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KLX250 Long Distance Comfort Modifications

Post Received 23 June 2020

By Bob

I have some long distance trips planned, France and the NC1000 (it's supposed to be the NC500 round Scotland's NE coast but I want to do the rest of Scotland whilst I'm up there) so I decided to test the little KLX250's long distance credentials, I've covered 20000 miles in 2 years on the bike, including many trips to and around Wales but now I'm contemplating the several tedious hours of motorway required for the upcoming trips. I set out one morning to ride from Sheffield to Windermere and back on the M1, A1 and A66, which is the same distance as riding to France.

The bike of course was absolutely fine, but I was suffering greatly by the end. Like a lot of tall people my lower back makes its presence felt, that's just a constant nagging pain that I can work around but on longer runs I find my upper back and shoulders start to burn with an intensity that I can't ignore and after a full days riding I need to lie down for an hour or so to reset everything.

Something had to be done.

The most important modification for me was a backrest, but how to fit one to a bike like the KLX?

The answer was found in my custom luggage which I made last year. I use my KLX for everything, including going to shows and events as well as trips to the coast etc. For years I suffered the same as everyone else, you know the scenario – ride to the coast on a hot day and then have a thoroughly miserable time sweating your cods off in your bike gear, lugging your helmet over one arm and jacket over the other, clomping around in your bike boots and armoured trousers.

A popular solution on big bikes is a three box luggage set, which is not an option for the KLX (I don't like hard luggage anyway and those people who ride off-road with it are barmy), so it had to be soft luggage. I never ride without waterproofs and tools and with soft luggage having no security I would have to carry those items with me too when off the bike.

My first attempt was an airport bag strapped on the back, this worked reasonably well as I could ride with tools and waterproofs and when at my destination I put my helmet on the extending handle and some of my bike gear in the bag and wheeled It round. The limitations of this solution were a maximum 35 litres capacity, which meant some of my bike clothing needed strapping to the outside of it and the small wheels clogged up with muck one time at the Newark Autojumble and where ruined.

The next iteration was to build a custom wheel set using a pair of 100mm scooter wheels which fold up when not in use.

From the rear of the bike we see the trolley wheels, frame, bag and backrest ready to ride

This solved the clogging up problem but the capacity was still an issue. I'd toyed with the idea of just strapping a folding sack barrow on the back but in the end made my own from aluminium plate and bolted to it the folding wheel set I already had and the handle mechanism cut from the airport bag. I added a bicycle folding kickstand so that the trolley stands up by itself (which was a major limitation of the airport bag version). 

The luggage itself is a 100 litre Gelert holdall, in the photo the contents are rolled up in one end and the bag sits end on in the trolley. If I need to carry more gear I unroll the holdall and if it gets too tall to sit end on, it switches to sit cross-ways. I can carry a full 100 litres of stuff with the bag sitting across the saddle behind me. That same 100 litres is enough to take all my riding gear, including helmet and boots so at an event I can walk around in shorts and a T shirt and I take a pair of “boat shoes” for my feet.

Bob's touring trolley. Extending handle, bag, bike kit and it stands up on it's own
The trolley seen from the top.

To stop the trolley sliding around on the rack I added some fingers which index with some of the tube work on the rack so adding the back rest was relatively easy, I made the support bracket from two pieces of 3mm steel strap which I bent to different radii and welded at both ends to provide maximum stiffness.

the underside of the trolley has fingers and clamps to attach it to the rack on the KLX

The backrest itself is just 10mm plywood and foam with a vinyl covering. It is attached with a steel plate into which I tapped two M6 holes and this is screwed to the foam-side of the wood. The support bracket has multiple sets of holes for the backrest height and fore-aft position where it attaches to the trolley. Attachment is with M6 thumb screws, so I can remove it (or adjust it) without tools.

The KLX250 has a wider saddle and a padded backrest for long distance trips
The backrest, the bags and the frame seen close from the rear of the motorcycle

Next I made some highway pegs which allow the legs to stretch when riding. A 5mm thick steel bar attaches to the lower frame rail with U bolts and I turned and milled some aluminium folding pegs to go on the end. Since the photo was taken I have replaced the standard M8 nuts with sleeve nuts which I have cross drilled to take a 6mm tommy bar, enabling me to fit and remove the highway pegs without the need for tools – the pegs don't stick out when folded, but if I come across some really knarly trails on my long run it only takes a minute to remove the pegs and stash them on the back out of harm's way. 

The pegs allow my knees to adopt a more relaxed angle but an unexpected benefit was that it eliminates the common trail bike trait of constantly sliding forward down the sloped saddle, which greatly increases comfort in the gentlemen's area and also creates a natural rearward lean towards the back rest.

Bobs highway pegs mounted forward of the engine and presently ready to use
The same footrests are folded up, out the way ready for off road riding

The effect of the backrest and the highway pegs is life-changing, sitting on the bike now is like being in a comfortable chair – this is also dependent on my having changed the saddle from the original straddling-a-fence torture instrument to a comfortable “Sergeant” aftermarket saddle.

Both backrest and highway pegs are for long runs, they can be removed in a couple of minutes without tools and are not fitted most of the time.

I have fitted a windscreen with adjustable flip. I have the windscreen at quite a shallow angle as it is there for my comfort but also to help the bike in headwinds, so I don't have it sitting up like a barn door generating drag. The adjustable flip in the down position enables me to ride without earplugs because the turbulent air from the top of the screen hits my upper shoulders, leaving my head in clean air. For longer runs I put the flip at the highest position which provides shelter but also moves the turbulence up to my helmet and so requires earplugs.

A bumbag or fanny pack strapped around the handlebars of Bob's KLX250

I have handguards and heated grips and a throttle lock which grips the twistgrip and rests along the top of the brake lever, this is a fantastic thing on a long motorway run as it enables a relaxed grip on the bars and allows me to use my right hand. 

The drinks holder has proved to be one of my favourite additions. When trail riding I fill it with iced squash, on road runs it tends to be fruit tea, It's marvellous to pull up at a nice spot and have a quick sip for a minute or two without even having to get off the bike. 

The final addition is the “bum bag” attached to the bars, this is useful for my EDC  pouch, earplugs and other sundries; It's second use is when going to events, If I've stripped all my bike gear off and I'm there in T shirt and shorts I don't have any pockets, so the bum bag comes off the bike and goes on me.

If you want to share your fabulous motorcycle creation then click here.

Reader's Comments

Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
Once again I feel that I've been entirely outbodged, kudos to Bob. I am mightily impressed with the notion of a luggage trolley-come-touring-pack and feel there maybe some copycat hacks coming soon. Of course I lack Bob's skill so don't be expecting anything quite so well made. I adore the kick stand to keep it upright.
29/06/2020 08:22:18 UTC
Ian Soady said :-
You're about half way to a full feet forward bike there Bob. It looks as though you've moved the CoG further back - does it affect handling?
29/06/2020 10:29:42 UTC
ROD said :-
Very good solutions to many motorcyclists problems.
Well done Bob.
29/06/2020 11:26:57 UTC
Bob said :-
Thanks for the comments, It's taken a couple of years to evolve these ideas.

I believe Givi offer a topbox with an extending handle and little wheels (at huge expense obviously).

CofG - yes, I'm sitting at the back of the seat in cruiser mode, but since that's on smooth motorways it makes no difference, when I return to normal roads with corners and roundabouts I slide forward so I'm not touching the backrest and the CofG is restored to the more normal place and at that point my feet are back on the standard pegs so it works out quite naturally. I took my cue from the design of the Sargeant saddle, they have shaped it so that the wide sitting pad is at the back so you end up there anyway on long runs.

i tried a few maxi-scooters but found them surprisingly cramped, the riding position felt a bit like sitting on the loo! I remember the Quasar FF motorcycle, but they are a) rare and b) not really a motorcycle in my eyes.

I have to be able to go off road (it's an addiction) and I am convinced that there IS a way to engineer a solution to ANY problem (that's an addiction too).
29/06/2020 13:07:02 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
I did wonder regarding the very rearward location of the back rest and I kind of guessed when you're doing the long motorways stuff you'd move right back and use the highway pegs and return to the "standard" position for town or off-road work. I'm glad to hear it works for you. For a shortass like myself I doubt I could reach the bars or the highway pegs from back there, how tall are you Bob?
29/06/2020 13:31:04 UTC
Snod said :-
I sincerely hope I never get old enough that these things start to make sense..!
29/06/2020 13:41:10 UTC
Bob said :-
I forgot to mention the oil bottle strapped to the downtube.
I run a Scottoiler and I have it set quite high, especially during off-road riding, so it needs frequent topping up. The yellow bottle is a Scottoiler refil which has the pointy nozzle required for filling the oiler and a not very secure push on cap. I fill the bottle with engine oil so that I can top up the Scottoiler and the engine (if required) from the one bottle.
To keep the push on cap secure and the nozzle clean I designed and 3D printed a cover to go over the top of the bottle, it's visible in the photo and is secured with a bit of elastic. Since the photo I have replaced the carrier which was made from an army mess tin with a proper wire bottle cage, mounted to an aluminium block which I milled out to clear the seam on the downtube.
The design was done in TinkerCad (screenshot attached), which is an easy wey to turn out quick and simple designs.
Posted Image
29/06/2020 13:46:16 UTC
Bob said :-
Ren, I'm 6'2" which is not so tall, but I have a 34.5" inseam and it's that which causes me most trouble when choosing bikes.
There are many, probably most, modern bikes that I simply can't ride because the distance between the seat and pegs is not enough. Many of them have the stance of a broken back nag, high at the front and the back but very low in the middle.

29/06/2020 13:52:13 UTC
Upt'North said :-
The Givi trolley is actually just the base, so a replacement mounting plate sort of.
They look pretty sturdy but obviously only work with their boxes but I suppose someone we know could bodge an old top box and bag together.
I don't think they're too expensive either. Yes Ed, money!
29/06/2020 18:25:52 UTC
Bob said :-
I think the largest Givi is 52 litres. That would take quite a bit of stuff, but I find that Helmet, Jacket, Trousers and boots pretty much stuffs my 100 litre holdall.
29/06/2020 18:43:06 UTC
Upt'North said :-
Agreed, you'd ever get all that in a 52 L box. But it is an interesting alternative to a normal top box as long as some bodger could affix a bag to the trolley. Are your ears burning Ed.
While we are on the subject of litres, my Givi is a 46. So I should be able to put 23 big bottles of pop in there, ignoring the weight of course. I think I'd struggle to get 10 in.
So the question is, do Italians have different size litres to us?
29/06/2020 18:57:47 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
I must agree, 52 litres ain't much especially when measured in "Motorcycle Luggage" litres and not real ones.

No I don't feel the need to line Givi's Chino pockets with spondoolix. Sharon was about to throw out 2 wheeled suitcases, I've asked her to put one to one side for me in anticipa... tion. The biggest issue I'm facing is Bob's creation. How can a clueless buffoon like myself meet such high standards now the bar has been set so high?

I have a 120 litre bag that may yet find itself being pressed into service. In other shocking news I have provisional approval from She Who's Motorcycle Must Be Pretty (SWMMBP) to maybe, possibly, perhaps, be allowed to bodge, sorry, try again, CRAFT a more sturdy and semi-permanent-but only-while-touring luggage system on the Kwakker.

Brace your girdles gentlefolks, wish me luck, say a prayer - I'm going in!

29/06/2020 20:50:10 UTC
Bob said :-
You can buy folding trolleys or "sack barrows", maybe a quick way to test if it's for you is just to strap one of those and your holdall on the back and see how you get on?
On the CB500X you have a lot more room to play with than on the KLX, so it'll probably all fit just fine.
30/06/2020 12:32:17 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
£12 off fleabay. Remove the silly plastic folding thing...
Posted Image
30/06/2020 13:09:41 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
...or with a SEAT!! In actual fact Sharon put it to me that your backrest could, with a little work, be converted to an excellent camping chair...
Posted Image
30/06/2020 13:11:47 UTC
Bob said :-
Others have mentioned sitting on the backrest, but it's not strong enough. I've tried everywhere possible to keep the weight down so as not to upset the handling of what is a very light bike.
I'd need to rebuild everything out of metal at least twice the thickness to even think about sitting on that backrest.
30/06/2020 13:53:55 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
Cheers Bob. You gotta weigh up (ha!) the pros and cons.
01/07/2020 07:33:10 UTC
Borsuk said :-
Snod. Don’t worry. I find that the older I get then everything makes less sense. Unfortunately everyone I know says I make less sense as well. Not sure but I think this may be a win win situation.
03/07/2020 00:35:03 UTC

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