A BMW, a KTM and a Ducati walk into a BDR...

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by earthbm, Oct 13, 2021 at 5:13 PM.

  1. earthbm

    earthbm Ducati ADV

    Joined:
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    In Utah... Some hilarity, but mostly a feel of being surrounded by awesomeness ensues...

    PXL_20211003_171051032.jpg

    1st gear: Philosophy

    I read somewhere that "the one who dies with the most toys wins." I call BS on that. Humans are information devouring machines. So I say "the one who dies having absorbed the most unique information wins."

    "The average Kindle book size is about 300 pages, or 75,000 words of text, and the average Kindle e-book file size is 2.6 MB." The average photo here is about that size too at some 10 megapixels. But sitting on a cliff and thinking of how many pixels are in THAT picture you're imbibing with your eye nerves, I'd say it's easily 1000 megapixels (=a gigapixel) or more, not counting the wind in you face, the smells and the sounds. And it's 3d. And it's moving. So each time you stop and take the helmet off, you are absorbing 100 books worth of information. The sheer quantity of that information transcends into some pretty profound quality that the virtual reality dwellers won't ever understand, just like speakers of some languages without conditional tenses (e.g. Vietnamese) can't even think woulda coulda shoulda thoughts.


    Moab d1.jpg

    2nd gear: Gear
    Let's start with the bikes, one of the 4 main Bs in life (along with booze, broads, and boats).
    2 BMW 1200 GSs, a KTM 890 Adventure, a Ducati Multistrada Enduro Pro, and a Suzuki DRZ 400. Luggage, tires, and other stuff later.

    Despite a desmo valve tattoo, I am a brand whore as evidenced by this pic:
    brand whore.jpg
    So here are some high level thoughts on the bikes. The bikes' off-road ability roughly corresponded to their riders' dirt skills -- the DRZ guy wanted to be a motorcross racer once, the KTM guy had more adventuring experience than others by x10, BMW and Ducati guys were dirt virgins until recently (the Duc Enduro was my 7th bike, 4th Ducati, but my first off-road capable bike ever, bought 3 weeks prior to the trip).

    1. The DRZ was the only bike that was trailered from pit stop to pit stop. The rider would join us either for the first part of a leg, or ride with us around Moab, where we ended up spending 3 days. Can't really do distance on paved roads, although some changes in gearing might help. The tank's too small too (100m range).

    2. The KTM 890 was overall the most capable bike for the BDR, especially paired with its rider. When I rode it it felt so nimble, like I could do no wrong, almost like riding a mountain bicycle. The KTM could do 1-2 parts that 1200cc bikes wouldn't dare, and could set the pace through sketchy stuff that others couldn't maintain. I tried to keep pace once but was physically drained after 30-40 minutes and begged to take breaks. However, the parts 1200cc bike couldn't do were motocross-park style playgrounds, not leading anywhere. The adventure parts were equally accessible. Disclaimer: we did not do Lockhart Basin, which could've changed this assessment, although the KTM and the Duc did get to the Hurrah Pass on that leg from the North (from Moab). But here's the real world usage example: The 890 was trucked 5 hours from Denver to Utah, while the Ducati and one of the GSs were ridden from So Cal (12h straight, but we took two days with detours and "feeder" routes). So in the ideal of having a bike that takes you TO the trail as well as ON the trail the 890 failed.
    Hurrah pass.jpg

    3. BMW 1200 GS is the most sold adventure bike out there, and they also won the numbers game in our little posse, with two representin'. They were generally in the back of the group, with particular difficulties on sand. Reminded me of that thread about R1200s suffering on Utah BDR sand from three years ago. My take: while the boxer's low center of gravity makes them FEEL light, the weight is still the weight when it comes to keeping the front wheel up on top of the sand. There may have been tire issues involved, but that's for another post.
    GS sand.jpg

    4. Ducati Multistrada Enduro Pro... Pro = Rally tires (more later), crash bars, extra lights (made a difference!), and sand color paint (makes it better on sand, evidently). Having ridden a GS 1200 Adv, the friend's 890 Adv, and this, I must say that I really like it! The electronic safety net (DTC, DWC, ABS) is very new to me but it worked, as in giving a pavement hack like me enough confidence in the dirt to "when in doubt gas it" as opposed to "freeze and grab the brakes". Has minor issues (like the first gear is maybe too tall, but I don't know), or the fragile plastic hand guards hard coupled with the controls and the mirrors so that when I rotated the bar forward and upward to stand on the pegs the mirrors wouldn't look back. Overall I'd say a very competent effort though. The way the motor just magically pulls when you slow to 1000 rpm in the rocks in first or second is pretty clever. Definitely like the motor. Zero regrets. I suspect it's on par with KTM 1290S -- have friends with both R and S and will report after I get them to swap bikes with me on the dirt.


    3rd Gear: Riding notes
    This is from the perspective of a complete dirt noob (whose first dirt bike is 1200cc, so not too bright either).

    After rotating the bar higher standing became the most comfortable position by far. 890 was too low for my 6'3" frame, the Duc felt just right. It feels like you completely removed the rider's weight from the equation. Slow turns on dirt where you lean the bike while staying vertical still feel odd after all the track days on pavement, definitely an area to improve.

    Hot tip 1: going down steep slick rocks, perhaps covered with sand, try road setting for the ABS -- enduro ABS mode lets it slide so much that gravity makes you build up speed beyond the point of being able to stop.

    Hot tip 2: while leaning back and gassing it works on sand, in the mud... not so much. The sand brings the front back eventually, in the mud once the front's gone it's gone. On 890 as well as 1200... Solution A: slow the f down from 40 in 4th to perhaps 20-25 in 2nd-3rd. Solution B: picking your lines is probably more important than through Chuckwalla Raceway after a sand storm.
    Mud.jpg



    I may write more later, still tons of pics and thoughts left, but will stop for now with Dostoevsky's “Beauty Will Save the World”:
    BDR cloud.jpg
    #1
  2. rider1150gsadv

    rider1150gsadv Long timer

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    This could get interesting :lurk
    #2
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  3. docwyte

    docwyte Long timer

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    I'd say the decision to trailer the 890 was more rider than bike. That bike is extremely comfortable on the tarmac and easily able to make the ride from Denver to Moab. Hell, I'd have no issue making that ride on my 690, which is nowhere near the tarmac bike the 890 is
    #3
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  4. earthbm

    earthbm Ducati ADV

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    Agree, the 890 totally could've made it. It's not just whether you CAN do it, but would you WANT TO? And in this case the (very experienced) rider decided not to... Revealed preference!
    And, TBH, the desert freeway hell between Barstow and Las Vegas made me appreciate the Duc, doing 90-100 like it's nothing (the taller Puig screen helps). If bombing on the freeway just to get there is a chore, you will ride less. Unless you live near dirt. Everything is a compromise, and on balance the choice between a big and a medium bike is a just that, a choice. Besides, know thyself! -- I am less likely to injure myself on a big bike because I'll try less stupid stuff. And that's my story and I'm sticking to it. Philosophical Gear 1 over.

    Anyways, glamping in Mexican Hat. For food, the Swinging Stakes are a no brainer, although them not buying the liquor license this year due to lower traffic levels was a bit of a buzz kill.
    Motion-Still-2021-10-14.GIF

    The obligatory pic of the Mexican Hat itself:
    Mex hat.jpg

    Passed a rally of pretty authentic-looking Model Ts:
    Model T.jpg
    IMG_9683.jpg

    They were moving at their own pace, perhaps 10-15 of them. We expected to see some kind of a support sweeper vehicle at the end, but nope. Here's their last straggler, for the eagle-eyed of you to find in the epic picture of the day:
    Mod T .jpg


    Switching to Gear 2: Equipment
    , the tires: The Duc came with Pirelli Scorpion Rally. Not Rally STR. A couple of things to say about it:
    • They don't look like the stock photos on the internet, showing the knobs covering about 50% of the surface:
      Rally stock pic.jpg
    • They look like this, with about 70% covered by the knobs:
      IMG_9986.jpg
    • Scorpion Rallies are made in Germany while Rally STRs are made in China. Not sure how much this matters to you, it does (a little) to me.
    • The old tire in the picture above has 4k miles on it, 3k of which on the pavement, not feathering the throttle much, in Sport mode...
    • I did lose the front when pushing hard on Ortega twisties after seeing brand new pavement... Not sure what came first -- my foot/peg hitting the ground or the front Rally slipping. In the event I saved it, so it was good to find the limit without paying for it. I suspect STRs would do better on the pavement, but I'm more comfortable on it anyway, and need any help I can get in the dirt instead.
    • Rallies are cheaper than Rally STRs ($200 vs $250). The new one that arrived today is from 2018, and the one I saw at the local Duc dealer was from 2019, so perhaps that's the reason. I'm okay with it.
    • The sound on the freeway is a bit annoying (mostly because it's the sound of the knobs wearing out).
    • I want to try Shinko 804/805 next. Any comparison pointers from those who tried them both would be most welcome. Say if they last 3k instead of 4k for Pirellis, the cost saving is zero.
    • My rear Rally was bald already at the end of our BDR run... I didn't mind, losing the rear when upright is no big deal, but it did mater in the sand and DTC was kicking in a lot uphill.
    • The BMWs ran what I think I Dunlop Trailmax (pic below) -- it may have contributed to the struggles in the sand. The KTM had what I think D606 which seemed to work really well. The rider was leaving 50-ft skidmarks out of every corner, and by the end of the 1000k or so on dirt wear was showing. Perhaps that was a factor for trucking as opposed to riding the bike to Utah.
    • I think an enterprising dirt riding aficionado might do well opening a tire shop in Mexican Hat or Moab.
    Mex hat d1.jpg
    #4
  5. earthbm

    earthbm Ducati ADV

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    Is there is anyone from BMW marketing here, I have some BMW adventure footage to sell:





    ...Or from Ford Model T marketing ;)
    #5
    Haven't Ben There and JimsBeemer like this.
  6. chilejack

    chilejack Viajero Viejo

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    Model A, not T. I saw about 6 Model As going down Tramway here last week, maybe the same group?
    #6
  7. 4r22mny

    4r22mny Old n' Slow

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    Just FYI, and for info only. Those "model T's" are imposters!

    They re really Model A's, a later model Ford manufactured between 1928 and 1931.

    4r
    #7
  8. earthbm

    earthbm Ducati ADV

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    I knew there was something fishy about those Model Ts!


    Some pics of the local wildlife...
    Bones.jpg

    ...and culture:
    IMG_9722.jpg


    I believe I found the original AdvRider.com bulletin board system (the term for those who were around in the 90s) or forum (for 2000s), from the time before there was internet:
    Newspaper rock.jpg


    A practical tip, in Moab refill your water bladder from this spring (38.6030, -109.5723). You can see the KTM rider squeezed:
    (disclaimer, we did not check for U-238 content).
    View attachment 3246994

    On the last cultural note, Utah's name comes from Ute Indians, which means "mountain people":
    Uteland.jpg


    One way that mountains affect you is by engraving a 3rd vertical dimension component into the mental map of your surroundings. While Moab looks like a Mecca for all kinds of off-road fun, there is more. A handful of spread out climbing groups were doing yoga and stretching before going up these 90-degree vertical walls, 250-300ft tall in my estimation:
    Moab climbers.jpg


    That sense of verticality is present in riding bikes around there too:
    Moab d2.jpg


    Your appreciation for gravity takes new depth compared to just falling 3 feet off the bike:
    Moab d2 a.jpg


    One implication is that when using your thumb while looking at the map to estimate the distance you need to multiply it x5 rather than x2.
    Moab d2 b.jpg

    Attached Files:

    #8
  9. BrockEvan

    BrockEvan Brock Warwick Supporter

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    I'm in.
    You're very analytic.
    When you said the KTM was leaving 50' skid marks out of every corner, I assume these were power slides? If so, is there a mathematical equation that the length of a powerslide into a level of fun factor?
    #9
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  10. earthbm

    earthbm Ducati ADV

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    They were indeed power slides. I am just faking it, cosseted by the safety net of Ducati’s clever DTC and ABS, so wouldn’t know for sure. To me a power slide means an impending highside with a pucker factor 7. I also doubt this is the fastest way out of corners. So my general draft formula is:

    Fun Factor = speed^2 x lean angle x powerslide length.

    Of course that was on flat parts with good visibility. The actual adventuring was a bit more docile:
    #10
  11. earthbm

    earthbm Ducati ADV

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    Speaking of fun factor, this place on the way back (38.3645, -110.91484) seemed like fun factor 10 on the right bike with the right skills. My tibia and my collar bones thanked my by-then slick tires and 600lb choice of steed for keeping me from writing checks I can't cash...
    Swingarm city.jpg
    #11
  12. BrockEvan

    BrockEvan Brock Warwick Supporter

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    Swingarm City!
    #12