Touring Ted

2 wheels & no sense. My Motorcycle travel blog.
28.10.2007

Choosing the bike was the biggest headache. After researching, road testing and buying most of the usual bikes, I went for the good old Yamaha XT600E.

Why ?? Well, its cheap, strong, reliable, simple to repair and there are loads of bits available for it. I picked up a mint 2003 model with 1500 miles on it for £1800. With all my luggage, extras and accessories, I have only spent £4000. That’s about the same price a BMW F650 with 10x the mileage and void of all luggage and accessories.

I thought I would use this page to explain how I prepared my XT600E. Hopefully it will help current and future XT owners to prepare their own bikes.

So how did I turn this…..

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Into that !!

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Acerbis Tank: The first thing I did was to purchase a 23L Acerbis tank. The stock 15L one just isn’t big enough. Another strength of the Acerbis tank is that it bounces well :). It cost £200 from racespec http://www.racespec.co.uk/

The Acerbis tank comes with flimsy rubber fuel line and a plastic Y-piece. These are just crap. I bought some braided fuel line and a steel T-piece as the original plastic ones WILL break. http://www.vehicle-wiring-products.eu/VWP-onlinestore/home/homepage.phphttp://www.vehicle-wiring-products.eu/VWP-onlinestore/home/homepage.php

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Bash Plate:The XT comes as standard with the cheapest, most useless bash plate I have ever seen. Sourcing a replacement one is fairy difficult but a guy called David Lambeth makes one. Its actually a modified CRD plate but its very well made and fits perfectly. http://www.davidlambeth.co.uk/. It is delivered with M8 bolts (the original uses M6). This requires you to tap out the original holes in the frame. Its very easy to do. You need a 6.8 drill bit and a tapping set. If your not confident about this, get a local workshop to do it for you. Only takes 15 minutes so shouldn’t cost a lot.

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Centre Stand: I wanted to fit a centre stand to my XT. It makes removing the back wheel a doddle on the road. It also makes working on the bike easier etc. SW-Motech make the stand on my bike. Its strong and stable but I wouldn’t trust it with a fully loaded bike for long periods of time. £100 from any SW-Motech stockists.

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Alarm: Security on the road concerned me a little so I wanted to fit an alarm. The downside to an alarm is that they drain your battery in transit and when they go wrong, they are almost impossible to fix or remove. I wanted a “direct to battery” alarm which meant I could simply disconnect it from the battery when required. I opted for the “Gorilla 7002″ alarm which I had to get shipped from the states. It was about $100. Its very easy to fit and works well. It fits perfectly where the original tool kit goes and the rubber strap even fits it.

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12V Accessory Socket: For emergency power, I fitted a 12v accessory socket. This runs directly to the battery with an in-line fuse. With this I can charge my phone & batteries if I’m stuck somewhere. It was about £10 from nippy Normans. http://www.nippynormans.com/

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In this picture, you can also see that I replaced the original steel bars with Renthal Fat bars. This required me to buy some APICO risers with covert the 1″ riser clamps to oversize. They also raised the bars by an inch which is more comfortable.

Screen: For long distance riding, I prefer to use a screen. I picked up a Spitfire Universal screen off EBay for £40. Its a bit of a mission fitted the screen to an already cramped set of bars but enough wiggling sorted the problem.

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GPS: Shown above. I opted for a Garmin 2610 GPS unit. Its fairly cheap second hand (£130) with expandable CF memory. I originally used a Garmin Quest but the non-expandable memory on it was crap. I could barely fit the UK on it, let alone the whole of South America. Touratech (http://www.touratech.co.uk/) make a lockable mount for it which clamps directly to the original handbar’s crossbar. Seeing as I have no crossbar, I had to use a RAM mount.

Exhaust: The original exhaust on the XT is a pile of junk. Its truely awful. Its probably the heaviest silencer I’ve ever seen. It rusts in no time and its very restrictive to the bikes aspiration. I tried and tested a few exhausts and my favourite is the QUILL Road legal one. There are always unbaffled race cans on EBay but they’re always too loud and antisocial. Check out LAZER exhausts if you cant find a Quill.

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Fender Extender: I fitted a Yamaha genuine fender extender. The downpipes aren’t the best quality and they quickly rust with road spray. The guard adds protection to the downpipes.

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Chain oiler: I fitted a loobman. This £20 chain oiler is a simple and rather home made design. I haven’t had the chance to properly test it yet so I wont recommend it just yet. The idea is that you give the bottle a quick squeeze before you set off and it slowly feeds oil to the chain. Lots of people love them and you can use any oil you like. I use cheap engine oil.

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Luggage system: I decided that I would go for hard aluminium luggage for my side boxes and a large waterproof Ortlieb stuff sack. There are a few hard luggage systems for the XT600 but the best by a long long way are Metal Mules. The rack and 2 x 41l boxes cost me about £850. That is £300 more than touratech Zega boxes but mine are powerder coated with carrying handles and good locks. I’ve seen Zega boxes and they seem very thin and flimsey. With the metal mule rack I used a genuine Yamaha rear rack. It sits my stuff bag nicely.

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Seat Cover: I thought long and hard about getting more comfort out of the seat. Its a trailbike seat and not comfortable over long distances. There are expensive gel covers available and I could of had my seat rebuilt but instead I went for the tried and tested sheep skin. £20

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Suspension: The original suspension on the XT isnt great. Because Im loading up the rear of the bike I changed the rear spring from a 480lb to a 550lb. This means that I dont have to wind up the preload as much to compensate with the weight. I now have more more travel available and a smoother and more stable ride.

David Lambether will change your spring for you but he is expensive for what he does. K-tech will do the same job for less dosh !

I didnt touch the front suspension. There are a couple of ways to stiffen it up but I didnt find it neccessary. Stiffening the front would mean my ride would be harsher and give me more fatigue.