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Old 06-04-2011, 11:44 AM   #1
XC Rider OP
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Location: Out in the country
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One end of the line to the other, Key West to Deadhorse on a Versys

So here I go again! In 4 days I'll be taking off from Key West, FL and headed to Deadhorse, AK. The total trip as I have it routed on my GPS right now is 14,751 miles, but this could change due to route changes and whims along the way. I've decided to go ahead and start the ride report a little before my departure to give you all a little intro about the trip, show you what I've done to the bike, and hopefully wet your appetite to follow me as I make my way up. Yes, that's right, I'll be updating this RR as I make my way north! I did this when I rode the TAT (Trans America Trail) solo back in 2009 and I found that I got a lot of enjoyment from reading everyone's posts and comments (mostly friends but also a lot of inmates whom I'd never met) and it also provided a lot of encouragement for me to keep going when the going got tough. In this way I find that a live RR is quite like a symbiotic relationship where both parties gain something.

Alright, where to start!? Alaska has been on my radar for many years, a dream ride of sorts. Towards the end of last year a buddy of mine back in VA called me and asked me if I still intended to ride to Alaska some day, and when I replied "Yes" he said "How about next summer?" Well that was just the kick in the ass that I needed, and since about December of last year, I've been in full prep mode! (unfortunately, it looks as though I may be on my own in the end ) First order of business, find the bike! Earlier that year I had purchased a 2008 Kawasaki Ninja 650r which I planned to eventually modify into a dual sport type bike similar to what JDrocks had done. However, living in Key west without my tools and garage space, I reallized that in the amount of time that I had, I would not be able to accomplish this. So I started to look at selling the Ninja and just going ahead a buying a Versys. I know that this is not the most common bike that people use for this type of ride, but this is what I wanted. In December I successfully sold the Ninja and two and a half weeks later found a 2009 Versys with 1500 miles up in Kentucky. Between Christmas and New Years, I left warm and sunny Key West, for cold, I mean REALLY COLD Kentucky! I packed up a bag, had my dad ship me my heated gloves and took a plane to Kentucky. The bike checked out just like the guy said, and so I hooked up the heated gloves and headed for VA.



Needless to say, I was freezing! Temps that night as I rode away got down into the 30s! My blood has thinned a little since moving to Key West. Well to make a long story short, I rode first to VA to see family and then from there back down to FL. The ride from VA to FL was a nice way to get to know the bike. It's practically the same thing as the Ninja, just a different suspension set up and riding position.

Since then I've been working hard, saving my pennies, and prepping for the trip. I first layed out my route on paper maps and then input it into my GPS mapping software. I've also ordered a bunch of aftermarket stuff for the bike. The bike is now fully prepped, and I've just got two weeks left at work and then a couple days to pack up all my belongings before I hit the road! Here's what I've done to the bike.

Homemade rear tire mud flap to protect the inards of the bike from mud and stuff:



Front fender raised to accomodate bigger tire and homemade mud flap:





Headlight protection, super easy to apply, just uses stick on velcro pieces:



Stainless radiator guard, easy bolt on:



Vstream windshiled and Zeta handguards. Both easy installs.



Two dash mounted 12v marine outlets:



SW Motech crash bars and engine guard. A little tricky on the install, but not too bad thanks to some help from a good friend. Thanks Sneed!



Luggage set up. I wanted to go with hard plastic luggage for its waterproofness and security. I hope to keep this bike for a while and use it for other trips in the future. I ended up going with a Givi 36NJ for a top box and Givi E21s for side cases. I looked at using the 36s for side cases but they're so damn big! With this set up, the rear of the bike is practically the same width as the handle bars.



And last but not least, some highway pegs:




Well that's about it for now. Just in case you're wondering how one finds a way to escape for what I anticipate to be a month to two month long motorcycle trip, well it's very simple: 1) not married, 2) no kids, and 3) yesterday was my last day at work! This will be the second time that I've quit my job and put all my stuff in storage to go find adventure (the first time being when I ran the TAT in '09), and it worked out well that time so I don't see why it shouldn't work out again. What it really boils down to is that I believe that life is a precious gift that we shouldn't squander away. When I find myself laying on my death bed, I don't want to look back at my life and wish that I had done this or that when I had the chance.

PS. Here I am with the bike this morning on the end of Blimp road on Cudjoe Key after loading up the bike with 90% of my gear and going for a little test ride. Cudjoe Key is just a few keys up from Key West.




PPS I've created a shortened URL to reach this RR if you want to pass it along to friends. Just type in: www.tinyurl.com/kw2dh2011
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Old 06-04-2011, 11:50 AM   #2
Dan Diego
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Good deal. I see you're right behind FL Rider, who is doing the same ride.

Subscribed and wishing you the best!
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Old 06-04-2011, 12:04 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Diego View Post
Good deal. I see you're right behind FL Rider, who is doing the same ride.

Subscribed and wishing you the best!
That's right. If all works out, he and I might meet up for a drink tonight after he pulls into Key West.
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Old 06-04-2011, 12:39 PM   #4
hppyfngy
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That front end looks crazy cool.

Have a good one
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Old 06-05-2011, 06:49 AM   #5
XC Rider OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hppyfngy View Post
That front end looks crazy cool.

Have a good one
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamie Z View Post
That front tire is crazy.

Jamie
Quote:
Originally Posted by Holistic View Post
good luck on the road, I like your Versys, gonna still some ideas from you. What tires are that, model and manufacture.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wolfgang55 View Post
Good upgrades to the Vers.

What is the size & manufacture of the ft tire?

Don't forget your plug kit.

Wow, lots of questions about the front tire!!! Well I guess when you mount what is technically a rear tire up front on a bike, you're bound to get some looks and questions. For all inquiring minds, the front tire is a Metzler Tourance, size 130/80 17, and the rear is also a Metzler Tourance, size 150/70 17. It handles a little different from the stock tires, but after about 150 miles or so, I'm getting really used to it. The only thing that I noticed when I took it out for it's first spin was that the front end felt a little heavier than before and the bike seemed to fall into a lean more easily in turns. No big deal, just something to be mindful of. Just wait 'till I get to Watson Lake, YT, I've shipped some tires there ahead of me to put on the bike for when I hit all the gravel and stuff. I don't want to ruin the surprise by telling what they are now, but let's just say that they're knobby!


Quote:
Originally Posted by zadok View Post
Nice job, XCR. I was quite taken by the Versys when it was released. You have done a great job of making it a cross country tourer. They are very reasonably priced, even in Oz, but I'm surprised I don't see more on the road.
I fully agree. While I have not run much off paved roads with mine, I've seen others do amazing things with theirs. They're very reasonably priced over here too, and they've got a tried and true powerplant in the frame. The only thing I wish they'd done differently is to put a 19" rim up front. But who knows, that may not even be necessary.


To all others who have posted their well wishes so far, I greatly appreciate it. Only 70 hours or so 'till departure time!
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Old 06-05-2011, 07:34 AM   #6
Michhub
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This is gonna be great...subscribed
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Old 06-06-2011, 06:36 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by XC Rider View Post
For all inquiring minds, the front tire is a Metzler Tourance, size 130/80 17...
damn, ya absolutely positive that will work? looks dangerous.


nice setup on the bike. safe travels.
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Old 06-04-2011, 02:43 PM   #8
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WELL... .... I'm here in the hotel cooling off and debating if a shower would do any good since I'd have to ride to wherever we would meet and

I need dinner too - only had a meal replacement bar - forgot to eat bkfst - whoops

I left you voice mail on your cell...

Dave

Quote:
Originally Posted by XC Rider View Post
That's right. If all works out, he and I might meet up for a drink tonight after he pulls into Key West.
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Old 06-04-2011, 02:54 PM   #9
hppyfngy
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So not even a little preview of the proposed route Denis? ...
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Old 06-04-2011, 03:38 PM   #10
Wolfgang55
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Good upgrades to the Vers.

What is the size & manufacture of the ft tire?

Don't forget your plug kit.
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Old 06-06-2011, 07:20 AM   #11
XC Rider OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hppyfngy View Post
So not even a little preview of the proposed route Denis? ...
Sorry for the late reply there hppyfngy, but here goes. These are just screen shots from Mapsource where I layed out the route.



The northern route is the route going, and the southern route is the return route.



The eastern route is the route going, and the western route is the return route.



In these last two pictures is gets a little screwy but here's the main gist. From Watson lake I plan on riding to Dawson City. From Dawson I'll do a one way up the Dempster to Inuvik and back. I'll then head to Fairbanks by way of Chicken and Tok. Then Onto Deadhorse and back to Fairbanks. On the return I'll then head south from Fairbanks and swing by Denali National park and back to Tok. From there the southernly route back to Watson Lake again.





If I have enough energy while on the road, and I remember to do so, I'll try to save my tracks and post pics of the route.
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Old 06-04-2011, 01:22 PM   #12
Jamie Z
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Originally Posted by XC Rider View Post
That front tire is crazy.

Jamie
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Old 06-04-2011, 01:33 PM   #13
Holistic
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good luck on the road, I like your Versys, gonna still some ideas from you. What tires are that, model and manufacture.
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Old 06-04-2011, 02:02 PM   #14
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Nice job, XCR. I was quite taken by the Versys when it was released. You have done a great job of making it a cross country tourer. They are very reasonably priced, even in Oz, but I'm surprised I don't see more on the road.
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