Yes, guys, Ace and I made it safely back to Cowtown after a 3 day ride covering almost 1000 miles of Alberta, BC, Montana and Idaho. The weather was absolutely fabulous,
totally sunny, warm and dry. Even I, a notorious warm-weather-only rider, could not have wanted better riding weather. The downside was that my KZ was surrounded by Hondas and a lone Water Buffalo with nary another KZ to be seen.
My KZ performed flawlessly, never missing a beat.....and with gas mileages ranging from a low of 51 MPIG to a high of 60 MPIG. Heck, I never even had to adjust the chain. My pack weighed in at ~40 lb, being full of cold/wet weather gear mostly since a guy doesn't want to take chances being caught in rain and/or snow at this time of year.
A few subjective observations:
1)the front end of my 650 is light at the best of times. With a small windshield and the 40 pound duffle bag mounted up high at the rear, the front end got even lighter. For the twisty parts, I had to lean over the tank somewhat to keep the front wheel planted properly.
2)even with nice weather, a windshield is an absolute necessity. The windblast without a shield will tire you out more quickly than you'd like, IMO. It also keeps most of the bugs off of you, of course.
3)the engine oil sightglass is a giant pain. Unless you are on totally level ground, you have NO idea what the actual oil level in the sump is.
4)the stock gearbox and final drive ratios are NOT suitable for today's speeds. Engine speeds in 5th gear were never under 5K RPM at normal highway speed (60 MPH) and lots of time was spent at up to 7K RPM (~75 MPH). Such engine speeds CAN'T be good for an engine with a redline starting at 9K RPM. I believe this problem is due to the fact that the bike was designed when the US national speed
limit was 55 MPH which is about 4500RPM, where the engine runs quite nicely. Events, of course, have overtaken this 30+ year old design. On the plus side, at 6K-7K RPM, downshifting to pass is NOT required.....just dial it on and go.
When all is said and done the trip was enlightening as to the capabilities of the 650 for long distance riding. I would NOT again attempt a trip involving these distances AND speeds on this bike unless I changed the final drive to drop the engine speeds by at least 20%....assuming sprockets to do this are even available. As well, the stock bars AND grips would have to go. The former are too high for me and the latter are "instruments of torture" for anybody's hands, IMO.
Some selected pics from the trip:
Ready for the off in Cowtown
Taking a break at Eureka, MT
In the parking lot of the HD dealer in Kalispell, MT. No, I didn't go in and no, Ace didn't seem to run any differently after we left....so all those stories about evil spells on Japanese bikes are probably just rumours.
This is SR471/NF9 out of Thompson Falls, MT. If you think you've ridden them all, try this one. You need brass cojones, fer shure. Further along, there's NF456 on the Idaho side into Wallace, ID. I had to change my underwear after 30 minutes on THAT road. Incredible !!!
Same lookout, view to the west.
Gas stop in St. Regis, MT after an hour on I-90. Guess which way I went !!!
Rest stop outside of Ravalli, MT. Yes, the rest of the guys were 'wayyyy behind me, investigating restaurants, etc.
Beautiful Flathead Lake at Polson, MT. Our motel was right across the street from the lake.
Ready for the off from the motel in Polson on Sunday morning, headed for home.
Gas stop at St. Mary, the east end of the famous "Going To The Sun" highway in Glacier National Park.
Chief Mountain in northern Montana. Sign seen along this road: "For Sale....600 acres....$1,000,000" !!!! Nice country, spectacular scenery and twisty roads.
Chief Mountain border crossing looking north into Waterton Lakes National Park and Canada.
Final shot of the trip with a view of the foothills and the Rockies taken just south of Cowtown.
KZ650C2 Stock/mint. Goes by "Ace".
H2A Built from a genuine basket case. Yes,it's a hot rod.
GT550A Stock/mint. Pleasant stroker.
2006 Bandit 1200S for easy LD rapid transit
Various H2 projects in the wings.
wow great pics.wish we were there to.i love the last pic,looks like you could just ride off into the sunset and never be see again. or at least not see a stop light or a cop car for a long time.thanks for the dream. steve:)