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Solo Riding in Death Valley

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So, after riding for a day and a half with the Concours 14 back in June 2014, I realized I needed to return with a different bike. Was able to see quite a lot via roads, but since back-tracking is not a something I do very often, the Concours would be taken through a two-track path across a wash just outside of Wildrose. 

 

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Fast forward to 2016, and I'm jonesin' to get to Death Valley. Oh, and I'd like to go early and hopefully catch the desert bloom. Wait! I still don't have the bike I need. While the new Africa Twin is being fielded, I was hopeful to maybe use one of these. As the months passed and still no AT in the US, I suspected I might want something smaller for Death Valley.

I like a 690 Enduro too. Now, I'm waiting to see if the new engine is put into the '17 model 690 when a dealer calls and tells me he just received two. Screw it I said to myself. Just go buy one and get on with the planning and preparations. That was December of 2016. I took delivery on December 27.

 

 

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What did I do to prep this bike? Not much, but some items were essential. Skidplate. Handguards with small mirrors. Rear rack with Rotopax jug. Saddlebags. Tank bag. 48t rear sprocket with longer chain. Bring a spare rear MT-21 tire. 

The saddlebags would carry tubes, tire patch kit, CO2 cartridges, hand pump, mat for repair flats on the trail, trail stand, rim bands, tools, emergency flasher, flashlight, space blanket, Hot-Hands, protein bars, tow strap, soft ties on the handlebars, GPS mount for the Garmin, and some first aid pieces.

Not liking the fork action, I would borrow an idea and flip the valve in the left fork tube. Results were better compliance with compression all the way backed out. Not ideal, but I go with it.

 

 

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There would be no riding until late January while I awaited the MSO for titling and registration. Not sure why it all took so long, but it was fine due to weather. Seems like I was able to ride the bike four times before I left. The last ride would be at Land Between the Lakes to get a feel for the 690 on trails. Surprisingly, the weight did not feel much different from the WR400F I had for 15 years. This is good. Suspension is another discussion. Still, it is what it is and I will go west with that.

This ride is also an opportunity pre-run the trailering with the 690. Not an event as my two boys and I used to ride LBL when they were growing, and there would be three dirt bikes on the trailer.

 

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April 1st, we arrive at Death Valley. A quick picture, and soon we would be descending into the valley. First stop is Furnace Creek. From this point, I'll let the video cover the rest. While I rode solo, I rode with a good safety margin as I would be the one to help myself get out. Twice I was asked if I was by myself as if it was not the ideal situation. Confident in my riding, the time of year, I was not too concerned. Besides, no one would be shooting at me! I just had to control what I got into. For instance way up into Echo Canyon, I would encounter some terrain I would not attempt--primarily due to the seat height. 

 

There are places I didn't get to, but made a bookmark for me to return. 

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that's quite a tour of Death Valley!  You hit all the best spots.  Goler/Mengel, Lippincott and Echo are three of the most difficult roads.  I have yet to do Echo but we'll be back there in a few weeks and I'll give it a go.

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On 10/17/2017 at 11:09 AM, Eric Hall said:

that's quite a tour of Death Valley!  You hit all the best spots.  Goler/Mengel, Lippincott and Echo are three of the most difficult roads.  I have yet to do Echo but we'll be back there in a few weeks and I'll give it a go.

Cool video thx for sharing , nice bike ! Love riding Death Valley, your brave to go solo !  My favorite trail is Lipoincott and Goler/Mengel, the best adrenaline  pump ? Looking forward to adventuring once again spring trip 2018 .

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4 hours ago, rider_marc said:

What bike are you taking in 2018 @Billiegoat? Oh, by the way, welcome to xladv! :thumbsup:

ThX Mark , I ride a crf450 r . This is the bike I’ve ridden Death vally . Although I recently purchased a crf250 Rally , it’s cool and fun but not really what I was expecting, underpowered. Sooo i May have this bike in the spring or sale it , I’m looking into the ktm 500 or 690. How do you like your 690?

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11 hours ago, Billiegoat said:

ThX Mark , I ride a crf450 r . This is the bike I’ve ridden Death vally . Although I recently purchased a crf250 Rally , it’s cool and fun but not really what I was expecting, underpowered. Sooo i May have this bike in the spring or sale it , I’m looking into the ktm 500 or 690. How do you like your 690?

Looking for a bike for the riding I did this past Spring and early Summer, I had considered many--two of which were the 500 and 690. Had sights on a great deal for a '16 500, but it got away and shortly there-after I went with the 690. 

The 690 worked really well for this adventure, and as time the skeptic of being new to the KTM brand and the 690 began to erode after about 2k miles. I put 3,300 +/- miles with about 95% of those being off-pavement, prior to selling. Riding solo, I would not venture down single track intentionally-though there were times that happened. Many places I was happy to have the 690's torque. One time near Animas Forks, CO I was traversing through one of the many uphill switchbacks, and when the throttle was rolled-on, the bike just launched through the obstacle! I was dismayed that we made it through. So, it's moments like those the 690 impresses.

When I was out on the White Rim Trail in Utah, two guys were haulin' the mail with their DRZ400 and CRF250 bikes. 

Off-road this bike has to have 90-10 tires. I stayed with the OEM MT-21's. Even used them on my previous KLX650C, back in the 90's.

If I were going to repeat this adventure, I would probably go with the 500 EXC-F with a larger fuel tank. Of course, if Yamaha would build a WR450R I would be all over that! 

 

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On 10/23/2017 at 8:55 AM, rider_marc said:

Looking for a bike for the riding I did this past Spring and early Summer, I had considered many--two of which were the 500 and 690. Had sights on a great deal for a '16 500, but it got away and shortly there-after I went with the 690. 

The 690 worked really well for this adventure, and as time the skeptic of being new to the KTM brand and the 690 began to erode after about 2k miles. I put 3,300 +/- miles with about 95% of those being off-pavement, prior to selling. Riding solo, I would not venture down single track intentionally-though there were times that happened. Many places I was happy to have the 690's torque. One time near Animas Forks, CO I was traversing through one of the many uphill switchbacks, and when the throttle was rolled-on, the bike just launched through the obstacle! I was dismayed that we made it through. So, it's moments like those the 690 impresses.

When I was out on the White Rim Trail in Utah, two guys were haulin' the mail with their DRZ400 and CRF250 bikes. 

Off-road this bike has to have 90-10 tires. I stayed with the OEM MT-21's. Even used them on my previous KLX650C, back in the 90's.

If I were going to repeat this adventure, I would probably go with the 500 EXC-F with a larger fuel tank. Of course, if Yamaha would build a WR450R I would be all over that! 

 

Thanks for all your feed back Marc :)

Im feeling that 500 exc-f , I’m hesringblots of great info on it , but for now a few more modifications on the crf250 Rally ! Unfortunately they didn’t make a enduro crf450 Rally , that would been ideal for me , more power for narly terrain , sand and street legal . That’s all I’m after . 

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