Thursday
Mar152012

Lots of riding coming up this summer

So, I know I totally bitched out on doing the moto/riding podcast, but in all fairness, a ton of shit's gone down in the last 6 months of my life, so I haven't really had the drive to make the videos.  That's all going to change this summer.  I've got a new computer that can smash through video rendering, I'm going to pick up a camera with an external mic hookup, and I'll be riding a shit load again this year.  

With that being said, I don't have anything to share with you right now other than the big Katoom is shripped down in my garage right now.  I'm repairing some shit I broke, doing all the maintaince that I'm a little behind on, and while I'm at it, I'm upgrading a few things.  Here's a list off the top of my head of the things that are getting done in the next few weeks (BTW, all the parts are on order, or sitting in my garage on the bench):

 

  • New seat
  • New rear tire and tube
  • New chain and sprockets - 16\45 final drive (going up three teeth in the back)
  • New rear fender
  • New right rear fairing
  • New right blinker (can you tell which side she went down on?)
  • Rebuild the water pump
  • Fix oil leak from the shift sensor
  • Change the oil and filter
  • Deep clean it while I've got it apart
  • I'll have it in to do the next major engine maintence in about 3k miles, so no need to do the valves just yet

 

Spring seems to be in full bloom here in Denver, so I should have no problem getting after it in the next few weeks.  Stay tuned for tons of pictures and video this summer.  Should be a great one!

 

Also, I never posted any report or images or anything from my big ride last summer, so here's the video I made:

 

Thursday
Feb032011

So after 10,000 miles, how do I feel?

It has been a while since I've posted anything new to my site, and I've been wanting to write a review of my new bike, so here goes nothing.

Back in August, after a ton of research, I bought a 2010 KTM 990 Adventure.  This was to be my first KTM as well as my first Adventure bike (although I cut my teeth on a Kawasaki Super Sherpa, and that thing was an adventure from day one).  I tossed and turned over this bike because I really wanted it, but it came with a heavty price tag.  After going over my budget, saving money, and most importantly, talking to Kim, I finally pulled the trigger.

My new bike!

From the very first time I rode the bike off the lot, I noticed two things: it feels heavy when standing still (especially because I'd been riding a SXV 450 for the last few years), but somehow becomes feather light as soon as you start moving.  I quickly jumped on the highway and was cruising at 75mph no problem.  It was cold and rainy, so I only rode about 60 miles that first ride.  I can tell you though, as soon as I parked that bike, I was chomping at the bits to get back on it.  And, I wanted to see what this thing could do off road.  Was it really a dirt bike that could easily handle the fast lane on the interstate?  I had to know.

The next ride was strait to the mountains, to a trail known as Saxon Mountain Rd. This trail is pretty mild, but does have some rocky sections as well as a nice climb to the top.  I felt right at home on the big KTM.  The thing has power on tap, and the only thing that kept me from really giving it hell was the Scorpion MT90 enduro tires.  Great street tire, but it really leaves you hanging off road.  The KTM spins Scorps up like top, which makes for some fun/sketchy hill climbs.  No matter, I was going on cross country trip in two weeks anyway, so I'd need those Pirellis.

I rode a few more times off road in the Left Hand Canyon OHV area and on the Switzerland trail out side of Boulder before starting to gear up for my trip to Canada.

It was very apparent to me that, indeed the KTM is a very capable off road bike.  It might not chew up road miles like a GS, but make no mistake about it, this is a 90HP dirt bike.  So then, how would it fair driving mostly highway all the across the country and up to Quebec City?  Again, I had to find out...

About a month before I got my bike, a coworker of mine that lives in New Hampshire asked if I wanted to do a "work trip" on my new bike.  KTM says it's as good of a road bike as a dirt bike, so why not right?  So I loaded it up and head out:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 This trip would take about 10 days and cover about 4800 miles and through 17 states and two Candian proviences.  It was very ambitious, especially on a bike that I was totally un familiar with.

 

 Map of my motorcycle road trip

The very first thing I noticed, was how fat the bike felt with the panniers and gear on it.  This was all new to me, and honestly, I didn't like it.  Then I reminded myself that adventure riding/touring isn't about who finishes first, it's about finishing and taking your time, and letting the trip be the fun, not just the destination.  Enough about the trip, how'd the bike do?  Well let me just say this: if you want to go across the country at 80mph on the interstate, get a GS.  The KTM can totally ride that pace all day and it did, as I spent most of my time on the HW, but it's taxing on the rider to ride this bike in those contitions.  There is a lot of buffetting and the panniers just feel foriegn on this thing.  Like a leach sucking the damn life out of the bike.  Don't get me wrong, this bike could go around the world (like any bike really), with no problem, but get a touring bike to do seriuos road touring.

Now would I ride across the country again?  You bet your ass!  In fact, I'm taking pavement up to Banf, Canada in September to ride the Continental Divide Trail.  But, I'll be on fun two lane back HWs the whole way up.  This is indeed what this bike loves.  Ride a back road or Interstate to a trail, and then give it hell.

Now, what the KTM does do better than any other big aventure bike is off road.  This freaking bike shreds off road.  As proof, check out some my pictures/video from a trip I took to Moab, UT (check out all my pictures here) via the Kokopeli's trail (oh yeah, I changed the tires to Dunlop 908's... ;) ):

Working on a sandy hill climb

 

Ok, now just a strait forward bulleted list of things I like and don't like

Likes/Loves

 

  • Boat loads of power
  • Weight down low so it doesn't feel as heavy as it is
  • Good adjustable suspension
  • Sounds freaking sweet
  • Great off road
  • Great all around bike
  • It's a god damn mad man to ride (on and off road)

 

Dislikes

 

  • A PIA to change the oil
  • Turning off the ABS every time I get on the bike freaking sucks (I should have gotten the non-abs R version)
  • Buffetting from the wind screen can be a pain on really long rides (over 500 miles)
  • Front suspension is too soft for an aggressive rider like me (same with the wheels)
  • Ugly as sin (I love rally bikes, but KTM missed the mark IMO)

 

So in the end, let me just say this: there is no perfect do it all bike in my opinion. But, the 990 is as damn close to it as I've ever ridden.  It has become my favorite bike I've ever owned, and the only one that I can't ever see myself parting with.  While I love the sheer no compromise ideals behind bikes like my SXV or MX bikes, or Italian V-Twin sport bikes, I love the fact that I have a bike that I can communt on daily, ride like I stole it on and off road, and then load it up and ride the highway to TX with my dad on his Goldwing.  I gotta say, I think I finally found my gal.

 

- - Rob

Tuesday
Oct192010

Quick update

I've been working on my mic setup so that I can get better sound when doing my riding podcast.  I think I have something that will work pretty well, and I've been doing some testing.  A few tweaks and I should have it working.  I have some good stuff planned, and although winter is starting, I think I can get a few good rides in before winter hits in earnest.

 

- - Rob

Monday
Sep062010

Stash gear in your pannier lid

I just got back from a ~4800 mile road trip on my motorcycle.  During that ride, I was able to make some good notes about my setup, and this week I checked the first item off the list of things to do when I got home. 

When riding, you want to be able to get to a few things easily, so you don't want to bury them in your panniers under other stuff.  For me this includes, warm riding gloves, a first aid kit, and my balaclava.  During the ride, I had this stuff sitting on top of whatever I had in my panniers at the time, and I'd have to set them on the seat with the lid every time I needed someting in my boxes.  This becomes a pain in the wind, or when the bike is off balance.  So, I decided to see if there were any nets I could put in the lid.  Since I have Touratech panniers, I decided I'd see what they offer first.  Like everything else that Touratech makes, the nets they offered were stupid expensive.  So, I went to work on making my own with some old bungee that I harvested from some worn out shoes before I tossed them and some paracord.

I picked up some D-ring hangers that are used for hanging pictures from the hardware store for about $2:

 Then I mounted each of the hangers under one of the existing screws for the racks on the lid:

After that, I took the bungee I had and laced it through the four rings:

Bungee cord parameter

I tied the bungee to itself with an overhand knot.  As you can see I have a stretchy parameter now:

 Now I had a place to start tieing the net.  I have a bunch of 550 Paracord, so I didn't have to buy that.  I've never tied a net before, but I had somewhat of an idea from some paracord projects I've seen in the past.  I cut about a 18 inch length of cord, bent it in half, and tied it to the parameter cord with a simple cow hitch (I'd probably use a prusik next time).  I cut off another 18 inch section, and tied it off about an inch away from the first piece of cord.  Then I just started tieing overhand knots a few inches down the cord (to the parameter, and to the other piece of cord):

Never tied a net before

I cut off a few more pieces of cord to complete the net, and it came together pretty quickly:

Finished product

After I finished it, I tossed one of my ski gloves into the net to see how it works:

I can stash stuff in my lid now!

I'll update in a few months when I've had a chance to really use it.  Only then will I know if I actually made something useful.  I guess I may re-tie it some time and finish the bottom part of the net better.  I may not though...

 

- - Rob

Thursday
Aug192010

Leaving tomorrow. Follow me on the map...

I'm all packed up and ready to rock!  Kim has decided to ride with me to Nebraska and camp with me the first night.  She's then gonna make tracks back to Denver on Saturday while I continue on my way.  Anyway, if you want, you can come to the site and see where I'm at on my trip.  I'm using Instamapper.com to do real time tracking for the trip.  Check it:

 

 

Pictures to follow soon!

 

- - Rob