I realize that most people buy a KLR for a trip like this, but let's talk. - Kawasaki Versys Forum
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post #1 of 30 (permalink) Old 02-16-2017, 09:56 PM Thread Starter
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I realize that most people buy a KLR for a trip like this, but let's talk.

I may have an opportunity to leave everything this summer and do an alaska-argentina mega solo road trip on my 2015 versys. Everyone on ADV rider seems to be rocking a KLR for this trip. If I am indeed going to do this, what modifications and issues should I keep in mind? I know how to patch a tire, change my oil, and lube my chain but that's basically the extent of my technical knowledge.

I'm sure a few major service intervals will be hit while I'm on the trip, but I figure Kawasaki dealerships exist in most major cities. Should I just budget for getting my service done officially?

I'm already going to be ordering crash bars and the versys LT has handlebar guards. What else can I do to "beef up" the bike so to speak to get the most out of it?

Thanks for any advice!
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post #2 of 30 (permalink) Old 02-17-2017, 03:07 AM
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I would also look into:
-A skid plate
-Spare fuel containers, i.e. Roto-Pac or MSR bottles
-Aux lighting
-Off-Road style foot pegs
-Radiator protection
-Fender Extender (front)
-Stainless brake lines & upgraded brake pads
-That's about all I can think of, hope it helps.
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post #3 of 30 (permalink) Old 02-17-2017, 04:30 AM
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Sounds like an amazing trip to have!

2015 Versys 650
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post #4 of 30 (permalink) Old 02-17-2017, 07:28 AM
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I come from a dirtbike background and don't know your riding capabilities. Not knowing for sure the types of terrain you will be encountering, the Versys and you may get bet up really bad. The KLR is probably the better choice or similar type bike like the V-strom. I am not saying you can't make the Versys work but expect the unexpected. I would rather be on a real adventure bike from the get go if was me. To me the newer Versys is a street bike that can go down mild dirt or gravel roads that's about it. The older Vesys actually can be made into a cool off-roader at a reasonable price but still not a real off-road bike IMO. Good luck. I'm jealous and would love to go!
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post #5 of 30 (permalink) Old 02-17-2017, 08:34 AM
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On the first muddy or deep sand road that you encounter, you may be cursing your V's 17" front wheel ...and wishing you had a 21 incher on the front. I've found that 17 incher has almost no feeling of control when in the rough stuff off road. The spring rates on the V are stiff, street oriented. Not compliant like a dual sport bike. And the stock rear shock has a huge bumper on it, that limits the suspension travel in the rear, along with a very stiff spring.
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post #6 of 30 (permalink) Old 02-17-2017, 04:45 PM Thread Starter
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Hey guys, this is all great advice. Switching to a KLR isnt an option unfortunately, but where there is a will there is a way. Anything sub $300 i can do about the suspension to help in the dirt?
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post #7 of 30 (permalink) Old 02-17-2017, 05:00 PM
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By the time you make the Versys ready for such a trip, you could buy a slightly used KLR already farkled out for the adventure. I would say the KLR would handle iffy gas better than the Versys. Rough roads better than the versys.

My Versys Travels:


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post #8 of 30 (permalink) Old 02-17-2017, 06:57 PM
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Your $300 bucks should go to tires first (something with off-road tread), skid plate second, and crash bars lastly. I would try and borrow or rent a bike if it was me. If your only going to be riding on a few gravel roads or a little dirty road go for it with what you have. My buddy has a KTM 690 Enduro and that is what it is made for. I ride KTM dirt bikes and they are awesome also.
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post #9 of 30 (permalink) Old 02-17-2017, 10:23 PM Thread Starter
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The plan is to be sticking to main thoroughfares and highways with a few miles of well kept dirt on the way to campsites. This won't be an Enduro style trip by any means. I will be camping hopefully more than using a hostel though.

I've already decided to get a set of tourance next tires as they may very well make the whole trip. If anyone has a different reccomendation though, please let me know. I tend to ride pretty conservatively, but I do really care about feeling confident in my bike's "footing" so to speak.
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post #10 of 30 (permalink) Old 02-18-2017, 12:12 PM
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On the first muddy or deep sand road that you encounter, you may be cursing your V's 17" front wheel ...and wishing you had a 21 incher on the front. I've found that 17 incher has almost no feeling of control when in the rough stuff off road. The spring rates on the V are stiff, street oriented. Not compliant like a dual sport bike. And the stock rear shock has a huge bumper on it, that limits the suspension travel in the rear, along with a very stiff spring.
I've run a 150/80 x 17 REAR tire on my front of BOTH my '08 and '09 V 650s (Metzler Tourances weren't available in 120/70 x 17), and just checking the diameter as COMPARED w/ another "ADV" size - 19" - the 150/80 x 17 has a D of 26.45", while a 120/70 x 19 has a D of 25.6". Thus - running a 150/80 x 17 gives me MOST of the advantages of running a 19" front wheel w/out the cost of a new wheel.



As you can see, I raised the front fender (1.3" if I remember correctly). I ALSO run a Yamaha R1 shock on the rear of BOTH my Vs, and they SEEM to work PDG in the dirt (at least as "dirty" as I've been).




Ed
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'08 V - BIG RED - AZ, '15 V650LT - the GREEN HORNET TOO - BC, and ('09 V - the GREEN HORNET - recently deceased..
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My Versys trip to D2D 2013, June '13

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My Versys trip to D2D 2015, June '15

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My Versys trip to D2D 2016, June '16

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post #11 of 30 (permalink) Old 02-18-2017, 12:49 PM Thread Starter
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Wait, are saying it's possible just to buy a bigger front tire? (Not huge, like the KLR, but I can go up a size if I raise the fender?
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post #12 of 30 (permalink) Old 02-18-2017, 06:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Durkbeef View Post
The plan is to be sticking to main thoroughfares and highways with a few miles of well kept dirt on the way to campsites. This won't be an Enduro style trip by any means. I will be camping hopefully more than using a hostel though.

I've already decided to get a set of tourance next tires as they may very well make the whole trip. If anyone has a different reccomendation though, please let me know. I tend to ride pretty conservatively, but I do really care about feeling confident in my bike's "footing" so to speak.
For that you can ride a Harley touring bike, so no issues with the Versys.

Tierra Del Fuego to Deadhorse Alaska on a Harley Road King?????? | Adventure Rider

My Versys Travels:


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post #13 of 30 (permalink) Old 02-18-2017, 09:30 PM
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there are 19in, front wheel conversions available for your bike. as a word of caution, think two words DARIEN GAP. if you're lucky, it will cost you at least $500 to cross, up to $900, depending on your patience and spanish language abilities. you'll need to do this in Panama city. a friend and i are flying into columbia in november, buying cheap, easy to get parts for, 18' wheel, chinese bikes and will donate them to a church at our return. we plan on reaching tierra del fuego and back in a month or so.
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post #14 of 30 (permalink) Old 02-19-2017, 06:48 AM
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Fuel and a vid

trip sound great, see link below for good 10 min video od someone who did similar trip. good way to mount the MSRs are "tool" tubes. they are really instruction manual holders for farm equipment. you can buy here The Tool Tube or tractor supply has them. small one holds 30 oz MSR, big one holds 1.5 liter. Here is a cool video of similar adventure.


one more thought, add extra lights up front for safety to be seen and in case you end up somewhere remote at night trying to find a place to sleep for the night. you can find low priced LEDs and wire harnesses kits with relays and handle bar switch on eBay. Lights are like $35 a pair, harness $13. Easily mount to front fender bolt. or where ever you like if buy/make bracket.

Sounds great!!

Last edited by JRW2007; 02-19-2017 at 06:51 AM. Reason: typo and one last thougth
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post #15 of 30 (permalink) Old 02-19-2017, 10:17 AM
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I don't recommend you doing this in a Versys. It is just simply not the right motorcycle for such a grueling trip. Have you been out there? (sounds like you haven't). It will serve you well to read this from beginning to end:

Sacarctica: Ride Good - A Year Through Central and South America. | Sac County Riders

You will see the punishment these motorcycles experience and how bad it is to get parts and good labor in the middle of the Andes. You should get a KLR or a DR. Simple, light, purpose-built, tough, proven and easy to fix motorcycles.
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post #16 of 30 (permalink) Old 02-19-2017, 12:16 PM
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Wait, are saying it's possible just to buy a bigger front tire? (Not huge, like the KLR, but I can go up a size if I raise the fender?
What I indicated is that a 130/80 x 17 has a LARGER (slightly) diameter than does a 120/70 x 19, so you have the benefits of a 19" front w/out the co$t.

Here's the link to my thread on raising my front fender:

Raising the front fender for BIGGER tires!

Ed
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'08 V - BIG RED - AZ, '15 V650LT - the GREEN HORNET TOO - BC, and ('09 V - the GREEN HORNET - recently deceased..
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My Versys trip to D2D 2013, June '13

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My Versys trip to D2D 2015, June '15

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My Versys trip to D2D 2016, June '16

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post #17 of 30 (permalink) Old 02-19-2017, 12:56 PM Thread Starter
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This is all great info people, keep it coming. About the Darian gap, I will most likely be booking passage on the stahlratte. $1150 for an all expense paid "cruise" that includes customs for the bike once we land in Cartagena.

Financially, buying a KLR before this trip isn't gonna happen. I wish it would.
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post #18 of 30 (permalink) Old 02-19-2017, 04:54 PM
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Mr. Durkbeef! I belong to a motorcycle association that has chapters from Massachusetts to Argentina, and whenever I look at the pics of our South American chapters, the motorcycle I see most frequently is -- the V-Strom! So anything a Wee-Strom can do, you can do on a Versys :-) I have seen a couple of late-model Versys riders in the pics, but I also see the Super Tenere, the Beemer, and only occasionally, a KLR. But honestly, most of them have the Wee. I actually bought the Versys because I saw that most of my South American brothers and sisters had adventure-tourer bikes, and I was hoping to do the kind of trip you're planning. I posted some pics from our chapter in Lima, Peru, just to give you an idea, so I hope that helps. Good luck preparing, and have a wonderful trip!
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post #19 of 30 (permalink) Old 02-19-2017, 10:53 PM Thread Starter
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Chrisfla1, that makes me feel much better! I also happen to have just gotten off the phone with my brother who apparently knows a **** ton of people throughout south america that would be able to help me in a time of need. This whole trip is starting to come together nicely. Just waiting on confirmation that someone can watch my dog and my prep will start.
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post #20 of 30 (permalink) Old 02-19-2017, 11:28 PM
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That trip is quite doable on a Versys, since we did it in the fall of 2015, leaving from Edmonton early September and arriving in Lima in November. Then in the spring of 2016 we did the trip from Clearwater, BC to Inuvik and that entailed doing the Dempster highway which is all gravel or mud depending on the weather. We got both, gravel, and mud with snow. The group of bikes were a 2007 Versys, a KLR650, and a Vstrom 1000. Oddly enough, only the Versys and the Vstrom made it all the way, as the KLR crashed out in Mexico. Go figure.
This is the link to that trip.

https://jeffraaphorst.wordpress.com/

Here are some of the things we did.
1) String a spare clutch cable alongside the original one, shrink tube the ends to keep out the incessant rain down there. Mine broke in Mexico, and was a 15 minute fix.
2) Carry spare gas if you wish, I did and got to use it once, oddly enough in the States. There are plenty of places to gas up down there.
3) Arrange to pick up a new rear tire in the USA just before you cross into Mexico and carry it with you until you need it. Ours came from Phoenix.
4) As mentioned before, definitely screen off your rad, there is plenty of debris down there with your rads name on it.
5) Carry enough tools to do most major repairs short of an engine failure, down there a tool selection is considered a screw driver and a monkey wrench.
6) Get one of those compact air compressors and a tire puncture kit, you will most likely need it.
7) Consider using motels rather than camping, it is really cheap away from the main thorough fares and you get to sample to local fare. We had absolutely no problems with Montezuma's revenge, but did insist on drinking only bottled water. Also saves a lot of space, not having to carry the camping gear.
8) Get all your vacinations up to date, probably about 8 or 10 of them, since most of those countries have different requirements.
9) Border crossings are a nightmare, budget a day for each crossing, unless you a fluent in Spanish, then half a day. Immigration and Customs are separate buildings (or maybe a van) that are not obvious to find. You will need multiple copies of your passport, ownership, vaccination records, plus individual copes of your temporary vehicle import certificate that you get at each border crossing.
10) If you want to make your trip interesting, stay away from the Trans America highway and use the small back roads instead. Believe me, down there is motorcycling heaven, you will not find roads like that in Canada or the USA. See the link for some of the better ones.
11) Another option for getting around the Darien gap to Cartegena is to book on a small sail boat that sails from Porto Bello in Panama on a five day cruise thru the islands, with reef stops for snorkeling, $1000 for you and your bike. Get a hold of Captain Jack's.
12) Get a good GPS loaded with maps of Central and South America. It will save your sanity, when you get lost in some town with no clue how to get back onto the main road. Also take a small lap top, or tablet, there is wifi almost everywhere, use it for email, local info, etc.
13) As mentioned before, the rain down there is incessant, depending on the time of the year. Take good rain gear. We eventually didn't even bother putting it on when the weather was warm, just get soaked, then let the wind dry you off.
14) Oil changes: Non of us changed oil on the Peru trip, about 20000km, just added as needed. Granted, we were using synthetic. Chains lasted all the way to Lima, but were basically scrap by that time.
There is probably more, but my brain is on strike right now.
One last piece of advice, take it for what its worth. Go.
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