Home. Intro. Route. Bikes & Kit. Maintenance & Prep.

After buying and testing three bikes, namely a BMW F650GS – BMW R100GS and SUZUKI 650V-STROM we settled on YAMAHA XT660R’s. We chose the Yamaha mainly because Angie liked it but also because it should prove reliable and easy to service. I must admit that I have found it easy to work on and the minimum of tools are needed.
I’m not a lover of single cylinder engines and the XT does suffer from surging more so than the F650 but over all the XT is a more robust machine. I have been in touch with Yamaha Technical who tell me that oil and filter changes are important with the XT but apart from that a very reliable machine – I do hope so.




Remove the forks and strip down, replace the fork seals and reassemble having fitted spacers internally to give more spring preloaded  Check and repack the head

bearings reassemble the front end fitting fork gaiters.


Remove the tyres and carry out enduro mods ie five layers of gaffa tape in the rims and elongate the

valve holes.

Fit Michelin heavy duty tubes and Tourance tyres.



We decided on Tsubaki for the chain on the advice from B&C EXPRESS as the Tsubaki equivalent of a DID heavy duty X ring is not only cheaper but also heavier duty. We have different gearing for off road but are able to use a standard length 520/1100 chain.

The sprockets are steel and for road we have 15/45, for off road 14/46.

14/46 is the lowest you can go on the XT without needing a longer chain . Also 15 is the biggest front sprocket you can fit without fouling casings etc

Also carried is two spare links.  



Remove the standard pair of exhausts with Cat and replace with a Metal Mule single can system (no Cat).  This system also greatly improves ground clearance.



We wanted metal mule frames and panniers but couldn’t afford them so we sourced Touratec racks and boxes off ebay.

We found the standard box catches to be cheap and flimsy so we mounted new heavy duty stainless steel catches on to stainless steel plates.  We had the boxes powder coated but anodising would have been better. We also replaced all the rack bolts with ss nylocks.



Fabricate and fit a pipe carrier to replace the left side exhaust can.

This carrier holds 2 x 2l coke bottles for water or 2 x 1.5l fuel bottles.



Paul’s bike has a standard Yamaha rear rack, on it fits a 1550 Peli case mounted on a Touratec lockable quick release plate.

In the Peli case is a powerlet charging system to charge the lap top via a Kensington Air/Sea/Auto lead..

We also have a multi charger to charge camera – AA – AAA Rechargeable batteries.


Paul’s bike has a specially fabricated fuel carrier fixed to the left side pillion foot peg hanger. It safely carries a 5L fuel can.



Centech  AP1 Aux fuse box that has a switched supply so all ancillary components are individually fused and switch off when the ignition is turned off.

Heavy duty high crank batteries fitted.

We rerouted many cables to prevent chaffing and all electrical connections were cleaned with contact cleaner and sealed with Dielectric grease.



We fitted a modification to enable us to easily adjust the mixture to cope with low grade fuel and altitude. See the KEV MOD on the XT660 Forum.


After market fitments

PIAA 140db air horns

Renthal high Enduro bars

Barkbuster hand guards

High screens, Paul’s has an extension made from an old visor.

Metal Mule bash plate and Rad guards

Army ammo box fitted to the bash plate as a tool box

Oxford heated grips

Autocom Kenwood bike to bike system

Garmin 276c GPS on Touratec lockable mount

Handle bar camera/video mount

Centre stand

Famsa tank bags

Home made sheep skin seat covers

Braided brake lines

Bottle rack fitted to one pannier each.



6 x Oil filters

3 x spark plugs

1 x gasket set

1x fork seal kit

1 x wheel bearing set

1 x set brake pads

1 x set cables

1 x set levers

2 x sets std inner tubes

K&N oil

Bulbs and fuses

1 x Regulator rectifier



Metal putty

Copper grease

Small LM Grease

Solder and Gas

Insulating tape

Gaffa tape

Cable ties

Misc nuts and bolts

Heat shrinks


Instant gasket

Super glue

Bike jump leads

Puncture repair kit x 2


Note: These are just the main modifications, lots more have been done but not really worth a mention.

We opted not to fit large fuel tanks, mainly due to the cost of 900euros per bike.  Our normal fuel capacity would be 15L in the tank – 5L in Paul’s fuel can – 1L each in the bottle carriers. That gives us a range of 300 miles each. Our maximum capacity if needed would be as above but with an additional; 4L each in the pipe carriers and a 5L can bungeed to Angie’s bike.  Giving us a range of just over 400 miles each.  We only expect to need this range in OZ

We both have small tail packs fitted to our pillion seats that carry a 10L Ortlieb water bladder plus our days food shopping etc.

Angie has an Ortlieb bag strapped across the rear of her bike which carries the tent, sleeping bags etc.

We have an Army gas mask style bag slung around the tank bags with a 1.5L Camelbak inside.



We both have an MP3 player that works nicely through the Autocom.


That’s how we intend to leave.  We are sure to change things as we go – once we get into a routine will we know for sure.


For full size images of bike prep click here    






Tool List

Firstly I have some explaining to do; just in case somebody makes a mistake and thinks that I know what I am doing!! I simply got myself a small tin on my work bench in the garage and each time I worked on the bikes I put the tools I used in the tin – I made sure I only used tools from the tin and If the tool wasn’t in the tin then I needed to buy it. As a result I have a tool tin that weighs in at 3kgs.
I know that it’s over kill but split between two bikes it’s not so bad. Trouble is that having been a builder for ever, I strongly believe in sods law – with a van full of tools – the one you sodding need is always at home! At least by taking all my tools I know what I can do before I start needing to look for help.
CHAIN TOOL - I decided that I needed to change our chain and sprockets myself before departure, just so I knew I could do it.  I Purchased a MotionPro chain tool and set to it, unfortunately the MotionPro tool is made from recycled corgi toy tin and couldn’t manage to do one chain before breaking.  We then put our hands in our pockets for a more expensive RK heavy duty tool that is great and has the added benefit that it can be used as a hammer !!!!
AIR COMPRESSOR - It’s extravagant I know and had we been on one bike we would have made do with a bicycle pump.  www.cyclepump.com It works a treat though.

    32mm ½ inch drive  for front sprocket (cut down as only shallow nut)
   27mm  ½ inch drive  for head bearings  (cut down)
   14/13/12/10/8mm  ¼ inch drive
ALLEN SOCKETS - 14mm for front spindle  10/8/6mm  ⅜ drive
BALL HEAD ALLEN KEYS - 6/5/4/3/2.5mm
ADAPTORS - ¼ to ⅜ drive and ⅜ to ½ inch drive
RATCHET - ¼ drive
Tbar multi tool - ¼ drive
Plug spanner
Rear spindle spanners OE tool kit
Compact screw driver and bits
FEELER GAUGES - for valve clearances
Mini soldering iron – draper from Halfords (lighter fuel)
Digital pressure gauge
3mm pin punch for brake pads (cut down)
Tele pen magnate (I have butter fingers)
TYRE LEVERS X2 - 8inch (could be longer but used these no probs)
Leatherman wave multi tool
Mini hack saw
100mm Engineers steel ruler
As you can see we are carrying some spares, enough oil filters to get us to Thailand – levers – clutch cable and off road sprockets to name a few.
We have gone against the grain and not fitted scott oilers – firstly because I’ve never liked them but mainly because for years I have used PJ1 Blue Label chain lube and found it to be fantastic

At first we thought the cost to replace the rear shocks would be prohibitive so instead we planned to re-spring each unit with a better quality progressive spring. After removing the shock on Paul’s bike (It’s done 9k miles) and realising what was involved and noticing wear on the OE unit we decided we did needed to re-shock the bikes.It wasn’t too hard to decide which manufacturer to go for, we had discounted the Swedish brand as a friend has had loads of trouble with his shock and in fact binned it in the USA. I called Will at FTR Suspension while looking into buying Springs and he told me about Yacugar. To cut to the chase Yacuger was formed when White power moved its factory out of Holland leaving behind the work force.It must have been a no brainer to put all that skill and engineering knowledge to good use. FTR are a dealer for Yacugar so I ordered one shock. You state the rider weight and in our case luggage as well and the shock is built to order – when it arrived as soon as I opened the box I had decided to get one for Angie’s bike. Talk about quality. With the unit fitted I was able to ride both bikes back to back and to be honest it’s a revelation. I took my time to get the static sag spot on, this was made easy with the C-spanner that came with the shock. I’m no road tester but the bike feels more stable in corners now and soaks up the bumps that had the OE unit chopping around. Another deciding factor is that the OE unit is non-rebuildable whereas the Yacugar is and will last a life time. Anyway – another shock ordered for Angie’s bike. Take a look at the pictures in our gallery and www.yacugar-suspension.co.uk