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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
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 don’t 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. What’s 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!
 

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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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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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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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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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Discussion Starter #6
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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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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+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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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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Discussion Starter #10
@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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The wife and I have a home here in Johnson City,TN. If you're going to be in this area and would like someone to show you some really fantastic mountain roads with very little traffic, we happen to know some ! We'll even throw in a free lunch !
 

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tired butt stock seat

I would suggest if you aren't ready to get a new seat visit Wally World and pick up one of their car seat pads in the automotive section. They are $20 and I used mine all the tim till I got my mustang. Made it more tolerable. Now I use it on the rider when mowing. Should have bit the bullet right after I bought the bike but didn't. If you have a wifeee she will love the back seat too, much more area and padding for her.
 

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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?
The Ultra is bigger but I've never used one or even seen one firsthand. Kuryakyn advertises it at ~4000 cubic inches, expandable to ~5300 cubic inches. The GranTour is 3700 cubic inches and a little more expensive. Either one should hold plenty of stuff, it's just a matter of which one you think looks better and would work better for you.

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.
I did a full report for each of my two trips up there and I love reading other people's reports. I hope to be making another one of my own, either from the Smokies or the Ozarks within the next month or so.
 

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My house and office are both at 3,500 feet, the park is 6,000 + feet. The lowest I have been is about 2,400 feet. No modifications and no issues. The sea level (relatively) elevations you will be at will not be noticeable, IMO.

Looking forward to getting around on my bike this summer. You got a very nice looking sissy bar bag. I got a cheap one and just spent money on a Mustang seat.
 

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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?


Any advice on the elevation and gear/bags/required (really good idea) bike parts would be great!
Frog Togs are some of the best rain gear I've found on the market, and very reasonable priced ($49 t0 $60.00). Cabala's sporting goods even has a motorcycle appropriate set which has reflective strips on the back of the jacket. I've been in some rain storms on the hwy that I thought I was going to drown in with just my tin cap on, but my cloths stayed dry with the exception of around the neck, since I didn't stop to put the hood up. Make sure you buy them plenty long in the pants, as you don't want them to ride up and expose your socks.... Once that happens, you boots fill up and your miserable.... You can also find rubber booties to fit over your boots that are worth the investment in gold, to spare the wet foot syndrome....Take it from a former Viet vet, you want to keep your feet dry, especially if on a long term tour.....:)
 

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Long Haul Rayc

I live in the area you are going to visit. You will have no problems. I ride it a lot. I would get a windshield and I would layer my clothing, that time of year you will probably be going in and out of rain, warm days cool nights. I usually wear normal gear with a quick on and off type rain suit. It is to each his own. Three pair of Jeans ought to last a week.....I have also been to cripple creek etc. breathing was a little thin on Pikes Peak, but you should have no trouble here. The highest point is just about 6,500 ft.
 

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Just curious if anyone has any experience with the Willie & Max the hooker. I have the same dilemma, no sissy bar but wanting to secure a bag to the pillion for a trip. Wondering if the the hooker will do the trick. Thoughts??
 
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