After the ride to Colorado and back the IMS Triumph Tiger 800XC has been regulated to what 99% of all motorcycles do, commuter duty. Since the ride I have moved back to Monterey CA where I teach at a elementary school 21 miles away from home. In the last few months over 2,000 slab miles have been put on the bike, and I have learned a few things. One of them being, even though TKC80 tires are phenomenal in the dirt, and grip really well on the road, they suck on mileage. After the 2,000 some odd miles of commuter duty the tires are over half way gone. I learned that on the street I can almost drag the pegs with out any trouble in a fast corner. I learned that even though the bike may be advertised at 45mpg, 38mpg-40mpg in stop and go normal everyday traffic is what is really going to happen. I also learned that having a bike like this isn’t just about big adventures, but the 1% of the time that you get to really just ride, and that 1% is what it is all about.
On Sunday I finally got a chance to do that. About 20 miles from my house, on Highway 1 is Bixby Bridge, the most photographed feature on the West Coast, and just north of the Bridge is a 11 mile dirt road called Old Coast Road. At one time this was the only way people could get from Big Sur to the Monterey Penninsula, and is now open to all street legal vehicles. I have ridden it before on a older IMS dual sported XR600R, with 90/10 street/dirt tires. But now I had the right bike, with the right tires, and all the time I needed to just enjoy it.
I usually have Touratech 45L bags on the bike, but for this ride I took them off, and I suited up in my full KLIM gear, and SIDI boots. I have not worn all this gear since the ride to Colorado and I forgot how nice it really was (I normally just wear the jacket when I commute). Since I was going to be meeting my wife after the ride, I had jeans on under the pants, and a normal shirt on under my KLIM Jersey and Jacket. The pants and jacket kept me warm during the cool morning fog here on the Central Coast, and when the sun came out they unzipped and ventilated really well. The TKC80 tires, even though the back was over half gone, still gripped really well, especially after I dropped the pressure from the high street pressure of 36-38psi down to about 18psi in the front, and 22psi in the rear. After that they stuck like glue, I could corner as hard as I was comfortable with and brake with confidence, even with ABS causing a few pucker moments in the loose stuff.
The first part of the ride is a lose gravel downhill dry section. Since this road is a street legal vehicle road, you have to keep your eyes open for the random truck or SUV. Coming behind me at the beginning of the ride was a guy in a SUV following a little to close behind me. This did cause a little bit of a rush and I over cooked a corner and with the ABS almost slide into the ditch on the side of the road. After that I simply pulled over and let the SUV pass, aired down the tires, and just had a blast.
As I moved deeper inland and further into the forest the ground got wetter and the grip just got better. I come from riding a dual sport XR650R, and to be honest once the Tiger got moving it felt almost the same. Only the sound of the engine was different. The power that the Tiger was addictive, the linear way that the power just came on and kept coming on, was amazing. There was a direct connection between your right hand and the rear tire, and how much you slide is completely up to you.
One thing I love about Old Coast Road is that along the way you see that people have build and still live in houses hidden deep in the mountains. The area is absolutely beautiful, and with the recent rain, the plant life is amazing. Near the end of the ride I stopped at a point that over looks the ocean and Highway 1 to take a few pictures. During my little break, a small group of maybe a half a dozen riders on F800GS bikes came riding by. While I was there another guy stopped at the same point, in a brand new 1200GSA on it’s maiden voyage. He said he was taking a picture to send to a friend to make him jealous. This is when it hit me. Yeah 99% of these Adventure Bikes will spend 99% of their time on the road, commuting back and forth. Most of the guys who own one of these bikes is in a similar life situation as I am, kids, wife, regularly scheduled job, bills, the whole lot. We can’t just drop everything, travel from Alaska to South American and then on to Africa, up to Russia, Europe and back home. But it is the times like this when we get to ride with our buddies, or make our friends jealous, or just get away, it is these times, these 1% times, that make riding what it is. It is these times that help define this Adventure we call life.
Ok, so first the apology. We knew where we were going would have no cell reception, but we thought it would have some internet, even if it was at a coffee shop or something, turns out we were wrong. So, with that said, I am sorry for not updating this blog like I had wanted to.
Now the update, the second half of the ride from St. George, Utah to Ouray, Colorado was a blast, we hit Zion and Moab on the way and took so amazing photos. The new IMS ADV 1 foot pegs really proved their worth considering every bike we took weighed north of 500 pounds (except the TE310). Having the extra leverage from the wider and longer foot pegs really helped to maneuver the big bikes around and made even the novice and inexperienced on big bike riders feel much more at ease. The panniers worked great, no locks burst open or got stuck and all of our stuff stayed put the entire time, and the fit and finish really held up to a good amount of abuse. The Overland Jacket and Pants really came into their own on the off road rides, they allowed plenty of airflow in the hot weather we were in, and kept us from sweating to bad or dehydrating our selves. The SIDI Armada boots did a great job, even though they are primarily geared more towards street riding (the Touring part of the Adventure/Touring segment) they still did very well in the dirt. They provided good ankle support and shin protection while also giving the rider a full range of motion. Now if you smack your foot hard on a rock you feel it, but nothing short of a full moto boot would be any better. The helmets and googles did very well as well, providing protection and ventilation as well as a clear line of sight.
We did have a little to much fun out in the desert, and as a result we were a little late coming into Ouray, and the last 30 miles or so were on dirt roads in the dark. As a result one of the guys had a accident, and ended up in a ditch. The bike, a 2010 F800GS, survived with only a little damage, and the rider mounted back up .
In Ouray itself we got a chance to ride up and over Engineers pass. I have heard that this ride can be tough, rocks, ice, snow, standing water, ect. and the Triumph Tiger as well as the rest of the BMW bikes handled it great. The Husky TE310 was really in its element, but considering every other bike there outweighed it by 200 pounds, it wasn’t really fair.
Now, my personal bike, the Triumph Tiger 800XC has been completely worked over in the suspension department. The Touratech rear shock was amazing. I came off of riding a Baja prepped XR650R dual sport to this bike, and lets just say, once the Tiger was moving I could have been back on my 650. The same goes for the Precision Concepts Front Forks. The stock front end is very soft, but with the suspension gurus working at Precision Concepts with all of their race know how, the front end was perfect. The engine, very linear, and tons of power, was a little tricky to control at first at least for me. I was used to the tractor like low end torque of the 650 single in my XR, but after a few miles of riding the Tiger I was able to adapt and was soon kicking out the rear end and powering out of corners like a real racer (at least in my mind). All that to say the Tiger is a great ADV bike, very capable in the dirt, and a excellent almost sport bike like ride, on the street.
Now today is the day that we are heading back and I was able to get a few minutes of internet to write this, but since we are trying to do the entire ride back to Yucaipa in one day I don’t have a ton of time to post pics. But I promise more will come in the next few days, until then happy and safe riding.