March 26, 2014

SIDI Canyon Boots Review

From my post "DRZ-400s On Ice and Mud" you know that my non-waterproof Fly Maverick boots left me with wet feet. I like the Fly boots a lot but, my soggy socks convinced me that it is time for a pair of waterproof boots. Since then, I have narrowed my choices down to a couple of options from SIDI. Here is a first hand review of one of them.


Last year Wendi Kawigirl stepped into a pair of SIDI Canyon boots. A year later she says, "They are my favorite motorcycle boots, ever." These leather SIDIs have a Gore-Tex membrane that provides great waterproofing and the Velcro flap keeps the boots tight on the leg. She has been in water on several rides and never came home with wet feet. That sounds good to me!


Starting with fit, Wendi has only good things to say about the SIDI Canyon Gore-Tex. Italian boots run narrow for American sizing, but she ordered true to size. Out of the box they were tight but, loosened up with wear and are very comfortable now. She has worn them on many all day rides and they have never been too hot on her feet.


As for durability, the leather on these boots has held up very well, with very little wear showing on the heel and sole treads. At first, Wendi was concerned that the ratcheting side buckle might fail. This happened on some previous boots but, after a year of use and abuse these buckles are as solid as when the boots were new.


Overall she is very pleased with these SIDI boots, and would buy them again. A big change from her previous disappointment with a couple of different Icon boots. All of these pluses make the SIDI Canyon Gore-Tex a serious contender for being my next pair of boots. I am very impressed with how well they have stood up after a year of riding dirt, mud, gravel, and pavement. I am also looking forward to not riding with wet socks.

March 22, 2014

Dual Sport is Awesome - 2013



This great video from You Tuber "invariant676" covers pretty much every type of dual sport riding with several different bikes. Watch for a couple of different KLRs, including one doing an Evel Knievel style jump over a ditch, that was a "must see" moment for me. Once again, the KLR proves it can keep up with the smaller, lighter, dual sports as well as the bigger and more powerful bikes.

March 20, 2014

KLR650 Recycle Bike Fear Factor

The picture and article below "PROJECT RECYCLE - KAWASAKI KLR650" come from the cycleworld.com website and is a common web article for the KLR650. Once again, they bought a KLR project bike, put in a plug for Bike Bandit, then bolted on a lot of aftermarket accessories. As usual, when finished  the KLR is a much better bike. A KLR veteran may take interest in these mods but, a KLR noob or a wanna be may have an entirely different view. This sort of article could scare the crap out of that person.

Who wants to buy a bike that needs this many upgrades, that cost several hundred additional dollars? The article does not say if these mods are "essential" or just "nice to have." (I would put lowered handlebars in the "nice to have" category.)

KLR noobs and wanna bes - relax! This article has good info on some aftermarket parts but, the stock bike runs and handles fine. Yes, it can be improved but, there's no need to immediately dump a wad of cash into your new ride to enjoy it. Go ahead and read the article below, but don't let it scare you. KLR riders have nothing to fear, but fear itself!

PROJECT RECYCLE - KAWASAKI KLR650


In many ways, the Kawasaki KLR650 is the default choice for a lightweight, low-cost adventure machine. It’s been around since 1987 and remained almost unchanged through 2007, and along the way, it has introduced hundreds—heck, maybe even thousands of riders to the joys and capabilities the big Thumper has to offer.

For us, as part of the Re-Cycle program, the KLR’s sheer numbers were motivation enough. Incredibly well-supported in the aftermarket, the KLR would not be difficult to update and improve; thousands of owners got there well ahead of us. Moreover, the weaker aspects of its design—mostly the result of it hailing from the mid-1980s—were well known. So, we followed the herd and applied the better-known modifications and updates.

The bike you see here, a 2006 model, was found in the Los Angeles area in near-pristine shape, with fewer than 3000 miles on the odometer. Except for an aftermarket exhaust and minor rejetting, it was mechanically stock. It wore a pair of dirt-oriented tires that had suffered from too many miles on the street, but both functionally and cosmetically, the bike was near-new.

We paid $3700 for our KLR, which—based on its clean, unmolested condition—is slightly above the market value. In our search, we found bikes from nearly new ones priced at around $4000 to some high-mileage units we could have grabbed for $2000. Bang for the buck? You bet!

And now, with the help of BikeBandit.com’s extensive catalog, this KLR is better than ever.

ENGINE AND DRIVETRAIN
Kawasaki’s 651cc dohc Single is what you’d call proven, though that also means every Internet Joe with wi-fi has shared his troubles with the world. If you’re a wanna-be KLR owner, Google “doohickey mod” to learn about a common issue with the engine’s counterbalancer chain tensioner, as one example.

Instead of opening up the engine and fitting a big-bore kit (a popular update for both new and tired KLRs), we attacked the usual means, swapping the 11-pound stock exhaust for a Yoshimura RS-2 slip-on muffler with spark arrestor and shiny stainless-steel lead-in pipe—it’s a beautiful thing, though we had to do a little fender trimming and sidecover shimming to make it fit.

On the front side, a K&N stock-replacement filter and a Dynojet Stage I jet kit did the deed. According to the dyno chart that came with the Yoshimura pipe, some 3-4 hp are available from stock. We didn’t dyno this particular KLR before the mods, so true A-to-B comparisons aren’t possible. But if we get the promised 37 hp, we’ll be happy enough. Right out of the box, this combination worked very well, with smooth throttle response, no surging and only a slight amount of cold-bloodedness.

KLR owners often ask for a sixth transmission speed, but lacking that, we attempted a compromise in gearing, wrapping a new D.I.D 520V O-ring chain around a pair of JT sprockets, in the stock 15-tooth size at the countershaft and down one (42 teeth) at the rear. This change took the edge off the KLR’s frantic highway demeanor, though it could handle a 40- or 41-tooth rear if you were willing to slide your street/dirt ratio over to, say, 90/10.

SUSPENSION AND TIRES
You might expect any KLR with a few more digits showing in its retro odometer to have soft legs, and you’d be right. The standard KLR shock, not exactly a high-tech item, is adjustable for spring preload only, and the 38mm KYB fork has no adjustments other than air pressure for spring rate (remember that?). Our efforts to improve suspension action without breaking the bank called on Progressive Suspension for its new 465 series shock—an aluminum-bodied beauty with stepless spring preload and five-way rebounding-damping adjustment. Up front, a Race Tech Cartridge Emulator was dropped down the skinny tubes—after the usual prep work, of course—topped by RT springs rated at 0.52 kg/mm, up from the stock rate of 0.4, running 15mm of preload. We left the Emulator settings as delivered, filled the legs with 15-weight oil so there was 150mm of air space.

On the road, the Re-Cycle KLR’s composure is dramatically improved. Increased spring rates help reduce the stock bike’s hobby-horsing without harming small-bump compliance; in fact, the revised KLR’s ride is better all around.
Another means of updating our KLR, which arrived with dirt-spec Dunlops that rendered the steering strange and howled on pavement, came from Metzeler in the form of Tourance tires.

In stock sizes—90/90-21 front and 130/90-17 rear—the street-biased Tourances provide as much grip as the KLR’s chassis ever wants and are even passable away from pavement, as long as your definition of off-road doesn’t include sand bogs or boulder-strewn goat trails. Let’s remember what the KLR isn’t: a lightweight, modern-suspension trail runner.

BRAKES
Kawasaki, known for eking every single solitary development cent from components, continued to give the KLR650 a single-piston, sliding-pin caliper dating from the days before the GPz. We did what we could, fitting Galfer semi-metallic pads front and rear, along with Galfer braided-steel lines.

No question the lever and pedal are firmer than stock, but the front brake’s power remains underwhelming. Next steps would include a different caliper and a larger rotor, but that’s starting to get into real money. Besides, you have to wonder how much brake that limber fork will tolerate; it twists enough during hard stops as it is.

ERGONOMICS
Next on the list was to update the KLR’s ergonomics. Those steel handlebars might as well date from the early Malcolm Smith period, so after perusing BikeBandit.com’s virtual catalog a set of Renthal CR-Low bars were selected and fitted. They are 1 inch narrower and 2.5 inches lower than stock, with half the weight. They’re about the lowest you’ll get to fit; the switch clusters just clear the tank at full steering lock. The ends are fitted with Show Chrome heated grips, which come with a digital, four-level heat controller and a full wiring harness.

For the rest of the rider’s physique, we have a Sargent World Sport Performance replacement seat that fits the KLR perfectly and is such an incredible improvement over the stocker that it should be the first update you make. We also replaced the slippery stock footpegs with a set of IMS Super Stock pegs that are suitably saw-toothed and deeper.

LUGGAGE RACKS
One benefit of choosing a long-running model like the KLR650 is that the aftermarket will have a wide selection of accessories, particularly luggage. Here we called on a strong seller in the BikeBandit.com family: Moose Racing. Moose provided its Expedition luggage rack system. This steel-tube affair, powdercoated black, slipped onto the KLR without trouble, replacing the stock luggage rack and providing sturdy perches for genuine Pelican hard bags. They’re a good size for the KLR, too, at 21.4 inches wide, 12.8 inches tall and 6.7 inches deep. Mounted, the bags are slightly wider than the new bars, so be careful in traffic.

March 16, 2014

DRZ-400s On Ice and Mud

We received a badly needed preview of spring with a warm day last week, and you can't waste those nice early spring days. With the KLRs still in winter hibernation, Wendi Dee-R-Zee and I took out the 400s for a dirty, wet, and fun ride.


I was eager to get going and sped off down this wet gravel road. Then, almost dumped twice when the bike surprised me with a couple of wicked wobbles. I stood up and saw the wet gravel was actually wet, dirty, ice.


So, I chose caution over cool and rolled off the throttle. Then I carefully threaded between ice patches for the strips of exposed gravel. It's a little too early in the year to get cocky on wet ice!


This wooded trail area had melted into a soft, muddy pond. The soggy conditions did not stop Wendi Dee-R-Zee from revving up and plunging ahead for some wet, muddy, fun. Give it a try - the water is fine!


Wendi's waterproof Klim Traverse suit worked great. Also, her waterproof Sidi Canyon boots held up just fine. After splashing through a lot of water and throwing up some mud, she was smiling and dry from head to toe.


On my run through the mud, the KLX handled perfectly and was a blast to ride. Too bad for me, I finished with wet feet since my Fly Maverick boots are not waterproof. My Klim Dakar pants, also not waterproof, were muddied up, but kept me dry. My old Scorpion jacket got wet, but I wear it for the hi-viz, not to keep dry.


After splashing and sliding through the swamp, we rode some soft, but relatively dry areas farther on through the woods. It was great to ride off road and we didn't mind the bare, brown, landscape after several months of nothing but snow cover.


Most likely, we will get more snow and cold before spring arrives this year. North Dakota often surprises you with a blizzard in April and snow in May is common. But, we were glad that Mother Nature allowed us to shake off those No Riding Winter Blues for at least one day. 

March 13, 2014

2014.5 KLR650 New Edition Review

Calling this KLR 650 a "New Edition" is a slight exaggeration. The bike is nearly identical to the standard model except for the seat and suspension upgrades. I wish Kawasaki had addressed the doohickey issue and replaced those "pogo stick" front forks with those found on modern dual sport motorcycles. This bike is more of a KLR650 "S" than a "New Edition." Regardless, the upgrades are well worth the extra $100 over the standard 2014 model. Read on and decide for yourself, all of the tech specs and more pics are in the story below from www.ridermagazine.com

2014 Kawasaki KLR650 New Edition First Look Review

 by Greg Drevenstedt
2014.5 KLR650 New Edition in Candy Lime Green/Ebony

After chugging along with few changes and a distinctive tweet from its exhaust pipe for 21 years, Kawasaki’s legendary KLR650 dual-sport got a major update for 2008. Engine tweaks, suspension improvements, stronger brakes, new styling with better aerodynamics and a comfier seat are the major items on an even longer list of changes that improved the KLR’s on-road manners at the expense of some off-road worthiness. Though updated, the KLR650, which still uses a Keihin CVK-40 constant-velocity carburetor, has remained fairly old-school, with a low price to match.
KLR650 New Edition_Front_Fork_R

41mm fork has 40% firmer springs and 28% firmer rebound damping.
Rumors have been circulating for a while about a larger displacement, fully modernized KLR, perhaps a fuel injected 800cc twin to compete with BMW's F 800 GS and Triumph's Tiger 800. When Kawasaki unveiled its 2014 lineup last fall, the KLR650 returned with the same specs and the same price ($6,499) as in 2013, but with color selection limited to Candy Lime Green/Ebony, the Ebony and Pearl Solar Yellow having been dropped.

Quietly, with little fanfare, Kawasaki slipped a mid-year addition into its lineup. The 2014 Kawasaki KLR650 New Edition has more robust suspension and a better seat, and it comes in two new colors: Metallic Flat Raw Graystone/Ebony and Pearl Starduct White/Ebony. Comparing specs side-by-side for the KLR650 and KLR650 New Edition, they’re virtually identical. Same liquid-cooled 651cc single-cylinder DOHC 4-valve engine, same claimed curb weight (432 pounds), same fuel capacity (6.1 gallons), same seat height (35 inches) and so on.

One of the KLR650′s weakest links has been its too-soft suspension, which reflects the bike’s old design and low price. The New Edition attempts to remedy the situation with a 41mm fork—in the same size and with the same 7.9 inches of travel as the base model—that’s filled with 40-percent firmer springs and has 28-percent firmer rebound damping rates. The Uni-Trak linkage-equipped rear shock still has 7.3 inches of travel, but the New Edition has a 63-percent higher spring rate and 83-percent firmer rebound damping. All that extra firmness should reduce brake dive, sag (especially when loaded) and overall mushiness, offering better control in most riding conditions. As with the base model, the fork offers no adjustment but the shock has five-level spring preload and four-level rebound adjustment. 
KLR650 New Edition
The KLR650 New Edition’s seat is still 35 inches high, but it is narrower in front for an easier reach to the ground.
Even after its 2008 update, the KLR’s seat remained a sore point, literally. The foam is too soft and crushes down easily, leaving the rider’s bum on the seat pan. The New Edition’s seat features a narrower front section with a more rounded profile that Kawasaki says will make it easier to reach the ground and enhance off-road maneuverability. It is more than an inch wider and features a flatter, less tapered profile, offering a more stable and comfortable platform. Whether it offers more support is an open question.
MSRP for the 2014 Kawasaki KLR650 New Edition is $6,599—just a Ben Franklin more than the base model gets you better suspension, a better seat and more color options with revised graphics. The KLR has long been one of the best deals on two wheels, and the New Edition is even better. We’ll get a chance to ride the new KLR soon, and they should be arriving at dealerships any day now.
The New Edition's seat is an inch wider and has a dimpled cover.

Uni-Trak linkage-equipped rear shock has a 63% percent higher spring rate and 83% percent firmer rebound dampening.

The KLR650 New Edition features stiffer suspension, a new seat, and more color options with new graphics.

MSRP for the 2014.5 KLR650 New Edition is $6,599, just $100 more than the base model.

2014.5 Kawasaki KLR650 New Edition in Metallic Flat Raw Graystone/Ebony

2014.5 Kawasaki KLR650 New Edition in Pearl Stardust White/Ebony

March 7, 2014

From Alaska to New York - In Winter!!

www.edmontonjournal.com
This smiling fellow is Fernando Garcia, a man who enjoys a challenge. He also deserves his picture placed next to "crazy" in the dictionary for riding his 2004 KLR 650 from Alaska to New York in the middle of winter. I understand his passion for riding, but why a winter trip?

Riding endless miles through frozen, snow covered countryside does not appeal to me at all. He plans to make a TV show and write a book, and I am sure he will have a lot of good material for it, but does the winter make the story more appealing? I can't decide where Fernando stands on the thin line separating courage from foolhardiness. That sort of goes with the territory for KLR riders.

Click here to read his story from the Edmonton Journal.      

March 1, 2014

Klim Dakar Pro Jersey Gear Review

After a summer of wearing the Klim Dakar Pro Jersey, Wendi and I can only say good things about it. Klim claims the Dakar Pro is "the world’s most durable riding jersey" and it is certainly a lot more than your average motocross jersey.


Right out of the box, the padded shoulders and sleeves are a bit rigid. Klim used 840D Cordura and EVA foam padding to protect against overgrown brush whipping your arms and sides as you blast down your favorite wooded trail. From experience, we both can say this works really well. The Cordura and padding with the thumb loops to keep the sleeves down add some protection when going down off road.


The zippered chest pocket has an elastic lanyard with a wipe cloth for your shield or goggles. The pocket is a bit small to hold a lot, but that's probably a good thing. I don't want a lot of hard, bulky items digging into my chest if I go down face first.


The body and under sides of the sleeves are a lightweight mesh fabric that allow for plenty of ventilation. We always wear armor under the jersey and stay cool and comfortable with complete freedom of movement on the road or trail.


The reflective strips on the front and back are a nice feature. After a day on the trails, the last thing anyone needs is a close encounter with a car while riding home on a dark highway or city street.


The jersey is as durable as Klim advertises. After a typical off-road riding season with countless swipes by tree branches and bushes, several dumps in dirt and mud, and a couple of minor skids across gravel, our jerseys are in great condition. They also launder just fine and all those grass and mud stains come right out.


The Dakar Pro jersey costs a bit more than your average jersey, but it is worth the money. Along with the extra protection, it is comfortable, well vented, and can take the punishment of off road riding adventures. It is easy to see why it quickly became our favorite for off road riding.