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).