My motorcycle for this journey is a 2020 Yamaha WR250R. I purchased the bike new in December 2020 after looking at lots of different models and working out what would be best for my riding style and travel needs.
At one stage, I considered doing the trip on my Honda NX650 Dominator. A 1995 model, it had only 23,000km on the clock and proved to be very good all-roads touring bike on a trip around Tasmania in late 2017.
However, there were a few things that counted against the Domi for this journey. At nearly 30 years old, it would be only a matter of time before things started wearing out, and I didn’t want to be dealing with that in a foreign land. Another was the scarcity of aftermarket bits such as luggage racks and the like to get the bike set up for long-range travel. Capable as it is, the Domi wasn’t hugely popular and didn’t have a very long production run, so it was never embraced by the accessories crowd.
So the Domi was sold, the money banked and the search began for something more suitable. My key criteria were light weight, solid reliability, reasonable cost and a decent selection of aftermarket accessories. This journey is going to be taken at a relaxed pace, so horsepower is less important than fuel efficiency. Plus I want to be sure I can pick up the bike single-handed even when fully loaded with all my belongings.
Good as they are, large adventure bikes such as BMW’s R 1250 GS and Triumph’s Tiger 1200 and 900 were ruled out due to their size, weight and cost. The middleweights missed the cut for similar reasons. Suzuki’s DR650 was a contender – they’re cheap, robust and as reliable as the day is long – but I figured I could manage quite well on a smaller capacity bike. Yamaha’s excellent Tenere 700 and the KTM 690 were also on the shortlist, but their prices and questions over the need for a bike of that size eventually ruled them out.
In the end, it came down to three suspects: Suzuki’s DR-Z400, Honda’s CRF250L (the 300 hadn’t yet been released) and the Yamaha WR250R. I rode examples of each but the Yamaha was the clear standout. I found the Suzuki a bit unrefined and agricultural, while the Honda was too soft and doughy.
The WR-R isn’t the fastest or the flashest but it is stupidly reliable, miserly on the go-juice and well screwed together. Importantly, it is great fun to ride and I clicked with it straight away.
With a decision made and the bike ordered, I set about getting it travel ready. The Safari fuel tank was a no-brainer – at 13.5 litres it nearly doubles the WR’s stock fuel capacity – as were new handlebars, risers and Barkbuster handguards. I ordered all these with the bike and they were fitted by the dealer prior to delivery.
I’ve listed below all the modifications and extra bits that have been stuck on the WR250R over the past couple of years. There’s been some trial and error along the way. For example, I originally bought a Wolfman rackless luggage system. While great for shorter trips, I realised I’d need more carrying capacity for this journey through the Americas. So the Wolfman kit was replaced by Outback Motortek steel racks and Enduristan Monsoon Evo soft panniers.
- ProTaper Contour CR high bend handlebars
- SPP handlebar risers
- Barkbusters Ego handguards
- Adventure Spec universal mini fairing
- Otillo phone holder
- USB power socket with voltmeter (RIP – replaced in Panama City)
- RAM handlebar mount for action camera
- Safari 13.5-litre fuel tank
- Seat Concepts standard height replacement seat
- B&B Offroad alloy bashplate
- B&B Offroad rear brake master cylinder guard
- Outback Motortek pannier racks
- B&B Offroad alloy rear rack
- B&B Offroad rego plate holder/tail tidy
- DRC footpegs (5mm lower)
- ProTaper pillow grips
- Enduristan Monsoon Evo soft panniers
- OSAH 25-litre drybag
- Home-brewed tank panniers made from ex-British Army daypacks
- MPE suspension upgrade including revalving and uprated fork and rear shock springs
- Wiring harness for heated jacket liner
- Michelin Anakee Wild tyres (not surprisingly, these eventually wore out. The bike currently has Heidenau K60s fitted front and rear)