I commented on the above picture on Instagram yesterday that I had a dilemma. First let me say I have 5 bicycles and 1 motorcycle. All of which I’m very happy with. They all have a purpose and a specific use that fills a need of mine. For the first time in more than a decade I don’t have a strong desire for any new bikes. The ones I have get the job done. I must also say that nearly all of my disposable income since about 2005 has been devoted to my passion for two wheeled vehicles. Without a need to buy a new bike, I turn my bike budget spending thoughts towards upgrades I would like to do on my existing bikes. There is something on every one of them I’d like to upgrade. The two bikes above are the two I have much bigger dreams about. Major upgrades that would require substantial cash outlays.
Here’s the dilemma. If I decide to go ahead with these projects, I could only realistically afford to do one in 2020. Let me explain the two projects.
Honda CB500XA Rally Raid Conversion
I bought my motorcycle new in 2015. It is the first motorcycle I’ve ever owned. I was a beginner motorcyclist at the age of 52 when I purchased it. When I bought it I hadn’t owned a car for 13 years. I got everywhere by bicycle. All of my human powered adventures stated from my front door. My world was very small and I wanted to expand it. I also was aging out of the everyday bike commute. Commuting everyday left me too tired to go on adventures on the weekends. I don’t recover like I used to. The motorcycle would allow me to take some days off from the bicycle commute during the summer weeks. I also hoped to do some exploring and camping by motorcycle in the nearby National Forests. Maybe use it to scout routes for bikepacking trips.
The CB500XA is categorized by Honda as an “Adventure” bike. After buying it I realized it could only do light gravel and was designed for 90% road use / 10% gravel or dirt. It’s a entry level budget bike. It has the great Honda engineering and reliability but many entry level parts and suspension components.
I discovered this summer I was having increased difficulty acclimating to heat as I age. On the bikepacking trips I did this summer I was getting sick from the heat and found my limit was about 30 miles of loaded touring per day on gravel in moderate heat. On the trip in the photo above we stopped at a junction of forest roads and talked with three guys riding dualsport motorcycles. I decided right then that I should explore the possibility of doing some trips on my motorcycle. I wanted to do what they were doing.
I was aware there is a U.K. based company called Rally Raid that makes a conversion kit specifically for the Honda CB500X. It provides a kit to upgrade the front and rear suspension. It adds suspension travel and the ability to adjust the suspension to the terrain and load. The kit includes strong, spoked, off road wheels that replace the original cast aluminum wheels. It increases the front wheel diameter from 19″ to 21″. It also include an engine guard with bash plates.
What the kit essentially does is turn a great budget commuter bike into a very capable off-road bike. Not a true dirt bike, but a bike that can handle gravel and dirt roads as well as some serious non-maintained forest service roads. This is an upgrade I seriously would like to do. I would use it to explore the several million acres of National Forest lands that lie within a 90 minute drive from my home. There are hundreds of miles of forest service roads traversing these lands and National Forest campgrounds. I foresee overnight trips by motorcycle.
2013 Brompton S6L
Despite the high quality build with many proprietary parts. I discovered early on there are a lot of aftermarket parts available to help personalize and upgrade a Brompton. I was interested in replacing some of the plastic proprietary parts that come on it with higher quality Ti parts or CNC’d aluminum parts.