Ride to the NorthCape

TimeCapsule – 2015 – To the very far ends and the corners of this planet.. I thought it might be one of the lovely lone experiences but it was tarnished by the hundreds of tourists that land on this spot loaded in buses like the cattle going to the free slaughter pilgrimage (Apologies for the pun too, if it sounds too harsh but that was my personal thoughts).

On one hand, It was quite an amazing ride when I come to think of it but not an experience I would like to share about the actual NordKapp visitor center. Hundreds of tourists filled inside the shop and cafetaria like this is all they came here for. I would have preffered to stick to the very wild north but the weather was pretty cold for summer equinox and forced me to battle through the rainy downpours.

Thanks to all those who helped and also to those, who didn’t. It all makes a worthy experience in the end.
nordkapp
A slow and nice one to enjoy the curves of Norwegian North(without touching the brakes)

Will I ride there again, quite definitely yes but not to the very NorthCape but the likes of bordering northern islands. I loved the isolation of 98 instead. No videos but you would enjoy the Wilderness and the freezing rain\wind and awesomeness of no one for miles.

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HONDA CRF250RALLY 2017 Model

Honda CRF250 Rally 2017 in Detail

The CRF250 RALLY is ready for weekend adventure, long distance tour or the daily commute, with long travel suspension, large-disk ABS brakes, excellent weather protection from the CRF450 RALLY-inspired bodywork and an impressive cruising range. Engine performance combines solid bottom-end torque with substantial top-end power.
The CRF250 RALLY uses the CRF250L as its base, and adds a wide range of changes that make it a unique proposition in the market. Styling inspiration draws fully on the HRC CRF450 RALLY race machine. At the front, the ‘floating’ screen, fairing and radiator shrouds provide wind protection, with the rest of the machine showing off minimal MX style. The asymmetric headlights are LED, as are the indicators.
A large fuel tank allows extensive range, and the new digital dash includes a fuel gauge and tachometer. Long travel suspension and high ground clearance enhance its long-distance off-road ability and a larger floating front disc – plus ABS that can be switched off for the rear brake – delivers the stopping power. The EURO4-compliant engine boasts solid bottom-end torque coupled with substantial top end power thanks to changes compared to the original CRF250L, which include revised PGM-FI and throttle body, a new air box connecter tube and lightweight exhaust.

Styling & Equipment
The CRF250 RALLY is designed to cover distance and its styling reflects this. Derived from the parts used by the CRF450 RALLY, the ‘floating’ screen, upper/lower fairing and side shrouds effectively shield the rider to offer excellent defence against the elements. Hand guards offer further protection, both for the hands and the brake and clutch levers.
From the machine’s mid-section back, the style is MX-sharp, with side panels and a seat/tank interface that help the rider move freely. A skid plate protects the machine’s underside and the gear lever features a folding tip. Seat height is 895mm, 20mm taller than the CRF250L.
The headlight is a compact, asymmetric dual LED unit while the rear light, LED indicators and number plate bracket tuck discreetly away. Cohesively laid-out, the digital dash features a speedometer, tachometer plus fuel gauge and clock.
The 10.1L (including 1.6L reserve) fuel tank delivers a range of over 320km thanks to fuel consumption of 33.3km/l (WMTC mode). The flat filler cap is hinged for convenience.
The CRF250 RALLY comes finished in Honda’s Extreme Red racing colour as a base, with black and white accents inspired by the HRC factory

Chassis
The CRF250 RALLY’s frame is constructed from steel, with twin oval-section main spars and a semi-double cradle. A wheelbase of 1,455mm is matched to a 28.1° rake with 114mm trail and ground clearance of 270mm (15mm more than the CRF250L). Wet weight is 157kg.
A new 43mm Showa inverted fork shares the same 250mm stroke as its sibling, but with 50mm extra overall length. Light weight and rigid, one side houses the spring while the other provides damping control. Both spring rate and damping have been optimised to suit the CRF250 RALLY’s adventurous long-distance aspirations. A 17mm front wheel spindle (2mm larger in diameter) improves strength and handling feel.
Pro-Link rear suspension features a 265mm axle stroke, 25mm more than the CRF250L plus a leverage ratio revised for ride comfort. The Showa shock absorber is a single tube design with 40mm diameter cylinder.
The tapered aluminium swingarm incorporates a monoblock casting that provides the correct rigidity balance and reduces un-sprung mass. Extruded aluminium is used for the chain adjustment collar.
For extra braking power a 296mm floating wave-style disc is worked by a two-piston caliper. Two-channel ABS is fitted as standard and gives the rider the option to switch it off for the rear caliper.
Stylish black Alumite aluminium rims (21-inch front/18 rear) mark the CRF250 RALLY out and wear block pattern enduro-style tyres (front: 3.00-21 51P, rear: 120/80-18M/C 62P).

Engine
The CRF250 RALLY’s 250cc liquid-cooled single-cylinder DOHC engine’s performance is focused on bottom-end torque and high rpm power, plus a linear delivery. Peak power of 18.2kW is delivered @ 8,500rpm with peak torque of 22.6Nm arriving @ 6,750rpm.
The PGM-FI feeds the fuel/air mixture through a 38mm throttle body and draws air from the airbox via a direct connecting tube. The exhaust muffler has a diameter of 115mm, houses the catalyzer and uses two chambers. A large-bore downpipe helps the engine breathe and make more power.
The engine uses a compact roller/rocker arm valve train and cylinder head, with bore and stroke of 76x55mm. An offset cylinder reduces frictional losses while the piston itself incorporates a special surface material, plus a molybdenum coating. The oil pump features an internal relief structure that prevents aeration of relieved oil.
The crank journal employs a half-split, press-fit metal bearing while the crank bearing uses a cast-iron bush, reducing weight, smoothing the engine and strengthening the rigidity of the case housing, minimizing the internal diameter change due to thermal expansion.
A primary balance shaft further reduces vibration and the six-speed gearbox and clutch are manufactured to cope with the extra stress of riding off-road. The 10.7 kW heat-release radiator features a thin guide-ring cooling fan to maintain even temperatures at low speeds.
The CRF250 RALLY engine is EURO4 compliant.

Price
£5,329.00 UK on-road price.

Ride Reviews once the bike is available in the market.

XC ADV – The Story Begins.

The commitment to myself to seek what I have left behind in the time and be myself is back. I want to do what I love and live doing what I love. There will always be challenging along the way but that is what we all have in our lives. We love to live these challenges and challenge ourselves to the goals we want to achieve.

As in my last blog post, I mentioned the about the XC Adv. The story begins – I don’t know how far, how exciting and how boring this will get but this has begun. My long wish to prepare a motorcycle meant for my needs has started its beginning. It has been long search to get started with it in first place. I am athletic build with 1.78m and 70kgs that needs something light to take me across places fast, light and easy to handle. My choice between the motorcycles has been based on lots of help from Walter Colebatch and the likes of other adventure motorcyclist including the rally and world touring peeps.

A very interesting point of view was what I used to have in my life about a decade ago – the lighter you go – the faster you will be. This is not just applicable in one respect of weight but overall planning of your trip. Everything adds up from one to another to the next. The weight of the bike should be something that is reasonably manageable by you in any or most of the conditions you are in without the help of anyone in miles of no human reach. The big adventure bikes never were in my league with pure reason being they are not manageable at any extent in a solo long ride if the terrain is more than rough surface. I wanted a bike to meet my demands that fulfill my needs in terms of weight, reliability and capability of going beyond European tarmac. The list was pretty neat with what my options are – 650cc or 690cc.

The reliability being a big concern with travelling to the far away regions becomes a big issue if your motorcycle is little more than simple and more complicated with advanced technology. They do not make life easier rather hellish if you are stuck in middle of nowhere. KTM690 is an ideal bike but the reliability and few other concerns puts me off where as BMW 650 is tested for its reliability and comparably lot lighter than 690 in long run solo terminology of adventure travels. Although BMW 650 strikes each to each variants available. You can get the F650Gs, Sertao, Fundro 650 and the limited few which were produced as X-series. In the very obvious between the 650cc – the search has been for the lightest and that was none other than G650 Cross Country rather the name came up as XC. With a dry weight of just around 150kgs I know it would be ideal as pointed out the expert Walter himself.

It was not an easy one to begin with. On the first search that is the end of December 2014, I found no XC available in whole of UK be it a dealer or be it a private seller. The search moved on to the next available market – the EU Continent. The search was not an easier one as most common online platforms returned nothing and then few local searches from a help of Austrian friend and Belgian friend pointed me to German\Austria\NL market with few to look at. They all wanted an excess of £3000/- which sure was not my range to begin with. I was looking for a bike that is probably as old as 2007 and not a whole lot of mileage in between all these 7years. None to the point that would interest me as most were over in excess of 30,000kms. I found one in north of Italy with a private seller asking about 3800Eu. with 500kms but he never responded back to the emails or the calls hence it was over.

Two weeks in the hunt, 2015 has clocked itself in the new dates. Happy New Year, the search is still on and not a single one selling in UK. The limited production of these bikes was an interesting point that BMW never focussed on the sales of X series as these were not the market sellers for BMW potential adventure aimed buyers. BMW has made its name for selling the big boxers and not really the low spec 650’s. 650’s have been there since long time and have made its market in lower numbers compared to the 1200’s of big twin boxers. Rather I call them big boobs of BMW in the bike porno language. The first week went on and I was closing on the European market but kept myself on the hold. Not to jump the gun of crossing into the Continent as it would mean more expenses – bringing the bike, changing the currency, transporting the bike and all the paperwork to follow.

Second week on – the casual search back on online platforms – Ebay – None, Gumtree – Hey Hey (someone is selling one). I have located the first BMW G650 X Country in the UK. The seller was asking about the price I was looking for and it was 12000miles on the odometer so it would have equated to the lowest kind of mileage I was able to get compared to EU sellers. I weighed in my options to compare the other and I was well in my reach to find the bike I wanted. This just was the beginning of the whole XC Adv Story now.

BMW G650 Cross Country
Bike Search – After 3 weeks.

I contacted the seller, tried to see if we can reach a lower price than the asking but it was more or less the same as I would have not realised it until late that I ended up buying a bike which added a nearly £450 in terms of the van hire, diesel and simple transfer from A to B. I found the bike in South Devon, Somerset. I gave in the deposit to the guy to ensure that it was already locked to my name before anyone else points a finger on it. It was a long journey to begin with and added to that was the 100mph+ winds. I decided to stop in at Bristol to use it as split stop instead of doing a long 500miles in a single day.

Collection
500 miles return to gather the XC and back to base.

10.01.15 – Hiring an Enterprise Van was not  big deal but I must advice every one of checking the windscreen as I feel I have cheated. Anyways more on that later. I hired the van as they offered to pick me up from the home. It was nearly 10.30am by the time I reached home from sorting out all the paperwork at van hire and I had to take a small bicycle to be offered to a little girl who I knew would love it in her coming years.
Enterprise Van Hire

It was nearly 1100hrs by the time I could hit the road and the scare of 100mph+ winds was slowly calming down. I was all set ready to leave and resetting the trip meter on the van was the first thing that was on my mind to keep the distance tracked.

Odometer
A boring drive basically between A1M, M25, M4 upto Bristol where my first stop came as I have some family so I could have used it to my advantage. Driving a van is no wonder lot more relaxed than riding a small car for longer distances. The sitting posture really defines your change of comfort and alertness level at all times.  140miles – 2hour15mins. Not too bad considering that driving a van is lot relaxed.
Blog03

Destination was still another 110miles or so miles away. The weather was bit calm and the long empty stretches of M5 was like driving into the endless road that won’t come to an end. It was boring as well which eventually led us to A38 and into the South Brent from where the first glimpse of the XC was becoming more and more visible in my mind. Long stretches of M5

Finally, we reached the destination and the first view of the XC was captured. It wasn’t a clear first view but there was not much to it. It has been in the garage for a while and something to do with battery was mentioned. I didn’t took a big note on it but it started so I counted on it at that time.
BMW G650XC

It was a very kind and a warm welcome from Peter, who has kept the bike since number of years and was not very first owner. He had some very interesting bikes for anyone keen on the history of two strokes. I have not seen so many two strokes in the same garage as many he had to share. There was an enthusiasm and the wonderful biker brotherhood going on. He was eager to know what all I am planning to do with the bike. The idea of knowing that an XC can go lot more farther is just a spark for the excitement.
Blog02

There were few that I would have liked to share here a quick note and it was just amazing fun to see them in full working conditions. Impressed is just a small word but the interest that we had in common was a good factor for making this XC story even more exciting – the story from the beginning is a fun if it was more than just a buy and sell deal.
Blog03

Few more wonderful bikes to look at. There is another amazing Yamaha 125 LC two-stroke which was a gem in its wonderful condition. Although I loved the small 50cc Honda which was used by his son when he was learning two wheels.
Blog04
I did find myself excited meeting Peter and no wonder it has a perfect recipe for the excitement. A lot of time spent in talks and sharing what XC is capable of with its power range. Ah well we shall get loading the bike into the van and strapping it down. Peter was really kind in his welcome and his passion is reflected in his love for his wheels.
Blog05

At 12226miles, it has had a new life embedded into its new making. XC that shall see the light of the world from the shades of the garage. This should move itself into a new category among the few others known for what they are. Blog05loaded

All strapped and ready to go.

I was glad to have not attempted this within a day as it would have been a good 24hours through the day making it back to base. Tonight it is a halt in Bristol with a last 140miles to base next morning.

11.01.15 Making it to the base, I rested long as I slept like a baby last night. Morning was an easy one and still lazy to do get back on the road but I knew it was to be done before it gets dark as I rather should make the most of the daylight. Days aren’t long in January added with the bad weather not a good idea.  In all this while, I have been in contact with Erik(Expert at its trade) from NL -to update that I have been on my way. Blog06

A little break at Reading services, M4 – 435miles into the journey of the XC without being added to its own odo has been quite remarkable so far.
Blog07 M4break

Not a cm has moved on the bike 😀 It is well and truly locked into its place. Blog08 lock

Another distance before it can be unleashed and unstrapped into its new base. The journey amounted to a total of 507miles from base to base so it has not been so bad with a day in between.
Blog09 base

The interesting long journey with few stops has finally come to the rest. It was now time to make the face to face introduction between the Fz6 Chini and XC Adv on the outside while the Fz6 waits and watches the unloading of the XC Adv.
Blog10 base
The power of single 650 vs the inline fours of 600 is pretty much incomparable. The 650 shall set an example of unseen and unknown while the 600 has been ruling the roads for the last 63000miles of European smooth terrains.
Blog12 baseThis marks the base to base journey of making the XC Adv limelight of the stories ahead.

Interestingly, as I previously mentioned about the van rentals – I was quite stunned when a chap at the rental mentioned about the chip. It was barely 2cms with a slight 2cm line appearing near the base of the windshield. It just took me by surprise because I am quite sure when the van was given to me – the lady who let it rent to me didn’t check the screen and neither did I – so validly I was at the fault but gobsmacked me doesn’t believe it was me. It became a well in excess of £400 for the van hire and the fuel in total amounting to lot more than expected. There was no fun part in the end as it left me bitter!

Just a learning, that rentals should be more carefully sought out in future if you are to take one. It just was no fun that you return it as you got it and took the hit of more than you expected it to be. Rant over.

Story continues …..