2014 Trip Preparations

I’ve got just about everything ready for this year’s NY to CA ride.  With a smaller bike and limited storage, I’ll be travelling much lighter this year.  After some initial packing last night, I’ve come to appreciate the generous storage provided by the Harley and BMW.

In the couple of weeks that I’ve had it, I’ve made some additions and modifications to make it more touring friendly.  The mods include:

  • Seat Concepts Seat
  • Cheap soft luggage (panniers, tail bag, tank bag)
  • Modified windscreen to make it taller
  • SW-Motech crash bars
  • Highway pegs added to the crash bars
  • Barkbusters hand guards
  • GPS mounted to the dash
  • RAM mounts for the radar detector and phone
  • Go-Cruise throttle assist
  • Cup holder
  • 12v outlet

For the past 6 years, I’ve ridden big touring bikes designed for long distance riding.  I have high hopes for the little Kawasaki.

The panniers and tail bag that I bought for the Versys don’t really give me a lot of room to pack stuff.  They looked like they were pretty good-sized until I started putting stuff into them at which time, they started to get much smaller.  After tools, a ride atlas, rain gear, heated jacket liner, extra gloves, and some extra bungee cords, I’m left with just one empty saddle bag and the tank bag for everything else.

Judging from the short day rides that I’ve taken recently, I think the Versys be a decent long distance bike.  It’s relatively comfortable after adding the new seat and eliminating the worst of the the wind noise.  I seem to be getting pretty good fuel mileage as well so I should be able to get around 200 miles between gas stops.

Tomorrow’s weather looks good with temperatures in the  low-mid 70’s.  The goal for the first day will be to go 500-600 miles.  That should get me well into Ohio.

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Wind Noise

The windscreen on this Versys is driving me crazy.  No matter how I adjust it, it blows dirty air onto my helmet causing a lot of noise when riding on the highway. 

I’ve tried two different windscreens and they’re both noisy.  I even made some custom brackets to raise and angle it differently but nothing seems to help. 

If I stand up on the pegs and get my head into nice clean air, the noise goes away so I’m pretty sure it’s the screen
  Oh well, I guess I’ll keep trying.

2013 Kawasaki Versys

2013 Kawasaki VersysAbout a week ago, I picked up a 2013 Kawasaki Versys.  I wanted a bike that is primarily a street bike but could also be taken off-road on some well groomed trails and forest roads.  I’ll be riding this out to California this year and look forward to exploring some new places that I was unable to visit in previous trips.

It’s relatively lightweight bike weighing in at around 450 lbs with a 650cc parallel twin and a reasonable amount of suspension travel.  I won’t bore you with all the details because it’s easy enough to find info on the web.  On the street, it has good power and handles well.  It’s a great bike for commuting.

While is not exactly a dual-purpose bike, it seems to be fine on easy dirt/gravel roads.  It’s well balanced and easy to maneuver at slow speeds so when I took it to a local state park and rode it on some easy trails I was pleasantly surprised at how well it did.  I consider it a successful test of its off-road abilities since I didn’t get stuck or drop the bike.

I’ve begun preparing the Versys for my trip to CA in a couple of weeks.  So far I’ve added SW-Motech crash bars, a pair of highway pegs, a taller windscreen, some soft luggage, a 12v power socket, and a couple of RAM mounts on the handlebars.  I’ll need to focus on the mediocre seat now.

Overall, the Versys seems to be a good all-around bike that would be a great first bike for someone to get started on.  It’s easy to ride with decent low-end power that builds nicely as you get the revs up.

You’ll hear plenty more about this bike in a couple of weeks as I start my cross-country ride.