KTM 950 Retrieval Trip, Feb 19 – 21, 2010

So I decid­ed to take a gam­ble and go to Cal­i­for­nia to retrieve the KTM I pur­chased 3 weeks ago. It is a 2006 KTM 950 Adven­ture with 4000 miles on the clock. The weath­er reports looked OK, if not stel­lar, but I have good gear, and I warned my boss that i might not get back into the office first thing mon­day morn­ing. Fri­day flight to SFO and cab ride to Mark’s place, where the beast was being stored went with only the usu­al amount of dra­ma asso­ci­at­ed with air trav­el these days. I had expect­ed to receive extra atten­tion dur­ing the “Secu­ri­ty The­atre” as I was fly­ing on a one-way tick­et, but it was the nor­mal routine.
Upon arriv­ing at Chez Mark, Joe escorts me to the garage and there’s the beast. it’s even orange-er in per­son, if that’s pos­si­ble. And it’s metal­lic orange, with green met­alflake in it! the bike looks exact­ly as described, only bet­ter: this thing is basi­cal­ly brand new! if it had a new back tire on it, you’d swear it was right off the show­room. I’m very pleased, and set about get­ting my GPS and heat­ed gear hooked up, with the help of Joe and his awe­some­ly stocked tool­box. first trick: where do they hide the bat­tery on a KTM 950 Adven­ture? Remove the seat, no not there. peer around next to the air­box, not there. hmm, there seems to be a lot of wiring head­ed towards the front of the skid plate. And the bat­tery ten­der pig­tail is in front of the rear brake lever. remove a cou­ple of bolts, the skid plat piv­ots down and vio­la, the bat­tery. some jig­gery pok­ery to get wires rout­ed (with­out remov­ing the fuel tanks, which looks like a task), some zip-tie mas­tery, and every­thing lights up the way it should. I stuck a piece of dual-lock on the side of the GPS and stuck the heat-troller to it, and we’re good. A quick run to the ship­ping place to send the stock seat and stock wind­screen home, then it’s off on the shake­down cruise, down to Los Altos and back, stop­ping to have din­ner with an old friend I haven’t seen in 20 years. What a cool bike: feels a lot like my old F650, except it han­dles bet­ter and has twice the HP. wheee!

Joe writes down some route sug­ges­tions for me, and Mark primes the cof­fee mak­er. I’m the only one mov­ing at 6:30 Sat­ur­day morn­ing as I pack up and get loaded. I leave a scrawled ‘Thank You’ on the din­ing room table, go out­side and start the bike. It’s only as I’m deploy­ing the sky-crane to get my right boot over the seat that the front door opens and Mark appears, wish­ing me safe trav­els and a thumbs-up. And I’m off. First stop: a lit­tle town called Kent­field to meet a friend for Break­fast. It’s about 45 miles of mixed free­way and city dri­ving, and the bike is pret­ty pleas­ant, it runs well, han­dles pret­ty good, if a lit­tle slow to respond to the tiller, but i put that down to the 21″ front wheel. It does seem a tad-lean on the pilot/needle tran­si­tion in the carbs, hunt­ing a bit at 35mph or so in 2nd/3rd gear.
Break­fast han­dled, I gas up (twin fuel tanks, and both will gush gas back at you if you’re not care­ful how you have the noz­zle point­ed when you pull the trig­ger). I real­ize I have no idea how much fuel it holds, make a note that it’s at least the 4 gal­lons I just put in, and hit the road in earnest, motor­ing up 101 under gray skies. In about 25 miles, my heat-troller is loose, flop­ping around in the wind, and my right earplug is killing me. OK, I can take a hint. I stop in San­ta Rosa, remount the HT (black and white dual lock does­n’t play well togeth­er), repo­si­tion the earplug and motor on. 350 miles of awe­some roads lat­er, with only about 10 min­utes of rain the whole way, I see the sign that says “wel­come to Ore­gon, Michael and Judy, next left”. I motor up to the Giant Road Bur­ri­to and greet Michael and Judy. I think i see a smidgen of bike lust in Michael’s eyes. 🙂

Michael and Judy took great care of me, pro­vid­ing a hot show­er, hot chick­en enchi­ladas, and a nice port to round out the evening. A per­fect way to end a great day of riding.

Sun­day broke grey and damp, but not actu­al­ly rain­ing. A check of the weath­er fore­cast was incon­clu­sive; change of rain most of the way up the Ore­gon coast. A check of the var­i­ous pass­es over the coast range showed no antic­i­pat­ed prob­lems cross­ing over to I‑5 where ever I decid­ed to. I get my stuff packed and while I’m doing that Michael makes me a ‘bronze’ mocha (in hon­or of a fall­en friend: it’s a 20 oz. quad shot mocha); I thanked him and told him that if the bike didn’t start I’d just push it to Gold Beach. “One hand­ed” sez Michael! I “Mocha up” and get ready to go. I get a rec­om­men­da­tion for a restau­rant to check out for break­fast (appar­ent­ly run by an ADV rid­er) and hit the road. It’s about 7:15 AM.
A short ride to Gold Beach, search out the “Bar­na­cle Bistro” only to find it closed. Oh well, back-track to The Cape Café and set­tle in with a cof­fee and the 2‑egg break­fast. As I chow down, the sun breaks out and the sky turns a love­ly blue. I gear up to head out, mak­ing sure to change to the tint­ed shield, and I’m on my way. For the next 3 – 4 hours, I work my way up the coast, from small town to pic­turesque bridge to small town. My GPS says Hwy 18 is the ‘short­est’ route home, and it leads through some of my old stomp­ing grounds, so I go that way. Short­ly after depart­ing the coast, I have my only near-brush with Offi­cer Friend­ly. We are climb­ing up the hills out of New­port, and there’s a ditz in a mini­van doing 53.5MPH in a 55 zone, with 7 – 8 cars backed up behind her. We get to a pass­ing lane, and she camps out in the left lane, so those of us behind (myself and about 6 cars) pro­ceed to go around on the right. As soon as I’m clear, I shift left and get on it, hop­ing to get out of the clot of cages for the run to the sum­mit. As we round a sweep­ing right-han­der, with me pulling out in front the pack, at about 80 per, I spot Mr. friend­ly parked in the turn-out, with his tes­ti­cle-toast­er hang­ing out the win­dow. I gen­tly roll off the gas, as does every­one around me. Whew, no way he’s going to be able to pick me out of that pack. We gen­tly motor past and my heart rate returns to normal.

The rest of the trip was unevent­ful, with two notable events; while stopped for my final gas stop in Chehalis, I put the hel­met on the mir­ror (yes, I know bet­ter; I was get­ting tired) so I could move the bike away from the pump, and while push­ing it, the hel­met bails and lands face-shield down on the tar­mac. ARRRGGG! Oh well, that shield was ready for replac­ing any­way. And the sun’s almost down, so I swapped it out for the clear one that I took off over 350 miles ago. Upon arriv­ing home, I dis­cov­er that I also cracked the side cov­er on the hel­met, so I’ll have to fix or replace that. The oth­er note­wor­thy event, even though whol­ly pre­dictable, was the speed at which the tem­per­a­ture dropped after the sun went down; with no cloud cov­er to hold heat in, the mer­cury plum­mets! And I dis­cov­ered that the heat­ed grips on this bike are ‘cal­i­for­nia’ heat­ed grips: Ok for tak­ing the morn­ing chill off, but not up to the job of keep­ing your hands warm in the north­west in febu­rary. I arrived home about 7:23 PM, feel­ing a bit tired but not beat up in any way and very pleased with my purchase.

keep those feet up, and the rub­ber side down.

About the Author

Jim Harriger

1 Comment

  1. Don Cookson

    Jim, I Enjoy the blog, the tri­als reports and your lat­est ktm adven­ture post. Hope to get to a tri­al this year. thanks for shar­ing your expe­ri­ences. Don Cookson

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