Trans-American Trail planning with a OCD Engineer

Discussion in 'Americas' started by candrewscott, Dec 8, 2014.

  1. candrewscott

    candrewscott Adventurer

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2011
    Oddometer:
    38
    Location:
    Washington DC
    Hello fellow Inmates,<?xml:namespace prefix = "o" ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>
    I have been a long time lurker and have finally deciding to post. <o:p></o:p>
    I have made the commitment to do the TAT. Yes the often touted and rarely ridden Trans-American Trail.
    <o:p> 1.jpg </o:p>
    I&#8217;ve been riding for a little more than ten years with the last four on the old work horse KLR. In retrospect I probably should have bought something like a ktm 650 or crf450 for the way I ride but what can you do? I prefer the tight twisty single tracks through the woods or craggy boulder sections where throttle control and balance are key. That said I have done many thousand road adventure miles and enjoyed the comfort of the bigger bike.<o:p></o:p>
    On to the point-<o:p></o:p>
    I am going to document my full preparation and experience doing the TAT here. <o:p></o:p>
    :puke1
    #1
  2. candrewscott

    candrewscott Adventurer

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2011
    Oddometer:
    38
    Location:
    Washington DC
    The Bike,<?xml:namespace prefix = "o" ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>
    The bike/beast/pig depending on my mood is a 2010 KLR 650 with approx. 14,000 miles. I say approx. because I smashed the fairing and gauge cluster off a year ago and went without instruments for about six months. <o:p></o:p>
    She has been through hell with me. There is no more plastic on her front, she’s been down hundreds of times, and I’ve flooded her in a creek that, I swear, was only a foot deep the last time I went through it.
    <o:p> 2.jpg </o:p>
    All the abuse I’ve dished out she has handled without complaint. Other than having to fully tear down the engine after the water ingestion she has only gotten routine maintenance.
    <o:p>:clap:clap</o:p>
    I have a feeling that over three weeks I’ll be the weak link in our partnership.<o:p></o:p>
    #2
  3. candrewscott

    candrewscott Adventurer

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2011
    Oddometer:
    38
    Location:
    Washington DC
    4.jpg
    #3
  4. candrewscott

    candrewscott Adventurer

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2011
    Oddometer:
    38
    Location:
    Washington DC
    :evilThe Training,<?xml:namespace prefix = "o" ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>
    I am by no means an expert rider or in the best shape in the world. The plan is to spend the five months leading up to August training. I mean doing what I love to do and calling it training. Two and three day trips through sections of the BRT with camping and occasional “spirited” sections on the OHVs. <o:p></o:p>
    The Gear,<o:p></o:p>
    The gear that I am currently using is a cobbled together mess of camping stuff, boating stuff, and street riding stuff. I have very little in the way of dedicated off road motorcycling gear.<o:p></o:p>
    The major things that I need to obtain;<o:p></o:p>
    GPS (I don’t think the Iphone will cut it in the desert)<o:p></o:p>
    Spot locator (mandated by GF and fams)<o:p></o:p>
    Real off-road boots (been using 15 year old military boots)<o:p></o:p>
    Something to carry all my crap in that’s water proof<o:p></o:p>
    A new set of tires for the beast (my current D606s are pretty worn out)<o:p></o:p>
    Tons of other junk.<o:p></o:p>
    I will post as many good pics as I can and look forward to your feedback, advice, funny comments.<o:p></o:p>
    I do all my planning with MS one note and am willing to share access if anyone wants.

    3.jpg

    This is going to be AWSOME!!!:evil:rofl:ear:huh:1drink

    Be A Part Of It

    #4
  5. *REGO*

    *REGO* Commited Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2012
    Oddometer:
    142
    Location:
    Northwest
    I'm in.. I've always wanted to do the TAT. It would be good to hear what you find out. Which end are you starting from?
    #5
  6. TAF3678

    TAF3678 Back Road Drifter

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2014
    Oddometer:
    59
    Location:
    SE MN
    I'm in
    #6
  7. candrewscott

    candrewscott Adventurer

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2011
    Oddometer:
    38
    Location:
    Washington DC
    So ive been working under the assumption that I would start on the east coast and go west.

    you know ---- Go West Young Man

    but after the question was raised ive been thinking that maybe west to east would be better.

    Spend the first week doing the hard grueling stuff then roll out into the plains.

    I am planning on using GPS so the whole east west only roll chart issue is gone.


    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Ive been looking into shipping my bike and gear to Portland through a rail shipper.

    Ive received quotes for between 300 to 500 depending on how low I can get the weight. It seems like UPS is actually the cheapest. Amtrak says they ship motorcycles but I haven't gotten a quote back.

    Any thoughts on the best and cheapest way to ship a bike?
    #7
  8. Blaise W

    Blaise W Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,126
    Location:
    Tucson, AZ
    Reconsider east to west. You will start out with relatively easy riding, but scenic, and work up to the "good stuff" as you go. The other way around, the East may feel a bit too easy and there is the chance that you will feel the ride is over after you get to Oklahoma.
    #8
  9. SR1

    SR1 Going to America!!!!

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2006
    Oddometer:
    5,613
    Location:
    Knockersville, TN
    If I were in the States now, I'd help you get your shit straight and go with you. I'm dying to do the TAT again...
    #9
  10. candrewscott

    candrewscott Adventurer

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2011
    Oddometer:
    38
    Location:
    Washington DC
    Blaise W, I think your right. I can imagine myself coming down into the plains and getting bored and just jumping on the slab home.

    Thanks for the advice:D
    #10
  11. candrewscott

    candrewscott Adventurer

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2011
    Oddometer:
    38
    Location:
    Washington DC
    My new Happy Trails skid plate came today :lol3

    They had a black Friday sale for $82 with free shipping so I bought it. probably wont have time to install for a couple of days.

    Been rocking (get it?) the stock plastic for years and it has some big hunks missing.

    5.jpg

    Will post some pics when its on.

    Im thinking about making a tool and extra fuel carrier addition to the skid plate like some Dakar bikes have. A good friend is a master welder and is down to do the work for a six pack.:freaky
    [​IMG]

    Something like this only a little more rounded front.

    when I get the skid plate mounted Ill take some measurements and draft up some ideas.

    Thoughts?
    #11
  12. kingrj

    kingrj Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2005
    Oddometer:
    598
    Location:
    Hattiesburg, Mississippi
    I am also an engineer but I am not OCD!:D I have done MS, AR, CO, LA, UT portions of the TAT but have not done it all..Here is my full planning list based on my experience:


    • If you can afford it don't camp and stay in cheap motels
    • Take only half the clothes you think you will need
    • Practice riding in deep crappy sand before you go
    • Take spare tubes and clutch cable
    • Install a new battery before you leave on the trip

    There! That is it! Have fun..you will love it!
    #12
  13. FAW3

    FAW3 Old wanderer

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2009
    Oddometer:
    2,258
    Location:
    No.VA.
    Two thoughts: 1: Simplicity is it's own reward. 2: Go light & go far.

    Just suggestions from a fellow KLR person:

    MOLLE type "Utility Bag" like this or similar can be easily mounted with heavy flex ties to your engine guard bars. You can wrap items in plastic bags if wet proof desired. Keeps weight low and forward. I use one that holds a 2qt water canteen and the other side holds tube/tire repair kit:
    http://www.amazon.com/Voodoo-Tactical-E-M-T-Pouch-20-744501000/dp/B003EGRSWK/ref=sr_1_3?s=hunting-fishing&ie=UTF8&qid=1418562945&sr=1-3&keywords=molle+gear+bag

    Extra fuel? Not really needed...you have 5+ usable gallons plus a manual reserve and a final last gasp "tilt bike on left side" trick. Save the weight. KNOW your range and PLAN your route.

    Green Chili Adventure Gear offers some very good kit for strapping gear securely, easily and cheaply to a KLR (or any bike). You can buy weatherproof roll bags or duffel bags from cheap sources and use them. I use some of their straps in some of my packing variations. http://www.greenchileadv.com/

    ...having said that about the "strap on option" for gear: for ease of use & loading I love my Great Basin bag from Giant Loop.

    Take a small camp chair; a pair of good strap on walkabout quick drying sandals (break from boots at camp or town, use in stanky showers, river wading); a hat; all clothes synthetic - avoid cotton.
    #13
  14. candrewscott

    candrewscott Adventurer

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2011
    Oddometer:
    38
    Location:
    Washington DC
    Thanks for all the replies. they are super helpful. I appreciate the fuel range of the beast but am wondering about water storage. My line of reasoning is that from a mass stand point water will be the highest mass object that I have to carry and that I have any control over where it goes; so mounting it low and forward will help lower the CG and decrease the fore after weight disparity of the loaded down bike.

    Thinking about using a Rotopax or some other tough container with an aluminum plate in front and below for protection.

    I got the time to mount the skid plate last night:lol3
    7.jpg

    Went on pretty easy. feels solid.

    Cant wait to test it out. and do some serious riding.:rofl

    Does anyone know a place near DC to ride sand?

    Thanks
    #14
  15. candrewscott

    candrewscott Adventurer

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2011
    Oddometer:
    38
    Location:
    Washington DC
    FAW3 thanks for the links. I am really interested in the soft rack system. I've been playing with the idea of making my own (I've been sewing my own camping and sailing gear for years) but this looks like a perfect solution for just 100 bucks.

    I am considering making a set of shortening links for the rear suspension.

    I am six foot and run about 85kg. A little bigger than the bike was designed for.

    Currently and for years I've been running the bike at maximum preload just for the ground clearance. I have the forks as tall as I can get them. This isn't the best set up for handling though. I feel like the bike rides best with the preload right in the middle at a setting of three but I bottom out hard on big bumps or Jumps. I've measured the race-sag and free-sag and my measurements are all out of whack. With the bike loaded and the preload cranked to maximum the free-sag is like 38mm and the race-sag is in the 91mm-92mm range. THATS HALF THE SUSPENSION TRAVEL. I'm not a suspension expert but that seems a little out of whack to me. I know I should buy the nice suspension but I cant bring my self to drop the $500.

    I took some quick measurements and it looks like by shortening the rear links I can raise the rear and slightly increase the perceived spring rate (increasing the horizontal vs vertical progressive nature of the system) while decreasing the preload.

    I also have some mild steel flat stock that is the perfect size.

    6.jpg
    So I'm going to cut and drill the pieces at 8% less length which should translate to a 11% increase in height and 4% increase in perceived spring rate.

    Or this could all be nonsense. I was drinking my favorite beer while measuring and doing this math, Southern Tiers Unearthly Yummmmm.:freaky
    #15
  16. wbbnm

    wbbnm Long timer

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2007
    Oddometer:
    5,253
    Location:
    MN and NM
    another engineer here.
    I have done the TAT and several similar rides of my own design on an 07 KLR.

    At 14k miles I would get new clutch cable, throttle cable, sprockets, chain, and brake pads.

    And I assume you have learned by now that all KLR bolts need to be tightened. I used to lock-tite mine but found I could get by with just checking them every 6 months.

    You will have to spend some time researching and learning how to use a GPS and the support software. Then you will need to do some practice navigation runs to find out what works for you.
    #16
  17. candrewscott

    candrewscott Adventurer

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2011
    Oddometer:
    38
    Location:
    Washington DC
    Sorry for the delay team

    Xmas and family have put the breaks on any real work until after the new year

    I did finish drilling the new rear links. Did a test fit and the bike feels good. Havnt done anything better than some local speed bumps. Will do a proper review when I get the chance.

    No good tat presents for Christmas

    I've been creeping for good sales online
    Thinking about splurging on some new boots&#128513;

    Update you all later
    #17
  18. road_apple

    road_apple Hit the Trail

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2009
    Oddometer:
    393
    Location:
    Sometimes here, sometimes there
    Not an engineer but I think you got it backwards. You want longer links to give yourself more suspension travel. That gives the crappy rear shock more of a chance to do something remotely near what it should do. Mild stock is cheap and another set of links could be had? Speaking as a KLR nut have I tried to get it to do what I wanted and haven't yet. I will say that suspension and engine performance upgrades help alot. Yes I bought a performance shock after the OEM gave up and it made a world of difference on difficult rides. Overall the good..it always starts and runs after others don't. It's easy to fix and relatively cheap. The bad..it still a 400lb pig with maybe 40HP on a good day and sand is no fun.
    #18
  19. candrewscott

    candrewscott Adventurer

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2011
    Oddometer:
    38
    Location:
    Washington DC
    Road_Apple The shortened links connect the swing arm to the underside of the shock making a sort of inverted pivot. Changing the length of the links only changes the starting position of the swing arm in its arch.

    If we start the arch lower, ie shorten the links, there is more room for the swing-arm to compress before hitting anything like the license plate. The shocks built in bump stop will stop the shock from compressing any more than the stock amount though.

    The other thing that we gain is a slight increase in the progressive nature of the inverted pivot. This is caused by the relationship between the amount of vertical and horizontal swing-arm movement. As we "pull down the swing-arm" it results in more compression of the shock as the system as a whole is compressed.

    Lengthened Links make the bike lower. These are sold on several sites as ways for shorter riders to ride the tall KLR.

    Thanks for the input. I agree about the pros and cons of the KLR. I wish it was lighter though.:D
    #19
  20. road_apple

    road_apple Hit the Trail

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2009
    Oddometer:
    393
    Location:
    Sometimes here, sometimes there
    #20