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There are endless modifications and tinkering you can do with you bike - and spend forever and a fortune doing it.

We have accessorised our bikes for long distance touring often in remote areas on both on and off-road. By 'off-road' we mean not full on slamming through mud and sand but dirt and gravel on formed roads that are challenging for rider and bike.

Follows are modifications and accessories we have fitted to my Suzuki DL650XT and Sonja's Honda CB500x.

NOTE: as a general principle, you have to be very careful of compatibility between different accessory brands (Hepco and Becker, Touratech, SW Motech etc), especially when purchasing engine protection bars and other major accessories you have to bolt on to the frame or engine hanging bolts. I found very quickly that different brands used the same points of attachment and they will not fit together (eg a SW Motech bash plate and H&B engine crash bar use the same mounts and the parts don't fit around each other).

So check carefully when ordering major parts from different brands they will fit together (and keep your receipts!).

I've stuck to accessories that I've used before, are super practical and work well in the field. The ensure:

  • key parts of the bike are protected from flying rocks or debris when on the move
  • protect the bike the event of a crash or falling over
  • protect the rider from flying debris, bugs etc when on the move
  • help reduce rider discomfort and fatigue from wind, rain, cold etc.
The more spares you take the more likely you’ll need them
— Anon mechanic on taking too much stuff

Think through what you want to put on your bike and how it may affect its handling and performance. I'm always amazed when I see riders loading up the back of their bike with massive bags or cans of fuel or water on the back of their panniers. These turn the bike into a huge pendulum, unloading the front end (steering suffers) and will punish you big time when you get in dirt.

Take you time an play around with things and definitely test them in the field before you take off on the big one!

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DL650mods


DL650 xt Mods

It all goes together ok - most of the time ...

DL650mods


DL650 xt Mods

It all goes together ok - most of the time ...

There is an enormous range of accessories available for V Stroms. I have installed all of them myself with a bit of swearing and cursing to help me along. From stuffing around with fitting things here are some random insights:

  • The oil filter and radiator are extremely vulnerable. You MUST get protection for both or you are up for a very extensive disaster in the middle of nowhere
  • I'm 6'2" tall (188cm) and the seat totally kills my legs. Handlebar risers, a foot lowering kit, better foot pegs and a gel seat have helped as we ride long distances.
  • A bigger windscreen or extender is essential, as are heated handlebar grips and lever protection. These all go on quite easily.
  • Fitting H&B is realtively straight forward though putting the the tail light wires back in around the mounts is a giant pain in the ass (see the blog).
  • Locks on H&B panniers are really weak and will explode into tiny pieces easily. Replace them with simple strong over-latch ones.
  • Marine stores are a great source of bits and pieces as bikes and boats have a lot in common (ie. they get wet and need strong accessories).

A full list of the spares and some notes on their installation is at the bottom of the photos. I've also included a couple of posts in the blog on tips and traps of fitting things.

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DL650mods


DL650mods


A windscreen extender or bigger aftermarket screen is essential to keep wind and rain off you. As I'm a bit taller I have to have one to prevent the constant wind blast off me and reduce fatigue. They are an absolute must if you plan to do long distances.

I put fender extenders on all my bikes as they stop stones slamming into the front of the engine and keep mud etc from splattering up into the engine bay. Instead they hit the engine guard  - perfect! You can't see the radiator guard but GET ONE!

These are stock Suzuki engine bars which are ok. There are plenty of aftermarket ones around. You can see they have been doing their job!

The stock foot pegs are too narrow to stand on for any length of time off road so fit aftermarket ones. I also fitted a lowering kit. Note the vulnerable gear lever.

The Hepco and Becker locks are rubbish - fragile and finniky so replace with simple latches. Rivit the lid latch so the can't be undone from the outside.

Latches holding the H&B boxes on are really weak so you need to install the expedition H frames (not visible here). Marine fittings rivited onto the cases support carry straps.

Extra wind and rain protection for your hands and forearms. Very simple to put on and take off (not that we do).

A throttle rocker is a simple and effective solution to throttle hand fatigue. Note location of grip heater control on LHS.

A simple net design on the front of the case lets you stuff things in you want quick access to (see pic of Sonja's set up below)

Bark Busters protect the clutch and brake levers in the event of a fall. The heated hand grips are essential to prevent numb hands. Small stick on blind spot mirrors are great. Note the 50mm handlebar risers make a huge difference to my riding posture

The bash plate and fender extender protect the front end of the bike - particularly the super vulnerable oil filter. The bash plate is reasonably solid but couldn't take a big bad hit.

List of aftermarket parts.

  • Panniers: Hepco and Becker Alu Standard 35R/40L ltr
  • Pannier supports: H&B expedition frames
  • Windscreen exteder: MRA X-Creen
  • Fender extender: Fender Extender
  • Hand guards: Bark Buster Ergos and Giant Loop Bush Wackers
  • Handlebar risers: SW Motech 50mm
  • Bash Plate: Givi RP3101
  • Center stand: Hepco and Becker

 

 

  • Radiator guard: Rad Guard
  • Heated Hand grips: Oxford Adventure
  • GPS: Garmin Zumo
  • Electrical accessories (Phone etc): Powerlet and RAM mounts
  • Footpegs: Motech SW
  • Foot peg lowering kit: Adventure Tech
  • Seat pad: Comfort Max
  • Side stand plate: Givi SR3101
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CB500mods


CB500x

A bit more fiddly but the end is worth it

CB500mods


CB500x

A bit more fiddly but the end is worth it

While the CB range of bikes has been around for a long time CB500x is a relatively new bike and I think it would be fair to say that the range of aftermarket accessories is not as well developed as those for the venerable DL650. 

From my experience with bolting them onto Sonja's bike they don't seem to go on as well or as easily and those I've fitted onto the VStrom. That being said there are plenty of good bits to stick onto the bike to make it into a robust and versatile adventure touring machine.

Some random insights of working on the CB:

  • Like the VStrom, the oil filter and radiator are extremely vulnerable to rocks, a crash or even a fall off the side/center stands. Protecting these areas is ESSENTIAL - see comments below about the SW Motech bash plate.
  • Sonja is 5' 3" (160cm) and stand-over height on the stock bike is a problem. She can just get her toes on the ground but is unsteady. Weighting the bike down with gear lowers it a bit but using lowering links will severely affect ground clearance. We had the stock seat lowered by an auto upholstery guy and it made the world of difference.
  • Hepco and Becker and Givi engine bars can NOT be mixed and matched as they use the same engine mounting points. You either use the H&B system or the Givi system.
  • Mounting the engine guard uses the lower engine mounting bolt and is bloody fiddly to get at as you need to dismantle the covers over the front sprocket.
  • The SW Motech bash plate is crap and does not provide any protection to the oil filter on the front of the engine. I had to make my own cover from hardware store bits. Also the bash plate mounts use the same ones as the H&B engine bars - BIG HEADACHE! I was able to get the left hand front bash plate mounting arm on but not the other. If you can find a better aftermarket bash plate for the CB500x use it!
  • Fitting the panniers is easy as is fitting the center stand HOWEVER if you try to fit the Givi side stand plate it hits the center stand when in the 'up' position. I recommend you get a small plate welded permanently onto the side stand foot.
  • As said above, replace the locks on the H&B panniers as they are rubbish and  break easily.

The the stock windscreen is pretty small so a larger screen or extender makes a big difference in reducing rain and wind buffeting adding to rider comfort.

The stock bike comes with no engine protection so fitting aftermarket bars is essential. They go on relatively easy though using the lower engine mounts can be fiddly.

The side stand is very small. Fitting a center stand is recommended though fitting a Givi foot extender on the side stand doesn't work as it hits the center stand.

The side stand is very small. Fitting a center stand is recommended though fitting a Givi foot extender on the side stand doesn't work as it hits the center stand.

Small side nets mounted on the front of the panniers using marine fittings and shock cord are extremely useful to stuff things like chain lube and unbrellas!

The H&B  panniers sit quite high  as they have to clear the exhaust. This puts the weight high to the back  the bike which isn't ideal for balance and handling.

The SW Motech bash plate is crap and I don't like it. It is tricky to fit and offers little protection to the oil filter hence the DIY one made from bits of steel plate.

The SW Motech bash plate is crap and I don't like it. It is tricky to fit and offers little protection to the oil filter hence the DIY one made from bits of steel plate.

Cockpit set up with Bark Buster hand guards, Giant Loop Bush Wackers, heated hand grips and throttle rocker. Note mounting of the grip control on the Bark Buster mount.

Cockpit set up with Bark Buster hand guards, Giant Loop Bush Wackers, heated hand grips and throttle rocker. Note mounting of the grip control on the Bark Buster mount.

List of aftermarket parts.

  • Panniers: Hepco and Becker Alu Standard 35/35 lt
  • Pannier supports: H&B expedition frames
  • Windscreen exteder: MRA X-Creen
  • Fender extender: Fender Extender
  • Hand guards: Bark Buster Ergos and Giant Loop Bush Wackers
  • Bash Plate: SW Motech
  • Center stand: Hepco and Becker

 

  • Radiator guard: Rad Guard
  • Heated Hand grips: Oxford Adventure
  • GPS: Garmin Zumo
  • Electrical accessories (Phone etc): Powerlet and RAM mounts

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