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Old 11-21-2012, 07:11 PM   #1
max384 OP
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Thinking of doing the Trans Taiga next year on my SV650... Need some advice.

This isn't set in stone yet, and I'm just as likely to change my mind and go a completely different direction... or I may not even have the time to do a decent bike trip next year, but at the moment, I'm thinking very seriously of doing the Trans Taiga Road early next summer. For anyone that doesn't know what the Trans Taiga Road is, it's a 666km long gravel road to nowhere... So once you get to the end, you've gotta turn around and come back, so it's over 1300 kilometers of dirt. It's also the farthest (by road) from a town in all of North America once you reach the end of the road.

Now, I've got a road bike. It's an SV650S. I'm planning on getting rid of the clip-ons for handlebars over the winter regardless of any trips I do next year. If I do the Trans Taiga, I'll also put on dualsport tires and get a softer shock and front springs. I may go on my own. I may go with someone else. My questions mainly involve bike planning for riding dirt roads. I've owned dirt bikes before, but I've never traveled any significant distance on dirt roads (a few miles here and there), so this would be a new experience for me.

I carry a plug kit and a mini compressor. However, I'm thinking maybe I should go with tubes instead. What do you think? Speaking of tubes, if I go with tubes, I will have to break the bead and remove the tire from the rim (well, one side anyhow) to repair or replace the tube. I change my own tires and I've put tubes in dirt bike tires before... But my question is how do you guys break the bead on a tire in the field? If someone comes with me, I figure I can use the kickstand and it shouldn't be much of a problem, but if I'm solo, I'm wondering what methods you guys use for this.

I won't be doing any offroading, just gravel roads. Do you think a skidplate is necessary? They don't make one for my bike (that I'm aware of anyhow), but I figure I could fairly easily modify a Vstrom skiplate to work. I'm leaning against this idea... But this is a remote road and major damages can be very costly.

Anything else I should look at doing to a roadbike for tackling a long and remote gravel road?
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Old 11-21-2012, 08:27 PM   #2
lexluther11
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"Anything else I should look at doing to a roadbike for tackling a long and remote gravel road?"

Maybe trade it in for a dual sport?
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Old 11-22-2012, 07:39 AM   #3
max384 OP
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Another bike isn't happening by then, so any advice for my preexisting bike?
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Old 11-22-2012, 09:05 AM   #4
SpeedySteve
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sv650s + gonads = capability

Howdy -

Before I got a proper ADV bike, i follow my spirit on a 2003 sv650s. And that thing took me everywhere. all over CA, NM, AZ, UT, and CO. I had one trip that ended up being 6 weeks and 7 or 8 k miles leaving tucson, living out of the bike for a month in CO, then the lsat 2 weeks I spent getting back home going through UT and AZ. Now, I was a bit younger at the time, and had absolutely no reservations about - well, anything. I hit some 'trail' in CO that ended up to be 4wd high clearance trails. I wrote a reply on here somewhere regarding my trip over hagerman pass near leadville. Basically, gravel become stones, became rock, become large rocks, became me getting high centered every 50 yards, to me having to get off the bike and clear rocks out of my path so I could travel forward. Yes, I was loaded up with over 100lbs of camping gear, food and water. It was a blast.

I did this with a GSXR 750 or 1000 shock on the rear, and .95 sonic springs up front spinning pilot power 2ct. Haggerman is just one of the passes I that I remember the name, I hit several others in that great state as well. Yeah, I did some creek crossings (up to the pegs or so), high centering was common, and hill climbs that make me pucker eventually just made me laught due to the ridiculousness of me conquering them on a sport/track oriented SV650.

If you go with softer springs, you will bottom out more frequently. The ride will be more plush, but you will be dragging and scraping frequently. The GSXR shock raises the ass end up by an inch or so. May want to consider that.

The SV has no heated grips. After getting the GSA, I have learned it is absolutely imperative to preserve dexterity in the hands with some sort of heated gear. If you're riding in the cold, get heated grips or heated gloves. Look into warm and safe for heated gloves, heated grips I can't really direct you.

The cautions I would be aware of boping the SV over rock ledges or obstructions are the following: the exhaust pipe mate points will become scrape points, and they may separate towards the rear near the rear shock. The most important caution is the front header pipe. This is way, way exposed. And, if you bop over something, you can impact this pipe severely and damn near close the pipe off. Keep you eye very keen to health of this pipe. I bopped off a 10 or 12" ledge at lower speed, hit the pipe hard, and probably closed it a good 20% or so. Meh, ride it for tens of thousands miles after that. One of my mates rammed into an 8-10" ledge with the bike, impacted the pipe in the front, and closed it off a good 60% or so. That had foul effects on the motor. He just bought a new front header pipe and went on with life.

So, muscle that bike with some go-nads, keep an eye on the front header pipe, and through some decent rubber on there and you;ll be fine. On some of the more groomed gravel roads out here in AZ i've seen tripple digits several times haha.

I rocked an swmotech mount for a givi e45 top box, nelson rigg (uber shitty) soft saddle bags (if you use these, be certain you get a cam strap to keep them from sagging and melting on the exhaust), and a 70L sea to summit bag.

Another consideration for the newer bikes is the ABS. With the GSA, I can turn the ABS off during any surface other than tarmac. This is imperative. If you don't have an off switch to the ABS on the newer SVs, look into disabling it some other way.

If you can swap that guy for a DL650/Vstrom 650, May want to investigate that. Same bike, different suspension. During my tenure on the SV, I ran into a few folks who would have been keen to that idea.

Best of luck!

Speedy
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Old 11-22-2012, 10:11 AM   #5
max384 OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SpeedySteve View Post
Howdy -

Before I got a proper ADV bike, i follow my spirit on a 2003 sv650s. And that thing took me everywhere. all over CA, NM, AZ, UT, and CO. I had one trip that ended up being 6 weeks and 7 or 8 k miles leaving tucson, living out of the bike for a month in CO, then the lsat 2 weeks I spent getting back home going through UT and AZ. Now, I was a bit younger at the time, and had absolutely no reservations about - well, anything. I hit some 'trail' in CO that ended up to be 4wd high clearance trails. I wrote a reply on here somewhere regarding my trip over hagerman pass near leadville. Basically, gravel become stones, became rock, become large rocks, became me getting high centered every 50 yards, to me having to get off the bike and clear rocks out of my path so I could travel forward. Yes, I was loaded up with over 100lbs of camping gear, food and water. It was a blast.

I did this with a GSXR 750 or 1000 shock on the rear, and .95 sonic springs up front spinning pilot power 2ct. Haggerman is just one of the passes I that I remember the name, I hit several others in that great state as well. Yeah, I did some creek crossings (up to the pegs or so), high centering was common, and hill climbs that make me pucker eventually just made me laught due to the ridiculousness of me conquering them on a sport/track oriented SV650.

If you go with softer springs, you will bottom out more frequently. The ride will be more plush, but you will be dragging and scraping frequently. The GSXR shock raises the ass end up by an inch or so. May want to consider that.

The SV has no heated grips. After getting the GSA, I have learned it is absolutely imperative to preserve dexterity in the hands with some sort of heated gear. If you're riding in the cold, get heated grips or heated gloves. Look into warm and safe for heated gloves, heated grips I can't really direct you.

The cautions I would be aware of boping the SV over rock ledges or obstructions are the following: the exhaust pipe mate points will become scrape points, and they may separate towards the rear near the rear shock. The most important caution is the front header pipe. This is way, way exposed. And, if you bop over something, you can impact this pipe severely and damn near close the pipe off. Keep you eye very keen to health of this pipe. I bopped off a 10 or 12" ledge at lower speed, hit the pipe hard, and probably closed it a good 20% or so. Meh, ride it for tens of thousands miles after that. One of my mates rammed into an 8-10" ledge with the bike, impacted the pipe in the front, and closed it off a good 60% or so. That had foul effects on the motor. He just bought a new front header pipe and went on with life.

So, muscle that bike with some go-nads, keep an eye on the front header pipe, and through some decent rubber on there and you;ll be fine. On some of the more groomed gravel roads out here in AZ i've seen tripple digits several times haha.

I rocked an swmotech mount for a givi e45 top box, nelson rigg (uber shitty) soft saddle bags (if you use these, be certain you get a cam strap to keep them from sagging and melting on the exhaust), and a 70L sea to summit bag.

Another consideration for the newer bikes is the ABS. With the GSA, I can turn the ABS off during any surface other than tarmac. This is imperative. If you don't have an off switch to the ABS on the newer SVs, look into disabling it some other way.

If you can swap that guy for a DL650/Vstrom 650, May want to investigate that. Same bike, different suspension. During my tenure on the SV, I ran into a few folks who would have been keen to that idea.

Best of luck!

Speedy
Sounds like you definitely got your money's worth out of your SV!

I put .90 sonic springs in the front and a ZX14 rear shock on mine. This is great on the road, particularly when I'm loaded up on the rear... But I've found it to be less than ideal on dirt roads... Particularly the rougher they get. I guess bottoming out may be a problem with lighter springs though. Hmmm.

I have a pair of Gerbings... Can't say enough good things about heated gloves.

The front header where it is is what is making me think about getting a skid plate. Definitely something to think about.

I have the SW-Motech side and top rack. On top I have a Givi E45 and on the sides I have two Seahorse cases (Pelican knock-offs). On previous trips I had the Givi case and a 70L waterproof bag. The two Seahorse cases have a bit less capacity than the 70L dry bag. I guess this is something I'll have to figure out.

My SV doesn't actually have ABS, so that's one area I don't have to worry about.

The VStrom is on my shortlist of next bikes... But that won't be happening for at least another couple of years. I just don't have the money for a new bike. The SV is an R titled bike with fairing damage. I know I won't get a lot out of it, and I've put a fair amount of money into farkles (which we rarely recover anything near what we paid for them when selling). I also really love the bike as a good multipurpose machine. Really the only way I could get a new bike would be if I skipped on doing a bike trip... But what's the point of buying a new bike for touring if it means I won't be able to tour? I'll be out of school in a couple of years and I'll be able to get a new bike then.

Thanks for all the advice!
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Old 11-22-2012, 08:04 PM   #6
jdrocks
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there's plenty of reading available on riding that road, so i'd start there.

the SV is far from ideal, but should go if properly prepped. the TT can be a challenge if wet or freshly graded, and if you find wet AND freshly graded, good luck. deep sand patches on that road have caused problems for more than one rider. the road above Brisay is very different than the rest of the road and can be only roughly graded and rocky.

you can find the longest stretch of roads in NA without reliable fuel, so you better know your range and plan accordingly.

tubeless tires are fine, it's the type of tubeless tire that should be a concern. the more tread the better.
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Old 11-22-2012, 08:32 PM   #7
max384 OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jdrocks View Post
there's plenty of reading available on riding that road, so i'd start there.

the SV is far from ideal, but should go if properly prepped. the TT can be a challenge if wet or freshly graded, and if you find wet AND freshly graded, good luck. deep sand patches on that road have caused problems for more than one rider. the road above Brisay is very different than the rest of the road and can be only roughly graded and rocky.

you can find the longest stretch of roads in NA without reliable fuel, so you better know your range and plan accordingly.

tubeless tires are fine, it's the type of tubeless tire that should be a concern. the more tread the better.
I've been doing a lot of reading on the TT. I've read probably a half dozen or so ride reports on it so far, plus, of course, the James Bay Road website. I noticed your Exotic Eastern Canada ride report in your sig. I'll probably spend a good portion of the night reading that report, as that is one I hadn't read yet.

I see mixed advice on the road past Brisay. Some say it is a very rough road and others say it is no problem. If you went all the way to the end, what were your thoughts on it? Is it that bad?

I was tentatively planning on bringing 3.5 US gallons of extra fuel with me (two 1/2 gal MSR fuel bottles and a 3 gal Rotopax). This will give me a total fuel capacity of 8 gallons. I usually average about 50mpg. This would give me about a 400 mile range. However, the worst I've ever gotten was 42mpg. At 42mpg that would give me a range only 336 miles. According to the James Bay website from Mirage Outfitters to the end of the road and back is about 380 miles. I guess I would really need to pack at least another couple gallons with me if I wanted to do the whole road and leave some fudge room.

To be honest, I haven't really started looking at tires. I had planned on getting a dual sport tire with only moderate tread, as I still wanted to enjoy the paved sections of the trip. Maybe I should rethink this though.

Thanks for the advice.
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Old 11-22-2012, 09:24 PM   #8
jdrocks
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Quote:
Originally Posted by max384 View Post
I've been doing a lot of reading on the TT. I've read probably a half dozen or so ride reports on it so far, plus, of course, the James Bay Road website. I noticed your Exotic Eastern Canada ride report in your sig. I'll probably spend a good portion of the night reading that report, as that is one I hadn't read yet.

I see mixed advice on the road past Brisay. Some say it is a very rough road and others say it is no problem. If you went all the way to the end, what were your thoughts on it? Is it that bad?

I was tentatively planning on bringing 3.5 US gallons of extra fuel with me (two 1/2 gal MSR fuel bottles and a 3 gal Rotopax). This will give me a total fuel capacity of 8 gallons. I usually average about 50mpg. This would give me about a 400 mile range. However, the worst I've ever gotten was 42mpg. At 42mpg that would give me a range only 336 miles. According to the James Bay website from Mirage Outfitters to the end of the road and back is about 380 miles. I guess I would really need to pack at least another couple gallons with me if I wanted to do the whole road and leave some fudge room.

To be honest, I haven't really started looking at tires. I had planned on getting a dual sport tire with only moderate tread, as I still wanted to enjoy the paved sections of the trip. Maybe I should rethink this though.

Thanks for the advice.
the Brisay road experience probably relates to how recently it has been graded. when i went through there, i found two washouts, either could put the hurt on ya, and a rough road compared to the TT west of Brisay. the main reason that road surface is different is that it is not heavily used by Hydro Quebec. a DS moto shouldn't have problems with that road, and if you make it that far with the SV, it should go the rest of the way.

i had 398 GPS miles from Mirage to Caniapiscau and back. you either carry enough fuel or verify that the Air Saguenay float plane base is open. the other long stretch is between Mirage and Relaise 381, maybe 340 miles or so, if no fuel is available at the First Nation camp west of Mirage.

i don't recommend street tires on northern gravel, the TT is 800 miles out and back.
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Old 11-23-2012, 09:02 AM   #9
max384 OP
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Originally Posted by jdrocks View Post
the Brisay road experience probably relates to how recently it has been graded. when i went through there, i found two washouts, either could put the hurt on ya, and a rough road compared to the TT west of Brisay. the main reason that road surface is different is that it is not heavily used by Hydro Quebec. a DS moto shouldn't have problems with that road, and if you make it that far with the SV, it should go the rest of the way.

i had 398 GPS miles from Mirage to Caniapiscau and back. you either carry enough fuel or verify that the Air Saguenay float plane base is open. the other long stretch is between Mirage and Relaise 381, maybe 340 miles or so, if no fuel is available at the First Nation camp west of Mirage.

i don't recommend street tires on northern gravel, the TT is 800 miles out and back.
I had forgotten about the float plane base. I remember someone else mentioning it in one of their ride reports, but I guess I had in mind that Mirage was the last fuel stop.

Looks like some decent knobbies will be in order if I make this trip... Though finding some in SV sizes may be a bit difficult.

Thanks for the advice.
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Old 11-23-2012, 10:35 AM   #10
Tengai In Toronto
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A used KLR can probably be had for slightly more than the cost of new springs, shock, and tires. Well...maybe more than 'slightly' more.... Just saying. I picked up a klr for $800 here in Ontario, where bike prices are high vs. the U.S.

Is there a skid plate available for sv's? Rad guards? Flying gravel/rocks/tree branches would have me stressing the whole time if my undercarriage was unprotected. (And if the bike's uncarriage was as well! Zing! )
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Old 11-25-2012, 07:19 PM   #11
elgato gordo
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Max
I think the SV in stock condition will be OK but you might consider a skid plate. I added one to mine without too much effort. Here is a link to my build.
http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=794945

I'm running Shinko 705 and they do very well on dirt roads and even the sand is not too bad if you keep moving.

The bar position was my biggest issue in stock condition but sounds like you have done enough miles to get used to that.

I'm running a GSX750 shock and YZ forks with custom triple clamp. You may be able to get some DR forks that would adapt to you triple clamp pretty easy and get a few more inches of travel. This winter I'm working a mod to the rear linkage to try to add some more travel.

The SV really does well coving the miles if it doesn't get too rough. Even if it is rough the engine is pretty easy to go slow and pick through the harder places. I did ear down to a 47 tooth on the rear. Cruise speed is about 65 or so that works for me.

Good luck on you adventure.
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Old 11-25-2012, 09:43 PM   #12
max384 OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tengai In Toronto View Post
A used KLR can probably be had for slightly more than the cost of new springs, shock, and tires. Well...maybe more than 'slightly' more.... Just saying. I picked up a klr for $800 here in Ontario, where bike prices are high vs. the U.S.

Is there a skid plate available for sv's? Rad guards? Flying gravel/rocks/tree branches would have me stressing the whole time if my undercarriage was unprotected. (And if the bike's uncarriage was as well! Zing! )
I've been looking at KLRs around here... But I just don't have the money on a med student's budget to get another toy... At least not if I want to actually go anywhere on it.

There isn't a skid plate available. There are radiator and oil cooler guards available though. I am definitely thinking about figuring out a skid plate.

Quote:
Originally Posted by elgato gordo View Post
Max
I think the SV in stock condition will be OK but you might consider a skid plate. I added one to mine without too much effort. Here is a link to my build.
http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=794945

I'm running Shinko 705 and they do very well on dirt roads and even the sand is not too bad if you keep moving.

The bar position was my biggest issue in stock condition but sounds like you have done enough miles to get used to that.

I'm running a GSX750 shock and YZ forks with custom triple clamp. You may be able to get some DR forks that would adapt to you triple clamp pretty easy and get a few more inches of travel. This winter I'm working a mod to the rear linkage to try to add some more travel.

The SV really does well coving the miles if it doesn't get too rough. Even if it is rough the engine is pretty easy to go slow and pick through the harder places. I did ear down to a 47 tooth on the rear. Cruise speed is about 65 or so that works for me.

Good luck on you adventure.
Thanks for the link to your build. Your skid plate looks fantastic. Unfortunately, I don't weld and don't have the fabrication tools (or frankly, experience) necessary to put together something like you did. I'll research what needs to be done to make a DL650 skid plate fit the SV, as that is probably my best bet.

I hate the clip-ons for 95% of my riding. Getting rid of them for bars is at the top of my list for things to do to the bike.

I hadn't really even considered getting new forks. It sounds enticing, but I think that will fall pretty low on the priority list quite honestly.

I actually went down a tooth in the rear for better gas mileage. However, quite paradoxically my gas mileage went down when I regeared it. I think I'm subconsciously giving it more gas trying to get the same acceleration as before I went down a tooth. Though, to be honest, I couldn't notice a difference in acceleration at all. I commute on my bike, and my cruise speed is about 75-80mph, so that would definitely make a difference in what I do for gearing.
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