After some consideration, I chose the 08 KLR. I wanted a newer bike and this one was left-over stock at a savings of $1500 CDN. This bike didn't need a whole lot for my needs, but I added mods where I felt it was necessary.
I installed some crash bars (more on this later), a skid, heated grips, handguards, and went through most of the bolts, replacing them with grade 12.9 (stock is grade 8 or less). I went with Happy Trails for the Panniers and racks, got a big tailbag, bought Bicimapas for the GPS and some odds and ends. Before departure, I painted all red plastic black and had the Panniers powdercoated by my brother in law (Thanks Dan). Also got some help from my father in law, shortening and re-welding the kickstand, which is way too long from the factory (thanks Thys)
Chapter one: Across America at 4500RPM.
Day 1 - Nov 8, 2009: the big day - 505kms. Vancouver to just outside Portland,Oregon.
Up early at 5am. Final prep and a great big breakfast from Megan. Jay couldn't eat much, I have some butterflies too. An emotional goodbye as we wave goodbye to our wives and they watch us ride away down the hill.
A bit of maintenance before we head out:
Beards for warmth!
Ready to go:
Medium to Heavy rain as we head out. A bit chilly at 6 Celsius but not bad at all. My brother Mark meets us 20 min in and convoys with us to the border. A nice touch. Hugs goodbye and advice given.
We are a little worried about the US border crossing but it goes off fine after a one hour wait. Jay notices a bit of "Racial Profiling" going on in the selection of secondary searches. Coincidence?
Rain and some wind on and off to Tacoma. Make some good time and arrive past Portland for a cheap hotel, Burgers/Beer.
So far everyone super friendly.The subtle cultural differences are apparent, Shiny American Flags on baseball hats and references to Jesus read from the highway.
Jay's bike is getting some bad hesitation. ONLY while riding downhill in the rain. ??? We check out and switch the air filter in case of water contamination. More on this later.