The end of the 4 month COVID19 lockdown has finally arrived with 29th March 2021 being the first official day that we can get out on the bikes legally!
Needless to say I took advantage of this and got out on my new Yamaha Tenere 700 that’s spent most of it’s first 6 months of life in the garage.
I arranged to meet up with Ben Jackson who I met back in 2018 at the HUBB event over in a very wet and soggy Wales. This was only the second time we’d met although we’ve been chatting on Signal for some time now.
The ride down to Danbury in Essex was without event although I did note that the A12 is still one of the worst roads in Britain!
Ben had got his new Honda Africa Twin Adventure Sport the day before and was dying to stretch its legs so, the timing was perfect. After a brew and a chat at the “Tea on the Green” tea rooms we got mounted up and headed out.
We rode around Danbury and Maldon for a while but, there wasn’t much to see and so headed up towards Clacton and the coast.
After a quick blast up the A12 and then cross country we finally arrived in Clacton around lunch time.
Clacton was heaving, hardly surprising since it’s a Bank Holiday weekend in the U.K. We snuck the bikes into a cool little spot right on the pier and grabbed some lovely chips and a brew. The two bikes got a fair amount of attention from passers by including a couple of bikers who stopped for ice cream!
On leaving Clacton we found a neat little nature reserve that was in an old quarry in Fingringhoe and spent a little time taking photos and playing with slo-mo video on our phones. It didn’t take long to realise neither of us were particularly good with video and would need some practice before we did any trips!
Sadly Ben’s attempt to take a slo-mo video of me came out as a bunch of photos with just a part of me in the frame as I went by, so I won’t embarrass him and post them here 🥴
It wasn’t long and it was time for us both to head off home, Ben back to Kent and me back to Suffolk. Getting home I found I’d done 193 miles over the day, not bad for a first rideout. Ben had hit the magic 200 miles!
Hopefully we’ll get more rides together planned and maybe even some weekends away camping.
One of the great things about the little Honda CRF250 Rally that I initially purchased for the trip to Mongolia was its simplicity. No fancy electronics, cable controls and a long service interval, just what you need for an overland adventure where there won’t be any dealer support. For me, the most frustrating thing about the Rally was the lack of power.
Having had a long motorcycle career I’ve owned a lot of large CC bikes and have got used to the endless amounts of torque and power that are easily available at the twist of the throttle these days. Having the Rally and a 1000cc Kawasaki Versys at the same time highlighted this over and over again.
My trip to the Pyrenees earlier this year proved that the Rally is a great little trail bike and was a lot of fun on the mountain tracks but, at times the weight over powered the little 250cc engine to the point where it became very frustrating. Covering large distances quickly was pretty much impossible as the slightest head wind would knock 10MPH off the 60MPH cruise speed, making it even more frustrating. I soon came to the conclusion that this wasn’t the bike that I wanted to take on a 25000 mile journey as it would spoil the trip for me and I wasn’t going to let that happen at any cost.
So, once back from the trip I decided to sell the Rally and have a rethink. At the same time I also had a rethink about the Versys. Having put hardly any miles on it over the last year, it was spending most of its life covered up in the garage. With the ever rising costs of insurance and servicing I decided it was time to let it go too. As much as I loved riding the Versys with it’s silky smooth, torquey 4 cylinder engine it was soul destroying to see it just sitting begging to be used.
I put both bikes up for sale within days of each other and could had sold both of them multiple times over, the used bike market really is buoyant at the moment.
So in no time at all both bikes were sold and the garage was empty.
The relatively new Yamaha Tenere 700 is a bike I’ve had my eye on for some time. I took one for a short test ride when they first came out and really liked it and it’s been niggling at the back of my mind ever since.
Having the opportunity to ride one again it soon brought back memories of my old Tenere XT660z. No fancy electronics, simple controls and a bike that you have to actually ride as nothing is going to help you if you over cook things.
The new Tenere 700 is head and shoulders better than the old 660. The suspension is firm, no more diving under braking, handling is superb and the bike is so planted on the road that blasting down the twisties makes you whoop with excitement.
The Cross Plane 2 (CP2) 689cc engine has oodles of torque from the off, pulls like a train in all gears but, at the same time is silky smooth. If it didn’t have 700 on the side you could be excused for thinking it was more like a 900cc engine.
With the peak torque delivery being at 6500RPM it’s eager to accelerate no matter what gear you are in, it really is a very enthusiastic little engine. With the KYB suspension that comes as standard the bike handles extremely well on the road, much better than I imagined it would. Of course, I’m yet to ride it off-road as the dealer made it quite clear that they didn’t allow off-road test rides!
Unlike many bikes today (including my Versys 1000) the Tenere 700 doesn’t have a slipper clutch, for me this isn’t a problem as my 660 Tenere didn’t have one either and I have many fond memories of dropping a couple of gears coming up to roundabouts in the rain and the rear end getting a little lively. Personally I prefer traditional clutches, with the CP2 engine having bags of engine braking when rolling off the throttle it’s great to make use of this feature just like we did in the old days of the big single cylinder dirt bikes. The simplicity of this bike is its biggest plus by far. Those of you reading this that weren’t riding back in the 70’s and early 80’s won’t understand this!
Currently there are 3 different colour Tenere 700s available, black, dark blue and white with the latter being the better looking in my opinion.
In the last couple of months Yamaha have released a limited run of Tenere 700 Rally Edition bikes. Painted in their heritage rally colours and with an even higher standard specification they’ve been selling like hot cakes here in the U.K.
With each dealer only getting 3 Rally Edition bikes it’s now almost impossible to get one as most were sold before they even arrived in the U.K. I’ve also been reliably informed by a number of Yamaha dealers that there are no more, once they’re gone they’re gone. This will almost certainly help residuals in the future on the limited production run of the Rally Edition bikes.
If you are lucky, willing to phone around and travel a few miles you may find one still for sale, but be quick as there are many searching for this elusive beast.
So is it the bike for me? Well it’s certainly ticked all the boxes except one, weight. It’s heavier than I was hoping for but, all the other pluses of this bike outweigh this one thing and so it’s the compromise I have to accept. Looks like I’ll be heading to the gym once they open fully!
After much phoning around I found a Tenere 700 Rally Edition that hadn’t arrived in the U.K. yet and hadn’t been sold, needless to say I immediately put a deposit on it and a few days later I took the train down to Woodford Motorcycles in London and collected it.
With some crash bars, a pannier frame for my Givi GRT709 soft panniers and a centre stand this bike will be pretty much ready for the trip to Mongolia. Just need to get some miles on her now and get the first service done so that I can open her up a bit and enjoy that exhaust!
For Sale: 2019 Honda CRF250 Rally with many extras.
Purchased new in Jan 2019 for my adventure to Mongolia and back however, due to the pandemic this trip is now cancelled for the forseeable future and so I have decided to sell the bike and will purchase another new bike once travel to Central Asia is possible again
The bike has been well maintained and serviced by the local Honda dealer and had oil and filter changes done by me in between regular services.
The bike has been kitted out for the ride to Mongolia and has had the following extras fitted:
Gecko heavy duty clutch £35 Tutoro auto chain oiler £100 DID 520 VX3 chain £55 JTSprockets £25 Tusk Pannier Rack £292 Oxford heated grips £100 Renthal bars £35 Bar risers £25 Hagon rear shock £300 HyperPro front suspension £120 Continental TKC80 tyres £174 GP-Kompozit Crashbars and skid plate £135 Zeta XC handguards £52 Sidestand foot £5 Rotopax style 5L fuel can £22 Optimate battery charger £56
The sale also includes the following Parts: £165 4 x Oil filters + Gaskets Front/rear brake pad sets 1 x air filter Front & Rear wheel bearing sets Head bearing set 2 sparks plugs Front sprocket Inner tubes
Total cost of extras £1696
Original OEM IRC tyres free!
The bike has now done 5369 miles mainly on road with the bike having been taken on Peddars Way in Norfolk and a week riding soft trails in the Pyrenees. I’m a mature experienced off-road rider and so the bike hasn’t been abused.
The bike has just had an oil and filter change and the next official service isn’t for another 6000 miles.
The bike is in excellent running order but does have a little wear to one of the transfers on the left side where my boot has rubbed, see photos.
The Tusk rack that is fitted to the bike was imported from the USA and fitted by me in my extensive workshop.
Viewing highly recommended as first to see will buy.
Payment of cleared funds only via bank transfer before collection. No test rides.
If you have any questions please feel free to contact me direct on 0752 6116110 (08:30 – 22:00hrs) or at firstname.lastname@example.org
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!
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.
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?
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.
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:
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.
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.
Spanners: 19/12/10/8mm. 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.
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’ve decided to fit an automatic chain oiler on the Honda CRF250 Rally so that I don’t have to constantly worry about the chain being lubed. I’ve had one on my Kawasaki Versys 1000 from new and I have to admit it has been brilliant. The chain on the Versys 1000 has only had to be adjusted twice in over 11000 miles and this is largely due to the fact that it is always well lubricated.
Following my quest to buy British I’ve purchased the same Tutoro automatic chain oiler for the CRF that I have on the Versys. The great thing about the Tutoro oiler is that it doesn’t need to be hooked up to the vacuum side of the injector and neither does it need a power feed. This makes it very simple to maintain and also reduces the risk of problems with the engine should something like the vacuum pipe split and allow extra air into the injector mix.
The Tutoro oiler switches on and off the feed of the oil simply by using the motion of the motorcycle moving. As the bike moves along a road of trail the movement up and down as it hits bumps etc cause the valve inside the oil chamber to open and allow a predetermined amount of oil to flow. This simple mechanical process needs no adjustment and is perfectly reliable. The flow rate of the oil onto the chain can be adjusted by simply opening or closing the little vale on the oil chamber.
Once I’ve got it fitted to the bike I’ll add some more photos to this article.