Preparation For Long Distance Travel

I interviewed Toby Shannon of Around The Block Moto Adventures in Peru. He rents Honda Tornados and preps them for touring in Latin America. He is also an engineer, so he knows what he is talking about. Here is what Toby does to each Honda Tornado to get it ready for long distance travel.

  • Install a free-flowing exhaust with 125 main jet
  • Install an O-Ring chain (loses about 1HP according to my butt dyno, but lasts longer)
  • Fit a Pirelli MT21 in the front
  • Install handguards
  • Grease rear shock bearings
  • Grease swingarm bearings
  • Grease steering neck bearings
  • Grease axle
  • Dielectric grease on all electrical connection points
  • Fully synthetic engine oil
  • Replace fork oil with Belray 10w (for men) or 7.5w (for women)
  • Fit custom luggage rack

What my wife and I do differently from Toby.

When my wife and I travel, we don’t bother changing the exhaust. Aftermarket exhausts can be hard to find depending on where you are. Also, you won’t recoup the money when you sell the bike. The stock one is quiet and strong – if a little heavy. It will also get you through an emissions test should that be a concern for you (it is for us in Chile).

We don’t buy Tornados with more than 5000km on the clock. That way we don’t have to bother with replacing the fork oil or greasing the bearings or changing the tires before we leave on our trip. When they wear out, we change them.

In addition to what Toby does, we…

  • Replace headlight bulb with an H4 12V 60/55W Halogen Bulb
  • Fit a Pirelli MT21 on the front and a Dunlop 606 or Maxxis Desert IT to the rear.
  • Install aftermarket handlebars from Protaper or Renthal
  • Install wider footpegs. With my Gaerne SG-12 boots, I no longer do this as the boots are less flexible and I need the extra space that the small pegs provide.
  • Install soft luggage. We don’t use hard luggage as it adds weight to the bike and can break legs in a crash. Instead, we use soft luggage (see pic above).
  • Lower the suspension (on my wife’s bike)
  • Cut out the seat (on my wife’s bike)
  • Install bike pull straps
  • Install a cheap windscreen (because we break them often) mounted on the handlebars.
  • Install a 12 volt cigarette lighter socket on the handlebars.
  • Install dual port 4.8A USB charger in 12 volt socket.
  • Install a phone mount on the handebars.

We fly to our destination with the accessories and spares packed inside our soft luggage, which we check into the hold of the plane. When we sell the bikes, we remove these parts (and replace them with the originals if possible) to use on our next Tornados.

Spares We Carry With Us

  • Spare front and rear tubes
  • Slime tire patches and vulcanizing glue (do not use any other kind of glue for patches)
  • Spare clutch cable installed in place
  • 125 jet for high altitude and 132 jet for sea level
  • Spark plug
  • Chain master link
  • Brake and clutch lever (only if riding without hand guards – very rare)

If travelling a long way from any Honda dealer for a long time, I’ll carry these too:

  • Oil filters – they last for 2 oil changes (6000km)
  • 10w60 Motul 7100 fully synthetic oil. Otherwise any organic 20w50 oil (1.5L)
  • Air Filter – I change them after 10000km in off-road conditions. I clean them every week by removing them and banging them gently against a wall or the ground. If I’m near an air compressor, I blow them out with compressed air.

My Tool Kit

  • Spanners: 8, 10, 12, 13, 14, 17, 24
  • Shifting Spanner
  • Sockets: 8, 10, 12, 14, 16
  • Allen keys 2.5mm, 3mm, 4mm (for various screws that I replaced with allen head screws)
  • Tire irons
  • Screwdriver with flat and Phillips head
  • Leatherman Wave multitool
  • Assorted spare bolts and nuts
  • Bicycle pump (attached to the handlebar crossbar)
  • Tire pressure gauge (pencil type). I run 16psi off-road and 22psi on tar (24psi with luggage) – all cold pressures.
  • Plastic epoxy glue (for plastic repairs)
  • 5-minute steel epoxy (for metal repairs)
  • Safety wire (for chain master link clip replacement and for “sewing” plastics back together)
  • Duct tape (for repairing a broken windscreen)
  • Electrical tape (small roll)
  • Cable ties (for attaching things to the bike
  • Tow strap
  • Rubber workman’s gloves (to keep hands clean when working on bike)
  • A fuel tube for siphoning fuel and bleeding brakes
  • Old oil and a toothbrush for oiling the chain every morning
  • WD-40 (smallest can)
  • Waterproof grease for packing wheel bearings (every few months if crossing lots of deep rivers)

Other Things We Carry On The Bikes

  • A basic medical kit.
  • An espresso maker, gas stove, lighter and pot.

Other Things We Carry On Us

  • Each of us has a Garmin InReach satellite text messenger (stashed in our camelbak). This has proved useful when we lose each other and for peace of mind.
  • Baby wipes – for cleaning hands – can also replace having a shower (stashed in our camelbak).
  • Sun cream (stashed in our camelbak).
  • Toilet paper (stashed in our camelbak).
  • Zip lock bags for storing our electronics in during river crossing (stashed in our camelbak).
  • Leatherman Wave (on belt).
  • Mace spray (on belt).
  • Passports and bike documents (hidden inside our jacket liner pocket – never on the bike).
  • 5mm allen key (in jacket pocket) – for easy removal of bike plastics and seat. I’ve changed all the bike plastic retainer bolts to 5mm allen head bolts.
  • Tire pressure gauge (in jacket pocket).

Our Protective Gear

We always ride in full adventure jacket and pants with a few additions.

  • Leatt Knee Braces (the double hinge ones) – because doing the kind of riding we enjoy, we fall a lot and hit our knees a lot.
  • Gaerne SG12 boots – the best boots money can buy – because adventure boots are NOT real protection and NOT safe doing the kind of riding we enjoy.
  • When near the Andes, we carry both summer and winter gloves because of the extreme climate changes between the ocean and the mountains.
  • A balaclava – keeps helmet liner from absorbing sweat and keeps us warm in cold conditions.
  • Thermal leggings, vest, and socks (in cold climates only).

13 thoughts on “Preparation For Long Distance Travel

  1. Hi Bruce. Thanks so much for all the work you have done setting up this site.
    I have a 2017 tornado 250 as my do everything vehicle in Costa Rica. I am 6’4″ with 38″ inseam and weigh in at about 225 lbs. Interested in talking about possible drop peg and raised handlebar mods, but right now I would like to try to respring for more strength. My girlfriend sometimes has to ride with me, and I am always buying all our supplies on this great little bike and bringing them home 1 or 2 hours on really rough roads with loose rocks. I get up around 400lbs+ sometimes. My enduro buddies tell me I have to change the rear and front springs to reduce wallowing and help handling when I am loaded heavy. Checked with your buddy Toby and he suggested changing fork oil, but my buddies here say that’s not going to be enough. everyone here weighs a lot less than I do, and none of the local mechanics experience upgrading springs.Any ideas?
    Thanks again for the great site. I’ll be in touch with mods local guys have come up with as I grow into this bike.


    • Hi Ingo. Great to meet you. I’m replying here so everyone can benefit from our conversation.

      Raising the bars: I just buy Renthal bars that are taller. You can install bar risers (any decent bike shop should have, but they can be pricey). Another option is to play with some ATV bars. Go to the Mods page of this site and get the original bar dimensions: /xr250-tornado-mods/#handlebars
      Then, go here to compare Renthal bar options:
      Find the highest one. Check out the ATV bars.

      Lowering the pegs: Get someone to fabricate a bracket for you. Google “Suzuki DR650 ped lowering” or something like that. You’ll find some images of what they look like.

      Rear Shock Spring: Yip, you’ll need an aftermarket spring that is heavier. Good news is that the Tornado uses the same spring as the CRF230L (check this again using my instructions on the “Spares” page of this website. Then, find a suspension company selling aftermarket heavier springs for the CRF230L and buy one. You may need to import from the USA. Alternatively, you might need to remove the spring and measure it and then send the dimensions to the suspension shop. I replaced the spring on my KLR650 and it made the bike so much more stable. Alternatively, take your spring to a bike breaker and find one of the same size, but heavier looking.

      Stiffer Front Forks: I’d insert a spacer in the front springs first to test if that works before buying new springs. Loosen the top fork bolts (leaving the lower ones alone). Then gently unscrew the fork cap on the top of the fork. I took my forks apart to replace the seals today. Use a size 17 socket on the cap. The first thing you’ll see is a metal spacer about 4 inches long. Take that to a hardware store and find some plastic plumbers tubing the same diameter as the spacer. Cut a 1 inch spacer and insert it on top of the spacer. Tighten the fork cap by pressing on it like crazy and twisting your hand (because the spacer will make it harder to close). Test to see if it makes a difference. Perhaps try a 2 inch spacer too if 1 inch is not sufficient. Alternatively, remove the springs, measure them and buy stiffer ones from Progressive Springs. I’ve done this on my KLR650 and it made a world of difference (the new Progressive springs,that is).

      Good luck and let us know how it goes.



      • Hi Bruce,
        Thanks for the rear shock modification suggestions.
        I will start with the 30% stronger spring for the OEM Tornado shock and see how that works, should be the least expensive option.
        Calling our local Canadian Honda dealer tomorrow to ask about rear shock spring mods for the Honda CRF 230F.
        I will let you know how that works once I get back to Costa Rica in December and mount the new spring. I can hardly wait to get back on the bike and test the modified rear suspension

        Would it be be a good idea to change the front fork springs to balance the bike out with the stronger rear spring?? If so, any ideas on that mod??

        Thanks again for your great website, and your awesome support for fellow Tornado 250 riders.
        Have a great day,


  2. oops…sorry Bruce. Been off in our beautiful Canadian wilderness teaching survival skills for a while with no internet and never saw your first response until today. All I got was your suggested rear shock mods.

    Thank you so much for all the great advice about all the modifications I asked about.
    I will let you know how it all goes.

    Hope to meet you some day to thank you in person for all your help.
    If you are ever in northern Alberta, Canada or in Costa Rica let me know, and I will be happy to share with you my expertise in Canadian Wilderness Survival skills, or in learning how to surf in Costa Rica.
    Take care, and have a great day:)


  3. Hey Bruce,
    Bought Rosenthal 666 desert vintage handlebars, a set of bolt on LED lights, hand guards, and a BBR 660-HCF-1505 rear shock spring- fits the CRF230F, so it should fit my Tornado.
    Now I am trying to figure out what front fork springs would stiffen up the front end to match the stronger rear springs. I don’t think the spacer option will work for me, rather try the stiffer spring upgrade. Lots of write ups about crf230F front fork mods and springs, but I don’t know if crf230f fork springs would fit the Tornado. Any ideas on matching front suspensions setups on bikes that are available in North America? Do you know the length and diameter of the stock Tornado fork springs?
    I would like to buy the springs before I leave for Costa Rica Nov 18, and if possible a set of KLR foot pegs. I will take all your recommended mods with me and install them when I get there and take the Tornado out of storage, and I will let you know how it all goes. The stock Tornado is great, and now I am looking forward to riding a much stronger, better handling Tornado, especially when I am fully loaded with supplies and maybe a passenger.
    Thanks again for all your help,
    Ingo Hentschel
    Wild By Nature Adventures


    • Hi Ingo.

      I don’t know the fork spring specs and after some googling, the Honda part is not used on any other bikes.

      Your best bet is to measure the front fork springs, but not being with your bike, this is going to be difficult to measure from the USA. Perhaps better still, take one spring to a suspension shop in CostaRica and ask them to match it with something they already stock, but heavier.

      I had my forks in pieces 6 weeks ago as I was installing new seals. Damn! I could have measured it had I know then.

      Here’s what they look like:

      Alternatively, if you speak Spanish, ask here: Someone on that forum should know more.

      Let me know how the rear shock spring works out and I’ll link to it on the mods page.

      You’ll enjoy the 666 bar. It’s also a LOT stronger than stock. Let me know what pegs you end up buying and how they fit.

      Happy riding!



      • One last thought… failing the above, you could buy some used 41mm forks from another bike that is available in the USA, and then buy heavier springs for those.


      • Hey Bruce,
        Please confirm Xr 250 front fork outside diameter, 1 3/4 inch? 1.75 inch?
        Got a lead on an LED light pod with universal tube mount, thinking of mounting it between front forks under headlight, need to know outside diameter of fork tube to make it work,. Please respond asap, leaving for Costa Rica Monday.
        Thanks buddy,


      • Hi Ingo. I think they are 41mm, but am away travelling for 3 weeks and cannot confirm until I get home. Check the fiche (link on the spares page of this site). Good luck!


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