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Spitfire

One way to haul an FZ07 without a trailer

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Spitfire

The FZ07 is my weapon of choice for touring. Lightweight and with enough power, reliable and priced right.

Many ADV riders and tourers go overloaded to the gills which takes away from the joy of riding a bike. The whole purpose is to be free, and only light weight brings out that max feeling. Having toured with an overweight bike before, i said to myself that there has to be a better way. The most efficient low cost way that I came up with was a minivan with a hitch mounted carrier.

Basically I wanted to enjoy riding, not carry allot of weight and have a mobile base camp to come back to rest/ sleep from a day off riding without having to set up camp. Most tour by carrying everything on their bike.

I carry everything, including the bike and have a place to crash at the end of the day.

I had also done the trailer thing which was fine but had it's slight disadvantages. Length of vehicle extended, separate extra costs to maintain and insure, etc. Not major problems but better without.

The advantages of a rack are simplicity, cost, no maintenance. The advantages are simple, but not as simple as bolt on and go.

Here is the thought process to achieve motorcycle touring Nirvana.

So what is the cheapest yet capable enough rig to haul a motorcycle on a rack? Obviously a truck but they get lousy fuel economy, not easy to get Moto up on a bed, mount could be too high on a rack. Van could work as well but same limitations as a truck.

Would a minivan work? Never seen that before. Have V6 power, much better fuel economy, just enough room inside to set up a bed, store equipment, supplies, gear, etc...

That might work but could the suspension handle it? Rated for up to 7 passengers so with only me and a Moto, should be feasible. Better make it a light bike.

So with this approach, and uncertainty, since never seen it done before, I ordered a hitch and rack from Amazon and boldly went where no man has gone before. Gulp.

Oh, and had to sell my Maxima and buy a minivan. 🙄

Being somewhat of a car nut, and knew the market, decided upon a Chevy Uplander. They had no value on the market and could be had cheap, thousands less than anything else. Having owned two previously, knew that they were reasonably reliable and came with one of GMs best motors, the legendary 3800 which was bored out to 3.9l and put out good power at 240 hp yet still got 24 mpg hwy. 

Locate a single owner vehicle from a retired gentlemen and drive it home for $2600US. Score! Well almost, mileage was a higher than I would have liked at 175000 miles but I didn't plan on doing lots of miles. Would be doing that on my bike.

Here's a few pics of the setup.

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Spitfire

That V6 is one sweet motor and one of GMs best. They had been making it for 30 yrs, had refined it to the point of being known as rock solid reliable.

 

As for the hitch, first determined that you could get a class III hitch for that model. Check.

A class I hitch wasn't strong enough since it had a max tongue weight rating of 300lbs. Just enough if I were to have a 250cc dual sport but I wanted a bigger Moto to be able to run at hwy speeds. Knew it would be heavier than that and class III hitches are rated at 500lb. Should do.

Bought from Amazon and installed trailer hitch. Check.

Not too much cussing, had installed a couple previously. Tricky installing the nuts and bolts through the enclosed frame but there are tricks. And with patience.

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Spitfire

Next step, the rack. Let's see what we can find on Amazon. Had the seen the Motocross racks and they were light and cheap. But cheap, too cheap and only rated for about 250 lbs. Needed heavier dutier.

Amazon showed a 600 lb capacity unit for just over $200 which looked solid and sturdy.

Would it fit and fit/place the bike properly on the van? Bumper clearance.

Unknown as never seen it done. I apprehensively ordered it knowing that I could always count on Amazons generous return policy. Thank God.

You never know unless you try.

Few days later, it arrives in all of its solid steel glory. Damn heavy too.

More weight on the back. Could/ would the suspension handle it? All that weight would be cantilevered off the back. Only one way to find out.

Bolted it together and popped it into the hitch. So far so good, the master plan for world domination was starting to come together. Damn I'm good I said to myself. Prematurely.

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Spitfire

But I had a slight worry in the back of my thoughts. I knew that the suspension of the van wasn't meant to handle over +500lbs of bike and rack and hitch hanging off of the back. Inside and over the axles, 5 passengers, sure, not cantilevered further back behind the van.

The Moto weighed over 460lbs.

What? But an FZ07 only weighs 398 lbs you say. I didn't have an FZ07 at the time. Had an FZ6R. Great bike, smooth and powerful enough, typical Yamaha slick shifter, engine based on older R6 motor. Great tourer in itself but too heavy too carry for my setup. And it was only two years old and I was in love with it. But it had to go so it was sacrificed. First time on the rack, the rear safer so much, that the rack hung down to within inches of the pave. Not safe or smart, had to lighten the load and go with a lighter Moto.

Put it up for sale but not much interest. Everyone around wanted a crotch rocket, that's what was hot and sold. And abused. Not my mint, not as fast, FZ6R. And I was working with a deadline with an expiring lease, had to be out and on the road in two weeks.

So one week before I had to be on the road, I pulled a master stroke of Wheeling and dealing. Had to take a step backwards to make it happen. Was going to trade the porker for a trim and svelte, sexy model. Found a broke college kid willing to take my nearly new bike in exchange for his 7 yr old. And had to drive 2 hrs to make the exchange, sight unseen. And I had to force out as much cash on top of the desk as possible and steal from his ramen food budget, all of $200. He said that was all he had. I had a time limit but this was the only thing I could swing. And the FZ6R was a porker and this was much lighter. And safer. And smarter. Weight wise.

Trading for a very used, likely abused, much older Moto from a college kid want smarter. But I had a time limit, and to make the dream happen, took a chance on this Moto.

What was it you ask?

330lbs of goodness was it's redeeming value.

A thumper, with 60hp on tap.

With a full titanium Akro exhaust.

Supermoto, lightweight, road pounding, twisty eating, off-road climbing machine.

Any guesses?

Edited by Spitfire

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Spitfire

Husquvarna SM610.

Used and abused but the perfect tool for setup. Lightweight, powerful, on and off road, hwy capable. Would this one last and be reliable? We were going to find out.

Oh, back to the rack.

So with a lighter bike, the rear didn't sag as much. +1. But I hadn't loaded the van with my gear and supplies yet. -2.

But that's another story.

So the rack stuck out way too much for no benefit to my setup, a narrow Moto.

To reduce the cantilever, I drilled a hole through the rack insert, moving the the whole rack further in by about 4-6 inches, reducing the cantilevered weight effect. +.5? Bonus.

But loading up the rig, there wasn't as much ground clearance as I would have liked and the rack often scraped on the ground just going over anything really.

You get used to cringing to the sound of the Titanic scraping along an iceberg.

The suspension needed an upgrade.

But what? And on a minivan?

 

Edited by Spitfire

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Spitfire

A little investigating ensues.

So it turns out that the rear suspension on my minivan uses the exact same shocks as GM pickup trucks. Yay, what joy.😃

And that air shocks were available, cheap $60 and in stock. 

Time to get to work.👨‍🔧

4 bolts, Home Depot parking lot and 1 hour later, I had brand new air shocks installed. Ppssssssht with the air compressor, up goes the rear to new heights.  +2. Yay, more joy.

I had tried the cheap approach before on my rig. You know, the rubber coil spring spacer blocks front and rear to raise ride height. Worked for awhile, until too many bumps and weight overload sliced them in half and most fell out. Even had drilled holes and tie wrapped them into place to hold them.

Skunk works engineering.

Chalk that up to a learning experience. 

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Spitfire

So I have gained ride height but still scrapes. Not as much, but better.

About as good as I could do given everything. Or was it?

Kept looking for improvements.

I tried a couple weeks with the rubber blocks which helped but they gave up, quit and walked off the job.

The air springs I had for a year and fine, better height and slightly better handling. +1

 

Hmmmm, air bags are what the big rigs use. Could it work and improve my setup?

Back to Amazon and find universal kits. Could would one fit on my minivan? No listing, it's not a popular application, most are for pickup trucks with loads. But if the shocks are from the pickup trucks, maybe there is a cross fit?

Email the manufacturer and a few days later they respond with a part number model that fits my minivan. Yay, joy ensues again!😃

 

Back to Amazon to order. They are once again available, cheap$110, and instock. Pop them in by squeezing them in between the rear coil spring, add air lines, take out the compressor, phsssssst, up goes the ground clearance two more inches.

Yay, more joy! The Titanic rises again!

Gain ride height and more stability cornering. No more rolling around like a pork barrel. +3.

But it's still far from McClaren P1 handling and cornering.

But it's a mobile base camp hauling a cornering banshee spitfire that will, handle, corner and accelerate like a Porsche. Even better.

How many base camps do you know that will get 22-24 mpg and have a comfy 8" memory foam that allows you to sleep like your on cloud 9 t r end of the day? And haul all your gear, supplies, in air conditioned and reliably?

On my forth year, 35000 miles later ( 215000 total), only had to replace a radiator and water pump, front bearings/hubs due to failure. Everything else being normal wear and tear like tires and brakes.

So far so good.

Great joy ensues.😊

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Beemer

Nice story and work there but I'm left with the impression that rear carriers are meant more for smaller, lighter dirt bikes that aren't going to mess with your suspension & handling.

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Spitfire

But wait, there's more! Lol.

Beemer asked if it was easy to load.

Yes it is and I'm not The Mountain from game of thrones. But then my rack is low and the bike light.

However, the rack with only the center rod supporting the entire width of the rack and bike does rock the cradle allot.

So I added two bars at either side running from under the rack bolted to the frame. See pic above.

No more rocking the baby, rock solid now. +4. Yay, more joy ensues.

 

But I'm running a Husky SM 610 supermoto and this is a FZ07 forum, what blasphemy? Well, I rode that for a year and it was Divine. Road and trails, up and over, California, the Rockies, deserts, mountains, high plains drifter, mountain passes, Death Valleys. Romancing a sweet little lady, waking the neighbors late at night with a throaty Akro roar.

Not a hiccup or problem. Great power, lightweight. Perfect

But. There always a but. All good things must come to an end.

What's the problem you may ask?

Don't ask me, ask Husky. My model was built when Husky no longer owned Husky, it was Cagiva then. Italian. Then Husky was sold to BMW. And now it is owned by KTM. Can you see the problem here?

Maintenance and parts. Or lack of one for the other. The long term prognosis was not good for the future and reliability. And if you read my fuel gauge thread, getting stuck on the side of the road sux.

Proper pre-planning prevents piss poor performance. The Husky had to go for something newer and more reliable and with parts to support the touring.

So i sold it surprisingly quick. Who would want an 8 yr old Husky supermoto that you can't get parts for?

Someone did within a week.

So off to buy an FZ07?

No.

I could make this story even longer telling this so I won't.  Ended up with Kawasaki klr250 SF with 15k miles but it was like a toy bicycle after the Husky, flipped it for a profit and bought an FZ07?

No.

Patience. Lol.

Got a deal on another scrappef FZ6R, no fairings, 1 yr old for $3200 and only 600 miles on it.  Perfect for touring. 

Ran that for a year, on the heavy side but doable with my setup now that had reinforced rack and boosted suspension.

But it was heavy and ideally, a lighter bike would be better. So I planned and plotted while enjoying Cape Fear, riding the beaches of Oregon, Sonoma wine country, Redwoods and Sierra Nevadas, the Badlands, etc... Great joy ensues.☺️

What would be the perfect, lightweight bike?

 

Edited by Spitfire

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Spitfire

Aha, an FZ07!

No.

This is going to be sacrilege on this forum I know.

It would be the KTM Duke 690, at the time. That bike is 50 lbs lighter than the FZ07. Perfect.

But.

There's always a but.

And no such thing as perfection.

Not even a KTM.

Problem with a KTM 690?

It's all about the P's.

Price, parts, projected reliability.

From my perspective and situation, as a tourer, important aspects.

Life is ultimately about compromise.

 

And this is where I get back to the FZ07.

It is the perfect compromise. Or mostly perfect. Or bestly perfect compromise.

Little heavier, more reliable, parts availability, better price all around, better fuel economy.

The cheaper it is overall, the longer and farther one can travel.

So I ran the 6R for a year while assessing lighter weight options.

The FZ07 was it. Out for a few years, could i get a second hand one for a good deal? New is silly because of all the scrapes and scratches that touring brings. Need a workhorse, not a trophy queen. It will get road rash and battle scarred. Besides, hauling it on the back of a minivan, the uglier it is, reduced theft bait. It is actually painted with plastidip and I don't clean it often. Just an ugly, used old Yamaha dirtbike in lemon yellow. Who would want to steal that?

So I have had my FZ07 touring for a year and it's been great. Only complaints are that damn wonky fuel gauge and seat, but they are minor compared to the places I have been, sights I have seen, people met, adventures and explorations.

Been Rock solid, great mpg, light and nimble, great joy has ensued.😄

 

And all thanks to my mobile base camp and my motorcycle hauling rack which gives me the most comfortable, ease to carry and for what I believe is the bestest, lowest cost compromise possible.

Did I answer all of your questions Beemer?

I hope so cause I certainly tried.

😁😉

 

 

 

Edited by Spitfire

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Spitfire
1 hour ago, Beemer said:

Nice story and work there but I'm left with the impression that rear carriers are meant more for smaller, lighter dirt bikes that aren't going to mess with your suspension & handling.

Absolutely. There are carriers for every type of Moto. And there are rigs to carry every type of moto.

There are people carrying Harley's on the back of RVs. I pushed the envelope with a minivan. I compromised in certain areas to gain in others.

I created a minimal, low cost RV just barely capable to do the job and haul an moto for very little investment.

And the less I spend there, the more and longer that I have to tour and travel onmy Spitfire. YMMV.

 

Gain- mpg, cost

Loss- handling so I drive prudently

What I didn't mention so far is that I tour and live in my minivan so it is loaded from that as well. Supplies, gear, food, water, parts, camping gear, etc... It is not just the bike loading the suspension. Big factor but not the major or only factor.

 

That compromise was easily acceptable to me, my situation, budget and abilities.

Now if a rich widow would come running across a meadow towards me, madly in love, the situation would change. Actually am currently contemplating a bigger, roomier, sturdier rig as an upgrade. Overlander style.

Edited by Spitfire
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Liquidmetal

I would love to come up with a similar set-up for my truck.  Might have to take a serious look at this.

 

Height of my receiver might make it a little more challenging, but still very doable.

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DewMan

@Spitfire Your last name isn't Tolstoy by any chance is it? 😆

 

I kid.  😉✌️

 

Thanks for sharing your experiences.

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Beemer

@Spitfire 

A wise man once told me that if I were smart I would go on a cruise ship where you find all the rich widows and snatch one up that has one foot in the grave and the other dragging on the deck. 😅 

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