Epic US Ride - "Western Expansion" - Summer 2012

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by LandLeftBehind, May 8, 2013.

  1. LandLeftBehind

    LandLeftBehind Been here awhile

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    Maryland, 'merica
    A quick ride through the "Date Capital of the World" and I ascend the San Jacinto Mountains

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    Coachella - an island of green in a sea of brown

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    It was hard not to feel on top of the world. I had made it across the most remote areas on my trip without a major catastrophe. Kamikaze animals, a wheezing starter on its death-bed, slippery mountain passes, hidden gravel patches, nor fuel scares in the lonesome desert could stop me.

    As I rose away from the hostile desert into more temperate climate of Southern California, an immense feeling of victory took over. I was one with the motorcycle, swiftly navigating the twisties through the beautiful hills.

    Motorcycles are inherently dangerous, any sane rider will agree. However, while the machine and road hazards present a tangible danger, it is within the machine where an even more pernicious danger lies. It does not exist in the physical sense - one could take the machine apart and never find it. However, upon riding the machine, it manifests itself into the mind of the rider and, like the deadly fumes of a carbon monoxide leak, it can sneak up on the rider without him or her realizing it. It grants the rider a feeling of euphoria; one could almost feel as though they were immortal.

    That sense of euphoria is the most dangerous hazard; reckless driving ensues. It just takes one turn too sharp and a motorcycle going just a little too fast, to discover the reality of this fundamental truth. I very briefly lost control of the motorcycle, just enough to cause the motorcycle to skid in the opposite lane. I quickly recorrected my course and continued on, much more carefully.

    The experience left me shook up and humiliated for being so careless. I imagine other riders pull a similar move at some point, and I was lucky enough to be part of the percentage that doesnt pay for it. However, as I cruised through the beautiful California valleys, it was hard to not still feel a bit giddy.

    I would be staying with my grandparents for a few days, simultaneously visiting relatives. Getting pampered for a few days would be a drastic, and welcome change to life on the road. :D

    I hadnt visited Vista in a few years, but it didnt stop the flood of reminiscent memories as I cruised through places familiar from my childhood.

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    The younger me always admired this unique house. I had to snap a shot of it.

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    As an arrival gift, my grandparents and aunt took me out to a swanky supermarket to "buy anything I wanted". My grandmother had a fear that I might "go hungry" at any point during my visit. After a few weeks of eating mostly oatmeal and lentils, I was very happy to graciously accept their hospitality.

    After a few days of catching up with relatives, playing tourist around San Diego, and lounging by the pool it was time to depart yet again. I was bound to meet some friends in Los Angeles!

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    Samosas at Venice Beach!

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    Nearby was a place where you could pay $20 to get your "medical marijuana" card. Gotta love Cali.

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    Somewhere around the Malibu/Thousand Oaks area - a very different feel from the city.

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    #21
  2. LandLeftBehind

    LandLeftBehind Been here awhile

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    See you later Southern California!

    It was maybe 2 hours north of LA where I encountered the unexpected: the Pacific Coast climate. At first, it was just a slight drop in the temperature. It eventually progressed into a numbing coldness which I would become well acquainted with for the next 1000 miles.

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    While its colder than I imagined, the scenery is just as I imagined it. I had found the west coast I was looking for!

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    Despite my smile, I am a bit numb from the cold in this photo. Notice the riding gear interlaced with rain gear sitting on the ground.

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    Big Sur is quite beautiful, although I find to have no options for low-cost camping. I pull into Andrew Molera State Park just before night.

    It would be my first night camping with a sleeping bag (I had mine shipped out to my grandparents house). It was a good night of sleep - enjoying the warmth provided by the sleeping bag and listening to the Pacific waters wage never-ending war on the rocky cliffs.

    I leave at the dawn, before the park attendants arrive.

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    Riding through the fog is even colder. A fellow in Santa Barbara had mentioned the "June Gloom" common this time of year.

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    Apparently I had only traveled about 9 miles since leaving Maryland. (Recall that the odometer broke at the start of the trip)

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    There is no shortage of beauty in this place. The less-than-ideal coastal climate supports a lovely diversity of wild flowers and brightly colored chaparral.

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    This is where I start to curse. For those of you who plan on riding through Big Sur in the future - if you find a side cover for a R100RT, you will know who to send it to.
    #22
  3. LandLeftBehind

    LandLeftBehind Been here awhile

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    I continue up the coastal highway through fog and the bitter cold, short one side cover. The cover had fallen off several times prior (thanks to a PO's jerry-rigged mounting fix), so I was hardly surprised. At least it found a majestic end on cliffs of Big Sur.

    The PCH alternates between coastline, agricultural areas, and maritime towns. I stop off in Monterey to check out the famed aquarium; the admission price puts me back on the highway.

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    Artichokes in Santa Cruz. I stop for coffee nearby to warm up. A bodacious surfer chick takes a look at my license plate and asks me how sore my butt is.

    The gloom carries on and I ponder my unease. The couchsurfing host I had made plans with prefers to meet me at a local cafe rather than her place. Its a completely reasonable request, considering she had never met me in person before, but I fear an interview situation so far from home with so few alternatives. What if she doesnt like me? Or decides that Im a creep? She carries and irritable tone over the phone, and I wonder whether I made a poor choice for a couchsurfing host. I have no alternative but to swallow the fear and trudge through the damp, cold fog.

    Although I really didnt have much to worry about, the damp coldness weighed down on my thoughts and turned anxieties into fears. My mood continued to spiral down until I came to a sharp bend in the highway, and a tunnel which spit me out on the other side of the coast cliff. The fog immediately cleared and I found myself in a warm forest with moss hanging from the trees. It reminded me of forests I had seen in Georgia and Mississippi, but unique in its own way - like none I would ever see again on my trip. I then dipped down into a sunny valley occupied by a beach town. Coming out of the valley, I could see the view of the entire area. The town was a cove sheltered from the harsh weather of the Pacific. At my back was the cliff I had just ridden from. The fog I had just spent several hours riding through formed wisps as it smashed against the cliffs and was burned up by the sun. My spirit rekindled by the beautiful sight, I cracked a smile and flew to the city.

    Soon thereafter San Francisco came into view with all its big-city glory.

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    I rode into town to meet my to-be host. Upon arriving at the coffee shop I promptly fell over on the bike. I hadnt quite mastered the acrobatics of mounting and de-mounting a fully packed bike (nor was I smart enough to figure out that I could use the pedal as stepping point). It was a grand entrance indeed.

    Instead of walking into a gale of laughter, I found the typical coffee shop scene: folks buried in their labtops, their caffiene-laced attentions narrowly focused to the intensity of a laser. My host was sitting in the back buried in a resume. Rather than the cold encounter I feared, she immediately gave me a warm hug and engaged me in a friendly chat. Not only was she warm and friendly, but she insisted on getting a motorcycle ride. Whatever fears I had before had dissipated just like the fog burning off the cliff.

    The goal now was to find a helmet. I spent some time looking through my BMW anonymous book and even posted an ADVrider thread, but in the end the helmet came to me. A random fellow approached me as I stood by the bike, flipping through the pages of the anonymous book. An obvious enthusiast of bikes, he invited me to his place to collect a helmet.

    Little did I know I would find a 1940's military Indian Chief and a 1934 Harley "hill-climber"!

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    *Pictures courtesy of the owner, as I lost mine.

    Now we were set. The night (which happened to be the 4th of July) was spent dining on mexican cuisine in the Mission, and cruising down Van Ness to the view of fireworks between the skyscrapers.

    The city isnt so big and intimidating when you have a friend to share it with.
    #23
    KneeDrachen likes this.
  4. patrkbukly

    patrkbukly 52 Weeks of warm

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    :clap
    #24
  5. Bigbadwolf

    Bigbadwolf n00b

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    Enjoying your Journey. Keep-em coming.
    :lurk
    #25
  6. LandLeftBehind

    LandLeftBehind Been here awhile

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    OK - so its been offically way too long since I last updated this. Sorry, life got in the way. But now Im in between jobs and have some free time on my hands :)

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    I snapped this shot just as I was leaving the city. San Francisco etched itself as my favorite city and was one of my overall favorite places on the trip.

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    Sad to leave but happy to go.

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    Big deer.

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    Big Trees.

    Big Beautiful Trees.

    The redwood forests leave you with a spooky sense of sentient presence, like you are in the company of a intelligence not quite comprehendable to the human mind. I definitely will visit this magical place again one day.

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    Thanks to a tip from a friend, I found this campsite off the beaten path. Yet another victory for the Awesome Adventure at a Discount Plan.



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    The next day marks my final leg of the trip before hitting the farm I had arranged to work on. It filled me with a very strong sense of accomplishment. I was looking forward to a change too. I had been spending all of my time no where in particular, and now I was about to be somewhere.


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    Traveling on the road makes us realize and appreciate those little miracles.
    #26
  7. kenbob

    kenbob Gnarly GnOOb

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    Keep on keepin on, man . You are doing a great job , at this !


    Thank you, for putting forth the effort .



    Ken
    #27
  8. LandLeftBehind

    LandLeftBehind Been here awhile

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    it was fun!

    pictures:

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    Oregon Country Fair!

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    'sploring Oregon!
    #28
  9. LandLeftBehind

    LandLeftBehind Been here awhile

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    It was nice to spend a few weeks relaxing, gardening, brewing, and being an all around salt-of-the-earth hippy :D. Little did I know how the course of my trip was to be dramatically altered by the unexplored insides of my motorcycle.

    I had made great time since my departure a month ago from Maryland. The accident that delayed my departure several weeks did not prevent me from traversing the awesome mountain passes, foggy cliffs, and bustling cities I desired to see. However, it did prevent me from really looking at the bike as I should have before any large trip. So upon getting to the farm, it was high time to have a look at the bike, and perform some basic maintanance.

    Through the BMW anonymous book I found a fellow in Coquille who was generous enough to let me use his garage space, tools, and even walk me through the basic maintenance tasks. We changed fluids, serviced the spark plugs, and took a good look at the bike. Things were going swell until the cylinder head nut torquing. As I worked through each nut in a criss-cross pattern, I noticed one particular nut was loose on the stud! As I attempted to torque it, it immediately began to pull the stud out of the crank case. :eek1

    A pulled cylinder stud: it was a scary realization to have 3000 miles from home. My host and I left it alone, set the valve clearances, synced the carbs, and I waved him a grateful, yet bittersweet goodbye. His departing words: "You could have problems in ten thousand miles, or at the next rock."

    I called the nearby BMW shop, a very well respected shop in the area. It was mainly to humor myself - the cost of shop work would undoubtedly be out of my budget. I was expecting to get an estimate of 2 grand, but I was a little surprised when they reluctantly told me they couldnt help me period. Understandable, as they had a business to run, but it made the situation seem all the more hopeless.

    The ADVrider community has a penchant for turning the impossible into possible. I put out another SOS, and it didnt take long before I was connected with a local mechanic near Portland, one with a great reputation and who was willing to help a stranger in a situation. After a month of living on the farm it was time to pack up and continue my way up the Pacific Coast.
    #29
  10. bpeckm

    bpeckm Grin!

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    One of the our "fellow" ADV'rs (hardwaregrrl Jenna, a good friend of your Atlanta buddy blake) just posted your ride report in the Airheads... man, you just made my day.....read through the entire report, and wishing (vicariously!) to be doing what you are doing. Good on ya' for setting out, far too often we plan so freeking meticulously that we lose the JOY in just... doing it. You have my respect and gratitude for what you do...:clap

    ...put the cell phone down and go out and feel what life is about, amen!

    :evil
    #30
  11. bmwblake

    bmwblake upside down parker

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    I just caught up on this as well. btw, I'm in Nashville.

    Fred, you're welcome at my place anytime. You as well, Bob.


    #31
  12. akula802

    akula802 Been here awhile

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    Awesome RR. Stuff like this is what gets me through the day.

    I'll be leaving soon on a journey of my own, and I just have to ask about the stuff you were putting in your nostrils in the desert? Is the hot, dry air prone to give folks nosebleeds? I'm a brain-frozen Minnesota boy and know nothing of these "deserts."

    :ear
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    #32
  13. boatpuller

    boatpuller Long timer

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    Wonderful writing style. Looking forward to your trip back east.
    #33
  14. StmbtDave

    StmbtDave AKA Invisible Dave

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    Anxiously waiting to hear how you dealt with the loose cylinder stud :ear. I had the same problem on my R100GS while at the national rally in Salem, OR last summer :eek1.

    Dave
    #34
  15. Marc LaDue

    Marc LaDue Been here awhile

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    Is this the same Fred that didn't have enough bad luck with one low-side, and apparently just had to add a deer-hit somewhere out Oregon-way? Hope you're still trying to keep the shiny side up,

    Marc and Marsha
    #35
  16. cldiver

    cldiver Been here awhile

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    dartmouth ns
    Great story. It must be a blast. I keep expecting to read a "boy meets girl, boy leaves girl, girl meets boy later, type ending.
    #36
  17. LandLeftBehind

    LandLeftBehind Been here awhile

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    Its good to hear from everyone. Blake you better be careful what you wish for - I might just end up at your doorstep again on a work night with some awful mess for you to deal with again. :evil

    Akula, I used a product called aquaphor. It seemed to work only marginally in the Mojave. Riding through that place was literally like pointing a blow dryer in my face for several hours, even with a full-face helmet (which was extremely nice to have in that environment). That stretch of I-10 was an exception to the other deserts I rode through though. The deserts of the Southwest are magical, I highly recommend visiting them.

    As I mentioned in my last post, I was connected with a mechanic near Hillsboro who was willing to help me fix the issue. I had never met the fellow, and I had no idea what to expect.

    I left the farm on a strongly optimistic note. I had been in one place for too long and it was refreshing to be on the road again. I was going to grab the horns of the mechanical issue that could ruin my trip. The oil was dripping away, but I knew the bike was going to get me to my destination.

    Some accidental video footage of the Oregon Coastline:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wQk_PIUhCH8&feature=youtu.be

    I was lucky enough to meet a diverse group of folks through an internship the previous summer. One of those friends was currently studying in Newport - a perfect midpoint between Coos Bay and Portland. We met and promptly headed to the beach for a surf outing. I didnt have a surf board or wet suit, but it felt great to crash head-first in the frigid Pacific for as long as I could stand it.

    It was the perfect place to stop for the night, or so I thought...

    The following morning was typical for the Pacific Coast, cold and foggy. I was ready to hit the road though. I knew that day was going to be the it - I would arrive to the good shepherd, who would guide me out of the shadow of doubt that had always cast itself just beyond the mountains, deserts, and cities where I rode. "What is hidden under this aluminum housing?"

    I saddle up my bags and check tire pressures and oil. I hop on the bike and press the starter button.

    ZIT-ZIT-ZINGGGGGG

    ....

    "Theres no way"

    press again

    ZING-ZING-TZZZ

    ....

    The starter was emanating a noise that sounded like the teeth of gears griding together. My mind was a vacuum.

    ZING-ZITT-CHINNNG

    Vacuum mind. I simply refuse to believe whats happening is happening, now, on this day, of all days. My obstinance eventually pays off.

    VROOMMM VROOM VROOM

    So now its a ride to Hillsboro with no stops. Too bad I didnt have enough gas to make it the whole way....

    Maybe there is something to be said for simply refusing to accept a reality despite overwhelming evidence.

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    Pulling the starter out only left me confused. The magnets had collapsed, seizing the rotor and destroying the actuating arm. To this day, I wonder how I made it to Hillsboro without a pick-up truck.
    #37
  18. globalt38

    globalt38 "A Fist Full of Throttle"

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    I understand life getting in the way and all.... but this is a big cliff to leave us hanging on for so long.... :deal:D
    #38
  19. LandLeftBehind

    LandLeftBehind Been here awhile

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    Yikes! I really have neglected this thread. Sorry to anyone who was paying attention to it :(:

    To my credit, life has been quite crazy. Between moving to another state for graduate school (okay well I suppose Delaware and Maryland could be considered the same state), and producing an album with my band, time has been hard to find. I once again find myself with a little free time, so I think its high time to finish this story!

    I last left off having just arrived to the mystery mechanic's house in the nick of time. My starter decided to blow up after 4,000 miles of cross-country traveling. I suppose it was sheer dumb luck that it happened en route to one of the most skilled airhead mechanic's in Oregon!

    The magnets in the Valeo starter had collapsed, causing the actuating arm to seize and snap at the hinge. No bueno!

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    After ordering replacement parts for the starter, we decided to tackle the busted cylinder stud.

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    Carefully disassembling the cylinder to prevent damage to machined surfaces

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    It was easy enough getting everything apart, but we found that someone had already tried to repair the busted threads with a heli-coil which subsequently had failed. Wirespokes had the standard timesert sizes, but because of the previous heli-coil installation, we had to order a larger size.

    While we waited for parts to come in, I decided to give Wirespokes, who had been nice enough to give me a place to stay, a break from my constant presence and check out Portland a little.

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    Not having much in the way of money, I was able to find a place to stay; some people who took in "couch-surfers" on a casual basis.

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    Drinking beers and sharing stories in the "hot tub"

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    I rode bicycles around the city with my impromptu hosts. One fellow rode what they call a "tall bike".

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    Who needs to buy food when it grows everywhere for free? These blackberries walls were a common site around Portland.

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    I returned after the weekend to find that many of our parts had arrived! Now the fun begins! :wink:

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    The process required reaming an appropriately sized hole, while periodically backing out to clean off metal shavings and re-greasing the reamer. We then ran a tap through the hole appropriately sized for the time-sert. (note: It is best to run the tap through aluminum only once to prevent cross-threading)

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    So much depends on so small an object!

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    It is necessary to use red loctite to secure the time-sert, taking care not to plug up the oil galley positioned directly above the stud. We did this by using a pick to apply the loctite to the threads in a way that would not come in contact with the oil galley.

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    We made the mistake of reaming all the way through the crankcase. When we threaded the stud in, we realized it would not seat. So we used red loctite to secure the thread in place, and used the jig to keep the stud squarely positioned as the loctite cured. Not an optimal outcome, but sometimes you have to just go with it. 8000 miles later everything seems to be working fine, but I would do it differently if I could do it again. (*Edit 12/28/15 - According to Terry, studs aren't supposed to be bottomed - only threaded in finger tight. In his opinion, it doesn't make any difference that the crankcase was tapped all the way through. The main challenge with the inserts is getting them seated to the correct depth so the o-ring seats properly."

    We put everything back together, then checked for oil flow from the studs by manually turning the engine over with the cylinder heads off. Satisfied with what we observed, we fired up the bike. Voila! The bike ceased leaking gratuitous amounts of oil from the cylinder connection and the stud nut now securely fastened the drive train components down. I could now take the journey home with the ease of mind I so needed.

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    By the time we had gotten the bike back together, it had been a serious few days of hard work. I was grateful for the hospitality and effort put forth by someone who just a few days ago was a complete stranger.

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    Its not everyday that someone just welcomes you in their home.
    #39
  20. Dark Helmet

    Dark Helmet Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    903
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    You'll know when I know...
    Really great RR. NICE JOB,

    I had to laugh at a coincidence. In September last year I had just completed the Trans America Trail after a 5000 mile ride (for those not familiar, it's 90% off pavement from TN to Port Orford OR). After dipping my DRZ400's front wheel in the Pacific I headed to Portland to ship my bike home. I made it to Newport where your starter died and spent the night there. The next morning I packed up for my last day of the trip and my bike wouldn't start! Never had an issue before on the trip. Had to bump start it on a very big hill. Made to Portland, shipped it home, and i couldn't get it to start! Pulled the top end apart and found compression rings frozen. New piston/rings, still wouldn't start. Got it bump started, rode 5 miles, started while warm, but next day no start. Another tear down, still won't start 5 months after end of a great trip! I have it narrowed to a couple electrical issues now, BUT, in Portland I developed two major issues that have stopped a bike that ran perfectly for 30 days and 5000 miles in all kinds of crap!

    Stay out of Portland you guys!
    #40