Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Bike and Bike-kit

Bike and Bike-kit
The Bike; 2011 Suzuki V-Strom 650 (also known as DL 650)

Added components
Exhaust: Two Brothers Racing Carbon Fiber with quiet insert; awesome sound great looks (the quiet insert is a must)

Motech Skid plate: Good looks, but I am skeptical of its durability

Hand Guards: Barkbuster’s  are the best in the business, functional and good looking  (keeping your hands warmer and away from flying gravel off the road)

Givi Engine Guards: Great guards, strong, right location for protection and look good (they really protect body work and the gas tank in the event of a fall) let’s hope I never need these

Givi side cases (luggage): if you like a sleek look you will like them if you like a rugged look then not so much.
    • The design helps cut through the wind and keep drag to a minimum (better MPG)
    • I would prefer a top loading case  because a side opening case is harder to pack or repack when it’s on the bike and they tend to fall over when you set them down “scratch”

Why a V-Strom 650?
 I have owned about 40 motorcycles of all types and sizes; my longest trips have been on the KTM 950 Adventure, VTX 1300, CBR 900RR and the V-Strom 650.
The upright riding position of the Adventure bikes is the most comfortable for long trips and provides excellent visibility of your surroundings, with a taller bike you can also see over traffic and other obstacles for a better view and you, the rider, are more visible to other drivers on the roadway.
For long trips the 650 V-twin is smooth and fuel efficient, delivering up to 70MPG. Power is surprisingly good and the seating position as well as the seat is great for long distance riding. When it comes to winding roads the V-Strom holds its own quite well and can handle all of the off road conditions I’ve come across. The 650 provides the right combination of light weight, reliability, economy and good road manners for a trip like this.
Motorcycle Weight
A few words on the weight of an adventure bike: Considerations need to be given to outside elements such as wind, Air displacement of a passing semi-truck and ability to maneuver the bike in tight situations as well as the eventuality of needing to pick it up in a difficult position.
  • At 300lbs the bike starts to become too light, the effects wind/air pressure of other vehicles starts to impact the stability of you Motorcycle each time you pass or are passed by another vehicle.
  • At 600lbs the bike becomes too heavy to pick up if you drop it on a down sloping hill (handlebars and seat facing downhill) sure anyone can pick up a heavy bike in a parking lot using the right technique and some proper leverage, but get yourself on a dirt trail fall to the down side of a hill and you may need to leave it and go get help on foot.
  • The right Mix for a bike that will be ridden many miles and will likely see some off road use should weigh between 400lbs and 500lbs
Wind and Fairings
Fighting cross wind (wind hitting you and your bike from the side)is always a challenge to motorcyclist, a heaver bike helps but is not always the answer;
  •  Bikes with full fairings (plastics that cover the entire bike) tend to be impacted more by a cross wind than bikes without.
  • Bikes with no fairing at all will not protect you from the oncoming wind as you go down the road (this will become tiring)
  •  You want a good mix of enough fairing to keep the Majority of air off your body at speed and not too much fairing that a cross wind pushes you into another lane.
The right fairing for me is the half fairing: I want to keep the wind off my body and keep it from pulling my legs away from the bike, this is Bad wind.  I do want some wind hitting my shoulders, face shield and passing the outsides of my legs and feet, this is good wind.
The wind at your shoulders and face shield does two things; one, allows you to open vents on your jacket and your helmet letting cooler air in on a hot days; two, puts slight pressure on your body keeping you upright without putting pressure on your arms (you’re not fighting to keep yourself upright).
The wind passing the outsides of your legs can work in the same manner it keeps your legs in, and can help keep you cool on hot days.

Some good options in this category are the BMW F800GS, Suzuki V-Strom 650 and the Triumph Tiger 800. Picking between these bikes is difficult if you have an unlimited budget and long legs! The decision becomes easier if you’re missing one of the two! And even though the Suzuki is lower I did lower My wife’s bike by 2” to make that reach to the ground easier.

Camping gear and tools next:

Monday, May 20, 2013

Riding gear

Riding paints: Moose Racing Pant (13 years old), originally for endure Racing, they do well in rain and mud and have proven to be a great adventure riding paint. Moose designed these pants with reinforced sections where they come in contact with bike parts that can cause damage to the pant the pant leg also go over the boot keeping water a debris from getting in. after all these years they still show very little signs of wear despite the abuse the received from racing and riding, Highly recommended!
Jacket: Tourmaster Transition Jacket, (10 years old) the jacket comes with a liner for extra warmth, has shoulder and elbow armor for safety/protection and is water proof. In warmer weather it has zip open vents with Velcro to keep the vents open for added air flow. I really like the design of the jacket with great pockets safety protection and keeping the cold and wet out.
A couple of notes on this jacket; first, My choice to buy black was likely a mistake, warm weather riding its HOT, I think a lighter color would help this jacket in the summer months. Second, they run large and will accommodate extra layers under the jacket without going up a size.

Helmet: Lots of choices hear and helmet style/design you chose will depend on what you are riding, I have sport bike, Curser and off-road helmets, a Sport bike helmet can be extremely loud when you ride an adventure bike due to the angle of the helmet when riding. Noise/wind comes from the bottom of the helmet around the neck and the wrong angle will create a vortex and lots of noise where as it is quite on a sport bike in the tuck position. so consider your riding position when selecting a helmet and bring ear plugs.
I will be riding with my Ari XD (7 years old), as an adventure helmet it has motocross style with a Street bike shield and a visor that keeps the sun out of your eyes (no need for a dark shield that limits visibility at night) and it has Lots of venting for Air on hot days and still keeps you dry in the rain. The XD has a helmet has a removable and washable liner, a great helmet.
  Gloves, two sets, Icon Waterproof gloves (new) Kilm light summer gloves (1 year old) the decision for two pair of gloves was easy, I needed waterproof gloves if it rains or is cold and summer gloves if it’s warm. A note on waterproof gloves, some waterproof gloves are too thick in the palm of your hand and can fatigue your hands after a prolonged time on the bike. Some manufactures shape the glove to fit your hand as if it were on the grip, more of a fist position, this helps because there is less effort in holding your hand in the grip position (the glove is not fighting you = less fatigue) I love Icon gloves for this reason most of their gloves are stitched in the fist position.
Other items: Neck gator to help keep the cold out, helmet sock (goes over your head inside the helmet) to help keep your head warm if it gets real cold. Glove liners for extra warmth and three pair of good motorcycle Socks.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Bottom up Boots


Bottom up:
Boots are a vital part of your kit so we start by keeping your feet safe.
So what is the right boot for this type of trip?
As you can see from the photo I have a few pairs of boots, and I think I could have made any pair work, but in the end but I wanted Dry feet, lots of protection and something I could still walk around in between riding Camping and sightseeing.
A quick review of the boots

Aplinestars S-MX boots (14 years old) second from the left (Sportbike/Racing boot) they have lasted through many, many, miles of riding, are not water proof and vent air/water in to the boot. I got stuck in the rain in these boots, they collected so much water I ended up having to pouring the water out of the boot, I think it is time to replace these boots.
River Road Crossroads Buckle Boot, (4 years old), I love these boots, they are very comfortable and provide great ankle support as well as make a good walking/hiking boot when off the bike, these are my cruiser boot and made trips up and down the coast of CA and WA, they also provide some water resistance and I have ridden in LOTS of rain in these boots with slightly wet, but still warm feet, for this trip they don’t provide the upper shin protection I would like while on dirt and gravel roads.
Alpinestare Tech 8 boot, (15 years old) these are my race boots (Enduro off road Racing) they are by far the best off-road boot I have ever owned, providing excellent support and protection, lots of straps for a solid fit, the boot liners are removable and washable, these boots seem indestructible, they are water proof and provide the protection I am looking for on this ride. Unfortunately they are hard to shift with while sitting on a street bike, you sit much higher on an off road bike and more likely to be standing when you shift. This was going to be the boot of choice for the trip but I took a good long ride with them on the Vstrom and decided the stiffness I love for dirt biking and difficulty in shifting was going to affect my comfort during the trip, (lord I’m sounding like the princes and the pea). For a 15 year old boot I would still not trade them for another off road boot, they are great.
The Aplinestars Tucan GTX, (new) it’s hard to review a boot I have yet to break in (I will work in the boots over the next few weeks) the liners are made with gortex for breathability and water proofing, they are solid but not too stiff, two buckles rather than four will provide better flex for shifting and walking when off the bike, they are quite comfortable and have a good walking hiking sole.
It was hard to go out and buy new boots when I have a few sitting around, but I’m looking at this as a replacement for the Alpinestare S-MX boot and will donate the older boots to make room for the new ones. 

Remaining Riding gear and helmets next:

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Getting Organized

Route planning, passport, International motorcycle insurance, bike prep, and packing next:
Some words on route planning;  get the whole family involved, hear you see I have maps up on the window the kids 9 and 11 are finding the places I will visit roads I must travel and some distances I need to cover, its lots of fun, especially that side trip it looks like I’m taking to Hawaii lol!
When I’m on my way they can use the same map to track my progress, I have lots of little stickers and Post it notes for them to use as well as dry erase markers they can use those on the windows too, wipes right off.
So first things first, if you are planning a trip like this you will need a few things like a passport and proper insurance, yes they should ask for both as you cross the border.
Well, I need a new passport, long story short, I think the coastguard may have my old one; I was boarded about 70 miles off the coast of Oregon, on my sailing trip down from Bremerton Washington to San Francisco California “just a quick safety and passport check” and we were on our way.
The local Post office made it quite simple to get a new Passport, Government Employee Insurance provided a vary official Canadian copy of my insurance, which luck would have it, covers Canada at no extra charge!, mental note; don’t forget the US copy, OK so I am printing those now and putting them in the trip folder, I have a storage unit in my garage dedicated to the gear I’m bringing, it’s a good way to get everything in one place and stay organized.
Preparation and Packing: still working out what to bring so I will post a bit on the Gear I chose and why next!


The Alaska Motorcycle Adventure seems to be coming together for 2013! A trip I dreamed of doing in 2008 with a group of 4 riders, bad timing brought an early end to that adventure.
This year I decided it was time to take on the challenge again, only this time it would be a solo trip ride and meet the family in Anchorage Alaska as a half-way point creating a vacation within a vacation for five days in AK, I think I score twice for that one!
The Ride will start In Livermore CA, (July 3rd) Driving interstate 5 to Canada (I have ridden most of the roads hear in CA, OR, and WA so I just want to get to BC to start seeing new roads and experience a new ride.
The Detailed plan: OK Detailed sounds like a commitment, im not likely to keep, so lets keep it loose, I will Plan to keep somewhat to this route and stay somewhere near these areas, its an adventure so everything is likely to change, you will need to check back to see where I end up each night and some photos of what I might see along the way.

Getting organized:

Route planning, passport, International motorcycle insurance, bike prep, and packing next: