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Topics - JMo

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note. this is a copy of the blog I wrote (almost in real time) over this past summer [2017], during my trip from the west coast of the USA, up into western Canada, east through the bordering US states to Toronto - then back to the west coast again through the middle of the US including Colorado and the western desert States...

It forms the basis of my new AV presentation that I shall be presenting throughout 2018 at various Overland shows and events in the UK and USA, and I hope to see some of you along the way! In the meantime...



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Introduction (May 2017)

It's been two years since my >>>> link hidden <<<<
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Not least, having been so impressed with the way that bike ate up the road miles and devoured the trails (including the complete Trans-Am Trail on my way back west), that I've now bought my own CB500X and kitted it out in a similar fashion, and already racked up nearly 12,000 miles all over the western USA - highlights from last year include the inaugural CBXpo [group] ride, and of course that little foray Juan Browne and I enjoyed* on the Rubicon Trail last September...

*I say 'enjoyed', I mean endured of course - to see what I mean, his video is here:

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In all of those instances, I'd been fortunate to have either already ridden the roads/trails in question, or at least been familiar with the region and terrain I'd be passing though - although that's not to say you can't still get caught out by the unexpected of course!

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However, this year, I feel it's time to spread my wings a little further afield, and explore some states and indeed a whole new country, that I've never visited before...



Oh Canada!

Yes, I think it's finally time to embark on a little moose-dodging, and see what the northern territories have to offer!

Fortunately this desire has also coincided with a couple of invitations to ride with some long-term friends and associates north of the boarder - in the western provinces I'll be visiting an old rally-racing pal who lives in the Jasper National Park, en route to spending the weekend of the 23-25th June with Alan and Lisa from the Rocky Mountain Adventure Bike Touring Company (>>>> link hidden <<<<
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photo. RMABTC rental fleet includes 2016 model Honda CB500Xs with the Rally Raid LEVEL 1 and 2 kits fitted.


In the east, and indeed the ultimate destination this particular trip is going to be Toronto (although I'm actually planning on dipping back into the USA for a time during my journey east - see details below), where I've been invited to attend the Overland Adventure Rally - hosted each year by the esteemed Canadian Dakar racer and all-round moto guru Lawrence Hacking - and I'm scheduled to present a couple of AV seminars during the weekend of July 7-th-9th.

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So, using those more formal commitments as a structure - in between time, piglet and I will endeavour to take you on another cross-country adventure using words and pictures - that I'm confident will include some new [to me anyway] and exciting wilderness routes on road and off, that in turn will hopefully inspire you to get on your bike and explore further afield too!

As with the original >>>> link hidden <<<<
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*In that regard, my initial route planning has included the Butler Motorcycle Maps for various states I'll be passing through - and where they have highlighted their recommended 'gold roads' in each region.

In addition, I also intend to visit a number of 'tourist' spots on my way both east and back west - not least as I'm always impressed with how the US tends to make the most of their landmarks and historic points of interest. Some of these will be instantly familiar (I've never seen Old Faithful or Mt Rushmore for example - hence me dipping back into the US during the east-bound leg), others perhaps less so - but all ought to offer some interesting punctuation along the way...

So, enough waffle* - what can we expect in the coming weeks?

*You can never have enough waffle of course, or syrup, or bacon...



Route outline

First of all, I've split this trip into four distinct parts - not least as it makes route planning far more manageable, and hopefully easier to follow too!

The first leg will be to travel north through the pacific coast states, and cross into Canada.

LEG 1: San Jose CA (USA) - Macklin Lake SK (CAN)

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photo. Note this is google maps, which tends to snap to paved roads - the actual route is likely to deviate slightly from this overview.

Day -21: My plan is to leave the Bay Area exactly three weeks from today (on Tuesday 13th June), and head north on some familiar and favourite paved roads - although I also intend to incorporate a few new trails in Northern California en route to visit Harold and the team at Giant Loop in Bend Oregon.

From there I'll take a scenic [primarily] paved route via Portland, before picking up the southern section of the Washington BDR (Backcountry Discovery Route, again published on paper by Butler Maps for those unfamiliar) en route for Seattle, and ultimately the boarder crossing into Canada.

I will then loop initially north west of Vancouver on a series of backcountry highways and dirt-roads (passing though the Whistler Ski/Mountain-bike resort) in British Colombia, before crossing the Rocky Mountains into Alberta through the Jasper National Park. RMABTC are based about an hour or so south of Edmonton AB, and we'll be riding together to the Alberta Dual Sport weekend (23-25th June) just over the province boarder in Saskatchewan.


LEG 2: Macklin Lake SK (CAN) - Toronto ON (CAN)

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This is the sector I'm particularly looking forward to!

Initially I will actually head back south and west a little, to cross into Montana at the north end of the Glacier National Park, and pick up the legendary "Going-to-the-sun Road" which is one of Butler's Gold Standards in not only Montana, but the whole of the United States!

I will then work my way diagonally south on a mix of dirt roads and scenic highways, and cross into Wyoming on the western side of Yellowstone National Park. Now I'm conscious that at this time of year, Yellowstone is likely to be particularly busy with tourist traffic (of which I am part of course!), so I'll make a break back into southern Montana for a moment at least, via the epic Beartooth Scenic Byway (Hwy 212) - topping out at an elevation of almost 11,000ft - and another one of those Gold Standard roads in the region.

Conscious that I will need to keep moving east if I'm to meet my deadline in Toronto, I've plotted a route through northern Wyoming that mixes scenic paved roads and what look to me some pretty decent wilderness dirt trails, before inevitably snatching a few interstate miles towards Sundance, where I'll endeavour to get of the blacktop as soon as possible, en-route for Deadwood* South Dakota...

(*one of my favourite TV shows from a few years ago - not least because of the copious profanity, for which I myself am known of course ;o)

Of course South Dakota also plays host to a good number of other iconic landmarks and attractions - including Mt. Rushmore, the ongoing Crazy Horse monument and Badlands National Park, all of which I intend to drop by and see what all the fuss is about!

From there though, it's likely to require another stint on the interstate, where I plan to pass through Minneapolis and pay homage to Prince at First Avenue, then head north for Duluth (Love it or loathe it, you can never leave it or lose it), before ultimately crossing back into Canada and riding right around the top of Lake Superior en route for Toronto, and the Overland Adventure Rally weekend.


LEG 3: Toronto ON (CAN) - Salida CO (USA)

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The return journey is effectively one of two distinct halves - a needs-must, followed by more of an indulgence.

That is not to say there are not some excellent deviations and distractions to an otherwise monotonous initial journey though the mid-west - I can think of Chicago (1060 West Addison, Blues Brothers fans ;o) and Indianapolis (Indy 500 circuit) to name but two places that I'd like to visit one day - but fundamentally, I will have been on the road for almost a month already, and more importantly, am really looking forward to riding a few more western trails - especially some of the high passes in Colorado - a couple of which I'd had to forfeit during my TAT ride in June 2015, as they were still covered with snow...

Of course this harsh winter (and ongoing spring storms in the higher country) may mean that once I am once again thwarted, even if I am passing through a few weeks later than before - but that's the gamble I'm going to have to take...

So my plan is to leave Canada via Niagara Falls, and I've calculated it is 1566 miles from Buffalo NY to Colorado Springs CO - so if I can knock that out in less than 36 hours, then I've earned myself an Iron Butt 'Bun Burner' certificate* and broken the back [distance wise] of half the return journey in less than two days.

*after completing a 'Saddle Sore' (that is 1000 miles in 24 hours or less) during the Trans-Am 500 I did say I had no intention of ever doing an Iron-Butt ride again - but hell, I've got a whole bunch of new tunes in my iPod this year, so who knows - just as long as it's not raining... ;o)

Either way, my plan at this stage is to get some fresh tyres fitted in Colorado Springs, ride those roads up and down from Cripple Creek that were closed due to flooding and landslides back in 2015, and meet up with Juan Browne in Salida where we will hatch a plan to take in as many high passes as we can on our way back west.


LEG 4: Salida CO to San Jose CA.

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The final leg is more of a personal indulgence - taking in a few favourites together some trails I might have missed previously, and hopefully a few new [technical] challenges too!

Certainly I'd like to ride California and Corkscrew (part of the official TAT route) that were snowbound in June 2015, plus I'd like to prove to myself and anyone else that the CB500X is just as bit a capable as my XT660Z was on the original TAT route that used Hancock and Tomichi passes...

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If Old Monarch Pass is clear, then that would be fun - as would Black Bear down into Telluride of course - but all these are going to be subject to the weather I know...

However, I'm confident that once we reach the Utah boarder, things are going to be warm and dry - possibly to excess - so that will also dictate our final route home, which is currently very much weather dependent and therefore fluid at the moment.


I've certainly spent a lot of time in Moab in recent years, so this time I will most likely forfeit the La Sal mountains and the northern route (via Green River and the new TAT, fun though that is), and instead stay south through Monticello and the Abajo Mountains, before heading west though southern Utah via Hite/Bullfrog and the Burr Trail to Escalante.

From there we have plenty of dirt-road options - and at this stage I envisage going via Zion, St. George, Hurricane and the Arizona high desert north of the Grand Canyon towards Vegas - which sounds like the perfect nostalgia trip, a route I've not ridden for nearly ten years now!

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It's all good stuff!

Well, apart from this part:

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Oh, and this guy:

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From Vegas, Juan and I plan to ride some alternative trails though the Mojave Desert - if only in part as a reccy for our proposed [not the]CBXpo Ride V2. planned for the end of September this year...

So that is probably enough to be going on with for now - one thing is for sure, it's going to be quite the trip:

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18 US States, 4 Canadian Provinces and getting on for another 10,000 miles once I'm done!

Between now and then, I'll also be sharing my latest packing hints and tips for this particular trip - plus I'll also have a whole new look for my CB500X to introduce you to too in the coming days and weeks (in fact a package from the UK has just arrived, so watch this space as they say!)

In the meantime, I'll leave you with this - a new paint job in honour of this year's destination's flag!

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More soon!

Toot toot!

Jenny xx

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This is a copy of my original ride report from 2015 with new photos and links, since there is a danger the original thread will essentially be defunct once Photobucket do the nasty in the new year...

It has been assembled from a running blog during the trip itself, which I have subsequently edited as appropriate those original posts made at the time (while endeavouring to retain the feel of the daily diary format) and added new and alternative photographs into what I trust will be a more succinct and entertaining ride report for you to enjoy here on CB500X.com.


Trans-Am 500 - the seven year itch

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Setting the scene...

In 2008 I was lucky enough to get my hands on what was then the brand-new Yamaha XT660Z Tenere, and immediately shipped it from the UK to the USA where I travelled extensively for the next six months - criss-crossing the country and taking in as many of those 'must ride' dual-sport destinations as I could, bound only by the weather and my own (albeit limited) sense of self-preservation.

Together with exploring deeper in to the desert south west than I had before, fundamentally my intention was to ride as much of the Trans-Am Trail (TAT) as I could during the fall and spring of the following year, which inevitably meant chopping the route into more bite-sized and manageable sections.

I immediately headed to Colorado and was fortunate to ride the key high passes before too much snow had arrived, culminating with a spirited gravel-run to the top of Pikes Peak - that like Paradise, has now been paved of course. I then endeavoured to ride as much of the western TAT as El Nino would allow; and in the new year - after an entertaining and enlightening road-trip through the gulf-coast states - I eventually picked up the eastern end of the TAT and did my best to join up the dots...

It really was an epic trip - not only from the pure enjoyment of riding through such a huge variety of terrain, but that choosing to travel off the beaten track had in turn offered me what I considered was a unique insight (or at least a snap-shot) into more rural and small-town America.

For me it defined everything that an 'Adventure' ride should be - it's not just about the bike, or the scenery, or even the people you meet... but how it makes you feel. There is an overwhelming sense of freedom, a piquancy in not knowing exactly where you might stay that night... and when travelling alone, an overriding appreciation of your own self-reliance.


Itchy feet.

Since then I have been rather distracted by real life. Of course there have been compensations - plenty of dual-sport riding and the odd rally race - and certainly the opportunity to work with Rally-Raid Products over the past couple of years (initially on the LC4-50 Dakar bike project, and most recently the CB500X Adventure bike conversion) has allowed me to expand my riding horizons even further - but ultimately there is nowhere I'd rather be than out there somewhere, on two wheels...

Last summer, when John and I drew up the outline specification for a new kind of bike from Rally-Raid, I had just come back from a month in the US where I'd spent a lot of time onboard a new Honda CB500X. Despite an obvious road-going bias, I immediately saw the potential in the bike - not as an out-and-out off-roader or racer as such, rather more of a genuine 'all-road' all-rounder - something you could ride hundreds of miles if required, then confidently take on dirt-roads and Jeep-trails; and ultimately capable enough to tackle terrain that might otherwise cause you to think twice onboard a larger, heavier machine?

Certainly in comparison to my 660 Tenere, the Honda's parallel-twin cylinder 471cc engine is an absolute peach - smooth and lively, offering similar bhp and even better economy - which ought to make any highway miles far more relaxing (not that the Tenere was bad by any means). The CB500X's (comparatively) low seat height and compact dimensions means it immediately feels far more lithe and nimble, while a similar OEM spec to the Yamaha includes a 250+ mile fuel range, small faring and strong subframe makes it an excellent long-distance travelling companion.

When it comes to the dirt, our CB500X Adventure upgrades have been designed to offer similar capabilities (albeit with around an inch less travel and ground clearance that the Yamaha), and certainly ought to handle anything you might want to ride a 200Kg machine (plus luggage!) over on your own.

Having drawn these parallels, we both felt there would be no better way to comprehensively prove the capabilities of the new bike by embarking on a similar trip to that which I'd made back in 2008/09.

Of course from a personal perspective, it would also be an excellent opportunity to perhaps revisit some areas I may have quickly passed though before, find new and exciting trails that I'd had to inevitably forfeit in the past, and not least endeavour to ride the whole length of the TAT consecutively.


Introducing the 'Trans-Am 500' cross-country trail ride.

The idea is to try and visit as many of those 'must-ride' dual-sport and adventure riding destinations as I can within predefined time-frame.

Essentially I am allowing a month each way to cross the country and back again, using a mix of highways and byways, dirt-roads and trails. This won't be all about dirt, indeed the very nature of this bike means you ought to be able to enjoy the paved highway just as much as the trails, and choose your route accordingly.

Starting in May on the west coast in San Francisco, highlights during the initial west-east leg will include crossing through Death Valley off-road, and after a night in Las Vegas, taking part of old Route 66 in Arizona on my way to the Overland Expo in Flagstaff - for the official 'debut' of the CB500X Adventure in conjunction with our US distributor Giant Loop Moto.

From there I'll spend a few days in and around Moab in an effort to really put the bike through it's paces, before heading through Colorado on any passes that are open towards the end of May (possibly precious few if I'm honest, but fortunately I'll be back this way again a month later). I will also endeavour to complete an Iron-Butt Association '1000 mile in 24 hours' Saddle-Sore challenge en route for the east coast, where ultimately I will dip my metaphorical toe in the Atlantic Ocean at Virginia Beach VA.


The West - East leg (outbound): San Francisco CA to Virginia Beach VA.
(note. this is a very rough outline, particularly as Google maps tends to snap to major roads).


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All being well, I intend to start the return leg around the 1st June - initially riding the length of the Blue Ridge Parkway and a visit to Deals Gap, before picking up the Trans-Am Trail in it's entirety all the way back to the Pacific coast.


The 'new' TAT.

As a number of you will be aware, over the years, Sam Correro (originator of the Trans-America Trail) has embarked on a series of updates and revisions to the original TAT route, typically where sections have either been paved or washed away, in an effort to provide a suitable alternative that remains true to the original conception of an off-highway crossing of the entire country.

What is particularly exciting for me is that my trip this year coincides with his most comprehensive re-working of the 'Trail so far, with a brand new western route between Moab UT, that now heads north via Idaho, before turning west again and connects with the original route through Northern Nevada, and ultimately the official end point at Port Orford, Oregon.


The East - West leg (return): Virginia Beach VA to Port Orford OR.
(similarly to above, this map is only a very rough indication of the proposed route, but hopefully indicates the new western TAT route).


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This new route is not scheduled for release until later in 2015, so I am delighted, and indeed honoured that Sam has given me the opportunity to be one of the first people to actually ride the newly-revised Trans-Am Trail. Perhaps even more enthralling is that there is currently a sector of 'no-mans land' in Idaho that I may well need to pioneer myself, which ought to further add to the excitement!



A time line...

In exactly a week from today I'll be flying over to the west coast to pick up the very first production CB500X Adventure from the Giant Loop HQ in Oregon, together with some of their minimalist luggage of which I'm a great fan. Certainly my plan is to travel simply and light for the duration - which reflects the whole ethos of the CB500X Adventure project in general, and suitably echoes Giant Loop's motto: Go light. Go fast. Go far.

A more detailed separate post with my packing list will follow, but suffice to say that I intend to fit everything I'll need (including a basic camp) into a Coyote bag behind me, together with just a small tail-pack for my tools and puncture repair kit.

My official departure is scheduled for the 10th of May, when I'll be heading south from San Francisco for the first leg to Flagstaff AZ for the Overland Expo, where we will officially debut the bike to the press and the public over the weekend of 15-17th May.

Throughout the trip I will endeavour to update you all as regularly as I can, with plenty of photographs too of course! Certainly a significant change over the past seven years has been the almost universal introduction of WiFi in even the most remote restaurants, coffee shops and gas stations, although as you might imagine there will still be periods when I'll be out of range and have to be my own barista...


Follow me!

While this is very much a solo endeavour for me, it is reassuring to have the support of both Rally-Raid Products and Giant Loop - and indeed a key part of this marathon journey is to provide them with essential feedback that in-turn can be passed on to their customers.

In that regard, they both intend to keep an eye on me! - and I'll be using a SPOT tracker each day that I'm on (and off) the road, which means you'll also be able to log-in and track my progress across the country and back - oh the wonders of technology!

I'd be delighted if you'd join me on this new and exciting adventure - so please do subscribe to this thread for regular updates, and of course you'll also be able to follow my progress through the SPOT tracker... and I hope that I might even get the opportunity to meet some of you in person as well!

Oh, and finally, what about the little pink fella you might ask? - Piglet!

Yep, despite essentially retiring from traveling (he has a distinctly wonky neck now and a nose that is about to burst at the seams I fear), he will of course be joining me on this new, and hopefully 'most excellent' adventure. Let's just hope its not a bogus journey!

Toot toot for now!

Jenny xx

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Rally Raid / High fender adaptor for non-ABS model CB500X (pre-production)
« on: November 27, 2017, 10:51:30 PM »
During the spring/summer this year I've been running my bike with a prototype high fender conversion:

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I also gave a pre-production bracket to Juan Browne, and here is what he had to say about it:


To reiterate, a high fender is really only suitable for the non-ABS bikes, due to the fact the ABS models have a metal block and hard brake-line directly behind the lower triple clamp, so the rear portion of any high fender will not fit.

note. Your could cut off the rear portion of course, but then you'd have no protection for the radiator from stones, and particularly mud which could collect there - so it's really not recommended for the ABS bikes.

I'm putting this out there now, since if there is sufficient demand from [primarily US based ie. non-ABS] customers and potential customers, then it would be simple enough for Rally Raid to put the high fender adaptor bracket into production as a 2018 product.

Let me know what you think!

Jenny x

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Following on from the development work John and the team have been doing with the new BMW 310GS and also the Africa Twin, going forward there will also be some changes to the CB500X wheel options, as follows:

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photo. note. this is actually the 310GS rear wheel, but it has the same rim widths as our CB wheels, just different hubs - so visually very similar.

The first change is regarding the gold rim option. With all the current stock of gold anodised rims now sold, we are using this opportunity to change over to a gold powder-coated version, which is tougher and less prone to scratching, and long-term more durable with regard to washing and dirt etc. This is basically the same coating system we use on our standard black rims, so their is no cost premium whether you chose black or gold now - the price will be the same.

In that regard, we will also be rationalising the part numbers between tubed and tubeless option - for future orders, you will simply need to decide whether you want tubed or tubeless wheels, and then from their respective drop-down menu select the colour rims you'd like.

Our increase in production capacity over the past 12 months, together with working more closely with our third party suppliers (our wheel-builders in the UK and BARTubeless in Italy) means we ought to be able to offer both tubed and tubeless options, in either rim colour, from stock from 2018 onwards.

Finally we have also taken the opportunity to streamline and simplify the complete range of wheel and suspension packages and individual products for the CB500X (and F) from Rally Raid, and going forward will also start to refer to our product lines as follows:


LEVEL 1 Suspension

This comprises the standard travel length TracTive rear shock with combined compression and rebound damping. Plus the [cost] option of fitting an remote hydraulic preload adjuster.

The fork kit remains the same, but no longer includes our own preload caps, as from 2016 onwards these have been OEM fitment from Honda. The price of our fork kit has been correspondingly reduced to reflect this - however, for anyone with an earlier bike (or who specifically want a preload cap with a locking adjuster and air-bleeders), the original Rally Raid preload adjuster caps are now listed as a separate accessory part.

note. choice of springs rates: In addition to the 4 shock spring rate options (100/110/120/130nm) for the CB500X, there are now two spring rates for our fork kits - standard 5.0 and stiffer 5.5.


Both the LEVEL 1 shock and fork components remain available as separate items, for those of you who wish to upgrade in stages or who may have already upgraded one or other end of your bike.


LEVEL 1 Wheel kit

Comprising a pair of heavy duty spoked wheels in 17/17" front and rear sizes, and are a direct replacement for your existing wheels including the disc rotors, cush-drive and all bearing/seal hardware. They are available with a no-cost option of black or gold powder-coated rims, and are typically available from stock in the UK factory.

We are also able to offer our spoked wheels converted to run tubeless specific tyres, using the BARTubeless system professionally installed by our partners in Italy. This conversion is warrantied for 4 years and again will be available from UK stock in the new year.




LEVEL 2 Suspension

This is our +2" long-travel conversion kit for the CB500X (and F) models.

It replaces the rear shock with a much longer and fully adjustable (including separate high and low speed compression damping, and separate rebound) reservoir shock, with the cost option of a remote hydraulic preload adjuster to be added as desired. At the front a dedicated long-travel version of our fork kit is installed, together with a dedicated billet top triple clamp and new rear suspension linkage components, and complete with a longer side-stand. This suspension kit must be sold and fitted together as a matched pair as it is not compatible with any other original geometry components.

LEVEL 2 wheel kit (formally known as the LEVEL 2-3 wheel upgrade kit)

These are our dedicated 17/19" heavy duty spoked wheels, and because of the larger diameter front wheel, can only be sold/fitted once the LEVEL 2 suspension kit has been installed. The specification and rim colour/tubeless options are the same as our LEVEL 1 wheels above, and should be available from stock in all options, from 2018 onwards.


We have taken this decision to simplify the way we refer to our inventory, as although 'LEVEL 3' has become the default way to describe the long-travel 17/19" wheel option for most of us on here, it still does cause some confusion to new and potential customers.

Similarly, we have taken the decision to discontinue the LEVEL 1b option from our suspension kit range from 2018 onwards, primarily as the uptake was very small, and we consider the vast majority of X customers are more than adequately served by the LEVEL 1 shock if they wish to retain the standard travel length/ride height; while our LEVEL 2 (+2" kit) is still what we consider the ideal specification if you wish to take the CB more seriously off-road.


So by all means continue to refer to your existing +2" 17/19" bikes as LEVEL 3, just be aware that from 2018 onwards, we here at Rally Raid will refer to standard travel kits as LEVEL 1, and the +2" bikes and larger front wheel kit as LEVEL 2.

Jenny x

ps. a couple more photos of the latest hubs and the new gold rim colour:

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note. above photos are the G310GS version of our wheels, which are similar in dimension to the CB500X wheels.

5
An in-depth interview with John and a profile of Rally Raid Products in this month's (issue 31) RUST magazine:

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Jx

6
Ride Reports, Trips, and Touring / Death Valley Dazed!
« on: November 07, 2017, 11:37:40 PM »
Not really a ride-report as such, just a few photos from what is likely to be my last 'big' ride of the season - since even though it is still sunny here in California, it is damn cold! - especially at night!

So last Friday (early, leaving at 7.30am) Lisa and I loaded up our CB's and headed down to Death Valley for the weekend, to meet up with some friends who were camping there.

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photo. This dirt road is south of Porterville CA, and joins with hwy 52 which in turn leads to Sherman Pass Rd - the southern most crossing of the Sierras.

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photo. In general it's an easy going dirt road, with the odd water crossing, and very scenic and remote.

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photo. Once we hit hwy 52 and headed east (past Portugese Pass to our south - another of Butler Maps' Gold Roads) for Sherman Pass Rd - it turns out this is the highway that crosses the infamous Rincorn Trail in the southern Sierras, and passes through a huge OHV trail network too - we need to ride this Juan Browne!

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photo. Sherman Pass Rd is paved, but some of it is pretty broken. This is almost at the summit - we rode 120 miles with no other vehicles in front of us! (and only a handful heading the other way).

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photo. Once we reached hwy 395 on the far side (after descending he utterly epic Nine Mile Canyon Rd), after 30 miles or so I felt a vibration from my rear wheel... yep. Another damn puncture!

I'd add that it turns out the run-flat capability of the TKC80 on the Rally Raid rims is really very good - a similar thing happened to me on the Trans-Am 500 bike in Colorado in 2015, where I was able to continue riding on the shoulder at 25-30mph for approximately 20 miles into town - and again here, the tyre deflated without drama at 70mph and stayed on the rim for a good mile or more as I slowed down and pulled over to a safe spot to change it.

When I went to unscrew the valve cap, it turns out the stem had apparently parted from the tube as it simple span round in my fingers! Once I'd pulled the tube, I found it had completely ripped in half (although interesting not near the valve at all) - although this could well have been while I continued on the flat to find a safe spot to stop. Either way, cheap CycleGear tubes would seem to be a false economy - as I would find out again in the next couple of days...

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photo. the next day a bunch of us went riding on the desert trails and piste tacks - this is along 20 Mule Team Canyon, then we headed south along Furnace Creek Wash Rd towards hwy 178 (Jubilee Pass Rd) and Shoshone - and ultimately the Crowbar Saloon for lunch...

video. This is a good illustration of just how stable and controlled the LEVEL 3 bike can be on the dirt... this video is not sped up, it's straight out of the GoPro. I was able to rag along this trail at between 50 and 60+ MPH, and the bike just tracked perfectly at that speed. Ultimately though, you must remember that the LEVEL 3 bike only has 7" of travel of course - so you have to choose your line carefully at that kind of speed. But what it [hopefully] shows is that all this 'inch here and a bhp there' talk you get on the forums doesn't really matter all that much if you've got what you've got dialled in properly ;o)

video. Lisa also had some fun on her LEVEL 1 bike with stock 17/17" wheels and TKC80 tyres - but this clip does illustrate how much better the 19" front end (and longer travel suspension) of the LEVEL 3 bike can handle soft sand and loose gravel terrain.

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photo. This is the turn/junction to Deadman Pass - these trails are used by RMS for their Rally School training.

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photo. the next morning (Sunday) our group headed east towards Beatty NV and Rhyolite...

Since we had a couple of more novice riders in our group, only I elected to take a side trail (Chloride Cliff) which I know pretty well, and rejoin the highway just over the boarder in Nevada, where I intended to rendezvous with the group again...

I was great fun to ride the more technical rocky trail and rag along the sandy wash sections, before crossing into Nevada and taking a long straight trail north for hwy 374.

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photo. The LEVEL 3 bike was built for exactly the kind of mixed terrain you find on this trail - fast desert piste and two-track, interspersed with more technical rocky Jeep trail style hazards.

I was really enjoying the whooped-out rocky trail north across the open desert (this would make a perfect rally stage I thought ;o), when all of a sudden there was a large bang from the front wheel - ouch I thought, that was a nasty rock, even though the bike barely deflected - but soon after I got that sinking feeling... again.

Turns out it wasn't the front, but the rear tyre again - presumably I'd kicked up a rock with the front and a sharp edge had pinch-flatted the rear tube... you know, my spare rear tube from Friday that I'd had no opportunity to replace yet...

I limped the bike along the trail at about 20mph in 2nd or 3rd gear (again the run-flat capability is surprisingly good off-road too I thought), but before long the bead on one side popped off, and the bike started crabbing and required 1st gear and some judicious balancing to keep moving in a straight line.

I counted down the fractions of the last mile to the highway, and popped out on the tarmac. Fortunately two of my friends had actually chosen to stop in a lay-by just a couple of hundred yards away and wait for the others - I couldn't believe my luck - not least as there was every chance they would have a spare tube, plus I could use their bike side-stand to break the bead on the other side - result!

Pulling the tyre, I was dismayed to find that the tube had a huge gash in it... almost inevitable after 4 miles or more of running on a flat over rough terrain perhaps. To make matters worse, Sharron's spare tube had perished where it had been folded for goodness knows how long in her tail-pack, so now I was really stuck.

Once the rest of us regrouped, I ended up borrowing Lisa's bike and riding into Beatty (about 8 miles away) to see if anywhere had a tube for sale on a Sunday. Of course not.

I considered trying to bodge a tubeless conversion (using duct tape and a car valve from the only gas station that was open - only they didn't have any valves for sale either), and even contemplated riding to Pahrump where if there wasn't an open bike/tyre store, then there was at least a large bunch of ADVrider inmates taking part in an annual Rider Weekend there - although I pretty quickly dismissed this idea when I realised it was nearly 75 miles in each direction!

In a similar vain however, I'd also spotted a group of dual-sport/ADV bikes parked on the other side of the street, so wondered over - hoping that at least one of them would have a spare rear* tube in their kit that they might sell me for an over-inflated price... aha, see what I did there?!

*note. while it's common practice for dirt-riders to carry a 21" front tube as a spare, which at a push can be fitted into a reasonably narrow 18" rear tyre - they are just too skinny to fit in the big fat 150/70x17 size rear on my CB unfortunately - you need at least a 18" x 120 size tube to have any chance of filling that particular void.

All I can say is thank goodness one of them had an 18" 4.10 tube - not ideal for the huge 150/70 x 17 TKC80, but it would stretch and do the job at least - and their next round of beers was on me.

However, while it fitted up just fine, I wasn't going to risk potentially puncturing this skinny tube on any more trails today - so ultimately Lisa and I headed back to camp and enjoyed some winter sunshine and a few beers ourselves instead!

The next day, we were packed and away in good time for the long (500+ miles) ride back to San Jose. We headed out of Death Valley and then turned south through Panamint Valley, as the plan was to ride the same route I'd taken this past summer during the final day of my Northern eXposure trip.

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photo. stopping for fuel and snacks at Trona CA, en route for Ridgecrest and a far more substantial brunch.

We then rode whole length of Jawbone Canyon Rd and Saddle Springs Rd [over Puite Mountain] to lake Isabella - but like all the best laid plans, this actually took us far longer than we initially envisaged, and we ultimately forfeit the ongoing twisty backroads for the no less epic hwy 178 to Bakersfield, before picking up the Interstate network for over 240 more miles home, in the cold and dark.

Again, it's days like today (and this long weekend trip in general) that illustrated just how versatile and accomplished the CB500X can be, well, once the Rally Raid kit is installed of course ;o) It rides like a Supermoto on the twist mountain backroads, like a big dirt bike in the desert, and is an exceptionally capable mile-muncher when you have a huge amount of highway still to cover before bedtime.

I love my bike. Although I have to say, after the drama's of this weekend, I'm seriously considering a new set of BARTubeless wheels before any more big trips!

Toot toot for now!

Jenny x

7
Ride Reports, Trips, and Touring / CB500X - Sahara Desert Adventure!
« on: October 15, 2017, 02:54:53 PM »
While I'm usually the one galavanting around somewhere sunny and hot on a LEVEL 3 bike, while John is stuck in the factory... this time it's me who's stuck behind a desk while he is taking a well-earned break - 10 days in Morocco onboard the UK demo bike.

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photo. John is taking part in a marathon group adventure ride from the UK to the Sahara and back, led by UK Dakar racer: Chris (Corky) Cork.


Some riders short of time are having their bikes transported to southern Spain, but John and a few others are of course riding the whole way there and back - John on the current RRP LEVEL 3 demo bike, while everyone else is on a selection of KTMs - there are 5 690 Enduros in various states of ADV modification (including Jeff Webster's very tasty rally bike with a full RRP EVO 2 kit), a KTM 950 Adventure, and a KTM 350 EXC - so that's a solitary CB amongst a sea of orange.

How the CB stacks up against this formidable assembly we'll have to wait and see - although I'm confident there will be some chunks humble pie being eaten along with tagine and cous cous by our Mattighofen cousins over the coming week or so - if only based on John's Simpson Desert excursion a couple of years back ;o)

So for now I'll leave you with a few photos that John forwarded of the bike prep and ride down to southern Spain - I understand they are catching the ferry to Morocco first thing in the morning (Saturday 14th):

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photo. early start for the ferry from the UK to northern Spain.


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photo. Sunshine... I remember that.

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photo. morning of day 2 - Corky tries the CB for size - he'll be riding his monster KTM 950 Adventure based Rally bike.

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photo. The RRP demo bike is fitted with the latest hydraulic preload adjuster option for the rear shock. Makes adjusting the rear end a breeze when laden with luggage.

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photo. John is trialling a new set of soft luggage - these 'Touratech' panniers are made by Ortlieb, and quick-release onto dedicated mounts, which are in-turn attached to the regular Rally Raid soft-luggage racks.

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photo. since they are not planning on camping (at least with their own gear) this trip, the Ortlieb panniers can carry all the tools, spares* and personal effects needed for this 10 day trip into the desert and back...

*note. the only spares John has brought with him are actually those needed to keep the KTMs running - typically fuel pumps and filters - much as was the case with his Australian Simpson Desert trip ;o)

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photo. John showing his rally-bike prep experience. Paint markings on bolts that can potentially come loose, for a quick daily-check.


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photo. similarly, lock-wiring the oil filler plug - not that it's particularly vulnerable to coming loose, but you never know - and it stops anyone stealing it (or those KTM riders playing nasty tricks on him ;o)

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photo. another trick that John uses on his race bikes, is to zip tie the axle spanners in position on their respective nuts - again, not strictly necessary on an ADV ride, but why not?

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photo. stowing the main axle spanner on the bike means it's quick to make any chain adjustments without removing the seat or your luggage for example.


Stand by for more updates as and when I get them!

Jenny x

8
There is an excellent company profile feature about Rally Raid Products on Bennetts BikeSocial online magazine this month - >>>> link hidden <<<<
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There is also a brief summary of my original Trans-Am 500 >>>> link hidden <<<<
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Jx

9
I just thought I'd pass this handy suggestion along to anyone considering a little extra protection for their clutch cover...

You may be aware that Honda launched the new Rebel 500 earlier this year (CMX 500), and because of the forward foot-peg position, they have included a plastic cover over the trailing edge of the clutch housing.

Now I'm not suggesting this is going to completely protect the case in the event of a drop (on rocks etc), but hey, for the $26 bucks it cost, I thought I'd give it a go and see how it works on the CB500X too.


photo. this is what you'll need - the plastic cover, plus 3 x longer engine cover bolts to replace the existing ones.

1 x 11380-MKG-A00

3 x 90002-MJE-D00


photo. my original clutch case - scratched, but not broken - even after the Rubicon Trail...



photo. the three [short] bolts that need replacing - the two directly below the oil filler, and the one in front of the clutch arm.


photo. The new bolts are 40mm long (compared to the 27mm originals).



photo. It's really that simple!

Neat eh?

Jx







10
On Two Wheels / Packing light [slideshow] presentation
« on: May 05, 2017, 07:48:44 PM »
I thought some of you might be interested in this slide-show I've put together regarding the luggage I carry on my bike when travelling.


It's essentially the slides that will accompany my seminar about packing light (so you'll have to pause the video from time to time if you want study the photo/info in more detail), which I'll be presenting along with the >>>> link hidden <<<<
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Guest - The above link is visible to MEMBERS only. Please Register or Login CB Rendezvous Ride (23-25th June) in Alberta Canada, and at the >>>> link hidden <<<<
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Ultimately that ride though the Canadian and US boarder States will form the basis of a brand new travel presentation that will debut at the >>>> link hidden <<<<
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I'll then be back in the US with the new presentation for the >>>> link hidden <<<<
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More details of the 2017 'Northern eXposure Tour' coming soon... and of course I hope to see some of you along the way!

Jenny x

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