Off road trip in Spain with Zündapp KS 750 and BMW  R75 

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Trip to the Spanish Pyrenees, every year in june

 This year we had an equal number of four BMW R75’s and four Zündapp KS750’s for the first time. And another two BMW R75’s from Spain joined us for three days. We could therefore make a direct comparison which bike type could achieve more. To tell you at once there was only an advantage for the Zündapp KS 750 crossing rivers because the magneto is better protected against splashing water. Both bikes showed the same reliability at slopes, mud holes and long passes over periods of hours. The consumption of petrol is approx. 8 to 9 litres for off road and 6 to 7 on the street. The consumption of oil is approx. the same for the KS750 and the R75 and we needed about 1,0 to 1,5 litres per 1000 km. All occurring damages could be repaired during the trip. Only once was it necessary to drive with one bike to Lloret to borrow a spare part from our friend Andreu. It was a cylinderhead for Gerhard’s BMW R75.

As every year we met with our transport cars at our friend’s place Andreu in Lloret de Mar. We noticed that Gerhard did not have a protection plate underneath the engine of his BMW R75. This would not have been good driving off road. When I told him to take the one that was lying under a lemon tree in Andreu’s garden he thought it was a joke. Only after several request did he have a look and found an original engine protection plate. Andreu has his own sort of system to store BMW spare parts.

We agreed that no overhauling would take place during our trip. Everybody had to make sure that he kept an eye on the driver behind following him. It helps to keep the group together and nobody got lost.

When we started from the coast to the Pyrenees around midday there was a light drizzle. After driving one hour on country roads we reached our starting point in the mountains near Sant Hilari. The first stage contained unsurfaced forest roads but with some nice slopes. After a two hours drive in the drizzle we reached our first day’s stage, a restaurant in the mountains that can only be reached with off road vehicles. José from Madrid was joining Tadeuz in his Zündapp sidecar. He got the order to bargain a good price for a complete menu. On this occasion we realised that we could do this better ourselves with the landlady. She was Catalan and they do not like the people from Madrid. During further discussions with Catalans during the next few days José had to play the fool which he did very well. While we spent our time in the cosy mountain restaurant the rain became heavier and heavier. Once the rain had stopped we continued driving to our first camping site high above a barrage dam. The rain had stopped and from the next day on there was only sunshine.

Georg was leading with his Yamaha and the video camera and looked for the first interesting filming places. A long steep slope with loose ground was to be the first proof. All who tried made it. Gerhard who did it for the first time had put his blockage on and lost his manoeuvrability right in the middle of the slope. The bike was crossways and got back into line after some manoeuvring, the blockage came off and he made it uphill. About lunchtime we reached the remarkable village Rupit. It’s lanes are so narrow that we could just pass them with our bikes between the houses to get to the parking ground in front of the church. After an opulent lunch we started again. Tadeusz had no ignition spark but he found the reason immediately. The short-circuit cable on the dynamo was loose. Now we drive to the canyon. The river, which flows through Rupit, falls after about 1 km over a waterfall over 100 m deep into a basin of a valley. We drive downhill to the river along a wounded steep lane.

After one hour’s drive we reach the course of the river where we had to cross. As I arrived at the river first I was allowed or better still I had to get over first  The water is quite deep and the river is about 10 m wide. If I drive with too much speed I could hit a stone and damage my bike quite a bit or the water will come up right to the magneto and put it out of order. Water could also get into the engine via my air filter. Then I have water damage as you cannot compress water. There are many possibilities. Another one is to cross the river without problems. I drive as my experience tells me. Not with too much power and not too many revolutions so that the engine only dies when it gets water in it but will not suffer water compression and be damaged. I succeeded. The water is quite deep is high above my cylinders but my KS makes it to reach the other bank and comes only to an end then. I can get off the bike and start it again. It starts reluctantly and I drive further up. The first bike is on the other side. Norbert with his KS 750 is the next and does it the same way. The first BMW R75 follows and gets stuck with a stammering engine in the middle of the river. Norbert pulls Wolfgang’s BMW R75 with his KS 750 out of the river. Bernhard and Gerhard with their BMW R75’s get also stuck and have to be pulled out. Thomas tries to take it with more power but realises in time that the engine has sucked in water and gets off the gas. No damage to the engine but water is in the cylinders. So he has to take out the spark plugs, kick ten times and the water presses through the spark plug openings out of the cylinder. Charly and Tadeusz with their KS 750’s cross the river without problems. For the last ones it is always easier. They know now where it is  flat or where handicaps are hidden in the river. It took us about two hours and a lot of work to cross the river. But we had a lot of fun as well.

For the next 10 km we have a stony area with a lot of mud to cross. The muddy water goes up to and over the cylinders but the crossings are short and we take them with a lot of power without problems. Then we have to cross the river again. It is not deep here but the crossing has many thick stones. After my KS and Thomas’s R75 could only pass with a lot of difficulties we decided to construct a road. We throw little stones between the big ones so that the other bikes can cross much easier. Behind the river is a very nice terrace where we put up our tents for the second night.

The next day is a warm day and we drive further through the canyon without problems. And we change to another off road area crossing a country road. We fill our tanks and have a break at a supermarket and get a supply of the most necessary for the next days: bread, cheese and wine.

Driving along a long dusty gravel road we head for the next mountain restaurant. It is very nice to drive on the gravel road. On the gravel you can drive the bikes drifting through the curves. Norbert with his KS 750 hits a road hole with his sidecar just before a narrow bridge. The sidecar comes up and slams the bike to one side so that Norbert touches the stony balustrade of the bridge with his left cylinder. Both valve covers are slightly broken. We pulled the KS 750 the last 750 m to the restaurant and repaired the damage in teamwork. Norbert screwed, Charlie found the right tongs to fix the bolts, Thomas found like magic in his inexhaustible remedy store in the sidecar the right aluminium dye to seal the valve covers. And I had replacement valve cover in my fund to replace the totally broken one. After another lunch the Ks 750 was running well again and Norbert was more careful when taking bends near bridges.

Passing through the little village of Oix we reached a valley with a river which we used as a bath. As the weather was very warm we only slept in our sleeping bags.

The following day gave us some technical understanding. Thomas, our pedant, inspected the oil in the transmission of his BMW . He showed me a brown slush as liquid as water. Yes it was water mixed with transmission oil. Everybody became hectic about their bikes and controlled the oil. Two other BMW drivers – Gerhard and Wolfgang - found the same slush in their transmissions. The water must have come in when the bikes were stuck in the river. We changed the oil and continued our drive over a very steep and stony pass. Once in a while somebody got stuck but after a good hour we had reach the top of pass and had a break.

Starting his BMW Gerhard realised that his engine was only running on one cylinder. We quickly found out that the right hand cylinder did not have any compression. We took the valve covers off to adjust the play in the valves. One valve was stuck. So we had to take off the head and then we could see the mess. A valve seat was loose and set crossways. No chance to repair it here on the mountain. We could only take our tow rope out and Wolfgang towed Gerhard in the direction of Andreu’s mountain hut.

We others took a shirt cut over the next mountain. This way was shorter but it took four hours more to drive it. We passed Alps where cattle and horses were fooling around with their young ones. At night we all met again in Andreu’s hut. He and his friend Pascal had brought their BMW R75’s along. Andreu had bought a goat for a barbecue and we had a real good time. Gerhard’s  hope came back when Andreu assured him that he had a right hand cylinder head in his garage and he would get it tomorrow.

The next day started with a quiet excursion and an opulent lunch. The same evening Gerhard went with Andreu to Lloret de Mar. He took George’s Yamaha and five hours later he came back a little bit sad but with two rotten cylinder heads. With these cylinder heads he did not see a possibility to get his BMW R75 running again. He was wrong. Out of three desolate cylinder heads we made one that functioned. The next morning at 6 o’clock our unbelieving Gerhard was putting his engine together. A step on the kick starter and the engine was running and Gerhard all of sudden looked as if he had never doubted it.

Before we started a several hour drive we controlled his engine again. We had already recognised that the valve seat had fallen out of the engine because of overheating. But the reason why we found only now. His exhaust pipe was tarnished blue and the engine was hot again. The exhaust was not correctly produced and the exhaust fumes accumulated so much that the engine overheated. In a restaurant the landlord gave us an angle grinder and Gerhard put two deep cuts from underneath into the collector so that the pressure could escape. The exhaust pipe was a little bit louder but the engine had no further problems.

For several hours we drove on a pass road up to 2400 m height. It was very cool uphill and we had to drive through the fog for more than an hour until we reached the other side and all of a sudden we came out of the clouds into the warmer sunshine.

The next two days we crossed some more passes and got lost for several hours in a forestry area so we had to grope in the dark for a few hours at night.

Bernhard lost a pedal and Wolfgang had to change the wheel of his sidecar right at the middle of the mountain. We all agreed that it was a wonderful and an eventful trip just as we had dreamt of. Good weather, only small technical problems, an outstanding and ambitious off road area and for me the most important a very harmonic and comradely group that stood always together so that they had a lot of fun together.  

Many of you who would like to travel with us may ask about the costs for such a trip. Down to Spain everybody has to calculate his own costs. For example I drive with one trailer and two bikes on it and four persons. This costs much less than one person driving in one car with a trailer. From Lloret de Mar we have a common cash-box. Once a day we went out for a very good meal in a restaurant. Bread, wine and petrol for the bikes was paid for as well. For the eight-day-trip everyone has paid Euro 350,00 into the cash-box. Spain is  not expensive once you have left the coast.

Next year we will do the trip again and I am already looking forward to it.

 Peter