In a recent post I mentioned that I had put 18000 km on a KLR, my first motorbike. bill asked me to consider writing about why I chose this bike and what I like about it etc.
I guess it may be useful for beginners to read about this, so here it goes.
First, I am 37, married, and have a 2 year old daughter. Last year, I decided to get my mid-life crisis over with early and mentioned to my long suffering wife of 8 years that I was considering getting a motorcycle. Instead of calling 911 to get me committed, she actually said OK!!!!!!!
Well, I got signed up at PRS ASAP before she had a chance to change her mind and had my license within a few weeks.
I got a most cool helmet, a cool jacket, mesh overpants, gloves, boots, everything I needed.
Oh . . . I guess I needed a bike too.
Now what to get??
I had never even sat on a motorized two wheeler of any kind prior to the course. According to Kramer, I was tighter than a frog's ass (How tight is that? Water tight!)
I didn't really know what to get, and having no experience didn't make the choice any easier.
So I got my little brain engaged. I didn't really feel I wanted a second hand bike as I am not very mechanically inclined. I wanted a bike I could afford to drop without having to pay an arm and a leg to fix it. I also wanted a weak bike as, being tighter than a frog's ass, I figured I'd kill myself on a powerful sports bike before the water tight thing was over with.
I liked the dual purpose Sherpas in the course as they were comfortable, provided good visibility, and were very maneuverable. No good for any significant highway driving due to the small engine. Since I'm pretty tall too, I thought a bigger DP bike was the way to go. Presto, KLR.
I picked my bike up June 28 last year. 18 K later I have been riding mostly on the road, but also on some gravel and logging roads. I have ridden in rain, light snow, temperatures as high as mid 30's to as low as freezing.
I find the KLR is a very maneuverable bike. It can move from position 1 to position 3 in an instant, changes lanes with barely a push on the bars. This is very useful in traffic when driver's are trying to collect you as their new hood ornament. It's a tall bike and I can see over most cars making city traffic easy work. It's cheap to buy, (mine is new, but used ones are available for good prices), cheap to operate (I have not needed to spend money on any repairs yet, only maintenance). Excellent fuel economy (300 km until reserve in city driving, about 400 km when on highways) I fuel up about 17 liters. Insurance is cheap, I only have liability, though.
Riding on the highway is acceptable, but clearly this is not a fast bike. Top speed (with my larger front sprocket) is about 140 to 150 km/h. Passing at highway speeds takes some planning, although acceleration at lower speeds is fairly quick.
Twisties is where this bike does well. I have done the Duffy lake loop a couple of times and really enjoyed it. The rough road isn't as ass clenching and ball busting as on a sports bike and the tight twisties don't require more speed than this bike can offer. Easy to lean, this was the perfect bike to learn cornering on. I was up on the north shore within a couple of weeks of getting the thing.
Went to the Kootenays for 5 days recently and took it up some steep logging roads, across a clear cut near Sandon. First really long trip (about 3000 km in 5 days). No problems, other than having to lube and adjust the chain I only had to fuel the bike. Really enjoyed the twisties there.
Luckily, after a year and quite a few Km's, I have yet to drop the bike. The closest I ever came was backing it up in my work parking lot when my foot slipped on some moss and I came perilously close to dumping it on it's side.
No really close calls on the road, although I had to perform a few fairly hard brakes or evasive maneuvres.
I am now seriously considering getting a street bike. I am really not that interested in off roading, and the KLR is rough (vibrates, seat is damn hard, gears are clunky, etc.).
I don't regret starting on the KLR. It's certainly not as sexy as a RR, but I believe it taught me how to control the throttle, feather the clutch and lean/turn without having to constantly worry about a small mistake causing me to eat asphalt. I also believe that I may not have been able to resist the temptation to peg it on a sports bike, getting me to speeds well beyond my noob skill level. I don't enjoy russian roulette, as a rule.
I don't think I have really "outgrown" the KLR, but I would like to have a smoother, more comfortable bike that I can ride day to day. A street bike would also allow me to take the PRS advanced riding course at the track and get Kramer to call me some more names .
Wouldn't miss it for the world.
Here goes for many more years of keeping the shiny side up.
Here are a few pics, taken recently.