Barely Alaska Ride 2013 - the KLRsys Shakedown Cruise

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by vtwinwilly, Jul 16, 2013.

  1. vtwinwilly

    vtwinwilly Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2006
    Oddometer:
    32
    Location:
    North Texas
    Pre-Trip:

    First and Foremost:
    Before I start this tale I have to extend a very special “Thank You” to all the spouses that issued a kitchen pass to our merry foursome. It’s takes some special understanding and generosity to let the men go off and be boys. ... and there is so much more than that. It's not just saying OK, go have a nice time, They all jumped in and embraced the trip to help make it happen. In fact, without their support, running stuff down, sacrificing their time to help us, this trip would not be possible.

    So, to the four wives, from the four husbands… we are eternally grateful!

    A Little Background:
    Many of you have been following the KLRsys build over on the “Some Assembly Required” forum. If not, you can get caught up on that one here: http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=797568

    Also, when we started planning this trip I was posting our rough plans in the “Trip Planning > Americas” forum. That thread tells you a little more about the intent of the trip. Here’s the link for your convenience: http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=894104

    … but if you’re not inclined to read through those threads here’s the Cliff Notes version. KLRsys has now built 3 KLR/Versys hrbrids. That’s a KLR with a Versys motor, transmission, electronics, and a few other goodies. Most recently he built one for me as a sort of a pre-production model. I call it “The Green Machine!” It is after all the best color! KLRsys had plans to ride his 09 version up to Vancouver, and I just sort of invited myself, then planted the seed to ride to Hyder, Alaska, which is barely in Alaska, thus was born the "Barely Alaska Ride".

    So with that out of the way, let’s focus on the ride at hand....

    As with any trip there are always hiccups. As we will be riding in Canada, we all need a passport if we want to return to the US. KLRsys ran into a problem. Government bureaucracies being what they are, 24 hours prior to departure KLRsys is still waiting on his passport. Fortunately, it showed up just in the nick of time. The day of departure.
    [​IMG]

    With Passport in hand, the guys get the bikes loaded up for the trek to North Texas.
    [​IMG]

    ... and of course the 09 Model in the bed of the truck.
    [​IMG]

    The guys get off around noon and start the journey to the launching point. My house in McKinney, TX.
    So far, so good.

    The next day is gonna be brutal.
    <?xml:namespace prefix = "o" ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>
    #1
  2. vtwinwilly

    vtwinwilly Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2006
    Oddometer:
    32
    Location:
    North Texas
    Day 1 &#8211; McKinney, TX to Tucumcari, NM

    As the Ride Planning thread indicates, this is just a day of getting out of Texas. There isn&#8217;t a lot fun about it other than the excitement and buzz in the air surrounding the start of a new adventure.

    The bikes queued up in my driveway, and dawn has broken. We are already behind, but we can make that up on the road. More throttle, more throttle&#8230;
    [​IMG]
    In our group we have the 3 KLRsys bikes, and the lone V-Strom.

    Again, there&#8217;s not alot exciting about this day. First, the bulk of the day was the trip between Dallas and Amarillo. I&#8217;ve done this stretch of US 287 on bike, car, and motorhome, and it must be the most boring stretch of road on the planet. What&#8217;s more, on this day&#8230; it was hot. Somewhere in the 106 degree range as we pass through Vernon, TX.


    All the bikes did pretty well. Mine, &#8220;The Green Machine&#8221; did have an issue. It seems that the heat coming off the radiator will boil the fuel, and the bubbles get sucked into the fuel pump. When the fuel pump gets too much air, it quits pumping and the engine dies. This was easily fixed by releasing the air trapped in the pump reservoir, but it requires stopping for a minute or two to purge the trapped air. Once in cooler weather, the problem went away. It was really more of a nuisance than anything. More about that later.


    Other than that, all three bike performed quite well. Even loaded down with all my gear, I was easily able to cruise at 75mph.

    Yes I have a lot of gear, my wife says I pack like a girl. I say all that stuff just helps to keep me from falling off the bike!
    [​IMG]
    #2
  3. Hotmamaandme

    Hotmamaandme Wishing I was riding RTW

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,725
    Location:
    Gardnerville NV
    Sweet bring it!

    Interested in the KLRsys shake down
    #3
  4. Oldone

    Oldone One day at a time!

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2009
    Oddometer:
    722
    Location:
    MN. (summers) AZ. (winters)
    #4
  5. McRuss

    McRuss Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2008
    Oddometer:
    246
    Location:
    Texas Hill Country
    Having just returned from a Wee Strom trip that included Anchorage, and having visited Hyder on a past 'Barely Alaska' ride of my own, I'll take Hyder over Anchorage. Did enjoy the Glen Highway though, ever more than the Denali.
    #5
  6. FEO350

    FEO350 n00b

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2013
    Oddometer:
    2
    I can't wait to see some of the adventures these hybrids will conquer. I was fortunate enough to watch the master at work. These bikes are unbelievable!
    #6
  7. 3DChief

    3DChief "Moto therapist"

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2010
    Oddometer:
    412
    Location:
    Montana
    Met up with the crew tonight in Missoula, MT to sample the local brew/pizza and talk bikes, adventure, and life. I have to admit I am pretty jealous of their trip and the bikes! Definitely sweet rides and some amazing engineering and craftsmanship there. Just gets the wheels turning of what crazy project I should start next.

    Needless to say, I'm subscribed! Looking forward to seeing Rex's GoPro video, but the crew will have to tell you the story behind that!

    It was great meeting you all, safe travels and we look forward to seeing you the next time you pass through the area. Maybe plan on spending some time here and we'll show you some of the local riding!

    :beer
    Tim
    #7
  8. sasho

    sasho Dual Personality

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2009
    Oddometer:
    662
    Location:
    MT/Bulgaria
    Those Versys-engined KLR sure sounded sweet going by :clap
    Totally badass. It was awesome to meet you guys and hear your stories from teh trip so far. Looking forward to more. Ride safe and enjoy your trip:freaky
    #8
  9. blacktruck

    blacktruck Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2012
    Oddometer:
    172
    Location:
    Middle earth
    Count me in. I want to see this.
    Ride safe there men...
    #9
  10. RsZk

    RsZk Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2011
    Oddometer:
    269
    Location:
    Alberta
    great stuff. Interested in how the KLRsys bikes do as I have a KLR myself. Always thought Kawi should have done that engine swap. I was also recently in Hyder, make sure you check out Salmon Glacier. Photos in my RR if you are interested.

    Subscribed!
    #10
  11. vtwinwilly

    vtwinwilly Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2006
    Oddometer:
    32
    Location:
    North Texas
    OK, OK&#8230; I know I&#8217;m, several days behind, but the days slip away faster than I anticipate. The end of each day is met with fulfillment and exhaustion&#8230; and there always seems to be something that needs immediate attention before hitting the sack.

    Today was this first day of what I would call fun riding. After the 106 degree torture exiting Texas, we're all ready to see higher altitudes and cooler temps. We head northwest out of Tucumcari on NM 104 headed to Las Vegas, NM for breakfast.

    Sort of a guideline we&#8217;re trying to use on this trip (we avoid rules), is to get up and ride 100+ miles before stopping for breakfast. This usually gets everyone moving and focused on a common goal. Some of us don&#8217;t function well in the morning so we need a little extra motivation.

    While traveling down 104 we stop at a roadside over look. There we meet Jill and her dog Purl.
    [​IMG]

    Jill and Purl are in the process of riding a Vespa 250 from Maine to Washington State. They've been on the road since June 1<SUP>st</SUP>, and Jill tells me they&#8217;re about 4 days behind schedule. Jill says the Vespa only goes about 55mph and gets about 130 miles on a tank full. She has to select her routes and fuel stops carefully.

    You can find out more about Jill and Purl's adventure at Http://VespaAndALaptop

    Jill gets to looking at all the stuff loaded on our bikes a says &#8220;hey&#8230; you guys are worse than I am. You pack like girls!&#8221; Good! At least it&#8217;s not just me!
    [​IMG]

    Ahhh!.. Look. KLRsys makes a new friend.
    [​IMG]

    Later this same day I start to have more trouble with the Green Machine and heat. Toas, NM is like a slow moving parking lot. This combined with high temps causes more air to get sucked into the fuel pump&#8230; engine dies. We pull over, burp the fuel pump, drive about a mile.. it dies again. This time we decide to burp the fuel pump and open the gas tank which opens with loud swooshhhh! It is definitely under pressure. Something&#8217;s not venting right. When we look down in the tank, we can see the fuel is boiling! Solution: go to the first gas station and add cool fuel to the mix. This got us going again. We'll deal with the venting issue later.

    Eventually we reach our destination of Durango, CO. Only the best accommodations for us. Actually this place wasn&#8217;t too bad (I&#8217;ve been in worse). It wasn&#8217;t rated very high, but what the hey, we don&#8217;t need much and it got the job done.
    [​IMG]
    We retire early. Good thing too. We don&#8217;t know it yet, but tomorrow&#8217;s going to be a long day. A good ride gone bad!
    #11
  12. BigDogAdventures

    BigDogAdventures Fart Letter

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2003
    Oddometer:
    5,200
    Location:
    Mt. Vernon, Illinois
    Awesome ride and bikes.

    The KLRsys------the finest adventure bike ever made in the whole world !!!
    I want one.

    BigDog
    #12
  13. RLK

    RLK 4,949

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2004
    Oddometer:
    6,561
    Location:
    CSprings
    I want to keep track of this. Thanks for sharing the details.
    #13
  14. PacificPT

    PacificPT Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2006
    Oddometer:
    984
    Location:
    Monterey, CA
    Really looking forward to seeing how the bikes do. The build thread for the bikes is worth reading.
    #14
  15. blacktruck

    blacktruck Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2012
    Oddometer:
    172
    Location:
    Middle earth
    Man I like the idea of the KLR/Versys mix. I'm in the market for a KLR but really wish the other was available. I was watching the build on your other thread. I am truly impressed with what you have done and the way you documented it for the rest of us.
    Thanks man...
    I hope it's the best ride for you all.
    Ken
    #15
  16. Chicken Helmet

    Chicken Helmet I'm A Stumper™

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2010
    Oddometer:
    5,058
    Location:
    Jacksonville Fl
    :lurk
    #16
  17. bsheet2

    bsheet2 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2009
    Oddometer:
    152
    :thumb subscribed
    #17
  18. vtwinwilly

    vtwinwilly Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2006
    Oddometer:
    32
    Location:
    North Texas
    This day started early. All four of us are still trying to conquer getting all our junk loaded up on the bikes every morning. There just seem to be a lot that has to be done to get on the road. We’ll probably get it figured out about the last week of the trip.


    Let’s see…


    Clothes bag – Check

    Tank bag – check

    GPS – check

    Tent bag – check (I gotta find a better way to carry this thing).

    All electronics charged and ready including Bluetooth Headset – check. (more about this one later).


    A quick stop for gas and we’re finally on the road headed up the Million Dollar Highway to Silverton. As we’re still trying to stick to our guideline of no breakfast until 100 miles, we pretty much blow through Silverton and Quray. It’s hard to focus without breakfast so we push on. Beside, the riding is great!


    Finally we stop for breakfast in Ridgeway, CO. The café we find quit serving breakfast at 11:00. It’s 11:05! So breakfast is now lunch. We get back on the bikes and push on.


    We finally come down out of the mountains and pass through Grand Junction. It’s now hot and I’m starting to have the fuel boiling problem again. Another quick stop and burp the air out of the pump reservoir and we’re off.


    Then the days goes horribly wrong.


    We’re making good time up Colorado 139. About 8 miles north of the little town of Loma when I hear Fritz of the intercom. “Hey… something’s wrong.” I look in the rear view mirror. I only see one bike. There are four of us. Fritz is right behind me, but one of the other guys is missing.


    Fritz and I pull a quick u-turn and head back. As we approach we see Glen’s V-Strom safely off on the side of the road, but no Glen. Then we spot Rex, but no Rex bike (the original KLRsys build bike). As we finally pull up on the scene, we find this…


    Warning: A truly sad picture!



    [​IMG]


    Our first concern is for Rex, but he’s standing up on the side of the road. Rex appears OK. Good! Glen is off in the bushes collecting up parts that tore off the bike and items that spilled out of the pannier when it was ripped away from it’s mount.


    We double check Rex. He starts pulling off his gear. There’s not a scratch on the guy. He turns to me Bill, is there anything on my back as he turns and lifts his shirt to expose his back. I examine it closely. "No dude… just some dirt, but no road rash at all!"


    So what happened?


    Rex experienced a front tire blowout. The tire came off the rim and once it did… all Rex could do was hang on for the ride. We’d been doing the speed limit – about 65 – when the tire blew. Unable to control the direction of travel, Rex veered off toward the left shoulder. Fortunately nothing was in the oncoming lane. When he finally went off the left shoulder, he had managed to scrub maybe 10mph off his speed. Then he went down. When everything quit sliding, Rex popped to his feet, but the bike did not! Important note here… safety gear works!

    Update: Rex was wearing a GoPro camera and captured the event.
    <IFRAME height=315 src="//www.youtube.com/embed/iSW5Sn4y_Rc" frameBorder=0 width=560 allowfullscreen></IFRAME>

    Once we had completed our evaluation of Rex, we started looking at the bike. Well… the front trire was flat, but not damaged and the wheel looked like it was still straight. The forks were twisted a bit, but weren’t bent, so we knew we could straighten that out. Rear grab rail was broken. Pannier rack was badly bent. Rear sub-frame was bent, and right mirror broken. So far we’re thinking it’s bad, but we can recover. After all, it’s a KLR at heart. We just need to beat it back into shape with a big rock.


    Then we see the show stopper. The rear brake pedal has been bent backward and the mounting bracket has snapped in two. No rear brakes. Now the bike can be ridden this way, but not for the addition 5000 miles we still have left on this trip. This will have to be fixed.


    <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>
    OK… one thing at a time. Let’s get the tire fixed. Fritz tells us he’s brought an extra front and rear tube and gets busy digging them out. Ah rats! Fritz has two rear tubes. I know I have a tube, but it’s a rear also. So we have 3 rear tubes, and a blown front tube.


    What now. It’s Monday. Most places (motorcycle shops) are closed on Monday. Rex fires up the iPhone. Perfect… we still have service.

    A quick Google search and Rex finds Grand Valley Powersports back in Grand Junction. So here’s my first shout out. It goes to Grand Valley just for being there, and being open on a Monday. http://www.gvpowersports.com/


    I give them a call, explain the sense of urgency, and ask if they have the tube. “Yes”… "Great! Hold 2 of them for me. I’m on my way!" I plug the address into the GPS. It’s 24 miles away. No problem. I should be able to hustle there and back in a little over an hour. I start to suit back up for the ride into town.


    In the mean time, Glen, Rex and Fritz have started working on getting the front wheel off. We need something to prop this thing up. Some blocks or something. No sooner than we say that, a semi tank-truck stops to see what’s going on. We tell the driver the story and he’s sympathetic. Says it happened to him about 20 years ago, but he’s not sure how he can help. “You have any wooden blocks?” “Yes! There some back in the tool box on the back of the trailer. Just go back and take them out. Be sure to close the tool box up good.” I quick step it back to the tool box and sure enough. Two 4x4 blocks about 16 inches long.

    So my second shout out goes to the anonymous truck driver that showed up at random, dropped what we needed and moved on.


    With the guys working on the bike it’s time for me to make tracks back to Grand Junction for a front tube. I jump on the bike and start blasting south. Faster, faster, faster… then slower, slower, slower. I hit a construction zone. The road is shut down to one lane with a pilot car ushering traffic through one direction at a time. Arrrrgh!


    Finally I get through the construction and back down to I-70 headed back to town. Faster faster faster…. Then blahhhhh…… as the engine dies. The fuel is boiling again and the fuel pump needs to be burped. No problem… this will just take a second. Off to the shoulder, crank open the breather valve then sit. Count to 60, Fire up the engine and I’m rolling again. I get about 2 more miles and it dies again. Man… I don’t have time for this.


    By now I’ve gotten good at opening the breather valve so as I’m coasting, I reach down and open it. I decide to just coast, and finally decide to just leave the valve open so the pump can vent as needed. Still coasting down the shoulder, I fire the bike back up and accelerate to hiway speeds. The burp valve is left open and I never have the problem again.


    Without any further delay, I arrive at Grand Valley. They have the tubes waiting. I pick up and pay for the them then get right back on the road. My riding buddies are back sitting on the side of the road baking in the sun.

    Upon my return, they’ve managed to get the front wheel off and the tube removed. It appears the tube split along the inside seam. Just a defect? We can come up with no other explanation.


    The guys get the new tube in and the front wheel re-installed. We strap the torn away pannier back to the side of the bike, and head back to Grand Junction to figure out where we go from here. If we can’t get the bike road worthy, then this trip may be over… at least for Rex.


    BTW… we left this monument at the location as a tribute.
    [​IMG]
    #18
  19. theBullseye

    theBullseye Adventurer

    Joined:
    May 28, 2013
    Oddometer:
    15
    Cool RR....now I got to follow this !!!

    Glad everyone (Rex) is ok and wasn't hurt !!! My buddy and I just finished (a month ago) a 4600 km trip to Vancouver Island and Hyder, Alaska, with no real issues. I did have minor tire cracking issues (M T63's) on the way home BUT got home safely !!!

    Can't wait for more reports of yours !!!
    #19
  20. C-Stain

    C-Stain Accredited Nincompoop

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2009
    Oddometer:
    7,155
    Location:
    Team Canoodia
    MOAR!

    [​IMG]
    #20