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pineappleunderthesea

Observations on week-long trip with FZ-07

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pineappleunderthesea
Took a 2000-mile round trip from Pittsburgh to the Tail of the Dragon (yes, I know it's technically called the Dragon, but no one seems to use that name).  Since I was gone for one week with the possibility of camping out, I had to figure out how to pack clothes, tent, sleeping bag, rain gear, etc on the FZ, and have them stay in place since I'd be taking all winding back roads (avoiding interstates).
 
I used three Kriega drypacks:  one US-20 and two US-10, the latter attached to the US-20. The US-20 was used for clothes; one US-10 was used for dry gear; the other US-10 was used for miscellaneous crap (suntan lotion, flashlight, etc etc). The US-20 was attached to the straps located under the passenger seat.  The tent, sleeping bag, and a third dry sack containing toiletries and a small camp chair were strapped together, and then placed on top of the Kriegas.  The whole thing was then netted together, and I used a ratchet system to further restrain everything, attaching the ratchet hooks underneath near the license plate (see pics).
 
The result is shown in the pics below.  Everything held fine doing The Snake and then doing The Dragon, with minimal shifting. Got hit with rain on the last 2 days, and everything stayed dry, except for the last day where I got lazy on folding up one of US-10 Kriegas (only did 1 fold), and had a bit of leakage but nothing major.  
 
LESSONS LEARNED:
1. The ratchet hook was truly necessary to keep everything steady.  It is likely not necessary if you only have the Kriega bags, but once you put stuff on top of them, you need something to keep the entire assembly from shifting.
2. While it's a breeze to take everything off the bike at night, it takes a little while to assemble everything back up, mainly because of the tent, etc, on top of the Kriegas.  My buddy has a V-Strom with side cases, and those are truly more convenient since he could lock them and only take what he needed out.  
3. The Dragon, the Snake, the Blue Ridge Parkway are all great!  Love the sign I saw on the Parkway, see last pic...
 
 
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DewMan
Nice! so what are your thoughts regarding handling/comfort/etc on a trip that long?
 
Any changes you'd make to the bike after this trip?
 

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pineappleunderthesea
Nice! so what are your thoughts regarding handling/comfort/etc on a trip that long? 
Any changes you'd make to the bike after this trip?

Let's hit comfort first: since I had 8-hour days of riding, I sent a stock seat to Astech so they could put in their gel and foam, and it does help to spread out the pain point. So I would suggest something like that, or a gel cover or air cover, or wear padded bicycle shorts under your pants. My butt was still sore because it's bony, but the Astech helped quite a bit. I am thinking of selling it, though, and using my spare stock seat to stuff it full of gel, even if it increases ride height a bit.  My wrist was sore holding the throttle open all day.  On interstates I might consider a throttle lock, but on winding roads I think not. 
 
HANDLING:  no real issues even with that weight on the back.  I set the rear suspension to 5 (I weigh about 155 lbs), and it was compliant enough to absorb bumps on the road while not being jarring. In terms of twisties, the dragon is free of grit and relatively smooth, so no bumps to upset the bike, and it was easy to throw the bike around corners.  I think it all depends on how close to the limit of traction you ride, I don't ride at the limit so I didn't have issues with the softer suspension on the FZ. 
 
HEADSETS:  Since I was travelling with a friend, the Sena headsets were indispensable.  I couldn't figure out how to talk and listen to music at the same time, but just talking to each other was great. The headset batteries never died during the day. 
 
GOOGLE MAPS: I wired a USB connector to the 12V DC, that way I could mount the phone and charge it while using the maps. But there were hours without cell phone coverage, so a lesson learned is to download offline directions. We took a wrong turn and Google Maps could not recalculate since we had no cell service to pull in route data. It was able to give GPS location along the original route, but without data service it can't recalculate. 
 
STORAGE:  if I was taking multiple trips a year, I'd look into getting saddle bags or something.  It gets old having to constantly take all the bags off and put them on. 
 
 
 
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faffi
It would be interesting to see more pictures and hearing more about the roads and other things you experienced on you road trip!
 
I used pack like that BTW (bringing tons of stuff), but these days I can carry all I need for a week in a large tank bag. Of course, that means staying in hotels at night, but I hate camping with a vengeance and the last time I slept in a tent was 1989 :D
 
 

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azt33
Very cool! Sounds like you had tons of fun. Also nice to see the Kriegas in action. I have the US-20 but not used it really yet. I need to plan some weekend trips through the Alps.
 
Helpful to read your feedback :)

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Beemer
Sounds like you had a good trip overall. What about the cops, do they leave people alone or are they all through the route watching people? Last I heard they weren't as lax on biker's racing around on the Dragon. 20/20 hind sight after the trip but maybe just stopping in a local gas station and getting a real paper map of the area would also be helpful in case of no phone service or no downloaded maps. Put up some scenic pics if you have any, that would be nice.
 
faffi - I hear ya on the camping! I used to love camping but the last time I did it, it was on hard ground (3 person tent) and all the crawling around on it made my knees and back curse me. I'm buying a ten person pop up tent and already have a queen size inflatable bed with pedestal so the mattress is closer to being as high up as a regular bed, not next to the ground. Bye-bye to aches and pains from the tent! Also, the air mattress I bought has a regulator built into it so it doesn't deflate during the night and 3 automatic firmness settings, it's awesome! Got it for just over 100 clams on Amazon. 
 
Maybe you just can't stand the mosquitos??? IDK, I hate them, too!
 

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faffi
Had the same experience with hard ground, did my neck in and ruined the whole weekend and the following weeks. But there are much more than lack of sleeping comfort I dislike with camping; too cold when it's chilly and too hot when it's warm, no WC or shower right by (if there are, they are shared by tons of others), not a safe place to keep your gear, noisy if you are in a camping ground and no privacy... simply put, I went from a strong dislike from my first time in a tent (but couldn't afford motels or hotels back then) to pure hatred after that final uncomfortable night with no sleep and only an aching neck for comfort.

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pineappleunderthesea
The first pic below shows the route we took to get to the Dragon, which is Route 129 between Tail of the Dragon  / Deal's Gap and Chilhowee.  We returned via the entire length of the Blue Ridge Parkway which started in Cherokee and ended near Charlottesville VA (I would put that route, but Google Maps only allows 10 destinations and I need more than that to follow the Parkway without Google wanting to redirect me all the time).
 
Some notes:
1. The Snake, which goes between Bristol VA and Mountain City TN (Route 421) is also quite fun.  It is has 489 curves in about 22 miles total, I believe.  The Dragon has 318 curves in 11 miles.  Although we didn't ride it, the Cherohala Skyway, which is West of the Dragon, is 40 miles long with long winding curves.  You apparently can go fast on that one if you're into taking curves at 50 mph!
 
2. Cherokee, which was going to be an overnight stay, is a dry town, so no alcohol except in the casino.  You'll want to stay at Maggie Valley (Mag Valley if you're local) if you need a cold one after a long day of riding.
 
3. Fontana Dam is on the way to the Dragon.  If you've ever seen the Fugitive with Harrison Ford, this is the dam where he jumps off (see pic).
 
4. There was one cop on the Dragon, but I think he was only there as a warning.  I ran the Dragon twice and didn't see anyone pulled over.
 
5.  The "Tree of Shame" at the Tail of the Dragon has motorcycle parts hanging from it, you can guess where they came from...!
 
6.  Once you get into the thick of the forest, you will find that many people still own Chevy Cavaliers and Ford Escorts.  For hours at a time I never saw a grocery store, I don't know where people do their shopping.  But Dollar General was all over the place!  And never, ever miss a chance to get gasoline if you only have a couple bars left over...Could be a while before you find the next station.
 
7. There are plenty of curvy, winding roads throughout the Forest.  We never had a strict plan where to stop or where to go, we just took roads that looked curvy on the map, and tried to stop in towns that had hotels (if not, we would have camped).
 
7. Scenic pics: the first was on the road between Cherokee and the Dragon.  A notable quote from some Harley Riders nearby:  "Nice country up here.  Pretty as f**k".  The quote was surprisingly fitting.
 
The others are from the Blue Ridge Parkway, at various overlooks.
 
 
 
 
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gregjet
For distance travelling , very hard to beat rear side cases rather than piling stuff on the back. Not only easier to get to and put on , but improves the handling as well. Less tiring to ride on twisty raods. Easier to get to wet weather gear etc as well.
If you have the right sort of case racks the increase in width and extra tie down points makes anything you put on top easier to attach and get on and off.
Intercoms make a ride so much more enjoyable AND safe.
Seat Concepts seat redos are VERY good for touring.
Motorcycle GPS's are stupidly expensive but , especially if you have a bluetooth intercom , a huge aid to navigation.

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USMCFieldMP
I've been wondering about taking a long trip on mine, but was worried about storage space. That looks like it worked out quite well for you.

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motomeek
Awesome trip!
 
If you'd like to talk and listen, you should be able to do so automatically by just turning your music on... I think.
 
If you'd like you and your group (your buddy in this case) to be able to talk and listen to the same music AND GPS at the same time, you can do so like this:
[video src=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=80CI793Bo6U]
 
 
I guess the main thing is to make sure you both have your firmware updated or at least updated to the same firmware :)
 
 
 

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farble
Thanks for the trip description. That trip is in my plans. Meanwhile I pack up camping gear and go overnight to track days at race tracks. I fixed up something to use saddlebags, which are dry bags I've used for canoeing.
 
Most others arrive with RVs pulling trailers containing motorcycles, but I just arrive on the motorcycle and set up a tent with a cot, and a folding chair, and a flask of whiskey.
 
I learned a two oz. flask is not big enough, and I need another drybag to sit on the  passenger seat (Got caught in a thunderstorm, sleeping bag got wet).
 
Cranked up the preload. I needed to use channel lock pliers. Then I didn't bring them and couldn't adjust for the track, not that it would have improved things.
 
I have a Yamaha tail bag and rack. It has a ridiculous 6 lb. limit. To keep bags from hitting tires, I added braces, which I am sure increase the tail rack limit.
 
Here is a picture of the supports.
 
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pineappleunderthesea
Awesome trip! 
If you'd like to talk and listen, you should be able to do so automatically by just turning your music on... I think.
 
If you'd like you and your group (your buddy in this case) to be able to talk and listen to the same music AND GPS at the same time, you can do so like this: 
 
I guess the main thing is to make sure you both have your firmware updated or at least updated to the same firmware :)
 
 

Thanks, just updated my firmware.  Then I realized that I have the SHM10, which I believe cannot do simultaneous intercom and music (user manual seems to say that it's either music or conversation but not both).  I think my buddy has the 20S.  Guess we'll just try it out and see if it works.
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