Wednesday, December 9, 2009

What Made Me Do This? - Epilogue

This blog documents the motorcycle trip I took Between May and September 2009. As you read this blog you may wonder where I got the idea to ride my motorcycle around the world. Anyone who knows me knows I have been riding motorcycle since the spring of 1970. Except for the four years I spent in the military, I have never been without a Harley-Davidson under me. I have motorcycle riding experience in North America, Europe, South America, Australia, and Africa.
In early 2007 my girlfriend Mary brought home a DVD movie called “The Long Way Around”. We watched it and liked it. After we watched all the episodes I said to Mary “you know I could do that”, and that’s where the idea was planted in my head. I asked Mary if she would support my attempt to ride around the world. She said she would, and in September 2007 I bought a 2007 Kawasaki KLR 650 to carry out the task. I requested a four month leave of absence from work and set my departure month as May 2009. After the initial meeting with work, a follow up meeting was held every six months until December 2009, when I received the official go ahead for my big adventure. At this point I made the final decision to go for it. I began to apply for letters of acceptance and visas for countries I was planning to visit. I researched and prepared my motorcycle for the trip and read three books about motorcycle travel around the world. The first was “The Long Way Around” by Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman, the second was “Riding The Edge” by Dave Barr, and the third “Two Wheels Through Terror” by Glen Heggstad. Each of these books provided me with reference information which would help me through this trip. “The Long Way Around” provided me with route, border, and availability of services information in the Russian Federation. “Riding The Edge” assured me that starting out with an old motorcycle was not a good decision and no matter how difficult my days could be they would never be as difficult as they would be for a double amputee motorcycle rider. “Two Wheels Through Terror” gave me some insight into how I might survive should I be captured or taken hostage in a foreign country. January 2009 started out like any other new year, but it took a bad turn when I had my physical for the trip. The doctors discovered an illness which required immediate attention and literally put an end to my trip planning. I would not do any further trip planning until the middle of March 2009. Again I was faced with a difficult decision; whether to go or to bail out. I decided I would proceed again with my trip planning, since if my illness re-occurred later I would never get a second chance to ride around the world. From this point on I slept about 4 hours a night during the week due to handling affairs related to insurance, licenses, shipping, air fares, letters of acceptances into countries and visas. I felt very insecure about whether I would receive a Russian Visa and despite all the assurances that I would, I never really believed it until I had it in my hand. I was terrified of the “no” word. Once I had all my support people in place, copies of all the paperwork, and motorcycle loaded up, I was ready to leave on the adventure of a lifetime on 13 May 2009. My trip took me from Saint Paul, Minnesota, through Wisconsin, Upper and Lower Michigan into Toronto, Canada. I flew my motorcycle and myself from Toronto to London, England. I then rode my motorcycle to Dover, England and took the ferry to Dunkirk, France. From there I traveled thru France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Czech Republic, Slovak Republic, Ukraine, Russia, through Siberia to Vladivostok in Eastern Russia. I traveled by ferry from Vladivostok to South Korea and then flew my motorcycle and myself from Seoul to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. From there I rode to Seattle, Washington, USA. In Seattle I refreshed the motorcycle. I drove back to British Columbia, through the Yukon Territory and up to Inuvik, Northwest Territories. I then drove to Fairbanks, Alaska, north to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, then south to Anchorage, and east to Tok, Alaska. From there I drove down the Alaskan Highway to Dawson Creek, British Columbia to Edmonton, Alberta and Shelby, Montana, USA. From there I rode east through Grand Forks, North Dakota and home to Prior Lake, Minnesota.
I was asked many times, “did you feel vulnerable traveling by yourself”? Yes, but I would never intentionally expose myself to dangerous situations or perform unsafe acts with my motorcycle. I tried to be as non-confrontational as possible and drove as safe as possible because injuring myself was the last thing in the world I wanted to do. From the get-go, my philosophy about this whole trip was, “people are basically good all over the world” and I still stand by that. It seemed like anytime a situation developed where I would need help beyond my ability to communicate, a Good Samaritan emerged from somewhere and offered help. I cannot express my thanks enough to these people.
One perception I encountered throughout my trip, was that I was “a rich American”. This could seem to be the case, depending on whose eyes you were looking through. Although I funded my trip myself, in the USA my present job is Journeyman Machinist, which is a skilled blue collar job. After arriving home from my trip on a Saturday, I had to be back to work the next Monday. That’s not something a wealthy person would need to do.
I hope my blog will provide information and encouragement for people willing to live a dream or who just want to escape the daily routine of life. Before I watched “The Long Way Around” in 2007, I never would have considered circumnavigating the world. That video provided me with the inspiration to think large, build a motorcycle, plan every detail, draw on all my motorcycle riding experience, and undertake the adventure of a lifetime - my way.
David L. Reinhold

Monday, December 7, 2009

Aftermarket Equipment List

Changes I made to my 2007 Kawasaki KLR 650

Aftermarket Equipment List
By Manufacture/Vendor
Happy Trails Motorcycle Products
Doohickey (Balancer Idler Lever and Spring Upgrade)
Rear Master Cylinder Guard
Aluminum Skid Plate
Pivot Peqz Mark 2
Engine Guard Highway Pegs
Coolant Reservoir – Radiator Guard Combination
Carburetor Vent Kit
Aluminum Top Box
T2 Top Plate
Oversized 320 mm Front Disk Rotor
L.E.D. Tail Light Conversion Kit
Motorcycle Accessory Supply House
IMS 6.6 Gallon Fuel Tank
Acerbis Locking Gas Cap
Air Filter Skins
Odyssey – No Maintenance Battery
Spare Brake and Clutch Levers
Maier Aluminum Brush Guards
Maier Faux Carbon Fiber Hand Guards
420 Progressive Fork Springs
420 Progressive Rear Shock
Mirror Vibration Isolators
Front and Rear Heavy Duty Inner Tubes
Axle Wrench
Spare Clutch and Speedometer Cables
Sub-Frame Upgrade Kit
TPI Motorcycle Wholesalers
Stainless Steel Head Light Guard
Heavy Duty Head Light Harness
New Style European Light Switch
New Mirror and Choke Mount
Totally Wired Cycles
Totally Wired
DSR – 15 Weather Proof ATO Fuse Upgrade Kit
DSR – 17 Weather Proof ATO Fan Fuse Upgrade Kit
Weather Proof Accessories ATO Fuse Kit
Dual Star
Order: 1 – 800 – 466 – 7433
Tech: 1 – 425 – 776 – 7433
Billet Oil Filler Cap
Muffler Guard
Eagle Manufacturing and Engineering
Mike Cowlishaw
Shark Fin - Rear Disk Rotor Guard
Billet Aluminum Rear Brake Mount
Whitehorse Gear
KLR 650 Clymer Service Manual
SAE Tank Bag Electrical Kit and Other Electrical Wiring
KLR 650 Big Foot Shift Lever
Aerostich/Rider Wearhouse
Panel Mounted 12V Outlet
BMW Plugs & Sockets
Motofizz Thermo Clock
Moto Compass
Cycle Pump Air Compressor
Big CEE Engineering
Chris Krok
Manual Petcock Conversion Kit
Mini Dash
Touratech – USA
Zumo 450/550 Handlebar Mount Moveable Lock
Jesse Luggage Systems
U.S. Distributor of Jesse Luggage Systems
Xplorer Moto, LLC
Kawasaki KLR 650
Odyssey II Saddle Bags
2 each Front Tires
Trail Wing TW – 301
3.00 – 21
Mileage before changing for each tire 10,000+ miles/16129+ kilometers
Quality of tire – rating 1 thru 10
Excellent tread wear
1 each Rear Tire
Trail Wing TW – 302
4.60 – 17
Mileage/kilometers before changing the tire 1500 or less miles/2419 or less kilometers
Quality of tire – rating 1 thru 10
The tire threw the lugs off the tire casing (see the end of May Blog entries and pictures)
2 each Rear Tires
T63 Dual-Sport Knobby Tires
130/80 – 17 65S
Mileage before changing for each tire 8500/9500 miles/13710/15323 kilometers
Quality of tire – rating 1 thru 10
Excellent tread wear – If I would travel around the world again under
similar circumstances these would be the tires I would choose.
1 each Rear Tire
65T Twin Duro
130/80 – 17
Mileage/kilometers before changing the tire 5000+ miles/8065+ kilometers
Quality of tire – rating 1 thru 10
Personally I didn’t want to buy this tire but I was out of options. It’s a soft tire
with a short life expectancy. I was told it should last 3500 miles/5645 kilometers.
That’s the distance from Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA to Anchorage, Alaska, USA.
I felt uncomfortable about taking a chance on getting back to Saint Paul, Minnesota
with this tire because it may wear out before I got home. I would then have to buy
yet another tire. That thought did not make me happy. When I arrived home the
tire still had enough tread on it to ride another 2000 miles/3226 kilometers.
For that reason I gave it a 9 rating.
3 Manufactured Parts I Created for this 2007 Kawasaki KLR 650
1st part
The changes I made to this motorcycle are not that obvious at first glance. If you look
you’ll see a Happy Trails Motorcycle top box on the luggage rack. I removed the plastic
luggage rack/plate form and manufactured an aluminum one. It was way more involved
than I originally thought. Here is an example: all the drilled holes have to be drilled in at
6 degrees in order for it to mate up with the tapped holes in the side rails. That had me
scratching my head for a while. I then bolted the Happy Trails T2 aluminum plate to the
top of my new aluminum luggage rack. I now had to design method to attach the top
box to the T2 aluminum plate. I wanted it securely attached yet mounted on rubber vibration
isolators. I found rubber vibration isolators in an aftermarket Harley-Davidson catalog.
They were used to support the battery box on the 1960’s, 1970’s and early 1980’s Harleys.
I then created 2 rails with 4 counter bores per side about ½ inch deep. One rail per side
on the luggage rack. I then could screw in 8 vibration isolators and lock them in with a
lock nut. I drilled 8 bolt holes in the box to match the 8 vibration isolators. I bolted the
rails on to the top box and figured out the bolt hole locations I needed to bolt the rails
to the T2 aluminum top plate on the luggage rack. When I figured out the hole locations
to bolt the box down I added an extra hole so that I could slide the box forward 3 inches.
I thought that would be a nice feature if for some reason I needed it. You just never know.
All the fasteners used to mount this box are stainless steel to hold down the rusting in
lengthy wet and rainy conditions. I also added an SAE electrical outlet to the box to provide
electricity to charge my cell phone and laptop batteries.

2nd set of parts I created for this motorcycle
I’m still not sure how Jesse Luggage designed their rear signal light relocation bracket
or how it was to be attached to the motorcycle so I built my own. It took a little
head scratching but I finally came up with a bracket which bolted on to the saddle bag
mounting hardware. I used the original signal lights and extended the wiring and plugged
them back into the original sockets. When I finished they almost looked like the
manufacturer's original equipment.

3rd part
I relocated the license plate. I found some 1/16 thick sheet stainless steel and sawed out a 1 inch wide stripe about 12 inches long just in case I made a mistake. I took some rough measurements, bent up a bracket to fit over the hump on the end of the rear fender and sawed it off to length. I found a small sheet of 1/16 thick aluminum in the aluminum scrap bin and sawed out a backing platefor my license plate. I put wings on it to mount two license plate lights to keep everything legal. I drilled holes in the aluminum backing to match the drilled holes in the stainless steel fender bracket. I bolted the two together with stainless steel fasteners. It was still too flexible for me so I put another spacer between the backing plate and fender at the top. I centered it up at the top, drilled a hole and bolted it down. It was a nice firm backing plate to bolt a license plate to. I wired in the license plate lights and plugged them into the same socket the original license light plugged into. I then went to the Harley-Davidson dealer and
purchased a license plate reflector and double faced taped it to the old license plate
bracket and I was done. I later lost this reflector when I drove thru a pothole in Russia
which was 3 feet long X 2 feet wide and 6 inches deep. I thought I was going to crash
on that pothole. The old KLR drove right on thru it.

1st change
I added a storage tube in front of my front foot pegs.
The first time I saw this storage tube on a KLR 650 was up in Goose Bay, Labrador. I thought it
was a good idea and always remembered it. So when I was building this bike I thought I
would install one on it. I went back to the pictures I took of the guy and his motorcycle to
see how it was installed. I could also see what type of tube to purchase. The tube is black 4 inch
sewer pipe and I bought it down at the ACE hardware store. I bought 24 inches of it, a
cap and a screw on end. I later cut the tube so that it would be shorter than the width
of the foot peg hinge. That’s so if I crashed on the bike the end of the tube would not
be digging in to the road and possibly prevent it from being ripped off the bike. I sawed
the tube to length then glued the ends on and allowed it to cure. I fastened the tube
to foot peg and engine guard using hose clamps that also can be purchased at
the hardware store. I used some of the hose clamps to pull the tube back and others
to pull the tube down. That would keep it in the restraint state and prevent it from moving
around. I used it to store my spare inner tubes and my emergency gas siphoning hoses.
Something about my emergency gas siphoning hoses always brought up a lively conversation.

2nd change
I added screens in front of the Radiator and Coolant Reservoir
I specifically bought the Coolant Reservoir – Radiator Guard Combination from Happy Trails so I could stretch screens across the bars to protect the radiator from insects, flying mud
and stones. The aluminum window screen kept out the insects and slowed down the flying mud.
The ¼ square screen in back of the window screen slowed down the flying stones from
oncoming traffic before they would hit the radiator and do damage. Some of the semi-trucks
and car traffic I met would cause me to pull off to the side of the road, close my visor on my helmet, hold my breath and turn my face away from the flying stones. I held my breath so I didn’t have to breathe in the dust. The only disadvantage to these screens is the difficulty of cleaning the radiator with a low pressure hose or a squirt bottle. I cleaned my radiator daily when I was riding in extremely dusty conditions with a squirt bottle because no high or low pressure hoses were available. I have yet to regret having installed those screens.