Riding to Utah backcountry from Illinois, question on tires - Kawasaki KLR 650 Forum
1987 to 2007 Wrenching & Mods For maintaining, repair or modifications of Generation 1 KLR's. 2007 and earlier.

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post #1 of 12 Old 06-28-2015, 09:27 PM Thread Starter
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Riding to Utah backcountry from Illinois, question on tires

Hello everyone, I bought a stock 2009 klr a couple months ago, and I'm planning to ride to southeastern Utah at the end of July. I'll be heading to manti-la sal national Forest to do some hiking. I'm mainly using my bike as a way to get farther into the backcountry than I would be able to with my Honda civic via high clearance roads. My question is, does anyone have experience in that area, and what tires would be best to use if I don't plan on getting off the high clearance roads. Let me add that I'm a huge novice in bikes.. My experience is a couple years worth of road riding and some small dirt bike experience a long time ago. So I've definitely tipped my top heavy 650 over in gravel parking lots a couple times!

I currently have Michelin anakee 2 on, I'm not sure how many miles they have left, and don't know how they do in the rain. My plan was to either get some new tires that work for road and the the high clearance roads I'll be on in Utah, or I'll get some off road tires and put them on after getting to Utah. I'd rather not have to use two sets of tires unless really necessary.... It would probably take me 10 years to wear out a set of Dunlop 606s as much as I'll be off road. Other than experiencing Utah and a road trip from atop the klr, I want to take it to save a bit of money in gas.

Last question.. Is it insane to think that I could ride a total of 23 (Illinois to Utah) hours in two days? It's seemed pretty comfortable to ride so far. I've never road more than 30 minutes at once.

Thanks for any and all help!
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post #2 of 12 Old 06-28-2015, 09:35 PM
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I don't think it's insane to ride 23 hours in two days, but I definitely think you should work up to it with a few longer trips. Take lots of breaks and walk around to get your circulation going when your on the trip. Lol, when I was 20 I could sit in the saddle all day, but nowadays I need to get off every hour or two for a stretch.

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post #3 of 12 Old 06-28-2015, 11:27 PM
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Which part of the Manti-LaSal National forest are you headed to - as in which towns are close by?

End of July will most likely be HOT on Southeastern Utah, so make sure to drink plenty of water.

As for tires, I had good luck with a set of Shinko 244 tires on my KLR. They gave me almost 6000 miles. They're decent on and off road, and they're CHEAP - as in about $87 dollare for a front AND rear tire from Rocky Mountain ATVMC online.

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post #4 of 12 Old 06-29-2015, 08:43 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the recommendation acid man. I'll be heading to the southern section, near Monticello and blanding. Yes the only reason I'm going that time of year is to run a race west of there, near beaver. Otherwise September would have much better weather!
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post #5 of 12 Old 06-29-2015, 09:11 AM
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My current tire of choice for my 2013 KLR are Mefo Explorers. Good 50/50 tire. My only complaint is mud. They don't seem to shed mud well at all, so if you need to ride any distance in deeper, slicker mud, I'd recommend looking for a different tire.

My trip to Alaska was just over 9,700 miles last Summer. I did it on one set of the tires. Yes, my rear tire was ready to be replaced when I returned. The front looked to have another 1,000 or so miles on it. I replaced both tires at the same time, with another set of Mefos.

I've been doing quite a bit more off-road on these tires this year. Aired down to 25 lbs and they seem to handle the dirt really well. As I say this, realize I'm new to the off-road scene, this is my third full season that I've ridden off-road. While I've been able to take the KLR anywhere I've wanted so far on the tires, I'm not fast, so not sure I'm really pushing the tires all that much. I can say that riding the same off-road experiences with the air pressure at 40 lbs I use on the street and the tires don't do all that well. Aired down, great. Aired up, sketchy.

As for riding 23 hours in two days, it can be done, but it can also be tough. If you've only ridden your bike for 30 minutes at a time, I suggest climbing on board and riding for two hours straight, no stopping or putting your feet down for the duration. If you can handle that and feel you want to do that repeatedly after stopping for a short break, you can do it. It primarily becomes a matter of mental will at that point, although additional annoyances will crop up as the time in the saddle increases and you become physically tired.

There was already some good advice to practice with some longer rides prior to trying to do a 12 hour day. 12 hours can take a toll. You also need to gauge whether you can do two 12 hour days in a row. Again, it's doable, but you also probably want to have some energy left for your visit in Utah once you get there. You need to figure out if you're going to need a 'down' day once you get there just to recoup from the previous, hard two days.

Good luck, the ride and visit sound fun!
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post #6 of 12 Old 07-01-2015, 07:39 AM
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I've used Kenda 761 for long road miles and good gravel roads. Inexpensive. I might choose Duro 904 for a trip like that.

I really enjoy long miles on my KLR, and the second generation KLR should be more suitable for long miles than my first gen. I'd suggest riding every chance you get plus a couple of long days. For those long days I'd say take a break any time you want one; if it works for you then the breaks will naturally get farther apart.

Did I miss your starting point? Using the middle of the state I get two 700 mile days. I would DEFINATELY mix 2-lane and freeway. The freeway gets miles down quickly but can wear me down and isn't all that interesting. Two lane roads are more interesting and the people* are more interested in the passersby. People along the freeway learn to not care. Small roads can be almost as fast as freeways but there's more navigating unless you're on a 2-lane equivalent of a freeway (I don't know south, but in the north these are US 2 and Canada 17). Small roads may take longer but I arrive fresher. I've done several 1,025+ mile days on my KLR, but back-to-back 700-mile days are barely easier than one 1,000-mile day.

I'd also recommend a hydration bag in a tank bag. I use Platypus "hosers". The bike can carry the weight.

With prep your trip can be enjoyable. Starting without building tolerance may be a test of endurance instead of a fun, long ride.

* People I meet when riding solo are usually great -- waitresses**, cashiers, campground/motel staff, and just the people at the next table in a restaurant. They often have great stories to tell and will often talk to the guy on what looks like a dirt bike with far-away state plates.

** Old curmudgeon sexist statement. But really, stop in any locally-owned independent diner and the "wait staff" will be 99.5% female.
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post #7 of 12 Old 07-06-2015, 08:37 PM Thread Starter
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I've used Kenda 761 for long road miles and good gravel roads. Inexpensive. I might choose Duro 904 for a trip like that.

I really enjoy long miles on my KLR, and the second generation KLR should be more suitable for long miles than my first gen. I'd suggest riding every chance you get plus a couple of long days. For those long days I'd say take a break any time you want one; if it works for you then the breaks will naturally get farther apart.

Did I miss your starting point? Using the middle of the state I get two 700 mile days. I would DEFINATELY mix 2-lane and freeway. The freeway gets miles down quickly but can wear me down and isn't all that interesting. Two lane roads are more interesting and the people* are more interested in the passersby. People along the freeway learn to not care. Small roads can be almost as fast as freeways but there's more navigating unless you're on a 2-lane equivalent of a freeway (I don't know south, but in the north these are US 2 and Canada 17). Small roads may take longer but I arrive fresher. I've done several 1,025+ mile days on my KLR, but back-to-back 700-mile days are barely easier than one 1,000-mile day.

I'd also recommend a hydration bag in a tank bag. I use Platypus "hosers". The bike can carry the weight.

With prep your trip can be enjoyable. Starting without building tolerance may be a test of endurance instead of a fun, long ride.

* People I meet when riding solo are usually great -- waitresses**, cashiers, campground/motel staff, and just the people at the next table in a restaurant. They often have great stories to tell and will often talk to the guy on what looks like a dirt bike with far-away state plates.

** Old curmudgeon sexist statement. But really, stop in any locally-owned independent diner and the "wait staff" will be 99.5% female.
Thanks for all the advice.

As for tires, I'm thinking I may go with some 60/40 tires, like the duro 904. But, the price if those shinko 244 is really tempting, and my local shop carries shinko. What about the shinko 700 for a 60/40 tire? I looked them up on here but didn't find much helpful info.

I'll have to wait another week to do a long ride... I've got my class next weekend to get my license so that I'm legal. I work out in the middle of nowhere, so I've just been riding to work occassiknally. This is the first bike I've owned. So then we'll see how long I can stand to ride in a day. I mainly want to rip through the Midwest and plains as fast as I can stand in order to get to Utah. I'm mainly a runner/hiker and secondarily a moto rider. But I certainly can't wait to get out on some of those backcountry roads to see what I can/can't do on the bike!

I have a couple other questions as far as how I'll be packing the essentials. I don't have much interest at the moment in buying and installing all kinds of luggage racks, hard cases, etc. Primarily because I spent large amounts of money on running shoes and races, and the other reason being that I feel that it just promotes me packing more unnecessary items adding more weight. I really like the minimalistic, unencumbered feel of the bike, and I want to keep it that way.

With that said, here's the plan. I'm going to put on a 16 tooth sprocket to help out with mileage and possible oil burning, I've got the tall Dakar windscreen but haven't yet installed it, I will be putting on a 12v outlet (maybe), I have a wolfman enduro tank bag, and for ALL of my other belongings like clothes and running/hiking gear I'll be strapping my 65L osprey pack to the back end of my seat and top rack with the can type straps.

As for riding through possible rain, I haven't came up with a great solution other than wrapping my osprey pack in my tent's waterproof footprint, and wearing my running rain gear (I don't have any riding clothing gear other than helmet and don't plan on getting any).

I'll be using your advice for the platypus hosier water reservoir, cause I already have one if those and that's a great idea!!

I haven't figured out what to do about extra gasoline, since I have no luggage racks other than the top rack that my pack will be sitting on. Maybe just get a bombproof gas can and strap it to the top of my pack?

I was worried about the weather being too hot out in Utah, but the average high for July temps near Monticello is about 85f!! That's cooler than southern Illinois and with the lack of humidity that we have here, it'll feel like spring!
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post #8 of 12 Old 08-03-2015, 05:20 PM
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Utah - First Trip

Runtaco: How'd the trip go? Post up for us.....details, equipment needed and not needed, how'd the bike do....what would you do differently next time?
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post #9 of 12 Old 08-08-2015, 11:22 AM Thread Starter
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Runtaco: How'd the trip go? Post up for us.....details, equipment needed and not needed, how'd the bike do....what would you do differently next time?
Next time, I'll ride my bike out I ultimately decided that I didn't want to wear myself too much, since I was primarily going out to run and hike, with only about a total of a week. I also hit some pretty gnarly storms on the way out, which made me glad I had the shelter of my car since I've not rode in any rain yet. And, I didn't get my license until a few days before I left, so I wasn't able to take any long rides to see how long I could endure it.

So, I'll definitely be taking a trip out there sometime in the future (hopefully near) with the primary focus being enjoying the riding! But, I still plan on doing it pretty minimally, as I had described in a previous post. After seeing some of the landscape out there, I think it would definitely be a benefit to travel with less luggage packed on my bike in order to make riding that terrain a bit more easier and enjoyable.
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post #10 of 12 Old 08-15-2015, 03:41 PM
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Don't do it

A buddy rode from IL to Moab in April. Luckily there was space for him to trailer back. I forget what his username is but trust me, ship it, don't ride it. I drove there and back towing a trailer full of bikes. If not for the excellent company of a great guy who I had never met and another new friend that let us crash at his place in Denver, I would have killed myself. I doubt if either of us will be driving out there again let alone biking.

Last edited by Sandstone; 08-15-2015 at 03:44 PM.
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