Ves ATW

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Veselko, Nov 9, 2018.

  1. Veselko

    Veselko Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2017
    Oddometer:
    12
    Location:
    CO
    Hello to all.

    My riding story started back in 1980, when I was 19, when I took my high school graduation gift money and bought my first motorcycle. I don't think my mother was very happy, nor my father... lot of money wasted! Of course my father couldn't complain too hard, because back in Croatia he got a BMW90 (were they around back in the 50's?) as a dowry for marrying my mother!

    My first bike was a used 1975 Yamaha SX650. My cousin had to ride it home for me because I didn't know how to ride. My total riding experience had been on the back of a Honda CX500 as a passenger and one ride on a friends British 125 with a reverse shifting pattern, in a dirt field.. which I promptly had to ditch in a bush because the cops came by and we weren't suppose to be there. But, it was enough for me to say... I need one of these...

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    The first time on that SX650 I was ready to jump on, but my cousin says, why don't we take it out to the end of the driveway... good idea. We probably should have taken it out in the street, cause at the end of the driveway was some gravel... my first fall. Busted turn signal and a nice raspberry on my arm... jacket? What jacket, it was July. Of course my mother got suspicious why I was wearing a long sleeve sweatshirt in July. She's like... Did you fall on your bike! (in Croatian)... Wow, good guess! How do mothers do that?!

    Can't tell you how many times I fell on that bike. Did they have MSF back then?... I should have taken the course.

    But here I am, 38 years later, having ridden around most of this country, a few of my pieces screwed together, the L4-L5 fused together January 2018 (successfully I might add), but still riding. So, it appears the time has come. All roads have lead here...

    I love Colorado. Beautiful scenery and roads and I've got family here. I spent four weeks of my vacation here in 2018. Prior to that I had sold my street bike back in IL and was on the hunt for something that could take me to horizons unknown. So, bought this thing... actually from a guy who's on here (I believe):

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    First time I'd thrown a leg over something dirt orientated since that British 125 in the dirt field.

    The next question was, do I take it back to IL with me, or do I leave it here at my daughters... decided to leave it, as incentive for going back to IL and getting myself retired. So, left most of my stuff to my younger daughter back in IL, hitched up a half full 8x12 U-Haul trailer to the Highlander, and here I am, in Colorado, retired, planning to head south come late spring early summer. Start with Mexico, Central America, and hopefully make it to the tip of South America about Jan of 2020. By then I figure I'll be tired of riding or I'll be hooked and continue.

    Plan at this point is to do it alone. I was hoping to share the journey with a better half and thinking it would be awesome to go after that 1999-2003 Team Ride Guinness world record; two bikes, 50 countries, 4 years, 100k+ miles. I had a female riding partner for a few years but it didn't really work out with her. Not sure I can break any single rider records, cause some of you guy on here are riding animals! But I'm definitely going to break my record and that's what it's all about.

    So, planning, prepping, modifying, vaccinating, contemplating... We're not guaranteed tomorrow, but let's see what happens.
    #1
  2. woodzrider

    woodzrider Long timer

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,234
    Location:
    anywhere I happen to be
    In!
    #2
  3. dano619

    dano619 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2011
    Oddometer:
    825
    Location:
    sunny san diego
    Im in.....first post.....lets go!!
    #3
  4. Veselko

    Veselko Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2017
    Oddometer:
    12
    Location:
    CO
    I'm going to talk about the mods on the bike in prep for the trip. But first let me say something about this bike in general... Daaaaajjjjmmmnnnn! I've owned a few bikes, but riding this think is just a pure pleasure. Light, agile, soulfull, can cruise at 70 all day if need be... and consistently 66 mpg. I think I like doing corners on this thing better than I did my CBR1000RR. Just saying... where has this thing been all my life?

    Ok, first thing. The stock seat sucks. All stock seats suck. Well, at least every bike I' ve owned except for the BMWR850R, which had adjustable height and was shaped like a saddle. Apparently somewhere along the way bike designers thought appearance was more important than comfort, which is why there is such a big seat aftermarket out there. Well, I got tired of the monkey butt and dishing out hundreds of dollars for aftermarket seats that still sucked, so I started modifying my own (can I say sucked that many times). So, here we go... tadaaaa!:

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    This seat doesn't suck now. Because it's about 3-4 inches wider than stock and about as flat as I could make it without cutting into the seat pan. Why is that important? Because if your seat is sloped forward, you're going to slide forward, your skin stretches, and you get monkey butt. That's ok if you're out killing the trails and moving around, but not on a bike that you need to sit on all day maybe. Ok, it's not pretty, but it's a single piece of vinyl. It's functional. Why is it white? Because when I leave it sitting out in the desert sun I don't want it to burn my a** when I sit on it (can I say a**). If anyone is interested in how I did this, I have a whole series of step by step photos showing the process. It's a real all day seat now, even for my 6'3" 200 lbs.. Totally supportive.
    #4
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  5. Veselko

    Veselko Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2017
    Oddometer:
    12
    Location:
    CO
    After my first ride on the bike I clearly needed some kind of wind protection. I considered one of those full rally fairings, but it's just more plastic to crack up, and I didn't want to block that much air. Most of my riding will probably be in warmer rather than colder temps... if I time it right. So, after some research settled on the Bajaworx screen. I'm pretty happy with it. Takes the blast of the chest and the air coming at my helmet is reasonably smooth and takes some of the pressure off there too. Some low amplitude buffeting, but not too bad:

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    And I even almost drilled the holes symetrically!

    The next obvious update was a center stand. Apparently SW-Motech is the only game in town so mounted that baby up:

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    By the way, the instruction for installing the stand could use a little work. But if you stare at it long enough you get there.

    Then I said to myself, dang, that's a little close to the chain. I get it's at full suspension extension, but the chain barely cleared, and by pressing on it, it would touch. So, took a close look at it and noticed that the stop was just the head of an allen bolt on each side. So, got a thin piece of metal, about .030-.040 and Crazy Glued it to the bolt head (think it will hold? guess I can weld it if not ) but that little fix puts about 3/8" between the center stand and the chain:

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    I read that some people had issues with the center stand because it has no lever on it to help leverage the bike up. I don't have any issues with it. Put it down, put your toes behind it just to keep it on the ground and hoist. Yeah, a lever to really step on and leverage would be nice, but doesn't seem necessary.

    Next major thing. Staying warm. First the hands. I tried these things (like generic Hippo Hands):

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    I read some reviews and people were saying how great they were. For me they lasted about two miles. Although the entry ports have a hard insert that keeps their shape to you can quickly get your hand in and out, I found that it wasn't quite that smooth. Just putting my helmet visor up and down was a distraction. My hands would get caught as I moved it in and out. Also, it was tight in there. Working the turn signals was a pain, my thumb would get caught. I'm guessing part of the problem is my XXL hand size. I don't know, maybe they would work for someone with smaller hands? Definitely not for me. Your mileage may vary.

    So, decided to go with some heated grips. I've had them on a couple of the BMW's I owned and always like them, so got some Oxfords. They seemed to have a good reputation and they come with this intelligent control that detects when you're not moving and will ramp down the power so you don't kill your battery when not needed.

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    And you just hit the + - buttons for more or less juice. Slick. In like 40 degree temps (F), at 50 or 70% setting, even with perforated leather gloves on (armored road race gloves) the hands stay toasty. I think I'll still take a pair of heavy mittens for the really cold stuff, just in case...

    Couple years ago I also started using a Tourmaster heated vest, so wired up the bike for that. Took a ride two days ago up to Estes Park Colorado, about 31 degrees, my upper body was pretty comfortable with some layers and the vest was only on #3 setting. The legs were another story, even with a base layer, pants, and good rain paints over it to cut the wind, I could feel it. So, looks like I'll need some heated lowers too.

    With all this electrical paraphernalia we're going to need some more power! The good thing is the previous owner put an LED headlight on it, so that helps. Time for a bigger stator!
    #5
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  6. joenuclear

    joenuclear Long timer

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2007
    Oddometer:
    9,729
    Location:
    Top of the Ouchitas, bottom of the Ozarks.
    Maybe not, try replacing more bulbs with LED's.
    #6
  7. Veselko

    Veselko Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2017
    Oddometer:
    12
    Location:
    CO
    Thanks Joe, yeah I thought about it. I may still do the tail light as an LED, but I'm also considering some auxiliary lighting, so better safe than sorry. I wasn't particularly liking the prices on stators from the usual sources. I ended up finding RaceTech Electric in Loveland CO, like 45 minutes from me, and they sell on EBay. Way better pricing and a local US company. Totally plug and play and they even throw in some extra connectors and pins in case you screw something up. Ordered it and got it in a couple days:

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    As I was going to install it... what's with the wires... In one position there was way too much slack and the other one the wires were tight. The holes to mount it only lined up in those two positions. I gave RaceTech a call and they explained it's just the position of the grommet. Down just off the screen in the above photo is the rubber grommet where the wires pass from the case. By sliding one wire at a time through it you can take up all that slack. Easy Enough... Done. Put it back together and she's purring. Figure I'll probably just bring the old stator with me as a spare. I also bought a spare voltage regulator. I read some concerns that pushing the electrical system past it's design may overheat things. But I figure, when will I be pushing the electrical system, when it's cold out! Again, better to have some spares then be stranded somewhere.

    I have to get myself a decent electrical meter so I can see what it's putting out now. Good to have with on the trip anyway.

    And as long as I had the oil drained and case open, I opened the other side and did the Neutral Sending Unit fix. Really?... The bolts require 2 ft-lb or torque. No wonder they tend to fall out.
    #7
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  8. Veselko

    Veselko Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2017
    Oddometer:
    12
    Location:
    CO
    Months ago I got a 3'x4' world map and slapped it on my wall to contemplate the route. I ended up with this:

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    So, the general route... Head for the Mexico border, Central America, boat, South America, from Brazil or Argentina fly it to the West Coast of Africa, head down the West Coast, up the East Coast into Egypt, Israel, Greece or Turkey into Europe, circle around Europe and into Asia. At this point things get fuzzy and I need to do some more research. I hear no one goes to Tibet unless you have family there or 24 hour escort?.. something like that... China in general also requires escorts and letters and haven't figured that out yet either. Maybe I'll find some info on the site here that will help me decide what to do. If I can't get into China then India down toward Indonesia, but there's a couple countries in there that aren't conducive to free travel either. The other option is to go back up through Mongolia/Russia, out Vladevostok, fly it to Australia, boat or fly it to New Zealand, and from there back to the US.
    Figure a year to get to Brazil, another year through Africa, a year through Europe and parts of Asia, and a year for the rest of Asia and Oceania.

    Once I had the general route I started looking at the countries and their Visa requirements to get a feel for what I'd be up against. The America's aren't bad... but some of those African countries, kind of a pain... I put together a spreadsheet with all the countries, their visa costs, duration, and necessary documentation. Then I was trying to figure out when I would request various visa's to have them in time for the countries and realized it's impossible to do in advance. Some expire within relatively short periods and I can't guarantee my timing, especially the further into the trip I go, so basically have to do it as I go. The fact that I'm Croatian makes the travel and visa's way easier, so I got that going for me.

    I already started with Mexico, but will need to do it for the other countries, basically pick some points I may want to see, not that I'm going to be stuck to them, but at least have some possible destinations picked out in each country. Non tourist destinations, i.e. stay away from the resorts and the tourist traps as much as possible.

    Attached Files:

    #8
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  9. Veselko

    Veselko Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2017
    Oddometer:
    12
    Location:
    CO
    All work, no play... took a ride today up toward Allenspark and Estes Park CO. A little chilly.. Had the heated vest going, grips cranking... heated lowers are definitely on order!

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    What does that sign say... stop any time?

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    Loveland already got 7 ft of snow! And it's not even Thanksgiving... no this is nowhere near Loveland. Can I take my snowboard with me on the trip? Ha! ... Ok, guess I can rent if need be.
    #9
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  10. jathkajoe

    jathkajoe Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2009
    Oddometer:
    259
    Location:
    E WA
    In. Great start. Looking forward to more.

    Do you plan to wire in a voltmeter to monitor on the fly or just carry a multimeter in your kit?

    Started my riding on a ‘53 BSA Bantam 125, had a ‘77 XS 650.

    Jathkajoe
    #10
  11. Veselko

    Veselko Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2017
    Oddometer:
    12
    Location:
    CO
    I think I'll bring a multi-meter with me for debug purposes. But have thought about a voltmeter to monitor on the fly. What's nice about the heated grip controller is that it actually shows you when it's going into conservation mode; when it detects too much drain on the batter and reduced power. So, that's kind of cool. But a display for volts and a tach may be a good idea.

    Anyway, the other day I got my BikeTek heated lowers so thought I would take another ride up in to the Colorado mountains to give em a test. They do plug into my Tourmaster heated vest and controller so that gives me a spare controller, that came with the lowers.

    The lowers are basically heated chaps, so put on a base layer, pants, and the lowers over that. It was kind of strange because with my vest I'm use to feeling the heat, I've still never used the high setting. My legs i had on the high setting and I wasnt cold, but I wasn't feeling the heat pour off. I then put a rain layer over that to see if I could trap more heat, but still comfortable but no obvious heat pouring in. Found out later it was in the low 30's up there, and I was definitely cold before, so looks like they work! I will ask them about my experience.

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    Ah... yeah, so part of my route gave me some unexpected road conditions. This strip wasn't bad, but shortly after that I came to a hill.. I had some momentum, so up I go, as I started slowing down and gave it some throttle, my rear end starts fishtailing... ok, less throttle.. slowing down.. little more.. fishtail.. and just then a guy in a truck is coming down the hill... I must have been quite a site... legs out for outriggers.. thinking I'm going to dump it right here, right in front of him... at least he can help... if he doesn't slide into me and kill me! I'm just glad the hill wasn't any higher than it was, or I would have run out of momentum and traction. If I had to do it again, I would probably walk it up. Needless to say I did alter my route and stuck more to the pavement after that. Colorado Gravel roads in Late November probably best to leave to the snowmobiles and the four wheel drive vehicles. But it certainly got me thinking about how I would handle this in the future.. Also, I think I'll pitch my high tech roadrace boots and get something that has a serious tread on the bottom! I was thinking about it anyway, this kind of seals the decision... See, now it make sense why all the dual sport guys and off roaders wear what they do. I learn quick... :) Well, not always...

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    Of course on the other side of the hill, facing the sun it was a bit better. Ran into a few more questionable spots before I got to pavement. Did I mention it was frikin cold up there... I had the grips on full hot and admirably they kept my hands from freezing even with my perforated roadrace gloves on (ya, forgot to bring the good ones...)

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    How cold was it? Something about a brass witches tit (can I say that?). Cold enough to freeze lakes.

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    Just over four hours later and about 110 miles I got down to some warmer temps. Good test ride, definitely learned a couple things!

    Stay tuned... in two weeks I'm going to Maui. Not flying the bike there, but will probably rent one while there, and ride the coast.. and camp on the beach for two weeks! pfffftttt... Why not... wasn't on my ATW route so hit it now.
    #11
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  12. Veselko

    Veselko Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2017
    Oddometer:
    12
    Location:
    CO
    Ok, so Maui... Does a scooter qualify as an adventure bike? I say yes! If you disagree, well, you can skip this post.. Let's start with some pics...

    This was my day trip.. actually took longer than shown but I'll get to that.
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    The pic is somewhere between Kapalua and Kahakulua (did you know the Hawaiian alphabet has only 17 letters.. they need to borrow some consonants from the Germans).

    How did I end up on a scooter? Well, I'm not going to fly my bike to Maui for two weeks, and to rent an "adventure" bike there was a cool $200/day. The scooter... $75. Scooter wins! But, I went all out and got the 200cc Kymco (So I wouldn't end up in the bicycle lanes with the other 50cc scooters). It could do 60 mph on the flats "depending on conditions", as it said in the papers. Alright then, and it actually did. Even comes with a trunk and a cigarette lighter to keep my cell phone charged. Pfffftttt! Only problem was it was so small that I literally had to sit on the back seat up against the trunk/top-box to not feel totally ridiculous. But if I sat at the front and ducked down I literally could not see the handlebars or the front wheel any more. It was like flying! Ha! I only had the scooter for one day, but there are some amazing roads on Maui. Covered some of them on the scooter others in the rent-a-van.

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    Anyway, on the road to Haleakala. That pic is at 6000 ft on the way to the Haleakala Volcano Crater, which is at 10k ft, which on Maui is generally above cloud level, makes for some amazing views down to sea level. I heard if you get to the top of Haleakala at like 2:00 am, you can see the sunrise?

    I was getting about 35/40 mph max out of the scooter, but some of the turns are like 15 mph switchbacks, and the limit is only 25. So it worked... until it didn't. At about 2000 ft at full throttle the scooter just starts slowing down and dies. Push it to the shoulder, try to start it again, no go. Great. I thought about calling the rental place, but then I'm like, I'll just coast down. There was enough of an incline! So, coasting I go down the mountain, no problem maintaining the limit. Got to a pulloff tried her again and she starts! Now what? Figure I won't push my luck and I'll just take it back to the rental place. But she's running good and as I get to the bottom, I'm like f it. Going back up! Got to 4000 ft, it dies... really. So, I wait a few minutes, and it starts again! I get to 6000 ft and it dies again. Wait a few minutes and it starts again. I get to 8000 ft it dies again... Ok, three strikes I'm out! I start it and take my ass back down the mountain and to the rental place. So, that was the end of the scooter adventure. Just as well, got there half hour before they closed. But over 170 miles on the scooter in one day! That's an adventure.

    Oh, yeah, scooter... no foot controls... front break on right, rear brake on left. Sucks if you forget it's not a clutch. Ha! That took a few stops to get used to. And do not trail break the front into corners, cause it seriously wants to stand up. Get your breaking done early, trail in with the rear if you want. Just saying.

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    The road to Hana... well, it goes to Hana and takes you all the way around the East side of the island also. As you get past Hana, going clockwise, there are some seriously potholed sections (not for scooters, 4x4 only it says), some sections I would describe as an asphalt quilt because there were some many potholes it's all been repaired (poorly at that), and some 1.5 car wide sections, and some 1 car wide sections right on the cliff. That's fun when 2 cars meet, but there are enough wider sections to minimize the need for KY Jelly on your car door and driving in the weeds. Good reason to have a motorcycle or scooter. Why go clockwise on the road to Hana? Because you don't want to be the guy on the cliff side of the road. There's one section on the road to Hana, just past Kaupo which on the island map says driving here will void you rental car agreement. Yes, I took my Dodge Minivan Rental on that... and washed it afterward. Here's a few pics along that road.

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    If you notice, all my trips start at Olowalu camp ground on the West side of the Island. That's where I camped for 12 of the 14 days I was there. Right next to the beach, sheltered by the mountains, $20/night. Temps in the high 60's to low 80's, breezy, rained only one night I was there, though there are places on the island, the Road to Hana on the North being one, that get pretty consistent rain. Camping is definitely the way to go, unless you have gobs of money, cause a room anywhere will cost you upwards of $130/night. There are some hostels, but more expensive than camping by a long shot. And you don't need bug repellent cause there's no bugs! Talk about Paradise!

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    The bay by the camp site actually had a ton of corral, shallow hundreds of yards out. Rented a paddleboard for 24 hours, some snorkeling gear, and went out there to see the fishies.. Those pics aren't developed yet (undewater film camera). Also, took a 4 hour boat ride out to the Corral Gardens one day where I shot the rest of that roll.

    It was also whale season, so spent a few hours on different days looking out between Olowalu and Maalaea looking for whales. Actually saw one jump out of the water and make a splash, like slow motion. Also saw a lot of spouts and tails here and there. Supposedly January is the high season for Migration of the Humpbacks to the area.

    Also, did a couple hikes while I was there. One was hiking up in the Haleakala Crater. It's nothing short of amazing. It's like you landed on Mars. 12 mile hike, cost me some blisters on my toes. You go from an area that is just totally barren, the volcano crater, and then through a section more like a tropical mountainside.

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    The last place I went on the Island was the road to Polipoli. If you read the comments on the net, people say the road makes you sick... Meh... Yes, lots of switchbacks and beautiful scenery, but the pavement ends about 4 miles from Polipoli state park. That section is 4x4 only and the park rangers will give you a ticket if they see you there without one. But the government was closed! So...

    About half way up there is an open grassy section, lots of paragliding. I considered doing it, but it's not cheap. Figure I can do it for less somewhere else in the world, like when I get to Brazil.

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    So, that's it for Maui. The weeks between the 17th and the 31'st are supposedly the busiest weeks on the island. Given that, it wasn't too bad. Gas is expensive (Close to $4/gallon) and food is expensive. The best food store on the island is Mana foods in Paia. Good local grown food, bulk nuts and such, and everything else you'd want at good prices... Paia also has a cool beach where I started and ended my trip and found something in a store window that kind of summed it up.

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    I'm back in Colorado, where it was -2 degrees at the Denver airport when my plane came in. Still got some prep work to do on the bike, but I'm getting there. Going to install my 6.6 gallon fuel tank that came in, lube a few things, and I should be good. Next stop in a few months. Mexico.
    #12
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  13. Veselko

    Veselko Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2017
    Oddometer:
    12
    Location:
    CO
    Got the Acerbis installed. Posted it in the DR650 thread:
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    While doing all this I also noticed that I had oil seeping from the head cover. So took that off, cleaned it up, used some high heat silicone form-a-gasket and she's back together. While I was there checked and adjusted the valves... getting to know here inside and out... Just love the simplicity of this bike.

    Also ho'd and hummed about the suspension. With me and a heavy load on it I'm using 40% of my suspension travel and the shock preload is completely cranked. Decided to order some heavier springs front and back and heavier oil. Not going to get fancy with the valving. Forks I've done before so that should be no big deal. The rear shock, going to follow the ProCycle directions for disassembly and we'll see how that goes! I'm either going to do it, or some local bike shop will get a box of parts...

    My LED taillight came in from Super Bright LED's. :-) Yup, that's bright!

    Days and weeks are going by fast. Time for leaving will be here before I know it, and I have to figure out how to get one bedrooms worth of stuff into two panniers and a 70 liter dry bag. If it doesn't fit it's not going to be a part of my life for the next few years... maybe never again.
    #13
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  14. 08StangGT_CS

    08StangGT_CS Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2018
    Oddometer:
    52
    Location:
    San Antonio, TX and Beyond
    Awesome. Enjoy your trip. I'll follow.
    #14
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