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Discussion in 'Thumpers' started by Colebatch, Nov 13, 2009.
When the bike got back to Erik's workshop, and while Erik was busy finishing the cockpit, I did MaxKool's airbox mod. I removed the inner airbox cover. (search around ADV rider for a lot more info on Max's airbox mod)
While I was in there, I changed the paper air filter over to a Touratech / Unifilter washable / oilable unit.
Certainly the airbox mod allows for a faster intake of breath, and as Max suggested it would, gave a quicker throttle response and improved torque at low revs. With the new exhaust and the single throttle spring, the engine now had a much sportier feel than stock.
I was not expecting and I doubt I received any benefit in terms of performance from the oilable air filter, but what it did mean what that I wouldnt have to take a bunch of bulky paper filters with me on the road.
The final mission in Holland was to put together a cockpit of sorts. The office for the next 7 months on the road.
The Touratech rally fairing comes with a mounting plate for a road book holder. That was something I didnt need, so it went into the scrap bin at Erik's. What I did need was a clipboard to hold maps and a good place to mount a GPS.
Erik made a aluminium clipboard and bolted the GPS ram mount to the back / top of it.
Then the light controls (waterproof marine units sourced from a online boating supplier) were effectively countersunk into the map board.
And the verdict on this stuff?
Cockpit is extremely functional and useable for travelling. I love paper maps, and I like to look at them when riding. If they are in a tankbag, they are generally too low. You have to stop or at least slow considerably to look at them. The map board is up where a road book would be and does the same job ... its navigation on the go.
Having the GPS up on top of the fairing is a double edged sword tho. You dont have to take your eyes off the road to see it, just change focus from far to near. No looking down. On the other hand, the Zumos are a heavy old unit. I will give them credit for durability, but they weigh a ton. Having that heavy lump of a GPS at maximum leverage with respect to how the whole front tower assembly mounts, results in a lot of vibration (or rather a magnification of vibration), and may have contributed to the 'snapped neck' in the front subframe / tower assembly that I mentioned earlier. I will have to rethink the GPS location. Ergonomically its excellent, but for the bike's sake, I might have to find some place better.
although not an off road biker or long distance tourer, your RR and this thread are great reading, especialy the modifications you have done. i am a fan of the Hyperpro kit having fitted it to 2 road bikes and impressed with the improvements made.
the bad thing for me is that i am only 5 foot 6 so its almost impossible to ride bikes like the bmw. i'll just read instead ok
Nice work Added to the Index thread
Thanks for taking the time to write this up. I've been reading your thread in the rides section and on your blog. Looking forward to when you reorganize the posts on the blog so I can read it chronologically.
I have an X-Ch also and I'm getting motivated to make some additions thanks to this post.
Have to agree.
Thanks for the ride report and now this.
Hope BMW are watching this if it is true they are going to start making the XChallenge again in 2010.
Probably my bias, due to preferring adventure or rally style riding to straight enduro riding, but for me they can skip the X-Challenge next year and build a straight X-Adventure. The tooling required would be minimal ... they need a bigger plastic tank that extends both rearwards (like on the F650 singles) and forward to the radiator. I think if they really try they can find room for 20 litres. Then a new plastic front fairing and headlight assembly, a new plastic low fender (like the KTM 990 adv), steel rear subframe (which they have now for the X-Country - it would actually save them money over the alloy subframe), an more appropriate seat for adventure touring, a 400w generator (which they have from the old F650 / new G650GS) and a coil over rear shock main suspension unit. A pretty simple project for BMW, which would grab a hell of a lot of attention and be very cheap to manufacture.
The new 20 litre plastic tank would be slightly more expensive due to new tooling (lets call it +50 EUR)
The front rally fairing and light assembly - similar - less call it +100 EUR
Low fender - plus 20 EUR
Steel rear subframe - probably saves them 10 EUR
400w generator - same price
Coil over rear shock - probably the same price since BMW are unlikely to put in a top shelf product like the Hyperpro
Different seat - same price ... well with nicer padding lets call it +10 EUR
I mean would you buy a bike like this new:
for 170 EUR more than a stock X-Challenge? For me its a no-brainer. I think a lot of people would buy it. Making the changes at factory level are very cheap. It costs thousands to make the same changes aftermarket.
It would be the successor to the KTM 640 adventure that half the world seems to be waiting for.
Having done all the Dutch stuff, and with about 1 week to go till departure, I rode the bike back to England. With the new seat, suspension and engine / airbox mods, it was like a new bike! I began to think to myself, that this could really work!
First stop was a quick visit to the North, where I stopped in to see Les at HID50 and swapped my 50w HID gear for 35w HID gear to limit stress on the electrical system. While I was swapping that stuff over, Les was prepping Simon Race's bike for a long distance tour through the Americas.
Then it was time for a new colour. I wanted something that looked different. Thanks to ADV rider I had seen a few other colour variations on the X, including a camouflage paint job over a sand coloured base. I like the sand base, but thought riding into Russia or along the Afghan border with a bike painted up in camouflage is going to get me arrested or killed. I decided to stick with sand, highlighted with black. As everything (except the fibreglass front fairing) was plastic, I got a hold of a couple of cans of Krylon plastic spray paint, 2 in sand and one in black. The venue for the respray was the basement garage at webmaster Jon Fox's apartment block. The panels came off the bike, a couple of coats were applied, and we went off to dinner (me riding a naked bike - and a naked rally fairing is an ugly thing indeed. The bike looked like Wall-E and got some very strange looks as we rode 30 minutes to the restaurant of choice.
In the morning, a couple of coats of clear were applied and all was reassembled. It was hardly a professional paint job, but the bike was going to get beaten up pretty bad anyway, so it would do.
With all the painted bits now back on the bike, I rode direct to Touratech UK, where my protection goodies were due.
It was all there, less the engine sump guard / bash plate / skid plate ... whatever people call it.
So round in the fitting bay I installed
- Handguards and spoilers
- Radiator "hard part"
- Chain guide (rear)
- Chain guide (front)
- Front mudguard (the rally fairing is not compatible with the original fender)
I also picked up 20mm bar risers, but to fit them you really need to take the forks out or have a lot more dexterity than me, so I put them in my pocket and fitted them when I had the forks out for servicing while in the Ukraine.
The large Touratech sump guard arrived a couple of days before I left and I fitted it to the bike the day before I departed, from Touratech.
- The handguards and spoilers are very good. Appropriately tough.
- The radiator "hard part" - not sure I needed it ... dont think it has been used at all, but I guess it gives peace of mind knowing its there.
- Chain guides? Absolutely Essential. The rotax engine is shaped so the generator cover is right in front of the front sprocket. I have twice seen 650cc rotax engined bikes I am travelling with (including once on this trip) have major problems and risk breaking open the generator cover when chains come off. I had two chains break on me this trip, and the only thing protecting the engine housing was the front touratech chain guide. It doesnt seem to be listed as a part for the XC anymore, but I got one for an F650 single and modded it slightly to fit.
The back chain guide similarly essential stops the chain coming off the sprocket in rough riding when chain tension is fluctuating wildly. It did the job. No chain came off the sprocket in all the rough miles.
For me, these two little bits are a must.
- Front Acerbis mudguard. It did the job of keeping mud off extremely well - much much better than the stock unit. But with this mudguard, the X can get hot and the fan works alot, further stressing the electrical system. The rally bikes which also use this mudguard use a larger radiator. That's not really necessary for adventure touring and besides, its very expensive. I am going to try a low front fender next year (from KTM 990 adventure) which will allow for better engine cooling and give me a good chance to compare the low vs high front fender.
- Bar Risers ...
awkward to fit. Did the job well enough and inexpensive though I still feel I could use more than the 20mm of rise. Rox make some well recommended risers that give 50mm of rise plus forward back adjustment. These are on my shopping list.
- Bash Plate - cant really say a bad word about it. Did the job very well. I dont believe there is a better alternative on the market so this is the best X-Challenge bash plate out there. The front bolts into threaded aluminium on the bike's frame. Like elsewhere on the bike, dont expect these M6 threads to last. Of the two M6 bolts that hold the plate on, one is now M8 and one is M10. The original M6 bolts have recessed allen key heads, that are not the best. I think swapping them for normal headed bolts is a better idea.
Overall? there is a lot of Touratech stuff out there that is 'bling', but the reality is a lot of their stuff is designed for a purpose and works very well. The standards of machining is suitably German (impressive) and while its not cheap, the overall quality is very good. I wanted to keep weight low, so kept my Touratech bling at a minimum. For me there was no need for radiator stone guards, brake fluid reservoir guards, voltage regulator guards, brake disc guards etc etc ... I didnt get them and didnt need them. I was going to get a sidestand guard but forgot to order it and in the end never needed it. I also forgot to order the Neoprene fork socks. I regretted that and had to pick up a set (of KTM ones) in the Ukraine. The fork sorks have worked though. No blown fork seals in 50,000 Siberian kilometres. I would consider the fork socks a recommended mod.
Final part of the prep puzzle was the electrics, which was taken care of by extraordinary bike electrician Steve Hallam in his secret workshop in South London. Steve is one of these guys that you only ever hear about thru word of mouth, yet his workshop has no fewer than 30 bikes in it, in various stages of electrical rebuild.
Back Street Heroes (UK custom bike magazine) once described him as the most famous guy youve never heard of. Steve mentioned with irony as I reminded him of that title, that its the spray painters and engine builders who get all the glory and the wow factor with custom bike work or rebuilds, and the bike sparkys work is all hidden. Steve has done a couple of bikes for me over the years and has rigged up such outlandish ideas as switchable twin ignition systems for Dakar bikes - one magneto and one coil - just in case one system fails.
Steve wired in 5 power sockets (3 DIN and 2 cig lighter), both custom headlights - hi and low beams, rewired the indicators, parking lights, GPS, heated vest and glove circuit, added a new fusebox, and in general tidied up my amateur electrical bodge work. The result is a completed bike.
I rode with a Touratech / Kahedo tank bag, a pair of Ortlieb "Bike Packer Plus" Panniers and a Ortlieb XL (89litre) "RackPack" roll bag. Amazingly with that 100% German luggage system, there was not a single aluminium box to be seen!
The tank bag is good. Some zipper problems as the trip wore on and I ended up replacing the zip after about 35,000km. Not 100% waterproof, but waterproof enough that I was happy leaving my camera in there when riding through all day rain. A good bump / vibration absorbant base that similarly allows the SLR camera to sit in there the whole trip without a case. I plan to continue using it.
The back "rackpack" roll bag - this is where Ortlieb are really good. The material they use is really really tough. That bag has not one single hole in it after all the miles. There was battery acid spalishing round there at one point which damaged a lot of the plastic at the back of the bike, but not the ortlieb bag. 50,000km of vibrations on the back of the bike have meant all the powdercoating and painting has rubbed off from the friction between the rack and the roll bag, and the back rack is a polished steel finish now, but no holes have been rubbed in the ortlieb bag. Its tough. Recommended! I will probably use a size smaller next year. This year I needed the big bag as I had to carry a huge tent in it.
Packer plus bicycle panniers - well my early scepticism was right. They did well but ultimately the mounting system that works for push bikes is not suitable for motorcycles. The mounting broke and I ended up reinforcing the mountings with steel and reinforcing the attachment to the rack with hose clamps / jubilee clips. having done that the bags worked well, but could then not easily be removed from the bike. They were attached to the bike semi-permanently. Being a thinner material than the dedicated motorcycle panniers, they also suffered from abrasions and a few holes began appearing after some falls.
After 35,000 km I pensioned them off and replaced them with Ortlieb motorcycle panniers. These were good, well made, strong, and had a theoretically good mounting system (but the straps are too short and need to be extended) ... but the bags are tiny. A bag that can barely take a sleeping bag and a couple of spare parts only is not big enough for this work. A good bag, but too small for the job.
So I am on the look out for better rear bags for next year.
The final photos with the bike where it was meant to be after all these mods puts it in the right perspective...
I kinda lost count, could you give an estimate of the total cost of whole deal? (bike + mods)
What did the sponsors provide and what did they ask in return? (if its not sensitive)
What spare parts and tools did you take on the road?
What did you regret taking/not taking?
I can go on like this but I'll try to stop here...
Yes I agree . its very easy to get caught up in the modification process as its quite a project in itself, but at the end of the day its just preparation for the real project, which is abusing the thing you have lovingly put together out on the roads in the middle of nowhere.
I subscribe to the David Lomax school of tools. Start with a tool kit on the side, work out what tools you need for the bike and take only the fittings that you absolutely know you need. Leave behind spanners, sockets etc that have no application to the bike. Take a minimum of tools, because they are heavy!
I took a 8, 10, 12, 13, 14mm open/ring spanners, same sockets with a small 1/4 inch drive. 10 assorted allen key / screwdriver fittings for the socket kit, one wide adjustable spanner (half the weight of the tool kit), one 26mm socket (BMW wheels), 2 tyre levers, 1 pair long nose pliers, 1 normal type screwdriver (philips + flat), and an assortment of bolts, nuts and washers, M6, M8 and M10.
I didnt take them initially but when I began having some battery problems, I had a set of jumper cables made up for me in Siberia.
Spare parts ... 3 spare oil filters, 2 sets front brake pads, 1 set rear brake pads, clutch cable, epoxy metal putty, fuses, brake lever, clutch lever, 3 front sprockets (1x15t and 2 x 14t), 1 spare (alloy) rear sprocket, 2 sets headset bearings, 4 spare wheel bearings, spare front and rear tube
No real regrets on what I took ... maybe the spare rear sprocket. I never used it. The one steel one lasted the whole trip. For long distance travel, steel sprockets rock!
What I wish I also had taken? : Chain breaker, chain master links, spark plug socket, wheel bearing seals, 7mm socket (need that for air box and for a few other odd bits), support van full of swedish masseusettes
What this trip has told me I still need to look into:
- new forks
- low front fender
- positive 12V terminal
- titanium sprockets
- new forks as the standard ones are (a) basic and (b) of very limited adjustment (c) have crappy valving
- low front fender as (a) its much better cooling for the engine (b) more aerodynamically stable at speed (c) I like the look better
- positive 12V terminal ... for ease of power access for jump starting. The F650GS and Dakar have a terminal under the seat, so all that needs to be done is to take the seat off (useful since the battery needs about 5 panels to be removed to get access). I am thinking of that or maybe even easier access than that, a covered terminal near the voltage regulator perhaps.
- titanium sprockets from here. I like the idea of taking no spare sprockets with me, apart from a change of size front sprocket (I went through 4 front sprockets on this trip).
One question...................just out of interest?
How did the Dakar fare in the pics, that was right behind you?
It suffered. It was hard going for the guy on the Dakar. His bike was 30kgs heavier to start with, then had metal boxes on it rather than soft bags. All up his set up was a good 45kgs more than the X.
On top of that he had a lot less ground clearance. The Dakar got beached quite a few times going thru the bogs and stuff. Engines much the same - tho the X being 7 years newer had another 10% - 5 extra hp). The X had modified suspension while the Dakar was stock.
On good fast dirt roads they were both just as good - both very happy cruising all day at 70-75 mph. But when the going got a bit tougher the Dakar suffered from weight, less ground clearance, and stock suspension.
Reliabilty ... same engine pretty much so no differences there. Almost identical fuel consumption every time - as you would expect.
Brakes - the same calipers and pads tho the Dakar did have ABS. no noticeable difference.
Electrical - The Dakar and its 400w generator and larger battery were an advantage over the X ... plenty of power for heated gear etc. Thats what convinced me I needed to steal his generator in the middle of the night.
The X seems to have better wheels. The front hub on the Dakar is very narrow and cant possibly give the rim a huge amount of lateral support. The hubs on the X (made by aprilia I believe) are wider and stronger than the BMW ones on the Dakar. The Dakar had a lot more bent rims, and a lot more flat tyres for whatever reason than the X did. (and the Dakar effectively only did 2/3 of the miles as the X). In fact the Dakar effectively destroyed two front rims on the trip after countless ding bashings, while for all the talk of the X having chocolate rims, I have had to bash dings out the front rim only twice and they are still fine on the bike now. The rear wheel as well was to the advantage of the X ... its an 18 inch wheel, vs a 17 inch wheel on the Dakar. Not only better in the rough stuff, but in an emergency, there were 18 inch rear tyres in every city we passed through. In an emergency (ripped tyre or something like that) the guy on the Dakar would have had to ship a 17 inch tyre in from Europe.
Its a bit hard to compare too much because the X was modified especially for this trip and the roads it was going to face, while the Dakar was bog stock. But having had a F650GS myself a few years ago, I cant see a huge amount of point it having one over a X ... unless you have short legs. The X is basically same engine, same brakes, same drive, better wheels, all in a 30kg lighter package.
Perhaps if you never wanted to do any mods, and wanted to tour on a stock bike, the Dakar / GS would be better, but change that rear suspension and add some fuel capacity and the X is much better.
This was done mid trip when the wheel bearing seals began to seal 'not so well'.
The X has 3 wheel spacers, one either side of the back wheel and one on the left side of the front wheel, that double in purpose as the surface the wheel bearing seals seal against. The problem with these 3 spacers is they are made of aluminium ... nice and light, for sure, but grit in between the spacer and the seal soon grinds a channel in the soft aluminium and the seal then no longer seals. Meaning your wheel bearings are on borrowed time, especially for people who do water crossings!
I had replacement spacers made up from steel in Siberia. The steel is much more durable than the stock alloy, but there is probably a better steel to make them out of than my siberian versions, which are now very rusty!. I will talk with Erik when I get back. He can probably get some super funky ultra hard (yet shiny and pretty) metal to make these out of ... maybe can get him to spin out a dozen of each (all three are different sizes) to sell on ADV rider !!! [edit: these are now made by Scheffelmeier in both ABS and non ABS versions - http://scheffelmeier-metall.de/BMW-...l-wheel-spacer-set-BMW-G650X-non-ABS::17.html)
If you love your wheel bearings (and travelling without them is rather difficult) then this mod is ESSENTIAL prior to heading off into the unknown.
Good call.....................I've had 2 Dakars
But the X is everything that it wasn't....................your mods have solved any deficiencies the X ever had