What happened during the last three weeks of April will continue to baffle experts in motorcycle dynamics for years to come. Having completed the build of the machine to overlander spec it then became apparent that the bike now vibrated more than before. Considerably more.
All of the changes that Ed had made in good faith: balancing tyres, aluminium bars, Rox anti-vibration risers, better seat, rubber footpeg liners were not helping. Now the vibrations were more ‘tingly’ and buzzy and were especially uncomfortable for any extended periods of time. To make matters worse, the departure date had already been set back by at least a week to allow Ed to complete work on his Rallye-fairing, mapboard and uberhorn installation that was proving tricky to get right.
Having returned from a false-start departure to Germany. A sort of unintended shake-down test, as it were. Ed was unable to fix this problem and with time ticking away, began to get more desperate to find a solution and hit the road. Taking advice from a number of sources (thanks to Walter Colebatch and the others on the XChallenge forum of UKGSer) he weighed up the pros and cons of changing type of bike at this late stage.
Considering the Xchallenge from BMW (pictured) or the Suzuki’s DRZ (below) to be his best chances he quickly sought out as much info as possible and looked to the market for what was available. He proceeded to test ride Dan’s DRZ before he set off for Turkey and promptly purchased said machine with the aim of recreating a different bike to take instead of the WR.
Dan helpfully provided all of the key information which he had used to build up his own machine along with links to websites where parts could be ordered quickly. With patience, a bit of luck and help from a good friend called Neil Gonzalez, Ed converted a beautifully stock 700mile 2006 DRZ400-SM, which Ed had found and purchased via Biketrader.com, into an overlander.
An MRA screen was ordered and Neil’s safari tank, seat, wheels and fairings transplanted across to build up the new bike. However, numerous test rides revealed that this bike also suffered from vibrations which were not there when he bought it and Ed started to wonder whether it was him and not the bikes which had the problem!
At a loss on what to do next, in desperation, Ed tried the Suzuki bar-end weights on the WR (lumps of steel that screw into each end of the handlebars) and found that the vibration was made much less intrusive and a decision was made there and then to go with the WR after all! The build would be as per the original WR250R but with the MRA screen, original parts, long range tank and, to further experiment with vibration reduction, a home-made ‘bar snake’ was created and pushed into the handlebars.
A bar snake is created by filling the handlebars with a material that alters the frequency that a bike’s handlebars vibrate at. In this case, Ed filled a length of garden hose with lead shot and plugged the ends with RTV Silicone. This could then be pushed into end of the handlebars but also recovered intact if the solution doesn’t help.
Overall the bike was much more rideable and with luggage already packed, Ed departed his house in Buckinghamshire on Wednesday 4th of May, almost 1 month behind schedule, with the aim of blasting across Europe to Turkey, where Dan would hopefully still be waiting with, by then, his new Iranian visa.