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1,251 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Part 1:

My Shakedown Cruise is complete...
Day 1 - Panama City to Sebring, FL: 424 miles
Day 2 - Sebring to Key West and back to Homestead: 439 miles
Day 3 - Homestead to Panama City: 611 miles
1474 miles total.

Friday, June 1st, I set off on a three day/1500 mile shakedown cruise on my 2011 Versys in preparation for a much longer trip scheduled for July. All travel on this tour was non-Interstate which is what my July trip is scheduled for.

Here is a breakdown of the shakedown trip and a review of my preparations and equipment.

Day One: Started out early from Panama City, Florida - headed to Key West and back. The first few hours were uneventful. The V ran beautifully. My first stop was only about 65 miles away - Apalachicola, Florida - to clean my face shield and make any early changes I thought needed to be made. Weather was good.

By the time I reached Perry, Florida - about 175 miles away, I could see that there was rain in my future. When I did reach Ocala, Florida at the 290 mile mark I was in a full blown nasty day. By the time I reached Avon Park, Florida at the 415 mile mark where I pulled over under the overhang of an old grocery store for sale to think things out, I knew I'd have to pull up short for the day. I soldiered on (nearly blind) until I found a little Mom & Pop motel in Sebring, Florida. total for Day 1 was 424 miles... about 150 miles shorter than I would have liked.

Day Two: Foggy and low clouds and wet roads were the order of the day... at least for the first couple of hours. A good bit of wheel spray from the big rigs that were passing me... I kept pretty much to the speed limit all weekend. I contined down Hwy 27 from Sebring past Lake Okeechobee, through the northern Everglades and onto Krome Avenue. I followed Krome all the way down to where you get onto U.S. 1 at the top of the Keys. Before I got onto the highway headed to Key Largo and points south, I visited the absolute best fruit stand in the entire world. It's a place in Florida City, near Homestead, Florida that makes the best milkshakes ever... using only fresh fruit that they grow. It's name is "Robert Is Here". I lived in Homestead, Florida when Hurricane Andrew came through (Aug 92) and wiped me out and blew me up to Panama City, Florida where I still live today. It was the one place I made it a point to frequent on sometimes a weekly basis for the six years I lived down there. Saturday's Mango Milkshake was worth the 20+ years wait... and reason all by itself for a 1500 mile shakedown cruise.

The 130 miles down to Key West and the 130 miles back to Homestead to finish out Day 2 was a treat. Nice weather... Nice cagers... Beautiful scenery and emerald green waters... and lots of bridges... One of them 7 miles long.

Day Three: Left the motel in Homestead before daybreak and retraced my tracks all the way north to South Bay, Florida - which is at the south end of Lake Okeechobee. Instead of taking Hwy 27 back to Sebring, I opted to go the other way round the lake and see parts and towns I hadn't ever seen before. I was not disappointed and even got to see some powered parachute guys and gals flying near the Port Mayaca Locks on the east side of the lake.

From there it was a quick 50 miles to get back to Hwy 27 at Sebring and retrace my tracks back home. In Ocala, Florida around noon I glanced down at the thermometer I have on the bike and it was indicating 100+ so I pulled up and took a picture.

The rest of the ride home was pleasant except for the sun getting lower and lower in the sky. The worst part was not when it was directly in front of me. I have an Arai XD3 with a visor and use that to help me see... It's when the sun was low in the sky and off to my left or right. There were many miles I rode with my left hand off the bars and used as a "sun visor" just to be able to see what the heck was in front of me. How you guys without a motocross type helmet with a visor are able to operate is beyond me. Home safe and sound around 7:30pm after 611 Day Three miles.

Here is a list of the equipment I used and what I think of it.

Versys: Absolutely wonderful. Never missed a beat. Quick, solid, stable... the best!

Go Cruise Throttle Control: A life saver. I used this baby all day long. It gave me freedom to rest, scratch, drink from my Geigerrig RIG 500. I wouldn't leave home without it.

Gloves: Held Air Hero. Worked as advertised. Comfortable and with the "air conditioning" vents build into the gloves - it was a good choice.

Olympia Stealth One Piece Mesh Tech Suit: Met my needs. It was cool and breezy all weekend long while moving. It quickly seemed to become "heavy" and "hot" during gas stops... but once back on the bike, it was a pleasant bit of protection. It also dried out quickly after hitting a shower or two... Unless it's a deluge, I'd wouldn't even worry about a rain suit... as long as you had a reasonable time between showers, it would be good to go within 10 or 20 minutes after you were out of the rain.

Geigerrig RIG 500 Hydration Pack: Excellent accessory... gave me the ability to drink without having to suck myself to death. Bite the valve and water shoots out into your mouth. I also used its ability to squirt when my Frog Tog Chilly Pad - around my neck - started to dry out. Just hose it (and a lot of my T-Shirt) down with the Geigerrig. I drank and drank and hosed and hosed and still had quite a bit of water left when I got home... where I dumped it, turned the bag inside out, and ran it through my dishwasher (top shelf) with yesterday's dishes... Sure beats the Camelbak way of cleaning things.

LSL Frame Sliders: Thankfully didn't need them to perform in a drop... but otherwise, they worked well as alternate foot rests. Hook your heels on them for Alt Pos 1 or extend your legs straight out and rest the back of your ankles on them for Alt Pos 2. Having the option for different foot positions was a great thing to have on Sunday's 14 hour run.

Sena SMH10 Headset: Worked well with Zumo 660 and Droid X2 phone (through the Zumo) . Sync'd up each and every time.

Cortech Mini Tank Bag: Met my needs. Inside I kept the following:
  • Florida Map
  • Flashlight
  • Leatherman
  • Bug Repellent
  • Chapstick
  • Pen
  • Small Spiral Tablet
  • Tire Gage
  • Wee Willy visor cleaning kit
  • A few clean T-Shirt rags to clean glasses
  • Camera
  • Droid X2 phone
  • Spare foam earplugs
  • Other small odds and ends.

The North Face Base Camp Duffel - Medium: Nice bag but not exactly a Dry Bag. It's pretty water resistant but not water proof. My first day was several hours in heavy rain. I expected everything in the bag to remain dry but that was not the case. Things weren't soaked... but some things were definately damp. I've reconsidered using this as my promary bag and am moving to another bag I have that is waaay bigger than I need but it IS waterproof - OverBoard 130 Liter XXL Deluxe Waterproof Duffel Bag. All my stuff will fit and it will crank down smaller once on the bike by using enough straps and bungies.

Zumo 660: Worked well... Synced up well with my Droid - although I got no phone calls. Was able to play MP3s but because I use foam earplugs, couldn't hear too much at speed. No big deal, though. It was impossible to see much, if any, of the display in direct sunlight... But I suppose that's par for the course for most all GPS displays out there.

Happy Trail Owyhee Panniers: Perfect in every way... and those babies WERE waterproof.
- Right side had tools, compressor, rain gear, jack, chain lube, tire plugger kit, and still had room for more. It was about 90% full.
- Left side had camping equipment, food, JetBoil stove, toiletries kit, four bottles of water, rags, plastic bags, extra gloves, and a bit more, I'm sure. It was about 75% full

Hardigg iM2450 Top Box: Waterproof and room for a good deal. Didn't carry much in it this trip. Will use it for clothes on next trip I suppose.

Spot GPS Messenger: Worked as advertised. Gave the wife peace of mind being able to track my movements... (what wife wouldn't want that?) Here is my trail: http://share.findmespot.com/shared/faces/viewspots.jsp?glId=0s8rFxj8enPrTEpEqdlgilHyLdmscGi9y

Continued below:

1,251 Posts
Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
Part 2:

Helmet: Arai XD3 - clear faceshield: comfortable the whole trip. I was also able to shift it around... up/down over my face to reposition the helmet's visor when needed. I could shift it up in order to slip the Geigerrig Rig's drink tube up for a drink. I could also raise it up off the top of my head, using my
shoulders to push it up... and get a bit of cooling air flowing big time around up there... especially if I opened the face shield about half way when doing it. That was of great benefit on my 14 hour run to home. The face shield fogged up whenever therre was any rain on it... and I had that to deal with. I'm looking for a cure for that. I had no Rain-X or any other solution on it - and I could have used some. I'm also looking into that aspect of things. The rain did bead up and flow away from my line of sight when I'd turn my head 90 degrees left or right... which cleared things up for a minute or two. I got the XD3 specifically bacause it has the visor. How you guys ride using helmets without a visor is just something I'll never understand.

Clothing: I did not wear any cotton. Only synthetics. My under layer was Champion Compression brand from Target. My T-Shirt was UnderArmor and my trousers were Columbia Blood and Guts Convertibles. (legs zip off for shorts). All my clothing got wet on Day 1 and it all dried quickly once the sun came out... or later on overnight in my motel room. Socks were Champion too.

Rain Suit: Generic two piece I got at Sam's Club years ago. Meets my needs and keeps me dry - once I put it on... which is usually too late.

Rain Boots: I'm using Neos Adventurer - They are the bomb... I got the idea from a postman friend of mine who had Post Office issue Neos Boots. They go over your boot and have a half high gaiter. Once on and strapped down, and your rain pants are over them, nothing gets to your boots... not a drop. It is still easy to shift and brake with these overboots on your feet.

Seat: My seat is stock Versys. I have an AirHawk I and on top of that I throw my Alaskan Leather Butt Pad. Do they work? I just did nearly 1500 miles in three days and am still able to walk (and sit).

Odds and Ends:

I have a Stash Box lockable license plate storage box by Twisted Throttle.
It works great but is nowhere near waterproof. I found that out when I had to pull out my registration and proof of insurance (47 in a 35 - nice Glades County Sheriff's Deputy - just a friendly warning.) My paperwork was fully wet from the previous day's rain. Today I picked up a Coghlan's waterproof pouch to put my paperwork into and back into the stash box. Lesson Learned.

To charge my Droid and my Sena SMH-10 I used a double USB contraption that I plugged into my aux power outlet that I installed a while back. Capn Kirk's idea. Works just fine. I just ran cables to my tank bag to charge.

My D.I.Y. shelf worked just fine.

My stock windshield in it's original position worked just fine for me. No problemos...

I lubed my chain each night. I used my FS Moto Jack I got from Brian Wink off the ADVRiders site.

Chapstick - keep a tube in your tank bag. I never use Chapstick but because I've over thought this trip, I threw a tube in my tank bag. Used it three times on Sunday.

5-Hour Energy: It's good to getting your edge back halfway through the day. I use no more than one each day... It's quick... It's easy... It works.

Well... I guess that's all I've got for now.

367 Posts
Thanks for the post Gene & the info on the "cruise control".

I too am planning a fairly long trip in three months (6,500+ miles) and I'm trying to decide on tires, something that will last in the middle. I'll be doing mostly back roads with short sections of interstates as needed.
I'm currently running Pilot Road 2's and like them.........what are you going with on your trip?

1,251 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
I'm currently running Pilot Road 2's and like them.........what are you going with on your trip?
I've got a brand new set of Pilot Road 3's to be installed next week. I'm pretty much all pavement these days. The OEM Dunlops have served me well here in Flatistan Florida... But they're on their way out prior to my trip out west.
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