Long time lurker, first time ride report poster. I’ve been riding for about three years now, and have been wanting to do a longer-duration ride for a long time. When one of my friends mentioned that he wanted to do the same thing, we eventually decided that the week we had off from school for spring break would be as good a time as any to do it. Of course, being that we’re both in school, neither of us really had a bunch of time or money; just a week off and a desire to get away from school for a bit (both of us are Mechanical Engineering students at Purdue University, and I should really be doing homework instead of writing this…). That was last semester.
This semester, about a month before spring break (March 11th
through the 15th
) we finally decided to make it a reality. My steed for the journey would be my 1986 Yamaha XT350 that I had picked up over the summer for a paltry $400 with a major oil burning problem. It was my first off-road motorcycle, and since I had rebuilt most of the engine shortly after getting it, I figured it would be reliable enough to make the trip. The main reason I didn’t take my old Suzuki was that my buddy rides a 2004 KTM 450EXC, so we’d definitely be planning to at least ride some dirt roads.
The initial plan was to ride from West Lafayette down to the Tennessee/North Carolina border to ride the Tail of the Dragon and other fantastic roads in the area. Neither of us has a truck, so we were planning to do the whole thing on the bikes. Problem was, the KTM had been in storage for a year for various reasons, and I only had about 500 miles on the XT since buying it so it was still a bit of a question mark. Luckily around then, a third friend with a DRZ400s expressed interest in coming. Conveniently, he also owns a Dodge Ram, so once we regained our sanity, we decided to change plans a bit.
We eventually decided on this: On Monday of break, we would ride from Purdue down to Seymour, IN where we would meet up with the guy with the truck. He had graduated a few years earlier and works full time, and as such could only get off Thursday and Friday. George (the KTM guy) and I would spend the first three days of break riding the twisties in southern Indiana and figuring out where to ride down south. On Wednesday night, we would load up and drive to the Deal’s Gap area and stay in a hotel for the night. We’d then ride around there for a day, pack up, and drive to Asheville NC to meet up with George’s sister, who happened to be able to hook us up with a place to stay and could show us around town, along with being a cool person to hang out with. On one night, we’d load the bikes up and stay at a campground somewhere, just to get a little “adventure” in. This would really be a week of testing the bikes and finding weak points so that we’d know what to do for future longer rides.
I have a pretty good portion of the RR written up already, but I'll be posting it in chunks like this. Sorry for the dearth of pics; I have some good ones and some video to come, but there will be a lot of words and probably a lot of TL;DR.
Since I know its wrong to start a thread without pics, here are some of the engine damage that the XT came with, and why you should always make sure the tensioner works...
The XT as I got it: