I've said this previously but more recently even, BMW has been having quite a lot of social media blowback over their stanchion problems. I first noticed this in November of last year and posted on Instagram these three images, one of which I took myself and another from the same event I was at:
Now we have reports of injuries related to apparent failures of these fork stanchions:
Woody Witte (of Woody's Wheel Works) in his caption to this story above he shared on Facebook: "This is the sort of stuff that makes me MADDER THAN FUGGIN HELL!! I bet i can round up at least a dozen incidences in a few minutes Half of which have lefte the rider needing serious medical help !!MAN UP BMW & send an alert ir even product recall before it'll cost ya more in bad press AND COURT COSTS!!! Pass the word!!
I even had a reporter from Motorrad Magazine in Germany reach out to me the other day about this.
Just to refresh... these crimped forks have been found to be coming loose on the '13+ liquid cooled GS bikes. There have been a few injuries. To BMW's credit there is word of some new service bulletins out designed to address this (not yet confirmed as of June 23) and there's already a few after market solutions (see link at top).
Here's where it gets interesting though... So I read that the crimped fork solution was in an effort to reduce weight (and probably cost) from the previous generation GS (looking for source now). I had an '11 GSA and never had this problem. But as it turns out, this crimped fork solution appears to be an attempt to patch or correct an even earlier design that was found to have also failed ... coincidentally merely weeks after the fatal accident of journalist Kevin Ash at BMW's GS launch in South Africa on January 22, 2013.
According to an anonymous source (6/24 edit: this was actually public), barely two months after the accident (April '13), BMW Motorrad USA issued a service bulletin regarding a check of the front forks. The bulletin affected only a few handfuls of early '13 model bikes and their solution was a tool they provided to crimp the forks so there'd be no separation between the "slack plug" and the fixed fork tube. Their wording was such that they'd determined in rare cases the plug could work itself loose. It was after this that the fork tubes came crimped from the factory.
As to Kevin's accident, there is no implied or direct connection being made here between the fork stanchion issue and that. Reporter Florin Tibu of AutoEvolution.com felt that even a year after the accident, many questions remained. He characterized the fact that BMW retained the wrecked bike before a forensic mechanic could inspect it as "a bit bizarre" and that explanations are still due in the investigation. The Warwickshire UK coroner, Sean McGovern, says there's no verdict due to insufficient evidence. BMW never released the results of their investigation, even at the request of Ash's widow. Caroline.
I try to be nice. But I still have to be true to who I am. I’m a market researcher by trade and we’re paid for our objectivity, accountability and transparency. I’m paid to tell the truth whether or not that’s convenient to someone’s marketing objectives.
That may be in a way how I’ve shaped XLADV. I want this community to be real. I really do want it to be positive though as well. I embrace the vendor community (some say too much?) but I also have to stay true to the objectivity and will call BS when I see it. Precious few have been “thrown under the bus” and I think I’ve been pretty even-handed but community members are going to say whatever is on their minds.
There are plenty of industry hacks, obsequious and sycophantic yes-men there to fill that space the vendor/manufacturer community thinks they want. More savvy marketers have embraced the community and opted for reality, credibility and a take-it-as-it comes approach but it seems there are still a few old school holdouts who are desperately clinging to their trained seal media.
They’re afraid. They’ve even told me so. They say they’d love to leverage this community but the upper levels see it as a potential liability given other “mutinies” over at GS Giants (“shhhh! you’ll scare away our sponsor money!”) and AOLrider (where few companies fear to tread).
And boy is being a trained seal profitable! Maybe I’m just jealous that I cannot yet afford a shiny new new Sprinter or Tundra or a stable of bikes to evaluate long term.
Remember the list we compiled of the companies ADV riders should avoid for their contribution to groups shutting down responsible vehicular access to our public lands? Well a lot of those companies are still trying to have it both ways and marketing themselves to the off road riding motorcycle/ATV markets. Examples: YETI, Marmot, MSR, Big Agnes, etc… What are these media outlets going to say when our riding areas are closed like they are on the East Coast and Europe and one of us points out how they carried that company’s water who funded the entire campaign? Yes I know, they’ll delete the comment! lol
Just the other day I saw one of our media friends (we are actually friends, btw) post a review of one of these offending companies’ products. I said something like “great product but it’s too bad they contribute to groups shutting down responsible vehicular access to our public lands.” So not a slam on their journalism. Not even a slam of the product’s quality…. just a bit of accountability directed at the manufacturer (I tagged them).
And…. the comment was deleted. But I’m not surprised as I did it to see if it would be deleted. I was proved right. By deleting it they weren’t saying “you can’t insult my writing like that!” or “you can’t insult this product like that!” but more like “you can’t make my client look bad like that!”
So keep that in your mind next time you’re sensing a bit of a divergence between what you read elsewhere and what you read here at XLADV.com. I do want to keep it positive but at the same time real.
They can have their business model. I’ll stick to mine, thanks.
With a rough plan for the next two weeks, and a bit of optimism, I set out to race the Sandblast Rally in South Carolina and then continue down to Florida to catch bike week if all went well. The plan was to work out of my company’s Florida office and to rough it in a tent for as long as I could cut it; hopefully long enough to combine my return trip with a detour to Tennessee to catch March Moto Madness. Despite some ups and downs the stars aligned and it turned out to be quite the journey.
Sand Blast Rally
On the morning of Thursday, March 2nd I packed up my bike and departed from my home on the eastern shore of Maryland. The ride down to Cheraw, SC was uneventful but I was burning through my knobbies faster than I anticipated causing my somewhat worn rear tire to turn into an extremely worn rear tire. I arrived at the campground in time to catch a stunning sunset before unpacking my things and making a run into town for signup. At signup I ran into my friends Steve and Amelia who offered me to pit with their crew, an offer which I took them up on.
After signing up and getting supplies I returned back to a cold campsite and prepared for bed. It was a cold night, dropping to freezing temperatures, but I was plenty warm and plenty grateful that I had opted to pick up a 30⁰F sleeping bag before I departed on my trip. The problem though, came when I had to leave my sleeping bag and put on all of my now frozen clothes. There is nothing like scavenging together pine cones to burn for warmth at 6 am.
I eventually warmed up enough to go into town and run through tech inspection before attending the novice competitor orientation. Following orientation I went back to the tent and prepared my roll chart for the race by cutting out the special stages then trimming and taping it all together.
Shakedown runs in the afternoon were followed up with parc exposé (fancy words for race car show) in the adjacent town of Chesterfield where the rally start would be held. After talking with other riders and getting some tacos for dinner I called it a night. The morning of the race I woke up extra early to give myself time to warm up by the fire. Once warm, I made my way towards Chesterfield for the start only to arrive shivering; it was still near freezing at 6:45am. I warmed up with some coffee and a hot breakfast sandwich, set my watch to key time, and queued up taking my spot as the last motorcycle to start. Starting 30 seconds behind Steve I followed him to the first special stage while getting better acquainted with using my roll chart. Doing some mental math I ensured that I checked in on the correct 30 second interval to avoid penalty and moved up to prepare for launch. With my nerves buzzing with anticipation I watched the timer countdown to my exact second to launch. The timer hit zero and I took off blazing. Unthinking and overly anxious I did not heed the old adage of “slow is smooth, and smooth is fast”. Only several turns in and I was already getting the dreaded arm-pump. Barley able to hold it together, sliding through a chicane I ignored logic and accelerated into the next turn pitching rear slide sideways.
Photo by Mathew Styrker
I had bitten off more than I could chew and I put myself into a drawn out lowside giving the viewers quite the spectacle. I picked up the bike and finished with a more sustainable pace, the arm pump now so bad that I could barely pull in the clutch at the finish. Heeding my lesson in exceeding my limits, I relaxed and elected a more suitable pace for special stage 2. With my arm-pump subsided I was able to find my rhythm and increase speed throughout the day, though not without a few more mild crashes.
Photo by Rally Girl Racing
All in all I ended up finishing 8th of 13 for medium class, and 16th of 28 for all bikes. Steve’s video of the rally sums up the whole experience nicely, plus it has some sweet crash footage.
Video by Steve Kamrad
The end of the rally was in downtown Cheraw where NASA threw an excellent party with “free” food and beer for the competitors and volunteers. Trading war stories and tall tales of the day’s events seemed the perfect way to cap an exciting day of racing. Comradery runs high among the rally folks and many new friends were made.
In the morning I packed up camp and set off down to Florida. Upon arrival I crashed at my friend and coworker Joe’s apartment for a few days while I decided where to camp. Joe owns a Ninja 300 so naturally the hijinks started right away.
Joe had expressed an interest in riding dirt with me so we went adventure riding after my first day of work. I do not think he expected to ride 20 miles of powerline cuts, rail road tracks, and trails but he managed them much better than I ever thought possible.
After a few days of staying with Joe I found a place to set up camp in the woods near my office. I guess word got around the office because I soon had an offer to set up camp at my coworker Tommy’s property. Tommy has around 40 acres of property and gave me free reign over it. I found myself a little lean-to structure in the woods and set up shop under it. This would become my new home for March.
Adapting to living in a tent turned out to be easy and I quickly got into a routine of going to work early to shower, making meals at work, stopping by the laundromat twice a week to wash the small amount clothes I brought with me, and doing “Florida things” such as visiting the swamps and paddle boarding.
I caught wind of a free CADS/GS Giants event called the Trans-Florida Adventure Ride so I eagerly prepared the Versys with an oil change and new rear tire. Early Saturday morning I packed up my bike with my camera, sleeping bag, tool roll, and air compressor and headed out to traverse Florida.
The Trans-Florida Adventure Ride starts out of Crescent Beach along the Atlantic on the first Saturday of bike week and takes a primarily dirt route out to Cedar Key on the Gulf, followed by a mostly dirt route back to the start on Sunday totaling around 360 miles. Navigation is done solely by roll chart with optional “enduro” sections and picture challenges. Deciding I wanted a challenge I took the first optional section, to ride down the beach and get a picture for proof. It turned out I was the only one who did the 4 mile long challenge which now placed me behind literally everyone. Questioning my abilities to follow a roll chart I hastily made off to the next dirt section hoping to catch up with the pack.
I rocketed through the next dirt section and despite a few navigational difficulties I got back on track. Passing a group of riders taking a break as I neared the first split between enduro and adventure routes I decided to take the enduro route with the hope that there would likely be someone behind me in the event something went wrong. Naturally things immediately went wrong.
Things started to get bumpy blasting down an overgrown trail that somehow passed for a “road” according to my roll chart. At first it was fun getting small amounts of air as I set my pace to 60mph, but my concern grew as the dried mud holes that launched me started to increase in size. I tried to back off but was too late; I flew out of a dip over the bottom of another hole and landed onto the uphill face exiting it. Bottoming incredibly hard, I felt my left foot come free from the peg. Headed towards a mud hole that was filled with water I tried frantically to get my foot back on the peg and regain control but to no avail. I blasted straight through the water hole before finally coming to a stop, now completely drenched. Checking the damage I realize that I could not perch my foot back on the peg because the peg had broken free of the rearset mount taking the shifter and linkage with it. The riders I passed by earlier stopped to check on me as I zip tied the dangling peg and attached shifter to the frame. Seeing that the bike was still rideable I sent them on their way.
Attempts at rigging up a way where I could still shift failed as the zip ties snapped immediately or didn’t allow for enough movement. Thinking about my vice grips laying back in my tent, I contemplated what to do now that I was stuck in 3rd gear only 40 miles into the day 1 ride. “How hard could it be to ride one footed,” I pondered. I would soon find out that hard was the answer.
Photo by Steven Breckenridge
Realizing I had nothing better to do this weekend I decided to forge onward. Placing my left foot on the rear passenger peg afforded my quickly tiring leg some rest as well as added bike control as I made my way through the deep Florida sand. For the next hour I played cat and mouse with the group of riders I encountered earlier; I would pass them as they would wait for the group to reassemble, then subsequently get passed back as I missed turns. Soon I found myself lost, all alone, deep in Ocala National Forest single track. Ready to give up, I turned my bike off (since I couldn’t shift into neutral) to check my phone’s GPS, and to my surprise I distantly heard a bike struggling through the sand down the trail to my right. With renewed hope I rapidly took off in the search of the machine’s pilot hoping that they could show me the way.
The first rider I found, Courtney – a R1200GS pilot, had lost place on the roll chart as well but directed me to catch up with the leader of the group, Nick who helped organize the event, would surely know. I reached the group at the end of the trail only to find out that they were actually taking a slightly different, “locals only” route they knew and that I indeed had been lost. I followed them through the last few miles of the section before regaining my bearings and finding my spot on the roll chart. After talking with one of the riders, Mark, at a gas stop I decided I would take their offer to ride with the group for the remainder of the day. After many more miles of sand we reached Cedar Key. Mark was kind enough share his hotel room with me after discovering that I had no accommodations.
The next day we ride the 180 miles back, this time with slightly less dirt. About three-quarters of the way through the ride the skies opened up quickly soaking us. Cold and wet we finish the ride back to Crescent Beach to earn our Trans-Florida Ride Finisher stickers. While we celebrated with dinner and some beers I messaged my “roommate” Tommy to see if he knows anyone who can weld aluminum and fix my footpeg. As luck would have it Tommy was drinking beer with his friend who happened to be a welder at that very moment. I limped back at 60mph down I-95 and paid a visit to his friend.
With my bike fixed I went back into my normal routine: wake up early, go to work, adventure ride, eat tacos and drink beer, and sleep. That Saturday I headed down to Daytona International Speedway to get a taste of bike week. I started off by immediately demoing an Indian Scout, followed by an FJR1300, and finishing on a Hayabusa. After thrashing them as much as I could get away with (they all do wheelies, yes, even the scout) I went and met up with Joe and we checked out the manufacture’s offerings that we couldnot ride, then watched the Daytona 200 from the infield before finishing the night off by bar hopping on Main Street.
Photo by Joe Sendzia
During the time since the Trans-Florida Ride I noticed that my gas mileage was starting to drop, and soon a noticeable power loss too. Checking my air filter I discovered the problem; it was completely clogged. The dirt and sand was caked onto the filter in unbelievable amounts, to the point that rinsing it was futile. Having failed at cleaning the filter I had a new one overnight shipped. With the new filter in place power was immediately restored and wheelies abounded.
In the period from when I first took Joe to the trails to now he had been riding his ninja off-road nearly daily, unbeknownst to me. After catching me planning an afternoon dirt ride he wanted to join along, which I agreed to of course. We started off with local sandy ATV trails and single track that led to a large play area of deep sand.
Photo by Joe Sendzia
Joe was surprising me with how much more comfortable he had become off-road and was able to go at a respectable pace. After playing on the single track for a while longer we decided to see how far we could make it on the powerline access trail before dark. After knocking out around two miles we reached a swampy low area where I suggested we turn around. Joe wasnot having it and volunteered me to go through first to see how bad it was before attempting the feat with the ninja. Like a good friend I obliged.
I started by trying to ride the center between the 4x4 ruts but it turned out to be slick and I soon found myself pulled into the rut of slimy mud. Duck walking I managed to make it through at a crawling pace as the rear refused to get traction despite my best efforts. As I turned around to tell Joe not to attempt it he came barreling down towards the ruts without heed. Despite nearly tucking the front he saved it and his momentum carried him half the length of the rut before the trouble started. Appearing to be stuck Joe turned down my offers of assistance and instead man-handled the 300 to conform to his will. I laughed and photographed him as he slipped and slid every which way, slowly making progress in the intended direction. With the sun about to set we jumped onto the next road the powerlines crossed and met up with Adam for some food truck and brewery action.
Brec, one of the riders I befriended at the Trans-Florida Ride, asked if I would be interested in riding a mostly dirt route from Florida up to Tellico Plains for March Moto Madness. Already having plans to attend March Moto Madness, I quickly asked my boss for additional time off to take the long way up. With permission granted I packed up my tent home and spent my last few days in Florida at Adam’s apartment, getting in a few fully loaded test runs over the weekend.
Onward to Tennessee
Tuesday morning I loaded up the bike for good and headed north to meet Brec in Jacksonville. With his KTM 690 smartly packed and my Versys loaded to the brim we took off, picking up the trail west of the city. Following our route we winded up through the sand roads of Florida and into Georgia, eventually setting up camp for the night near Twin City, Georgia.
Rising with the sun we got an early start on our day, crushing many miles of sand that slowly gave way to the red dirt that Georgia is known for.
As the day wound on we found ourselves on the twisty, gravel, mountain roads of Chattahoochee National Forest nearing sunset. With only 35 miles of riding left before hitting our intended stop, Mountain City, Georgia, my trunk broke free and tossed itself down the gravel road. The bouncing had sheared the horizontal pins from the ¼ turn fasteners that connect the adapter plate to my tail rack. With a quick zip-tie repair we were back underway only to have it break off again a mile down the road. With sunlight fading fast I was prepared to leave my trunk, its only contents being a sleeping bag and pillow which I could lash to the rack and some MREs I would have to leave behind. Brec insisted that we give it one more go but this time he lashed the adapter plate to the rack with a cam buckle strap. To my delight this worked, but the happiness would be short lived. While stopped at a junction a mere mile down the road my oil pressure light illuminated red. Neither Brec nor I had oil with us and we were still 30 miles into the mountains. Reviewing the roads on the GPS we see that we are already on the shortest path back to civilization and we decide to push on. Maintaining revs to elevate oil pressure enough to stave off the light became my new riding style as we made our way through the forest in the dark. Pulling into town a little after 9pm we decided to get a hotel for the night.
In the morning I got oil from gas station next-door which conveniently carries Rotella T-6. The versys eagerly gobbled down a quart, followed by most of the second bottle. This was not good; an oil change requires 1.9 quarts per the manual, only 1.7 if you don’t change the filter. The moment of truth: I pushed the starter and it reluctantly came alive only to stall when idling. Sometimes the bike does not like to idle on cold mornings I reminded myself and I fired it alive a second time. Mildly concerned, I crossed the street to the gas station only for it stall as soon as I pulled in the clutch. My concern quickly grew; I thumbed the starter button but there would be no third time.
Not wanting to accept its fate, Brec and I swapped batteries since it was cranking a bit slow. No dice. With it starting to rain a man from the town Welcome Center offered me the use of his pavilion to work on the bike. After pushing it over I pulled the tank off and checked the air filter for oil only to find that the entire airbox was covered in dirt.
I called my friend Chad, who lives in Georgia and would be attending March Moto Madness, to see about getting a lift. Chad offered to pick me up on his way north that night, even though it was two hours out of the way. Seeing as I had all day to wait he recommended that I try pulling the plugs and putting some thick oil down the cylinders in an effort to raise compression enough to get it started. Now armed with a plan, and back-up plan, I said farewell to Brec as he continued his journey solo. (Brec has a much more detailed report of our ride, with plenty of pictures, located at http://advrider.com/index.php?threads/waybills-ride-to-tn-from-n-e-florida.1229589/ )
I walked down to the auto parts store and picked up oil and fresh plugs and got to work. I poured oil into both cylinders and gave it time to settle while I found lunch. After turning over the motor a few times to blow out excess oil I installed the new plugs but not before checking for spark the old fashioned way. With the plugs installed and my fingers tingling I tried starting it again but the motor gave not even a hint of wanting to start. Due to the abundance of time and stubbornness I tried oiling the cylinders and cleaning the plugs three more times before accepting the hard truth that the versys was dead. I put the bike back together and waited for Chad to come save me.
March Moto Madness
Chad took me up to March Moto Madness where we meant up with Steve, Amelia, Rob, and Don. After some pleading, Steve and Amelia were kind enough to offer the versys and myself a lift back home. With a ride secured I turned to the problem at hand: how do I find a bike so I can ride with my friends? After asking around I discovered that GSM still had one rental KLR available for the weekend, and with some exchanging of information I had a hot new ride to thrash.
How is March Moto Madness? Well Steve answers that with his video better than I could explain:
Video by Steve Kamrad
Steve playing in the water
Chad and Rob laugh at Steve’s inferior, non KTM bike
Tough limbo competition this year
Don doing his version of limbo
Top of the world
Amelia ripping on the ‘burg
The crew pondering where to go next
After a great weekend of hanging with friends I loaded the versys up behind the TRD Pro and spent a cozy twelve hours with the Karmrads. Arriving back home in Maryland it was now April 2nd and time to return back to the normal grind. March was a hell of a month; now I have to figure out how to top it.
I wanted to share with our members a bit of a progress report on how far we've come in just two years. It was our objective to create an online community that was all about big adventure bikes that had a user experience unique to anything else out there and I'm extremely proud that many of you have found that to be the case and have chosen to make your ADV home here with us. Facebook is fun but it's still a mile wide and an inch deep and isn't the best place to ensure your adventures persist beyond a day or two or even get the kind of in-depth commentary and sharing that only can happen here at a forum.
I felt that due to the fact that big adventure bikes are built for different purposes that it deserved its own forum. I made the choice on day one of my adventure motorcycling experience to ride "beyond Starbucks" but as funny as that sounds and as popular as it became, it still attracted a lot of flack from riders who just didn't "get it." I just realized the other day that in two years of our community, we have yet to have a single member (aside from spam bots) booted, let alone even given a single infraction! The reason why is people here simply respect each other because we're coming from a similar experience.
That kind of quality is what we set out to accomplish and I thank you for showing up to provide so much of that.
I also want to share some measures of our performance and put that up against other industry media for comparison. A few months ago I got what was probably the highest compliment I've ever heard and that was from an industry insider who said "I've been in this industry about 25 years and I've never seen any brand go as far and as fast as XLADV has in such a short time."
By the way, "domain authority" is a score from 1-100 that sort of rates a site's stature online. Google and Facebook are 100. Instagram is 98.
This type of success will continue to drive a lot of new opportunities for us in terms of gear to test, press launch participation and hopefully paying ad clients! You may notice we run these ads from Google AdSense but those only get us pennies a day and aren't really enough to even keep the lights on. We're at the point now, however, that it does pay to advertise with XLADV given the extended reach we now have with our social media (#1 on Instagram).
I think our community is strong and will continue to grow. I am proud of the "cred" we have achieved calling things like we see them as well as knowing a good thing when we see it. I'm also proud to have helped numerous round-the-world travelers acquire critical gear, helped out of jams & found a place to stay on their journeys.
So if you like what you see then please invite a friend to join our community. Post some photos of your recent trip. Ask a question. Show us how you set up your bike. Then share it on Facebook.
Tyler of Everide just posted a new video (see below) with some really epic scenery and riding in Maui with some perhaps more philosophical than literal discussion on "slowing down." I thought there was a lot more meat to that topic, especially for us big bike riders.
Too often I see riders who ride way too fast; too fast for the conditions; too fast for their ability. I'm guilty of that sometimes myself. Speed oftentimes masks bad riding which is something I was taught by Jimmy Lewis. If you can do it slower (which is harder) then that builds the skills you have to have in order to do it faster later. Especially in dual sport where the aim is to ride there, get your dirt fix on, then ride home, slowing it down means a bit more insurance that you're going to make it back in one piece. In some cases like deep sand on a heavy bike, it is easier to go faster but if you ever want to get better at riding deep sand, it does help to try and go back and forth through it slower rather than faster, trusting your balance and practicing the use of your throttle and body position.
Big bikes also don't have the suspension travel of the smaller bikes and you have to slow down before you encounter the kinds of obstacles like washouts, rocks, etc... that the smaller bikes typically can just go over without as much trouble.
Slower isn't always better. Sometimes I see people riding way too slow out of fear/lack of experience and that can make it a lot harder/less safe. I'll see someone struggling in the sand and I'll say something like "I'm a more experienced rider but it would be just as difficult for me to do it that slow." We had a rider on another trip who just didn't have the momentum to get over some tricky rock sections and he fell more times than I could count. We kept telling him he needed more momentum to get him through that stuff, but we're talking like 12 mph instead of 5.
This is Jimmy Lewis showing us some slow speed cornering in his class out in Pahrump, Nevada
I see guys ride way too fast on the pavement as well, like in sharp corners with knobby tires that are under-inflated. I did a trip last year where I just hung back while a few others chose to "measure their manhood" by who could ride the fastest. There were a few low sides in sandy corners that were completely avoidable and could have ruined everyone's trip had it turned out worse. On another trip, we were riding pavement through a snaking river canyon road and my rear tube melted from all the heat from the tire flexing (too fast for what little air I had in them).
I'll leave the philosophy of slowing down and smelling the roses to Tyler. He's much better at it than I am!
When Dave and I arrived at Burgdorf Hotsprings on Sept. 28, he announced we were going to stay the night in one of the rustic cabins. I was totally down for that as the original plan was to find a campground down the road and pitch our tent. The nights were starting to get very chilly and there had been talk of a wolf pack in the area that would howl all night. This created some eerie imagery, which a storyteller loves but I could do without wolves sniffing us out. Read more here.
My right shoulder was becoming an issue on the trip, an old injury that would sear after a long day of trying to keep the bike in position amongst rocks and boulders or just around tight, dusty corners. I drank a beer and took two Tylenol with it. Recommended by doctors world-wide. Read full story here.
Dave and I wanted to officially complete the few miles along the Idaho and Utah BDRs we’d missed when we first came through the year before and then again this summer on our way up from California.
And I had another mission.
I wanted to ride back along the trail just outside of Avery, Idaho where exactly a year ago I’d clipped the boulder that had caused me to break my wrist. I wanted to pee on that boulder.
Full story here.
Another rider came in and took the booth behind us. He told us about a time he’d organized a group ride with 43 bikes down into the U.S. and almost everyone was turned back. Three guys even had their bikes impounded. I began to think they were just victims of the U.S.’s increasingly paranoid hoop-jumping but our Tim Horton’s friend went on to say that part of that group stole a truck later and backed it into the impound yard to retrieve the bikes. Full story here.
We were under the impression vehicles were not allowed in town but once we started walking around, we noticed cars and trucks parked along the streets and in people’s driveways. We figured there must be another road and were left with our curiosity for the moment. For now, we had to solve an immediate problem of hunger. We found The Potato and tucked into a late lunch around 4:00 p.m. then caught a shuttle up to the mine around 5:00 p.m. We were the only two people in the van and I asked the driver how people get their cars over the river. He said resident’s pay about $300/year and get a key that accesses a trunk road bridge downriver. He then said, “But if it fits, you can bring it across the foot bridge.”
Hold up now… so we could ride our bikes across the bridge? Read full story here
Ronetta laughed while Joseph lit the candle and we all took her photo. She seemed very happy and I swallowed a little choke in my throat thinking about this kind woman losing her husband so early in life. She told me later it was hard to see all of us working together with our partners as a team as she had done with her husband but said being around all of us was bringing her and her dogs a lot of joy and helping her heal. Read full post here.
If we hear rain on the tent in the morning upon waking we’re pissed, even if that very same sound lulled us to sleep the night before. It’s nice at night. It sucks in the morning. We have to pack up outside so all our stuff gets wet, the tent never dries out and unlike some road trips, we can’t escape into a warm, dry vehicle and get away from the sogginess. Weather is our travelling companion whether we like it or not. It rides right along with us, clinging to our pants legs and getting all up in our face. We have to accept it even when, on the hottest of days, it never offers to buy us a beer or offers to do the dishes every once in awhile. Full story here...
At various points along our trip it’s been tough on both of us to be right there in a place of the world we’ve long dreamed of being, and have no gear for playing. Our motorcycles are great toys but can only hold so much. Although we are very grateful to experience this trip from the seat of a bike, it does have its limitations when you also love hiking, climbing and ski touring and are in world-class places where you may never get another chance to be again. We felt this about not being able to climb in Patagonia or get to off-the-beaten-path places in the Galapagos Islands.
Read full story here.
Testing Out The F800 On The Denali Highway
Blog pull: I stalled the bike and started to go over. My foot skidded out on the rocks. I had to jump off and let it fall. I swore so loud and long that swans on a nearby lake fluttered about frazzled and an old couple standing about ½ mile down the road got into their RV and quickly drove off. In a matter of days I’d have had crash bars and my bike would have been protected. Now it probably had a gaping hole in the plastic or a ding in the tank. I couldn’t look. It was like when you cut yourself chopping vegetables and you’re sure if you look your finger will be detached laying on the cutting board in a pool of blood. Read full story here.
After a series of bad luck spills, break downs and financial distress, I decide to break up with my G650GS and trade it in for a younger, more handsome model with a better body and more endurance. If you know what I'm saying...
Blog pull: After the experience with my bike on the Dalton, I had a big decision to make; do I keep the Frakenbike and put thousands into fixing it up or invest in another bike? There were a few sleepless nights wondering if it was worth it. If I should just fix the 650 and accept its limitations. We had such history together. It had patina. It had, sniff, a very expensive, custom-made seat just for me. Something I couldn’t transfer over to the F800.
Read the full story here.
I saw this article featuring Bill Dragoo this morning and it reminded me of how offensive I find this kind of labeling that what we do with big adventure bikes is some kind of “midlife crisis.”
This is a midlife crisis
I was just 43 at the time, hardly mid-life, when my ex wife first saw the 2011 BMW GS Adventure I’d bought a few months earlier.
“Midlife crisis!” she said, nodding her head, in a way intended to cut deep. It reminded me of this girl in the fourth grade, Susie Webster, who upon seeing my new feathered hair style (all the rage in ’76) one morning at school said to me “your hair looks stupid.”
Thanks! That’s really nice of you to say that.
I told the ex, listen, if this was a midlife crisis I’d be riding some shiny Harley with a 25 year old girl on the back. Or driving a Porsche…. with a 25 year old next to me.
This is a midlife crisis
See, chicks just don’t get all that excited about an adventure bike. Guys? Absolutely, but that was hardly what I was aiming for. I’ve seen grown men bound across a parking lot with hearts in their eyes looking at my bike. I’ve seen the wistful longing look of the dads in minivans packed with their squabbling teenagers on vacation wishing they could snap their fingers and be riding with us.
This is called living your life to the fullest
If you ride a big adventure bike like I do then you just get it. That whole "midlife" crisis is irritating not just for its inaccuracy but because it completely misses all that is wonderful about how we are choosing to live our lives. See, the crazy cat ladies HATE being called crazy cat ladies because it's true. All I can say about us big adventure bike riders is if this is midlife now, it just goes to prove that the first 43 years of childhood are the hardest.
"That's an awesome question," answered Simon Pavey this past weekend at AltRider's Taste of Dakar where he was the signature guest.
I had posed this question last year and took a lot of heat for it. Honestly, I feel the jerk in retrospect for asking it too, but Simon was a good sport and shed some never-before-heard insight into this matter in ways that made not simple good sense but in a quite endearing way that, given the fact I have my own son of 14 years I hope to ride with one day too, made me a bit teary-eyed.
I see that I had a point after all, though, because Simon did reveal that they did in fact intend to race separately at first. He said it's just easier to do it alone given his previous experience and besides, Lel is a faster rider than he now.
I don't want to give the whole story away for you just yet; you'll have to read the transcript for yourself...
“On Adventure Bike TV the first question you were asked on there is okay is this all for one and one for all or is it every man for himself? And you said kind of jokingly oh it’s every man for himself. Well then in the Dakar you finished together so I’m curious was that the plan the whole time or did it change or what was the thinking there?”
“That’s an awesome question. What happened is we definitely set out to just do our own race and a little bit because of my experience before of trying to ride with teammates and other people. Obviously Race to Dakar is a great example of that but have done it on a few other occasions. Actually it’s really difficult and dangerous to ride together, you know you interfere with each other just trying to look after each other all the time. You can’t ride your own pace. In a 14 day race everyone has a day where they’re on it and everybody does a day when they’re not riding well and on the day you’re not riding well you gotta just chap off and do your own things.
And for sure he’s (Lel) faster than me now. So we set out at the start absolutely just to both do our own thing and then what happened was I definitely came a little bit … I was really comfortable when he was a little bit faster than me everyday if I’m honest you know. It was a really comfortable place for me to be riding at my level and my pace. But you know I was usually just ten minutes behind him in pace by the end of the day so that was a real comfort thing really.
And then there was that scene you saw where we were both a bit lost and came together and he went in front again and then I think later that day he had quite a bit of a crash and just by pure chance I was the one who found him crashed really. Um there’s a little scene in the medical car there. We rode in together that day because you know it really didn’t matter if it was Lel that day or someone else. You know when you find someone crashed and the medical guys send them on their way.. well we kinda just rode in together.
And because of that when we started on the lake in a mass start, and we started side by side then we were together in the bivouacs and stuff… and you know our bikes are identical so when his bike died on the salt lake luckily I was there so that kind of just changed the whole dynamic because we were then both in survival mode really. We spent four hours in the middle of a salt lake working on the bikes. So the whole result for either of us was out the window. The only result that became important was for both of us to get to the finish. I think at that stage we both have our problems and neither of us was going to leave the other one. It has just totally changed.
And in the second week of the rally it’s easier to go on together because some of the madness is gone.
Yeah it was definitely not what we set out to do but it was an awesome result. It made it a much better experience… you know we had to tow each other three times and there was loads of times when we were in difficult situations in here when he lost all his engine oil one morning because of the salt lake and we spent a long time fixing his bike on the side of the road and then when we got to the start of the special they wouldn’t let us take the start because the cars were about to start so I got into a massive argument with the French organizers and it was really nice because he (Lel) turned out to be the adult, calm one and kind of calmed the situation down when I was trying to kill this French guy (laughter) . You know that was a massive change for me because he was the calm one and I was the hot head which hadn't really happened before. (laughter)”
Simon Pavey is a 10 time Dakar racer and heads up the Off Road Skills BMW school in South Wales, UK
Llewellyn (Lel) Pavey also races motorcycles off road and is editor of Brake Magazine
Shark - one of the pillars of manufacturers of helmets for motorcyclists. This is - cheap, but quality and reliable "machine" to protect the head. By the way, when conflicts often happens, the rider in the fall primarily hits the mountain bike helmets and he takes over the first portion of the energy of the collision. That's why the quality of the helmet, and it is very important - its good condition and the precise size play a crucial role. HELMETS SHARK.
The design of these helmets can be considered universal - Shark brand does not produce compartmentalized models to closed circles of fans. The audience of fans of the company -. The mass consumer company Shark is one of the leading positions in the sector. Considerable volumes of production and sales ensure the application of the most advanced methods to develop new models. Among these methods - proven models of modernization practice. That is the model Shark S600 has been conceived - is a good upgrade predecessor, S800.
Even the bottom of the model keeps the same direction - Shark S700. In this model, as in the whole range of Shark, includes such important technical indicators - shell strength of thermoplastic compositions and interior arrangement. This helmet can be removed in a science fiction film.
The interior of the helmet structure is characterized by a variable density of filler - it allows you to achieve a uniform distribution of energy at impact. This superior quality helmet is complemented by other optional characteristics:
This is complemented by a set of traditional mandatory in different models of innovations and modifications. For example, Shark Skwal - the first helmet with integrated LED lights, Shark Speed-the R - the unique aerodynamics and increased comfort for the head, Shark the Vision-the R .,
With its slightly modernized form are developed and model - transformers. One of the latest, modular best mountain bike helmet.
Shark Evoline 3 rid of the annoying lack of many models - is now opening its "jaws" does not require the opening of the visor. This is - an innovative full visor for Shark helmet. Reduced almost 200 grams of weight of this helmet makes it perhaps the leading low-cost segment of transformers range.
In a very large range of models of Shark highlights some instances with unique properties, it is the original design, and other non-standard qualities. This is the model
Shark the Raw - very beautiful, laconic composition, competes with her laconic and expressive model Shark Nano for the urban user, is still popular Helmet Shark Race-R Pro, which is over 3 years. The lineup
Shark Heritage is known for its optical qualities for example - a wonderful opportunity to review the simplicity of care for the optical part.
Quite a variety of models complicates the seemingly choice. In fact, there is another - for each user who wants to purchase a personal inexpensive but practical helmet, there is always a picture with the characteristics in the catalog online - shop, and careful handling will make the helmet duty and reliable.
The French company Shark allows himself to come up and do the trendy model. In this series - matte helmets Shark Vancore and least popular among motorcyclists Shark Explore-R. The constant quest, and therefore - and the findings lead to an increase in wanting to buy a helmet Shark - simple, beautiful and fashionable means of rider safety.
It was one of those buddy road trips to the KTM Rally in Crested Butte, CO with TG Woody Witte (Woody’s Wheel Works) recently when I found myself quite stirred to emotion when trying to convey what it is I like so much about adventure riding. Woody’s what we call a “kindred spirit” so he knew right away where I was coming from.
But before I was so stirred, I gave an intro I guess from my head which was what I always say… there are three things I like best about adventure riding. The first is simply riding. It’s fun to ride these bikes off road! The second are the places I get to see; places most people never get to see in their lifetime. The third are the people I meet; extremely interesting and unusually kind people that I would have never met otherwise.
Again, that’s from my head.
But there was something else there, something deep down. I’m not sure how to convey it and I wasn’t sure at the time but it was like my spirit about to jump out of my body because of so much joy. I was describing the first time I was about to see the Grand Canyon. I was on a ride pretty early in my adv riding history, within the first 9 months or so, with Jesse Kimball, the Flying Monkey Adventure Rally (FMAR) in southern Utah back in 2011. We had to ride something like 100 mile of these perfect dirt roads to get to the north rim and even before we got there my eyes just started welling up that it soon mixed with the dust and started burning. I had to stop and dry my eyes out. Jesse asked if I was okay and being a guy, I lied and said I “got dust in my eyes.”
It was just this overwhelming feeling of joy that I was about to see something really special for the first time. But it was also that I was having so much fun doing it and glad that I’d found this new “hobby,” this group of people and these great trails. I've felt that before too, once when I was in a 575 year old cathedral in Belgium hearing an organist play.
Maybe I was born for this kind of stuff, who knows? It’s like a lab jumping in the water to fetch a downed game bird; I was finally doing something that I felt I was bred for. Maybe it’s the Norwegian explorer in me.
It’s hard to explain all that it was: joy, wonder, excitement, gratitude, exuberance. It’s a spirit thing that really defies explanation. My first nation friends probably laugh at me because they know EXACTLY what I’m talking about. They might say it was the “white shell woman” giving me a gift.
“Cuando algo te emociona mientras mientras lo estas haciendo es por que lo estas haciendo bien.”
That’s a quote I saw recently from an adventure rider who goes by the handle El Bufalo KTM that roughly translates to “when something stirs you while you’re doing it, it’s because you’re doing well.”
This photo isn’t what stirred me but it takes me back to the thirty minutes or so before I got there to what I felt.
This is my second visit to PSR....both thanks to Mr. Hall...
I just wanted to share how awesome the team at PSR is.
The photo above is a Tiger 1200 laying down with a holed oil pan, somewhere near the bottom of Saline Valley....see the close up below of a "bash-plate-fail".
The crinkled corner of the bash plate damaged the oil pan....and hopefully not the crank case.
So....these guys roll in around 8pm ....they've had a long haul back to PSR (couple hours), and need to go back with a truck, ....they explain their dilemma to the PSR folks and what additional tools they need for a long night of repairs, ....a few minutes later, a nice bearded gentleman shows up with a grinder, hacksaw, and extension cord, ....and says, just bring them back when you are done, let me know if you need anything else.
I look forward to going back.
I dropped in on RawHyde's California Adventure Rally this weekend in Panamint Valley, CA. The camp looked like a great group of people and a nice variety of bikes. This was the first time I've rode 2-up on the dirt...needless to say I was a bit nervous.
After a couple hours of riding and getting used to the weight and getting a feel for the bike, 2-up was actually more fun than I expected.....I was planning to be a nervous wreck the entire time riding 2-up. I was able to cruise quite comfortably, passing Jeeps and kept pace with solo folks riding at a nice easy pace. The worst part was not being able to stand up freely, but it was fine. I just stopped and took a stretch brake more often than I normally would.
We had a great time, no spills, the Tiger 800 performed great, and my girlfriend didn't have to sit at home wondering what I was up to.
A few photos of the rally are below:
Since we've started this project bike, the most frequent question I've been getting is "so how do you like the 990 vs the GSA?"
I can tell you it's been a lot of fun! I really like what is obviously better off-road handling and the highway comfort is not as bad as I expected (my Seat Concepts seat sure helps!). While I love my GSA too, I can't say that I'm missing it that much yet.
There are a few interesting surprises though that I didn't expect. For example, I thought the 990 was like 100 lbs lighter or something but the specs show the dry weight is just 32 lbs lighter! Also, the 990 has loads more travel, right? Nope. Only with the 990 (R spec suspension from Konflict) has front/rear travel of 248mm/248mm vs the GSA's 210mm/220mm! My stock 990 Adventure came with 210mm/210mm; about the same as the GSA (less in the rear).
The center of gravity is also much higher and that, combined with less front end feel (suspension is so good), and you'd best be light on that front brake or you're going to low-side really damn fast! Ask me how I know!
The gearing is also taller than the GSA's legendary tractor gearing, but that's easily addressed with larger rear and smaller front sprockets.
Bottom line: Much better in the dirt and not as bad on the highway as expected.
Pro's: Lots more off-road fun, feels more powerful, nimble, suspension doesn't bottom out (my TFX Suspension on the GSA doesn't either anymore)
Con's: Really tall, taller center of gravity, taller gearing, sucks gas big time when you're on the throttle.
* I should note here that this switch was due to type of riding I like most. I was looking for something not similar to the GSA but 21/18" wheels, more travel and more dirt-able. The 990 has not fallen short of my expectations, I can assure you.
From Gerald Massey: LD Comfort – a performance base layer designed for riders, by a fellow rider http://ldcomfort.com/ Mario Winkelman likes to ride his motorcycle. I’m not talking about bar-hopping or making a few runs to Starbucks, but rather Iron Butt-class runs spanning thousands of miles over a few days. Like many of us Mario found that at times he was suffering from a pain in the ass… so to speak. So Mario hooked up with a friend in the garment business and focused on inventing the perfect base layer for people that ride motorcycles. And thus, in 1999, LD Comfort was born.
LD Comfort “World Headquarters”
The riding shorts were quickly adopted by the Long Distance riding community and became the gold standard for base layer among this group. My personal experience with LD Comfort started with my introduction to the riding shorts about 10 years ago. I was already wearing Nike DriFit clothing as a base layer for both snowmobiling and motorcycle riding, so garments designed for this purpose were interesting to me. I loved the shorts and expanded my collection to include most, if not all, of the items in the LD Comfort line When I ride I wear the LD Comfort shorts, but also the shirt, skull cap and socks. Most of the year if on the road for a few days or even riding for most of a single day this is all I wear underneath KLIM Badlands pants and one of several riding jackets. In winter I wear Warm ‘n Safe heated pant, sock and jacket liners between the LDComfort and my riding gear.
The Original – Riding Shorts The “Roo-Fly” design While the riding shorts are pretty standard items, there are a couple of varieties of shirt. I have both the standard mock neck as well as the new zippered mock neck. The zippered neck is nice in the summer to quickly release any build-up of heat when stopped, hiking, etc. Both shirts are long-sleeve as this is a critical part of the functionality of the gear. I won’t try to exhaust the topic here as it is all covered on the company’s website, but the long-sleeve mock neck serves as a great insulator/liner within either heated items or simply underneath riding gear.
But the real magic comes in the cooling capability of the shirt. The procedure is that in high temps, 90 degrees plus, you close up the venting on your jacket, leaving only a partial exhaust open in the rear. You wet the LDC shirt sleeves, usually from the elbow down, don and zip up your jacket, the open the end of the jacket sleeves to expose the end of the shirt sleeves. Once moving this creates your own personal swamp cooler and I have routinely developed brief chills or goose bumps on 100 degree + days upon initial highway speeds in this gear. Most people seem to report that the effect is good for a couple of hours at a time. You can extend the effective time by wetting more of the shirt, or even dunking the shirt and putting it back on if you have access to water to do so. Personally, I use a bathroom sink or hose and soak the sleeves initially. Then an hour and a half or two hours later I just hold my hand up and pour about half of a small water bottle down one sleeve from the open cuff, and the other half down the other side. That “recharge” is usually good for another couple of hours and doesn’t require getting off the bike
As I noted above I also wear the skull cap and socks pretty much year-round. The skull cap is great atwicking moisture and keeps me from experiencing sweaty helmet liner when it’s hot. The socks, which are the one item not actually made my LDC but sold by them, are thickly reinforced in the toe and footbed. I have found them to be extremely durable. Though I have several of each item for convenience, all of these items are easily cleaned in a hotel room sink with an individual packet of a mild soap. As they dry very quickly there is no issue doing so even in an overnight quick-turn while rallying or traveling. I have traveled for more than a week with two sets of each item – one in use and one clean.
For those in the Pacific Northwest another great thing about Mario and LD Comfort is that they are right here in our neighborhood. The company is located in Hoquiam, Washington, a coastal town located on Gray’s Harbor, along Highway 101 about 50 miles west of I-5 at Olympia. Though I have only been outside the building I understand that in addition to their website there is a small showroom and retail space within their facility. Though probably obvious from this review, I am clearly a devoted fan of LD Comfort and like so many others have tens of thousands of miles experience riding in them.