OsmAnd tutorial

In connection with our March ride, one of the recommended GPS mapping applications was OsmAnd. On the May ride, I have been asked if we can get it working instantly on a phone for the ride. Since I am using a Garmin 62s for a long time now, I am out of touch with the changes of OsmAnd and embarrassingly, I could not get the downloaded GPX file loaded in the map on the spot.

Finally I had the time and could put together a quick tutorial on how to use OsmAnd on our ride. So here we go….

  1. First step is to download and install OsmAnd from Google Play or Apple App Store. After starting the application, you need to download the country specific map to the phone. The map is about 170-200MB, so better to get it done when you are connected to a Wi-Fi network.
    010.pngI like OsmAnd because it is a good quality software, free to use (including the maps)  and can work off-line, without phone or data coverage, relaying only on the built in GPS in the phone. You even can switch the phone to flight mode to save battery power by disabling cellular and data connection.
  2. Once you have OsmAnd running and you have the map, go to the KLR Ramblers website and download the GPX file for the ride.
  3. Start OsmAnd, touch the menu sign.
  4. In the menu, select My Places.
  5. In  “My Tracks” select the “+” sign and find the GPX file you just downloaded.
  6. When the GPX file is loaded, it will be found in the My Tracks list and you are good to jump to the next step.
    Go back to the main screen and touch the “Navigation” symbol.
  7. In the navigation option, select the “Settings” sign.
  8. Roll down to the “GPX Route” option.
  9. Touch the “Select GPX” option and you will see the list of GPX routes you have uploaded.
  10. Select the route which you would like to follow, and on the next screen immediately un-select the “Calculate route between points” option.
    Even the most expensive GPS is still unable to read our mind (fortunately), and will take you to places with auto-routing where you did not want to go.
    In my opinion, better to do the research and put your route together by yourself than making extra miles on crowded, boring highways, wasting time and petrol instead of riding on the pleasant tiny gravel roads of the country side.
  11. Going back to the main screen, you will see the route displayed on the map. Remember, a route in a GPS means a series of way-points connected with straight lines to indicate the order you are planning to pass through those points. Here is a post about way-points, routes and tracks and how these are working. You still need to find the way between those points, but all this laid down over a map, it is rather easy.

On the June ride we have a GPX file with the route only. I made this tutorial for that ride. On other rides we provided the track as well. If you are loading a GPX track into OsmAnd, you will get a couple of different options when you lay it over the map, but I am sure If you got through this tutorial without trouble, you will deal with that successfully as well.

Take care on the road, and see you on out next KLR Ramblers ride.


MC mod

There is a mod from Eagle Mike, dubbed as the MC mod. In this mod, the exhaust cam has been advanced with one tooth (counter clockwise). They are claiming 7%-10% torque and horse power increase thanks to this mod and no downsides. No more oil or petrol consumed.

This last statement is a bit strange for me, because you cannot get extra performance out of thin air. This made me curious about what is in the background of this mod technically.

The engine is going through the four strokes as:

  1. Exhaust
  2. Intake
  3. Compression
  4. Combustion


Looking at a camshaft, the sequence would be as follows:

  1. The exhaust lobe pushes open the exhaust valve and the piston comes up to push the exhaust out, then starts to close.
  2. The intake starts to open, just as the exhaust is closing, piston goes down, and the intake valve closes.
  3. Then both valves stay closed for the compression and combustion strokes.

This means that the first lobe to come through the rotation will be the exhaust lobe, immediately followed by the intake lobe.


Overlap is the point where the exhaust valve is closing, and the intake valve is just opening. To increase overlap, you have to RETARD the EXHAUST, and/or ADVANCE the INTAKE.  To reduce overlap, you have to ADVANCE the EXHAUST, and/or RETARD the INTAKE.

In our case, the MC mod is reducing the overlap between the operation of the exhaust and intake valves. In cam tuning it is known to increase low RPM power, and causing no change or reducing the high RPM power.

From the point of an outsider (me), looks like when the exhaust valve closes earlier, no air/fuel mixture can escape through the exhaust valve and also, maybe, a bit higher pressure will be present in the cylinder when the piston starts to move upwards.

For me, seems that there is no “negative” effect of this mod, because the extra power is earned from saving a bit of air/fuel mixture by not letting it escape through the exhaust valve, but I don’t have real experience in internal combustion engine tuning. If you find my logic faulty, please let me know and we can discuss it and I will update the post accordingly.

Here is a video of guys doing the MC mod.



Finally I had the time to process all the pictures from the ride on 08/04/2017 and put it here on the blog. Technically it was not a KLR Ramblers ride, I just tagged along. We had a loads of fun and I am sure, everyone learned something useful there. We did all sorts of exercises like breaking, safe cornering, down-hill, up-hill riding and so on. A big thank you going to Joao for organizing this ride.

Click on the circles for the full size picture.

Skills for fun

“Adventure” or “Dualsport” riding is fun on more than one way.

I would put shopping in the first category because that is the easiest one. Reading different forum posts and websites in the topic and browsing through online stores or stroll down to your local motorcycle stores and picking up gear and gadgets is definitely a fun way to spend time (and money).

In the second category, I would put mods and farkle. Very often these things does not cost much but requires time, tools and a place to apply them. Without some skills in motorcycle mechanics or at least the willingness to learn it on the go, do not get into this category. Changing anything on your motorcycle cannot just improve it, but if it is done on an incorrect way, can make your ride a danger to you and your fellow road users. You must always know, how things supposed to be done and you must get it done on the proper way. If you are in any doubt, please seek professional advice!

The third category on my list is riding and the riding skills. Riding skills are something what you cannot buy, but only earn it with spending time and a great deal of effort on it. Riding skills will improve linearly with the miles and time you spent with riding. Money or technology cannot make up for the missing experience. The only way to build-up skills faster is spending time with practicing.

There are a loads of “exercise” what you can do somewhere in a carpark, an empty lot or on the country side.

For some basic ideas on off-road / gravel road motorcycle handling exercises, check out Everide’s short video tutorial. It is filmed brilliantly and covers some very basic skills.

Slightly more theoretical and through is a PDF guide from the Best Rest Products website. David Petersen is covering most area of adventure riding, from the question of “why”, through “what”, and finishing with the “how-to”. I would say it is a must read for every beginner or rider who is not entirely sure in the how.

Click here for the PDF document

Armed with all the knowledge, just team up with one or more of your riding buddies and head out to practice. Believe me, it will be fun with the reward of new skills at the end of the day.

I left the usual warning to the end because I expect it to be obvious for you by now. Don’t go out for practicing alone! If you are committed to your practice, you will drop your bike. This is a fact. Have someone around who can help lift your bike, maybe lift it off from you or get help if any emergency arises.

Art of noise

Don’t worry, I am still writing about motorcycle riding and not taking a side trip to discuss the 80s’ synthpop group “Art of Noise”. :-)

I have always seen motorcycle riders wearing earplugs. For a long time I attributed it to loud exhaust systems, but the real reason to wear ear plugs on the motorcycle is to block out the wind noise.

A good road helmet can be really quiet while adventure and off-road helmets are way much noisier thanks to the design which did not keep the low noise levels and aerodynamics as a priority.

Some research revealed a set of ear plugs being promising, which was narrowed further down due to the very limited selection available on a reasonable price on New Zealand. I am not questioning the superiority of some custom moulded earplugs but the $200+ price for a pair seems excessive even with built in earphones.

After a visit to the local motorcycle shops and the DIY stores nearby, I ended up with three sets of ear plugs.

  • Moldex pocket pack
  • 3M Tekk 25 dB corded
  • DeWalt 33 dB corded
Moldex, 3M, DeWalt


The Moldex is the cheapest in the line-up. $2 for the two pairs in the carry case. These foam plugs does not have any rating on the package. I found the noise reduction performance below my expectations and the foam a tad too hard for me.

Experts recommends not to be exposed to noise louder than 85-90 dB for an extended period of time. Considering the average motorcycle muffler sound being around 90-100dB plus the wind noise, depending on the helmet, I was looking for at least 20-30 dB noise reduction rate (NRR) to stay on the safe side.

The 3M earplugs showing a 25 dB NRR on the packaging, but it was also bearing a sticker saying it meets only 18 dB by New Zealand standards. Since I do not know what is the NZ standard in details and how it is applied on earplugs, I took the 25dB with a pinch of salt and bought this pair. While I  did not like the material and the performance of the Moldex ear plugs, it is absolutely subjective and can be questioned, but the 3M is a total failure for me, not suitable for motorcycle riding. It is way too hard and the core is sticking out too much from the ear, which made it impossible for me to wear under the helmet. It was impossible to insert or take it out from my ear without causing pain. Since the 3M plugs failed at the very first steps of the test, I cannot report on how it is reducing noise. $6.90 was wasted (for one pair), and with this pricing the 3M is the most expensive participant in the test.

The DeWalt earplugs are cost the same as the 3M but you will get two pairs and a carry case. These plugs are made from a very soft memory foam which gives a high level of comfort. I  cannot complain about any discomfort after wearing these for an extended period of time. The advertised 33 dB NRR did sound correct by my subjective judgement. It made the “high speed” ride in the off-road helmet pleasant. It took a bit of time to get used to the less engine/road noise but I could adjust quickly. On the other side, the gravel ride was way less enjoyable with the ear plugs. On longer gravel rides, I will take out these ear plugs since there is not much wind/engine noise around 50-60 km/h and the feedback on the ride, in the form of the noise from the motorcycle, the tyres and the road, is important for me. Another plus for me is the plastic cord connecting the ear plugs. It gives confidence to me to push in the plugs far as I can into the ear canal for maximal performance without the fear of not being able to get it out again without medical help. The cord also protecting these ear plugs from being easily lost or the need to stuff it into pockets with questionable cleanness when you stop for a short break or a pit stop for petrol.

As the result of this limited and very subjective test, I can recommends the “RADIANS DeWalt DPG65 BELL SHAPE CORDED DISPOSABLE FOAM EARPLUGS” for motorcycle riding.

The winner

Route logging

Lately we have been talking about GPS devices, GPX files and route logging a lot. All these are easy if you have a GPS device, but what if you don’t?

Smartphones are ubiquitous these day and spending a little effort on it, you can find an application for free which suits your needs and runs well on your device.


In my experience the following three applications are doing a good job and I can recommend you to try it. Although, I haven’t used these for a while, so you will need to test, if all the features you want is still present and working in these applications.



My personal favourite. It did everything what I wanted. Offline maps, track logging, route planning, navigating with GPX files, exporting tracks to GPX files. Available for Android and iOS, free.

Locus Map


Very similar to osmAnd, but uses free topographic maps. Having offline maps in this application is a bit more complicated than in osmAnd, but still easy to deal with it. Available for Android, free.



Made primarily for running, but worked well for me. This is a fitness tracking and stats application, but will work just fine for you on the motorcycle. Available for Android and iOS, free.

There are still ample time to download and try these applications before the March ride to make sure you can have the GPX track logs to send me for the lucky draw after the ride.


Let There Be Light

A burn out light bulb made me think about the lights on my KLR. There are two main points when lights and the electric system coming into the subject.

Saving energy for other devices and see and be seen better.

Practically the electric system of every vehicle consist of three main parts.

  1. A generator
  2. A storage device (battery)
  3. A control system to provide consistent voltage for the system

To minimise the use of electricity is a generally good idea. Lights and gadgets can run longer when the engine is not running and more gadget can be powered. I don’t feel comfortable with the idea of replacing the headlights with LED bars or such to save energy yet. Fortunately the KLR charging system is providing plenty of power in the stock setup.


I first changed the headlights. The daytime/running light has been replaced with a Narva Plus 50 Longer Life and the high beam with a Narva Plus 100. Amazing results! Much better visibility during daytime and after dark with the high beam on, the whole countryside looks like being lit up.


At the same time, I need to mention, as the brightness increases the lifespan of the bulb is shortens. The stock headlight bulb lasted for two years and the Narva +50 Longer Life could take the beating on the gravel roads for one year only. There is no problem with the Narva Plus 100, but thanks to the stronger daytime light, I don’t use the high beam that much anymore.


I could lay my hands on a Philips X-tremeVision LED tail/break light during the Christmas Holidays. The main problem with the cheap Chinese made retrofit LED lights is the heat. Those lights can become very hot and cause some damage to the mirror or the housing of the bulb. There is no such problem with the Philips LED. At first look it is evident, the engineers at Philips put a really good effort into the development and design into this LED bulb. The massive design and the large heat sinks will make sure, your motorcycle will not melt. As I mentioned it is a retrofit LED light, so you can just pop-out the old incandescent bulb and pop-in the Philips.

According to my limited testing, the running/tail light is almost twice as bright than the stock, while the break light is 1.5 times brighter than the original. Is the mission completed? I am not 100 percent happy. While both state of the tail/brake light are significantly brighter, the difference between the running light and the brake light is not keeping up with the increased power of the running light. But there is nothing to worry. My KLR just passed the WoF this week with flying colours, and the inspector assured me not just everything are within the legal limits but definitely bright and safe.


Next round of the revamp of the lighting would be the indicators, but I did not get into this trouble.

The indicator flasher unit is sensitive to the resistance of the light bulbs and changing the lights to LED means, you need to change the flasher unit as well. It is further complicated on the KLR, because the resistance of the indicator light bulbs are counted in into the indicator feedback light operation as well.

The LED bulbs are passing through not just too much current, but can operate on a way less power. It means, the original idea to separate the two indicator circuit with the help of the resistance of the light bulbs is eliminated, and does not matter which direction do you indicating, all four indicator will flash. You will need to fit two diodes into the wiring to make sure, stray electricity does not go into the wrong direction. This is way too much hacking for me, and decided to leave the indicators alone for now.

The below diagram suggest a solution to this four ways indicator light problem.