Monday, April 27, 2009

Plate? What plate?

A few weeks ago I was out and about trying to find a few roads I had not been on with the KLR to explore and see what was around the next bend or up the next trail. I was running up and down a small back highway and just taking any dirt road or trail that I thought I could squeeze down and see where I ended up. I ended up coming across some trail that was off of a rail crossing and went down this odd trail that for some reason was paved with asphalt. It became obvious that it was an old rail bed by the look of all the crushed basalt next to the trail. The trail ended up going from dirt and asphalt a few times and I even slowed down to hit a few side trails until as usual around here I came across a no trespassing sign. A few miles into the trail I was going probably 50 mph or so and the trail turned in to dirt once again with a few whoops spaced apart so I could conveniently get in a rhythm and blip the throttle just right to get the front wheel up and cruise across. Being that I ride a KLR it is heavy and after a few times of these whoops I felt and heard the rear suspension bottom out. What I did not know at the time was that on one of the suspension bottomings the rear knobby tire came up and chewed a nice crescent shape out of the rear lower fender that my license plate is attached to. Needless to say I actually ran into a fish and game officer later who did not notice the plate missing but the sad thing is neither did I.
Two weeks go by and I am going out to do errands and low and behold no plate. I backtracked all over the place trying to locate my plate in hopes that I would not get pulled over in the mean time. No such luck on the plate. Oh well what's another ten bucks when I had such a good day of riding. If you look carefully at the bottom picture you can see where the tire took out the fender. The new plate is as high as possible while still being under the license plate light that is required in Washington State.
My chewed up inner fender

Monday, April 20, 2009

Maps - Yea I need one.

So being that I have Mondays off I like to get out and have a little me time. I saw the sun was out and hopped on the KLR and headed out the Palouse highway towards Freeman. I have lived up here in Spokane for the most part about 30 years and have seen Mica peak in the distance forever. It is said in this neck of the woods that you never plant your garden until the snow is melted off Mica peak. Mica peak is 5205 feet high and it has the local Doppler radar radome atop it. I have wanted to find my way up for years and as I left home elected to try and find a way up. I don't carry any maps on my bike and my handheld Garmin Etrex Legend is on the fritz. I figured no matter what I would have a good time trying to find my way up. My first attempt was going through the town of Mica itself and as I rode up every side road heading towards the peak off the main route from town I never got more than a mile or two before the road turned into a private road with no trespassing signs. What a bummer. I worked my way around the whole west side of the mountain until I got to the south side and finally found a road that seemed like it was a little promising. I followed the road for about 5 miles until it finally turned into the usual switchback you see on these kinds of roads. Gravel turned to dirt and inevitably the dirt turned to mud from the snow run off due to our record setting snowfall. Well I have a fairly knobby tire on the bike and it tractored it's way up the hill well until I came to a spot where it apparently was a driveway. I backtracked a bit and saw a better spot to go up but will have to wait for the snow to subside a little further. Needless to say I will be getting a map and using my GPS next time but I will find a way up that hill yet this year. It is amazing what a few hours on your bike can do for your outlook on life. I love it.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

New vs.Old?

Ok so here is my opportunity to pretend that I am a big time magazine editor and have just gotten back from testing the newest model bikes and am sitting down to write out the article. My friend Earl and I met up and went for a nice little ride and he pulled over to ask if I wanted to trade rides for a few miles. I ride an 02 KLR650 and he has a 08 KLR650. Now for those that know these bikes they have been the same from 87-07 and the new 08 and up have new fairings, some cam and suspension tweeks. Like anything in this world we all make the things we own express our personallity a bit. My 02 is pretty close to stock it just has a few "farkles" ( KLR speak for mods) Different bars and grips and it is geared down a tooth on the front. I also have some fairly aggressive knobbies on it as well. Earls 08 looks like a beheamoth compared to mine especially since he has the aluminum panniers mounted. Other than that he has a tall windscreen for the cooler months and stock type rubber.
One of the first things I noticed as I climbed on his KLR was the more firm seat. Nice touch since I weigh 220. His bars are also further back and his grips must be a harder durometer rubber and a bit thinner. It also seemed to feel a bit lower as well. I am not sure if this is due to the fact he has his panniers full of things or that it is the result of Kawasaki lessening the suspension travel or the reduction in static sag dialed into the 08. So as I fire up the 08 all sounds and feels pretty much familiar until I go for the shifter. Diffferent placement and length. As we pull away the gearing difference is more than noticeable as I kill it like a 15 year old trying to drive his first stick car. We pull out on the highway and for the most part the power feels the same but it immedietely strikes me how much smoother it is with the Avon grippster tires on. We move along down the highway at 55 and the tall windscreen is a noticeable improvement as well as the larger fairings all together. I was also able to feel the wind pulling at the panniers behind my legs. For the most part I could tell I was riding the same motorcycle just with a few improvements. Overall I was actually looking forward to getting back on mine since it is comfortable to me and has a little more of a dirt bike feel with the small fairing and minimal wind protection. Just seems to be my style. I guess the only thing I may change on my KLR would be the seat for starters and then maybe find a way to get a little better light out of it. Good experience overall. Thanks Earl.