Long Haul and elevation - Kawasaki Vulcan Forum : Vulcan Forums
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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-03-2013, 09:51 AM Thread Starter
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Long Haul and elevation

At the end of July a friend and I am going to be taking a ride from Fort Worth TX to Tellico Plains Tn. Then around the Great Smoky Mountains (Mod's, if I put this in the wrong place please correct me) My friend and I are both from Fort Worth(670 feet) and we are going to go places such as Franklin NC(2000 feet elevation) and around the passes. I am on a 2013 Vulcan 900 and am therefore fuel injected so I donít think I would have any Issues with elevation changes. My buddy is on a 05 Honda Shadow Saber, his is carbed and I am wondering if there will be any issues with being from Texas?

Also, this will be my first real long haul and I wondering about gear. I have leathers and boots and all the PPE, but what about rain gear? I am on the stock seat and I do not have a windshield, I am thinking about both, do I really need them? I have saddle bags (Viking ultimate shape with the QDS) but I would like a bag that would ride in the two up spot. For camera and extras and the whatnot. I don't intend on adding a sissy bar at any point in time. Whatís the best bag that could suite the need? Or is it a must to get a sissy bar for a bag?


Any advice on the elevation and gear/bags/required (really good idea) bike parts would be great!

Last edited by Rayc12; 04-03-2013 at 09:53 AM. Reason: misspelled the title
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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-03-2013, 10:08 AM
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Get a windshield and rain gear-one wet/windy mountain pass and you won't regret it. There are all kinds of bags out there that you can attach with or without a sissy bar. I have two Kuryakyn bags-a small and a big one that can both be attached in a multitude of different ways. Elevation not a big deal for either bike-I have gone up and down the Ricky mountains many times with both FIBand carb bikes-never an issue.slightly less power at higher elevations and a little better gas mileage


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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-03-2013, 10:56 AM
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I have owned bikes with and without windshields. For longer rides the windshield is a near must just from a reduced fatigue standpoint.

As for rain gear I would recommend going to your local shop and ensure you get a proper fitting suit. I am tall and kinda lanky so my shop actualy was able to get me a 2 piecer with different size jacket and pants. Only had to pay a single suit price rather than buyimh 2 suits and discarding half of each.

On your elevation changes, I can't speak to the carb'd Shadow but you both should be fine. I purchased my '07 900 LT at aroun a 1500ft elevation and it spent its first 5 years around that elevation. It took regular trips over summits of over 2250ft and trips to costal areas at 5ft without any issue. I had to move to VA last year and now live at 387ft and it's doing just fine.

Seat, stock custom seat is comfortable enough. I managed to do a couple Iron Butt rides (1K miles in 24 hours) with minimal soreness. However, most swear by the Mustang aftermarket seats.

No recommendations on bags, sorry, I use a sissy bar bag as I have the backrest.

Good luck on your ride and be safe.
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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-03-2013, 11:13 AM
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Diamond PlateTM Motorcycle Seat Cushion

Got a 19 shield and just purchased a seat pad. Seat pad is great for $60! Can't afford a new seat and tried this out yesterday. You need a cramp buster or added cruise control of some kind. I highly recommend all this stuff!

You need good quality rain gear which I'm sure others here will make suggestions.

Have fun! Be safe!
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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-03-2013, 11:22 AM
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A few years ago I took my carb'ed '99 Roadstar (1600cc) from El Paso, Texas up to Colorado. I had to go hit Cripple Creek in the mountains on the back of Pikes Peak. I had no problems at all. I was expecting the bike to be sluggish and down on power; but there was no noticable change. I did not keep track of MPG because it was a quick trip of on 3-4 days. The Smokey Mountains shouldn't be any problems.
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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-03-2013, 11:57 AM Thread Starter
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awsome! thant makes me feel better about my firends bike. I know I read some stuff about guys using the Kuryakyn Gran Tour Bag without attaching it to a sissy bar. i was worried that it would be top heavy if lean on it and it might want to work loose? What would you reccomend for a bag setup?
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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-03-2013, 02:23 PM
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Like the others who have chimed in, your bikes - both the FI and carb - will run fine from sea level to the mountains. If you are into racing or wanted every ounce of maximum performance out of your bike then minor adjustments could be made or adding a fuel processor and such. Since you are cruising you will be fine.

A windscreen will help a lot in making your ride more enjoyable. After all that is what this is all about. I have a National Cycle Switchblade mounted windscreen on my 900 Custom and it works just fine. Being a Switchblade model I can remove it without the aid of any tools. I didn't want the windscreen to dominate the bike so it isn't very tall, but it works just fine for me.

I have the Kuryakyn Ultra Tour Bag for my long trips and it works great. The zippers are covered with a rubber strip to help keep rain out, but it does come with its own rain cover. It has 4 outside compartments and a single large interior compartment. It has D-rings so you can strap it to your seat or use the velcro band to go around a backrest/sissy bar. The straps on it have cam type locks so it is very fast to put on or take off your bike. Thus I can take it inside to a hotel or tent if I am camping. I like it better than the more expensive Grand Tour bag. The 4 outside pockets are pretty good in size. I have them divided up into functions like tools, rain gear, bike cover, spare parts. The interior compartment will hold my clothes and other needs.

A Clampbuster (for about $6) is a great investment to alleviate cramping in your throttle hand/wrist. I also have a mechanical cruise control - Vista Cruise - that I use when I need to let go of the throttle and give my arm a break. I don't really engage it for very long but its handy. I think it cost about $30 and took about 30 minutes to install. The Clampbuster (check cycle gear or any other bike place) took about 30 seconds to install.

Get good rain gear. The cheap stuff will shred quickly at highway speeds and leave you soaking wet. I ride with a leather jacket, chaps, boots and gloves. For pop-up thunder storms or light rain these work just fine and dry off rather quickly at highway speeds. If I have to travel in a healthy downpour I break out the frog toggs and stay nice and cozy and dry.

I still have my stock seat and really really really really need to get a different one. However, I got about 175 to 200 miles and then fuel up. This helps with the TB syndrome (tired butt) but I will get a new seat when the funding permits.

Just a general note on taking long trips. Check your oil level when you stop for the day. I have a small mechanics mirror that extends and I attached a cheap subminiature led flashlight to it so I can sit on my bike and check the oil level. Check your tire pressure each day before you start out. Take time to stop and smell the roses. Its all about the ride.

Have a great trip.
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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-03-2013, 03:30 PM
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+1 on the seat upgrade. I haven't done it yet but I went to the NASCAR race and picked up a $10 air cushion and found that if I just put a very small amount of air in it (a couple of breaths) it is just perfect and I put it in the saddlebag when I stop. If you do pick one up remember less is more, it shouldn't feel like you're riding sitting on a balloon!
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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-03-2013, 03:35 PM
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Like everybody says, that elevation won't be an issue for your bike. I've made two trips from sea level up to the Smoky Mountains without any problems. Up at the top of the Skyway you may have to twist the throttle a little more but the bike won't turn into a dog.

Kuryakyn makes some good bags. I used a GranTour bag for a while. It comes with a pad that goes under the passenger seat and has four big straps to hold it in place. I've tested mine in the garage like that but never actually rode with it unless I had it strapped to a luggage rack or sissybar. If you get it cinched down tight enough it shouldn't move. It also has four separate straps that you can use to attach the bag to the bike how you see fit. Maybe you could wrap the straps around the saddlebag supports? The bag itself comes with a pad that attaches with velcro (see picture) and kept its shape with me leaning on it even while it was empty. I'm planning a trip somewhere next month and need to test out using bungee cords around my saddlebag brackets to see how that works.

It sounds like you will have a good trip. Have fun and bring back lots of pictures!

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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-03-2013, 05:02 PM Thread Starter
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@Jorge and Graybush. Thanks for the info! I looked at the Ultra tour and it looks like it would work, is the Ultra or the Grand larger? And what do you think would stand up better to being strapped around the seat of a Classic? I am going get the Vista Cruise, that looks like it will more than pay for its self on this ride.

I am really excited about this trip. I will have a full bodied DSLR and am going to get a GOPRO as well so I should have some good photo/vid for later. Once I start the trip I am going to do a daily Ride Report on here about how it goes. Get some road and city info for the rider. I am sure I am not the first to undertake this trip but perhaps I can contribute some with it.

Keep the info coming people! The n00bs can always learn something.
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