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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Half way house and Check up

Well I am at the half way point, 3,500 miles and its time to check out the bike, the gear and myself and see how it's all holding up.

The bike V-Strom 650 has done extremely well, comfortable and caries me and the gear with ease. The V-Twin just sounds so good going down the road, power is excellent definitely on par with the bigger bikes, and it pulls so strong, i just love it!

The tires are the ones that came on the bike, they had 3500 miles exactly when I started the trip now with 7,000 miles they need replacement. (Not bald, just not going to make the return trip)

I found a set of tires at a Suzuki dealer in Anchorage (Anchorage Suzuki/Arctic Cat, 3054 Commercial dr) they also took care of my oil change as well as cleaning the chain!

Tires are Shinko E705 and they installed dynamic beads rather than balancing the tires !?

My last oil change was at 3,000 and the bike does not use/burn any oil and the level remains as it was when I left.

Chain is in good shape and did not need adjustment during the trip, I did lube it every morning before heading out for the day.

Everything checks out good on the bike though I did manage to bend a key, just slightly as I was opening the gas cap, and it would not work again to start the bike I am so happy my wife suggested I bring a second set of keys for everything, she saved the day!

I will work on straightening the key and see if I can get it to work again, if not I will look for a replacement before I head out for the return trip.

This is also a good time to reflect on riding gear.

Boots: see my post on bottom up boots, the alpine stares are great, I love them, they keep my feet dry and are comfortable for all day rides and for walking, I used them for everything, I never used my other shoes because the boots are that good. 

During the first few days it was hot, above 100 F, and though the boots are not a cool summer boot they did just fine, with just three pair of socks, I did have some smelly socks by the time I arrived in Anchorage.

Gloves: the light motocross style gloves worked the best for me, I just can't manage the thicker gloves for the long trips my hands get tired and I feel like I can't hold on to the bars. Any time it got warm enough I would swap back to the thinner gloves. I will try my glove liners on the way back and see if I can get away with just the thinner gloves.

Socks: the rev-it socks from revzilla work the best, they seemed to keep my feet at a more consistent temperature and just feel better, I will buy a couple more sets of these when I get home they come in right and left to the shape of your foot.

Jacket: this is a love hate relationship I love the jacket and its removable liner, vents for the hot days  work great with the liner out. lots of armor for safety in all the right places. You can adjust the fit of the jacket in the arms and waist and that is a great option as the jacket fits differently with the liner out.

OK so yes, hate....why did I have to get black, it attracts heat lots of it, and on a hot day all you can think of is, when can I take this thing off even with the vents open you can feel the heat on the jacket.
This is also a heavy jacket, and I do wish it could be a bit lighter.

I did get some rain but not the real heave rain that would test the jacket In the extreme, when it was new it worked well in the real bad stuff and i suspect it still will, the weather is looking like it might give me that test on the way back, so I will let you know how it does!

Helmet: Arai XD I do love this helmet, it's getting old and I can tell the liner is starting to suffer and the padding is getting a little tired too, but I still like it. The only down side is ventilation they just don't have the ventilation they could have for the hot days, if I'm honest I can't tell if the vents are open or closed when I'm ridding, and I always check them again when I stop to see if they are open.
Tim had a newer model Arai XD 3, it was equally as bad with ventilation, actually it may have been worse as he road with his shield  up at all times, my wife Stephanie has the newest one and she has had no complaints.
Having the sun visor is just amazing and I cannot imagine riding without it, we spent most of our days chasing the sun, and I could just tilt my head a bit and block the direct sun from blinding me.

Another alternative helmet worth trying would be the ICON they have a cool looking helmet with a visor and screen much like the Arai, and it looks like it has much larger vents.

Tires: I used the stock tires that came on the Suzuki Bridgestone's they did great, it was a 90% street trip and they do extremely well for that, and the dirt that we did ride about 100 miles, I was maintaining about 70mph with no issues, and that's great in my book for a street tire, and yes I would buy them again if they had them hear, they did not.

How about me! Well I was a bit tired from all the travel, my body a little confused to not be on the bike! 
Right now it's like I need to be some where but have no where to go. A short ride on the bike today did help that!

The half way house is, well the wonderful home of my father and mother in laws! a great retreat and home away from home, it's great to land in such great company.
My family will arrive tomorrow night and we will have a true summer Alaska vacation for a week, then it's back on the road again, and this time it really looks like I will be on my own.