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Old 04-02-2012, 02:08 PM   #1
smorgasgeorge OP
Joined: Sep 2010
Location: Portland, OR
Oddometer: 60
TAT on a big bike (R100GSPD)?

I'm moving from the east coast to Oregon in a few months on my R100GSPD and I'm planning to ride as much of the TAT trail as I can safely. I've read many TRs that suggest a smaller bike is more fun and a big bike is difficult, especially on certain sections. I also don't have any real dirt biking experience. However I get there it's gonna be on the R100GSPD.
So a few questions:

Is the TAT on an R100GSPD doable?
Are there well-known sections that should be avoided for an amateur GS'er on a big bike?

I haven't found any discussion of this except for a few allusions on Big Dogs writeup.
Any info you can give me either here or by PM would be much appreciated.

S. Morgas

smorgasgeorge screwed with this post 04-03-2012 at 08:37 AM
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Old 04-03-2012, 10:31 AM   #2
Joined: Sep 2011
Location: Tulsa, Oklahoma
Oddometer: 84
I would also be interested to know about some of the trails. I ordered the maps last night and was planning to leave May 12 from Oklahoma to Colorado. I have road offroad almost all my life, but not a lot on a loaded bike. I plan to take a loaded F800GS. I don't plan to overload, just the campstuff and a change of clothes, but I would be interested to know if there is any area to worry about or try to avoid. I seen on the TAT website there were some water crossing's in TN that I wouldn't mind on a more offroad bike, but not sure about the GS with bags if they were at all deep.
Current Bikes:
2009 Husqvarna SM610 (Fully swappable to TE)
2010 F800GS
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Old 04-03-2012, 10:38 AM   #3
One Less Harley
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Joined: Nov 2006
Location: Bowling Green, Ky
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here's a repeat from the airhead reply-

I started the TAT with very little off road experience and am still a novice, even after finishing the TAT. Luckily for me it was dry for the complete adventure. I struggled with which bike to take the G/S or DRZ...glad I took the DRZ as it made the journey more pleasurable. I would have had a lot more trouble w/ the G/S. Luckily I road w/ two other guys which I would highly recommend that you not go alone, especially w/ little off road experience. I was glad for the company as they offered me tips, plus added confidence to attempt otherwise impossible sections due to my lack of experience. Plus another body to help pick up the bike, even though a airhead is easier to pick up than the flat DRZ. My concerns for safety would be magnified if going solo!!!!

With all that being said the TAT is very doable on a GS ( I'd prefer a lighter GS over PD), all the way through Colorado. There may be a few difficult sections, like Warloop Road, but it's doable on the big bike. It's rough and rocky but downhill and short. I didn't think it lived up to it's reputation. If you get rain then it's gonna be a completely different ball game. I road the TAT with the old Tennessee map and this was easy. I don't know about the new Tn section?? I'll find that out later this year and on the DRZ.

What I remember about each state's trail, in brief-

MIss- dirt roads, could be very slippery when wet, but dry it's fine, couple of sandy sections, but not that long, but they will sneak up on you.

AR- gravel roads- big floating gravel, bike will float a lot on this stuff, some sandy spots early on.

OK- long straight roads, easy state, but a few noteworthy bike swallowing holes filled with sand, near Alva???

New Mexico has one challenging rocky hill climb, would be a challenge for a novice on a GS.

Co- steep climbs, the grade might prove to be a challenge if not jetted right!

After Co things get more challenging, most is doable on the GS, but it's the 15% that will bust your balls. In Utah- Notably for me, after Moab, there is Black dragon, and eagle canyon (which I didn't do). The GS will take one hell of a pounding in Black Dragon, better have a sump guard, and not sure if the heads will get through some spots. Eagle is supposedly sandy w/ climbs, maybe worse for a novice than Black Dragon. There are a couple of water crossings to be concerned about, one very deep and steep on the other side.

Nevada- More sand but not to bad, but the GS has a heavy front end which is a little more difficult in sand. Some tight long sections of single track. You will get into some rougher rocky climbs also. The most trying part was the tight sand single track along with some sand, just kind of works on you after a while, still fun, but challenging.

Oregon- has one very notable rocky hill climb, with a sharp turn int he climb....yeah haw!!! Not to mention navigating issues.

The hardest part to over come and still is for me is getting used to keeping my speed up as things smooth out and handling becomes easier, but that being said you also crash harder do to lack of experience and slow reaction times on what to do when things start to get worse. Which ever bike you take ride with in your ability and be smart enough to access your ability for the conditions. I started off going faster than I was comfortable with and had two hard crashes, so reevaluated my riding, so backed it down a couple of notches to ride just fast enough for the conditions and maybe a little over at times. Still raising my comfort level just a little, but not a lot.

If you have friends to ride with a learn then spend some valuable time doing that!!! I didn't have riders to receive coaching from before the ride. Lately I've started riding with an experience rider, and dang I still have lost to learn...yeah even after doing the TAT!!!

If you have the $$$$, then buy a smaller more dirt worthy bike. Something to be said for a DRZ is that if it gets busted know what? It's just a DRZ and easily/ cheaply replaced!!! A DRZ is similar to power of a GS, at least up to 65-70 mph. Low end torque like the GS, but definitely better suspension. But if taking another bike you'll need to drop some money getting it ready.

ALSO- use soft bags!!!
2004 BMW R1150RS
1984 BMW R80G/S
(wrenching index)
2003 Suzuki DRZ 400S (TAT Prep)
One More DRZ does the TAT (Ride Report)

One Less Harley screwed with this post 04-03-2012 at 11:22 AM
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Old 04-05-2012, 04:57 AM   #4
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Joined: Jun 2009
Location: Austin, TX
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One Less Harley,

Did you have any jetting issues with your DRZ on the TAT? Did you re-jet once you got up to the higher elevations in CO? I'll be riding my DRZ on the TAT this summer and have yet to mess with the jetting. I've had my DRZ up to about 7-8K feet with no problems, but I'd hate to get all the way out there only to have the bike run poorly or not at all.
2004 BMW GS Adventure - sold - the greatest bike i've ever owned
2009 Suzuki DRZ-400S/SM - sold
2009 F800GS - the yella one
2010 KTM 690 Enduro R
2010 KTM 530 XC-W Six Days
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Old 04-05-2012, 05:12 AM   #5
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Location: West Virginia
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I rode the TAT as a brand new motorcyclist last summer on a DR650. One Less Harley nailed it. Keep in mind that the 15% challenging sections are usually about as far away from an escape route as possible. If you can't do it, you will have a long detour to turn around and find an alternate path.

The TN water crossings are not deep, just slick. The water crossings in NV were something else...

I did not re-jet my bike. Left it stock and had no issues - just keep your air filter clean.
TAT...and Beyond
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Old 04-05-2012, 05:35 AM   #6
One Less Harley
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Joined: Nov 2006
Location: Bowling Green, Ky
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I had done the 3x3 mod and jet kit, so that must have helped no issues w/ jetting, power was a little down but not bad. I'll have to check my jetting for you. Bike was set up at 550 feet, plus bike runs a little lean at 550.
2004 BMW R1150RS
1984 BMW R80G/S
(wrenching index)
2003 Suzuki DRZ 400S (TAT Prep)
One More DRZ does the TAT (Ride Report)

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Old 04-05-2012, 06:51 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by smorgasgeorge View Post
Any info you can give me either here or by PM would be much appreciated.
TN through NM on a Big Bike

Hope it is helpful.
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Old 04-05-2012, 08:58 PM   #8
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Joined: Dec 2005
Location: Pinewood Springs, Colorado
Oddometer: 7,729
TN, MS, AR, OK and into CO will be fine until you reach the Divide. I think there's one part in either W. Ms or E. Ar that has a hill that could be sketchy on a large bike.

Once you get to CO, you're not going to be able to ride any of the high passes as even in this low snow year, they are closed with snow and probably will be until June. I'm not sure where exactly the TAT runs through here in CO (I've only been here 6 mos, was in New Orleans and SanFran before here) but I'm a dirt biker and I've ridden the GS on some of the dirt roads in the foothills outside of Boulder can be a bit sketchy on the big bike. I did all the planning and got Sam's maps a few years ago in hopes to ride my DRZ from MS to CO, but it never materialized.
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