Tag Archives: Heidenau K60

Rally Raid CB500X – the first 2000 miles

CB500x Index page
Rally Raid Level 3 kit plus BARTubeless sealed rims on Heidenau K60 / Golden Tyre GT201 tyres. RR rack and backplate, Palmer Products screen, Barkbuster Storms, Tutoro oiler.
Weight about 220kg (485lbs) plus 25 transit/10kg piste payload. Me, 105kg in gear

AMH-Tread-Chooser-Advx2k07It hasn’t rained much yet, but as expected the all-road tyres: Heidenau K60 and similar Golden Tyre GT201 on the back – are flawless for what they are. Crossed Spain at low 30s psi, now running high 20s road and track and not one scare so far. Obviously they don’t have the edge bite of a proper knobbly, but for my sort of riding on dry, stony tracks, that’s academic on a heavy CB500X. A back TKC on an F800 that did just 900km with us looked like it was half gone by the end.

x2k06To date the BARtubeless wheels have lost no air except each time I check them, and the stainless HD spokes haven’t budged. Some front spokes have a minute half-mil creak in them, the rears are as solid as an alloy rim. This is after some mountain tracks that left one XR with a fully loosened set of front spokes. Whoever makes these wheels knows their spokes from their elbow.

x2k13With me at 6′ 1″ plus riding boots, the Honda handlebars are too low for standing up for anything longer than an impact-absorbing jolt. Partly this is because they have to be set back so the Barkbusters can clear the dash on full lock (left – look long enough and it makes sense).
Having to sit down changes the way you ride on the dirt, and not in a good way. Perhaps refitting the OE bar ends might set the Barks further out to clear the dash. Iirc, John M said that V-Strom Bark clamps have the sort of bend that suits the X. Removing the Storms would be a shame but I may try that as I have somecbxl302 spare RR adjustable levers should I snap a Honda lever. Back home my stronger alloy fatbars are waiting on RR clamps, but they’re actually lower than the OEs so will need quite a stack of risers.
It reminds me of the problems you can have when converting a road-oriented bike into a trail bike, as I found with my TDM earlier in the year. Dedicated trail bikes have a higher headstock in relation to the footrests, something not very convincingly shown in the gif, left, with a 660Z behind a TDM.

x2k17To get it right for my height may need at least two more inches of bar height if I’m to keep the hand guards. (Note in the picture right, my hands are above the bars in a comfortable stance and I’m only wearing thin-soled slippers). As that may need longer cables, reorganising the hand guards will be less hassle.

As they come from RR, the forks are miles better than the OE arrangement, but after a couple of thousand miles of road and trail they don’t quite evoke the plushness of the simple, Hyperpro-sprung XCountry I used over the same terrain last year. The BMW forks didn’t have any adjustment but were set up (with a new back-end and me present) at HP HQ. Maybe that’s got a lot to do with it.
x2k11Part of the negative impression has been down to the unnerving creaks from the cockpit as the bike hammered over the rocks and which gets mistakenly conflated with the fork action. A quick check over after the tour revealed that the two bolts supporting the whole fairing on the headstock (left) had come loose… again. It’s a good thing RR supply M8 nylocs for the job. Keep a eye on these bolts, off-roading CB-X people. Fyi, other than that there was nothing the Honda needed other than wiping the sand-caked chain with some used engine oil.
x2k14I also noticed one gaiter looked like it had ‘vacuumed in’ as if there was no breather hole and the pumping action had sucked it against the forks. This would cause stiction, and I recall Bas at HP telling me that eliminating stiction (drag) contributes greatly to smooth fork action. When I snipped the zip tie prior to cutting the whole thing off the tension was released. Looks like it was merely mounted with a small twist. Now it’s zip-tied back up and might help improve the fork action.

x2k16The CB-X RR forks have preload adjustment and air bleeders (nothing to bleed so far) so, as I’ve progressively jacked up the back-end, the forks were well overdue for some preloading too. What looks like a 17mm lock nut is hard to get to with a socket as the bleeder gets in the bleeding way, but my trusty Knipex adjustablesnipx (which also make a great spoke wrench, right) managed to get in there. I turned the hex adjuster in seven faces (just over one turn). The forks still felt soft but we’ll see how it rides on the next tour. Now I know how, I can give it more turns down the track.

cbx-spThe Palmer Products adjustable screen mount was of course great for the two-day 115kph transit of Spain and northern Morocco. But the first afternoon on the piste proved that the added kilo of weight and forward displacement of the mounting hardware supporting a tall Honda screen would probably break something if left for too long (that ride is what probably loosened the cockpit bolts). As it was, the other guy with a similar arrangement on his F800 had some screen screws fall out.
Another reason to remove it is the screen position feels rather unnerving close when briefly standing up on the piste. I know of a guy who was killed by his screen in a freak over-the-bars accident, and even if it didn’t guillotine me, I’d rip the whole thing off if I went flying the same way. The screen unscrews from the frame in five minutes and will go back on in ten for the ride home. Riding around warm and dry Morocco in short spells up to 100kph is OK without a screen.

spnThe Daytona heated grips were great on a foggy night and morning in north Spain, and doubtless will be even more useful on the colder ride back. Compared to Oxford grips I’ve had on other bikes recently, the adjustment is crude: off, very high (for short-term warming up, they say); and warm, which seems to equate with the medium setting on Oxfords. I don’t suppose they’ll be much cop if temps reach down to freezing point, but that’s the time for lined gloves.

Running down through Spain it was clear the Tractive shock was loosening up from the way the headlight lit up road signs miles ahead. After a few days on the piste it needed urgent preloading. One of the more rallyesque riders in my group advised I first tried the easy x2k10option: a few clicks in on the low- and high-speed compression damping on the remote reservoir. That put me on 15 of 22 for low-speed, 11/18 high-speed, and 18/24 on the rebound damping at the base of the shock, but that didn’t do enough (click totals may vary from official Tractive sources; it’s what I felt).
John M warned me the spring preload would be a faff, but it’s actually not so bad: two big allens to remove the LHS footrest hanger and the preload collar or ring is there between some frame tubes. Mine was about halfway down the threads. There’s no usual lock ring requiring a RRP304v4-500x500C-spanner, instead there are about 8 peg-locating holes in the collar which I realise are for a hydraulic remote preload adjuster (left) which would eliminate all this aggro. But Tom G at Tractive explained they don’t suit the shorter and more constricted CB-X RR shock. That’s a shame as I’d buy one in a shot.
The shock comes with a multi-bit tool, but with the supplied 6-mm peg fitted, you can’t make enough collar-turn to line up the next hole before fouling a frame tube. After a bit of trial end error I found a short 5-6mm allen key levered with a ring spanner worked best. That gives you enough space to turn the collar from one hole to the next.
The preload ring is held in position with a single tiny hex-head locking screw. But as there’s only one it means the presumably essential locking requires you to bring that screw back into the narrow 20-30° working aperture between the frame tubes.
Doing this I managed 1.5 turns on the collar bringing the lock screw back in position. Next morning this was initially better but the shock was still occasionally bottoming out harshly on the rocks and even bottomed out gently over a fast concrete ford at 90kph. I know they say bottoming out proves all the suspension movement is being used, but this felt too soft for the hefty mass of a CB500X with me on it.
I’ve never really got into suspension, having run what I brung for years until seeing the light with the Hyperpro XCountry. I still don’t fully comprehend the exact relationship between compression damping (high- or low-speed) and preload. I’m sure the answer is just a Google away, but assume adequate preload with sag must come first. That’s hard to do alone while cranking away on an allen key with a ring spanner. Two nights later I put another turn on the preload ring (2.5 from delivered). At this point on a cool morning it initially felt like it needed more rebound damping, but by now most of the piste was over and the forks were in greater need of attention.
I’ll do some more experimenting on the next lap, but do wonder if the remote reservoir’s position alongside the cylinder and behind the radiator  might negate their purpose in getting cooled away from the pumping hot shock. I touched the reservoir which was only warm; the mounting bracket maybe 40-50°C. When the bike’s thudding down a steep pass, working the suspension hard at little more than walking pace and the fan running, whatever’s in the reservoir will get quite hot. The shock action does seem to soften through the day and the temps here are only in the mid-20s.

The longer RR sidestand needs to be redesigned or beefed up. As a prop for a bike it works, but side stands can suffer upward impacts similar to bash plates, need to perch a bike on one wheel when doing wheel or chain work and may need to press down to break a tyre bead.

x2k01I came off the boat in Santander thinking the bike was leaning on the stand a bit more than normal. Turns out the lashing down – or maybe the crashing of the ferry on the overnight swell – had bent the stand so the foot was 2-3 inches further forward (left). This greater lean now puts more stress on it, and when retracted it stuck out.
Closer inspection showed the bend was not on the Honda frame tab but  just below the stand’s pivot (above). The RR stand is made of flattened, not round tube, and the alignment of the flat face is right into the bending force. Checking my earlier pictures, it looks like the OE stand shares the same flattened profile (i.e.: not round tube), so it must simply be down to greater leverage on the new stand due to the added length.
x2k05Once I knew the problem I decided not to bend it back and took great care not to stress the stand when getting on and off. But two days into the tour it folded on me anyway (left). Kicking it back out of the way, I was surprised how thin the tube’s walls were, though I can’t say I’ve ever dissected a motorcycle side stand closely.
Luckily there was time to text John and get him to send a reinforced stand with one of the next group flying in. I figured this was a better solution than getting a bush mechanic to repair or make up a new stand, as the actual angle of the stand from the pivot is quite critical.
P1140297Now I see a picture of John’s chunky reinforcement (left), I think it may not go far enough past the point where mine fractured. I may get a fin of 2-3mm sheet spot-welded to the other flat face at the top of the stand, against the force of the bend.
Overall I think an equilaterally stiff round tube with a thicker wall will be a better long-term solution to the greater forces put on the RR stand, as well as a wider foot for soft terrain. When a side stand is all you have, it needs to be bombproof, but my experience is all part of the testing procedure.

cbx-footrests1The big footrests are a revelation, offering great grip plus a broad platform on which to stand, were I able to do that for long. Even with full MX boots some riders found the normal-sized pegs on the XRs a pain to stand on for long. There’s no noticeable loss in comfort from the rubber-capped OE pegs, and the RR pegs are a tad lower and further back too (see above). I find the heel of my right boot touches the can’s heat shield when stood upright.

The RR skid plate / crash bar has lately been used as a surrogate prop in place of the side stand, and while it’s taken a few flying hits, I don’t recall bottoming out on anything big. It’s doing its vital job unobtrusively.

The RR rack hasn’t really been put to the test either, carrying light dry bags lashed to the side, with inner tubes and a fuel bag lashed on the inside spaces. As mentioned elsewhere, I miss an old-school tube rack’s tubes for something to grab on to.


P1000836Most of the off-road riding has been on stony or rocky tracks typical of Morocco, with very occasional soft sand or loose shingle in the oueds, and the odd fast gravel road. On these gravel roads the CB-X can go as fast as you like, the tame power delivery adding up to reliable traction on the hard, all-road tyres. The suspension is never taxed and appropriate use of the brakes for the conditions scrubs off the speed, with the added back up of ABS in case of a stray mule.
On the rough trails, particularly on the inclines, the CB-X is a bit of a tank, as is any bike this heavy. Such tracks (usually the abandoned and unmaintained middle sections between remote villages accessed from one end or the other) are not enjoyable on anything bigger than an XR250. The bike crashes along with the cockpit creaking as you try to minimise impacts while steering, braking and balancing. But these tracks ma6-7gvery often lead you to the most spectacular places. One route (MA7 in the Morocco book, left and bottom of page) we reversed over the Jebel Timouka I wouldn’t want to repeat on the CB-X with six bikes in tow, but I’d sure like to ride it again.

The great thing is the engine’s soft power adds up to velcro-like traction rather than more photogenic, knob-ripping torque, which means you get no more tired than you need. Climbing a rubbly switchback feet up but sat down at walking pace, you’re not fighting the thud of a big single (or Boxer twin come to that) which needs to be damped with a slipping clutch, all of which makes the bike easy to ride. I find the six-speed gearing ideal for all this: low enough on gnarly pistes and with a top end 75-mph cruise. For once no need to meddle with the sprockets.
Most of the XRs had harmless low-speed falls, the F800 a few more. Apart from my bike falling over when the stand broke, I’ve not yet come close and I hope it stays that way. On a bike this heavy, falling or hammering the suspension until something breaks is to be avoided at all costs, even if it means I’m slowest in the group. The number one priority is preserving the bike to get me round the circuit and back home.

fuellerMy fuel consumption’s varied greatly: Spain to Marrakech (sustained 115kph cruising where possible) returned 66.5; 63.5; 60; 57; 60; 61.5mpg UK. That’s between 20.2 and 23.2kpl (other conversions here or right).
Once on tour speeds rarely exceeded 90kph so that rose to 80.5; 87 and 78.5mpg (27.8 to 30.8kpl) which was better than some of the XRs, and usually a little better than the F800 which was a handful to ride smoothly at slow speed.

x2k12dustyI plan to change the oil and may need a new air filter back home. The Tutoro chain oiler doesn’t work so well on the piste: the oily sprocket picks up all the sand and grit but the lube goes nowhere. I turned it off; it’s back to hand oiling with a toothbrush.

x2kk1The seat is hanging in there but I don’t think the Aerostich wool pad will help disguise the pulverised foam from too much sitting down. Whatever, it’s got to be better than an F650/800 seat. Eric used an ‘XL bubble wrap’ Air Hawk 2. Without it, even with a Wunderlich seat, he can’t go much over a 100kms.

There’s still experimentation to be done with the CB-X’s suspension and bar position, but as it is it’s hard to imagine doing what I’m doing on a standard CB500.Add the necessary proper engine and lever protection, and carrying ability and you have an all-road travel bike ready to go. Read a broader conclusion here after 5000 miles.

ma77

CB500X Rally Raid ready to roll

CB500X RR Index page
Tubeless Conversion Index Page

wgrJust a couple of days before I’m off and I’ve finally got the CB-X converted to full Level III spec at Rally RaidcbxL309I started the job at home by fitting the clever drop top clamp, precision milled on John’s CNC 4-axis milling machine (right). Marvel what a 5-axis miller can do in this mind-boggling vid. The clamp enables positioning the fork tops 20mm lower which with the 30mm longer damper rods gives two inches more travel and room for the bigger wheel. It’s a more expensive solution to screwing on dodgy fork extenders – something I looked into when trying to Tenerise a TDM900 earlier in the year.

cbxL304Removing the whole headlight/fairing/dash unit (left) is actually quite simple once you get your head around it. The pdf instructions from RRP are all clear – all the more so when you look back at them. Side panels off then three screws on each side of the fairing and then the crucial double 12-mil bolts on the steering head which take all the weight. Ease back the LHS to unplug a couple of connector blocks and away it comes. RRP include some alternative 12 mils with nylocs in the kit. I saved them for later and a 1000 miles down the road, when I got to their workshop one had fallen out. RTFpdf.

JISRemoving the ignition barrel from the OE top clamp is where things slowed down. First, two crosshead screws holding on the HISS ring needed undoing from underneath. Why crossheads FFS? I almost lifted the bike off the ground getting the pressure in there – luckily they both turned with a nice crack of shearing Loctite. Later John advised these are actually JIS head screws – some sort of Japanese standard that’s possibly better than Phillips. Could that be why we had all that trouble using Phillips drivers on Jap monkey metal crossheads in the bad old days? Probably not.

cbxL303The next step required drilling out the chunkier undoable barrel security bolts (left) and – long story short – that took me days of faffing: blunting and crudely resharpening drill bits over and over on a distant neighbour’s grinding wheel. It’s an awkward job with an upside-down drill just off centre and the chuck spinning close to cables and wires, but I got one out then Mr Postie delivered a few cobalt drills the day before we had to pack up and relocate cross country. never heard of cobalt drill bits but with a better technique (slow rpm, nib in oil), the second bolt head fell away in a few seconds. John at RRP says he may include a cobalt 9mm with future kits.

cbxL305cbxl302I was hoping to fit some stronger Renthal fatbars (right) but the taller RRP clamps aren’t quite ready yet, so it was back on with the taller OE bars, (left) – there’s plenty of cable slack to do this – the lift is not that great. On went my trusty Barkbuster Storms (now on their 4th bike) as well as some Daytona heated grips I’ve had lying around for so long the rubber’s gone grey. They look a bit crap compared to the Oxfords that came with my last couple of bikes, but they’ll last as long as they last and were dead easy to fit. I also fitted RRP’s 12-volt double PTO mounting plate – much neater than having the PTO zip-tied to the ignition barrel. The cbx-leverrpBarks required the usual compromises with lever angles – apparently, a Bark V-Strom mount has the curve to get under or over a brake hose. I have some neat shortie adjustable levers (right) from RRP too but will fit them if mine snap. The Storms ought to reduce the chances of that.

cbxL308The next day I set off on a 480-mile run down to North Yorkshire, including the full length of the fabulous A68. I was trying out a new Powerlet heated vest which I’m sure helped me arrive less tired, with just one stop at a Gregg’s 350 miles in. The 500X returning an average of 76mpg while I marvelled at the OE Pirelli tyres’ grip in the wet.

tech7tech7BTW, let me put in a good word for the big Tech 7 Adventure Bike cover. Yes, there is such a thing, and it fits bikes up to tall screened GS12s and S10s. Still only £23 from M&P, I’m sure it’s much reducetougher than those £10, last-a-year silver jobbies, has two under straps just inside each wheel, but also has an elastic bottom to make those straps unnecessary unless it’s very windy.  Low-profile black to reduce visibility tech77on dark streets and compact enough to make a handy travel cover or groundsheet.
Update 2019: After 3.5 years the waterproofish laminate is shot and the fabric is sun faded, but all the stitching and elasticity and clips are intact and it all hangs together. I need waterproofing, so bought an Oxford Aquatex for £20 for my Himalayan.


A few days later at John’s workshop near Bedford wheels and suspension were needed to finish the Level 3 job. I’m trying out some RRP wheels sealed with a mystery polymer by BARtubeless in Italy to run tyres tubeless. With his rally racing background John’s more of a tube or mousse man. For less aggressive solo travels to which the CB-X is more suited, I err towards tubeless and gel, as do a few other potential RRP customers. RRP may end up being the UK supplier for BARTubeless.

cbxL315One problem with them is the thick layer of polymer in the well of the rear rim making tyre mounting difficult. That’s what they found earlier fitting a Golden Tyre GT 201 (left; 150 / 70 R 17 TL 69V) I bought from Adv Spec. You need the depth in the rim’s well to give enough slack in the bead when doing that last bit of levering. Of coursecbxL320, some tyres are harder to mount than others and the GT201 (a K60/MT60 look-alike) is stiffer than the TKC which RRP typically use. While in the area they adjusted my recently bedded-in x-ring chain and John recommended fitting a nyloc nut on the chain adjuster bolt (right); apparently the OE nuts fall off.

cbxL314Heidenau K60 19-er leftover from my old GS500 project went onto the front rim with no hassle. I got a chance to try out my Motion Pro Bead Buddy II (left, blue), a ‘hands-free’ clamp that forces the bead down in the well when levering on the opposite side. It’s the same as putting your weight on the tyre to push it down (not so easy on the tyre rack, left) and it did the job.

cbxL311cbxL312Another problem is this RRP front wheel doesn’t have a rim with the vital bead retaining lip for tubeless use. A label from BARTubeless warned to keep the pressure at least at 1.6 bar or 23 psi to reduce the risk of it dislodging into the well and losing pressure. As it is, 1.6 bar is the lowest I’d run tyres on a CB-X at anyway, so it should be OK. I know when I DIY sealed my Tenere’s 21-inch front wheel (also no lip, unlike the rear) I had leaking problems, but that could be down to the 21’s narrower section (don’t ask me how or why). Anyway, I’ve Slime’d both wheels, will keep checks on the pressure and am taking a light inner tube just in case (although that embossing – above – would need nuking to stop rubbing a tube up the wrong way). Hopefully, this experimentation won’t impinge on my Morocco ride, as it did with the Tenere.

cbxrrpspringsrrp-dampersThe forks came out, got cleaned up and the internals were all replaced. John showed me the Honda ‘progressive’ spring which is really a ‘twin rate’ coil off something shorter with a tacky white plastic spacer to elongate it for the CB-X (visible back left). John replaces it with a full length linear spring from Tractive (left) and tackles the progressive response with a 30mm-longer damper rod (right) using some clever deforming shims as well as some much lighter fork oil that’s less prone to losing viscosity when hot. On top, the forks get pre-load adjusters (as will 2016 CB500Xs)  and air bleeders.

cbxL301While the forks were off he slipped on some gaiters I tracked down on ebay and which John told me where the best fit he’d found so far. Gaiters are an old-school thing so it’s hard to find sets that are short enough for a modern 41mm fork which in the gaiters’ heyday would have correlated with a ten-inch travel MX fork. As you can see left, these 41 x 60 x 250 fit well on the 2-inch longer travel forks.

cbxL318Like a pampered factory rider letting his pit crew take care of things, I wasn’t paying attention when the Tractive shock and revised linkage plates got fitted, but that looks like a tricky job needing a spare pair of hands. A small dent needs bashing into the silencer and the remote reservoir fitted by the engine on the other side.
There’s full 3-way adjustment on the Tractive, but apparently, the shock preload is a bit of a faff with the Tractive took supplied. What I’d like is a hydraulic preload knob option. I found that so handy on last year’s Xcountry as loads changed, but I never touched my Hyperpro’s other settings once set up for me. TBH I’d struggle to know exactly what needed doing. Again, it’s a rally vs travel thing. I spec’d a 120Nm spring as I’m fond of food.

All this extra suspension needs a two-inch longer sidestand which Rally Raid fitted. It’s a shame it doesn’t include an extended foot for soft terrain support, but something can be bodged on down the road. They did mention that with the longer stand the greater weight can cause the stand to swing down on heavy drops which can engage the engine cut out. Another reason to get ride of those annoying switches. Or maybe more spring tension.

cbxL321We went out for a quick spin around the back lanes, but new tyres, wet leaves and the completely new feel to the front end made for an edgy ‘on marbles’ ride. The bike’s added tallness suits my 6′ 1″ much better (you can seecbxL307 how low the bike sat on the right, with a bit of baggage on the back). Now I can still almost get both feet flat on the ground, though the shock is bound to loosen and sag a bit in the upcoming miles.

cbx-footrestsrrp-footrestersOne good thing is the RRP platform footrests (left) feel up to an inch lower than the rubber-capped OEs which makes less of a leg bend and also standing up less effort. Turns out they’re a bit further back too (see image, right).
We rode up a local potholed ‘dogging’ lane (complete with a scrunched-up copy of Razzle – that takes me back…) and standing on the X felt spot-on for my height – very comfy indeed – thanks to retaining the higher OE bars and helped by those big pegs. No more stooping, as on last year’s X bike.

hyperA bigger diametre front wheel has a greater gyroscopic effect which makes changes in direction (aka: steering) slower. That’s why road bikes run 17s, even if they look all wrong when fitted to an ‘adventure’ bike like the Ducati, right. Initially, it feels like the rake’s gone all Easy Rider or the head bearings are too tight, though actually the new K60 19-er noticeably lightens the steering – good for pivoting through traffic. That greater force also improves tracking (straight-line stability), not that the OE X was deficient in that respect.

cbx-sp

Setting off back to London in the dark and the rain I took it easy, and once I dead reckoned my way out of Bedford and onto the M1 (compass on my jacket sleeve proving useful), I sat it out on the motorway and by the time it came to tackling Hyde Park Corner at Friday rush hour I was fully accustomed to the Honda’s new feel. Taller may mean higher CoG, fewer dabbing chances and the need to step on a footrest to get on, but it’s all given the CB-X that trail bike stance which I know and love. Only thing is this time it won’t be accompanied by the thump of a big single, but a smooth and as economical 500 twin.

logo-rallyraidThanks to John and Adam for doing in half a day what would take me half a week. There’s more on their CB500X conversions here – and more from me and the bike later.

Some of the RRP parts I bought, some were exchanged for advertising in the 2016 edition of AMH.

The best do-it-all Adventure Motorcycling Tyres

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