Sunday, April 16, 2017

Versys 300x - First Ride Impressions

Having brought the Versys 300x home last Saturday April 8th, my first opportunity for a ride was the next day.  The forecast called for rains to start late afternoon, but we wanted the temperatures to warm up a little since I wouldn't have heated grips.  

It was close to noon when we set off.  I'd been fighting a cold so thought it best to keep it to a short shake down ride. While it was sunny, it was rather chilly.  

We decided on a familiar route south of Corvallis.  South on Bellfountain Rd to the parking lot of the Muddy Creek Charter School.  Six years ago my first ride on Max was to the same location. We were a little later in the year this time and the blooms were mostly gone from the plum tree.

(First ride on my 2017 Kawasaki Versys 300x)

(It was chilly and I couldn't be bothered to take my helmet off)

(Trobairitz on a Versys - I had my gloves off from taking pictures)

(A Kawasaki Versys 300x and a Triumph Tiger 955)
We got back on the bikes and continued further south on Bellfountain Rd to Alpine.  We stopped at what once was the Alpine Community Center, but is now Queen Bee Honey. This also used to be a meeting place for group rides when folks were coming up from Eugene to do the Alsea Falls twisties (South Fork Rd).

(Stopped for a break at Queen Bee Honey)

(Front view of the Versys 300x)

(And one more shot of the bikes)

As Troubadour was taking pictures I noticed a honey bee land on my helmet, and then another one.  What else would one expect when stopped at a honey company?

(This helmet is the bees knees)

(No bees were harmed in the making of this blog post)
From Alpine we back tracked to Muddy Creek Charter School and turned west on Decker Road. We then turned right onto Ervin Road to see how the Versys would handle its first bit of gravel and to scrub in the new tires a little quicker.  It handled the gravel just fine and I think I went a little faster than I would have on the Gladius.  This looped us back to Bellfountain Road where we turned north and then onto another short stretch of gravel before arriving home.  We arrived home with 85 total miles on the odometer.  I'd officially ridden 45 miles (72 km) which is longer than the 40 miles Troubadour did when riding it home from the dealer.  Not bad since I was just going a wee distance with the way I was feeling.

With no heated grips and the cold air whipping up through my dirt bike helmet, I was happy to be home where it was warm.  

While I love my Gladius, and I will be sad to see it go, I know that it isn't the proper tool for the job anymore. The Versys 300x handled the gravel very well. 

I liken it to a pair of shoes.  While your favorite pair of flashy dress shoes may fit well and you love them, they aren't the proper shoes to go for a hike.  Max is my flashy pair of shoes, he just doesn't do well hiking after Triumph Tigers in the woods.

So far we have a Givi rack on order so that I can put my Givi Monokey top case (aka 'trunk monkey') on the bike and are debating what kind of heated grips to get.  Whether to get grip heaters like I have on Max and the TW 200 or Oxford heated grips.  Troubadour also offered to put the hyper-lites on the bike so that is coming at some point as well. And..... we are still waiting for a call from the dealer to tell us the hand guards and center stand are in.

I am already looking forward to the next ride.

- Au Revoir

"What do you suppose?  
A bee sat on my nose.  
Then what do you think?  
He gave me a wink.  
And said, "I beg your pardon,
I thought you were the garden." - English Nursery Rhyme

Monday, April 10, 2017

Let the Good Times Roll

I think that I am friends on Facebook with most of the folks who read this blog and therefore this won't be surprising news, but if you haven't yet heard I finally made a decision and bought a new motorcycle on Saturday April 8th.

The new addition to the family is a 2017 Kawasaki Versys 300x ABS in graphite grey.  I just couldn't do the green. It has been a long process deciding between the Honda CB500x and the Versys300x.  We had to wait for the Versys to actually hit the showrooms here in Oregon.  In the end, the Versys won due to the 19" front tire, gear indicator, rear rack, and all for $1200 less than the CB500x. And it actually weighs about 40+ pounds less than the CB500x.

For the past two weekends we visited our preferred dealer a total of three times.  The first was to make sure they did in fact have them in stock.  They did have a green one in ABS that was on a test ride and promptly sold and also a grey one just being prepped that was non-ABS.  For $300 we figured we'd opt for ABS if we chose to purchase.

(2017 Kawasaki Versys 300x in non-ABS)

(First time sitting on a Versys 300x)

(Felt pretty good)
The second visit was on Friday to see if they had unpacked a graphite grey with ABS yet for a test ride.  They hadn't but they did volunteer to bring one in for us from their warehouse in Salem and prep it for Saturday afternoon. 

Saturday morning we went to coffee, had lunch at Marco Polo in Salem, then drove out to Sublimity to the dealer for our third visit.  Our weather had been iffy with a huge storm going through on Friday. Mary's Peak saw wind gusts of 91 mph (146 kph).  Luckily the weather was a little better on Saturday.  Still windy, but at least there were sunny breaks between the squalls.

We arrived sometime after 1 pm and the grey ABS model wasn't quite prepped so Troubadour took the non-ABS model for a wee test ride while the sun was shining. Well it was shining for part of the test ride, then another shower came through.

When he returned to the dealer he noted the only thing I might have issue with is the short gearbox and having to shift more frequently on take off than I was used to with Max.  We talked about it and discussed things and determined that this bike was best suited to how we planned on riding.  The suspension is enough to smooth out the bumpy roads, it has the 19" front tire so we can put a more dual sport/gravel oriented tires on it, it has a gear indicator (which I was used to from Max) and it also came with a rack.  The dealer offered to throw in the Kawasaki hand guards and gave us 10% off on the center stand order.  We did not pay any freight or PDI charges, just MSRP.  We also chose to do the DMV paperwork ourselves which also saved us their $115 documentation fee.

A few years ago Lori, aka BeemerGirl, told me that she believed it was bad luck to ride your own bike home from the dealer.  I believe her after my own experience with the 2009 Bonneville back in 2012.  I rode it home from the dealer and just couldn't bond with it.  So with that in mind Troubadour was nice and suited up between rain storms and rode the Versys home for me to ward off any bad ju-ju.  He stopped part way home and snapped a few pictures with his phone.

(2017 Versus 300x on the way home)

(I was following along in the Fiat 500)

(Outside an abandoned building)
We arrived home with exactly 40 miles on the odometer.  There was less than a half mile on it when he pulled away.  A few more pictures were taken as it sat in the driveway on Saturday afternoon.

(Mission control - 40 miles on the odometer averaging 57.7 mpg)

(2017 Versys 300x in the driveway)
On Sunday we managed to go out for a ride before the rain returned.  I'll post up a trip report and first impressions in my next post.

Max is for sale if anyone would like a gently used 2009 Suzuki Gladius with 11,000 miles on the odometer........... just saying'.

- Au Revoir

" I went to a general store but they wouldn't let me buy anything specific." - Steven Wright

Monday, April 3, 2017

A Soggy Hike to Abiqua Falls

Saturday April 1st dawned overcast with only a 10% chance of rain.  In Oregon that meant it was raining within the hour.  Not a heavy rain, but a heavy mist that saturated everything.

When the weather is poor we typically stay off the bikes, pedal powered and motorized.

We opted to go for a hike to Abiqua Falls.  A few folks that Troubadour works with had mentioned it, so we thought we'd go see. It is located east of Salem just outside of the metropolis of Scotts Mills,  population 357.  Abiqua Falls is a 71 mile (114 km) drive from Corvallis.

Also by the falls is the Crooked Finger OHV area.  Luckily we took a right turn into the OHV area to see if they had restroom facilities (they didn't).  Turns out this was the correct route to the falls and we almost missed the turn.

Rumor had it that the last two miles of road to the trailhead needed to be hiked because it was a one-lane rough forestry road best traversed by Jeeps and 4x4 pickups. We found out a good driver and a Subaru can make it as well - thanks Troubadour.  Although I do admit to closing my eyes a few times; there was only one really rough section and then it wasn't too bad the rest of the way.

(Almost to the trailhead and the road smoothed out a little)
We arrived at the trailhead.  Although there were no signs, there were other vehicles parked on the side of the road.  We stopped, put on our rain jackets and had a quick snack to sustain us. It was about 2 pm and we hadn't had any lunch. We also set up our trekking poles.  Last year we splurged and bought ourselves each a set of Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork trekking poles from REI. This would be our first outing with them.  Typically we forget them at home.

The trailhead at the parking area was quite steep so we walked a little further down the road to a wider trail.

(A wider start to the trail)
Pretty soon it narrowed and started to descend.

(Looking back up at where we'd been)

(Looking down at where we needed to go)
From where Troubadour is standing in the photo above, you couldn't really get down the cliff, so we back tracked a little and found the main route down.  Boy were we glad we had those trekking poles. The reviews on the hike were not wrong, it was quite a steep descent to the river. There were even ropes strung from the trees to help folks repel down and climb up the embankment.  We took a few photos when we reached the river.

(Troubadour on a trek, notice how steep the embankment)

(Me taking pictures of the river, photo by Troubadour)

(The Trillium were blooming along the path)
From where we arrived at the river we had two options.  Take the rocky path along the shore or a goat trail a little higher up the bank.  Troubadour opted to test my mettle a little and chose the goat trail.  We followed that along for a little ways, did I mention how much I loved those trekking poles.  About half way to the falls I was worried with how high we were climbing and how small the footholds were.  If I wasn't so scared of falling I would have taken a picture. When the fear of death and/or taking a tumble down the hillside cast a shadow on the beauty of the scenery, I opted to very carefully make my way down to the trail at the shoreline.

Down at the river we took a few pictures of the trail.  Doing the limbo every so often to get under the fallen trees makes for a good work out.

(Fallen tree we just scrambled under)

(More of the path up ahead)

(Stopping for more pictures)

(Troubadour in the picture for reference of the scope of cliffs above us)
The sound of the falls were getting louder and louder so we knew we were getting close, but the anticipation still didn't even do the falls justice when I first peeked around the rocks. There among the basalt cliffs was Abiqua Falls.

(Abiqua Falls, Marion County, Oregon)

(And of course a selfie - Troubadour & Trobairitz)

(The mist coming off the falls makes for gorgeous greenery)

(Abiqua Falls)
While I was taking the above picture Troubadour looked up and noticed that all the mist was condensing on the foliage on the cliffs above and dropping in large droplets of water.  The droplets appeared to be moving in slow motion and you could reach out and catch them in your hand.  That is what Troubadour is doing in the picture below.

(Troubadour catching water droplets - my favorite photo of the day)
I attempted to catch a few myself.  While it was way cool and we were laughing and smiling like children, I didn't try it for too long.  I was more worried about my balance on the slippery rocks and falling ass over tea kettle into the water.

(Me admiring the Falls - photo by Troubadour)

(One last peek at Abiqua Falls)
Our jackets were getting pretty soaked from the mist and it was chilly out at only 48˚F (8.8˚C) so we decided to head back. This time we opted to take the rocky shore route the entire way until we reached the trail up the embankment.  It was slow going but we were glad to have the trekking poles and in some cases I used the poles and the rope concurrently.

(Rope in one hand, trekking pole the other - the struggle was real)
It didn't seem to take us as long to climb back out.  We were huffing and puffing a bit but weren't too sore thanks to the trekking poles  Normally our knees would be sore, but this time only our hips a little bit.  Once back to the car we took off our rain jackets and snacked on some apples. Sufficiently rested we got back in the Subaru and started driving towards the main road. Troubadour stopped at one of the OHV staging areas (where quads had been tearing it up earlier) and played in the Subaru a little.  I took pictures from a  safe distance.

(Troubadour in a dirty Subaru)
It was sunny in the valley by the time we got out of the foothills and mist.  We arrived home sometime after 6 pm.  Tired, but we'd had a good day.

Later, while looking up another hiking spot on the computer, we accidentally found aerial drone footage Abiqua Falls and though you might like the video.  It even shows the river above the falls.

- Au Revoir

" Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.  Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees.  The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.  As age comes on, one source of enjoyment after another is closed, but Nature's sources never fail." - John Muir
Addendum - I read in the news this morning (April 5th) that from October 1st to date, the mid-Willamette Valley where we live has received 51 inches (129.5 cm) of rain.  Yes, it has been soggy.  We usually receive 40 inches of rain for an entire year, not 6 months.