Welcome back! While COVID-19 rages outside, we can finish building up this bike in the comfort of the garage.
I chose not to have a centre stand, mainly for weight reasons, but I fitted a Side Stand Enlarger — from the good folk at Wunderlich in Germany, of course. It doesn’t interfere with deploying the side stand; in fact, it makes it easier.
Security was a consideration, even though I tend to trust people. After all, it’s easier to trust them when you’re not exposing them to temptation. The bike, being the ‘cooking’ version, does not have keyless ignition. I prefer that for security reasons, even if it does mean that I have to carry a key. I’ve got to carry a couple for the locks on the panniers anyway, so it’s no big deal. The pannier locks, by the way, have rubber covers that protect them from dust and moisture, which is welcome indeed.
Most of my other security comes from a set of cables which I use to lock the bike to some fixed point and my helmet and the tail bag to the bike. I have considered a lock that sounds an alarm, but we all know how effective car alarms are.
To protect the bike in case of a drop, I chose Wunderlich’s engine and tank protection bars. As you’ll see in the photos, they are relatively unobtrusive but still look as if they’d handle anything you might throw at them – so to speak. A radiator guard goes without saying. So why am I saying it? Because you really don’t want to forget it. Radiators are ridiculously prone to damage, especially on an adventure bike, and they are a total pain to repair or replace.
Further back, I’ve gone for Wunderlich’s new protective cover set for the clutch and alternator covers. These covers are designed so that mechanical stresses and contact thumps are distributed evenly over the component. There is also a moulded elastomer element made of silicone fitted to the inside to provide additional dampening.
In one particular case, I definitely over-engineered this bike. That was with the Wunderlich Doubleshock protectors. Why would I fit these? After all, I’ve got the engine protection bars. Well, in the case of the front wheel units, they are looking after a part of the bike that is not especially looked after by the bars. In the case of the engine protectors, they are a backup if I crash hard enough so that the engine bars are not adequate. Highly unlikely, but there you go. I’ve always been a belt and braces kind of bloke. Not literally.
I have a long record of fitting Barkbusters to my bikes; even my Ducati Scrambler has them. So naturally this bike had to have them as well. Barkbusters protect your hands from the cold and from collisions with all sorts of things, and the hand levers from drops. They are an outstandingly well made Australian product and I can’t imagine putting together an adventure bike without them.
For protection, the most obvious item after the Barkbusters is usually the bash plate. Considering what damage contact with a rock can do down there, that’s only common sense. Wunderlich’s aluminium plate looks as if it came with the bike; I chose the black one and you’d hardly know it was there – until the bike crashes down on the strategically placed rock and doesn’t crush the headers or split the case. I added a headlight protector and a set of Aton LED lights with protectors and grilles.
Among distance riders there tends to be a feeling that you can do things cheaply, or at least more cheaply than the farkles from the major suppliers. Many people look at the equipment I used on my 1978/79 rtw bike and think that because I got friends to make bits or my co-traveller Charlie and I made bits ourselves, that’s the way to go – and it’s cheap. To some extent that’s correct; our equipment was relatively cheap, and none of it let us down, even when we crashed quite enthusiastically in Malaysia.
You’re free to do the same thing. But – first, enthusiastic help is all very well; it may, however, not be professional standard. Second, bikes today are far less tolerant where home-made accessories are concerned. Third, you don’t have to make it yourself, you can buy this stuff! You don’t have to screw around like we had to. It ain’t cheap, but it’s terrific quality and it’s been tested. When Charlie and I built our XL250s, you couldn’t buy anything remotely like this.
There is one thing I find less than ideal on the F 750 GS, and any adventure bikes. Their design is often thoroughly integrated, and that means you can’t just pop a bigger fuel tank on, the way we could with the plastic Acerbis tanks on the XLs. Even the F 850 GS Adventure’s tank won’t fit on the 750. This bike’s range is not too bad even as it is, but you can never have too much fuel. Well, unless you’re planning on falling over, I guess.
Apart from that, I’m happy these days to be able to open a catalogue, note down some part numbers and order the bits. I don’t have to go through all the hassles anymore. And consider this – you are going to be using this stuff for, at the very least, several months. Possibly several years. Get it right at the beginning, and you won’t regret it.
But hey – if you want to save money, by all means do it yourself. I would never discourage you from doing that. It can be a lot of fun, too. But do it properly!
Come to think of it, I met a brother and sister in Pakistan who had set out from Paris on Mobylettes with no preparation whatever. Their luggage when I met them consisted of camel saddlebags which they’d scored along the way. From what I could work out, they had had a terrific time.
It ain’t what you’ve got, it’s what you do with it.
[All photos by The Bear. Parts were supplied foc for testing.]