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Old 06-04-2011, 04:28 PM   #1
LoriKTM OP
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2 Tigers, 5 days, 4 corners

This is a ride report involving two Tiger 800 XC bikes, five days over Memorial Day weekend, in a trip in and around the four corners (NM, CO, UT). Ok, maybe it's only three corners since we didn't spend any time in AZ!

This is not a trip about maximum mileage. We covered just over 900 miles. This is a trip about the bikes, the roads, and the sights we saw. This report should be short on words, and long on pictures. Dave, my husband (aka "BOFH") is a photojournalist-turned IT geek, and keeps a camera with him whenever we go out, and isn't afraid to use it.

These are the bikes, pretty much set up as we left. This was a "practice" ride for the Tigers... how do they perform on pavement? How do they perform off-pavement? How do they handle full luggage off pavement?
We had a 3-person MSR tent, two sleeping bags, two sleeping pads, clothes for each of us, cooking gear, tools, and a 2-day supply of dried/packable food. Extra gloves, hats, sunscreen, and spare pairs of shoes included. Panniers and mounts are from Jesse bags. The fit is great, and you don't really notice the bags once they are mounted and full of gear. No extra duffel bags were added. We were determined to do the ride using only our panniers and a tailbag.




Day 1: Home to Mesa Verde National Park, CO.



We left just before 9am, after dropping off our dogs at the boarding kennel and getting geared up and on the road. A quick trip through some twisty roads in Los Alamos, NM, and we hit our first dirt section-- FR126. Most of the road is paved and twisty, except for a short 10 mile stretch between Jemez Springs, NM and Cuba, NM. A road known to us, it can be silty and soft in the dry season, and muddy and greasy after a rain. Today, it was....different. Evidently, the road crews decided that FR126 needed some "help" before the big holiday weekend, so they had the road graders out. Gravel was fine, but there were a couple of "whoo- ha!" moments trying to get around the deep piles of dirt and rocks that the graders left behind. Funny, no pictures of that section.

But this is at the end of FR126-- aaaah, fun smooth dirt.




We took a quick gas and grub break in Cuba, NM, then headed north. We fought some vicious cross-winds on Rt. 550. The speed limit is 75mph, and the cross winds must have been at least 40-45mph. Makes for an exciting ride. Luckily, we were transferring to another dirt road section in a bit. This would be Largo Canon road. It sees a lot of truck traffic, but I'm sure we got a lot of WTF? from the truck drivers. Road had some sandy sections which would grab the front wheel of the Tiger and pull it aside. But not too bad overall, although the day started getting warm and we stopped a few times to shed layers of clothing.







Mind you, we are running stock tires on the Tiger 800 XC, with stock air pressure. We're going to run these tires until they are bald and then mount something more aggressive.
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Old 06-04-2011, 04:50 PM   #2
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Largo canyon was interesting, far beyond what you would think for the middle of Oil Country NM. Eventually we hit US 64 outside of Blanco, NM and after a quick jog west we turned off onto NM 575 which is on an Old Spanish Trail (so says my atlas anyway). 575 turned out to be partially "paved". In reality it was bombed out and was worse to ride in sections than Largo Canyon Rd. Big holes and moderate amounts of metal trash that made you worry about your tires.

We made a quick stop in Aztec and then ran up to Mesa Verde by way of Hesperus and Mancos.


First order of business, since it was late afternoon was to get camp setup.



We had to chase some wild life out of our camp site.


The next morning it would be time to see the sights.
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Old 06-04-2011, 05:08 PM   #3
levain
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Looks like you have a plate on the back your mounting the (Buell-Nice!)tailbag to. What is it? Homegrown?
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Old 06-04-2011, 06:17 PM   #4
LoriKTM OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams View Post
Looks like you have a plate on the back your mounting the (Buell-Nice!)tailbag to. What is it? Homegrown?
The plate is another prototype courtesy of Jesse luggage. Ours is unpainted, but it does fit nicely on the rear rack area, and has several slots for putting straps, bungees, etc.

Nice catch on the Buell tailbag! I had it mounted on my Firebolt, and liked it so much that I wanted to keep it. With some clever strapping, it fits even better on the Tiger with the rear plate. Holds all my spare gloves, hat, water bottle, some tools, and my laptop while traveling.
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Old 06-04-2011, 06:21 PM   #5
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Dave forgot to mention that it was a bit, um...CHILLY on the second day when we woke up in our tent at Mesa Verde. 10 degree F bag? Yeah, right. It was probably in the low 40's or high 30's that morning and we were cold!

At least we weren't like the campers next door. Got up, put on their parkas (yes, parkas) and proceeded to sit in their diesel truck with the heater running for half an hour!!

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Old 06-04-2011, 06:38 PM   #6
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This is a trip that we want to do someday!
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Old 06-04-2011, 05:57 PM   #7
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Old 06-04-2011, 06:06 PM   #8
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Lori's walking the wolves so I'll do day 2.

Mesa Verde is drop dead beautiful. Mountains over there. Butte over here. Valley over that-a-way. Awesome views in every direction. We survived an overnight in the low 40's and woke up to a near cloudless day. After a quick breakfast we cruised down to the main visitor center to get tickets for the Cliff Palace and Balcony house tour. Then we rode down to the end of the mesa where the cliff dwellings are at.

Words can't do Mesa Verde justice so for the most part these pics will have to do:

Cliff Palace






Balcony House:






Spruce Tree House:






Terrible Views





We topped the day off with a nice dinner at the Far View Lodge's restaurant, the Metate Room.

Day 3:

We were more comfortable overnight since we were anticipating the mid-40 degree overnight temps this time. In the morning we broke camp then rolled over to the little cafe next to the Morefield store for a pancake breakfast. Then it was time to hit the highway. US 160 west dropped us into Cortez, CO and after a fuel stop and a quick jog south on US 491 we picked up County Road G going west through the southern end of the Canyon of the Ancients and hitting Utah north of Aneth.

Some sights from Cty. Rd G:

American Bison:


Sleeping Ute mountain:


After entering Utah we picked up Old Aneth road on our way over to Bluff.


At Bluff we took on gas again since on the next leg fuel opportunities would be few and far between. After gassing up it was time to hit the Valley of the Gods, an awesome, and frequently overlooked drive through the desert just north of Monument Valley.







The road is fantastic and the scenery is stunning. We leapfrogged another group of DS riders while in the valley and everybody seemed to be having an outstanding time.

The Tigers were performing great. They handled a 40 degree temperature swing and some serious elevation changes with no problems at all. Off road handling with our full load of gear and stock tires was limited only by the tires. The tires work OK but can't really handle sand, there's just not enough open tread. Otherwise, the bikes handled so well that the luggage was hardly noticeable.

I commented over in the Tiger thread about a noise that I thought might be the kickstand coming down partially and then being sucked back up by the spring. After this ride I am convinced that what we are hearing (both Lori and I hear it on occasion) is the chain slapping on the forward chain guard. Other than the moderately loud clack noise this appears to be harmless.

At the end of the Valley of the Gods road we hit UT 261 just below the Moki Dugway. Moki Dugway is a mining road that was carved into the side of the sandstone Utah cliffs north west of Mexican Hat. About a lane and a half wide this gravel section ascends the cliff through a series of crazy hairpins. Fun to ride and awesome to see.









From Moki Dugway we headed north to Natural Bridges National Monument. Here we did a quick trip around the ring road stopping to look at the three easily accessible natural bridges cut from the ancient sandstone.







After the quick tour we headed east on UT 95 to Blanding. The highlight of this section of 95 is the pass through Comb Ridge:



Arriving in Blanding we wanted to get a hotel room so that we could re-charge our portable electronic devices but securing a room was a near thing since the holiday weekend crowd had almost booked the town solid. After some phone recon work by Lori we were able to secure a decent enough room.
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Old 06-06-2011, 11:50 AM   #9
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LoriKTM 2-Tigers

You really sparked my interest in visiting the "4 Corners" area. I've had an interest in making a trip thru that area on my D-S. Many years ago I was thru there in my car & always wanted to return. I'm very interested in your comments about the 800XC's handling, fuel mileage, comfort, performance, how many break-in miles, and oil consumption. Your input would be appreciated.
Thank You for a great write up & photos.
Ron
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Old 06-06-2011, 08:25 PM   #10
LoriKTM OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wescnmbkr1 View Post
You really sparked my interest in visiting the "4 Corners" area. I've had an interest in making a trip thru that area on my D-S. Many years ago I was thru there in my car & always wanted to return. I'm very interested in your comments about the 800XC's handling, fuel mileage, comfort, performance, how many break-in miles, and oil consumption. Your input would be appreciated.
Thank You for a great write up & photos.
Ron
Well, Ron, don't just take my word for it. There's quite a few comments on the new Tiger. Look here, starting at around page 300! http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=599070

And here's some more reading: http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=683023

For my part, I'm very pleased with the Tiger 800XC. It grows on me more and more as I ride it. I've put many miles on single-cylinder dirt bikes, and miles on big twin sporty bikes. The triple felt a bit odd when I first rode it, but as I continued to push the bike on and off pavement, it really impressed me. Stock tires are a limiting factor off pavement, but the Tiger has great manners and superb shifting and fueling. It will get me to work the long way, the short way, and the dirt road way, all at about 50mpg. I always thought that if I could only have one bike in the garage it would be my Suzuki DR650. I think that the 800 XC is pretty heavy competition for that title.

I have over 2500 miles on my bike now, and it hasn't used any oil or had any hiccups.
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Old 06-06-2011, 08:30 PM   #11
soph9
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glad to hear you are getting 50 mpg...maybe we females have a way of getting better gas mileage then the other sex? The guys on the Tiger thread are reporting still high 30's low 40's. I hope we get what you are getting...might save a little $$...
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Old 06-06-2011, 08:58 PM   #12
wescnmbkr1
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LoriKTM

Good follow up report. Your comment about your DR650 is interesting. I too have built a DR650SE which I truely enjoy. My journey in '08 took me up to Yellowknife, NWT, Yukon Territory, BC, and Alaska.
Thanks for sharring your great photos and commentary!
RonQUOTE=LoriKTM;16102076]Well, Ron, don't just take my word for it. There's quite a few comments on the new Tiger. Look here, starting at around page 300! http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=599070

And here's some more reading: http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=683023

For my part, I'm very pleased with the Tiger 800XC. It grows on me more and more as I ride it. I've put many miles on single-cylinder dirt bikes, and miles on big twin sporty bikes. The triple felt a bit odd when I first rode it, but as I continued to push the bike on and off pavement, it really impressed me. Stock tires are a limiting factor off pavement, but the Tiger has great manners and superb shifting and fueling. It will get me to work the long way, the short way, and the dirt road way, all at about 50mpg. I always thought that if I could only have one bike in the garage it would be my Suzuki DR650. I think that the 800 XC is pretty heavy competition for that title.

I have over 2500 miles on my bike now, and it hasn't used any oil or had any hiccups.[/QUOTE]
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Old 06-07-2011, 12:12 PM   #13
TwoShots
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Great pics and nice play by play.
Thanks.
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Old 06-08-2011, 04:25 AM   #14
AlanI
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Originally Posted by LoriKTM View Post









What make of bum bag is that you are wearing around your waist Lori and is it waterproof etc? Looking for just such a thing for our upcoming trip and what you're wearing appears to be of a good size.

Great RR by the way - very much enjoyed reading it as I'm sure too is soph9 what with their BIG adventure coming up shortly.
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Old 06-08-2011, 04:31 AM   #15
soph9
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looks like a Kriega bag Alan.

http://www.kriega.us/products/R3.html
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