Matt and Greg ride California

It was time for the annual trip to California.  Matt and I ironed out times, prepped the bikes, figured out a way to get them there from Calgary, and we were set.

As always, click on the picture to enlarge it.  All  flickr pics here: https://flic.kr/s/aHskHVEo45

Overall plan was to get our asses and bikes down to Don’s place in Lodi.  Ditch the car and trailer, and go riding.  Uneventful tow down with the car, and a slight hiccup on the tow back (One of the sensors on the turbo went, we made it home).
We wanted to camp as much as possible, to keep costs down. Weather dictated otherwise.
Below is the overall planned route, which ended up being slightly different. Plan called for roughly 3300km total.
https://www.motogoloco.com/map?route=29075

Our first two days were get there days.  We killed time by driving roughly a tank each (500-600km), eating greasy chicken, and streaming MXC Extreme Elimination Challenge on Matt’s phone. Matt was in trouble when he got back to work. Apparently video’s use quite a bit of data :).  Weather was decent, and the car towed like a champ, even loaded down with two bikes. We averaged 600k on 45-50L of diesel.

The rig.
The tow rig

We arrived at Don’s hacienda early.  We broke out the beer, unloaded the car, bikes and set to work prepping for the ride.  Don arrived shortly thereafter, and joined us in drinking beer, and general bs’ing.

Day One: https://www.motogoloco.com/map?route=29085

The plan was to meet Tim and Don at Putah creek cafe for breakfast, in Winters CA. We headed south from Lodi, mostly because I’m a muppet and wasn’t paying attention. We eventually got through the farm fields, and flat roads, and got a few turns in before breakfast. Tim and Don met us in Winters, and much fun was had over an excellent breakfast, procured by Tim.
Thanks Tim, you are a gentleman.

The motley crew
Dan, Matt and Tim, at Putah Creek Cafe in Winters CA
Dan, just out of shot 🙂
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The four of us rode W-NW, and much fun was had. Tim peeled off half way during the day, and headed home. Dan, Matt and I persevered on to Fort Bragg, as Leggit was too much of a push in the dying daylight. A clean motel six, and excellent Mexican restaurant wrapped the day up.

Day two: https://www.motogoloco.com/map?route=29087

Destination is Walnut Creek. We have a roof over our heads for the night at Matt’s friends place, Pete and Beth. We headed south on hwy one, stopped for a nice 1 hr walk to take in the scenery.

Where’s Waldo?
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Another beauty of a day in California
Hwy one and the FJ
Selfie!!
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We had an excellent lunch at Busters in Calistoga CA. We then hit some back roads to avoid traffic. Dan peeled off home shortly there after, and we were left on our own to find our way to Walnut Creek. The GPS delivered us safely for an early arrival, and yup you guessed it, more beer! We spent a very enjoyable evening with our guests, Pete and Beth and their very energetic kids Teddy and Evvy.

Beer-o-clock
Our excellent stay for the night at Walnut creek
If the lid fits…
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Day Three: https://www.motogoloco.com/map?route=29090

Big sur is our destination for the night, with a stop at Laguna Seca. Mines Road was a treat, SE of Livermore.   The big highlight of the day; Hwy 130. Lick Observatory on Copernicus Peak. Stunning road leading up to the peak, and even better heading down. Fudge nine at Copernicus peak.

Quiet! don’t wake the day sleepers!!
Lick Observatory, on  glorious hwy 130

We stopped in at Laguna Seca. I’ve watched many races on TV, but never had the chance to check it out in person. My favourite part of the track is the corkscrew. There was a cheap car endurance race. Very neat to watch.
We wrapped up the day at the worlds most expensive campsite.
Big Sur welcome sign should read: Welcome to Big Sur. Hope you brought money.

The cork screw
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Light fading on the PCH
PCH north of Big Sur

Day four: https://www.motogoloco.com/map?route=29091

Starting the day on the PCH. Life is good
PCH south of Big Sur
Dead things on N.F. road
Nacimento Fergusson Road

Plan is to end up in or near Ojai. We head inland on Nacimento Fergusson Road (N.F road).
Great mexican lunch at Don Hermanos, across the Chevron in San Miguel CA.
Hwy 226, short but truly amazing. Hwy 58, fantastic start, some straights, and finishes very well near Taft CA. We fuelled, bought food and beer, and set off to find a camp site way up in the hills

Pump Jacks
North of Taft
Camping at 2000m. Cheers!
Pine Mountain

Day five: https://www.motogoloco.com/map?route=29092

Play day in the hills! How better to start a day than riding Hwy 33 with no one on it. A large breakfast in Ojai, and some arm twisting on Matt’s part to convince me to ride to Malibu. I was feeling a bit shit, as my cold started coming on full steam.
The hills never disappoint. Typically in California, when someone fast comes up behind you usually move out of the way. The Audi Q7 driving cock did not get that memo. We took our time coming up Westlake Blvd (hwy 23). Cock man finally turned off on Mullholand East. We continued on at our own pace to Decker canyon Road. Wow wee! We took some time off to take it all in, and chatted to some locals that complained about the constant sunshine (kid you not!).
We hopped onto the PCH to link up to Latigo Canyon Road (LCR). We lane split a whole lot of traffic, including three sports cars (Porka boxter s, BMW M5, and a 911). Didn’t think much of it, and hung a left on LCR. I took the lead at a brisk pace, Matt followed, with the three cars not too far behind us. I was enjoying myself, when about 5 minutes into the brisk charge up LCR, boxter man appeared out of nowhere. This dude was moving. I was mostly in 2nd gear to negotiate the tight blind corners, but it looked like I was holding up boxter man. I gave it a honest go for three or four corners, and finally let him pass, figuring that he could set the pace, and I could push him. Man was I wrong. One blind right hander, followed by three quick flick flack left-rights, and boxter man was gone. Ok, keep going. Another 5 minutes go by, and M5 man is up my back tire. And he’s not hanging about either. Ok, let’s play! This time I managed to put in six to eight decent corners, before my left peg hero blob touched and shifter foot touched, and I backed off. M5 man took off. I tried to follow for a few minutes, but couldn’t hack the pace. Either end up on my ass, or back off, and ride my own pace.
I turned off Kane Dume road, and found the two guys parked up on the side. I said hello, while we waited for Matt and 911 man. Turns out these guys ride the roads often (go figure!) and have been driving track for the last 10 or so years. We all had a good laugh, and went our separate ways. A quick stop at the snake for some people watching. An R1 bouncing off the rev limiter, and doing huge stand up wheelies. A local guy on a hopped up FZ09, wearing full leathers complained that he wouldn’t dare ride LCR as there was a touch of rain last night and the road was dirty. Funny we never lacked grip 🙂
We flipped a u-turn and headed back to Ojai for the night. We wrapped up the day with pizza and lots of beer. We booked a hotel room to attempt to get rid of our colds, and turned in for the night.

Pine mountain ridge road, looking North towards Taft.
Pine mountain ridge road

Here we go. Hwy 33 first thing in the morning.
Hwy 33
Decker Canyon road. Amazing
Malibu Hills
The Snake
Mulholland Snake

Day Six: https://www.motogoloco.com/map?route=29115

Once again, HWY 33. No traffic, perfect pavement, and the sun is out. Magic. That said, just before our turnoff on Lockwood Valley road the fog rolled in. Thick enough that you could see 10 meters in front of you, and that was it. We rode out of the fog, and into light rain. It ranged from mild to flat out annyoing and hard on Interstate 5. We ducked into a starbucks for some coffee and a rest. Half an hour later we manned up, and went back into the rain. Eventually by Rankin Ranch the rain cleared and we were once again back in the sunshine. I had a detour planned to Glenville on the 155. We didn’t make it far before the weather turned ugly. As we climbed, the rain turned to wet snow. The road was none too grippy. We decided to take a few pics, and turn around. We wrapped the day up in Kernville, at a decent little motel. Pub food rounded off the day.

Fog on hwy 33 Hwy 33 in the fog
Rain tapering off
IMG_2540 More weather on hwy 155 Hwy 155
Hwy 155. Crappy, yet pretty
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The motel guests IMG_2560

Day Seven: https://goo.gl/maps/5T6v7puGcuj

We woke to a frosty morning. 5C and frost on the bikes. Further up the road, the temp dropped to 2C, and we had several sections of road that had ice on it. We gingerly made our way over the mountain.  Bit of a shame, as hwy 190 is an excellent road.

The link above doesn’t show us going through Yosemite, as it’s currently closed for winter.  We did ride it, and it was excellent.  One thing to keep in mind is that the speed limit ranges from 25 to  40 MPH.  Most people do the limit or less, so for us two wheeled hooligans, it’s a bit of a drag.  Lucky for us, november is not busy, and we made quick progress .  Towards the end of the park, the speed limit perked up, and so did I.  So much so that I left Matt behind.  I really should have waited, sorry man.  At any rate, we regrouped, and headed down to Sqaw Valley to find a motel, pizza and cheap beer.

Sunny morning, day seven
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I found this guy crossing the road IMG_2569
Yosemite Park. Great roads. Low speed limit, and slow traffic. Use caution.
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The view from 2300 m
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Day eight: https://goo.gl/maps/ufvNVjzqWqr

Nothing too crazy on the last day. Weather was a bit meh..so we took it easy, and stareted making our way NW towards Lodi. Halfway through the day I noticed my clutch cable starting to frey. Naturally I freaked out, and thought that it would snap immediately. It lasted all the way till Lodi, and then some. I have a new one on order. We made it back to Don’s house early. Loaded up the bikes, and made our way slowly out of Lodi, into the Sacramento traffic.

Mexican dumping ground just out of shot
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Cold day. We were meant to turn right. We turned left
Wet and Cold
Check out the road in the back ground. Stunning stuff.
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The aftermath of the drive home
What the FJ looked like

In summary: Great trip, good company. 3300 km on the bikes, 4400 km in the car. Both the bikes worked brilliantly (Matt had an issue with his front headlight, working whenever it damn well pleased). My FJ09 was in its element. The upgraded suspension soaked everything up. The motor was stunning especially at sea level. A couple of times, hard on the gas, over a crest, I would pull huge third gear wheelies (TC off, cover clutch and rear brake). It had power everywhere. Matt and I both run Michelin PR4s. These tires work a treat. They never gave us any cause for concern. Great at full lean, on the brakes, in the rain, and in the snot. At 3k km, mine are nicely scrubbed in, and show little if no wear. Can’t wait to go again, to re-ride some of these roads in the dry, or very least without ice 🙂

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Two provinces, and four states in 5 days

Right, so it was time for one last good trip before season end.

Myself and Cammy were the only ones going.  Schedule, and commitments had others stay home, or at work.  The tenere’s were the ride of choice, as some gravel was expected, and the FJ luggage carrying capacity currently consist of a tank bag, and what ever I could bungee to the rear seat.

The plan was as follows:

Thursday: Calgary to Superior MT. 703km
Friday: superior to Richland OR 669 km
Saturday: Superior to Cougar, take a picture, and on to Randle, 786km
sunday: Randle to Creston, 809km
Monday: Creston to Calgary 465km
The actual route of our trip below:
Like all good plans, the above went to shit pretty much right away.
Work did not let me leave till about noon-ish on thursday.  I then had to double back home, as I forgot my cross brace for my givi bags…doooh.
The plan was to come across Indian Graves just south of Longview.  We did just that, but the washboard heading up the pass was horrendous, worse than usual.  I noticed my front fairing was moving around quite a bit..more than usual.  Even on smooth pavement, when riding over a bump, everything moved.  We rode the west side of lake Koocanusa.  Nice paved road, except for half way down,  some jackass, decided it would be a good idea to leave gravel all over the road.  A bit of a pain, but doable with care.  We pulled over for some pics.  I gave Cam’s bike a bit of a shake to see if his fairing did the same thing..nope!  Something is not quite right with my bike.
No matter, we persevered, and stopped short of the target, in Libby.  While Cammy checked us into the bullwinkle suite, I had a look at my fairing.  I removed the rigid 6″ light, main light, and lo and behold, my fairing stay was broken in three places.  Out came the tie wraps.  I tie wrapped the stay where the breaks were, and removed the heavy light off the stay.
Indian Graves 2015

All snips will show Gravel (G) in red, and Pavement (P) in Black. X marks the shitty spot. We rode this section many times, but it was in rough shape this go around. Once you get to Hwy 40, the road is in much better shape. All gravel from Hwy 22 to Hwy 3

The next  morning we had a nourishing mcdinks breakfast (oatmeal, coffee, and apple pie), and went to the local hardware store to purchase some gorilla glue, and the worlds smallest side cutters to add to my existing tool kit.  We glue the broken parts together, let it all set, and re-tied it with the tie wraps. Job, done.  Let’s go!
It was going to be a  long day.  We needed to get to Supreme MT, the day previous.  Friday, we had to ride from Libby Mt to  Richland Oregon.
The ride to Supreme was uneventful, paved all the way.
The 135 is worthy of mention from Paradise to St. Regis.  Brand new pavement, along a river.  Magic.  The I90 is not worthy of mention at all.  Stopped in Supreme for some gas, snacks, and a quite literal colorful conversation with the cashier at the gas station, and we were off into the woods.
The 250 comes out of Supreme, and is through and through a gravel road.  For the most part, it’s in great shape, running along a river.  It’s narrow and twisty, with light traffic.  We climbed up to the pass, took a few pictures, and had to stop to repair my flat tire, that I was rewarded with at the summit.  Some strange long piece of metal, found its way into my rear tire, right after I pulled away from my picturesque spot.  No matter, the metal piece was pulled out, snooty plug installed (last one!!!), tire filled, and we were back on our way.  West of the pass, the road is paved for about 20km, at which point the gravel resumes.  At this point, the gravel became worse.  Looser, with soft sections, that got the pucker factor up to 8/10.  No matter, we plowed on.  We stopped at the North Fork Clearwater River bridge, to look at some seriously large and tasty fish.  If memory serves, this is where the pavement started.  And man oh man was it worth it.  Seriously.  Not a soul in sight, and a perfect road going through the forest, all the way to Pierce.  For this bit alone the 250 is worth it.  If you look at the map, it looks like someone had a seizure laying this road out.  Epic.
Superior to Lewiston

Top right hand side of snip is the 135. Tasty The 250 starts off well, peaks at the pass, and is paved west of that for a short while (10-20km). The rest is gravel up to the bridge. After the bridge the 250 is paved, and amazing. Recomended

The ride into Orofino was decent.  Next time, we can head south on the 11, into Greer, looks like another winner.
Pulled into Lewiston.  Hot as hell.  My display was showing over 100F.  We got gas, and got the hell out of dodge.
The 129 South out of Asotin is epic.  Short section climbing out of the river valley.  Nice.  It gets even better further south, just before the Grand Ronde River.  The 129/OR-3 south of the river, lets the fun carry on.  The rest of the ride into Enterprise and Joseph, is uneventful.
We carried on SE of Joseph, on the NF-39 (Just off the 350, ending at the 89).

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Wow…another paved winner.  The 86 gets you to Richland.
Word of warning:  The town shuts down at 7pm.  The motel that’s next to the grocer/liquor/hardware store, shuts at 7pm.  No beer = No evening.  
We carried on to Baker City.  Again, the 86 does not disappoint, but after a hellishly long day, riding in the dark, it’s not all that joyous.
Another day, another breakfast at mcdinks.  After breakfast, I removed a bat from underneath my fairing.  The poor little bastard met his match the night previous.  Tenere vs Bat…Tenere wins everytime. Ride out of Baker city is very nice along the John Day Hwy.  We ducked off on the 18.  Great paved road, but only half way to Long Creek.  The rest of it was in decent shape for gravel
Lewiston to Biggs Junction

Top right hand corner, and the 129 south out of Lewiston. Epic. South East of Joseph on the NF-39, another winner. The 18, North of John Day Hwy, great paved road, but only half way.
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The remainder to Biggs is all paved, and straight forward.

We hopped over the river, and made our way up to Goldendale.   The 142 Heading west is interesting.  At one point it becomes a single lane road.  Great riding back down towards Hood River.  We were dumb enough to use the metal toll bridge into Hood River.  Not only is it windy as hell..it’s not the most pleasant to ride on a bike.  On a plus note, the burger was damn tasty at the Brewery, so that’s a plus.  Then the damn bridge back over the river.  No matter, goodness awaited us, not too far west.  The 141, which then turns into the NF-23 is amazing.  Great pavement on the southern part of the road.  Watch for some serious frost heaves, as you head further north on the NF-23.  Hwy 12 turned into another pleasant surprise.  What wasn’t so pleasant was the inability to get a hotel room in Yakima, or further north in Ellensburg.  We finally lucked out at the Rainbow Inn (insert joke here!) Last room, with Chinese food served in the same parking lot.  Surprisingly good pad thai.

Biggs to Yakima

hwy 142 is excellent. So is the 141/NF-23. Hwy 12 is well kept and quick. We had to pass on the 821 (ridden it a few years ago, and it’s good too) due to the hotel issue in Yakima

Sunday…start of the day was damn windy.  No matter, out of Ellensburg, North/NE nothing to report up to Coulee Dam.  That’s when the road gets good.  See below for notes.  Pavement all the way.

Nespelem to creston

Nespeleen to hwy 21 is very good. Hwy 21 to Inchelium (hwy 3) is amazing. Hwy 20 is not too bad either, especially east of Coleville. There’s a great bit of road just before the border, north of Metaline falls. Don’t forget the cheap beer 🙂

Monday was a get home day.  Hwy 3 all the way, then north on 22, with the worse weather I’ve seen this season.  +2 and rain.  I had my heated gear, and oxford muffs on.  Not bad.  Great trip.

Gear review:

Bike: The tenere is a beast.  Never lets me down.  Knocking on 70k in 4 yrs. Magic.  The new full arrow system sounds like god’s plumbing i.e.  Very good. My usual tire choice has held up well.  Another Mitas E-07 rear gone at 8-8.5km, for some reason, the front will be gone early at 10-12km

Gear: No change really.  Klim holding up well, keeping the wet out.

 

And a fine trip it was. 2015 BC back road blast

Well, it was time for a road trip, focusing as much as possible on the dirt aspect of things.  I have pulled out all the stops for this one.  Be amazed at my sooper awesome Snip Tool skills 🙂

Pictures? well yes, https://www.flickr.com/photos/97730749@N03/sets/72157654951082902

The participants, and their fine rides

Serge, on his 2005 BMW F650.  Well sorted bike, with a new rear tire, a new battery (which decided it needed to expel some extra battery acid all over his bike throughout the trip)

Reg, on his first gen KLR, with a 685 Kit.  Nicely set up bike, with everything one may need for a trip of this kind.

Matt the Aussie, on his 2nd gen KL-aaah.  This is the war-horse of war horses.  Been to South America and back on it, without any real issue.  Even though he did his own wiring on it.  Moar on that later.

Myself on my trusty Super T, with mitas tires well past their best (front and back at 20% tread).  My newly installed ABS off switch paid for itself.  A must on tricky terrain.  My new bush axe to ward off bears and honey badgers, and the ability to pick my nose if needed.

The route:

Sunday: Plan was to ride from Calgary to Salmon Arm the long way.  We did just that.  We got to ride some gravel in the AM (FTR 40 south to Coleman), then pounded pavement well north of Kaslo.  The 31A from Balfour was none too crowded, and the road north of Kaslo kicked ass.  The gravel road to Trout lake was entertaining as always.  Day done, we finished up 12 hours later.  2 hours ahead of google’s estimated time!  Beer time.  See below sooper awesome sketch of the day.  The gravel high lighted in yellow was excellent.  The optional roads are decent as well, but we did not ride them that day.

sunday

Below, Indian Graves to the East
IMG_0038Trout Lake Road.  From left to right, Matt, Reg, and SergeIMG_0042

Monday: We left Salmon Arm, and headed north to Barriere, Little Fort, then over to 70 Mile House, ending the day in Lilooet.  The bulk of the riding was on gravel roads.  The interesting bits were off Big Bar road where we had a choice of:

Option a: west side of the Fraser river via big bar ferry.  Nice ride, but the ascent is mostly made up of soft sand.  So we opted out

Option b: Peter out, and take the Jesmond  gravel road.  Nope too easy.

Option c(just noticed the inaccuracy of my doodle below…I have two option a’s  East side of Fraser river using a well used, but narrow dirt road (High Bar Road) that ended in a 23% climb that brought us roughly 1 kilometer above the dirt road.  This is the route we took.  And a good choice it was.

We took the short cut through Clinton-Pavillion road, to join up to the remainder of hwy 99, which was great fun on the tenere.  The KLr’s were pretty much wide open, and tapped out at 120km/h.  Below, Monday’s route.  Again, gravel in yellow marker.

monday

Below on the way to Little FortIMG_0062Below: Great road east of Little FortIMG_0075Big Bar Road, IMG_0087The view, after the 23% grade climb.  Well worth it
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On the way to Liloeet
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Multi meters? why yes we have two!
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Tuesday: Tuesday was a doozie.  Both good and bad.  High line road was conquered many times over, so it’s a well know road to me.  No issues there, scenic, and involving.  Win!  What wasn’t so damn cool, is towards the end of the HL road I needed to water the surroundings.  I parked up just off the gravel road, walked into the bush (10 feet) to take a leak.  Not 20 feet from me I saw a bear cub hauling ass away from me.  I have never put all my gear back on this quickly.  Rule of thumb, if cubs are around, you have a protective momma bear around.  As I hurried back to my bike, I told Serge about my sighting.  I pointed in the general direction of said bear cub.  Just behind a tree, the bear cub stuck his head out to see what we were up to.  It was time to leave.

The paved road from D’Arcy to Pemberton is nice, so no issues there.  We stopped in to Pemberton (or a small town north of it…forgot the name) for some lunch and quite a few mosquito bites.

After lunch, we hopped back on the 99 heading north, for about 5 km, to join up to a gravel road that was to take us all the way down to Hope BC.  Well, holyshitmonkeyballs!  What a hateful piece of road.  Please note, dear readers that this is the first road that I have not traveled before.  Take note, as this phenomenon will be repeated in this trip.

The first 80km were hard pack gravel, with sharp pointy bits sticking out, intertwined with bits that had 4″ of fresh gravel put down.  Magic!

And the last 50km was something prepared by satan himself.  You know you’re in trouble, when the mile/km markers fall off, the road narrows to 8 feet, complete with loose shale, bear shit, and lots of washouts thrown in for fun.  Did I mention the 30% grade.  Not easily negotiated with heavy piggies that we were riding.  We were contemplating to spend the night in the bush.  Soon enough we made it through satan’s arm pit, and were rewarded with pavement.  Rottiserie chicken, and beer for dinner.  That’s Tuesday then.tuesdaySerge having a good time IMG_0117Reg summing up the Tuesday ride nicely
IMG_0123Harrison Lake, looks like an inlet.  It’s huge
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Wednesday: It seemed like a simple enough day.  Hope to Winthrop WA.  Well you guessed it.  It didn’t go to plan.  My initial route had us going up the 5, then hitting some tasty gravel to go east to Tulameen.  The first turn off had a huge gate.  Ramblists, cyclists, and tree huggers only.  Motors are bad, so you can’t go there.  Ok, back on the 5 to head north.  We hooked up to the Tulameen FSR, great road.  But then my non-existent navigational skills had us riding all over the shop, as long as it wasn’t in the actual direction we needed to go.  Eventually Matt, and Reg told us that we missed a road that was well hidden and out-of-the-way.  That would be the Tulameen River Road.  Another winner.  We finally made it to Princeton at 330pm.  Lunch time!

wed Agassiz to tulameen

We changed plans and decided to stay the night in Penticton.  The rest of the day was uneventful, the bit east of Hedly is worthwhile.  Also the road on the North side of the river is a nice stretch of pavement.

wed tulameen to PentictonThe road that is awesome…but goes nowhere.  Yes 25km of gravel bliss one way, a locked gate, and another 25km of gravel to ride backIMG_0134East of Hedley, gravel.
IMG_0139We were warned.
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Thursday: We decided to stick to pavement.  Tuesday was not an easy day.  Serge was suffering from some serious swelling of one of his feet.  Matt took a tumble on the his bike, and was a bit banged up.  We headed north through the valley, taking in west bank road.  Excellent.  At the end of the WB road we took a breather, and noticed that a: Reg’s rear tire had split from right to left, b: my headlights were not functioning, and c: Matt’s KLR was not behaving in the electrical department.  Serge meanwhile provided the colorful commentary on the previous days’ happenings.

We quickly found a dealer, broke out the precision hammers and got to work.  Reg secured a tire, and had it sorted in an hour, for less than $100 mounted.  Bargain!

I spent a staggering $3.63 on two 25 Amp fuses (one to go in, and a 2nd as a spare), and got my lights going.

Matt needed some help with his rat’s nest of a wiring job, to trouble shoot the problem.  $10 later, he was on his way with a new relay.  It’s a well-known fact that all KLR-ists (klr owners) travel everywhere with multimeters.  Which  came in very handy indeed.

So, irony of ironies…all three jap bikes needed work, while the BMW needed none.

We ended the day in New Denver.  Great paved roads, with all sorts of good bits thrown in.  Found a great camp site in ND, moar rotiserie chicken, and naturally local brews.  I even got to use my bush axe.  Nice!

thursday

Friday: We woke up to thunder and lighting.  Matt made the most excellent suggestion to get the hell out of dodge!  So we did.  We rode the 31A, a beauty, even in pouring rain.  My well-worn Mitas never gave me any concerns.  The rest of the day was spent on pavement, with light traffic, and seriously heavy winds on the 22 heading north to Calgary (45 to 60 km/h winds).

friday

Trip Summary.  A great time was had.  The guys had a good time, or so told me to my face 🙂 The tenere rolled over 60k on the trip, with very little concerns, apart from the budget busting $3.63 spent on the fuses.  The Mitas tires held up well, and could have gone another 2k before replacing.  But since the rear had next to no tread left, I pulled it, and the front in favor of new tires.

Actual route taken:

Calgary to Agassiz:
Agassiz to Calgary

Gear..well, I’m still using my Klim Badlands jacket and pants, top marks.  Kept me dry in the wet, and cool in the heat (relatively of course).  My alpine stars scouts are still holding out the majority of the moisture.  My Shoei Neotec soldiers on, great lid, and versatile to boot.

California 2015

It was time to put some miles on the bikes.  Cam and myself planned this trip a few months back.   The idea was to leave in early April, tow to Brookings OR, and go riding the length of California.  Do some errands (exchange TPX radar detector, and pick up the shock for the FZ7 at the beemer shop in Santa Something or other..) and in between squeeze in some riding..3600km to be exact.

Now for the really good bits. If you don’t want to read all my rubbish, here’s the link to the pics: https://www.flickr.com/photos/97730749@N03/with/16656879603/
and the boobtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCzSJeqjKkwDjhSJlT5T4hfQ

But if you do that, you’ll miss reading about all the fun times we had.

Late in the game, Derek aka Captain Cockbonnet (CB for short) decided to join us.  After much harrumphing he finally found a way to get his bike down to Oregon safely, and in comfort, by towing it.

We arrived in Biggs Junction (BJ) aka the shit hole (more on this fine town later), without too much fuss.  The trailer almost came off the tongue due to some idiot (the author) installing a 1/1/4″ diameter 2″ ball on a 2″ receiver, which has a slightly larger opening.  No matter, disaster was averted, and we carried on. Not a block later, CB’s bike fell over in the trailer thanks to his stellar bike tie down skills.  Again, we re-secured the mighty strom, and carried on to BJ.

We arrived at our stop over for the night at BJ.  This little spot is basically a glorified truck stop.  The hotel room, had carpet circa 1970, which was never cleaned and smelled accordingly so.  I was the lucky winner of the horrible night sleep on the fold out couch.  If I could predict the future, I would have slept on my bike.  Whatever…we decided to head to the local diner.  Cam and I had a forgettable steak, and CB had fried chicken steak..which he promptly forgot.  Next time, I will trust my gut, and go to subway instead.  Being $20 lighter, and nauseated always makes me happy.  On a positive note, I bought a six-pack of Coors Banquet.  The only highlight of the Shit hole.

Next day was uneventful drive to Brookings.  We arrived at Jan’s place, chit chatted about this that and the other thing, unloaded, and got on the scooters.
At this point I would like to say that I love, love love sea level.  OMGs my bike actually runs as it was meant to.  Power everywhere.  Love it.
We settled in for the night, had some excellent Mexican.  After much flatulating and general bs’ing we were ready to go to bed.  Bring on Friday!

Here’s our route (more or less) heading south: http://goo.gl/xfXP5W

Friday, and the sun is out…errrmmm well actually it’s foggy and +7C.  No matter, motorcycling is a manly undertaking, and we are manly men doing manly things.  The day went well.  Little bit of gravel,IMG_9841

some great paved roads, lost coast was epic.  Even better was the late lunch at the Lost Coast Cafe in Ferndale. Now if you’re a meat eater, don’t shy away.  Cam and I had the veg calzone, fucking amazing.  CB had a very tasty looking salad.  Desert was a treat too.
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The day kept getting better and better, and then it got crappy for one of us.  CB decided to Ram a Dodge with his strom.  The Dodge won.  Luckily, he was carrying his lucky horse shoe (he didn’t tell us where he kept it hidden) and got away with a sore wrist, a scratched crash bar, and a smashed givi case.  We promptly told him not to call/tell his boss, or post anything of any sort of fb.  The boss (CB’s wife) would be notified once home.  We carried on to Garberville for pizza and beer.  Our hotel room came complete with a shower selector that worked in either setting of a: hot liquid magma, b: OMG my balls fell off cold.  CB had some mystery fluid on his bed sheets, prior to him using the actual sheets, and housekeeping were kind enough to leave a female product behind for three men to stare at (only the wrapper thank dog)

Saturday.  Another doozie!  Weather, perfect, we’re feeling good.  Let’s go. Noting but goodness today.  Hwy 101 to 1 (Leggitt if memory serves), hwy 20, 175 (epic), Napa, and fresh avocado at subway…delicious.  On to San Fran, some lane splitting (love it) and on to San Mateo Marriot, to eat, drink, with a buddy from Redwood city.  A great time was had, thanks Hugh.
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Sunday.  Yep, you guessed it, a doozie, well for the most part.  Read on.  Met up with Dan, from fb, and we were being joined by Don from Lodi (YST).  We rode to Alices for breakfast.  Great spot, great food, cars, and bikes.  CB noticed that he had a nail in his brand new tire.  After a large breakfast, we (read: me) sorted out the tire, and carried on south.  The ride was excellent, right up to the point we hit Monterey.  Now, any local would tell you that it’s none too wise to travel the 1 on a Sunday, but due to timing, that’s what we did.  Holy shit was that the most aggravating afternoon ever.  I’m no saint, but people who drive 20-30 MPH in a 50 MPH zone should be beaten repeatedly.  You’re impeding progress, you muppet! get the hell out of the way!! Ok, rant over.  Luckily, the rest of the day was great.  At Cambria, we finally got off the 1, and headed into the hills.  The Santa Rosa Creek Road is a treat. Narrow, bumpy, and quite frankly beautiful.  Solvang for the night.

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Monday.  Errand day.  We started the day through the Malibu hills.  Most excellent.  I forgot the names, but it was all good.

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Stopped in to visit the guys at TPX.  Great service, I cannot say that enough.  My radar had a rough life, without asking, the guys exchanged my radar for a refurbished unit, and now it’s working great. Finished up the day in Ojai, and an excellent sushi place, with Japanese beer.

We are officially heading back: http://goo.gl/maps/VgJna

Tuesday.  This is really something.  Not a drop of rain, nothing, and not one bad road.  Hwy 33 (epic)

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Taft, and hwy 58 (most excellent).  I had a lie down, while we waited for CB to bring up the rear.  Had a bit of gas shortage as well..rotopax to the rescue.

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Hwy 229 (epic) if only the slow guy upfront would get a clue…no matter, at least CB had a good time on this one.

For supper, we dined at Alices, bought t-shirts, CB procured the beer, and we retired to our shittiest of hotels yet, the Los Prados motel. Sandwiched between an Asian mall, and the 101. No less than three dump trucks came by to empty the many bins around the mall.  We will be passing this place next time, at 75 MPH.

Wednesday.  Into San Fran, at rush hour…lane splitting should be legal everywhere.  Oregon is listening, as well as the rest of the civilized world.  Sooper video Funness here:

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The rest of the day was spent ripping up the 1, and a great little road off the 1, the name escapes me just now.  It went up hill, on to a dam

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We stopped in for lunch at a great little road side Indian place.  Right on the Russian River, the Sizzling Tandoor.  And the cherry on top, the 1 to the 101, amazeballs!

Thursday.  Last day of riding.  Again, amazing roads, and scenery.  Here we are in ermmm Switzerland?
East of Garberville

through the fog and into the clouds we went
East of Garberville

We made it safe and sound back to Brookings. 3600 amazing kilometers. Thank you California, we will be back.

Bike and Gear: I had the ECU flashed by AC from YST forum.  Money very well spent.  The bike had sufficient power at sea level to keep me entertained for the first half it T mode.  The other half was spent in S mode, with much fun being had.  The tenere never ceased to impress me.  I really should check my oil level before setting off on a trip.  Had to add 750 ml of oil in San Mateo, as my oil light stayed on, and never went out.  No harm no foul.

Tires were (still are…just) metzeler tourance nexts.  Rubbed down right to the edges, grip everywhere on pavement.  Great choice.  Will be lucky if I get 6 thou out of the rear.  Money well spent.

Airhawk.  My ass is happy, among other bits and bobs 🙂  Top tip:  Don’t inflate it to the max.

Staintune pipe…moar here:

Zumo 350.  Great GPS.  Never led us wrong (except for the one time I plugged in the wrong co-ordinates)

Gopro hero3+.  I’m getting better with this thing.  The remote works great once paired with the camera, and I’m trying out various different mounting locations.

 

California take two.

Having had enough of winter it was time to put the bike on the trailer and head south.  I decided on southern California, as the weather has been the driest in years.  So dry in fact that they are having a drought.

Captain Pin-it (Willy on his oh so slow 2013 zx14r) is coming with.

The FZ is prepped.  Radar, and GPS are wired in and ready to go.  I only managed a few days of riding here, before winter set in.  So I’ll be dropping the oil before we leave Lake Elsinore, as by then the bike should have right around 1000km.  Front fork springs, and the oil has been changed, and upgraded to a 10w oil, and springs for my weight.  Rear spring will most likely be maxed out, and rebound will be increased.

We will take two days to get to Lake Elsinore, unload at Kmac’s place, and go riding.  Most days will see anywhere from 350km up to 650km.  The bulk being canyon and twisty roads.  Cannot wait.  Below are the rough routes that I have laid out for each day.  They might differ a bit, but the general idea is there.

Below are the planned routes weather and road conditions permitting.

Saturday March 1st route:http://goo.gl/maps/IaWvY not actually what we rode, but close.

Sunday March 2nd route: http://goo.gl/maps/VB92E Definitely not what we rode, due to the weather.

Monday March 3rd route: http://goo.gl/maps/ov4tO More or less what we rode.

Tuesday March 4th route: http://goo.gl/maps/Hv7yO

Wednesday March 5th route: http://goo.gl/maps/50eFl

Thursday March 6th route: TB updated

Friday March 7th route: TB updated

We set of as planned on Thursday.  The drive down was tiring but decent.  Managed to slog it out to St. George Utah.  Friday, set off early, and after putting up with LA traffic on the I15 we made it to our hotel in Lake Elsinore to a Monsoon.  Man it was coming down.   I have not seen wind and rain like this in a while.  What a way to start the holiday.

Drove the 6 minutes to Kmac’s place to get acquainted, and shoot the poop for a while.  We said our hello’s and laid out a plan of action for the weekend.  The weather was looking none too good.  With nothing better to do, I made like I was old and went for a nap.  Nap over and done with the weather cleared a bit, and the rain was gone.  Still overcast and shitty, I decided to unload the fuzzy9 and take it for a spin.  Got call too.  Managed a slow but satisfying 20 km on the bike.

Saturday.  Rested, and feeling better, Willy decided to take the day off riding and visit a friend in Orange County.  I meanwhile geared up and rode over to Kelly’s to have a coffee, and do some fiddling on the bike.

It’s interesting how people meet.  Back in the day (think 90’s, 2000’s) this would be tough to pull off.  But now in days, you PM someone on the forum, and throw an idea out there.  A parking spot turns into a new riding buddy.  The world is a strange and small place, but it’s full of great and welcoming people.  Needless to say, we got on like a house on fire.

Kelly and I shared a laugh at his wife’s uncertainty of a couple of strangers driving half way across a country or two, to park up, have a coffee, wrench on their bikes, and go riding.  Total strangers.  Luckily we all share the same sickness: motorcycles.  And that I think makes us all decent people.  Funny enough, my wife asked me the same question, and I gave her the same answer.

10 am rolled around, the clouds went away, and the sun came out.  One thing left to do.  Go riding.  Kelly informed his wife of his intentions, promised he would be back for supper, and we were off.  It’s like being 9 all over again.

Kelly set the pace, and the course.  Having never ridden with him, within the first 5 miles, I knew that I would like riding with him.  the TC must have been off on his Tenere, because the front wheel kept coming up  🙂

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Kelly enjoying the day

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Fuzzy9

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Rain in the desert. Rare sight

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The Iron Door. Neat

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A lot of dollar bills

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He got some gas, and we headed south east into the desert.  Weather was ok for the most part, the pace was slow at first with all the crap and branches on the road.  Stopped for a great lunch, and headed out to the desert.  The scenery was out of this world, and the riding none too shabby.

Here’s where things got interesting.  We’re going down the road, and for some reason, Kelly starts throwing the white elephant around back and forth…..gas, or the lack there of.  Sure enough, he runs out.  No problems, I still have lots, and there’s a gas station 2 miles away that will do the trick.  Not sure if everyone is familiar with the fuzzy9, but my wife called it a girl’s bike when she first saw it in the garage.  Nothing feminine about it, just the fact that it’s a bit small, and short.  So, how do two grown men look on a small motorcycle?  Pretty damn funny.  Gay pride jokes aside, we set off.  Easy shifting, slip the clutch.  2 miles further down the road….disaster, The pump was out of order.  So we continued on.  For another 20 or so miles.  We pulled into town, greeted by a downpour.  No matter.  Kelly procured a 1 gallon jug of water, which he proceeded to further flood the gas station flower pots, filled it up, and we finished up our detour.

That done with, we had a laugh, took some pictures, and headed back.  All in all a kick ass day, with a bit of a laugh thrown in.  Photo evidence below 🙂

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Sunday.  Willy got his ninja out of the back of the truck, and we set off for Big Bear, or something or other..  Ended up riding through town, on the free way, and up a twisty road, #18 out of San Bernardino.  It was damn twisty, busy and fast.  By the top, the fog was so thick that we couldn’t even see the set of lights at the top of the hill.  We promptly chickened out and turned around.  We regrouped in town, and while having some GPS issues, we decided to go buy a paper map.  Well, that’s all fine and dandy, but now in days no one sells paper maps any more.  Trust me Willy tried, in 7 different shops.  We decided to head across town to the ocean, in hope of getting away from the rain.  This was not to be.  Long story short, we ended the day at 3pm with Mexican food and beer in Lake Elsinore.

Monday.  We packed up our ghetto luggage, and got the hell out of dodge.  Incidentally, Willy’s dodge was safely parked up at Kelly’s place.  We tried our best to convince him to ride up with us to Ojai, but the man would not budge.  No matter, we squeezed in a ride to the local Kwak dealer, and hardware store.  Took the freeway there, but more importantly, took some wicked twisty roads back to Kelly’s place.  Here we swapped bikes.  I climbed on the white elephant, and Kelly took charge of the fuzzy9.  Now, to all tenere owners, take no offence here.  I’m not only a member of the forum, I’m also a big fan and owner of a blue tenere (fastest color you know).

Coming from the FZ9, and clambering on to the Tenere, is an eye opener.  The two are so different, it’s not even funny.  The Ten felt familiar fairly quickly.  I explained the different power settings to Kelly, and left him in the B setting (slowest and softest).  He promptly started enjoying the bike, and I followed suit on his bike.

We made it back. Kelly was kind enough to help us with our oil changes on both the scooters.  We left Kelly to his chores, and set off towards Ortega hwy.  What a treat.  I’ve ridden this highway before…to be exact the night before, in its entirety there and back.  In the day it’s a hoot.  What followed was even better.  Lane splitting is awesome!  You Cali guys and gals have it good.  You can make rapid progress in heavy traffic through town.  We mostly stuck to the 1 through town, but decided to hop on the freeway to join speed things up.  I hate the free way, and the FZ does not make it any easier, with a shitty luggage set up (see pics), and no windscreen.  I swear, I have arms like a orangutang, and a neck like popey.  Made it to Ojai in the evening to meet up with Tim aka Tomato city on his minty blue ST.

Ortega hwy at night

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Ghetto luggage…check.

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Another shot of Ortega

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Willy on hwy 18

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Tuesday’s Route: http://goo.gl/maps/Hv7yO

We headed out of Ojai NW towards the coast.  150 was the first road, and a treat.  The rest of it up to Lompoc was pretty decent.  I’m missing a road that we did between that and Lompoc.  Did stop into Solvang which was a cool little town.  Very Danish.

IMG_9712-2 Onto Lompoc, and the coast.  Now nothing mind blowing up to this point, but it got better.  Much better.  Old Creek Road out of Caycoos was an absolute blast.  Smooth technical.  Once we reached the intersection, Willie decided to turn around on the next bit of road as it was bumpy and a bit crappy.  Tim and I continued on.  Interesting Road, but it’s where old asphalt goes to die.  No matter still enjoyable.

Back on 1, we turned left on 46, decent, and back down Old creek Road.  From there we were on the 41 which was pretty decent.  Again, things got great on 229.  It was a narrow twisty, perfect condition race track.  It looked custom made.  We made a small detour to feed the small FZ tank, and did the whole lenght of 58.  Wow, is all I can say.  The west end of 58 is tight, technical, and a demanding.  After which it opens up to all sorts of fun.  Long 3 and 4th gear sweepers, straights, and hills so sudden it feels you’re on you’re own personal roller coaster.

Since we could not take hwy 33 back, we needed to take I5 back to Ojai.  What a PITA.  More on how the bike handles the highway later.  Made it to Ojai, after a very long 750 km plus day.

Wednesday, the day of the grease ball sandwich.  Route:  http://goo.gl/maps/50eFl Tim sat the day out.  Willie and I hopped on the bikes and took the bikes to Malibu for some canyon riding.  But first things first.  Willie had some fun on tuesday, and killed his front tire (OEM tire that came with the kwak, at 12km it was ready for replacement).  Kelly was kind enough to find us a dealer that would help us out.  Thousand Oaks in ermmm….Thousand Oaks, hooked him up with a michelin front, for a resonable $130, plus $54 for install.  Talked to some local guys, had a laugh, attempted to straighten my triple trees that I never set straight after my fork swap-no dice.  We got on with it, and went to Malibu.

Roads were out of this world.  Scenery wise, amazing.  Road wise, brilliant.  It’s all a blur now, but we stuck to the less travelled ones: Stunt road 🙂 Latigo Canyon Road, Mulhollands famous turn, and look out, and many others.  Much fun was had.   More on the bike later.

Half way through the day it was time for lunch.  We decided to eat healthy, and found a Vons (Safeway) by the sea.  Over to the deli counter I went and ordered a seemingly healthy roast chicken bacon avocado sandwich on ciabatta.  TOP TIP!.  When your sandwich is being made, stay close so you can instruct the fellow behind the counter what you would and would not like on your sandwich.  As you can already tell, I failed to give the man some guidance.  So there he goes, cuts the ciabatta bun in half, while the chicken is being baked in the oven. So far so good.  Next while I was a distance away paying for said sandwich he proceeds to take out the 1 litre mayo squeze tube, with no less than FOUR nozzles on it.  He then squeezes the lights out of it, and puts a very generous helping of mayo on the bread.  I was out of reach and was unable to stop the spreading of goo.  He then took the mayo saturated bread, and stuck it in the oven…..why? what for? so the mayo turns to fat, and grease.  Perfect.  It gets better.  The bread was then taken out, married to the chicken breast, lettuce, bacon and tomato, and more mayo was applied…seriously?.  I know I should have sent it back, said something, refused, but by this point I was waiting for 10 minutes, in full gear, helmet, and a very heavy tank bag, and quite frankly I was hungry.  I decided to eat the mayo wonder.  What a mistake.  Not only did it taste like crap, it made me feel even worse.  so next time..no mayo for me.

The rest of the day, save for a possible road side redecoration, and a massive headache was good, very good.

Thursday’s Route: http://goo.gl/maps/KWvwN  Angeles Crest has been closed for years from the east end.  The bulk of the good riding is from the west end.  All good stuff except the dreaded freeway. Again more on that later.  TOP TIP.  Just because a port-a-crapper is clean, does not mean that it has a supply of avialable toilet paper.  Thank god for Starbucks napkins.

Friday’s Route.  Through Malibu again, picked up a few canyon roads, and onto the 1.  Some great lane splitting was done, and we managed to stay off the freeway entirely.  Ortega to Lake Elsinore.  We loaded up, and headed out of town…slowly.  I hate LA traffic in a car/truck/bus/semi.  Give me a bike any day.

Bike and Gear review

The bike.  After a very happy 3300km in about a week, here are my thoughts on my FZ9.

First off.  For the price that I paid for it, this is the bargain of the century.  That motor at sea level, and for that matter at any elevation is incredible.  It pulls everywhere in the rpm range.  B mode is the smoothest, but still jerky, especially with on/off throttle inputs.  A and STD mode are very snappy, and make the bike quicker still.  This thing bounds like an eager puppy, on crack.  The performance was a bit blunted up at 7000 feet, but still pulled like a mother.  I’ll see how the rest of the season treats me, but it’s very likely the ECU will get sent off to Nick at stoltec for a reflash.  Suspension: for everyone bitching and moaning (possible owners/existing owners) you can realistically get only so much for $8700 CDN! Yes Yamaha could have spent an extra $700 and passed the cost on to us, in turn saving us the hassle of doing it ourselves, but truth be told, only 5% of all FZ9 owners will be able to push the bike to 90% of it’s potential, the rest of us will enjoy the bike as is with a few personal tweaks to suit our riding needs. Besides, working and fiddling with a bike is all part of the experience.

That said, the competition (stree triple R rang in at $11500 USD over at  thousand oaks dealer, which translates to about $13500 CDN!  That’s five grand difference.  I would factor maybe about $1500 for suspension work front/rear, stainless steel lines $100 and you still have about $4000 in your pocket, and a whole lot more torque in the motor).  That still leaves a lot of room for improvement, and it can be done over time.  The only plus on the street triple is the ABS.  The motor is nowhere near as good as the FZ, and I think the Yami would be more reliable vs the brit bike.

I digress…  the suspension is just OK.  I improved the front end with springs set for my weight, 10w oil, and the preload/rebound set half way (total cost $100).  For what I need it for, and to my abilites (OK rider) the front was good.  The rear shock left a few things to be desired.  It wallowed too often, even with the rear preload at the second highest setting.  Rebound was wound right up.  Again, I will finish off this season on the bike, save up my centavos and spring for a better rear shock ($850-$1200 depending on model needed).

Tires.  My bike came with the Dunlop D216’s I belive.  I aired down to 32/28 psi cold (front/rear) and the tire did very well indeed.  It gripped everywhere, and there was not much chicken strips left.  At 3300km, I am down to the wear bars, but should manage another easy 2000km out of the rear.  Front is fine for probably 10km.

Ergonomics (seats, handle bar etc.. etc..)  Well after this trip, the seat is broken, no scratch that, my ass is broken.  The seat was ok.  towards the beginning of the trip, I replaced the stock front rubber bumpers with a higher set.  This helped a bit, but the slope of the seat is too steep.  I will execute a foam upgrade with this one, using the grout sponge trick posted by one of the Forum members.  I’ve seen better, I’ve seen worse.  Wind protection.  SUCKS! What did I expect, it’s a naked bike.  At the end of Tuesday, the last bit of freeway was killer.  I talked to myself, sang, did all sorts of silly shit to keep myself hanging on to that bastard at  120 km/h.  Incidentally my MRA sport touring screen arrived at Kelly’s place on thursday, the day before we were leaving.  Timing is everything.  Controls and display.  I was skeptical about the speedo.  It’s quite dinky, but after a week of use, it worked ok for me.  Not ideal, but it will work.  Stock bars worked well for me as well as all associated controls.  Brakes. I upgraded the stock front lines to SS ones.  At first they felt odd.  The initial bit was not really there, quickly followed by a quick stop.  I’ll make sure that there’s no air in the lines this weekend.  Fronts were very good, and the rear was adjusted for my riding (lowered) and felt very good.  No issues with lock up unless you were really trying.  Exhaust/Intake noise.  Stock exhaust is quite under acceleration, but the intake has a very nice noise to it.  On decel the exhaust sounds pretty decent.  I hacked off the tip from the stocker today, and removed the restrictor (past the second weld).  New tip is going on this weekend.

TPX Radar/Garmin Zumo.  Both worked very well, and I would recommend both.  The Zumo made my life easy, as I preloaded all my maps, and guided me in the right direction 95% of the time.  My only gripe with the Zumo 350 is that you can download a google point, but not a whole laid out map.  Why the hell ony one point?  If you’re going to go to that much trouble, let us download the entire map the we made on google, a program that’s actually works, and the interface is easy.  No one wants to use base camp.  What an absolute piece of software garbage.  Designed by Satan, and co written by Hitler and Stalin.  TPX worked, and it’s handy to have.

Oxford Heated Grips.  No you don’t need them for california, but…I rode with my summer gloves only for the entire trip, and I simply moved the temp up/down as needed to stay comfy.  Good stuff.

SW Motech GS Tank bag (25L) and new lock ring.  Great piece of kit.  Holds everything except your pet monkey.  Buy it you will love it.  Easy on and off (trust me, you will do this a lot)

To sum up/re-iterate:  Great bike for the money.  Best motor I have ever ridden.  This includes the greats (cbr900rr, gear driven non v-tec vfr, TL-S, various ducati’s) stu-pendous.  Yes there are faults, corner cutting visible, but nothing that can be fixed with a small-ish budget.  The tank is a bit of a dud.  200 km of hard riding and you’re looking for gas.  As the bike was breaking in, the total trip average rose to about 5.5L/100 km (43 MPG) for a theoretical tank range of 254 KM.

Upcoming mods are the seat, sw-motech rear rack, and that’s it.  Ride the bike.  You could sport tour with a decent rear bag, and the new screen should work a treat (report to follow).  Day to day around town, this will be the go to bike.

I’ll post up more pics tonight, meantime between time flickr link: http://www.flickr.com/photos/97730749@N03/sets/72157642222662723/