Overlander Focus #3
Hey, and welcome to the third in our 'Overlander Focus' series!
I want to introduce you to a friend of Wingfield's - someone I was lucky to spend some time with on the recent Wingfield's overland trip and photoshoot - Connor Ross - motorcycle adventurer, photographer and writer.
A little bit about Connor...
Californian-born and raised, Connor has recently emigrated and now lives with his partner Kirsty in Exeter. A chilled-adventure-seeking-motorcycle-nut, Connor works for a motorcycle dealer in Exeter and then puts his Royal Enfield Himalayan through it's paces at every opportunity.
Hey Connor, tell us about your bike and why you chose it?
I chose the Royal Enfield Himalayan because of three things: simplicity in its design; comfortability and rider friendly ergonomics; and its capability off-road. Most off-road touring bikes these days come with a plethora of electronic riding modes and enough power to challenge sports bikes, but for me they often don’t get taken off-road. This machine has the power perfect for trail riding, a simple engine that I can work on myself, and I’m not afraid to take it into difficult terrain (where I could potentially drop it). At £4,000 it owes me nothing and always keeps me smiling.
I was so impressed with how the Himalayan fared on our trip across the Shropshire hills and Welsh lanes, it looked to be the perfect bike for that type of adventure and didn't miss a beat! Have you made any modifications at all?
Out of the box it’s a cracking bike, but I do like to add small touches that make the bike mine, and add a bit more resilience off road. I didn’t make any modifications to the engine, however, because I do think it’s perfectly suited for what it does.
Thicker bash plate to protect the sump
Rear pannier racks
16 tooth front sprocket to lower RPM’s at higher speeds
Shortened windscreen to reduce buffeting, painted black
Removed lower front mudguard for better off road clearance
The mods certainly look the part and obviously provide that extra bit of protection, which didn't let you down on the likes of the notorious Strata Florida green lane in Wales! So tell us about your travel/camp set up….
Lomo soft dry bag panniers (2 x 30L capacity)
Lomo dry roll bag front panniers
French army surplus a-frame tent
Single inflatable air bed
Sleeping bag liner + wool blankets
Metal fire flume (I can’t go camping without a fire)
TomTom Rider 50 Weatherproof SatNav
Wired USB charger with 12v adapter
Whats the best bit?
I rag the hell out of it and it looks and feels better than ever. Seriously, I was getting self concious about how dirty and banged up it was, but it seems to only get more compliments. And the price tag. Cheapest (reliable) thrill in town I’d say.
The sum-of-parts (frame/engine/riding/position combination...and the price). I am a big advocate for the Himalayan because it seems to be bringing more riders into the “adventure” scene who otherwise wouldn’t have. Royal Enfield have made a reliable, comfortable and nimble bike on the road that can tour and also be taken off-road. I know it sounds like a cop out for a bike that’s £3999 out the door, but seriously, the riding position and handlebar height is great for trail riding, and the seat is comfy enough to chug some miles out on the road as well. No, it’s not the fastest machine, but where else can you find a purpose built, reliable dual-sport motorcycle for that price?
Whats the best trip you've done on your Himalayan (surely our trip right?!)?
Riding across a hilltop of green grass in mid-Wales covered in wildflowers on a bright sunny day with spots of white clouds. As we made our way north and west through Wales, we followed the dirt tracks up through the forest into a clearing atop a hill spotted with clusters of wildflowers and a view of the valley below and hills around. It was that perfect moment when the sun is shining and the air is still fresh and everything is green and dry and comfortable; it’s the moment I had always wanted motorcycling to be **tear**.
It sure was one-helluva trip which Si Cox captured so well in his photos! That perfect scene that you mention is amongst the photos below and theres a great shot of you getting your Steve McQueen on!
All photos: Si Cox
Any future modifications in the pipeline?
The ultimate goal is a trip around the world purely for the sake of being extremely curious about what life is like in other parts of the world. Being on a bike allows for a pace and a freedom that gives moments of excitement and thrill in a cathartic and endurance challenge.....And I should really invest in heated grips.
What do you never leave home without?
Truthfully? My iphone. I mean... the keys to my motorcycle.
And finally, tell us:
Favourite camp beer/drink?
Pabst Blue Ribbon.
Favourite camp meal to cook?
Beans beans the magical fruit, the more you eat, the more you toot, the more you toot, the better you feel, so eat your beans with every meal.
What are you listening to?
I don’t listen to music while I ride, but I do, sometimes, get carried away singing to myself, and it’s usually something upbeat, but I just think of a song I know really well and just play it in my head and sing. I recently lost my shit riding in to John O’Groats at the end of an 8 hour trip singing “Leave it all behind” from the 'Into the Wild' soundtrack by Eddie Vedder.
Shout out to??
Lomo watersports - they make high quality gear and it’s very affordable. I’m not a big fancy rider (but you knew that already).
Here's to our next adventure!
Hope you liked this instalment of Overlander Focus.
To find out more about Connor and his adventures, be sure to check out his new website where he plans to document his travels through a series of blogs - link here.
You can follow Connor on Instagram here.
Let me know what you think in the comments below!