Tag Archives: Morocco

XSR 700 Scrambler – ready for Morocco

Scramlogo
• XSR 700 Scrambler index page

Just flown back from a quick tour in Morocco and setting up the XSR for departure in a couple of days. It was handy pre-running my routes last week; despite recent heavy rains which has seen some places re-mudding their adobe roofs, all my tracks with the exception of Jebel Sarhro were in pretty good nick, including MH19 Trans Atlas which we managed to cram in on the last day.

Getting back on my XSR after riding XR250s with 70,000kms on the clock, the Yamaha feels amazingly taut. On the weekend I nipped down to Surrey to buy an XR400 for Algeria (more about that later).

All that needed doing to the XScrambleR was fitting an elongated and bigfooted sidestand adapted from an MT-07 stick (£20 used on ebay + £25 labour). A seamless job by my weldy mate, Jon. That took 10 minutes and a wall to lean on.
Next, see how the Kriega Duo 36 Saddlebags fit over the back. My pillion-to-rack spars are better than nothing but aren’t brilliant at limiting swing into the wheel; they’re too high and forward. A proper rack is best, but a bit of stick and zip tie from pillion-to-indicator may do the job.

cbxenderAnd so here it is, another AMH projectile ready for three laps of Morocco and a dash home. Looking forward to it, just as long as it handles OK on the dirt. I’m pretty sure it won’t be much worse than the heavier CB500X Rally Raider from 2015 (right).

WR-ing about in Morocco – 4

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

After two full days off in Tan Tan, I’m up for more.
I decide to try a new but slightly shorter route to Smara, only 330km; half piste.
I set off for Mseid, passing the village of Tilemsen.

Some of you may recall a fake news story from a few years back about a French bloke whose 2CV ‘broke down in the Sahara’.
From what I recall of the version I read, it was ’staged’ just out of Tilemsen where his only choice (apart from simply walking back to town?) was to merrily pass him time cutting and welding his car into a ‘Scrapheap Challenge’ motorbike, ride out and live to tell his amazing tale. Just like James Stewart in ‘The Flight of the Phoenix’ movie. Knowingly or otherwise, all the news feeds lapped up up this epic of desert survival. The 2CV bike was real – the bloke built them for a hobby, iirc. The survival yarn, most quickly deduced, was faked.
My PoV here.

 

The road ends at Mseid, looking even more abandoned than usual. Someone told me later that, following recent massive rains (which broke a dam and cut the road bridge at Layounne), every nomad and his dog is out pasturing their camels and goats while the going is good. These villages are more storehouses, occupied only in summer.

 

I head through the gap in the range and pass these wind-bent trees, like you get in west Cornwall.
Good windsurfing in Western Sahara, I’m told.

 

Without a GPS tracklog, my faint turn off to the southeast would be barely noticeable. No cairns of anything. GPS means you can attempt more adventurous stuff and literally string together your own routes.
In the pre-GPS era, unless you resorted to astro-nav or hired a local guide, all we did was follow main tracks, which of course felt pretty darned adv at the time.

 

The track is clear which is reassuring, as I don’t expect to see anyone. That’s the Jebel Ouarkaziz on the horizon and the Oued Draa behind it. They form a natural barrier separating Western Sahara from what I call ‘mainland Morocco’. Tbh the best scenery and riding is on the mainland, but out here you get a sense of space and solitude.


This must have been a former Dakar Rally stage as there are what I call ‘Dakar mounds’ straddling the track every kilometre or so. All helps with the nav.

 

But as always, riding one of two foot-wide twin ruts with loose rubble a few inches to either side takes concentration. You can’t look away for more than a second. At one oued crossing I dither over which track to take. The bike wanders onto the middle hump and flips out. I brace myself to be force-fed a dirt sandwich, but luckily it corrects itself this time.
WTF happened there? I think I looked left and the bike drifted with me.The deadly target fixation. It’s all over in a second but it takes just one second to blow it. And there are a lot of seconds in a day.



Wildflowers are out after the rains.

 

Bang on my 145km estimate I reach the crossroads with MW6 coming down from Labouriat where I camped a week ago. You could play noughts and crosses on that!
I now turn south along MW6. It’s more washed out so probably less used, but it’s only 50km to the road. Nearly there.

 

I get to a fork. Old Olaf GPS map points left but the right fork might be a shorter, newer route. I crest a stony rise and see the big oued ahead with some nomad raimas (tents) at the back. Ah yes, I forgot bout the sandy oued. That’s the worst sort of desert terrain for a bike.
It’s never over till it’s over, as I’ve learned to say in the Sahara…

Part 5  > > >

BMW G310R – the new X-range?

x310Could 2016’s BMW G310R be the start of a new, mini X-bike range? Search me, but when the 650Xs (below) came out in 2007, we got the ‘enduro’ X-Challenge, a city scrambling X-Country and the motardy X-Moto. I ran an XCountry for a year or so – one of the lightest bikes in its class, but for some reason the X-y threesome were a sales flop and by 2009 were dropped. BMW 650 singles returned as lardy Sertaos and G650s and now the KTM 690 dominates the big-thumper, hardcore travel bike segment.
bmw-650x-xerses
Broadly speaking, Honda did the same modular thing with their CB500s in 2013: naked F, sporty R and the be-beaked X which I currently run in Rally Raid form. In these cost-conscious times there are doubtless other modular model ranges out there.

3cb500s

And I’m told there is talk of the G310R coming in an adventuresome ‘X’ or ‘GS’ form, offering the possibility a lightweight – or perhaps that honda-cbr-250rshould be ‘small capacity’ – all-roader with a bit more poke (34hp one reads) than a 250. And if this website’s stats are any guide, the most popular of those must be the CRF250L which was derived from the road-oriented CBR250R. (right).

dioxinOf course, what’s got the keyboard ninjas worked up is that the 310 will be made by TVS in India, even if the entire production plant is being shipped over from Germany, complete with dust-proof air locks, like a dioxin lab. The ninjas are rightly citing the KTM 390, also built in India, as proof that you can’t have your cheap labour cake and expect Western consumers to eat it up with a jammy grin.

But we’re assured, motorcycling in the West is in decline compared to the boom in the developing world. The 310 is said to be built specifically for these places where roads aren’t as smooth as Spain’s deserted Ruta de Plata, and if you can carry a farmyard and family on the back, so much the better.

X311So, while the subframe hangs out like a lonely teenager in a shopping mall, that frame is steel all round and its solidity presumably explains the R model’s hefty weight of 170kg wet. And I thought the CRF-L was heavy at 146kg. Still, what’s pitched as developing world durability works for round-the-world travel bikes too, where – excepting fuel consumption – performance is not a priority. And you’d hope the engine pointing backwards (inlet tract up front) will help this thing return close to 100 mpg (35.5 kpl). See the link below.
I like the long swingarm; looks like it takes up half the wheelbase and puts what’s on the back ahead of the back spindle. You do wonder what that belly pan is covering. If it’s just for show there’s ground clearance to be gained down there. But like the Honda 500s, I don’t suppose they’ll get round to offering a high, slim out-of-the-way pipe for the ‘310GS‘.
aspecnoslevWhat would we like? Obviously a bit more suspension travel without needing a crane to get on it; a 19 front with tubeless all round, a bit of a giphyfairing, 400-km tank range plus somewhere to go with it. Oh – I nearly forgot the FIM-mandated beak.

In April 2018 I rode one in Morocco.