2018 Honda CB500X

richard310

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#1
Hello Adventurists!

After much deliberation with my wife and I, well mostly myself with the wife's blessing, it was time to replace the now-sold 1974 Honda CB200. Many hours on ADVrider, bike reviews on YouTube/interwebs, and the classifieds were spent researching what the next ride will be, and giving myself a reasonable budget, it was time to pull the trigger on something. The bike would be mostly a commuter as I must travel 50miles round trip every day on I-91 freeway, and for us locals here in Socal, we all know what a mess that freeway is no matter what time or day of the week it is. The small glimmer of fun would be its secondary function, which would be the offroad adventure toy. Now, I do not have any offroad riding experience and I am relatively new to riding (only about 3 years on the saddle commuting) so I'm keeping things to within my current abilities and limits.

Given its primary use, I didn't want anything heavy, exotic, or something that would need constant tinkering. That pushed a lot of brands off the table, KTM, BMW, Triumph, etc... Although the big three do excel in the ADV scene, they were all out of budget, too tall for my small stature (I'm 5'7" with a 30" inseam), and weren't as reliable as I wanted. I also didn't want a used bike, so that eliminated a ton of bikes. Which left the Japanese bikes for the pickings. Perfect.

Kawasaki does have the KLR but i didn't want a dual sport. The Versys 650 was on the radar but it's too tall and doesn't have much offroad support as it's more road oriented. Plus I would prefer the older Versys 650.. But no used bikes!

Suzuki is pretty much in the same boat as Kawi. Not a fan of Suzuki anyways.

That left Honda with the Africa Twin and the CB500X. The AT seemed like a winner but the budget would be blown to smithereens, and it's too tall and way too much bike for my use. This left the little CB500x... and what do you know, a local dealer had a year old model for sale with 1 mile on the odometer. Researching aftermarket support, and stumbling upon Rally Raid's offerings really sent it to the top of the list. I had been eyeing this model for quite sometime, especially when I heard RR offering an offroad kit for it, but that will wait until I'm more comfortable with the bike and my skill level improves to necessitate such a thing.

I had seen the bike online and was quite interested in it, so off we went one weekend to check it out. I sat on it and overall it felt very comfortable, albeit I couldnt flat foot it. The balls of my feet were all that touched the ground. I could get used to this though. Unfortunately test rides are hard to come by but this felt right. A few weeks later, the ad was still up so we planned to head over there to wheel and deal. I called them that morning before we headed out and we dealed over the phone. Twenty minutes later, we were en route to go pick up the bike and fill out paperwork as an agreement was reached. Less than an hour after arriving, I was a happy owner of a new bike riding home.

2018 Honda CB500X
Non-ABS
Color: Force Metallic Silver


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More to come!
 
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Al Swope

Adventurist
Founding Member
#2
Nice! What is the seat height? My daughter's boyfriend has an African Twin that is so tall I have to get on with the kick stand down. Yours does not look bad.
 

richard310

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Moderator
Author
#3
Nice! What is the seat height? My daughter's boyfriend has an African Twin that is so tall I have to get on with the kick stand down. Yours does not look bad.
It's stock height is 31.8" Unfortunately I'm not heavy enough to compress the suspension when I'm sitting on it. Swinging a leg over requires a little skip for me too.
 
#4
I've got a friend in Santa Monica that uses one of these for the exact purposes you laid out. It's been a great bike for him. I really like the ergonomics on these myself.

I am curious to see if the 850 version of the Africa Twin will materialize in 2020. It promises a lower seat height but a similar chassis as today's AT.
 

Brett C

Adventurist
Senior Staff
Moderator
#5
Nice write up so far Richard.

I've got a friend in Santa Monica that uses one of these for the exact purposes you laid out. It's been a great bike for him. I really like the ergonomics on these myself.

I am curious to see if the 850 version of the Africa Twin will materialize in 2020. It promises a lower seat height but a similar chassis as today's AT.
The current AT offers a lower seat height. I’m barely 5’9 and I can comfortably have both feet on the ground with that setup. I was just sitting on a lot of bikes to test fit them for me.
 

richard310

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Author
#6
After putting on about 600 commuting miles in about three weeks, the amount of wind noise and buffeting on the noggin was beginning to take its toll. It was time to upgrade the OE windscreen. My current helmet, the Shoei RF1200 is a pretty quiet helmet but with the wind hitting the wrong part of the helmet, it created all sorts of turbulence. It is a known issue among CB500X owners, but with the many different manufacturers and different sized riders, it was hard to figure out which one would work. I decided to just flip a coin and go with the Givi screen.

This screen is much taller and a little wider than the OE Honda screen. The Givi doesn't have the reinforced rolled edges as the Honda screen, and also feels flimsier. It is just clear acrylic so I'm not expecting the best, but I am expecting better wind protection against my helmet. Installation was quick and easy, the same as adjusting the OE screen, but just replacing it with the new screen. The first commute proved it a good choice. Wind noise was greatly reduced, although there was some lingering buffeting. There was also less wind buffeting on the body and shoulders. It is definitely acceptable and I'm overall very happy with the upgrade. Commuting everyday is now quieter and easier to deal with. I can actually now hear the engine while I ride. If I need to though, I can hunch down and sit in the pocket of non-turbulent air. Making longer trips now doesn't seem like a daunting task.

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The next thing on the menu are crash bars from Givi. I prefer the connecting bar between the two sides to give it a little more strength as the other choices are separate bars on each side. Also, I did come across a good deal on a used set of Rally Raid L-1 suspension, but I cannot say I need the upgrade as of yet. Tires are definitely first, before suspension.
 

richard310

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#7
With commuting duties in full swing, carrying a backpack sucks, even with the tail bag. It was time to get some pannier racks to reuse my old Nelson Rigg panniers from my '74 CB200.

Looking over the SW Motec, Givi, and Rally Raid racks, one really stood out in terms of strength and mounting points. The SW and the Givi racks seemed quite pricey for their construction, and the fact the Givi rack exceeded $300 really put me off of the two. The Rally Raid soft pannier rack was left and it looked to check all the boxes considering I don't plan on attaching hard panniers. The downside was the overseas pricing, but luckily it only took 2 days to arrive from the UK, and the price just sat under $300 shipped to my door.

Installation was easy. it took 20 minutes to remove the OE handles and install the new racks. Construction was beefy and the mounting points were stout. The OE mounting points were used underneath the seat, along with a separate bracket which mounts under the passenger foot pegs.

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richard310

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Author
#9
Commuting day in and day out has been great thus far on this little 471cc machine. Enough power to keep up with freeway speeds (75+mph) and enough to pass vehicles. I did add some features since my last post...

Added protection was a necessity to minimize damage in case I go down. I had been eyeing the Givi crash bars and even though there were some vibration issues, I decided to give it a go since it seemed it was mostly due to user installation error. Over-torquing the mounting screws in combination of not tightening in the correct order, plus not having the bike in an upright vertical position can lead to quite a vibration in the handlebars around the 5200rpm area. It took a little finessing over a few days to get the installation corrected as now it is minimal. The real reason for going with these bars was the almost full coverage of the plastics in case the bike was laid down. Overall, minus the tiny vibration, I'm happy with my choice. Plus these have been used in conjunction with the Rally Raid skid plate, which will be a future purchase once I'm ready and have time to tackle the dirt.

The stock exhaust on almost every bike is probably the first thing to be modified. The CB500X exhaust is no exception. It's as quite as a mouse and the only thing you can hear is the sewing machine noise from the engine. Do loud pipes save lives? I don't know that for a fact, but I do know that making a bike louder is more enjoyable to listen to rather than wind noise buffeting around my helmet. There are a ton of exhaust slip-ons out on the market, but unfortunately, this bike doesn't have the backing as the more popular models. Slim pickings and I couldn't justify and bring myself to drop ~$500 on an Akropovic slip-on can as there has been no proven HP or TQ increase with the addition of any slip-on for this bike. Plus if the bike goes down, the can is going to be scratched up, so I went inexpensive and decided to go with the Danmoto GP Carbon slip-on and baffle. The installation was a breeze and adding the baffle does increase the noise over stock but doesn't blow out your ears or wake up your neighbors. I heard many reviews stating these were extremely loud without the baffle, and I'm glad I installed it. I have yet to ride without the baffle but I don't think there's any real reason to do so anyways. Looks wise, it's a ricer fart can but hell, I could care less! I'm Asian!

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With the sun setting earlier now, visibility at night was a coming priority. The OEM LED headlight is sufficient if you live in a well lit area, but once the street lights disappear, the lighting has much to be desired. Coverage is a standard horizontal beam of light that only covers a certain amount of degrees and it doesn't bleed well to cover the surrounding ground. In comes the KC HiLites Flex. The KC units are small and powerful, and having these mounted on the crash bars proved to be a good choice. A flood pattern was decided to fill in the gaps the headlight missed and even though the Flex's are a single LED, they filled it in quite nicely. The Flex's also had an amber lens cover which I wanted to add on, as it helps the bike stand out from the other motor vehicles, and doesn't strain as badly as a 6000k white lighting. An interesting occurrence with the addition of the lights to the crash bars did happen: The slight handlebar vibration shifted from 5200rpm to about 4200rpm.

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In addition to the sun setting earlier, means it'll be getting colder as Fall is in session. Winter is coming. Wind chill can be quite a factor in commuting and having only Dianese leather gauntlet gloves (I'm not losing protection for comfort), I need some protection from the wind that will cut through everything. IMO, the quick two-fold solution are the Barkbusters Storm hand guards. These guards not only protect your hands from the elements and physical debris, but they will also protect your levers in the event of a fall. I could eventually go with grip warmers, but I'll figure that out once I ride with these hand guards first. The Storm covers are larger than the standard VPS covers so I'm sure my hands will stay warmer and be protected better than the other guards on the market.

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The end goal is to try to get this bike dirt and adventure ready for next year's DRV. Rally Raid's Level2 Tractiv suspension upgrade, 50/50 tires, Rally Raid skid plate, and some form of soft panniers (possibly Mosko) are on the radar. Having to haul the DSLR and other sensitive gear will prove to be interesting as protection from falls, vibrations, and the elements come in to play now. I hope that between now and DRV, I get some dirt time to build up my experience. If not, then I'll figure it out as I go along!


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Until next time!
 
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richard310

Adventurist
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#10
I'm loving my KC Hilites Flex lights. Small and bright but it could use a bit more spread. Easily remdied with another set. It definitely does catch driver's attention as more cars are moving out of the way on the commute, which helps a ton.

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I'm almost at a point in getting this bike Rally Raid Level2 equipped for some noob desert adventuring early next year.

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richard310

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#11
Picked to a Giant Loop Fandango Pro after much deliberation as I needed it to fit a DSLR with battery pack for super quick access, but also keep the form factor small. It just fits with my 24-70mm f2.8 lens although it cannot fit it with the 70-200mm as it's way too large. That will have to be fitted into a Pelican or some padded case. I'm fairly happy with my purchase even though it requires a waterproof bag to keep the contents dry in a decent rain. We'll see how this works on the next outing.

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Then I also picked up a used set of Mosko Moto Scout 25L pannier bags (combined 50L total) for a pretty decent price. I couldn't justify throwing down for a set of new bags, whether Mosko or a different brand, since I do not know if I'm going to do this often or if these bags will workout for my needs. There were some aesthetic scuffing on the protective diaper, but overall in great shape for being used. The inner dry bags were in perfect condition. I did, however, need to lightly modify my Rally Raid rack in order to receive the Mosko mounting plate.


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The Nelson Rigg Commuter tail bag will stay on for the time being as it's uses are quite beneficial for what I carry on my commute, like my lunch bag and coffee mug. I will however be looking for a dry duffel for adventuring to carry my tent, sleeping bag, etc, and also a small Pelican to carry my photo gear. The panniers will hold clothes, tools, and kitchen/food.

On a different note, I had to replace my rear Dunlop Trailmax tire due to the previous puncture repair failing and leaving me stranded on my commute. Unfortunately, the local tire shop only had these Michelin Road 5's in stock. Even though these are great commuting tires, I'll be looking for 50/50 tires next. Specifically the Motoz Tractionator GPS rear and Continental TKC80 front on the stock 17" wheels. The Rally Raid Level2 Suspension is still on the menu along with the RR Skid plate.

Until next time!
 
#12
Real nice set up Rich. I'd also recommend adding a set of heated handgrips - ive had good luck with Oxford. HUGE advantage when it gets chilly and your hands get cold and stiff. if you have any vibration issues on the handlebars, also take a look at flexbars. I hav them on my 701 and like them a lot. Also, if youdo ANY offroad at all, make sure to get the aluminum skid plate, and perhaps some protection for the exhaust pipe on teh bottom of the bike. Re tires, i like the tkc-80's, but they wear pretty fast - 2,500 miles or less if you want to have any tread left. The motoz tractionator gps are pretty good - great on the street and pretty good on fire roads. but not very good traction in sand. i have the motoz tractionator rallz's on now and i like them quite a bit. Not quite as good as the gps on street (though not bad) but hugely better on any kind of sand or soft terrain. The GPS's have a center bar which is great for teh road but doesnt allow the tire to properly grip in the sand. (Which you will see a lot of on desert rendezvous!) Just some random thoughts! You'll have a lot of fun!
 

richard310

Adventurist
Moderator
Author
#13
Real nice set up Rich. I'd also recommend adding a set of heated handgrips - ive had good luck with Oxford. HUGE advantage when it gets chilly and your hands get cold and stiff. if you have any vibration issues on the handlebars, also take a look at flexbars. I hav them on my 701 and like them a lot. Also, if youdo ANY offroad at all, make sure to get the aluminum skid plate, and perhaps some protection for the exhaust pipe on teh bottom of the bike. Re tires, i like the tkc-80's, but they wear pretty fast - 2,500 miles or less if you want to have any tread left. The motoz tractionator gps are pretty good - great on the street and pretty good on fire roads. but not very good traction in sand. i have the motoz tractionator rallz's on now and i like them quite a bit. Not quite as good as the gps on street (though not bad) but hugely better on any kind of sand or soft terrain. The GPS's have a center bar which is great for teh road but doesnt allow the tire to properly grip in the sand. (Which you will see a lot of on desert rendezvous!) Just some random thoughts! You'll have a lot of fun!
Thanks Tim. Funny you brought up all this... I just bought a TKC80 front and Tractionator GPS Rear to replace the current rubber and to get ready for this upcoming trip. I was soaking in your advice with the offroad traction and the Rallyz, but with the majority of commuting use as of this moment and with only one set of wheels, it kind of answered itself. I did, however, want to see how a semi decent setup would fair on a trip like this including commuting miles. It would definitely set a benchmark into what set of tires I do end up consistently rolling with in the future.

And I've also got on order the best skid plate for this bike, offroad pegs, shorty levers, and rear rack all from Rally Raid. She's really coming together in a short period of time to get ready for Desert Rendezvous. Now I have to figure what to pack and how to pack light and simple... It sucks coming from being spoiled with a fully loaded truck.

I've been highly debating heated grips as of late too, now that I've installed a fuse block under the seat this past weekend along with a dual USB and 12V terminals. I'm trying liners right now but it feels too thick and funky on the grips. I have less dexterity on even just a short commuting rides. I'm assuming they're something to get used to, but with the low cost, i can keep and use them for something else.

This one's a first for the books!
 

richard310

Adventurist
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#14
I finally have time to update for the time being.

Tires were installed and scrubbed in. Continental TKC80 120/70-17 up front, and Motoz Tractionator GPS 170/60-17 for the rears. I'm extremely happy with how these tires look on the bike. Performance will be determined on the upcoming DRV trip to Arizona. Commuting on these tires hasn't changed my initial riding style. I still take corners and turns as if I'm on regular street tires, and the vibrations aren't noticeable as a true knobby would have. I only feel the vibration at 0-30mph. At higher speeds, it's as smooth as a standard street tire. Wear will be figured out as I rack up the miles.

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Rally Raid skid plate, pegs, USB/12V charging ports, clutch/brake levers were ordered and installed.

Skid Plate: A very robust construction and probably THE best skid plate on the market for this bike. Installation was easy and it mated up with the Givi crash bars no problem. Only thing I'd consider changing would be getting slightly longer bolts to keep the mind at ease with more threads keeping the parts attached. Oil changes will alter as a few more steps will be needed to access the drain bolt and also the filter up front.

Off-road Pegs: Easy installation and gives me more surface area and support on seated and standing riding. I'm loving this simple upgrade, although personally, I'd like the pegs to sit just a bit lower so it can alleviate the slight excessive leg bend and give better, more efficient foot movement when using the brakes/shifter.

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Navigation Bar Mount: I purchased this one off of Amazon as I couldn't find a known vendor that sold these. This brand is Motoparty and was the best out of the bunch. Took a few weeks to get here from China but it's a welded, rather than screwed assembly, and a solid powdercoated steel piece. A simple installation with the removal of the windscreen and adding this part in between the mounting bracket and screen. Longer screws are recommended as the Rally Raid windscreen offset hardware wasn't long enough.

After endlessly browsing ADVrider, I stumbled across a huge thread in which someone used the Kyocera Brigadier line of phones as a dedicated GPS since the phone's location/GPS can be used without cell service and the phone itself is shock/water/dustproof. Considering that I previously owned a Brigadier, I brought it out of storage, charged it up and installed Locus and a few other offline GPS apps. It's been working out great as it now lives permanently on the bike plugged into the Rally Raid USB/12V charge ports.
Holding the phone/GPS is a large RAM X-Grip mount.

The aux electricals were wired up using a Blue Sea Systems fuse terminal block for cleanliness. The KC Flex lights, 12V DC, USB charge ports were wired in. I'm now contemplating a hardmounted 2M HT Ham radio for comms, more specifically the Kenwood TH-K20A paired with a Sena SR-10-10 Bluetooth Pairing to my Cardo Solo BT on my helmet.

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WIth some overnight trips on the horizon, and for longer unsupported trips, I'm now looking into amenities and additional storage for the bike. Fuel and water storage were high on the list for the bike. Luckily Rotopax 1gal containers fit on the Mosko Moto Scout pannier racks. These use the Rotopax mounts and will work with the pannier bags sitting outboard of the containers. I had considered a few 1L MSR bottles but would rather consolidate containers with limited mounting locations.
For additional waterproof storage to house the tent, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad, the Giant Loop Tillamook (~40L) is on the shopping list as well. Easy to use, side access, robust and waterproof. This will sit on the passenger seat between the panniers.
Other camp amenities include a lightweight chair, table, stove and cot. Amazon was the hero here, in that I was able to find many knock-off products for the compact and lightweight markets. Taking into consideration the fact that I may not do this as often, I decided to go the low route and save some big dollar on these items so if I didn't end up doing this motocamping, my wallet wouldn't hurt so much. I did finally purchase a Jetboil so I can boil water quickly for that morning coffee necessity, and also cook canned/packaged goods easily. Purchasing a cot was a luxury, but I figured I'd like to sleep comfortably rather than on the hard and rocky ground after a long days' ride. All these fit wonderfully in one side of the Mosko panniers, where the other would fit clothes, toiletries, food, and other small camp items.

Until next time..
 
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richard310

Adventurist
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#15
I'll get better photos on the road, but she's loaded up and ready for DRV. I've added a number of things since for the bike but I'll do an update later. For now, it's DRV time.

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It really is a tough thing packing for moto camping and deciphering what is necessary and what isn't. Then figuring out how to pack it all and not overload it, oh boy. The mantra of laying everything you need and then tossing half of it out actually works well, but is more for you barebones minimalist guys out there. I need some sort of luxury and I'm willing to haul it.

Here's what I've packed:

On-bike storage
  • Giant loop Fandango 8L Tank Bag
  • Giant loop Tillamook 48L Dry Bag
  • Mosko moto Scout 25L panniers (2)
  • 1 ex-NVG sized hard case
  • 1 gallon rotopax of water
  • 1 gallon rotopax of fuel
  • 4 ROK straps 42"
Camp/Cook items:
  • Kelty Noah 9 tarp
  • REI Dome 2-man tent and all fixings
  • Stakes and extra guy lines
  • Amazon tarp poles
  • Amazon Camp chair
  • Amazon Camp table small
  • Amazon Sleeping cot
  • Kelly cosmic 20 sleeping bag
  • Thermarest sleeping pad
  • Amazon pop up crapper tent
  • Reliance folding crapper seat
  • 6 crapper bags
  • 1 roll of TP
  • 1 roll of paper towels
  • 2 Princeton Tec camp lights with extra batteries
  • 1 Jetboil
  • 1 propane 230g canister
  • Snow peak gigatorch
  • Lighter
  • Daiso compact utensil/chopstick set
  • 1 liter of Jack Daniels
  • 4 cans of campbells chunky soup
  • 5 PBJ sandwiches
  • 6 Protein bars
  • 1 Ziploc bag of cashew crunch snack
  • 1 bag of beef jerky
  • 6 instant oatmeal
  • 6 instant coffee
  • Gregory 3L hydration pack for water (on person while riding)
Clothes:
  • 1 North face insulated waterproof jacket
  • 1 hoodie
  • 4 t-shirts
  • 4 underwear
  • 5 camp socks
  • 4 moto socks
  • 2 pair of shorts
  • 1 pair of light pants
  • 1 set of thermals
  • 1 boonie hat
  • 1 beanie
  • 1 pair of shoes for camp
Tools:
  • 1 small 12V air compressor
  • 2 tubes
  • 1 tubeless plug repair kit
  • Tire iron and spoon
  • 10-17mm wrenches
  • Ratchet wrench
  • 9-14mm sockets
  • 2 extensions for ratchet
  • Allen key set
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Philips screwdriver
  • Large adjustable wrench
  • Rear Shock wrench
  • Tire pressure gauge
  • SOG Multitool
  • First aid kit (customized)
Misc/electronics:
  • Nikon D610 with battery grip
  • Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 lens
  • Sigma 70-200mm f2.8 lens
  • Benro tripod
  • Manfrotto tripod head
  • Anker 20,000MaH battery
  • Necessary charging cables
  • Gopro Hero5
  • Kenwood TH-K20A 2m HT radio
  • Sena SR10-10 Bluetooth hub with PTT
  • Cardo Freedom 1+ on helmet
  • Kyocera Brigadier phone as dedicated offline navigation
  • 2 RAM Mounts

I think that's it... lol. I've estimated overall added weight, including myself, to be about 200-210lbs. And that's being optimistic, but not taking into consideration the added crash bars, racks, skids, etc. She's really rolling heavy this week so we'll see how the power and MPG pan out over the next few days, and more importantly, how she'll react in the dirt...
 

richard310

Adventurist
Moderator
Author
#17
That's a lot of stuff! Looks like it's well packed and organized though.
It really is a lot of stuff but I definitely took the time to pack it right. That pop up crapper takes up a ton of room and was an issue with the hydration pack on, but I've scooched it rearward and now its a little more comfortable. I'm only worried about the rear rack and how its going to hold up on the dirt with all that weight flopping about...
 
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