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Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Director of Marketing & Digital Assets
3/26/22 11:59 p.m.

First up: tires. The old ones were bald, dry-rotted 90/10s. I figured now was as good of a time as any to learn how to spoon tires on by hand, so we got to work:

The first one took us more than an hour, then the second took ten minutes. More importantly, I'm not scared of doing this on the trail anymore.

Success! 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Director of Marketing & Digital Assets
3/27/22 12:02 a.m.

Tires installed, it was time to go for a real ride. We ended up doing a 150 mile loop, with a fairly even mix of highway, country road, mountain twisties, and dirt trails.

And IT WAS AWESOME. 

Photos:




Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Director of Marketing & Digital Assets
3/27/22 12:09 a.m.

Here's what I learned:

  • This is plenty of bike for the job, at least at this level of experience/expectation.
  • It has no issues cruising at 80 mph.
  • I still remember those skills from growing up on dirt bikes.
  • I'm shocked at how well these tires perform on the road. These foot pegs are insanely small, so my boot scrapes before any part of the bike. 
  • It's better off-road than the Harley, but that's probably just a combination of better tires and less weight.
  • The Harley is substantially faster. 

All in all, I managed to have the same experience that Johnny did on his $25,000 motorcycle on a bike I paid $3000 for. Success!

docwyte
docwyte PowerDork
3/27/22 10:45 a.m.

TKC80's are awesome, I just put the used set I had kicking around on my 690.

I *love* Black Dog Cycle foot pegs.  You can see them on my 690 above, as well as their skid plate.  As far as putting tires on, do yourself a huge favor and buy the Baja No Touch system.  It levers the tire back on in a way that makes it impossible to pinch the tube

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Director of Marketing & Digital Assets
4/12/22 12:02 p.m.

Okay, I've been slacking on updating my thread here. But I have a trip planned, so it's time to catch up the thread. 

First up, the goal: Complete the Georgia Adventure Trail. Johnny and I plan to ride the entire 580-mile, mostly off-road trail and camp along the way. 

Clearly my little BMW was going to need some work before I could do something this ambitious. To the garage!

Rather than leave the bike in Atlanta, I decided to borrow Tim's Ridgeline and haul the bike home to Florida so I'd have a few weeks to prep it for the trip. It fit in the bed, but wow this is a big bike. 

Once home, I found a few square feet in the garage. Next step? Turn this thing into a real adventure touring machine!

 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Director of Marketing & Digital Assets
4/12/22 12:06 p.m.

I started by addressing the most annoying problem: Bent handlebars. This bike has 17,000 miles on it, and one of those miles clearly included a light drop. They're not bent enough to notice at first glance, but after an hour ride it's obvious that something is just slightly off. 

Every G650GS has heated grips from the factory, and disconnecting them requires disassembling the front half of the bike. Yes, I'm serious--there's about three feet of wire you have to fish from the grips to the fuse box. 

I did eventually manage to find the connectors:

And, in typical BMW fashion, they have to be de-pinned to fit through the hole in the bars. Eventually I managed to put old and new handlebars side-by-side to confirm that I'm not crazy--the old bars really are bent!

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Director of Marketing & Digital Assets
4/12/22 12:11 p.m.

I didn't take too many pictures of the next hour or so (not documenting a project exhaustively is basically vacation for me), but I did decide to install a used set of handlebar risers to improve the standing riding position:

And while the plastics were off, I found the little GPS connector that will let me power a Garmin without adding any wiring to the bike. More details on that later. 

Eventually I ended up with straight bars, slightly higher, with a Garmin Zumo mounted on them. I also tilted my levers down a bit so my wrists would be more comfortable while standing.

Rather than re-attach the factory vibration dampers on the bar ends, I decided to go with a set of Barkbusters. These should keep my hands warm and protected in the woods, and protect my levers if I drop the bike. I had to tilt them down a fair bit to clear the dash, but I think they'll still work fine. 

Slippery
Slippery GRM+ Memberand UberDork
4/12/22 12:15 p.m.

Gee, I think I would have attempted to bend the handleblar back into shape while on the bike.

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Director of Marketing & Digital Assets
4/12/22 10:19 p.m.

In reply to Slippery :

I'm really, really, really picky about things like this, and knew I'd never get them perfect without replacing them. 

B13Birk
B13Birk GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
4/12/22 10:21 p.m.

Stoked for you man. I did the GAT last year. It's absolutely beautiful. There can be a few road closures at times. Tony (Vman1313) designed the route. He is super helpful and could answer any questions you have about it. Dispersed camping is at a minimum along the route but there are some great campgrounds/campsites etc. Also some great Air BNB's along the way. Hipcamp is a great way to find awesome places to stop when doing the ADV bike life. Have a blast! My Florida route (FAT) will be released in November. 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Director of Marketing & Digital Assets
4/12/22 10:27 p.m.

I'll need tools for the adventure, which means I'll need to learn a new skill: Packing light. surprise

I'm used to carrying around 119 lbs of tools when I travel, but that's just not possible on a bike. Instead, I decided to put together a tool roll with the essentials:

I employed a few tricks, including an aluminum axle wrench/tire spoon and a combination 17x19mm wrench. 

I think I ended up with a fairly complete kit, yet it still only weighs six pounds. Not super light, but totally managable on a bike. Here's the full list of contents:

  • 8mm wrench
  • 10mm wrench
  • 12mm wrench
  • 13mm wrench
  • 14mm wrench
  • Screwdriver with Torx T25/Phillips/flat bits.
  • 17x19mm wrench
  • 24mm wrench with tire spoon
  • Two more tire spoons
  • T30 Security Torx
  • Torx wrench set
  • Allen key set
  • 18mm Spark plug socket
  • Tire gauge
  • Bicycle pump. Yes, it's slow. But it makes pressurized air. 
  • Flashlight
  • Vise Grips
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Zip ties
  • Fuses
  • Crimp connectors
  • Spare nuts and bolts.

Still missing a few odds and ends, but I'm happy with the progress so far. 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Director of Marketing & Digital Assets
4/19/22 7:44 a.m.

Let's talk about racks. A real BMW owner would go to the dealer and drop about $2000 on hard cases, but I'm two things:

  1. Cheap
  2. Made of bones that break when hard cases are dropped on them.

So that steered me towards soft cases. I picked up a set of used Givi racks on eBay, then set out hunting for cases to go with them.

Nothing. Every used bag I found was designed to strap directly to the rack, but I really wanted something that would quickly attack/detach so I could take it off the bike each night. I finally sucked it up and bought an open box pair of Givi bags for $600. 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Director of Marketing & Digital Assets
4/19/22 7:49 a.m.

Then it was RACK DAY! Aside from one slightly bent tab on the used rack, installing everything was shockingly easy. 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Director of Marketing & Digital Assets
4/19/22 7:56 a.m.

Next up: Change the oil. Motorcycles take fancy oil, and my local parts store didn't have anything. So since I needed to go to the dealer for a few screws, anyway, I spent $16.50/quart to buy BMW oil. This thing better appreciate the good stuff....

And since changing the filter requires removing the front sprocket cover, I changed sprockets too. The previous owner put a slightly larger rear sprocket on "to match his son's KLR." That's great off road, but for what I'm doing I'd rather have a more comfortable ride at 65mph. I measured the chain and it appears to be brand new, but the front sprocket had some wear, so I decided to replace just the front and rear sprockets. I know it's wrong to leave the chain, but I suspect the PO only rode this a few times after adding just a chain and rear sprocket. 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Director of Marketing & Digital Assets
4/19/22 7:58 a.m.

Oh, and I moved the rear brake and shift levers while I was under the bike, too. As purchased, the rear brake was too high and the shifter was too low. Luckily each was only a 5-minute fix. 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Director of Marketing & Digital Assets
4/19/22 8:05 a.m.

Next up: Radiator protection. I've never had a water-cooled bike before, so I'm paranoid about keeping this delicate plastic radiator intact on 580 miles of gravel.

Step one: crash bars. I rolled the dice and bought a used set on eBay. Turns out they arrived pre-crashed....

Fortunately, I was able to bend them back straight in the vise. Shoutout to my dad for happening to stop by at the perfect time to give me some extra leverage. 

 

I was worried about gravel, too, and lots of companies sell mesh screen kits for this bike for about $100. Every one seems to attach with zip ties, so I just bought my own mesh screen and zip tied it on.

Here's my newly protected radiator:

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Director of Marketing & Digital Assets
4/19/22 8:06 a.m.

One last bit of protection: A real skid plate. BMW's is basically tin foil, so I splurged on a $166 Happy Trails aluminum one. It installed in 15 minutes and fit perfectly--I was pretty impressed. 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Director of Marketing & Digital Assets
4/19/22 8:10 a.m.
B13Birk said:

Stoked for you man. I did the GAT last year. It's absolutely beautiful. There can be a few road closures at times. Tony (Vman1313) designed the route. He is super helpful and could answer any questions you have about it. Dispersed camping is at a minimum along the route but there are some great campgrounds/campsites etc. Also some great Air BNB's along the way. Hipcamp is a great way to find awesome places to stop when doing the ADV bike life. Have a blast! My Florida route (FAT) will be released in November. 

Thanks! I'm super excited to see it. And I've been following the FAT with tons of excitement; I can't wait to try it out. 

docwyte
docwyte PowerDork
4/19/22 9:28 a.m.

You're gonna want larger foot pegs.  Also, Wolfman soft bags quickly pop on/off the racks...

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Director of Marketing & Digital Assets
4/19/22 10:49 a.m.

In reply to docwyte :

Any suggestions? I didn't see any in stock anywhere designed for this bike, but haven't really investigated if universal options will fit.

docwyte
docwyte PowerDork
4/19/22 2:46 p.m.

In reply to Tom Suddard :

Most of the BMW pegs fit all the BMW's.  I use Black Dog Cycle pegs on all my KTM's and I'm pretty sure they make them for BMW's too

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Director of Marketing & Digital Assets
4/27/22 8:23 a.m.

Okay, more prep. I needed some wind protection before the ride, so I splurged on a new Madstad kit for the bike. 

I also needed a more comfortable seat, but wasn't willing to spend $600 on a new one. ADVrider says this $80 Airhawk cushion is more comfortable than a real seat, anyway, so I'll try it out. 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Director of Marketing & Digital Assets
4/27/22 8:26 a.m.

Then I started laying out my gear and figuring out where I'd store everything. It was obvious I needed more room or a much more expensive/smaller tent and sleeping pad. I chose the simple option: a duffel bag strapped across the back. I made some perfectly sized nylon straps with parts from Amazon and cinched it on there:

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Director of Marketing & Digital Assets
3/22/23 10:06 a.m.

With the bike ready for an adventure, it was time to do the Georgia Adventure Trail. You can read my thread from that trip right here. 

Tom's Georgia Adventure Trail Thread

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Director of Marketing & Digital Assets
3/22/23 10:09 a.m.

After the GAT, well, I parked the bike in a corner and didn't touch it again. Honestly, aside from riding it around the yard once for a bath, I don't think I used it once for a year. So it's time to change that and plan another trip. Next up? The Georgia Traverse, an east-west trail that crosses Northern Georgia on a mostly dirt and gravel route.

Since I already have an adventure-ready bike, this time I won't need to do too much work. But there are some things I learned on the last trip, and I'm going to try to fix them before the next one. Here's my to-do list:

  1. Get the bike running again.
  2. Catch up on any maintenance.
  3. Improve pavement comfort.
  4. Find some wider foot pegs.
  5. Drop luggage weight. 

Time to get to work!

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