Jammin thru the Global South

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Jammin, Mar 4, 2010.

  1. craftycoder

    craftycoder Motobrain PDU

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    I am looking forward to your adventure. Keep the rubber side down and be safe. ADVRider Oisin learned to keep a hammer (ball peen I think) in his tank bag to deal with banditos. They are legal everywhere and effective to boot.

    I am very excited for you Jay!

    :lurk
    #81
  2. Jammin

    Jammin Living on a DR

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    1,563
    Location:
    New Delhi - new 'home' for post RTW
    Finally made it to my friend's place in SF :) a little beat by the wind and the cold, a few days off the bike has been prescribed. Pictures and details on trip prep to come.

    Planning to be at Charanga (Cuban Restaurant) for dinner Friday night at 7pm.
    #82
  3. Tome

    Tome Been here awhile

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    Sep 8, 2008
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    London, UK
    I'm in awe :eek1 :thumb The best of luck to you dude!
    #83
  4. Jammin

    Jammin Living on a DR

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,563
    Location:
    New Delhi - new 'home' for post RTW
    I'm enjoying some down time in San Francisco and soaking up the warmer temps, staying with my friend Shridhar.

    Before I head south and cross the border, here're some pictures of the preparations done leading up to the start of the trip.

    I know they are mechanics all along the way through South America and Africa but I wanted to replace some parts and do some preventative maintenance on my own time and not be rushed, unlike having to do it en route after things fails. I know things are going to fail that I didn't anticipate, but I'll handle them as they arise. :norton

    First up, I replaced all the bearings: front and rear wheel and swing arm bushings. I'm a decent wrench myself, but I know when some tasks are beyond my abilities for lack of experience or proper tools. I have a good mechanic friend, Gus who helped immensely in all the following tasks. He lived 80 miles from me (on the other side of Chicagoland) but it was worth it as he taught me a lot about how to service the bike if I need to on my own down the road. :deal

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    Removing the swing arm from the bike to access the swing arm bearings (as it pivots on the frame).

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    That's Gus heating up the swing arm...

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    ...to plop in the new bearings.

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    The rear wheel bearings. :eek1 The bike had 26,000 miles and the bearings probably would've lasted another 10K or so miles, but the factory bearings aren't sealed and look at all that crud and rust that gets in there. I put in new All Balls bearings that are sealed on both sides. These should last for the next 30-40K miles at least.

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    Heating up the rear wheel hub.

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    Putting in the new All Balls bearings and dust seals.

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    Eww, the rear sprocket bearing, haha. :photog

    I then planned to rebuild the Front Forks (new oil and seals), but started reading about a potential issue in the transmission of the DR650 and figured a full engine rebuild would do me good. For certain model years, the 3rd Drive Gear in the transmission is known to fail unexpectedly and as a precaution you can replace it with a newer part. I figured a rebuild would be good as well to take a look at all the engine internals and see if there were any other problems that might arise down the road, and if I was going in, I thought I might as well replace the piston and rings and other aged parts, such as the plastic oil pump gear. I also had the cylinder head rebuilt to restore compression.

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    The engine removed from the frame.

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    This is probably as naked as she'll ever be :) The forks removed from the frame. One can see how simple a motorcycle the DR650 is. That's a big reason why I chose this bike - it's not too complicated and it's very basic in its design, because it just works. :raabia

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    Cycling the new fork oil. That's Nick who came to hang out while I was down there. He's an amateur sport bike racer and participates in CCS races on a Suzuki SV650. Him and Gus are constantly rebuilding SV motors. These guys said they would be factory support for me on my trip and if I needed any parts sourced and shipped, they were ready to help.

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    Slipping on the new seals. Using some plastic to prevent the seals from catching a sharp edge and tearing.

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    Slipping on the new seals. Using some plastic to prevent the seals from catching a sharp edge and tearing.

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    Setting the new seals in.

    Now the engine rebuild:

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    The engine on its bench, where it would be for the next 2 months as the rebuild went on for longer than expected as we waited for the right parts to be shipped.

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    The old piston at 26K miles. Not bad. Replaced it with a new forged aluminum Wossner piston (stock compression).

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    The rebuild required a few special tools, such as this generator rotor remover (50 mm threaded pipe). Had to wait a few weeks for the right part to arrive.

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    Splitting the engine cases required a plate that a threaded rod when turned would lift the outer case up.

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    When everything was set just right, it was magical to see the cases come apart with so little effort - hand turning the rod to split the cases.

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    Voila, the insides of a DR650 engine. Simplicity shows through again. It's a single cylinder, so a sole piston spins the crankshaft around and the transmission is built into the engine case (like in most motorcycles).

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    The transmission gears. The part to be replaced is in the middle of the left stack. It looked fine and there was no unexpected signs of wear on any other parts. Even the cylinder walls with their Nikasil coating looked perfect. I was pleased that everything in the engine was running as expected and looked normal. :thumb

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    The clutch also looked like it had very minimal wear, so I didn't replace it and will do so as needed down the road, probably in Argentina.

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    Putting the engine back together. Spinning the clutch basket on.

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    Re-assembling the cylinder head. Cam chain in place.

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    That right there is one mighty fine rebuilt DR650 engine. :brow If something happens along the way, I'm not too worried about going in and working on it, but let's hope it doesn't come to that.

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    Shifting through the gears to make sure everything works as intended.

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    Getting the engine back in the frame with the help of my friend, Cesar who acted like an engine hoist while I positioned the engine to get the mounting bolts through.


    Servicing the big items on the bike was done. New tires were planned to be mounted in San Francisco and the chain still had lots of life, so that would get replaced along the way.

    #84
  5. LXIV-Dragon

    LXIV-Dragon Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Jay,

    Have a great trip! Enjoyed your other RRs :clap (although this will be more of a book than report!!).

    Will you be using the camping gear? Any updates / upgrades?

    Best of Luck,
    #85
  6. Jammin

    Jammin Living on a DR

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
    1,563
    Location:
    New Delhi - new 'home' for post RTW
    After getting the bike maintenance tasks done, it was onto other setup tasks on the bike.

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    Cleaning the sludge that had built up on the skid plate as it came from the previous owner. Mostly chain lube and probably engine oil.

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    30 minutes later with lots of kerosene (great cleaning solvent) and elbow grease.

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    Installing a Stebel Nautilus Compact horn - super loud aftermarket horn, 139 dB - so that I can be heard among all the trucks and traffic chaos along the way. Reading other travelers' reports, I noted that most of them wished they had had a louder horn.

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    It barely fits under the Aqualine Safari tank and the front fender needed to be cut for clearance.

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    Aligning the horn to make it as level as possible as it's only supposed to be +/- 15 degrees to function optimally. I'm using an app on my Android phone (Motorola Cliq) that utilizes the built-in accelerometer. :wink:

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    Installed with the relay and heavy duty wires. The Stebel draws a lot of current to produce that loud noise and thick wires are needed. They only require 14 gauge wire but I had some 12 gauge lying around, so used that liberally to ensure no melted wires. I'm also keeping the stock horn and switching between them as needed because the loudness of the Stebel might not be needed in all situations. While the horn is loud, it has sort of a fruity two-tone very Euro truck sound and makes you smile when you hear it. :robin

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    Using heat shrink on all the connections. Looking at the bottom of the horn.

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    Enjoying the many months spent in my garage fabricating devices for the bike. :wave

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    Setting up a 10 W, 0.6 Amp solar panel on my top box to provide additional electrical juice to recharge my laptop and other electrically gadgets. :wink: My bike doesn't produce enough electrical power to safely charge things while on the bike and I'm expecting to be in some remote places with no electrical connections and would still like access to my laptop during those times.

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    Making some brackets to secure the solar panel to my top box.

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    Getting the s-bend was a little tricky not having a proper vice, but this rig worked out.

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    Painting the solar panel black, because it's got to look good. :nod

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    Connecting the solar panel into the top box. I used RTV silicone on the edges of the panel to provide some dampening.

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    Fabricating a switch box. I've always wanted some switches to control various things on the bike and finally found a nice aluminum box that would do the trick. :evil

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    Rounding off the drilled holes.

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    The solar charge control module, covered in silicone RTV for electrical and mechanical insulation. This board makes sure the DC output from the solar panel is in a healthy range (12-14 V) and also prevents the reverse flow of power to the panel at night. The board also features a trickle charger that I plan to use if not riding the bike for a long time to keep the bike's battery healthy.

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    I drew up an extensive wiring diagram and set about creating all the little jumper cables and appropriate wires needed to execute this project. It took about a month to fully complete.

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    The Solstice LED lights' power source switch. Besides just charging electronics on the bike, I've also setup the LED lights to be either powered by the bike or the solar panel so that during the day I can have the LED lights on providing a wider frontal light foot print without drawing more power from the bike's battery.

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    The switch box all wired up and ready to go. I made a bracket that comes off the Vapor Tech mount. And the nice thing was that everything worked as intended on the first try.

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    Every electrical connection was bathed in dielectric grease (to help keep moisture out from corroding the contact) and where possible, the connection was wrapped in insulating heat shrink tubing (I had lots of it that came with my tool box, so might as well use it up).

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    And with so much heat shrink tubing still left, I decided it wouldn't hurt to protect other connectors on the bike.

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    Snug and insulated. Hope I don't need to disconnect that connector. :lol2

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    Heat shrinking all other blade-style connectors before assembling in the switch box.

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    Running all electrical gadgets through a Centech AP-2 fuse panel so that if something does go wrong it wont affect my bike's main electronics.

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    The Centech AP-2 fuse panel positioned under the seat, above the air box.

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    My dash board almost complete (the LED lights haven't been secured in this picture).

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    The switch box. First two from the left are on/off for the two Solstice LED auxillary lights. Next up is power source for the LED lights and master on/off for both lights and main head light on/off. Then it's the voltage monitor for the bike's battery or the solar panel output and the horn switching from the stock horn to the Stebel, both running through the switch on the handle bar. Next is heated grips and solar panel battery trickle on/off and last is power source on/off for 12V sockets under the seat and in the top box. And a note to self :augie

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    The solar panel installed and the bike coming together. :brow

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    A lexan cover for the solar panel, held down with 3M dual lock velcro.

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    My paint booth. :0-0 Spraying clear coat on the front fender to prevent rock chips in the paint. It was freezing cold outside, so yeah, there wasn't much proper ventilation but I wore a make-shift breath mask and hopefully didn't lose too many brain cells :lol3

    #86
  7. craftycoder

    craftycoder Motobrain PDU

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    Fabulous work there! Does your laptop has a DC charger or are you carrying an inverter as well?
    #87
  8. Jammin

    Jammin Living on a DR

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2006
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    1,563
    Location:
    New Delhi - new 'home' for post RTW
    February 25 - March 4, 2010

    With the bike all setup and packed, the last few days before leaving the house was as expected hectic. :knary Moving out of the house I lived in for the last 4 years required help from friends as there was more to throw away than expected and I guess I couldn't bare to throw away so many useful things. The house, car (Mini Cooper) and sport bike (Suzuki GSX-R600) were sold and besides the DR, the only possessions I was keeping were my Definitive speakers, racing leathers and one suitcase of photo albums and things that couldn't be thrown away that was going to be shipped home to India.

    I had been selling as many things as I could on craigslist and ebay over the past few months, liquidating all my possessions but there were still so many things of value that I felt bad about throwing in the trash. Anything useful was donated to the Salvation Army and I got my friends to take a lot of things like furniture and posters.

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    My good friend Allen helping clean out the kitchen. Besides the garage, the kitchen is what I'm going to miss the most, being a cook. Felt bad throwing away so many spices and other cooking items :waysad The last few months leading up to the trip start I tried to finish up all the food in the kitchen, but I could only get so far.

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    Almost empty kitchen. So many good memories from parties and Thanksgiving dinners here. :dg

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    Kristen is a pro photographer in the making and she wanted to do a photo shoot with the bike playing with lights and such. Her and Allen helped me a lot in the last few days getting things out of the house and helping me organize. She also helped by taking a lot of my furniture and movie posters.

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    One of my favorite songs and I love the guitar solo in the extended version. :strum

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    Taking away my movie posters

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    Making runs to Salvation Army giving away useful clothes and other household items.

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    Getting rid of my trusty Sidi Vertebrae Tepor boots. 5 years old and about 60,000 miles on them. My riding friends couldn't stand that I had holes in the boots. :lol2 Wringing as much value as possible out of them.

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    Setting up the bike in the garage for her photo shoot.

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    Kristen having fun with the bike and playing with back lighting.

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    One last dumpster run and bye bye Mini, great car for the past 5 years.

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    My close motorcycle friends at my farewell party. We've been on some great rides around the US and I learnt a lot from these mentors of mine. I hope to do them proud.

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    Saying good-bye to all my friends from work and around Chicago. They've considered me the crazy biker for riding to Mexico and Alaska and for bouncing off the concept for this trip amongst many of them for the past few years. Everyone was happy to see my dream come into reality.


    That's it, no more possessions! Feels great to off load everything. :wings

    __________________________


    Photo Shoot

    Permit me a few glamour shots that my friend Kristen wanted to take before the trip began. It was still snowing and freezing cold in early March, Chicago.


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    The bike's fenders and the helmet were originally white and I spray-painted them Olive Green, using Krylon Fusion paints with a clear coat. Yes, I know it's not the most bright and visible color scheme, but I had a vision about the look :)

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    Setting sun on my last 5 years in Chicago. It's been a great home and I've made many close friends.

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    Going bald should be useful in the warm climates, but brrr, it's freezing up top for Chicago's winters.

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    With my close bud, Allen, from New Mexico, who helped me a lot in getting going on this trip and who's taking care of a few things for me back in Chicago while I'm on this trip.

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    sanDRina and I ready to head South!

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    It's not as icy as it looks, was more slushy, but thankfully I didn't drop the bike.

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    A backlit black and white shot of rider and stead.

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    In action thru foreign lands materializing out of the dark...

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    My home for the next few years. Let's get rolling!
    #88
  9. DCruiser

    DCruiser Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2010
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    40
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    South of VA
    You are a real adventurer!
    Are you planning to ride back to the US after this gig?
    #89
  10. Jammin

    Jammin Living on a DR

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    Location:
    New Delhi - new 'home' for post RTW
    Yes, I'll be taking my light weight camping gear. I know most riders dont use it much in South America but since this is a one way trip, I want to be able to provide my own shelter wherever I happen to be, especially stuck in some remote place.

    My gear consists of the Catoma Twist 1 person tent, Guide Gear (Sportsman Guide) Sleeping Bag and Half Sleeping Pad. I ditched the emergency blanket bag since I dont think I'll be experiencing near freezing temps (maybe in the Andes), but no space for it. I added a Jag Bags silk sleeping bag liner that I'll probably use more often than the sleeping bag.

    Thanks. Yup, I got a DC charger for my laptop. It's a netbook (Acer/Gateway EC1803U) and thus needs less current (0.6 A) than a regular laptop and is easily chargeable on the bike.

    Thanks :beer Not sure about coming back to the US due to visa regulations, but I'd love to and probably will.
    #90
  11. pdedse

    pdedse paraelamigosincero

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    1,540
    Love the idea of the solar panel--hope that works out as intended. Very nice photos of all the modifications.
    #91
  12. SeanF

    SeanF Long timer

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    Subscribed
    Safe travels!

    :lurk
    #92
  13. pablito

    pablito KLRer in SF

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    San Francisco
    Jay

    Best of luck on your ride. Looking at your route map got me really excited.

    I took a year off once to travel the world; changed my life for the better.

    I am glad you made it to my home town with such great weather. I hope SF treated you well. I look forward to future posts.

    All the best, Paul
    #93
  14. Adv Grifter

    Adv Grifter on the road o'dreams

    Joined:
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    Best of luck as you head South!
    I see your DR is very heavily loaded. I'm wondering if you've actually weighed up everything? Mounting racks, Boxes and contents, tool tubes and tools, spares and everything else.

    I found my DR got pretty weird with a lot of weight off road. I'm glad you've fitted a fork brace and steering damper. I need to do this too, but I will now travel with soft bags and with 60 lbs. less weight than before. Not easy.

    I can't recall if you upgraded the suspension on your DR? From the pics, I noticed your DR looks like its riding just a bit "low" in the travel? I've got a Ohlins in the rear and heavier springs up front. I like it, handles luggage pretty well, even on rough roads (off road) at speed.

    I will be following your reports to see how things go. My set up is not as complex as yours but I love the ideas you've got going with the Solar panels et al. I've only got 30K miles on my DR (this one is my 3rd) and its running like new. (fingers crossed!)

    What tires have you decided on? If you're not doing much off road, I could recommend Avon Distanzia's. Long wearing and versatile tires. I got about
    8500 miles on a rear in mixed touring. (on/off road)

    May all the luck be with you! Hope to see you down the road somewhere!
    #94
  15. NoobIAm

    NoobIAm Far, far from the Garden.

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    Jay, the solar panel only produces 10W. Was it not possible to upgrade your generator to a higher output? That would give you extra wattage 24/7, as opposed to maybe 12/7 or less for the panel. Additionally, it probably would have upped it far more than 10 W.
    #95
  16. Adv Grifter

    Adv Grifter on the road o'dreams

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    You can re-wire the stator as outlined by the Pro Cycle guy in his DIY instructions. This gives 50 watts more but at idle you lose a bit of output. A good move, IMO. At 3000 rpm you gain 50 watts over stock. Will not damage Reg./Rect., stator, battery or pick up ignitor coil.

    I don't run many accessories on my DR, after all, it's not a BMW. But I can run my 77 watt Gerbing and 24 watt Symtec grips (on high) and a GPS all day by simply switching off the headlight. This extra 50 watts seems to do the trick, as I've run this set up on many 10 hour days, back to back in very cold weather. At night, well then you've got to lower the heat on the jacket and run grips on low. Even then the batt may discharge some in four or five hours of riding.

    You could also install HID headlight (uses 35 watt and is brighter!) and LED tail lights to save a few more precious watts. I would also carry a Battery Tender Waterproof with me. This charger can sit out in the rain overnight no problem and will recharge a dead DR battery in about 3 to 5 hours to 100%. Trips like Jay's are best begun with BRAND NEW batteries, which even with discharging, will usually last a year or so at least and longer if you keep it charged.
    Heat kills batteries and constant total discharge is not great for them either. :eek1
    #96
  17. prince_ruben

    prince_ruben Long timer

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    1,774
    We're ready for you in downtown San Diego Jay! I have the vintage bikes ready for Palomar so let's get it on!
    #97
  18. Jammin

    Jammin Living on a DR

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    New Delhi - new 'home' for post RTW
    Thanks, I'm going to need a lot of luck :lol2

    I havent had the chance to weigh everything (do they still allow you to ride onto the truck scales on the freeway?) but with almost the same configuration on my Alaska trip, at the end of that I had to ship everything I mounted on the bike (luggage rack, boxes and all contents) and that came out to 150 lbs. I'm probably taking more tools now, but less food, but it's in the range of 150 - 200 lbs. I weigh about 155 lbs.

    Yeah, I really wanted to go as light as possible and did my Mexico trip with saddle bags, but now that I'm going to be gone for a long time and need to depend on the bike to carry all my possessions, I have to live with boxes and the added weight. When I went on my Continental Divide trip last year, it was mainly to make sure that this configuration was ok in offroad conditions. The CDR isn't all that technical offroad but that's about the kind of roads I'll probably experience on my trip, lots of hard pack, some loose gravel, some small rocks. And the bike handled good through there, rear brake working effectively and I only dropped it once cause I was going too fast into an unexpected downhill and grabbed the front brakes, oops. But no damage to anything and I could even pick up the bike on a downhill, so no worries there.

    I thought a lot about soft bags, but I'm thinking I need the secured safety of belongings in lands down south. Plus the additional cargo volume I feel is essential as I'm trying to be as self-reliant as possible regarding break downs and surviving (camping equipment).

    Yup, my DR has progressive springs in the front with fork brace and steering damper and stiffer rear spring with Larry Roesler shock. Yeah, it was sitting too low, so I've cranked the spring up a bit and set sag. Feels better now.

    I need to be on a tight budget in order to pull off this trip, so I'm going with Kenda K761's, they're a 70/30 tire and the rear lasts about 8K miles. I did my Alaska trip on them and it handled the Dalton and Top of the World highway no problem. I air down when needed and am quite disciplined about tire management. I've gotten 9,000 miles out of the Kenda K270's, a 50/50 tire that I did my CDR trip on and rode out to San Francisco on. Also, I know that Kenda's are available south of the border (got some in Mexico, hopefully should be available in Colombia or Equador).


    Yeah, I know the solar panel seems like a lot more complexity and weight for just 10 extra watts, but the idea is also that if I'm camping in some remote place for a few days with no electricity, I'd still like access to my laptop and this will allow me to charge it and other gadgets (phone, camera, ipod) without running the bike.

    Also, I'm hoping to spread the word about clean energy and living more sustainably and hope to get some discussions started with it. :norton I know it looks pretty crazy on a motorcycle, but I hope it works out, haha. :wink:
    #98
  19. Jammin

    Jammin Living on a DR

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    1,563
    Location:
    New Delhi - new 'home' for post RTW
    I know about Jeff (procycle)'s stator rewire and looked into it for a long time but decided not to mess with the generator system, leaning more on reliability. I checked and measured the specs of all the components in the system (generator, rectifier, wiring harness) and everything looked good, but still not enough juice, so that's why I decided to go the solar route.

    I do have 2 Solstice Solo 10W LED lights and a switch to turn off the main head light and I've been running in that configuration while on divided highways in day light since daytime lights are mainly for presence in rear view mirrors of other vehicles, but turn them all on at night and wow, the light thrown is pretty nice. The LED lights are mounted at a slight angle and that produces a wide light pattern that I like. I have a battery voltage monitor and can see about 0.5 extra volts coming out of the battery with main headlight off.

    Yup, started with a new battery and it's healthy.

    Sweeet! Can't wait for Palomar, have been dreaming about it for so long. :ricky
    In my sport touring days on the Suzuki GSX-R600 I've ridden Deals Gap, Blue Ridge Parkway, Lolo Pass and I feel Palomar Mtn would complete a tour of the most awesome twisty roads in the US :brow
    (I'm sure there's more to ride here, so I'll be back :D )
    #99
  20. Jammin

    Jammin Living on a DR

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2006
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    1,563
    Location:
    New Delhi - new 'home' for post RTW
    DR Questions:

    I've done the air box mod, with an opening cut in the top but every time I ride through a lot of rain (return from CDR trip and coming here to SF), I get water collecting in the air box. I have a Corbin seat and Aqualine Safari tank and that's all sealed up and mated nicely and tight. There's nothing I can do now, but want to know if I can just remove the airbox water drain plug and just run it like that or is that a concern for proper air intake or even water intake during rain. Of course if crossing a stream, I'll plug it back up. What do you think? Or should I just leave it on and open it after riding through rain to drain any water in there?

    Can someone confirm again what engine temperatures are a danger. I have the Vaportech with the engine temp sensor around the spark plug against the head. I was told normal running range is around 260-290F and danger is getting close to 350F. While running around SF getting parts, etc, temps climbed to 320F in stop n go traffic and I turned off and waited till it dropped before going again.


    Besides that, bike is all ready to go again. Mounted new tires, Kenda K761, new chain, valve check, rearranged a few things and mounted more spares onto the bike (to clear up space in the boxes). Heading south tomorrow to Paso Robles and then onto San Diego. Planning to cross the border from Arizona since I'm skipping Baja and heading to the mainland and dont want to cross at Tijuana and ride along the border there.