One of the great things about riding a motorcycle is the tie that all motorcyclist enjoy. Yeah, I am one of those guys that waves, to every motorcycle rider I see, even if it is a guy on a scooter. Why, because I love the fact that a perfect stranger and I have something so close in common. Riding a motorcycle in modern times is not a necessity like it was in post war Europe or Japan, or as the cheapest means of transport like it was here in America. Instead you ride a motorcycle now, because you love it. You like to live life just a little bit different. I am not saying all people who ride are hard core bad ass people. I mean I am an elementary school teacher, but rather we live life by a different set of rules, and that unites us. You can almost always count on a fellow motorcyclist stoping to help you out if you are stuck, you can always count on another rider giving you parts or gear, for free, just because you need it and they got it. You can always count on at least one good story every time you stop and talk to someone.
I bring this up because just the other day I was getting on the IMS Triumph Tiger 800XC when a old man walks up to me and starts talking. I needed to get home, it had been a long day and my wife had to deal with a 4 year old and a 2 year old for the last 12 hours alone, so you can see my hurry. Well this particular old man had started the conversation by asking about the bike, saying he had seen me on the freeway and really wanted to talk to me about the bike and was glad that we ended up in the same place at the same time. When I explained to him the bike, the engine, and all the add ons, his smile just kept getting bigger. You see back when he was in college, one summer he bought a brand new, Triumph 650 Bonneville Twin Carb, and rode it from Pittsburgh up into Canada, along the Trans-Canadian Highway, down to LA in California. Seeing me on this Triumph really brought back those memories, it was almost as if he had just gotten of the bike in LA all over again. It was really something else to see this bond between the two of us. We had never meet before, and probably never will meet again, but I had found in this old man, and he in I, an instant friendship that you just don’t get with other people. Now, I have never done a ride like he mentioned, and it will probably never happen for me, but each time I swing a leg over that bike, each time I fire up that 800cc Triple and hear the purr of that exhaust, I am making memories that I will hold onto for a lifetime. And one day I will be that old man, telling some young kid about how I used to have this hopped up Triumph and how I rode it everywhere, off road and on. It will be at that point that I connect with a person in a way that I just wont be able to connect with someone who doesn’t ride. And that kid will do the same thing one day himself.
This kind of experience is something else, it is something that few understand, and it is something that I hope to pass on to generations to come.
So today, take the time and wave at a fellow rider, stop and talk for a minute, help them out on the side of the road, you never know when you will make a life long friend that you never had before. So go make a friend and get out and ride.
So Thanksgiving has passed now, and Christmas is coming along very soon. It is a great time of year to sit and reflect on what we have to be thankful for. Over here on the Central Coast the winter is pretty mild, we don’t have to pack our bikes up because of the snow, or convert them into snow mobile type machines. Instead we are pretty lucky to get to ride all year long. Now since I am a school teacher I was thankful to get the entire week of Thanksgiving off and took the opportunity to ride down Highway 1 from Monterey to Pismo Beach (while my wife took our daughters the faster way on the 101) to meet Scott Wright, the owner of IMS, for a Thanksgiving getaway with my family. I of course was riding the IMS Triumph Tiger 800XC and was hoping to get some time at the Oceano Dunes, and was not disappointed.
First off the road riding section. WOW, I am very thankful of the men and women that put countless hours of time into crafting what has got to be one of the most amazing stretches of road in California. The most beautiful sections of road were from Monterey to about Cambria. It was tight, twisty, forest, ocean, cliffs, and just all together amazing views and roads. The opportunity to pass slower moving traffic is not as abundant as I would have liked, but it is times like that I still found something to be thankful for because it allowed me a chance to just really admire the views and enjoy the scenery.
After about 3 and a half hours of amazing riding I arrived in Pismo. Spending time with family is always something to be grateful for, and after an amazing dinner I followed Scott out to Oceano Dunes for some riding and a impromptu photo shoot. The bike tracked great in the sand. I didn’t go into any of the deep stuff out in the dunes, staying primarily on the compact wet stuff near the water. I was very thankful for the GPR Steering Stabilizer as it helped in the few rough spots, or where the sand was a little softer.
End of the day, there is a lot to be thankful for. Your adventure ride doesn’t have to be a 6 month tour to South America from Alaska, it can be something as simple as a ride down the coast for Thanksgiving, and a cruise on the beach. Thankfulness is a frame of mind, don’t let other things get in the way, and if you have time, just get out and ride.
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.
So yesterday was a big day, not only was it Father’s Day but it marked the start of the Two Day ride from Yucaipa to Ouray, CO. Overall things went great. No accidents, no dehydration, no problems. The Klim Jackets and Pants did great. Now nothing aside from true A/C is going to keep you from feeling hot in the 100 degree weather that we experienced riding through Barstow to Vegas. But once you unzipped the jackets a few inches, and opened up all the vents, it did a really good job getting decent airflow regardless of the model (Overland, Traverse and Badlands Pro). Our Camel Backs full of ice helped to keep us hydrated by providing a constant trickle of cold water and helped keep our backs cool as well. The SIDI boots were incredibly comfortable, and the Gore Tec lining did as advertised, and keeper our feet dry and fairly sweat free. The KLIM helmet did a great job. An open face helmet at highway speed does have some drawbacks, namely wind noise and things hitting your face at 65mph plus hurts, but it did give you extra air flow to keep your head from sweating to much. And a good set of headphones or ear plugs do wonders at reducing the wind noise. Our Seat Concepts seats were worth every penny, after a 6 hour plus ride, those of us lucky enough to have the Seat Concepts seats felt a lot better then those that did not, and could have easily done a few more hours.
Lastly the new IMS ADV 1 foot pegs were great, they gave us a huge platform to move our feet around while seated, giving us the much needed room to move to avoid leg cramps and general discomfort, and the extra leverage they provided really did wonders in the dirt. I leave you with a few snap shots of the ride, and not to worry, there will be plenty more to come.
In life change is inevitable. The same is true for technology of every kind. As time goes on things change, sometimes it is good, sometimes not so much. If we look at the advancement of Dirt Bikes, we have moved from 500lb Harley Davison Hardtails,
to slightly lighter BSA and Triumph Desert sleds,
to dual shock Japanese dirt bikes,
to the current crop of ultra light, single shock, single cylinder, 300 foot jumping dirt bikes.
At this point we could ask the question is there really anywhere else to go? Is all that is left to do just small changes in frame and engines? We can look at the new Honda CRF450R, a great bike, but is it really all that much different then all the other dirt bikes out there. The basics are the same, some things got moved around but is it the same leap forward that the dual shock to single shock was? Is it the same as moving from no rear suspension at all on old Harleys to the 3-4 inches that Triumph had?
The big question as I see it is what happens when a company is truly innovative? I look at the Husky TE449/511. Husky decided to throw out the rule book and make something different (yes I know they stole it from BMW but just hang with me). The gas tank in the back, the sprocket on the same pivot as the swing arm, air box in the front. Now David Knight couldn’t ride the thing, but is that because it is truly bad or is it because most of us that ride were brought up on more traditional bikes that have different handling characteristics? Take a kid with no other riding experience and natural talent (like Knight), teach him to ride solely on a Husky TE449 and you would have an award winning champion on a “impossible” bike. And what doesn’t work in racing may work in other things, like Dual Sport riding.
Yamaha has been one of the chief innovators of things that work that are different, such as one of the first mass produced single shock dirt bikes, and now they have the backwards engine. Yeah it is different then other bikes, it steers with the front wheel more, but is that necessarily a bad thing? With the new crop of riders coming up that have not been riding a “normal” bike their whole lives, maybe now is the time to try something new? I love innovation, it is one of the things that makes America great, we embrace and encourage new ideas. Before we decide if something isn’t good just because it is different, maybe we should try it out, give it a shot, todays “weird” is tomorrows normal.
Ok so we didn’t come up with this but some one did. It shows you how to fit your 2013 IMS Beta tank to your older model 2010-2012 Beta bike.
Well things here are IMS are getting exciting. As of now we have come out with a new tank for the CRF450R
As well as the Beta 300/450RR tank.
So all in all it has been quite the exciting 5 months. IMS is working full steam ahead doing what we do best, and that is make tanks and make them well. But now we have ventured out into new and exciting territory, the side by side, or UTV. Since it first came out the RZR has dominated the UTV scene, fast, handles great, and can take up to 4 people in style. But like all race machines it seems to suffer from one major flaw, fairly low MPG. Now maybe stock it isn’t to bad, but if you are like the guys that work at IMS, you can leave it stock for long. Engine mods make more speed, but speed burns more gas, and for some of the extreme turbo RZRs out there I have heard of people getting as low as 7.5 MPG. So what do you do when you only got a 7.5 gallon tank and that kind of MPG, most of us have had to resort to the good ole gas can, or just not ride for very long. The gas can seems ok, but after seeing pictures like this
kind of makes me think that that extra can of fuel on a bed that can get pretty hot due to exhaust and turbo heat might not be a great idea. So that just leaves you with short rides. Let figure this out, if you got a full decked out turbo RZR and get 7.5 MPG and a 7.5 gallon tank that means you have, at best, 56.25 miles of riding. That means no later then 28.125 miles you have to turn around and head back. And when you have a machine with that kind of power and speed you are looking at a very very short riding day. On top of that you can not get any further then 28.125 miles away from camp, not a whole lot of exploring.
There is a third option now coming out, and IMS has it. We are currently working on a auxiliary tank (so an easy install) that will increase the total fuel capacity of the RZR to 12-13 gallons. Since the tank will be installed near the stock tank, it is in just as safe a place as the stock tank. We know people have been asking for this tank for a while and we are pleased to announce that we are finally doing it. It still has at least 30 days till production but we will keep you posted as to when it is available and the total gallons you will get. We hope you guys are as excited as we are.
Here are a few pics to help you out.
Ok, I am not going on a rant here. I just wanted to talk about something that was near and dear to my heart as well as to many off road riders out there. That is the trails that we ride and the trash that we find. This is prompted by a recent ride I did on one of my favorite trail systems. I was just riding along getting near the end of the trail where it hits the road, when I crossed this beautiful little stream. Now recently I have decided that I was going to try to become a professional “Free Camera App iPhone Photo Taker” so I stopped to take a picture with my XR in the middle of a stream, because that would look cool. Anyway here I was taking pictures walking around my Dual Sport when I walked up the stream a little to get a more dramatic shot when I looked over and saw it, a nice little collection of trash (primarily water bottles and a few miscellaneous other things). This really made me sad, and at first I was just going to leave, after all I had nothing to carry the trash in to properly dispose of it, but at the last second before I left I decided to take a picture and post it up here, hoping to raise awareness to this problem.
A few months ago I had posted a picture of my mountain bike on a local ride I did and commented on how so many trails that had been formed by off road riders had been shut down and how if we don’t figure out how to fix it more and more will continue to get shut down. I see things like this and honestly can understand why. This area is absolutely beautiful, (as this photo hopefully shows) and if you look not too closely you can see the first bit of trash that caught my eye laying on the bank in front of my bike, a little white trash bag.
Now I said I wasn’t going to rant, and I am not. I realize that just a few days before this ride was a holiday weekend and there was a lot of campers, and maybe someone was riding out of this trail with a bag full of trash and it got caught and ripped open and they didn’t notice. Who knows, all I can say is that it was there and if we don’t take care of our trails then eventually they will get shut down, and I totally understand. Who wants their trails to look like this.
It is true that every once in awhile I do find cool things on the trail, once I found the remains of a car front seat set up so that whoever sat there got an amazing sunset view, (when I found it it was just a rusted bunch of metal but I could see the potential) and I understand that, it was right near a campsite. (If you want to read about some really neat trail finds click here http://www.thumpertalk.com/topic/847470-weirdcreepy-things-youve-found-on-the-trail/) All I am trying to say is if you pack it in, pack it out. Like I learned in sixth grade Science and Conservation Camp, (yes I was that kid still kind of am) “Take only photos, leave only footprints.” Keep it safe and ride clean.
So to conclude what do you guys think we should do to keep our trails clean and open for years to come?
What an exciting weekend. June 21-22-23 was the Big Bear Run Dual Sport Ride. This is a very well known ride inside the state of California and luckily for me is only about an hours drive from where I live. Big Bear is a pretty cool place to begin with, it is in the mountains, surrounded by trees, a beautiful lake, great weather, skiing in the winter, downhill mountain biking in the summer, and the best part, over a thousand miles of Dual Sport trails that are pretty much open all year round. Because of this it attracts all kinds of off roading, from jeeps to mountain bikes to dual sports and adventure bikes. Since the 1980’s the Big Bear Trail Riders club has been hosting this event including a easy and a hard loop. The hard loop is so tough that just finishing it awards you a plaque to take home.
The easy loop on the other hand isn’t so easy. It is funny how different people’s ideas of what is easy and what is hard are very different. This year’s ride also included hard sections of the easy route you could take if you were feeling adventurous or just wanted a little extra challenge without fear of breaking your bike, or your self.
So this year I, along with the GM of IMS, got a chance to participate in this event. I had heard that even the easy loop was pretty challenging and not being an expert off-road rider, I was a little cautious and took extra steps in preparing for the ride. I normally ride with a Kenda 270 rear tire and a Kenda Track Master front, provided for us by MTA, with some STI heavy duty tubes. This is a great 70/30 on road/off road combination. The 270 is a hard enough compound to withstand the brutal power of my 650 (bored to a 680, HRC cam, high compression, full exhaust, you get the picture) on asphalt and still provide a pretty good level of grip along with being very predictable in how it reacts on the dirt, all while lasting a long time. The Track Master in front is grippy in the dirt, grippy on the asphalt and long wearing as well, way better then the matching 270 I used to run. For this ride I was advised that the current rear tire I had wouldn’t probably be enough, and with my riding skill I figured as much. See when I say the 270 is predictable in the dirt what I mean is it predictably slides a lot. Now I like to rear wheel steer a little so this isn’t bad, and most of the trails I ride are two track or fire roads, and I don’t need a high level of grip, so this tires work great, but for this ride I needed more. Once again MTA stepped up and provided us with brand new Kenda Track Master tires front and rear and ultra heavy duty tubes. Now I admit I am not very good at changing tires, and even after watching a million Youtube videos on how to change Dirt Bike tires I still am not great at it, but it was worth the effort. On a spare rear wheel I had I removed a old worn out tire and replaced it with the new Track Master and STI Tube, and oil change, wash, and chain lube later I was ready. (The front tire still has over 80% tread left so I kept it the same).
The day of the event the GM and I loaded our bikes in his truck and drove up to Big Bear, getting there around 6:30am. We unloaded, got the GPS tracks, geared up and hit the trails by 7am. After only a few miles I understood the need for my new tires, it was a rocky, tough, sandy, loose, hard, soft, combination of dirt. I did not want a pinch flat so I started the day, on the recommendation of the owner of IMS, with about 22 psi in both tires, and even at that “high” of pressure those tires would grip. After a few miles my confidence was up, and the tubes were doing good, so I dropped the psi down to about 16 and nailed it. Let me tell you, when I was finally able to relax, and calm down and realized that even though this was tough I still could do it, I had a blast. The scenery was amazing, the trails were well thought out and planned, and the multiple bikes that passed me were amazing. There was everything, from other dual sported XR650R’s to two stroke 250’s, and everything inbetween. Also a lot of KTMs… I mean a lot. Probably 3 out of every 5 bikes was a KTM, not that that is a bad thing, it isn’t, it was just funny, but with them and Husky being the only real makers of a large variety of dual sport bikes it makes sense.
After only completing half of the easy route the GM and I decided, now that it was Noon and we had started at 7am, we were done. Getting off the tracks and stuck in a dried up sandy creek bed for over an hour might have contributed to the length we were out there.
Some of the highlights of the trip would probably be the above mentioned Creek incident. You see, sometimes GPS tracks are a little hard to read. Because of this the GM and I might have taken a wrong turn and ended up in a very deep, very sandy dried up Creek Bed. This one incident taught me a lot about teamwork and how hard it can be to move a 300 pound dirt bike buried in sand. It also taught me the benefit of having a light bike, the GM’s bike is a TE310 much lighter then my XR. Luckily this happened in the beginning of the ride, so we were still fresh and the weather wasn’t too hot. Near the end was probably the other major highlight for me, we encountered a hill, and not just any hill, a pretty steep, rocky, and long hill. Now for the hard loop guys it was probably just a slight incline but to us mere mortals, it was tough. So tough in fact that most of the people we saw approach it turned back and found a different route. The GM of IMS had more guts than I did and attempted it twice, but eventually we turned back.
Looking at the GPS the GM was able to find an alternate route, that even though it wasn’t as tough as the hill, was still quite a challenge. The best part was the 20-30 yards of uphill bowling ball size rock section that we had to go through. At this point I was glad for the heavy bike I had, the weight kept the bike from deflecting too much, and the torque allowed me to chug up and over the rocks in a higher gear, instead of just spinning the rear wheel. And once again, the tires and tubes provided by MTA gripped and I didn’t get a single flat.
Overall this was one of the best rides I had ever done. Even though I didn’t do the hard sections of the easy route, there was still enough challenging sections to keep me on my toes and help me improve, mixed with some high speed gravel roads to really let the XR stretch her legs. I got a chance to meet some really cool guys, like Jeffery Glasset, who was still in high school and completed the hard loop as the 8th finisher, and his custom WR250R tank his dad made. As well as Ken “Iron Man” Kosiorek The Baja Turtle, he had done 12 solo Baja Races (five 250’s, five 500, and two 1000’s) all with IMS tanks on one of his three XR650R’s.
The entire event was well organized and everyone had a great time. The food was good, the prizes were nice, and the people were super friendly. I look forward to doing this ride for many more years, and highly recommend it to anyone who can make it.
This title comes from something my 7th grade History teacher used to say all the time. Of course, he was referring to kings and tyrants of history but I think it applies to modern Supercross as well. Looking at modern Supercross bikes, one has to wonder is there such a thing as too much power? Modern 450 bikes make power that could only be dreamed of 10 years ago, even 250’s are getting more and more powerful. At what point is it too much for racers? To ride a 450 these days at full race pace is exhausting, to the point that only a select few can actually do it, meaning that most of the 450 bikes sold these days are actually only using part of the astronomical power that they have. So why then do manufacturers insist on making them more powerful? The answer is simple: Power Sells.
Think about it. When was the last time you heard someone bragging about how little power his or her bike makes, or someone fitting a more restrictive intake or exhaust so decrease power? We like to have the biggest, fastest, and most powerful thing out there. Manufactures know this and cater to it. On top of that, isn’t that what most aftermarket companies focus on, more power? Now there isn’t anything inherently wrong with wanting or making more power, the problem is when we force the human body to try to deal with it on a regular basis as a job, and not only do they have to deal with the insane power, but they have to push even harder. There is a documentary floating around called “Bigger, Stronger, Faster”. It goes into depth about how we as humans are getting bigger, stronger, faster, and not always to our benefit. We can now breed cows that are so muscular due to genetic engineering that they cannot give birth. (Yeah I know it is a bull in this picture.)
We have modern drugs and medicine that can allow us to push our bodies beyond what the natural limits are. We take this and then add to it a dirt bike with enough power to launch a person 346 feet (Robbie Madison) and you have a recipe for disaster. Yes, the bike can survive the impact, after all it is just a machine and machines can be repaired, but the human body is not quite the same. If you botch a landing or a 300 plus foot jump, you die. If you are on a Supercross track and mess up, serious injury or death can occur, just look at Stewart and how long it took him to recover and how easy it was for him to get hurt again.
If you look at almost every other motor sport, only dirt bikes have not really gone through any sort of safety modifications, NASCAR has restrictor plates, MotoGP tried to shrink displacement (it didn’t work, smaller motors mean higher corner speed and you really only crash in the corners) and use a ton of electronics, even F1 racing got rid of turbocharging to make the cars safer. So is it only a matter of time before Supercross catches up to this trend? What can or should be done to keep the sport enjoyable while keeping participants safe?