How I snapped my subframe on my CRF250 Rally & how I resolved it!

Contents:

What I was carrying & how it snapped
My 4,000km temporary fix
The long term fix
The reinforcements

What I was carrying & how it snapped:

As those of you that have been following me will know, I snapped my subframe in India!

Yes, I was carrying too much but don’t we all?! (23 kg right on the back end, 32kg over the back seat – estimated)

First I’ll explain how it snapped and what I was carrying.

Right from the beginning I was carrying 2 aluminum plates that provided the structure so I could carry the camera box (a waterproof box for all electronics) and a rotopax right at the back of the bike.
On the left hand side I had a tool tube.

All of this appeared to be no problem for the Honda. It had endured the bumps craters in the roads of Uzbekistan, the terrain of Tajikistan and all else I had thrown at it for the last 20,000km!

The final straw seemed to be the tyre I was carrying. I knew that it was a bad idea, but I forgot how bad it could be!

Before I set off from a really picturesque view whilst drinking my coffee, the thought that in an hour my frame would be broken, was not quite on my mind; first I had to tackle the gnarly downhill me and Brian climbed the night before.

After getting down, the road was much easier but it was then that I went over a mound in the road with a small drop the other side. I heard the number plate running on the rear wheel and immediately knew I was in the sh#t.

To those of you that asked how do I cope with the ups and downs, this was an example of that.

I started to unload the gear, remove the culprit (tyre), removed the gear and the seat to see the damage. It was indeed snapped on both sides. I thought about bracing it but there didn’t seem to be much room to fit a spanner or something substantial along the frame.
I offloaded some of the gear to to Brain, his own fault for not only been there but also having 1000cc’s! I removed about the 10kg electronics bag, the tyre (3kg),6kg of tools and put the fuel in the tank (4kg). A total of 23kg I guess. Like I said the whole time it had managed to carry the 20kg 20,000km no problem but only managed to carry 23kg 1,000km maximum!

My 4,000km temporary fix

Once the bike was lighter, I got two straps and used the anchor point of the engine bars and strapped it to the loops on the top box via the bag on the back seat.

Temporary fix to help support the snapped frame

I guess it took no more than an hour start to finish and I just remained calm, laid back and focused on getting it to a point where I could ride. Acting any other way would not of helped!

Believe it or not the off road continued maybe 600 meters before the best road I had seen in a long time started.

I did attempt to have it fixed in India twice, once by Honda and once by a mechanic. Unfortunately Honda India needed to have permission but they couldn’t get.
The mechanics had a go and were very kind inviting me into there home for an amazing cheese curry, but it later snapped again very shortly after.

Insert the video here

The long term fix:

My temporary fix worked, it had managed to get me 4,000km to Thailand where I knew I could get another one. The straps were annoying and I was concerned that the rear end would be swallowed by my rear tyre, catapulting me into the really pretty views.

The final repair took place in Chiang Mai, Thailand. I had been to Honda and to my suprize they could get a brand new one for £60! It’s £770 in England! I guess that’s the bonus of needing to repair it in the country where your motorcycle is both built and sold.

The only issue was, they wanted a week to deliver it from Bangkok. Me being impatient wanted to ride the Mae Hong Son loop with Brian in 5 days!

I was outside my hostel (The Dutch Guest house) after coming back from Honda and the owner came out and said “I heard you snapped your frame, do you want me to see if I can weld it?” To which I replied, “sure! I’ll start stripping it!” I didn’t expect a fix that would be permanent, but if it got me through the loop and down to Bangkok that was good enough for me. The bike stripped and with the frame snapped in half it was ready to be worked on.

It was quite clear he knew what he was doing and only around an hour later, it was repaired, painted and I was putting it back together. He did an amazing job so off I went to do the Mae Hong Son loop!

The reinforcements!

Having completed half of the Mae Hong Son loop, me and Brian were to part ways. He would rush south and I wasn’t on that much of a time constrain so I went back to Chiang Mai.

I decided to stay at The Dutch Guesthouse again. Shortly after arriving me and Herbert got talking and he agreed to help me reinforce it.

We added some handle bars for the passenger, I mean anchor points, and then welded a base plate that ran from the rear to these new anchor points. This alone would have been enough but Herbert had an better idea. Off we went to go and get some steel pipe and he then went on to create his idea. He weld by eye, no measurements required, a reinforced structure on the side opposite the exhaust.

This was handy, as since I would loose the factory tool box I would need something there for my Kriega luggage to sit on. An ideal place for my rotopax too!

With the addition of the side bar I didn’t have anywhere to store my tools. I could have moved it to the front of the bike, next to the engine guards and created two smaller ones so they didn’t stick out too far but, Herbert had another idea.

Why don’t we make a tool box that fits under your camera box with a folding door and make it lockable?

Great idea! Whilst creating this he welded some 15mm nuts so I could use them as anchor points and carry my tripod and air pump for quick easy access! Also we found a way to conceals the electric cable and made it so the seat could be removed with ease.

All in all, compared to the previous set up we had added 5kg, but 2kg of that weight was under the frame and supporting the weight rather than being a burden. The structure at the back end of my bike now weights total of 8kg but I imagine it is many more times stronger than the standard frame.

As a side note, I’m very thankful for the help I received and couldn’t of created this on my own. I may of had some ideas but the workmanship involved was amazing.

I highly recommend if you are going to Chiang Mai you stay at The Dutch Guest house. It’s affordable, rooms are great, the pancakes are amazing and the owner is very friendly and helpful. (Just don’t ask him to do this for you, I think you’ll be pushing your luck!)

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