How it all started

Hello, My names James and in 2018 I decided to ride my bike around the world.

I’d been working a lot, 60 hour weeks for the past three years. I had bought a CBR500R as a reward for myself and did 8,000km around Europe in two 2 week holidays from work. I really enjoyed these trips and greatly looked forward to the next but the issue I had was I couldn’t go much further in two weeks!

It was December 2017 that I finally finishing my thinking and decided what to do. My thoughts were, I could either settle down and start working towards a house or go and travel. I knew that if I started with the house now then I would not be able to travel till much later and you only have now. Later may or may not come.

Role on 5 months and on the 31st of May 2018 I worked last day! I was about to take an 18 month sabbatical from work to travel the world by motorcycle.The first month was preparation, I still had a couple of vaccinations to get and research a little more. The plan was to take the Honda CBR500R around Europe for three months followed by 1 month preparing a Suzuki DRZ400 and then, to ride South America followed by Central America and North America. The plan was that I’d finish up in North America. Once there, I would then decide if I wanted or needed to return to work after the 18 month sabbatical or if I would go and work in Australia on a work visa. The final step would be to return home via South East Asia.

My country hit list – Both for motivation and to figure out how to tackle them

After a month of preparation and looking like a pincushion from vaccinations the start of June had arrived and my family was heading to Portugal. I decided to join them and booked a ferry to Santander from Portsmouth just like I had twos years before on my first trip outside of the UK on the motorcycle.

I then spent up until the end of August touring around Europe

My plan then was Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia before I headed back to the UK for one month to prepare the DRZ400 for South America to fly out at the start of November to Santiago Chile.Unfortunately my plan didn’t go to plan. Due to family reasons I ended up flying back home from Czech. Eventually I returned to collect the bike in November and rode it back to the UK. I may have been delayed against my plans but I was adamant that I would not let anything stop me from doing what I wanted.

I had a DRZ400 that I was originally going to use, but 8 months before I planned to take it to South America someone decided to steal it from me! So I bought this DRZ400E in April.

It looked in good condition…

I thought it would only need minimal things. For example a larger 27L safari tank, heated grips, bashplate, hand guards, indicators and a more comfortable seat. Oh how wrong I was…

So I did the above and then a few more things showed their face…

The list of issues that needed resolving on the DRZ:

  • Leaking Fork seals
  • Carb issues (cleaning, running issues, re-jetting, change of seals due to leaking fuel)
  • Front wheel bearing collapsed – turns out the 7cm spacer was missing when the previous owner replaced the bearings – I was 50km away from home. Needed to get a new spacer made due to being unable to find stock
  • Rear wheel bearing
  • Intermittent running problem with stator wires
  • Radiators overheated – new set of radiators required
  • Split in radiator pipes – couldn’t get the replacements, eventually found a second hand set after a week on Ebay
  • New radiators now hit on the tank – had to modify how the tank sat
  • Check valve clearances and timing chain – peace of mind and small ticking (1 of the 4 was marginally out)
  • Checked compression – 104 psi out of 140
  • Front puncture
  • Rear subframe replacement – previous owner had cut the back end off
  • New chain and Sprockets
  • New clutch cable
  • New brake pads
  • Cracks in left crank causing oil leak
  • Countershaft sprocket oil leak
  • Water in the oil – Oil pump seal
  • Exhaust rubbing on engine

After all this, it’s fair to say my trust in the Suzuki had been destroyed. It was the thought that I had done so much to the bike and that it must be a much more reliable now having replaced all those parts, that kept me repairing it. It may not have been true, and I was not willing to find out, if it was now going to be reliable from here on out. The final straw was the small cracks in the left hand engine casing appeared after some paint came off. That, and combined with the bike still not idling/running correctly despite much attention to the carb, lead me to look for something else.
All this took me until mid May, 5 or 6 solid months of working on the bike and test riding it. The issue was not the work but the more the fact the problems did not come all at once and would appear one after each other. Combined with waiting for the parts to show up it cost me a lot of time (and money too). It was time to sort out a new bike, plan the route and get on the road.

Enter the Honda CRF250 Rally.

To go and see the Honda CRF250 Rally which I decided to chose to ride around the world, including the modifications I made click here.

Or if you would like to see how I chose the route or more on the planning click here.


Needless to say the DRZ (or rather the help I received from the person showing me what to do) taught me nearly almost everything I know about mechanics so it wasn’t wasted time! I now feel confidence to fix almost everything on a motorcycle.

Although I wouldn’t let your lack of knowledge of mechanics hold you back from going on a long trip on a motorcycle. Chances are if you chose an older bike with little electronics on it, no matter wherever you are, however remote you are, chances are someone will be able to fix it for you.

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