Sunday, January 1, 2017

Armor FZ-09

I spent much of my injury-filled 2016 on my dual sports...a KLR650 and a DR650...when I could. I'm looking forward to a serious rally year in 2017, like I'd planned for 2016. At the same time I've found myself jonesing for another road bike for trips up to the Carolinas and North Georgia...maybe further.

So after looking around, I've landed on a 2016 Yamaha FZ-09 that I'll be taking delivery on mid this week. It's a pure nekkie sport bike that seems to fit me fairly well and the dang thing was cheap!

I've started a new blog, Armor FZ-09, to chronicle my doin's on the FZ.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

My Little Versys

I was visiting my Dealer in Brandon, Florida recently and what did I see on their used old 2012 Little Bumblebee Versys. I'd traded it in on the 2015 Big Versys 1000 and it had sold, but now it was back. Still had all my decals, too.

The little Versys is an excellent motorcycle. It has a 650cc parallel twin...same engine as the Ninja 650. It worked out well as a regional commuter and hooligan motorcycle. I personally wouldn't want to take it cross country or do an Iron Butt with it although I know that some  motorcyclists have with great success. I really kind of miss it.

For however long it stays up, here's a LINK to the dealer's listing. Under 10,000 miles and under $5,000.



Wow! That's such a nice little motorcycle to be sitting there like that. I noticed that the threads in the seat cover were coming undone. Too long out in the Florida sun.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Another Dual Sport

Last November I purchased a 2016 Kawasaki KLR650 with an eye toward doing some serious dual sport riding while stuck here in Florida over the winter. So far I've done three rallies, hit many of the local trails and have been having a blast on the KLR. I wish I had more time; I haven't even been up to Ocala National Forest yet!

Anyway, my 21-y-o son has been watching closely and wants to get in on the dual sport action. He rides the KLR often, but we can't do the rallys or forests together, so we needed another dual sport in the garage.

I wanted to stay in the 650+ range to be able to move quickly and efficiently on highways (i.e. 75mph++). I considered another KLR650, a Suzuki DR650 and a Honda XR650. I discounted the KLR for not much of a reason other than we already have one.

Between the DR and XR, the XR was the hands down better motorcycle on paper...engine-wise, suspension-wise, travel-wise, everything. However, it's 37 inch seat height was two inches north of my tolerance. The KLR and DR are 35 inches and 34.8 inches, respectively, which is already very high. That is, for me. Dual sports and dirt bikes have high seat heights because they have high ground clearance. Anyway 35 inches is about as high as I dare go...and I don't consider lowering a motorcycle (any motorcycle) to be an acceptable option.

Before finalizing my decision, I test rode the DR650 and was amazed how peppy it was. It certainly wasn't as comfortable as the KLR (which isn't saying much) but it had much better lower end torque than the KLR, literally to the point that the front wheel easily comes off the ground. Perhaps that's due to the fact that the DR comes in about 80 pounds lighter than the KLR. However, that's exactly what I wanted so my decision was made.

I landed on the DR650. This is a 2016 Suzuki DR650S, fresh off the show room floor.

Yup, it needs some farkle work. Those Bridgestone Trail Wings need to go. I need to move to a 60% offroad+ dual sport tire. On that point, I have a set of Shinko E-804/805 Big Blocks on the way from Revzilla. I also have a SWMotech Bash Plate and a Moose Expedition Luggage Rack on order from my dealer.

I already have a blog for the 2016 Kawasaki KLR650. I'll be starting a new blog for the DR650 soon. All my new dual sport activities may put a slight crimp in my Versys Ventures, but I'll be sure to keep the big V doing what it does best...long distance touring.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016


I've been keeping the fuelings of my 2015 Kawasaki Versys 1000 LT logged on Fuelly since I purchased the motorcycle last March. Since then, I've logged 98 fuelings.

As I jotted the fueling info from my last fill up on March 14, I asked myself why I thought I needed to keep doing that. I mean, I keep track of my mileage regularly, but posting it on fuelly is more for other interested owners and future purchasers ... and on that note it would seem that over 20 thousand miles worth of postings would be enough information.

So, I think I'll discontinue logging my fuelings, but I'll leave the link in the right column. Here's where we wound up with 98 fuelings.

Miles per gallon:
   Average 44.8 mpg
   Highest 56.7 mpg
   Lowest   37.6 mpg

Average miles per fill up:
   Average   210.8 miles
   Highest   260.1 miles

Highest fill up of 5.475* gallons (tank size 5.5 gallons)

* I also had a 5.7 gallon fill up on October 16, 2015 in Fort Stockton, Texas (0.2 gallons more than the tank size). I suspect that some gas pumps are inaccurate, so I'd take this stat solely as an indication that the Versys is able to draw most all of the fuel from its tank. Other owners have indicated similar results.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Winter Day Trip

I've been spending so much time this winter with my new 2016 KLR 650 dual sport (two major rallies already) that I haven't done much with the Versys. It was sunny and very warm today so I thought I'd take it for a nice long ride. Got all my duds on, put some air in the tires and hit the e-button...nothing. The battery was dead. Well, I got enough juice in the battery to get it started and off we went on a 200 mile loop around Central Florida. It gave me some time to think about where I'll be heading when I can finally get out of Florida. First stop, the Smokys. Then I'm working on a plan to revisit my roots in the Northeast. New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. Maybe also Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

TomTom Rider Update 6

TomTom Rider Update 7

Rather than make a new post, let me just add Update 7 here.

On June 22, 2017 I was in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina with my son planning a day of paved roads prior to a dual sport rally that was starting the next day. As I started to bring up my pre-mapped routes the damn mount broke...again!

Yes, the exact same as the first time where the ram ball mount base broke off from the cradle insert. Damn!

There is no way that I was going to buy another cradle insert so I said screw it and put the JB Weld to it.

Seriously, the TomTom Rider (now pretty much outdated) is still a decent functioning device. I still use it for touring. However, that base is a big problem. If it breaks after my JBWeld I'm just going to dispense with it. I'm probably nearing the point I need a new one anyway. I estimate that it's seen well over 50K miles.

Original Update...

I have been posting updates to my review of a Gen5 TomTom Rider SatNav that I purchased back in May 2015. It would, perhaps, be nice to put them all together. However, as I use the device I continue to have new experiences worth noting. Here is a list of linked posts to my prior Gen5 Rider updates. Obviously, I've had a lot of experiences. :)

Update 5
TomTom Rider Upgrade?
Update 4
Update 3
Update 2
Update 1
TomTom Rider

In this Update (#6), I'm actually in the process of preparing the Gen5 TomTom Rider for a dual sport rally. No, not on the BigV. As previously reported, I have a new Kawasaki KLR650 that I purchased for light Florida dual sporting.

Having experienced a fractured base (see first photo below) after my ride along the sandy washboard surface of the Apache Trail in Arizona last October I decided that some changes to the mounting would be in order.
  • First, the original Ram Bar Clamp that came with the TomTom was the larger model, able to fit a 1 1/4 inch bar and a shim to provide for fitment on a 7/8 inch bar. That clamp is okay on the Versys, but the bar on the KLR is only 7/8 and I didn't want the rubber shim causing any movement.
  • Second, I made an attempt to better dampen the vibrations where the back of the device cradle mounts to the ram base plate ( mounted via four M5/11mm-0.80 pitch). To do this, I placed a 3mm thick washer on each mounting bolt and one each side of the Ram base plate (8 total washers) as shown in the second photo below. Adding the additional dampeners required replacing the stock 11mm mounting bolts with longer bolts, which are available at any hardware store. (IMPORTANT NOTE: The cradle mount threads (female end) are 4mm deep and the total bolt aperture depth is 5mm. Inserting a bolt further than 5mm could cause damage to the back of the mount cradle. I used a dial gauge to get these measurements. I very lightly treated the threads with locktite and very lightly torqued them in.)

The photo below shows how the back of the cradle fractured at ALL FOUR points where it mounts to the Ram base plate. Did they fracture all at the same time? I really don't know. The unit didn't fall off the mount until I got to Texas, but I know where most of the damage happened.

A couple side notes: First, when I got on the washboard, I should have simply removed the SatNav from its base. Unfortunately, at the time I was hyper-focused on my Puig screen that was flapping like a piece of tissue paper and never thought to remove the TomTom. The screen did fine. Point is, if I get into a similar situation, I'm pulling the TomTom off! Secondly, when this fracture occurred, I placed the SatNav device inside the map window on my tank bag and on battery power. I do this with my phone all the time. After some time I noted the TomTom screen dimming. When I pulled it out to check on it, the device had become very hot. I thought I'd toasted it, but it later came back to life. Point here is, the device apparently does not like enclosed spaces.

Okay, so let's see how that ^^ works.

On the functionality side, I have updates on "Importing" and "Route vs. Tracking."

Importing Files:

As to importing, I have received a number of .gpx (suffix) formatted maps reflecting the dual sport course that I will be navigating over the three-day rally. The Gen5 TomTom Rider does not read .gpx. That's not unusual as many devices don't read various types of map format and there are a number of conversion software solutions available to compensate for that.

From the getgo, TomTom has you hooked up on Tyre to Travel as it's recommended platform for developing maps...called Itineraries with an .itn suffix. I have become a fan of Tyre. While it's a little slow, it sure is easy to use and does a dang good job. And during this process, I found that the .gpx files loaded right up to the Tyre software! No problems. All I had to do was either set the upload window to "all files" or "Garmin Files." Once loaded up on the Tyre screen you can review the Track and make changes just like any other map. Wow!, I thought.

Then I found the catch. As mentioned, the TomTom only accepts .itn files so the .gpx files need to be converted to .itn. No problem. Tyre does that automatically when you load a map onto the device...another good Tyre feature. However, what I found was that .itn files are limited to 100 waypoints to be loaded on the TomTom SatNav device.

Wait a minute! The Gen5 TomTom is represented to be able to hold up to 10,000 waypoints at a time. Yet, each file (or Itinerary) can't have more than 100 waypoints? Yup, I even found it in the manual.

Well, the reason that limitation presented me with a problem is the .gpx files are Tracks and tracks, by their very nature, require many more waypoints to create a map than a typical route (see Routes and Tracks, below). In fact, the number of waypoints in each of the .gpx files I received had between 500 and 700 waypoints. Yes, I could spend a day and a half deleting waypoints, but it was simpler and faster to simply rebuild the routes from scratch.

So, on importing files, the Tyre software really made the process simple. However, the limitation on the number of waypoints per Itinerary was a real surprise.

Routes and Tracks:

Basically, route maps utilize established roads (such as the maps in GoogleMaps) to map out a route to get from point A to point B. It won't look for shortcuts or cross country jaunts. It'll look for actual roads and route along those. Track Maps simply track a path using waypoints (waypoints are nothing more than a virtual pin in a map); tracks don't care whether that track is along an established road or across a farmer's pasture or up the side of a mountain. Naturally, track mapping is a more useful type of map for dual sporting and off-road riding.

I was fully aware that the Gen5 TomTom Rider does not Track when I purchased it. I didn't care because it was my sport touring SatNav. Now that I need it for a dual sport rally, I'm a little on the SOL side but not entirely.

The entire .gpx tracks are mostly established roads. While I would have liked to just edit the .gpx tracks and load them on the TomTom as .itn files, that turned out to be too much effort as discussed under the Importing section above. So what I did, was map the road sections in separate .itn files, loaded them and will run those programs separately. For the off-road segments, I have a paper map and a roll chart. It only resulted in three separate routes per day for the three day event. Not too bad.

So, essentially I've made the TomTom do most of the work for me during this rally. Now, I can only hope that it holds together. :)

Friday, February 19, 2016


I noticed that my dragons are starting to come off. The only place to buy replacements is at Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort in Robbinsville, NC ... home of the Tail of the Dragon. Well, I won't be heading up there until mid-May or else I'd probably be riding in snow...

...but you can bet it'll be my first stop when I can finally abandon Florida for the great riding areas around the country.