Thursday, July 7, 2011

More power, more weight

The massive carb of the Symba!
One drawback to the mighty Symba is that it only makes about 7hp.  Around town they have been great, we can keep up with the flow of traffic on 45mph roads.  But they do run a little lean, the EPA mandated carburetor settings just don't allow enough fuel to flow.  One solution that we tried was to enrich the overall fuel mixture by adjusting the air/fuel screw out about 1/2 a turn.  This involved removing the epoxy that should prevent this adjustment with a gel paint remover and some careful scraping.  This made the bikes feel peppier overall but there was still a hesitation at small throttle openings.  Justin and Pedro at Classic Scooter and Cycle recommended changing the slow jet in the carb to one that they have had success with.  They ordered us a couple of replacements and I installed them over the weekend.  What a difference!  The bikes now pull so much more powerfully (it's all relative!) when the stoplights change and accelerate up hills much better.  I think we are now ready for the Rocky Mountains!!  If you have a Symba I would highly recommend this mod. The jet is cheap and you can install it with hand tools (without removing the carb) in under 30 minutes or have your mechanic do it for you. 

442 Stove and MSR Cookset
The other development over the past week is that we bought more stuff to carry with us.  Ugh.  More weight equals less speed, lower fuel mileage and more stress on the bikes, so we have been trying to minimize when at all possible.  We weighed our loaded topcases and duffel bags a few weeks ago and each of us will be carrying about 40 pounds of luggage on our bikes.  So it was only after researching the lack of availability of prepared food in many parts of Africa that we will be traveling that we decided to carry a camp stove and cooking gear.  We bought a Coleman Exponent Feather 442 stove because it is relatively small and light and can run on unleaded gas, but it still adds over 2 pounds when fueled and the MSR Quick 2 Cookset adds another 1.5 pounds. 

We also decided to carry a GPS unit with us.  More reading about Africa made it seem wise to carry one, especially to find fuel stations.  We will only have 2 gallons each and it appears that fuel stations can be few and far between in the more remote areas of Namibia and Botswana.  Further, many other overland travelers will give the GPS coordinates of campgrounds and other sites that they recommend.  The Garmin 60CSx was the most highly recommended unit on ADVRider and so we just picked one up at REI.  I haven't a clue how to use it, but I have a manual and a couple of weeks to figure it out!  Hopefully we have everything we need now.


  1. I'm so looking forward to this trip and hearing about your adventures. I'm just shy of 10k miles on my bike and the only trouble really has been the chain.

    With your permission I'd like to add you to the list of blogs I follow on my blog.

    I'm pretty happy with the way my Symba runs, but am glad to know about changing out the slow jet.

  2. Hi Keith-

    I was just checking out your blog and it brings back memories. We lived in the Lafayette Square area in STL in 02/03 before moving to St Peters for a couple years. We will be stopping in the Lou for a couple of days on our way east. Looking forward to some pizza at Black Thorn's and then a Cardinal Sin at Ted Drewes!

  3. Collin I ride by Lafayette Park and through the Park Street Business District everyday on my commute to work, and I live about a block from the Ted Drewes on Chippewa. It is a small world.