THE START OF THE LAST XT600
The Yamaha XT600e was the last of the XT600 range. Yamaha produced two variants of the 600e, the “e” standing for electric start of course. (An XT600K kick only model was also made) The first variant and also my model was the 3TB. The second variant, released a few years later, was the 4PT. This new model received various cosmetic changes and a few other minor changes.
The 600e differs from the previous XT instalment (3AJ Tenere) as it has a smaller tank, 17 inch rear wheel and other changes pointing to a more road orientated dual sport bike. (Sharing numerous parts with the yet more road orientated XTZ660 Tenere). The 600e would prove a popular mid-weight adventure bike. Simple and easy to work on with strong reliability and moderate performance.
KG - DRY
ADVENTURE BIKE TRANSFORMATION
A NEW PROJECT
I purchased my 600e in the first months of the pandemic from a man in the Yorkshire Dales named John. John was actually featured in the moto film “London – Sydney” where he helped tow the films authors stricken KTM with his Yamaha (of course he did). I had decided that I needed a bike in-between my XT225 Serow and my XT600Z Tenere. The 225 was a little small and underpowered for my liking while the 600 Tenere was physically big, delicate and too nice for daily riding. I wanted a 600cc XT that could be used and a little bit abused. The 600e seemed the no fuss bike for me.
On this page I will explain the modifications and upgrades I made to my 600e, the reasons why I made them and how they’ve held up after my 3.5 month trip abroad & Morocco (here).
This was one of the first modifications I made and a very common one at that. Having a 1st edition 600e comes with the complication of the fact that you cannot buy the aftermarket Acerbis 20l tank new anymore. The second edition (4PT) 23l Acerbis tank can still be bought new. It is interesting to note that the 23l tank can be made to fit the 3TB if really desired. However, I was searching Facebook Marketplace and I found the original 20l Acerbis tank for the 3TB at a very reasonable price of £50. I snapped it up and have been thankful ever since as I don't recall seeing another one for sale in the UK since.
This gives me around 5 more litres of fuel which equates to an extra 50-80 miles. It also lightens my bike which is a nice extra bonus, although this is wiped out if the tank is filled of course. Another interesting note is that the tank scoops on the 3Tb are made from fairly delicate plastic. This makes scoops in good condition quite valuable. I could easily sell my scoops and make £100+, completely covering the expense of purchasing the acerbis tank.
I had already made myself a DIY trail stand out of a shower chair leg (the same material that crutches are made from). This was a lightweight and simple solution to get the back wheel up off the ground. Having the wheel off the ground would be one of those simple improvements that would make life easier when checking spokes and lubing the chain. However it had the potential to be somewhat unstable, especially when it comes to removing the wheel wheel or doing any major work.
You never know what may come up on Ebay or the like, desirable XT parts are rare and snapped up fast, you have to be on it if you want the bargains. I found someone listing his 600e for sale / breaking. I enquired his prices for some of the parts I was looking for, he was a little expensive in my opinion. I spotted a center stand just poking out of the shadows. Bingo, I wanted that. £60 later and it was mine.
These cost £160+ new so it was well worth the purchase. It is one of those aftermarket items that when you take it off the bike in 5 years time, it will still be worth more than what I paid for it. I cleaned the stand up, galvanized it and painted it to keep it protected for the many miles to come. If you are using your motorcycle a lot and do the maintenance yourself, these stands come in really handy for easily having a constantly available method to life the bike up in a stable and robust manner.
Yet again this was one of my Ebay bargain finds. A full pannier rack setup for the XT600e comes in at over £250. For £110 I found this near brand new pannier frame setup. These very rarely come up for sale so it was one of those items that I just had to buy. Even though I was not entirely sure I wanted a frame setup I thought it was best to buy now and decide later. (I planned on using rackless saddle panniers like the Enduristan Blizzard).
At the time of writing I think I will definitely fit them to support a small and simple pannier bag setup instead of the expensive Blizzards. Something like the LOMO medium pannier dry bag would do nicely. I really want to keep my luggage concise and organized. This will in turn, help keep my bike light, narrow and nimble as ever. Pannier frames are also quite useful in protecting the rear of the motorbike in the event of a minor crash or fall. They can also be used to help man-handle the bike when picking it up or lifting the backend.
When it came to fitting these, I soon realised that what I had bought were the later XT600e 4PT model pannier frames. I knew that there was a strong chance of this being the case but I thought they would be a closer fit than what they actually turned out to be. Fortunately, my Dad can weld and soon had the pannier frames adjusted to fit my 3TB XT600e. We noticed that the frames were actually very wide. A good 5 inch or more away from the exhaust we which decided was excessive. So we made the frames narrower while we were at it.
When I was travelling in Morocco I was hit by a car on a roundabout, the bumper hit the rear of the bike. I was quite glad of the pannier frames as they spread out the impact across the frames resulting in very minor damage. Pannier frames. Awesome.
During lockdown I spent a weeks worth of evenings building a custom navigation tower / fairing for the bike. At the time I was planning on taking my trip abroad solely on the XT so I wanted a nice setup to house electrical chargers and sockets, improved lighting and increased weather/wind protection. In the end I actually purchased a van, made it into a campervan and took both the van and the bike with me on my 3.5 month trip abroad. The custom fairing did not fit in the van so I ended up taking it off.
Being a software developer by trade, I understand the importance of basing decisions on information before making conclusions and taking actions. Whenever we are faced with an issue in the software industry, we often turn to logs, recordings of what is happening in the system. Having this base information gives us an insight into what is happening within the system and any decisions we make can be based from this insight.
The same can be translated into my Yamaha. The oil is a critical part of the system. There may come a time when I need to work something out and having the information of what temperature the oil is running at, may come in useful. Adding the gauge is a simple addition that will give me the ability to make decisions that could be crucial to keeping my bike running in tip top condition in hot climates. With the Acerbis tank on, I can actually see the gauge when I’m riding.
In the UK the bike often records an oil temperature of between 90-110 once fully warmed up and on a run. When abroad, or when it's particularly hot, it tends to reach 120 but rarely goes above that. Only once in Morocco was I concerned about the temperature. I was traversing a 20 mile long gravel track through the mountains above the city of Azilal. I guess the slower speeds was really affecting the cooling ability of the bike. I had however filled my bike with a higher temperature oil in preparation for these climates.
One of the classic modifications that many people make to their motorcycles is to add a chain oiler. Various branded versions of the same concept exist. However, some of these can be quite expensive when it is really easy and effective to produce your own DIY version. I make mine out of a simple 150ml hamster water bottle, a length of pipe and then cable tie it to drip onto the chain near the front sprocket. I also add an inline valve to open/close the flow.
This is a very inexpensive way of extending the life of your motorcycle chain. When I am travelling, I don’t want to be buying chains. I want to be spending money on drinks and fine dining. With that in mind, anytime I am riding on dusty, dirty roads, I open the valve and allow the jack oil to seep out of the pipe and onto my chain. This clears the dust and lubricates the links making the chain and sprockets last longer.
Hard or soft luggage is the question. I choose soft-luggage although I can appreciate hard luggage. I choose soft luggage for many reasons. Firstly, on these smaller trail bikes, weight matters. Soft luggage is a lot lighter and smaller than hard luggage. Secondly, it is usually less expensive than hard luggage. Finally, soft luggage is flexible, in that it can be re-arranged to how it fits to the bike.
For my Xt600e I have chosen to have a main rollpack across the passenger seat and rear. I originally desired an Enduristan Tornado roll pack. I then found a Lone Rider Overlander. This is basically a framed rollpack so it is more of a rectangular shape. I liked the idea of this very much and decided I would splash out the extra cost to purchase one of these. The framed design would make it easier to store, find and retrieve items from the pack.
I would store my camping equipment here and anything that I would not use when on the road. Mounted to my pannier frames I would take 2 Lomo adventure panniers. These are small (13l each) and achieve the light weight ethos I am going for. I would keep things I would be using at the side of the road in here. Finally, I would have a tool box mounted to the sump-guard. Here I would keep my tools, repair items and maintenance kit.
When I decided that I was going to take my 600e on my long term overland trip, I knew that I only had around 6 months from the decision to the time of the trip. I then began to make a plan to ensure that the bike would be in it’s best possible shape to make the trip a success. The last thing I wanted was to be dealing with problems on the road that I could have fixed at home with a little forward thinking. The bike is over 25 years old, older than me, yet there are very few serious problems the XT600’s suffer from apart from general wear and tear. The previous year when I began to organise my Serow for this trip, I had it completely rebuilt. In hindsight, it was a bit of a mistake. I found that changing too many things at once created a lot of problems and each problem had to be worked out.
PHASE 1 PROCESS
I began my overland preparation by giving the bike a good clean and then started by adding a few accessories. Centre stand, Oil temp gauge, wider foot pegs and my DIY upgraded sump guard. Once the extended and meshed sump guard was fitted, I bolted on a simple lockable cash money box to the front of the bash plate. This would store a few tools, spares and materials. I then addressed the small spots of surface rust on parts of the frame with a Hammerite anti rust solution that stabilizes rust. Best to nip any rust in the bud before it takes hold. Finally, I made a rubber sheet that fits under the seat. This will protect any mud and water spraying up into the gap between the rear fender, potentially corroding the brake/indicator wires and even reaching the rectifier. A small modification but it may prevent an issue one day.
My XT600 had a broken rear mudguard ever since I bought it. I sourced a replacement, the cheapest I could find was £30, from a XTZ660 3YF and came from Sweden. I fitted that, painting the number plate bracket at the same time. I then removed the exhaust. My 600e still has it’s standard exhaust and it is in good condition. I could potentially replace my standard exhaust with a stainless setup. It would be lighter and improve the flow of exhaust fumes however it would also be loud and expensive. Standard was fine. There is something to be said for a quiet exhaust.
I wanted to protect my exhaust for the foreseeable future. I bought a new exhaust graphite gasket and a tin of heat proof PJ1 black. An afternoon spent cleaning and preparing the exhaust and it was ready to paint. After that, I replaced as many bolts as I could with stainless. I found that the regulator rectifier mounting screws had rusted but was able to remove them with an impact driver. This is definitely something to check on your XT. You don’t want to not be able to swap out the rectifier because of some stuck screws.
Finally, I fitted new tyres (Michelin Anakee Wilds, which performed great on road and off-road), gave the bike a service including oil change with high temperature oil (as I was headed to Morocco), cleaned the K&N air filter, re-oiled the filter.
Greasing the swingarm linkage is important. There are 5 grease nipples on the swingarm and you should do this often. I do mine atleast once a year if not more, just before the MOT as it is fairly common for the linkage bushings to wear out over time, giving too much free play and an MOT fail. Keep those nipples greased! The next picture shows my what my XT looked like during my trip abroad in 2022.
THANKS FOR READING
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