THE OFF-ROAD SHERP AND THE EXPEDITION “TO THE EAST 2017”
Russia is the largest country in terms of total area. It extends over 9 time zones. Everyone knows that Russia is the country of classical dance but it can also be said it is the country of all-terrain vehicles. There is inevitably a great diversity of landscapes but also of the grounds on which must move the vehicles. Many models of all-terrain vehicles are series made in Russia, but many Russians make their own (wheeled or tracked), cheaper, simply to move them. Roads are often impassable in spring and autumn due to mud (rapoutitsa), snow, ice, sand, numerous lakes, streams and swamps over very large areas but also mountains, forests, the permafrost of which vast areas of forest turn into a waterlogged area in the summer. In the northern regions with sparse and isolated populations, numerous expeditions are organized with the help of sponsors and the government for the purposes of exploring, meeting, searching for roads but also testing for vehicles. The local press is widely echoing it.
Alexei Garagashian (A. G.), a sportsman and mechanic in St Petersburg, invented a vehicle, the 'Sherp', well adapted to the terrain encountered in the North. Aware amateur of treks and raids, A. Garagashyan began quite young to modify his bike in the middle of the Seventies, then motorcycles of which he modified some (he owned 20 motorcycles) to fit a transmission of his invention to the front wheel for using in his treks. In parallel, he built many off-road vehicles with innovative and very concrete ideas (see photos) as 4x4s with huge tires : the 'Cheburators' of the 2000s. At the same time, he built a 4x4 with unusual longitudinal arms suspensions for raids such as Ladoga Lake Trophy, which this model won three times in 2005, 2006 and 2007. Finally, change of technique, he comes to skid steering 4x4 with big tires in 2012. There were no tracked vehicles built unlike many other home-made vehicles.
1 - The Sherp prototype, last 4x4 of Alexei Garagashian, was tried in 2012 : the Sherp, was a revelation on the Internet in Western countries. The BBC TV channel and its TopGear show with the Sherp video was seen more than two million times on Facebook in one day. This is a truly all-terrain vehicle.
Since 2015, after 3 years of development, the Sherp is series produced in St Petersburg.
The main characteristics of this very compact, all-terrain vehicle are : low-pressure tires 1.60 m diameter, aluminum body, empty weight 1300 kg, payload 1000 kg, Kubota diesel engine 44.3 HP, gearbox with 5 speeds and transmission by chain, ground clearance 60 cm, speed 45 km / h, 6 km / h on water, maximum slope 35 °, amphibious and very stable. It interests, by its large all-terrain capacity, geologists, oilmen, fishermen, hunters, explorers and sportsmen of extreme, health services, emergency, power lines employees and individuals. It should not be forgotten that the North, like other regions of Russia, is sparsely populated and some villages and towns are not easily connected to the main land and very isolated. All-terrain vehicles are therefore essential.
Alexei Garagashyan says: "While the engine is started, we can either pump the wheels or deflate them. The wheels are filled with exhaust gases, so the process is rapid. The ATV is conducted with two levers, left and right. It is intuitively clear, when the right clutch expands, it causes braking and the vehicle turns right. If you pull both levers, the ATV slows down. "
2 - Why such an infatuation on the Internet for this 4x4 ?
An impressive allure with its 4 wheels 1.6 m in diameter that really passes everywhere. No suspension, steering by braking like tanks, cabin can serve as a house for two people or 4 without the equipment. A simple concept, guaranteeing, in principle, better reliability : the braking of the wheels for the steering is performed by mechanical brakes, there is no hydraulics. But above all, the cabin is completely waterproof and with the tires, the buoyancy of the craft is excellent. It can ride on a frozen lake, break the ice, fall in the water, continues his road always propelled by its wheels, and go back up on the ice. That's where he got noticed. Another innovation highlighted : the tires of 800 l very low pressure are inflatable on demand while driving. In addition, a tire pneumatic interconnection system by tubes allows the tire to be deflated, which winds around a rock with its soft wheels and distributes the air to the other tires and returns automatically after an obstacle. This is another characteristic : this vehicle can ride on large, rocky areas (rocks up to 70 cm high).
3 - Expedition 'Novastok2017'
Some parts of the text in quotation marks are extracted from : http://navostok.ru/en/ : “To test the Sherp and enhance it, the expedition 'Navostok 2017' also named 'To the East 2017' with 5 Sherp, is underway since April 14, 2017 and will end in November of the same year, starting from Arkhangelsk until Peropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, that is to say 10.000 km, a little North of the Arctic Circle, in 6 to 8 months, which would make the longest on-land route behind the Arctic Circle, without using public roads. Arkhangelsk has been chosen as a starting point not only randomly : here the roads end, tundra begins and it stretches along the coast of the Arctic Ocean. The distance between petrol stations can reach up to a thousand kilometers. The mountain chains stand in the way. Some stretches of the road have never been passed by any kind of on-land vehicles. The distance of the Russian territories and the originality of the landscape have always called for specific transport solutions : the medical assistance, the search works, the firefighting, the geological and research activities, they all depend on the ability to move about all terrain. That is exactly the reason why we decided to go where no roads exist”.
4 – Crew
This expedition includes 8 seasoned members for this kind of journey, scientists, photographers and journalists who love the North, who have extensive experience in challenging trips : on foot, by bike, skiing and mountain hiking, and cross-country adventures. Each and every one of them is an expert in his area. Preparation began in 2015. Five supply points of 5 tons were deposited along the route.The text in quotation marks is extracted from : http://navostok.ru/en/ :
"Alexey Garagashian, the main leader of the group, an active member of the Russian Geographical Society, champion of Russia in sport tourism, the holder of the Russian cup in trophy raids, chief designer of ATVs SHERP". It’s him, with Pavel Emelin, who chooses the route to follow each day thanks to maps with reliefs and obstacles from satellites, GPS, radio, and transmissions. The expedition owns a Quadcopter drone.
Alexey Garagashian spoke before leaving : "A long complicated track to the East of the country begins. Moving inside the Polar Circle traditionally takes place using the winter roads that allow passing only due to low temperatures. Summer connection in some parts of the country can only be done by helicopters, and therefore, the local communities are cut out from the main land. We set ourselves a goal to pass where no roads exist, creating the first all-season non-stop route in the Arctic zone".
"Each member is not only able to drive the Sherp at two. The sunrise is at 6 o'clock, 1 hour of preparation (technical maintenance and fuels) and 11 h of road per day (about 50 km/day at 4-5 km / h), 1 hour for lunch. It is not a small walk, but also many other tasks must be solved, connected with navigation, photo and video shooting etc. Three more hours in the evening are for dinner, watching the pictures, reports and whether anyone is lucky, fishing or other entertainment. Not much free time ".
"The team is planning to be in contact with the crew a few times per week, thanks to the satellite connection that we have from Iridium. An articulated 10x10 Super Sherp is managed by A. Garagashyan, there is a mess room for food and rest (including shower room), which makes the traveling way more comfortable".
"Many people in towns and cities are interested in the details about Sherp. ATV theme is certainly fascinating for the Northern Citizens. People are eagerly talking about their own lives. There is nothing more precious than meetings like this one, because the trip only starts making sense when you get to talk to the ordinary people along the way. It is not a race against miles, but a journey that will stay in memories. When passing via villages, the team members meet up with people. They learn about the stories of the villages, their traditions and culture. They talk with the locals about life and technology, keeping great memories and excitement that they get along the way.”
5 - The road
While the expedition will be a challenging event for adventurers and vehicles, its main objective is to prove that ground transportation can provide emergency services, as well as deliver supplies and medicines to remote areas of the Arctic, whatever the meteorological conditions. For this, the route chosen for the expedition will be the winter roads, traced on snow and ice in a straight line, which are the most direct but which disappear at Spring. With the off-road Sherps, you can theoretically also sail in a straight line following this disappeared road, despite the obstacles. From : http://navostok.ru/winterroads/ , Vladimir Shilnilov writes: "We followed the map and used spatial photographs, while choosing the optimal route. Often we went to the swamps, looking for narrow sides in the forests between them. Sometimes we used scattered forests, zigzagging among the trees. Obstacles have forced us to seek detours and more comfortable passages to cross the obstacles of the water. That's why the track seems really complicated, far from straight. Often, the road disappears in young plants and ends up on the shore of the lake and we do not find the sequel on the other side. "
This expedition will proved that a fairly straightforward land route can be practiced during the Summer with the Sherp and can help to open up very isolated populations.
The pictures below come from specialized sites :
http://navostok.ru/en/, https://www.instagram.com/navostok2017/, https://vk.com/navostokru, https://www.facebook.com/navostok2017, /UCfxtsylkEAi21lcuJXCo1IQ/videos, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3439580/The-bizarre-mini-monster-truck-Russian-designer-reveals-65k-roader-s-just-11-feet-long.html, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=00vHZwzIeOE, http://garagashyan.ru/, https://www.youtube.com/user/garagashyan