Normally I’d plug a 12-volt power plug for GPS etc direct to the battery via a fuse – not ideal but it’s less of a faff than finding a place to take power that’s switched via the ignition (usually off the always-on lights).
But on the CB-X forum someone unearthed a stray ‘options plug’ under the seat (left) that does just that and so is ideal for electrical accessories. It even comes with an unwired wiring block clipped to it that’s ready for spade terminals. In the UK it’s a 6-wire block but with only 5 wires (inset left). Trial, error and much discussion on the forum divined which wires do what. Short version: purple is switched live and green is negative. These are the two you want to wire up stuff that will only work with the ignition on.
I thought about tracking down the exact correct terminals (right), slipping them into the unwired block with the seals and wiring it up, but realised it would be as simple if less neat to simply shove two wired spades directly into the live block’s end and ditch the unwired block. It all wants to be waterproof of course, so I carefully taped over the block and dabbed rubber solution where the chopped down spade connectors went in. I then repositioned the block in a plastic channel alongside (above left) and hopefully out of the way of any back-wheel spray. And while I was in the area, with a hacksaw blade I trimmed off bits of sticky-out plastic molded into the mudguard (right) to make more room for underseat tools and stuff.
Getting the wire to the ignition key area for the 12v PTO socket was easy too: just two hex bolts removed the black LHS side panel and the wire feeds through over the radiator. It would have been neat to set the PTO into a hole in the dash below the speedo but I’m told there’s not much room behind there and finding out for sure would require protracted disassembly. Life’s too short for that so a secure slot was zip-tied next to the ignition key (above left).
Still awake? From bike to bike I’ve been running my Nuvi satnav on a RAM mount off the mirror stalk, but it’s a cumbersome combination of hardwear, better suited to a camera. My Palmer screen mount came with a half-inch accessory bar for that very purpose. I wanted something tucked in close to the bar to avoid leverage and wobbling, and the only idea I came up with was taking apart a spare Nuvi sucker mount, cut it down a bit then drill a half-inch hole through the neck and glue it onto the accessory bar. The irresistible lure of bodging.
Looking forward to a long, 700-mile ride to the other end of the country this weekend. A chance to test out the screen, assess the seat which I think may not be so good, and get a feel for the bike in readiness for Morocco and beyond this winter. Latest mpg is 93 and that was trying a little, so I reckon 100mpg might take some doing. Plus this is off the odo though unlike the speedo (7-8% over) is actually only 3% over. Had this same odd discrepancy with the CRF; you assume they’re linked. Anyway, more like a true 90.
The CB-X comes with an 80s-style plastic belly pan which then as now, just keeps the flies off te engine. Along the right side is a thin, stainless cat guard but none of this will protect the pipes or the sump from a heavy dump onto a rock or from flying debris.
The Rally Raid bashplate crashbar cost a hefty £238 but is more than just a few slices of alloy bent, cut and welded into a protective clam shape. The CB-X is a bit different from a typical single cylinder trail bike in that the pipe goes under the motor. The slim cat is actually neatly integrated in the headers which tuck in alongside the sump (right) so cleverly, no extra depth is added unlike my last two ‘under pipe’ bikes. But the oil filter sticks out the front and the engine cases are vulnerable and so proper protection is needed all around.
I didn’t look for alternatives but they are a couple out there (left) – both at around £100 but in relatively flimsy 3mm alloy and both retaining rather than replacing the thin stainless cat guard. SW Motech do make lower engine bars and upper tank guards at about €100 each, but it’s unclear whether their sump guard and the crash bar are compatible – it looks like it could be one of the other. With the Rally Raid unit the steel crash bars are integrated with the steel underplate and the whole thing weighs 3.4kg. Separate thin stainless panels are added behind the frame over the cat, across the front of the oil filter (right), and underneath the shifter on the left.
After removing the bellypan and cat cover, fitting started by slotting a pin to mount the back of the plate on the unused centre stand pivot tube. The powder-coated RRP pin felt just half a mil too thick, actually because a bit of rust has developed inside the centre stand pivot tube (left). Once that was scrapped out with a hacksaw blade it fitted in with some hammer aid, but even with a good greasing I get the feeling that pin may be in there for good.
The RHS stainless cat cover (left) lined up just right – 10/10 for bend and cut – and the steel plate was ready to swing up into place to be bolted in place with the replacement front engine mounting bolts supplied. RHS bolt went in OK but on the left it was 5mm ahead (above right). Seems ‘they all do that, Sir‘ and some tactical levering with a hammer handle sorted the alignment to get the bolt in without cross-threading the engine’s alloy which would be deeply vexatious.
I’m not quite sure what the separate plate behind the side stand is protecting (left). Something to do with the shifter linkage? That’s reasonably well protected by the side stand mount and held on with a single bolt the plate looks a bit flimsy to do anything substantial, assuming it’s trying to be similar to plates which Erik Bok makes for X bikes (right).
All up that took about an hour, plus another hour of going back and forth to the house to get extra bits and pieces, but I’m confident that any rock that dares to intimidate the steel base of this plate will end up with quite a headache. I did a 100-mile run and was pleased to noticed no resonance as you can get with some slabby bashplates, and the handy bars mean I can attach my ‘signature’ ammo pouch.
Rally Raid wheel wrenches
My bike came with no tools, even though the (used) test bike I rode in January had a set under the seat. Odd thing is they’re not even appearing on ebay or listed anywhere and word is some CB-X markets get them and some get nothing more than a hex key with which to pick your nose. Not even a C-spanner for the shock. It’s a bit like a car not coming with a jack. I know we know OE Jap tools aren’t exactly Snap-On Platinum Line but you do wonder if there’s some autistic bean-counter at Honda who isn’t able to fully appreciate the ill-will caused by absent tools with the tiny cost of sticking some under the seat. But we’ve been hearing this ‘spoil for a hap’orth of tar…’ business for years.
Rally Raid’s hard-working laser cutter to the rescue: two double-ended ring spanners in 2mm zinc coated steel (left) to cover all fittings for front and rear wheels and even a spoke key for the optinal wire wheel.
On the CB500X forum there’s a l o n g thread on screen options, and one thing you’ll soon learn is that what’s sauce for the goose is something else entirely for the gander. Some riders say stock is best, others find an aftermarket screen to be perfect/terrible and others even claim the bike is best with no screen at all. Well that just about covers it all then.
My bike came with a taller Honda screen installed which at 17″ (430mm) high x 15″ wide (curved) is OK but leans too far back (left). I can feel the air hitting the top 4 inches of my lid but I can’t say it’s unbearable buffeting or especially noisy. Let’s face it, I’m riding a motorbike not reposing in the back of a stretch limo listening to the Chemical Brothers. The bloke of the woman who sold me the CB-X suggested spacing the top mounts out by an inch or so to set the screen more vertically. It’s the sort of bodge I’d do without thinking on an old hack, but let’s try and keep this relatively new Honda looking proper for a while.
After reading that thread it seems to me that screen adjustabilityis the key if the goose and the gander are to be accommodated. There’s much more choice out there for CB-X windscreens than bashplates, from the likes of Givi, Puig, MRA, Madstad and others, some of them with fully adjustable mounting brackets. But because my screen is tall enough but just at a bad angle, I figured all I needed was a repositioning frame and the thread mentioned just such a thing: an adapter kit by Palmer Products who make them for dozens of bikes, and other stuff besides. Never heard of Palmer until now but their adapter fits between the OE screen and the fairing mounts to give three heights and three angles. Added to the Honda’s high or low position, that’s 18 possible positions. The full kit weighs 520g.
It took only 20 minutes to fit, reusing some of the Honda bolts despite a full set of fittings supplied. I paid extra for the knobs option to be able to adjust without tools, and in black rather than bare steel to perhaps make it less obtrusive on the move. With an accessory bar (not fitted yet), that came to £116, quite a lot but all nicely powder coated, well made and fitting right.
In the end I set mine up on the higher Honda level and then height 2/3 on the Palmer and 3/3 fully forward. The Palmer system looks broadly similar to a Madstad I saw recently at an overland show (right – a bar-mounted kit; they do CB-X too, see link below), but has indexing notches to give the three height and forward positions (though I suppose you could position between notches if you wanted). As it is with a US-made Madstad you have to buy their screen, costing over £200 although the few comments I’ve read not surprisingly rave about it because of the fine tuning.
I’m off on a long ride to far north Scotland next week and hope that before I arrive I’ll also have found an optimal position for the PP adjusted screen. More news about how it fared later.
Other bits lying in wait for the CB-X include a pair of fat Renthals to go with the RRP triple clamp when that gets in, and some RRP fat pegs which they kindly chucked in with the plate after John put me off some Pivot Pegz I was going to try off Adventure Spec. Right now I’m still enjoying the Honda’s non-pivoting rubber-capped units but in the dirt they say wide platform pegs are the way to go and as part of my mission is to try new stuff, new stuff I shall try.
London to Ullapool ~ 777 miles later…
Even before I got to the end of Park Lane (a rare 40mph road in London) I could tell the Palmer wasn’t going to transform my ride to like sitting in the back of a stretched limo. Later, out on the A1 it didn’t feel much of an improvement, but as the OE screen wasn’t bad, this wasn’t bad either. Good impressions (or indeed a comparison) weren’t helped by the fact that I was now wearing my cheaper, noisier and more rattly Bell Moto 9 lid and not my X-Lite. And I keep forgetting to use earplugs. At one point in the journey I moved it from Palmer height 2/3 and 3/3 fully forward to ⅔ and 2/3 – in other words angled a little more back. Well that didn’t make things worse so I’ve left it at that. The screen catches most bugs but a few still get to the visor – same with rain drops so the visor’s not out of the airflow which you’d think is the point. And the screen feels far forward for it’s slim width. The arms and shoulders catch some blast but, as has been said, I am on a motorbike. Later I noticed that over 70mph the flow does go right over which would suggest re-steepening the angle to 3/3 to make it do the same as slower speeds.
Interestingly, a quick scan on ebay found a CB-X for sale and though he doesn’t mention it, at some point in 5000 miles of commuting he added some crude angle brackets to space his short OE screen forward an inch and at the same time raising the height a bit. So there must be something to it. More experimentation is required with the Palmer, or just accepting I’m on a bike and remember the earplugs to retain what’s left of my hearing.
Other observations: helped a little by an Aero wool pad, the seat actually supported a 520-mile day. While doing 70mph where possible and down to 50 in traffic, the mpg was 80, with the odometre some 3.2% over (measured against roadside PKs (right) over 20km. So that’s a true 78mpg. And all in all, a great machine that’s about to get even great-er.
Although I haven’t scoured the internet to establish every possible alternative, to me the Tutoro auto luber is all you need to get the job done at a reasonable priceand without unnecessary complication and.
It’s not sprocket science Even if your bike has a centre stand, some sort of automatic chain oiler is the best way to keep you chain lightly lubed all the time if you do a lot or riding. On the long road a bulky aerosol will eventually run out and while brushing on manually (left), is as good if not better, it’s a faff to do regularly. Sealed-ring chains are amazingly durable, but that range can easily be doubled if they’re coated in a near-constant film of oil, and cleaned once in a while.
Scottoilers have been around since I started biking – or so it feels – but I never bought into their idea of plumbing the unit into the carb vacuum, or these days, using electronics. Why complicate things, it’s just an oil dripper? Do you really need a £240 piece of kit including a digital read-out on ambient temps and G-force (left), when you can make your own crude manual oiler with a squeezy bottle and a tube? Fit-and-forget automation is great of course, but I prefer an autonomous set up which, should it pack up up the Khyber, will be independent of other bike systems. It’s one less thing to eliminate when fault finding.
At Hyperpro one time I saw an 650Xcountry with the Dutch Osco system. It’s a stand-alone unit but turned out to be a manual, ‘actuate-the-plunger-once-in-a-while’ operation (see instructions below right) . Way too much faffing to remember at the end of a long ride. At less than 20 quid, the Loobman is another manually actuated dispenser of chain oil which, for that price, is probably less hassle than making your own. But the word seems to be that Loobs don’t survive rugged riding and there’s the problem with all manual oilers: remembering to use them regularly or forgetting they’re on and losing all the oil/making a mess.
A bit of research led me to Tutoro oilers who’ve come up with the best solution to motion-actuated and adjustable chain oiling at a reasonable price, as well as offering manual drippers costing little more than a Loobman. The auto Tutoro (left) uses a finely balanced weight which moves up and down a stem, reacting to the movement of the bike and pumping or releasing oil as it goes. It might well resemble the ‘triple-axis accelerometer’ that Scott mention on their e-oilers, but without all the electronics. The Tutoro uses the free kinetic energy of your moving bike. Set the reservoir’s drip dial (reachable on the move) at whatever level is needed to oil the chain. If it starts raining maybe turn the wick up. Heading for the desert sands? Shut off the drip valve. Other than that, you don’t have to remember to do anything: when the bike’s at rest the plunger weight blocks flow – no drips. Once on the move again the bike’s motion and road irregularities will set it off. Simple and ingenious.
The Auto Delux edition I was sent came with a 100mm x 45mm reservoir (above left), delivery hose, a variety of reservoir mounting brackets, a forked nozzle, zip ties and cable guides, the helix flexible tube, a small top up can and 500 mil of Tuturo oil. And this is not just any oil, this is a lushly blended, thick and sticky blue goo, just like you get from the best spray cans. They now offer two weights of oil, depending on ambient temperatures in your locality. And if you run out, Tutoro specifically advise mineral hydraulic oil (example right). I bet you’ll find that cheap anywhere where there are cars or machines. Other stuff like ATF, EP gearbox oil, or any oil with additives may degrade the unit’s plastic and acrylic parts (but are all fine for the chain, as is waste motor oil).
Fitting the oiler I fitted mine on the pavement in a bit of a rush, while at a Touratech travel event. On my GS650X there was a way of routing the hose neatly in and out of holes in the swing arm, but that looked a bit tricky to pull off in my situation. With just the zip ties, the reservoir was easily fitted to a bolt on the subframe down tube: out of the way but easy to reach and about 20° off vertical which is probably outside recommended operational limits, but worked OK for me. Vertical is best, even taking into account your typical 11-12° sidestand lean. The hose ran along the outside of the swingarm using stick-on hose clips (below). I thought they would be vulnerable off road (a slab of gorilla tape over the hose may help), but months of riding later, including Morocco and back and everything remained intact.
On the road Some Tuturos come with a rubber forked nozzle which I thought was to get the drips close to the o-rings on either side of the chain. I guessed wrong. Due to unavoidable chainslap, my nozzle got damaged almost straight away (right). Had I seen this later video, I’d have seen the forked nozzle is supposed to ‘bite’ either side of the sprocket at ‘3 o’clock’ (left) and well out of the way of the slapping chain. From here the oil gets thrown out onto the chain. No matter; it’s only a bit of hose dripping oil. Zip-tied to the chain guard, I repositioned my single hose feed at the back of the lower chain run, just as it goes onto the sprocket (the place they tell you to spray a chain). Tutoro say a single feed is as effective but a bit more wasteful at lubing the chain than forked, and there’s nothing to get damaged or pulled off.
Setting the feed dial positioned at the bottom of the reservoir took some experimenting, or it’s quite possible that again, I didn’t rtfm. I didn’t bother priming the unit and just left the valve wide open to let it happen on the road. From Touratech I set off north for a early morning ride through mid-Wales and forgot all about the oiler until fuelling up in north Wales. Here I noticed the reservoir was empty, oil was all over the back wheel and the chain glistened like an eel that had just stepped out of a steaming shower. With enough lube on the chain to last a few days, I shut it off then forgot all about it again as I rode up to northwest Scotland and then rode back home to London via the Outer Hebrides. Over the weeks and months, I’ve settled on about one turn out from fully closed; perhaps a bit more in chilly conditions.
Lately I came across Motobriiz (right; $92) which similarly uses motion-actuated automation: this time wind pressure off an intake tube pushing oil out of a reservoir down another tube and into a felt pad tucked under the chain on the slider. There are no moving parts at all. In the US one time I was offered a kit by a distributor, but wasn’t convinced the way they do it was that much better than Tutoro. The best thing is that, like some Scottoilers, the reservoir mounts on its side and out of the way and under the seat (but also where it’s easily forgotten about). Less good is the oil-soaked felt pad you glue to the chain slider needs regular replacement. Plus I have to say I’m not fully sold on the wind idea – won’t riding fast into a headwind prematurely empty the tank? I prefer the Tutoro’s adjustable valve. All the ideas gadgets on this page are better than no oiling and less faff that manual application, but for me Tutoro’s simplicity combined with mechanical fit-and-forget ‘autonomous motion-actuation’ works best. And compared to the other products mentioned above, I think they’re a bargain.
Update after Morocco with XSR The benefits of a chain oiler are greatest on a long trip covering big mileages. A bulky aerosol won’t last and you don’t have to prop up your bike and get on your knees every morning to give the chain a squirt. I topped up my Tutoro and left for Morocco with a 200ml bottle of oil. All went well until I had to give someone a lift off a mountain pass one evening when things turned a bit epic. Because there were no pillion footrests on my Xbike, her feet flailed around and knocked the reservoir about, losing its cap and contents. A flush out with petrol and an oil bottle cap with a bit of inner tube worked for the rest of the trip. That’s what I mean about simple, in-the-field repairability. I came back with Morocco with the reservoir half full. I adjusted the BMW chain twice in the 10,000 miles I had the bike (8000 miles with the oiler). The chain looked like is has 1000s of miles left in it. Pictured left is the same type of unit fitted with a little more know-how to my Kawasaki Versys. I then took the unit off that bike and put it on the CB500X (above left) and fitted what bits I had lying around to my XSR700 Scrambler.
I should have remembered that the anchor plate or helix they offer are both useful devices to keep the forked nozzle in position, biting the sprocket at ‘7 o’clock’, especially on rough roads and tracks. Tbh, I expected a stone to knock off my nozzle much sooner than it did.
Instead, the hammering regularly twisted the nozzle arms out of position on their forked mount attached to the delivery hose, and by the end of my third lap one nozzle arm was MiA. I plugged it up with a twig and pointed the remaining ‘single feed’ nozzle arm onto the chain (below). If the forked nozzle was a single piece, this would not be a problem. I’ve since ordered the anchor plate which I used on my CB500X RR and fitted it in with a strip of inner tube (the supplied zip ties didn’t stay in place on my tapering swingarm). That’s about all there is to say on the subject.