Old Skool Tooling

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.

Tap and Die Set

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.

CRF250 Rally Side Stand Foot

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.

Checking Swing Arm Clearance

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.

Suspension upgrade, was it worth it?

First rollout of the CRF250 Rally after the suspension upgrade

When I purchased the CRF250 Rally for this trip I viewed it as a cheap base platform ready for conversion into the adventure bike that I needed for the trip. At less than £5000 new on the road it really is a lot of bike for the money. With 43mm Showa forks upfront, 21in and 18in wheels, good ground clearance, LED lighting and a proven 250cc single cylinder engine this little bike has some serious potential.

When I initially got the bike I did nothing to it, just rode a mix of on and off-road for 2500 miles to work out what needed doing to make it right for me.
It wasn’t long before I had a list of things that I needed to do to the bike to make it adventure ready, most of which I have already written articles about on the blog.

Suspension is one of the things I left to last as I needed to have a good idea about weight before I could order what was necessary.

HyperPro spring kit for the CFR250 Rally

I decided to fit the HyperPro progressive spring in place of the OEM spring as it gets great reviews, is sensibly priced and available in the UK from a reputable suspension business via Ebay.

Installation is fairly straight forward and is well documented on Youtube and so I won’t got into the fitting process here.

The HyperPro kit also comes with replacement oil for the forks which improves damping considerably.

For the rear I went with the British manufactured Hagon shock, it’s a quality unit that has both preload and damping adjustment and is extremely well priced at £299.50.

The great thing about ordering a shock from Hagon is that you can talk to their tech team and discuss what you are going to be using the shock for and how you intend to load it. The outcome of the discussion that I had with them was that they wanted to build a custom shock for me using a higher rated spring so that the unit coped better with the load and terrain I was going to be using it in.

So, total cost of the suspension upgrade was £419.45 (£299.50 + £119.95), almost 10% of the value of the bike.

Today I had my first ride on the bike since completing all the work and was amazed at how different the bike felt to ride. The first thing that hit me was how much taller the bike now stands. The unladen sag is considerably less as is the laden sag. Climbing on I now find I can only just touch the ground whereas before I could get both feet down. I would go as far as to say that the bike is a good 2-3in taller than previously when I’m sat on it.

My initial concern was would I be able to dabble when off-roading as now it’s very much one foot down only.

Setting off down the road the first thing I realised was how plush the ride felt. The suspension soaked up the lumps and bumps in the country lanes in a much firmer manner than before but, felt very plush. Steering is also much improved. Gone is the vague wandering front end that used to plague me in the twisties and instead, I now have a much more confident feeling, planted front wheel that gives me plenty of feedback even when pushing hard.

Under hard braking the front end no longer pushes through the mid section of the stroke causing the front forks to bottom out as before, it’s now much firmer and doesn’t get anywhere near to the end of the mid part of the stroke. Hitting a couple of trails I know well, the front suspension didn’t bottom out once, even on a series of whoops that normally cause things to get totally out of control, the bike handled the terrain perfectly. I enjoyed it so much I went back and had another go!

The rear Hagon shock also handled the whoops much better, not once did it bottom out and the damping was unbelievably good compared to the OEM shock. I found myself riding faster than I had before as the bike felt so much more confident both on and off-road.

I also have to note the tyres, the new Continental TKC80s are superb. Loads of grip on the road and good off-road too. For a 50/50 tyre they’re certainly worth every penny. The difference between the TKC80s and the OEM tyres is light and day!

So, is it worth upgrading the suspension on the CRF250 Rally?

The simple answer is Yes! The bike becomes much more confident, more capable, more comfortable and will boost your off-road confidence dramatically and it won’t get out of shape as easily as it does with the OEM suspension.

Fitting the Tutoro chain oiler

Since I’ve had a Tutoro chain oiler on my Kawasaki Versys 1000 from new and it’s been faultless for the last 12000 miles I decided to fit another one to my adventure bike for the trip.

Having a Tusk pannier frame and rack on the CRF250 Rally is actually a bonus as it creates the perfect mounting point for the oil reservoir which would be difficult to mount on a stock machine.

Oil reservoir mounted nicely behind the left hand pannier

The oil reservoir comes with a selection of mounting brackets that probably work on most bikes however, for this installation I had to modify one of the supplied mount to make it work. The oiler comes with a neat little 90 degree bend mount that I had to straighten in order for it to work with the Tusk frame.

As you can see in the photo above, there is a very short straight mount between the bottom of the reservoir and the back of the Tusk cross bar. I straightened it out with a hammer on an anvil gently so as to not crack and break it on the bend. This seemed to work well and has mounted perfectly.

Since I’m going to be riding a lot of washboard trails I also put a cable tie through the spare mount hole in the bottom of the reservoir and around the frame so if the mount bracket does break I won’t lose it.

Cable tie in place to save the reservoir in event of mount failure

Tutoro also very kindly sent me the metal protection cover for the glass reservoir so that it doesn’t get broken by flying stones when riding off-road.


The oiler kit comes with a long length of clear plastic tubing for the oil delivery. This is really easy to route on the CRF250 Rally as there are plenty of places to tie it to. Leaving the bottom of the reservoir it runs neatly behind the Givi GRT709 pannier mount and then along the metal tubing that makes up the Tusk frame.

From the Tusk frame the tube runs down the subframe tube and then along the side of the swinging arm towards the chain stone guard under the rear of the swinging arm.

Oil delivery nozzle mounted in lower chain guard

The CRF250 Rally has a neat little plastic stone guard as standard. To mount the oil delivery nozzle directly over the chain just before it arrives at the rear sprocket it was necessary to drill two little holes in the top of the plastic guard and pass a cable tie through to form a loop. I then passed the delivery nozzle and tube through this loop and tightened the cable tie as show above. This provides the perfect mounting place for the oil delivery nozzle ensuring the chain is lubricated centrally.

Cable tie mount for oil delivery nozzle

The photo above shows the top of the chain guard and the cut off cable tie that holds the oil delivery nozzle in place.

This works a treat and allows plenty of clearance for the chain to pass without contact.

Oil delivery nozzle

The oil delivery nozzle sits perfectly between the stone guard and the rear sprocket with plenty of clearance for all components in the drive chain.

Bleeding the il feed system

The Tutoro oiler relies solely on gravity to deliver the oil to the chain and thus it’s important not to have any up hill runs in the delivery tube. Once everything is secured in place it’s just a matter of filling the reservoir and opening the flow control valve to maximum whilst putting the master valve opener magnet on top of the reservoir.

This then allows the oil to run freely down the delivery tube to the nozzle. Since it’s still winter here the oil is rather thick and so this process took about 15mins. If you’re installing this in the summer you’ll find that the oil runs through much quicker.

Once the oil arrives at the nozzle it’s just a case of adjusting the valve to restrict the oil flow such that there is just a drop every 30secs or so. Once this is done remove the magnet and the installation is complete.

These oilers really are very simple to install and work extremely well.

Remember that in the summer months you will need to close the flow valve slightly as the oil will flow easier due to temperature and then in winter open it up again. I have found on my Kawasaki that there is normally a 1 to 1.5 turn difference on the valve between winter and summer.

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.