Planning very long trip on very small bike, much advice needed

Discussion in 'Americas' started by zad, Sep 17, 2014.

  1. zad

    zad Adventurer

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    So, I'm planning to ride my 1981 yamaha sr250 from Milwaukee, Wisconsin to northern California in the very near future. I need advice about gear, and really any advice people want to give. I have only ridden 400 miles so far in my life.

    What do I need in my tool kit?
    What about spare parts?
    Should I bring tubes? (I had to special order tubes because the very large shop didnt have any that would fit in stock)
    Will a leather jacket keep me warm and dry if I get wet?
    Will my bike be able to keep up in the mountains?
    Are there non-interstate roads that I could ride at 55 though deserts and mountains (never been).

    Shit, I know I had more questions, But now I gotta remember them and then post em.
    #1
  2. Strypes

    Strypes I'm on a boat!

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    400 miles at once or 400 miles ever?
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  3. zad

    zad Adventurer

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    400 miles since I installed the odometer cable.
    #3
  4. JustKip

    JustKip Long timer

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    Hope you think of more questions based on many more riding miles!
    #4
  5. zad

    zad Adventurer

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    Here's a rundown on the condition of the bike.

    12000 miles. (maybe)

    Purchased as a non-runner. Required carb rebuid (some stirpped/ruined jets, bad valve needle and a few other things). I cleaned the rust out of the tank. I have replaced/added all fluids and filters. Suspension is good. Brake shoes have plenty of life. New tires.

    The way I bought it the idle was set insanely high, the bike had >30% too much oil in it, and the cam chain was so loose it was making a terrible knock. There was no air filter and the airbox was broken into 3 pieces. I don't know how long it was or was not operated like that, it had sat outside unridden for the 2 year stewardship of the previous owner, and it had a broken odometer cable.

    I am very comfortable repairing my own bike but may have a hard time doing so without access to the internet.
    #5
  6. Prettyboy

    Prettyboy I drink and I know things

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    I did a silly long trip right after learning to ride and getting my bike too, also a 250, but a bit more modern, so I see where you are coming from. I would definitely put a few more miles on the bike so you can learn its quirks, especially since it is an old bike.

    All the tools to fix the problems you know how to fix. At least enough to change oil and adjust the chain. With a bike like that, probably need to be able to pull the carb too.

    No clue. Google tells me there is an SR250 Forum. So you might want to ask there for these bike specific things.

    On my TU250, I run tubeless tires with tubes in them (Shinko 712s, if I remember correctly), since I have spoked wheels. The sidewalls are stiff enough that I can generally limp to a station to get it sorted out if I have a problem, considering how light the bike is. I think yours is even lighter, so if you can find tires the right size, that could help.

    Hell no. I ride with a leather jacket, but rain gear is of the utmost importance. Frog Togs from Walmart actually work fine though.

    What is the rest of your gear like? You should get some good riding pants as well as good boots and gloves. They are important for comfort as well as for safety, and you won't regret having better gear.

    Apparently your performance is roughly the same as mine, so the answer is, yes, if you stay on backroads. Highways should be avoided, especially headed up into the mountains. Little twisty mountain roads are fun on little bikes though.

    The old US Highways are a good place to start looking for routes, then state roads.

    It's a good start. Get out and practice riding. I had only been riding two months (less than 2000 miles, if I remember correctly) before I rode from Philly to New Orleans and back. It's not that hard, just keep the rubber on the ground and don't try and ride further than you can in a day. I look forward to the ride report.
    #6
  7. zad

    zad Adventurer

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    Am I gonna need to be prepared to pull off my own tires? Also the two wheels are different diameters so I don't think one tube will do it. What is normally involved in a field tire repair? removal of pointy object and replacement of tube? Can motorcycle tubes be patched like bicycle tubes? Motorcycle tubes run much lower pressures than bicycles.
    #7
  8. Prettyboy

    Prettyboy I drink and I know things

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    Do you have a shop manual? That seems like a very important thing to have. Also, if you have a smart phone, that can help on the internet front, at least when you have cell service.
    #8
  9. JustKip

    JustKip Long timer

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    Yes, you should be ready to R&R the tires, or be willing to pay for a tow and repair in the most inconvenient place on your trip. It's not uncommon to put a 21" front tube into an 18" rear to get you where you're going. Lots of people only carry the one tube. Yes you can patch the same as a bike tire. I carry the CO2 cartridge type inflater. It's lighter and compact.
    #9
  10. froger

    froger Been here awhile

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    With a small bike and a big trip, I'd not only stick to back roads, I'd try to ride early and late when there's less traffic.
    Gortex is your friend on a big trip, but it sounds like you don't have any. Raingear over leather will work, but if its really wet you'll eventually soak through. Take two pairs of gloves, regular and foul weather. Rubber gloves from a hardware store with liners will do if your good ones get soaked.
    You seem pretty set on this, and desire can get you a long ways. it's a very long trip for a rookie though, Is there a reason you are starting so big? You are for sure sticking your neck out. But if you take what the road gives you, and don't force things, you might return home in one piece.
    #10
  11. JustKip

    JustKip Long timer

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    forgot to mention...Chain maintenance! It needs to be oiled every few hundred miles.

    and +1 on the frog togs! cheap, and effective enough most of the time
    #11
  12. zad

    zad Adventurer

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    A shop sold me spray on chain wax and insisted that was the good stuff. Do I need to reapply that every day if i go 300 miles a day like you're suggesting?
    #12
  13. zad

    zad Adventurer

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    I downloaded the service manual but it's pretty basic. Haven't been able to find any more detailed reference.
    #13
  14. holckster

    holckster dougholck

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    Yes
    I like to do it at the end of each day while the chain is still warm.
    PJ1 clear works for me.

    Recommend you join something like the BMOA (BMW Owners of America) for the road service and access to their "Anonymous" Book which lists individuals in every state that are willing to help when needed.
    Think membership is $40 and you do not need to own a BMW.

    Also the Tent Space List here on ADV is great tool to find folks in any area you may need help or a place to stay.
    http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=869519

    When you make it to Nor-Cal stop and say Hello.
    #14
  15. JustKip

    JustKip Long timer

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    It IS good stuff. I didn't mean THAT often, although some people do. It's really a matter of preference. I'd go twice that, and some would go 1,000.

    Look closely at your chain and sprockets before you go. If the bike has 12,000 miles on it, they may be original, and it might not hurt to replace them. Or they might be in great shape and no worries. At any rate, unless it's a modern X-ring or O-ring chain, you'll want to lube it at least every 1k miles.
    #15
  16. zad

    zad Adventurer

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    Sprockets and chain appear to be original but in good shape.
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  17. oldtouring B

    oldtouring B Been here awhile Supporter

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    I hope you are not bullshitting us. To attempt this ride with a 33 year old bike with 400 miles of riding experience is crazy. The list of gear you will need would fill half of this reply. Rain gear, heated gear, waterproof boots, aftermarket seat, the list goes on.. It sounds like you are on a limited budget , so why not rethink your ride to the Midwest and gain experience.

    If you need to be in California for a family get together then hop on a plane.. Have you considered that it snows in October in the Rockies ?

    There must be someone at home that you will listen to.. Be safe.
    #17
  18. Prettyboy

    Prettyboy I drink and I know things

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    to OP: Heated gear is great, but people got along fine without it for years. I agree about raingear and waterproof boots though. As to an aftermarket seat, Walmart sells an ATV seat cover that works great, if you find the stocker uncomfortable.

    to oldtouring: I mean, it's certainly ambitious but theres not reason at all he can't do it.
    #18
  19. ta-rider

    ta-rider Returned from Africa

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    Yes they can be patched and also pumped up using a normal bicycle pump and an adapter. You just need to carry a few tools then it is no problem to do loooong trips with a small bike: http://motorradtouren-suedamerika.de/?report=en_suedamerika
    #19
  20. thetourist

    thetourist Just passing thru

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    If that is the original chain, it is plain chain. Change it. Cheap, maybe $30.
    Check sprockets. No sharp points, no cups at the bottom. If money is tight you may be able to reverse (flip around) the sprockets. Use real chain lube, the greasy stuff, every day, at least. This is old school bike, don't experiment.

    Check cables. Especially no frayed ends or broken strands at the levers and throttle. Grease the fittings so things will move freely.


    Make sure your spokes aren't loose. That the gas tank is clean. Add a gas line filter. Carry an extra spark plug.

    These small things often break or stall your ride, on old bikes.

    Plain old garden/construction knee pads go a long way to keeping legs warm, and micro fleece dust cloth stuffed down pants onto the top of upper leg. Feels wonderful if you get cold. :lol3
    I use a silk scarf on lower face and neck. So much better than cotton.

    Lots of great smaller roads across the USA. Take your time and enjoy the trip.

    Carry lots of water. When you have to push you'll need it. :rofl:rofl Been there, done that.

    Good luck.
    #20