Spending money like water!

Ever since I was young I’ve always got excited about getting new motorcycle clothing and never more so than now.

Getting organised for this trip has been a mammoth task spread over many months and I’m still not completely ready as I’m still waiting to hear about my Russian Visa application.

The last few days have been great as all my new gear has been trickling in.

The small stuff is just as important as the big stuff!

One thing that’s very clear is that the small stuff is often more important than the big stuff! Things like fuel and water filters will be critical to my health and the bike’s, without both we could come unstuck in some of the countries I’m going through.

A good set of paper maps and an old fashioned compass will certainly come in very handy when navigating across the Kazakh steppe, the wilds of Mongolia and Siberia, especially if all the electronics fail.

Tools are extremely important as I’m going to be totally self sufficient throughout the trip so I’m trying to ensure I can cope with most breakdowns but, without taking too many heavy tools.

SD cards aren’t a life saving item but a nice to have for the two Crosstour and Canon cameras I’ll be taking with me. Of course, the latrene shovel is to be considered a necessity these days when wild camping!


Since I already have a Trangia cooker I decided to stick with it and have purchased the multi-fuel burner for it. This new burner will allow me to cook using petrol for fuel, this means that I’ll only need to carry one type of fuel with me for all needs. I’ll be testing the new burner this coming weekend!

During the trip I’m going to need to be able to cope with extremes of temperature so I decided to purchase some new biking gear that has the facility to remove both the warm winter lining and the inner water proof layer. This will I hope, keep me relatively cool in the hot desert temperatures and warm in the below zero mountain climbs.


I’ve tried on loads of outfits over the last few months and not really liked any of them apart from the Rev’It! OffTrack jacket and trousers. The jacket is fairly light for a 3 layer system but also well put together. Unfortunately I couldn’t get a pair of matching trousers from anywhere in Europe and so have gone with the Sand3 trousers. These are made of a slightly heavier material but should be harder wearing. Again the trousers consist of a 3 layer system so should work well in both hot and cold climes.

My Nolan helmet that I use for road riding has now reached it’s end of life, it’s serviced me well over the years but like all good things in life, they never last forever.

Like riding gear, I tried many helmets but kept coming back to Nolan, they just tick all the boxes for me.


I finally decided to go with the Nolan N702X crash helmet. It’s a great design which allows the chin bar to be removed as well as incorporating a full face visor and dark sun visor. I find the Nolan helmets fit my odd shaped head very well and are comfortable enough to be worn all day without problem. The other big bonus is that my Sena headset will fit perfectly too!

The only other thing I’m waiting for now is the Hagon rear shock absorber for the bike, once I have it I can finally get the bike back together and on the road for some test rides.

Exciting times!

Using the AUX 12v 10A supply

I get a lot of messages asking about connecting USB/12v sockets to the AUX power feed on the CRF250 Rally so I’ve put together this quick article detailing what I’ve done so that others can do likewise.

Under the top left hand side fairing panel you will see a bundle of wires held in place by two soft metal bendable cable ties. In this bundle of wires there is actually a socket for connecting accessories to the 12v switched supply of the bike. The AUX power feed is protected by a 10A fuse under the seat so make sure you don’t connect anything that will draw more than 10A.

You don’t need to remove the plastics at all to access the socket, just release the wiring from the two flexible cable ties and lift it out onto the top edge.

AUX 12v Switched power feed.

When you first pull out the connector from behind the fairing it will have a dummy plug inserted into it, you will need to remove it and then reconnect your new plug once wired.

The plug can be sourced very cheaply from Eastern Beaver and can be connected to your accessory using nothing more than a set of crimps.

Make sure you order the 2 pin plug not the 4 pin plug!

Also, make sure you connect your accessory correctly checking the polarity of the feed before wiring as crossing POS and NEG will blow the fuse every time you switch on the bike!

I fitted a really nice little 2 x USB and 1 x 12v socket unit with a volt meter to my CRF250 Rally. It’s fairly water proof and hasn’t given me any problems so far. The other nice thing about this unit is that it has an illuminated on/off switch on the top so you can switch it off if your devices are fully charged.

The unit I fitted can be purchased on Ebay.

That’s it, hope this is of use to the people that have already pinged me asking for more info.

NOTE:
If you are fitting heated grips as I have, I wouldn’t recommend connecting them to the AUX power feed as they will push it to the limit current wise. It’s best to connect heated grips directly to the battery terminals and not via the wiring harness.

Fitting 2in Bar Risers and replacement Renthal Handle Bars with heated grips

After my first venture off-road on the CRF250 Rally the one thing I decided I needed to improve for the trip was handle bar comfort. Ideally I need the bars lifting a couple of inches or so. Being short in the arm I found the bars were a stretch especially when standing on the rough stuff.

After much thought I ordered some bar risers from Amazon, being cheap I correctly assumed they’d be from China and wasn’t sure what the quality would be like. After a few weeks they arrived and much to my surprise the quality was actually extremely good.

Whilst I was waiting for the risers to arrive I ordered a pair of Renthal handle bars from my favourite motorcycle shop, Orwell Motorcycles in Ipswich. The guys at Orwell Motorcycles really are good, James, Dan, Dave and the rest of the parts team are happy to do whatever research necessary to get me exactly what we want.

I wanted a pair of Renthal Aluminium bars that were as close to the dimensions of the original bars as possible and in no time at all James took the measurements of the existing bars and was happily trawling through the Renthal catalogue looking for the closest match possible. 20mins later the new bars were ordered and would be in later the same week.

Original Bars and the replacement Renthal Bars

The bar risers are designed to work with the standard 22mm bar or the larger 28mm bar. Since I’ve gone with the 22mm Renthal bar I’ll be fitting the risers with the supplied 6mm inserts in place.

Getting the bike stripped down ready to replace the bars and add the risers is more involved than you’d first think. It’s important to take photos of the controls on the original bars so that when you come to drill the holes in the new bars for the switch gear to mount to you know you’ve got them in the right place!

It’s important to make a note of the connections on the clutch and brake lever and also make a note of the angle at which the throttle cables exit the switch housing.

Once the switch gear, levers and original handle bars are removed it’s good to loose fit the new risers and bars to get an idea of how things are going to fit and look. The thing I really like about these particular risers is that they not only allow you to raise the bars but also tilt forward and backwards, this allows you to adjust the position of the bars perfectly.

Since I decided to fit some Oxford Heated grips to the bike this meant that I’d need to make some modifications to the bars and the throttle mechanism to accommodate the new grips. If you’re not fitting heated grips then you can ignore this part completely.

The standard throttle mechanism has a ridged grip tube, the problem with this is that it makes it too big a diameter to fit into the hard inner tube of the heated grips and so all the ridges need to be very gently sanded off with a very fine sanding wheel on a disc cutter tool.

On the left is the throttle grip tube once the original hand grip was removed and on the right the gently sanded down throttle grip tube ready for the Oxford Heated grip to go on.

Now that the ridges have been sanded off I refitted the right hand switch gear drilling the hole in the bar at pretty much the same place as on the original bar so that all the switches are in the same position.

It takes a bit of time to sand down the ridges to get the throttle grip tube really smooth for the replacement hand grip to slide on an off without getting stuck but it’s worth the effort. Don’t worry if the new grip is a little loose as it’s going to be super glued into place at final fit. Keep in mind that the throttle tube material isn’t particularly thick so make sure you don’t go mad with the sanding!

The left side of the Renthal handle bars has a knurled effect which has the side effect of making the bar slightly larger in diameter which stops the Oxford Heated grip from fitting. This is a real pain as it means that the bar will need gently sanding down until it’s exactly 22mm is diameter. This takes quite a bit longer than sanding the throttle tube.

I actually found it much easier to remove the bars again and sand the bar end down. This allowed me to work from the end inwards, trying the new hand grip for fit as I went. Go careful not to sand too much off.

Once the grip fits snugly remount the bars and fit the left switch gear and hand grip.

The mount for the Oxford controls comes with a bend in it, I had to straighten this out gently on an anvil and use a large wooden mallet to gently straighten the bracket without cracking it.

You will also need to do some work on re-routing the cables and brake line so that they reach the new bar height. There is actually a lot of slack on all the lines however, this is taken up by a tidying bracket that is mounted on the front of the top yoke. Removing this bracket and moving the cables around gives sufficient extra length that it’s not necessary to replace any of the cables or brake line, the standard are all long enough with a little sorting out.

The power for the grips needs to come directly from the battery as it needs a strong 5A feed. On the CRF250 Rally under the left front plastic panel there is a 10A auxiliary electrical feed however, we’re using this to power our phones, GPS and camera and so adding the heated grips as well would take the power feed almost to the limit when everything is on so another good reason to connect the heated grips directly to the battery.

Access to the battery isn’t straight forward on the CRF250 series of bikes as it’s not under the seat. Since we’ve also got luggage racks fitted it’s even more hassle getting access as the left side of the pannier frame needs to be removed too.

Getting access to the battery on the CRF250 Rally isn’t quick.

Once done and all back together the bike looks great. I also took the opportunity to fit a pair of Zeta XC hand guards to protect the levers and my fingers when off-road.

The small Givi tank bag fits nicely on the little tank of the CRF250 and is perfect for storing my Canon EOS 1300D DSLR camera so that I can stop, grab it and take pictures as we travel without having to get off the bike and open the panniers or a bag to get it.

I had a ride out yesterday with the new setup and it was great! It’s actually much more comfortable in the seated position now as the bars are just that bit higher and standing is a lot better as I’m not so bent over, it’a amazing the difference that 2in can make!