For more detail of the Prep work, see the end of the Navigation link on this page
Bike for 2012
The same X-Challenge, ready to go on the 2012 ride.
Bike for 2010
Walter’s 2010 incarnation of his venerable BMW G650 X Challenge.
The X-Challenge is one of the lightest possible bikes to base a properly durable adventure touring platform on. Its base weight is just over 140 kgs. Bearing in mind the unpredictability of the road surfaces in Northern Siberia, keeping weight to a minimum is critical. The engine of the X-Challenge is a super reliable 650cc single cylinder BMW-Rotax number. The same basic engine has been used by BMW since 1994, with more and more refinements every few years.
Compared to the competition, the BMW-Rotax engine is more reliable, more fuel efficient and smoother (far less vibey): all factors that make the choice of bike very easy.
- Special thanks to Erik at Hot Rod Welding, who in addition to making the X-Tank fuel tank, X-Rack luggage rack and the fairing mounts for the KTM 690 Rally fairing, is a motorcycle enthusiast and all round top drawer metal worker. That makes him the ideal expedition bike prepper. All manner of racks and brackets have been custom fabricated by Erik, as well as a custom cockpit.
- Special thanks to Bas at Hyperpro, Alphen, who is a senior BMW mechanic as well as suspension guru. Much of the bike’s rebuild, including the engine, was guided by Bas.
- Hot-Rod X-Tank fuel tank: adds extra fuel capacity. The standard X-Challenge has a smallish 9.5 litre tank. While this is still capable of 250 km range, the addition of the extra 9.5 litres of the customised X-Tank takes the range to over 400 km on pretty much any roads. The X-Tank is unique as an additional tank for the X-Challenge as it is made of pressed aluminium, rather than plastic.
- Hot-Rod X-Rack modular luggage rack system for the X-series of bikes.
- Hot-Rod / KTM 690 Rally fairing: Adventure touring requires a number of additions to the cockpit of a motorcycle, specifically related to navigation. Space for maps, GPS, power sockets, additional switches is provided by this rally fairing. Additionally the fairing adds top quality wind protection, and space for “proper” headlights.
- 50mm Dual Chamber Marzocchi Shiver forks with 300mm travel fitted with Hyperpro progressive front springs and custom Hyperpro Valving: Significant performance and durability improvement over standard front suspension.
- Hyperpro ultra adjustable coil-over-shock rear suspension: The ultimate in rear suspensions. Customised to take in the riders weight, extra fuel load, and luggage. Progressive action maintain best possible contact with the road / track. A huge improvement on standard suspension. Makes the bike feel lighter, safer, faster due to notably improved contact with the road.
- Rayz custom adventure saddle: The standard seat of the X-Challenge is most definately not made for touring. While I can sit on a standard 1200 GS seat all day long for a week on end, just one hour on the standard X-Challenge seat is enough to make the eyes water. Rayz Saddles have built up fantastic reputation for making the best adventure / touring seats in Europe. All handmade by Ray, a man who himself is often out riding across Mongolia or Bolivia. Ray is the only seat maker I know who knows first hand what is required in a real adventure touring seat.
- Giant Loop tank bag: storing immediate use items, such as cameras, paperwork for police stops, additional maps, snack food etc.
- Barkbusters hand guards: Protects the brake and clutch levers in case of falls. Protects hands when riding through light scrub and branches. Additionally keeps cold rain and wind off the hands.
- Scheffelmeier chain guard / case saver: If the chain comes off the rear sprocket while the engine is running, the chain can (and does) jam up against the engine. It is very difficult to remove and can damage the engine housing.
- Scheffelmeier Rallye engine bash plate: Stronger than standard protection for the engine from debris and rocks. Allows for the storage of heavy items like tools down low in the bash plate.
- Scheffelmeier oil cooler: Adds oil volume and cooling to the engine oil, increasing both protection and longevity of the oil.
- Rox handlebar risers: Raises the handlebars for better control standing up – for the taller gentleman.
- Michelin Desert Tyres: Michelin Deserts are a legend in off-road racing, having Dakar race victories for over 20 years. I use the Michelin Deserts for the tougher, more extreme sections of the route. I use Michelin’s super heavy duty 4mm thick tubes all the time. The Deserts have a super tough construction and are extremely puncture resistant. Because of their background in off road racing they are able to deal with more powerful engines and heavier bikes and loads than a lot of the other off road tyres. The desert racing background also means longevity from these tyres is also good, about 6000km a set.
- HID50 custom twin Hi/Lo Projector 50 watt HID lights. Using Audi A6 projectors, uprated from the standard 35 watt HIDs. The ultimate in illumination. 2 x 50 watt high/low HIDs, to see and be seen. Safety during the day and visibility at night. Illumination like 747 landing lights.
- Haan Wheels front hub laced to an Excel A60 rim: As tough a front wheel as you can get. An Excel “signature series” rim for the back wheel.
- Heated Grips
- Man size Stebel Nautilus horn to get people out of my way and sound warnings as if was an ocean liner coming through.
- Adventure Spec / Klim Adventure suit. The cutting edge of adventure motorcycling clothing design. More useful features that you can shake a stick at. D3O lightweight flexible armour, Goretex Pro waterproof outer, internal harness for comfort and adjustability, internal bladder for drinking water. More comfortable and lighter that other alternatives.
- Klim Dakar gloves – leather summer gloves.
- Klim Inversion gloves – great all purpose adventure touring gloves.
- Exo2 Stormshield heated gloves: Nothing is more unpleasant that riding cold. A cold body or cold fingers significantly reduces both endurance and safety. The well made Exo2 riding vest and gloves will provide the essential warmth as the project plunges into Siberia.
- Exo2 Stormrider heated vest / body warmer.
- Alpine Stars Tech 7 Boots: durable, tough MX boots with just the right balance of comfort and protection for a 3 month off road ride.
- Openface helmet: Bucking the “Enduro Helmet” fashion, the open face is far superior for communicating with locals – and much cooler in summer. I went with a Nolan N41 which has the advantage of both a peak and a full visor for when its cold or when its raining.
- SealSkinz watrproof socks.
- Ray Bans: RB3321 … A natural partner for an open face helmet. Together with the open face helmet, allows one to ride down the main streets of a dusty Mongolian town feeling like “Ponch” from CHiPs”.
Luggage and Outdoor
- Ortlieb 49 litre Roll bag: Ortlieb bags are 100% waterproof. Not almost waterproof, not kinda waterproof.
- Adventure-Spec “Magadan” soft panniers: Nothing weighs an adventure touring bike down more than adding 20 kgs of steel frame and aluminium boxes. We cut over 15 kgs out by going with soft panniers at 2 kgs a pair. These are the ultimate in adventure motorcycle luggage – durable, flexible, lockable, waterproof, slashproof.
- Vango Apex 200 Tent: A much smaller and lighter tent than my unit of last year. Weighs in at just 1.5 kgs.
- Khyam VVS 1000 sleeping bag: Warm down to freezing point, and considerably larger than standard. Perfect for large bikers like me.