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Old 05-31-2015, 08:19 PM   #1
Ulyses OP
Beastly Adventurer
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Joined: Mar 2012
Location: Portland, OR
Oddometer: 1,160
Misery in the Mountains: XR650L v. DR650 in the Oregon Backcountry

Before we kick this off, I'll just give a little preview of coming attractions:

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Old 05-31-2015, 08:21 PM   #2
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Joined: Mar 2008
Location: Boston, MA
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DR650, CRF230L, VFR800, Daytona 675
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Old 05-31-2015, 08:24 PM   #3
PDX Alamo
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Joined: May 2012
Location: Portland, OR
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I lived it

Spoiler alert .....DR650 wins hahah
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Old 05-31-2015, 08:37 PM   #4
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Joined: Jan 2012
Location: Venice Beach, CA
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Lots of class, most of it low.
2014 Triumph Tiger 800; 1975 Yamaha XS650B (in restoration); 1971 Honda CL175 (in pieces)
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Old 05-31-2015, 08:41 PM   #5
Ulyses OP
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Joined: Mar 2012
Location: Portland, OR
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Originally Posted by PDX Alamo View Post
Spoiler alert .....DR650 wins hahah
Keep dreaming Travis.
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Old 05-31-2015, 09:20 PM   #6
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Joined: Feb 2014
Location: Orange County
Oddometer: 177
Rooting for team DR650!!!
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Old 05-31-2015, 10:10 PM   #7
Comrade Art
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Joined: Sep 2006
Location: Oregon
Oddometer: 591
Looking forward to this crazy adventure
Vietnam Adventure Oregon BDR Arizona BDR
"All human beings by nature desire to know" Aristotle
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Old 06-01-2015, 04:21 AM   #8
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Joined: Dec 2005
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ADV Relay Rider 08 (The Texas Connection)
Ride Pooie Ride

Don't stop riding until you get to the crash , you might save it!
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Old 06-01-2015, 04:58 AM   #9
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Joined: Nov 2006
Location: Okiehoma
Oddometer: 2,774

'13 Husky TR650 Terra, '11 Husaberg FE390, '10 KTM 450 XCW Six Days, '12 BMW R1200GS
The Okie-Dokie BDR Terra-izing the CDR Bergs Over the Rainbow
Texas or Bust! Rocky Mountain HighFive The Other Side of Nowhere
Athena Big Bore Project
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Old 06-01-2015, 01:25 PM   #10
Joined: May 2014
Oddometer: 23
XR Fairing

What fairing is that on the XRL??? I must know so I can get one for my XRL!!!!
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Old 06-01-2015, 02:22 PM   #11
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Joined: May 2005
Location: Prescott Valley, Arizona
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In for sure!
You can outdistance that which is running after you,
but not what is running inside of you
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Old 06-01-2015, 06:18 PM   #12
Ulyses OP
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Joined: Mar 2012
Location: Portland, OR
Oddometer: 1,160
Originally Posted by sockMNKYparade View Post
What fairing is that on the XRL??? I must know so I can get one for my XRL!!!!
Its from Dirt Bikes Africa in South Africa. I'll warn you now, it's a bit pricey and the import and customs fees are steep. However, it's an amazing product! Here's the link:
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Old 06-01-2015, 09:35 PM   #13
Ulyses OP
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Joined: Mar 2012
Location: Portland, OR
Oddometer: 1,160

Like all good plans, ours got shot all to hell before it even kicked off. Our subsequent plans suffered the same fate. Originally, we planned on riding the Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route (IDBCDR), a north to south traverse of Idaho from Nevada to the Canadian border on dirt roads and trails. Unfortunately, a week before we were set to leave, a few friends from Idaho advised me that Idaho was a no-go. Much as the Indians had warned Lewis and Clark not to try and cross the Bitterroots before July, my friends warned me that unless we planned on packing a chainsaw and snowmobile, we wouldn’t be making it very far.

Since Lewis and Clark nearly starved to death crossing in the wrong season, we decided that emulating their actions in May would be unwise. With a week before we were scheduled to depart, we scrambled to find a substitute.

But before we get into this madness, let me introduce the characters:

Name: Bryce (AKA “Ulyses)
Bikes: 2006 XR650L, 2001 Harley FXDWG
- Oregon to Tierra del Fuego on an XR650L
- USA Coast to Coast and back on a Harley
- Florida to Oregon on an XR650L

Name: Travis (AKA “PDXAlamo)
Bikes: 2009 DR650 built by Trophy Hunter, 2012 Super Tenere
- South America on a DR650
- Alaska to Oregon

Travis and I met through ADVrider after he started reading my ride report for my South America trip. He donated some gas money to me via paypal when I was in Peru. In return, I wrote his name on my gas tank in sharpie. It was a good trade....

A year or so after I got back, I moved to Portland to start law school. Travis contacted me about meeting up to talk about South America. He was planning his own trip down south and wanted some recommendations. We met in a local, hipster free bar (a rarity in Portland) and talked bikes and travels for a couple of hours and hit it off. We kept in touch over the next year and Travis took off on his South America adventure.

Fast forward to February 2015. Law School is a real drag. Endless days of studying, writing, and classes were wearing me down. I realized it had been a while since I had been on a good ride. I needed something to look forward too. Travis and I started discussing doing something in mid-May. Around March we decided on the IDBCDR.

Travis had fallen in love with the DR650 in S. America and had bought another one as soon as he got back. I had too had fallen in love with my trusty Honda and bought another XR650L when I returned from S. America. We figured this ride would let us answer that age old question: which Japanese 650cc thumper is the best? Honda or Suzuki?

Some of you may complain that our friendly little test has left out that red headed step child of the 650’s, the atrocious Kawasaki KLR 650. KLR owners like to wax eloquent about the many virtues of their chosen steed. They brag about how reliable and versatile their bikes are, and how well they operate with a few mods out of the box. Unless your idea of dual sporting consists of loading up the milk crate strapped to the back of your fender and cruising around town to pick up mods for your bike from various free piles of discarded household goods left on the side walk, the KLR is bunch of rubbish. So, we decided to compare the only two Japanese 650cc Thumpers that are actually worth a....okay, okay, I really don't hate KLR's that much. They are actually an okay bike. But I wouldn't ever get one. (sorry KLR owners, no offense…).

Both of us being partial to our brand of Thumper, we wondered how they would fair in a comparable field test/ride. Granted, both bikes were modified a bit beyond factory specs. However, the modifications were comparable and neither bike would have much of an edge in power or handling. In preparation for this epic shootout, I asked an artist friend to draw us a mascot for our newly formed Japanese Thumpers MC:

I had spent a lot of time modifying my new XR over the past year and a half. It was already hands down a better bike than the one I took to Ushuaia. However, with the start of school in August, the XR had been largely neglected. As my daily commuter in Portland, it spent most of its time moldering in rainy parking lots and a small, damp storage shed. I felt sorry for it. Every time I saw it parked out in the Portland drizzle, it reminded me of a poor, neglected dog left out in the rain, begging to be let inside. Like a rotten tree infested with insects, the constant exposure to dampness was breeding electrical gremlins that plagued my short rides to and from school. The tiny bit of corrosion on my kill switch alone was causing me all sorts of grief:

I knew that any major ride on the XR would require a bit of preliminary wrenching to get it up to par. My time was at a premium, so I decided to put in a few hours a week after studying to get everything fixed up. My friend let me take over his garage and I trailered my bike and all my tools over to his place and set up shop. With the advice of some of the inmates on the XRL thread, I tore into my bike with a gusto. I eventually found my problems and also managed to create some new ones along the way. As with most bike projects precedent to a big ride, I was busy working on it until the day we left. Here it is, my 2nd XRL, "El Senior II":

At some point, I'll make a build thread to chronicle the transformation of this XR into an adventure machine, but in the interim, here is the shortlist of mods on my bike:

- Acerbis 5.8 gallon fuel tank
- Pro Taper CR High Bend handlebars
- Cycra Pro Bend bark busters
- Wide Chinese foot pegs
- RSW Triple Clamps w/2 in. risers
- FMF Powercore 4 Muffler
- CRF450R USD forks and front wheel
- Dave’s Mod Carb
- UNI Foam Air Filter
- Anti-Gravity 8 Cell battery, relocated under the seat
- Ricochet Skid Plate
- Frame w/welded subframe gussets and red powder coating
- XR’s Only Temp Dipstick
- RR relocated to airbox
- Dirt Bikes Africa Adventure Fairing and Tower
- Trail Tech Vapor Speedo and TTO Oil Temp Gauge
- Chinese made Voltmeter
- Kyocera Torque GPS (It’s actually a smartphone)
- Oil Cooler
- 12 volt power outlet and 2 x USB Power Outlets
- 2 x Hella 60mm Projectors w/Cyclops 3200 Lumen LED Bulbs
- Double Take Mirrors
- Extreme Dual Sport LED Blinkers
- LED Taillight
- XR400 Front Fender and XR600R Side Panel
- Tusk Heated Grips
- Manracks Case Saver

Travis had just received his new (to him) DR shipped up from Trophy Hunter in San Diego. It too was heavily modified, unfortunately, I don't have many glamour shots of his bike:

Here is his shortlist of mods (that I know of):

- Pumper Carb
- 5.6 Gallon Acerbis fuel tank
- Steering Dampener
- GSXR1000 silencer
- Rebuilt Shocks and Forks
- HID head lamp bulb
- LED Driving lights and blinkers
- LED aux lights
- Skid Plate
- Custom tool tube under the subframe
- Custom made removable fairing
- B-Flex Bark busters
- Rear Rack with Wolf Man Luggage

When we received the news that Idaho wouldn’t be possible, we brainstormed another route. The obvious choice was the Oregon Back Country Discovery Route. Ordinarily, this probably wouldn’t be a good route to ride in late spring, but Oregon had only received 13% of the average snow pack this year and I figured we would make it through just fine. Plus, Eastern Oregon is usually a sunny, dry place, far removed from the daily gloom of the Willamette Valley in Western Oregon. Images of pleasant 130 mile daily dirt rides on pleasant, well graded forest service roads, followed by relaxing evenings camping out, sitting in hammocks, soaking up the sun, and drinking whiskey, danced in our heads.

Two days before we were set to leave, we decided to ride Route 5 from north to south and then possibly continue on into northern Nevada to check out an old B52 wreck that Travis had heard about.

Unlike the other Back Country Discovery Routes, the Oregon version is managed by the Oregon Off-Highway Vehicle Association. They have eschewed GPS tracks in favor of paper maps which cost $155 total! Their reasoning, pulled straight from the website, runs thus: “Why do we offer maps instead of GPS routes? Safety. The GPS companies discourage using GPS units as the only means of navigation. Stories of GPS unit failures are easy to come by. Reports of vehicle failures on the BCDR have been heard and experienced.”

Thanks for nothing OOHVA. It seems to me that it wouldn’t be too much trouble to sell a GPX file online and let riders worry about their own damn safety and navigation. We didn’t have the time to wait for the paper maps to show up and besides, we didn’t want to spend that kind of cash on maps that other reports had described as “bulky” and “worthless”. Travis managed to glean some waypoints and GPX files from other ride reports and we decided to just improvise whatever we couldn’t figure out. With one day left, we finalized our plans and started packing.
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Old 06-01-2015, 11:35 PM   #14
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Joined: Feb 2005
Location: Santa Cruz, CA
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Old 06-02-2015, 02:15 PM   #15
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Joined: Mar 2013
Location: Mid Wet Or A Gun
Oddometer: 740

You need more beer and pizza...

Come on down and I will buy ya some at the American Dream Pizza again.

Some first Wednesday of the month.

Kind of busy tomorrow tho.....prepin' for the Black Dog and straight over to the Wallows...
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