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Old 08-23-2011, 02:38 PM   #31
Underboning OP
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Originally Posted by woodly1069 View Post
I'm in! You guys are doing what most of us only dream about! I'm SO jealous! Lately I have thought similar thoughts about the small displacement bikes and their MANY advantages! Looks like you are putting in some serious miles on those little machines...just remember that unlike most if us, time is on your side, so enjoy your slower progress! I know I am! Travel safely and if you're coming any where near Louisville, KY, look us up & you'll have a place to stay!
I am convinced that little bikes are the way to go for lots of reasons. For example, I decided to go with the more expensive Michelin replacement tires because they were only 5 bucks more than the cheapies, but still only 16.99 each . They are slower, but not for the reason you might think - we can't stop for fuel or food without spending 10 minutes talking with nice people about our ride. Once they spot out of state plates on these little bikes, everyone has a ton of questions. I can't recommend a trip like this enough, with a few exceptions we have had a blast so far. Thanks for your kind wishes!
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Old 08-23-2011, 03:37 PM   #32
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Excellent!!! I am in for the ride!!!
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Old 08-24-2011, 03:49 PM   #33
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awesome! in!
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Old 08-24-2011, 07:58 PM   #34
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I am in.

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Old 08-24-2011, 09:33 PM   #35
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Me in too, great thread!
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Old 08-24-2011, 09:58 PM   #36
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I'm in. I started my life long M/Cing with a Yamaha 80 traveling 120 miles almost ever weekend to my buddy gramothers in Seagrove,NC when I was stationed at Ft Bragg,NC in the 60s.Hills definely make U slow down and smell the rose or whatever else may be there.LOL
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Old 08-25-2011, 11:15 AM   #37
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Sweet!
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Old 08-25-2011, 02:59 PM   #38
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Wow what a great adventure! I look forward to your next report. When you get to Toronto if you need any help just send me a PM.
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Old 08-25-2011, 04:19 PM   #39
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8/5 Sterling, Colorado to Belleville, Kansas

We again had a great night's sleep but awoke to a soaking wet campground. After unzipping the rainfly and crawling out of the tent, we surveyed the damage. The water that surrounded the tent the previous night had disappeared but left behind a high water mark on the tent and our Ortliebs. One factor we didn't consider when we chose our lightweight and highly packable backpacking tent was exactly how little space we would have inside. We can get ourselves, our helmets, our daypacks and some odds-and-ends in the tent, but out other gear overnights in the vestibules of the rainfly when it is on the tent and hides under the partially attached fly when it isn’t. Our Darien Lights, however, have spent nights cable locked to the bikes. Hey, they're Goretex, they don't get wet, right? Wrong. The torrential rain and high wind of the previous night combined to completely soak our jackets and pants. Fortunately the laundry room/romantic dining spot was only about 100 feet from our front door, so we pitched the Dariens and our Yampas into the dryers for a quick tumble. We also moved our tent and footprint into the sun to speed their drying while we ate a breakfast of leftover bread and peaches and coffee. The bikes required some attention, too. Both bikes again needed a big chain adjustment, literally the chain adjusters had to be moved about half of one of the set of notches on the swingarm. The adjustment, a squirt of lube, and a quick prayer to the gods of tensile strength would hopefully get us to the middle of Kansas that day. All tires were about 2 psi low, and one of Re's exhaust header nuts was loose. After fixing those issues, I also adjusted both of our front brakes and pronounced them good. Both of us seemed to be working in slow motion all morning. Between the wet camp and the unpleasant ride of the previous day, neither of us felt very enthusiastic about getting back on the road (or doing anything, really). But with everything finally dry and packed up, we eventually got on the road at about 9:30 am.






Once we started riding, our moods began to improve. The roads were smoother, the traffic friendlier, and the morning air was cool and sweet. We could both feel our spirits lightening and were soon smiling in our helmets once again. As we headed into the morning sun, we both appreciated the tinted sunshields in our Nolan N-90s. As the morning went by, we found ourselves at the Nebraska border and were glad to put Colorado behind us. Nebraska was a welcome surprise- the roads were even better, the other drivers gave us room to live, and the gently rolling hills were much more to our Symbas' liking. In fact, the mighty SYMs were now cruising at an indicated 50 mph or better, up from our previous cruising speed of 45 (which is actually about 43 on the GPS). We were happy to see the better speeds as we had set for ourselves the ambitious goal of 750 miles in the next two days. We didn't realize the effect our higher speed was having at that time. Nebraska gave way to Kansas as we rode down US 83 towards Oberlin where we headed east once again, this time on US 36. US 36, our constant companion for the next 440 miles, was a revelation to me. We have driven all the way across Kansas a couple of times on I-70 and always found it to be eye-gougingly boring. This route, however, was made up of rolling hills through varied farmland, punctuated by small farm towns every 30 miles or so. Early in the afternoon, we stopped for a lunch of Clif bars and apples on a bench in front of a grocery store in one of the pretty small towns (whose name I forgot to write down). The afternoon turned warmer, but we unzipped all of our vents and were comfortable enough as long as we were moving. Mankato, Kansas was our original goal for the evening, but because of our new found speed, we reached it earlier than expected. The sun was low on the horizon, but we decided to head for Belleville which was about 35 miles farther down the road.


We rolled into Belleville sometime after 8 pm and started hunting for a place for the night but soon found there was no room at the inn. The two campgrounds that we found were both full?? We discovered that Belleville is the home of the “Belleville High Banks – The World's Fastest Half-Mile Dirt Track. And it was a race weekend. Whoops. Re soon spotted the billboard that let us know that this was also the weekend of the free County Fair. Double whoops. We split up and started canvassing all the hotels and motels in town, but there was only one room available – and what a room it was. The room was at America's Meth Value Inn, but the A/C was broken. We were offered this room and a fan for the low, low price of $51+tax (and that price included the AAA discount!). At this point, Re asked the manager if there were any other campgrounds in the area and I watched his eyes glaze over as he gestured towards an employee by the pool. She wasn't much help- she was obviously tweaking hard, as evidenced by her constant hopping form one foot to another, arms flailing in random directions, and inability to string five words together coherently. Meth – not even once. Our rapidly sinking hopes were suddenly buoyed by a man in a pick-up truck who was watching this bizarre spectacle. He called out to us to follow him to a campground and we fired up the Symbas and chased him into the fading evening light. A few twists and turns later, we arrived at Rocky Pond County Park and a beautiful campground near the lake. We waved our thanks to this kind stranger and quickly unloaded the bikes. It was extremely humid that night, but the temperature rapidly dropped to a more comfortable level and, thankfully, there were no mosquitoes. As I began setting up the camp for the night, Re took off to find dinner. It was already about 9:30 pm, and her choices were limited to Dairy Queen and Pizza Hut. When she returned, she had a large pepperoni pan pizza strapped to her topcase and two oil cans of Foster's Lager hanging from her handlebars. I love this woman. We sat down to dinner and only saved one piece each for breakfast the next morning (which she hung in a tree in case of marauding raccoons). Manna from heaven! Stuffed with food and beer and exhausted from the day, we happily crawled into the tent and crashed.


375 miles in about 11 hours. The bikes are running better and better, I fattened up the A/F screw and additional ¼ of a turn and had to adjust the idle higher a few times. It seemed like we stopped for fuel more often than usual. The chains are audibly dragging and the clutches are grabby.
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Old 08-26-2011, 04:55 AM   #40
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Great trip and report so far.

I'm guessing you have non O ring chains on the bikes since they are stretching so much.

Although your tiny bikes make for great adventure and a great report, I don't think I could handle all the traffic whizzing by me. I have a 150cc scooter that is just a little faster than the Symbas and I don't like taking it on 2 lane roads where I can't at least cruise at the speed limit. When you get overseas I imagine the Symbas will be perfect for the lower speeds found in many countries.

Any regrets so far at your choice of bikes?

Thanks for putting so much effort in doing a detailed writeup so far. I'm looking forward to the rest.
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Old 08-26-2011, 04:59 AM   #41
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I am really enjoying your RR so far. Having grown up on small bikes, about 5 years ago I re-discovered the joy of riding slower and actually seeing things instead of everything being one big blur! Question for you: it seems you are having a lot of chain stretch issues - are these non-O ring chains? I've never ridden a very small bike the kind of miles you are, so I just don't have any experience with this, but it seems you are experiencing daily chain issues. On my last four O-ring chain bikes, I put over 50,000 miles on the four and other than on rear tire changes, never had to adjust a chain. I've had to adjust the non-O-ring chains on my son's dirt bikes far more often than on my O-ring equipped street bikes and dual sports.
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Old 08-26-2011, 10:18 AM   #42
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Originally Posted by klaviator View Post
Great trip and report so far.

I'm guessing you have non O ring chains on the bikes since they are stretching so much.

Although your tiny bikes make for great adventure and a great report, I don't think I could handle all the traffic whizzing by me. I have a 150cc scooter that is just a little faster than the Symbas and I don't like taking it on 2 lane roads where I can't at least cruise at the speed limit. When you get overseas I imagine the Symbas will be perfect for the lower speeds found in many countries.

Any regrets so far at your choice of bikes?

Thanks for putting so much effort in doing a detailed writeup so far. I'm looking forward to the rest.
Any regrets, hmmm... The relative lack of power has been frustrating on a few occasions, there were a couple of climbs in the Rockies where we ended up in the truck lane and could only manage second gear. Struggling up the hill at 20mph while traffic blows by at 65 is a little nerve-wracking. Also when we were riding through Idaho on the crazy, confusing route we had to take to avoid I-84, I have to admit to some moments of big bike envy. When you have to ride 50 miles to get 20 miles down the 84, more power sounds mighty attractive. But part of the reasoning behind the small bikes is that they do enforce a slower pace and I know myself too well - if we had more speed, we'd use it. The fun side of 100cc's is that we have met and chatted with more people who are amazed and interested in what we are doing and how we are doing it. Our first week of riding was also Sturgis, we have had more Harley riders stop us to chat and they have been the friendliest and most encouraging riders we have met (once they get past the fact that we don't have a support vehicle ).

The other drawback is the physical "smallness" of the bikes, Re gets on better at 5'5" but I'm 6'. The seating position is a little cramped and the seats are uncomfortable after a while (and can be downright painful by the end of some of our longer days). But I'm always quick to offer a "therapeutic" massage to my lovely traveling partner, so it has it's pluses, too.

The bikes we are on is what makes this trip what it is. There are certainly other bikes that we could have taken, but then it wouldn't be this trip.

Glad you are enjoying the trip so far, we'll try to keep it up!
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Old 08-26-2011, 10:34 AM   #43
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I am really enjoying your RR so far. Having grown up on small bikes, about 5 years ago I re-discovered the joy of riding slower and actually seeing things instead of everything being one big blur! Question for you: it seems you are having a lot of chain stretch issues - are these non-O ring chains? I've never ridden a very small bike the kind of miles you are, so I just don't have any experience with this, but it seems you are experiencing daily chain issues. On my last four O-ring chain bikes, I put over 50,000 miles on the four and other than on rear tire changes, never had to adjust a chain. I've had to adjust the non-O-ring chains on my son's dirt bikes far more often than on my O-ring equipped street bikes and dual sports.
Yes, the stock chains are non-O-ring chains. We knew from other riders (Dabinche's Alaska trip primarily) that the stock chains weren't up to the trip. Knowing this, we purchased replacement chains before we started the trip. I bought a couple of RK O-ring chains and 4 spare clip-type masterlinks. Our hope was that the stock chains would at least last until we made it to North Carolina, but no. I don't know why the stock ones failed as fast as they did. Since we bought the bikes I have always kept them adjusted and lubed. They did, however, sit on the showroom floor for more than a year before we bought them. We are both carrying between 50 and 60 pounds of gear, but I still thought we would get at least 4000 miles out of the stockers. We have over 1000 miles on the new ones and they haven't required a single adjustment.

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Old 08-26-2011, 10:54 AM   #44
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From the Lou

I have well over 1000mi on my O-ring chain and it still hasn't required adjustment. My original chain cooked early and I had one of the first Symbas. The chains are sub-standard. Fortunately, the chains seem to be the exception rather than the rule.

On the size issue. Whenever I think about another bike I keep finding myself coming back to a small displacement bike. There are pluses to bigger, but as you mentioned the people you meet and just the difference in mindset when routing a trip continue to outweigh the hassle of going 50miles to get to the same place that 20miles on the interstate would take me in under 10minutes. There has nearly always been something I'm grateful having encountered in the over an hour spent traveling the "wasted" 50 miles. That said, would I go 100cc again? I suspect not, but I'm not sure I'd go much bigger either.

You are absolutely correct that the Symbas are what make this trip so very interesting a compelling. Of course, while the Symbas are the cake the riders are definitely the frosting.

Ride on.
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Old 08-26-2011, 12:08 PM   #45
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8/6 Belleville, Kansas to Columbia, Missouri




After not getting to bed until sometime after 11 the night before, I had set the alarm for the comfortable hour of 7 am. The sun, however, had a different idea and woke us up nearer to 6 am. I looked up to see condensation hanging from the inside of the tent roof and remembered how amazingly humid it had been the previous evening. We rolled out onto the damp grass and saw that our tent looked like it had been rained upon. The sunrise over the lake and morning breeze made for a pleasant walk to the loo before we began our morning routine again. We once again had to put the tent and footprint in the sun so they could dry while we ate and began packing up.





A long row of picnic tables under a pavilion made a good place to lay out our stuff while we rolled and repacked our bags. Cold pizza and coffee finished, I set to the bikes. The chains were again dragging in the chaincases and had over two inches of play. Sigh. It was at this point that I knew they would need to be replaced once we reached Columbia, Missouri. At least all of our fasteners were tight and air pressures were still good. I also adjusted both clutches as they had become increasingly grabby, particularly when downshifting. When I record the adjustments made to the bikes, I also tote up the amount of fuel purchased the previous day and other costs. Yesterday's fuel purchases amounted to 10.2 gallons, which seemed awfully high – but maybe we started empty and filled up late in the day? And we did cover 375 miles, our most miles in a day so far. Huh.


Bikes sorted and repacked, we turned back onto US 36 for another few hundred miles. The morning was still damp and soon the temperature began to climb. Today's weather forecast called for highs in the mid-90s and a heat index of 105. Good practice for India and SE Asia, we both thought as we unzipped all our vents and loosened our wrist velcro for that extra bit of airflow. With lots of miles to cover, mostly flat roads, and a good place to be that night, we continued our faster pace through the day. Stopping for fuel on the outskirts of St Joseph, Missouri we noted the change between the less populated and more relaxed west and the more crowded and busy midwest. More towns, more cars, more stuff, less space between that stuff – not bad, just different. Sometime after 1 pm we stopped for fuel at a station that had an attached Wendy's and decided to sit for a while and cool off with a drink that wasn't warm water from our MSR Dromedary bags. We, of course, walk in wearing our gear and again fail to blend in. We ended up chatting with several sets of people about our trip and the bikes, of course. Re has heard me give the spiel about SYM and the Symbas so often that I'm sure she could recite it verbatim. Talking about the trip can get a little tedious sometimes, but it can also be the kick in the pants that we need. It can occasionally be easy to forget what we are really doing when all we can see is another 150 miles before we can take off our gear and sit somewhere comfortable, but talking about it and seeing the reactions of others never fails to remind us. Feeling re-energized, we rode US 36 to Macon, where we stopped for gas again (haven't we been stopping for gas a lot today?) before heading south on US 63 for the final 60 miles into Columbia, Missouri, our destination for the night.


As we reached the outskirts of Columbia, I found myself once again watching our fuel lights rapidly go dark. When we finally stopped for dinner, I pulled out the figures for the last two days and discovered the price of our faster pace – our fuel mileage had dropped from an average of 91 mpg at 45 mph to something nearer to 75 mpg at 50mph. Ouch. The real concern with this much higher rate of usage is our range. With only a maximum of two gallons each, our range just fell from 180+ miles to 150 miles. We are going to have to watch this carefully in the future, especially in countries where fuel isn't so readily available. We stopped for dinner at Lee's Fried Chicken, and our chicken and ribs soon arrived to distract me from this new issue. It's amazing how good food can make other problems seem much less important. Totally stuffed, we waddled back to our bikes and hefted them off of their sidestands for the last 8 miles to the home of Glen and Martha Heggie, our hosts for the night. Re and I are both graduates of Mizzou and Dr. Glen Heggie was one of Re's professors. He and his wife were both avid motorcyclists before their children were born and graciously insisted that we stay with them and make use of their fully equipped garage(!) while we were in Columbia. Martha whisked us into the shower and fed us more and we spent the remainder of the evening chatting and laughing. A nice ending to a hot but good day.


372 miles in under 10.5 hours. The bikes are loving the lower altitude and are running great. The chains, however, are toast – snatching all the way through Columbia and I swear I heard Re's chain skip a tooth.
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