Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Adventurers Wanted!

Adventurers Wanted! 


“Dream Your Ride” is all about helping people take the motorcycle adventure of their dreams.  This year my friend Paul Opp from Peru VolunTours will help me take one of my dream adventures of riding dual sport motorcycles for 10 days in the Peruvian Andes.  Paul is looking for a few more riders to join us on this fantastic ride.

I first met Paul in high school where he was a “rookie” teacher and while he may not remember, he played a big role in a contest that won me a date with a girl I eventually married me.  Anyway, Paul can best describe who he is and what Peru VolunTours is all about.

"My name is Paul Opp, 13 years ago I made my first journey to Peru and fell in love with the culture, the people and the country. Fours years later I moved here, adopted two Peruvian daughters and started a nonprofit called  People of Peru Project. Since then we have opened a crisis center for abused girls, a free medical and dental clinic and an educational support program for poor childrenPaul with  a scarlet macaw in the Iquitos area. We also provide humanitarian services  for people all over the country from high in the Andes above Cusco to the Amazon River basin. I have worked with hundreds of groups planning trips to this amazing country, from luxury vacations to working in the slums of Belen.  If you  really want to meet and Paul in Machu Picchu - over the rainbowget to know the people and culture then Peru VolunTours is the place for you.  Each trip is customized for you. If you want the standard cookie cutter tour, I would suggest you use one of the rubber stamp tour operators. If you want a life changing experience that will impact an impoverished family......join us.

I am happy to provide all the references you would like and I guarantee that you will have an experience you will never forget. "

The “life changing experience that will impact an impoverished family” refers to the financial impact that a tour will have on Paul’s humanitarian programs in Iquitos as the proceeds from the tours go directly these programs.

Information on the ride can be found at Peru VolunTours Andes Motorcycle Tour and if you would like more details, including cost please contact Paul at U4Peru@gmail.com.




More photos of past tours can be found on facebook at Peru VolunTours Facebook Page.

If you’ve ever wanted to ride in South America, contact Paul and join us on an adventure that you’ll remember forever.

Gerald Trees

Monday, 24 February 2014

2014 KTM 1190 Adventure

2014 KTM 1190 Adventure.



I’d wanted to ride the KTM 1190 Adventure since it was announced in 2013 and at the end of January I got my chance.  KTM Canada left a demo bike at my local dealer and the weather finally cleared up enough to take it for a ride. 

The Adventure and Adventure R are KTM’s attempt to compete with the likes of the BMW 1200GS and the Ducati Multistrada.  While this motorcycle, especially the R model, was designed to keep the “dirt” part of the KTM line, the engine has more sport bike numbers, pumping out 150 hp and 92 ft-lbs of torque.  The electronic engine controls, ABS and traction control are as sophisticated, as you’ll fine on any motorcycle and the suspension on the Adventure model is also able to be adjusted electronically. 

There are four engine modes, Sport, Street, Rain and Off Road.  At the suggestion of KTM, I set the bike in the Street mode, which gives the engine full power with a smooth response.  I took the bike through town, on some high-speed corners and on the highway.  It managed each of these comfortably and enjoyably.  Unfortunately, off road was off limits for this demo.  Bottom line, this motorcycle is fast, quick, solid, comfortable and fun!

I fell in love with this motorcycle and it’s at the top of my list for a possible new ride.  The beauty of this motorcycle is that it’s a commuter, tourer and semi-naked hooligan bike all in one.  It will also allow me to explore what’s at the end of a dirt or gravel road and manage all weather conditions.

I’ve been a KTM fan for sometime, however I’ll be testing a BMW GS1200 and a Ducati Multistrada before making any purchase.

Gerald Trees

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

I Hit The Half-Century Mark

I Hit The Half-Century Mark!

A 1964 Ducati 250 Mach 1.  Innovative and beautiful in it's day.  OK Beautiful in any age.

A  Ducati Multistrada Granturismo.  50 years of innovation!

I hit the half-century mark, 50 years old.  At least that’s what my driver’s license says.  My brain on the other hand says differently and that’s the difference between growing old and getting old.  My sense of wonder is better then ever and my desire to learn and explore is still there.  From my point of view, if those elements have gone, life is boring and stagnant

For part of my birthday I chose to spend some time at the Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria, BC.  Lately I’ve become a fan of history, at lest as it relates to innovation.  Technology, if you will.  I’m always amazed at what was accomplished 100 years ago with determination and innovation.  While some would say things were better back then, I believe that the innovators of the past would be innovators today as well.  

I’m fortunate to work in a profession that is continuing to evolve, even though a few of my colleagues’ whish it would slow down.  I’m even more fortunate to have a couple of young professionals who work for me that continue to push my learning and my methods as they question everything.  This is a good thing.

When it comes to motorcycles and traveling, I have the best of everything.  While I appreciate the past and at times fondly remember the “good old day”, the reality is that the new is pretty damn good.  My riding gear is safer, warmer, cooler and dryer then my old gear and it’s lighter.  The same goes for my helmet.  Would I go back?  Never!  The same goes for motorcycles, as what’s out there keeps getting better.  When all the new electronically controlled bikes hit the showroom floor, I had my doubts.  I’d always prided myself on being able to ride just about anything and adjust my riding to the bike.  Who needs electronics?  While I still pride myself on being able to adjust my riding to fit the bike, I’m realizing that it’s a lot more fun to have the bike adjust to my riding style.  While a few of the bikes on the market need to refine their electronics package, I recently spent some time on the 2014 KTM 1190 Adventure and WOW, I really appreciated what this bike could do.  It made me look good and it was fun!

What will the next 50 years bring?  I’ll take that one day at a time.  I will fondly remember the past and appreciate all that it was and the lessons that came from it.  I’ll continue to enjoy my “old technology” motorcycles as I’ve modified them to fit me, however I’ll also look forward to each day and the surprises that it will bring.  Including one of the new “high tech” bikes being added to my garage. 

Simply put, I’ll enjoy and appreciate life!

Gerald Trees

Sunday, 16 February 2014

2013 Test Rides, Part 3. Touring / Sport Touring

2013 Test Rides, Part 3.  Touring / Sport Touring

I’ve grouped the touring and sport touring classes into once mainly because in my opinion they are one in the same today.  My idea of a true sport touring cycle is a sport bike with bags, much like my 1999 Triumph Sprint ST 955.

1999 Triumph Sprint ST, what I measure all touring bikes against.

Honda Gold Wing


Dislikes:

  1. The handlebar position.  This is a personal “issue”.
  2. It’s too quiet.  Again a personal “issue”.

Likes:

  1. Comfort King!
  2. The sound system.
  3. Great handling for such a large motorcycle.

After spending 4 days and riding 1,400 km (870 miles) riding this beautiful touring motorcycle through Arizona, including a portion of Route 66, the Grand Canyon and the Red Rock area around Sedona, I now “get” the Gold Wing.

The “big” Wing has been the premier touring motorcycle for over 30 years and for good reason.   It works!  It’s powerful, reliable, can pack more then you need and it’s comfortable.  It also is the best handling large motorcycle I’ve ridden to date.

A word of warning though, if you bring a passenger along, this will be the only motorcycle they’ll ever want to ride on. 


Yamaha FJR1300


Dislikes:

  1. The color, and lack of color options.
  2. Include the trunk.

Likes:

  1. The looks of the motorcycle.
  2. The seat.
  3. This is one fast touring bike.

Yamaha classifies the FJR1300 as a sport touring motorcycle.  It’s really a touring motorcycle that has a great engine and has been put on a bit of a diet.

Compared to the other “sport touring” motorcycles on the market the FJR1300 would be considered “low tech” and a bit of a dinosaur.  That’s what I like about it.  I found the FJR smooth on the road with great wind protection and when you twist the throttle, it goes NOW!


Kawasaki ZX14R


Yes, this is a sport touring motorcycle!

Dislikes:

  1. I love everything about this motorcycle.

Likes:

  1. The engine.
  2. Everything else.

The ZX14R is too big to be a sport bike and it’s too sporty to be a touring bike, however throw some bags on this bike and it’s the ultimate sport touring motorcycle.

I had the privilege of testing this bike with Kawasaki Canada and the only word that comes to mind is WOW!  Here’s a motorcycle that’s comfortable and easy to ride at legal speeds and yet it will launch to “you’re going to jail if caught” speeds with just a twist of the throttle.  The fun and scary thing is 200 kph (124 mph) feels like 100 kph (62 mph) on most other motorcycles.

Which would I buy?  For long days in the saddle, especially two-up, the Gold Wing would be the motorcycle I’d put in the garage.

Gerald Trees

Thursday, 13 February 2014

2013 Test Rides, Part 2. Adventure Motorcycles.

--> 2013 Test Rides, Part 2.  Adventure Motorcycles.


Adventure motorcycles mean different things to different people.  I own and ride a 2008 Kawasaki KLR650 that’s been set-up to go just about anywhere.  I use it to commute in poor weather and can pack her up for a weekend or longer on just about any road surface out there.  I call this an adventure motorcycle while others would consider it a heavy enduro.

For the purposes of this blog and Adventure Motorcycle is one that is an upright, long travel suspended, ride on any condition paved surface and perhaps might venture on a dirt or gravel road.  Some will be more adept at the dirt part then others.  Got it?

Yamaha Super Tenere:

 
Dislikes:

  1. It’s weight.
  2. The linked brakes.

Likes:

  1. Very comfortable.
  2. Great wind and rain protection.
  3. Very stable on the road.

Yamaha brought the big Tenere to North America a couple of years ago and at the time it appeared that Yamaha was trying to take a bite out of the BMW GS1200.  Based on how many of these that seem to linger in the dealers that I visit, BMW is safe, at least form the Tenere.

When Yamaha brought their fleet of motorcycles for a test day at my local dealer, the Tenere was off my list.  I wanted to ride the improved FJR1300.  I was “convinced” to take the Tenere out as no one else had signed up for it on one of the scheduled rides.  I was very surprised by the Super Tenere as it felt and handled like a larger version of my KLR650.  The bike was easy to ride and the engine had more then enough power for the big bike.  As luck would have it, rain came in torrents during the ride so I was able to see how the bike handled rainy and wet road conditions.  It was awesome.  I felt that I could take and ride this motorcycle in just about any conditions.  I also found the stock seat and seating position to be very comfortable.

While the Super Tenere is “low tech” compared to the BMW GS, it’s also priced accordingly and I was actually considering buying a Super Tenere sometime this year.  Plans, however, have changed.

Kawasaki Versys 1000



Dislikes:

  1. It’s ugly.
  2. The turn indicators start to vibrate at highway speeds.

Likes:

  1. The engine!
  2. It’s low center of gravity.
  3. One of the easiest motorcycles to ride two-up.

For my readers in the USA, this is a motorcycle that you’ll have to cross into Canada to get.  For some reason Kawasaki feels that this motorcycle will only sell in markets outside of the USA.  At least for now.

The engineers at Kawasaki took the engine out of the Z1000 and re-tuned it for better performance in the low and mid RPM range.  On the road, their objective was well met.  The electronics on the Versys 1000 is “Basic” by today’s standard with three different riding modes, traction control and ABS.

As I mentioned in the “Like” portion, this motorcycle is one of the easiest motorcycles to ride two-up and with the optional, color matched GIVI bag system, the Versys 1000 makes a great and relatively low cost touring motorcycle.

While the Versys 1000 has the appearance of an off road motorcycle, I doubt it would be comfortable on a single track or rough dirt road.  However, exploring a well graded gravel or dirt road is possible.

At under $14,000.00 Canadian for a 2014 model, with some dealers selling new 2013 models for under $10,000.00 Canadian, the Versys 1000 is a great value.

So which one would I buy?  Neither!  I was about ready to pull the trigger on a new 2012 Super Tenere until I road it back-to-back with a 2014 KTM 1190 Adventure.  Sorry Yamaha.

Monday, 10 February 2014

2013 Test Rides, Part 1. Standard / Naked / Hooligan.

--> 2013 Test Rides, Part 1

I’ve had the pleasure and privilege of testing a few different motorcycles in 2013 and I’m going to share my thoughts and experiences with each motorcycle.  I know it’s 2014, however these bikes are still in dealers, usually at a discounted price.  Keep in mind that these are my thoughts based on what I like in a motorcycle.  You, my readers, my see something completely different based on what you like.

We’ll start with the Standard / Naked / Hooligan bikes.

Triumph Speed Triple 1050

  
Dislikes:

  1. Weight (Just a little top heavy).
  2. Wind protection, or lack there of.

Likes:

  1. The triple cylinder engine!  It produces almost instant power in any gear and the sound is perfect.
  2. The handling.  Lean, accelerate, repeat.

The Speed Triple has been a staple of the standard / naked motorcycle category for a long time and has worn it’s brand as a “hooligan” motorcycle well.  I'm a raving fan of the inline triple engine, owning a 1999 Triumph Sprint ST 955, and the 1050 are awesome! 

Handling, fueling and braking are refined and make riding this bike through corners so much fun.  The Speed Triple is simple and it works.


KTM Duke 690


Dislikes:

  1. It’s a single purpose motorcycle (And it does that one thing very, very well).
  2. Loss of license is a distinct possibility.

Likes:

  1. It’s a single.  A very powerful single!
  2. The way the seating is on this motorcycle, the feeling of flying is very real.
  3. Think BMX bicycle with an engine.  It’s that light.

I first time I saw this motorcycle was at the 2013 Vancouver International Motorcycle Show and I wanted to ride it.  I finally got my chance in the summer when KTM left a demo bike at my local dealer, Spunky’s Motorcycle Shop in Parksville, BC.  I’d stopped by to pick up a part for one of my bikes and the owner of the dealership asked if I would like to take it out.  Really!  I’m always ready to ride a different bike.

Anyway, the KTM was as much fun as it looked.  Silly power for a single with 67 HP and just under 50 ft-lbs of torque and its only 337 lbs.  The seat is very comfortable and this bike gave me the best sensation of flying yet as you’re right over the front wheel. 


MV Agusta 675 Brutale


Dislikes:

  1. The electronics package.  This is a small displacement bike and it would be best to keep things simple.
  2. The fuel mapping.  Really MV, my 1999 Triumph is fuel injected and has better fueling then this bike.
  3. The seating position and the seat are uncomfortable.

Likes:

  1. This is a beautiful motorcycle.
  2. The engine and sound is raw and it wants to go fast.  You do have to switch off the electrics though and even then the mapping could be better.
  3. The “fun” factor.

The “little” Brutale is motorcycle art.  It’s beautifully put together and I loved the looks.  Fire it up and the beauty sounds “angry”.  Where the Triumph triples have a distinct and smooth sound, the 675 Italian triple is raspy, almost like you were riding header pipes only. 

The handling is great and the motorcycle is only happy when you get on the throttle.  MV Agusta would have done well to leave the power modes off this bike and concentrate on the fuel mapping.  That’s my main gripe about this motorcycle.  

MV Agusta Brutale 1090RR

 
Dislikes:

  1. The fuel mapping and ride-by-wire throttle.
  2. The price.

Likes:

  1. How she looks.
  2. The comfortable riding position.
  3. The engine.

The Brutale 1090RR is the glamour girl of this class in every respect.  Unfortunately she’s also unpredictable, at least when it comes to the throttle.  She has all the right numbers, 157 HP, and the looks, but the engineers at MV Agusta could have spent some money and hired someone who knows how to map out an EFI.  To say the least, this would have been a “deal breaker” if I was in the market.

Sometimes looks aren’t enough.

Which one would I buy if I had the money for a “fun” only bike?  Of these, I’d be riding the Triumph Speed Triple home.  Add a fly screen and some soft luggage (which I already have) and it’s now a weekend getaway bike too.

Gerald Trees
Dream Your Ride

Thursday, 6 February 2014

The Motorcycle Gene

--> The Motorcycle Gene

I have a lot more on Vancouver Island that will be posted over the next few weeks, however I'll occasionally take a brake from travel and write on observations I've made over the years.  Here's one of those observations.
Why do some people crave riding motorcycles when many either fear or loathe them?  I’m talking about the person who thinks nothing of logging 300 or more miles in a day and become grouchy if they can’t ride.

Think about it, even on a perfect riding day there may be 100 or more cars for every motorcycle on the road.  Why will these few risk life and limb to ride a motorcycle and think very little of it?  If asked, riders will tell you they feel alive and relaxed on their bike even when dodging crazy cage pilots.  Again, why?

In my travels I’ve found that true motorcycle riders are unique, with the only similarity being their attraction to riding.  While the average person believes that a motorcycle rider has a screw loose, wears leathers and has outlaw tendencies, they're wrong.  At a recent reunion of childhood friends and their parents, who were also childhood friends, it hit me that the need to ride might just be genetic.  I’m not saying that it’s passed down from generation to generation, only that there might be a unique genetic trait; some may say mutation, that predisposes one to ride.


 At this reunion I met five people from different walks of life who had a passion for riding similar to mine.  There was a preacher, business CEO, doctor, firefighter and a retired rancher and each of them spend more time on a bike then in a car.  A few grew up riding and the rest got on a bike later in life after always wanting to ride.  In the end all were from different walks of life and life experience, but all shared a love of riding and a passion for motorcycles.  


One of my regular riding partners is someone who's been riding for over 20 years and people are shocked when they realize it's a woman that pulled up on the Moto Guzzi V11 Sport.  And yet there are many women like her out there that have a passion for riding.  I say again, it’s in the genes.

Motorcycling and motorcycles are exciting, dangerous and something I would have trouble living without.  It’s my opinion that the link between all of us who share the passion of motorcycles is genetic.  We’re all related and are brothers and sisters, no matter who are parents are.  Now if only there was a test for this so we could identify those who were born to ride and get them on a bike early in life.

  
Gerald Trees

Monday, 3 February 2014

Vancouver Island - Part 5, Victoria to Ladysmith

Vancouver Island - Part 5, Victoria To Ladysmith


View Victoria to Ladysmith in a larger map

The final leg of the Pacific Marine Circle Tour, at least my version of it, goes from Victoria, BC to the town of Ladysmith, BC.  The typical route follows the Trans-Canada Highway, which is, well, a highway.  My version will take you through a couple of small communities that are mainly unknown to all but the locals.

The first portion of the trip will be on the Trans-Canada Highway, heading north.  This section is also known as Malahat Drive.  Leaving Victoria, this section of road is smooth and twists and climbs away from Victoria before descending back down.  About half way up Malahat Drive you’ll come across a couple of pull outs that are worth the stop as they will give you a great view of the Saanach Inlet and on a clear day you’ll be able to see Victoria and the Saanach peninsula.

Saanich Inslet

Descending towards the community of Mill Bay, you’ll encounter a number of signs directing you to a number of the wineries of the Cowichan Valley.  If you’re into wine tasting, feel free to wander and explore the best of Vancouver Island’s small wineries. 

Leaving Mill Bay, look for the signs directing you to Cowichan Bay and Cowichan Bay Road.  Cowichan Bay is small, however the bay and the small shops, cafes and pubs are worth stopping to explore.  

Cowichan Bay, BC

After stopping in Cowichan Bay, you have the option of getting back on the Trans-Canada Highway or wonder through the rural countryside toward the community of Maple Bay.  The only thing to see in Maple Bay is the bay and it’s worth it.

Maple Bay, BC

The next community you’ll want to stop in is Chemainus, BC.  Known for murals that portray the history of the city, Chemainus also is perfect for strolling through and indulging in the many coffee and pastry shops.

Chemainus, BC

The end of this tour is Ladysmith, BC.  From here you have the option of heading back to Victoria or heading north where there is more of Vancouver Island to ride and enjoy. 

Ladysmith, BC


Gerald Trees