Oregon to Ushuaia on an XR650L

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by Ulyses, Oct 29, 2012.

  1. Ulyses

    Ulyses Long timer

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2012
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Portland, OR
    This was the ride of my life.

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    And this is where it all began:
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    October, 2012:

    So, to be honest, I've already been riding for almost two weeks, but I've been concentrating more on the actual riding portion than I have on blogging, or reporting, or trip reporting, but I suppose I should probably start now while I've got a day off in Mazatlan.


    I was originally planning to do this trip on a 1992 BMW R100GS; however, after a few difficulties with the bike, I decided that a new strategy was in order and began hunting for a 650 thumper. Not really knowing much about thumpers or riding through central and south america, I decided on (with much encouragement and a little cash from my brother alvincullumyork) a 2008 Honda XR650L I decided on the honda because it's a simple aircooled design that has been unchanged for almost 20 years and I figured it would probably be much easier to find spare parts and get repairs done in random third world countries. What I didn't know about the bike is that it doesn't really do highway miles very well, has an extremely weak subframe, and needs lots of modifications to bring it up to par for a serious overland trip.


    And so, I dug deep and shelled out a little coin for some of the more important farkles:
    - 5.8 Gallon Acerbis Tank
    - TCI Out Back Rack
    - Seat Concepts Seat
    - Cee Bailey's Windscreen
    - Uni Foam Air Filter
    - 1 Gallon Rotopax
    - Sutton Cycle Works Oil Cooler
    - Skid Plate
    - Shoria Lithium Battery
    - Heated vest with adapter
    - Moose Barkbusters


    And improvised a few others:
    - 40mm Grenade Ammo Can Panniers
    - Highway Pegs
    - 12 volt outlet
    - Aluminum windscreen struts
    - Structural Carbon Fiber hand protectors
    - Dave's Mod Carb


    Some of these mods were done by my brother who was babbysitting the bike for me in my absence. He also did the fabricating on the highway pegs, windscreen struts, and hand guards as his day job gave him access to a large, well equiped shop and plenty of down time.


    I'm still happy with bike and it's performance so far, though it does have a tendency to eat a little oil when you run it all day at high speeds (plus reading the oil level correctly requires a certain amount of luck, skill, and black magic). And the stock exhaust sounds kind of like a cross between a sewing machine and a clothes dryer. And even thought the ammo can panniers are solid steel, weigh 22lbs apiece dry, and will probably out last the bike, they are still pretty damn cool, make a great center stand for the bike, and serve as impromptu camp chairs. but I digress.....

    I started from Grants Pass Oregon and rode to the Coast of California via the redwoods.
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    Stopped for my first night and stayed in a teepee in a KOA in West Port, CA.

    Second day I continued down the Coast via highway 1, crossed the Golden Gate Bridge and made it to Salinas.
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    Third day I rode to Cambria, CA for the HU conference were I stayed for the next three nights. Was a little dissapointed at being the only guy on an XR650L amonst a sea of R1200GS's and KLR 650's, but I met a lot of cool people got some good information and tips for my trip.


    At the conference i linked up with a few people that were headed in the same direction and we all planned to meet up in San Diego in a few days and cross the border together. I rode from Cambria with "Ed Zachtamundo" and parted ways with him in Santa Barbara where I stayed with my cousin.


    The next day found me in San Diego staying at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot where my veteran status paid off big time in the form of a $30 dollar, two room sweet in the Bachelor Officer's Quarters. As I took off my panniers for the night, I noticed that the TCI rack had fractured! I was sweating bullets as I only had a day before I was supposed to link up with the group and cross the border. I woke up early the next morning and went to a powder coating shop a few blocks from the depot and found a guy who offered to weld it up for $40. Sold! What I didn't know until he started was that it would be a wire feed job....eghhhh.....

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    In any event, the guy did a good job, and I had him weld on a small gusset underneath the break to shore it up a little more. And yes, I was so busy disconecting the battery, pulling the CDI, and unhooking the grounds that I left a full rottopax on the bike, just abover where he was welding. Doh!


    I proceeded on to home depot where I made a nifty tool case in about 15 min to redistribute some of the weight out of the boxes and onto a more secure location for the bike.

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    And finally, in my mad dash for preperation, I stopped at Auto Zone, picked up some rotella, and found a smog shop that let me change my oil in their parking lot. It was a hectic day to say the least.


    The next morning I linked up with four other riders in an ARCO parking lot in Chula Vista at 0630 in the morning. Our grand armada consisted of 3 KLR 650's, 1 KTM 690 Adventure, and me, the Lone Ranger on the XR650L. After some chit chat, we mounted up and started riding south!


    Crossed the border in TJ with no issues and rode south for El Rosario and Mama Espinoza's Hotel/Cafe. Arrived and was given a mustache sticker by Ed Zachtamundo for the XR which I promptly applied to the front fender:

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    At which point, I decided that the bike needed a name. I figured that the mustache added a certain latin flair of Machismo to the Honda and that the bike should probably be christened "El Senior". Done.


    Day two found us making tracks for Guerro Negro, almost 220 gasless miles away. En Route we stopped and took a little path into the desert which allowed us to practice our trials skills on grossly overweight 650's:

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    Arrived in Guererro Negro, found a $20 room with secure parking and wifi and crashed.


    Day three in Mexico found us leisourly riding to Muelege, a scant 130 miles away. Finally reached the sea of cortez and made into Muelege around 2 pm. Beautiful little town, wished we could have stayed longer.


    Day four and we were pushing hard to get all the way to La Paz and catch the sunday ferry. Arrived in town and began fruitlessly searching for the ferry office. A nice cop on a V-Strom 650 soon picke us up and lead us to the office which was closed! Then made a mad dash to Pichelingue to see if the office near the harbor was open. It was closed until 8:30 PM! Sat around and ate tacos and drank beer until the office oppened and then were told that Tourist Cards were no longer issued at the ferry or in La Paz and that we would have to return all the way to TJ to get them! Everyone was a little frusterated as we had all heard from multiple sources that they could be obtained in La Paz. Discouraged we headed back into town and found a cheap hotel for the night.


    In the morning, two of our riders headed back out to the ferry office to try again, while two more headed to the airport to try their luck there, while I strolled down to the Maricon and had coffee and crepes and chatted with a nice american couple who were riding their R1200GS towards SA as well. Walked back to the hotel and bumped into "el tigre", a former air force B-52 pilot who was now piloting one of the KLR's in our little band. His run to the airport had been succesful and his tourist card was now in hand!


    Following this, the rest of us scrambled to the airport, got our cards, then b-lined it for the ferry. Made it just in time, got the last five seats available, and we were underway to Mazatlan by 4:30 PM. On the ferry, a drunk mexican guy sat down in the seat in front of me, leaned his chair back, and proceeded to try and rifle through my bags. Zachtamundo saved the day by thumping the back of his chair hard enough to cause him to bolt upright.

    Arrived in Mazatlan this morning, found a hotel, and now we are settling down for the evening. And that's all I've got for now. Hopefully I'll have a little more time to up date this thing as we go.
    #1
  2. XStatic450

    XStatic450 ouch

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2012
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Land of 10,000 skeeters
    :lurk
    #2
  3. BamaTexRider

    BamaTexRider MOTO-MIKE

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2009
    Oddometer:
    49
    Location:
    Alabama and Texas
    Great bike for the ride. :ricky
    #3
  4. Eclecticmale

    Eclecticmale Adventurer

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2011
    Oddometer:
    83
    Location:
    N. Charleston, SC
    Looks like you are off to a great start. The hard/pain in the butt part will be crossing the borders. My advice is to research as much information on this forum before you get to the border. Right now I am in Panama City...I plan to be here a while...send me a PM when you arrive...I will do what I can to help. Ride Safe.

    Raymond
    #4
  5. BamaTexRider

    BamaTexRider MOTO-MIKE

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2009
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Alabama and Texas
    Best way to check oil is, after riding it turn off and wait about 1 or 2 min with bike upright and straight. You will have it down in no time.
    #5
  6. mathews42

    mathews42 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2012
    Oddometer:
    338
    Location:
    Colorado Springs
    Great read so far bro!!! I'm glad you started the thread!
    #6
  7. GSF1200S

    GSF1200S Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2012
    Oddometer:
    977
    Location:
    Austin, Texas
    :lurk
    #7
  8. EmilianoXR650L

    EmilianoXR650L Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2010
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    Location:
    Playa Azul & Zihuatanejo
    a bordo !!!!!!!:clap
    #8
  9. NotAllWhoWanderRLost

    NotAllWhoWanderRLost Lost

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2011
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Bend, Oregon
    I'm in for the ride, following along from Oregon! :lurk

    I've enjoyed the RR and photos so far, you've got a great start to what sounds like a fun adventure. I hope your enjoying Mazatlan, I bet it's nice down there this time of year.

    Have fun! :beer
    #9
  10. MikeMike

    MikeMike Long timer

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    Feb 28, 2009
    Oddometer:
    4,150
    Be careful with your Spanish. The word "Maricon" means a flaming gay person. I think you meant "malecon" which means "boardwalk". If you are coming through Vereacruz, drop me a line, I can show you some good riding here.
    #10
  11. Kawidad

    Kawidad Long timer

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    Jul 9, 2005
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    Location:
    Central Coast, Cal
    I'm in too.

    Semper Fi :freaky
    #11
  12. Dudley

    Dudley Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2006
    Oddometer:
    881
    Location:
    Chaska, Minnesota, Palm Desert, California
    Great bike for your adventure. I just sold one set up for this type of riding and am having sellers regrets.
    Dudley
    #12
  13. RUOK

    RUOK no, no I guess not

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2008
    Oddometer:
    319
    Location:
    Salem OR
    I'm in, you're off to a great start, looking forward to more. I had a 650L too and miss it, it was a great bike for exploring central MT
    #13
  14. srpuywa

    srpuywa Big 'G'

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2002
    Oddometer:
    520
    Location:
    Puget Sound, WA
    how would that bike be for a big guy, I'm 6-4, 250 and have a GS ADV, looking for a 2nd lighter bike
    #14
  15. alvincullumyork

    alvincullumyork I wish I was cool

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2012
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Cartersville GA
    It's about time you started this!:clap:freaky
    #15
  16. motoged

    motoged Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2006
    Oddometer:
    908
    Location:
    Kamloops, BC
    Sounds like a typical adventure start.....those overweight ammo cans are cheap and WAY too heavy....good luck with subframe issues:freaky
    #16
  17. RZRob

    RZRob Long timer

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    Location:
    Anaheim Hills, CA
    Will enjoy following your report as I plan my own adventure.

    RZ Rob
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    #17
  18. Ulyses

    Ulyses Long timer

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    Portland, OR
    So far I've found that you can eat in a resteraunt for about 100 pesos, or, you can go to a street vendor, get much better food, and only pay about half the price. Typical dinner at a street vendor in Mazatlan.

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    Left Mazatlan yesterday and started heading for Puerto Vallarta since Ed Zachtamundo knew a guy who had built a house for his mom down there and said we could all stay. We also added two more riders to our group (both KLR riders) who only rode with us for the day. We've been avoiding the toll roads for the most part and sticking to the "Libre" side, but man, getting stuck behind semi's doing five miles an hour and jangling about on what seems like an endless procession of "topes" definetly makes you wish for a toll road sometimes. For those of you that don't habla, topes (and vibradores apparently) are the speed bumps that mexico and much of central america uses instead of things like speed limits and traffic signals to help people drive safely. Because people just pretty much totally ignore things like stop signs and one way streets.

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    We stopped and had lunch at an open air, road side cafe out side of San Blas on some random backroad and saw this lovely little machine:

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    If the XRL decides to explode on me, I know that I can always pick up one of these bad boys and keep on trucking. Or maybe I should just get one now and carry it with me on top of my rack. It would probably weigh less than one of my boxes!

    After lunch we stopped at a Pemex and I filled up "El Senor" with what the attendant assured me was premium. I've been using premium to try and keep the engine running cooler. However, after filling up my tank, I reallized that it had a suspicious red tinge to it. Sure enough, everyone who had filled up with the "Premium" started experiencing a serious power lag and higher engine temps. The XRL ran surprisingly poorly, was struggling to get above 55 MPH, and was heating up really fast. Eventually I just pullled into a gas station, disconected the fuel line, and drained about 2 gallons of the crap into the parking lot.

    Some guy came over and asked me what I was doing. I told him "La gasolina esta sucia!", which he apparently understood, cause he walked away and left me alone. Other than the dirty gas, the riding was beautiful. Much more vegitation than baja....almost jungle like......

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    Got into Mazatlan a little later than we expected and after checking out a few hotels on the outskirts, decided to go into downtown and stay at a hostel. Big mistake! Never stay in a backpackers hostel when you and six other people are on bikes. After getting really lost, really frusterated, and really tired, we finally found the hostel and immediatley commendered the entire building. The few broke college kids and hippies staying there were a little shocked to see seven surly and pissed off bikers walk in and start yelling at the kid behind the desk for beer and a place to crash. Unfortunatley I failed to get a picture of all seven of our bikes crammed into a tiny space in front of the hostel, all chained together, with two disc alarms on the outside bikes. It was quite impressive.

    This morning woke up late and left Mazatlan by the crack of Noon. Made it to Tequilla, Mexico. Apparently they invented Tequilla here or something. Don't really know, was too tired and pissed of from staying in a hostel last night to really care. There were tons of Agave fields on the way in though and they were quite pretty. Here's some pictures from the day's riding:

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    Was really tired when we got to Tequilla and didn't feel like going through the hassle of finding a cheap hotel, so we splurged and got a fancy hotel (580 Pesos, or about $45). It's really nice in here. Unfortunately, they won't let us take our bikes in the rooms. Darn.
    #18
  19. NotAllWhoWanderRLost

    NotAllWhoWanderRLost Lost

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2011
    Oddometer:
    521
    Location:
    Bend, Oregon
    Thanks for the update and cool photos, the lush vegetation and scenery look amazing. And it looks like you saw some decent weather. I was in Medford and Grants Pass yesterday and your not missing much. It was foggy in the morning with rain and wind most of the day. Fall has arrived in Southern Oregon and you got out of town at the right time. :deal

    Have fun and keep up on the photos. It must be quite the sight with a group of seven bikes. We'd love to see a group photo! :beer
    #19
  20. Ulyses

    Ulyses Long timer

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    Location:
    Portland, OR
    Well, I'll see what I can do, but as of today, it's just me and Ed Zachtamundo on his KTM. So we are down to two. The KLR's can't keep up.....haha!
    #20