BMW Xcountry ~ Xtra fuel and Xrack

Xcountry index page

“frequent refuelling interruptions are not the journey”

The Xmachine is a pretty economical bike – over the last 2500 miles I’ve averaged nearly 74mpg (26 kpl) with backwind best of 83.5 (29.5kpl) while cruising at 70 where possible. Even then, with the 9.5-litre tank the light comes on at around 120 with a potential range of 150 miles before you suck crap into the fuel filter and start pushing. Not enough on a bike like this.


The simple and cheap solution is a 5-litre can on the back (right). I managed fine like this with the even smaller tanked CRF-L in the US last year as there were no larger tanks available.
But on the faster X bike the refuelling interruptions are not the journey.


My original plan was to either build a 6-7 litre tank onto the bash plate, nice and low and out the way. Others have fitted side tanks (left), another good way of keeping things low, but none gets around the need to stop at 120 miles unless some sort of pump is organised (the one left may be auto sucking, see below).


Then I thought fit a 6.6-litre Rotopax can (left, 3rd along) either under the bash plate with added protection, or one each side of the engine on H&B crash bars (above). The 6.6 can is 9cm thick deep which would cost clearance, be less work than building in alloy but still require decanting.


Those were my plans until AMH-contributor Walter Colebatch suggested to fellow xfan Erik from Hot Rod Welding in NL that he may like to supply an Xtank and an Xrack for my bike, as well as hard part xplates to project the underparts (see bottom of page). Erik runs his own XCh and happened to know the X series’ production volume. The first batch of bikes – Cho, Co and little Mo – were all built at once in 2006 and flogged from 2007 and the Xcountry was built in China for 2008. All up the run amounted to 13,000 bikes. Good to know.


The €500 Xtank fits in the crook of the RHS subframe – mine is the regular 6.5-litre size (a wider 9.5-litre version also available for not much extra cost, pic below. And fyi I regularly get 6.7 litres in mine).
The tank hangs from the former back handle mooring points and then plugs into the diagonal beam, adding a bit of support to the subframe while being less wide than the pipe on the other side. Better still, all it needs to flow in series with the main tank is the main tank’s black breather pulled off and the clear xhose plugged in.

xtank3.jpgThat black breather happens to suck and once sucking on the Xtank’s fuel pick up at the base of the Xtank, it will create a syphon and drain that tank before seamlessly moving onto the main tank. Result: 200 miles doable without thinking and a potential range with 9.5 + 6.7 = 420km or 260 miles which happens to be my ideal suggested fuel range in AMH 6.1. That will do nicely.


The tank requires removing the chain guard which sits quite high, and even then it’s said the chain can hit the tank on hard compression of a bottomed-out shock. That’s no longer an issue for me, and even then I’m sure my shagged-out OE shock bottomed a couple of times without touching the underside of the xtank.

If your injected bike runs a subseat tank and has a similar sucking breather, this principle of a parallel tank working on a suction feed may be worth investigating on non Xbikes.


Although I prefer soft luggage I still believe a light side rack is worthwhile to keep bags in position come rain or shine. For his Siberian travels, Walter C also got Erik to build him a rack to keep his excellent Magadan bags (now in MkII form) out of the back wheel. The racks, 2.2kg for both sides, follow the standard formula of mounts near the pillion footrest, the back of the subframe plus a link underneath to stop them caving in. I like that Erik doesn’t just flatten tube ends and drill a hole through – he does a proper job. And the back cross brace mounted behind the number plate performs the useful function of reducing deadly number plate waggle over rough ground. I’m sure without support that thing would have broken off at the first sight of corrugations.


Erik and Walter also seem to have adopted the ‘sheep rack‘ platform idea which I mentioned in AMH6. That is, a substantially wide rack, not these skinny ‘flower pot stands’ like I had on my CRF-L, or nasty edged CNC plates that seem to be all the rage because they look flash and are cheap to produce. With a roll bag across the back you want a  w i d e  base to spread the load and reduce rubbing. Plus it can make a good table or work surface.
Ingeniously, Walter and Erik went one better and designed the tail rack to come forward round the back of the seat (right). Again, this compels you to mount stuff as forward as possible, at the very point where you don’t want weight hanging out back. The 1.7kg tail rack doesn’t interfere with passengers and makes a good solid grip when you end up with the bike in a ditch.


On the right side (left) you’ll see the side rack sticks away from my xtank so there’s room to fit the larger 9.5-litre Xtank (below) should you wish, or just slot stuff behind it. The whole rack assembly comes in at just 3.9kg. These light racks are designed only to support and secure soft bags. They wouldn’t be suitable for mounting hefty ammo boxes, but Erik can build you a light, soft bag rack for any bike. On the right, a rack he made from some trans-Africa CRFs.


Left and right are Erik’s hard parts to protect the vulnerable rear brake assembly in particular.
As for panniers, the MkII Magadans would be the obvious choice, but my contract penalises me from using the same thing twice. I have an idea I’ve been wanting to try. More about that later.

Erik at Hot Rod supplied his Xparts in return for an advert in the future 6.2 reprint of AMH.