Tag Archives: IMS tank WR250R

WR-ing about in Morocco – 5

WR250R 4000-km review
WR Introduction
WR250R Stage 1
WRing about in Wales

WR250R ready for the desert
Morocco trip report, 1–9
Fuel log

I drop down, turn west and and plough into the oued, hoping for the best, but it’s not going to happen. Soon I’m paddling madly in first, like something out of a Roadrunner cartoon, engine screaming. The temp gauge reaches 134°C. Normally 100-110.
With vigorous paddling and feathering the throttle I  j u s t  manage to keep creeping forward. On firmer terrain the bike grabs traction and leaps ahead, then sinks at the next soft patch. The rear spins, the clutch creaks, I’m panting and my mouth is parched.
I inch towards some shade to let it all cool down. This shouldn’t be this hard – I’ve made a mistake somewhere. Those nomads upstream use old landrovers and wouldn’t camp in such a hard-to-reach place.

I set off on foot to try to find the track or recce a firm, rideable route. I’ve been lured in by a couple of car tracks – a common mistake to make when the way ahead isn’t clear. Thorny acacias and stony river banks limit options, but I work out a way to the south bank where I want to be.

Back at the bike I drop pressures to 1 bar – it can make a huge difference. I’ll need it as a 250 lacks the grunt of a 600 to hook up on soft sand.
Suddenly it’s all got a bit challenging, but if I ride short sections then rest, recover and cool the motor, I’ll make it out in a hour or two. Plus there are waterholes and even nomads if something like the fuel pump goes wrong.

Before setting off I suck down one of these gels; they were going cheap on Wiggle. I’m not usually into this stuff but it’s worth a go. The soft tyres transform the bike: traction makes faster forward progress – actual riding not paddling – and less spinning and revving and more airflow = less heat: win-win.
I climb onto the south bank and ride gingerly among the rocks on the flat tyres, working my way along the valley

I find and follow a stretch of track but it soon ends in a huge mound of flood-churned sand by a big waterhole (MW6-KM256). I set off on another foot recce to see if it gets better or worse and like they do, a nomad pops out of the scrub. Another tourist in a pickle, and he’d be right.
We do the greeting thing then I ask him “Hawza? [nearby army base]. Piste?”
He points across a spit of sand bridging the waterhole where the track once was (above; Bing image below).
That’ll do me. I check it for firmness as I already trod in some quicksand. I start the bike, reach the waterhole and shoot over, but see no track on the far bank. Sod it, I take off up the rocky hillside to cut the last bend in the oued, hoping the soft tyres don’t pinch.
Elevation is always useful when lost: from the top I see the track continuing south across the stony plain towards a pass.

Two years later I was in the same place on the Himalayan and with a 4×4. I’d made much less of a mess of the oued, but this time the gorge was a dry mass of deep sandy ruts which the bike would definitely not manage. I aired-down the rear and tried to walk and push around, but the torque of the heavy bike had the chain slipping on the front sprocket. Not a good sound. Luckily the two in the car saw me panting like a dog, came back and helped push me across. Once back on firmer sand, I took off over the stony hill, as I’d done with the WR. Alone, I suppose I’d have managed eventually, as I did on the WR. The trick is knowing when to stop and rest and drink – every couple of minutes if necessary. Don’t burn yourself out – a frazzled brain makes mistakes.

mw6km256The sandy gorge from hell, as seen on Bing aerial.

Gnarly episode over, I air up with my trusty Cycle Pump. Generally I don’t mess around with tyre pressures too much, but that oued needed 15psi.

And very soon I reach another thing I’d forgotten about – an amazing view from the escarpment down to the chott (dry lake bed). If you have edition 2 of Morocco Overland you’ll see a picture of a 101 camper which stripped its gearbox trying to get up this steep climb.

That’s the climb from the base. Even on the WR it would be an all-or-nothing launch to get up it.

Behold the sun-baked chott. Surely, no more dramas.

On the chott. Like the famous Bolivian Salar, but without the electrics-eating salt.

Like you do, I get a bit carried away, looping some loops, but realise I need to head for some specific Dakar mounds on the south side to reach the track to the road.
Soon I’m back on the blacktop, the continuation of the restricted border road I was turned back from at Zag.

 

It’s another two hours to Smara. I pass a turn-off for the remote shrine of old Sheikh Sidi Ahmed Rguibi, the ancestral Yemeni forefather who led his people to this promised land, 500 years ago. The Arab Reguibat are the dominant tribe among the Saharawi nomads of Western Sahara.

Smara: road’s end at the Polisario front line, but looking quite prosperous for a garrison town. I roll up and down the high street and spot a few rough-looking joints.
I brace myself and pick the ‘Golden Sands’. The bloke in the office picking his nose is a bit bemused to see a sweaty Nasrani (‘Nazarene’ or Christian; ie: foreigner). Nevertheless he leads me to a windowless cell resembling a deleted scene from Homeland: a heavily soiled mattress and a dim bulb hanging on bare wires. Oh well, I’ve lodged as bad in Pakistan and elsewhere, and it’s only one night and three quid.
I’m just unpacking when the boss rocks up.
‘Come on mate, you can’t sleep here. Look at it, it’s shit!. Let us take you to a nicer place over the road. They got showers and everythink.’

Over the road feels a bit odd. My room has walls lacquered in ripe pig’s blood sprinkled with sequins, plus a matching satin duvet. And out in the corridor a highly scented lady gives the place the ambience of a knocking shop. Not sure this is what the g-friend had in mind when I told her I was off for some WR-ing about in Morocco.


I go for a wander and see a sign for Tfariti on the other side of the Berm, in the Polisario Free Zone. The Dakar Rally used to cross here to get to nearby Mauritania, but I always wondered how that was negotiated. Since the actual fighting ended, Morocco has pursued a full-time propaganda war against the Polisario, with all sorts of fake websites making out they’re pork-eating, drug-taking smugglers and terrorists.


As always in these towns, I have trouble recognising a place to eat. Cafes packed with blokes watching football while twiddling their smartphones over a fag are everywhere, but they only serve tea or coffee.
People stare at me: ‘how did he get here?’
I try a couple of places – “sorry mate, we repair typewriters” – then stumble into this place, rough as a granite toothbrush.
‘Got anything to eat?’
‘Sure, take a seat.’

My brochette arrives. One thing I like about these basic places is the total lack of pretension, a genuine welcome plus the food is cooked right in front of you so you know what you’re getting – not yesterday’s warm-overs.
Ok, so there’s no fork to pull the brochettes off the skewer. He sees me struggling, comes over and just grabs the meat with his fist and pulls them off the skewers. That’ll work!

Smara by night.

Meanwhile a spy informs me my publisher was spotted at the London Book Fair, spreading the word.

Part 6  > > >

Yamaha WR250R Project – Stage 1

WR250R 4000-km review
WR Introduction
WR250R Stage 1
WRing about in Wales
WR250R ready for the desert
Morocco 4000-km trip report, 1–9
Fuel log

wrs11First up for the WR, an 18-litre IMS fuel tank that’s wider than it is long. And at the 31kpl I got on the way back from Holland, that should mean well over 500km, though 400 may be more realistic.
On the forums you read various horror stories about the IMS tank: misalignment, poor fittings, plugs falling out and so on. I was expecting aggro but it all went without a hitch or too much head scratching. The fuel line unclips from the pump, the OE tank lifts off, once unscrewed the pump lifts out of that and the wrs1-8chunky Yamaha tank mounts swap onto the IMS just fine. At the back though, no amount of jiggling could line up the mounts (below right) with the frame if using the locating washers. Without washers it crammed in OK. I didn’t bother with the screw-in stud on the back of the tank to locate wrs1-6the seat front either. It stays on well enough with the seat tongue going under the frame tab.
The IMS comes with a small low-pressure lift pump inside (the grey metal unit, above) to get to the fuel at the bottom. It’s powered by vacuum off some intake hose which you cut and tee into. Once all was plumbed up and bolted down, the bike started first press and ran normally. Hallelujah.
The tank splays out quite widely and the outer edges will get knocked about on falls, but they also protect the radiator better than the OE shrouds so it’s a good use of volume. On the road full up, I can’t say I noticed any unbaffled sloshing as some sensitive riders have reported. Looks like a good, solid unit. The pic at the bottom of the page shows it with 3 litres in and room for 15 more at the servo.


yamaha3d71390710WR250Rs are known for having dodgy fuel pumps (more here) which can behave erratically in hot weather after a few thousand kms, failing to prime (no buzzing on key turn). They might recover once cooled down but eventually will pack up for good. No one really knows what the problem is. One suggestion is fuel varnish coating the inside seizes the turbine when hot.
Early 2008s were very prone, although later WRs pack up too after a few thousand kms. It seems not living in Phoenix, AZ helps, and you do wonder if ropey US fuel has something to do with it or if it’s a case of the squeaky hinge getting all the oil? Don’t know but in the Sahara WR bike will get hot for sure.

A complete Yamaha pump with housing goes discounted for about $300 on amazon, and although the part number changed (from 3D7-13907-00 for 2008-12, to 3D7-13907-10 from 2013-onwards) suggesting an updated pump, some people still report failures on the newer pumps. wrfuelpump
Being a popular bike in US and Au, there are various aftermarket pumps from just £20 cheapies on ebay to £105 for a California Cycleworks unit (left, also made in China). They all require carefully dismantling the white plastic housing as above, to replace the actual fuel pump unit. Not really a trailside job.  Aftermarket ones fail too, especially the cheaper ones, which makes you think it’s modern fuel or an over-pressurised system, as I also read somewhere. I’ve not heard of other efi bikes having hot weather fuel pump issues, but anyway I cracked and bought a Cycleworks. I’ll will get round to fitting it and carry the OE unit as a spare.

wr250-rax

wrs1-11Next job: pannier racks. Long story short, choosing from the above selection, at $170 from Rocky Mtn Adv the US-made Tusk racks (a Rocky Mtn sub-brand, afaik) looked by far the best value for money, and when they turned up I was even more impressed – nice to see chunky ¾”  and the all-important back brace to stop them folding in when heavily loaded on rough terrain. The unbraced Moto and Barrett may rely on heavier gauge tubing to not cave in. That looks neater but I found with the Rally Raid racks on the CB500X it didn’t really work out like that, to be bend-proof and light you need a back brace. Once I removed the unwanted bracketry for mounting Tusk hard boxes, the weight was < 4kg.
The wrs1-10fitting video on Rocky Mtn is especially helpful, but mounting the back underplate (right) could only be solved by cutting away with a red-hot knife. It’s possible my bike’s non-original plastic numberplate holder mount plate thing complicated things. That apart, the rack lined up just right elsewhere and will give something to grab when hauling the WR across a dune. There’s plenty of space behind the non-pipe side too, to stash stuff or mount a container.

wrs1-9I splashed out on some Rox bar risers giving a 2-inch lift and a bit of fore and aft adjustment. Fat bar sized plus with adapters for ⅞s, they can carry over to later bikes, like my old Barkbuster Storms. Talking of which, they can stay in the  box as the handguards that came with the WR look OK. There’s just enough room left on the bars to add my xco-shieldSpitfire screen mounts (right).
I have a nice shiny Flatland bashplate waiting to clamp on, but the old hex bolts on the OE bashplate were not playing ball. Instead they wanted a game of rounders, and so rounded out they now are. One for the shop when they MoT it next week.

wrs1-18I put on my old round Double Take mirror; it helps where I park the bike. But a run to the Overland Event near Oxford proved it vibrates on the WR just like it blurred on other bikes I’ve tried them on. screen-shot-2016-09-18-at-14-37-06The new asymmetric Double Take Adventure model (right) has done away with the stalk to reduce vibration, but now means you have to buy a hefty 6-inch RAM arm for another 20 quid (plus a bar-ball mount for another tenner). As I have those bits I may give the new one a try as it is handy to have one bombproof mirror.
82-cassisPicture left: my original desert bike, the ally-tanked ’76 XT500 I rode to Algeria in 1982. The WR is bike #57. For the first time since the 80s I’ve again had more bikes than birthdays.

wrsi-drdOther jobs include re-fitting my Trail Tech Vapor to give accurate speeds because, according to my GPS the WR speedo reads 12% fast and odo some 4% over. But I’ve also just fitted a Speedo DRD chip (left) from Totally TTRs. I was hoping the WR’s OE kph digital speedo could be reset to show mph, like my XT660ZE from the same era. But annoyingly, it seems WRs sold in kmh markets can’t flip their speedos to mph, while Brit and American mph WRs can changed to kph. WTF WR?
wrs1-spdLike those nifty fuel controllers, the DRD is very easy to programme and can also flip to mph to make the bike UK legit, as well as correct the large speed error, even though the Vapor technically does that job too. As a reminder the Trail Tech Vapor can also display ambient and engine temps – the latter a vital reading on any bike, IMO – as well as a GPS compass and altitude, rpm and, yes even the time of day.

vizxAs for lighting, I’m assuming the standard little headlight will not wake the badgers. Some say you can fit a super-bright $60 HiD bulb and fry burgers with it; other find the cut off is unsuited for road riding. I must say on a travel bike I prefer the idea of a secondary light; a back up should the main one fail.
I’ve had a Vision X 5″ Xmitter narrow beam (left) sitting around for ages. They say this is the best model to get for travel bikes, so now will be a good opportunity it fit it to the WR.

wrs1-tyresWakey wakey! A mate gave me a rear Sava MC23 Rockrider which he reckons are the new black (and round). At 140-80 it didn’t fit his TTR250 and I don’t think oversized tyres work on a WR (120/80-18) any more than noisy pipes make more power. More weight; more drag and over-stiff tyres on light bikes can be counterproductive in deep, soft sand. They’re just too stiff to sag usefully, even at very low pressures, to give better traction, as AMH-Tread-Chooser-Dirt
I found years ago running a Mich Desert on a Tenere right down to 5psi. The MC23 is 4 plies tread and 3 in the sides – sounds stiff. I won’t be that loaded up nor riding hard, and the WR will lack a Tenere’s grunt to hook up, for sure.
In the US they all rate the Dunlop 606 on WRs, but they don’t sell it in the UK. Either way, something from the list on the right will do the job or here. The Mitas E09/10s I’ve been wanting to try don’t come in WR rear sizes. With Sava/Mitas it’s the MC23 or nothing and in the end I succumbed to online tyre fatigue and clicked on a 120/90 Rockrider for £56. It may not hook up in the sands of the Erg Amatlich, but it won’t puncture up on the plateau, either.
To keep it company I also bought a front MC23 Rockrider – £42 from Oponeo, so that’s £98 all shod. This came branded as a Czech Mitas as Mitas have lately bought out Slovenian Sava. Just as well because as tyre names go, ‘Sava’ is even worse than Golden Tyre. I hope to at least mount the rear tubelessly, doing a better job than I did last time on the Tenere. Enough tyre talk.

wrs1-papsUnfortunately, delays in receiving paperwork to complete UK registration (added by my own confusion in how to set about the task efficiently) mean it’s unlikely I’ll have a UK plate and logbook in time for my Morocco tours in a few weeks. I’ll have to rent something down there. Can’t say I’m bitterly disappointed at missing the chance to cross Spain and back in early winter on an untried 250. Last couple of years I’ve been lucky with the rain in Spain. It can’t last and it all gives me a chance to get the WR in good shape for the proper desert trip we have lined up in the new year. It also means those rally tyres won’t get wasted running mostly roads.
wrs1-12hpwrI do wonder if it has been worth the faff and expense of buying a bike from Holland just to get some top-grade Hyperpro suspension (this is the first WR250R to have HP). All I know is if it works as well as my HP X-Country, then the answer will eventually be yes. You just wonder how many trees have given up promising futures to certify the re-registering process of this motorcycle.

wrs1-17Have to say, after having a close look, so far I’m impressed by the WR. The easy disassembly and access to things, nifty hinged air filter door, minimal-sized components where possible and solid parts elsewhere, like triple clamp and subframe. It’s like a Jap KTM, and grails don’t come much holier than that.

One thing I’m pretty sure I won’t be doing is meddling with the airbox flap, EXUP valve, silencer or other stuff to squeeze 3% more power out of it and save a few ounces. Like most things, the WR-R already is what it is: lighter and more powerful than any other Jap trail bike, with a travel workable oil-change interval and excellent mpg. That should do nicely for the next desert ride or two I have in mind.

wr-hpa
On the way to the Overland Event I had a pile of heavy books I was hoping not to bring back. Once loaded up it was great to just crank up the Hyperpro Hydraulic Preload Adjuster (HPA) knob which still fits nicely alongside the new rack. At a pinch you can almost do it on the move, though probably not while texting.
I haven’t yet had the heart to run the WR at the revs it’s supposed to handle. What’s probably a true 55-60mph seems fine for now, but unlike a CRF-L or KLX, you do have a bit of spare oomph when you need it. For the first time in years I’m very much looking forward to getting my latest project bike on the dirt.

wrs1-16