CRF450X as overlander
Originally, I thought overlanding a CRF450X might be unfeasible but I have had positive reports from a reputable workshop in Dubai which specialises in CRFs regarding their reliability. Their positive experience has come from both enduro racing and riding several thousand kilometers through Africa, Nairobi to Cape Town.
So having left the UAE by bike previously via Iran and then, another time, Jordan, the obvious way left is Oman, Yemen, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Sudan, Egypt etc.
A BMW (my usual road bike) or a CRF450 from Khartoum up to Wadi Halfa? I know which I'd rather be on. So, here's a new thread for prep tips to get this bike in shape and share experience.
I'm not expecting a big rush on this but if you have any advice at all, I'd very much appreciate it. The sort of things I'm thinking of are: sprocket sizes, best oils, optimal after-market tank size, protective hard parts, additional welding, luggage, seat, the usual for any bike, in fact, but specific to a CRF.
Cries of 'don't do it because...' are also welcome. :)
Thanks for looking, Stephan
Dont Do It! No actually why the hell not.......
Also do these bikes have titanium valves like the motocross bikes? I think you're supposed to change them like every 60 hours or something crazy. Get them changed to steel valves and get a slightly thicker head gasket to lower the compression........and then change your mind and go on the BM, or something less silly.
Seriously though, you'd probably be better on a KTM 450/525 EXC as people seem to be racking up lots of miles on them and theres a bit of knowledge kicking around about what to do to get around the weak bits. PM me for info as ive thought about this myself and have a lot of info.
The valves from some of the 4 wheelers fit and are not the titantium. From first hand experience these bikes eat a lot of parts and die. But this is with racers and ranchers riding them. If you have already been this route and want the challenge of keeping a fragile motorcycle running go for it.
why not but then again..
The CRFs are really reliable. I know lots of locals who race them without any problems and don't adhere strictly to the Honda guidelines on replacing parts. Frequent oil changes are a must though and they use seperate oil for the motor and the clutch/transmission which would be a pain to carry. However I would have thought an XR650 would be the way to go. Most of the benefits of the CRF ( heavier but still excellent off-road) but a less highly tuned engine and more after market parts for overlanding. Of course you don't get a leccy start but if you got a good deal on a used one you could use the cash saved to put a starter kit on from XRstuff.
The CRF does eat parts as dos any other enduro bike, use the BMW it is a better choice. Considering I change the oil after every race or 2 trail rides, I doubt you would get that far without something going bang. That said, valves are easy to adjust but what about synthetic oil availability??
Not sure on the valves but after every other weekend, either a race or trail ride
they still sound fine. I adjust them once every 6 months and that is it.
If your hell bent on an enduro machine why not an XR400, 1000 mile oil service interval and easy maintenance. A pair of soft panniers for £30, a big tank for £150 and your'e off. If a leccy start is that important get one there £500 here in the UK but cheaper anywhere else.
Don't Do It!!!
What I want to know is what passport your under to be able to pass all those borders on a dirt bike? :innocent: Diplomat? Govt.? Military?
Honda have re-designed the top end/head on the CRF 450 four times since it first came out four or five years ago. The Ti exhaust valves are gone and the seats have been redesigned for toughness. Reliability is MUCH improved over the eary bikes, whose valves did tighten up causing major damage. Several dirt bike riding buddies own or owned these bikes, all X models.
This bike has been a MAJOR embarassment for Honda, probably the first bike in
40 years that caused such problems so early. Reports from local racers say the last couple years have shown no problems with the CRF's, X's or F models in competition conditions.
Having said all that....this is, IMO, NOT a good choice for long distance bike.
Can't carry much luggage, will require frequent oil changes...and even then
the service life of this SUPER hi revving, hi horse power RACE bike (for those who really have no idea what this bike is) will not be long enough to do 1000's of miles across deserts unsupported.
Other good alternatives have been suggested. Here is my list of bikes that are OK in the dirt, reliable, can carry some gear, have some aftermarket support for a better seat or bigger tank. All things you should think about.
1. DRZ400S (S for stronger rear sub frame) Lots of accessories.
2. XR400 (kick start) Not much support for this bike now but stuff still around.
3. WR250R Yamaha (street model, strong rear subframe, bulletproof if a bit under powered. Not much aftermarket...it's just come out)
My DR650 doesn't eat parts and Stephan failed to mention that his BMW is a K1200RS. No problem riding to Yemen, but after that?
You can just about forget changing gear oil. A voyage is not a race. You can also stretch the engine oil change intervals a long way.
Depending on how much luggage you carry you may need to reinforce the subframe. I think it's a single-seater, no? Forgot to look, I was too busy rding when we were in the dunes. Mega fun!
Great Feedback - Thanks Everyone
Thanks for the input everyone. I should say right away that I already own this bike and I want to own it in the UK when I leave here. I don’t want to sell it and buy an unknown quantity back home. I’ve also owned an XR400 for several years and don’t want to go back to an older, heavier bike – however reliable. I also really want to do this route and, as Peter says, the other bike I have here is entirely unsuitable for this particular route. In fact, even here I sometimes wish it was another bike but it’s fast, fun and reliable and I’m going down to Oman on it with Sam next week. He’ll look a lot cooler on his GS1200 Adventure though. :thumbup1:
Thanks for the ideas. I’ll check what you said about oil capacity. It sounds like a good idea although the guys who did Kenya to SA didn’t have any oil problems except when one of them was sold a bottle of oil that had been replaced with cooking oil and resealed. It fried the engine but they were saved by good connections with the excellent Honda franchise in Dubai. Regarding the KTM, I’m sure it’s good but I want to keep my Honda.
I appreciate this bike comes from a racing pedigree but I’ve never heard of it being ‘fragile’. In fact, it’s the good feedback on reliability that’s encouraging me to do this trip.
Glad to hear your reports of reliability and one of the reasons I want to keep the bike is because my family has property near you in Portugal. I’m hoping to use the bike there and in Morocco some time. I’m still planning to pay you a visit too one day but I’m always stuck over here until I ‘retire’.
My XR has gone and I’m really enjoying the electric start on the CRF. Oh, the luxury! I know the oil changes will be the main issue but I have family in Sudan so I should be able to get some decent oil sent ahead to cover some of the way.
You know, living in California, that there are some great companies selling everything necessary to make a bike street legal. I did a cultural tour in 2000 visiting Baja Designs & XRs Only among others.
Horn, brake light, mirror & (maybe) indicators should cover it. Actually, Sharjah Traffic Authorities wouldn’t let me register it in stock condition and get a number plate but Dubai will… (same country, different interpretations of the law).
On what do you base your opinion that this bike has been a ‘major embarrassment’? I have read fairly widely on it and never heard a hint of that. Some sources would be of interest. They might save me from similar embarrassment en route.
I appreciate the list of other bikes but, as I mentioned, I’m hoping to do this on a CRF, a bit like some people doing Africa on a moped.
I’m sure you’re right about the seat. It won’t be the most comfortable but I’m going to get it covered in suede. :(
Thanks for the positive note. I’ve been told there is a more expensive gear oil that is good for a few thousand kilometres. I’m sure I’ll be stretching those oil changes too if this trip gets underway.
I’ve found a ‘subframe gusset kit’ for this bike at Summers Racing Components so I can use that as a template to reinforce the subframe as you suggest.
Please keep the ideas coming. Thanks everyone.
CRF450X as overlander
Good luck to you , I have one of these myself and would love to see you make it without any mechanical breakdown. Many are now being used in the Paris Dakar I spoke to Mick Extance who uses one and apart from extra fuel and a fairing etc I understood that all he did to the engine was replace the valves as mentioned above , he also installed a talon rear wheel with a cush drive , you probably know that the wheels on these bikes arent too good . Having said that someone else told me that the Paris Dakar bikes have a lot of other engince mods but I dont know the speicifics , i like the look of the IMS tank myself and woudl also want a softer seat .
Consider this a virtual good wish from us!
Do You Realize - that you have the most beautiful dirt bike
Do You Realize - it'll fly down the Niles -
Do You Realize - that happiness makes you cry
Do You Realize - that every bike we know someday will die
Sounds like a damn lucky CRF you have there - getting taken for a big spin.
xx Shu & Q
I used to have a CRF450, although it was the R, it's pretty much the same. Mine was a 2003 and the new ones are much better but still a race bike and fragile.
The maintenance on these is very high and if you don't mother it, it will punish you for it.. They are fragile like any racing bike. Valve clearances every 16 hours and a new piston after 20 (or something crazy like that)... Oil changes will be DAILY for you.
Plus, its the least comfortable bike I have ever owned. I've also had an XR650R and now im using a DRZ400S.
The DRZ400S is probably the most capable offroad bike which can be "sensibly" travelled on.
2 of my club mates have the X model and one also has the R as well, the R model has been used for Enduro, MX and Supermoto, and it's proved to be a very reliable and capable bike, this suprised me as he rides it like he's stolen it! personally, not my choice of bike, as said, the DRZ would be my preference
More info on the CRF that rode all the way to capetown?
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