Getting ready to ride!
Travel plans are moving forward
The other day I received some great news. I now have a date where I regain my British Columbia residency. Until now I have been living in limbo. Without a departure date its hard to start to plan overseas travel. I was able to do a lot of research but not book anything. Its like going to the candy store with no money. There is conflicting information about residency requirements when doing research online. I ended up making a call and talking directly to a representative who was able to give me clear information. Having my departure date has allowed me to start to make some more concrete plans.
I crossed into British Columbia on May 15th. I need to be here for 6 months to get residency. My departure date is now set at November 16th; I am adding an extra day just to be safe. The importance of having residency is that it allows me to travel for up to two years and still maintain my medical services/health insurance. Of course I am still required to pay my monthly premiums while I am traveling. Health insurance is one of the requirements of purchasing and maintaining long term travel insurance. For all you Americans, Canada does not have free health care. That is just a myth they feed you to make you think Canada is awesome. Kind of like Canadian bacon or that we bathe in maple syrup; these are things that do not exist.
While I am in BC waiting for November 16th I decided to do a couple road trips. The first trip will start on Monday the 13th. I plan to ride my motorcycle in a small loop around the interior of BC. Here is a graphic showing the basic route I plan to take. The entire trip is approximately 2000 km (1250 miles).
You may be asking yourself, ‘what do all the little yellow diamonds mean?’. Well BC is going through a bad drought and because of that there are lots of forest fires. Each one of those diamonds represents the location of a fire. Some of these fires may already be out. Many of them are likely still smoldering. Some of them look like the following image, shot near Pemberton, which is directly on my route.
I’m pretty sure I don’t need to emphasize that I will be keeping a close watch on the fires as I travel to make sure I do not get myself all burned up.
On this trip I will be reconnecting with friends I have not seen in years as well as photographing some amazing scenery along the way. While I was on my trip around the US the one complaint I had was that I spent to much time driving and not enough time stopping and looking around. One of my goals on this trip is to spend only a few hours per day of actual riding, using the majority of my time enjoying the surroundings. The entire trip should only take two weeks.
To be able to make this trip I needed to buy a bike. I recently sold my Suzuki SV650 when I left Chicago. I couldn’t justify the expense and hassle of bringing it to Canada and registering it. I wanted a bike that would have an upright seating position and be able to handle the occasional dirt road with no issues. I wanted something light yet powerful enough to handle highway speeds and strong enough to handle the weight of luggage.
I have owned many bikes over the years but never a large dual sport but everything I was looking for was guiding me towards getting one. Doing some research online there are two bikes which fit this category. Suzuki and Kawasaki both make 650cc dual purpose bikes. However I found that the Suzuki camp has a great following and made the choice to go with it.
Living on Vancouver Island limits the choices available when looking for a specific bike. I ended up traveling to Vancouver to buy this bike. It was a long day trip of public transit taking boats, busses, and trains to get to the seller. I ended up missing the boat that would take me back to Victoria on the most direct route. Instead I took a boat to Nanaimo and rode an hour and a half over the Malahat to get home at around 1am.
This particular bike has an aftermarket racing exhaust. The resulting combination of the a big single cylinder motor with this exhaust is a really loud bike. The bike is also not the prettiest, being painted flat black at some point in its history. On top of everything else there are two huge aluminum saddle bags hanging off the back of the bike. The combination of the ugliness and the snarling exhaust note add up to giving this bike the character of The Beast.
Here I am posing with The Beast
There are a lot of reasons I chose this bike to make this trip. The bike has a great combination of being light weight with lots of power, its simple to work on, and It has an upright seating position. The model has been in production since 1990 and since 1996 was built with mostly cosmetic changes. This means there is great history on what goes wrong with the bike. It also means a lot of aftermarket support, and forums that provide great information. This all adds up to a great balance of reliability, versatility and fun.
For all the great reasons that I chose this bike there are a few things that are pretty annoying. The first is that the seat becomes uncomfortable about an hour into each ride. And when I say uncomfortable its Jalapeño lemon juice on your hemorrhoids type of uncomfortable. To lengthen my riding day I have bought a piece of sheepskin, with wool, to cover the seat. I have tested the seat cover and though the sheep is likely missing it I am glad that I have it.
A bit of prep quickly got the bike ready for this trip. The choke cable was seized and required replacing. I also replaced the choke plunger and plunger holder. Replacing one of the spark plug caps allowed me to eliminate a torn cap seal. Besides replacing those items all I have done is basic maintenance and check fluids and tire pressure.
At this point the bike is driving alright. It does consume more fuel that it should but this is due to work done by the previous owner. The stock exhaust is now a free flowing Two Brothers model. The air filter is K/N and the air intake is larger than stock. I can only assume the main fuel jet in the carburetor is larger to balance the extra air allowed by the other changes. The adjustments do cause the bike to run rich which accounts for the higher fuel consumption. Not the best situation, but with a spare gas can strapped to one of the saddle bags, its easy to live with.
I don’t expect to spend much money on this trip. I am still saving up for a much longer trip starting in November. I am traveling with a tent and plan to stay at camp grounds when I am not staying with friends. Camping will be less expensive than motels and will allow me to get in touch with nature, and bug repellant.
Below is the budget I have put together. I am not going to include the price of the bike as I will be selling it after making this trip.
Ferry to the mainland $110
This adds up to around $1000. Not the cheapest way to spend two weeks, but the adventure of this trip is worth the extra expenses.