As I started to write this up, I got carried away. So I'll try this in two threads: prep and then the actual trip.
As noted in my intro, I came late to the street legal motorcycle scene – prior to 2005 I was off road only. But now after about 10 years or so, I enjoy both sides of the pavement. Texting cagers still freak me out, but I assume all are out to get me and so far that has worked.
Fortunately for me, in 2008 I developed a friendship with a Canadian work colleague who was much more hardcore about motorcycling than I was. We started to plan an epic road trip on 2 wheels to the Arctic Ocean and back. It kicked off in June 2009, with most of us on V-Stroms. If interested, that ride report is here: http://advrider.com/index.php?threads/s ... t-10254120
Time for another epic adventure...
After that Alaskan trip, we did a few long rides but nothing on the same scale. One in particular was a ride from Castle Rock, CO to Larry Miller Sports Park in Tooele, UT for AMA racing; then to the Black Hills, and eventually Saskatoon, SK aboard a pair of Ducati 900SS bikes, a 1000 Multistrada and a Victory Vegas Eightball with big bore kit and straight pipes. Yes, we were a motley crew and even mixed it up with a few tornado chasers....
Enter 2014 – conveniently 5 years after Alaska (nice round number). At a work event in Canada with a few beers decimated, we hatch our next long ride. We're going to do the Canadian Maritimes; an idea borrowed from the business owner of my Canadian counterpart who was planning to ride the Trans-Canada Highway from coast to coast. I won’t drag you through all of the iterations of the plan, but it started something like this: We’ll do it on pre-70 bikes. Add that Sturgis 75th Anniversary was in August and the Indy MotoGP is the following week. We’ll do both and then start our journey through the Maritimes. Just a quick note: the year prior we did Indy and rode the track - with virtually no speed limit (only our fear as the guide took off like a bat outta hell). Truly worth it.
Since the rowdys at Sturgis frown on anything not hog-ish – and we are not into loud, chrome ass piercings – we quickly arrived at the only metric "friendly" (at least post 1980 when they were built in the US): the Mighty Goldwing. Unfortunately for me, I did not have the funds nor the time to make it happen in 2014, so it slipped into 2015. And I was intently focused on 1980 – 1982 Goldwings to keep true to the US-built intention, especially if Sturgis was involved. Jeckyll (my Canuck friend) already had a 1975 Goldwing so he was set on that. Various others toyed with going on the trip but talk is cheap.
The Search Begins…
So my Craigslist scouring begins and it’s amazing to me now how many good deals can be had on these bikes. Keep in mind I was looking for a US built bike for the reason mentioned above and I also preferred the look of the factory fairing. After some rather brutal heckling from Jeckyll, I eventually relented and agreed to stick to the Gen 1 era, especially since we decide to ditch both Sturgis and Indy - some of us have to work after all. Along the same time, a longtime friend of mine (we’ll call him the Honeybadger, which will be explained later) expressed an interest in joining – the head count is now 3.
So, I found an interesting C/L ad near a foundry my company owns – how convenient since it’s only 45 mins from work but 1.5 hours from home. It’s for a 1977 Goldwing and he is asking a whopping $850. Before I could get up there, I saw one in Co Springs for $1000 – went to look at it and it was scary. My hopes were diminishing, but I was determined to follow through. I get up to Longmont to check out the $850 bike. The owner had a classic Triumph and another Honda; an elderly gentlemen who seemed to know his stuff. He’d had the bike for at least 30 years and it needed some attention. But you could tell it wasn’t abused or ragged out. Clean title, comforting confidence about its history – SOLD!
While the bike did not run and it wasn’t a beauty queen, it had many upgrades already: 1100 carbs, fork brace, Dyna ignition, Vetter fairing, and hard bags. In addition, plenty of chrome bits and extra parts including side panels. The foot pegs were gone in favor of floor boards and the key to the ignition was different from the storage; tires were dry rotted and deflated and the brakes seemed to stick. No biggie. This is March. The ride is scheduled for late August/early September. Plenty of time...
Well, once I rolled it off into my garage it sat. And sat. And sat. I eventually tightened the intake fittings and added some gas to see if she would fire. It wasn’t until I shot some starter fluid into the intake did she respond. She just would not run on the gas from the tank. To make matters worse, a puddle of gas appeared below the motor after sitting for a few minutes. I hope the tank isn’t porous…I checked the compression (cold) and got a consistent 120 psi – bear in mind my house is at 6,200 feet ASL.
A college friend of mine (Ike) who rides in the DC area learns about the ride via some posts on Facebook. He is interested and wants to know if we are serious: yep, no backing out now. He manages to find a very clean 1978 at a local Harley dealership, believe it or not. $1,500.
Meanwhile, Honeybadger found himself a very clean 1977 within a day’s roundtrip from him (Pittsburgh) for about $2k. It runs and has been well taken care of, with a just a few tweaks needed for the journey. I pushed him to get his endorsement and passport, which took quite a bit of coaxing since he is so dear to money. His ride is a bit more...ahem...of an appearance-focused bike than I like. Especially given the adventure-style trip we are taking.
After researching more about these early Goldwings, I came to the conclusion I just didn’t want to spend more money on the 1100 carb set-up. I couldn’t find any 1000 carbs for sale that I liked or proximate to me, so I decided to do the Weber mod. I just liked the look and wanted to be different so I pull the trigger via Randakk’s (manifolds) and Redline. It is now 21 July. The kickoff date is 29 August near Pittsburgh. Time to get hustling.
Last minute cramming
When the Randakk manifolds arrive complete with instructions, I realize just how involved this project is going to be. I also decide that I will not rely on the factory fuel pump; instead I find a K&N electric fuel pump sized for a task such as this (FYI model 81-0400). I had also ordered 6mm fuel hose, front brake pads, rear brake pads and all of the various other parts I need to complete the carb conversion. Ripping the old carbs, filter and manifolds is tricky but cathartic. I clean and prep the new manifolds with high temp stainless steel paint. I fabricate the brace and other parts for the conversion, customizing it a bit for my ride at the same time (no secondary cable). I opted for the oval face-up air filter – this will haunt me later. I get the front brake cylinders pulled for rebuild. It is now 12 August.
I manage to force a car or two out of my garage so I can command reasonable space to get much further along during the weekend two weeks prior to kickoff. The wheels come off, front brake cylinders go back on. Pulled the rear. Time to get the new meats installed (Heidenau K60 Scouts). Rear brake slave cylinder pulled and pads replaced.
The pressure is now on. It’s weekend prior to departure. Time to put everything together. The new rear tire makes it difficult to reinstall the rear wheel, especially when you leave all of the rear baggage system on. I get everything back together on Sunday the 23rd around 6 pm or so. No carb tuning at all – just installed as she arrived. Just static timing adjustments. Time to take her for a spin around the neighborhood. Ooooh, the carbs sound good...
The brakes work, but not great. I’ve been spoiled by the Ducati….Also the brake lines look dry rotted, but there’s no time for that now. I place an order for SS braids from Randakk’s on the 24th, drop shipping to the Honeybadger’s place for good measure. Now I have to pack for the trip and figure where everything goes. The plan is for me to haul the bike in the back of my pickup to the rendezvous point. But before I get that far, I should take her to work and she how she does on a trip longer than around the block. So on Tuesday, 4 days prior to launch I take her on the 100 mile r/t commute. It’s 60F in the morning and all is well. Coming home however, it’s a record-setting 100F and it seems that I am riding on a furnace. But she makes it - here's the view prior to leaving home.
The 11th Hour
I manage to self-load the beast into the truck and get the KTM in also (facing backward). It’s Wednesday evening and I start my journey east after work – only 1,400 miles to go. Fortunately, the new Ram 1500 Eco-diesel purrs along and the sweet Alpine sound system keeps me going. However with the additional weight, my speed and the Goldwing fairing peaking far above the cab of the truck, my mileage drops to between 16 and 18 mpg. I get to Ambridge late Thursday night – last opp tomorrow to tweak prior to kick off. Jeckyll would arrive in a few hours, having left Saskatoon the same day I left Denver. Ike would roll in later in the evening, a relatively short trip from Washington DC.
Thankfully the braided brake lines were in and I could install them – done quickly and definitely an improvement. I decide to mount by faux Givi top case from the Ducati on the chrome rack for more capacity. But the sissy bar back rest is seized on – time for the sawz-all…. After Jeckyll gets in, he encourages me to check my valve lash. As I pull the left valve cover off, I notice one of the cam clamp bolts (?) was resting against the inside cover – about an inch from being thread engaged at all. That is very bad. Inspecting the others, I find about half are not tight. To make matters fun, Honeybadger is not a mechanic and does not have many tools; but his FIL does. We get an ancient torque wrench (Sunnen PN-50 look it up), tighten the bolts and set the valve clearances – no wonder she ran HOT that day. And yes, I was an idiot for not checking prior. But I get her together and she runs well enough to continue the trip. Certainly couldn’t back out now…
The others were doing their last minutes checks with less issues than I was finding. Honeybadger’s tires were low, his brakes poor but full speed ahead. One critical oversight on his part – he chose to replace the tires with similar street tires. The rest of us knew what awaited on the dirt portion of the trip and had opted for semi-knobbies. After nearly constant ridicule, the Honeybadger was getting nervous about this gross oversight.
Ike had his bike dialed in and was ready to go. Jeckyll was sorted also; or so we thought. You see, Jeckyll is a big guy. He also brings along a CPAP machine and a folding chair big enough to support his manliness (all 350 lbs of it). So, he opts to pull a trailer - not good as I'll show in the ride report. Here are the bikes being worked on the eve of our journey: