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Old 12-01-2009, 09:38 PM   #1
Motomochila OP
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Joined: Sep 2007
Location: N 34 22.573' W 118 34.328'
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Copper Canyon on the KTM 690 Enduro R

Just finished 600 miles in the canyon. Copper Canyon in Chihuahua Mexico. 100% off road on my new- only 40 miles on the ODM- KTM 690 R. 2nd trip down. The 1st was two years ago on my BRP. This time around I knew I had to go with the e-button. T-H-A-N-K-Y-O-U J-E-S-U-S. Don't get me wrong here, the BRP in the Canyon was truly an epic adventure. She's still one of the best rides I've ever had. It's just when you're stopping to take about 1 bazillion pictures, that e-start sure makes for a nice afternoon. and like and old girlfriend- aint never going back to Big Red Pig.

So heres my report on my Copper Canyon experience;

Day one started in Creel at around 7400 feet. This is where we parked the trucks. But just getting to this point was a harrowing adventure. Apparantly dumb-ass, (that would be me), forgot to turn in his vehicle permit two years ago on the way out of the country, Agua Prieta- the border crossing just south of Douglas, AZ. They- the local I dont need no stinkin' badges government administrator- would not let me into Mexico unless I produced the vehicle I brought in two years ago. Oops, I sold it- my bad. 'No Senor' no come to my country eeenymore!"

Yea right! You can imagine what kind of satisfaction I got when I became an illegal alien in Mexico. I snuck across the border with my truck and KTM. I doone need no stinkin green card!..or a permit.

The next hurdle would be the Military check point at Nuevo Casas Grandes. Once past that, I'd be home free...eeerr make that Illegal Alien on the loose. Three ball caps and two decals later I am driving at 85 miles per hour heading south west to Creel, at the rim of the Canyon.

We made the drive from Agua Prieta to Creel in 12 and a half hours. Stopping only for fuel and Tortas- A ham sandwich with gobs of Mayonaise and avacado- don't make the trip down without trying at least one- they're better than tacos.

My trip to the canyon was organized by Paul Edmunds of the UTMA, a club out of Utah. He coined the name I now use as my handle- “motomochila” meaning motorcycle knapsack, or motorcycle backpacking. Paul is passionate about Mexico and dirtbikes. I have to say that without him this ride would never have gotten off the ground. for those of you interested he plans it every two years. The cost? Fifty bucks...and what ever it costs you on the trip. you could not buy this adventure anywhere else for less than $4,000.00. Motomochila adventures- Carry what you can with no support- with a bunch of guys like yourself. Dirtbikers who want to go lean on epic trips. Breakdown and it’s a long way back home- by yourself, so bring a real good buddy if your bike is not in perfect condition. I’d say that qualifies for adventure riding. Anyway six days in the canyon on the most primitive back roads and towns we can find. River crossings, by any method we could muster- I made one by boat, some made the crossing by backhoe. A few went swimming. We rode anywhere from 90-140 miles per day, stopping only in the evening or for photos and gas. The route I will upload if anyone is interested. I have detailed maps, and stops.

What I found amazing is that there were towns in the canyon older than the United States..and people who had never left the canyon their whole life. Some of the most beautiful scenery- think the Grand Canyon in Arizona covered with green felt.

My KTM performed flawlessly. Other than the mileage from the stock fuel tank, the KTM was the perfect bike to make the tight trails, the wide dirt roads, and the precarious switchbacks. Smaller bikes make the trip but beat you up. Any larger and it would be very difficult to negotiate the tighter more interesting roads and trails.

Modification at this early stage were minimal. I had only just taken delivery one week before my trip and did not have time to change out the springs or add racks. I did install the Akrapovik titanium exhaust system, Scotts steering stabilizer, and a KTM aluminum skid plate. There were quite a few rocks I had remembered from the last trip. The skid plate got worked right away. The pipe really opened up the power band, especially after the dealer remapped the curve on the fuel injection. Not the hit like my trusty BRP with the HRC kit, but smooth and very manageable power band. I felt far better for what I had intended this bike to be.

Suspension modifications will need to be made for future adventures- it was either too harsh or not sprung enough-even after multiple adjustments. i weigh 225. Add a thirty pound backpack and tools on the bike, riding gear- two too many Tortas, and the stock suspension was not up for the adventure to its fullest potential. Even under these conditions the bike was fantastic to ride.

I made 102 miles on the longest run without fuel, but the light came on at 84 miles. I still don’t know how far I can make it on a stock tank- I will be adding the Sahara front tank shortly. I do recommend to anyone with this bike to seal the airbox better. Even with waterproof grease, dust still made it past the filter- from the edges. I suspect it is from the flexing in the frame that allows the box to twist just enough to allow for fine dust to enter- I’m guessing that could be catastrophic for fuel injected motors.

The stock tires- Pirelli’s did fair- with 15 pounds in the rear and 20 in the front- remember I’m in the dirt- need a little traction. I pretty much wore them out on this ride. Installed a Michelin “Desert” the moment I got home. I am happier with this tire setup.

Copper canyon is home to the Tarahumara Indians- “the running people” Raramuri, as they call themselves, inhabit Copper Canyon, as it is known in the U.S., or the Sierra Tarahumara in northwest Mexico. The actual name Tarahumara was what the first Spanish called these Native American people. They are Mexico's second largest native Indian group with between 50,000 & 70,000 people. The Tarahumara live in caves, under cliffs and in small wood and stone cabins in remote areas. The Spanish originally encountered the Tarahumara in the 1500's, but as the Spanish encroached on their civilization the shy and private Tarahumara retreated for the nearly inaccessible canyons of Copper Canyon. Today 500 years later the Tarahumara live almost exactly lake they did when the Spanish first “discovered” them. If you ever wanted to see a primitive culture barely touched by modern man, than Copper Canyon is where you want to be. There is no other people in North America more primitive and colorful. It is truly an experience.

Unfortunately Copper Canyon is also home to the Mexican marijuana trade. And there’s a war going on for its control. This has left the canyon devoid of tourism and much needed money. as of this writing you may not be able to safely travel alone or in small groups down in the canyon. It’s too bad because there’s so much more to explore. My first night in the canyon, Batopilas, there were numerous gunshots from a fully automatic weapons. While at dinner the owner was notified by the local police that we should return to our rooms and close the doors. We passed many trucks loaded with “product” heading for the U.S. one of our group even upset some Tarahumara Indian’s burro loaded with bales of marijuana. She, yea she, picked it up and gingerly put it back on the Burro. I’ve been told there are pictures. At every town, there was a blacked out SUV without plates slowly driving by checking us out. To the Mexican cartel we might be American drug agents- apparently there wasn’t anyone else in the canyon because of the drug war.

The Cartel is slowly taking over the fertile mountainside fields of the Tarahumara to grow marijuana. Either you join em or they shoot. That’s why we heard gunshots. All in all, I would still go back to the canyon even with the violence.

While it is alarming to hear the guns and sad to see the result of the lack of tourist dollars, this place is far too beautiful and exotic to stay away from. The local people are among the friendliest I have ever met. They will bend over backward to accommodate motorcycle adventure travelers. Their homes become your refuge. You eat at their dining table.

My only regret is that I do not speak their language well enough to thank them for their hospitality. Spanish lesson are on my short list.

more to come later. maps, routes, contact info for those of you who want to make this trip.

Until then ¡Vaya con dios, mis amigos!
Attached Images
KTM-2014 500 EXC, 2014 690R, BMW- 2015 F800 GSA, 2012 K1600 GTL, Ducati-2015 Hypermotard SP, and 16 other motorcycles in various stages of restoration.

Motomochila screwed with this post 12-03-2009 at 07:16 PM Reason: upload photos
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Old 12-02-2009, 02:13 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by TRAVELGUY
(Words ...)

Take it to PM's please.

Awesome looking RR so far!
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Old 12-02-2009, 03:30 AM   #3
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Sounds like a great trip... we'd love to see more of your Copper Canyon adventure... pics please

Travelguy: Read the posted rules... personal opinions can be shared with the OP through PM. Your post has been punted to EH.
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Old 12-02-2009, 05:15 AM   #4
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Thks for sharing
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Old 12-03-2009, 07:07 PM   #5
Motomochila OP
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Location: N 34 22.573' W 118 34.328'
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The Story continues

So the story continues…. In no certain order these are the facts as my feeble mind remembers them. Kinda like finding a file tucked away in your computer. Forgot it was there but while looking for something else it just appears. That my way of telling stories. Sorry mates!

Preparation for an epic ride like this is tantamount to its success. Ill prepared anything makes for some interesting stories but most likely little seat time on what we all like best. Mine was no different. My bike. It was new but not prepared the way I want to go. Time was my only demon here. No time to ride any distance before I went other that a short trial ride in my local mountains.

I decided to do the test ride with an old friend who I hadn’t ridden with for a few years. I actually taught Damon to ride..well he taught himself by following along on the most difficult twisty butt ugly trials I could find. He being just a kid at the time. Me showing my “stuff”. Anyway Damon has grown up quite a bit and I’m well..older. Remember when the line crossed between your kid and you. You know the line where he gets a lot faster, and better than you. Damon and had that passing about five years ago. Needless to say I knew he would take us on an ugly one that day.

So I decide the take the new scooter- brand new without even a ride around the block new- on a ride with Damon and three other buddies. The trail was one had been on before but I knew it was a tuff one. Really not made for the likes of a 300 pound beast. Get to the spot and suit up. She’s real pretty and I brag about all her prowess and performance. The other bikes are a CRF450X, Damons, a XR400, my CRF450X, Pete’s riding my other bike. He also came on the copper Canyon trip..XR 400 though, and a Husky 450. These are your basic all around tight twisty trail motorcycles. I’m thinking; this is a good first test for the big KTM.

Were off with me in the rear and Damon or course leading. Some flatland through the puckers and quickly up the mountain to Pine tree Canyon. Rocky and ugly. Fist hill climb. A bit off the trail- Damon’s up , I’m up. So far so good. Power band smooth and not as hard as I would like, but I’m up. Gear change, maybe, maybe not, still too early. Tight Jeep trial up the mountain and now..up a very sandy uphill sweeper. This time I’m in the lead and feeling just fine. First and second gear though, but that OK, she’s an “Adventure” bike, geared for the “long trip”.

At the top of the mountain there is a fairly old single track very tight and very rocky trail. Years of riding and rain have really beat up this trail. It’s one of my favorites and I have made this trip over a hundred times. First two turns and duck the Pinions’ that have overgrown the trail. Still no problem. Getting a little faster. I’m getting confident now, I “wick” it up. Wanna see what she’ll do. Cram it into the next corner and…..M -F-U dge cicle! It won” make the turn. My KTM can’t make the turn. Trees. Downhill on a sweeper too. no stop just trees. She-ite! So now I pull over and take a look. What the hell is that? Steering stops? On a dirt bike? Not for 25 years. KTM put steering stops on the 690- so tight that you couldn’t make a turn on a standard city street. Modification Number one! As soon as I get home.

Continuing down the trial, still tight twisting overgrown, a little slower and a lot more cautious, I now am following Damon and Pete, (on my CRFX). The Husky isn’t having any problems but Brent, it’s pilot is not really on the gas. Day job keeps him sane on the trails. Brent’s a CHP. Gets his jollies pulling us “wackco’s” over. So coming up is a standard run of the mill, So Cal desert, hill climb that the trail goes right up. In my best “Jack Nicolson” drawl; No problem , I’ll roost right up with everyone else…but just in case, you go first. Damon up on the CRFX, practically wheelieing. Pete on my CRFX right behind. Brent being the good cop stayed behind with me.

My turn. On the throttle, first gear, second gear, third gear…hill…second gear………steeper, steeper softer, bumpy..first gear….stop! no power! Hillside…rocks, bigger rock. 300 pound motorcycle, and I’m on the down side. Don’t ask me why, I just am. So where do I drop my bike on my very first “go-down” on the biggest sharpest rock on the hill. Size of a friggin Voltswagon. My new baby. The grind over the rock sounds painful as the boys look on.

Three more attempts and a the seeking of an alternate route finally got me to the top of the mountain. Sheeeet, did I make a mistake buying this think. My trusty BRP, overweight pig that she is, made this trail on the rear wheel only. Many times over. That kick starting, cold hearted beast, always made it over this top. What the hell was wrong?

Brent, remember he was at the bottom watching me. Good guy, good cop. You want him on you rides running sweep. Anyway Brent easily pulls the top. “Crap, should I have gotten a Husky instead?”…and rides over to where I am now standing, dripping in sweat and quite dusty from all the spinning and paddling. “Hey Jer, your bike pogo’d every time you got on the gas. When you tried the hill for the first time your bike’s rear suspension was completely bottoming on every bump. When it extended you were off the ground at least two feet.” “Did you adjust the sag or the suspension settings?”

“Uuuhh No!” Note to self; Adjust the suspension and set the sag before you go riding for the first time. Modification number 2 – suspension upgrade soon as I get back from Mexico. Maybe it not the tool. It's the operator. Tough lesson.
Attached Images
KTM-2014 500 EXC, 2014 690R, BMW- 2015 F800 GSA, 2012 K1600 GTL, Ducati-2015 Hypermotard SP, and 16 other motorcycles in various stages of restoration.
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Old 08-15-2010, 09:00 PM   #6
Motomochila OP
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Location: N 34 22.573' W 118 34.328'
Oddometer: 1,083
Copper Canyon Pics.....Finally.

Finally, Almost a year after the trip I friggin learn how to upload photos. Couldn't find the least you can see the trip. i dont remember most of the names even tho it's my 2nd trip

Taramuhara Indian woman

Taramuhara version of "teenagers just hanging out on the streets"

Intrance to Batopilas

the "lost Mission of Setevo"

smart, he walked his bike. two years ago i didn" on the BRP. Two hours to restart.

Mission at Tubares

I've got more if ya'll want them.
KTM-2014 500 EXC, 2014 690R, BMW- 2015 F800 GSA, 2012 K1600 GTL, Ducati-2015 Hypermotard SP, and 16 other motorcycles in various stages of restoration.
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Old 08-16-2010, 06:55 AM   #7
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Great pics..bring 'em !!!
"Character cannot be summoned at the moment of crisis if it has been squandered by years of compromise and rationalization"
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Old 08-21-2010, 10:50 AM   #8
Motomochila OP
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Location: N 34 22.573' W 118 34.328'
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copper Canyon in no order.

Urique. Remember this place. Its the only place you can buy gas.

Here's the GPS coordinates. Dont loose these.

Just remember to use a filter.

The entrance to Urique

October can get rather cold in the morning, even down in the canyon. Be prepared.

This is the hotel where we stayed. the town is the marijuana center of the canyon. Not many tourists but many cartel guys. I found a dried up marijuana bud the size of and apple on the top shelp in my room.

The next morning we headed back up to the top and to some warmth.

just sitting on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere selling her goods.

Also saw these two Taramuhara Indian women enjoying the warmth of the morning.

Urique is down in the canyon below.

Mexican water taxi in the canyon.

We don't need no stinking boat when we got a tractor.

Just another boring view of the canyon..

Taramuhara indian home

just some of the interesting things you will see in Mexico. this was in a restaurant dining area.

Yea..Its hot.

the square in downtown Batopilas.

Coming to a town near you.
KTM-2014 500 EXC, 2014 690R, BMW- 2015 F800 GSA, 2012 K1600 GTL, Ducati-2015 Hypermotard SP, and 16 other motorcycles in various stages of restoration.
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Old 08-21-2010, 12:18 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Motomochila

We don't need no stinking boat when we got a tractor.
It's pictures like these that makes ADV such a great place.

Thanks for the great ride report!

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