Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Mods, Farkles and Frustrations - By Kevin

Talk to any adventure rider and before long they’re sure to start listing off their “farkles” – that is, the little extras they’ve added or done to their bike to make it their own. I have many “farkles”. I also have a collection of new colorful metaphors to describe the engineers at Kawasaki.

There are certain truths one accepts when gearing up for a trip across the continent. It is true that I would have to add or make several changes to the physical characteristics of the bike. For instance, I knew that I would need to replace the uncomfortable stock seat and small windshield for comfort. It was also true that I’d have to add luggage racks to carry all my gear, heated grips to keep my hands warm, and highway pegs to give my legs a rest.

The unexpected truth of owning a KLR, I’ve discovered, is that I would be required to complete many “upgrades” to make the bike mechanically sound. The truth, I found, is that I would need to posses a willingness to tear into my bike on a very intimate level. The truth is… I was in big trouble.

As Larry jests, the biggest thing I’ve ever torn into is a hamburger. While I’d say that’s a bit of an exaggeration, it’s not untrue to say that I’m better at tearing things apart than putting them back together. So to save me from myself, Larry agreed to come a week or so early to help me get my bike ready for the trip.

Experts will tell you that a necessary upgrade to the bike is to make the sub-frame stronger. The stock bike relies on two low-grade, undersized 8mm bolts that carry the load of anything bolted on (luggage, rear rack) or sitting on (rider, passenger) the sub-frame. (Insert colorful metaphor for Kawasaki here). Since that rider would be ME, I opted for the upgrade. The solution, ironically, is to drill a bigger hole through the old ones and then through the center of the thick metal sub-frame. Did I mention that you only get one shot at this?! So with every ounce of courage I could muster, I rolled up my sleeves, picked up the drill and (drum roll, please)… shamelessly handed the drill to Larry. He skillfully completed the repair as I cheered encouraging words of support: “Please don’t screw this up!”

We've done a lot to the bike in the past few days. For those interested or easily impressed, I’ll list the upgrades to my bike in the next blog. Larry will claim I’ve done my share of the work. I’d say he’s being overly generous. He’s a great guy, a great mentor and I owe him big.

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