Boy, time flies. It was a mere 8 months ago that the stars aligned and I got to take a trip I’d dreamt about for as long as I can remember. As a kid who grew up in the rural south, and later a grown up who’d moved to the east coast, I’d always dreamed of going out west. For me it represented the personification of freedom. Wide open spaces, big sky and few people. And then I went.
And I was not disappointed one bit. It was everything I’d hoped it would be, and then some. But while I dreamed of wide open spaces those dreams could not even live up to the reality of the vastness of the open country out west. Having never been to the plains states I’d never stood anywhere where you can see horizon behind you to horizon in front of you, and there are quite a few places to do that out there from the seat of a motorcycle. It was a genuine treat, and if you missed my highlights video, watch it here:
But as I said, annual trip have to happen annually. And it’s already time for me to prep for the 2018 ride. I’ve had to make a decision, just do it. I’m not getting any younger and everyday is a gift, you better damn well use them because they are numbered. But I really wanted to do the ride with my brother, a dyed in the wool Harley guy. Now James, my brother, is not the typical Harley type. Yes, he does have a bald head, but it was not of his choosing. Nature choose that for him in his early 20’s. He does have loud pipes, but he wants baffles. He does ride with a cut off Tee shirt. Shit, maybe he is a typical Harley guy. Well I guess where I was going with that is that he isn’t a Harley snob. One of those Harley types that thinks only Harley should be allowed to build 2 wheeled vehicles. And even though he wanted to do this ride on his Harley initially, I talked him into doing it on an ADV bike if we could find one.
Well, we found one. By now you know about the amazing deal we got on a Vstrom 1000, his ride for the trip. Now, it’s not without it’s warts, mind you. It’s the first year of the Vstrom, which is not a bad thing, but there are some things to work out. Great thing though is that there is a very active forum for these bikes over at Stromtrooper.com, which has served us very well in identifying and getting a game plan together to address all the known issues about these bikes. Which, by the way, is another great thing about buying a used bike, especially one like we bought. Even if we’d payed another grand for the bike it would have been a good deal. Any 10,000 mile Japanese bike is going to be a solid bike. And the Vstrom’s have such a following that we have found the common failures, and fixes, for all that ails them. Those being:
- In tank fuel pump filter getting clogged and starving the engine (either bypass the internal filter and get an external one, or buy an inexpensive new aftermarket filter)
- Clutch basket vibrations (the 1000 Vtwins from Suzuki have a bushing that wears out, fix is to remove and send off for new bushing ~$400. At 10K miles we aren’t there yet)
- Stator/Rotor magnets come loose, can break internally and prevent charging. JB Weld magnets into place on the rotor. (costs ~$25 if caught early. We are still charging so this will be a cheap preventative fix)
- Rough running engine. Can be caused by many things: Throttle body needs synced (free), Throttle body rubber intake runners have popped off of bottom of air filter housing (free), Need a Power Commander to remap Fuel Injection (not always required on 2002 bikes like ours, $225)
Once all of these issues have been fixed, the bike is good for at least 100K miles. So really, other than time, a worst case investment is around $650 to get every know issue sorted out on the bike. That would being the total cost of the bike to a whopping $1900. Still a crazy good deal!
OK, back to the trip, it’s time to start getting everything together. If the last trip taught me anything it’s that the day of always gets there before you realize it and you are out of luck if you haven’t sorted everything out. In truth, everything needs to be sorted out 100% at least 2 weeks before the trip to give you time to order something and have it delivered in time. We are looking at mid-June so that’s t-minus 4 months. Subtract 2 weeks, we have 14 weeks before the trip. Now, mind you, I’ve already got 90% of the stuff we need in my head, so that’s a bonus. Now, what do we need for an 8 day ride out west, let’s make the list:
- Two bikes capable of pavement and dirt riding
- Good GPS with offline maps on phones as a backup
- Two small, tough, cheap, waterproof tents
- Clothing for all types of weather
- Cold weather gear – riding and sleeping
- Rain gear – riding and walking around in (could be the same)
- Tools – hand tools, tape, wire, epoxy, tire plug kit, etc.
- Food (6 days worth of breakfasts and dinners, we will stay in a hotel for 2-3 nights)
- Sleeping bag good to 0 degrees (recommend mummy type)
- Cots (ultra lightweight)
- Camping chairs (ultra lightweight)
- Camping stoves/fuel
- Cooking container
- Two pair of bicycle riding shorts and fully synthetic boxer underwear – wear a pair of riding shorts over a pair of underwear at a time to prevent chaffing and monkey butt due to skin/hair being pulled as you slide about on the seat (this increased my riding time by 1.5x easily)
- Chain lube
- One quart of extra oil per bike
This is an overview list and it covers all the main areas. All of this I already have, but not the case for my brother. So we have a lot of work in front of us, accumulate all this list for him as well as totally sort out the bike prior to departure. Because in my opinion there are three things that can ruin a trip; 1) A broken down bike, 2) Being uncomfortable (cold, wet, etc.) and 3) Injury. We can’t anticipate #3, but we can do a lot to prevent the first two. And 2 out of 3 is usually a winner.
Now, to the why of it all. Why go through all this hassle you ask? Because you might get lucky enough to end up at a packed national park campground full of noisy kids and people who didn’t get up early enough to be welcomed by this:
And what a shame it is too!
Stay tuned as we work out the bugs with the DL1000 and get ready for the trip!