moto.phil - a random journey (currently: Peru)

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by moto.phil, Feb 2, 2017.

  1. monsterRS

    monsterRS Adventurer

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    Simply incredible!
    #81
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  2. moto.phil

    moto.phil Been here awhile

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    Rundown 11 - July 2016: Bishops Castle and The Great Sanddunes

    Together with Pascal and Janine I headed to Bishop's Castle, a castle built buy a guy called, no surprise, Bishop during the last 40 years with whatever materials he could find. It is still under construction but it is quite impressive what he put together. The caste is built of natural stones and he welded together his own stairways and bridges. Those are actually quite shaky and I was wondering if there is anything like "TÜV" in Germany that has to approve things being built in a safe way. Probably not.

    I would't dare to walk this sort of construction. I still am a bit afraid of heights, and while I have been doing paragliding and a little bit of climbing, seeing through stairs has been the one thing that made me panic as a kid, something I only got rid of in parts...

    [​IMG]

    Posing in the self made King's chair :D

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    You better stop paying those taxes if you want to visit the place under influence after sunset :D

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    After the visit I have a smoke while Pascal and Janine head off. When riding in a group of smokers and non-smokers either the non-smokers wait or you're being flexible to play the catch up later game. "Just follow the blue track on your gps to catch up with us" Pascal says. That should not be a hard excercise. But I actually miss the left turn of the track into the forest when heading after them following the blue track back that brought us to Bishop's Castle. The USA has pretty bad cell phone coverage outside of cities and villages, so there is no way to get in touch with them. Standing at a crossroads I try to figure out where to go and I end up heading all the way back to Westcliffe where we came from.

    Checking the gps again I can now see the missed turn and that the track I was supposed to take was just a "short cut" on the road heading south from westcliffe. I head down where the track meets the road, stop and listen for a while if I can hear two DR's coming down through the forest. Nothing happens so I decide to follow the track on my own. I draw a swiss cross and an arrow on the road with a stone so in case they pass by they know where I went.

    The track leads into something that might have been a gravel road twenty years ago, now it's just full of bushes and trees. I head around up to a farm, minding it said private property to see if I can get around. I ask the farmer on his big ass tractor if he has seen two other riders on the same type of bike and if I can pass through the property to take the backroad to the Great Sanddunes. No and no! At least he tells me how to get around his property to hit the pass into the Nationalpark.

    I head up Medano pass, mostly an easy gravel road with some steeper switchback type of turns, but not much of a problem for my DR. Nice views from up there too!

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    At the top of the pass you enter The Great Sanddunes Nationalpark. Going down on the west side the trail keeps slowly turning from gravel to sand, a clear sign I'm on the right track this time.Your remember from my last rundown how I love sand, don't you? But there is another factor on that trail. I hit one creek after another, mixed up with puddles to cross. At this point I do not have that much experience in creek crossings and everytime I hit another one I ask myself whether or not to pack all my electronics in waterproof bags or not. But the sun is starting to set and my priority is now to get out of this part of the park. Sure I could always pitch my tent on some of the campsites (they have bearboxes too) but I just want to make it down to the sanddunes and see what Pascal and Janine have been up to (It will turn out they had their adventure of their own with dead end trails etc).

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    I am starting to feel self created pressure due to the lack of experience in water crossings, sand riding and the time limit of the setting sun, and being on m own out in the middle of nowhere. On every creek I decide again not lose time packing my stuff into waterproof bags and I make it through all puddles and creeks without falling over. With something around 12-15 crossings this is more in a few hours than I have ever done before in my life :)

    Fighting my way through the sandy tracks I finally reach the lower ends of the trail getting a glimpse of the sanddunes for the first time. I have to stop, what a breathtaking view seeing the sanddunes rise framed by bushes and trees. For a moment all stress and pressure is forgotten.

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    Certainly a beautiful view and at times the sand wasn't that bad...
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    Just when the trail gets easier to ride I hit the biggest puddle ever seen so far. My first thought was just "I'm screwed!". I could not see how deep it was due to the dirty water but it looked really deep, long and muddy. I certainly would get stuck in the middle with my 50/50 tyre.

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    It actually took quite a while to get over my showck and see the tracks going around on the right side. Eventurally I did and it felt like my saviour. Though going around was quite a pain since the muddy sand was quite deep and I had to navigate around all those bushes. By the way, entering the NP through this backroad you won't be checked for a NP pass!

    Finally and just before the sun set for good I made it out of the sandy trails and getting back a cell signal I could finally get in touch with Pascal again. After having their own adventures of dead ends everywhere they simply went around everything on the road and set up camp in Alamosa. So instead of paying for an expensive camp site at the crowded campgrounds at the sanddunes I headed to Alamosa to meet up with my friends again.

    The next day we returned to the sanddunes since my buddies have not seen them. While Pascal followed the sandy trail for some time I simply stayed around the road to take some pictures from there, I was pretty tired of sand by now :D

    Almost feels like Africa:
    [​IMG]


    It was quite an experience for me to take that lonely ride over Medano Pass and bein all stressed by the watercrossings, sand and the night getting closer. But as always in hindsight a great experience!

    Phil
    #82
  3. moto.phil

    moto.phil Been here awhile

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    Hahah yeah... just one little change necessary, I am not a beach person :D
    #83
  4. moto.phil

    moto.phil Been here awhile

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    Rundown 12 - August 2016: Stony Pass to Silverton and an Open Heart Sugery

    Next up was stony pass... but what to expect there? Well, before you go there there is a hint on that question:

    [​IMG]


    The start is actually a pretty easy dirtroad going up and down a bit... but later on you hit steep inclines that are actually quite stony. I was in the process of fighting my DR up the big rocks when the bike suddenly started to sound strange. Pulling over in a little "rest area" the reason was found quickly: The midpipe of my Marving muffler cracked where the bracket is attached leaving a big hole in the pipe. But worse that the hot air was now exiting that hole directly onto my airbox melting a hole in there too.

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    Pascals suggestion was easy, remove the muffler for the rest of the ride. Rather have the hot air loudly exit towards the rear instead of destroying the airbox completely. While I started to disassemle the bike to remove the muffler, Pascal rode up to check the trail. It was continueing quite a bit rocky until the top. He drove up his DR left it there, borrowed a quad from a shepard or ranger, came down, Janine took the quad and he rode her bike up. He suggested for me to wait to hitch a ride up and he'd come fetch my bike. So yes, I waited and waited... all the quads, cars and 4by4's however went in the other direction so I pulled out my helinox and took a break :D

    [​IMG]

    Finally a car came from the right direction headed to the top. I explained my troubles and they agreed to give me a ride. That was just when Pascal came down with another ride he hitched. He took my DR up the stony hill, it now sounded like a dragster... well a DRagster if you will ;) Having my first ride in a 4x4 offroad I can now understand how different that is. It is very slow compared to riding easily around stones and speeding through the trails. A quite shaky ride it was.

    Pascal had a lot of work.. certainly one of the things you need to expect when you're an experienced Enduro rider that is riding with novices ;)

    My (slow) taxi to the top:

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    Janine struggling through the stony creek, but she made it without going down
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    On top the trail went back to being an easy gravel road... What a beautiful view!
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    We pitched our tents south of Silverton around Little Molas Lake
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    We had several visitors at our campsite
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    The little chipmunk even stole one of my beloved m&m's!
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    Not sure why it is called Million Dollar Highway... I came back from Ouray a tank filling poorer ;)
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    The red mountains feature a quite impressive range of colors
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    In Silverton I found that good guy who fixed my pipe on my muffler
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    I can definitely recommend camping out at Little Molas Lake, who doesn't like that morning view?
    [​IMG]


    From Silverton we headed to Farmington NM where we could stay with Chris who is a mechanical engineer. Since Pascal also is a mechanical engineer I would have two of them at hand to do some work which I wanted to have done for long: The cylinder base gasket on my DR had a small leak for a long time. It wasn't bad but it made the engine look all messy all the time, it was just bothering me. So I got a metal base gasket to replace the shitty paper stock one. Note my DR is one of the last model years before Suzuki decided to put metal gaskets by stock.

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    Done, all disasembled without removing the engine from the frame. The DR is a great bike also for being easy to work on!
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    Chris doing some scraping off the old gasket work
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    My DR with its heart removed...
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    The replacement of the gasket went well. Only scraping off the old gasket took quite a while. Reassembly was easier with four hands than just with two but it worked fine. Even though I have the service manual I always put all bolts down on the table in the place and order they have to go back. When it was time to put the four big bolts that go through the cylinderhead into the base I turned around and a grinning Pascal holds four bolts in my direction. "oh no!" I thought. But ok, let's check the service manual to see which bolt goes where.

    The first three bolts fit easily, but the second one wouldn't really get seated, it had a spongy feel when torquing it down. Damn, something must me in there... we blew out the hole, used a strong industrial vaccum cleaner and even did the threads with a threadcutter... but there was still that spongy feel. We just left it and replaced everything.

    A short time after being on the road again the head gasket started to leak. Was it because of the bolt or because of the shitty head paper gasket that came with the procycle set? Not sure but later on my trip I decided to get the Suzuki stock head gasket (which seemed to be rather a metal gasket than paper) and replace that one again. I did this down in San Diego in another advrider's workshop and he also had a DR and a printed service manual. When I browsed through I came to the reasembly part of the cyclinder... Since I am not a native english speaker I asked him: what does "amended" mean. Ok, here's the reason why that bolt wouldn't fit... it was in the wrong place because my service manual was faulty!!!

    And apparently the pdf that can be found in the internet is full of errors! I did find a corrected one in another rider forum though. But that is why I always set down bolts in place and order so I know where they have to be put again.

    All good now, my DR's cyclinder is now leak free :)
    #84
  5. DunkingBird

    DunkingBird Been here awhile Supporter

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    My father used to tell me: "Ordnung ist das halbe Leben."
    I never really listened to him but now, I have to think about this wisdom :lol2
    #85
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  6. moto.phil

    moto.phil Been here awhile

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    Then I am still trying to achieve that half of my life in some respects


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    #86
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  7. moto.phil

    moto.phil Been here awhile

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    Rundown 13 - August 2016: White Rim Trail, Valley of the Gods and the Trueman Show

    Pascal had done the White Rim Trail before but he wanted to do it again so we headed up together from NM to Utah. The Canyonlands Nationalpark was one of the greater expereiences for me since Canyons like that are something we do not have in Europe. Especially riding halfway through a Caynon is quite spectacular!

    We took the eastern entrance point around 8:30am... nice view into the canyon and steep drop offs along the trail
    [​IMG]

    Awesome scenery... had to stop quite often to take pictures :)
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    Being with Pascal gave us the opportunity to easily take some cool riding pics of each other
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    Around noon the temperatures, which had been fine so far, started to rise above 90°F/30°C, seeking some of the rare shadows to cool down
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    Such a cool experience to ride through desert and a canyon!
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    You might have seen this picture before ;)
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    At the end of the trail I went through a puddle, that was certainly deeper than I expected... luckily I managed not to go down, even though I had a close call on that one :D
    [​IMG]


    Next up was the Valley of the Gods, which is a bit like Monument Valley just far less touristy... much better for us adv riders :)
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    Watching the gods twirling some windhoses across the dusty roads
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    After that I split up with Pascal and Janine, they wanted to see another NP while I wanted to see the Grand Canyon despite being a quite touristy attraction. I caught an interesting Sunset there:
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    [​IMG]

    I stayed in the campground at the eastern "desert view point" and got up really early to enjoy the sunrise lighting up the canyon... on the east view point there was hardly any people in the morning so I basically had a really quiet morning. Also lucky to be on the eastern side since the western part of the Canyon was covered in clouds completely.
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    Making new friends at my cookie breakfast :D
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    After that I headed to Las Vegas to meet up with ERTW again for a couple of days... This city is certainly just a reflection of many things, at least around the strip
    [​IMG]

    In the Venetian we walked onto the square and Pascal said "do you notice something strange too?" Oh man, this is like the Truman Show!! You actually don't notice immediately the sky above you is fake... This was the perfect representation of Vegas... so much fake yet real somehow :D I was suprised however to find myself smoking inside again, never would have expected to see that in the USA...
    [​IMG]
    #87
  8. moto.phil

    moto.phil Been here awhile

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    Rundown 14 - August 2016: California East up and west

    After Las Vegas it was time to say goodbye again to Pascal and Janine, they have already done California and the whole northwest so they basically wanted to head directly into Mexico while I at least wanted to see parts of California. My Visa wasn't running for that long anymore so I did not plan on the northwest anymore.

    Getting on my bike in Las Vegas in the morning the temperatures were already around 40°C/105°C. I called up one of the CycleGear stores to see if they had the cooling vests in stock which I have tried to acquire earlier on my trip without success. They actually had my size so I stopped by and got me one of these, soaked them in water and headed off towards California. I decided not to cross through Death Valley as August is probably the most brutal time to do so on a bike. I was told temperatures can easily be above 50°C/120°F there around this time.

    Heading on the highway towards California I still experienced the highest temperatures on my trip so far. My instruments were giving me readings between 40°C/105°F up to 46°C/117°F. The cooling vest seemed to it's job for a while but this was still brutally hot! I am glad I did not go to death valley ;)

    I made it to Barstow where I had to stop the ride due to the temperatures. All I longed for was some AC so I booked into the cheapest stinky china motel I could find. The next day I headed up towards the Sequoia National Forest and National Park. I was really impressed by the Sequoia trees!

    Look at those roots from that fallen Sequoia!
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    Simply awe inspiring that size and thinking of those thousands of years of experience those trees have!
    [​IMG]

    I found very interesting that it is their bark that protects them from bugs and from fires as well. And sometimes the biggest of the Sequoias are not the oldest ones... it's all about location, location, location! Some trees just were "lucky" to be in the right spot to grow faster than others.

    [​IMG]


    Next on my Cali Loop was Yosemite NP... Very beautiful but also very touristy. You would have to take some hikes to actually experience that park off the beaten path! However I was too lazy and wanted to keep going so I only camped one night there.

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    Halfdome around sunset seen from the other side close to Glacier Point.
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    On my way out towards Mono Lake there is Tenaya Lake which is really nice and I guess there can be some nice camp spots found around that one
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    On my way to Lake Tahoe I went to visit Bodie Ghost Town... much more an open air museum than a ghost town, but very interesting!
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    To get to Lake Tahoe I took Monitor Pass which is a nice ride with beautiful views
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    I don't have any good pictures from Lake Tahoe, I just enjoyed hanging around a bit before I turned west on my Cali loop to visit @Sertguy in Auburn and get some maintenance done, he also introduced me to the infamous In'n'Out Burger. Thanks again, I enjoyed staying with you for a couple of days!

    [​IMG]

    Headed west towards SF I found the Sierra in California is really beautiful, even that dry, it almost has a golden shine to it!
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    I made it to Point Reyes quite late, the sun was already setting and the Lighthouse unfortunately closed already... still happy to have made it from coast to coast!
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    [​IMG]

    From here, heading was going to be strictly south!
    #88
  9. DunkingBird

    DunkingBird Been here awhile Supporter

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    The idea of a cooling vest is new to me and I like simple solutions. Am I right, you wear the cooling vest underneath your jacket and the evaporation is still working ?
    #89
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  10. moto.phil

    moto.phil Been here awhile

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    Yep... it has some sort of material that keeps the water for a couple to a few hours. The air coming in through the vents will add for the cooling effect.

    I have actually only used it around south and central california so far... but still carrying it for use in the hotter temperatures of central and north-south america. Not sure how well it works in very humid conditions though.



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    #90
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  11. goodcat

    goodcat Changing latitudes, altitudes and attitudes

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    great photos and story.

    Head gasket leak and tear down eh?
    Hmmmm
    Now we find out just how bullet proof the DR650 actually is hahaha
    You might want a KTM
    #91
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  12. LittleEagle

    LittleEagle On&Off Road since '63

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    A short time after being on the road again the head gasket started to leak. Was it because of the bolt or because of the shitty head paper gasket that came with the procycle set? Not sure but later on my trip I decided to get the Suzuki stock head gasket (which seemed to be rather a metal gasket than paper) and replace that one again. I did this down in San Diego in another advrider's workshop and he also had a DR and a printed service manual. When I browsed through I came to the reasembly part of the cyclinder... Since I am not a native english speaker I asked him: what does "amended" mean. Ok, here's the reason why that bolt wouldn't fit... it was in the wrong place because my service manual was faulty!!!

    And apparently the pdf that can be found in the internet is full of errors! I did find a corrected one in another rider forum though. But that is why I always set down bolts in place and order so I know where they have to be put again.

    All good now, my DR's cyclinder is now leak free :)[/QUOTE]

    Eerily similar to my own DR gasket replacement story and photos, ( http://advrider.com/index.php?threads/wisconsin-to-oaxaca-or-joaquin.1182202/page-4 ) except that I had actually marked each of my bolts with a numbered piece of tape, so I KNOW that each went into the same hole it came out of. A pro I spoke with later said he'll NEVER again use anything but OEM gaskets because of just such an experience.
    #92
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  13. moto.phil

    moto.phil Been here awhile

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    Yep! Cardboards work great too for that :)

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    But certainly doesn't help if someone pulls them out and plays shuffle with them



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    #93
  14. moto.phil

    moto.phil Been here awhile

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    Haha well a 690 would be cool

    This was a mere cosmetical operation, like the girls improve their characteristics

    The good thing about the DR here:
    - stripped naked in 5 minutes
    - engine stays in the frame
    - only for putting back the cylinder you really need 4 hands
    - single cylinder makes it easier
    - all done on the second day

    Most time (90%) was actually used to scrape off the old gasket from the cylinder.

    I am not sure if I would be bold enough to do this on a ktm



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    #94
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  15. ONandOFF

    ONandOFF more off than on

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    #95
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  16. moto.phil

    moto.phil Been here awhile

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    Haha yeah fair enough And there's always some dealers in bigger cities...

    But the 690 is quite high for a short-medium guy like me... and needs lots of funds too


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    #96
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  17. ONandOFF

    ONandOFF more off than on

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    Well the 690 being a thumper like your DR should be of similar complexity. I thought you were comparing it to Shawn's LC8 twin with double the cylinders.

    I'm basically of the camp "the best bike to go on is the one you have" meaning the bike itself is like one element in a complex compound, and waiting for the perfect bike means not going. That said, if I were in a hypothetical situation where i was required to choose a bike to ride to SA with no further research permitted, I'd say the fuel injected version of the bike Shawn's on for me. And that's without having ridden one. :uhoh
    #97
  18. moto.phil

    moto.phil Been here awhile

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    Sure but I would feel a little less comfortable opening the heart of an expensive bike... but I guess it's not that much different.

    I agree with the "what you have". Though I also must say I had a 1200 GS and it was too tall and heavy for me. But while I was in the US I had the thought about replacing the DR with the new AT since most of the riding is roads and gravel roads. But the funds...

    I am quite happy with the DR for travelling though!



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    #98
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  19. ONandOFF

    ONandOFF more off than on

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    The air-cooled, like my XR, is one less system to potentially need maintenance/repair. I keep hearing the 650 singles are a bit anemic for mountain roads and overtaking traffic - what has your experience been?

    I too feel a 1200 GS is too much bike for me. Heck, I'd be happy riding my 300 solo. Probably wear through parts fast since it's not made for traveling. And I'd like to be pillion-ready. I'm on the fence whether my XR650L would be okay or not. Loaded down with two-up it might be straining through the mountains? It's not comfortable for her on the back so I'd have to address that somehow. Seems the 9x0 is a smaller, lighter, stripped down steed compared to a 1200GS. Maybe the AT is the ticket... some of the newer ones should be coming up used pretty soon.
    #99
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  20. moto.phil

    moto.phil Been here awhile

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    Well, the 650s don't have the horsepower to go superfast... but we travel and don't rush

    I do feel the difference of the DR loaded or empty for sure but even loaded it still works quite well. Just gotta give yourself a little more margin for overtaking manoevers. I also changed the rear sprocket 4 teeth up so it has a better low end power for this sort and for mountain roads and offroad. Not ideal for highways but I try not to go faster than a 110 kph anyway to save fuel and general wear as well as slower decreases the potential severity of an accident.

    The thumpers are certainly not made for two up travelling. Not enough power and most of all not enough space, I use the whole seat for myself because I move around a lot.

    I know a german who has been travelling two up on a DR and his frame broke where it connects to the subframe.

    EDIT: It's very interesting to see the newer developments. We need modern midrange bikes (600-800 ccm) that are lighter than all the so called "adventure" bikes out there. But the EURO regulations make it hard to save weight because the manufacturers have to add all that shit to the bikes.

    But then the tenor is bigger, stronger, faster... that's what most people at home want, they have the money too. The adv market seems quite limited especially in europe where there is not that much use for a real dualsport since offroad riding is mostly not just around the corner. People go touring with the big bikes and take offroad vacations with a small enduro and go with the trailer to where they can play with them.



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