Upgrade Your Mount, Young Man!

Posted on June 9, 2010


KLR 650 Fun - A New Center Stand Makes Adding a Moab Shock Easier

Just a few bike words for the non-motorcycle folks out there. Getting a bike ready for a 12,000 mile trip up north is not like preparing for a run to the corner grocery. Because you will be carrying about 140 pounds of tools, spare parts, clothes, camping and cooking gear etc. into areas where there is little or no assistance means the bike has to be up to the task, and so does the rider.

Upgrades to the suspension are needed to handle the extra weight and the rough sections of pavement and gravel involved. Better tires, probably two sets of them, must be able to stick to hot interstates, slick wooden bridges, pot holed gravel roads, and snow covered climbs over the Brooks Range four hundred miles from help. Frames are improved by various means, since even on these excellent bikes, hard traveling over rugged roads has been known to break them.

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KLR 650 Getting Progressive Fork Springs

The home shop mechanic resorts to various nefarious means to get the job done. A luggage strap holds the bike on the center stand, and another strap from the handlebars to the front axel holds the bike with front forks compressed, making getting the old springs out easier, and since you have to change the fork oil at the same time, it helps with that job as well. What are progressive fork springs you ask?

Progressive Fork Springs On Top, Stock Springs On Bottom. Note the "progressively wound" nature of the top springs.

The springs at the top of the picture are the “progressively wound” fork springs, the coils getting tighter at one end. Those on the bottom are the stock springs. The benefit of the progressively wound springs is that they get stiffer the more they are compressed, taking some of the “dive” out of hard stops and hard suspension hits. These springs match up well with the performance shock on the rear of the bike. The hand built shock absorber also takes the “mush” out of the rear under heavy weight and makes the bike handle much better in both fast corners and on rough terrain.

The yellow "doo rag" helps in tire changing by absorbing grease, sweat, and colorful language.

Rudi is too cheap to pay someone to change his motorcycle tires. Besides, he thinks it’s good practice for the inevitable flat tire on the side of the road in the wilderness that is a staple of adventure trips. Before taking the old tire off, in fact, Rudi drills a hole in it so he can practice inserting a plug and riding off. This on a tubeless tire like on his BMW 1150GS. Even he doesn’t punch a hole in a perfectly good inner tube, although he equipped the KLR with double thick competition tubes for this trip.

Large knobby tires, like the ones Rudi and Jesse will use on the Dalton Highway, are difficult to change, particularly in the colder weather they will encounter on the run from Fairbanks to Prudho Bay. They will carry spare rear street tires strapped on their bikes, along with extra gas cans, to cope with the interesting conditions encountered on this 400+miles of gravel road … 400 plus miles each way.

Rudi's "Big Bertha" Ready To Roll On A 1,400 Mile Parkway trip In 2009

Rudi on the 1150GS With Full Load of Gear on a 4-Day Blue Ridge Parkway Ride in 2009.

Enough of this gearhead stuff. Let’s Ride!

This is what the BMW looks like when set up for four days of camping on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It is a 600 lb. motorcycle before adding three large storage cases, a tent, sleeping pad, camping and cooking gear, a video and still cameras(s), tripod, spare batteries, food, water, whiskey, and the kitchen sink. Not fun to pick the pig up if she falls over. Do you want to know how I know this? That’s for another post.

Environmental Fund Raising Site for Rudi G & Jesse

Please join Rudi & Jesse to help the environment by reading the message below, and taking action on it.

This trip, and this blog, are raising money for our favorite environmental non-profit, Georgia River Network. GRN advocates for, and protects, all rivers in Georgia. We produce videos for them to help raise awareness and money for their projects. If you are enjoying our trip blog, please join us in giving whatever tax deductable amount you can by going to our fund raising site at:


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Thank you.

Rudi G  & Jesse