Entries in riding (3)


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:



Upcoming trip to Canada and the East Coast

Starting on Friday 20th, I'll be riding my bike to Detroit to meet up with a co-worker.  From there, we're going to cross the boarder into Windsor and ride around a few cities in Canada to meet some customers.  After that we'll head back to his place in New Hampshire, and I'll hang out there for a day before I head home.  Below is the rough route I'll be taking:


View Larger Map

 Although, I'll be doing a lot of higway miles, I hope to stay mostly on two lane highways and check out some nice senery.  Along the way, I'll be camping in Nebraska, and Iowa.  I'll also be camping on the way back, but I haven't decided where I'll be camping yet.


Last night I mounted my panniers and tank bag, and started test loading my stuff.  I wanted to make sure I can fit all my camping gear, and also make sure my tent rode well on the lid of my right pannier.  Here is the setup so far:


I'm pretty much ready to go, but the other day when I did my first oil change, I forgot to put the crush washer back on the drain bolt for the oil, so now I have a slow drip.  Tonight, I'm gonna pull the bolt off quickly, and slip the washer on.  I've got some extra oil, so whatever I loose, I'll replace.  After that, I should be ready to rock for 3k miles or so.  I plan on taking video and pictures along the way, and I'm gonna try to keep this blog up to date as I'm crusing along.  I may also do a ride report on ADVrider, but I haven't decided yet.

- - Rob


Happy Trail Aluminum Panniers

 Kim and I are planning to do a fair amount of riding this summer including multiple trips to various hot springs around the state, moto-camping trips, and just scenic out of the city riding.  I'm not planning on getting my new bike until October, so we'll be riding two up most of the summer (if I'm not riding the Aprilia).  Because of this we decided that we need a way to carry our gear.  A tank bag is a no brainer, and we knew we'd probably go with panniers, but weren't really sure about what brand and did we want aluminum or plastic, and what the cost of each would be (I think aluminum looks a lot better, but that's just me). 

The first thing I did, of course, was take a look at the Adventure Rider forums as well as start looking for bike specific forums.  As it turns out, there is tons of information on different luggage options for the Versys, even though the bike has only been around since '08.  After combing through the Kawasaki Versys forums, and asking a few questions and looking at tons of pictures/posts, we settled on the Happy Trail Aluminum Pannier Kit.  As it turns out, they were running a special, and we got them powder coated, and pre-mounted at no extra cost.  We decided to go with the HT kit because of the positive reviews I got from many riders (even those on different bikes), the price, they were big enough, and we really liked the way they looked on the bike. 

After ordering the kit online, we received it in about a week.  I immediately went to work on installing these bad boys.  The first thing you'll notice when you order your HT panniers is the lack of installation directions.  In their place, you'll find a picture with a few annotations.  That's it.  It's not exactly rocket science to install the luggage, but it does take a little time to figure out which screws go where, and you'll have to do a little guess work when you're moving your blinkers with the supplied angle brackets.  Also, my biggest gripe was I was missing two nuts and two washers that I needed to move my blinkers.  It wasn't that big of a deal, because I live right across the street from an Ace Hardware, but the fact of the matter is I paid over $600 for this kit, so I expect everything to be there.  And, to add insult to injury, I emailed HT support about the issue, and never heard anything back.  Yet another company with poor customer service.  All I can say, is I'll probably think twice about ordering things from them if that's how they treat customers.  There's always Twisted Throttle...

With the time it took to run to the store, and the messing with the blinkers, I had the boxes installed and ready to use in about an hour.  I'm sure if you're better at turning a wrench than I am, you could have the job done in half that time.  At any rate, with proper instructions, the job could be done in as little as 15 minutes (if all your parts are supplied).  After getting the boxes on, the only thing left to do is drink a brew, and garnish with your favorite ADV sticker.

So how do they hold up?  At this point, it's hard to say, as we've only had them on for a few weeks.  I will say they seem very well made and I've ridden through some heavy rain as well as had them parked in rain for a few hours without so much as a drop inside the boxes.  They come on and off the racks very easily with just a twist of a few knobs, and that's perfect for Kim, as she prefers to ride without them.  One thing to note, you won't be sliding them on and off very easily when they are fully loaded I assume as you'll probably be blocking the release pucks, so if that's important to you, you may want to consider other panniers.  Mostly, I've just been taking my laptop and lunch to work in them and maybe picking up beer on the way home, but they seem to load well.  I guess I'll have a more thorough review on how they load when I actually load them up in a few weeks.

So overall, I give the HT panniers a 3.5 out of 5 stars.  The product is a 4 or 5, but I put a lot of value in customer service, and that coupled with the poor install instructions, brings down the overall score.  If you have any other questions, shoot me a question in the comments, and I'd be happy to answer.

- - Rob