Monday, March 2, 2015

The Power of Three

In baseball, you get three strikes and you're out. 

In soccer, three goals by the same player, it's a hat trick.

A famous person dies, then another and the pundits start speculating on who will be the third?  Of course we all know that the first two are terms of the game and the third example is pure coincidence. Still, there seems to be a pattern of threes when it comes to my motorcycles.

For example, there were three BMW long distance motorcycles that came into and out of my life.

First, Captain America..
This little BMW F650 carried me to Alaska the first time. After the incident on the Haul Road push starting another bike, I made it to Prudhoe Bay and then down to Anchorage. There Captain America was sold in the land of the midnight sun. 

Looking for more power for long distance cruising, along came Blue Jeans. A beautiful BMW 1150GS was #2. Had everything except the additional ground clearance and a larger gas tank one needs for serious adventure riding.

So we said goodbye to Blue Jeans and picked up #3, Wind Rider. 

This workhorse of a big machine carried me to Alaska, Florida and finally Chile and Argentine. In Chile she was sold to someone who said they could repair her.

After the incident in Chile, three wheels replaced two wheels for riding. Since Urals are the only sidecar motorcycle manufacturer in the world, they must be looked at. Especially for someone like me who didn't know anything about sidecars. 

The first Ural was Big Red. A big, slow, lumbering Russian rig that about broke my big toe kick starting her.  Besides kick start, she had old fashion drum brakes.  Though we discovered that I really did enjoy piloting sidecars, but this was not the right rig. 

 Big Red is sitting atop my attempt at building a sidecar lift. Sidecar weight is not evenly balanced among the three wheels.  Lift was a total failure and waste of good lumber. 

Then came Ural #2, a Dam'it wannabe. Was an okay rig with an electric start and disc brakes, but did not inspire confidence. Just didn't think that she could make it to Alaska and back. 

From Atlanta, GA comes Ural #3, Dam'it. The best Ural I have owned.  This was a sidecar rig that I thought could go anywhere...  

So we did - Key West, Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, Rocky Mountains, Pacific Northwest, Atlantic Ocean, Pacific Ocean, visiting some 36 states in all.  When her extended warranty ran out, she went to a new home. 

With Dam'it gone and with the knowledge I gained concerning the care and feeding of sidecars, It's time to build a dual sport sidecar. Partly because I could not find one set up the way I wanted and needed for my next adventure. The bike of choice was narrowed down to either a Kawasaki KLR650 or a Suzuki DR650. Either bike would do what I wanted.  Now what could I find?

Back in 2010, I owned a 'Barbie Doll' colored KLR650 for a short period. Had a purple seat and disco light graphics. She didn't stay long.

Recently came KLR #2, which is on the lift in the garage right now. This burgundy bike came to me from the Valley of Texas, Harlingen.

As parts arrive, this nameless bike is coming back together. Painted the plastics a khaki color, the gas tank flat black and here,  installing new turn signals. 

While we wait on the rear luggage rack to arrive, the seat is being worked on. This bike is almost ready to be put on the market for sale........ What?    Yes!  

This is not the rig to hang a sidecar on. It's a good dual sport bike now that I have gone thru it top to bottom. But she is not the bike for the next adventure. So we will finish this one up, make sure it is running good and strong. Then post her for sale.

 Waiting in the wings...   is a big eyed beauty.

A Kawasaki KLR 650...  number THREE.

Was not looking for a different  KLR, but.... happened upon this low mileage 2011 beauty listed on eBay...  is in the Houston area....  only four days remaining on the auction... with no bids on it. So I started the ball rolling with an opening offer. Did not think it possible, but my opening bid was also the closing bid. No one else bid on the bike. 

The coincidence of threes shows itself again.

A quick shift of gears in the thinking.  The bike on my garage is a generation 1 KLR, this new bike is a generation 2 KLR. Some parts and pieces are interchangeable, others are not.  A fast call to the manufacturer of the sidecar chassis confirms the chassis they are making for me will fit either KLR.  Alright now, we can do this.

As soon as the new bike hits the garage, what do I do? Start stripping off parts and pieces off in order to service and prep it for our next adventure. But first we have to finish KLR #2 still on the lift before we tear into KLR #3.

This week KLR #2 will be finished and available. Hopefully by then the weather might be a little nicer and riders will be thinking about getting outdoors to ride. Cold winter months is when you buy a motorcycle. Warm sunny Spring time is when you sell.

Going through this process of threes, one learns more about the ins and outs of servicing, maintenance and abilities of each machine. Each will have its own issues, presenting its own unique challenges. All of which make for a more thorough and detailed education experience.

Ride safe and far,


  1. I like the Khaki color on the KLR.....even met a guy who hung a cross type sidecar on it, he seemed happy with it.

  2. Did you ever find out the cause of the Ural's engine failure?

    I like the progression of bikes. Are you building the KLR sidecar or having it built?

    1. Good question, I'm betting it was another one of those crankshafts that had issues with the bearings.

  3. Never heard back from Ural as to the exact cause of the engine locking up. I was thrilled they gave me a new engine.

    Ten days after I sold Dam'it, I heard the final drive went out for the new owner. Said a tooth broke off inside the drive, tearing up the drive shafts, universals. Ural agreed to replace it... again.

    DMC is building a tub-less rolling chassis for the KLR. I'll rework an aluminum tool box to mount on it.

    Thanks for posting your comments. The build continues, but on a newer tug.

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