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I'm gonna be heading out to Boston in a few weeks and I had the bright idea to pick up a bike while out there and ride it back to Cali.

A Suzuki GS1000 or 1100E is what I'm after, a power horse to pull my small, buck 40 meatbag and camping gear around the country.

Going for chain drive over shaft. Want to play with the bike when I get back to Cali and the build I'm thinking of involves swapping down to a 530 chain/sprocket.

I'm only looking at bikes that have solid maintenance/records. Everything needs to be up to speed--brakes/brake lines/calipers/cylinders, tires, fork seals, new springs, working electronics throughout, newer chain/good sprocket, no leaks, solid, properly tuned and synced carb, etc. I'm not looking for a project, looking for a strong runner.

All that said, is there any words of wisdom ya'll could bless me with? If you were about to embark upon such an adventure, what are some things you'd want to make sure are solid on the bike you pick up? What are some dos and don'ts when chugging 3K mi on a motorcycle over the course of 3 weeks? Any riding/camping gear that I wouldn't know to take unless I had tried and failed before?

Any insight, as always, is much appreciated.
 

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It's a can of worms picking up an unknown bike and riding it across the country on it's maiden voyage with the new owner IMO. Especially a 30 year old bike. Don't cheap out is all I can say - get the most pampered example you can find....

As far as camping gear?



http://www.jetboil.com/
 

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Bring a credit card. When I rode from Boston to L.A. in 1994/95 it seemed to rain every singe day, and we ended up having to stay at hotels every other night just to let the camping gear dry.

As long as it seems to run fine, make sure its got a good fresh chain on it, and the sprockets aren't worn. Then test the charging system out fully. Bikes of this era tend to eat reg/rec units and stators.

I rode a 1972 Honda CB750 (the one I still have that I made a cafe racer out of) and my girlfriend was on a 1982 Kawasaki KZ550 LTD with hard bags on the back. Our bikes were pretty much bone stock, but we had both owned them for nearly a year before setting out.
 

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Light weight pack-able tent that is an easy setup in the dark when you fail to get to your campsite before dark drop cloth to set it up on real tent stakes. LED flash light + you can make an LED work light with a 12v LED strip light, extremely pack-able mine plugs into my tender dongles and so do my usb chargers made by the tender co. Bring a paper atlas/map as GPS goes wacky at the worst times as a rule. Plan short medium and long distance camping stops and be ready to flow with what the day brings. The credit card is a good idea also on my trip this summer I had to hit a hotel to get out of risk of high winds and was convinced by the sight of a forming tornado.. NOAA weather radio is also great when the phone is not in service and you need to look at what you need to avoid. I put a water bladder in with the back protector in my jacket so I can drink while on the road. I have a MSR stove that will run on almost any fuel. Tire repair kit, road side assistance insurance for your bike was recommended to me. I will look this over again when i have more time and post what i missed.
 

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To cover long distances, you need to ride slow to get there fast. Consistent speed for a whole tank of gas, not high speed for 3/4 of an hour and then rest for 1 1/2 hours getting your nerves calmed down.

Wear earplugs all the time on the road.

Carry 2L of gas in a safe container. It sure beats walking ten miles in bike boots.

Check your tire pressures, cold in the morning and at most gas stops.

Don't ride into the sun, stop and do something else.

Drink plenty of water, like all the time, not just three cans of Coke a day. Eat a big greasy trucker breakfast before starting riding for the day.

Carry a good down sleeping bag, a foam mat and a big bit of thick plastic for shelter.

Carry a BMF chain lock and stay at roach motels. Camping on the road is another name for being homeless with a bike.

Carry bail money for speeding fines and have enough cash to ship the bike home if it fails.

Danger, is my business.
 

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Ol' Whitless reminded me of something - About bringing extra gas. Don't bother. I believe even with sticking to barely marked 2 line roads on our trip we were never in danger of running out of gas before finding a station. Those signs that say "Last gas for 60 miles" do exist, and you should heed them, but never once did we roll along with the bikes on fumes with no idea when the next, so called, town was coming up. I believe in West Texas we did see a sign that said something like no gas for 100 miles. That was the worst one.

Instead of putting yourself at the mercy of law enforcement, just obey the laws. You really don't wanna be pushing a bike you know nothing about all day at 80mph thru unknown country. When we did in in 1994/95 we were a long haired scraggly punk rocker, and a redheaded tattooed sometime lesbian. Everybody we met, even in the deep south, was still very helpful and friendly. Now maybe if we were black or Hispanic things would be different, but if you don't assume people are out to get you and take an adversarial attitude they will treat you like a person. No one ever even messed with our bikes.
 

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Good advice. I'm leaving the gas can behind. I'm gonna pack "a redheaded tattooed sometime lesbian".

I had a pet tattooed lesbian once, but that's another story entirely.

Everyone you meet out in the country is so polite. Guns make people behave: Like people.

Danger, is my business.
 

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Going into Colorado from the west I hit one of the no gas zones once and did run out of gas bur I was packing a spare car on a trailer, oddly enough I was almost close enough to the gas station to walk to fill my gas gas can. I would not bother carrying spare gas unless your bike has extremely poor mileage. I have done over 12 cross country trips and you really will do best to travel as lightly as you can and water is more important if you get stuck somewhere out in the open space. Carry plenty of extra water where you would need it if stuck for breakdown.
 

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I've done several x-cross country rides - one from San Diego to Caribou Maine. I've used several bikes from a cb750 to a Harley Road Glide. If I was going again I would encourage you to check the bike over, make sure you start off with new tires, chain and sprockets and a well tuned motorcycle. According to Murphy's Law - what you don't expect to go wrong will. Having road assistance insurance is well advised. Carrying gas is not - if your too stupid to gas up and monitor the mileage then you shouldn't go. I believe in GPS but I'm old school and like to carry maps. I recommend you get a tank bag - they usually have a clear plastic that you can keep your map displayed. I would not recommend you bring every creature comfort you can think of but I would have a flashlight, cell phone and a small assortment of tools and extra bungee cords. I'd also recommend you carry duc tape. You will not believe how useful the tape can be on a trip. My last advice is when you are on the road - keep your street smarts with you. Not everyone will be your friend and being in the wrong place at the wrong time can happen and does. Good luck and have fun -

Last thought - take a small tablet or smart phone with you connected to this site. If you run into a major problem, there is a good chance a member on this form will be near by and be willing to offer assistance...
 

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The gas thing depends on your route. If adventurous (sp?) route in desolare area where you might need to back teack unexpectedly spare range is important.
I would strongly recommend shakedown trips for a weekend. You will feel like a tit when something breaks on day two of your grand journey.
I would carry camping gear (if an on the road trip) only for survival and fair weather fun, ie minimalist cheap gear. Camping is fun but setting a tent, finding firewood, cooking a dinner, sleeping unconfirtably, cooking breakfast, cleaning the site and packing eat a lot if time an energy vs. Motel and diner breakfast.
Speaking of lights, a headlamp is naturally a must.
 

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I have put 100s of thousands of miles on bikes and dont think I'm that stupid and I have run out of gas a couple times on really long trips. If you are highway cruising then yeah you won't be that far away from gas just pay attention and never let it get that low. On long trips when you are in remote areas and not familiar as I was most recently through Canada. You think there must be gas up ahead, 50 miles later there hasn't been anything and you are out of luck. It was nice to be carrying extra fuel at that point.

To be honest though in your situation I wouldn't be carrying fuel, extra weight and it does take up a decent bit of space. On a bike you know how to pack is one thing but on a new bike leave it off.

If camping a nice hammock is great. Mine packs super small and light and I can pull off the road somewhere and sleep practically anywhere. Be sure to bring a good sleeping bag no matter what the camping. You may end up at night on the top of a mountain or in a cold snap and need to stay warm, its really nice in those instances to get a room for the night and dont risk it if you can afford it though.

Practically anything can be had on the road to get you going again and I have tested them all, broken chains, blown tires, out of gas, oil leak, blown headlights etc. Had them all happen sometimes you can carry what you need sometimes you can't best thing to have with you is patience and time. Nothing like having a blown tire and needing to get to the next town for an interview in 30 minutes. No planning in the world can fix that. Realize that things happen and go with the flow.

And last but not least pack fuses and electrical tape. I have spent more time on side of the road with a short and no extra fuses than I have after plowing into a deer and rendering my bike unusable.
 

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No, I was the other one, my girlfriend was the sometimes lesbian. Obviously.

Don't bring a gun, or anything else that might be considered suspect if you happen to get pulled over. Telling mister county sheriff that he can't search you without a warrant isn't really going to help you much, if he really want to search you. Sure, 2 years from now when you and your lawyer get the case to court on appeal the search will get thrown out, but your motorcycle trip will still be ruined. In 1994/95, as I mentioned, we did the trip with no cell phones, on old bikes, on mostly 2 lane rural roads and no one messed with us, and we never got pulled over. Everyone was nice to us, and everyone we stopped to talk to seemed to have a bike when they were younger.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
You guys are awesome... Thanks for all of the advice.

TSwami said:
And last but not least pack fuses and electrical tape. I have spent more time on side of the road with a short and no extra fuses than I have after plowing into a deer and rendering my bike unusable.
Just the kind of wisdom I was hoping for! I wouldn't have thought about it... Thanks a million.

bmartin said:
If I was going again I would encourage you to check the bike over, make sure you start off with new tires, chain and sprockets and a well tuned motorcycle.
Yeah. This is the ticket. I've already got a pre-purchase inspection set up for the bike I'm eyeing. Supposedly it's solid / topped off on maintenance, but having a mechanic do a thorough check/tune will happen before I venture off.

bmartin said:
I believe in GPS but I'm old school and like to carry maps. I recommend you get a tank bag - they usually have a clear plastic that you can keep your map displayed.
Yeah, I was thinking of going this route. I've seen a lot of touring bikes with the little tank fanny pack on top of the tank. That should be perfect.

Anyways, again: I really appreciate everyone's input. Reading this thread is making me even more stoked to give this a shot.

As far as testing the bike before the grand adventure, I'll be riding around the East Coast for a few weeks--short runs--before I head back to Cali. I figure this should be enough to shake loose any kinks and get familiar with her idiosyncrasies.

I'll keep you guys posted as I get closer. Hell, if this all pans out, I'll update with a pic of the bike and bounce my itinerary/routing off of you all.

Cheers!
 

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Go get a pair of cycling shorts. Nothing fancy, just a decent pair. $50-$75. They're cushy, wicking, supportive, etc. Your business will appreciate it. They go on under your pants.;)
Earplugs for sure.
Faceshield cleaner. Microfiber cloth for faceshield & your spectacles.
Electrolyte tablets like NUUN or something. Keeps the noggin' sharp & ready for the kill.
Join AAA & get free maps.
Somewhat insulated safety beer. Gets you over the hump.
Some WWII fighter pilot memoir for reading.


NE
 
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