Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Crosstourer 2012 (en)

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Crosstourer 2012
A new 2012 adventure bike from Honda.

Honda enters the big adventure bike market in 2012 with the Crosstourer. Actually dominated by the BMW 1200GS, this bike category is getting crowded with the Yamaha's Super Tenere, Ducati's MultiStrada, Triumph's Explorer, KTM's Adventure and others.

Aesthetically speaking, the Crosstourer is in general, a success. However, the front fender that recalls BMW GS style gives a bizarre allure when seen from a  certain angle (Ducati's Multistrada suffers the same annoying aesthetic detail.) The following picture gives an example of that.

Crosstourer 2012 with accessories

I am a little disappointed that there is no skid plate on this second picture. Moreover, it seems the Crosstourer has skipped some weightwatcher sessions: I don't know how its 605 lbs (275 kg) could negatively affect some adventure rides I made this year.  It seems in most cases this bike could pass without an issue, but in some other cases (some sections of the 6th Concession or Beaches Lake rides) the weight surplus would have been difficult to manage. In my opinion, more technical trails will need to be avoided, making me think Honda's offroad pretentions are not very high for the Crosstourer.

The new Crosstourer is an interesting attempt from Honda to enter the big adventure bike market. Unfortunately, this bike misses offroad potential so it will be less attractive to dual sport adventure riders. It will be interesting to watch Youtube next year (2012) to see which road types Crosstourer owners will be willing to try.

Some aspects to verify:
  • weight, probably too heavy for certain road types (level 2);
  • accessories, is there a skid plate available? (yes, see update below);
  • valve adjustment cycle (ideally around 16000 miles or 25000 km);
  • autonomy, at least 180 miles (300 km);
  • oil filter positioning;
  • comfort.
Update February 6, 2012

I made some research and found a picture with a skid plate.


Sunday, December 11, 2011

V-Strom 650 ABS Adventure 2012 (en)

Suzuki proposes a better adventure bike.

+1 to Suzuki for their 650 V-Strom Adventure version.  Added equipments: improved windshied with deflector; superb aluminum side cases; and crash bars.

There is some more standard equipment they could have added to the list to make this bike yet better for adventurers: 1) heated grips, because November mornings are darn cold!, 2) an efficient skid plate.  While digging in Stromtrooper forum I saw this one which looks pretty solid:
One negative point for this bike: the weight, 519 lbs (236 kilos).  This is almost 100 lbs (44 kilos) more than the G650GS Sertão, a direct concurrent.  In some circomstances a lighter bike makes an appreciable difference.

The V-Strom 650 Adventure is only available in black, but with this great look, nobody should complaint.

One last thing, ABS, that's without a doubt a great addition, especially if the bike is ridden offroad.

In conclusion, well done!


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Honda CRF 250L 2012 (en)

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Honda had the good idea to use the CBR250R engine to offer an improved small displacement dual-sport  motorcycle compared to the CRF 230L.

The CRF 250L will soon be presented to the "Tokyo Motor Show".  With this new bike, Honda offers a serious competitor to the Yamaha WR250R and the KLX 250S by Kawasaki.

Of course, the CRF 250L will not break any speed record on the highway but the origin of the engine indicates that it should cope reasonably well. Certainly, this bike will be very easy to maneuver in trails because of its lightness. 

To my humble opinion, the CRF 250L is looking pretty good.  A particularly attractive version with decals and flashy paint is published on visordown.com .

There is little doubt that the CRF 250L will be reliable (Honda = Japanese reliability) and it will make its owner happy for a long time as long as he does not expect too much from the on road capacity of this small bike and he is not a sumo wrestler .

I would be curious to try the CRF 250L in trails I traveled so far more particularly in the rocky section from the Beaches Lake ride  to test its agility.  But I dread the long highway sections that I often had to overcome to go on the trails since wind protection and power on this type of bike is too limited.

To verify:

  • behavior on the highway (over 60 mph / 100 km/h);
  • range of at least 180 miles / 300 km (certainly economic, but what about tank capacity?)
  • valve adjustment cycle (15000 miles / 25000 km on the CBR250R, excellent. But adjustment required after the first 600 miles / 1000 km?)
  • availability of accessories? Choice of luggage? Heated grips?
  • positioning of the oil filter;
  • comfort of the saddle (still comfortable after 30 miles / 40 km?)
  • weight (probably around 270 pounds / 121 kg, no complaints).


Monday, November 21, 2011

Ride Report: Riding Beaches Lake Take 2: 3 of 3

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Part 1  Part 2 Part 3
Nice section of the path

I ended my previous post writing about the difficult section on the rocky path.  Very fortunately, this section of the trail was only about a quarter mile long and the last stretch of the ride in Beach Lake area was gorgeous!

After leaving the rocky section, the following pictures speak for themselves. Many beautiful sections of trail for several miles. I can say without hesitation that this tour was by far the most complete, most beautiful, most difficult, too, but I would do it again tomorrow morning!

Pictures of the last stretch

Nothing compares to riding in a forest 
Easy ride in a quad trail

Lake Hulot

Then I arrived at Lake Hulot.  I met a hunter there who knew this area very well. We talked for a while about the benefits of being in the wilderness to replenish with fresh air and enjoy the exceptional November weather.  He said that there are a multitude of beautiful trails in the area that could even make it to Saguenay (350 miles of trails)!

Ponies and sheep on Boileau road

The trail to Beaches Lake from this point was  perfect in every way.  Since all good things must come to an end, I went back onto plain paved roads. But despite spending 4-5 hours on the trails of the Beaches Lake area, I decided not to follow my initial plan of returning home by provincial roads.  These roads are boring. I returned to the same route from which I came to Beaches Lake, much of which is unpaved.  I took some other pictures, such as those ponies and sheep on Boileau road.

6th concession flooded
When I reached Grenville on the Red, I went back to Scotch road and took the 6th Concession road from the other end (one of the greatest roads I had the pleasure to ride). I have never been able to ride this path in one stretch because of permanent flooding in the mid section.

Next picture was taken from the end of 6th Concession, showing Black Lake.

Black Lake, 6th concession road

Unique view on Black Lake and 6th Concession road
My favorite photo of the ride is the last one: the way to the 6th Concession alongside Black Lake. Riding on that road is really something. The experience is unique.  Even though this path lead to a dead end, it was definitely worth checking out! 

This 8-hour ride seemed very short. I traveled almost 250 miles (400 kilometers) and a lot more off-road than all previous rides. It was the mother of all rides!, the synthesis of all the other rides I made this year with many unexpected discoveries.  It was a great conclusion to my first adventure motorcycling season!

See you soon

The wall

Taking a break @ beaver dam 

Cross on Maskinongé road
Maskinongé River

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Ride Report: Riding Beaches Lake Take 2: 2 of 3

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Part 1  Part 2 Part 3
Part 2 of Beaches Lake ride report. A quick reminder from my previous post, I had to decide whether I would retrace my way back to Beaches Lake or take the road leading to new trails that I had never explored. Obviously, the answer to that question was easy: to retrace my steps?! pfff! rather get run over by a moose

Flooded road
However I had to retrace my steps back at least up to the sand pit, then I took the other trail option.  For a while the road was easy, until I came to this section (see photo) which was completely flooded. Hmm, I never crossed a lake or river of this size so far in my young career as an adventure rider.  I had to see what it was.  The following video shows what I could expect. Finally, not that bad, there was about 12 inches of water. Well, I finally decided to take a chance anyway because the worst that could happen was to fall into the shallow water.

View from the other side
Once engaged in the flooded path, I wanted to put my feet on the footrest of the bike, but the elastic band (which is normally under the foot) of the left side of my riding pants was hooked to the footrest! I got to sit through on the bike with a dangling foot but it went well, still I had a little moment of stress .  I added a picture of the view from the other side of this flooded road.

The photo below shows the trail that I had to go after crossing the flooded section.  Really, the enthusiast adventure rider  paradise! This path was relatively easy to ride, sometimes with a little more difficult sections, but nothing compared to what follows!

Ouch! Rocks!

A field of boulders. I do not particularly appreciate roads made of large rocks. Many reasons: I have not installed a skid plate on my Versys yet, second, I rode a boulder section on a trail before and I found that the level of challenge surpassed the adventure riding pleasure, and finally, stress to break down the oil pan.  I anyway decided to go carefully through this pile of stones, hearing "kling klangs" on my way down the road, but no noticeable damage.

End of this rocky section
Another photo of the end of this unpleasant section.  I worked up a sweat going down this hill, in November dressed as a polar bear.

To be continued...again(Part 3)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Ride Report: Beaches Lake (Lac Des Plages) Take 2: 1 of 3

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Part 1 Part 2  Part 3
Beaches Lake
That's the kind of ride I like! Many unpaved roads in the wilderness, challenges and trails ridden for the first time.

Wednesday, November 9th was a perfect day  for exploring Beaches Lake area in Quebec. The forecast was around 60F and sunny.

Brookdale Road Bridge
To avoid falling into the same trap as my previous attempt to explore Beaches Lake area (I followed all unpaved roads seen on my way), I sticked to the plan closely... or so. I have been deviated from the original plan when I saw this bridge on  Brookdale road. Seeing what was on the other side of this bridge suddenly became a priority. Maybe I'll find some interesting trails? Indeed the trails weren't that bad at all, but I had to turn back, a barrier giving access to the rest of the trail prevented me from continuing.  

Trail across the bridge
Near the path of Sioui
Once in Lake Beach area, the road loses its pavement as soon as taking the fork to Sioui road but it is still fairly easy to ride. You still have to watch out for big trucks loaded with logs that you may encounter coming from the other side.  I came across 2 of those trucks in narrow parts of the road and it was quite impressive.

Beaver dam
As usual, I like to take a break in a quiet place where the chances of seeing wildlife are good. I stopped when I saw this beaver dam on my way. I watched this dam for a while (eating my breakfast), but only saw the beaver living there at the moment of firing the engine to continue this trail (sorry no beaver picture).

Sand Pit at Duhamel junction

After a few miles, I reached this sand pit (see picture) at the Duhamel junction. The first time I went to this area in August I didn't dare to venture myself in the pit, but this time I decided to give it a try. I was surprised again by the Kawasaki Versys - it did quite well in these conditions. I had fun for a good 20-25 minutes in the sand dunes, and I look forward to  return next spring .      

Way towards Duhamel
The next photo shows the kind of road that leads to Duhamel. Unfortunately trees in the middle of November have lost all their leaves, colors are less vivid for photography. In this picture you can see, looking closely, footsteps of a deer.
Duhamel path blocked

Everything was going well towards Duhamel and the adventure ride seemed under control and no surprises until I had to turn around because of construction.  Most likely they were installing a pipe under the road living no places to go across. You can see the pipe in the mirror of the motorcycle in the picture. Hmm, what do I do? Retrace my steps to the Beach Lake or take the other road at the Duhamel junction (sand pit) which leads to other paths that I never rode before?

To be continued (Part 2).