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TAT Bike Prep Continued… Stuff We Did To The Bikes

Whilst we were mostly happy with our bikes there were a couple of things we decided to change and add. We also wanted to make sure we knew our bikes inside out so gave them a thorough service also. It actually ended up being a bit of a long to do list and we took our time over the course of a couple of weeks to get it all done. We also made sure that we had plenty of time to ride our bikes before shipping them so if we had buggered something up, we had time to fix it.


The Mitas MC 20 tyres have been perfectly adequate for most of the riding we have been doing, but they are crap in mud and sand. Maxxis makes these bad boys for the Groms, but they are always out of stock.

We couldn’t resist. 12 inch tyre selection in New Zealand is pretty limited so we had to buy 2 sets from the US. We ordered them in January…we are still waiting. USPS has apparently lost them, though how you lose a big box with 4 tyres in it is beyond me. In all our years of ordering stuff online from overseas, this is the very first time something has gone missing. A mate ordered tyres from the same place about a month after us and is happily riding around on his ☹. Oh well, we currently have a pair sitting in NY waiting for us and a second pair in Trinidad, CO.

Chains and Sprocket

Upgraded to something a bit beefier with an O ring. The old chains were stretched to their limit. We are pretty happy with the stock gearing, though I know a lot of people change it when they do the chain upgrade. The new chains will probably outlast the bikes.


The grom seats aren’t so bad really, especially when compared to the concrete blocks on our Versys X300. Initially we weren’t planning on doing anything with them, but after finding how much a gel insert improved the Kawis, we decided to go ahead and do the groms too.

Bar risers

We had both noticed that our backs were getting a little sore towards the end of the December trip. Some ergonomic improvements were required.

Rear fender and mud guard

We noticed that the little shorty rear fender did bugger all to keep road spray off our backs so we added a mud guard to the rear. Our mate says it looks naf, but its grown on us and all the cool adv bikes have them.

Front fender raiser

Sim fashioned some little bars that we can use to raise the whole front fender up by about an extra inch or two. If we hit Oklahoma mud, we might need to do this to prevent getting completely stuck. Will see whether we need this or not.

Rear Spring

We were already towards the end of the adjustment on the racing bros stock spring. For the TAT we would likely be carrying extra weight and possibly extra fuel. A heavier duty spring was ordered, and we had an interesting time swapping the old one out, given our limited tools. Ratchet straps, a washing line and some redneck engineering solved the problem.

Wheel bearings

Since we had given the bikes a good soaking on the previous trips, we figured it might be prudent to swap the bearings out for new ones. We really didn’t need to do this at all. The existing bearings were completely fine. We mostly just wanted a chance to take the groms apart completely and who wouldn’t want to fit bearings by a company call “All-Balls”.

Air Filter

We are expecting dust and lots of it. Replaced the stock paper air filter with a foam reusable one. We looked into replacing the screws with something a bit easier to undo but finding something suitable was impossible. Makes it a PITA to remove the cover to get the air filter out, but hopefully we will only have to do this a couple of times on the trip anyway.

USB and phone charger

Ripped out the old usb block and replaced with a waterproof usb and switch. Sim drilled holes into the front fairings and tucked them away nicely. This is meant only to be a secondary charging point for accessories like batteries etc… A second cable wired through the same switch is routed up to the Ram mount for the phone. Now on Sims bike he got quite clever and wired in a wireless charger for his phone. It works great and means no having to plug the phone in. I have the exact same phone, same charger, same bike, but for some bloody annoying reason, my phone doesn’t like wireless charging. Sometimes it does for a little while… and then it decides it doesn’t feel like it anymore and won’t charge at all. I have had to go back to an old school charging cable like a savage. Sim added a few extra wires and bits to his bike as he will need to charge his drone off of the bike and we will run the mini pump off on sae connection. It seems like a lot of power being drawn of the little bikes, in reality you are usually only ever running one item at a time, so its all fine. We did test it with everything on and it draws 7.5A, which isn’t a problem for the stater. With the fairings all off we tidied up all the cables and cleaned all the dusty bits.


I’m admittedly skeptical about this, but I guess we are a little paranoid about the thought of someone nicking our babies if they are parked outside of a motel room at night. Sim has wired a little electric alarm into each bike. Coupled with a tarp cover, it should get us through big scary America.

Throttle lock

Vista Cruise model. Loved these on our “big” bikes and figured it would come in handy for the long straight boring sections in Oklahoma. Bonus is that with the way the cables come off the heated grips, you can disengage it by just rolling off the throttle.


Double take adventure mirrors added. Mostly an image thing rather than a necessity. Every serious adventure bike seems to sport these things. We want our bikes to look the business.


Barkbuster VPS (yes they actually make a model that specifically fits the groms) were added as a last minute addition. Again mostly for the look rather than any real performance reason although they may save a thumb or two.

General all round Service

Oil change, new gaskets, oil spinner clean, new sparkplugs, new brake pads front and back (completely unnecessary) and the odd paint touch up here and there.


add like 0.001 hp. Should help get us up those mountain passes. We’ve got 50 of the little ones to dish out along the way in case anyone else needs a power boost.

To make sure everything worked we took the bike out for a good run around the local hills,then rode then to work every day until they were ready to be shipped. No leaks or loose bits. Whew.

But then with 2 weeks to go before shipping, SOMEONE had an oops on his bike on the way to work and snapped one of the handle bar holders. Replacement part didn’t arrive in time, so a mate welded it back together. I’m sure we are going to get some funny looks from airline security with metal bolts in our carry on.

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