Road Tested

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Yamaha Motorcycles Street Event - I-90


Road Tested

10 Days, 2500 Miles

10 days on a motorcycle. Sound like fun? It is, but packing the right gear is critical.

In June of 2005 I took a 10 day motorcycle trip that took me through Washington, Oregon and the tip of California. The length of the trip would be 2,500 miles – 800 of that was off road. Riding time during most days was 8-12 hours and 7 of the 10 days involved primarily off-road riding.

Several things were going on during this trip. The first order of business was to pre-route the various recommended rides for the upcoming 2005 Northwest Dual Sport Rally . I learned some time ago you don't send riders out into the dirt without having tested the route ahead of time.

The next order of business was to have a little two wheel r & r which I did by spending two days with Bruce Hansen's new book, Motorcycle Journeys through the Pacific Northwest. More on this in a moment.

Finally I had an opportunity to go ride theOregon Backcountry Discovery Route with two other riders and two 4x4 enthusiasts.

It was the perfect recipe to hit the road and test lots of new gear that I'd been amassing through the winter and wet spring months. All in all it was a grand ride and what follows are the results of what some would consider rigorous testing.

Chamois Butt'r – One thing is for sure, when you're on a bike 8 to 10 hours a days, you're sitting on your butt a lot. When you're riding off-road you're up and down on your seat all the time. Chamois Butt'r is popular in the cycling market for long range road riders. Unlike Anti Monkey Butt Powder, which is meant to reduce friction with a dry powder base, Chamois Butt'r does it in a lotion form by placing a film of lubricant between you and your first layer of clothing. The product worked flawlessly reducing all the friction to my butt significantly. It only needs to be applied once in the morning, lasts all day, washes off easily with soap and water and doesn't stain your undergarments. After 10 days in the saddle I can honestly say, butt ache was not an issue. We liked it enough to add it to the SR! online store .

Rich's Custom Motorcycle Seat – I ride with a lot of road riders and dual sport riders. I've seen people invest in an after-market seat that has nothing to do with the shape of their body ergonomically. For a little bit more than the price of some off-the-shelf aftermarket seat, you can have Rich O'Conner custom fit your motorcycle seat to fit your body. A lot of people all over North America swear by Rich's seats, but what was unknown was how one of his seats would perform off-road as well as on the highway. Off-road riding requires the rider to be up and down off the seat constantly. When Rich fitted the seat for me on my 1988 Honda NX650, we discussed this issue in detail before he drew the final lines of the seat. On and off road, the Rich's custom seat worked excellently, and again - after 10 days in the saddle I can say, butt ache was not an issue. For more information on Rich's Custom Seats visit the website at , or give him a call at (206) 524-2274.

Andiamo! Padded Skins – Okay, just one more thing for the butt and then we'll get off the subject. The older you get, the more butt ache becomes an issue. Here's yet another item from the cycling industry we can retrofit to motorcycling. Andiamo! Padded Skins are a first layer that includes a padded crotch. Made with a Hydratech synthetic fabric, the skins wick moisture away from your body as you sweat keeping your body cooler on warm days and warmer on cold days. They clean up easily and dry in about 1/6 th the time it takes for regular cotton underwear. $24 a pair may seem a bit steep, but a couple of pairs is all you need for a mulitday trip since you can wash and dry a pair overnight. More information at the SR! online store .

Dual Star KLR Carrier Deck – Well, okay, I wasn't on a KLR, but I needed a tail rack that would work for the Honda NX650 I was riding. Now you try to find one specific to the model. Not. So I was in a pinch. The idea was to mount my Nelson-Rigg RTB 500 bag to the rear of the NX, but the stock rack was too small to provide the support needed. The solution was literally in my back yard (Mountlake that is). I purchased a KLR Carrier Deck from Dual Star, retrofitted the mounting holes for the NX and bingo I was in business. During the Oregon Backcountry Discovery Route I did indeed drop the bike twice during some less-than-friendly two-track sections. The rack never bent and actually provided support keeping the rest of the bike in better shape than one could have hoped for had the rack not been there. The rack has all kinds of mounting points so you can adapt bungees, Rok straps or compression straps across it in various configurations. If you have a KLR, Dual Star makes a lot of goodies for you besides just the carrier deck. More information .

CycoActive Atlas Case – CycoActive has created a case every touring rider needs. The see-through atlas case is well-stitched and velcroed on the open end. It provides enough room to fit two full size atlases into it and keeps the water out. During the trip I also kept my reading glasses, a few pens and my Orisko plateware inside. I found it convenient to bungee it to my Rigg bag and be able to look at the map inside while I was riding – even when it was raining. It's available through the SR! online store .

Motorcycling Journeys Through the Pacific Northwest – I had reviewed Bruce Hansen's Motorcycling Journeys Through the Pacific Northwest back in June of this year. Now was my chance to hit the road with it on some roads I hadn't ridden. The nice thing about this book is it opens the doors to riding some of the better roads in Oregon. The first chapter, Lower Columbia Basin Sampler, provides details about riding through areas like Heppner, Condon, Fossil and Shaniko – roads I had yet to discover. I used the book to navigate my way through and found information on the land's geology, where to eat and area history useful in giving me a better look at where I was riding. A good book to own if you're planning interstate riding through the Northwest and available through the SR! online store . be continued

TM/Summer 05

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