KLX 250S – mountain and desert

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• KLX in Mohave
KLX – Baja Gallery

Parachute blind somewhere into SW USA, spin a bottle and go that way. Chances are in a short time you’ll be riding through epic scenery. Whatever you ride there are no bad routes out here and over the summer I got my KLX relocated to the west Colorado to knock out the classic Rocky Mountain passes. As it was now a bit late in the season, that plan got downsized to riding back to Phoenix via Moab, UT. It still couldn’t fail to be a great ride.
coutmapFrom Eagle, CO I’d pre-mapped a 300-mile network of backroads and trails (left) towards the La Sal Mountain Loop just out of Moab which I did one brilliant afternoon on the CRF a few years back.
And out of Moab I could think of nothing better that riding the macys-logoWhite Rim Trail again, then heading down through the Lockhart Basin on the Utah BDR towards Monument Yalley. Over to Macy’s in Flagstaff for a schnick-schnack, and it’s all downhill from there.

krigdupakRocking up on the outskirts of Eagle one freezing morning, the KLX’s battery was as flat as trampled roadkill. Even if it recharged, it would be a risk alone en brousse, so at the quad shop downtown I fitted a new one for $35 and set off along Cottonwood Pass Road. The aspens were on the turn and shimmered when backlit by the low autumn sunshine. Maybe it wasn’t so late in the season after all?
klx-3Annoyingly, the map tile I was on didn’t display on the Montana GPS so I was riding on the memory of the Google Map and blundering around a bit. I should have picked up a Colorado Benchmark or similar, but was only one day in the state so would muddle through.
From Carbondale, 133 lead south along a chilly valley, then switched back up the 8,700-foot Ragged Mountain Pass which had the KLX down to fourth, but still plugging away at 45mph.
klx-6Next morning in Delta, it didn’t look like the Grand Mesa to the north was snowed-over yet, so the little 250 chugged up to nearly 11,000′ (3300m) where an easy dirt road contoured the plateau’s southern rim before dropping down spectacularly at Lands End Observatory (left). On the level at this height the KLX again managed surprisingly well, but some rough trails, inclines and another few thousand feet would have had it struggling, I’m sure.
klx-7klx-8A quick blast in the slow lane of Highway 50 led to 141, apparently a well-known bikers’ road. At Gateway general store (right) there were more bikes than cars: a CB500X, MV triple, one of those Harding Davies you hear so much about, plus an intrepid Ozzie couple on a KLR (left).
The food van here made an outstanding bacon-avocado wrap and proper chips but, as I’ve often found, the fuel in these outback places is rough as well as expensive, even so-called 91 premium. Perhaps it sits in the tanks for too long.
bedroI was looking for something called 4.4 Road to connect with the La Sal Loop for Moab, but still off the map tile, I blundered up 42.10 instead. The nav felt off but it took me ten miles to admit it, and by the time I found 4.4 it was too late in the day to risk unravelling what looked like a mass of tracks to get to Moab before the slavering coyotes came out. So I carried on along the much longer 141 bikers’ road – nice, but nothing special – then swung back west via Bedrock and Paradox. Somewhere here I had a gas and lodging moment; none of either to be found in Paradox, so I turned down the wick, slipped between some kamikaze deer while faffing with the GPS, and rolled into Moab’s Lazy Lizard on fumes.

wrtmapNext day I ditched the baggage and set off for the White Rim Trail, a 150-mile round trip from Moab. An old uranium prospecting road built in the 50s, half the distance is the off road and all of it is like turning the HDR setting to 11.
Most of the time the trail traverses a broad ‘white’ sandstone terrace – hence the name. And every once in a while the track comes right to a cliff edge with staggering vistas over eroded butes, mesas, canyons and pencil-thin spires as far as the eye can see. And all without a single warning sign, guardrail or any signs at all. It all helps you feel you’re out in the wilds and along with the ease of the riding, it’s the frequency of these mind-boggling outlooks that gives the WRT its well-earned reputation.


A light trail bike can manage the WRT in about seven hours. A full-on OHV dirt bike will be faster but won’t have the fuel range – and anyway there’s a supposed 15mph speed limit. Mountain bikes take days or do sections with support, and 4x4s typically take two days. You can average about 25mph on a bike, which is a realistic top speed on the dirt too, depending on what you’re riding.
klx-11klx-9A bunch of big 800-1200 advs flew past me on the wide track heading to the start of the trail proper (right). Rather them than me, I thought, but what do I know? They could be old enduro pros.
The WRT starts with a stunning switchback drop into Mineral Canyon (left) and the banks of the Green river which it then follows for a klx-12few miles (left). It was definitely sandier than when I did it in spring on the CRF. Perhaps summer storms wash silt down. But even at road pressures on worn trail tyres, the KLR was easy to balance in the ruts, and this felt like ‘good’ sand – more crystalline or less arid and so less sinky than ancient Saharan sand.

klx-13At one point the trail climbed steeply onto a shelf, not something you want to cock up. I passed the big bike group (left) who’d all managed it, had a little chat, but never saw them again after that. Soon a steep, 4×4-gouged drop led back down, followed by a few short sandy sections before we were back on the bedrock.
Many stunning vistas, like the one below, pass by before the other major climb and drop over Murphy’s Hogsback. The climb is easy enough providing you attack it and there’s no one in the way. The descent felt a little more thought-provoking this time round. My KLX stalled on a washed-out hairpin, but was light enough to roll down without drama. I did wonder how those big advs would manage this bit.

klx-confluklx-23By now you’re past the unseen confluence (right) and are heading back north towards Island in the Sky – way above and the place where regular tourists congregate. Glimpses of the Colorado river appear (left), the track levels off and stays that way, often crossing bare rock. I’d have found it a cushier ride on aired-down tyres, but was prepared to suffer a little to avoid punctures.
At a junction the Shafer Grade straight ahead climbs 1300-feet up the cliff into national park babylon. I went up and down it last time, but it was now late, I was a bit weary and fuel was low, so I took the Potash Road back east to town. What a great day out.


Next day it looked like the BDR trail into the Lockhart Basin was closed. Still off the tile, I klx-26didn’t have the wits to find another way round so road-hauled to south to Blanding and worked klx-25my way towards a little sandy valley I discovered last time (left). I parked up under the rustling trees, read a bit, ate a bit, dozed a bit and moved on.
At the far end I took a ‘wrong’ turn, but it’s all good around here as long as the fuel lasts. Riding next day up to the 7000-foot rim on which Flagstaff rest, it was one final blast of cool air before rolling down into the 36-degree cauldron of Phoenix. Oil change, jet wash, pack up, fly home.

klx-28klx-27After 4000 miles I feel the same way about the great little KLX250 as I did following last February’s rides. Compared to the very popular CRF-L, it’s an under-rated 250 that’s almost certainly all the better in efi form. My one’s for sale in Phoenix for $2500. See Craigslist.

Good, adjustable suspension
Looks good in red
Seems to run cool
Would prefer EU/Asia efi model
Seat as bad as they get, but cycling shorts work wonders
Tiny tank and the biggest klx tank is only 50% (1 US gal) bigger.
Tiresomely tall at normal height, but [mine] easy to lower.
Posted in KLX250S, Project Bikes | Tagged , ,

Tested: Kreiga R15 backpack + Hydrapak

krig-sixpakkrig-3The R15 is the smallest of Kriega’s six Rider Packs (right), excluding the Hydro 3, and comes with all the features you expect from Kriega gear. It’s pitched at the active off-roader not wanting to carry too much on their back. £85/$129.
The Hydrapak is a 3-litre reservoir which slips into the R15 and all other Kriega Rider Packs. £29/$49

I’ve used the R15 for about a month: a weekend’s trail biking in Wales on the WR, and about 800 miles of backroads, highways and tracks between the Colorado Rockies and Phoenix, AZ on the KLX.

Fyi: The R15 was provided by Kriega in return for consultation on forthcoming products.

What they say:
The compact, hydration compatible solution when off the beaten track. The R15 provides kriega-r15-backpack-mainthe freedom of movement, light weight and tough, long-lasting performance essential for the rough and tumble world of off-road riding. Incorporating Kriega’s Quadloc-lite™ system, the harness is angled away from the underarms giving total freedom of movement.
kriega-hydro3An optional waist strap is included for the extra demands of riding off-road.

Hydrapak® military spec reservoir and drink tube compatible with all Kriega Backpacks. Wide slide-seal opener for easy fill. Reversible for easy cleaning, drying.

What I think:

tik• Great size for biking – not too big
• Feels solid and well made
• Very well-designed hydrator – easy to use, remove and refill
• Comfortable to wear
• Removable waist strap
• Other Kriega modules (or whatever you got) easily added to the pack.


• Much prefer a roll-top closure to a main zips on small backpacks
•  Waterproof liner is an option
• All gets quite expensive once accessorised

Iovlpak used a Kriega R30 a few years ago but sold it once the liner started delaminating and went for a similar-sized, all-PVC Over-Board (right) which is currently MiA. Handy though it may be to get a lid in there, now I think about it, both those packs were too big for my prefs. What I want most from a bike backpack is a means to carry a laptop and other valuables with me at all times including pelting rain, as well as the capacity to run a dehydrator. The simple, roll-top Over-Board did rain OK until a hole wore in the Cordura base, but was just a basic PVC sack with straps and had no special means of fitting a hydrator.
krigbakThe best thing you can say about an R15 is that it fits so well you forget it’s there. One user I spoke to told me how she was struck down in a panic, convinced she’d left it somewhere, but – like the apocryphal missing specs – it was right there all along.
The arrangement of the stiff backboard (Forcefield spine protector an option), waist strap and anatomically formed straps – and not-least the Quadloc Lite chest buckle – means it sits on the back and stays there as you rattle over rough terrain.
I have to say I much prefer the zip-less roll-top closure of the R30 and Over-Board over the stiff-to-use but water-resistant main YKK zip of the R15 and most other Kriega packs. Case to point: cabin baggage scan at the airport. You know the deal – at the other end of the conveyor, I repack, re-shoe and all the rest, but forget to do up the R15’s zip and the laptop falls out with a clatter as I walk off. I can’t be the only krig-2absent-minded traveller who does that once in a while, luckily not while riding away this time. With roll-top, if you forget to do it up, things won’t fall out unless you go flying. A zip makes it easier to get to what’s inside (left), but it’s only a small pack. get in there and grope around a little.
For exterior pockets, zips are handy. There’s an A4-sized zipped pocket on the outside and another smaller one inside behind some chunky coated mesh, for tools or sharp-edged things like keys.
The R15 uses the Quadloc Lite with a single chest clip (a Duoloc?). I recall the twin clips on the R30 felt a bit OTT, but that was a bigger bag. krig-addus5If you need more capacity on your R15, the US 5 and 10 Dry packs clip right on (right), or there are enough looped tapes to strap on whatever you have.
Four exterior compression straps cinch the contents down, krig-8but after a while I snipped them off as it’s just more stuff to undo, forget to do up or flap around (though Kriega go to great measures to constrain loose strap ends). It’s not like I’m racing about from checkpoint to checkpoint. Kriega do like to make merry with straps and fittings but me, I prefer a minimised look as long as it gets the job done. Inside there’s a pair of straps to hold the bladder in its sleeve which is a good idea, given the 3-kilo mass of a full hydrator.
kriglineThe pack doesn’t come with a waterproof liner (left) – they’re another £29 to fit an R15. I’m told they use a new proofing method on the fabric which ought to last better than the old ones, though a white option (like the old ones) would be good to add luminosity inside.
Back on the bag, the reflective tape front and back will probably do more good than I’ll ever realise, and all the padding and harnessing easily measures up to the potential capacity of the pack.
Like tank bags, smaller seems to work better on the back while riding, the hydrator is great, and I’ve enough dry bags going spare to use as a liner.

Kriega Hydartor
I’ve been using the same old 3-litre Camel bak hydrator for years for various activities including biking. Kriega’s same-sized Hydrapak is a big improvement in just about all ways  and includes some features I’ve added to my Camel Bak to make it more functional.
krig-6Someone’s really had a good old think about this reservoir and addressed just about every requirement you can think of to drink water from a bag via a tube on the move. For a start it slips in easily into the sleeve inside the pack which, as mentioned, has adjustment to stop the full bag moving around when you hit a series of whoops.
The bag can be opened fully by slipping off the pinch-bar slider® over the folded-over top, giving easy filling access and, as importantly, easy cleaning and quick drying too (Osprey use a similar system).kriega-hydro3 If you’ve had something other than fresh spring water in your bladder you’ll want to be able to rinse and dry it easily to prevent algea. The body of the bag is marked with a scale showing imperial and metric volumes.
krigbaksitMore cleverness: the hose clips into the bag base with an o-ring clip lock that so far has been secure. That’s actually very handy when you want to refill the bag but leave the threaded-in hose in place. And at the mouth end there’s a small twist lock on the bite valve, a ridge to help the teeth get a good bite on the valve, and also a cap to keep it clean. There’s more: they’ve thoughtfully covered the hose in neoprene, again to reduce temperature variations as well as sunlight setting off more mildew in the tube. Sunlight-generated algae is probably harmless, but something less benign might latch on to it and contaminate your water. With my Camel Bak I find cleaning the black residue from the clear hose is awkward (no doubt they sell a hose cleaning kit) until I bought a neoprene sleeve.
Usually I use High 5 rehydration tablets in my hydrators, but in the US used plain water to make it usable for cooking too. After a day or three the water tasted pretty bitter. Don’t know if that’s the Colorado mountain bore water I was using or the new, untainted Hydrapak. If it is the later, I’m such the aftertaste will reduce in time.
When the original Camel Bak idea came along in the 80s it offered a great step forward in near-hands-free hydration when engaged in mobile activities, not least desert biking. As I’ve found, if it’s easy to drink on the move you’ll do so – if it means faffing about with a bottle, you may not and pay the price later. Add up all the features and the Kriega Hydrapak’s well worth the price alongside a comparable Camel Bak bladder and will of course work with any pack, Kriega or otherwise.

Posted in AMH News, Gear Reviews, KLX250S, Luggage, WR250R | Tagged , ,

A weekend of WRing in Wales

wale-15I haven’t been trail biking in Wales since my 20s. Makes me wonder what I’ve been doing all these years. Part of the reason is I’ve not had a bike worth riding up there, and then there’s the issue of untangling where you can ride legally. Desert biking can spoil you, but Wales gets a lot more inviting with a light and pokey WR250 and knowing the right people.
Dan and Dave were on my 2007 Algeria tour along with their own trips to all corners of the globe. John, an old mate of theirs, works at the Yamaha Off Road Experience near Llanidloes, and generously offered to take us for a ride out.

gjonesWe vanned up to Llani, lubed up the bikes and rode over to Geraint Jones‘ hill farm where the Yam school is based. Back in the late ’70s when I was dirt-bike mad, I remember Geraint Jones (left, old pic) was ‘Mr Maico’. He was to enduros what Graham Noyce was to motocross, Barry Sheene to GPs and Martin Lampkin to trials.
In amateur maico490hands the big Maicos he rode had a reputation for being hard to handle. I remember the red devil machines flying overhead as I floundered about during the nearby Plynlimon Enduro in 1981 aboard a KLX250 (right) – the original sheep in wolf’s clothing.

klxxAs I recall in SRY, I was so slow they were literally packing up as I rolled into the finish line. And if you ever wondered what happened to those red devil machines, this is an interesting read from our man, Rick Sieman.

wale-11The benefit of riding with John from the school was that he knew the lanes, which ones would suit the day’s weather and the groups’ abilities, plus he had special access to Forestry trails in the adjacent Hafren Forest. Hafren becomes ‘Severn’ in English, and a few minutes into the ride we passed within a mile of the River Severn’s boggy source on the side of Plynlimon mountain. Dave was on his third and near-new 690, Dan was on a 100-kilo 350 EXC and John was riding a Yam WR250F, as used by the school. This is a full-on, super-light enduro machine and despite similarities is an entirely different bike from my heavier and less powerful 250R, below left.

wale-13For me it was a real eye-opener how gorgeous the Cambrian mountain of northern mid-Wales could be. I’d always considered it a No-Mans’s Land between the better know Brecons and Snowdonia to the north which explained why green laning (using off-road vehicles on unsealed but public roads) was permitted to survive here. I can now see it as a great destination its own right – a compact Scottish Highlands but without thewalemapir near-total ban on green laning, and without the rambling crowds of Snowdonia. And never mind the trails, much of the fun to me was cruising the deserted single-track backroads that snaked across the moors – the yellow C roads on the map you could do on any bike.
wale-18After Machynlleth, heading up the gnarly ‘Happy Valley’ green lane reminded me my WR was still without a proper bashplate (the OE one is seized on). In the meantime I was amazed how well the unfashionable Bridgestone TW301/302s tyres were managing. These came with the bike in 2008, were refitted by Hyperpro on selling it, and I can say did not miss a beat.
My snazzy Hyperpro suspension soaked up the easy pace too, just as you’d expect, though I dare say I could have refined it by playing with the knobs. Like the TTR250 I used in Spain in the summer, I never wished for more power on the trails or backroads – but then we did cheat by vanning the 200 miles up from London. The good thing with modest power is the tyre won’t spin out readily, but if caught in the wrong gear that WR still had enough to chug its way out – I never stalled it.
wale-9After reading so much about them, Dave let me have a quick spin on his 690 (recently fitted with Evo 2 aux. tanks) but can’t say I’m a convert yet. The KTM’s thumping vibration really struck me, soon followed by realising how quickly the sharp brakes and more than double the WR’s power could turn on me if tired or not concentrating. But the bike had a solid feel that even a new WR might not match, and out in the open desert I bet it would be in its element. wale-5A quick spin on Dan’s 350 EXC (right) on soft power setting was much more like it, but that bike needs new oil every 1000 miles so isn’t a contender as a travel bike. What I’d like is a 450 version of the 690, but pitched as a less tyre-shredding travel bike. Press the red button if I’ve said this before.
wale-19There sure are a lot of gates on the green lanes of the Cambrian mountains. It was rare to ride more than five minutes without doing the gate dance – and sometimes less than a minute. It breaks the rhythm of the ride but they contain the sheep which can easily jump a cattle grid if spooked. The trail north into Dolgellau between Cader Idris and the Barmouth estuary was a notable exception – a good ten minutes riding or more between gates.
We came across a few ramblers and dog walkers who didn’t look too put out – they’re walking along a ‘road’ after all, even if they don’t realise it. And we nearly ran into a big group of lads bursting out of the forest on unlicensed dirt bikes. Damage wise, their impact was minimal and who knows, the new Geraint Jones could be among them, but I bet they’d all rather be legit. Wouldn’t be it be great to have a huge trail park out here where people could roll up and ride round at their own pace, instead of the scurrying around on wasteland or dodging the rangers.
wale-27It poured overnight but day two actually dawned even brighter, apart from a well-timed downpour as we ate lunch in Talybont. Either the riding was easier or I was getting to grips with the WR. On rougher trails I did find it hard to ride smoothly; balancing the jerkiness of the engine with the right gear and the rebounding suspension while looking at what’s coming up and steering away from rocks, but this is just the nature riding a light, small-capacity bike at slow speeds. Turn up the wick if there’s room and things would smooth out. After the rain there were some bigger puddles today too. Initially they were a worry as I’d read the WR was prone to cutting out in a splash, but even with the engine note muted in two feet of water, it never even coughed.
I don’t know if it’s been a dry spell – in Wales, what are the chances? – but the ride John led us on was pleasingly free of mud and to me was all the better for it. My recollection of bombing around Rhayader on XTs 30 years ago was plunging into one peaty morass after another which just makes a mess of you and the landscape.

novehiclesIt would be great to do more riding around here on my own, as it’s as wild and extensive as you’ll get in the UK (there’s virtually no green laning in Scotland). But unless you live nearby or do the research, it would be hard to get a handle on which trails are legal and then put together a satisfying two-day route like the one we followed with John. Every year more and more green lanes in England and Wales get downgraded to paths. I haven’t a clue which of the trails we did were open to all, but promisingly I only saw one ‘no vehicles’ sign. Lacking a local pro like John, the answer is to hook up with the TRF or join an escorted tour from £50 a day with four of you. That’s just the way it is living in a small, crowded country and why I set off for the wide open Sahara in the first place – and why I’m off to Utah next week!

Posted in AMH News, Tyres, WR250R | Tagged , , ,

Tested: Double Take mirrors

ramdeathI’ve been using the original round Double Take mirrors for the last few years on various bikes, usually as a back-up mirror alongside an original mirror on the other side of the bars.
Riding down and leading groups in Morocco, a mirror is essential to keep tabs of the group, and is of course useful for all riding. The problem is the annoyance of  breaking the glass, be it from a prang, a sidestand sinking in, or overtaking a little too closely.
With regular glass embedded in a tough nylon shell, Double Take pitch themselves as ‘the only mirror you’ll ramseyever need’, one that’s ‘virtually indestructible’. They mirrors work in conjunction with RAM mounts, the bombproof but expensive and pilferable mounting system of ball-ends and clamps for just about anything you got.

What they say:

Outstanding Visibility • Virtually Indestructible • Easy to Fold or Remove


tik• Much more adjustable than regular mirrors
• Fold back harmlessly under loads
• Adjustable/removable without tools
• Fit any bike
• Replacement glass available

cros• Expensive once you add RAM mounts
• Easily nickable (or not adjustable without tools or a key)
• Enduro mirror blurs on various bikes

I found the original round mirror (2013 review)  did what it was supposed to except blur at speed on at least four different bikes. The new Adventure model (right; Lord knows the A-word has lost all currency!) screen-shot-2016-09-18-at-14-37-06has a snazzy angular shape, but the real change here is it’s lost it’s nylon plastic stem and steers you instead towards buying a six-inch RAM arm for nearly the same price as the mirror. Let’s hope RAM has shares in Double Take. I’ve only used it a short while, but the rigid alloy RAM arm does greatly reduce the blurring of the round mirror, and the mirror’s greater width is an improvement too.

mirmirThe cost and the nickability is the weak point of Double Takes on a travel bike. Any scrote who knows what RAM hardwear costs might pinch it. I suppose any regular bike mirror is nickable without tools, but it’s the RAM bits that people will want, not a poxy Yamaha mirror. ram-knobThe answer is to remove mirrors in dodgy places – takes 5 seconds, but a faff; replace the screw hand adjuster with a bolt; or fit a RAM lock (right) for another $25 or as many pounds. By this time your bars are looking pretty cluttered, compared to an OS stem mirror.
But once you bite the bullet – or manage to get some cheap, RAM mounts are a great way of quickly mounting and adjusting all sorts of handy stuff: sat navs, cameras and so on. There’s one for everything.

Depending on what type of mirrors you bike has, I’d say having at least one Double Take for a long journey (plus the mounts to swap sides) makes sense. Out in the AMZ you’d hope RAM mounts aren’t yet hard currency, and once you’re RAMed up for your other gadgets, fitting a Double Take makes sense, especially if you’re riding on the dirt.


Posted in AMH News, Gear Reviews

Yamaha WR250R Project – Stage 1

WR250R Main Page

wrs11First up for the WR, an 18-litre IMS fuel tank that’s wider than it is long. And at the 31kpl I got on the way back from Holland, that should mean well over 500km, though 400 may be more realistic.
On the forums you read various horror stories about the IMS tank: misalignment, poor fittings, plugs falling out and so on. I was expecting aggro but it all went without a hitch or too much head scratching. The fuel line unclips from the pump, the OE tank lifts off, once unscrewed the pump lifts out of that and the wrs1-8chunky Yamaha tank mounts swap onto the IMS just fine. At the back though, no amount of jiggling could line up the mounts (below right) with the frame if using the locating washers. Without washers it crammed in OK. I didn’t bother with the screw-in stud on the back of the tank to locate wrs1-6the seat front either. It stays on well enough with the seat tongue going under the frame tab.
The IMS comes with a small low-pressure lift pump inside (the grey metal unit, above) to get to the fuel at the bottom. It’s powered by vacuum off some intake hose which you cut and tee into. Once all was plumbed up and bolted down, the bike started first press and ran normally. Hallelujah.
The tank splays out quite widely and the outer edges will get knocked about on falls, but they also protect the radiator better than the OE shrouds so it’s a good use of volume. On the road full up, I can’t say I noticed any unbaffled sloshing as some sensitive riders have reported. Looks like a good, solid unit. The pic at the bottom of the page shows it with 3 litres in and room for 15 more at the servo.

yamaha3d71390710WR250Rs are known for having dodgy fuel pumps (more here) which can behave erratically in hot weather after a few thousand kms, failing to prime (no buzzing on key turn). They might recover once cooled down but eventually will pack up for good. No one really knows what the problem is. One suggestion is fuel varnish coating the inside seizes the turbine when hot.
Early 2008s were very prone, although later WRs pack up too after a few thousand kms. It seems not living in Phoenix, AZ helps, and you do wonder if ropey US fuel has something to do with it or if it’s a case of the squeaky hinge getting all the oil? Don’t know but in the Sahara WR bike will get hot for sure.

A complete Yamaha pump with housing goes discounted for about $300 on amazon, and although the part number changed (from 3D7-13907-00 for 2008-12, to 3D7-13907-10 from 2013-onwards) suggesting an updated pump, some people still report failures on the newer pumps. wrfuelpump
Being a popular bike in US and Au, there are various aftermarket pumps from just £20 cheapies on ebay to £105 for a California Cycleworks unit (left, also made in China). They all require carefully dismantling the white plastic housing as above, to replace the actual fuel pump unit. Not really a trailside job.  Aftermarket ones fail too, especially the cheaper ones, which makes you think it’s modern fuel or an over-pressurised system, as I also read somewhere. I’ve not heard of other efi bikes having hot weather fuel pump issues, but anyway I cracked and bought a Cycleworks. I’ll will get round to fitting it and carry the OE unit as a spare.


wrs1-11Next job: pannier racks. Long story short, choosing from the above selection, at $170 from Rocky Mtn Adv the US-made Tusk racks (a Rocky Mtn sub-brand, afaik) looked by far the best value for money, and when they turned up I was even more impressed – nice to see chunky ¾”  and the all-important back brace to stop them folding in when heavily loaded on rough terrain. The unbraced Moto and Barrett may rely on heavier gauge tubing to not cave in. That looks neater but I found with the Rally Raid racks on the CB500X it didn’t really work out like that, to be bend-proof and light you need a back brace. Once I removed the unwanted bracketry for mounting Tusk hard boxes, the weight was < 4kg.
The wrs1-10fitting video on Rocky Mtn is especially helpful, but mounting the back underplate (right) could only be solved by cutting away with a red-hot knife. It’s possible my bike’s non-original plastic numberplate holder mount plate thing complicated things. That apart, the rack lined up just right elsewhere and will give something to grab when hauling the WR across a dune. There’s plenty of space behind the non-pipe side too, to stash stuff or mount a container.

wrs1-9I splashed out on some Rox bar risers which have a bit of fore and aft adjustment. Fat bar sized plus with adapters for ⅞s, they can carry over to later bikes, like my old Barkbuster Storms. Talking of which, they can stay in the  box as the handguards that came with the WR look OK. There’s just enough room left on the bars to add my xco-shieldSpitfire screen mounts (right).
I have a nice shiny Flatland bashplate waiting to clamp on, but the old hex bolts on the OE bashplate were not playing ball. Instead they wanted a game of rounders, and so rounded out they now are. One for the shop when they MoT it next week.

wrs1-18I put on my old round Double Take mirror; it helps where I park the bike. But a run to the Overland Event near Oxford proved it vibrates on the WR just like it blurred on other bikes I’ve tried them on. screen-shot-2016-09-18-at-14-37-06The new asymmetric Double Take Adventure model (right) has done away with the stalk to reduce vibration, but now means you have to buy a hefty 6-inch RAM arm for another 20 quid (plus a bar-ball mount for another tenner). As I have those bits I may give the new one a try as it is handy to have one bombproof mirror.
Picture above left: my original desert bike, the ally-tanked ’76 XT500 I rode to Algeria in 1982. The WR is bike #57. For the first time since the 80s I’ve again had more bikes than birthdays.

wrsi-drdOther jobs include re-fitting my Trail Tech Vapor to give accurate speeds because, according to my GPS the WR speedo reads 12% fast and odo some 4% over. But I’ve also just fitted a Speedo DRD chip (left) from Totally TTRs. I was hoping the WR’s OE kph digital speedo could be reset to show mph, like my XT660ZE from the same era. But annoyingly, it seems WRs sold in kmh markets can’t flip their speedos to mph, while Brit and American mph WRs can changed to kph. WTF WR?
wrs1-spdLike those nifty fuel controllers, the DRD is very easy to programme and can also flip to mph to make the bike UK legit, as well as correct the large speed error, even though the Vapor technically does that job too. As a reminder the Trail Tech Vapor can also display ambient and engine temps – the latter a vital reading on any bike, IMO – as well as a GPS compass and altitude, rpm and, yes even the time of day.

vizxAs for lighting, I’m assuming the standard little headlight will not wake the badgers. Some say you can fit a super-bright $60 HiD bulb and fry burgers with it; other find the cut off is unsuited for road riding. I must say on a travel bike I prefer the idea of a secondary light; a back up should the main one fail.
I’ve had a Vision X 5″ Xmitter narrow beam (left) sitting around for ages. They say this is the best model to get for travel bikes, so now will be a good opportunity it fit it to the WR.

wrs1-tyresWakey wakey! A mate gave me a rear Sava MC23 Rockrider which he reckons are the new black (and round). At 140-80 it didn’t fit his TTR250 and I don’t think oversized tyres work on a WR (120/80-18) any more than noisy pipes make more power. More weight; more drag and over-stiff tyres on light bikes can be counterproductive in deep, soft sand. They’re just too stiff to sag usefully, even at very low pressures, to amh-tread-chooser-dirtgive better traction, as I found years ago running a Mich Desert on a Tenere right down to 5psi. The MC23 is 4 plies tread and 3 in the sides – sounds stiff. I won’t be that loaded up nor riding hard, and the WR will lack a Tenere’s grunt to hook up, for sure.
In the US they all rate the Dunlop 606 on WRs, but they don’t sell it in the UK. Either way, something from the list on the right will do the job or here. The Mitas E09/10s I’ve been wanting to try don’t come in WR rear sizes. With Sava/Mitas it’s the MC23 or nothing and in the end I succumbed to online tyre fatigue and clicked on a 120/90 Rockrider for £56. It may not hook up in the sands of the Erg Amatlich, but it won’t puncture up on the plateau, either.
To keep it company I also bought a front MC23 Rockrider – £42 from Oponeo, so that’s £98 all shod. This came branded as a Czech Mitas as Mitas have lately bought out Slovenian Sava. Just as well because as tyre names go, ‘Sava’ is even worse than Golden Tyre. I hope to at least mount the rear tubelessly, doing a better job than I did last time on the Tenere. Enough tyre talk.

wrs1-papsUnfortunately, delays in receiving paperwork to complete UK registration (added by my own confusion in how to set about the task efficiently) mean it’s unlikely I’ll have a UK plate and logbook in time for my Morocco tours in a few weeks. I’ll have to rent something down there. Can’t say I’m bitterly disappointed at missing the chance to cross Spain and back in early winter on an untried 250. Last couple of years I’ve been lucky with the rain in Spain. It can’t last and it all gives me a chance to get the WR in good shape for the proper desert trip we have lined up in the new year. It also means those rally tyres won’t get wasted running mostly roads.
wrs1-12I do wonder if it has been worth the faff and expense of buying a bike from Holland just to get some top-grade Hyperpro suspension (this is the first WR250R to have HP). All I know is if it works as well as my HP X-Country, then the answer will eventually be yes. You just wonder how many trees have given up promising futures to certify the re-registering process of this motorcycle.

wrs1-17Have to say, after having a close look, so far I’m impressed by the WR. The easy disassembly and access to things, nifty hinged air filter door, minimal-sized components where possible and solid parts elsewhere, like triple clamp and subframe. It’s like a Jap KTM, and grails don’t come much holier than that.

One thing I’m pretty sure I won’t be doing is meddling with the airbox flap, EXUP valve, silencer or other stuff to squeeze 3% more power out of it and save a few ounces. Like most things, the WR-R already is what it is: lighter and more powerful than any other Jap trail bike, with a travel workable oil-change interval and excellent mpg. That should do nicely for the next desert ride or two I have in mind.

wrs1-hpaOn the way to the Overland Event I had a pile of heavy books I was hoping not to bring back. Once loaded up it was great to just crank up the Hyperpro Hydraulic Preload Adjuster knob which still fits nicely alongside the new rack. At a pinch you can almost do it on the move, though probably not while texting.
I haven’t yet had the heart to run the WR at the revs it’s supposed to handle. What’s probably a true 55-60mph seems fine for now, but unlike a CRF-L or KLX, you do have a bit of spare oomph when you need it. For the first time in years I’m very much looking forward to getting my latest project bike on the dirt.


Posted in Gear Reviews, Project Bikes, WR250R | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Right Trousers? Klim Dakar 2016 ITB quick test

itb_dakar_itbTested: Klim Dakar 2016 ITB pants.

Where: Over 200 miles trail riding in the Pyrenees.

UK price: £155 at Adventure Spec


Solid construction, good fit, look good in olive. Dry quickly on the move.


Poor venting when seated in hot, slow conditions.

aspecThese pants were supplied by Adventure Spec in exchange for advertising in the AMH7

What are the best trousers to wear for overland travel? I can’t say I’ve ever got to the bottom of it. rittrosBreathable and vented Cordura overtrousers for the ATGATT brigade, kevlar reinforced jeans (right, sort of), leathers, MX pants? More than a jacket, it can be a tricky compromise between comfort, practicality, looks, plus rain and crash protection.
itb-82Since the very start I’ve gone for leather trousers for biking travels as well as biking work. squatWatching Alvin Stardust and Suzi Quattro on TotP may have had something to do with it, but back then before Cordura, Gore-tex, D3O and kevlar, it just made sense unless you loved the smell of wax cotton in the morning. Leather is low to zero maintenance; last forever; look good in town and country, on or off a bike; good at sliding down the road or bashing into things too; warm enough in the cold; don’t show the dirt and wipe clean; but quite hot in the heat.
The main problem is at 2.5kg they’re so heavy they need braces to keep them up, and year by year it gets harder to swing the old leg over high-saddled trail bikes. It’s great to feel protected but it would be nice to do so with less weight. And the older I get the more I’m disinclined to hurt myself on a bike. In the 21st century there must be something out there better than a skinned cow for riding the ranges.
I have a pair of Aerostich GTX pants with full length side zips for easy putting on, but can’t bring myself to use them as anything other than rain pants on a long cold ride for which they’re pretty bulky when not worn. I’ve never really been sold on membranes, which I’m beginning to realise, understandably err more towards waterproofness than breathability. If they’re going to be clammy, I’d sooner wear something breathable and then pull on a classic Rukka for downpours.
itb-stondKlim make GTX trousers to go with their jackets too, but I asked Adventure Spec to try a pair of no membrane Klim 2016 Dakar In The Boot pants. I plan to wear them on this autumn’s Morocco tours instead of the leathers (by which time I’ll have more to say about them for travelling). For the moment I used them on one of Austin Vince’s two-day Pyrenean rides.
tros-pyrWearing thick layers of nylon wouldn’t be my first choice – I do prefer natural materials like cotton or leather, but these things just aren’t always as practical. Your Klim Dakars are a heavy, thick pant made of lined Cordura and strategically positioned stretchy and ventilated panels. On top of the thighs is a longitudinal vent zip with mesh behind, and alongside each of them a small patch pocket – the only ones you get. There are leather patches on the inside of the knees where you contact the bike as well as sleeves inside for knee and hip armour. The hip sleeves could double as regular inside pockets. You get a velcro reverse belt, plus a zip fly and studs for a snug fit. The 38s fitted me just right.
itb-standAnything but yet more dreary black is fine with me – but so is the extreme opposite of dazzling, high-octane colours. I find the olive and black combo just right. If you want to go shouty and frighten the horses there’s a set in burnt orange as well as plein noir. itb-ffieldThe whole lot weighs 1280g, exactly half my leathers plus 190g for a £20 pair of Forcefield shoulder pads which AS recommend for the knees over less durable D3O. As it’s not the semi-final of the Ezeberg I didn’t bother with hip armour.
itb-bentkneeThe best thing you can say about this sort of gear is that you forget it’s there. Beating up and down the valleys of the Pyrenees, getting on and off the TTR250 loaner to read checkpoints was no chore. I’d prefer a zip at the ankle to make a snugger fit ITB while still making them easy to take off.
scorchiNo so good was the fact that in the 35°C+ temps the thick pants got quite hot and sweaty, especially when waiting in the sun for the navigator to decode the map, but doubtless my leathers would have been cooking too. The vents should have cooled things off, but I found the foot-long knee-to-hip zip vent only really caught the breeze when I stood up like a proper itb-vetnerITB Dakar racer. When sat down the breeze just passed over the zip without purging any clammy air. Any chance I got to stand up, I did to get some flow on. What would really work when seated is some sort of lateral arched or sprung vent above the knee, acting a bit like those Ventz sleeve thingies (right).
At one point mid-afternoon while letting the baking air-cooled TTRs cool down a bit, I just had to join in and drop my ITBs to air the heck off. Back at the ranch, 4 litres of sugar-and-salted water later, hygiene dictated laundering them before the next day’s ride.
wale-22That day was at higher elevations as well as on faster tracks and backroads and the ITBs felt much less sweaty. Back home a proper wash in a machine saw the dye leak from the leather and take the edge of the orange branding on the pockets. The rubbery Klim knee logo picks off too if you need a lower still profile.
klimdaksSince then I’ve used them trail biking in Wales – a lot cooler and with deep puddles so no probs getting hot, and when soaked from a big splash they dried quickly once on the move, so I never had the impression of wearing soaking trousers. When I got back on both days they were barely damp. The venting felt more effective too: closed up in the early morning chill and unzipped as the day warmed up and things got technical.

Posted in Gear Reviews, Jackets & Trousers | Tagged , , ,

Baja Gallery ~ KLX250 F800GS

KLX250S main page
Mohave with KLX
• KLX – 4000 mile review

Baja16 - 46After Mohave I rode down to Baja with Al Jesse on his F800 for a couple of days, among other things trying out some new budget cases.
More or less, we crossed at San Luis and rode through the irrigated delta down to Gonzo Bay, back up to Mike’s and back.

At Mike’s, some bikers rode up the regular way from the north, two-up on a KLR or F800. A fun, easy ride. And four GS12’s came in the hard way along El Coyote from the west. Eight miles took them some six hours. Three spent the night on 85-helmut-updthe track and rolled in for breakfast. Pic on the right (from Rick Giroux) reminds me of my own USD BMW in Algeria’s Hoggar mountains in 1985. Two nights later the Sahara finished that bike off.

Posted in AMH News | Tagged , , , ,