XSR on the NC500

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Chris S
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XSR on the NC500

Post by Chris S » Thu Jul 06, 2017 9:40 am

Morning,
Got my XSR on the road.
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Bought it smashed up a couple of months back, but have been a bit busy.
Once the parts were in, repairing it took only a day (spread over 2 months, of course).
Big relief when I pressed the button and it started up without horrible noises or squirting fluids.
Alright then!
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They say XSRs are made to be customised with a superb range of unique, off the shelf parts from Yamaha Inc.
Bike mag are doing one done up. Will look like this, or so they hope.
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Looks like a homage to Yamaha's 2011 XTW250 Ryoku concept. Great looking machine, with some clever/goofy ideas like the shovelhead/bashplate.
A proper little travel bike. A yellow too. Insects like that.
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The price disparity on Yam parts between here and the US can be staggering. They don't sell the XSR there, but F7-07 (MT-07) bits can be half price of more from Partzilla.
Right now I'm just getting it running; not bothered with scratches on tank panel and cans.
My customising extends to an LED ebay headlamp - 3 of those = a new OE headlamp shell.
Plus a pair of formica/duct tape indicator brackets. It’s all I could find in the barn.
Will get some proper brackets lasered up later.
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I'm going to try out the XSR on an 80-mile lap that doesn’t have one dull mile in it. It’s basically a circuit of the amazing Assynt - easily the most dramatic corner of the Scottish Highlands, and far enough north of Loch Ness to never get that busy. Weather’s set to be good too, after days of summer gales.
Part of it is on the now famous North Coast 500. In the last year it's become a big hit; too big some locals feel, given the single-track roads up here.
The bike is standard, apart from my old Spitfire screen, the lamp and the £1000 Akra twin pipe which probably helped write the bike off.
I bought a new/removed OE system (heaps on ebay) in case the Akra was too loud, but it sounds just right.
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Last edited by Chris S on Wed Aug 09, 2017 10:00 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Chris S
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XSR on the NC500 - 2

Post by Chris S » Thu Jul 06, 2017 10:08 am

I head out east from Achnahaird along the top of Loch Ossian. It’s going to be all bouncy single track with passing places, until Kylesku which is not such easy riding on a bigger bike.
Stac mountain up ahead, looking like a volcano.
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Before Stac I swing north onto what they call the Wee Mad Road around here (‘WMR’).
It’s a fun singletracker - until a motorhome meets a fishfarm lorry on the pass. Then people get a wee bit mad.
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The WMR spins past breezy lochans and along an old birch wood valley to Loch Unpronounceable, the eastern seashore of Enard Bay. This is the highlight of the WMR; at times there’s only a low dry stone wall on a blind summit with a bend between you and the drink.
I pass a couple of ABRs sitting down for a smoko. Orright mate!
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Back up over the gnarly gneiss headland – zillion-year-old bedrock of the Assynt, I pop into Achins near Inverkirkaig Bay, Britain’s remotest bookshop.
I’m wondering about doing an illustrated moto guide to the NC500 region. The old owner isn't so enthused. Maybe I won’t be either in a week – after all, it’s just a road – but ideas are free!
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Up over another rugged headland with cute white stone cottages from the 1700s and snatched views of Suilven (below). ‘Pillar mountain’ the Vikings called it, landmark for Cape Wrath. Turn right for Denmark and proper Carlsberg mead. Probably.
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Lochinver fishing port: fuel, famous pie shop and a few other good eating and lodging options. Matey is filling up his SV650. Looks a bit racey to me for these winding single roads. Could be a plucky newb on an NC adventure.
My XSR is registering 67mpg average. My goal is to get it over 70 and save the planet.
Dark clouds ahead. What happened to the sunny spells forecast?
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You're never far from a tourist gift shop in the Highlands. Ullapool has even more.
But you must admit, these painted beach pebbles are quite cute.
Just up the road I’ll pick up the NC500.
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Chris S
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Re: XSR on the NC500

Post by Chris S » Thu Jul 06, 2017 10:44 am

Just north of Lochinver you turn left onto the actual NC500 coming in from the A837 Ullapool road.
Here the pass somewhere before over to Clachtoll.
This side loop onto the Stoer peninsula could be a continuation of the WMR; barely half a mile of flat, straight single track. We pedalled it once or twice - hard yakka, but the XSR makes easy work of it. The torquey motor can pick up 1500rpm without juddering (try that on your big single) and the gearing feels wide. Only the suspension holds it back.
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A lot of the Stoer is particularly unforgiving: sodden bogs and lochans between lumpen hills of gneiss bedrock.
We packrafted along Glen Salach once – a fault line of long lochans. This is looking SW over the Stoer from Quinag
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I persuaded ex-Desert Rider, Jon to come with in a cut-down £20 Intex pool toy – what I’ve dubbed ‘slackrafts’.
Here I am towing him when I couldn't wait any longer.
The experience was enough to make him buy a proper packraft.
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Late afternoon on the beach near Clachtoll, one of the coastal settlements where the clans got resettled 200 years ago to make way for more profitable sheep grazing. In Sutherland the Clearances were said to be particularly ruthless.
There a ruined kirk and a big, walled graveyard, but many chose to seek their fortunes in Nova Scotla or New Zealand. There was a good doc on it on BBC last week:
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I realise this is the source of those flat, hand-sized painted pebbles from the Lochinver gift shop.
I pick one up for the g-friend and take a pic of the XSR. It’s a good looking bike.
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Round the corner in Clashnessie Bay, matey is also trying out slackrafting.
A kayaker was rescued here just last week, but luckily slackman has an onshore wind, and anyway – it'll puncture as soon as there’s a sharp noise.
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The chilly north wind blows in exceptional clarity and helps bring out the vivid colours.
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Not had a yellow bike since a shite MZ when I was 17 and none the wiser.
Notice the second 6-v battery bungied in, to run a 12-volt radio.
(Fyi, back then, camera lenses were made of old jam jars.)
Had three of the wretched things in my late teens; if I never hear the rrrrring-ding-ding of an MZ ever again, it’ll still be too soon.
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Drumbeg (shop!) on the north shore of the Stoer peninsula.
Across the bay is Handa (puffin) Island and the last mountains of Scotland before Cape Wrath and the Arctic.
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East of Drumbeg the road gets even more up-and-downy, swingy lefty-righty.
The motorhomes struggle on some steep climbs, but the XSR pulls them down like - well... you decide.
I notice cars pull in much more than when I’m driving, though it’s often possible to squeeze past on the single road. Much depends what’s immediately on your left – if it’s a boulder-strewn slope down to crashing waves, or even just a ditch, I’d sooner not be riding with yard-wide hard boxes while tourists grapple with ungainly rental motorhomes.
That’s Quinag at the back. Along with Suilven, one of the best mountain days in the Assynt if you're of the hill-walking persuasion.
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Re: XSR on the NC500

Post by boboneleg » Thu Jul 06, 2017 10:51 am

That's excellent Chris, thanks for taking us along with you (thumbs)
one-legged adventurer

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Chris S
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Re: XSR on the NC500 3

Post by Chris S » Thu Jul 06, 2017 12:14 pm

Thanks Bob.

Back on the main A837 it’s a relief to ride normally and regain some flow.
The mpg has crept to over 70.
I pull over and a couple of ABRs obligingly ride into view.
I seen about 8 bikes in 2 hours, and maybe 5 times as many cars.
Riding sure is popular up here – and quite right too. empty roads, no cameras between Garve and Betty Hill, afaik.
All you need is a spell of good weather.
NC500 weather tip:
I’ve found when it’s baking down south (as last month, right up as far as Aberdeen), the far northwest is getting soaked at barely 15°C. But when the south is getting hosed – or better still flooded right out like a couple of years back, up here blue skies, mid-20s and eventually, wildfires. I think it’s to do with the clockwise rotation of a High: dry easterlies down south; windy westerlies far north.
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Is that Barry?
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The slender concrete span of Kylesku bridge with Ben Quaver behind.
Turning point for me.
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Never mind the T7 we just heard about, what my XSR needs is a 19-inch front, a little more- and a lot better suspension, a bash, some barks and a set of K60s or Rockriders. Like my old Rally Raid CB500X, in fact. Or a Ducati Sled.
XT1200Z wheels have been fitted by the all-style/any function? brigade, but are hard to find used.
I've never really got this 17-front business; maybe it matters for high-speed bend-flipping, but when’s the last time you saw me do that? I much preferred the CB500X RR's lighter steering on a 19-er front, but on bigger bikes feel 21” goes too far the other way for a do-it-all travel bike. Fine on the light WR, less good on my XT660Z.
I spotted a 19-er off an XV950 mock-Sportster on ebay, but it’s only single disc.
Do you think sealing off one caliper is a good idea, or are the hydraulic forces calibrated for two discs?
had a V-Strom thou’ twin disc 19-er for a similar project (TDM or Versys, can’t recall) – should have kept it.
Something will work out, but I want to retain tubeless which is easier done with cast wheels.
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Back over the bridge, heading home.
I think I am liking my new X-Lite 551, though I much prefer open face.
I can't bear wearing a full face more than a second, once off a bike. No wonder I'm a cue ball!
Especially good is the long beak that pivots down for low sun angles. Plus you can lock it to the bike securely.
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Down the A837 and over the col past Quinag, swinging left….
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… and swinging right.
Jacked the shock up to 6/9 before leaving, but it just rebounds more vigorously.
Lately I’ve become spoilt with good suspension.
Still, they got everything else right. The speedo/dash/multimetre/whatever is especially clever; the functions you actually want at the scroll of a button.
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Rain showers over Cul Mor (another great hike).
I'll get wet. Oh well. That's adventure motorcycling dot com
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I turn back west onto the Achiltibuie road, and take a quick shot of Stac from the other side.
You don't get greenery like that without 36.7" of rain per annum, pal.
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Stac is a popular climb. It only takes a couple of hours, has an actual path, and views across Assynt are epic.
The summit pic below frames this evening's 80-mile ride: up the left side (WMR and Stoer) behind the mtn at the back (Quinag); down the right side and back left behind the camera.
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The rain beats down but the sun bursts out - quite a pleasant sensation, as things go.
I look in the mirror and see I’m riding under a rainbow.
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Better take a piccy, a!
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And one more for good luck.
A great couple of hours in the far northwest. How could it be anything else?
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XSR? Me likie, just like I though I would.
Heading back south in a couple of days which will give me a better idea of whether it’s worth scramblifying or just enjoy it for what it is.

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Oop North John
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Re: XSR on the NC500

Post by Oop North John » Thu Jul 06, 2017 12:55 pm

Great report and pictures.
Lucky enough to have done the Stac Polly walk and agree that the views are awesome. Like the rest of the scenery across there.

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Gedge
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Re: XSR on the NC500

Post by Gedge » Thu Jul 06, 2017 12:57 pm

Good to see another XSR owner on the forum and using the bike as it was intended..I agree about suspension and a 19 inch wheel but will leave mine as it is until the 700 Tenere arrives in the UK ....Been out on mine all morning but nothing like the 500.....1 year in and I still love riding it
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Paul-S
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Re: XSR on the NC500

Post by Paul-S » Thu Jul 06, 2017 1:10 pm

Great write up and pictures. Bike looks good

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Jersey87
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Re: XSR on the NC500

Post by Jersey87 » Thu Jul 06, 2017 3:01 pm

Great report.
Got family up in Culkein and was up that way a few years back riding the very same roads as I went from Ullapool to Thurso- absolutely brilliant (when the sun's out) (thumbs)

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Re: XSR on the NC500

Post by crofty » Thu Jul 06, 2017 3:35 pm

Enjoyed the write up and the new bike looks great. Agree about the weather reversals. When the south is deep In a low pressure system the north west is often on the edges and dry. Best when you get a nice high pressure system like the first 2 weeks In May this year. I had a cracking week at Achmelvich doing all the roads. Best picks this year are the Weavers Café In Tongue, fast wifi. Tea van at Stoer, run by the bolshie lass from Sheffield. and the new café at the bottom of the Bealach na Ba, good food and fast wifi.
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