My First Tour What Worked and What Didn't - Kawasaki Versys Forum
 
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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-22-2012, 07:59 AM Thread Starter
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My First Tour What Worked and What Didn't

I just got back off of a 5 day tour that took me from the flat lands of New Orleans to the twisties of NC, VA, and TN. For a frame of reference, I have done similar tours on a Wee-Strom, DR650, Burgman 650, GSX650F, and an FJR1300. With all the other bikes but the GSX, I had what I would describe as an issue. I had no issues with the Versys. It simply worked!

On the slab at an indicated 78-80 (actual 73-75) I averaged mid-40's for fuel economy. I had hoped for a little better, but that's not bad. I can do a 200 mile run fairly confidently with a bit of room for error. The vibrations that people speak of when they speak of an 09 Versys are there, but they are not an issue for me. They are neither intrusive nor fatiguing. The mirrors are blurry, but useful as they are. I rode down a gravel road getting to my cabin and the bike did fine where it was hard packed. There was some loose gravel in places. It got a little busy there, but not as bad as my street bikes would have. It's just slightly less competent in that kind of stuff than the Wee-Strom. That's the basics, now I'll do a mod by mod review.

MRA Vario Touring Screen. It worked OK for me. I may try to improve on it. Most of the trip I was able to adjust it where I would get clean air to the upper part of the helmet. When in traffic though, the turbulence would cause a bit of buffeting that made the tip of my nose itch. Oddly, that has always been the barometer for me. I should note that I am 5'11" and sit tall in the saddle. I tinkered a little bit by ducking and changing my lean and was able to find either a quiet spot or clean air. I think this is a me issue rather than a product issue. The screen worked, just not as well as I would have liked.

My Powerlet 12V power plug worked as intended. It's well built, easy to instal and easy to use.

I already had a Garmin Zumo. While I have had it for several years, I haven't used it that much. It died on me during the trip. It stopped responding to my touch. A fellow rider quipped that it must be related to my girlfriend. I'll send it back to the factory for the $100 refurbish.

The Kaoko Throttle Lock is expensive at $120, but that sucker works fabulously. Much better and much simpler than the Vista I had on another bike. When used in conjunction with a Cramp Buster, it was a blessing on long slab stretches. My wrists are prone to fatigue and with this set up, I was able to relax either wrist at any given time. I will never be without a Kaoko on a bike unless I have electronic cruise control.

My Givi 45L top Case and E21 side cases swallowed more than enough gear for the trip. If I need more storage, a waterproof bag bungied to the passenger seat will do the trick.

My T-Rex frame sliders were also worth every penny. I don't know that they will offer the crash protection that crash bars will, but I am confident they will help, but at 69 bucks with a simple install, they are much more economical. They were great for an alternative footrest on long stretches on the slab. I rode with my feet up there for as much as 20 minutes at a time.

I have said it elsewhere on this forum. The Seat Concepts seat is the way to go on this bike. Even after paying to have a local upholsterer build the seat for me, it came in about half the price of the competition and the nice thing is, I was only without my seat for a half of a day. Most stretches on the slab were about 150 miles. At the end of those stretches I was ready for a little gas, water and a butt break. Most other stock saddles found me squirming at or before the 100 mile mark. I should note too, that I hadn't ridden in a year and a half, so my butt wasn't in touring condition.

After the Seat Concepts install, I found myself further from the bars. This is due to the added height and the dish of the seat pulling me further away. I added a SW Motech bar riser and it did the trick. At 69 bucks it's inexpensive and easy to install.

The GSX650F is the best budget sport tourer made. Better on the slab than the Versys. It is smooth, planted and free from buffeting. It is faster and gets better fuel economy. It is a heavier bike though and the Versys is just so much easier to manage in the twisties. I am happy with my choice especially from a value perspective.
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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-22-2012, 08:15 AM
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Nice write up. As soon as seat concepts offers a low version i plan on ordering one. Headed out Thursday myself for 1500 mile trip around Lake Superior.

2008 Red Versys 16k miles
*Givi Windscreen*SW-Motech Evo Rack*Seahorse 720 Cases*Seat Concepts Seat*HID Headlight

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post #3 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-23-2012, 02:44 AM
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Thanks for sharing. I have the MRA Vario screen but modified it so that it is more upright.

Present Ride: Yamaha Super Tenere 2012
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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-23-2012, 05:24 AM
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Thanks for sharing, love reading about others experiences. Can I bother you for a pic of your bike, would love to see the seat, sliders and windscreen as a whole.

Matt
2012 Versys, Vario ws, Barkbuster Storms, lowering blocks, flatfoot, Zumo GPS, Givi soft side bags, Axio tail bag, Wolfman Express tank bag
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post #5 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-23-2012, 06:21 AM
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Thanks for the update... I will use your comments in my own modification pursuits.

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post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-23-2012, 08:16 AM
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Thanks for taking the time to write about your experiences. The knowledge others gain is invaluable. I know I've saved LOTS of money and time by purchasing items and making mods others have had success with.

For me, the SW-Motech crash bars and seat mods are by far the best for longer trips. I mounted highway pegs to the bars. Instead of having one or two seating positions, the pegs allow two additional positions. Plus the crash bars just look cool . I'm able to rest either the arch of my feet, or the back of my heel on the pegs. Spencers seat and Alaskan sheepskin pad rock.

Brother-in-law and I are doing the same trip (coming from the north) in one month. Can't wait !!! Any insights/suggestions you can provide Dranrab Luap?


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Dark Arrow Slip-On Exhaust, Spencer's Seat, Alaskan Sheepskin Buttpad, Givi Windshield, Givi E460 Topcase, SW Motech Crashbars, SW Motech Alu-Rack, Cortech Sport Soft Saddlebags/Tailbag, 16T Front Sprocket, Kawasaki Z-1000 Mirrors, Speedy's Handlebar Riser, Speedy's FlatFoot, MFW Highway Pegs, Gerbings Heated Gloves
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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-23-2012, 08:18 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by brokenhat View Post
Thanks for sharing, love reading about others experiences. Can I bother you for a pic of your bike, would love to see the seat, sliders and windscreen as a whole.

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post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-23-2012, 08:21 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for taking the time to write about your experiences. The knowledge others gain is invaluable. I know I've saved LOTS of money and time by purchasing items and making mods others have had success with.

For me, the SW-Motech crash bars and seat mods are by far the best for longer trips. I mounted highway pegs to the bars. Instead of having one or two seating positions, the pegs allow two additional positions. Plus the crash bars just look cool . I'm able to rest either the arch of my feet, or the back of my heel on the pegs. Spencers seat and Alaskan sheepskin pad rock.

Brother-in-law and I are doing the same trip (coming from the north) in one month. Can't wait !!! Any insights/suggestions you can provide Dranrab Luap?
Are you looking for road recommendations, bike specific recommendations or general touring recommendations?
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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-23-2012, 10:47 AM
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Thanks for the pic, that seat does look comfy!

Matt
2012 Versys, Vario ws, Barkbuster Storms, lowering blocks, flatfoot, Zumo GPS, Givi soft side bags, Axio tail bag, Wolfman Express tank bag
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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-23-2012, 11:04 AM
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Do you still have the stock rear sprocket? You could improve your long rides on highways considerably if you have a 43 or 44 rear. What side bags and rear case do you have? That is the set-up i want, not too big and bulky. I also have a blue 09 w/ TRex sliders and soft bags. Thanks for the write-up.

Gerald
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post #11 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-23-2012, 01:00 PM Thread Starter
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Do you still have the stock rear sprocket? You could improve your long rides on highways considerably if you have a 43 or 44 rear. What side bags and rear case do you have? That is the set-up i want, not too big and bulky. I also have a blue 09 w/ TRex sliders and soft bags. Thanks for the write-up.

Gerald
I have the stock gearing and will leave it that way. I didn't see an appreciable economy difference between when I ran 65-70 and 75-80. I have Givi E-21 side cases with Givi Racks and a Givi 45L topcase with a Givi rack. This is about as economical as you can go with hard cases.
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post #12 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-23-2012, 03:47 PM
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Sounds like you had fun. I get a lot our of reading these I am just starting to farkly my V. Lots to do but no money as I have too many toys.
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post #13 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-23-2012, 04:02 PM
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I was not talking about the fuel economy. It is more of lower rpm at 75mph on the highway and your speedo will be almost spot on. I have a 44T rear and i feel more relax on the HOV lane (60 mile commute to DC and back) with that set-up. I will check on the GV21 and maybe get a smaller top case. Thanks for the info.
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post #14 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-23-2012, 04:53 PM
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I (60 mile commute to DC and back)
I grew up in Woodbridge back in the mid-50s when the closest supermarket was in Alexandria on King Street... and Shirley Highway only went as far south as the Occoquan Creek. Man how things have changed...

GeneHil - Mount Dora, FL
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post #15 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-23-2012, 05:21 PM
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I'm interested in what you wore for gear and how it handled the changing temps and climate (rain, venting, etc.).
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post #16 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-24-2012, 03:12 PM
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Bike is already set up the way I like. Was interested in road recommendations around the Blue Ridge Parkway. Thanks.


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Dark Arrow Slip-On Exhaust, Spencer's Seat, Alaskan Sheepskin Buttpad, Givi Windshield, Givi E460 Topcase, SW Motech Crashbars, SW Motech Alu-Rack, Cortech Sport Soft Saddlebags/Tailbag, 16T Front Sprocket, Kawasaki Z-1000 Mirrors, Speedy's Handlebar Riser, Speedy's FlatFoot, MFW Highway Pegs, Gerbings Heated Gloves
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post #17 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-25-2012, 06:45 AM Thread Starter
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I'm interested in what you wore for gear and how it handled the changing temps and climate (rain, venting, etc.).
Good questions, and I missed the mark a little bit on this one. I have two jackets. One is a Tourmaster textile with a wind and rain resistant liner. I wore it out west a few years ago when I experienced temps down into the thirties. It with proper layering worked well. But I also rode through Death Valley when it was over 100 and that jacket was HOT!. So on this trip, knowing that the lowest temps I would see would be in the upper 40's, I took my mesh Joe Rocket and didn't take the liner. I did layer my upper body starting with a base of that long sleeve Under Armour stuff made for cold weather (this is actually a good time of year to buy it as stores are closing out seasonal merchandise.) On top of that I layered low bulk synthetic shirts. I needed one windproof layer because I was a little chilly in the morning. Layering works well as you can pull of layers as the day progresses. Low bulk stuff doesn't take up much storage space. I should have taken the wind liner for the Joe Rocket.

I wear a Scorpion EXO700 Hi Vis yellow helmet. It isolates noise well and also doesn't induce buffeting the way some helmets do. My helmet has faded SIGNIFICANTLY in perhaps 20000 miles of riding. Lots of the Hi Vis Scorpions do.

I use a Nelson Rigg Stormrider rain suit and it works well. It also folds up pretty small. I went out on the edge of a tropical storm a few years ago and stayed very dry with this suit. I bought mine in blue but should have done high vis. The boot covers that come with it work well but take away the feel you normally have with your controls. http://www.motorcycle-superstore.com...-Rainsuit.aspx

I cant remember what brand Kevlar riding jeans I have. They are great. I didn't wear any thermals beneath them and was warm enough.

I wear Thor 50/50 boots. I LOVE them. They aren't too expensive at $120 a pair. They are waterproof (as long as water doesn't go over the top. They are light as boots go, but also offer good protection. They are also good for walking around in which is important to me.

Hope I touched on all of it. If not, ask away.

Last edited by Dranrab Luap; 05-25-2012 at 06:49 AM.
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post #18 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-25-2012, 06:47 AM Thread Starter
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Bike is already set up the way I like. Was interested in road recommendations around the Blue Ridge Parkway. Thanks.
One more question before I unload on you! How far south do you anticipate riding? Are you going to make it into TN?
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post #19 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-25-2012, 08:32 AM
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One more question before I unload on you! How far south do you anticipate riding? Are you going to make it into TN?
Using conservative estimates, we plan on going as far as Linville, NC. As this is our first venture to the BRP, will be camping along the way, and want to soak up as much beauty as we can, we didn't want to take on too many miles per day. Prior responses indicate the really twisty parts are just south of our final destination. That's okay - we plan on finishing the lower half next year.

Unload away


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Dark Arrow Slip-On Exhaust, Spencer's Seat, Alaskan Sheepskin Buttpad, Givi Windshield, Givi E460 Topcase, SW Motech Crashbars, SW Motech Alu-Rack, Cortech Sport Soft Saddlebags/Tailbag, 16T Front Sprocket, Kawasaki Z-1000 Mirrors, Speedy's Handlebar Riser, Speedy's FlatFoot, MFW Highway Pegs, Gerbings Heated Gloves

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post #20 of 20 (permalink) Old 05-25-2012, 03:43 PM Thread Starter
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Using conservative estimates, we plan on going as far as Linville, NC. As this is our first venture to the BRP, will be camping along the way, and want to soak up as much beauty as we can, we didn't want to take on too many miles per day. Prior responses indicate the really twisty parts are just south of our final destination. That's okay - we plan on finishing the lower half next year.

Unload away

The BRP is a great take-it-easy, scenic kind of road. But even where it gets really twisty, it's not a great sporting kind of ride. Speed limits are such that if you obey the speed limit, the road's fun is in its scenery. You are coming south to a point that I have ventured north of but three times, so unfortunately I don't have a lot to offer.

I strongly recommend you venture off of the parkway for a stretch and take Hwy 16 from Tazewell VA to Marion VA. Just before Marion you will find Hungry Mother State Park. It makes a great pit stop and they have a fantastic, affordable restaurant with an awesome view of the lake. Heck, camp there for the night, they have great facilities. Much of Hwy 16 was just repaved. Zoom in on it on Google maps and it will give you an idea of the character of the road. It's among my top 5 sporting roads in the country.

This isn't too far from Linville. The western half is better, so it's really not a far hop off the BRP.

http://www.421thesnake.com/

Don't be afraid to piddle with Google Maps to find roads that look good. You need to zoom in pretty close to get a feel for their true character. I found many of my favorite roads by doing just that.


Let me know when you decide to venture South of Asheville NC. I have several roads that I strongly recommend.
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