The vacation is done and it’s time to head for home. So we begin to prep for departure. Repacking the panniers and reattaching them to the bike is fairly simple. Reattaching the tankbag requires threading a strap around the steering stem, but once that’s done the rear mounting straps click into place. This trip, I didn’t even bring the waterproof duffel, so that’s the bike packed and ready.
Well, I’m joining my wife’s family on a summer vacation, but work kept me in town for the first couple of days. I’m leaving Wednesday morning and returning with everyone on Saturday; everyone else left first thing Monday morning. So while I get some work done and get ready for the trip there’s a few things that need attention.
Luggage is the issue now. The mechanical bits are sorted out, the electrical bits are done, tires are good to go. I decided to go with Caribou Cases for panniers. The final point in their favor is the lifetime warranty. If they ever break they’re just replaced. I don’t plan to break them, but lot’s of things happen that aren’t planned, so why not stack the deck in your favor if you can. I went with the 36L side-opening cases. Some folks seem to prefer the top-loaders, but not me.
Well, now we have a suspension. We have wheels, too. The bike can roll around, I don’t have to drag it any more. But, the fairings need to be reinstalled, along with the tank vent lines, and then the windshield. That didn’t take too long and now the bike is completely reassembled. And the best part – no parts left over. Usually, it’s a good sign when there aren’t any parts left over when you’re done. I taking this as a positive sign.
The forks and shock arrived on schedule and they are a bit shorter than when they left. The swingarm has been reassembled, with blue loctite on the bolts, in particular the ones holding on the chain guide / rub strip. In some cases, these bolts have backed out and caused some serious damage when the guide warps around the front sprocket. I don’t want that to happen to me if I can prevent it, so the blue loctite is used on those bolts in particular.
I now went to work on the accessory wiring. There were more circuits on the battery than I like so I reduced it to a single ring terminal on each battery post for all of the accessory wiring. I then tapped off the positive lead prior to the relay for the switched power and ran that back to the powerlet connector on the left-side rear panel. This will be used for connecting a battery tender while it’s in the garage, and to connect an air compressor while on the road.
It didn’t take long, and the Dale-ization has begun. I believed the bike to be in good shape mechanically, and after spending some serious wrench time with it I can say with certainty that it has been well maintained.
In its stock configuration, the “S” model is waaay too tall for me, so correcting that was a top priority. I removed the front and rear wheels, and then the forks and rear shock. Off they went to Javier at Trailtricks for a rebuild, revalve, respring, and shorten back to the standard spec height. The suspension changes will net me a 2 inch reduction in seat height. I added a KTM low gel seat, which gains another inch for a total of three. This is enough to make the bike fit me much better.
I finally found a towing company that could help. Actually they did more than help, they went a long way out of their way to help. Remember that I have a trailer behind the truck with a Ducati tied down on it and I won’t leave it on the side of the interstate. It wouldn’t last 10 minutes.
The towing company, 3 Cs Towing, could get my truck on a flatbed, but that still left the trailer and bike on the side of the road. One of their employees asked me what size trailer ball my trailer used and I replied 2 inches. He said that he would bring his own truck to pull the trailer, and the flatbed to get my truck and would get them both to a place where the tire could be repaired. he was good to his word and we were finally NOT sitting on the side of the interstate.
The tire patching didn’t take long and I had been in touch with Tom by phone. I texted him the address of the place that was going to repair the tire and he decided to head further west to meet me there. Just as the wheel was going back onto the truck, he got there. Since the tire shop’s parking lot was small we went across the road to a strip mall and swapped bikes.
Tom went out of his way too; a couple of hundred miles when it was all said and done. We both got home safely, and my faith in people is reconfirmed. I may have been disappointed by some of the people I contacted, but in the end it worked out just fine.
Now I need to get the spare tire mechanism fixed, or I will probably have to do this again sometime. Despite all the fun I had this time, I’d rather cut back on the drama a bit next time.
Maybe there won’t be a next time. I can hope, can’t I?
I stayed at my parent’s on Monday night. I hadn’t seen them for a while (since Christmas) and they are 200+ miles closer to our meeting-up-place. I left after wrapping up work for the day and got there around 11pm. We talked for a while and then I headed off to bed as I had a long day on Tuesday. Got up just before the iphone was going to wake me up, had a quick bite for breakfast and filled my coffee mug. It was in the mid-thirties and very foggy, so I needed to get moving as I had 250+ miles to drive.
As I got closer to the Ohio border, the visibility was deteriorating and the temperature was dropping. I started seeing ice on the windshield and the temperature was 27 degrees. Still dark outside, but signs of life from the sun are beginning to appear. The sun warmed things up a bit, enough to eliminate the ice from the windshield but not enough to improve visibility very much.
I passed through Akron and was about 10 miles east of town when I heard a pop and the truck was weaving slightly left to right. Thinking that the trailer had a puncture, I stopped and found that the puncture was the passenger-side rear tire on the truck. Crap. Well, I was ahead of schedule and changing the tire should only take 10 minutes or so. Ha, I wish.
Loosening the lugs, jacking it up, and removing the flat tire was easy. Looking at the spare tire nestled up under the bed, I thought that the hard part was over. Wrong. I could not get that spare tire carrier to lower the spare – would not budge. I decided to think about it for a minute, as if the thought process would loosen the corroded cable/drum mechanism. Well, as you can guess I’m not telekinetic.
So I got on the phone to find a Ford dealer that could help. Trust me when I tell you that the dealers I spoke with were not very interested in helping. Note that I said dealers (plural). Great.
Next was to call Goodyear tire dealerships; I am 10 miles down the road from the world headquarters of Goodyear, after all. Here’s a quote from the first dealer I spoke with “We don’t work on tires.” Really. I asked what those round, black, rubber things were in the showroom and then he said “I didn’t mean that – I meant that we only work on tires HERE. Not on the road.” Really. So as long as I get a flat tire in a Goodyear dealership parking lot I’m covered, but if I get a flat on the road, I’m screwed. I’ll have to remember that when I buy tires again.
I enjoyed the Ducati, but I’ve decided that I’m not Ben Spies no matter how much I might want to be. The reality is that I just want to enjoy riding motorcycles and racing around a track is not where my interests are. But I do believe that there are adventures to be had and they are all around, mainly down a gravel or dirt road. The question that seems to begin every adventure is something like “I wonder where that road goes?”
So I’m going to find out where those roads go. Not every one, but the ones that seem to have adventure written all over them. So, having made that decision, I needed a bike that could take me to the place at the end of the road. For that, I chose a KTM. You know, the bikes that a prominently mentioned, ridden by winners, and respected by all competitors in some very famous races. Baha 1000, ISDE, and the Dakar Rally to name the primary ones.
I found an inmate on the advrider.com site that was interested in trading his KTM 950 Adventure S for my Ducati, so we put together a deal. He lives on Long Island and I’m in northern Illinois, so consummating this trade was going to involve a trip for both of us. OH NO! Not a road trip! Those of you that have followed my exploits are familiar with my trip stories, so let me apologize now for those. This one will be a little different.
We agreed to meet at the Ohio – Pennsylvania border at I-80, and we hit the road. We did meet up, and complete the swap, but not where we thought. Stay tuned for the rest of the story…