The decision to build honda XR600's for our trip was based on a handful of reasons. The bikes had very few changes from the late 80's till the early 2000s meaning parts are readily available and you can usually find them all around the world. The XR is known for its durability and only has a couple known week points that are easy to address, with moderate maintenance the old pigs will out live any modern dirt bike. The large displacement thumper makes plenty of low end power and carries a full load with ease. Plus having an older steel framed bike made modifying the frame very easy and will allow for repairs on the road if needed.
Before cutting into the bikes we spent the summer of 2011 blasting around Oregon and northern California trying to figure out what changes where needed. The list was pretty basic. Stonger subframes, more gas, more comfort and good solid luggage mounting.
Using foam I made a new tank and seat mock up to help design the new subframe that would support the added weight of our camping gear and allow for a proper rear rack. The foam tank mock up was made into a wooden buck that allowed me to to shape the tanks. 19 gauge steel was used for durability and the ability to fix them with basic welding equipment should they get damaged on the road.
The tanks hold a little over 6.5 gallons and features a snorkel system that draws air through a pre filter on the top of the tank, into the sealed air box that houses the factory filter. This allows for deep water crossings and keeps the main filter cleaner requiring less maintenance.
Ginger at New Church Moto upholstered the seats which are thicker and wider for long days in the saddle. At he back of the subframe are mounts for soft bags as well as a 1 1/2 gallon reserve fuel tank for very remote locations.
The motors where entirely rebuilt from the crank up replacing most of the transmission and rotating assembly. The heads went to Baisly performance for a fresh rebuild and the compression was lowered to run on poor grade fuel. Once the motors where back in the frame a new exhaust system was made using the stock header and an FMF muffler.
Other odds and ends include custom handle bars, tool box, dual headlights, front fender rack and sealed electrical box. Time will tell if the decisions where good and I'm sure after 30,000 miles of hard riding we will have some good ideas on improving the next build.