Trans-Am 500 - the seven year itch

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

  1. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    Hi Cruz - I've not actually changed the bars on the US bike yet, and to be honest, I've found them to be impressively strong after all - or maybe I've just been lucky...

    Hee hee - as I allude to above, if you want drama, it's coming soon... ;o)

    Hi Pentatonic - I have to say, having spent the last week riding the CB500X Adventure over some really gnarly terrain, I honestly don't think there is any other twin cylinder adventure bike that would be quite as easy to ride, and so forgiving...

    Which kind of brings me neatly onto your question - the bikes that Lisa & Sharron are riding are Yamaha XT225s - more commonly known as the Serow.

    I ride one of these too regularly when I'm in the US, and particularly in Moab where I find the 4/5ths size of the bike pays dividends on the really serious stuff, as the lower seat and light(er) weight means it rides much more like a trials bike than a typical larger cc dual-sport enduro machine.

    And in that regard, the CB500X is also far more manageable than a 'full size' twin cylinder Adventure bike, in turn making things a lot easier when the going starts to get technical...

    Jx
  2. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    Moab day 3: Top of the World

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    photo. How did it get here, 2500ft above the valley floor? - It took some work I can tell you!

    With the forecast clear and bright for the rest of the week, I wanted to show our 4x4 friends one of the best viewpoints in the area - from a precarious cliff face and a shear vertical drop of nearly 2500ft, offering stunning views over Onion Creek, Fisher Tower and on towards the Colorado river to the north, and the La Sal mountains to the south.

    The trail is one of those featured during the Easter Jeep Safari week, although due to its distance from Moab (approximately 30 miles of highway followed by 15 miles of dirt road), the relatively short trail is not always top of a drivers/riders list. More fool they!

    Originally designated a 'moderate' trail in the Charles A. Wells book of Moab, the exposed nature of the route means that over the years some serious rock steps and shelves have developed, so it is now rated as 'difficult' - although on the whole due to the relatively wide nature of the trail, bikes are able to navigate around some of the worst steps... However as it turned out, some rock stacking was still required to see us all safely through.

    So how about a few photos to illustrate what I mean?

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    photo. This step was about 2 feet high, and needed a couple of rocks to create a ramp up so I didn't belly the bike.

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    photo. While these ribs were not especially high, their diagonal nature meant you had to be very careful not to have the rear wheel slide along them.

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    photo. Lisa on her Serow using a rock to launch up a concave step.

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    photo. A slightly different line and preloading the front end to help spring up the step.

    The majority of the trail is broken rock slabs, and the odd section of loose rock and sand mix. The climb up to the rim offers photographers an excellent view, which as a rider you only really get to appreciate on your way back down again!

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    Since the trail tends to take the majority of your attention, especially if you are to avoid a fall.

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    It can get pretty relentless at times!

    The view from the top however is so totally worth it!

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    Cont.
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  3. locorider

    locorider Loco, pero no estúpido!

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  4. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    Cont.

    The return journey initially follows a different route in a loop, before joining the original trial about 1/3rd of the way down - effectively the loop is the eye of a needle. During the Easter Jeep Safari, they tend to run the loop in a clockwise direction, as the steps on the west side are more severe in the upward direction - presenting more of a challenge to the 4x4s.

    However, I am not a total fool, so we elected to run the route in the traditional anti-clockwise direction to avoid any calamities...

    Unfortunately, a momentary lapse of concentration meant I was able to categorically test the strength of the RRP Adventure engine guard, shortly levers, and the general robustness of the basic CB500X bodywork most comprehensively!

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    photo. Things started to get tricky on the way down, although this sector was actually totally rideable on the raised CB500X.

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    However, muscling the big bike over such terrain eventually started to take its toll on me, and approximately half the way down the west side, I gingerly edged the bike over a particularly steep step, followed by loose rock, and the inevitable happened (much as it had on Lockhart Basin), but with a far more dramatic result - as I was effectively ejected from the bike (rather than simply drop it), while it continued on its wheels for a few feet before dropping with a huge crash on its right side...

    I immediately feared the worst, particularly as it had landed with all its weight on some very sharp and uneven rocks.

    I have to say we were all amazed how little damage the bike suffered once it was back on its wheels... And without a doubt the engine guard bars had done their job exceptionally well and prevented the right hand cases from any serious damage - just a couple of scuffs - while the tubes themselves took the brunt of the impact:

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    I was also amazed that the front brake lever had survived intact after such a heavy fall with no hand guards fitted - a testament to the shape and strength of the shorty billet levers fitted I imagine? (Particularly since the bike had already been down three or four times on this side before the photo was taken).

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    Indeed the only real damage to speak of was to the front right indicator - itself unbroken and still working, only that the plastic cowl surround cracked - nothing a dab of superglue couldn't fix ;o)

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    Even the huge OEM silencer only suffered a couple of minor dents - they build this bike strong!

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    So after straightening the brake perch and tweaking the fork legs in their yokes (the only time I had to do this was after that particularly heavy drop), we continued to the end of the trail - with discretion the better part of valour over certain hazards ;o)

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    Once back on the dirt road (that forms part of the 142 mile long-distance Kokopelli bike trail), it was a quick blast back to hwy 128 that runs alongside the Colorado river, and a spirited scenic ride back to Moab.

    Here Lisa took the helm of the CB-X while I did my best to keep up on her 225cc Serow and take a few photos...

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    photo. Back in Moab - time for another beer!

    I have to say, today categorically proved to me the worth in having a slightly physically smaller bike, allowing you to tackle such terrain that might otherwise result in serious damage or injury if you were riding a 'full size' adventure bike... Yet at the same time it was a smooth and relaxing ride (at well above the legal limit should you choose) for those scenic highway miles... I honestly can't think of any other bike that can do both so well.

    So what's next for the CB-X you ask? - stay tuned!

    Jenny xx
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  5. Scutty

    Scutty Talent-limited bike builder and rider Supporter

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    Simply WOW! :D:D:D:D:D
  6. locorider

    locorider Loco, pero no estúpido!

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    Nice!
  7. visualizerent

    visualizerent Raconteur

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    ..."Battle Damage!"....
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    Excellent report and test of the design concept. Mad riding skills too.

    This boys and girls, is why you wanna ditch that center stand. Big rock (and root) steps are a fact of life out west.

    Climbing them angle steps in Moab gets your attention, great job lofting the front. I've hit them bastards all wrong and 'BLAM' there goes the front end and yer down before you can say "Sh%@"!

    Relentless, ain't it? I imagine u gotta carry a bit more inertia on the CB than on a dirt bike. That takes some concentration, which you can clearly see in your photos.

    I'm satisfied now the design could easily handle the White Rim trail.

    Keep 'em coming Jen!

    Juan
    Nevada City, CA.
  8. ShenandoahRider

    ShenandoahRider Been here awhile

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    I don't imagine I'll ever tackle anything like this with my X. As an off-road noob and otherwise total boob, it's nice to know, though, that with even just a few accessories like you've developed to protect a stock bike, I can maybe keep from breaking the thing. Thanks!
  9. simmons1

    simmons1 Long timer

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    Having ridden to Top of the World on a my WR250R, I am impressed with how well the 500X is working for you in this type of terrain.



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  10. ToriMish

    ToriMish Long timer

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    Jenny, those were really good shots of quite gnarly terrain you're tackling on the 500. Exactly the kind of thing I needed to see, as the modded 500 is on my shortlist for a bike later this year.

    I'm a returning rider, and grew up on smaller dual-sports - KLR's, XR's, and DR/Z's. I am planning a purchase later in the year, and in the mean time I'm borrowing friends bikes and following great threads like this one. The CB500X wasn't on my list (initially), but after seeing the Rally Raid modifications, it has to be a contender.

    Part of me wants a lightweight dual sport - such as a WR250R - for local mountain off-road hooning. I love the agility of a smaller bike . . . but I also know I'll be doing some interstate touring and the WR, while capable of long stretches of sealed roads, would be far less comfortable and easy at speed in comparison to the CB500X. I'm a girl biker and a smidgen off 5'10 tall . . . the WR seat height was fine for me on a recent test ride.

    I'll be in England in July and August, and I think just down the road from KTM Mitch. I'll try to arrange a test-ride of a modded CB500X . . . I won't make any decisions until I've test-ridden a bike. Have you managed to find an Australian distributor for the kit, and do you have a rough RRP for the kit (L3) here in Australia?
  11. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    Hi everyone - not wanting to get too far ahead of myself, but those of you who have been following along on the SPOT tracker today might have been wondering what the hell has been going on with my route?!

    Suffice to say I had an excellent day below the snow-line riding some lovely dirt roads and trails; despite various setbacks such as numerous routes being closed due (presumably) to the recent bad weather and the roads being washed away - certainly one that I was able to ride today was in pretty poor condition... and which ultimately included a rather tasty creek crossing!

    So this is what I've had to contend with on my way to Colorado Springs:

    Point 18 on the SPOT - an excellent trail at over 10,000ft this morning had a number of trees down. I managed to cross a number of smaller ones, but ultimately had to turn back once faced with this (the full story will follow of course ;o)

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    Picking a alternative route back to CR2, I happened on this (SPOT point 20):

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    Denied!

    Then a little later as I tried to head for Cripple Creek via F24, this (SPOT point 29):

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    Detouring via Canon City, turns out the Shelf Road (CR88) was closed (SPOT point 37):

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    As was CR67 a little further east (SPOT point 40):

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    I cut my losses and went for a coffee, then hit the highway to Colorado Springs after all... Fingers crossed the road to the top of Pikes Peak has been cleared of snow tomorrow!

    Jx
  12. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    Moab day 4: Onion Creek, Thomson Canyon and Hell's Revenge.

    Since the previous day had taken us all longer than we'd expected (not least having the 4x4 Toyota FJ along, which dramatically changes the pace off-road), we elected to return along hwy 128 the following morning and take a more scenic trail ride/drive through the valley below Top of the World, that offers a real sense of travelling cross-country.

    Onion Creek is so named because the wild garlic that grows alongside the water smells a lot like spring onions... The trail itself is a reasonably well maintained dirt road, that features numerous creek crossings, albeit it usually shallow, especially at this time of year.

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    The scenery as you pass through the canyon is like something out of a Wile e Coyote cartoon, full of strange columns and balanced rocks... While the odd burst of greenery can provide a cool and welcoming rest or picnic spot from the otherwise fierce sunshine.

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    It was fun to try and spot the 'diving board' promontory at Top of the World high up on the cliff above us, before electing to take the side trail that leads to the bottom of the infamous 'Rose Garden Hill' (another Easter Jeep Safari favourite) as a suitable spot for lunch. On arrival we were fortunate to witness a number of well prepared Jeeps attempt the climb, which is always fun to watch.

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    photo. Looks like an innocent quarter mile from a distance doesn't it? - the reality is a typically 30 degree or more slope full of loose rocks and shelf steps about 2/3rds the way up...

    I would add that I have actually ridden down Rose Garden Hill on an XT225 in the past, and it was nerve wracking to say the least - so goodness knows what it must be like to try and go up this loose rocky climb on a one-wheel-drive machine - it was certainly not something I was going to attempt on the hefty CB-X... I may be crazy, but I'm not insane!!!



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    Having left a TA500 sticker on a marker post at the trail junction, we continued to climb up into the foothills of the La Sal mountains, through the scenic Thompson Canyon, which in turn led to some stunning views across the valley below:

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    ...Before returning to Moab via the Kokopelli Trail (and scenic Sands Flats Road) for what would be a fitting finale for our four-wheeling friends... The legendary Hell's Revenge slick-rock trail!

    Cont.
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  13. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    Cont.


    Hell's Revenge

    Slick-rock - an abrasive sandstone surface which (on-the-whole) offers exceptional grip - isn't unique to Moab, but certainly there is nowhere else on earth where it is available in such quantity, and fundamentally, where you are actually allowed to ride/drive on so much of it!

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    While there are hundreds of square miles around Moab that feature multi-user trails, just to the east of the town is a huge plateau of slick-rock dedicated to recreational use, be it on two or four wheels, and powered by either legs or engines - marvellous!

    There are three* key trails off Sand Flats Road - at the eastern end Porcupine Rim is primarily a mountain bike trail, that features an exhilarating single-track decent from the rim down to the Colorado river (and hwy 128).

    *Four if you include the dedicated Slick-rock Bike Trail that shares much of the plateau with Hell's Revenge...

    Meanwhile the motorised vehicles tend to play on Fins N' Things which features a variety of slick-rock fins and sandy trails, with a stunning backdrop of the snow covered La Sal mountains; and of course the daddy of them all: Hell's Revenge - which is just a stones throw from the town itself, and particularly popular with the guided 4x4 tour companies as if offers an exhilarating roller-coaster of a ride up and down some seriously steep slick-rock slabs and fins.

    Hell's Revenge also features some extreme optional hazards (and thank goodness they are optional!) such as the Devil's Hot Tub, The Escalator and Hell's Gate. If you have a little time it's worth looking up these on YouTube, you'll be amazed at the nerve (or is it stupidity?) of some people!

    So for now I'll simply let the following photos illustrate just some of the terrain on offer - although typically it is difficult to impart the actual severity of some of the slopes!


    Warming up on 'Baby Lion's Back' - a slick-rock fin just before the start of Hell's Revenge... In the past Hell's Revenge used to include the legendary 'Lion's Back' - a huge hundred foot high fin that was a nerve-wracking finale to the original trail. Unfortunately the fin has been closed for a number of years now (as it resides on private land, and not because of the infamous Chevy runaway - YouTube it ;o)

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    Before hitting the trail proper:

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    Riding this trail late afternoon/early evening is my personal preference, as it means the temperature is more bearable, and the views particularly can take on an even more dramatic air (which I'm sure is why the sunset rides are particularly popular with the tour companies). Of course conversely it means the shadows are longer and visibility over some of the steps and other hazards a little more tricky...

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    And ultimately, as the sun began to set, it was time to head for the hotel and celebrate another successful day on the trails...

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    Jx
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  14. grnd0

    grnd0 Been here awhile

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    Fantastic pics and riding. :clap
  15. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    Moab day 5 & 6: Fossil hunting and the Fiery Furnace.

    Having spent the past four days comprehensively putting the CB through its paces, it was time to kick back a little and enjoy the remaining time in Moab with my friends... and to experience what else the region has to offer.

    Friday was spent riding a relatively easy trail (again on the CB-X), and looking for rocks and fossils.

    Despite increasing environmental pressure to restrict use (and not just vehicular, but all users) - typically from incoming busybodies rather than the indigenous population - it is refreshing to see new trails continue to be opened up, offering greater access and helping to spread the load over a larger area.

    One such multi-user route is the Fallen Peace Officer Trail - a 14 mile meander across an otherwise barren plateau, and which is actually rich with interesting rocks and fossils if you know where to look. The trail itself is dedicated to those law enforcement officers in Utah who were either killed or seriously injured in the line of duty:

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    The following afternoon we embarked on a guided hike through the Fiery Furnace in Arches National Park, and were able to immerse ourselves in these deep narrow canyons and simply wonder at the incredible geology that surrounded us!

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    And with that, it was time for a final meal out, followed by some hurried packing and a wave goodbye early the following morning... Oh, and the liberal application of a few windshield stickers of course!

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    Then it was time for Piglet and I to load up the CB, and hit the road once more... Destination unknown, but somewhere over the state line in Colorado we hoped...

    To be continued!

    Jx
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  16. appliance57

    appliance57 Long timer Supporter

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    Not sure what you mean by "indigenous population" but I have never seen a state with so little regard for its natural resources. Rock formations arbitrarily destroyed, right near moab the trees were torched on BLM land along the Colorado, lake fronts strewn with garbage, flaming logs rolled over bird nesting areas, petroglyphs defaced by ATV "activists", alpine lakes and streams dammed up to provide water for coal electric plants.

    Maybe it's something in the water but believe me, if the land you have been on wasn't under strict regulations and protections, it would be garbage in short order. Never seen anything like it in other states.

    Sorry for the screed - enjoying the RR and what you guys have done with the cb500x.
  17. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    No problem, it's good to have a different perspective...

    My point was simply that the people who actually live and work in Moab are well aware that the town and indeed the region needs tourism (and fundamentally not just hikers and cyclists, but the motorised kind too) to survive...

    Of course the OHV trail network needs maintenance and regulation, just like anything else - but blanket closures are not the answer... On the whole the various Rangers and volunteer user-groups do an excellent job of keeping the trail network maintained and clear of litter etc.

    Unfortunately there will always be a few people (visitors) who will potentially ruin it for the majority, but you can't simply legislate against stupidity... Like life, it seems it will always find a way?

    The reason I brought up the issue is because we have seen exactly the same thing happen in the UK in recent years... Hasty legislation pushed through without proper consultation (and cooperation) with actual user groups - the result being the reduction in the number of trails inevitably leading to overuse of the remaining ones, which are then in-turn closed down for more 'legitimate' environmental or safety reasons (of course some might say this was their intention all along... ahem.)

    Anyway, rant over - normal service will shortly be resumed ;o)

    Jx
  18. visualizerent

    visualizerent Raconteur

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    "Huzzaah" Jenny!
    Public access to public lands!

    Moab is the finest example of an outdoor, trail based economy I've ever seen....carry on...

    JB
  19. locorider

    locorider Loco, pero no estúpido!

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    Balance is the answer!
  20. Cruz

    Cruz Lost but laughing.

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    Jen, are you running the stock gearing?