Saturday, November 12, 2011

My KLR update

Stefan bought crash bars and a center stand for my "new" KLR (it's from 2008, but it's new to me!) and spent oh-so-much time installing them. He also bought and installed two-inch lowering links. He lowered the front forks as well, and got the side stand cut so that it would fit the lowered bike.

Yes, that's what we did instead of me going to New York City... I gave up Alan Rickman for a KLR and a lot of fixtures for it. It's my Christmas present and my birthday present from Stefan for probably the next three years.

So, I'm ready to roll, right?! I'm a real dual sport girl, right?

Yes and no...

I road the bike all over the neighborhood, and then we went on the windy road to Mulino and back. A few days later, we road to Woodburn and back (to get the bike registered). I think that's 50 miles total.

What I've learned / observed so far as I've ridden the KLR 650:
-- indeed, it's a thumper compared to the Honda Nighthawk; I'm giving up a very smooth, silky ride for more vibration. No more hour-long stretches of riding with no stopping - at least not as much as I'm used to. And I think I'm going to have to wear earplugs when I ride.
-- I'm also giving up a LOT of bike weight! I'm stunned at how much lighter it is!
-- It's very nimble. I feel very nimble on it. I don't know how to say that any other way.
-- I have to get on by putting my left leg on the foot peg and swinging my leg over, but once I'm over, I can put a foot down, no prob, lift the kick stand, and then I've got both feet on the ground (not at all flat, but more than enough for control). And that's going to mean always paying attention to where and how I park, even more than I already do.
-- I can see the dashboard MUCH more easily than I could on the NightHawk - much less of a head tilt down to see what's what.

So, indeed, someone who is 5' 4" can ride a lowered KLR. After being told for more than a year it wasn't possible, I'm thrilled to know it is. But I also have to say that my losing 33 pounds since February has helped tremendously - less between my thighs, allowing me to bring my legs closer to the bike in a standing position and put my feet on the ground.

Now, here's the bad news: it's now too low for the center stand (pretty easy to drag the sides of it while cornering) and it's too low to go over some of the terrain I want to. In short - it's not going to work this way.

The two inch lowering links were just $30 (with shipping). A lowered seat is more than $300. But that's what we had to do. Stefan installed the seat, put the stock links back on and brought the forks back up to stock height. And at this height, I can touch both sides of the bike. BUT... it's not enough. I'm on my toes - not even the balls of my feet. The center of gravity is much higher now, and I no longer have enough control of the bike to back it out of the garage and down the small incline to the road - and, to me, that's the best test to know if it's too high or not to ride. With the two-inch lowering links, it was much easier than the NightHawk to back up, something I have to do a lot when traveling/camping. But those lowering links just aren't going to work.

So... now we're going to buy one inch lowering links. And I really do have to get back on my program and lose this other 33 pounds, so the bike will fit me even better (and make this much wider seat more comfortable).

What about the Nighthawk? I'm trying to sell it, but it's a rotten time of year to do so. It's been on Craigslist for two weeks, and I tweeted about it as well. The first 24 hours, I got three calls for it. But in the two weeks it's been posted, I've had probably only three more calls. Two people have come here to view it - the first guy was definitely our best bet, but he wasn't crazy about the smoke out of the exhaust. The second viewer - a woman - didn't have her funding in order. And then some jerk flagged our Craigslist ad as spam, resulting in it being removed, which we didn't notice for two days. It's back up, for now... but the weather is so awful, no one is thinking about riding.

We hadn't intended to sell the Nighthawk until the Spring of 2012, at the earliest - and since that meant me riding it for six more months, we'd re-registered it, bought and installed a new chain set, and bought a new back tire. So, a few hundred dollars we would not have spent had we known this KLR and all its many alterations and additions were in our future...

And where are the photos of me on the bike? We took some, but I rejected them all for publication - I looked HUGE. We'll try another photo session as soon as the weather is good enough on the weekend (which will probably be... March...).

I am so lucky to have the husband I have, I really am. Wish I could land a job so I could buy him something equally wonderful.

I hate being short. And unemployed.

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