Changing the Brake Pads

Changing the your KLR's brake pads is a straight forward job. No great mechanical skills or special tools beyond a socket set and a metric allen wrench set are needed. This is an overview of the job, and you should consult a service manual when servicing your brakes.

Begin on the front and remove the brake hose support to allow added room to work when the caliper is removed. Next, use a 5mm allen wrench to loosen but do not remove, hex keyed alignment pins on the caliper. These can be tight and are easier to break free with the brake caliper still mounted on the fork. Use a 12mm socket to remove the two caliper mounting bolts. Also, have a length of rope or bungee handy to support the caliper once it is removed from the fork. Do not let the caliper dangle by the brake hose.

Now, the alignment pins that hold the pads in the caliper are ready to come out. Use the allen wrench to finish unscrewing them. If they are stubborn about come out, use a suitable tool to push them out from the back side. When both pins removed, the inside pad rotates out and the outside pad can be easily removed. That is all for taking things apart, the job is half done.

These pictures above clearly contrast the wear on the old and new pads for the front brake.

Before installing the new pads, be sure to push the two brake pistons back into the cylinder bores. This makes room for the thicker new pads to fit over the rotor when the caliper goes back on. The pistons can be moved by hand, but if they are stubborn use a C clamp to gently push them back into the caliper. Insert the first pad against the pistons then partially insert both alignment pins through the caliper and the new pad. Give these pins (below) a quick cleaning and inspection before inserting them.

There is a spring beneath the both pads so apply slight downward pressure to align the pads with the pins. With the pins through the first pad, position the remaining pad and insert the pin through it and completely into the caliper. A couple turns on the pin will hold it in place for now.

Next, position the caliper on the fork and reinstall the mount bolts. Be sure to use thread locking compound on the threads and torque them down. Apply locking compound on the exposed threads of the alignments pins and torque them down. Finally, reinstall the brake hose guide and remove the support rope from the caliper.

The rear brake pads removal and installation are identical to the front and you can follow the same process when changing them. You can see below, my rear pads had a bit less wear than the front.

Before riding the bike, be sure to pump both brakes several times to build pressure in the system. Also, check the fluid level for both the front and rear cylinders. Finally, record the mileage for a record of when the new pads were installed. If everything went well, you should be done in about an hour.

Riding A Discount Stripper

This was a long, dreary winter that refused to gracefully melt away. Instead, the cold, wind, and snow rudely persisted well into Spring. When spring break plans began to take seed, I eagerly looked forward to some fun and sun in one of my favorite getaways, Moab, Utah. My original plan was to ride down south, but some unexpected snow and ice the day before departure forced me to reconsider. The new plan was to drive the Tacoma to southern Utah and then to find a motorcycle for some two wheeled adventures. This is what led me to the Discount Stripper.

Discount Stripper is my shortened nickname for this 2007 Suzuki V-Strom 650. Her generally ratty condition was appropriate for the name. She was marred, dented and scraped in several spots. The aftermarket left front turn signal and clutch lever with a broken end showed that she had been laid down a few times. The bike looked beaten up and no doubt suffered from a lot of abuse and neglect.

Still, I had never ridden a V-Strom and was curious to try those fuel injected twin cylinders. Would the Stripper's performance threaten my devotion to the KLR and leave me unsatisfied in the future? Riding her was the only way I would know. A careful inspection came first; the lights all worked, the chain and tires were worn, but acceptable, the engine oil was good and the brakes seemed fine.

With some apprehension I turned the key and pushed the start button. The sound of that two cylinder engine seemed a bit odd but, it idled just fine. I swung a leg over the seat and a quick tap of my left toe engaged first gear. I gently twisted the throttle, eased off the shortened clutch lever and rolled away. "Wow, this seat is really low", I thought as I tucked my legs up and found the foot pegs.

My first impression was the engine seemed a bit "buzzy", but I blamed the vibration and poor ride to the worn Kenda tires. After getting a feel for the bike, we headed for the highway to see the sights. First was a leisurely cruise through Arches National Park. Next came a run out to Potash and back. Later we followed Highway 128 northeast along the winding Colorado River until a thunderstorm with high winds turned us back. At first I wondered if this bike would seduce me away from the KLR but, as the miles flew past that thought just faded away.

The Discount Stripper was a good bike. Her overall performance was fine, and I have no complaints about acceleration, power or shifting. The bad tires and too low seat could easily be corrected. Regardless, this fling with the Discount Stripper left me firmly committed to my KLR and eager to ride my bike when I returned home. 

Sego Canyon Adventure

Most travelers speeding east-west on I-70 through Grand County, Utah probably do not notice the small town of Thompson as they pass. Aside from the gas station, Thompson has little to attract passersby, but just north of town is Sego Canyon which is worth a second look.

Your adventure begins at Exit-187 on I-70. After leaving the interstate, turn north or Highway 94 toward the gas station that comes before you enter Thompson Springs.

You may want to fill your gas tank, get a snack or take care of other "personal business" at the Shell/7-Eleven convenience store before heading into the back country.

Just follow your nose straight on through the quiet (deserted) town of Thompson Springs. They do have some railroad tracks you may want pause and look both ways prior to crossing. Follow Highway 94 through Thompson and soon you'll see the signs to Thompson and Sego Canyons.

The winding road through Sego Canyon goes from rough pavement, to rock strewn gravel with areas of sand. At first the road is suitable for a car, but becomes a narrow, rough Jeep trail that provides a fun ride between sandstone cliffs, tall pines, and high desert landscapes.  Overall, the trail is not difficult or technically challenging on a motorcycle.

The sandstone walls near the mouth of the canyon display ancient art from three different Native American cultures, of three separate eras. This site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, but sadly vandals have defaced many of the painted and carved images. 

The art above is credited to the Archaic people who lived in this area from 8,000 to 2,000 years ago, Experts claim these people were nomads who did not build permanent structures, but lived in caves or temporary structures. All that remains of their passing are these paintings.

These images are Barrier Canyon Style, which consists of larger than life manlike forms painted with no eyes or hollowed eyes and often no arms or legs. Over the centuries the Anasazi, Fremont, and Ute tribes also left their mark near here.

The ghost town of Sego, began as a small mining operation in the early 1890s when rancher Harry Ballard discovered coal and bought the land. By 1911 he sold the mine to a group of Salt Lake City investors who expanded the operation. The remnants of a railroad they built to haul coal is still visible in the canyon.  

The old company store is missing its roof and main floor, but the floor supports still protrude though the exterior stone walls. Decades later, the stone work on the building remains remarkably solid.

At one point Sego boasted a store, a boarding house and numerous homes for miners,  But, by the late 1940s, low profits and financial problems caused the mine to close and the town was eventually abandoned.

Since it is a ghost town, there has to be a ghost car. This battered, rusted, shell looked sadly at home resting beside a collapsed pile of dried out, splintered lumber that may have once been a home. 

Aside from the ghost town and Native American art, the natural beauty of Sego Canyon is worth taking time to admire. I spent several hours enjoying the sights and sounds of the canyon and did not see another person the entire time I was there.

I would liked to have stayed longer, but approaching darkness and some threatening storm clouds convinced me to head back to the highway.  Sego Canyon was a fun ride, with some interesting sites, as well. Next time you are in the area, I recommend you stop and see for yourself.   

Wolfman Wolf Tail Bag

I have ridden with the Wolfman Wolf Tail bag for over a year it has held up perfectly. Also good, this medium size bag holds a lot of stuff in its full 30 liter capacity. There is plenty of room for day rides and long distance adventures.
Keep your smaller gear organized in the three "crescent" zippered pockets; one each side and another on the rear of the main compartment. There is plenty of room in the main compartment for larger items.

The huge main compartment has room for a first aid kit, tool kit, snacks, and a couple of water bottles. This compartment also has a zippered gusset that expands this compartment to hold even more. 

On the front is a large mesh pocket. This pocket is handy for temporarily holding things, but the mesh and lack of a zipper limit the pocket's usefulness. The Wolf Tail bag is not waterproof, so pack accordingly.

On top, the bag has a adjustable bungee that's good for holding gloves when you are off the bike. All together, there is plenty of room for gloves, tools, water, or whatever you need to carry.

The bag attaches to the bike with bungees and hooks that allow for easy removal and installation. I usually leave the bag on the bike, but had a problem the one time I removed it. When reinstalling the bag, one of the plastic hooks snapped off.

These hooks are pretty beefy, so I was surprised and disappointed when it snapped. So, I emailed Wolfman and explained what had happened. Their customer service was great and they sent a replacement bungee & hook by priority mail, and without any hassle. Nice!

Some have asked if the bungees are strong enough for riding off road. Wolfman recommends a strap mounted bag for a rough off-road riding.  Personally, I have rode over some rough terrain, and the bungees have never caused a problem off road or at highway speed. 

Other nice to have features are a rear carry handle and a couple of D rings to attach a shoulder strap when you want to carry the bag with you. Finally, the rear and sides have reflective piping to help you stand out a bit better during night rides. 

If you need some extra hauling capacity for what ever you ride, the Wolf Tail bag is worth a look.

Hill Climb To A Desert Ridge

This was a winter ride up a rutted, frozen road. The GoPro lens bends the horizon and hides the steepness of the climb up this ridge.

Moto-Camping Stool Review

The Grand Trunk camping stool is small enough to pack on your bike and big enough for a seat when needed. The seat area is 12.6 inches by 10.6 inches and sits at a height of 14.5 inches.

When broken down, the stool's small size comes from removing the legs. But, don't worry about losing them, they are attached to the seat frame with shock cord, just like a tent. This also makes it fast and easy to set up.

When the legs are removed and stowed with the attached velcro strap, the chair goes into it's bag and you have a package that measures 15 inches by 7 inches, and is 2 inches thick.

When the legs are removed and stowed with the attached velcro strap, the chair goes into it's bag and you have a package that measures 15 inches by 7 inches, and is 2 inches thick.

The stool in its bag easily fits inside my Pelican 1450 case with some room to spare. It weighs in at just 22 ounces, much less carrying a full sized folding chair on your bike.

I've used this stool on a couple of trips and I like that it's small, lightweight, easy to set up and take down. Also, it's less expensive than similar chairs on the market. Most importantly, it keeps my butt out of the dirt and pine needles during my morning coffee and that makes for a good morning in the forest.