Monday, June 1, 2009

Kenda K657s on my DR650

I was looking for a suitable street tire for a trackday on the DR.  I found the Cheng Shin Barracudas and the Kenda K657s.  I initially ordered the Cheng Shins, but they were not available, so I ordered a set of the k657s.  I was not expecting much, just something better than knobbies for the roadrace track, but I was very impressed with these tires.  Even at touch-down-my-toes lean angles they stuck like glue.  The front looked the part of a race tire with rubber balled up and sticky enough to pick up pebbles and such.

They worked well at 30psi and better at 25psi providing good feedback when pushing hard.  It was not just me that was impressed either - my buddy with a shelf full of WERA trophies rode the bike and was amazed at well the tires worked at the limit of traction.

I'll also say the bike handled great.  My suspension is stock and there was no pogo action, weird feeling surprises, or bad behavior of any kind.  There was brake dive, it never bothered me and never upset the handling of the bike.  At top speed the bike was still quite stable and turned easily.

Even I was able to match or exceed the corner speeds of the sporty bikes.

Anyway, for about $125.00 and some effort changing the tires you can get a pretty good super moto experience.

Thanks for Reading - Mike         Photo by Rob Cheng

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Finally got my fat ass on the bike.  I know I'm fat because my riding gear was really hard to get into.  So there I am in the parking lot of TWO watching my breath hang in the chill air, and nothing wants to zip, button, or snap into place.

It's my birthday and I'm playing hooky to spend a day on road and off with one of my favorite riding buddies, Lloyd.  We both ride DR650s and from the looks of it Lloyd's riding gear has shrunken as well.

Finally with enough sucking in and stretching of leather and textile gear we are both just about ready to go.  Lloyd's bike starts right up but then dies until he gets the idea to adjust the idle screw - this works just like it was made to control the idle - duh - and off we go.

The Suches area in the middle of a weekday is simply fantastic riding.  There was very little traffic as we headed up Hwy 60 towards Morgan town.  The temp was perfect and the pace was just right for clearing the cobwebs after a long winter of not riding.

It might just be me, but at the beginning of a ride - especially after not riding for awhile - it seems like my level of concentration is not quite where it should be.  One thing that really seems to help me get into the groove is to ride for around 30 minutes, take a break, and then ride another 30-60 minutes.  After a couple cycles like this I am good to go.

We gassed up and headed back toward Suches taking a couple of dirt road detours, stopping to admire the river, and watching a guy pull two nice looking trout in just a few minutes.  The dirt roads were damp with almost all the gravel embedded so there was little dust and lots of grip.

There were some campers along the way and we tried to motor by slowly/quietly but sometimes you come roaring up to a curve and then see the campsites a bit too late for a quiet passage.  Apparently though we were quiet enough because at one point I came into a right hander moving pretty good only to find two oncoming Mountain Bikers - one in my lane.  The guy looked kinda terrified to see the mighty Blue DR, but we managed not to take each other out.

I put on a show for Lloyd on another fast right hander when my sloppy shifting landed me in neutral at a very inopportune time.  It sure is nice to have control of your speed using the throttle, and that lesson is strongly reinforced when you inadvertently forfeit that control.

Arriving back at TWO we reflect on what a great ride it's been and how it might be a good time to call it quits rather than getting greedy for more.  In typical fat American fashion we got greedy and headed back out because I wanted to ride FS58.  It really is a beautiful road with gorgeous, big trees, and a somewhat primeval feel to it.

Along the way we decided to go up a moderately challenging looking spur with rocks, sharp turns, and sheer drop offs.  We kept up a pretty good pace - I have this dream of not lagging so far behind Ryan this year - and I was having a blast.  At the top it opens up into a clearing, but I did not process quite fast enough and tried to ride up some big rock ledges.  I say tried because I cleared the first one and planted the front wheel solidly into the face of the second bringing me to a sudden, unexpected, and unfortunate stop.  I fell to the left hit hard on my left hip.  Lloyd, having apparently sussed out the situation in a more timely manner than me, simply turned left onto the smooth trail and stopped.  By this time I was up limping around and noticing that five degrees in any other direction would have been soooo much smarter.

Lloyd helped me pick up the bike and then we both walked around slowly letting our old hearts return to normal rythym and catching our breath.  According to the map the spur we were on would rejoin FS58 a bit farther on, but a walk that way revealed the ugly truth that we would need more skill to go forward than either of us confidently possess.  So it was back down the way we came.

Only problem with back down the way we came was that the idle screw had fallen out of Lloyd's bike earlier in the day, he would have zero engine braking going back down the mountain, and would also have to keep the revs up to avoid stalling the bike.  I had some water weld in my bag so we decided to make a spacer to replace the idle screw that we would fasten with a tie wrap.

Water weld, JB Kwik, tie wraps, tools that fit everything - these are things you do not want to be without.  Especially when riding offroad on a big vibrating single.

It took longer than the two minutes the instructions said but we ended up with a perfectly sized spacer and the bike was idling along just right.  Going down slowly proved anti-climactic which was fine by me at this point.  

Back on 58 we cruised at a quick pace and had a good ride.  At one point I came up on a car and heard Lloyd honking atthe same time.  I turned around, the car stopped and wee had a good conversation with the guy in the car while I tie wrapped my side panel back onto my bike.   Eventually the guy's wife grew impatient which she indicated by starting the car and threatening silently to drive away.

We got back to TWO after gassing up and were able to load up before dark.  All in all a great day of riding with a good friend and a perfect way to mark the passing of another year on this earth.



Wednesday, January 21, 2009

It's cold but I miss riding

I am tired of winter.  My poor DR 650 sits forlornly in the garage waiting for my attention, but I just have not been able to ride lately.

The commute is 79 miles each way of interstate, so even if I did ride to work, it would just be to show how tough I am rather than for any enjoyment.  Add in some family obligations that frustratingly coincide with ridable weather and I have to go look for the battery tender - a sad state of affairs indeed.

I am so looking forward to Spring.  A few days of riding with my buddies in the Smokies or the Ozarks will set the world right again.