Lois on the Loose

The Bike

After much weighing up of the options, I decided to use the Yamaha XT225 Serow for my Americas ride.

It is a very simple, sturdy but light trail bike with a 4 stroke, single cylinder, air cooled engine. The 31″ seat height is reassuringly low for the shorter legged rider and the fuel economy is impressive with a range of around 130 miles from the 8 litre tank. The Serow’s size, weight and nimble qualities mean it really is the go anywhere bike. You just have to get used to the fact that your top cruising speed will be around 55mph, but who wants to be in a hurry on the road?

There were just a few additions and of course, a luggage system required to turn the Serow from a sprightly trail bike into the mini-expedition machine that I needed. Enlisting the invaluable experience and practical skills of twice-round-the-world motorcyclists, Austin and Gerald Vince of the Mondo Enduro and Terra Circa teams, the following luggage carrying mods were made to the Serow:

  • For my main luggage compartment a metal army ammo box (£6 from army surplus shops) was bolted to the rear rack. Metal bars were then bolted to each side of the box to carry two soft pannier bags (borrowed from my bicycle). The end of the rear rack extends far enough behind the box to carry my tent and sleeping mat.
  • A home made metal rack was mounted above the headlight to accommodate lightweight items such as my sleeping bag. Small pannier style bags can be attached to each side of the rack to carry items that I will need to access easily, such as camera, maps, food and water.
  • To store my tools a small metal box (also from the army surplus shop) was bolted onto the frame using the pillion foot peg mountings to keep the weight low down.

 

 

 

In retrospect, this luggage set-up was too heavy and the weight too high up, which caused some issues with the handling, particularly off-road. By the time I set off on my Africa trip three years later, I had perfected the art of carrying gear on a small trail bike. The most important trick is, of course, to travel light!