Tag Archives: Honda CB500X

CB500X – a month in Morocco

All over for this year’s one-weekers in the Moroccan High and Anti Atlas. Now sitting in a Marrakech hotel room signing off AMH7 before it heads to the printers. Surprisingly we had our first actual break down: a XR250 blew a counter sprocket seal just ten minutes from the rental place in Marrakech.
Now the stand is replaced and suspension is getting dialled in the Rally Raid CB500X didn’t miss a beat and was recording up to 85mpg at XR-speeds, but could sure use a jet wash. The rain in Spain (that falls mainly on the plain) will probably see to that.

Was ready and equipped to go to Mauritania, but sounds like the border with Morocco has gone rogue, making it an expensive proposition for what would have been a limited look-around on my own. I’m sure it’ll all be there next time.

Perfect weather this time in Morocco – not a cloud in the sky. First one warm, next one a bit chillier in the High Atlas.
Planning new routes for next year and heading off to the High Atlas tomorrow to dig up something with the same fly-in; gas, food & lodging format as Anti Atlas. Plus maybe a Western Sahara for early 2017. This will be desert camping with 4WD support.
More news shortly – for the moment click this or the image below to scan the full slide show on the other site.


CB500X Rally Raid ready to roll

CB500X RR Index page
Tubeless Conversion Index Page

Just a couple of days before I’m off and I’ve finally got the CB-X converted to full Level III spec at Rally Raid. I 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.


Removing 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.


Removing 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.


The 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.


I 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 Barks 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.


The 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.


BTW, 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 tougher 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 on 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.


One 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 course, 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.


Heidenau 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.


Another 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.


The 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.


While 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.


Like 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.


We 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 see 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.


One 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.


A 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.


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.


Thanks 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.

Looking for Adventure: CB500X or MT-07


A few months ago I had a brief ride on Nick Plumb’s XTZ1200 (left). It was only a few miles but the creamy smooth pulse of the big, lazy engine was spellbinding. It took me back 36.6 years to my old Ducati  (right). In 1978 the 900SS was one of the coolest bikes around and let me tell you, when you’re 18 that has quite an impact!


Of course the S10 is not a 90° V-twin but a more compact parallel twin. Yamaha re-created that Ducati feel by offsetting the crank to 270°. Some say the V-twin feel is the only benefit (and something which neurologists say stimulates the Neanderthal amygdala – right – deep in the human brain). Others claim the firing sequence has an advantage in converting torque into real-world traction. Also, because one piston is always at max velocity as the other comes to a momentary stop at BDC or TDC, this momentum, or what I’ve dubbed as ‘kinergy’, “assists with accelerating the [other] piston back towards its maximum velocity” as I just read on the internet. You don’t get that with your regular ‘up-and-down, up-and-down’ 360- or 180° parallel twins.

It’s the ‘Big Bang’ theory of unsynchronised but closely paired – rather than evenly timed – power pulses, as illustrated in the Honda graphic, right. That was produced to illustrate the benefits of their 670-cc moderate-power/high-mpg Integra super scooter and the closely related NC700 models. Above left is a manual (non-DCT) NC700X getting tested by RideApart in Nevada. Nice, but a bit heavy.


So is an S10: a quarter-ton, £10k tank-too-far to be a practical travel bike. Turns out the new CRF1000L Africa Twin (left and below – my 2016 quick spin) is offset too and sounds as creamy as a Waitrose rice pudding in the videos. But what other 270° twins are there out there suited to the next project? Not so many it seems: a couple of Triumphs including the Scrambler (right), the Honda NCs as mentioned, Yam TDM 850s and 900s from the mid-90s onwards, and the hit bike of 2014: the MT-07.


As I suggest in the book, a mid-weight parallel twin is all that’s needed in a do-it-all travel bike. Adequate power, smoother than a big single with similar performance and price, potentially good economy plus light and simple enough to be manageable on unsealed roads. That’s what my rudimentary GS500R project (left) tried to be – I should have persevered with that. But luckily I came to my senses and got a CB500X.


Honda hit the fuel consumption ball right out of the park with the NCs and about time too. The secret was moderate ‘non-100-hp/litre’ power. I like to try new stuff so the NC-X could be a contender. I’ve yet to ride one but while the weight is positioned low in the chassis (left), a manual 700X is still a 220+ kilo bike on 17-inch wheels and which around here goes for £3.5k used – or £4.5k for the more desirable DCT. If you’re going to try an NC700-X, it ought to be the auto that all owners rave about.


CB500X [I later bought one] It may not run an asymmetric crank like the new CRF1000L, but I like the new look that Honda cooked up in 2013 for the CB500X as well as the NC-X, the Crossrunner and the rest of their MoR Advs. Beaky sure – but sleak[y], too. Someone described the 500X as a 3/4 sized Crossrunner. Alongside my former XCountry (right), the 500 looks slim and with a notably lower seat – all pitched at ‘women or beginner riders’, so they say.
Pulling away I was struck by how astonishingly smooth it was and remained that way right up to an indicted 80mph when a bit of harshness crept in. If I hadn’t known, I’d have never guessed it was a twin, bar the fact it’s not as heavy as a four and as slim as some singles. And even with a vertical linkage nearly a foot long, the six-speed gear change has that satisfying Jap snick that I’ve missed on the shunt-shifting 650X, plus the lever was exactly where my foot liked it. Mark up one point for ergonomics.


My chilly ride was mostly on motorways then some back roads and roundabouts around Gatwick airport and left me with nothing to complain about. With some 46hp there was easily enough poke to overtake at speed, no snatchiness in the transmission or glitches in the fuelling and great brakes. Suspension – where cost cutting is most noticeable these days – worked well enough too, though on smooth main roads it wasn’t really tested. Most cheap stuff will do the job – it’s when the road breaks up or a load is added that the flaws appear. The standard low screen must have done its job too as I don’t recall any strain at around the legal limit.

This 9000-mile-old 500X had some welcome Oxford heated grips plus one of those over-complicated electronic Scott chain oilers (more here). On the back was a Givi tail rack which hangs out like someone walking the plank and is an ergonomic abomination. I’ll have more to say about that in the near future. I know it’s convenient and all, but the thought of a  top box perched way out there is enough to make me want to call the Samaritans.


One reason I’ve taken an interest in the 500X is that UK-based Rally Raid Products have developed a range of parts including properly uprated suspension, replacement wire wheels (right), plus the usual protection and load-carrying accessories. Better known for rallyficating highly strung KTMs and the like, it’s good to see a company like RRP taking on less flash but more affordable travel bikes like the CB-X.


Back on the ride, I pulled over to have a closer look. On its 17-inch wheels the 500X is low on ground clearance. Down below the cat or collector box is on a level with the sump (right), though that’s nothing a slab of 5mm of dural couldn’t see to.


Under the seat – good lord, an actual toolkit in the grey PVC pouch that Honda have used since Fritz Daimler crammed a steam iron into his pushbike. What I could see of the subframe looked chunky enough for luggage duties. Over on the dash, there’s more data than my XCo: digital rev counter, clock, fuel gauge, trip, current/average mpg – all good once you decode it. And for a bike that’s put together in Thailand or China or a bit of both, the fit and finish was reassuringly solid – better than my BMW. With its 17.5-litre tank you imagine the CB-X could get up to 400km (250 miles) to a tank without too much effort (in fact make that nearer 550km). Clad in dark grey plastic, I like the angular ‘early-Batman-movie’ styling too. Interestingly, the previous owner (‘a younger person’) PX’d this bike for an Integra super scoot. Is there a message there?


I came back to the shop liking this 500X, especially when the Doble’s bloke told me it was going for just £3800 – a price forced down by a couple of other used 500Xs in the showroom and the free luggage they’re now giving away with new ones. It’s definitely the closest thing to a modern GS500R I’ve tried.

A few months later I bought a CB-X

Yamaha MT-07 What has Yam’s hit of 2014 got in common with the Honda CB500X you’re thinking? For me it’s solely about the motor because clearly extruding as 07’s suspension and slapping on bigger wheels (as I did on the disposable GS-R) won’t make an integrated gravel-roading travel bike any more than Frankenstein after a weekend trapped in a tumble drier. One limitation I have is nowhere but a South London pavement to work on my bikes – or a mate up in the Midlands to do basic fabricating. That factor curbs what I dare get involved with.


As expected, the second the bloke fired up the MT’s engine I got it, I got it all: that intoxicating offbeat throb held a promise of good things to come. This was a short ride on a bike less than 100 miles old along grubby country lanes and speed-humped roads littered with wet leaves and still damp in the shadows. They led to the old B2031 out to Kingswood and Box Hill where I recall trying out a booming J&R cannon on my XT500 nearly 40 years ago. In these conditions I distinctly felt that this ‘Big Bang’ traction theory had something going for it. There was a sense that the engine power pulses made it easier to feed and feel the traction, compared to the electric-smooth Honda I’d ridden an hour earlier. And the fantastic but non-offensive sub-J&R exhaust note had me  blipping the throttle between gear changes just for the sheer fun of it.


The short pipe holds another trick: escaping gases briefly throb against your dangling heel as you pull away. In my demi-euphoric daze I saw that as consolidating the bond with the characterful machine rather than the inconvenience of melted Derriboots and flaming socks. It was only when I looked at my photos that I realised the shop had slipped on an Akrapovic pipe on the sly – though they’re actually giving them away with new bikes.


They claim 76hp and a wet weight of 180kg. I can’t say the 07 felt like it ran over 100hp/litre but who cares – the odo was still in nappies. It’s the feeling you get playing tunes on the gearbox that counts: you’re gunning around to please your senses not for acclaim. Like I said, magic-ing up a V-twin feel in a compact parallel twin motor is inspired.


The rest of the MT was not so interesting to me. The profile is cool but as soon as that currently fashionable drooping headlamp cowling comes into view I gag. Swap it out for a used XS850 lamp, quick. Along those bumpy, ill-maintained Surrey lanes and suburban speed bumped avenues, the suspension felt harsh and the seating position would have taken some getting used to. But bear in mind I’ve been riding a trail bike with the full Hyperpro set up these last few months.

Anyone remember the 660 MT-03 from 2005?

Back at Lamba Motors in Carshalton, (this demonstrator is being sold shortly for around £5k) we talked about the possibility of Yamaha Tenere-ising the MT-07 in the future. The guy told me that the old XT660Z – which now sells for the same price as the MT – was reaching the end of the line and also that, for the first time this year, he actually had an 07 sitting in the showroom. Up to that point they were pre-ordered and out the door.


Yamaha have recently semi-adventurised the MT-09 triple, calling it a Tracer (left). That included giving it a bigger tank, a fairing, a tad less caster and trail, a higher seat – but also 20 extra kilos and still on 17-inch wheels. So that means something similar may well happen to the smaller MT twin – something like the 500X in fact, but a whole lot more fun to ride and listen to  even if what’s really wanted is a new, full-on XT700Z. You do wonder if in the short-term they might just keep it simple and Tracerise the 07. That’s a great shame as a properly executed MT-07-engined Tenere would for me be a perfect travel bike or at least something on which to build.


So for me the 07’s perfect engine put the Honda in the shade, but it’s a 500X-type bike I’m after (with RRP parts to finish the job). If only Honda had taken the risk and offset one CB-X crank by 90° I’d have bought that bike on the spot.


Instead I’m looking at TDMs – very few bad things are said about them. But in the 900 injected form, it’s a huge ugly slab of a bike and more than I need even if, as with the GS500, used prices are low enough to risk experimenting (left) with negligible depreciation to make something that looks a little more agile.

PS: A short while later I did briefly run a TDM900: more 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.