Category Archives: Project: Honda CRF250L

CRF250L Mile 498: Into Death Valley



You can tell from the picture on the left that today was going to be a good day. An empty road reaching across the high desert to a vanishing point in a distant mountain range. Winding my way through Titus Canyon to the other side of the hills, the land dropped to below sea level – Death Valley, where I’d turn north over more dirt roads and ranges to Big Pine in California’s Owens Valley.


Before that and still in Nevada, I popped in to Rhyolite ghost town which in the early 20th century managed to go through its birth–boom–bust cycle in just six years.  Disappointingly, the crumbling gold rush ruins  were all fenced off, making it less of a ghost town and more of a hazardous site.


There was a ruined school (left) and a nice-looking hotel amid some Joshua trees (top right) with a curvy, Spanish colonial-era facade. It would have been more fun to stay in than last night’s Motel 6, but clearly Rhyolite has had its day.


Titus Canyon to Death Valley
Just down the road was the turn-off for Titus Canyon which Al had recommended as a great way to slip into Death Valley. SUVs followed me in and initially the stony, corrugated track was not in harmony with my jacked-up suspension and road-pressure tyres. Some tracks are like that or just required acclimatising to, but soon the trail began to climb into the Grapevine Mountains where the colourful rubble glowed rich with mineral promise.


I came across the remains of Leadville, site of another brief episode of mineral mining madness in the 1920s; now just a couple of shacks and a heavily barred shaft penetrating the hillside. As has proved the case in similar places I’ve visited in Western Australia, the easily mined stuff usually gets cleared up before word gets far, and very often the best money was made providing services to the hopeful miners until they stampeded off to the next rumoured strike. In the UK or even Europe there’s no such tradition of mineral booms or ghost towns. A couple of centuries ago your lot was pretty much set from birth which must have made emigrating to the New World colonies in North America and Australia to chase riches all the more tempting.

It was all downhill from here to near sea level. A good chance then to stick it into neutral or turn off altogether and try to save fuel as I wasn’t sure how far I’d get or how much I’d consume getting to the next point, probably Big Pine at least 100 miles away (the satnav couldn’t calculate it on my dirt road route, despite fiddling with the settings and ‘avoidances’).


Titus Canyon is designated as one-way running west, as once it gets towards the end it’s bending left to right every 50 yards and narrows to about 20 feet wide – not enough for a pair of your typical local 4WD trucks to pass each other. Coasting down the box canyon bends, I took a strolling couple by surprise as they’d walked up from the mouth of the canyon for a look inside.

Out at the mouth, Death Valley (map) stretched across the horizon with the Panamint mountains as a backdrop (below). To the south lay Stovepipe Wells (fuel, though I didn’t know that then) and beyond that the salt-caked playa of the Badwater Basin; the lowest point in the US.


 I first came here in the mid-90s and recall camping somewhere up the side of the valley; it was October but at 3am it was still about 30°C or 86. The Valley was a lot cooler today and there was now a smooth paved road running up the middle. Heading north the annoying wind was still in my face but I figured I’d risk a detour to Scotty’s Castle, expecting some naff, faux-medieval folly. In fact it was just the grassy, palm-shaded lunch spot I was looking for. There was a crude, concrete castle possibly housing a power house, but much more interesting was what looked like an Italianate villa built between the wars.

I was still in DVNP and asked the ranger how far Big Pine might be via the northern road. He wasn’t sure but in the end guessed it was less than 100 miles which was probably within my range once I’d used the fuel bag.


Coasting where I could, I turned off the paved Ubehebe Crater road (wish I’d gone to the crater now) and onto the rough dirt road leading up to Crankshaft Crossing. A sign said Big Pine something like 87 miles so I knew I’d make it. A dirt rider soon came the other way with a wave, and near the Crossing came another guy braving the gravel and washboard on a V-Strom.


Crankshaft was another place I recalled from 1995. Back then I’d scrawled ‘Yeah!’ under a ‘Pavement Ends’ road sign. The photo had been featured on the back cover of AMH3 a year or two later. Could you believe it, but it came to my attention that those rats at Aerostich went right ahead and made a sticker out of my razor-like roadside wit, an entrepreneurial snatch which helps keep Rider Wearhouse afloat to this very day. I’m not bitter and anyway a lawyer advised me that writing messages on highway road signs was not a valid basis to instigate legal action, unless it was being aimed at me by the sheriff of Inyo County. I’m over it now and for old time’s sake shot against an ungraffitied sign just up the road.

I knew there was a range or two to cross to get to Big Pine but I’d again underestimated how high it could get; my maps only show peaks and less often pass heights. It’s much more than I’m used to climbing in the Sahara or even Morocco. The ill-tuned CRF, gagging on too much gasoline croaked uphill, dropping down to 40mph at 7500 feet (~2300m) which seems to be a bhp watershed for the Honda.


Up ahead the wind blew a flurry if white dust and with it a familiar smell from schoolday chemistry. Rounding a bend revealed an old mine by the road. Rusted machines were subsiding into the fine white powder which I rode across raising another billowing cloud.


Finding a rock to perch the stand on, pale yellow rocks at my feet explained the smell: sulphur, above left). (Or for those that use them, the map also says ‘Sulfur Mine’). I’d never seen natural sulphur before; if only old gold mines had debris like this! Over there it looked like a prototype of NASA’s Apollo Command Module had fallen intact into the dirt (right).


Over the pass I dropped into the Eureka Dunes valley where the wind was whipping up the grains and hurling them south (right). Not a place for a drilled out airbox and anyway, I’ve seen my share of sand dunes. But taking advantage of the lee of a signboard, I tipped the fuel bag into the tank and then set off along that very rare thing – a freshly graded track!


That lead, by and by, over another range which turned to reveal the snowy Sierra Nevada to the west (left) and Big Pine at its feet. Not far away was the 14,505′ (4421m) summit of Mount Whitney, the highest point in the contiguous US and just 80 miles from Badwater Basin. How’s that for a ‘land of contrasts’?

I’m no expert but the people in Big Pine, CA seemed different from Nevada, a bit more prosperous and less out back. Once I worked out how to make the pump work, the news was rather poor: despite all the coasting and gentle dirt roading all I’d managed was 54USmpg (65UK). Clearly coming over the Panamints and Inyo ranges had been an effort for the Honda, but the way I rode I should have managed 65US. Tomorrow I’d have to deploy Plan B.


CRF250L Mile 358: “Which pump number, sir?”


Let me tell you, I am meeting a lot of gas station cashiers. My UK cards can’t pay at the pump and out here if it’s cash you gotta pay first. So until I can guess the exact cost of a fill I need to trot back in to get my change. Two or three times every day…


Leaving Phoenix I had two days unavoidable road riding during which to pin down the odometre error and so establish true fuel consumption and so my possible range. Also, the bike had been brought back from Stage 1 mods (extra airbox holes, noisy pipe, smaller front sprocket) and with the quiet OE pipe refitted, the air box taped back up to but the EJK fuel controller still plugged in and unmodified, chances are the bike would run rich but I thought I’d give it a try as who knows, the ECU might somehow compensate. I’m not sure how all this stuff works.


Riding out of town, strong head/side winds sprung up and at only 73 miles the fuel warning came on. Already? We all know that feeling of tensing up to will the bike on while counting off the miles. I was convinced I’d not make the ten miles to Wickenburg and once I did, I made sure I filled up that Liquid Containment fuel bladder right there (it took 1.42 US or 5.3L). And one day soon I’d better run the main tank dry  to see what it really takes – supposedly 2 USg or 7.7L.

I recorded an average of 57.1 US (68.5 UK – see this) on day 1, at around 55mph – the slowest thing on the road. Arriving in Kingman the winds were howling out of the southwest and riding the Honda was like piloting a hang glider into a gale. Drivers behind me kept their distance, but I actually felt a lot safer than in similarly strong cross winds on my XT660Z a few years ago in southern France. It was way too windy to camp and anyway parks out here are exposed and grassless – not really set up for ambient tenting. A chummy Gujaratti guy at a motel made me smile and gave me a deal.


Out towards Vegas next day I still had trucks breathing down my neck, but there was no other way to get north to Beatty. I ran dry on the freeway cutting through Vegas with the Honda showing just 100.3 miles, but all the signs suggested that was not an accurate figure even if empty was still empty. The F-L somehow reads speed off the gearbox – never heard of that before and surely reading accurately off a tiny gearbox cog compared to a big front wheel will take some precision, even if it;s all cheaper and tidier than a mechanical speedo cable.


The Trail Tech Vapor I’d wired in requires you to precisely measure front wheel diameter and fit a sender wire to the fork tube opposite  a magnet on a rotor bolt to calibrate the speedo. It’s a system they claim is more accurate than GPS and on  that day I was running the Garmin 62 GPS, a Garmin satnav and the Vapor – all up enough nav gadgetry to invade a small country.

I knew well from logging routes in Morocco that for a GPS track log to show accurate distance, the ‘pings’ have to be set very high – say every 2 seconds or 50m. Doing so eats up GPS memory and most are not concerned with measuring accurate distances, but that is the only way to do it with a GPS. Otherwise, with less frequent pings, the series of straight lines between the recorded time or distance points cuts corners and gives a shorter distance than true over a day;s riding, especially on a bendy track. GPS speed readings are not affected like this.

The road to Vegas had been straight enough and when the Honda ran dry at 100.3 miles, the Trail Tech Vapor showed 112.3 and the Garmin 62 was on 111.2, about 1% out. So the Honda odometre is 11-12% short on distance while the speedo (less important) is 8-9% under; both unusually inaccurate compared to recent bikes I’ve run. Relying on Honda data, my mpg would be reading 11% worse (assuming gas station pumps are all accurate of course – I’m not always sure they are).

Out of Vegas
The bike seemed slow but I’d hardly ridden it and assumed it was the strong winds and the load. But leaving Las Vegas, on a whim I tried 89 RON fuel instead of 87. As 95 turned west, I braced against cross winds and at times the Honda was rolling along at 65. The manual says use 86 RON or more, so it’s probably not octane but something occasionally made it run much better. Could it be Nevada fuel? Al had told me they put ethanol in AZ fuel (E10?). Who knew all the variables but I wasn’t making any mpg records today.


With one eye on the mirrors and the other on the speedos and passing  ranges, up ahead a sign proclaimed  ‘BROTHEL’ in big red letters. I’d arrived at the Alien Cat House, a roadhouse/whorehouse which it owner suggests (see vid below) is well suited to the socially stunted individual who spends too much time playing space games on his PC and likes his women sprayed green and with pointy ears.

Inside, past masses of pointy-chinned alienobilia alongside sexy towels, rough-looking guys slouched in the diner – I guess any passing holiday-making families get scared off; ‘Mummy, what’s a brothel?’ They reminded me of the sleeveless, Blunnie-shod, truckers from the Northern Territory and hadn’t dropped in to get an update on the chances of anything coming from Mars. Then I realised that just over the hill was the huge Nellis AFB or ‘Area 51’ on whose secret experimental activities the region’s UFO reputation is surely based.


On the counter was a copy of the local paper, the Pahrump Valley Times. Headline: a local guy got drunk, flipped and tried to strangle his girlfriend. As it happens a couple of days earlier I’d read that ex-Dakar racer Jimmy Lewis was doing a two-day dirt riding session the following weekend. (That’s his old Dakar BMW desert racer from ’83 below let, on display at an open day recently).


There had been some discussion about him versus what was claimed as themore promo-savvy Rawhyde outfit over the border. I considered about attending, like you do when you’re abroad and can get away with doing something spontaneous. It would be good to learn how to ride properly and I was bound to learn something, but I had the wrong tyres, no MX gear  the CRF would get a hammering and it was $600 plus lodging. Maybe another time.

Out of the Cat House I tried 91 RON but battling the wind, in nearby Beatty that added up to an all time low of 42 US mpg (50.5 UK). Even my Tenere didn’t get that bad in similar conditions. And to cap it all the fuel bladder had leaked and  everything reeked of gasoline.


Out on the street an old guy had a huge range of ex-military ammo boxes but no small fuel cans and Lou’s Hardware up the road had baffling stick-out spout cans. Over the road a semi derelict casino looked like a tornado had passed over it. My scavenger antennae twitched and out among the debris of fridges and furniture lay a 2 gallon can. I sized it up, unsure if I was breaking some local anti-vagrancy bylaw, but decided by the time I’d flushed it and filled it to find a leak I’d waste more gas. I was on the California border, a better can could be found I was sure. Until then I sealed the fuel bladder  as best I could and perched it on the back where it could drip harmlessly.


Beatty seemed a bit beaten up and neglected, but no more so than your average South London high street these days. Generations of autos rotted in front yards, the old clapboard church looked a bit shaky and it seemed this town was only big enough for one casino to prosper. Shelling out too much for motels, that casino did at least have a Subway which became my sustenance on the road, a six-incher for lunch and another for dinner. Less than $8.

While I’m prepared to sacrifice bit of mileage from the EJK as others report, I need to get to the bottom of this fuel consumption. An FI 250 ought to do 65 US (80 UK) – that plus dirt lightness is why we make the compromise after all. Is a smaller engine more sensitive to large loads – me probably 110kg in all my gear + 25kg of baggage. Is it down to different fuel qualities from state to state? Actually, I don’t believe baggage or screen have any real aerodynamic effect at the speeds I go – they certainly didn’t on the XTZ or BMW in Morocco. Winds are a more likely cause, as Al had warned me, and maybe elevation too. But I think the bike is simply running rich, as with the noisy Q4 and opened airbox (but no baggage) it had run 62US on that day in the dirt. The fuelling is off for sure and our CRF-L man Rick R has all the answers on the EJK ‘black box’ under the seat. In the end I knew all I had to do was return it all to stock by unplugging the EJK, or less easily but perhaps more effectively, try to lean out the adjustable EJK to run with the stock pipe.


Plenty of time for all that. Tomorrow I will at last able to get off these truck highways and ride some dirt roads at my own pace and without battling the winds. We’ll see if that makes a difference.


Mile Zero: CRF250L hits the road



Only a week later than planned the Honda and I now are on the road for a month or more’s riding around the fabulous Southwestern USA. How long had that been on the ‘to do’ list?

The Magbags filled up without too much compression or compromise and of course riding it out onto the lawn the bike flapped around like a three-wheeled shopping trolley full of cement – just as do all loaded bikes at Mile Zero.


Yesterday I flew back from a talk near Tacoma where I met Tom Grenon, just back from Baja and with whom I KLR’d through BC and Yukon back in 2001 and where I confirmed what it is I like about deserts! The plane flew via SLC and across southern Utah and some place called the Grand Canyon (right) where I’ll be in a couple of weeks. But first it’s west to Vegas and Death Valley, the accessible corners of the Sierra Nevada and Northern California. Then maybe up to the BR Desert in northwest Nevada and down to southern Utah. After that who knows, New Mexico or maybe even Baja Mexico.

Tune in for time to time to see how it all pans out and how the bike and gear perform. Or see you on the trail or at the Overland Expo around 18 May, near Flagstaff.

Bismilah, as they say in the Sahara.

Next instalment.


Setting up the CRF250L

Original pics for this post sadly lost in the clouds

In Phoenix the CRF was waiting for me, as were a dozen boxes of accessories to finish off the job the first owner had started before he flogged it with less than 1000 miles.

As a reminder, he fitted a pipe, plate, EJK fuel controller, tail rack, 13T, Shorei battery and the white plastics. Most of the original bits were there too.

Lying on the floor there on the left I had a set of Aussie Barkbusters with the large Storm handguards, a Spitfire screen, some bar risers, a 12V socket, a couple of RAM mounts and some Double Take mirrors along with lube, filters, a Trail Tech Vapor and some maps.

The cheap risers and 12V socket were clearly sourced from the reject bin in some Guandong factory and needed redrilling; the 12v socket even had the blue and brown wires the wrong way round which caused a small bang and some smoke! At least there was enough cable on the Honda to get 2 inches out of the risers. The Barks went on easily enough; I refitted the original 14T, replaced the shift lever with a folder, got an AZ plate and some insurance ($28 for half a year!) and then we set about the shock and the side racks.


On the plane over I had a thought that the shock wouldn’t be up to my weight and the load. The L I’d tested in February had been reassuringly firm but when it came to loading the rear spring on my Phoenix bike the collar adjustment rings were factory-set solid. We unbolted the shock (the usual near blind nuts make it easier with two people and the battery out) and Al whacked the collar rings apart. He pointed out a useful trick in turning the loose top sleeve out of it’s notch to give another 5mm of tension, but on bounce testing we decided to go all the way and fabricate an additional half-inch sleeve, splitting a right-diametre tube, fitting it and tacking it in place to rack the preload right up and have a bit more to spare. That required compressing the spring in a press but the shock is otherwise unmodifiable and a decent compression damped unit starts at $600.

Al Jesse was also using my bike to try out the prototype of  the new MonoArm rack he’s designed. Jesse mount systems are typically cunning affairs with minimal metal; my version is a bit heftier until the final form is pinned down.

I didn’t know what to expect but what we have here is a q/d platform rack no less (he must have read my mind) onto which I’ve chosen to semi-permanently attach my Magadans (I could as easily remove the pans from the plate, but the whole point is the rack itself is q/d). Each side plate locates into corresponding slots and the mounting system’s special feature you’ll learn about later makes it particularly well suited to slinky sub-framed dual sporters like the L. Removal of the platform with bags attached is with a nut and spacers, but production versions will use the tamper-proof QRDP lock by the time it’s all out.

Sunday Al put a cooler full of water in his KLX 250 S’s top box and we went for a ride up in the Weaver Mountains around Castle Hot Springs to see how my adaptions weighed up and pull off an mpg test. I was concerned the EJK black box might might have affected this as the original owner had intimated. Even then, with the Honda’s tiny tank (I’ll have a 5-litre fuel bag and may need another) it’s going to be stops every two hours to pay out for 8 bucks of fuel at a time.


First impression was a lot of noise and no jaw-dropping gobs of extra power over the Honda test bike I road in February (I do wonder if that press bike had been fine tuned…). With pipe and airbox and EJK, power should have been up some 30% (18 to 24hp supposedly) but Al’s Kawasaki was having no difficultly keeping ahead. We’d already tried to quieten the FMF ‘Q-Pipe’ by fitting a restricting washer up it’s spout and though it made a small difference in the garage, once on the road I couldn’t see myself living with that racket. Acceleration was especially noisy; we hoped the holes that had got drilled into the airbox side might address that, but back at Al’s, tapping them up made no difference. Luckily the stock pipe was at hand and easy to refit.


Other than that all was well. By the end of four hour’s riding the old backside was getting warm; that shock is pretty firm now and chattered into bends, but should be on form with a load. Standing up the bars were still two inches too low – Al’s KLX by comparison was just right. Not sure how to get around that without cable issues. Tyres at street pressures were OK and the brakes a bit touchy on the loose gravel inclines, but that will just be me getting used to the bike. The Slipstreamer Spitfire screen too felt a bit close to my face when bashing over ruts but the ‘pressure balancing’ gap at the base caused no turbulence on the highway. I did think it could pull still more gearing but there’s no room in there for a 14T so it will have to be 3 or 4 teeth off the back end. Unfortunately it was the din that left the biggest mark.

As for mpg. Al’s KLX recorded 96 miles on the loop; the Honda 83.5 – an unlikely 15% discrepancy so one odometre was out; tyres and gearing were standard on both our bikes. Assuming the Kawa’s distance reading was correct then the Honda was doing an impressive 62.3 US or 75UK mpg. If the Honda’s 83.5 miles is in the ballpark it’s more like 54.2 US but still 65UK mpg, what I recorded last March on the stock press bike. We were going pretty slowly (no more than 55mph on the KLX or 50 on mine) so I suspect somewhere in between is right.

Back at base I checked the speedo against a Nuvi satnav and up to 30mph it seemed spot on for speed  though over a mile the odo was 10% under. A closer test with my Garmin 62 or even the Trail Tech Vapor unit will get to the bottom of it. And it sure was nice to ride the back streets with that quiet stock pipe back on, even if at 12lbs it’s double the weight of the Q Pipe.

Unfortunately the proto side rack doesn’t fit round the fat OE can and needs to be modified a bit. That and the fact that my  ‘two-day’ helmet delivery is still with UPS meant I was running out of time to get to South Sound BMW for Saturday. We talked about good routes on the weekend but a 250 is not the best machine when you need to cross a continent in a hurry.
The northwest was never my plan on this trip and my decision to fly up north (about the same price when you add it up) was made easier by today’s weather warnings across the Southwest. Here in Phoenix it’s been baking at over 30 Celcius last few days but today in Flagstaff it was snow and 60mph gusts –  undesirable conditions aboard a skimpy 250.

It all gives me more time to get the Honda in shape for a shorter ride for a presentation at Roseville, CA before swing back through Utah’s Canyonlands.

Next instalment here.

Honda CRF250L Project bike

Honda CRF250L vs XR250 Tornado
Honda CRF250L 200-mile UK review
Setting up the CRF250L
Phoenix Mile Zero: CRF250L hits the road
CRF250L Mile 358: “Which pump number, sir?”
CRF250L Mile 498: Into Death Valley
CRF250L Mile 949: California
CRF250L Tuning an EJK fuel controller
CRF250L Mile 1474: Trans Nevada
CRF250L Mile 2121: Moab and the White Rim Trail
CRF250L Mile 3105: southern Utah BDR
CRF250L 3200-mile review
CRF250L Southwest USA – Gear Review

KLX250 Mohave & Baja – another great Two-Fifty

Skip to the start: SW USA – Mile Zero  –  Skip to the end: 3200-mile review

Following my UK test ride on the CRF a few weeks later I bought a lightly used one blind off San Diego Craigslist and got it trucked to Phoenix. CRF’s had sold well in the US and were getting hard to find new at the time, but $4500 got me one with under 1000 miles and about $1000 of accessories, including what looks like a BDSB Stage 1 kit (pipe, fuel programmer, 13T), Shorei battery, bash plate, tail rack and maybe some other bits too. As you can see the first owner swapped the red plastics for ‘export white’ which suits me fine. Buying barely used seem by far the best way to go. New with taxes was actually way over $5000 with $1000 of depreciation right there before you spend a typical $1000+ to get it in shape for dirt touring.


While I was looking for a machine I was kindly offered the loan of a near-new XR650L by Scott Brady at Overland Int. (publishers of Overland Journal which I write for occasionally). But having used an XRL for Desert Riders some ten years ago (left) I felt that was too much like going backwards. For me the point with AMH project bikes is to try new stuff or new ways of doing things. The other option was getting a used 650 Xchallenge (right) for about $5500. I suspect they’re much under-rated but a scan of what happens when they’re not made it a bit of gamble to simply fly in, load up and ride off into the southwestern deserts, hoping for the best and with no support to speak of. (Since then I bought an Country in the UK).


With the little Honda 250 I have no such reliability worries, even if the usual calamities can befall me. I was also considering trying to get my hands on the opposite extreme to a CRF, a CB500X (left) but jumped the gun – it’s not out till May. According to stats it’s said to be significantly lighter than the flashier NC700X which has been out a while, but with a pair of K60s the 500X would most likely be quite tolerable on the sort of dirt I plan to ride, while undoubtably being an armchair on the blacktop. It is of course a 21st-century iteration of my GS500-R project bike; a mid-sized adventursome twin – and allegedly ‘all the bike you need’. Hauling the Suzuki over to the US to put it through its paces was the original plan, but the cost of getting it there and the need to bring it back would have more than the bike’s worth, unless I was heading on to South America. Fast forward three years and I bought a CB500X. I  was also told of this guy who put a 500X motor in a CRF frame (left). What will these bikers think of next!


But will the 250 CRF be enough of a do-it-all travel bike? At least I can convince myself that no reasonable trail need hold me back and am already cooking up killer routes in the Sahara should I bring it back. The combination of light weight, reliability, enough power and excellent economy is unbeatable out there, while I like to think it’ll do the business on the highway. The trick will be to cruise the backroads and enjoy the view, between the off-road spells.

What’s the plan? Early April I’ll arrive in the US and set about further adapting the CRF for the ride:

  • sequoiamake a pannier rack to keep my Magadans in place – something not at all like the Sequoia rack (right) currently sold by crfsonly but something more like this.
  • small screen
  • bar risers
  • folding gear lever
  • 12v/USB socket and a couple of Ram mounts
  • handguards

I’ve also been sent a TrailTech Vapor. I liked their Voyager unit on my GS-R except for the token GPS element which is better addressed with a dedicated GPS unit, plus the fact that it couldn’t be quickly removed to avoid theft like most GPS units or similar gadgets. Among the Vapor’s functions are ambient- and water temperatures, a rev counter (missing on a CRF) and a very accurate wheel-calibrated speedo/odo. It tells the time too.


The OE tank is just 7.83L or 2.07 US gallons. Long after I came back an IMS tank for the Honda came out in October 2013 but our friend Rick Ramsey has proved that at 2.95US or 11.16L it’s only about 3.33L or 42.5% bigger than standard. For $270 and all the faffing that wasn’t useful enough for me so I’ll make use of a 10-litre fuel bag I have knocking about.


That may not prove to be so neat so I might try and get hold of a used OE tank (left) to weld up into something bigger, or see if some other 4gal+ tanks can be made to fit, like the 18-litre Acerbis unit (right) for the CRF450X which has a vaguely similar layout.

I plan to give the original seat a go too. I can’t think it’ll do the job over 3000 miles or more, but while in the US I’ll at least have a chance to get an alternative or adapt it. I may even refit the OE pipe and unplug the efi controller to wring out better fuel economy and a little less noise for the ride. I want to try and squeeze 100mpg out of that thing one time.


With the prep done and the bike licensed and insured, I’ll head up to Tacoma for presentation at South Sound BMW via a bit of Trans Am Trail through the Black Rock Desert. After Tacoma I have another couple of talks in North Cal and once they’re all done I can come back towards southeast Utah. Plan here is to explore some slickrock trails including the famous White Rim, then hop over the Colorado river (left) and follow the UTBDR south down to Monument Valley (left) via the Lockhart Basin. Whatever happens elsewhere, that’s going to be a fabulous few day’s riding.


I’m due at the Overland Expo (right) in mid-May for a few more presentations and book selling, but if there’s time to pack in a bit of Baja then so much the better. That’s the plan; tune in from early April to the end of May to see what I do and how I get on with the CRF.