Thursday, February 16, 2012

This Time Let's Stop and See Things

This summer we plan to ride our bikes from Kitchener, Ontario to Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Although Mary Ann has about 5 years and 15-20,000 km of riding her Burgman 400 already, this will be her first big trip on her own bike.

The entire trip to Vancouver Island parallels the US border, so we applied for our Canadian passports just in case.  There is a new requirement (I guess a few years ago) to have a passport when visiting the USA.  The other problem with visiting the USA is health insurance to cover us in case of a massive rip-off.  Ordinary health care outside Canada is automatically covered by our socialist system, but "excessive charges" are not covered by our normal insurance, we have to get special ripoff insurance.  Which is itself a ripoff but a smaller one.

Lost and Burgie talking about where to go
This summer, Mary Ann will have her own bike, the Burgman 400. Right from the start we had to agree on some new guidelines for distance and speed. We both know that she does not like to go as far each day or go as fast as I do. How this will work out in reality is anybody's guess, but our plan is to sleep each day till about 9 or 10 AM, and go for breakfast before we start riding. That will be a contrast to my normal routine of getting up at dawn and riding three hours before stopping for breakfast.  Then we plan to ride a couple of hours, and stop for lunch. Then an hour more riding and stop for something else, which right now I can't remember what it is.  Then one more hour will finish the day and we can find a motel.  If we need to spend long evenings in motels, I am bringing a laptop computer to do this blog.  Mary Ann wisely decided to set aside six weeks for the round trip, and I think we're going to need it.

A Burgman 400 presents many unknowns when used for long distance touring.  I don't know how long CVT transmission belts will last, I don't know what to watch for when they start to fail, and I don't know how suddenly they fail.  The smallish tires also need watching.  The engine should be OK, but I have found that when travelling at speed, the 400 cc engine can lose a little oil.  And someone I know has burned out a Burgman 400 engine that ran low on oil.  So first we need to check oil level daily and be prepared to add oil as necessary, which is not easy given the recessed location of the filler cap.  Second, we must also check air pressure in the tires.  And because checking the drive belt is difficult and replacing it is a problem, I decided to replace it before the trip and keep the old one as a spare.  The old belt is actually the original one.  And knowing that it took the Suzuki dealer a week to obtain a new belt means that having a spare is a good idea in case of breakage.

Our next preparation is for luggage space.  We are not taking a trailer, but with two bikes we should be able to carry anything we want - but we still may need extra carrying space.  The Burgman already has a huge lockable underseat storage area, a lockable glove compartment, and two small fairing pockets.  The Vulcan has two leather saddlebags.  I can put a large duffel bag on the seat of the Vulcan, but it will need to be taken inside at night if we are not camping.  We could easily add some new soft saddlebags to the Burgman, and I think the straps would go under the seat, so that we could have easy access to the underseat storage during the day.

I was looking at Givi trunks (or top boxes), but Givi does not make an adapter for either the Burgman 400 (2005) or the Kawasaki Vulcan 900.  I like the idea of a trunk, because it's so easy to get into while travelling, and you don't need to fill it with stuff, you can just throw things in there all day long.  And if the trunks have extra brake lights on them, that's a useful safety feature.  But some trunks fall off, and the following rider can go a long way before you notice it's missing.  If Givi made the proper adapter, I think I would go for it, but if the adapter has to be improvised, it may not be worth the money and trouble.

1 comment:

  1. Wow ... major expedition - especially those long, boring miles across the Prairies.

    Best of the luck with the preparations ... look forward to reading about this adventure.