It's not exactly a GoldWing but... (long)

Discussion in 'Dakar champion (950/990)' started by FastEddieB, Jul 30, 2005.

  1. FastEddieB

    FastEddieB Been here awhile

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    ...I CAN report on how a KTM 950 Adventure does on a long trip, almost entirely on the road.

    In 22 days we (me on my ‘05 Adventure and my high school buddy Pete on his 2000 BMW K1200RS) covered 7,076 miles. To Pete’s total you have to add about 800 miles since he started in Tallahassee, FL, riding to my N GA house, and had to return home.

    I felt kind of bad for Pete - he has an immaculate bike, but it was my orange Adventure that got 90% of the attention, questions, comments, etc. FWIW, I did not see another KTM on the entire trip. Lots of GS’s, though.

    Anyway we visited friends/family in the D.C. area and Maine, then did the Gaspe´, the Cabot Trail and spent about 5 days in Newfoundland (a great destination, at least in the summer). Hit Hopewell Rocks at the Bay of Fundy on the way back.

    Hopefully this report may help others who may endeavor to use their Adventures on long road trips.

    This will be the first installment. If and when I have time I’ll try to report on “Packing it Away”, “Camping Gear” and “Riding Gear”.

    [​IMG]

    GENERAL

    My 950 had no significant issues on the trip. The engine/exhaust/emission controls are all stock.

    I found the vibration level comparable with a BMW boxer twin and no issue. Carburetion seemed well dialed in, pulling smoothly as long as I kept the rpm above about 3,700 rpm.

    The second or third day I noticed the oil level was right at the bottom of the dipstick. I bought a quart of Mobil 1 15w50 and topped it off. I had to do that 2 more times, but still have a bit left in the bottle. I consider that excellent oil consumption for a big twin without many miles.

    Chain

    On the third day I checked the chain and found it just outside the 40mm max play. I tightened it a hair (maybe 1/4 turn of each adjuster). Someone on this list warned about checking it loaded. I assume the unloaded measurement is to guarantee adequate play throughout the range of rear wheel movement. I had Pete check it and loaded with me on the bike the chain was snug (maybe 10mm play). During the rest of the trip the chain maybe loosened up just a bit beyond the 40mm max, but I left it alone - I’ll likely snug it up soon.

    Every third or fourth day I’d clean the chain by spraying WD40 on a rag and wiping it down until clean (not enough to penetrate to o-rings) and then spray on chain wax. The center stand made it easy and the whole thing took maybe 10 minutes.

    I’ve owned many BMWs over the years and considered the shaft drive a big plus for touring. I still do, but modern chains make routine maintenance a snap - just keep it clean and rust-free.

    Tires

    My 950 started the trip with about 1,300 miles. I had replaced the stock Scorpions with knobbies at about 300 miles, and they went back on for this trip.

    The Scorpions gave fine handling for the kind of riding we did. In Newfoundland I started to get concerned about whether or not the rear would make it home, but sitting in my garage now it’s just about at the wear bars - due for replacement but not unsafe. 7,000 miles + loaded touring for a rear dual-sport tire ain’t bad at all!

    Gearing

    I had installed the 16T and left it on for the trip. We generally cruised at 70 to 80 mph and for that the 16T gearing was fine. 70 mph was about 4,200 rpm and 80 was about 5,000 rpm (speeds are indicated and my GPS shows the speedometer is about 5 mph optimistic at these speeds.)

    (As an aside, the ability to switch to kilometers was really handy in Canada)

    Regular Gas Ability

    When off the beaten path it was difficult to find premium. On two occasions we had to fill with regular or throw in a gallon or two for insurance. Once I went ahead and pulled the brown wire. It’s a very nice feature and I didn’t notice a huge performance hit. It was kind of a PITA to remove the seat (with baggage and tankbag and all) to disconnect/reconnect the plug - installing a switch is on my “future projects list”.

    Issues

    Nothing major, but worth noting:

    1) When releasing the clutch it sometimes feels “grabby” - it kind of “snatches”. Other times it’s just fine. Ideas?

    2) My front brake has started pulsing a bit. I can’t think of anything that might have led to the rotors warping - the wheel spins freely. I’m hoping to have it looked at under warranty.

    3) I would occasionally remove a glove to adjust something or grab an Altoid. Getting the glove back on takes both hands.

    I accomplished this many times, but once the bike was decelerating slightly and the front started a speed wobble. It stopped as soon as I grabbed the bars. I’ve seen this behavior on a couple BMWs - just something to look out for, I guess.

    4) The wind pushes the fender back against the upper fork tubes, which wore away a bit of the anodizing:

    [​IMG]

    Easiest thing is to probably find decals to cover the wear.

    ERGONOMICS

    1) Saddle

    I had just received my saddle back from Bojangles, and it is a beauty and an improvement on the stock saddle, but...

    ...after my first day, about 10 hours and 650 miles, I had a real problem. To be delicate about it, I couldn’t feel my d*ck (!). Even after several hours, the feeling only partially came back. This obviously had the potential to be a real problem.

    As an aside, I ‘ve had similar problems with stock saddles on my RZ350 and Ducati 900SS, not to mention bicycle saddles. The crowned shape of the saddles apparently put pressure on the pudendal nerve and I hear that over time it can cause long-term problems.

    I had a wood bead seatcover on the bike, and it helps with comfort, it doesn’t change the basic shape of the saddle. What I ended up doing was cutting some high-density foam into a rough “U” shape, leaving a “notch” to relieve the pressure on the nerve. Bicycle saddles have recently started having a groove in that exact spot.

    [​IMG]

    In any event, the foam worked. Still, the shape of the saddle is not working for me for long rides. When I get home I’ll likely consult with Bojangles about getting the saddle modified, or may just sell it and try a Corbin or Bill Mayer (if anyone in the Atlanta area has one of these I’d love to talk - 706-492-3118).

    2) Overall height

    I’m 6’1” and have about a 34” inseam. But I’m also 55 years old, and not as flexible as I’d like to be nor as strong as I once was.

    The overall height of the bike is, for me, a problem. The Bojangles seat seemed to add to the height a bit and the beads add another 1/2” or so. That height causes at least two problems:

    First, just getting on and off the bike becomes an issue. Especially with stuff piled on the back that makes swinging a leg over impossible. So each mount/dismount becomes a mini “low hurdles” move.

    Second, the height, combined with the limited fork lock and high CG of the loaded bike, makes tight turns feel very unsteady. It feels like one misstep or poorly planted foot could lead to a very awkward toppling. Though the bike never assumed its natural resting state (horizontal) I had at least a few “adrenaline moments” with sloped terrain and/or a poorly planted foot.

    Solutions? I’m considering an 17” rear, 19” front wheelset. Maybe a lower seat (I hope Bojangles can accommodate me). Maybe modified suspension? Of course, I’m open to any suggestions.

    3) Windshield

    I like to listen to my iPod or XMRadio on long rides. I found it difficult to hear clearly on the KTM. About a week into the trip I stood on the pegs and was amazed at how quiet it got. Long story short I just pulled off the shield and found it a big improvement.

    [​IMG]

    I was given an old pillowcase and carried the shield on the back the rest of the way.

    If I choose to use the 950 for touring again, I’ll look into a taller shield.

    4) Handlebars

    I was concerned after the first day when my left had felt numb even hours after getting off the bike. I’m used to the outer couple of fingers on my right hand remaining numb - I don’t know if there’s such a thing as “ulnar tunnel syndrome” but if there is, I have it.

    Anyway, I’ve found on bikes with low bars I’m fine, since my elbows are nearly straight. But with the wrong elbow angle the numbness is a real problem.

    In any event, the problem seemed to get less and less with each passing day. It helped to periodically straighten my elbow and rest my hand on the handguard for a while. My “Fast Eddie Tarp Bungie Throttle Friction Device” worked perfectly for the whole trip.

    [​IMG]

    That’s about it for now. More to follow...
    #1
  2. hogmolly

    hogmolly Dude

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    Nice report.

    WRT the seat, I use a corbin. My tailbone won't take a crown either. The corbin will lower you down a lot.

    The 19/17 wheel idea is good IMHO.

    My 950 also has a tank slapper vibration mode when decelerating below 40mph. Almost every bike I've owned does this to some degree. I think it is amplified by the 21" front.

    How was your gas mileage?
    #2
  3. FastEddieB

    FastEddieB Been here awhile

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    Good question.

    For simplicity, Pete and I took turns filling up both bikes, so I don't really know.

    I do know the bike went on "reserve" at 165 to 175 miles. Longest journey into "reserve" was about 205 miles total.

    BTW, fuel was VERY expensive in Canada. It's measured in Canadian dollars per liter, so it's hard to figure out exactly, but I think it was about $4 a gallon. It was as much as about $35 Canadian to fill both bikes.

    At that price, it might be worth disconnecting the brown wire and just running regular.
    #3
  4. hogmolly

    hogmolly Dude

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    I was told by a KTM 950 mechanic that the mileage increases somewhat with the brown wire disconnected. I haven't verified this and it doesn't make much sense to me but the guy who told me I do respect.

    I had to disconnect my brown wire on a 4500 mile trip around the western US. I didn't notice a big performance drop either. Adding a switch for the ignition remap is a really good idea.
    #4
  5. BLUE(UK)

    BLUE(UK) Long timer

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    :rofl Try £0.91 per LITRE!!:deal (thats the UK price) with some garages charging over £1.00 per litre!!:eek1
    #5
  6. munichboy

    munichboy Been here awhile

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    For those interested 91p a litre is about $6 a gallon at current exchange rates.
    #6
  7. marcel

    marcel Banned

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    I'am a little stinker
    I`am afraide that it is a gorverment comperacie they increase GAS price during summer tourist season and lower it when it over, 99.9 per litre , 4.6 litre is one canadian gallon.GOV are afeliate with big gas company.BELEVE ME I KNOW.FOR 20 CAN wroth of gas 8.75 DALLARS go to GORV.ON the brighter side there is a place where 950 gets there tanks filled for FREE.IT was a nice report,TAKE care from the only lc8 in N.B.
    #7
  8. Pantah

    Pantah Jiggy Dog Fan from Scottsdale Supporter

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    Nice report - I have 8k miles on mine and after a similar trip, I have similar experiences, but have corrected a couple. They are:

    Seat - I use a gel step seat. It seemed to cure all my saddle sore problems. I have a really super Bill Mayer saddle on my MZ Street Moto. The BM was custom to me with slight wings and non-skid surface. It is good, but not as good as my KTM gel seat. I had no problem running four fuel loads in succession dawn to dusk 3 days in a row. I must admit, I did stand on pegs a little towards end of day.

    Windscreen - I drilled holes per this forum and that worked well. But I installed a 15" Cee-Baily screen for the big trip and it was a wonderful improvement on the supeslab in both helmet buffeting and noise. I could even ride with screen up. My helmet is an Arai XD with the peak removed. It works about like an Arai Quantum now.

    Wobble - Fork angle on decel. When loaded, your forks compress on decel causing the rake to steepen. If you are hands off, a wobble can develop. The steeper the rake, the more violent the wobble. But as you know, placing your hands back on the bars will stop it. I ran mine with the forks slid up in the clamps to shorten the front (I wanted shorter). As the front tire wore down that wobble got bad enough I could feel it thru my grips even. I did two things; I moved the forks back and I installed a new front tire. The wobble dissappeared. Then about 3500 miles into the new front tire on my trip, I noted the wobble wanting to come back. But again, it was fully loaded for camping. I will try stiffening the front and cranking my rear spring back to the middle (I had it full tight). As a sidebar, I had OEM Pirellis on my MZ that also started same wobble as the front wore past 3k miles. Maybe its a Pirelli thing? But I replaced the Pirellis with Michelin on the MZ, which had a taller front profile. The MZ never did it again. I am pretty sure it has mostly to do with the steepness of the rake when those long and soft dirtbike forks sag.

    Motor - My clutch started same thing 3k miles into trip (7k on motor). Basically a grab on a cold launch in the AM. I am told it has clutch plates sticking. I use Golden Spectro 50-20 synthetic blend. My shop tells me there is a clutch update that they will do when I get the bike to them. I am not worried about it. The motor used almost no fluids over that 4k miles. The oil dropped on the dipstick maybe a quarter inch. Water stayed same.

    Gas mileage - Mine went to hell. Before trip was same as yours (175 mi reserve light). But the trip west dropped it to about 155mi. Then against heavy headwinds, she came on about 135!!!. I figure the panniers, sealbag and big windscreen sucked up more fuel. But also, I ran pretty steady at 5k rpm, where before trip I generally ran 4300. Maybe that was difference. Also, heading west was almost always against a prevailing headwind. I'll know more on trip back in a couple weeks.

    Tall Bike - I am 5'9". My KTM is the standard 2004 with the lower gel seat. Loaded for camping I can only get on the damn thing by leaving it in the side stand and stepping up on the left peg to sling my leg over my camp gear. Then I have to be deft at catching her as the suspension sags and she wants to lever over on the right side! After that its great...until I have to get off :rolleyes On trails it is very challenging as you said. If I cannot get the sidestand down, I am not likely to dismount without incident :patch . I have zero problems handling the bike in tight places without the camp gear. So my solution is to redo my loading kit so I can slide my leg across the saddle with a foot on the ground rather then the peg.

    Worst case, I'll end up having the shock shortened to 2005 spec and buy the center/sidestands to fit. But I seem to be adapting OK so far.

    -P
    #8
  9. FarmerRick

    FarmerRick Long timer

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    #9
  10. Pantah

    Pantah Jiggy Dog Fan from Scottsdale Supporter

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    If I ditch the blue sealbag and fit my camp gear in just panniers and something on the cargo plate, I should be able to get on/off the thing like everybody else. All that's in that blue bag is tent, sleep bag, sleep pad and ground cloth. If I buy modern backpak stuff, it should all fit in panniers.

    [​IMG]
    #10
  11. hogmolly

    hogmolly Dude

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    All our bikes look the same when loaded :rofl
    [​IMG]
    #11
  12. SQD8R

    SQD8R Eat squids and be merry

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    nice report, thx for sharing.

    A couple fo questions:

    1. What is your current total mileage. I'm wondering if the vibes will drop with higher mileage as is the norm and do you have any vibration nullifying foam in the bars, are you using stock bars?

    2. Can a scottoiler be installed sensibly for use on road, dirt road use?

    3. With the brown wire removal for the switch from premium how is the performance of the bike affected if you run the bike continually with the brown wire removed and running premium?

    4. Did you raise the preload on the rear to or near to max. I find that my GS front end is extremely light when loaded for my camping trips and that it requires me to run my preload @ max in order to return handling to the norm.

    Again, thx for sharing.
    #12
  13. FastEddieB

    FastEddieB Been here awhile

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    8,422, and overdue for an oil change. I'll be looking for guidance on my first owner-performed oil change in a week or two.

    My experience from BMWs is that they get smoother with age. Again, my KTM seems VERY smooth for a V-twin.

    Yes, and some on this site have done so, but...

    ...as far as I understand, with an o-ring chain your only concern is keeping it clean. Dribbling oil on it constantly would seem to make that harder, making it more likely to attract and hold dirt.

    My understanding is there's nothing wrong with a "dry" chain - the required lubricant is permanently sealed in by the o-rings. As long as you don't use penetrating oil (which can allegedly wick dirt past the o-rings) and keep the sideplates from rusting (that's what the final application of "wax" is for) you're good to go.

    I don't know. I didn't feel any difference at all.

    Maybe one day I'll do some roll-on tests both ways. I can't see leaving it that way as a matter of course - why give up even 1 hp?

    I cranked it in about 3 or 4 turns from the factory settings and the bike felt very planted. 1/2 way through the trip I increased rear rebound damping 1/2 turn to get rid of a tiny bit of "bounciness" - after that point I felt it was a perfect combination of compliance (for the bumps) and firmness (for the twisties).
    #13
  14. k7

    k7 Almost retired....tick..tick..tick..

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    Not that inceased consumption has anything to do with pricing due to supply & demand....
    #14
  15. jsrider

    jsrider Long timer

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    In my experience the GOBI side bags cut about 4 mpg off your mileage. They're wide and they ain't exactly aerodynamic.
    #15
  16. Tim McKittrick

    Tim McKittrick Long timer

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    I have 14000+ on my 950 now- the wobble seems to be entirely front tire related, although it is heightened by loading. I am amazed you were able to get over 7000 miles from a set of scorpions- I have been replacing mine at about 5K. I have started to replace both the front and rear as a set even though the fronts dont look so bad- there has been plenty of tread left but just enough cupping to lead to the decelleration wobble. My mileage does go down a lot if the bags are on, and I do long rides with a Corbin seat and sheepskin cover.
    #16
  17. northrider

    northrider Traveler

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    I'll echo Tim's comment about the gas milage going down when fully loaded. I can get about 170 mile before going on reserve with no bags, but hit reserve at about 140 fully loaded (Gobi bags full, top case and two dry bags). I've got about 4,500 mile on my Scorpion's and think the rear will be done by 5,000. So far I haven't noticed the decelleration wobble, but then the fronts are still in pretty good shape.

    Tim, I may give the oil change a shot this afternoon. From the looks of things I'll be fine as long as I lable where all the vent hoses go and make sure I don't kink any of them on reassembly. Wish me luck.:D I'm going to leave the canister until we can hook up.
    #17
  18. BLUE(UK)

    BLUE(UK) Long timer

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    I've got 4500m on my clocks and today got 179.3m outta a full tank of juice before hitting the :eek1 petrol light!!
    So that would put me on about 210miles to a tank i guess(maybe more)
    #18
  19. marcel

    marcel Banned

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    I'am a little stinker
    YOU are correct K7Lro IT has nothing to do with supply AND demand.....
    #19
  20. Vance

    Vance On my meds...

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    Do you only eat Altoid brand mints?[​IMG]


    Just kidding, this will be my next bike and it was nice to see a rode trip on it. Glad you are back to feeling your dick. That is important...
    #20