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Nomadic Dream Machine

The Making of a Common Rider's Ultimate Tour Bike, On a Budget.


Joe Zimmerman


They are the weekend warriors.  They are the hobbyists.  They are the occasional trip seekers.  They are the commuters riding to and from work.  They are most likely you - the very person reading this article.  I’m speaking of the common, average motorcyclist.  Unlike those very unique and specialized seasoned professional adventure seekers out caravanning the outskirts of Mongolia, there are countless more ordinary touring riders crisscrossing the national parks of Utah.  For every one expert adventure rider roaming through the countries of South America, there are literally thousands upon thousands traveling across the states of North America.  This is the group I categorize myself in - the ordinary rider who enjoys occasional adventures and exploration.  To clarify, it should be noted that the phrase, “adventure riding”, is subjective.  What constitutes adventure is different for everyone, and depending on what your riding needs, wants and habits are (and your budget) should define the motorcycle you ride or choose.  Do you want to be a weekend warrior, visiting local parks and cafés?  Or do you want to travel for days or weeks on end through remote barren lands?  For me, I felt I’d like to be able to do both with a single bike.

Just like Martial Arts, we all have our own reasons why we study a specific discipline:  to lose weight, to learn to defend ourselves, to become teachers, to compete in the sport, etc.  In the case of my personal adventure riding, I wanted something exceptional that could handle a 270-mile ride (for business) in Las Vegas, Nevada (below, left), to a 5-mile romp in the local Hollywood hills (below, right) …


… to a 1,790-mile pleasure trip to Elvis’s estate in Memphis, Tennessee (below).

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I simply wanted an overall go-anywhere do-anything touring adventure machine for the regular rider that wouldn’t break the bank - a combination of practicality that worked for me.  I wanted the MMA-M (the Mixed Martial Arts of Motorcycles) - A bike that was capable in a verity of skills.


The goal I set for myself was to bring home a low profile, economical barebones motorcycle, and leave home with a magnificent travel machine.  It had to be heavy enough to comfortably ride through the long stretches of high winds in New Mexico and Texas and yet be agile and light enough to zip and corner through the nooks and crannies of the pothole-infested side streets and alleys of Brooklyn, New York, diversified enough to contend with the scorching sunshine along Route 66, and the midnight thunderstorms along the maze of forest within the back hills of West Virginia.

My objective was to create a definitive touring adventure bike that was a cross between a slick KTM 250 dirt bike and a $30,000.00 Harley Davidson cross-country tour hog.  Well, at least that was the goal.  Yet, because I’m the average Joe, (pun intended) I was not going to spend $22,000.00 on an overweight Triumph 12XCA, or $18,000.00 on a KTM 1290 Super Adventure R.  I didn’t even want to spend $10,000.00 on a Suzuki V-Storm 650XT!  I wanted a fully diverse and versatile riding machine with all the necessary aftermarket add-ons (off-road crash protection, auxiliary lights, long-range fuel tank etc.), and I wanted it all for the fraction of what today’s adventure motorcycles cost.  Call me frugal if you will, but, it didn’t make any sense to purchase more than what I needed or could handle.


So, where to start?  Well, creating the perfect cost-effective adventure motorcycle for the “average rider” required a machine with reliability because I’m not a skilled mechanic.  Besides, what’s the point of traveling through remote locations of Oklahoma with a motorcycle that you just spent thousands of dollars fabricating into a touring bike, yet has a history of failures?  So, to establish the best reliable motorcycle I started by searching for a bike with the lowest breakdowns and repair rates.

Below:  So many bikes to choose from.  What to do?


For the cost ratio, and peace of mind on the road, my final choice was Honda.  Why Honda?  Because it’s a world respected manufacturer that has been in business for over half a century.  Consumer Report (in 2015) judged Japanese brand bikes to be the most reliable motorcycles: Yamaha, Kawasaki, Suzuki and of course Honda with its impressive failure rate of only 12% seemed the best choice.  As well, parts are usually accessible and prices are typically economical.  So, after considerable research I purchased a lightly used Honda (original concept) NC700X not long after it was released in 2012.

With its revolutionary design that included a full size helmet storage compartment where the gas tank normally is (the gas tank was moved back and under the seat), and a “tilted” parallel twin engine that lowered the bike’s center of gravity, making it extremely nimble, I realized this was the perfect motorcycle to turn into a wonderful travel machine.  Its basic standard sit-up body position, wide handlebar grips and tremendous fuel efficiency coupled with 6 and ½ inches of ground clearance made this a multifunctional prime choice and versatile enough machine for my needs to start with.

Below:  Great sit-up positioning (left) and Super Large Front Storage Compartment, aka the “Frunk” (center) and wide grip handlebars (right).

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Below: Not 9 inches like on some KTM’s, but also not 4 ½ inches either like a Harley Road Glide.  The NC’s 6 ½ inches of ground clearance was just enough (left), to be utilized many times over in the go-anywhere scenario that usually meant popping over all sorts of sidewalks (right).


Despite the NC’s limited fuel capacity of only 3.7 gallons, its distance range was over 200 miles.  It was fuel injected; required low maintenance, had enough muscle to go from 0 to 60mph in about 4 seconds, could reach speeds of up to 115mph on the highway and again, most importantly, was reliable.  So, after a little bargaining with the dealership, I had my bike for $4,300 ($5,000 out the door).

Below: After making my choice, it was time to ride home and get down to business.


Again, the goal was simply to create a comfortable all-round do anything, go anywhere motorcycle for me, the average Joe.  So, because getting around anywhere required wheels that would be spending most of their time on the slab, with short periods of off-road dirt, gravel, and sand, I got the Continental Conti Trail Attack 2 - Adventure Touring/Dual Sport tires.  Basically they provided 85% on road traction with 15% off road.  With superb all weather grip on the road and excellent long distance capability, after an 8,000-mile, mostly road, tour, they’re still on my bike going strong.

Below: Switching out the original wheels to Continental’s ContiTrailAttack 2 tires.


Below: Installing my ContiTrailAttack 2 tires (left).  These tires have proven themselves.  After an 8,000 mile trip they still look new (right).  Incredible long lasting life, they are without doubt my go-to tires.  Made in Germany, these tires are a top quality product.


It’s worth noting if anyone wants these tires, do it now because it’s becoming rare to find them in the USA these days as Continental Tires is focusing on their newer and more technologically developed Trail Attack 3 tires, released in 2017.  The TrailAttack 3 tires will be my next install.  It’s taking a while because my TrailAttack 2 tires don’t seem to want to wear out.  After crisscrossing the United States these tires showed little or no uneven wear or cracking and the tread loss was minimal to say the least.  Like the Honda brand, Continental offers reliability.  Through performance and dependability the Trail Attack tires have proven to me to be the best all-round adventure tires for any motorcycle.


Below: ContiTrailAttack 2 tires handling superbly through every adventure from the thunderstorms of Arkansas (left), the scorching heat of New Mexico (center), and the dirt roads of the Hollywood Hills in California (right).  

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To reinforce these outstanding tires with super resistant powers, I injected Ride-On sealant into them.  This sealant provided extra security so if I did happen to get a tire puncture on the contact patch in the middle of nowhere, my wheels would not flatten-out on me.  This sealant is designed to instantly and automatically plug the hole as I ride.  Another plus to installing the Ride-On product was that it also balanced the tires as well.  There was no more need for those ugly tiny weight thingies glued to the rims of the wheels.  And now after 3 years of using this product and traveling at speeds of up to 100mph, I can confidently state that these 17-inch wheels have handled great with this sealant.  Lastly, unlike other sealants in the marketplace that cause a mess when removing or changing the tires, the Ride-On sealant actually attaches and stays fixed to the inside center surface of the wheel.  So, there’s never a mess when you remove the tires.  But do note, because the Ride-On sealant attaches to the inside center portion of the tire, the sealant will not work on punctures or tears that occur along the edges.

Since we are on the subject of wheels, I added Tire Rim Trim Design Stickers for better night visibility and to give the rims a slicker look.  And, I also connected a Bariicare Tire Pressure Monitoring System on the wheels to automatically keep tabs on the tire pressures.


Below: Ride-On sealant (left), before and after Tire Trim Tape (center), and tire pressure monitor valve (right).


Next up, the handlebars got a set of ridged Australian Barkbusters Storm Handguards to protect the clutch handle and brake lever in case of a drop.  With its metallic lightweight frame and hard plastic casing, the Barkbusters also protect my hands from on-road riding impacts, flying debris and off-road dense brush and branches.  The model that fit my Honda NC700X was the BHG-046.  This is the two point mount version that has the full wrap around aluminum design protection.  The plastic guards are sold separately.  


Below: Easy two product installation (left), Rider’s POV of before and after installation of the Barkbusters (center, right).

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Below:  The Barkbusters, offering all-round protection and looking stylish at the same time.


It’s hard to imagine any adventure bike without the Barkbusters.

Covering the Barkbusters Handguards, are a pair of HIPPO HANDS Covers.  These protective covers from Oregon took some getting used to, but once I did, I can honestly say I wouldn’t leave home without them.  At first, I had phantom moments where I’d reach out to my grips while off the bike and then inadvertently bang into the HIPPO soft covering.  I would also intentionally look down to find my handlebar grips or my starter button.  But after a short period of time, I started getting used to them and realized the benefits of these covers as they offered full weather protection for my hands from rain, snow, wind, dirt, road projectiles etc.  Not only do the HIPPO HANDS complement the hard case protection of the Barkbusters but also keep my hands warm and safe from the elements, including the ultraviolet sun rays on those long sunny days if I prefer not to wear gloves (although rare).  I can honestly say that at this point, if I don’t have my HIPPO HANDS covers on, my bike feels naked.

Below: The pair of HIPPO HANDS Covers on the bike while traveling. 


Below: Complete coverage and protection.  A POV of the HIPPO HANDS Covers securely wrapped around my shielding Barbusters.  This setup is an ideal impact and weather defense system for any adventure rider.  And yes, they work fine even standing up (right).

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On my throttle grip I installed a Crampbuster, model CB1 to rest my palm and control my throttle (yes at the same time).  This simple yet ingenuous cruise assist mechanism is insanely easy to install and prevents you from getting a case of the grip-cramps from holding the throttle down for hours on end.  In one instance, before using the Crampbuster, after arriving at a motel and removing my glove I felt excruciating pain at the tips of my fingers.  The reason turned out to be because I had clipped my fingernails the night before and then kept a lengthy tight throttle grip while riding along open highways, through high winds and rain.  I had unintentionally torn the skin under the tips of my nails.  Recovery took several nights of icing after painful riding days.  So basically, now with the Crampbuster installed I can simply adjust or maintain my throttle speed by using my palm while it rests along the device.  It naturally allows me to keep a looser throttle grip as well.

Below:  The Crampbuster inconspicuously positioned at the end of the throttle grip (left).  What sets my motorcycle apart from $15,000-$30,000 motorcycles (right), is a very inventive and inexpensive game changer for long distance bikers, the Crampbuster.


Also, along the throttle grip I installed a Go Cruise 2 GC-A1BK universal throttle cruise control lock for those periods of long stretches of straight forward riding, to give my right arm an occasional break.  Simply put, it’s an unassuming cruise control. 


Below: Go Cruise 2 Control System (left).  Go Cruise 2, and Crampbuster palm rest throttle control (right).

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For finger slip resistance and comfort while using the hand levers, I installed Brake and Shift lever Rubber Covers.  This basically removed the metallic feel and replaced it with a softer texture.  These foam Lever Grips are truly easygoing on my bare hands when I have the gloves off.  I also included rubber grip-cover socks over the foot gear shift and the rear foot brake lever.  This offered a great (non- slip) connection with my rubber sole boots.


Below:  Rubber grips for my hand shift (Left) and brake lever (Right) providing slip resistance to both surfaces.  You don’t really appreciate how valuable these little grips are until you’ve spent hours in bumper to bumper traffic relentlessly shifting without them.


Below: The rubber sock for my right foot brake (before and after).


Below: The rubber sock for my left gear shift foot lever (before and after).

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A Front Fender Extender was installed on the back of the front wheel fender to keep water, mud, and road filth from flying into the radiator cover and engine.  Also, a Rear Hugger Mudguard was installed to prevent mud from being sprayed at the suspension rod and anything else along the rear of the bike.  For radiator protection I installed an R&G Radiator Grill-Guard with an improvised meshed screen which was simply clipped on with mini zip-ties. 


Below:  Front Fender Extender (left), Rear Mudguard & Front Fender Extender installed (center), and R&G Radiator Grill Guard w/ mesh screen (right).


From my experience and observations regarding engine protection, just note that the wrap around engine guards that everyone uses these days may very well protect your engine, but they do nothing to prevent your legs from getting pinned and crushed when sliding or having a forceful impact.  So, to protect my engine and legs I chose the KIJIMA highway Engine Crash Bar Guards.  They protrude outward (as opposed to wrapping around and hugging the engine).  So, if I do go down, it’s less likely that my legs will get crushed between the bike and the ground; I say this from actual experience.  Those protruding bars offer pretty good safety clearance that other guards simply do not on cement and gravel.  So, for me it’s a better option for engine and leg protection than the wraparound guards (unless you get lucky and put some distance between you and the bike when you go down). 


Below:  KIJIMA highway Engine Crash Bar Guards installed, providing crash space distance for my legs, between the engine, and the ground.


The KIJIMA highway Protection Guards also offer a great anchor for many accessories including cameras and fog lights, as well as providing a decent resting place for my boots when stretching out while riding.

Below: Attached to the KIJIMA Engine Guards are powerful non-descript auxiliary Fog Lights, a pair of ANAY black CNC Aluminum Touring Foot-Pegs, an adjustable Camera Mount and a flexible emergency flashing light (left).  All installed onto the protruding engine crash Guards without issue because of the space they provide (right). 


As a backup engine protection insurance plan, and to compliment the KIJIMA engine guards, I bolted on R&G motorcycle side engine covers.

Below: R&G Racing Stator Engine Cover (Left), and an R&G Racing Clutch Engine Cover (Right)


I also picked up an R&G Round Racing Exhaust Pipe Protector and 2 other manufacturer’s versions.  These 3 Oval Exhaust Protector Covers should help in the event of an unfortunate slide down a road, or tip over (and they have).

Below: The exhaust protectors, before and after installation.


Also installed was a larger Touring Windshield, as the stock shield the bike came with was simply useless for protecting my 6’4” 200lbs. frame.  Basically these OEM shields are point of purchase windshields that are esthetically pleasing to the eye to help sell the motorcycle but offer very little in functionality for any adventure riding.

Below: The original (and useless) windshield that came with the NC700X. 


Personally I am not a big fan of windscreens as they are typically not see-through and they’re purpose is simply to deflect wind direction only.  But, windshields on the other hand are dual-purpose; they allow you to see-through the shield and deflect the wind.  In either-case, both the shield and the screen are vital components for adventure/touring, they decrease fatigue by reducing the pounding wind pressure off your body, keep flying insects off your clothes and helmet, help keep your body temperature regulated when riding in frigid air, somewhat keep you dry in the rain, protect you from flying road debris and so on.  Point is windshields and windscreens are essential tools for adventure riding and touring.   

Because finding the right wind protection was difficult for me, I installed Honda’s Larger Touring Windshield and added two additional Adjustable Clip-On Wind-Shield Deflector Extenders.  The Extenders were installed separately to allow the frame flexibility to bend slightly as opposed to creating a super tall one-piece homemade windshield that could crack or breakoff from constant high speed pressure.


Below: A newly fabricated windshield made with Clip-On Wind-Screen Deflector Extenders.

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Like Honda’s OEM windshield, their OEM seat left little to be desired.  Because the originally designed seat was so poorly crafted and couldn’t be ridden on for more than an hour before hurting my butt, I swapped it for a Russell Day Long Customized Seat.  I included a Mustang Seat Rain Cover and a unique revolutionary Israeli-made web-net cover by “Sit & Fly” that I placed over the rain cover.  I rode from Los Angeles, California to the outskirts of Albuquerque, New Mexico in one 18 hour sitting (minus stops for fuel) and had no discomfort issues at all.  I also added a Tribo-Seat (Anti-Slip) Passenger Seat Cover to keep strapped-down luggage from sliding around on the pillion (rear seat).

Below:  The painfully uncomfortable slope of the OEM seat.


Below: The new Russell Day Long Customized Seat replacement (left), and installed on the bike with a rain shield and web-net cover by “Sit & Fly” (right).

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Below: To protect the one front (and vulnerable) headlight, I covered it with a Clear Rugged Headlight Protector (left, center “A”), and over that I installed a secondary layer of protection in the form of an Aluminum Headlight Grille Cage Guard Cover (center “B”, right).


To help with rear visibility I installed a 180-degree Rider-Scan mirror, which came in handy on the freeway when I heard something flapping on my body and couldn’t see what or where it was.  One quick glance at the Rider-Scan mirror mounted at the center of the windscreen and I could easily spot the hydration bladder hose which came loose from my shoulder strap.  And speaking of mirrors, I added 2 wide-view Mini Mirrors to my stock side mirrors for additional viewing coverage.

Below: Rider-Scan Mirror installed (left and center), and mini wide-view mirror (right).


To continue, after installing a pair of inexpensive custom-made Saddle Bag Rods, I purchased and installed the Nelson-Rigg CL-905 Saddle Bags.  These bags held on by 2 heavy-duty Velcro straps that cross over the rear seat, came with additional Snap-On straps that locked the bags to the frame of the bike to keep them secure.

Below: Before and after installation of the custom made Saddle Bag “Rods”, which prevent the bags from bending into the rear tire.


Below: The Nelson-Rigg CL-905 Saddle Bags Installed.


To continue with my luggage arrangement, along with the Nelson-Rigg CL-905 soft Saddle Bags, I installed two essential SW-MOTECH products (below).

The SW-MOTECH ALU-Rack Top-rack with Quick-Release (left), and the soft luggage Carrier for the ALU-Rack (right). 

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The SW-MOTECH ALU Rack is truly a high quality product that’s laser cut from aluminum alloy and contains a powder coated surface that makes it corrosion free.  On top of that I installed SW-MOTECH’s soft luggage rack extension Carrier.  This Carrier plate offers many mounting strap-down options and makes securing your luggage quick and simple.


Below:  On top of the SW-MOTECH quick-release soft luggage “carrier” I mounted the Nelson-Rigg CL-1040-TP Jumbo Tail Bag.

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Below: Not only does the Nelson-Rigg jumbo tail bag offer a generous size of storage space (left), but in case of a rear impact, you won’t be slamming into a hard top case.  This soft bag should help cushion an impact if your body gets slammed from a rear end (right).

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Below: Lastly regarding bags, I also installed a small Rear Tail & Back Seat Storage case (left & center), which houses the motorcycle’s rain cover, another vital touring must item (right).


Why did I choose these soft bags over hard case panniers?  Well, despite all the pro and con arguments within the bike community, these were my personal reasons.  Basically, I chose soft luggage for convenience and safety.  These Nelson-Rigg bags can flop over the shoulder if you needed to carry them, leaving your hands free to carry other things.  Inadvertently damaging other vehicles while riding or parking next to them isn’t a concern with soft luggage.  Increasing and decreasing the size of your luggage capacity is maintained with zippers because these units are conveniently expandable.  But mostly I bought soft luggage for safety reasons.  Wait till you crash your bike and get your leg crushed in between something and those hard aluminum luggage cases.  With soft cases, your baggage would most likely compress and give in with some flexibility for your leg’s safety if you took a spill and found yourself up close with your luggage.  And be wary, hard cases have a tendency to dent into, and grab onto poles and cement barriers.

Below:  A biker with panniers learns the hard way why hard-cases are not such a good idea, as his hard-case taps a cement block and sends him and his bike falling over the edge of a pier (left), while soft luggage allows you to squeeze into tight places much easier (right), and allows you to increase and decrease the expandable luggage size with the pull of a zipper.


Again, because adventures can take us to areas that are semi-barricaded or blocked by cement blocks or gated fence doors, instead of removing hard cases for one or two inches of passing space, it’s just so much simpler to just push in on your soft bags, to get your bike through a tight barrier.  Do note that the Nelson-Rigg CL-905 Saddle Bags and the Nelson-Rigg CL-1040-TP Jumbo Tail Bag are no longer being produced.  So if you would like these particular bags, you’ll have to look hard and wide, otherwise you can try going to Nelson-Rigg's website and check what they have in their current product line that’s comparable, click here.

Sticking to the SW-MOTECH brand, I installed their On-Road Off-Road ION Convertible Footrests.  Honda’s original OEM Foot-pegs did not offer a good base of contact for my boots.  The SW-MOTECH Convertible Foot-pegs offered a larger surface area for my feet to rest on.  The anti-slip removable rubber top surface texture is comfortable, helping to reduce vibration, and when removed, provides an off-road grip with the corrosion resistant cast stainless-steel ridged edges.  These foot-pegs also offer adjustability for better foot placement and are extremely durable.  Basically these things are built to last with hinges made of high-strength aluminum alloy that fold out of the way if the bike goes down.

Below: Happy with the SW-MOTECH Alu-Rack Top-rack and Carrier, I decided to also get the SW-MOTECH ION Convertible Footrest pegs, which offered a larger surface area for my boots than the OEM pegs, (left).  These pegs are also fully convertible for off-road adventures (right).


To help keep the bike steady when parking in challenging terrain I installed a Areyourshop Side Kickstand Plate Pad as the OEM stand was way too narrow and would slice down through grass and soil.  This Plate Pad offered a better grip, and a wider surface area.  Using this device, the kickstand is now less likely to sink into the ground, preventing the motorcycle from tipping over.


Below: The Areyourshop Side Kickstand Plate Pad, offering a ribbed base and wider surface space area than the OEM kickstand, allowing the bike better parking stability and more parking options in diverse terrain.


I also installed a pair of Fork Gaiter Covers on the front suspension forks so dust, tiny pebbles, and dirt wouldn’t get into the inner shocks.

Below: Installing the Fork Gaiter Covers.


As well as offering protection, these inexpensive fork covers also gave the front end a very classic retro look to the NC700X.  Although I did remove both forks to slip the Gaiters over them, if I had to do it again, I’d probably just cut down along each cover and then wrap them around the forks, then simply reattach them back together again with mini zip-ties. 

As a precautionary measure I also installed an additional clutch cable alongside the existing working cable.  I have no doubt my original cable will last me a long time, but just as an insurance policy, it didn’t hurt to have this back up installed for a couple of dollars.


Below:  Both ends of the added Back-Up Clutch Cable running alongside the operating cable: Alongside the hand lever (left) and at the bottom end of the cable (right).


Below (before & after): Added a 3D Rubber Gas Tank Protector Sticker - although remember, the NC does not have an actual gas tank there (left), and Side Knee Grip-Pad Protectors, which provide a better grip for my knees when standing than the actual bare slippery surface (right).


Because the NC’s original horn was inadequate for real world riding and offered a wimpy sound (can I still say wimpy, or is that another politically offensive word removed from our language?), I opted to install a better horn and installed the PIAA 76501 (a 500Hz Slim Line Sports Horn).  This horn offered a deeper, fuller and much louder sound than the stock horn.  Using only 2.8 Amps, I’m much happier with the safety this horn provides me.  While simple to install using the pre-factory wiring on the bike, just note it’s only water resistant, so I have it covered with a thin layer of waterproof fabric.

Below: The PIAA 76501 horn (left), and installed on the bike with a thin rainproof cover (right).


Although the fuel economy on the NC700X is excellent, getting anywhere from 60 to 80 miles to the gallon, which provides a range of over 200 miles on the limited 3.7-gallon capacity, I strategically and inconspicuously attached seven fully fueled 30 ounce MSR Liquid Fuel Bottles around the rear of the bike which provides me approximately 1.64 Gallons of back-up fuel.  This adds to about an additional hour of riding if I had to search for a fueling station.  Originally, I bought the La Rosa 30-ounce fuel bottles from but half those bottles were defective along the top rim, as the fuel would leak from the cap’s edges.  Those bottles were very poorly designed and extremely unreliable.  But all 7 MSR bottles off Amazon have held up superbly through the years for me.

Below:  I keep 2 of the MSR fuel bottles stored in older Wolfman designed Wolf Bottle Holsters (left), and 3 are in the Roll Bar Fire Extinguisher Mount Holders as well (right). 


Below:  New 30 ounce MSR Liquid Fuel Bottles (left) and the bottles securely locked and strapped to the rear, sides, and under my passenger seat (unseen in photo) (right).


Below: a closer look at the 30 ounce MSR Liquid Bottles fully fueled and securely locked and strapped to the rear frame of the bike.


Below: I included a Center Stand for obvious reasons such as repairing the rear wheel, changing the oil, cleaning the chain, working on the rear brakes, and so forth.


Below: Additionally added to the bike were The Garmin Zumo GPS unit for navigation, a Dash-Cam, a Clear Waterproof Phone Mount Case, 2 USB & 2 Cigarette Socket chargers via Battery Tender Split Wires w/ 2-in-1 Plus Fuses (all with weather covers).


It is also worth mentioning that I installed a Magnetic Oil Drain Bolt which collects small metallic fragments inside the engine, random red and white blinking LED night lights to keep the bike secure while parked, complete OEM tool kit, Stop N Go Tire Repair kit, AIRXWILLS Portable Tire Inflator, GOOLOO 600A Peak 1500mAh Mini Battery Jumper, cable lock, disk lock and much more that are on the bike.


Everything from zip-ties, grip tape, work gloves, a fire starter, compasses, mini foldable nozzles, chain cleaner, Several Camera Ram Mounts, wearable LED headlamp, multi-tool knife, extra oil, back up GPS, back up charging cables, manual, clear waterproof sleeves for my hardcopy paper road maps and so-forth, are always with the bike anywhere we go.

Are there still farkles left to add on?  Of course, there can be, but I was not creating a motorcycle for specific subzero mountain climbing or high dessert riding.  I just didn’t need more than what I really needed as a common rider.  With the NC weighting in as much as 480lbs and carrying my 200lbs of body weight with around 115lbs of baggage and gear, the additional weight of even a light or heavy metal Skid Plate didn’t seem necessary for my travels.  Although the bottom belly is semi-exposed, it does have hard plastic protection in the lower fairing cowl underneath the sides of the engine.  It’s obviously not adequate for extreme off-road riding, but, it is sufficient enough for grassy hills, dirt roads and terrain with gravel.  As well, regarding the lower side fairing, because the majority of my riding is on pavement, to keep wind off my legs I installed lower side wind air deflectors to that fairing cowl.  


Below:  The plastic lower fairing cowl protection around the belly of the NC700X with the attached lower wind air deflectors on the sides (left), and the very respectable side rear view mirrors that did not need replacing (right).

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I also didn’t need a power-drawing heated grip apparatus considering I’m already juicing my phone, Dash-Cam, GPS, headlight and fog lights etc.  My rationale was that I already had Barkbusters and HIPPIO HANDS covering my gloved hands; my hands were plenty warm for my type of touring, and at 6’4” tall, I didn’t need Risers for my handlebars as my arms are exceptionally long.  I did not require Ram mounted side mirrors, as the stock mirrors that came with the NC were fairly decent to use and if they ever did break, then I’d upgrade to the Ram mounted ones.  Nor did I need to change the suspension, as I have no expectation of taking the NC rock climbing at high speeds.

Although the NC700X does have a reputation for having a quiet engine with the OEM muffler, which I could have swapped out for a louder rumble, I’m just not a fan of revving the throttle to make people aware I’m lane splitting several inches from their cars.  Actually, I’m not a huge fan of lane splitting in general, except for rare occasions.  Besides, if I needed to get someone’s attention, well that’s why I replaced the (wimpy) OEM horn with the louder PIAA 76501 horn.

Below:  You really can’t appreciate just how nice it is to have a nonaggressive sounding engine than when you’re leaving different motels at 5:30am while guests are still sleeping 20-30 feet away in their rooms.  So, the NC’s discreet sounding muffler stayed on the bike.


My essential add-ons and changes to this reliable Honda commuter bike was simply to assemble, own and maintain an all-round budget-friendly adventure/touring bike, not a “specialized” one meant to travel a nuclear wasteland.  A Suzuki 250 would not have cut it comfortably on the open freeway and a Kawasaki Ninja 1000 would not have done me any good traveling over gravel and grassy hillsides.  As well, spending $10,000 to $25,000 on a KTM motorcycle was also not practical for my needs, the needs of the common rider.  So, with plenty of research and some adaptations, like improvising a better windshield for my 6’4” frame, or increasing the length of my foot shifter to accommodate my large boots, I now feel comfortable to go virtually anywhere with this motorcycle.

Below: Honda’s foot gear shifter was designed for small feet.  It was just way too short for me to work with, and so I had a welder increase the length; that made a difference for my safety and comfort.


In conclusion, do I own an expensive hardcore adventure bike like those few famous world travelers on YouTube, with their $22,000 Triumph Tiger 1200XCA’s, or $20,000 BMW R 1250GSs, or $18,000 KTM 1290 Super Adventure R’s, or $15,000 Honda Africa Twin (which I am considering as my next bike)?  No.  My bike isn’t even close to a $10,000 Suzuki V-Storm 650XT.   But, what my NC700X is now, is a reasonably-budgeted $8,000 (total cost) fully loaded reliable nomadic dream machine for the common rider that could virtually take them anywhere that those high-end bikes could.  And, since it’s the common rider who makes up the bulk of the adventure community in this world, I hope some of these options I used to create my touring machine can help you (the masses) with your personal choices over how to make your own motorcycle more adventure-ready, as virtually every ride we take … is an adventure.

Below: An ordinary rider and unassuming commuter motorcycle (left) economically transform into adventure traveler’s (right).

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Below: A fully loaded, reliable and totally complete travel machine for approximately $7,000.  Whether using it as my street bike or long-distance tour bike, this motorcycle has proven itself over and over that it is now only limited by its rider’s ability.  

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(Contributing assistance to this article:  Aaron Zimmerman)

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