Conserve The Ride 2018: The Road to Pennsylvania

Exhausted. I kicked down the side-stand, and slowly climbed off the scrambler. I looked down to examine the oil spattered all over the back half of the frame and saturating the transmission case. Standing in the parking lot of the filling station, I thought to myself, “…over 320 days in the saddle. I hope this isn’t the deal-breaker…”

Triumph Scrambler Oil Leak MotoADVR.jpg

60 hours earlier… Friday, June 8th

03:45 AM

Alarm goes off, I grab my gear strewn about the couch, turn on my SPOT tracker; mount up on the Scrambler.

05:10 AM

Blasting east down US-35 under the cover of darkness… bored to death.

05:45 AM

Grab gas in Chillicothe, along with a sandwich and some cold coffee.

Chillicothe Gas station Triumph Scrambler MotoADVR

05:47 AM

Drop cold coffee in parking lot… glass shatters next to Scrambler…

06:06 AM

Head east on US-50 toward WV; Rosie uses her super power…

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06:57 AM

Ride through rain off and on; finally arrive in Parkersburg, West Virginia.

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09:33 AM

Find the glorious West Virginia mountain twisties on US-50. Man I love it here…

US-50-WV-Triumph-Scrambler-MotoADVR.jpg

 

10:49 AM

Stop off US-219 near the Maryland border. Hike up to Hoye Crest (Backbone Mountain), the highest point in Maryland; first time I’ve ever walked into a new state.

 

10:58 AM

Hiked about a half mile up the trail, starting to sweat. Regret wearing my jacket up the hill. Pass a hiker, ask if I’m about halfway there.

11:48 AM

Cross into Maryland on the Scrambler; another new state I’ve ridden to this year; check that off the bucket list.

 

11:58 AM

Finally drop off the US routes for some of the Maryland backroads.

12:16 PM

Wow, Maryland has beautiful rolling hills and gorgeous sweepers.

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12:25 PM

“Holy shit a county lawn tractor…” as the rear tire is skidding…

12:58 PM

Finally reach Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania Border Triumph Scrambler MotoADVR

1:18 PM

Stop at Mount Davis, the highest point in the keystone state. Find it interesting that Maryland’s highest point is actually taller than the tallest peak in Pennsylvania.

Mt Davis PA Highpoint MotoADVR

1:25 PM

Notice someone familiar starting up the stairs as I’m climbing down the fire tower. Apparently that hiker from Maryland had the same idea I did. (Strange coincidence… it won’t be the last this weekend)

2:07 PM

US-219 aint so bad, these Pennsylvania mountains remind me of Tennessee.

3:15 PM

I-99 is also surprisingly scenic, not quite I-40, but again, reminiscent of US-25E jammed into I-77.

4:30 PM

Pennsylvania Amish country is gorgeous, I could get used to this.

Pennsylvania Countryside MotoADVR

4:51 PM

Finally arrive at Woodward Campground after 12 hours and 538 miles on the road.

Triumph Scrambler CTR Camp MotoADVR

To be continued…

 

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Red River Scramble 2018: The Recap

Miguels Pizza Cherry Ale 8 MotoADVR

It’s been difficult to put “words on paper” to describe this year’s Red River Scramble; the support from the motorcycle touring and adventure community was overwhelming. Red River Scramble Saturday Party wide JSPI set out to offer a venue for motorcyclists to discover the best of eastern Kentucky, and by the sounds of it, attendees did much more exploring than I anticipated. While I spent most of my time pointing folks toward destinations that fit the kind of riding they desired, Saturday afternoon I did enjoy a few hours of gravel and slippery Kentucky clay along the southern portions of the Daniel Boone Backcountry Byway (DBBB). However, this event wasn’t about where I rode, it was about introducing new people to the majestic views and local byways. Looking at the REVER tracks and clicking through photos on Facebook and Instagram, this year’s attendees covered an incredible amount of real-estate in the few hours they were on site.

 

The Stats

Over 90 event registrations
Including riders from 6 six states
Riding motorcycles from 11 different brands
Composed of over 35 unique models
Shockingly, the Triumph Scrambler was highly represented (5)…
Closely followed by the Africa Twin (4), while both were eclipsed by (8) KLRs in attendance

 

Landmarks Visited

  • Nada TunnelFitchburg Furnace Rob Edwards
  • Sky Bridge
  • Natural Bridge
  • Grey’s Arch
  • Courthouse Rock
  • Chimney Top Rock
  • Halfmoon Rock
  • Black Mountain
  • Cottage furnace
  • Buckhorn Log Cathedral Greg BodenburgFitchburg Furnace
  • Camp Wildcat
  • Woodford Reserve
  • Buckhorn Log Cathedral
  • Hall’s on the River
  • Miguel’s Pizza
  • Red River Rock house
  • Daniel Boone Backcountry Byway
  • …and more I’m sure that I’ve missed

 

The Bluegrass Scavenger Hunt

Speaking of exploring, I was really impressed by participants in this year’s scavenger hunt. I deliberately chose points of interest that would suit a variety of riding tastes; MZ660 Baghira Fincastle Road MotoADVRto my surprise, the top finishers chose to visit a very diverse selection of those destinations. I figured I would see some high-mileage road riders competing against a history buff and maybe an off-road rider. Instead, each of the top finishers spent time riding off-road, hiking, and picked up a few extra points on pavement along the way. In the end, the grand prize winner carried the day with 87 points. Looking over his route, he finished the entirety of the Daniel Boone Backcountry Byway in five and a half hours. After which, he parked his bike at the end of Tunnel Ridge Road and hiked five miles round-trip out to Courthouse Rock on the north end of Red River Gorge and still managed to hustle back to camp before 7 PM. The runners-up had similar stories, touring and hiking in Red River Gorge before lunch (Gray’s Arch), and then riding select portions of the DBBB in the afternoon. I do hope that this adventurous spirit catches fire with this year’s attendees so that next year even more folks sign on to try their hand at the scavenger hunt.

 

Another Thanks to our Sponsors

Per my comments at the Saturday night gathering, we owe a big thanks to this year’s sponsors. If you attended the event, please look up these folks and tell them you appreciate their support; if you won a prize, take photos of that prize and tag them on social media and tell everyone how awesome it is. I’m ecstatic to have the list of sponsors that we did the year, and hope to welcome them back in 2019.

RRS Event Banner SMALL

Planning for 2019

Despite turning right around from Red River Scramble and heading out to Pennsylvania for Conserve the Ride the following weekend (more on that soon), Fincastle Road Triumph Scrambler Red River Scramble Tom WittI’ve already started planning for next year’s event. I am looking over the calendar for similar motorcycle events taking place in the spring, but as of this moment, I have my eye on the weekend before Memorial Day weekend next year. Winter is so unpredictable in this part of the country, it was unseasonably cold just a few short weeks prior to this year’s “Scramble”, but thanks to Tropical Storm Alberto, I would say it was almost unseasonably warm this year. I personally like “good sleeping weather”, so I’m looking for comfortable camping conditions for those inclined; that and lodging is typically a shade cheaper on the front end of Memorial Day.

I’m also tossing around a few changes for next year. First off, I want to expand the rally to an additional day, making it a Thursday thru Sunday affair. Red River Scramble Saturday Party JSPI would also like to have some sort of “dinner” to coincide with the Saturday night gathering and door prize giveaway; like burgers and hotdogs or something to that effect. I unquestionably want to get group photo next year, that way folks can show off their bikes and anyone that skipped out can see what they missed. I’ve debated about having some type of “awards” to give away. Something like “muddiest bike”, “furthest distance traveled”, or the people’s choice award for “best scrambler”; and by “best scrambler”, that doesn’t necessary mean motorcycle model, but perhaps something like best run up Fincastle Road or “most bizarre adventure machine”.

Based on some of the feedback I’ve received, I also plan on upgrading the navigation options for next year. Door Prize Giveaway JSPWhile there were countless options available, I think some folks were still struggling to choose something they felt appropriate for their riding level. Next year I plan on re-baking the GPX files with a clearer “difficulty” label and setting up a “main loop” dual sport route with optional hard sections. I would really like to get a hold of some paper maps; however, it’s surprisingly challenging this day and age to do so affordably. I too appreciate the utility of old-fashioned paper, but more importantly I want the ability to literally point at a map and highlight places that riders will want to ride or potentially avoid.

 

Red River Scramble Survey

I’m of the mindset that you should continuously improve, so I’m asking for your help to make next year’s rally even better. If you made it to Kentucky this year, please click the link below for the 10-question survey and let me know how things went. If you didn’t make it this year, but plan to attend next year, I still want your input. Again, please click the survey link below; I’ve included N/A as an option for questions specifically related to this year.

Red River Scramble Survey

 

Again, I want to thank everyone to made the journey to eastern Kentucky; I hope you enjoyed your stay, and also hope you return often. I also want to thank folks for sharing so many photos of this year’s event. For those that couldn’t make it this year, we look forward to seeing you next spring!

 

Chimney Top Rock end of day MotoADVR

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VUZ Dry Tank Backpack: Long-term Gear Review

Way back in my college days,DCIM100GOPROG0131538. I used to commute almost an hour to campus after work. At the time, I was still lugging around my laptop in and old backpack I bought when I headed overseas the first time back in ’03. After upgrading to the Speedmaster in ’13, I gave up the backpack thing for quite a while, but when offered the opportunity to try out the new waterproof backpack from VUZ Moto, I took them up on their offer.

The Details

The VUZ Moto Dry Tank Backpack is made from waterproof TPU tarpaulin and has 5.8 gallons for storage capacity. VUZ Backpack Out of Box MotoADVRThe backpack includes two outer pockets in addition to the main compartment; on top near the carrying handle there’s an easy access pocket for your wallet, keys, and spare change, along with a larger cavity on the back face where you can store paperwork or traditional road maps. The rear pocket also includes a clear plastic “window” where you can place your smart phone if you wish to use it for navigation. Say what? Yeah, if it wasn’t evident already, the backpack doubles as a tank bag; the shoulder straps unbuckle so you can tuck them behind the back pad and then fold out a set of magnetic “wings” to attach the backpack to your tank (assuming it’s metal). The main storage compartment also includes a padded sleeve for up to 15” laptops.

Beyond storage, VUZ Moto has put in the effort to mind the details; water-resistant zippers are paired with the tarpaulin material to protect your precious cargo from the elements. Along with the shoulder straps, there’s a chest buckle that’s not only adjustable, but includes an elastic portion to keep the strap “snug” so it doesn’t flap in the wind at high speeds when it’s not cinched down all the way. If 22 liters of storage isn’t enough, VUZ also includes a six-point cargo net that fastens to D-rings on the back side of the bag so you can pile on even more stuff. To help increase visibility on those late night commutes across town, reflective panels are positioned on the shoulder straps. Lastly, VUZ also includes a conveniently located (post-ride) bottle opener on left shoulder strap.

Function

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Like I said, I gave up the whole backpack commuter thing when I got a luggage rack on the cruiser (I’m a big fan of tail bags). However in this case, timing worked out pretty well as I found myself commuting across town several days a week during the workday over this past winter. Per my recent comments, we had record rainfall this spring, with the VUZ backpack, I didn’t have to worry about my work laptop getting wet when riding back and forth between the vendor and my office. Speaking of which, I probably stretched that “15” laptop capacity to the absolute limit; VUZ Backpack Laptop in Sleeve MotoADVR MotoADVRfortunately, the laptop sleeve can actually be partially removed from the bag so you can easily push your computer all the way down in the sleeve and then fold the sleeve back into the bag. Using the bag for work meant filling it with the before mentioned engineering laptop, the corresponding (gigantic) power supply, mouse, headset, a thick engineering notebook, my lunchbox, and naturally all the sniffle gear I could shove in the bag to stay warm on the ride home from farm country. Humping around a big laptop in the bag does put a lot of stress on the shoulder straps; the chest strap fortunately helps distribute that load a bit, and despite being “stuffed” to capacity, neither the shoulder straps or the carrying handle show sign of wear after weeks of being overloaded.

“Dry bags” are kind of a thing these days, and there’s no question I’m a fan. That said, most of the modern dry bags are the black (or rally yellow) “trash bag like” roll tops that are completely about function. DCIM100GOPROG0131461.VUZ on the other hand has offered a more aesthetically pleasing image as the “canvas denim” look breaks up the utilitarian aspect of the tarpaulin, you don’t realize what material it’s made out of until you put your hands on it. This is the first all-weather backpack I’ve had the luxury of using on the motorcycle; back in the before mentioned college days, I used to wrap my laptop in a big trash bag in case I got rained on; with the VUZ bag, I just push the computer in the bag and go. I have pretty extensive experience with water-resistance zippers from my riding gear, and like those, these zipper on the VUZ bag is indeed 99% waterproof. VUZ Tank Backpack Top Harley Sportster MotoADVRWhen riding in the rain I never experienced a problem with the contents getting wet. That said, from day one I did due diligence to test the limits; just like a any new “waterproof” gear I get my hands on, I filled up the backpack with anything I could find and tossed it in the shower. With heavy, direct, water pressure, a few “frog-stranglers” did slip past the zipper; I assume you would have to be standing still in a serious downpour to experience similar conditions. In the next iteration of bags, VUZ may want to add a flap or “rain gutter” to the zipper (or perhaps a roll-top) to remove any lingering fear that your stuff might get wet.

In the interest of full disclosure, I didn’t use this bag as a tank bag very often. Because of the “knee pads” on the Scrambler tank,VUZ Tank Backpack Harley Sportster MotoADVR it was difficult to position the bag in a way where the magnets could contact the tank in a fashion where I could still maneuver the bars and have sight of all my various “dashboard” gadgetry. Not long before writing this, I tossed the backpack on the Dirtster’s tank and took a ride. Without all the bar mounted GPS and cell phone junk, the bag sat on the Harley peanut tank a bit better. However, I did notice that the bag still didn’t grip the tank as confidently as I would like. DCIM101GOPROG0192114.I suspect that the soft “back pad” puts full responsibility on the magnets to hold it still, and there’s no doubt the wider bag and skinny tank didn’t help the situation. The problem with tank bags is usually the fear of scratching the tank; VUZ has specifically addressed this issue with this bag by providing that softer back-pad I mentioned (an upgrade from their previous model). I expect that this will be less of a problem on some bikes versus others, but I would probably advise VUZ to bump up the magnet strength a bit with any future upgrades.

 

Final Impressions

While I sometimes find riding with a backpack tiring, there’s no denying I appreciate the VUZ bag for its utility. DCIM100GOPROG0071187.On the morning commute it’s convenient to just toss in my lunchbox, throw on the backpack and not fuss with a saddle bag, then walk straight into the office when I get there. Backpacks, even motorcycle backpacks are a dime a dozen, however I feel safe saying that water-resistance backpacks are more rare and worth the expense. Priced at $90, I think VUZ is chiefly up against comparable Oxford and Nelson Rigg backpacks; both competitors also offer additional features (including buckled roll tops), however the cheaper Oxford is basically a dry bag with shoulder straps, while both lack the laptop sleeve and tank bag conversion of the VUZ, and are unquestionably aimed at the more utilitarian ADV crowd. The VUZ dry backpack bridges the gap between casual rider, commuter, and adventure enthusiast, offering utility in conjunction with creature comforts at a fair price (that also keeps your homework dry).

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Posted in Gear and Safety | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments

Ducati Scrambler: First Impressions of the 1100 Sport and 800 Cafe Racer

Long-time Moto Adventurer followers are already familiar with my fascination with Red Headed Italian Supermodels. Beyond the desmodromic brand’s reputation and (at least partial) responsibility for getting me on a motorcycle, Ducati now has an entire line of motorcycles under the “Scrambler” moniker. I’ve been trying to get out to Ducati of Indy for a demo ride for over a year now; unfortunately, schedules have just not meshed up for whatever reason. As it turns out, my buddy Andy, recently moved back north and stopped in for a demo ride on Ducati’s newest Scramblers. Here’s Andy’s report:

Let’s start with the newbie, the Scrambler 1100 comes in three models, the Scrambler 1100, the 1100 Special, and the 1100 Sport; of the three, I chose to demo the 1100 Sport. The 1100 Sport is fitted with three ride modes, Active, Journey, and City. The Sport is also shipped with premium Ohlins suspension, both front and rear, where the other 1100 stable mates are fitted with a Kayaba rear shock and Marzocchi forks. Ducati Scrambler 800 Cafe Racer Right Andy ParkerThe colors and the suspension are the most visible changes to the other models, and while there are other differences between the three, I feel the suspension is likely to have the largest impact. I’m not going to list all the specs here, this is just an initial impression of how the bike rides after a 30-mile mix of highway, backroads, and urban two lanes, you should have no problem looking up the specs for yourself to decide which of these premium motorcycles is for you (see Ducati Scrambler specs here). What I feel is important about a motorcycle isn’t all about the numbers and the technical specifications as much as how the bike makes you feel when you ride it and how badly you want to get back on when you’ve finished your trip.

My initial impression on the road, the Scrambler 1100 engine is really smooth compared to the last 1100 air-cooled Ducati I rode, Ducati Scrambler 1100 Sport Left Andy Parkerthe 2012 Hypermotard 1100 Evo SP that graced a corner of my garage a couple of years back (and is sorely missed on occasion). That bike still had the traditional dry clutch and although it was much better than older versions, it was still a bit grabby at times; there is none of that at all with this new Scrambler motor. In fairness, the 2012 Hypermotard was intended as more of a track bike than a commuter or weekend tourer so you’d expect a few rough edges. That wouldn’t be an issue racing but for daily use, as the Scrambler 1100 will primarily be used for, a level of “refinedness” should be expected; not to mention the six or so extra years of development that has since gone into the engine. I imagine the elevated smoothness of the engine and transmission can mostly be attributed to the wet clutch, but also better fuel mapping, and in general, the continuing evolution of the brand really does show through in the character of the bike. Ducati Scrambler 1100 Sport Rear Andy ParkerAlthough I need to confirm this, it feels as if the flywheel is a little heavier than previous 1100’s especially the Evo SP and Monster (which also benefited from a wet clutch). This impression is derived from the feeling the motor gives you as you either roll-on the throttle or just snap it open, it tends to gain momentum rather than instantly lurch forward; it’s not slow by any means, just a very pleasing change in forward momentum both in Active or Journey mode, it’s a controlled acceleration that is predictable, the feeling you expect from a well sorted engine. If you don’t know any better, you’d be forgiven for mistaking it for a three or four-cylinder bike if it wasn’t for the brilliant exhaust note. It really does sound like the real Ducati of old, even fitted with on the OEM cans. I bet you could increase the authenticity of the vintage sound with a less restrictive air filter and tail pipe, and some playing with the mapping.

The smooth engine is complimented by an easy clutch action, so light that it really takes no pressure to operate the lever, meaning the span can be adjusted for much smaller hands than my 2XL versions. The disengagement is achieved with a small pull and gears can be changed with very little movement. The six-speed gearbox is precise and provides excellent feedback with nothing even short of anything other than perfect transitions up and down the gearbox, even neutral was hit first time going up and going down to a standstill. Just a small blip is all it takes to slide into a lower gear when slowing for a stop sign or reducing speed for an upcoming curve. Words like ‘buttery smooth’ and ‘easy to ride’ frequently came to mind while I was curving through the roads north of Indy.

I did notice there is a smoother throttle response in Journey Mode with a little more forgiveness to a clumsy grab of too much throttle, it’s also noticeably more relaxed than the Active mode. Ducati Scrambler 1100 Sport Right Andy ParkerI have to confess, I didn’t try the City mode with reduced horsepower but if it’s anything like the Urban mode on my current ride, the 2017 Monster 1200S, the step down isn’t felt until the throttle is more than half way open and your objective is rapid acceleration, it’s simply smoother. It’s more of an aid to provide the power in the right way, I imagine it’s like Journey mode in its power delivery, smooth, relaxed and responsive rather than the urgent response of Active mode which also changes the ABS setting from 3 in Journey to 2 in Active (lower numbers indicate less electronic intrusion). I assume it increases another number in City to a 4 or 5 level of intervention.

For a larger brother to the 800 Scrambler (and subsequent 400 cc “Scrambler Sixty2”) this is a nice step up in terms of size as the bike is just as well balanced and predictable as the smaller kin. Sure, it’s also a step up in power but it feels like the 1100 is meant to be for bigger folks and the 800 for average Giovani’s because although the extra power is noticeable, the bike’s ride is very much the same, and they are very close on the road. As the old saying goes, ‘a fast guy on an average bike will always be quicker than an average guy on a fast bike’, and this seems to be true here.

For the return leg of our little trip, we switched mounts and I took over the controls of the Scrambler 800 Café Racer. Ducati Scrambler 800 Cafe Racer Rightfrontqtr Andy ParkerWhere-as the 1100 is in the mold of the original Ducati Scrambler, the Café Racer has a revised riding position. This is achieved by changing out both the handlebars and going to a smaller 17-inch front wheel. The other Scramblers are fitted with 18-inch fronts and 17-inch rears, apart from the Desert Sled which sits a little higher and has a 19-inch front rim. The Café Racer’s dual seventeens give the bike a feeling of slightly faster steering with a ride that’s no less stable.

As the 800 Café Racer is slightly smaller than the 1100, you’d expect it to be a bit lighter, where it delivers, Ducati Scrambler 800 Cafe Racer Right Pose Andy Parkerbut it’s also a different bike to sit on. This bike has more of an old school lean forward than a true Café Racer position. The difference in the weight wasn’t really noticeable at standstill (454lbs for the 1100 and 414lbs for the Café Racer), sure there was just a bit more of a pull to get the 1100 off the side-stand but I’m wondering how much of the difference was due to the bars rather than the extra 40 pounds; I’ve always felt low bars made you feel the weight more. The 1100 and the other 800s have a pretty upright riding position that give a good command of the road ahead and makes it easy to look around while you’re travelling, while the Café Racer’s position is more forward, it doesn’t take away from that ability to see all around you in any way. The mirrors on Ducati’s are very good these days, and the bike is still very comfortable, much more so that the head-down, arse-up position of the more glittery race reps that everyone used to hanker for.

Just like the bigger 1100, the Café Racer’s suspension is spot on – not too firm, Ducati Scrambler 800 Cafe Racer Rightquarter Andy Parkerbut certainly not plush; it feels sporty, properly sprung and quite confidence inspiring. It’s a great match for the engine characteristics. Overall, they are both well sorted, torquey bikes with great road manners and easy to operate controls that are easy to reach and in the right place. The 800 has the same round retro style gauge cluster with little lights around the circumference to show turn signal direction, high beam and other warning lights but lacks the extra obround gauge the 1100 has overlaying the main gauge. After all, there’s more info to relay on the 1100, with all the ride modes and traction control data you need to know.

Both of these bikes are more than capable of performing all kinds of daily activities in comfort, although for my old bones the more upright 1100 had more space for me to move around when certain body parts feel like they’re likely to get a wee bit uncomfortable. I imagine the other 800’s and 400 for that matter have the same casual upright riding position that’s roomy and relatively relaxed but keeps you engaged. The seats are soft enough to keep you in place but not so soft that any hard spots were noticed in an hour or so of riding; I’m guessing they’re good for a few hours between fuel stops, burger joints, coffee shops, and sightseeing.

Of course, there are lots of options to bolt on these machines to customize them in a number of ways, whether it’s for touring comfort, off-roading, urban commuting, or you’re just looking for a little bit of individuality, and that’s on top of the wide range of bikes that are the Scrambler family.

Ducati Scrambler 1100 Sport and 800 Cafe Racer Andy ParkerThese machines are a pleasure to ride, and my intuition tells me they’re a pleasure to own and will meet your needs and grow with you as your capability and skills increase if you are a relatively new rider, where a more experienced rider will still find them more than capable of hauling you around with a level of aplomb only found in sport bikes of just ten years ago. You can throw them around and they respond with a rewarding riding experience, or you can bimble about picking up groceries as cool as you can be. They are easy to live with (you can’t say that about every Italian) and I wouldn’t mind either one (or both) in my garage.

I also want to note, a big thanks goes to Bill Carr, Matt Carr, and Dave Jenkins for the opportunity to ride these fabulous bikes. You should certainly go see them at Indy Ducati, and know they’re passionate about the brand and are truly good people to deal with.

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Red River Scramble: Last Minute Housekeeping

I’ve spent the past couple days folding welcome letters, gathering up door prizes, and “stuffing” welcome packets in preparation for this weekend. Needless to say I’m excited to show off “The Motherland” to everyone that shows up to the event, while also looking forward to a little adventure riding myself. I wanted to touch base (again) on a few topics as we’re in the final hours before folks start rolling toward Red River Gorge.

Registration

If you’ve not already registered, please do so as soon as possible (Registration HERE). Per my Event Schedule comments, after grabbing Miguel’s Pizza for lunch on Friday, I want to do a little riding, and then I’ll head back to the campground to get set up for everyone’s arrival.

Natural Bridge Campground Cabin MotoADVR

Assuming it’s not raining, I’ll have a table set out at my cabin. Please stop by and see me, I’ll have a welcome packet, a door prize ticket, a bottle of Ale-8 (while supplies last), and some event paperwork I need to go over with attendees. In the event of rain, I’ll be at the main campground shelter where you check-in with the campground manager to get your campsite (assuming you’re camping).

Cabin/Campground check-in

Per my previous comments about lodging check-in, attendees are responsible for their own camping/lodging arrangements. If you’re staying on the campground, you’re good to check in at the campground shelter after 12 PM, however folks renting a cabin from Natural Bridge Cabin Company will need to wait until at least 3 PM to get their key. This includes cabins that are physically on the Natural Bridge Campground. Speaking of which, if folks have reserved cabins at the campground, be advised, the Natural Bridge Cabin Company rental office is down the street on KY-11; you can find it on google, however the marker is actually a few hundred yards south of where the actual building is located. The cabin rental office the northern most building in that strip, the sign is very small, so slow down and take your time finding it (MAP).

Safety

Speaking of “taking your time”, for first time visitors to the gorge, I want to reiterate, this is absolutely my favorite place to ride.

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The unique geographical location has given birth to a extraordinary combination of exceptional roads and scenery. Due to the rural nature of the area, these roads also evolve, sometimes by the hour. Hard rains can bring down trees, wash gravel and mud out into the roadway, and if you don’t encounter a dog sleeping in the middle of the road at some point during your stay, I’ll be shocked; and that’s just the paved roads I’m talking about.

Ultimately I want everyone to have a good time and return to visit, not only next year, but as often as possible. At the same time I want folks to keep their “eyes and ears up”; I see conditions change every time I visit, especially off-road. I highly recommend “the buddy system” for everyone, especially off-roaders. I understand that the Bluegrass Scavenger Hunt is scored individually, but if you’re adventuring into the unknown, please take precautions, keep your wits about you, and bring a friend along if at all possible.

Thanks to our Sponsors

I want to give a big shout-out to this year’s sponsors. These folks have stepped up to support this “Bluegrass Adventure Rally” idea and we have a lot of great prizes to give away this year. I want to give them a big thanks for making this rally that much better, and ask that folks go to their websites and check out their products. If you buy something (and you should), tell them you found them at Red River Scramble. Also, please check out their social media outlets, like, follow, and when you post photos of the event, tag them when applicable.

Photos

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With regard to photos, I’m here to tell you, every time I come home from a visit to the gorge, I realize I missed a great photo op (fortunately my buddy’s still catch me doing dumb stuff from time to time). Take as many photos as possible while you’re in Kentucky, be it this weekend or any visit. Put those photos up on social media, and tell folks how amazing it is. If you’re attending the event this weekend, please be sure to hashtag #RedRiverScramble in the your photos and tell your friends what they’re missing.

Now I need to pack this stuff up and get the bike ready to roll. We’re in the final countdown now folks, see you Friday!

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Posted in Events | Tagged | 4 Comments

Ask Moto Adventurer: What’s a Good Learner Bike?

On Monday I received a text from a good friend of mine. Turns out, a guy he works with wants to take up motorcycling. Naturally, as a great ambassador of the “sport”, my buddy wants to help facilitate this process and set his friend up for success. Thus, the text said “Keep your lids peeled for a good learner bike under $3k, must have ABS.”

 

I troll Craig’s List pretty regularly; I’m here to tell you, $3,000 buys a lot of motorcycle these days, especially for your “first” motorcycle. On the flip-side, because we live in America, the requirement for ABS will narrow the field, considerably (because, ‘Merica…). “Conventional Wisdom” probably suggests that one buy a Rebel 250, which I almost guarantee lacks ABS, and the crowd will also likely say “You’ll outgrow it in a year”.CBR250 CL Ad I’m typically of the mentality that any mature male can usually handle just about any bike as a first motorcycle; of course, maturity is the key point there, but stature also plays a role. I’m also of the mindset that it usually makes more sense to buy the first bike on the cheap, that way you can spend some dough on quality gear, and start saving for the inevitable “upgrade”. That’s also not a hard and fast rule; some folks know what they want, or ride in manner where “any” bike will do, and that works too.

 

If it were me, I would probably pick a bike that’s in the 250 to 500 cc range. Ninja 300 CL adThese days there’s a myriad of bikes that were “learners” not that long ago. Locally, I see many listings for CBR250s with ABS right now, including a 2012 CBR250R. I don’t think that’s a bad plan, the CBR250 of today is “less budget” than the go-to Ninja 250 of yore. I do agree, depending on stature, I could see that bike being “outgrown” relatively quickly, depending on your taste and who you ride with. I also found a 2015 Kawasaki Ninja 300 in the same search, again, a far cry from the “entry level” 250 of yesteryear. I think those are fair options, but if it were me, CB500x CL adI would probably spring for the CB500X I found in Lexington. I’ve been chatting with a buddy about his CB500X since I saw it in person last year; if I could find a good deal on one (in fact, this one might work), I would feasibly consider it as a second bike for myself. Easily a great commuter bike, the CB500X offers “room to grow” with its 500 parallel twin, while also the “reputation” of Honda reliability and tempered “power” for a new rider, assuming one can handle the seat height (31.8 inches). A CB500F would be another good option, but I of course couldn’t find one of those for sale right now.

 

The longer I ride, the more I think I have a fringe taste in motorcycles, so I’d like to know what you the readers suggest. Knowing what you know now, based on your own experience, let’s imagine for a moment that you’re buying your very first bike with three grand in your pocket and insist on a bike with ABS, what would you choose?

Posted in Ask Moto Adventurer, Maintenance & How-To | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments

Red River Scramble Schedule of Events

This year’s Red River Scramble is only a couple weeks away so I wanted to publish a general itinerary for how things are going to play out over the weekend of June 1st – 3rd.

 

Friday, June 1st:

Rose the Scrambler Miguels Pizza MotoADVRFriday morning will be a travel day for most folks including myself. It will take about 4 hours for me to arrive in Red River Gorge, which will shape up nicely as I plan on stopping at Miguel’s Pizza for lunch around noon. Campers at Natural Bridge Campground can also start checking in at noon and head over to Miguel’s just after dropping off their gear at their campsite.

Check-in for cabin rentals doesn’t start until 3 PM, so I plan on riding some of the twisty bits around Red River Gorge and maybe doing a little sightseeing until about dinner time. I’ll probably grab some grub to cook over the fire at the grocery store in Campton or Stanton, then head back to Slade to pick up the key to my cabin between 5 or 6.

Registration/Sign-in will begin around 7 PM at my cabin* (2nd east most cabin at Natural Bridge Campground; Natural Bridge Campground Cabin MotoADVRlook for the warthog) and continue on until 9 PM. I will have a “welcome packet” for attendees, including details for Saturday’s “Bluegrass Scavenger Hunt” hosted by Rever. I’m going to build a fire outside the cabin; attendees are invited to grab snacks and their preferred beverage and gather around the fire to meet fellow riders. Ale-8 has also graciously donated several flats of soda for this year’s event, those will also be available both evenings for all attendees (while supplies last).

*In the event of inclement weather I will move “Sign-in” to the campground shelter

 

Saturday, June 2nd

Saturday is the big ride day. As I’ve previously mentioned, this is a self-guided rally; maps are available on Rever and GPX files are posted here on Moto Adventurer under “where to ride”. Again, Kentucky has a lot to offer for all motorcyclists, if you’re not sure where you want to go, stop by and let me know what kind of riding you like to do and I’ll try to point you in the right direction, be it scenic, twisty, or dirt.

Bourbon Ironworks Triumph Scrambler MotoADVR

Rever will activate the Bluegrass Scavenger Hunt Challenge at 8 AM; attendees will have from 8 AM to 5 PM to pass by as many designated landmarks as possible. Designated locations can be found in the registration packet and on-screen inside the Rever app. See more details HERE.

Around 5 or 6 PM I’m going to make my way back to the campground to start another campfire at my cabin, grab some chow and get prepared to hand out door prizes along with prizes for the winners of the scavenger hunt. I will start pulling tickets for door prizes at 7 PM outside my cabin* (must be present to win). Once all of the door prizes have been handed I out, I will consult the standings on the Rever Challenge board and award the prizes to the top three finishers. Afterward, folks are welcome to stay and mingle, share “war stories” about the day’s travels, and enjoy their preferred beverages.

*In the event of inclement weather I will move the evening festivities to the campground shelter

 

Sunday, June 3rd

I assume Sunday will be the trip home for most attendees, unless perhaps a few folks decide to continue on to tackle the Kentucky Adventure Tour. Check-out time for Cabin rentals is 11 AM, however campers can stay until 2 PM.

 

Schedule Recap:

Friday
12 PM – 1 PM: Miguel’s Pizza (MAP)
12 PM – 10 PM: Camper’s Check in at Natural Bridge Campground (MAP)
1 PM – 6 PM: Ride (pre-planned routes)
3 PM – 10 PM: Cabin Check-in at Natural Bridge Cabin Company (MAP)
7 PM – 9 PM: RRS Event Registration/Sign-in and campfire at Campground (MAP)
*Registration at the campground shelter if its raining

Saturday
~7 AM – 9 AM: Questions and last minute registrations (My Cabin MAP)
8 AM – 5 PM: Bluegrass Scavenger Hunt (Rever Page)
8 AM – 5 PM: Ride, hike, & adventure (optional routes)
7 PM – 9 PM: Campfire, door prizes, and scavenger hunt winners (MAP)
*Evening gathering at the campground shelter if its raining

Sunday
Wake-up – 11 AM: Check-out for Cabin rentals
Wake-up – 2 PM: Check-out for Campers
ALL DAY: Have a safe ride home!

 

Prizes Courtesy of our Sponsors!

 

 

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Red River Scramble: The Bluegrass Scavenger Hunt

Sky Bridge RRG MotoADVRBeyond just holding an Appalachian motorcycle rally (Red River Scramble), I wanted to add a little flavor of competition to this year’s event. Considering most of the roads around Red River Gorge are public, it’s going to take a few years and relationships to work up to some sort of “race” or time trial event; however, in the spirit the “touring” there are no shortage of amazing roads and historic landmarks to see throughout the state, which led to an idea… The Bluegrass Scavenger Hunt.

 

What’s “The Bluegrass Scavenger Hunt”?

Considering the amount of time I spend in Kentucky, I want to share the roads and scenery with all in attendance. Nada Tunnel Scrambler MotoADVRTo sweeten the deal, I picked some of the best roads and landmarks and funneled them into a Scavenger Hunt hosted by Rever. At this year’s Red River Scramble, attendees will have the option to login to Rever and record their rides and potentially earn points for riding certain roads and visiting certain “points of interest” on Saturday June 2nd. Later that evening at the campground, I’ll hand out prizes to the top three finishers in attendance.

 

How does this scavenger hunt work?

DBNF Sign Triumph Scrambler MotoADVR

When you “sign-in” Friday night I’ll provide a list, including GPS coordinates, for all 64 Points Of Interest (POI). At that point, assuming you haven’t already, it would probably be a good idea to download Rever and join the Bluegrass Scavenger Hunt Challenge. Saturday morning at 8 AM Rever will “turn on” the challenge, after which, riders need only to record their ride with Rever, and then start gaining points until the challenge “closes” at 5 PM. During that time attendees are free to ride wherever and however they choose, POIs will show up on the map, or attendees can pick routes ahead of time based on the list provided the night before. Covered Bridge Triumph Scrambler MotoADVRRiders don’t even need to stop at the POIs, Rever will record the points once participants pass within the “geo-fence” of the landmark. Once the challenge ends at 5 PM, riders will have until 7 PM to get back to Natural Bridge Campground (MAP), at which point I will begin handing out door prizes and then ultimately challenge prizes for the top three finishers of the scavenger hunt. Winners must be present to win, so please plan accordingly and leave sufficient time to grab dinner and return to the campground.

 

What’s Rever?

Rever is a free map and ride recording application for your smartphone. See more details at https://rever.co and from my previous write-ups HERE.

 

Why would I want to join this scavenger hunt challenge?

DCIM132GOPRO

Put simply, all I’m asking you to do is download Rever on your cell phone, and go enjoy the kind of riding you like to do. Rever will do all the leg work, all you need to do is look at the map for POIs that might be along your chosen route, and ride past them; you don’t even need to stop (in most cases). If you string together the most valuable points, you have a shot at winning a prize. Ride your motorcycle, try out Rever, maybe win a prize; it’s that easy.

 

What are the “Points of Interest”?

Filled with twisty backroads, along with some of the most scenic Appalachian vistas, Kentucky also has a rich history spanning back to the revolutionary war. Rever Challenge MapFrom Red River Gorge, to the Ohio River, to the tallest point in the state I’ve selected 64 key locations that attendees may choose to visit. Considering this is an adventure rally, I’ve selected points of interest that span from pristine asphalt sweepers, to challenging dirt road trails, to covered bridges, and even bourbon distilleries. The idea being that participants in the Bluegrass Scavenger Hunt have the ability to choose what kind of riding they want to do, and seek out potential destinations on the way. It should also be noted that many of these POIs are on or very near several of the pre-planned routes listed on the “Where To Ride” page.

 

Won’t street riders be able to collect more points than trail riders?

That would be true if all the points were of equal value, however the points are weighted based on distance and difficulty. DBBB Fincastle Road MotoADVROff-road riding is slower, and arguably more difficult in places, so certain POIs are worth more points than others. Also, while there are many points around Red River Gorge, those locations are close to camp and therefore not worth as much as those further away. I have run several scenarios and have gone to great lengths to “level the playing field” between off-roaders, long-distance riders, canyon carvers, history buffs, hikers, and sightseers. The intention is that anyone can win this challenge, regardless of how they define “adventure”.

 

What are the Rules?

  • Register for Red River Scramble
  • Check-in Friday night from 7-9 PM at Natural Bridge Campground for the POI list
  • Download REVER to your smartphone
  • Join the Bluegrass Scavenger Hunt Challenge (HERE)
  • Record your ride(s) from 8 AM to 5 PM Saturday, June 2nd
  • Attempt to find as many of the landmarks (POIs) as possible during the challenge (Rever will tell you when you gain points)
  • Return to Natural Bridge Campground before 7 PM (to be eligible for prizes)
  • While riding with others is highly encouraged (especially off-road or hiking), the scavenger hunt is individually scored on Rever and there can only be 3 winners selected. (In the event of a tie, the host reserves the right to choose a method of tie-breaking.)

 

What are the prizes?

 

Are there any hints or strategies?

Per my previous comments, many of these points are on or nearby the pre-planned routes I’ve put together (the largest selection of routes are on the event Rever Group HERE). Bourbon Distillery Triumph Scrambler MotoADVRRiders that decide to enjoy these routes will have a good time while still gaining points, but to get the most points, folks will want to look closely at the Rever challenge map and adjust course slightly to pick up additional points to win. Folks may also want to consult their maps the night before and look at possible destinations from the list of POIs that might have higher point values. The idea is that anyone can win, regardless of the type of riding they like to do, just do a little “extra” exploring, and you’ll have the chance to pick up a few more points than your fellow adventurers. I also cannot confirm or deny that any photos seen on this post might potentially be POIs…

 

Additional details of note

  • Considering that your cell phone is recording your route, you need to make sure you have a method of keeping your phone charged. A USB port or “power pack” would be a good investment if your phone isn’t known for holding an all-day charge (especially while your GPS is active).
  • This is a “Rain or Shine” event, so you’ll also want to make sure your cell phone is sufficiently protected from the elements.
  • Cell phone reception in certain parts of Kentucky, especially inside Red River Gorge, can be “spotty” at times. Rever will record your GPS locations, regardless of cell reception, and will upload to the challenge as long as riders return to cellular reception before 7 PM. DCIM101GOPROG0255382.In the event you’re looking to return to cell reception in remote sections of Kentucky, look for higher ground or the next “town”. Limited Wi-Fi is also available at Miguel’s Pizza and Natural Bridge Campground, among other public places throughout the area. Note: ending or “saving” a ride goes smoother if you end a ride while still connected to the internet; the gas stations in Slade would be a good place to do that before returning to the campground.
  • Rever is a free app for your phone, however maps require internet service to load for free members. Pre-planned Routes will load as long as you have access to the internet (cell network or Wi-Fi), and the “blue line” and POIs will stay on the map, even when the map is blank because of limited service. “Premium” Rever members will have access to downloadable maps to maintain visibility of adjacent roads, however it is NOT REQUIRED for challenge participants to pay for Rever premium ($5.00/month). Hint: browse the Rever route map while still connected to the internet so that important sections are saved in your phone’s “cache”, this will make navigating smoother if you pass through cellular dead zones.
  • Challenge participants are permitted to use any means of navigation they choose. However, it is critical that participants login to Rever, join the Bluegrass Scavenger Hunt Challenge (Rever Challenge page), and record their ride using Rever to gather points towards the challenge.
  • The vast majority of the POIs are easily accessible from the roadway. However, there are a small handful of higher value POIs that are actually on hiking trails inside Daniel Boone National Forest where motor vehicles are prohibited. Hiking Trail RRG MotoADVRDo not, under any circumstances, operate a motor vehicle in prohibited areas. I added these locations purely because of the scenic views inside Red River Gorge, and as an additional option for the more outdoorsy attendees. In the event you want to pursue these points, its important that you take your cell phone with you on the hike to record the points. Note: most of these points are 350 yards or less from the parking area.
  • Chimney Top Rock Warning Sign MotoADVRSafety and enjoyment are obviously the primary concerns during this event. We want all attendees to have a good time in Kentucky and return as often as possible. Please obey all traffic laws, be courteous of private property, and follow all rules and regulations throughout the National Forest. Also, please take tons of photos of your visit!
  • To see the POIs on your Rever map while riding you’ll need to enable “Challenge” points in your map view in the Rever app; see below:

 

This is obviously the first year for this “Scavenger Hunt” challenge, so please have fun and give it a shot. I’m looking forward to hearing feedback following the challenge about how things went so I can improve both the rally and this challenge next year.

Ale8 HalfmoonRock MotoADVR

 

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Avon Trekrider: Long-term Tire Review

As of late, Rosie the Scrambler has been wearing some pretty aggressive off-road shoes; that choice in rubber has also led to yours truly pulling out the tire spoons more often. The real insult to injury is the fact that I’m forced to practice a bit more throttle restraint in adverse weather conditions as grip, while usually good, is still obviously limited. What if I could have the best of both worlds, while only sacrificing a little off-road prowess compared to knobbies? Enter the Avon Trekrider AV84 and AV85.

 

Avon Trekrider Delivered MotoADVR

I heard news early last year that Avon was releasing a new tire. Considering Avon is British, and I own a British bike, I’ve found they’re often the brand of choice in my riding circle. The only problem for me being that, until just recently, Avon hasn’t offered a more off-road oriented tire for big bikes. When I heard news that this new tire was actually a 50/50 dual sport tire, needless to say, it grabbed my attention. Lo and behold, right at the cusp of spring, a set of Trekriders arrived on my porch, just in time for my birthday.

 

Improving on the popular Trailrider, the Trekrider tread pattern mirrors the same chevron configuration of similar 50/50 tires, but with more distinct, mostly unbroken blocks. Spooning on a fresh new set of Trekriders turned out to be one the easiest set of tires I’ve installed. The sidewalls are compliant and pliable (not bad for an afternoon in late February); I would equate them to installing a set of Shinko 705s that I’ve run in the past. Running my hand across the tread while balancing the wheels, the “stickiness” was quite evident straight away; I was anxious to hit a long stretch of twisties the following morning.

 

On-Road

As a birthday treat to myself, I decided to take trip to northern Kentucky to visit a few covered bridges for the Trekriders maiden voyage. Avon Trekrider Triumph Scrambler Covered Bridge MotoADVRWithin moments of crossing into the Bluegrass State, the road manners of these British shoes became evident. The Scrambler carved through the corners with a surefootedness I’ve not felt since the Anakee 3. I often run “a size up” on the front wheel, so the initial turn in takes a hair more effort than the stock size (I’ve mentioned this before), but what I lose on the initial tip in, I gain in high-speed stability and overall cornering grip. In fewer words, with the Trekrider, I leaned the bike into the turn and it effortlessly held the line until I stood it up at the exit; just the way I like it. Looking closer at the shape of the tire, the source of these superior road manners is clear, similar to some of the 80/20 tires on the market, the Trekrider has a more aggressive, rounded profile compared to more angular competing dual sport tires.

This spring has been pretty brutal in the weather department.Avon Trekrider Triumph Scrambler rain front MotoADVR Per my recent comments, when it wasn’t snowing, it was raining; in fact, record rainfall for the last three months. Fortunately, I’m told the British know a thing or two about rain; the rainy commute proved to be where the Trekrider really shined. Despite riding like an idiot in conditions I ought to know better, the Avons relentlessly gripped the tarmac. Hard braking, hard acceleration, steep lean angles (…not quite peg grinding), road spray on the highway, and downpours on the backroads, I couldn’t break a tire loose; the Trekriders simply don’t flinch.

 

Off-Road

These new Avon shoes also had the pleasure of escorting me to March Moto Madness in Tennessee this spring. Avon Trekrider Triumph Scrambler dirt frontOn the local fire roads, dirt trails, and water crossings, I was very happy with the Trekrider’s grip. Despite having what I would consider large contact patches for ADV tires, the grooves between the chevrons are large enough to hook up predictably on the gravel. The front wheel also tracked well on both the gravel and the loose dirt, considering the aggressive tire profile, I was actually really impressed with the front end bite, even without lowering tire pressure. I admit, mud can pose a bit of a challenge on a big bike for the uninitiated; without sufficient wheel spin, the tread gaps can have a harder time self-cleaning. Now, this opinion is formed after slogging through Tennessee clay, so results may vary (depending on bike, wheels sizes, and skill); ultimately if you pick a good line and maintain speed, these tires will get you through the wet stuff.

 

Side Notes

Some folks might suggest that the front tire is a little “noisy” when riding on the highway. I did notice that the front tire did have a particular “whir”, however after running knobbies for most of the last twelve months, I personally feel the Avons are considerably quiet by comparison. I generally don’t complain about road noise for dual sport tires more aggressive than 80/20; it comes with the territory and ear plugs are just good “riding sense”.

It should also be known that, like most dual sport tires, the Trekriders are constructed with single rubber compound. That in itself is not a bad thing, these tires are arguably the “stickiest” set of shoes I’ve ever put on the Scrambler. I mention this because long distance and ham-fisted riders will potentially put a hurting on that rear tire if they don’t practice a little throttle-discipline.

 

The Verdict

Having run several tires in and around the 50/50 range, I feel confident saying that the Trekrider is quite literally the antithesis of the Heidenau K60 Scout. With these Avons mounted on the Scrambler, the tire gave up absolutely nothing in on-road performance, be it grip or confidence, and yet still handled respectably off-road. Avon Trekrider Triumph Scrambler Shawnee MotoADVRWhile friends have complained about wet weather performance of the K60 Scout, the Trekrider was absolutely fearless in the rain. In dry conditions, when the pavement got twisty, the bike cornered like it was on rails; these tires always asked for more, unquestionably the fastest tires I’ve ever ran. Off-road the Trekriders were fun and predictable; I was continually impressed by how confidence inspiring they were in the dirt and gravel, despite what I thought appeared to be a more road biased profile with absolutely irreproachable road manners. As 50/50 tire, they’re obviously not as surefooted in the more difficult terrain as a full on knobby, but that’s also to be expected considering this is a 50/50 tire; and yet the Trekrider makes zero on-road performance compromises.

 

Who’s the target audience for these tires?

Taking a glance at the available sizes, this tire is targeted at the middle weight adventure bikes and heavier dual sports wearing 21 or 19 inch front and 17 or 18 inch rear wheels, along with “standard” motorcycles sporting the 19/17 wheel combo. I assume based on successful sales, Avon may expand the line to accommodate a larger range sizes in the future.

While dual sport tires are often rated by percentage of street versus dirt, after spending so much time on a variety of tires, I will say that even inside of that classification, certain tread patterns are better than others for various jobs. Avon Trekrider Triumph Scrambler Rain Rear MotoADVRIf a given rider has ran 50/50 tires in the past and has been unhappy with the road manners or wet weather performance, the Trekrider is unquestionably a leading contender. Off-road I found the Trekrider to be on par and at times better than the comparable K60 Scout. However, riders that value longevity over road manners and wet grip may have a harder time seeing the longevity of the K60. Inversely, as the K60 wears, it tends to square off like a car tire, making curves a bit unnerving as the bike “falls into the corner” and the rider can feel the knobs flex under the weight of the bike. The Trekrider on the other hand maintains its round profile much better with age and doesn’t sacrifice confidence or grip. At the same time, the Trekrider is also cheaper than the longer range competition in some sizes, so it really comes down to miles per dollar, not just gross range.

I will also add, I’ve read comments on social media platforms from various motorcycle owners shopping for a more aggressive “looking” tires, Avon Trekrider Dirt rear MotoADVRbut yet they don’t intend to go off-road. While I don’t personally subscribe to this line of thinking, I will say that the Trekrider offers the best option in that department considering its faultless on-road performance. I certainly don’t want that comment to overshadow anyone’s perspective on the Trekrider, it’s a great off-road tire, especially compared to the competitors in it class, it’s simply that its performance on the pavement is so much better than theirs; a testament to this tire’s flexibility.

Avon Trekrider Triumph Scrambler Sunset right MotoADVR

Posted in Gear and Safety, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

Why Do You Ride a Motorcycle?

DCIM140GOPROThanks to a tip from The Motorcycle Obsession, I caught this interesting interview with Harley Davidson’s CEO from a few days ago. Regardless of how you may feel about Harley Davidson, CEO Matt Levatich said something that struck a chord with me, “Why do you ride a motorcycle?”

Discussing Harley’s plans to put more riders on the road, this question was embedded in a point discussing the “five-whys” of decision making. So I stopped and thought about it, why do I ride a motorcycle?

 

Having just spent a entire day wandering around northern Kentucky looking at covered bridges, the “feeling” is pretty fresh in my mind. DCIM104GOPROG0944951.I’ve often told people that I feel like riding a motorcycle is the closest thing I’ll ever experience to being a fighter pilot. “The feeling”, that’s easily the first response, but it’s probably tough for the non-rider to relate to. What does it feel like to ride a motorcycle? Some might say “the wind in your hair”, “the sun on your face”, for me it’s the acceleration of the engine, torque pushing you into the seat, horsepower “holding” you there, the suspension compressing as the bike carves through the corners. Occasionally there’s a flavor stark terror sprinkled in when you encounter things like gravel mid-turn or crest a blind rise; while frightening, I admit I actually enjoy those moments too. It makes you feel “alive”, it’s “thrilling”.

 

The thrill… Yeah, there’s no doubt that’s addicting. Prior to my off-road excursions, those that have ridden with me will tell you that I want nothing more than one section of technical twisties followed by another. That has not changed in recent days, however I have found an almost equal motivator, solitude. 20170407_193809I spoke to that when describing “The perfect ride”; riding all by your lonesome on sparsely populated byways is a unique feeling, especially when you’re a city dweller. As much as I find it to be a cliched buzz-word, “independence” comes to mind, but I think I prefer “self-reliance”, and if nothing else, it certainly fits my definition of “adventure”.

 

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Adventure takes on a new definition when the Scrambler leaves the pavement. While seldom solo, overlanding a 500 pound pig presents challenges; it’s a thinking game as much as it’s a test of skills and occasionally muscle. “Challenging”, that seems fitting; riding a motorcycle engages each appendage and all of your senses. Few activities in today’s world can say that. However, beyond the challenges and the thrills, riding off-road combines the solace of solitude with a distinct connection with nature. I’ve ridden Shawnee State Forest and the Daniel Boone Backcountry Byway multiple times; 20170419_165705yet each time unique because of the effects of nature. Trails evolve, even disappear depending on recent weather conditions. Wildlife is as much a factor in the ride as the trail itself; I’ve been swarmed by bugs, chased by dogs, and even witnessed a deer strike while riding off-road. When the challenges of managing the machine and the wildlife assault takes respite, I’ve found some of the most majestic views from saddle. Solemn moments spent watching the sun go down in the mountains are irreplaceable memories, all made possible by a motorcycle.

 

Challenge, solitude, and adventure are easily the first words that come to mind when explaining my love of motorcycles. Why do ride a motorcycle?

 

Posted in Moto Philosophy | Tagged , , , , | 11 Comments