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Old 05-29-2010, 08:09 PM   #1
Ko OP
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Blinged Versys on/off road around the Dragon

I’m a random person, therefore please bear with me, this will be a random ride report. The silver lining behind this randomness is my love of twisties at high, although morally legal speeds mum, and trolling of forest roads, while of course on top of my Ugly Duck (UD), aka an ‘07 Versys- one of the elusive burnt orange ones




I had a plan for this ride, but, as usual, I didn’t stick to it. I shall start by saying sorry to Mike from Tellico Outfitters for not going back to him- instead of sticking around I had to head back home sooner than expected after I checked my emails.


So, this trip was a blitzkrieg of sorts, an exploration of the best roads in the Eastern US. For the number oriented ones, this was a 7 days, approximately 500 miles/day ride- very little 2 lane highway, mostly backroads and the alleys of those backroads. The total was about 3500 miles, with the last day totaling about 800 miles. Not in the Iron Butt territory, although I’ve been there before- that was when I realized that a comfortable seat is a must have.

Here’s how it goes, I’ll post pictures, lots of them, and short descriptions accompanying those pics. Unlike my previous rides, this time I took lots of pictures- I guess the older I get the more props I need to remind myself of what I’ve done or not done yet, of where I've been or not been yet...



What might become obvious at one point or another, is that this report is also an unapologetic advertising campaign for this bike . I think that is one of those great products still waiting to be discovered, at least for those looking for one bike to do it all.

I set-up mine the way I like it, which means I shaped the seat, numerous times, still not perfect, but close, plus the regular farkles- crash bars, auxiliary lighting, handguards, windshield, headlight, gps holder, sockets, etc etc. I installed a 150/70 Conti TA on rear, instead of the 160/60 that comes with the bike. I love this setup, of TA on rear, and Distanzia on front. Although I would’ve liked the better mileage of the regular Distanzia, the SM compound saved my ass this ride. Perfect for street riding, good enough for off tarmac





While rolling down on BRP, I waited to make sure that this guy made it safely the other side of the road








Some of the goodness out there.









Out


Out there was around BRP, the Nantahala forest- declared by myself as the best area I’ve ever been riding through- when price of gas, people, type of roads, and traffic at this time of the year, end of May 2010, were considered, random places in Tennessee, N. Carolina, W Virginia and Virginia, Pennsylvania, and that’s about it, I think.


Surprisingly enough, although I’ve been through Lebanon, Transylvania, and some Northern countries on my trip through US,









Pisa was not a city/region I remember











As I mentioned, this bike is able to do things its owner is not quite equipped for. There will be a picture, and explanation, about how I blinged Ugly Duck, it sports now a chrome part, thanks to the awesome guys from Logan motorcycles, who opened their store during Victoria Day weekend.





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Old 05-29-2010, 08:24 PM   #2
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I've said this before, and I'll say it again, this thing Kawasaki calls a "Versys" will go wherever the hell you have the balls to point it. This lil bike is a gem.

Looking forward to the rest of your report. Thanks!!
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Old 05-29-2010, 09:54 PM   #3
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My favorite place to ride, on a bike I'm curious about. Subscribed.
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Old 05-30-2010, 12:56 PM   #4
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Raised some eyebrows last weekend on my Versys. Took it to the SLAP rally on White Rock Mountain, AR. Rode with mostly enduros and dirt bikes. Did about 200 miles of gravel and trails over a day and a half plus one pretty gnarly river crossing, all on the original Dunlop tires. As you might imagine, the tires were the real weak spot of my whole set up. Just about worthless in the mud which was my undoing. Lots of fun until the mud tripped me up and I landed hard on my shoulder. I will have much better tires next year. Guys couldn't believe how I was keeping up with them. Hell of a bike. J.
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Old 05-30-2010, 08:58 PM   #5
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Day 1, sort of...

Thanks for interest guys
Here’s the info from the Bike test, where they compared the Versys against pretty much everything else out there. The test was biased though, these guys prefer road bikes, thus the 800GS being the runner-up. While the Versys is not perfect, it is a surprisingly cheap bike with a big heart. [/color]

Yungmann1, the OEM tires are not the greatest, I found them very squirelly when pushed on road. I agree that this bike could be ridden anywhere though, even on those tires. Until this year I used to run sport touring tires, deflated, off road. The only impediments were going across steep areas, and mud. Changing to this set-up, thanks to the trailheading of some guys from US Versys forum, is like night and day. Although the 17’ front still squirms around a bit, it grips when pushed, unlike the previous sport touring tires. The Trail Attack on rear is surprising though, it doesn’t look like much, but it’s a great tire, especially on wet.






during one of the chain maintenance pit stops







Back to this trip, as it might be visible in some pictures, I carried a tent around, and used it






It's a 3 person tent, because is the only one I have, and when bought was bought for both my wife and I, and one of our dogs- who needs to sleep underneath a blanket, etc etc. His needs are endless, as are his wants.



]



Back on topic, total cost of camping for these days was $20, which was for one night at a campground somewhere in the woods. While riding some awesome roads, what else in that area, I ran head-on into a storm- the only signs of it was the wall of water, otherwise it was still clear. I was sporting mesh pants, and the Motoport jacket. By the time I found a place to stop, put on the Froggs, I was somewhat wet- somewhat is an understatement here. Long story short, one hour later, at 9.30pm I noticed a campground sign and went for it- tired, no longer wet though, just tired, didn’t feel like looking for a hidden place to set-up my tent. The irony was that I asked for a spot close to an exit, so I don’t bother people at that hour with my bike, nor do I wake them up in the morning with my bike. What I got were wrong instructions to my spot, and when finally there, it was right in the middle.

The schedule was ride dawn to dusk, and a little later if I didn’t find a spot. Although looks like I had plenty of luggage, the yellow waterproof thingy had the therm-a-rest, and the sleeping bag, the topbox was half empty, and the tent was in one pannier, while clothes filled half of the other.

Preparation to the bike was very thorough, changed the oil, T6 Rotella, checked air pressure, and that’s about it Oh, new tires for this trip too.


Back to places I’ve been, met some interesting characters. Here’s one of them, this guy was in charge of the Natural Tunnel parking lot/entrance/park/who knows what else. Not overly impressed with Ugly Duck or myself at the beginning, but he changed his mind later on.












I talked a lot, but didn’t introduced myself, here I am






These are pics from day 1, pics of the Gettysburg field and village, and some of the roads around there- don't have much of the roads, I was in the early stage of a trip, the one where I am hungry for riding more than I am for pictures



































and time for sleep now, after fighting some interesting riding moments, night riding, through heavy rain combined with fog, on unmarked roads on Skyline- I did see a sign warning of gravel on road, like that was my worry :). Didn't last long though, I was laughing in my helmet about my stupidity/stuborness of riding through instead of pulling over. The rain stopped, the fog was still there, same as the darkness, but I was happy and dry inside my tent



Second day included some nice areas around Shenandoah skyline, and roads around BRP.
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Old 05-30-2010, 09:10 PM   #6
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Nice!!
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Old 05-30-2010, 09:51 PM   #7
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Excellent! I'm a huge Versys fan...it's on my top 3 list for "next bike". And this looks exactly like the ride I'd love to do. Love your pics.

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Old 06-01-2010, 12:44 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Photog
Excellent! I'm a huge Versys fan...it's on my top 3 list for "next bike". And this looks exactly like the ride I'd love to do. Love your pics.

well, let's hope this report will bump Versys to the top of the top 3 :)


Bike wise, UD ran just great. The only problem was a dead low beam bulb, which I didn’t bother to change because I had another PIAA at home- d’oh, I know. These bulbs are much brighter than stock or Sylvania, in my opinion of course, but they don’t last long- about 15.000km. As soon as this one goes out, I’ll change to HID. It’s funny though, I thought of taking it with me, but then of course I forgotten about that.


One mod I did to the low beam was removing the mirror thingy in front of the bulb. I had this done 2 years ago, and never had problems with incoming traffic, of course after properly aiming the light.

I was pleasantly surprised to not feel an increase in vibrations at high speeds - switched from a 16t sprocket back to a 15t, OEM, due to the larger diameter tire on rear. It feels peppier, which is not a placebo effect, it is based on how easy I get the front wheel up…




One thing that really smoothened this bike, for me of course, is the vacuum hose farkle.


I didn’t bother keeping an eye on fuel mileage, I know by now how much gas UD needs. She’s thirstier at high speeds on highway than she is during spirited riding on twisties. I guess an overdrive 6th gear would detract from the character of this bike… Best mileage registered during this trip was 430km on 18l, about 55mpg. Please keep in mind that this was no Sunday riding…Tank is 19l, but on trips I usually fill it up as much as I can, which is about 20-20.5l. She’s not a match for the fuel mileage of a GS, but the price difference more than makes up for that.


Back to my trip, packed and hit the road early. Why early if on vacation? There’s an interesting phenomenon that I noticed, especially since I moved to Western Quebec. It seems that I want to squeeze everything I can from the roads around here. There are plenty of good roads around here and Eastern Ontario, but the best curves are not at every corner. Thus I make sure that I use them as much as I can. It took me 2 days to realize that I can relax now, there’s a perfect curve almost anywhere around me. But I wasn’t in that state just yet
















Pics of the Skyline, compared to the night before this was a piece of cake













Have to say that I came to respect the deer on BRP. They are not like their counterparts in British Columbia for example. These ones here knew that roads are for me, ditches for them, and they also knew to run back into the woods instead of zigzagging all over the road. The worst ones I met were in BC, they stand in the middle of the road and look at you, waiting to come close so that they can dart all over the place.



















While stopped to enjoy the view,
























these guys zoomed by

















Lunch stop, which transformed in bird watching and tent drying. No wonder, with my sorry lunch






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But the bird watching paid off













Nice places, almost felt like being back in Europe













Flowers, proud of self for taking the time to enjoy them
















typpical village at the Northern end of BRP





History





'till next time


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Old 06-04-2010, 03:12 PM   #9
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Busy lately, falling behind with this report

Day three took me through mining towns, big and small










what can be better than a veggie sub in the woods :)

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Old 06-04-2010, 03:25 PM   #10
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While roaming aimlessly through that area,





I understood the other side of the story, the story of the people busting their asses digging out coal










Many of them depend on that coal; it's not easy to understand the ones saying that they have to rely less on dirty fuel, when they breath coal... Friendly people, friendly people living in dilapidated houses, which I didn't shoot out of respect for them.

I don't want to go into the differences between poor and upper class, although next days I saw some interesting realities -on one side of the mountain you have never, or maybe poorly maintained gravel/dirt roads with mobile homes, while on the other side, same road, there's a pristine tarmac with million dollars homes....
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Old 06-04-2010, 03:40 PM   #11
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This was an eventful day...

While enjoying some of the mountain passes, and/or (ex)mining roads,





suddenly I was helped to remember what I forgot to do before leaving for this trip- removing the peg feelers. Darn pegs are not meant for dropping the bike


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Old 06-04-2010, 03:55 PM   #12
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Ko's report

Vert nice report and pics, has a very haiku feel......Love the bird pics, must have taken some patience to get those. Lots to see, sometimes we dont take the time to look. Thanks!
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Old 06-04-2010, 04:00 PM   #13
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Sure am happy for the weight of this bike

Picking it up, even on an incline is not quite a piece of cake, but with the bike in gear, and with the front brake engaged- tied up with the omnipresent Velcro thingy, was not a problem at all.

No pics of the bike going down though, I was afraid of gas spilling on the overflow- I had just filled up half an hour or so before. I do have a picture of the place I dropped it, right smack on top of one of the mountains in the Logan area



hmm, it looked more difficult in reality , what caught me was going too slow, and the muddy tire lost traction. No other damage but the footpeg, not even a scratch. Easily avoided pain in the back, if only I had removed the peg feelers. On the upside, Ugly Duck has one shiny part now- doubtful about being able to use this type of footpeg offroad, but to my surprise it's grippier than the OEM one



Installed the peg, thanks to the people from Logan motorcycles who opened their store durng the VD weekend, and even gave me a discount on those footpegs


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Old 06-06-2010, 04:03 PM   #14
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Keep em coming! Have not dropped my V yet but am quite sure I will!
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Old 06-08-2010, 10:27 PM   #15
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That/this day was about riding around Deal's Gap,




combined with a stop at the Natural Tunnel state park. Went couple times on the Dragon, checked. Most impressed with the skid marks It shows that riders/drivers are not familiar with that style of roads. I rode similar, actually more difficult roads in that area, with no skid marks what-so-ever.

PS. Love the sense of humour of road engineers in that area









Just perfect roads...


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