Back in December 2019 I purchased 2 x Crosstour 4K video cameras for the trip and spent money getting the mounts such that they could be fixed to various locations on the bike and crash helmet.
After very little use I started to get problems with them both. First the sound developed issues. Using an external mic fitted in the helmet the sound gradually got quieter and quieter. I initially thought that perhaps the mic had developed a fault and so I tried some other external microphones but, the problem was still there. The internal mics in the cameras were fine but, useless when on the move.
The second problem that gradually got worse over time was the on/off buttons. Sometimes they would work and other times they wouldn’t. Eventually they gave up entirely and it was impossible to switch the cameras on!
Both cameras have now been returned to Amazon for a full refund and I’m now looking again at cameras for the trip. I was hoping to have been able to produce some video footage of my local rides by now but, alas not!
So , I’m currently considering GoPro, Insta 360 One R, DJI Osmo Pocket and a few others.
The DJI Osmo Pocket looks extremely good for doing pieces to camera and some general hand held video footage as the 4K camera is on a 3 axis gimbal which is able to give professional levels of stability. It also gets great reviews and there are plenty of accessories available for it at sensible prices.
The DJI app that accompanies the camera gives access to a pro set of controls for the device including the ability to follow a person or object as it moves.
The other idea I really like is the 360 degree video capability of the Insta 360 One R.
Having just one camera mounted but, capturing a full 360 degree view at all times will be very handy whilst riding. Whether the camera itself is actually up to the rigours of off-road riding is a concern though.
Lots to think about and much research to do but, I’ll blog about it as I go along.
More soon …
Now that the UK is starting to relax the COVID19 restrictions it’s been possible to get out on the bike more. Not being able to leave the country and head into Europe has meant that local rides are the only thing available at the moment, especially with Wales and Scotland keeping their lockdown in place and not allowing the English to visit.
I’ve been riding on my own on the little Honda CRF2510 Rally and really enjoying it. It’s the perfect bike for riding around the tiny B roads in Suffolk and Norfolk enjoying the countryside. Only problem has been not being able to get a drink very often as there is nowhere open for food or drink.
I’ve been using the Calimoto app to generate loop rides starting and ending at home. It really is superb for this and created some really interesting rides. The photo above is from an 80 mile loop ride automagically generated by Calimoto.
Being just just 15mins from the coast is handy to pickup the tiny coast roads and head north up through Suffolk and into Norfolk taking in Orford, Aldeburgh, Thorpeness and Sizewell to mention few eventually arriving at Walcott.
I’ve also been stretching the legs of my Kawasaki Versys 1000 riding out with my good mate Phil who lives a couple of doors down from me. The weather has been superb and the riding has been great. The roads are getting a lot busier now which is a shame but to be expected. It’s been great to get out and about again for sure.
I’d really like to take the CRF250 Rally down to the Pyrenees this summer if at all possible and do the coast to coast route through the mountain trails. Whether this will be possible or not is still too hard to predict but we can but hope!
More soon …
The UK government has started to relax the U.K. wide lockdown and it’s now possible for us to ride our motorcycles to and from a place of exercise.
So without delay, I got the bikes out and headed out into the wilds of Suffolk. The weather has been splendid for this time of year. Normally it’s rainy and miserable in Spring but, since the COVID19 pandemic hit and the planes have all been grounded the weather has been spectacular!
With temperatures hitting the dizzy highs of 20c it’s been like summer here in the U.K. for a couple of weeks now.
First trip out was on the Kawasaki Versys 1000cc, my wolf in sheep’s clothing. It’s a bike I’ve owned from new in 2016 and one that I dearly love. Heading north up the Suffolk coast I dropped into the lovely seaside town of Southwold. Not far up the road in real terms but since it was my first ride out in quite a while I wanted to break myself in gently.
The ride was glorious albeit a tad windy as I got closer to the coast. Getting the tyres warmed up on the bike for the first time in ages was a great feeling and I was soon back in the swing of things.
The very next day it was the turn of the Honda CRF250 Rally to get out onto the road. I love this little bike and it just loves tootling around the back lanes and byways, together we make a great team.
Heading out into the sticks not really having a preplanned route I just explored lanes and byways that I’d not ridden before, most of the time not having any real idea of where I was.
Stopping here and there to take photos, take in the scenery and enjoy the sun on my face it was heavenly to enjoy the silence of the countryside. At times it felt as if I was the only one on the planet, a wonderful feeling to be had.
Passing through tiny villages that I’d never heard of before I found my self arriving on the outskirts of the town of Felixstowe on a back lane that I didn’t know existed. Eventually I came out near the golf course in the old part of the town and continued on until I reached the dead end at the Felixstowe Ferry opposite Bawdsey on the river Deben.
Heading out of Felixstowe I decided to ride around the river Deben to the other side and follow the road to its natural end at Bawdsey. Once again heading out into the sticks and not having any real route in mind I passed through a completely different set of little villages until I arrived in Newbourne, a village I know. Passing the Newbourne Fox Pub that was closed like all the other pubs at the moment, the village seemed dead compared to normal. Heading north through Waldringfield Heath round the back of Adastral park where all the tech companies live I was soon in the town of Woodbridge. A lovely old market town with many fine public establishments. I followed the road round past the marina, through Melton and headed out into the sticks once more.
I somehow found myself on the Ramsholt road and decided to head up onto the top of the hill overlooking the river Deben near the Ramsholt Arms pub. Stopping at the top of the hill I sat in the sun for a while enjoying the view over the river whilst listening to the birds chattering away. This was becoming a very relaxing and enjoyable second ride out!
Leaving Ramsholt along the sandy lanes I managed to find myself on the back lane heading in the direction of Bawdsey.
Passing Bawdsey Manor where the radar research took place in the early part of World War II I soon arrived at Bawdsey Quay, directly opposite Felixstowe Ferry where I had been an hour or so earlier. 25 miles of riding to end up no more than 150 metres from where I started!
Wanting to stay within the law, I took my exercise and walked over to the cobbled beach to take a photo of Felixstowe. Exercise over, I headed back to the quay.
Sitting on an old wooden bench with my back up against an old brick building in the sun, I watched the world go by for what seemed an age. Fishing boats came and went, sail boats slipped by silently all whilst the tide gradually came in. It was heaven!
Soon it was time for me to start heading home again. Getting my crash helmet on, biking gear zipped up and the bike fired up I headed back out into the countryside winding my way around little back lanes enjoying every moment of my new found freedom.
The little Honda buzzed excitedly as we progressed past the lush green fields and derelict farm buildings that litter the landscape. I’d forgotten how much fun it is to ride little bikes, it was like being a boy again except it was totally legal this time!
Ten or so miles later going through one village twice somehow I was soon back home and putting the bike away ready for another day.
When all this COVID19 stuff kicked off and it became clear that I wasn’t going to be able to go on my trip to Mongolia this year I had no choice but to cancel my service with Garmin for my Explorer+ GPS unit. By cancelling the service I saved over £200, not to be sneezed at.
The saving is great but, it also meant that when I wanted to start using the device again I’d incur the £25 fee to have it reconnected to the Iridium satellite service.
Yesterday I got a call from Garmin, somewhat surprised to say the least I had a chat with a lady by the name of Victoria.
She explained that since they’ve had a lot of people cancel their 12 month service due to the pandemic, Garmin are now offering to reconnect the devices to the service for free, will waive the cost of the first month of service and then will allow me to suspend the service for a long as I want without any monthly fee.
This means I won’t have to pay the reconnection fee when I want to start using the unit again and will just need to login to my Garmin account and recommence the service.
This works perfectly for me so, I’ve signed up and my inReach Explorer+ is active once more.
It’s good to see that companies are reacting to this COVID19 pandemic that’s gripping the world at the moment and providing a flexible approach to service provision.
Well done Garmin!
On an almost daily basis I get asked questions about the setup of my Honda CRF250 Rally that I’ve kitted out ready for my trip to Mongolia and what gear am I taking with me. Since I’m often asked the same question over and over I thought I’d put the definitive set of answers here in a blog post so that I can just refer everyone to the same place, so here goes!
Q: Have you made any modifications to the engine or exhaust to get more power? Are you using an EJK ECU? Have you fitted an FMF exhaust?
Simple answer is No.
I’ve not made any changes whatsoever to the engine, ECU, exhaust or any other component connected to the engine. I’ve deliberately kept the engine completely original so that I have maximum reliability.
When I purchased the bike I knew it only had 24HP and I am happy with that. If I’d wanted more power then I would had bought a bigger bike.
Q: What tank bag are you using?
I have fitted a Givi 6 Litre GRT706 tank bag that fits nicely on the tank and doesn’t get in the way when I’m riding in either the seated or standing positions. The tank bag is mainly for carrying my Canon 1300D DSLR camera and a map that’s visible in the clear plastic water proof top pocket.
Q: What USB device is that you have and where can I get one?
The dual USB and 12v socket with integrated voltmeter I picked up from Ebay. All the information of how to wire it into the AUX 12v feed already on the bike is in this post on the blog. For completeness I’ve also included the details of where you can get the 12v connector really cheaply.
Q: What folding mirrors are you using?
I’m using just a pair of cheap folding mirrors from Amazon.
Q: Have you fitted heated grips?
Yes! I was fortunate enough to negotiate a free pair of Oxford Heated Grips when I purchased the bike from my local Honda dealership. They really do get hot and are great in the winter months. All the information on how to fit and wire them to the CRF250 Rally can be found in this blog post.
Q: How will you keep your chain lubricated during the trip?
For many years I’ve used the Tutoro Chain Oilers on my motorcycles. The reason I prefer them is that they are simple to maintain, need no electrical or vacuum feed from the injection system and are really easy to fit.
I’ve already written a detailed post with photos on the oiler and how to fit it.
Q: What crash bars are they you have fitted? What skid plate do you use?
I use a great integrated skid plate and crashbar combo from Inpreda/GPKompozit. The bike has been dropped a few times on the trails now and it’s protected everything really well. The bash plate has also taken a few hits and has done a great job at protecting the engine sump.
All the information on fitting etc can be found on my blog post here.
Q: What pannier frame have you fitted?
I’ve fitted a Tusk pannier frame to the bike, it’s really solid and can handle the weight I’m going to put on it. All the details on fitting it correctly and the adjustments I had to make are detailed in my blog post here.
Q: What size Rotopax fuel canisters are you using?
Due to the cost I decided not to use Rotopax fuel canisters however, I do need to be able to carry extra fuel with me to make it between fuel stops on the trip and so after much research I went with some ChinoPax fuel canisters that I found sensibly priced on Ebay. They are really well put together and are very strong. They’re made from a very thick plastic that isn’t brittle and so they can take a fair amount of bashing. Noraly of Itchyboots fame uses the same cans and has dropped her bike on them many times without incident.
I got 3 x 5L canisters with fittings for less than the cost of 1 x 1 Gallon Rotopax can. Since the two front canisters will only be used on certain parts of the trip when fuel is difficult to get I didn’t see the point in spending a fortune on Rotopax cans when they would be empty most of the time.
I’ll also being using petrol to cook with and so the rear 5L tank will always have fuel in it so that I can cook at the end of each day. Full info on fitting etc is on the blog right here.
Q: Are you using hard or soft panniers?
I’m using soft panniers from Givi as I didn’t want the extra weight and bulk of the hard panniers. I looked at a lot of soft pannier options including the very cheap Lomo throw over bags but, eventually I settled on the Givi GRT709 Canyon 35L lockable soft panniers.
I really like the Givi soft panniers, they’re well put together, have a separate waterproof inner bag and have a separate water proof bottle carrier on the rear facing side of each pannier making it easy to gain access to drinks without having to open the main bag.
Q: What GPS are you going to be using on your trip?
I’ll be using two effectively, one on my iPhone in the Ultimate Addons waterproof case mounted above the instrument cluster and a Garmin inReach Explorer+ with SOS capability.
I also have a Garmin Zumo 350LM that I may take as backup but it’s worth noting that Garmin do not supply maps for Central Asia for the Zumo GPS units and you have to create your own using OpenStreet Maps.
Q: What side stand foot is that in your photos?
It’s another Chinese made item from Ebay I’m afraid. When it arrived it didn’t actually fit so I had to re-engineer it but, it fits perfectly now.
Q: Have you changed the suspension and if so what have you done?
Yes I have changed the suspension as the OEM suspension isn’t really fit for the kind of punishment I’m going to be giving it on the trip. There are quite a few options available suspension wise for the CRF250 series of bikes these days but I opted for the HyperPro uprated progressive spring for the front forks and a completely new custom built Hagon shock for the rear.
The difference these two changes have made is stunning! The bike now handles so much better and to date I’ve not managed to bottom out the front or rear suspension even hammering along the trails.
There are a number of articles on the blog with regard to suspension. Links to all the articles are detailed below:
General discussion on suspension and the options available
The Custom Built Hagon Rear Shock I purchased
Suspension upgrade, was it worth it?
Most suspension questions should be answered between those 3 articles.
Q: Does the Hagon shock reduce static sag? If so, what is the seat height?
Yes, the Hagon shock with the spring that I have along with the Hyperpro fork spring reduces static sag considerably. With the bike off the side stand and standing free without load the seat height is increased to 93cm (930mm).
Q: What tyres are you using on your trip?
I’ll be setting off on a pair of Continental TKC80s. These are great 50/50 tyres for road and off-road use. I am aware that people with high power bikes complain that they wear quickly on the tarmac but, on my little 24HP CRF250 this isn’t going to be an issue. Whether I’ll be able to get another pair of TKC80s as I travel I don’t know, so it may be a case of just buying whatever is available when they wear out. I imagine I am going to need 3 or 4 pairs of tyres over the duration of the trip so we’ll see what I end up using as time goes on.
Q: What hand guards are you using? Are they any good?
I’ve fitted a pair of Zeta XC hand guards to the bike. I like them because the plastic hand guard can be unscrewed and replaced if it gets broken and the aluminium mount bar provides great protection for the brake and clutch levers in the event of a drop.
Are they any good? Well they saved my hands a few times now from bushes and branches and the levers didn’t get broken in the falls I’ve had off-road so, I guess that must mean they are good.
Q: Where do you get your stuff from?
A multitude of places! Ebay, Amazon, local motorcycle dealerships, overseas … there are many. I’ve put together a list of suppliers on my suppliers page.
Q: Are you going to change the chain and sprockets?
Yes, I’ve got rid of the cheap and nasty OEM chain and sprockets and replaced them with a DID 520VX3 chain and JTS sprockets. I’ve kept the sprocket sizes standard, 14/40.
Q: Have you changed the handle bars and/or fitted bar risers?
Yes, both! On my first venture off-road with the CRF250 Rally it was immediately clear to me that I needed to raise the handle bars up a bit as I was having to lean over too much to reach them when standing.
I decided to change the bars for a better quality item as the OEM handles bars flex very easily and I could see them getting bent out of shape very quickly.
I decided to go with Renthal bars and a pair of adjustable 2in max risers. All the info is detailed in my blog post where I also detail the fitting of the heated grips.
Q: What cameras are you taking with you?
Q: What helmet are you choosing for your trip?
This is a good question! I’ve spent ages trying on different skid lids trying to find one that really fits me well and that isn’t too heavy or noisy in the wind. Time and time again I kept coming back to the Nolan N702X. I have a Nolan helmet for road riding and really like it and this 702X really works for me. It’s great in that it’s convertible so I can remove the peak if I want, remove the chin bar and make it an open face helmet and wear it with the visor or goggles. It just ticks all the boxes. The other great thing is that my Sena headset will also fit. Money now spent, I’m really pleased with my decision.
Q: Are you wearing KLIM motorcycle clothing for the trip?
Simple answer is No.
KLIM maybe nice clothing but it should be. At almost £2000 for a pair of trousers and a jacket they ought to be gold plated too!
I’ve been using RST motorcycle clothing for some time and really like it but, it’s a bit hot in the summer months.
After looking around and trying many different outfits on I opted for the Rev’It OffTrack jacket and Sand3 trousers. The reason I got the different trousers is that no one in Europe had the Offtrack trousers in stock and there wasn’t going to be another manufacture run until mid 2020. On the plus side, the Sand3 trousers are made of a slightly heavier material which should wear better especially when kneeling fixing punctures or repairing the bike. Both the trousers and jacket can zip together and have the complete 3 layer system meaning that in the really hot areas like the Gobi Desert I can remove the inner water proof layer and the warm quilted layer leaving me with just the thin outer shell with the back, elbow and shoulder protection.
Q: What tools are you taking with you?
I’ve based my tool pack on the tools I’ve needed to do the jobs on the bike during the preparation stage. I’m sure there are tools in the pack that others wouldn’t take and tools that others take that I’m not. It’s a personal thing and also takes into account my attitude towards risk which may be different to everyone else.
The above image shows all the tools that I’ve included in the pack so lets go through what we have here.
Tyre Levers: 3 x including a Motion Pro tyre lever/ring spanner combo for the rear axle.
Allen Keys: 6mm Long and short, 5mm long and short, 4mm & 3mm Long.
Electrical Screwdrivers: Large, medium and small flat head and large and medium cross head.
Sockets: 17/14/13/12/10, 10mm Sparc plug socket, 17/14mm Hex for front axle, Bahco 1/4in socket set and 3 x socket to ring spanner converters so that I don’t need to take a socket wrench with me.
Electrical: Multimeter, cable/zip ties, insulation tape and a length of electrical cable.
Miscellaneous: Valve removal tool, pliers with wire cutter edge, stanley knife, Hagon rear shock C spanner, Tutoro priming magnet, plastic fuse puller and tyre pressure gauge.
I also have an electric 12v tyre pump and head torch that are not shown in the picture.
I also recommend you take a look at Matt Boyle’s video about his tool kit that he takes on his CRF250 Rally adventures.
Q: What spare parts are you taking with you?
I’m taking the following spares with me:
Complete clutch plate set and clutch housing gasket.
Front and rear brake pads.
5 x oil filters and gaskets.
1 x air filter
Front and rear wheel bearing kits
Head stock bearing kit
2 x spark plugs
Spare bulbs and fuses
Puncture repair kit
Spare inner tubes
Front and rear sprockets
Well I think that just about covers all the questions I get asked regularly online. If I have any more I’ll add them to this page.
I’ve been stuck in the U.K. lockdown for 5 weeks now and it’s starting to get a bit tedious to say the least.
The weather has been great, one of the warmest Spring times on record apparently. Having done various things about the house, tidied the garage, workshop, the cupboard under the stairs and chucked out all the junk we’ve collected over the years and never used, I’ve very little left to do apart from cook and eat which isn’t doing the waistline much good!
Having spent a good part of the weekend watching the The Side Car Guys on their Armchair Adventure Festival and enjoying all the talks by a number of well known motorcycle adventurers I was reminded of the books that my lovely wife bought for me at Christmas that I still haven’t read.
Not being a huge book reader as I tend to read most of the stuff that interests me online or via E-Books, I decided to take a look at what there was in the pile.
On the top of the pile was “In search of greener grass” by Graham Field that I have already read over half of but, had put it back on the pile as I found it to be incredibly boring and somewhat depressing. To me the book seemed full of moans and gripes and mentioned nothing of the places he’d visited or passed through. If you ever want to put someone off of adventure riding or travelling around the world then this is the book that will do it. Needless to say it was swiftly put to one side and will probably never get looked at again unless I’m really desperate.
The next book on the pile was “Lone Rider” by Elspeth Beard.
Having seen Elspeth Beard over the weekend during the online festival and being very taken by her honesty and stories of her travel it appealed to me immediately.
Sitting in the garden with my wife I started reading it. I soon fell in love with Elspeth’s way of writing, very honest and full of wit, her story started to unfold.
I’m now 7 chapters in, yes I’m not a fast reader, I tend to read a bit, put it down and digest it and then come back for a bit more. This is the way I roll and it works for me.
At just 22 years of age in the early 80’s when travelling was very different to now, her round the world trip doesn’t get off to a great start. Having to fend off sexual attacks and more, her adventure doesn’t go quite how she imagined but, her strength and resolve sees her through.
I’m currently in Australia with her as she’s about to move on from Sydney where she found work and got to put her architect skills to good use. I’m eagerly waiting to see what’s around the corner whilst at the same time hoping she finds the love she’s always struggling with.
I’ve still got a fair few chapters to go but, even at this point in the book I can recommend it based just on the first 7 chapters. If you like really honest writing that reads as if the person is telling you face to face then this could be a good read for you.
More soon …
We’re now two weeks into the COVID19 U.K. wide lockdown with no definite date for when the restrictions will be relaxed. The weather has changed and it’s been glorious, typical really, great weather but banned from riding!
My Kawasaki Versys 1000 has never been so shiny and the CRF250 Rally is raring to go on an adventure. The bikes have spent the last month in the workshop/garage and so I got them out over the last weekend to warm them up and let them breath.
Hopefully in a few weeks time I’ll be able to get them back out onto the road again and get a few miles in.
Since the trip to Mongolia and back looks like it’s not going to be possible this year I’ve been wondering if I could do some sort of mini adventure around the U.K. once the lockdown is over. I’ll keep mulling this idea over and see if it comes to anything.
A few of us in the HUBB Facebook group have been talking about meeting up for a weekend of camping and trail riding so that’s something to look forward to.
In the meantime, I’ll just carry on doing all the jobs I’ve been putting off for ages … almost at the end of the list!
I’m very fortunate in that I have a very well equipped workshop with some tools on the shelves that are almost as old as I am.
Some time back I bought a larger side stand foot for the CRF250 Rally however, when I came to fit it I found that it had been badly machined and wasn’t going to work in it’s OEM state. At the time I had a lot going on work wise and so it got put to one side for another day.
Today that day came!
In the first week of the CoronaVirus lock down here in the U.K. I’ve been going round doing lots of little jobs that I’ve been putting off for ages. Today it was the turn of the side stand foot.
When the foot originally arrived the fixing holes hadn’t been threaded properly and so the supplied screws didn’t fit at all. I guess I shouldn’t of expected anything better as it was from China via eBay.
So, after much offering up and pontificating I decided to drill out the existing holes, rethread them for a larger more suitable bolt and get it fitted properly.
One of the things that I have on the shelf is a tap and die set, not something that gets used a lot but, over the years it’s come in handy quite a few times.
I drilled the holes out to 4.2mm and needed a 5mm tap to thread the holes. Since the foot is made of alluminium threading the holes was fairly easy.
Before putting the thread in I checked to see what spare bolts I had. In the spare bolts jar I found 3 x M5 0.8 allen bolts, perfect for the job. I soon had the holes tapped and checked everything lined up.
There’s a certain pleasure to be had from doing these simple but, enjoyable jobs using skills that a were learnt back in your teenage years. Adding a little thread lock to each bolt the foot was soon fitted and tested.
With the new suspension the bike sits much taller than it did on stock suspension which means that the bike now leans over quite a bit more when on the side stand. With the new foot added it makes the side stand slightly longer overall and thus stands the bike up a little.
Hopefully now it won’t sink too much in the sand and mud like it used too!
Once the lockdown is over, I’ll get the bike out and give it a proper test to see how it performs in the wet and slippery stuff.
This morning I have taken the decision to delay the trip until 2021 at the earliest due to the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the fact that I can no longer get travel insurance due to the FCO advising against all travel internationally.
I had already bought travel insurance that was due to start on May 1st 2020 however, since the FCO now advise against all travel that insurance would be useless and provide no cover whatsoever as it clearly states that if the FCO advise against travel it would become invalid.
Based on this I have had to cancel the insurance policy and get a refund thus making it impossible to travel.
This is probably not a bad thing looking at how the Coronavirus is panning out globally at the moment.
To say it’s frustrating is an understatement as I will now lose the £538.00 spent on getting my Russian visa as they are currently refusing to extend the visa for next year. Hopefully this stance will change but, it’s highly unlikely.
So until then it’s a case of continuing with the social lockdown that is currently in place in the UK and staying healthy.