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Ride Report: 9700 mile Tour on my FJ


steveb
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(Part 1)
 
I just got back from a month long 9700 mile tour on my FJ. This included 3200 miles of two-up fully loaded riding. The FJ did great! No mechanical problems at all, and I really enjoyed the ride! I rode through lots of amazing scenery and roads. I wanted to offer some observations. Some things that worked very well, and some things I might tweak or change for even greater comfort or effectiveness.
 
My tour basically happened in 3 sections. The first was riding solo as part of an organized ride (SCMA 3 Flags Classic Tour, https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=13gtkE-kcesPGPsj3uRDBUIQEUl8 ). This portion required covering about 500 miles/day for my first 5 days of riding. Much of this was a mix of highway and some really nice scenic riding. Weather ran the gamut from extremely hot weather (especially the first day riding from San Diego to Tombstone, AZ) to rain and cooler weather as we rode north into Canada.
 
The second section started in Kimberley, BC, Canada where my wife had flown up to join me. We spent the next 3200 miles riding through parts of Canada (Jasper Nat'l Park, Banff Nat'l Park, Kootenay Bay), then South back into the US to explore as many scenic roads and Nat'l Parks (Lolo Pass, Glacier NPK, Bear Tooth Pass, Chief Joseph Scenic Byway, Yellowstone, Grand Teton NPK) as we could while winding our way eventually to Salt Lake City. Daily mileage during this section was generally between 200-300 miles/day (which was basically her comfort limit).
 
My wife flew home from Salt Lake City, and for the third section of my ride I continued solo on to Northern California and took a very winding route through many of the CA Nat'l Parks and also stopping at some of the Old Missions while making my way back to San Diego. A large part of my goal while riding south to San Diego was to fulfill, as much as possible, the requirements of two motorcycle challenge tours that I had signed up for (SCMA Missions Tour, and CA Parks Tour). Therefore I managed to ride through many parks that I'd never been to before, as well as revisit others. Some great riding and scenery!
 
Here's a general map of my route:
 
3i_M8t69_Overall_Route.jpg
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(Part 2)
 
Regarding how the FJ performed - On the first day I rode from San Diego to Tombstone. It was sunny and the temperature, once I got inland, reached 113 degrees and didn't drop below 106 degrees until the elevation rose coming into Tombstone. While the motor didn't seem to care, the instrument panel did. On the right side of the instrument panel, the clear plastic began darkening as I rode. It eventually became very dark and cloudy making it difficult to read. Later when the temperature cooled the plastic cleared again, and there were no further issues with this. I know that some others have had clouding and condensation issues on the right side. Mine was very temporary but did occur during that period of sun and high temperature, and only on the right side. The rest of the trip - no problems at all! Handling continued to be very good, even when we were riding two-up with both the FJR saddlebags and Givi 52 liter topbox loaded up. I had the rear shock preload at its max setting while riding two-up. The ride was plush, and the bike handled just fine! (Naturally I wasn't playing Ricky-Racer while riding two-up). I would not have wanted to add any more weight to the bike, but it still did well.
 
I found my Corbin seat (with the Ovalbak backrest for my wife) to be very comfortable throughout the trip. Multiple 500 mile days in a row were not a problem. My wife also stated she was very comfortable on the trip using this seat along with the backrest.
 
The FJR saddlebags and the Givi Topbox stayed completely waterproof and held up well even while heavily loaded. I used the "Kathy's Journey Designs" FJR saddlebag liners (recommended elsewhere in the forum), and they're great! You can stuff them to the max, and they will still fit into the FJR saddlebags just fine. No wasted space lost to seams etc.
 
I replaced the chain and rear tire just before the trip. The OEM chain had unevenly stretched and I replaced it at 11000 miles with a higher quality EK chain. I also installed a Tutoro chain oiler on the first day of the trip. After some adjustment tweaks the oiler has worked very well. The chain is wearing very evenly and, in fact, was not adjusted during the entire trip. It is still within reasonable adjustment (a little loose but not terrible), and will be adjusted again when I replace the rear tire. Regarding the rear tire - I installed a new Dunlop Roadmaster II shortly before leaving on the trip. It has lasted 10,000 miles and, while I feel it's time to replace it, it is still looking reasonable for local or regional riding. With all of the highway and high load riding the center of the tire has worn more than the sides, so the profile is somewhat flattened, but it still has good side tread and is still sticking nicely on corners. It makes me wonder how long it would last with a more balanced ratio of road type. While riding north, during the first week, I experienced a full day and a half of steady and, at times, heavy rain. Even riding at highway (plus) speeds the tire felt planted on the road and I never noticed the TCS ever engaging. The front tire (also a Dunlop Roadmaster II) now has almost 11,500 miles on it. It actually still looks quite good! It still has a good round profile and, while I don't know how long it will last, It's not ready for replacement.
 
One thing I will be adding are the Mirror Extenders. I've been feeling the stock mirror length was ok (not good) regarding seeing behind me, and I had worried about the extra length affecting lane splitting. However, after this trip (and being surprised a couple of times by someone quickly coming up from behind) I've decided to get the Mirror Extenders. I've already ordered the Adventure Tech extenders, and hope they'll be a big improvement.
 
Another item I'm looking at is getting a half cover for the FJ. I've got a full cover that actually works well, but I'm looking for something that packs smaller for trips, while still covering the top half of the bike. If anyone has a recommendation for one that is waterproof and fits the FJ well (including the windshield, topbox, and maybe the top half of the saddlebags) I'm interested.
 
 
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(Part 3)
 
For a riding suit I had bought the Firstgear Expedition suit (also recommended elsewhere in the forum) which I purchased at a closeout price. It worked very well on the trip. It stayed waterproof in the rain and (as long as you were moving, with vents open) did a good job when the temperature rose. It is a one piece suit, which took me a bit of getting used to. When making a food stop I would usually shrug out of the top half and let it hang behind me. Somewhat awkward walking around that way (need to be careful about swinging those sleeves around) but it worked. For a long trip I think it works well, but I don't think it's my choice for local riding when I would be more frequently on and off the bike (especially in SoCal). When in warm weather and not moving it was uncomfortably hot. For cooler and/or wet weather it worked great! It didn't take much layering to stay comfortable down into the high 30's.
 
Most of the trip, I wore the "Heat Out" wicking shorts, jeans, and "Heat Out" wicking t-shirt. When warm no additional layering was needed and I stayed noticeably dryer than I might have with standard t-shirt and shorts. When colder, usually only one additional layer was needed to get comfortable. I do need to find a different pair of colder weather gloves. Mine were warm, but no longer waterproof (too old I guess) so I'm open to suggestions on a replacement pair.
 
I have the Alpinestar Roam 2 Waterproof boots. I found them comfortable in a wide range of temperatures, and they stayed completely waterproof. For me they're also very comfortable to walk in. Good boots!
 
I have the Madstad 22" screen with the KTM hand guards (I'm 6'2" tall w/ a 34" inseam). Both worked very well for me throughout the trip. I feel the KTM hand guards helped keep my hands warmer longer than the stock guards would have. The Madstad screen did a good job of providing protection from bugs and rain etc., while still allowing airflow when it was warm. It was interesting monitoring wind buffeting during the trip. It all depended on surrounding wind conditions. I never found it to be excessive, and the degree of buffeting varied greatly. There were times where I'd be going 90mph down the highway with very smooth airflow, and other times where at 65 there would be lots of air movement. Side winds, lots of big trucks etc. seemed to make the difference.
 
I had bought the Garmin 660 GPS the week before leaving on my trip. Sooo one of my challenges was learning the GPS and Basecamp enough to be useful for routing on the trip. The first part of the trip was easy! The SCMA provided GPX files, and I only had to import them to be ready to go. Making my own routes was more entertaining (for anyone watching). It didn't take very long to figure out how to make a new route, but trying to modify an existing route was initially a challenge. Created some interesting (and unwanted) loops during my first attempts. :^) I mounted the power cabling for the GPS directly to the battery. I decided I wanted the option to leave the GPS on while the bike was turned off. The mount worked fine in wet or dry during the ride though I might look at mounting the GPS above the instrument panel (currently on the handlebar). The only problem I started having with the GPS came near the end of the trip. For some reason the GPS would start recalculating and then say something like "Unable to Calculate Route: No roads near destination" and would just go to a map showing my current location. This would happen even while I was on the designated route I had created in Basecamp and not near a turning point. It was frustrating when this would happen multiple times along a route. I would have to re-initialize my desired route and it would carry on nicely until the next time it happened. I turned off Auto-Recaculate but it still happened. Not sure if the final destination waypoint not being on an actual road (just off the side of the road) made the difference, but I'm looking to figure it out. I definitely need to learn more about how it works before I make a judgement as to what's happening. Any input from experienced Garmin users is welcome. (*Note: I just found an internet post that claims this is a compatibility problem between Basecamp and several of the Zumo models. Need to check this out more)
 
I'll be uploading a few pictures from the trip in future posts.
 
 
 
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Fantastic ride. I'm jealous. I got a nice one in in august and am already planning another adventure for next summer. Maybe we'll cross paths.I finally wore out my Alpinestars roam boots about halfway through my trip. They were several years old though so I'm not complaining. A little gorilla tape and some shoe goo got me home.

Let’s go Brandon

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"It doesn't matter who walks in, you know the joke is still the same"  Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. USA

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I got a medium. But I have an MRA windscreen it's pretty small, and you can see it's pretty snug. If you have a stock or larger screen a large might be the way to go.

"It doesn't matter who walks in, you know the joke is still the same"  Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. USA

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I got a medium. But I have an MRA windscreen it's pretty small, and you can see it's pretty snug. If you have a stock or larger screen a large might be the way to go.
Thanks!
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Thanks for sharing. Great report of what sounds like a great ride. 
I've never found a waterproof glove that works. But I now use these on top of all my "waterproof" gloves, and they work great. No problems and they help keep your hands warm with the crab claw fingers.
http://www.aerostich.com/aerostich-short-gauntlet-triple-digit-raincovers.html
Interesting! I actually have a similar pair, which unfortunately are also so old as to no longer be waterproof. They are mittens (Outdoor Research) that also go over your gloves. They are still windproof and I used them in colder weather when my usual cold weather gloves were rain soaked. I'll take another look at this option.
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Thanks for a great report Steveb.
 
Sounds like you certainly had a good time.
 
Look forward to seeing the pics when you get the chance.
 
 
 

Kimmie......the lady who likes to take little detours :)

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Congrats on a ride well done. Sounds like the FJ-09 has earned its sports touring stripes.
 
I experienced the same clouding on the right side of the display on a very hot day, also temporarily.

IBA Member #59800

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I replaced the chain and rear tire just before the trip. The OEM chain had unevenly stretched and I replaced it at 11000 miles with a higher quality EK chain. I also installed a Tutoro chain oiler on the first day of the trip. After some adjustment tweaks the oiler has worked very well. The chain is wearing very evenly and, in fact, was not adjusted during the entire trip. It is still within reasonable adjustment (a little loose but not bad), and will be adjusted again when I t[span style=font-size:12pt]replace[/span][span style=font-size:12pt] [/span][span style=font-size:12pt]he rear tire. [/span]
That is quite an endorsement for a chain oiler. The OEM chain wore out in 11K miles, but the replacement went 9700 miles with the oiler and didn't even need an adjustment.  

2015 red FJ-09: Cal Sci screen, Sargent seat, ECU flash, slider combo, cruise, Rizoma bars, Matts forks, JRi shock, slipper clutch

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