â¦or why a KTM will ruin your psyche. If I remember, Iâll explain that at the end of the report. Last week, I had a multi-day ride planned (the operative word here). This mini-journey was to begin with a pre-dawn run across state lines to the RTT headquarters to have my steering damper rebuilt. After which I was to head toward Las Vegas, camp someplace in the desert, then meet up with Neduro in Vegas to check out the Dakar stuff (although apparently he had other plans which Iâll have to let him explain ). Any rate, that was my intention. But for the best laid plans of mice & men â¦ and all that jazz. The first indication that this might be an interesting trip for me was when I checked the expected weather for the following day when Iâd be headed to Lake Havasu: My departure went off fine â early, no traffic, straight off started encountering interesting people along hwy 40 â¦ the 950 seems to draw a reaction of some type from most people. Kids dig it. Harley guys ignore it. The general population is confused by it â something like that. I seemed to be answering questions at nearly every gas stop. Pulling into Lake Havasu around 10 or 11am, I head straight to the RTT shop â BIG place. Couldnât figure what all the large machinery had to do with making steering dampers. Turns out they make large machines for the automotive industry â large machines that make other large machines. Think âI-Robotâ without the mechanical intelligence or creepy translucent faces. The guys here were awesome! Turns out there was a newer version of the damper I had & an âoldâ design was installed when I bought the bike â they pulled the damper & milled it out on the spot! Rebuilding it in the newer design. Killer design! Apparently RTT had a team over at Dakar & Cyril Despres saw one of these dampers & actually took it off the bike to bring to KTM following the race. This is all in the works as we speak â¦ perhaps a KTM branded OEM damper for the 950 in the futureâ¦? After the work was done they called their photographer guy was there & shot some pics of the bike for the website/catalogues. While sitting in the air-conditioned shop, I was told the weather wasnât the 116-degree estimate I saw on the weather. It was 118. Dry heat however, so it wasnât that bad. I should also point out that up to this point, there were no issues with the bike â no burping fuel, hard starting, etc. Stayed at 4 bars like normal, hit 5 bars at longer red lights. All was well, so I decided to cruise around town a bit after the bike was done. Leviâs, FirstGear HT overpants, Sidi City boots, t-shirt, FirstGear Kilamanjaro jacket, Arai XD (black), and gloves â¦.one hundred eighteen degrees. Letâs go ride! London isnât what it used to be. âThe London Bridgeâ. Imported? This is where things started to get interesting. I was doing a 1st-2nd gear cruise through down via these dirt connector âroadsâ (leftover space between buildings) & the bike was hovering at 5 bars for quite a while. Then I stopped to get gas. Following the fuel stop, I started moving again & all was fine for around 10 miles or so. Then on a long, gradual climb out of town, the bike was running fine but hovering at 5 bars due to the heat & the hill, I started to smell gas. At first I thought it was the car in front of me, but it persisted, so I pulled over at a station near the 40 & sure enough â fuel pouring from the left side of the bike. Crap. The canister had already been pulled & none of the lines were kinked, so this has something to do with the vacuum valves(?) Iâll leave discussion of the specific issue/fix for the âorange crushâ forum (started a thread there from this ride here. Oh well â¦ nothing I hadnât been warned of. Annoying, but neither unusual nor insurmountable. The fact that the bike didnât want to start was a bit more of an issue however. Twenty minutes of waiting, cranking, waiting, cranking, waiting, câ¦râ¦a...nâ¦kâ¦iâ¦nâ¦g & it finally fired up. More like sputtered to life. With this new issue, I decided to scrap my original plan of heading towards Bullhead City via dirt roads & just head straight to Kingman, then to Vegas from there. Besides, there was a ghost town,âChlorideâ, Iâd never been to & Iâd already been through Bullhead City traveling with a band a few years back. Once the bike started, it ran fine as usual. I arrive in Kingman & pull off to get gas & some water. Fill up & press the starter â¦ Oil was spraying out of the bike. Turns out the oil-return line to the reservoir had ruptured â very unusual. Better view: So began the gas-station surgery: I had gone through the toolkit & added things I thought might be needed â I needed them. 6mm allen was quite important (canât remove tanks without). I did not have a 13mm socket & it turns out I needed one for this job to remove the V-shaped bracket that holds the battery box: I had actually got a hold of a short length of high-pressure hose from a shop next door, but it wasnât the proper âpreformedâ hose, which could affect oil flow as it would be somewhat crimped to make the final bend before the reservoir. Long story short, after realizing the scope of the project, I found a better short-term solution was to simply loosen all the retaining brackets I could on the hose (2) & pull it up to get a bit of slack (VERY little in this thing), cut off the bad piece of hose & then re-fit it. Worked great, but I was now low on oil (right at the âminâ mark on the dipstick), so not wanting to risk the line blowing up again in the middle of the desert, I called my brother who drove my truck out the following morning. Fortunately the bike was running & the oil was still in acceptable limits so I cruised around for a little sightseeing & to grab some dinner. The next morning my truck shows up â the parking lot was flat so the easiest way to load the bike is to ride it up the ramp. These bikes are stupid addictive. Iâm pulling around to the truck & see a kid on a BMX bike jumping this little dirt mound on the other side of the lotâ¦ â¦off I go. Just aim for the gap between the parking blocks. IknowIknowIknowâ¦ATGATT & all that, but I was just pulling around to load the bike. Plus, thereâs no helmet laws in AZ, so you canât get hurt here right? Any rate, the 950 nosewheelies pretty good. I also found a sand wash behind the motel that cut through town. The parking lot suddenly got a LOT bigger, and âLoading the bikeâ took about 30 minutes because of this â¦ J I finally got pulled around to the truck. My brother had the day off & I still wanted to check out Chloride, so we went out there. Turns out itâs not really a âghostâ down â still mostly inhabited with trailers & such. Some of the old mining structures are still left over while others have been converted into gift-shop(ish) businesses. The mining past is clearly evident in the not-so-clear waters flowing from the hills: I donât know if itâs always green like this, but the particular little dirt road we turned off on was in stark contrast to the rest of the surrounding desert. Life in southern California has to be planned around good & bad traffic times â we decided to delay our departure so weâd arrive just as traffic was starting to clear following rush hour(s). I had a camera, a couple rolls of film, a functioning 950, and my brother had a Remington black-powder pistol â¦.kill some time with photo ops. âThereâs a new sherrif in town.â Soon enough it was time to leave. Thanks to my chauffeurâ¦ â¦and the use of the weaponry. Oh â¦ and I remembered. The KTM-phyche thing. I think I remember someone comparing the owner to an abused spouse â¦no matter what this thing does to me, I just look forward to when it comes back in working shape. I got it home & started on the repairs, but noticed the âclassicâ sediment in the coolant reservoir, so I decided to take it in for warranty â the oil line, the coolant/waterpump, & the emissions stuff (found a dealer that admits that stuff has to go & will do it under warranty!! We shall seeâ¦). Once I got the thing running with the field repair â it was right back to having fun â¦ It was just a very ill-timed quirk as I was supposed to be in Laguna Secaâ¦ Eh. It was an interesting trip regardless.