1,000 miles for Easter
I got my M license a year and a half ago and haven't taken any significant trips with my bike until now. I rode my '01 KLR from chicago, il to omaha, ne and back this weekend.
I haven't spent a lot of time on the highway with it, so I didn't really know what to expect. I have shinko 244's on it because I've been trying to learn how to ride offroad as well.
I set out on Thursday after work and had planned to take state highway 34 pretty much all the way there. This turned out to be a mistake as there was a great deal of traffic on it Thursday evening. It took me 1.5 hours to drive the first 30 miles. After I started getting away from towns I could start riding a bit faster and found the ride to be real squirrelly. The front end just wanted to dance all over. There was a lot of crosswind and I felt I was leaning to one side most of the ride. After 5 hours or so I had gone 200 miles and stopped at a hotel, I was beat. The leaning and dancing of the bike really caused me a lot of anxiety- I just didn't know to expect this and it freaked me out at 65 miles an hour.
The second day was a bit better, there wasn't any traffic (I was in Iowa now) but it was 34* and I was freezing my hands off. (I wear a full suit, gloves, boots, full face helmet) I stopped at a small town gas station for a hot cocoa and felt like a local celebrity. Everyone had a comment about the suit and wanted to know what the bike was. A bunch of guys came in and had coffee and they all sat around and chatted with me, it was kind of fun. The rest of the ride wasn't as bad the day before (I was slowly getting used to the leaning and wigglyness). There was a couple lane closures that cost me time and a detour that I thought I shoulda ignored being as I was riding a KLR. in the end, that 270 mile leg took 6 hours.
Coming home I decided to take I-80. I found the interstate better than the highway- wider lanes, no oncoming traffic, no total closures for construction, no detours, and mostly I now had a great deal more experience and could stomach it. The return trip of 470 miles took 7.5 hours.
I learned a lot. I think the most important lesson might have been tires. I should have swapped my tires for the trip. The shinko 244's are a 50/50 knobby tire and I think the center knobs made for a pretty wiggly ride for the first half of the trip. I wore em down a bit and the second half wasn't quite so wiggly. I don't blame the KLR too much for being wiggly, I think it was a combination of grooved pavement, wind, incorrect tire choice, and inexperience. The KLR feels like a bit of a sail in the high winds across the plains. I got used to it- I didn't like it, but I got used to it. I burned a little (very little) oil driving at or over 5k rpms for that much time. I don't think it actually matters much, but it's the first time I've ever noticed an oil loss with my bike. My gas mileage really suffered on this trip. I'm normally around 55-60 mpg but I put on some givi e21 side cases and drove 70-75 mph for much of the return trip and got about 40 mpg.
I wore a bilt h2o suit I bought at the local cycle gear. For the temps I was riding in (34* up to 84*) it performed really well. I've been using it a while and off road it's awful hot but on the highway it was awesome. It's got a pouch for a water bladder that I use while riding and I highly recommend it. I have their explorer boots and really like them. They are comfortable riding and walking, though they can get warm. I also have a sargent low seat.
The shinko 244's have been very good tires. Some people complain they throw lugs, mine haven't even after 1000 miles of slab at a pretty good clip. I made sure they were properly inflated at all times, and I think this is the key. They're pretty good offroad and not bad for local driving though I have not tested them in the rain.
I had little trouble with vibrations in the grips on this ride. I've had it before so I've done a few things to help that- adjust doohickey, valve adjustment, and grip puppies. The doo and grip puppies did the most benefit. Not white knuckling the grips help even more.
If there is one thing that made it possible to ride for 7.5 hours in one day, it would be the size of the (sargent) seat. I don't think that the foam or anything about it was super comfortable, but the seat is so big I have space to move my tail to about 4 totally different positions on the seat. I could ride til my ass hurt and move it, then do it again. By the time I cycled through the seat I could start over. I never had to stop to rest from the seat, I always ran out of gas or had to whizz first. Even with a 6.6 IMS tank.
Last edited by kyxon; 04-20-2014 at 05:44 PM.