If you are wondering if the TAT is worth it, the answer is yes. Every area had its charm, even 50 miles without turns in OK. It was a blast at 70 MPH
The subtle transitions in climate, geography, people, food, weather, humidity, smells, agriculture, oil wells, terrain, altitude...taking it all in was tremendous. After exploring more of Colorado and Utah in the next year, we hope to continue on the TAT to Oregon and beyond the following year.
We found the choice of roads for the TAT and the Mississippi Hill Country Trail by Sam Correro
to be excellent and with little to no traffic. We would go hours at a time without seeing another human being or car or truck. I highly recommend spending the money for the maps, worth every penny, studying them, creating the tracks on your GPS map program and uploading them to your unit. I did not use the roll charts or the maps during the trip. Navigation with the GPS plus the ability of both riders to communicate via bluetooth headset made it very smooth and quick. I simply cannot imagine riding at the speeds we rode with roll charts and maps.
I did a lot of research on City Navigator, Google maps and Google earth to confirm that motels and gas stations actually existed. Our WR's extended tank gave us a range of about 200 plus miles, so gas was never an issue.
Plenty of food available on the road. We packed lunch only two or three times as we entered western Oklahoma and New Mexico.
We decided to skip camping along the route to get to Denver faster and get good rest. 10-12 hrs on the bike day after day was tiring. To be frank, with the exception of some areas in New Mexico that were private property anyway, I didn't think the portions of the TAT on this trip had the camping potential I consider worthwhile given the added weight and time to set up and break camp.
Carry an extra clutch cable on the TAT, unlike what I did. Practice changing tires and patching flats if you don't know how.
Bring and use chain lube.
was varied, but I don't think there was anything too technical for an average rider. Three or four sandy sections that were relatively short, maybe stretches of 2 to 3 miles, but not too deep. Just a couple of short medium steep climbs, less technical than anything in the White Rim Trail. And in Central Oklahoma mud if it rains. That proved the most difficult and frustrating. But you can cheat like we did after you have your fill.
Choice of bikes
with the WR250R's I think was very good. Anything heavier than 300 pounds and that is not dirt oriented would have been a pain in the neck in the sand and mud. Very grippy dual sport DOT knobby tires like the Pirelli MT21 or similar I also think are essential despite the wear. The weather changes everything in less than a few minutes.
Countour helmet cam
was frustrating: short battery life, difficult power button to use, unstable bluetooth iPhone interface, unstable software on the PC, lens casing easily gets dirty in dusty conditions, tricky re-alignment after you disassemble and clean the lens, horrible microphone placement, tricky battery to unload and reload, etc. I can go on and on about the negatives, but overall, the quality of the video was stunning, I didn't even shoot in full HD, the record button is very easy to access, and it just looks cooler and lower profile than the Hero, so I think it is worthy of consideration. I got the one with GPS, but I think it was overkill. Save the money and buy the other model. You don't really need that feature, in my opinion, especially because it doesn't work consistently once you download into your PC or Mac. Even the bluetooth iPhone interface card I found to be overkill too. I never used more than the two pre-programmed settings. And I only checked alignment once, and that was because I made the mistake of cleaning the re-assembling the lens incorrectly after a cleaning. Mount was acceptable for helmets, not great, but acceptable. I spent time at home experimenting to find the most advantageous location and camera position on the helmet, and audio settings (mic gain at 12).
Panasonic Lumix LX5. I have owned several digital pocket cameras since I abandoned my bulky 35mm Nikon FM and assorted lenses 20 years ago, but this Panasonic does almost everything that bigger SLR digital cameras do...and you simply cannot beat a Leica lens, sp for that price.
bluetooth stereo intercom. It worked perfectly. Miles ahead of the original Interphone if you're wondering. 12 plus hours of battery life.
Zac Speed Exotek
chest protector/hydration pack worked well. I never realized how important the chest protector was until I kept getting pummeled by rocks from the bike in front of me. It converts into a small backpack too if you're into riding and hiking.
I can't speak highly enough of Giant Loop products
for saddlebags and tank bags. Expensive but great design. Same goes for HighwayDirtbikes
hand-guards and mirrors.
We used dual sport helmets with visors that accommodated goggles. Visors were used when it was rainy, cold or during highway stretches. Goggles a must for the dust.
Both bikes have electric grip warmers one by www.hotgrips.com
the other one by Symtec
. Both work well, but with Symtec you can use your own grips and it is cheaper. After living with these on two 10 day trips, we both agree Symtec has the more elegant solution.
jacket and pants worked well. Kind of bulky for storage, but relatively cheap and doubles as a light jacket/windbreaker for riding and hiking.
Bikes are getting TLC, one at www.grandprixmotorsports.com
, a Yamaha dealer, and another one, for half the price, at www.fastlinepowersports.com
, both in Littleton, south of Denver. Grand Prix chosen because of location outside the city and south so we didn't have to ride in the city or highways too much, the other one found by chance, right next to the miniUstorage
we are using. Both had friendly staff. Feedback after I pay the bill and pick up the bikes.
in Bartlesville, OK, the only store we found between Mississippi and Colorado that was right on the TAT. Helpful staff, just a block from hotel, food, Starbucks, Laundromat, etc.
Hope this helps others.