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Old 08-26-2011, 02:47 PM   #46
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8/7 Maintenance Day

It was hard to get up this morning as after our long ride of yesterday and then staying up late with our hosts. Plus we spent the night in a comfortable bed and, with shades on the windows, no sun to wake us. After coffee and a delicious breakfast of ham, eggs, and potatoes we headed for the garage. After 2400 miles of hard riding and noisy chains it was time for some much needed maintenance beyond the daily fettling. With the very kind assistance and advice (and garage, and tools, and rags, and enthusiasm) of Glen, we set to work on the bikes.






The first order of business was the chains. After we removed the chain guard on my bike, I discovered what poor condition the chains were actually in. My chain had tight spots to where one run had an inch of play and the other was drum tight. Re's chain actually had a kinked link. I don't know why they degraded so rapidly, we knew they wouldn't last the trip but had expected to get more than 3000 miles out of them. While we are carrying heavy loads and running the bikes pretty hard, the chains have been well maintained. Since we purchased them, the chains have been adjusted and lubed every 300 to 400 miles with DuPont Teflon chain lube. Our bikes, however, did sit on the showroom floor for over a year before we purchased them, so I am unsure of their condition prior to sale.






Regardless of why, they needed to be changed. While I removed the old chains and inspected the sprockets, Glen got out his Dremel and cut the new chains to length. The RK o-ring chains that I had purchased prior to the trip only came in a 120 link length but the Symbas only need 96 of them. The new chains went on easily, but after the chain guard went on, we quickly discovered that the o-ring chain is wider than the stock one, and it was dragging on the chain cover. We removed the covers, spread them slightly, reinstalled them, and everything was quiet once again.





It was also time for an oil change, so while the oil drained and I checked other fasteners for tightness, Glen was kind enough to run to the auto parts store for two new quarts of 10w40 Castrol GTX. The used oil was somewhat discolored but neither black nor burnt smelling, and the oil screens were clean. While the bikes' oil was drained, Glen and I took the opportunity to adjust the valves. I have the Symba shop manual on our laptop and was able to use it to muddle our way through my first valve adjustment on this type of bike. Screw adjusters are certainly easier than shims but finding TDC on these was not very intuitive. We did learn that my bike lacks many of the timing markings on the A/C generator that are present on Re's, too bad we started with mine first! The valves on both bikes were slightly loose and were easily put back to spec. In my visual inspection of the bikes I found that the tires were still in good shape and appear to have enough rubber to make North Carolina at least. I also discovered that we had donated three bolts to the road along the way – Re had lost one countershaft sprocket cover bolt and we both were missing one leg shield bolt each. With inspection done, valves adjusted, new chains installed, and fresh oil in the crankcases, the bikes were once again ready to roll.

I have said since the beginning of the trip that in my toolkit, I have a wrench to turn every fastener on our bikes. But while changing the chains and adjusting the valves, I discovered there were three fasteners on the bikes for which I lacked an appropriate tool – a deepwell 14mm socket to turn the crank, a big washer to unscrew the cover to get to the crank bolt, and a stubby crescent wrench to turn one rear axle fastener (that must be a 21mm or so). Many thanks to Glen, who donated those tools to our cause and was a great help in getting the bikes fit.



Re also took the opportunity to clean up the bikes a bit and we spent the rest of the afternoon and evening eating and swapping stories before heading off to bed again. Many thanks to the Heggie's for their kindness and friendship (and delicious food, too!).


0 miles today. Topped off the oil in both bikes and added a couple of psi to all the tires.
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Old 08-26-2011, 03:50 PM   #47
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Thumb Great read

You guys are doing more miles than a lot of the motorcycle tours I read about. Hope you are finding time to "smell the flowers" as you go.

Love the pictures and narrative. I'll be "tagging along" back here in Portland, and wishing you the best of journeys.

Oh, and more, "Darien pictures!"
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Old 08-28-2011, 09:27 AM   #48
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8/8 and 8/9

8/8 Ride to the Lou


After another easy morning, rising late and enjoying a home cooked breakfast we bid our goodbyes to our hosts and started down the road again. No maintenance this morning after the marathon session of the previous day. Our time at the Heggie's was a nice break from the road and the bikes seemed to appreciate it as well. The new chains were quiet and smooth and I no longer feared the damage that they might wreak if they broke at speed. We cruised around some of our old stomping grounds and rode to the outskirts of town to see how our old house was fairing before heading back into town for coffee with another old friend. The bikes were parked on 9th Street, a fairly busy street, and we could see them from our table. We smiled at the many passersby who paused when they spotted our steeds and their Oregon plates. At least three people took multiple pictures with their cellphones, but we were enjoying our coffees too much to visit with them.


Jazzed on caffeine, we soon set out for St Louis. The bikes were purring right along, enjoying the lower altitude, smooth roads and relative lack of hills. We marveled at how silent and smooth the new chains were; the clutches were still very grabby, though. It is approximately 120 miles from Coulmbia to St Louis on I-70 and takes less than 2 hours. We, on the other hand, couldn't take I-70, so once again we found the “scenic route” and headed south to ride east along the Missouri River. It was a pretty ride- we'd forgotten how picturesque the town of Hermann was. While it was a nice ride, it also added about 40 miles to the trip and took nearly 4 hours as we soon found ourselves winding our way through the St Louis suburbs on surface streets during rush hour. We spent the warm afternoon idling in traffic and were quite happy to finally make it our destination for the night. We stayed with Michael, another old friend we knew from our days in Raleigh, NC and St Louis. We spent the rest of the evening catching up on life and love and business over Racanelli's pizza and Schlafly Kolsches. We were up well past 1am and finally collapsed into bed for the night.


159 miles in about 6 hours of intermittent riding. The bikes are running good with exception of the clutches.


8/9 A day off in St Louis


We rose late today, felling a little “dehydrated” from last night's libations. Suitably fortified by several cups of good coffee, we eventually found our way to the shower and made ourselves decent again. Michael had to go to work, so we spent the morning doing some laundry and catching up on some blogging with the help of Michael's wifi. (We also have a more general interest blog at underboningtheworld.blogspot.com but, be warned, that it is more current than this RR for those who want to read ahead). We had a favorite place for cheap, non-authentic Chinese food near the zoo, so we headed there after noon to see if it was as good as we remembered. It was, and after again eating too much, we set out for the Maplewood Scooter Company.





This shop was recommended to us by Circleblue, a fellow Symba rider who has put more than 10,000 miles on his bike. They were a SYM dealer until the recent troubles with the importer situation and hopefully will be once again after Alliance can get their stuff together. We met Mike and Jeff who own/run the place and spent some time chatting with them. Mike is a real enthusiast and a knowledgeable mechanic to boot, he gave me a couple of tips on the clutches that seemed to help.






I also told him about our struggles with the thin air in the mountains and asked him for his thoughts on replacement needles when he suggested more air instead of less fuel. While we were riding in the high altitudes I considered removing the air filter or even the airbox top, but nixed it due to concerns of too much air and/or no filtration. Mike disappeared into the back and came back with a pair of Uni pod filters he said would fit our carb inlets. He apparently was unable to get a replacement airbox for a cannibalized Symba he acquired and had fitted a Uni to it with decent success. These may be the trick if we are lucky enough to end up in the Himalayas (we are crossing our fingers for a late winter in Nepal) and Mike refused to let us pay for them. Needless to say, if you find yourself in St Louis and need anything scooter related, we recommend the Maplewood Scooter Company. (Seriously, amongst many other scooters,they had 4 Madass 125s on the floor at a very attractive price)





From here we then went downtown in search of another Symba and to get a picture of our bikes next to the Arch. From his blog and other postings we knew that Circleblue worked near a certain area in downtown and went on a hunt for his Symba, Billie. We knew that he must park outside as Billie was recently blown over in a storm and began circling the likely blocks, eyes peeled for a black Symba. We almost gave up when we spotted motorcycle parking down a sidestreet and found Billie. We pulled our bikes on to the sidewalk for a quick picture and then headed toward the Arch. But no photos for us because all decent portrait locations are now blocked by “No Parking” signs and bollards thanks to the post 9/11 security measures. As it was a steamy afternoon, block-to-block riding was fast losing its appeal.


Mid-afternoon we headed back to Michael's house (and A/C) for an unsuccessful attempt at reupholstering our seats. From back in the day when some of us roadraced, Michael still had several square feet of ¾ inch high density stick-on foam that we used for seat pad material on TZs and such. I removed Re's seat from her bike, removed the seat cover and then carved some seat foam to fit. The new foam was too thick and incompressible to fit under the seat cover with the stock foam still in place, and I didn't feel comfortable trying to replace the foam with this high density stuff. Instead, I just put the seat back together unmodified and we tried the pieces I cut as another layer under our sheepskins.


We ended the day with dinner at a local Mexican place and a can't miss visit to Ted Drewes for way too much frozen custard and deliciousness. If you haven't already noticed, we do enjoy eating. We were already much too full before we got to Ted Drewes, but we may never be this way again! Back home for an earlier night as tomorrow we head east again.


28 miles and too many stoplights. The bikes are good.

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Old 08-28-2011, 09:29 AM   #49
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Originally Posted by Scott_PDX View Post
You guys are doing more miles than a lot of the motorcycle tours I read about. Hope you are finding time to "smell the flowers" as you go.

Love the pictures and narrative. I'll be "tagging along" back here in Portland, and wishing you the best of journeys.

Oh, and more, "Darien pictures!"
Well, we did just go to the beach here in NC on the Symbas, look for the "Darien and bikini" picture coming soon!
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Old 08-29-2011, 12:57 PM   #50
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8/10 St Louis, Missouri to Elizabethtown, Kentucky

After a restless night's sleep, we arose to another warm morning and were itching to hit the road again. After breakfast, Re started packing our gear while I headed to the garage to once again subject the Symbas to my tender ministrations. (I'm clearly running out of synonyms for turning wrenches) Both chains took a slight adjustment, which I expected they would after our break-in run. I also removed Re's lower chainguard and gave it a further tweak to clear the new chain since it was dragging ever so slightly on decel. I again adjusted both clutches, cold this time as recommended, and slightly tightened one of my exhaust nuts. Bikes good, goodbyes said, we rode out into the morning sun once more. We lived in St Louis in 2002 -2003 and felt a little nostalgia as we cruised past the Arch on our way to the Eads bridge which was the only non-Interstate crossing we could find in the area. The drawback to the Eads bridge is that it dumps you off in East St Louis, Illinois, a particularly unlovely and dangerous place to be. We followed our directions that twisted and turned us through the city, and the urban and suburban quickly turned rural.



The hot morning didn't ever really make good on it's threat of another hot afternoon as the temperature stayed moderate throughout the day. As the morning went by, we meandered through southern Illinois trying to keep our speeds a little lower today (but still wanting to make the 350 miles my schedule asked for). We soon found ourselves at the bridge across the Illinois/Indiana border where we each paid our dollar to cross the crazy patchwork of pavement that made up the bridge across the Wabash river. Exiting the bridge we found ourselves in New Harmony, Indiana, a truly beautiful old town. There were a fair number of white, puffy clouds in the sky as we rode through Evansville and on to Owensboro, Kentucky.


I noticed that Re was falling back and having a hard time maintaining a constant speed so we swapped off lead duties a few times and finally pulled over for a bathroom stop. Re said she was zoning and actually found herself nodding off - the moderate temperature, pleasant roads and lack of glare were not conducive to keeping her awake. No better time to have some trail mix and apples and a quick nap in the sun before heading out again. This sleepiness may also explain why we failed to take a single picture today. Refreshed and more awake, we motored on into the early evening.


We finally made it to Elizabethtown and another fuel stop. We were both surprised when I checked my iPhone for the time and discovered it was already after 8 pm as we had apparently crossed yet another time zone. While I pumped the gas, Re asked the cashier and a couple of patrons about the location of any nearby campgrounds. No one knew of any close by so we continued into Elizabethtown hoping to spy a handy road sign or billboard. No luck, so we spotted the local Motel 6 and rode over to see if they'd left the light on for us. As we had recently spent several nights rent-free paired with Re's sleepy day, we decided to go for the relative luxury of another night indoors. While Re carried the bags into the room, I locked the bikes and gas cans to each other. Somehow, we seem less worried about the security of our gear and bikes in campgrounds than we do at hotels. Everything secured, we walked across the road for a stomach ache from Taco Hell. Neither of us have eaten at a Taco Hell for several years (and we were never totally sober when we did) and we both now remember why. Back to the hotel and off to bed for dreams of flatulent chihuahuas chasing our Symbas across the the savannah.


349 miles in about 11 hours of riding. We rode in 4 different states today, a first for the trip. The bikes are running well, the clutches still aren't smooth but they are better.
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Old 08-29-2011, 01:06 PM   #51
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8/11 Elizabethtown, Kentucky to Elizabethton, Tennessee

Up early again in preparation for the long day ahead of us, we found our bikes exactly as we had left them. I unrolled my tarp and spread out my tools in the parking lot and set to the bikes. I was happy to find that they needed the least amount of maintenance of any day on the trip so far. Just some chain lube and one psi in each tire and they were good to go. While I worked on the bikes, Re headed across the street to McDeath for more grease and coffee. I figured the best treatment for a burrito induced stomach ache would be a full frontal assault. As we rolled out of town, I pointed out the campground that was less than a mile from the hotel and laughed.




Our route for the day was fairly confusing with lots of turns and confusing road signs, so I wrote them on a post-it note that I stuck to the headlight nacelle. It might have been a sign of things to come when I noticed that it blew away within 30 miles of starting out. The morning was fairly uneventful, and it was a pretty ride through the rolling bluegrass of Kentucky. As lunchtime neared, we found ourselves in the town of Pineville, Kentucky where we pulled off of the highway to look for some Clif Bars and fruit. Not finding any on this street, we headed back onto the highway and looked for another likely street. As we came to a stoplight, I spotted a sign for a Subway and a grocery store on the street to the right. I said, “This looks likely” and thought I had clearly indicated where I was talking about. I flipped on my right turn signal and pulled away when the light turned green. We usually ride in a staggered formation with the outside rider taking the lead. I was leading at the time and consequently pulled out first. I saw that Re was also accelerating smartly, but assumed it was to make it around the corner two abreast. I assumed wrong. As I began to turn right I heard the unmistakable sound of a front tire locking up and looked back to see Re struggling mightily to keep her way too top heavy bike upright. She had managed to stop without t-boning me, but now the bike was leaning too far over for her to save it. I jammed on my brakes and came to a stop in the road and looked back to see her bike gently hit the ground on its right side. Fuck. I ran back to check on her and help pick up her bike. She was fine, she never left her feet and the bike was surprisingly OK, too. The spare rear tire kept the back end off of the ground, and only her mirror and brake lever apparently hit the ground in the front. I then turned around to see my bike laying on the ground on its left side?!? We ran over and picked my bike up and discovered the same lack of anything more than a few scratches. In my haste to get off of the bike, I failed to notice that it was parked on a pretty good downhill slope, in second gear. The only thing that I could figure is that it slowly rolled off of the sidestand. Double Fuck. We putted into the parking lot of the grocery store and decided to take a break for a few minutes. Re was seemingly unfazed by the incident and was only mad at herself for not being able to keep the bike upright. She had been hitting the gym every other day for about 8 months before we left and she is strong, but not stronger than gravity once the bike got past that certain angle.


While I re-inspected the bikes for damage, Re headed into the grocery store for Clif Bars and some fruit. We once again ate by the bikes and dissected what went wrong. Miscommunication, plain and simple, Re thought I meant that we should head further down the highway and was unable to see my turn signal from where she was stopped next to me. We decided at that point that whoever was leading would also signal all right turns with a hand signal as well as the turn signal.

Feeling better with some food in our stomachs and our bikes refreshed by their naps, we continued. When we got underway again I noticed that my left footpeg seemed to be slightly higher now but wrote it off to bending the bracket and kept riding. As the afternoon wore on we crossed into Tennessee and found ourselves gaining altitude again. Fortunately not so much as to upset our carburetion or force us back into third gear. We studiously practiced our hand signals as we traded off the lead throughout the afternoon. After an hour or so I shifted my foot position and realized that my footpegs were rocking up and down on both sides. I signaled a quick stop and we found a patch of shade to park in. Looking under the bike, we found that of the four bolts that secure the footpeg/sidestand bracket, one was gone, one was tight and the other two had backed out at least halfway. Yikes. Out came the 14mm wrench and we tightened up the remaining three while trying to avoid third degree burns from the exhaust pipe. We checked Re's and found them to be tight, so we saddled up and continued on. I wondered as I rode if the loose bolts were the result of rolling off the sidestand or perhaps were part of the cause. Looking back at it, the hill I parked on didn't seem steep enough to cause the bike to roll forward – but it was in second gear and fairly heavily laden... I guess I'll never know.




Tennessee was also a pretty ride and we made frequent stops to check directions and maps to ensure that we were still heading in the right direction. The clouds ahead, however, weren't so pretty. We stopped early for dinner when we saw the familiar Bojangles (!) sign in the distance. Like an oasis to thirsty travelers, we could barely contain our enthusiasm as we swooped into the parking lot and ran inside for fried chicken goodness. During our twelve years in North Carolina, we developed quite a fondness for this chain. Stuffed on chicken and biscuits, we continued on into the evening. As we neared Elizabethton, our destination for the night, the skies finally let loose and we again found ourselves in the rain. A quick scan of the town didn't reveal a single campground, but we knew that the Cherokee National Forest lay ahead a few miles. As the rain began to let up, we wound our way into the rapidly darkening evening and sighed in relief when we spotted a campground sign. We pulled in, fully expecting primitive camping but found that we not only had a beautiful site next to the lake but there were hot showers to boot! We set up our tent and stove and had a cup of coffee in the light drizzle before crawling in for a peaceful night of raindrops tapping on the tent.


345 miles in about 11 hours. Bikes are running good after their naps but the footpeg bracket is now added to the daily fastener checklist.
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Old 08-29-2011, 06:26 PM   #52
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8/12 Elizabethton, Tennessee to Hillsboro, NC

The overcast morning and heavy trees around our campsite made it hard to get up this morning. The lack of early morning light coupled with the knowledge that our day's ride would be under 300 miles led us to turn the alarm off and snuggle some more. Eventually we rolled out to yet another wet campsite, but things had already begun to dry. While Re made coffee I walked up to the bikes and again was pleasantly surprised by how little maintenance the bikes needed. Chains OK, fasteners OK, oil level OK, even the air pressures were good. Just a shot of chain lube and a slight rear brake adjustment on my bike and they were ready to go. We, however, took some more work – we were glad for the hot showers and hot coffee.




We finally hit the road around 10 am, our latest start yet, and cruised through the still misty morning down US 321 towards Boone, North Carolina. We really felt at home in this landscape, having lived in the Raleigh area for about 12 years and spent many weekends strafing the Blue Ridge Parkway, 215 and 276, and the roller-coaster section of 74 around Lake Lure. We have lived all over the US, and this area feels as close to home as any of them. Our trip was soon interrupted by a detour sign, 321 was closed at some bridge up ahead, and this necessitated a trip through Mountain City, Tennessee, where we would follow US 421 south back to US 321. Our mild irritation with the detour soon turned to smiles as the drive to Mountain City was gorgeous, and we finally remembered to start taking photos again. We stopped in Mountain City for brunch and the usual questions from people at the restaurant. We spent more time than we should have chatting with the morning coffee brigade and then turned south for North Carolina.





We hit the border and had to stop for another photo before winding our way further south and east into Boone. Our planned rout sent us down 421 towards Winston-Salem, but I decided that I knew the roads well enough to ignore Google Maps' suggestions. Instead we rode 321 down past Blowing Rock to Lenoir where we picked up 64 east. I recalled that 64 east would join with 70 east, which is the road that would take us to Hillsboro. What I forgot would be the next surprise. Feeling confident in my navigational skills, I paid little attention to the road signs. I had also apparently forgotten that shortly after passing through Salisbury, 70 joins with Interstate 85. Whoops. I didn't actually remember this until we were on the I-85 on-ramp. With no place to stop or turn around we pinned our throttles and shot out onto the Interstate. Immediately swallowed by semis and flying traffic we hugged the right shoulder, but we were in a work zone so the shoulder itself was closed. For nine vaguely terrifying miles we let the mighty Symbas run as fast as they could. I saw an indicated 60 on a slight downhill which unfortunately turned uphill before we saw an exit. We dove off the exit and pulled out the map, which was no help since all we had was just a Rand-McNally road atlas that lacked much detail. Out came the iPhone, and Google Maps once again came to our rescue as it routed us along a couple of country roads and highways that eventually rejoined with 64. All glory to our Mountain View overlords.





We followed 64 through Asheboro before turning north on 49 towards Burlington where we would again try US 70. The sky had again been threatening most of the afternoon and made good on its threat about halfway up 49. We pulled under a gas station awning to zip up vents and then rode into the storm. The Symbas came through the standing water with flying colors. We hit several flooded areas that were about 6 inches deep at speed with no aquaplaning. It rained on and off for the rest of the afternoon and finally stopped when we were about 5 miles from our stop for the night. We pulled into the driveway of our friends Bill and Dawn and were happy to see Bill there to greet us. We had a lovely evening of dinner and conversation, catching up on each others' lives and families. Bill and I worked together for years and started riding at about the same time. It was fun to reminisce about some of our early adventures (like rebuilding my first racebike in Bill's driveway and then putting 50 break-in miles on a totally not street-legal Moto Guzzi V50 with an open megaphone exhaust on the back roads of Durham County).


275 miles in about 9 hours. The bikes are running great but the clutches still aren't quite right.
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Old 08-30-2011, 12:18 PM   #53
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8/13 Hillsboro, North Carolina to Sneads Ferry, North Carolina

We again woke late and had a lazy morning of good coffee and homemade waffles, bacon and strawberries. Thunderstorms were still booming this morning, but since we only had about 200 miles to ride, we were in no hurry to get wet. The radar showed that the line of thunderstorms was slowly working its way east, so procrastination was the order of the day. We spent the rest of the morning admiring Bill's stable of bikes, which includes a PC800 and a GB500, and working on ours. Minor tweaks were all they required – a little oil, some chain lube, and a cinch on one of my exhaust header nuts.






Around 1 pm we decided that we should get on the road since we had 6 or so hours of riding ahead of us. We worked our way slowly through Durham before the road opened up slightly, but then we reached Raleigh and again had to slowly wind our way out the other side. Here we were greeted by faster roads and darker clouds and spent the rest of the afternoon dodging showers and other vehicles. The scenery in eastern North Carolina isn't nearly as pretty as the rest of the state, but we were excited to finally be nearing the coast and the end of Phase 1 of our trip. While we tried to exercise some throttle restraint for the sake of our fuel mileage for most of the day, our excitement won out once we turned south in Jacksonville and headed the last 20 miles to my parents' house. Turning into Sneads Ferry we could smell the salt in the air and zoomed down the last couple blocks to our destination for the next couple weeks. My dad met us in the driveway, and we got off the bikes for the final time in this leg of our journey. Our butts were looking forward to a couple of days of hot sand and salt water therapy.


We have done over 3800 miles in 12 days of riding, and aside from the chains and one simultaneous bike nap, it's been a trouble-free trip. Thanks to our generous friends who provided us with several nights accommodations and home-cooked meals along the way, our 15 days on the road only cost about $850. Over the next couple of weeks we'll be visiting family and friends, going to the beach, eating east Carolina barbeque, and surveying our vast tracts of land (we just bought 2.5 acres in Selma, NC) before we head out again to Ohio and on to Toronto in early September.


195 miles in 6 hours. The bikes are running well, but the clutches are still unhappy.
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Old 08-31-2011, 05:42 AM   #54
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Great story so far!
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Old 08-31-2011, 11:43 AM   #55
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8/14 – 8/31 North Carolina

For the past couple of weeks we have been staying with family and friends in North Carolina, waiting for Phase 2 to start. It was convenient to leave Oregon when we did as our lease had expired, but we didn't really want to get to Africa before mid-September for weather-related reasons. Initially we had planned to fly to South Africa around the 8th of September but found that we would save about $400 per person if we fly on the 15th. So that gave us a few weeks of downtime to spend visiting in NC. We lived in NC for about 12 years, and most of my family is still here, so it seemed like a natural place to stay. We have had the opportunity to see all of my immediate family and see how much all the kids have grown.



We also recently purchased about 2.5 acres of land in Selma, NC adjacent to the new “family compound” and wanted to spend some time doing a little work on it. We spent a couple of days clearing some land and “mowing” the section that was formerly a tobacco field with my dad's DR Brush Machine. It was hot and sweaty work, but it at least looks like we did something (at least until the weeds regrow). Even if we spend all our money on this trip, we'll always have a place to pitch our tent once we return!



Food has also been a priority and have made the rounds of all our favorite place to eat. Chief amongst them is Scott's BBQ in Goldsboro, NC. We have been eating their porky goodness since 1989, and it's still the best anywhere in the US. Unfortunately they are only open on Thursdays and Fridays for lunch since they reopened after Hurricane Floyd, but we were there on the 18th and we'll be there tomorrow, too!



We've also been to the beach several times and have been working on our base tans so hopefully we won't get too burned in Africa and India. We took the Symbas to visit North Topsail beach and were ATGATT over our bathing suits. We got a lot of stares and a few smiles as we stripped off our Dariens and hit the sand. The bikes loved the ride, it was the first time in a long time that they weren't carrying a ton of extra weight and we found ourselves swooping through the turns and twisting the throttles wfo at every stoplight. The clutches liked it better, too, and weren't grabby at all – maybe it's just all the extra weight?

Additionally, we did some banking (to get brand new, uncirculated USD to take with us and also a few traveler's checks) and got our International Driving Permits while we were in Raleigh one afternoon. Oh, and hit the Char Grill for the ½ pound steak burger, naturally.

We have also been catching up on these RRs and trying out our new Hero Gopro video camera which we will hopefully soon start using to add some excitement to our RRs and blog posts. Re has also enjoyed having a kitchen again and has been treating people to such good stuff as Steak and Guiness pie and homemade gnocchi. She loves to cook and we have been putting on what I have been jokingly calling our “Africa reserve layer!”

Hurricane Irene also made an appearance last week. Before Irene made landfall about 50 miles up the coast, we put up boards on the windows and got the generator ready for the inevitable power outage. Lots of wind and rain and trees down but we escaped any real damage. We had the boards down by Saturday evening, and by Sunday the yard was clean. The power went out at about 2 am on Saturday morning and came back on at about 2 am on Sunday. The generator kept the beer cold and a few lights on, so it wasn't even much of an inconvenience.

We have had a couple of bike-related issues while we've been here. Re was trying to start her bike one morning, and the starter wouldn't turn over, as if the battery was weak. Because we were in a hurry to get to Scott's BBQ, I just ran over and gave the kickstarter a kick to get it going. The kickstarter would barely turn for a revolution or so and then it turned easily...? The bike fired up, but I almost didn't notice the strong smell of gas when it did. We took off for the gas station as we were nearly empty, and when we got there Re said that her bike wasn't running right. When I filled up the tanks I saw that Re's took nearly .1 gallon more than mine, which is unusual since they usually take almost identical amounts. I swapped bikes with Re and found that her bike was hesitating but would pull a normal top speed, it was just jerky while doing it. Thinking back through our trip, I recalled the beetle that went down the funnel into Re's tank on our third day of our trip. My suspicion was that the low fuel level in the tank might have resulted in beetle parts being pulled through the fuel screen and into the fuel filter, restricting fuel flow. (Maybe?) After a few miles, the bike began running smoothly and kept doing so for the rest of the trip. But the beetle-induced fuel restriction just didn't make sense, the bike would still pull full speed – not like there was a fuel restriction. And then it hit me. I signaled to pull over and looked at the clear airbox overflow tube and saw just what I was afraid of. It was full and it didn't look like oil. Hard to turn over, strong smell of gas when it did, using too much fuel, and blubbering because of too much fuel. My suspicion was confirmed when I pulled the drain plug on the airbox drain and watched the gasoline drain onto the pavement. The bike had “hydraulic-ed,” the cylinder had filled with fuel, probably due to the vacuum petcock not stopping fuel flow to the carb when parked or perhaps a sticking float. Crap. We were only about 5 miles from my sister's house when I finally figured it out, so we stopped for a quart of oil and headed for her place. We drained the oil and it was full of gas, we shook and tilted the bike to try to get out as much as we could – another time when a 200 lb bike is handy. While the oil was draining I dropped float bowl and pulled the float. The float hadn't sprung a leak and the float needle and seat both looked OK, too. (Another nice thing about the Symbas is you can remove the float bowl with the carb still in place on the bike. Just remove the leg shields and the two screws that hold the carb bowl on, and you have full access.) We buttoned the carb back up, pulled the fuel line and found no fuel flow, so whatever the problem was appeared to have fixed itself. (I still think its the ghost of that beetle!) We filled it back up with oil and changed it again the next day. (Another nice thing about the Symba is an oil change only requires 800cc's of oil!) The problem hasn't reoccurred yet, but we are keeping an eye on it.

The other problem is my broken rear spoke. I just found it this morning as I was doing my usual maintenance in preparation for getting back on the road tomorrow. All the other spokes were tight enough, so I don't know why this one broke. It snapped on the end near the rear brake hub, approximately 1 inch from the hub itself. I have a call into Alliance Powersports to try to have a couple Fed-exed to us in Ohio. I hope they come through as it would be the easiest solution, but I also have already checked out Buchanan's as a back-up. Sigh.



We also partially disassembled the bikes yesterday so we could measure them for crating. We are going to have a crate built by a company in Toronto and are in the process of finalizing our shipping plans. The big bummer is that it appears the crate is going to weigh 275 pounds!?! Apparently it is made out of depleted uranium or something... The bikes only weigh 200 pounds each. And at $6.53 CAD a kilo to ship from Toronto to Cape Town, that is one expensive crate. We are also looking into an uncrated option right now and are waiting for a call back. I'd rather they be crated, but between the cost of the crate and the added weight it has added nearly $600 to my estimate.

Tomorrow we head back to Selma, NC to visit more family, Friday and Saturday we'll be in Raleigh with friends for drinks and debauchery. Sunday (my 45th birthday) we start our two day ride to northeastern Ohio for a visit with the in-laws before riding to Toronto on the 11th where the bikes get crated on the 12th for a flight on the 15th. We fly out on the 15th and land in Cape Town on the morning of the 17th, where we hope to soon be reunited with our Symbas for Phase 3 of this little ride.
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Old 08-31-2011, 12:00 PM   #56
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Great report so far. Nice darien & bikini pic

I find it amazing how you cover so much distance on those small bikes.

As much as I have enjoyed your report so far, I think it will get even better when you get to Africa. I can't wait to read about it!
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Old 08-31-2011, 12:45 PM   #57
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Originally Posted by Underboning View Post
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.
My concern about these 420 size chains is they always call for these on 80 cc and under bikes. Chain cases should extend the life of a chain a bit, but, from what I've found with my SuperCub is that the stock chain being pulled by a 125 cc engine has stretched very little over the 50 cc it replaced, but my engine is somewhat mild for an eighth liter displacement bike.

So the point I'm trying to make is that the original OEM chain and sprockets for the Honda Cub is a DID product which seems to be a better chain than the Taiwanese spec'd KMC's. There are several other types of 420/428 types that are called HD's and they have thicker sideplates and beefier pins. O-ring chains are superior in sealing against dust and muck but you should be able to get a 420 in a HD from DID that would work for a bit less cost. You still will need to clean them more often but I would expect there would be less wear and stretch of the standards.

Sprocket eccentricity is another issue and I try to find the tightest spot and adjust it slight slacker than spec. Slightly slacker chains, especially under heavier loads will tend to wear a bit longer, I've had the KMC's wear their rollers out before the pins when run slightly tight.
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Old 08-31-2011, 12:53 PM   #58
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Great job making it to the East Coast! Really enjoying your RR. I am getting the impression that your Symbas are not quite as sturdy and reliable as you had hoped for. Or maybe LD touring fully loaded requires much more daily maintenance on a Symba than on a DR650. Either way, this has been and will be quite the adventure!
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Old 08-31-2011, 03:32 PM   #59
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Originally Posted by YamaGeek View Post
My concern about these 420 size chains is they always call for these on 80 cc and under bikes. Chain cases should extend the life of a chain a bit, but, from what I've found with my SuperCub is that the stock chain being pulled by a 125 cc engine has stretched very little over the 50 cc it replaced, but my engine is somewhat mild for an eighth liter displacement bike.

So the point I'm trying to make is that the original OEM chain and sprockets for the Honda Cub is a DID product which seems to be a better chain than the Taiwanese spec'd KMC's. There are several other types of 420/428 types that are called HD's and they have thicker sideplates and beefier pins. O-ring chains are superior in sealing against dust and muck but you should be able to get a 420 in a HD from DID that would work for a bit less cost. You still will need to clean them more often but I would expect there would be less wear and stretch of the standards.

Sprocket eccentricity is another issue and I try to find the tightest spot and adjust it slight slacker than spec. Slightly slacker chains, especially under heavier loads will tend to wear a bit longer, I've had the KMC's wear their rollers out before the pins when run slightly tight.
Our bikes are also relatively low horsepower for 100ccs, 6.7hp is what the owner's manual claims and our new RK O-ring chains seem to be holding up well. In just under 1800 miles I have only had to make one initial adjustment on each and then the tension hasn't changed since. I didn't know about the interchangeability of 428s and 420s when I bought ours, but I will definitely keep that in mind if these ever need to be replaced. The chain cases didn't seem to add much in the way of protection to our stock chains as they were very rusty and corroded when I removed them and I had been lubing them with the Dupont Teflon chain lube religiously. Thanks for the tip on the tension as well, I'll keep give it a try.



One of our stock chains next to the replacement
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Old 08-31-2011, 06:42 PM   #60
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Great read! I'll be subscribed for the duration of the trip.

Regarding the chain perhaps you could try a different chain lube. The Dupont teflon is meant for a dusty environment and it does not pick up dirt easily. Since your chain is enclosed it may pay to try a chain lube that is sticky by nature while relying on the chain enclosure to keep dirt out and get better lubrication from the lube because it sticks to the chain.

What spares are you taking on the trip. Tires, chains, sprockets and cables are a must. Spokes for front and rear wheels, tire patch kits, etc. will not be readily available in many of the countries you are visiting and as such should be packed with you.

Best of luck to you both.
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