BMW R1200GSA vs Moto Guzzi Stelvio NTX

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

A weekend with like minded souls at Horizons Unlimited Traveler's Meeting Perth.

16 to 18/9/16

What is Horizons Unlimited?

Well, according the the web site "Horizons Unlimited has been THE premier source for information on motorcycle and adventure travel since 1997". I don't think you can argue with that. Take a look at the website and you find pretty much EVERYTHING you'll need to know about travelling the world on a motorcycle.

Horizons Unlimited Travellers Meetings are held all over the world and they are an inspiring get together of like minded motorcycle travellers who are more than happy to share information, knowledge, and experience and offer help, advice, and suggestions. The weekend consists of a whole lot of presentations from people who have hands on experience relating to motorcycle travel, and covering a wide range of topics...and of course a little bit of socialising.☺

If you're keen on motorcycle travel and can make it to a meet, then make the effort. I guarantee you'll go away energised and knowing a whole lot more than you did when you arrived. I'm also prepared to bet that you'll leave with a few new friends.

Friday 16/9/16

Finding all the various bits and pieces we needed for the weekend and packing was planned for Thursday night, but it was too bloody cold to even think about going outside to get my camping gear out of the garage, so it was left 'til this morning.

It was the usual pre-ride bike packing scene at home. I'm ultra organised, have a huge spread sheet listing everything we could possibly need, but I still stress out when packing. Once we lay out exactly what we need to take with us, the game of Tetris starts and we try to squeeze everything into the limited space on the bike. When you tour on a bike, the luggage is a living thing. Items get moved around depending on where you are going, what you are doing, what the weather is like, and what you need access to during the day. It does my head in.

Now, you have to remember that we are travelling to an event that is only an hour away from home and just for a few days, but apart from a few clothes we need all the same stuff we need for a six week trip 'round Australia, or a twelve month trip around the world. Once everything was squeezed into the boxes and bags on the bike I was left wondering why I had so much trouble fitting it all in. it all became obvious later on that day.

Our dog Vader looked very sad as we put on our riding gear on in preparation for departure. Unfortunately there is a no pets policy at Fairbridge Village. Maybe a change of venue is in order.

After a short ride we wobbled into he car park at Fairbridge and I was surprised to see so many bikes there on a Friday afternoon. It was going to be a good weekend.

The first thing that struck me is the variety of bikes that were there. I love the fact that there are so many answers to the same question of "What bike should I ride for my trip" The only answer is...there is no wrong answer. Ride anything...

What bike should I get? Take your pick.

This little Kawasaki Super Sherpa 250 reminds me of a Canadian couple we met in Greece, Taz and Joel, who were traveling Europe on these. 

Tam's Suzuki DR250 has been across the Nullabor..

...and back.

Tam's Suzuki DR 250.

Suzuki's DR-Z400 and DR650 are popular. With very little outlay, and a few mods, you can easily tour the world on one.

Yamaha's 660 Tenere. I still love 'em.

Much modified KTM. For those who are keen on getting off the beaten track.

A really nice EML sidecar bolted to a BM.
Vader would love this.

Of course, you have to have a few BMW R1200GS Adventures in attendance.

So after we had finished drooling over all the bikes we set about making camp. The tent went up, the gear unpacked, the sleeping mats inflated, and the chairs assembled. We were ready. It was time to mingle. It was now I realised why I had soooooo much trouble fitting everything in. There were three reasons really:
  1. Four bottles of wine take up a lot of room Suzanne.
  2. The Guzzi panniers are much smaller that the BM's.
  3. We don't have a bag on top of the top box like we carried on our trip. I also noticed that there are no tie down points for me to put a bag on top. That needs to be addressed.
Within a few minutes I'd caught up with an old enduro riding mate Mark and we learned that another old enduro rider Dave was on his way as well. If past history is anything to go by, it could be a big night.

Suzanne fell in love with an orange Volkswagen camper that was near us, so we soon befriended Will and Jenny, who are a couple of crazy cyclists, but will be fully converted to motorcycles soon.

With all the socialising in the afternoon I only managed to squeeze in one presentation and that was Aaron's talk on New Zealand. Did you know that they have hedgehogs in New Zealand? I didn't. New Zealand is now on my list of places to go, just because of the hedgehogs.

The evening finished up with Mark, Dave, Will, Jenny, Arron, Suzanne, and I having our own little party as the sun dipped below the horizon, and the freezing cold night set in. We were having so much fun we didn't even make it to the bonfire.

Saturday 17/9/16

It was bloody cold overnight. The forecast low was four degrees, but I reckon it was colder. A LOT colder. Brrrrr!

The first presentation I made it to was Xander Kabat talking about Packing light. If we riders need to know anything, this is it. I was happy as Xander pulled item after item out of his pannier, explaining why he had it and the advantages that particular item has. Why was I happy? Because I have nearly all the same gear.

I've said for ages, that day I don't learn something is the day I should be put in the big box and disposed of. I've been camping for over four decades, and what I learned next was a bombshell. Xander explained that when using a down sleeping bag, YOU SHOULDN'T WEAR TOO MANY LAYERS OF CLOTHING, one or two is enough. Any more than that and the sleeping bag's efficiency is diminished. Why didn't I know this. I'll definitely be trying less layers tonight, however I think trying to convince Suzanne she should get naked to keep warm won't get me very far.

Xander and his wife Tamara own Overlander Adventure Equipment in Midvale, Western Australia. They carry great gear, have done a lot of long distance riding, and are very knowledgeable. If you're nearby, check them out.

Next up I sat in on Duncan Cartwright's talk about South America. South America is right at the top of my list so I was really interested to gather some pearls of wisdom from Duncan. He also provided a few laughs as well. All I'll say is that every time I see a bear, I'll think of Duncan.

Tony Friday then gave a bit of a talk on getting lost which included the use of, an off line map source that looks like it could be pretty useful at times. I haven't checked it out yet, but I will be on my phone very soon.

Now Tanzania isn't on my must see list, or should I say wasn't? Alpha Twaleeb Malinda from Karanga Adventures presentation made me want to visit. The crunch point was a video of guy riding along with a giraffe running next to him. Sign me up, I'm in.

Alpha Twaleeb Malinda, by far the coolest guy at the event.

Photo stolen from Tamara Kabat.

I finished off the day with Steve Fraser's Capturing The Journey talk. Photography isn't my strong point so I need all the help I can get. Thanks Steve, I picked up some valuable tips.

Time for more socialising. I was about to jump on my bike and head into town for some supplies when I met Mil. Mil also has a Guzzi and was telling me about this guy that rode a BMW in Europe for a year, but is now back in Australia and has a Moto Guzzi just like mine. Um, that would be me. We had a bit of a laugh and hopefully I'll see Mil on a Stelvio sometime in the near future.

Right, off to town get supplies...

Just because you're camping doesn't mean you have to rough it. Prosecco and dark chocolate. Yum!

We wound the night up by sitting around the fire and swapping stories. It was a perfect end to a great day.

Sunday 18/9/16

The calm before the storm Sunday morning.

I was wide awake at 5:30, and after trying the less clothing theory last night I was toasty warm inside my sleeping bag. A HUGE thank you to Xander. You are a legend.

I found this outside the tent.
I'm guessing I won't see Suzanne for a while.
(I blame Will).

I got up, made myself a coffee, and listened to the birds while I checked out the bikes again. It was cold, but a hot cup of coffee or two took the chill off.

After a while people started stirring and climbing out of tents. It was then that I met Ariel who was giving a presentation later on budgeting. I need that even more that I need photography help so it was already on my list for today.

With another coffee in hand I made my way into the hall to listen to Damian Roper from Nevermind give a presentation on their tours of India. They look like whole lot of fun. 

Photo stolen from Nevermnd Adventures Adventures website.

My last presentation was Ariel's budgeting presentation. Once again I learned a few new things that will be useful and will be put into practice on our next trip. Thanks Ariel.

It was time for the only down part of the weekend. Packing up and going home. I don't mind packing up, but I always feel a bit sad when leaving a group of old and new friends.
Hopefully we'll catch up again soon.

I heard a rumour that next year's Horizon's Unlimited Travellers meeting might be at a different location. If it happens where I was told, it will be a ripper.

See you there?

14/2/18. Entries are now open for the 2018 Horizons Unlimited meeting. This year it will be held at Yourdamung Road Retreat, Collie, just south of Perth. The meet will be held from the 17th to the 20th of May and you can find all the details here:


11/2/17. Entries are now open for the 2017 Horizons Unlimited meeting to be held from the 27th to the 29th of October at Fairbridge, just south of Perth. you can find all the details here:

I hope we see you there.


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  2. Hi Simon & Suzanne,
    Cool report, just caught up on it now. It was a pity we couldn't get to the HU Xmas BBQ today. After getting home from our trip at 2am this morning & thinking we should probably catch up with family after a few hours sleep, there just wasn't enough "petrol" in the tank to do it all.
    Looking forward to catching up with you both sometime soon.
    Best Regards