Tag Archives: WR250R adventure built

WR-ing about in Morocco – 9/9

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

Chilly morning in Tilmi – and it’s going to get a lot chillier.

 

I set off up the track and soon find it’s in unusually good shape and actually with a very gearing-friendly gradient. Good road building! Down in the valley, the very last village on the south side.

I stop on the Tizi Ouano pass, just short of 3000m or 10,000’. Nearly over now and, with the worst exposure behind me and all excess weight ditched, the WR burns down the track. I cover the 40kms in a little over an hour then brace myself for Agoudal village.

That’s the sign you need to watch out for if coming from the north and wanting the dirt crossing to Dades.
If you stop they’re on to you.
As it is right now, you could easily do this pass on a GS12 with topbox and Tourances
Or if you don’t fancy it, stay on the asphalt and make your way down to Schmodra Gorge and Tinerhir, via Ait Hani.
Better still, at Ait Hani (before Todra) turn NE up the valley for Assoul, Ait Jacoub (nice auberge here), mysterious Amellago, and down through the amazing Rheris gorge to Goulmima.
All off-axis, great riding and not a single, rainbow cheche vendor will you see.

Clear of Agoudal, for me my friend the piste is over, so I pull over on a culvert to brush the chain with lube. Mario from Slovakia on a 700 TA pulls over and we have a good chat. He is finding some indolent, scrounging Moroccans hard work. I say get off this axis. He says I want to do MS6 Merzouga to Zagora. I say with that load, and those tyres you may find it hard work.

I decide to follow MH1 right through to Tounfite, but dodge the over-rated Cirque de Jaffar finale and stick to the tarmac.
I’ve done my share and there are scores of ‘Jaffars’ all over Morocco (not least, Sarhro D-West).

Soon I’m climbing on a frost-damaged, storm-ravaged road with more carts and mules than cars.

 

 

I get to Agoudim village and turn right, head over a rather radical ditch which no village Merc van could manage, and soon the road starts to disappear.

Within a km I’m riding along a bike-wide path above the river bed. This was one of the easier sections.
This does not feel right. And that is because (all together now):
“It’s Never Over Till It’s Over!!”


There is no trace of asphalt now, just a massive landslide where the road – only a few years old – once was. I park up and walk on, wading through streams. There are knobbly tracks, but really this all looks a bit hardcore. How long will it go on for? Why was there no sign: ‘Road closed after Agoudim’?
Oh well, all good research for the book I suppose, so I schlep the 80 clicks back to Imilchil – a village I’d not usually spend my money on.
At the servo I ask the wrong question: ‘When was the road cut to Tounfite?’
‘Yes there is asphalt all the way to Tounfite’ three blokes tell me. Whatever, then.
It’s late, I’m cold and hungry and I’m about to set off north – a long way to anywhere with a hotel.
Then, at the edge of town a nice-looking kasbah.
Same bloke from the garage: ‘100 ds chum, and another 100 for nosebag’. Not bad at all for what it is.

It was a good call. All that night a freezing wind howled from the north, rattling the panes. I slept in all my clothes and sleeping bag. Six am next morning (above): the snow may not be deep but the wind chill is arctic. A good day not to be riding. So I stay over and spend the hours uploading one of these posts.

At breakfast next morning, two German backpackers are wrapped up in all they have.

Nice bloke at this place – good tucker again last night and a full Moroccan on a platter.
Last night I looked at the big picture on Base Camp and saw a new road go round the washed out gorge. I managed to get on the HUBB Morocco forum. Confirmation: old route totalled, new route carved over the hills. There is tar to Tounfite after all.

So back I go, over the unnamed 2650-m pass.

Down the other side.

Past some old seabed at 7000’.

Nice formations.

And right here. This is your turn for Tounfite, though you’d never know, so I made a big sign.

Just up the road I meet Mario again, kindly helping a local biker with a jammed gearbox on a moped not worth 20 quid. Mario’s lost his mojo. He made the same mistake I did, but got stuck early where some kids helped him pick up and turn his bike round. He spent the night in an Agoudim auberge, but got the shits eating local, his key chip played up so he had to climb the hillside to call home for advice (‘try the spare key’).

But he still wants to do the Cirque. I tell him I’ve not done it for years and it’s become a pretty gnarly 4×4 route and has been closed lately. If you fall over on that thing, you better hope there’s someone around to help or it doesn’t land on you as you slide down the hill. He seems despondent. In Imilchil yesterday some kids threw a football at him and just missed him.
I know that feeling – bad aura – call it what you like, but it can ruin many first trips in Mk. I give advice on how to dodge it in the book (eg: avoid cities until you’ve got the swing of things) but no one really takes it in. We all learn best from our own experiences – which may later happen to concur with received opinion. But you need to find out for yourself.
Make no mistake: the hassle in mainstream tourist Morocco is truly world class, but is a lot less bad than it used to be.
Next door in Algeria – nada. Tunisia, lame! Libya, Niger (pre-2011) – nothing. Mauritania, small time.

We ride together for a bit then split at a roundabout with a wave. I come round a bend and suddenly the Atlas goes flat.
Next stop: Middle Atlas.

Unfortunately the elevation does not abate and I’m getting chilled to the bone. Again.
That is biking; you just endure (or you forsee the need for appropriate clothing).
I need a hot feed and stop in Timahdite to the aroma of grilling brochettes, but before the stand is down a grinning bloke walks up to me with outstretched hand, ‘Hellomyfriend. Whereareyoufrom?’
F-the-f-off, pal, I’m not in the mood. I take off.

I ride on to Azrou, bound to be worse there. Pull in at a Ziz with a resto, but can tell from the bloke’s face that he is normal. A sizzling chicken taj with a vachette on top for long life and many sons.
With a coffee, 3 quid. Keep the change, amilago.

Fes is near but I don’t fancy doing battle with that. Maybe somewhere on the outskirts? I pass a huge, flash Relais for Fes yuppies. Sod it, I’ve earned it. My rationale for roughing it (not that there’s always a choice) is that you can justify the odd splurge. Friendly folk, 300ds room-only, wifi’s out and telly controls indecipherable, but I cook up some room self-service. Fyi flavoured cous-cous is great travel food: just 200ml of boiling water then 3 mins stewing. Add some vachish and a tuna and you’re as good as fed.

When it’s over it’s over (except when it’s not, obviously) so, even though the clocks have gone forward, I try to make the 5 o’clock boat out of Tan Med. Should be doable if I press on. It’s springtime in the Rif, the warm air is like Nivea vapor and I’m finally out of the chilly mountains. My hands remained numb for days.
It’s not an easy ride from Fes via Ouazzane to Tan Med, hundreds of bends, more traffic, more roadside hazards and more aggressive driving compared to the laid back south. But the WR is humming away. I wouldn’t want anything faster – better brakes and SM tyres maybe.
I get to TanMed at 4 but there’s no 5 o’clock. Next boat is 8pm, there’s no wifi, a squall blows the bike over and settles into rain. The 8pm departure drags on to 9.30.
But I am nearly Out Of Dodge! No matter how much you may have enjoyed your travels, it sure is good to leave the AMZ and especially North Africa.
The stresses, frustrations and fatigue suppressed for nearly 4 weeks begin to bubble to the surface.
That, in a nutshell, is why they call it ‘adventure motorcycling’ and not a touring holiday with full RAC back up.

Leaving a port around midnight with the rain streaming down a bug-splattered visor and not knowing quite where you’re going is a recipe for riding into a ditch. But better this way coming back to familiar Costa del Sol than entering northern Morocco on the way out. Thanks heavens for my Montana. After a few false starts, I rock up at a hotel, not an expansive golf resort with ornamental marble ponies.
It’s late but matey is up and there is room at the inn.

Next morning the WR is can’t be stopped: was it breakfast? is it the softer, more humid air, no wind?
More like: the end is in sight.

I drop it off at Fly and Ride’s Malaga warehouse…

… then ditch the Bell in a bin and walk through the light-industrial roadside trash to the airport.
Job done!


m3acoverMorocco Overland

65 routes covering nearly 12,000km
• Includes scenic byways suitable for all vehicles, including motorhomes
• Guidance on 4×4, 2WD, moto or MTB choice and
preparation
• Off-road riding and driving tips
• Moroccan ferries, border procedures, port maps and fly-drive options
• Selected recommendations on places to stay
• GPX waypoint files to download

m3bander

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