BLUF -I've been gone a month so there's a lot to take care of on the home front, I'll make multiple posts but it'll take a few days so bear with me. If you have a specific question that I don't answer in this or the future couple of posts shoot me a PM.
I got home yesterday from a 4 week trip around America (US only) on my new strom. I started out from Wash. DC just before Labor Day weekend. The trip totaled 8,765 miles and was my first overnight bike trip and I've only been riding motorcycles for about 15 months -so I learned a lot. During the trip I needed 2 oil changes, 1 clutch adjustment, and 1 chain adjustment. My 650 (purchased new in June 2013) now has 11,100+ miles and I'm going to order some new tires today, most likely Tourances. I went to 21 states and saw lots of parks -state and national- including Yellowstone, Teton, Badlands, Grand Canyon, Zion, Big Sur, and others. I was also lucky enough to run much of the PCH. The lesson that I learned the most quickly and will remember the longest - soft deep sand is no place for a Vstrom...at least not my vstrom- but i did manage somehow to keep it upright and got myself out (there was plenty of cursing and praying involved)
I hit 21 states (see my album for which ones) and came home a bit early because I NEED a new back tire. I left my wear bars back in Missouri somewhere. Getting tires while I was out turned out to be a real pain. Until the end when I was coming home I avoided interstates/major highways 95% of the time. I pretty much stumbled my way across the country by taking roads at random and talking to local riders about where good roads are. I was also introduced to butler maps (I believe someone here told me about them before I left but I didn't understand why they were better than my Rand McNally maps so I didn't order them-big mistake). The best riding was in California - hands down. Really though, pretty much everything west of Kansas was great. To all of you who live in iowa, illinois, kansas, etc...i'm so sorry, my heart weeps for you. You have great people...but terribly boring roads, at least from what I saw as I rode through.
I did some of the "famous" roads, the PCH, Nevada's Rt. 50, etc. but for the most part because I picked them at random I really don't know where I was most of the time. Over the next few weeks I'll try to go back with a map and figure it out but I'm sure other things will come up. I think doing it my way, if you don't require structure, is great. Picking the roads at random gave me a great sense of freedom. It also nearly gave me an opportunity to run out of gas a few times. I'll make another post about strategy in the next couple days.
FARKLES/GEAR - What you Really need, and why (IMO)
Being new to motorcycles and motorcycle trips I was a little overwhelmed when I started to look at the farkles/gear I might need for this trip. Having purchased many - I feel pretty confident in the stuff I recommend having for a long trip.
1. Positive Mental Attitude: Yes, it sounds cheesy and cliche, but it is absolutely essential for a trip this long. (While this was my first motorcycle trip it was NOT my first trip) I did this trip (in part) with my father who rides a HD Cruiser. He lasted for 2,000 miles before calling it quits. Mainly because when we were planning the trip he focused on all the wonderful things that would happen and the great times we would have and didn't prepare himself mentally for rain, cold, long days, and discomfort. If you want to do a trip like this KNOW that some days will suck. My dad's breaking point came after 2 days of riding in the rain and camping in the rain but the best rides came well after that. So if it sucks - hang in there and keep going.
2. Rain gear - without a doubt the most important thing you can BUY for a long trip. I bought a First Gear Kilimanjaro Jacket and LOVED it. Its waterproof even in a driving rain on a highway for hours and hours. I was comfortable riding in it at 103 degrees in the Badlands and it was alright down into the 40s when I was zipped up (and layered). The lining for the jacket - well, I dunno. The jacket fits me very well but the liner was a bit short so I left it at home and wore my own layers underneath. I would buy this jacket again in a heartbeat. Pants - I purchased the Olympia Horizon Rain Pants ($79 @ Revzilla) as an overpant and they worked great as well. Sadly - no pockets. They have velcro adjustments at the bottom which work well and keep the water out and don't come undone even after hours of riding.
3. Good seat - I ditched the stock seat (duh) and got a Sargent Seat (black/no welt) and i love it. I averaged around 300 miles per day (longest day was 688 miles) and would take plenty of breaks. Your ass is what gets the most use on a motorcycle trip so having someplace comfortable to put it is going to be important. Going back to item #1 -if you can't afford a new seat you can always take more breaks but a decent seat will help a lot. The sargent isn't perfect but its certainly a very good seat. Also, the underseat storage tube is a GREAT bonus because luggage space is, well, hard to find.
4. Crash bars - I've dropped her twice now, once on my trip- and the SW-Motech's saved her both times. I got them discounted online when they didn't have the packaging necessary so they arrived with minor scuffs. But I'd buy them again at full price if I needed to. No vibration from them, no buzzing, didn't even know they were there except when I wanted to put my foot up on something. They installed super easy, I didn't a torque wrench, just some loc-tite and a bit of elbow grease. A lot of people over think these things - its nuts and bolts, not atoms and sh*t.
5. Good screen - I got the Givi Airflow and its fantastic. Its very adjustable (even on the fly) and creates a great slipsteam. You can lower it all the way on hot days and get plenty of air or raise it up and hide behind it when its cold and or rainy. I absolutely recommend this product. One warning though, you can adjust it easily either way (up or down) while moving with 1 hand but if you're raising it to its maximum height while going 50mph and hit hit by a gust of wind it WILL come off completely and then you'll be riding down a mountain with one hand holding your screen rather than you clutch. This is a very frustrating/frightening way to ride a motorcycle down a mountain. trust me. :iamwithstupid:
6. Aux Power port: I purchased a BikeMaster 12v power outlet at my dealer for $20 and wired it myself. It took about 30 minutes. 25 of those minutes were spent figuring out how to run the wire behind the fairing and where to put it. It charged my GPS, phone, and Sena headset while I was riding and made everything more PLEASANT but wasn't a life saver, I could have done the trip without it but I wouldn't have always had music or a GPS.
Sh*t you don't need:
- highway pegs - just sit on your passenger seat, stand on your pegs, sit on your passenger seat and use the passenger pegs, or better yet, if you need to stretch - stop, get off, and stretch!
- expensive luggage/racks (i made my own for $25 and it worked great, i'll make another post with details)
- skid plate - it would have been a nice peace of mind but I've gone 11,000+ miles without one on dirt, sand, highways, highway construction sites, etc. and didn't need it, which is not to say I won't buy one eventually - for the peace of mind.
- those darn grip puppies, people love those, they made my hands hurt. I cut them off and thew em away after 5 days. Maybe you'd like them, and for $20ish bucks they're worth trying. I just wanted to make it known that I didn't like them.
-crampbuster or throttle lock: i went through the trouble of making my own throttle lock and it actually worked but I only used it once. Never used a cramp buster. My wrist was sore for the first few days but after that my wrist got stronger and the last 3 weeks I only wished for a cramp buster/throttle lock once and that was when I did 688 miles in one day and that day would have been uncomfortable regardless.