Friday, April 3, 2015

Okeechobee Loop

Since living in Florida (going on 30 years now), I've developed a tradition of taking my new motorcycles on a loop around Lake Okeechobee. Lake Okeechobee is that 730 square mile, man made lake in South Florida that stands out as a distinct landmark on any map that you'll see of Florida.

The loop from my Tampa Area location is a little under 400 miles and serves a couple purposes. First, it takes a big bite out of the run-in schedule. The main ingredients of the run-in are maintaining the revs <4,000/m for the first 500 miles (cruising at 4Krpm=65mph) and an oil change with filter at 600 miles. Second, it helps acclimate to the controls and overall feel of the motorcycle. Let's face it, test rides and demo days aside, you really don't know what you got when you bought your motorcycle until you do at least 200 miles in the saddle.

Here's a look at the loop using Google Maps. Exact mileage as per my GPS was 367.2 miles

I do try and get some good photos on my rides, but this ride had its other purposes (noted above) so I wasn't out of the saddle much. However, consistent with my tradition, I do grab an obligatory photo (or two or three) of the motorcycle up on the Okeechobee dike at Myakka Port at the lock, which is on the southeast side of the lake a little north of Pahokee.

As I rolled in after the ride, I had accumulated a total of 456 miles on the odometer including this ride. Here are some points that I took from the ride:

Seat Comfort: The big question on your first ride of this length is whether you're going to be riding Iron Butts with the motorcycle (I actually do have one cert) or stopping to relieve butt ache/saddle sore/PIA every 50 miles. Some years ago I purchased a new motorcycle (2009 HD XR1200) and, while I loved the looks, it was the most uncomfortable motorcycle I ever owned. I once rode it to Ohio for AMA Vintage Days and litterally considered flying home and having it shipped back. Thankfully, the Versys saddle felt really good from start to finish on the 367 mile trek. The saddle is large enough and firm enough on the main level to move around and relieve the pressures that cause that nasty soreness. This was really good news. Of course, it not always going to be that way for everyone that buys the Versys.

Fuel Efficiency: The Versys is powered by an extremely smooth running, fuel-injected 1,043 IL-4. It has dual power modes (Full Power and 75% Power) and three levels of traction control. Kawasaki didn't spec the fuel economy, but ride reports I've read indicate that the Versys averages around 44 miles per gallon. Since delivery I have run the Versys at the Full Power mode and the lowest traction control setting ... for no other reason than these are the default settings. In addition, I have been fairly good about maintaining the pre-500 mile break in revs at or around 4,000. I've now fueled up twice as follows:

1st -- 0-182 mile range, 4.8 gallons, or 37.9 miles per gallon. This is the fuel in the tank when I took delivery. My dealer only uses regular fuel (probably around 87 Octane) and there may have been a shortfall to full even though all meter bars were lit.
2nd -- 183-396 mile range, or 213 miles, 4.4 gallons, or 48.6 miles per gallon. This range of miles was ridden using a premium Octane of 93. Specs call for 90+ on the Octane.

The fuel guage provides multiple bars, a flashing "low-fuel" indicator and has a "range-to-empty" feature in the multi-function instrument display. On the first fueling, the range-to-empty indicator was at 50 miles when the low fuel indicator kicked on. I did not wait for the low fuel indicator to kick on for the second fueling because I was at over 210 miles with an "unfamiliar" tank and the fuel level had only just dropped to one bar. Having previously done only 38mpg made me leary that the gauging may not be working right. However, it only took 4.4 gallons proving that the gauge clusted was functioning just fine.

Obviously fuel efficiency will be a continuous focus for awhile, but given my limited experiences, I may be looking at a range up to 250 miles on the 5.5 gallon tank. That would be outstanding imo.

Controls and Display: In addition to the fueling gauges, discussed above, I can say that all the other gauges functioned properly and were easy to read on the dash cluster. In particular, I found the handlebar Select Switch (left side of bar) very convenient. The Select Switch toggles through the Power Modes and Traction Control level adjustments, but it also toggles the multi-function display. So, rather than reaching into the dash area and pushing the mode button to change display functions, you can do it with your left thumb.

The up/top of the Select button toggles ODO>Clock>TripA>TripB>Running Mileage>Average Mileage>Range to Empty.

The down/bottom of the Select button toggles Ambient Outdoor Temp>Engine Temp.

^Stock Photo^

Speedo/ODO/Trips: As expected, the Versys reads a higher speed than what my GPS reads. Very similar to proir Japanese motorcycles the speedometer was +2mph on 20mph to 60mph and +3mph on over 60mph. Conversely, the ODO and Trips were almost spot on. My GPS mapped the ride at 367.2 miles while the ODO and Trip had it at 368.2.

^Stock Photo^

All in all, it was a great first serious ride with a lot of good information flowing. Of course, there's a lot more to come as well as updates, so stay tuned...

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