Andy Around the World

After my trip through Mongolia in 2011 and also all the planning for that trip, I realised that I needed to keep the engineering as simple as possible. To this end I immediately excluded all water-cooled bikes. This took away the danger of having a head gasket/radiator/hose failure or puncture. If a head gasket goes on a water-cooled bike you need to replace it as water gets into the oil and all sorts of expensive problems suddenly occur. If the head gasket fails on an air-cooled bike you may lose a bit of compression and get a small oil seepage but you can, invariably, carry on until you can do a simple repair. This coupled with the reliability of a well tested model led me to a low-mileage Yam XT600E.
Latest additions at the bottom of the page
Yam XT600E

Andy's Yamaha XT600E 2003

A very standard 2003 XT600E - this is how the bike was when I purchased it in Dec '12
A Mitas Army Special T644 rear tyre (used to be the Trelleborg Army Special) and a Mitas EF-06 front tyre were fitted in January '12 so I could go greenlaning.
Also a pair of Venom handguards were fitted by drilling and tapping the the bar end weights. The 'mid' bar fitting turned out to be complete rubbish so I purchased a set of Wurtz handguards and used the fittings! So much better and still allows me to use the bar end weights.
The an SW Motech centre stand was fitted. This allows removal of the rear wheel by one person! If you are contemplating buying one of these stands for an XT600E then be aware that the instructions are in pictorial form and rather crap! It is a very easy job though.

This is the stand in the 'up' position
Then a second-hand Acerbis 24ltr tank was added
"No wider than the riders knees" as the advert for the CBX1000 said!

The tank does direct the airflow at the cylinder head well

The, 1" long, fuel filter I put inline which has a magnet to catch impurities in the fuel as well as a decent space to see any water ingress.

Tank, with two fuel taps, and filter neatly fitted
On the bikes first outing through 'deepish' water it cut out as soon as the water got anywhere near the carb breathers. To stop this happening I designed and built a water trap that all 3 breathers go into and then one bigger breather goes up under the seat.

The 'home-made' water trap for the carburettor breathers

The yellow line on the photo is drawn, parallel to the ground, at the height of the front & rear tyres - 25" (64cms)
On 14th April '12 - I took FB (Fat Bastard) to Lopwell Dam at 'nearly' high tide. The water was well over the walkway and nearly at the top of the ramp you can see in the Google StreetView. Normally I would have turned around and ridden away but this was a test of 'water-tightness for FB.
I killed the engine and reversed down the ramp until I was fairly level and the water was halfway between the hub and the top of the wheel. Then I started the engine. It ticked over very sweetly.
Then, with the engine still running I backed the bike down the 2nd ramp into the main part of the river current. This is where the River Tavy comes crashing over the weir and flows out to sea. The current was quite strong and the water was about 6" above the walkway. I finally got the bike into the water so the water was above the rear tyre. This is about 25" deep. The bike still ran sweetly and I sat on it and rode it out. No hesitation of any sort.
Arriving home I removed the strap holding the water trap on and inspected it..dry as a bone! Job's a good 'un!
If the water was deeper than 25" then I wouldn't be riding if it was flowing. The amount of air in the rear tyre makes the bike very light on the rear and it tends to move about too much in flowing water.
I managed to buy an original Yamaha Aceessory Rear Top Rack second-hand. This will carry more weight than either of the two racks that are available 'new' now. This is because it uses the rear indicator mounts. I took the rear rack to 1st Choice Finishers in Exeter who shot blasted the rack, powder coated it in a zinc rich paint and then coated it in gloss black. It looks as new. A fabulous job and better than the powder coaters in Plymouth did on the Ural
The MRA Roadshield 'RO' windscreen. A good fit once the 'belly-bar' had been ground off the handlebars. The fittings are stainless steel and it takes the wind force off your chest but allows good visibility over the top.
A pair of home-made side carriers complete with panniers (water-proof) came up on Ebay and I managed to get them for £41 inc P&P! The side rails needed adapting to fit my XT as they had been made for an earlier model. This was done at Welbro Engineering and at the same time some plates were welded on to attach a couple of 'tool tubes'. The the two racks were taken to 1st Choice Finishers for cleaning and powder coating. They did their usual 1st class job and the rails were fitted on the bike along with the top rack.

This is a Pre-painting shot showing the panniers fitted to the bike.
A word about luggage here. I'm opting for soft luggage as I prefer the consequences when I fall off the bike. All the folks I met on my journey to and through Mongolia in 2011, said that hard (aluminium) luggage was a complete pain to get repaired and it is highly likely that an ankle can get broken if your foot gets caught between the case and the ground. Also the hard cases transmit an impact through to the frame which usually means you need to get not only the case repaired but also the frame that holds it!

The top and side carriers, painted and fitted complete with rocket launchers....sorry...tool tubes!

The two side rails are asymetric due to the exhaust so I fitted the tool tubes inside the left-hand side to offset the exhaust.
One day a chap on the ADV Rider, website called Boseley1980, popped a couple of photos and diagrams of foot pegs he was making for the XT. I managed to get in touch and order a set from him and the are absolutely 'the dogs'. As you can see from the photo below, they are wider and longer and give a much better perch for your foot. Many thanks to Radan Svetnica in the Czech Republic.

Bike and Kit Updates 8th February 2013

Since fitting the footrests I've used the bike on-road quite a bit and everything is functioning as it should. the suspension was not up to scratch so Gibbs Performance supplied me with new Hagon front fork springs and a new rear shock absorber unit. This has made a lot of difference as the fork springs are full length compared to the original Yamaha ones that had a 5" (125mm) spacer on top of them. The forks feel more plush and a slightly heavier oil gives me better feedback. The rear shock unit is superb. The damping is very adjustable and you can set the spring preload quite easily with the shock unit off the bike. The downside is that you can't set it at all on the bike as the preload ring is in the middle of the complicated air box. Never mind. I can get the unit out in about 5 minutes now! I still need to load the bike and set the sag but it's handling well as it is at the moment. I've also wired up a cigarette lighter socket on a panel on the handlebars but this will all change as there are plans to have a scrolling map on the bike. I've been up to see my friend Jim - - who is a whizz with mapping. He's already re-formatted all the Russian, Kazakh, Mongolian and Korean mapping so I can set routes on my Garmin GPSMAP62S but he came up with the idea of using a 5" Windows CE equipped tablet to have the mapping scrolling whilst I'm riding. Watch this space as I expect to have this working in a week or so. My latest acquisition is a superb heated waistcoat by EXO2 - see sponsors page. When I rode to Jim's I plugged the waistcoat into the bike and at one point I was too warm and had to disconnect it! The waistcoat is the Stormrider and it has no wiring inside it. See their website for details. It uses far less power than anyone else's waistcoat and gets quite a bit warmer as well! Not having any internal wiring will stop me from getting burnt as I did with my Chilli waistcoat.
Burnt out waistcoat
You can see in the inset where the wiring braid inside the waistcoat is almost severed. The few strands remaining attached must have heated up like a bulb filament and caused a 2.5" blister on my back whilst crossing Siberia in 2011! On the trip to Jim's I finally managed to get the fuel tank on reserve and I'd covered 330 miles (550kms) on a tank full. This is 65mpg (4.37 litres per 100kms) and I'm well happy with that. I'm doing a bit of work on the bike tomorrow (Sat 9th Feb) so I'll get some pictures posted up of the latest mods.
March 5th 2013
A bit slower than expected due to circumstances beyond my control. I spent a Saturday morning at South Hams Tool Hire Ltd setting the Hagon rear shock. Unfortunately the unit spring wasn't strong enough so Hagon's had the unit back and rebuilt it with a stronger spring and revalved the damper to match the spring. This has made a marked difference as the bike won't bottom out now.
The shock unit was on the bike for a few weeks so there was already a bit of corrossion forming around the bottom mounting. The spring is much stronger and will give me a lot more confidence when riding through Russia and Mongolia.
The scrolling map idea is working well. The downside is the screen isn't as bright as a Garmin so I need to make a sun shade for it. I've encased the 5" unit in a RAM Mount Aquabox. This has allowed me to keep all the electrics inside the box and to use the map though the silicone membrane face

This is a shot of the unit switched on, inside it's waterproof box and displaying a OS map near my house.
I've decided that instead of mounting a Shorai Li-Po battery on the bike I'm going to run it as a spare inside the rear top box. I've purchased the same split charging relay that I used on my Ural (Mongolia 2011) which is a PCT Volton. This will keep the Li-Po battery fully charged and allow me to charge my laptop and bits without fear of a flat battery on the bike. The bike is electric start only! I've also got 3 NGK Iridium IX plugs. 2 to take with me and one to fit to the bike before I go. This should give me a good, clean, burn and possibly a bit more power with a bit less fuel consumption. 65 mpg (4.37lts per 100kms) is good but better is always better! I've decided that I'm not taking my beautiful Roof V8 Boxer helmet as riding to Jim's against the morning sun was a nightmare. I'm going to take my new, but never used, Highway 1 NX2. The advantage of this helmet is manyfold. it has a peak, a visor and a sun visor. They are all integral to the helmet so unlike my trip back through Russia in 2011, I can't lose the visor as I did with my Davida helmet. I don't like the fact that the helmet is an ABS (plastic) one but it's advantages outweigh it's disadvantages. I have bought a complete set of wheel and head stock bearings and I must remember to repack them with grease before leaving. I have also got hold of the Trivium Russian Road Atlas. The advantage this one has over the one I used in 2011 is that it is a paperback and will therefore flex into an uneven space in my luggage. It isn't any newer than the old one but it has all the fuel stations marked. I've purchased an Irish Style numberplate for the XT. This is a pressed aluminium one that may not be legal in the UK, different font, wrong size etc., but is aluminium and lighter than the brittle plastic one that is on the bike at the moment. I got hold of a Stop and Go Compressor for the bike. it is smaller and more compact than my Slime one but it will only pump to 60psi. I hope this will be enough to reseat the bead on the rim if I get a puncture. I'm sure it will as the XT is blessed with chrome plated rims and are therefore more slippery than alloy rims.
April 23rd 2013

The bike is 99% ready - I'm not! The latest additions to the bike are

  • An's only a cheap one but it has a panic button and it's incredibly loud. Plus, with it being cheap I can disconnect it easily once you find it!
  • An ultrasonic canon. This puts out a very loud noise like rustling aluminium foil, but ultrasonically. This makes it an unpleasant place to be for animals/birds that may want to call on me.
  • A 2" snorkel for the airbox. Some of the rivers and puddles I may have to negotiate are too deep for the air-box snorkel under the seat. I've extended it upwards by about 16".
  • A second battery on a split charging relay. This will fit directly in place of the bikes battery if necessary. I can also use it for chaging my laptop, cameras, GPS units, etc.
  • A 4mm thick, stainless steel, crankcase protector so the gear lever cannot get stuffed through the engine when I fall off....notice I didn't say "if".
  • Power leads for my Drift Ghost Head cam and EXO2 Heated Waistcoat
  • The carb breathers now get air from up near the Scrolling Map unit
  • A spare clutch vable has been taped in place
  • All of the electrics have been revamped and now run off a master switch apart from the ultrasonic horn. I can leave that on all night and it draws 150mAh.
  • Polycarbonate headlight protector. The original headlight is glass!
  • The rear box has been carpetted out (Thank you Chris James) and I have an Irish style, pressed aluminium number plate to fit once I get off of this island. it would be illegal to use in the UK! The Font isn't right!
  • The back box contains the Stop & Go mini compressor, the 18Ah secondary battery, a dual socket 12v accessory port with 2 USB chargers, and the split charging relay to keep the battery topped up.
2nd May 2013
The fire extinguisher is held firmly in place inside a Polypipe Gutter Downpipe Access Hatch. That's thinking not only outside of the box but half way down the wall as well!
The alloy tube Exhaust Extension slips over the end pipe and secures with a jubilee clip when I need to cross deep water. It's very light as it's approx 1.2mm thick.
The inflatable cushion is a superbly made, velour covered, lumbar support from an expensive office chair. It was donated by The Back Centre in Ivybridge. I trimmed 6mm off the corners and punched eyelets in to attach it to the seat with "Rib Hooks" from Makefast Ltd. The eyelets and consultation were from Plymouth Sails & Canvas. They have supported me 100% in this and my last adventure.