Quest for Comfort - a trip report - K-Bikes.com - Excellence in Motion
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post #1 of 22 (permalink) Old Oct 13th, 2006, 3:40 pm Thread Starter
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Quest for Comfort - a trip report

I bought the GT in July and immediately left for Canada on a 4000 mile trip. With my wife along, this was a fairly relaxed trip with frequent stops and relatively low mileage days. We stayed in Banff for a few days and journeyed out to different parts of B.C. and Alberta each day. Several spots along the Icefields Parkway are still among the most beautiful I have ever seen.





The GT performed very well and my only complaint was the seat. The seat was a major problem and affected the trip severely beginning on the third day. I averaged about 48 mpg on the trip and, other than the seat, was amazed at what a capable replacement for the LT the GT had been on this trip.

After some other smaller trips on the GT, I figured it was time to address the problem with the seat. Since Rick Mayer had built a seat for me on each of my K1200LTs I planned on having him build one for the GT as well. I had never done a ride-in appointment before and thought I would like to try it this time. I had a couple of destinations west of Denver that I needed to visit, some friends in California to visit and a seat appointment on Saturday, September 30.

I left Denver after an office meeting on Thursday morning at about 8:30 with plans for reaching Ely, NV (670 miles) that evening. I took I-70 out of Denver through Glenwood Canyon and Grand Junction to Delta, UT. I had always wanted to ride the “loneliest highway” (US50) on a modern bike as it had been 20 years since I last traveled the road. From Delta to Ely is about 150 miles and the highway lived up to its reputation. I only say about three vehicles on the entire section and was able to make some really good time. Unfortunately one of the vehicles I encountered was a Utah Sherriff in an F-150 about 5 miles east of the Nevada border. He was tucked in behind an oncoming 18-wheeler and popped out just long enough to get a radar bead on me. Fortunately I was slowing down for the oncoming 18-wheeler, but I was still moving at a fairly brisk pace. I have never had a traffic citation of any kind before that day and the officer was almost apologetic that he had to write me. I was given an award for 70 in a 65mph zone. Needless to say, he was very generous in writing a ticket for that small of an infraction. The speed at which he tagged me would have meant jail time and impoundment of the motorcycle in almost every state. He was very impressed with the bike, the gear I was wearing and spent a bit of time quizzing me about both. We talked for about 15 minutes while he was writing the ticket and I went on my way. Once in Nevada (5 miles later) I picked up the pace again. I covered the 150 miles from Delta to Ely in just shy of 100 minutes, including the time to get my performance award. If you do the math you can see I was traveling at a very good clip.



I have to say that the GT is very comfortable and stable at ridiculous speeds. I am amazed at how slow 65 can feel after traveling above the century mark for an extended period of time. Unfortunately, at those speeds the mileage dropped to about 38 mpg so I used most of the tank covering 150 miles.

Surprisingly, the seat was not an issue this first day. I was able to ride to Glenwood Springs, then to Green River, UT, then to Delta UT and on to Ely, with only these stops for fuel. I had originally planned on arriving in Ely at around dark, but made good enough time to arrive several hours earlier than I planned.

A friend had recommended the Hotel Nevada as a clean, very reasonably priced, motorcycle friendly hotel. I stayed in The Jimmy Stewart room equipped with a 42” plasma TV, king sized bed, microwave and refrigerator. When I checked in they gave me coupons for two margaritas and 4 bucks for gambling – all included in the $45 (with motorcycle discount) room rate. The room was large and clean, the staff was friendly and the hotel proved to be a historically interesting visit. If you get a chance to visit this hotel, I highly recommend it.





I had breakfast at the hotel’s restaurant and hit the road at about 6am.



I wanted to make Red Bluff, CA by the end of the day with a trip through Lassen Volcanic National Park. I had no idea what traffic or delays I would run into through Reno and wanted to hit the park during the day so I started early. Still having no issues with the seat I headed out on US50. The Pioneer INNO was providing great XM Radio entertainment through the Autocom Super Pro AVi as I headed out on the loneliest highway. This is my first experience with the Autocom and it worked better than any other solution I had tried before. The noise sensing microphone kept the level of the radio about right and the interface cable with a 3.5mm plug for earbuds in addition to the speakers installed in my helmet gave me a lot of flexibility. I ended up using the earbuds exclusively on the road and only used the speakers on short, around town jaunts. I did modify the connection dongle with lower valued resistors to make the level of the earbuds a little greater. I used 20-ohm resistors in place of the 39-ohm that were supplied. Again I was about the only vehicle on the road other than a mess of Nevada’s finest around Austin. Not needing to cover as much ground quickly, I traveled at much more reasonable speeds and didn’t get the attention of another LEO.

I made Fallon and then Sparks fairly quickly and headed up toward Susanville. By now the seat was beginning to take its toll. My butt felt like it had bruises on both sides and I had to move around much more. I had also run into traffic and a lot of smoke from the wildfires that were rampant around California, so it was slow going from Sparks to Susanville. I stopped in Chester for a hamburger then headed up through Lassen. I stopped at several spots along highway 89 through the park and spent some time at a small hidden lake in the park



I took a very small road from highway 44 south, Wilson Hill Road, I think. This road was a lot of fun with no traffic and sharp twists and turns taking me back to hwy 36 and Red Bluff for the night. I stayed at a Best Western in Red Bluff. While not as interesting as the Hotel Nevada, I did get a kick out of the hotel owner, a very nice man of apparently Middle Eastern ancestry. He insisted that I park the bike at the front doors of the hotel because he “was tired of the oil dripping Harleys” messing up his parking lot. He also insisted that I could use his hose, rags, bucket and soap to wash the bugs off if I wanted. The bike was covered with bugs from the last two days, so I took him up on his offer. The bike certainly is good looking when clean and the time washing it is a good “bonding moment” and a relaxing way to end a day on the road.


To be continued….


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post #2 of 22 (permalink) Old Oct 13th, 2006, 4:16 pm
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At the beginning of your post, you said "we". Were you riding solo with another bike, two up ? or is that a generic "we" for "I" ?

Sounds like an exciting trip. Please continue...

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post #3 of 22 (permalink) Old Oct 13th, 2006, 4:54 pm Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by larrykay
At the beginning of your post, you said "we". Were you riding solo with another bike, two up ? or is that a generic "we" for "I" ?

Sounds like an exciting trip. Please continue...
The "we" was referring to the first trip on the GT back in July. My wife rode her K1200S and I the GT up to Canada. This report was about the trip I took last week to California from Denver.


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Last edited by randy; Oct 13th, 2006 at 5:29 pm.
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post #4 of 22 (permalink) Old Oct 13th, 2006, 4:56 pm Thread Starter
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Quest for comfort - continued

I got up the next morning, had a free breakfast and went out to load the bike up and head out for Anderson, CA to see Rick Mayer. My bike had been almost boxed in by a couple of cruisers overnight, I guess their riders felt the need to be the center of attention I headed north on I-5 - I couldn’t wait to get the new seat as it was a real chore to get back on it after the torture of the prior two days.

I arrived at Rick’s a little early for an 8:00am start and he met me as I was riding up to his workshop. He has built a great facility to accommodate his ride-in trade. There is a generous workshop and a very nice lounge with high speed wireless Internet, television, drinks and snacks. He even planned a cookout later in the day for those who were riding in for seats. He started my seat after his two employees arrived at 8:00. I took a number of pictures, but Rick asked that I not show how he makes his cuts in the stock foam as it is a trade secret.

He had me sit on the bike while he took pictures, then quizzed me about the issues I was having with the seat. Issues! I had an entire subscription.



He removed the seats and his crew began stripping the stock covers, retaining the stock heating elements, made the cuts and began building the pan and support foam back to what I wanted. He uses several different densities of foam, building on the stock seat pan and ends up with a superb piece of craftsmanship waiting for a cover.



I chose leather in two different colors, with a mix of gray and blue stitching to compliment the bike. I also had Rick cover the topbox backrest to match. While leather is not as resistant to weather as vinyl, it does breathe and look much better. I have also found that the leather seems to “break in” much better than vinyl. I have not had any weather related issues with prior leather seat covers – you just need to give them a little care. He stitches the seat cushion leather to some backing foam – to hide imperfections beneath the cover and to provide a base for his stitching pattern.



Rick’s craftsmanship shows in everything he does. He carefully stitched the black sides to the gray seat cushions to make a complete cover – ready to install.



He built the rear seat then set the cover on the front foam and asked me to take a ride. We discussed any hot spots or areas of discomfort, and then he built up the foam some more to address them. After I was satisfied with the fit he installed the cover. The seat looked great and the comfort was immediately apparent, despite the fact that my buns were really sore from the last two days riding. The seat is not cheap, but I consider it a real value as the craftsmanship is apparent in every aspect of the seat.



With my seat finished I chose to take care of some email while I waited for a fellow rider coming down from Oregon to ride to A&S Cycles with me, to meet some of the Northern California riders. Rick had already started his next pair of seats for a couple of California riders with later appointments, one on a new LT and the other on an older Road King.

Heading south toward Roseville it was very apparent that the seat was going to solve my comfort issues. Even with prior injury I was no longer at all uncomfortable. I met with a number of fellow community members at A&S, rode over to Raffy’s house and then on to the Elk Grove Brewery for dinner. A fine time, food and spirits were had by all. I had to bid my friends good night and prepare for an early start Sunday morning.

I rode out from Elk Grove on hwy 88 past a decommissioned atomic power plant. Those stacks rising eerily into the air were something to see.



I continued along 88 with its gentle rise in elevation into the Sierras.



I continued on 89 into South Lake Tahoe to Tahoe City, where I stayed for the night. I left early Monday morning in a fairly steady rainfall as I headed out toward Salt Lake City. The rain stayed with me constantly until about Wendover, UT. I covered about 600 miles Monday and stopped overnight near Salt Lake City. Onec again the bike was perfect, averaged about 48mpg and now had a perfectly comfortable seat. I only stopped briefly twice for gas the entire day.

The next day was cool and beautiful, with no snow forecast for crossing the Rockies, so I chose to take US40 through Vernal, Steamboat Springs and on to Winter Park before taking I-70 the rest of the way home. The morning I headed out was surreal, with low clouds hanging in the valleys, some mid level clouds and a crisp blue sky directly above.



I arrived in Denver just in time for the evening traffic congestion, still arriving home earlier than I had planned.

The trip was just shy of 3000 miles, with the bulk of the mileage being covered in four days. I have never been as happy with a bike on a long trip as I am with the GT. The miles just melted and I arrived at my destinations each evening with very little fatigue. The supplied luggage, along with the large topcase holds more than the LT did and was a lot easier to pack and unpack each day. The shape of all three pieces of luggage is such that you can really pack efficiently. I used the small BMW duffel on the back seat to hold the bike cover, spare gloves, heated liners and other items I didn’t want to put in the trunk. With over 8,000 miles on the GT I am now satisfied that it is a very suitable replacement for the LT, at least for the way I ride now. If Michelle was still riding on the back, she said she would be as comfortable as she was on the LT now that I have fixed the also horrible passenger seat. While I still feel that the K1200S of a more viscerally appealing package than the GT, it cannot compare with the GT for storage capacity and covering long distances.

I wouldn’t hesitate to take off on a 10,000 mile journey on the GT and I am confident I could pack enough for an extended trip as long as I did a small amount of laundry every week or so.


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post #5 of 22 (permalink) Old Oct 13th, 2006, 5:12 pm
 
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Randy,
welcome home
this is a fantastic ride tale....
great pictures.... very intersting info
well-written
i'm so glad you had the seat fixed... wish i'd been there with you to do the same

it was very thoughtful of you to prepare this post for us.... i really appreciate it
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post #6 of 22 (permalink) Old Oct 13th, 2006, 5:28 pm Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ClearwaterBMW
Randy,
welcome home
this is a fantastic ride tale....
great pictures.... very intersting info
well-written
i'm so glad you had the seat fixed... wish i'd been there with you to do the same

it was very thoughtful of you to prepare this post for us.... i really appreciate it
It is difficult to find the time to share our adventures, but I always want to. There are many who make custom seats, but I really like the intimacy of Rick's operation as wel as his relentless attention to quality and satisfaction.


The GT.....


is FREAKING fantastic!!!


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post #7 of 22 (permalink) Old Oct 13th, 2006, 6:08 pm
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by randy
It is difficult to find the time to share our adventures, but I always want to.
the sharing of these adventures is really what makes this forum so amazing
i'm thrilled that the GT has been everything for which you had hoped.... and more

i surely love mine and hope to go on a long journey very soon
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post #8 of 22 (permalink) Old Oct 15th, 2006, 7:43 pm
 
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Very informative post !

Randy , Thanks for sharing your trip with us . I enjoyed it very much . I also had Rick Mayer to build a seat for my LT , it was great , 750 mile days and no tired butt . I wish I could do a ride in , but not possible right now , so have an exchange scheduled for Nov.11 , glad to hear that yours for the GT worked out so good . Keep up the good work .
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post #9 of 22 (permalink) Old Oct 15th, 2006, 8:55 pm
 
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I agree

Thanks Randy for the great ride report. I had my seat re-crafted by the master, Rick Mayer. I highly recommend that if you can, do the ride in appointment. It was well worth the trip.



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post #10 of 22 (permalink) Old Oct 16th, 2006, 1:04 am
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Next time you get within 100 miles of where I live, let me know. Elk Grove Brewery, indeed...

Oh, and you missed out riding one of the best motorcycle roads in the world. Highway 36 west of Red Bluff, all the way to Fortuna. Ah well...sore butt would have messed it up anyway.



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