Wednesday, 31 July 2013

A Yamaha XT660X called “Tango'd”

Standing in the 660 sellers garage looking at his bright orange Yamaha XT660X I had mixed feelings.

Yes it was a good price, confirmed the following morning by a quick call to Keith, and yes, it was exactly what I was looking for. 

“I’ll check out insurance quotes and give you a call in the morning” were my parting word’s. Not exactly what the seller wanted to hear but I needed an evening's 'cooling off period'.

A quick call to my insurer confirmed adding the 660 to Mr T’s insurance would cost £83, Bonus! Annoyingly £35 of that was their ‘Admin Fee'. 

True to my word, half an hour later I called the seller.

“Hi there, Ray here. Can you give me your bank details and I’ll transfer the money over. Will you give me a call when the money arrives? I’ll organise collection when you have the funds."

“That’s brilliant new’s” replied the seller.

A couple of days later Jeannie dropped me off at the sellers house and drove away just as he rode the 660 around the corner.

'Tango'd' arrives home

So why an XT660X? And more importantly why “bright orange’

Well after having an absolute ball on Nick Sanders XT660R on the Expedition Centre Experience  I had started looking into this fun bike more seriously.  Doing quite a bit of research into the bike on the forum. 

A Fathers Day Prize
Never to be forgotten!

As for the colour, well that’s really simple to answer, this bright orange Yamaha XT660X just made me smile. In fact it still does every single time I see it, let alone ride it. It’s got that all important “Grin Factor” I like to have when buying something. No grin no buy, what's the point. 

As soon as I got the 660 home I got stuck in. Here’s a list of the things that needed immediate attention.

  1. The front brake was almost useless even though it had new brake pads fitted recently!
  2. The left hand grip just spun around on the bar.
  3. Handel bar cover needed removing as it was disintegrating under which I was surprised to find a nice set of Renthal bars which was a bonus!
  4. Original hand guards were scratched to oblivion. (Apparently caused by catching the house and fence on the way in and out of the shed by another previous owner, or so I was told)
  5. Front nearside tank trim or “wind deflector” as Yamaha call it was broken inside. The fasting bracket was snapped clean off causing it to flap about when ridden.
  6. Front mud guard was scratched near the tip.
  7. Chain was totally ‘goosed’ rusty and stiff in parts.
  8. Fuelling was all over the place, it was like riding a Kangaroo all the way back.
  9. Rear brake was spongy and pads were well worn.
  10. Front tyre was ‘fried’ at the edges. Apparently it was an ex race tyre recently fitted in order to pass the MOT in February.
  11. Finally the seat had a fine coating of black mildew all along the orange section because of the damp storage conditions.

I knew the bike had be dropped on the nearside at some point  due to the damage. This was confirmed when I removed two brand new stickers. The sticker on the nose cone was covering up a few scratches to the near side and the sticker on the nearside tank panel also covered a nasty set of scratches. I found out later that the tank sticker alone had cost over £50 when a new panel was only £38!

Very new and very purple

To be honest, non of this bothered me because I'd have it all fixed within a couple of  days anyway. What was more important to me was the fact that the 660 had only done 8800 miles since new and the milage was backed up by the service book and MOT certificates.

The 660 had covered 4338 miles from new in 2007 up to 2010, followed by 3516 up until 2011. I have no record of an MOT in 2012 but 900 miles were added up until the MOT in February this year, 2013. 

The Service Book confirms that I am the fifth owner. The 6 Week service took place at 592 miles in London, followed by the first service carried out at 4764 miles in 2010 in Melton Mowbray. The final service stamp in the book was carried out at 7856 miles in August 2011 here in Manchester by Philip Youles. 

That night I jumped on eBay and got started by buying:-
  1. One near side panel or “wind deflector” £38
  2. A pair of new mirrors from Hong Kong £36
  3. K&N Air Filter £33
  4. Carbon Pin Stripe £3
  5. Nitro X Fuel Commander £34
Followed a week later after having the back wheel out by 

     5. EBC Brake Pads £16
     6. Set of four Cush Drives £38

Then after pricing  up an Akrapovic SP Series Exhaust System at Keith Dixon’s which came in at a staggering £795 I bid on and won

     7. Akrapovic SP Series Exhaust System £500 (Bargain!)

The following morning I took a ride over to the Rocket Centre in Blackburn as I knew they have a very good “Off-Road Bike department” and bought 
  1. Acerbis Rally Pro Black Hand Guards £75
  2. ProTaper Grip Glue £8
  3. Oxford Tax disc Holder £ £15
  4. Oxford Brake Bleeding Kit £12

Then it was round to Keith Dixon’s in Accrington to pick up 
  1. Oxford Heated Grips £80
  2. Yamaha Emblem £6 (which I hope to return soon as it's the wrong sizes)

Finally I called into AllBikes of Rochdale  on my way home for
  1. R&G Fork Protectors & Swing Warm Protectors £60

Once home I called B&C Performance Tyre's to order a pair of Continental Road Attack 2’s and an X-Ring Chain and sprocket set which came to £330, ride in fitted ride out.

So with my head in full on “fix-it” mode I wheeled the XT660X into the ‘Walton Chop-Shop’ as my Manc Rider mates lovingly call my garage and got stuck in.

It took me an hour to strip off, front mudguard, hand guards, hand grips, seat, tank panels, bash plate, Air filter and rusty wing mirrors.

I made a start by fitting the heated grip’s, followed by the mirrors, Hand guards, followed by the freshly Carbon covered front mud guard. I also fitted the R&G Crash Bobbin's and Optimate hook-up whilst I was at it.

Not good....

Now that's better

Looking rather sexy if I say so myself


And After

Next up was a little TLC to the tank before re-fitting the ‘wind deflector’s then it was time to replace the old tax disc with the new one.

I'm rather pleased with the finish
What do you think?

I bled both the front and rear brakes, the lumpy tea coloured fluid that came out was full of bubbles and bits. The front break was instantly better as it had the new brake pads fitted but the rear only improved with the addition of new pads and another flush through. 


Clean n fresh

All in all I spent about 6 hours in the garage that day, cleaning and sorting svarous job’s along the way.

I cut the air intake rubber down as I'd seen on the XT660 Forum and fitted the K&N Air Filter. Fitting the Nitro-X Fuel Commender took all of 15 minutes especially when I attached to small metal connectors that i had spare. This was followed by 100 fun filled miles dialling the commender into the original exhausts. It made an instant impact running at 70% power output (according to the paperwork that came with it).

I didn't remove the scoop totally
Just to retain a little protection from dirt

Little box of tricks running at 90%

Nice and tidy just the way I like it

I got the call to say my tyre’s, chain and sprocket set were in whilst I was down in Spain so they had to wait until I returned the following week.

Driving back from Spain I received an email from eBay to say I had won the Akrapovic SP Series Exhaust System much to my delight. Lucky for me I had preempted this and contacted the seller in Scotland to explain I’d be away when the auction finished. Good to his word he posted the system as arranged and we both arrived home on the same day.

Fitting the Akrapovic SP Series Exhaust System took 30 minutes from start to finish and that included unpack g the new system. The impact on the bikes power and in smoothing out the remaining 'Kangaroo' effect was massive. I initially took out the baffles but the noise was too intrusive and replaced them straight away. I'm now running the fuel commander at 90% power but finding it a little rich when the engine is cold.

From this....

To this....  A 'No-Brainer'

Needless to say after the guy’s at B&C Performance Tyre's did a great job fitting the tyre’s, chain and sprocket set. They even dropped the new Cush drives and rear brake pads in whilst the rear wheel was out. 

Now that's what I call 'Tidy'

Even the front end got
'The Carbon Touch!'

I’m now riding a silky smooth, power house of a machine that makes me laugh out loud every time I get onboard. 

All that's left to do now is to take the mileage up to 12,000 miles and get 'Tangoed' professionally serviced and the book stamped once again.

Now you may just be wondering how ‘Tango'd’ came by it’s name. Well those of you who know me know that I name all my bike’s. It just saves on garage confusion.

I’d planned on calling it Mr X due to it being an XT660X! The Manc Riders, in particular Lefty, had other idea’s calling it ‘Tango'd’ from the start and so “Tango'd” it is!

Brothers in Arm's

Monday, 29 July 2013


It's hard to believe but it's been a month since our last Blog! Note the 'our' last blog, as Ben wrote 'The Big 1000' which is still sat at the top of our Top 10 read blogs. We also had the local paper the Manchester Evening News take a keen interest in Ben's exploits sending round a photographer who spent 2 hours with us. Sadly the papers editors chose the picture with the least amount of RBLR badges showing. I did contact the writer to explain it was not a race, he promised to try and get the article changed on line but as I cannot find the online version I have no idea if this happened. His take was that it was a “race against time” i.e. the 24 hour deadline for IBA verification. 

Manchester Evening News
Thursday 4th July 2013

I did ask Ben to compose another blog about our recent Hadrian’s Wall End 2 End ride but he's in 'school holiday' mode so I'm afraid your stuck with my ramblings for the time being.

After the success of the RBLR1000 I thought it would be good to wind down a little but life had other ideas. At the beginning of the month the plan was to get a little admin sorted, Steve of All Year Biker, kindly came round and gave ‘Trinity’ a liberal coating of ACF50 to ensure I have no issues with rust and the like. Then it was onto eBay in search of the illusive ‘second bike’. Ben had loads going on as he was into his last week of junior school, leaving show’s, disco, visits to his new school and the like.

The second week I had planned to ride back down to Spain to sort out a little business but a last minute change saw me at the back of the wheel of J's car. As nice as that was its not bike so I'll just fast forward a week.  

After months of searching for a Repsol Rep. Fireblade RR1000 I eventually found the perfect specimen over near Liverpool. Sadly reality bit when I tried to get insurance. A quote of £890 saw that dream duly crushed once and for all. So it was back to the drawing-board.

Not one to be beaten that easily and having had a brilliant time in Wales on one of Nick's Yamaha XT660R's I changed my tack and found a locally based bright orange XT660X Super Moto at a really comparative price. So after a quick look around and a night to get insurance quotes I'm happy to say there's been a new addition to the Wandering Walton's Chop Shop! ‘Tangoed’ is now looking well after some sorely needed TLC but I plan to follow this blog with it's own write up so more on that project soon.

I've had a few short ride out’s but the most significant two have been one last Saturday organised by a good mate of mine (thanks to Twitter) Kieron the owner of the Filling Station Cafe in Keswick. Kieron organised an End 2 End (E2E) ride raising £1,000's in aid of Help For Hero's

This E2E was very different from my normal 1000 mile Land's End to John O'Groats via London rides. This E2E was from one end of Hadrian's Wall to the other end starting and finishing at the Filling Station Cafe. Both Ben & I had a brilliant day, setting off from Kendal at 0700 hours to make sure we arrived at the cafe with plenty of time for breakfast. 

The start of a brilliant
Hadrian's Wall End 2 End Ride

After a hearty bacon and egg butty we set off due East on the A686 which is an amazing bikers road which takes you up over the tops past the Hartside Cafe joining the A69 on past Hexam. Our first stop was called the Segedunum Roman Fort and Museum in Newcastle. This is where we got our first ‘Hadrian’s Wall Path Passport’ stamped in the shop.

We then turned around and headed back out of Newcastle to ride due West out of Newcastle and onto the B6318 also know as Military Road which pretty much runs the full length of Hadrian's Wall.

Stop number two was is at the Robin Hood Bar and Restaurant where you will find the official Hadrian's Wall straps in a wooden box at the side of the front door. Next it was Chesters Roman Fort and Museum, then Houesteads, next Birdoswald Roman Fort, then Tullie House in Carlisle and finally The Bank’s in Bowness-on-Solway. The stamp just happens to be behind the bar of the King’s Arms which was quite welcome. We then headed off to find some fuel and return to The Filling Station Cafe for a late lunch which we both devoured with ease.

Ben giving the E2E Ride
Thumb's Up!

How straight is that road?

One of the many Roman Forts and Museums

All in all the route covered 218 miles with 9 stops in total and was ridden by over 60 riders. There was a reporter at the cafe in the morning from the Keswick Reminder who chatted to most of the participants. I was delighted when Kieron Tweeted me to say that the reporter had used the photo he had taken of Ben and I as we were leaving, in the paper. 

This is a cracking photo of Ben
Spot that beaming smile
The Keswick Reminder Friday 26th July 2013

So we've appeared in two papers in the last month, not too shabby for a couple of  'Wanderers'.

Thursday I was out with the Manc Riders on one of our regular Compo's Chippy Run’s.  It was a cracking little ride with LBK up front on his new stead, a Triumph 800 which looks the business. With BadBoyBez, Oggy, Dave & LBK now all on Triumphs the Manc Riders feels more like a Triumph Appreciation Society every day. Still I was really pleased with the grin factor 'Tangoed' brought to the ride. Made better still by discovering Steve has an XT660X too, so hopefully he’ll leave the FJR1300 at home next time! 

I'm lost for word's 
(Cheers BadBoyBez for the photo)

Sunday 28th saw me back out on Mr T riding through Manchester at 0715 hours to take part in the inaugural running of the ‘Henshaws Sausage Run’ organised by Glen one of our very own, Manc Riders not forgetting Jo looking after the admin side of life.

The start of the
Henshaws Sausage Run
in aid of

The ride was publicised on a number of open forums along with FaceBook and Twitter. We all rode from Henshaws head office on Talbot Road near Old Trafford over A and B roads to their Arts & Crafts centre in Knarsborough  for a famous, Henshaws Sausage Sandwich. Seth and PanMan took the lead with LBK and I bringing up the rear. Seth did an amazing job of keeping the riders together with PanMan’s help at the roundabout’s. Made considerably worse by the sheer number of traffic lights between Old Trafford and Bury!

The first of many, many traffic lights!

Half an hour in and we needed a brew!

That's a fine pair of pins you have there Glen.
Top Mark's to Glen & Jo for a cracking ride

There were about 20 riders taking part all having made a donation. We all received a very well designed ‘Ride Pin and 2013 year bar”, plus the all important token for the Famous Henshaws Sausage Sandwich at the end of the ride. After the butty I thinned out calling in at Squires Cafe Bar on the way home, well it would have been rude to have ridden straight past!

Monday the 29th is the 12th anniversary of my Mum’s passing, three months to the day before Ben was born so it was only fitting that Ben joined me on my 12th trip to show our respects.

We miss you million's Mum x x x 

I have to say this months has just flown buy what with organised rides, trips to Spain, refurbishing ‘Tangoed’ and finally a wonderful ride around Derbyshire with me very “Precious Pillion" Ben to share it all with. 

One last note, as we were heading towards Matlock a Peugeot 205 with flash wheels, lowered suspension and tinted wheels, passed us on the other side of the road belching so much smoke out of the exhaust we could not see where we were going for almost a mile.

Then as we rode down the hill towards Chapel-en-le-Frith another car passed us at break neck speed, luckily on the duel carriageway sounding as if it had no oil in the engine what so ever. 

Ben piped up over the head set “ There’s some reet owd sheds on the roads around Derbyshire Dad, int the!” I swear he just sounded like my 70 year old Dad! I had trouble not falling off with laughter. Ben, don’t ever change sweetheart your an absolute “Star” and I love you to bit’s (as I do your Mum and Lilie Rose I hasten to add).

So folk’s that was July! Now watch out Bike World because here comes “Tangoed”

If only the lights had been so kind to us all morning!