The Honda XR400 is not normally considered as a round the world (RTW) travel bike. It is an enduro bike. Designed for muddy weekend outings at the local enduro track, riding gnarly dirt trails, green laning, and motocross racing. It is uncomfortable, pretty slow on asphalt and has an extremely short service interval (every 1000km!)
So why did we choose it? We want our skills, not the bikes capabilities to limit where we can ride. So far on this trip we have tackled trails destroyed by landslides, thigh high flooded river valleys, sandy desert routes, and narrow ridges, all of which would have been much harder if not impossible on a traditional RTW adventure bike. Yes our bums get sore, yes we get bored on tarmac, BUT these bikes allow us to have a truly off the beaten track adventure. Read our blog ‘camel choice’ for more information on our decision making process.
Of course, to make the XRs slightly more suitable for a RTW expedition, we have carried out certain modifications. To save money, we fabricated many of these modifications ourselves. If you would like further details about how we achieved these, please feel free to drop us an email.
Frame, suspension and Plastics
Screen – We fabricated two polycarbonate (lexan) screens, cutting and molding them with a heat gun to suit our individual heights. Lexan was chosen because it is shatterproof unlike cheaper acrylic. The screens are fastened to the original wind shield and to the handlebars by a supporting rod. They provide great shelter from wind and rain but can limit visibility immediately in front of the bike when dirty.
Talon lowering link – Fitted to Lottie’s bike, this lowers the bike by about an inch allowing her to get her feet on the ground – just! (Lottie’s height is 165cm). Front forks were dropped through the yokes accordingly.
Rack – After lots of searching we found a Ukranian company MMoto who build custom parts for motorcycles. The rack is made from welded steel tubing and was designed specifically for the XR400. They cost $174, but we have been hugely impressed by their sturdiness.
Subframe strengthening -To enable us to carry large panniers over rough roads, we strengthened our rear subframe with steel plates rods. As yet we have had no issues with the frame.
Exhaust modifications -To reduce the loud exhaust noise we fitted VW Beetle chrome tailpipes inside our exhaust. They are a perfect fit and can be secured with one bolt. They reduce noise enough to be discreet, but still sound good!
Aluminium dash -To fit the Vapor Tech we fabricated an aluminium dash. It also includes turn signal lights, main headlight beam lights, ignition and a 12V socket.
Aluminium bash plates -The previous owner of Ryan’s bike had fabricated an aluminium bash plate. We used this as a model to fabricate one for Lottie’s bike.
Hand Guards – We fitted aluminium hand guards which we purchased from dirtbikebitz.
Drive and Tyres
Fuel filters – We fitted an inline filter to each bike
Sproket – We carry two different sprockets to enable us to drive faster on asphalt or have more torque on steep rough roads.
Chain – We chose a DID gold chain for its longevity and strength.
Loobman -We fitted a ‘Loobman’ instead of an expensive ‘Scottoiler’. It is an excellent piece of kit when riding on tarmac. However, we have found it clogs up easily when riding on dirt.
Tyres – We chose Heidenau K60s (the Scout was not available for our bikes). We have been impressed with the longevity of the tyres, and believe they are easily capable of 20km of mixed riding.
Lighting and Electronics
LED Light bar – Made by PANDAMOTO these 18W light bars were a cheap solution to our weak headlight problem. We fabricated a bracket to attach them to the front of the bike. They provide excellent illumination and have survived many hard knocks during falls. Highly recommended.
Blue headlight bulbs – The standard headlights in XR400s are weak and not suitable for night time riding. We chose bulbs that provide a sharp crisp light. Compared to a regular bulb these hugely improved our night time visibility.
2 x 12V sockets -The XR has no battery, so we wired in two 12V sockets to allow us to charge our devices.
Vapor Tech unit -One of our most expensive buys, the ‘Trail Tech Vapor’ replaced the standard speedometer and allows us to record temperature, average riding times and distances, alongside the usual dash data.
Ignition -The XR does not have an ignition. We fitted cheap ignitions barrels from ebay as part of our aluminium dash.
Indicators and signal lights -We chose small ‘Eyeshot NANO’ LED indication lights to allow maximum visibility whilst ensuring protection from the inevitable crashes.
As we continue to build our website, we will be providing reviews of many of the products we have used. Follow our blog so we can let you know when this happens!