ADV Cherry Officially Popped - Part 1 - Kawasaki Versys Forum
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-24-2016, 03:18 PM Thread Starter
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ADV Cherry Officially Popped - Part 1

Well, I had my ADV cherry popped – I offer for your amusement……

I’ve had the 2010 V for about 8 months, and since added a couple thousand k on the odometer – all street, highway and twisties where possible. Been thinking about ADV touring, ala JDRocks, so experimented on about 150 miles of AZ (relatively) graded gravel. No tough stuff for fear of a painful and costly wreck, but got the bug for sure so decided to kit the bike out. I bolted on Givi crash bars, Barbusters and a set of Givi hard bags. Full gear head to toe. Wallet slimmer, but feeling good enough to try some “real” ADV riding. I know the Avon Trailriders aren’t up to the task of hard core bits, and this isn’t my first day on a bike, so cautiously good to go.

A buddy with a KLR and somewhat new to the tougher bits agreed to go for a kind of break-in ride on Sunday. He suggested the roads up around Seven Springs (all Forest Service). Being a little adventurous, I was looking for a little more, and found a route that started off the freeway on Table Mesa Rd which turns into FR41. A chat with the Ranger Station, “Well, those roads are washes and not well maintained, but they will get you to Seven Springs”. A more experienced soul might have taken that as some sort of caution. All I heard was, “blah, blah, blah, gravel road, blah, blah, blah”. Armed with this newfound confidence (others might call it oblivious stupidity), I pitch this ‘alternative route’ to my riding partner.

After a bit of convincing, KLR buddy agrees and off we go. Lots of liquids and calories on board as well as first aid/survival. Can’t be that bad, right?

About 5 miles of “Wow, this is cool!”, gives way to “what have we got ourselves into” when we come across the first stretch of ‘not well maintained’, which is where we look at each other and say, “what the hell, let’s give ‘er”. This is, after all ADVENTURE. *****s turn back, right? I ponder stopping for a pic, but phone’s in the bags. I can best describe this section as ‘a little tough’, with some wash-induced ruts and some loose rock on a gentle uphill into the mountains. We make it through that with very little drama, feeling pretty good about now.

A few more miles of some rough but very passable road, then we find ourselves on a pretty rocky and steep incline. There’s been lots of traffic through this, and a dirtbiker advised us, “This is about the worst of it – views are great at the top”. We make it about half way up the slope and I zig while the bike zags, and down I go at all of 2 MPH. All the protection does its job, and the bike and I are unharmed. I discover it’s quite difficult to pick up a bike on a slope tilting the wrong way. But I have this sense that the bike and I can both survive, and after a quick damage inspection, we’re rolling again. I’ve dropped the bike, we all survived, and I’m thinking, “piece of cake”.

We soon discover we should have asked dirtbike-guy how far the rocky slope continues, because it turned into about a mile. Both of us doing the occasional tip-over, but working hard and feeling like we need to move forward. We’re encountering several vehicles along the way, it’s hunting season, so we’re not concerned we’ll be stranded up here and worst case – we’re less than 15 miles from actual civilization. That 1-mile slope takes just over an hour as the rocks and ruts get bigger as the incline increases towards the top. We stop at one point to catch our breath and move off the road as a Surburban is coming down the hill, family wagon with kids in the back, mom in the front passenger seat with the “OMG” look on her face, dad determined to be brave as they go down this very rough grade at what seems like a foolish pace. We see they make it to the bottom of what will turn out to be the last ugly stretch for them, shrug, then back on task of getting up this freekin hill.

More coming, not sure how much text fits...
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-24-2016, 03:19 PM Thread Starter
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ADV Cherry Officially Popped - Part 2

As it turns out, despite a few less challenging sections, this is actual motocross and ATV area – I’m in well over my head, and kick myself for not investigating this route better – not like we’re the first guys to come this way. We get to the top, and things are levelling off, and we’re hopeful the worst is behind us. We get to one particular spot on the road just after a sand stretch that is an uphill left-then-right hand sort of double hairpin that’s had zero maintenance since I was born, and the corner appears flat – a real motocross guy would fly up in 2 seconds without batting an eye. I’m tired by now, 4 hours in @ about 3 miles an hour, and feeling kind of ‘screw it!’

I make it 90% up, and the front tire catches the edge of the rut and halts my forward momentum, I’m feet down and on the front brake but the flat spot is actually a huge rock covered in fine stuff churned up from ATVs and 4x4s, and I get zero traction. If KLR had a go-pro, I’m sure it would have been one for the ‘epic screw ups’ videos. I slide back down the rock about 6 feet, thinking “Oh ****, oh ****, oh ****….”. Thunk. I go down hard on the rocks sticking up out of the bits of soil left there, and tilting the wrong way down, again. This is drop #5 on the day. It takes both of us, tired and dehydrating rapidly, to get the V back up on the wheels, roll off back down off this rock, and time for a break. It’s not usually in the high 90s in late Oct in Phoenix, but the heat was on – at least 90 up on the hill in full sun, with full gear on. I put my helmet on the seat and the sweat makes a small stream off the seat onto the ground. We find a bit of shade under a bush and try to re-hydrate.

At this point, we’re having that go forward / go back discussion. The nearly 4 hrs it took to get here would be similar in reverse. We’ve got the maps out and the GPS – looks like about 7 miles to Seven Springs Road and graded bliss. A couple of hunters come by, everybody waves or stops to ask how you are out here, and confirms distance to SSR – advises this is the last of the “ugly stuff”, but the next 5 miles are still rough. Good enough – forward it is!!

We go and study the rock and pick a route through and a strategy to prevent more tip overs. KLR goes first, and makes it up just fine – except for the sphincter flex – gets up onto a flat bit and tries to pull off the road to make sure we’re clear of traffic, and down he goes. #4 for him on the day. We have one of those only-after-something-like-this laughs, pick up the KLR, and walk back to run the V up the crack.

In an act of hilarious foolishness, I follow up the track exactly as planned, perfect ride, perfect clutch, perfect balance (in my head, anyway) and get up on the flat beside the KLR and raise my hands up like a prize fighter, except I forgot I was on a slope, bike in neutral and turned off, so I promptly start to roll back, yet another “Oh, ****!” moment, and down I go. #6 if you’re keeping track – still nothing broken.

The next 4-5 miles are, as advertised, rough and washed out with several short rock gardens, sand pits, and lots of trenches to suck your tires in where you don’t want them to go. KLR tips over once more trying to navigate a really rutted downhill spot, though the V seems to have found a set of training wheels and I manage to keep upright.

Indeed, we clear the crappy stuff and find good dirt roads leading to graded gavel, and decide it’s time for a break, 6 hours into the ride. We’ve come about 25 miles in total at this point. We’re up at the top of the range and want to pull over on a crest. The grading looks curiously sharp at the edge of the road, but I hit the angle up the foot-high transition slightly off but make it up and over, then stall and do a repeat – roll back on the front brake in loose crap and thud!, lucky #7.

The rest of the ride is crash-free and fun, we can finally get into second and third gears and stop worrying about how we’re going to spend the night in the desert. The scenery is good, the breeze from real forward motion is keeping us from cooking in the sun, and the ride finishes on a high note. We’ve both got the bug – and with better planning, will do another trip soon.

Would I do that route again? Absent knobbies and a higher skill level, no. But I did discover that the learning curve is pretty quick and the key seems to be picking the right line through the terrain and not just going ‘gonzo!’ I also learned there is only so far the static information on these roads can take you – particularly in ADV routes, with things like rain changing otherwise ‘sane’ ADV roads into ‘expert’ overnight. And as for forest roads in this part of AZ, always worthwhile to ask how frequently the road is maintained – with many of the remote roads being ‘never’.
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-24-2016, 03:20 PM Thread Starter
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ADV Cherry Officially Popped - Part 3

Damage report:

Barkbusters: money well spent, not only protects the levers but provides a measure of protection to the whole handlebar area, and helps when picking the bike up if necessary.
Givi crash bars: the pictures speak for themselves – down on both sides, rock impact every time, and no fatal damage, or evidence of ‘cheap’ in their construction. The marks you see on the cases were from prior owner dropping the bike in his driveway – yes, both sides! I’m pulling them off to add a gravel guard and will do a full inspection for serious failure.
Givi dolomiti bags: for all but one fall, they weren’t damaged badly other than scratches and one small dent. My intentions were (and are) to have them sprayed with Line-x, and I’ll pound out the damage as best I can and then spray them. There is no distortion in the lids, and the Givi bag mounts held up perfectly. KLR buddy has Caribou bags (Pelican knock-offs) which held up better in terms of impact, but bent one of the mounts and are a PITA to open when on the bike as the contents fell out a couple of times. I think top opening, be it plastic, metal or fabric/vinyl are the way to go. The Givi bags are not cheap, but I wanted metal in the event of a highway speed crash – primarily crush protection. I had planned on the line-x prior to any rough stuff, but such is life. Still a beautiful, well made bag. I’m not sure the lower seam will pound out without creating a leak as I don’t know how the two parts are joined, but the line-x will solve that.
Versys: some minor scrapes on the plastic, but no damage to the bike in general. I have a hugger and front fender extender, and the rad was unblemished as was the rear end of the motor area (regulator etc). The headers have one tiny spot where a rock hit (from the tire), and there is a little gravel rash on the oil filter, but nothing serious. I had received my Ravetech gravel guard in the mail the day before, and would have been more comfortable with it on, and it will be next time out.
ROX risers: On the very last drop, at least that’s when I noticed, the bars were tweaked forward a bit as the knurling on the bars only touches the riser about an eighth inch on either side – so I’m going to revisit the torque specs and ponder the clamping design – but a few hard tugs brought everything back to where it started – helpful, but a sign it wasn’t proper in the first place.

I would also say the Avon Trailriders perform very well on the hard pack and gravel, and I should have aired them down at the start for better rock performance, the softer tire was less inclined to bounce off everything and for the non-nasty stuff, they perform beautifully. Other than the last 2 tip overs – which were stopped tip overs, so not tire related, I didn’t drop the bike at all after I aired them down. They’re a really nice road tire, and after airing both down to 28, we’re much more comfortable in the gravel and rocks. No doubt a set of TKC80s would have made the trip less challenging, but had I known the road was like this, I wouldn’t have tried at my skill level at all. But – the Avons did get me all the way through with no rock cuts or damage of any kind.

So, cherry officially popped on the ADV thing and the gen 2 versys performs better than the KLR in terms of engine and clutch. A larger front tire, and better knowledge of suspension set-up would have helped, but not as much as off-road training. As the experience grew, the mistakes were fewer. I’ve got a couple more things to bolt on, a few adjustments to make, then more ADVentures to come. LOVE the Versys.

I'll post the pics once I figure how to shrink the size....
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-24-2016, 03:38 PM Thread Starter
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Cherry... pics

Pics are posted in a weird order, but by pic title:

They're all table mesa 10-2016 ## as follows:

1: Looking down from near the top of the 1-mile hill, this is definitely the smooth part.
2: The berm is fine up here, down slope the road is covered in grapefruit sized rocks, 10" deep ruts and loose material.
3: KLR buddy near the top taking a break after sweating our butts off for nearly an hour, still some incline, but the nasty bits over (for now)
4 - 8: Lots of spectacular scenery in the mountains in this area, could get lost for a month less than 50 miles from downtown Phoenix.
9: left side Givi, taking hits.
no #10, this is 11: left side barkbuster. Ouch.
12: rt side BB
13: rt side Givi - just some scratches on the plastic fairing, water pump untouched.
14: rt side bag, some impact damage but minimal.
15: left side bag, this was the hard tip over on the little S curve - not fatal, and took pretty much the bulk of the initial impact - pretty tough bag, will be tougher with Line-X.
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-24-2016, 05:29 PM
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Nice report....

I sold my KLR and downsized to the KLX250S for the reasons you described.
Looks like another ADVrider is born!!! Nice pics. The Versys is a street bike to me.

Ride while you can
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-25-2016, 12:42 AM
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Welcome to the ADVersys club. And yeah, it's not very capable off-road.....
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-25-2016, 03:36 PM Thread Starter
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Jeff - you got a ride report to go along with the 'rebel yell' photo? Looks like a memorable trip too.
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-25-2016, 11:14 PM
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Hey Joe - were you STANDING on your footpegs for MOST of the ride?

If NOT - practice till you CAN...!

Ed
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-26-2016, 05:37 AM
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Very nice report. I had my Versys off road experience a few years on "unimproved" county roads in south Texas a few years ago. Nothing close to what you had, but enough to convince me that the Versys is not a dual sport, even with dual sport tires. It was still fun, but it prefers pavement.
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-26-2016, 10:29 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fasteddiecopeman View Post
Hey Joe - were you STANDING on your footpegs for MOST of the ride?
Yup, always in the bumps - I hear you for sure.

The problem was primarily lack of skill and knowledge, like I said - had I known, I wouldn't have done it.

Might be like your ride to Crown King the back way, did it - didn't enjoy a lot of it, won't do it again. At least not on purpose!!

Too soon old, too late smart.
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