Trans-Am 500 - the seven year itch

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by JMo (& piglet), Apr 29, 2015.

  1. visualizerent

    visualizerent Raconteur

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    JENNY'S SPOT TRACKER LINK
    http://share.findmespot.com/shared/faces/viewspots.jsp?glId=0Oy8eVNlAf8Qh6nDYVfW2CpZXE6MfxNFm

    Hey, this is real fun...real time updates on Jenny's SPOT tracker...looks like or intrepid adventurer(s?) are heading up the historic Manley Pass "Escape Route" into Death Valley this AM.

    This is where the pioneers of 1849 walked out of Death Valley to L.A. for help thus giving the valley it's name. They found even more trouble in the Mojave Desert, an amazing story of survival and selfless heroism. "Death Valley in '49"- William Lewis Manley

    warming up yet? looks like 96 degrees in Furnace Creek today.
    Just keep movin' through the desert...
    JB

    [​IMG]
    D.V. LAST FEB. ON THE 690 RR
    #61
  2. Vicks

    Vicks gets stuck in sand

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    I'm in !! awaiting more pics and updates.

    Safe travels Jen.
    #62
  3. visualizerent

    visualizerent Raconteur

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    Allright! Manly pass, Barker Ranch, Mengle Pass, good work all. Speaks volumes for the rider and the design....jb
    #63
  4. ktmmitch

    ktmmitch Long timer

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    To coincide with Jenny Morgan riding across the US, as part of our testing & development of the Adventure Kit we have designed and manufactured for the popular Honda CB500X, we now have a dedicated website for this new model.
    It contains many pictures of the different parts associated with the Adventure Kit, and accessories that can be purchased separately.
    Also included is a FAQ page to try and explain the different levels of kit that can be fitted, depending on rider preference.

    LINK TO WEBSITE

    [​IMG]
    #64
  5. Guinness1

    Guinness1 Adventurer

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    Totally in for this one:lurk
    #65
  6. _anatic

    _anatic Plated

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    :lurk
    #66
  7. ktmmitch

    ktmmitch Long timer

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    A quick sneak pic of Jenny Morgan and the Honda CB500X Adventure in Death Valley yesterday, on the way to Arizona for Overland Expo.
    She was accompanied by Dave Lin of ADV Addicts on his KTM 690 Enduro for the trip.
    All the new parts performing well, and Jenny should have a few upgrades when she arrives at Expo, direct from Rally Raid Products in the UK, as the mammoth trip across the US, and back, is the best proving ground we could have.

    [​IMG]
    #67
  8. Utilimuter

    Utilimuter n00b

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    I'm really considering pulling the trigger on this adventure kit. I've been watching for sometime now and your stuff looks like it will perform great! I do wish I could still use my center stand, that is a big down side for me. Other considerations for me personally is the new seat I just ordered. I'm looking for something that will be comfortable all day on an all day cruise and I've yet to find it. Finally, the Africa twin. . . . oh by, that might be more my size anyways. . . . . . .
    #68
  9. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    A brief summary of the Death Valley proving day...

    Miles today: 253.5

    [​IMG]
    At the top of Mengal Pass DVNP. Two different solutions to a common 'Adventure' bike goal from Rally-Raid Products - the KTM 690 Enduro and the CB500X Adventure...


    The second day started nice and warm, now we were on the edge of the Mojave desert and heading for Death Valley.

    Dave Lin from ADVaddicts and I had breakfast in good time and rode the 30 miles to Trona with our jacket already half unzipped, before gassing-up the bikes, and filling up our backpacks with snacks and plenty of water - it was going to be 100 degrees F today in Death Valley itself.

    Dave was onboard his KTM690 with RRP luggage racks and skid plate, plus soft luggage and extra fuel - I guess a typical set-up for someone who wants to 'adventureise' a 690, and perhaps a good comparison for the CB500X Adventure - as loaded up like that the two bikes were a similar weight, and although the 690 does have appreciably more travel and ground clearance, conversely, that means a significantly higher seat than the CB of course...

    Overall, the ride through Death Valley (100 miles of dirt) was an excellent test of the bike's off-road ability - a little bit (well, a lot actually!) of everything: sandy tracks, rocky piste, steep rocky climbs and descents, fast gravel and a few technical challenges; before ultimately a final blast at high speed on the West Side Road right up the middle of Badwater Basin... Where the bike felt incredibly stable and composed right up to a (sustained) maximum of 70.7mph - I can't imaging for a moment doing the same thing on a stock bike with 17" wheels.

    The bike did feel a little jittery from the rear end at first on rough washboard trails - possibly a result of the short wheelbase/swing arm. Later in the day I turned down the high speed compression damping 2 clicks and it was much smoother - or that might just have been my increase in speed too of course ;o)

    On the tight technical terrain the bike was excellent, very tractable and easy to manoeuvre. The only limitation really is the still relatively short travel suspension over rough rocky tracks - typically grapefruit size boulders - hard work on any 200kg bike of course, and you simply have to pick your line and adjust your speed accordingly.

    Again, in the 'real world' on a bike like this, especially with luggage, I'd suggest something like 20mph is a realistic rough trail riding speed, where 30mph or even more is perfectly possible if the rocks are not so large.

    Where it does excel though is on faster sandy and gravel piste style trails - typically those found in the desert - here you could ride at 30-40mph and it felt very comfortable and stable. As long as you kept an eye out for whoops and bigger rocks etc. you can easily wick it up to 50mph or more, and it just seems to feel better at speed - just be mindful of hitting a big washout or whoop at that sort of speed on a bike with only 170mm overall travel...

    It was also very easy to negotiate tricky rocky steps and climbs/descents - the lower seat night (together with the narrow tank between your knees) making things much easier in comparison to Dave on his KTM690 (loaded with luggage). And in such terrain you really can just put the bike in first gear and ride it like an automatic.

    I have to say how genuinely impressed I am with the conversion. Of course I'm going to say that aren't I? But seriously - this bike feels transformed, and certainly very much what Honda should have done themselves perhaps, were they not chasing the more lucrative 'high end' market with the new Africa Twin.

    It really was a joy to punt it down the twisty county roads in California on Monday, more than comfortably schlepping down the Interstate for a time at 80mph, and an absolute blast (and very confidence inspiring) once we hit the dirt for 100 miles through Death Valley yesterday... Indeed, I can't wait to get it to Moab, the Rockies, and of course the whole length of the Trans-Am Trail!

    The day ended with a lovely (albeit very windy!) ride over the Spring Mountains into the Las Vegas valley, and of course I had to ride the CB up the Strip before heading across town to meet some friends for dinner...

    [​IMG]
    Hitting the Strip early evening is always fun, it's when the neon really makes the city come alive!

    The Garmin VIRB I've mounted above the clutch lever (and remotely controlled by tapping the GPS screen) was an excellent way to capture a series of photos - the quality is excellent, and I'm really looking forward to using it more and more during the trip...

    Toot toot for now - I have a little show in Arizona I need to attend!

    Jx
    #69
  10. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    Hi Ultimuter - I promise you you won't be disappointed ;o)

    With regard to the centre stand. It really shouldn't be considered a deal-breaker... I've explained our reasoning in detail in the RRP Vendor thread and the FAQs, but essentially not having the clutter under the belly maximises the ground clearance for the 99.99% of the time you are not actually using the centre stand, while there are commercially available telescopic prop-stands that fit under the swing arm to lift the rear wheel for chain lubing and wheel removal - and they stow really neatly in your luggage or can be secured to the inside face of the RRP soft luggage rack for example?

    For the kind of use this conversion was intended for, I'd say it is a small sacrifice for far better off-road ability...

    Jx
    #70
  11. TroopThrowback

    TroopThrowback Been here awhile

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    I'm not a cb500x owner but I am intrigued by the platform for what you're doing. A couple questions about your setup when you get the time

    What tires are you running?

    Would it be a doable mod to extend the center stand to accommodate?

    What kind of fuel mileage are you getting?

    Is your "X" abs equipped?

    What's your loaded bike weight?

    Thanks, and happy trails!

    Troop
    Throwbacks
    #71
  12. visualizerent

    visualizerent Raconteur

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    Hey Troop! welcome aboard!
    Here's the gouge, complete with FAQ index..http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1012021

    Brand New Gouge in just today from Rally Raid here...http://www.cb500xadventure.com/

    I'll bring the stocker by Throwbacks tomorrow so u can check it out...I gotta bunch of these answers for ya. U can take her for a spin...JB


    #72
  13. Bronco638

    Bronco638 Nobody Home

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    Jen mentioned 200 kg (440 lbs.). That's about the same as my old TransAlp (which is way too heavy for me :cry). That's kind of disappointing. The 690 Enduro is about 125 lbs. lighter (unladen) and probably close to 100 lbs. lighter when loaded.
    #73
  14. appliance57

    appliance57 Long timer

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    That's about the weight of the stock bike so it's no surprise. The enduro would probably need extra gas capacity but would still be lighter. It's also quite specialized and expensive.

    I think part of the idea here is getting a nicely balanced machine for road/dirt at a good price. Another way to think about it is that the cb is smooth and responsive on the highway - and with the RR kit - good in the dirt, and is 100 - 200 lbs lighter than the big adv machines.
    #74
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  15. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    Hi Troop - so glad you could join in the fun here!

    On the whole I'd prefer to answer more technical questions in the CB500X Vendor thread, and keep this one more for specific questions about the trip itself... However, since your questions do relate to the actual bike I'm riding, it makes sense to answer them here for anyone else who might have been wondering too...

    1. The bike is fitted with Continental TKC80 tyres 110/80 x 19 front and 150/70 x 17 rear. These are the tyres we have used all along for development, and personally I believe are the best compromise for dual-sport/adventure riding (in dry desert type conditions at least). They handle/grip very well indeed on the highway, better than any other 'knobbly' I've used... While also providing good traction in the dirt and on gravel/sand trails. There are not a great (wet) mud tyre, and they don't last particularly long on the highway compared to a more street orientated tread, but that's the price you pay for the excellent characteristics in the dirt.

    2. I have written extensively about I why the centre stand won't work with the Adventure (+50mm) suspension - as Visualizerent mentions, the FAQs (#5 & 6) cover this susinctly enough. Basically a longer centre stand won't fit with the longer side stand - so you can't have both.

    3. My current fuel mileage has been variable, and we seem to be suffering from extremely strong winds on the west coast at the moment (into which I always seem to be heading!). I have also been ragging it quite hard at high(er) speeds on the freeway, so have been getting the mid to high fifties, but as low as 48mpg according to the trip computer. Now I'm heading east and away from this damn wind, I hope to see the right side of 60mpg.

    4. The current Giant Loop demo bike I'm riding in the non-ABS version.

    5. I have not had the facility or opportunity to weigh the bike yet, nor my luggage if I'm honest. I will try to get those figures for you as the trip continues.

    Hope that helps clarify things!

    Jx

    PS. One other observation I thought I'd share... It would appear that (according to the GPS speed reading at least) that with a 150/70 TKC80 fitted to the rear wheel, the bike's speedo now seems to under read by a little under 5% - ie. When you are doing 65mph, the speedo only says 62/63mph. Certainly the TKC is a little taller than the stock 160/60 rear tyre, so this is something to keep in mind for anyone running a more dirt orientated tyre on the rear.
    #75
  16. Clem Kevin

    Clem Kevin Nude With Boots

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    Jen, what do you think of the D606's in comparison to the TKC80's? Always hated the front of the Dunlops, but the rear is really great. Would I get better feel out of the conti front?
    #76
  17. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    Sure thing Hillbilly - I'm always a sucker for a Rune drool ;o)

    In all seriousness, let's hope we get the chance to meet up en route, thank you!

    Jx
    #77
  18. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    Hi Clem - I can't really advise on tyres other than report on my own personal experiences... (and as I've suggested above, this really is a discussion for the general CB500X thread or the RRP Vendor thread with regard to our/my recommendations for the Adventue kitted bike).

    I have used 606s in the past on lighter bikes with pretty favourable results, but I can't see how they would offer quite the same highway performance as a TKC80.

    If I might conclude with a request - please can we all help to keep this specific ride report thread focussed on the Trans-Am 500 trip itself, and I will of course do my best to reply to any general technical questions in the other more appropriate threads, thanks...

    Jenny x
    #78
  19. rider7

    rider7 Adventurer

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    I'm a 90% road riding CBX-500 guy and my longest adventure was 1,750 miles r/t to Nashville - but Im intrigued by the route and the adventure you have going! Thanks for inviting us all along:clap
    #79
  20. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    Day 3: Las Vegas to Williams AZ

    Miles today: 269

    Since Dave has to be back in San Francisco yesterday, we said our goodbyes at Furnace Creek in Death Valley and I continued on alone to Vegas where I was able to catch up on some well needed sleep and spent the following morning on some essential admin too.

    Leaving Vegas at lunchtime with a Subway sandwich tucked in my backpack, the plan was to have a picnic at Christmas Tree Pass which is a dirt road just north west of Laughin and Bullhead city on the Nevada/Arizona boarder. Boy was it windy heading due south again - I tried adjusting the screen the higher of the two positions, but it didn't help much - I ended up tucking in like a road racer until I was able to turn east and onto the dirt.

    Christmas Tree Pass is so called because of the decorated trees around the summit:

    [​IMG]

    I came this way in 2008 and recall one main tree, plus maybe two or three others... Now the whole pass has dozens of trees decorated with baubles and tinsel - it's hysterical!

    I also practiced with the VIRB on a helmet mount, as while the footage is great on the road, when riding off-road it vibrates a little too much when the camera is mounted directly to the bike. However, suffice to say I'm going to need a bit more practice getting the camera angles right, there is a lot of footage of my front wheel despite me looking well ahead on the trail. This still picture was at least bearable, the video was rubbish...

    [​IMG]

    So crossing over the Colorado river at Laughin, I took a fast dirt road across to Oatman AZ, which is on the old part of Route 66. It is a typical desert tourist town, all cowboys and souviner tat shops, and there were a bunch of bad-ass Harley riders in town... Who turned out to be a group of French tourists!

    [​IMG]

    Oatman is perhaps most well known for the wild Burros that roam the streets, and are usually more than happy to pose for the odd photo. So I took an odd photo with the fish-eye VIRB:

    [​IMG]

    Cont.
    #80
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