Butler Motorcycle Adventure Maps

This article from discusses some exciting trends for dual sport motorcycle fans. The link to the original is at the bottom of this post.

Growing Map Company Targets Adventure Motorcycle Riders
Motorcycle buyers are collectively shifting from bikes made for the open roads to bikes made for the back roads. Butler Motorcycle Maps is making products to help them find their way.

Eagle, CO (PRWEB) July 06, 2012

Trends occur in all industries. Two wheeled power sports is no exception. "Lately, many buyers have decided that playing Ewan McGregor might be more sustainable long term than playing Valentino Rossi, and now adventure bikes sales are hot," says John Burns of Cycle World Magazine.

Motorcycle manufacturers are scrambling to catch up with the demand for machines that will take riders to the wilder places as easy as the coffee shop. The after market industry has been quick to follow, creating specialized gear and tools that are a far cry from bucket helmets and flowing tassels. One company in particular is making it easier to ditch the pavement.

Butler Motorcycle Maps, has spent years researching and riding the best motorcycle roads in the country. Their water proof motorcycle maps are the industry standard for recommendations on motorcycle destinations. What they are finding however is that when the pavement ends the fun really begins.

"Our maps started as a utility for motorcycle riders searching for the best paved roads. In our quest to find and share those routes, we have found the demand for information on dirt roads to be incredible." says Justin Bradshaw of Butler Maps.

To service that demand, the team at Butler Maps has made adventure routes a new priority on all of their maps. " You will always be able to use our maps to find your way from A to B on epic paved roads. When your ready to get dirty you can now use the same map to explore the back country " says Bradshaw.

Butler Maps currently has 9 titles displaying the best dirt and paved roads in the western U.S., including an ongoing series call the Backcountry Discovery Routes. The BDR (Backcountry Discovery Routes) is a single route bisecting a state using primarily non paved roads. They take 6-10 days to complete and have a host of information readily available including free GPS tracks, dedicated websites, an expedition documentary and a map.

Butler is showing riders how to be safe and have fun exploring dirt roads. With brands such as BMW, Triumph, and Yamaha putting considerable effort into building the bikes to get people there, it seems this niche is here to stay.

Article Source:

Gear Review: Powertye Tie-Down Straps

Tie-down straps are not the most exciting subject in the world of motorcycling. But, good straps are  important. I used cheap tie-downs once and I regretted it. That error in judgement led me to the Fat Strap trailer kit from Powertye. 

There are many other less expensive straps on the market, but "you get what you pay for" applies here. I have trailered everything from scooters to heavy cruisers with these straps and have never had a complaint with them. 

These are quality, heavy duty, and come with a sheep skin sleeve that prevents the nylon strap from ever touching your bike. When I tie a bike down with them, I am confident it is gonna be upright when I reach my destination.

Take a look at these pics and decide if these straps will work for you. I have the 1 1/2" strap kit, but they are available in in wider sizes and different colors. Visit the Powertye site for more details. 

KLR650 on the Road to Mt. Rushmore

Here's a short video of the ride to Mt. Rushmore. The clip starts just outside of Keystone, SD and goes to the monument. This was a perfect day for a ride; the weather and traffic could not have been any better and the scenery through the Black Hills was awesome.

KLR650 in Theodore Roosevelt National Park

I filmed this over the 4th of July weekend when it was "Africa hot" in southwestern North Dakota. During the stop for the wild horses, I was really anxious to get going again. The bike was threatening to overheat in the 99+ degree temps and there was no breeze at all. Those temps really test your commitment to wearing safety gear. Luckily the horses decided to share the road and I got moving before things became too hot!!

2012 KLR650 Project Bike Part 2: Parts Guide

Part two of this article from has good reviews of several aftermarket upgrades for their 2012 KLR Project Bike (<link). If you are considering any of these upgrades, the article is well worth reading, but before you start spending, here is my two-cents on these add-ons...

1. Givi 408D Windshield & D408KIT: I have considered getting a taller, touring windshield. But, I am happy with the protection from the shorter stock windshield. On the highway, I have no head buffeting and most bugs shoot over me. Plus, I like the look of the stock windshield. A KLR with the tall "touring" windshield reminds me of the Queen Alien from the movie, Aliens.  That was a pretty good movie, but not so good that I want my bike looking like Sigourney Weaver's out-of-this-world nemesis. 

Alien Queen dressed out for touring.
2. Saddleman Adventure Track Seat: This innovative design resembles two sausages laying where a seat is supposed to go. It is just too "leading edge" for me and I wonder how a passenger fits on this thing?? So, I will keep my $359.95 (for the unheated Saddleman) and my stock seat. While not a fan of the stock KLR saddle, I have worked a comfortable notch into it and it does not look like a bicycle seat. There are many KLR seat options available and many KLRiders work out their own custom seat mods. Do your homework before tossing out your seat!

Image credit:
3. SW Motech Centerstand: The KLR needs a center stand, and should have one from Kaswasaki, but...that's another post. I have no complaints about the looks of the SW Motech center stand, but raising and lowering the side stand to use the centerstand sounds cumbersome. When spending $179.99 you would hope for better. Happy Trails has their own center stand and grab bar for slightly less. 

4. Givi TN421 Engine Guards: As I posted earlier, crash protection is a must for the KLR and these less expensive and lighter Givi bars seem a good option if you don't want to spend more for the SW Motech crash bars. The problem may be finding them. Motorcycle Superstore has them for the 2010-11 Versys, but not the KLR. has them for the KLR at $200, plus shipping. For your stock KLR, crash protection should be a top priority.

Image credit:
The price for all of these goodies totals a whopping $889.94 (ouch!). Add shipping and sales tax and you are pretty near to $1,000. Unless you have an unlimited KLR budget, shop around for the best prices and be selective. There are some "must have" and many "nice to have" KLR farkles. Most riders do not need all of them. Before buying, take an honest look at how and where you ride, then upgrade where it works best for you and your bike. You will  have a great bike and gas money left in your pocket.    

Fireworks Show

This was the 4th of July fireworks show in Medora, ND, located just outside the main entrance to Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The show was briefly interrupted when sparks ignited dry grass on the nearby bluffs. Fire trucks were standing by, but could not reach the fire's location. Instead, local firemen climbed the hill and used shovels to put out both fires. Following this excitement, the fireworks continued to a loud, flashing, finale. Enjoy! 

Finding the Last Longhorns in the Badlands

Riding through Theodore Roosevelt National Park, I saw about a dozen cattle roaming free in an open field. Some of them were almost on the road, and picturing me on the losing end of a KLR vs. cow collision, I rolled off the throttle a bit, thinking; "Why are those cows running loose??"

Just past the cattle, I pulled off the road to stretch my legs. I parked the bike and wandered over to read a nearby sign (below) that provided some interesting background to these cows. I am not a rancher or cowboy, and have no particular interest in cows, but the junior historian in me found this to be interesting.  

In my mind, longhorn cattle are near to John Wayne as symbols of the "old west", especially since The Cowboys is one of my favorite movies. After reading these signs, I walked back down the road and took a couple of pics. The cattle paid no attention to me at all, unlike the wild horses I had seen earlier.

As I rode off again, it occurred to me that with only 25 steers in the park, I was fortunate to have come across them at all. It also amazed me how a little context can turn a mundane subject into something interesting. While I appreciate the history these animals represent, I have greater appreciation for a good steak! 

Early Look at 2013 KLRs

If the 2013 KLRs arrive as pictured here, they will be very similar to the 2012 models. New paint and different graphics are the big news again this year. No significant mechanical differences or improvements over last year's model.

Kawasaki seems to understand that if you have a good design and a popular product - don't mess with it!

You can see pictures, specs, and prices at the Kawasaki site. More to come on this...
2013 KLR650

KLR650 Utility Racks by Precision Motorcycle Racks

Crash bars are a good start for protecting your KLR, but they leave the back half of the bike exposed to impacts. I cover my rear with utility racks (sometimes called "eBay racks") from Precision Motorcycle Racks in San Diego, California. PMR sells these on eBay but, don't let the eBay scammers selling junk scare you off, these racks are the good stuff.

For about $100 you get a left side and ride side rack with installation hardware. The racks mount in less than 15 minutes with just an Allen wrench. They look pretty cool and provide solid protection for your bike. The racks are welded from heavy duty stock, and are available for Gen1 and Gen 2 KLRs. I have tested them a couple of times and aside from a few scratches, they can take a beating. I've never had a complaint with them, but I have learned that PMR gives great customer service.

A couple of months ago I ordered racks for another Gen 2 bike. When the box arrived, I set it aside and pretty much forgot about it for several weeks. I finally opened the box and found racks for a Gen 1 bike. A lot of time had passed since I ordered them and I expected a big hassle with getting an exchange. Instead I was very pleasantly surprised.

I emailed Lee at PMR, who took responsibility for the mix up and quickly sent the correct racks at no charge. That was awesome customer service, especially since I was not completely sure that I ordered the right set to start with! I returned the first set to PMR and was glad to find a reputable company that I could recommend to others. If you want some extra armor for your bike, look for these utility racks on eBay, listed by seller "losi3030".  

You Meet the Nicest People On A KLR

When I am out-and-about on the KLR, I really enjoy meeting new people and riding the KLR makes that easy. The last few days at Theodore Roosevelt National Park are a perfect example. At least a dozen strangers have gone out of their way to come over and ask about my bike. We started talking as strangers and parted company as friends, all because of a KLR650.

One old gentleman was getting into his van when I pulled up and parked beside him. He looked over at me and got back out of his vehicle to look at my bike. We chatted a bit, and he pulled out his copy of Riding the World by Gregory Frazier; "Got a great deal on it at a thrift store," he proudly told me. We talked about dual sport bikes and trail riding for over an hour, before shaking hands as friends and going our separate ways. 

Several other curious and friendly folks crossed a street or a parking lot to get a better look and ask, "What kind of motorcycle is that?" Naturally, I am always more than happy to tell them. They always remark, "Cool bike," or "Looks like a lot of fun to ride," or, "I am gonna get me one of those." Of course, I agree that is exactly what they should do!

I have met many other KLR riders; or their brother, dad, cousin, or buddy, have a KLR and love it. They love to swap stories about their bikes; where they have been, where they want to go, where and how they dumped, and how the KLR compares to other dual sport bikes. The conversation very often ends with us agreeing the KLR is a great and how we could not imagine riding anything else.
One afternoon I stopped at a campground to use the "facilities" and stretch my legs. A young man doing clean up work at the campground came over to me. I thought he was gonna ask if I was camping there, since I was obviously just "hanging around." Instead, he stopped and stared at my KLR and said, "My dad has that exact bike. He tried teaching me to ride on it, but it was too much." That led us to a long, friendly, conversation about the best bike to learn on, before moving over to a KLR. My quick bathroom break turned into another extended stop, but that was fine with me.

I enjoy meeting people and I love talking about KLRs; mine, yours, your dad's, cousin's, or your brother's. So, if you see me and my bike stopped somewhere, don't hesitate to come on over and say hello. The KLR is a great conversation starter and when the conversation ends we won't be strangers anymore.

A Buffalo Admires A KLR650

Theodore Roosevelt National Park Buffalo
From the road in Theodore Roosevelt National Park: Creeping along in a line of slow moving cars today, I wondered what caused this slowdown. I finally saw the cause. This big fellow had laid down very near the road,  and was casually watching the cars pass. When I rolled by on the KLR, he suddenly stood up and looked directly at me. Gulp! I felt my heart thumping under my jacket, but I had no escape if he decided to charge.  

The picture does not do justice to the tremendous size of this awesome animal, who was only 30 feet away!!

Then I realized I was in no danger, this big guy was just excited to see a KLR650 cruising by. Now, I am not Dr. Doolittle (who talks to the animals) but, I could almost hear him saying, "Hey buddy, that KLR is the coolest thing I have seen today." His appreciation for a fine motorcycle gave me enough time to snap this pic before I passed.  

Wild Horses at Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Exploring Theodore Roosevelt National Park, I rounded a twisty and found the road blocked by several of the wild horses that freely roam here. I didn't mind the wait. I'd seen wild horses, but never this close! 

They are truly awesome animals with an independent spirit that sets them apart from domestic horses. 

As I took these pics the grey horse with the black tail snorted, stomped his foot, and glared at me. 

I understood that I was the intruder here and kept a respectful distance. 

Finally, they moved off the road and I slowly cruised by, thankful for this rare opportunity.