A celebration of a metric century on the best bike ever built.

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by tricky., Jun 28, 2020 at 7:40 PM.

  1. tricky.

    tricky. Been here awhile

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    You knew this would be a ride report about a DR650 didn’t you? Even before clicking, you thought to yourself, ’25 years of bold new graphics? That’s the best bike ever built’. I guess once perfection is reached it’s hard to improve. But I digress.

    So lets back up, what is this ride about? Well my trusty DR650 is getting pretty close to ticking over 62,138 miles, or 100,000 kilometers in the metric system. Hey, I’m from Australia so it’s a milestone to me! What does 100,000 km on a DR mean? Well it makes a lot of weird noises (best to wear earplugs), plastics have this weird perma-dirt, and you can feel the groves of individual butt cheeks in the seat.

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    A old, rusty DR.

    So why is a DR the best bike? Well, because Venn Diagram. The best arguments are won and lost with these three circles of over-simplification. I have yet to ride a bike which better incorporates the spheres of off-road performance, highway slab-ability, and can it be thrown off a cliff. Africa twin? not enough off road ability, KTM 690? Harder to start when it goes off a cliff. WR250? Well…uhh….hey, this is my story so be quiet.

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    Not a DR. Poor off a cliff ability.

    Most importantly it’s my bike and I think it is the best. Why? Because it has never left me stranded and has taken me to places beyond my imagination. So I guess really its simple, the best bike ever made is the bike you ride!

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    Nothing gets in the way of a DR, not even a fence

    Oh and everything is original. Hahahahahah, no. Not only is a stock DR terrible but I crash a lot (hence the importance of riding off a cliff-ability), mechanically I’m ‘forceful’ and perhaps I’m overly enthusiastic at times– not a good match for the play-doh bars and elastic band springs that come standard with a DR. This also means my DR is on its second engine, second set of forks, second swingarm, and has aftermarket everywhere else. So I guess this is a celebration of the frame, which surprisingly hasn’t sheared in half, yet.

    There’s no fun in a celebration tour if you don’t have the original band, right? Introducing the other guy on this trip. @Drufiddy We have probably clocked up at least 500 days of riding together and both love the thump of the mighty DR. He hasn’t got sick of me yet, or maybe it’s a case of Stockholm syndrome, who knows. We’ve done some cool trips together, including a pretty big trip (https://advrider.com/f/threads/sacarctica-ride-good.1157097/).

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    A couple of clowns free of the circus.


    My DR continues to plod on through new adventures. Sadly Drew made a smart choice and sold his first DR to some poor soul in Santiago and now it resides in Poland. Bold new graphics on bold new frontiers I guess. Drew is currently DR-less and this will need to be rectified before we begin, otherwise he’s walking because my rear peg mounts broke off the frame. Weight saving. Just like those 3 left over bolts when we swapped the engine.

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    Drew parting ways with his first DR. He was never the same.

    So what does our glory tour include? We have 9 days to cram in as much fun as possible in late June. Unfortunately we now act like adults, so our longer trips of old are now just distant memories. Our plan is to truck to the Oregon/California border, ride the ORBDR through to Washington, Ride the IDBDR south to Jarbidge, then go overland from Jarbidge back to the truck. We may do more if we make good time. Either way it’s going to be a fun jaunt of the west.

    Actually, the more I think about it, the more this is like a ‘farewell tour’ - original beat up members reliving glory days with neither the proficiency or stamina of years passed. Perfect.
    #1
  2. tricky.

    tricky. Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Prologue - Preparation


    Preparation was extensive. Oil was changed and tires were mounted. Both involved drama.

    Somehow the DR fell over during the oil change (sigh) and managed to break a gasket during the test ride (double sigh). Oh well. Luckily all you need to do is lay the big girl down, smear on liquid gasket and its as good as gold. Right?

    Next up, tire change. No drama to be expected right? Ahhhh, hmmmm. Better add one less original part to the list.


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    The silver lining of COVID is it means you can drive during peak hour from Sacramento to San Francisco and back in 3 hours to pick up a set of DR rims from craigslist. Winning!

    Meanwhile in the red corner, Drew drove down to Los Angeles to buy a DR sight unseen a few days out from the start of the trip. Its only 50lb oversprung for his weight.

    The perfection continues….
    #2
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  3. tricky.

    tricky. Been here awhile

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    Headed Out

    Drew and I are now well and truly soft, and far too scared to ride long hours of multi-lane highway on single cylinder machines. To avoid our fears we decided to truck to Lakeview Oregon to start our trip.

    We chose Lakeview as you can pick up the ORBCDR Route 5 right from the outskirts of town and it is a relatively straight shot from Sacramento via I80 and US 395. We also had a good track from a friend to loop back from Jarbidge to Denio Junction (only 100 miles away) so we could do dirt for almost the whole nine or so days. Or so we thought – more of that to come.

    Drew arrived at mine with his new DR loaded and ready to go in his truck. I was impressed - It looks so similar to his previous DR I had to do a double take. I asked him how it was. From Drew’s extensive ride around the block it seemed pretty good. Perfect, let’s go!


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    Two DR’s locked and loaded. I believe a group of DR’s is called a museum.

    Before leaving Sacramento I called the RV Park in Lakeview to confirm they had a spot for us for the night and we could leave our truck there since the forest service was closed. You can imagine my surprise when who answers the phone but another Australian, Terry. We were both shocked. ‘Yup, I’ll be here’ indicated Terry, ‘we’ll have to catch up for a yarn’.


    A slow 6 or so hours later (loaded 4 cyl trucks and high sierra passes are not a good combo) we arrived at Lakeview. It’s a pretty, little town and the RV park had expansive views of the valley. The setting sun made it extra nice lookin’.

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    RV Park at sunset

    Terry was a champion. Not only did he greet us warmly but immediately offered us beer out of his own stash, ‘one for now, one for later’ he implied thrusting two beers each towards Drew and I. I forgot how much I like my countrymen. Terry was a real characters who had seemingly reinvented himself numerous times over and done just about everything in his short 75 years. He had great stories of his past teaching in Western Australia, to radio broadcasting in Alice Springs to touring the US with his wife. Terry is also about to release a sci-fi trilogy that he penned while stuck in Alaska last year. It’s certainly motivation that the key to life is staying active, trying new things and pushing yourself in different directions. Drew observed with confusion as ‘Tez’ and I worked our way deep into the Australian vernacular of jumpers and torches. Oh and he had a cute dog which gave Drew loving stares – must have been the Jerky in his camelback.

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    Having a yarn and a beer with Tez.

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    Tez’s new book under his alias ‘Cutliffe King’. Out this week!


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    Tez’s Pooch

    After the long drive and a few beers, we were pretty knackered and also eager to hit the road the next day. We set up our tents on the soft grass of the RV park and soon begun dreaming of all the epic brappage that would await us the next day.
    #3
    Muscongus, Foot dragger, td63 and 5 others like this.
  4. Critic

    Critic More or less!

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    West of the Illinois, heart of the state!
    I agree! Well that may be changing .... 690 is in it's tracks.
    #4
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  5. Drufiddy

    Drufiddy Been here awhile

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    Sacramento
    Another DR ride report? :jack
    #5
    Mikey Boy and tricky. like this.
  6. tricky.

    tricky. Been here awhile

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    Down to Business. This is a RIDE report right?

    Time for knobs to hit the dirt. We unloaded the bikes without issue (a first) and loaded them up for adventure. This is at least one thing we have improved over the years, how much we pack. Less weight = more fun.

    We might not be as light as some, but we were pretty pleased with our set up considering we had camping gear, clothes, tools, and food for approximately 3-4 days, allowing us to live off the bikes and have very limited social contact. My set up was a little heavier as my thermarest is huuge, I was carrying 4 tubes, and had the stove.

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    I think Drew is happy to be riding.

    Bidding farewell to Terry and the trailer park, we hit the road. Aaand what did we do at the very first turn? Went different directions. D’oh! Drew, looking at the horizon , thought I was one of two Teneres up the road and blasted past as I waited at the first turn on the route. Luckily Drew was thwarted by roadworks 5 miles up the road and we were able to regroup and get back on track.

    The second turn we didn’t stuff up. Probably because it was dirt. The wide fireroad soon gave way to fun two track and we had a ball zig zagging through the Fremont National Forest.

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    And so it begins!

    Not needing gas at the first recommend stop, Valley Falls, we took a steep shortcut up a freshly graded trail. It was sweet until we reached the grader - at which point the trail died. We searched around and I got stuck in a mud bog. Once freed we reconvened in a meadow for a snack.


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    Mmmm post mud bog snack. Drew avoided the mud bog. Smug bastard.

    Luckily, we managed to find the trail and get back on track. The trail continued to climb and soon we were on top of the ridgeline on two track, weaving through a burnt out forest. Both fun and eerie, the monotone colors and excellent visibility provided a great riding backdrop.


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    Cool trail in a dead forest

    After a few miles the clear trail soon gave way to a series of obstacles in the form of downed burnt trees. Thanks to the burnt out scrub and small size of the trees we were either able to log hop or ride around most of the obstacles. This would not have been fun on a bigger bike. +1 for the DR! We managed to navigate through unscathed but had a couple of close impaling calls. Good thing too as we couldn’t remember if it was proper first aid to remove or leave a six foot branch protruding from the torso. The impaling risk was totally worth it though as the view over Summer Lake was magnificent.

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    Ahh the serenity

    Once out of the fire area, the lovely two track and perfectly graded forest roads continued. We were left wondering how Oregon manages to keep its forest roads in such pristine condition. Lots of fun was had brapping and dodging obstacles.

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    Can’t go over it, gotta go through it!

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    The flatlands that lie ahead

    Once you descend from the forest to highway 31 the route suggests taking a trail over to Christmas Valley. Don’t do it, just don’t. While manageable, it’s one of those rocky trails littered with jaggered rocks varying in size between baseballs and footballs, which means a bumpy, jarring, unenjoyable time. But hey, if that’s your thing, go for it. The section was so bumpy it knocked one of my crowns straight out of my mouth. While unfortunate at least now I’ll fit in with the locals a bit more.

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    Taking a respite from the rocks.

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    Oh look, more rocks. Great!

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    New hot look

    Both shaken and stirred, we arrived at Christmas Valley in need of an energy boost. I’m not sure where they get the name ‘Christmas Valley’ from as the place is far from festive. Whatever, they had corn dogs and this soon changed our mood.

    From Christmas valley we followed a fun sandy trail past the Christmas Valley sand dunes. Which were chock full of side by sides. Deciding not to risk our chances of death by decapitation on the crowded dunes, we continued down the trail. It was a bit whooped out but still fun to navigate all the same. After the dunes, the road gave way to more fun two-track in the sage before reverting back to the lovely consistency of jarring rock. We diverted from the route to take a shortcut to cut down on rock time, bad idea. The trail went dead and so we ended up having to backtrack through even more rock. Fun!


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    Crappy shortcuts are crappy


    Once back on the route the flowy two track resumed and we were back to smiling happy chappies. ‘This shall not last’ said the gods that be, and so Drew swiftly picked up a nail in the middle of nowhere.

    We both picked the Tusk Adventure soemthings for tires (Basically D606 knockoffs but at $50 a corner) which turned out to be an easy tire to manage in the field. Despite a stiff sidewall, the tire change did not take long and the tire reseated the bead.


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    It’s not adventure until you are sweating!

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    Not the worst spot for a tire change


    At this point, the sun was dimming and the day was getting long. We were both pretty knackered. Now out of the forest and in the flat lands our options for camping were limited. After scouting a few options we settled for a spot south of highway 20, under a tree, a bit outside of Riley.

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    This will do.
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    Pretty sunset.

    After a quick bite, a summary of the epic brappge of the day we both passed out, completely zapped.


    (Editors note: All good photos are taken by Drew, all crappy photos taken by me)
    #6
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  7. Mikey Boy

    Mikey Boy Been here awhile

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    In for this crazy quest.
    #7
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  8. Scribe

    Scribe £Bob£

    Joined:
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    In my natural state
    Tip 'o the helmet from a fellow DR rider. The washed masses just don't get it.
    #8
    Foot dragger, tricky. and AK650 like this.
  9. tricky.

    tricky. Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Greedy buggers ready for more

    After one day in the saddle we were ready to keep going. The spirit of moto-adventure had definitely struck again. We rose early and headed out to highway 20 to top off with gas at Riley. They also stocked our other fuel – chocolate milk. This has been a delicacy Drew and I have enjoyed since our first jaunt to Baja in 2014 and it certainly set the mood for the day. We were ready.

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    This looks like a good day ahead

    Full of calcium and sugar, we continued on into the western area of the Malheur national forest. Perfectly graded gravel roads once again gave way to flowy two track through stunning back country. We were both thinking that this is exactly what we needed and what we signed up for!

    A couple of highlights of the morning included Baby’s grave (no idea what this was for, anyone?) and a quick stop at Delintment Lake. These were all but brief stops as it was the delicious roads that really tickled our fancy.

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    Dead babies reside here.

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    A lake.


    The morning only presented a couple of brief mishaps. Drew’s bike tramlined him in a rut and somehow managed to pin his foot to the bike through the rack loop. A very bizarre incident, which completely trapped drew but made it look like he was napping against a tree. Meanwhile I got a bit carried away over a whoop and under steered straight through a mud puddle right into a tree. Thankfully the damage in both cases was just a little bit of hurt pride.

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    Amazing trails.

    After the mornings hijinks we ended up at a forest lookout, which provided a stunning vista of the area. We were having an awesome morning!

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    Cool view.

    The route just seemed to go on forever taking every fun winding forest road until we ended up at the little town of Seneca.

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    Where is your bike Drew?

    Seneca was a great stop. The little gas station has pre-prepared burgers with caramelized onions, bacon, cheese and dijon and was exactly what we needed. Oh and a beer. Our impromptu campsite the night before meant no beer at dinner. Sacrilege!

    From Seneca we continued deeper into the eastern side of the Malheur forest. Just when you thought the track couldn’t get any better, it stepped it up again. Epic two track with stunning vistas continued to greet us on the trail. To those who don’t own a DR, these are the type of road which suit it perfectly – you can carry the right speed, the obstacles are not too much for the weight of the old pig and put simply, you can have fun!

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    You can't stop smiling when the road is like this!

    The section included a couple of water crossings which proved non-eventful despite our over analysis of the crossing prior to entry. Water level however was higher than boot level and wet socks did ensue.

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    Those feels when you know you aint getting dry feet any time soon.

    The trail continued to take us through majestic mountainside until we came upon a road closed sign on route. We should be able to ride around it right? Nope. Big slide. Fortunately an alternate road did not add much to the route.

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    Oh fun!

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    Oh-oh!

    Once we dropped down in elevation we soon came upon the small town of Unity. Totally stoked with the days riding but we were both eager to hang up the boots after a long day. Unity was a bit average and the campsite at the gas station was full of a number of semi-permanent residents there for the shrooming season. No thanks.

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    Luxury!


    Upon the recommendation of the gas station attendant we continued on to Unity Reservoir. As soon as we saw the words ‘Solar Shower’ we knew we were home. This was a seriously nice camp spot for state park – lush grass, free showers, hook ups and a nice view over the reservoir. After a delicious dinner of beer n beans we called it a night, eager to see what the next day would bring.

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    Another good sunset.
    #9
  10. Foot dragger

    Foot dragger singletracker

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    chico,just below rag dump(nor-cal)
    In! You had me at 50.00 tires.

    Im at 47,000 miles on my DR,not particularly easy miles but it seems to lap up the 80mph cruising on hiway,and can be hustled along very well on dirt.

    Its become the only bike here for road or dirt and does fine at it all.

    (except for the 200KTM I recently bought on the cheap,totally different thing)
    #10
    Bigger Al and tricky. like this.
  11. tricky.

    tricky. Been here awhile

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    That's exactly right footdragger - there are few bikes that have the versatility of the DR. Plus the weight, while heavy, is manageable in that you can pick it up or prevent a tip over in the first place.

    Would also definitely recommend the Tusk tires. As the report will show we had some pretty muddy conditions and the tires continued to hook up. In the end we did about 1950 miles and mine have a little left and Drew has quite a bit (he has better throttle control). They do the werid thing knobbies do where for 1 or 2 days they wear super aggressively making you wonder if they will last, but the rate of wear slowed down a bit. For a knob they perform commenably on the street being a bit squirrely cold, under heavy braking or gassing too early. They have roar on the street but what do you expect. Definitely my tire of choice for now on - propper tires on the DR really extends its ability to go anywhere - first gear and tractor! The only downside is they are exclusive to rocky mountain at this point. I also run the cheap shinko 700 (rear) / TKC 80 (front) as my 'other' tire set. Definately way better for the road, both in terms of grip, feel and noise but also a big step back in offroad performance. Again having a variety of tires to put on the DR really extends its versatility too.
    #11
    Foot dragger likes this.
  12. Franque

    Franque Been here awhile

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    Is that Bonnie Doon?
    #12
  13. tricky.

    tricky. Been here awhile

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    #13
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  14. Franque

    Franque Been here awhile

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    Dallas, Tx -> Aubagne, France
    #14
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  15. tricky.

    tricky. Been here awhile

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    Can't believe I missed that one. Shame on me but very good pick up on the reference! No one get's it over here when I tell people on craigslist they're 'dreamin'

    EDIT: Movie can be watched for free on youtube. Highly recommended.
    #15
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  16. Franque

    Franque Been here awhile

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    I'll put that one in the pool room!
    #16
    tricky. likes this.
  17. Foot dragger

    Foot dragger singletracker

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    Ive gone to the extreme of having 2 sets of wheels,one a fat 19"/17" set with 705's on them bought off ADV FM,and the stockers with knobbies of one kind or another.
    The DR really likes the 19" 2.50 wheel on front for most riding,until knobbies are really needed. I have the opposite of throttle control in that if the bike isnt drifting one or both ends Im just not happy. A 606 goes about 2000 on the back so about the same you get with the Tusk tire.

    I kinda bought a DR on a whim,and the more I rode it the more I figured out its the best 50/50 bike Ive had,Ive had 5 or 6 different single cylinder rigs but they all do one thing really well and not the other,etc. @ 47,000 miles,so far Ive had to replace the sensor that reads the dot on the flywheel going around for 30.00. That's it for repairs. After swapping and changing mods since 2008 when I bought it used,it pretty well fits me now.
    #17
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  18. tricky.

    tricky. Been here awhile

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    Interesting, I would like to try a 19. I ran the 705s for a bit untill I got stuck at poker flat in the mud (my mistake). I find the road grip level between the 700/TKC combo and the 705 is negligble but has a bit more hook up in the dirt. But this is totally a personal thing.

    Once you get a DR sorted they work well. I think a lot of people who don't like them never had them dialled to their tastes. That is the real virtue of the DR is that with the number of mods out there, its a great platform in which to make something that works for a variety of people. Case in point here is Drew and I are several inches and lb different but the bike works for us both. I find that on mine the big tank, tall seat, low pegs, risers, comfy grips and tuned suspension (cogent front and rear) really honed it in on the riding I like. Only future mod for me would be maybe some narrower grips for better feel offroad but then you trade the on road comfort so I don't know. When I toured on it I used to have the Mosko side racks and center stand but I took a lot of stuff off to keep it around ~375 lbs. From memory it was around 400lb in touring set up. Waste of time mods were aux lights, tool tube, windscreen, headlight guard and a few other things - they added weight, did not work great and did not crash well. Pretty happy with the Wolfman set up now and feel like I could tour for weeks with the current set up.

    Anyway, I need to get back to the ride report!
    #18
    Foot dragger likes this.
  19. tricky.

    tricky. Been here awhile

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    More epic roads, More tasty burgers. Life is good.

    As we were riding close to the equinox, the days were hugely long which was perfect for riding and camping. No need for camp fires, just coffee, ride, eat, beer, sleep, repeat. And that’s pretty much what we did. A big benefit of riding with just 2 people is that you cover way more ground.

    Rising early and still relishing day two's triumphs we were eager to keep the smiles rolling. We knew we were on a slight time crunch so wanted to finish the ORBDR section by the end of the day. As a result we took a wee shortcut to get from the lake up to the track. We should have learnt by now that shortcuts are bad news as we were soon back on windy two track in the forest despite our best efforts to slab. Whoddathunkit? Oh well, when on two track in the morning sun, best to just braaaaap.

    Finally hitting the pavement again, we ended up in the town of Granite, apparently one of the first gold rush locations in Oregon. It was like going back in time and felt like a true pioneer town out here. Sadly not much was going on these days and the gas station on site looks like it had closed down last summer (keep that in mind ORBDRers).

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    When slabbing ends in granite. Go figure.

    Fortunately we had plenty of gas so we trundled on. Despite the next 20 or so miles being pavement we had stunning views and even stumbled upon a herd of hundreds of elk in one of the alpine meadows. It was majestic but sadly we both forgot to take picture. Still a great memory!

    Arriving back on the track we hit one of our favorite sections of the BDR. You wind up this perfect narrow fire road, through the forest, up to a fire lookout with simply amazing views along the way. I wish I had a go pro for this section as its one of those roads where you giggle and say ‘Am I really doing this’. On second thoughts maybe a go pro would have just made me look like a giggling psychopath.

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    Stunning piece of track.

    After a brief snack at the lookout we continued down to the lower elevation trails of the Umatilla Forest. For miles and miles we had flowy trails through really pretty forest areas. A number of times the forest opened up to meadows filled with wildflowers so we had brilliant views as we rode. There were a couple of muddy bogs along the way, but nothing too deep.

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    Mud bog brappin

    Arriving at I84 we needed gas so we took the 15 mile detour into La Grande. Glad we did. We stopped for a burger at Houghts 24 Flavours. Oh my what a place. The burger and fries were fresh and tasty and the shake really topped things off. After eating mostly oatmeal and tasybites for our other meals we were glad to eat something hearty.

    It was a bit of a struggle heading back up 84 to the trail as the food and slab were bringing on the waves of sleepiness. Thankfully the trail pick up again and the amazing views kept us awake. One particular ridge line was surreal. The difference in elevation between the ridge and the flat lands below was so significant it almost felt like you were looking out the window of a plane.

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    Views, views everywhere.

    As we continued rising, the track continued to deteriorate. ‘Bloody jeeps!’ we cursed. The melting snow and wet conditions the week prior had made the ground soft and the jeepers must have relished the opportunity to fang it in the mud as the trail was beat up. We managed to navigate through the muddy mess and before long we were descending out of the forest.

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    I do not have a two wheel superiority complex. 4 wheelers suck!

    It was late afternoon when we arrived in the flat lands of Walla Walla. Not really keen on staying a big city and feeling refreshed after a gas station corn dog, we decided to slab on to Idaho so that we could pick up the trail first thing in the AM.

    We followed WA12 up through Dayton and into Lewiston passing nothing but miles and miles of wheat. We grabbed a bite in Lewiston at the supermarket and found the parking lot surprisingly entertaining. A local on some kind of post apocalyptic bike had a stuck throttle and straight pipes so anytime he kicked it into life it would ping off the limiter spinning the parking lot into chaos, causing him to shut it down, search for the problem and repeat the process. Dogs barked, kids ran and everyone else was left cursing.

    Nearing 8 and with the sun dimming, we were getting a little nervous as to where to camp for the night, not wanting to waste the evening on a crappy spot. Good thing we decided to check our phones as the Garmin was useless, recommending the nearest camping spot at over 50 miles away. Settling in on a much shorter 3 miles to a camp site we navigated our way to a small little state campground on the Clearwater River in Mrytle.

    Arriving tired, we thought that was the drama done for the day. Nope. I managed to drop the beer on hard pavement, turning it into a fountain of sticky beer mist. Great. Then camp the camp host rolls over in his golf cart. We apologised profusely about not having enough cash for the night but this strategy did not work. So I had to make a trip back into town for cash (and beer!). Arriving back at camp totally spent, we paid the man, set up our tents, drained the beer and called it a night. What a day - managed to hit three states!
    #19
    Foot dragger likes this.
  20. Foot dragger

    Foot dragger singletracker

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2006
    Oddometer:
    23,848
    Location:
    chico,just below rag dump(nor-cal)
    Hoh jeeze. Smushed beer.I will drone out a sonata and bow 3 times to the west in hopes the beer gods do not descend on thee.
    #20
    tricky. likes this.