are needed to pass or when to turn the compressor on. With the compressor doing its thing I put the tire back on the bike. We do not talk to each other this time. And this time I do not swear either. I do it wordlessly. Oksana, however, hears it. And she reprimands me, as always when my use of words is not proper. But she’s a smart girl and this time she does it without words. So, silently, we packed our tools rode on. The guest house should be only a few kilometres away. I did not remember exactly how far it was, but I remembered that it was on a street parallel to the main road leading to the city. And I remembered the place where I had to turn to the left.

 

We rode about 500 meters when the bike signalled that something was wrong. I checked the front tire, it was full. True, when installing it in a hurry a mistake was made, the direction of the rotation is wrong. But this is not a very big problem. Okay, I thought I just imagined everything. But after starting our journey again I realised that everything was not ok. We stopped again and this time the rear tire was empty. Really it was! We looked at each other and thought the same thing. Which god have we angered? We should light a candle. But to which one? All kinds of them are represented here … Hey Hey! It’s only a tire! Only a tire! A rubber tire! Rear tire! There aren’t any devils running around the bike!

I connected the compressor and hoped that I could get some kind of pressure to the tire so I could reach the guesthouse somehow. I would have time to deal with it there.

 

The sun was already low. But no, the gauge did not even move. There is no injury that can be seen from the outside. Ok. How bad could it can be. I tried to ride quietly, maybe we would find the guesthouse from right there on some side street. Oksana walked behind me. But I did not find the familiar place and the the side street turned out to be a dead end. I turned back from the houses to the main street. Fortunately, there was a smoother area where we could set up our own outdoor workshop. We needed to lighten the load so the entire load had to be removed from the bike.

I managed to get the inner tube out. It’s really damaged. There’s not just a hole. It’s shredded.

I wasn’t really worried since I had a spare. I slide my hand over the inside of the tire to check if there weren’t any nails in there but can’t feel anything. No, I did not trust myself. I could have been wrong. I took the tire completely of the rim and checked the insides.

And there it was. Diagonal, not very noticeable, big rusty nail. The nail has penetrated through the tire so that it could have been there for a long time before it made the hole.

Then, already empty, it moved on a rim and pulled out a large piece. Whatever, at least there was a specific reason. There was some messing around before I got the nail out. I couldn’t have done it without the clamps. New one on and just before dark we could get moving again.

Our new nest was about 5-6 kilometers away and we could not have managed it without further damage with a flat tire. So it was the right decision to try and fix it on the road. Fortunately, we have a warm shower, cold beer and a wide bed in the room waiting for us. We’ve arrived.

One of the longest 10 kilometers of this trip is finally over.

Dar Es Salam

Upon arriving to Dar, we stayed at a camp, located on the shore of the ocean.

The first thing to do, after swimming in the Indian Ocean, was to find out, where to find the little window that was lost from the brake pump. I had some information that there’s an ok KTM dealership in Dar. I wasn’t naive of course. I didn’t expect them to have such thing in stock ready for me. But since the front tire has taken a lot of damage and the inner tube has no unpatched spots left I decided to go and visit the dealership.

There actually is a KTM dealership here. It’s in the middle of a residential area in a private house. There’s an office in the front and a workshop at the back. It doesn’t deal with only KTM’s. It’s seems like the main thing is selling all kinds of Polaris machines – from ATVs to big buggys. Anyway, they have no stock at all. I couldn’t get any help with the brakes, since waiting for two weeks does not fit into our plans. The front tire will arrive pretty quickly. It will arrive in a couple of days. Unfortunately they asked 150 € for a Mitas E07. They found a couple of new front tires from the workshop, but they were meant more for asphalt and they were 180 €. The asking price of an inner tube was 50 €. By haggling, we settled for 30 €. I really needed it. It’s not fun to buy things at a double price. Has a bad effect on ones self-esteem. Do I really look that stupid that people can ask those prices? For comparison, I got a rear tire from the dealership in Windhoek at a perfectly reasonable price. Let’s leave it at that. By the way, they also have a couple of bikes, suitable for adventure riding for sale:

 

There are quite a number of simpler beach resorts/ lodges on the south side of the city of Dar. You can rent a room, camp and wash yourself. There’s also a restaurant. You can use public transport, either tuk-tuk or dala-dala, to commute. The last one is a minibus or a truck that has seats instead of the cargo box. You can also let a small motorbike driver give you a lift. If you find public transport unsuitable, you can drive yourself.

The traffic is for courageous people and needs getting used to but a light motorbike is the best way for getting around in the city. The traffic jams during rush hours are insane and they won’t move at all. There are working traffic lights but the traffic managers are usually out during rush hour. They are funny characters. Some just wave around, some runs along with the cars first in one direction, then in another. One even danced some sort of traffic control dance. Drivers don’t give them the time of day. They drive when it looks like they’ll fit through. There aren’t any rules for motorbikes, they move exactly the way they want.

Right in the centre of the town, next to the harbour, is a fish market. Some awesome fish there. Everything from tuna to barracuda. Oh, how I would like to buy and cook some myself. Unfortunately there aren’t any temporary living spaces with a kitchen available here (there have previously been camp sites that have had a kitchens). There are many eating facilities in the city. Lunch is served in buffet-style canteens, and dinner can be enjoyed behind tables with linens. True, the average level is rather modest. It is a shame because the choice of seafood is excellent in the sea and in the market.

 

The mystery of Livingstonia, the road to Dar and a technical update

We left the resort of the bugs, traveled a couple of hundred kilometers upstream and stopped at the Hakuna Matata campsite. It’s a very chill place. Master Willie bought some land at the edge of the lake, with an area of about a hectar, that cost 4000 dollars and is now quietly spending his old age there. There’s beer in cupboard, Martha’s cooking some dinner, what more to want. The couple of evenings spent there went fast. We discussed world events and turned out that we were on the same wavelength on some topics.

I decided to make a small offroad trip so sitting by the lake wouldn’t get too boring. I removed the cases and wrapped everything necessary so that I took only my tank bag with me. Willie, who used to make day trips to Livingstonia with his old Defender thought that the rise of 15 km should take me about 1,5 hours. To be safe, I took some water and bottle of brake fluid with me just in case. I doubted a little if the trip is worth taking. Didn’t want to risk my life and possible injuries (of the bike I mean). Eventually the desire to ride in the mountains with a lighter bike won.

The rise was difficult but not impossible. It took about 20 minutes and I was up. Since I hadn’t done much preliminary work, I didn’t know what to expect. I mean about Livingstonia as a settlement. Regardless of the fancy name, I thought that it would be just another village in the mountains. I wast really wrong either. There were some unexpected things too. The church for example. A very nice one, well taken care of and totally un-African. I’m sorry for my robust way of expressing, but African churches (talking about the building) are the bad looking. But the church there was a nice cathedral. The village itself has also somewhat more decent houses. On the central square, I saw a few buildings with the sign that said “University of Livingstonia”. At first it seemed funny, but then I ended up in the middle of a college campus. Even the students walked around. Quite surreal. I later learned, that it was supposed to be the best Malawi university. Who knows. There’s nothing else to do there but study, so it might actually be true…

I didn’t want to go back using the same road, so I decided to explore the mountain villages. It was fun! Got to see the local life and ride some interesting roads. I ended up riding a little under 100 km. And this time without technical difficulties.

The crossing from Malawi to Tanzania was pretty much stress-free (except another flat front tire). The visa cost 50 $ per person and that was it. We had set our sights to an accommodation located about 40 kilometers from the border so I tried to extend the agony. I stopped and pumped the tire after every 5-10 km and tried to reach the campsite that way. Unfortunately it turned out we also needed refueling so we needed to find a gas station for that. For some reason I hoped that you can pay with a card for the fuel in Tanzania. Well, you can’t. So we needed cash to refuel. To get cash we needed to find an ATM. So we went back and fourth. Rode for some kilometers, took out the compressor and pumped the tire, rode some more and did it all over again.

Eventually we got both cash and a full tank and were heading for the campsite. About 15 km from the border we had another flat tire. This time directly next to a police checkpoint. I was trying to stop and find a smoother place on the side of the road but … the clutch was not separating. And there’s no rear brake again. It was almost twilight already. I had to unload everything in order to get the bike to the center rack, otherwise it’s too heavy. Fortunately the Mosko casings come off easily. The front tire has been fixed so many times that I can do it with my eyes closed. It took about 15 minutes and everything was fine again.

After the tire was fixed I took on the clutch. It had shown problems during the day, so I had plenty of time to think of all sorts of thing. The work cylinder had been exchanged for about 20 000 km ago … Sigutech … who knows. Hoped that it was ok, it’s a piston with three seals after all. If the piston were to have a break, then we would be in trouble. The same, if something should be wrong with the gaskets. Fortunately I had my Magura bottle. The only problem was that it was located in a place where it’s difficult to reach without loosening some screws and bolts. It’s not overly hard, just time consuming. It turned out, after screwing off the lid, that the liquid was still there. That meant that the technical part was over, just needed to exchange the liquid. The old one really was dirty. And really hot. Anyway, I got rid of the old fluid and the clutch started working again.

The rear break. The little window that is on the side of the brake pump, had decided to stay in Africa. Oh, well. I taped it up and we continue on, now in the dark. As mentioned previously, the rear brake is a comfort brake, it’s not absolutely necessary. You can’t stop the bike with it, it’s needed for maneuvering and stopping on a slope. Or for descending at a slow speed. So no worries.

I decided to take a closer look in the morning. Everything looked clean, no injuries, just the glass window is missing. Why is the window there at all??!! I know if there’s no brakes. I wonder if there are people who look through those windows every time they go riding just to make sure every necessary fluid is there? There shouldn’t be any problems, if there aren’t any leakage. I hope that there are pumps without windows, because this one will be retiring in any case. I have brought a selection of bolts-nuts-washers with me so I thought about fixing the hole with some of them. I thought I could put a bolt through the hole, a rubber gasket on the washers, tighten and everything would be fine. Unfortunately the window is at a stupid place so it didn’t work. Since the container is just for holding the liquid supply, that means there’s no pressure inside it, I went for the simpler way. A double rubber patch (this is where some bicycle inner tube brought from home comes in handy 🙂 ), a pair of washers and tie it together with some cable ties. Looks awful. But authentic African stuff. After couple of days on the road, still no leakage.

 

 

The internet access is bad in Tanzania. It’s worse than it has been in the countries visited. You can’t pay with a card at the gas stations. You can find some ATM-s and you can even use your Master card to get money from them.

For various reasons, we decide to go directly to Dar es Salaam. For this, it takes us exactly three days from the border. The first half of the road is mostly being repaired. As usual, the front of the front tire falls flat in the evening. After some repairs we can continue.

It’s ok during the day because the visibility is good. The round-ways of the sections in repair are really though in the dark. The temporary roads are sprayed with water to prevent huge amounts of dust. This means that the roads are covered with a layer of liquid clay that is extremely slippery. In addition, you can’t see the holes underneath. Obviously not too much is spent on temporary roads and quite often there are large holes or slippery rocks underneath the dirt. The worst thing is the extremely tight traffic of huge trucks on these dangerous sections. In addition, these sections are either on slopes or on declines. Riding in the muddy clay, with a fully loaded bike, with two passengers, between trucks, in the dark … really bad, honestly. There was nowhere to stop and stay for the night. The first place was 140 km away, starting from the sunset. We ignored the prohibiting signs everywhere possible and rode on the sections being repaired. Some were pretty ok, covered in compact crushed stone. Some were even paved. There was a section that was covered with fresh tar. We could’ve probably been able to ride on a fresh new asphalt a day later. There were people still on the road on the last section that was being repaired. We were stopped by a man with a gun and in a rather decisive way, ordered us to turn back. Since it was not a AK 47, I made it look like I was doing just that, after turning half way, I turn back in the direction ahead and turn the gas. Fortunately nobody started to shoot at us. We arrived at the campsite quite happily and after some time, stay in a room again (actually a hut).

As breakfast is not offered in the camping are, we went to the nearest town to grab something. With sleeping late, it takes some time to get on the move. We were half way on Dar es Salaam and wanted to get there that day. The GPS showed that it was 560 km away so it was highly unlikely. We had another flat tire that afternoon. There was still a couple of hours of light left so I decided to see what’s going on. It’s unreal. How can a front tire break so many times??!! I’ve just pulled the inner tube out from the side and patched it up every time before that, so I decided to take the tire off completely and find out what’s going on. I was really ma. At the same time, Victor from France came on his old African Twin, on his way to the Cape Town. Together we discovered a strange crack inside the tire.

 

Sharp and deep. Just at the place where the latest injuries have been. Even the shape and angle matches. The crack or split is not through and through. From the outside, the tire is fine. Since there were no better options at the moment, I put several layers of gray tape on the crack and hope that the inner tube will stay ok for at least as long as I can find a new one.

As the tire exchange took a couple of hours, we didn’t go into Dar just yet. We stayed at a local guest house at the side of the road. It was a nice place and a room for two cost only 6 $. It even had hot water.

There are all kinds of stories going around about Dar. The robbing of the tourists on the streets was supposed to be a normal event. So we put our more valuable stuff at the bottom of the trunk and leave a big lever out from a bags lock. Good to have on hand if someone should attack from somewhere. I even prepared myself mentally for any sharper moments so there wouldn’t be any hesitations, I will not give anything away without a fight.

The traffic jams started about 60 km before the city and there was quite a lot of zig-zagging between the cars. A local biker, on some kind of older Honda enduro bike, rode ahead, so racing with him, we traveled toward the capital. We had to cross a larger national park where giraffes and antelopes were walking alongside the road. About 40 km before reaching Dar we had another flat tire. Luckily we were right next to a workshop. It turned out that the tape had moved and the inner tube had the same shape hole again. This workshop had the necessary tools for vulcanization. It took some time because of the power outages. But on the positive side, even the crack in the tire gets a vulcanized patch this time.

The inner tube has no scatheless spot. And despite the fact that I had brought plenty of patches, they are now almost gone. There are only three left.

We reached Kepepeo beach, about 15 km from the capital, by the evening. Kepepeo means butterfly. That was our goal and we will be staying here for couple of days. It’s like any other southern city. The lever was not needed after all. It reminds me South-East Asian metropolises, although Dar doesn’t seem to be very big. In general there is a similarity between Asian/Arab cities. Street food, all kinds of services right on the roadside etc.

Finally, the Indian Ocean white sand and light blue water you can see through!!!