Timbo Lewis is Argentina Bound

Tim Lewis, citizen of Arkansas and the world has called me several times concerning long distance MSM motorcycles. We decided a pre-‘08 KLR650 properly set-up would be best for his trip from Arkansas to Argentina via our house in La Mesa (near San Diego). Unfortunately the late model used KLR650 that he had purchased came with a screwed-up carburetor. The “Dyna-Jet” tuning complete with drilled out air box was running rich and delivering poor gas mileage.

 The greatest potential trouble will come when Tim traverses high mountains like the ones in Peru. Fortunately he possesses the stock needle and main jet. I advised him to plug up all the holes in the air box and go back to stock jetting if he gets into trouble. The factory jetting not only gives good mileage numbers, but our KLR650s run decent even when Pauline and I have been 2-up traversing 11 to 12 thousand foot Colorado passes.

 The factory recommends going to a 145 main (stock is 148) and going down one size on the pilot when operating consistently above 4,000 feet. If you live in Denver and never go below 4,000 feet, that’s the jetting Kawasaki recommends.

 It’s a shame that so many flat-landers turn their KLRs into gas guzzling smog pumpers more akin to lawn mowers than motorcycles.

 Pauline and I just came back from a 500 plus mile Baja ride (dirt and pavement) with Rod Morris and Mike Henshaw, both of whom were tuned stock with “Uni” air filters. Pauline and I (335 lbs) geared 15/47 and dragging bags got 46.3 mpg for the trip while Rod geared 15/45 (also dragging bags) got slightly over 50 mpg. I didn’t get Mike’s numbers, but I would guess they were similar to Rod’s.

 If you want poor running in the mountains, poor gas mileage and early valve failure due to carbon build up, then the overly rich jetting maybe for you. If not, install a “Uni” filter and be happy.

 Getting back to Tim’s KLR650. It turned out it needed more than a new chain, sprockets, tires and tubes. We had to fix the goofy center stand; you know, the heavy one that hangs low, rides on the “Uni-Trak” lever and shears off foot peg bolts. We installed beefed up foot peg bolts and had Tim practice not coming back too hard when using the stand.

 All in all we spent three days on Tim’s KLR and were able to fix several things that would likely have caused big trouble for him on the way to Argentina.

I’ve had a string of long distance riders and other KLR650s in my garage. Avi Fishali and his three Israeli buddies who made it from our house to the tip of South America. Greg Frazier, one of the first KLR650 world travelers. I was a consultant for Richard Kikkbush of Canada who was traversing the globe the same time as Frazier.  Mariola Chachon, 
who was badly hurt in Africa.  Mel Clark who has over 100,000 miles traveling the North American Continent and is now traveling in South America on a new ‘07 KLR650 set up 
by Top Gun/MMP.

Tim Lewis is a good guy, but his is the last long distance KLR650 I’ll work on unless Top Gun sets it up from scratch. Straightening out someone else’s mess is not my idea of fun.

Fortunately Tim’s KLR was not carrying too much weight up front especially after we got rid of the tool tube. The lack of nerf bars, fork brace, heavy tank panniers, heavy aluminum engine protectors and other such items will help Tim stay upright in the slippery stuff.

Tim rode with Rod Morris, Mike Henshaw and Pauline and me (2 up) the first day to Ensenada through the Baja mountains. He made it to Ojos Negros (near Ensenada) over the El Compadre dirt road in its worst condition ever without dropping the heavy KLR650. Tim admitted that he had some close calls in the sand and ruts but we assured him he was unlikely to find conditions as bad if he stayed on the main roads. We were impressed that Tim could carry a top case, plastic side boxes and all that camping gear and still make it to Ojos. Not having a bunch of weight up front helped a lot.

Good luck Timbo Lewis. P.S.We know you’ll like the 15/44 gearing. The 16 tooth sprocket has gone out with the trash.


Bikers & Friends, (by Mike Henshaw)

Well, I’m back in the states safe & sound after two brief trips to various northern Baja locales.  Interesting acquaintance Tim (Lewis) joined us for our group’s 1st day of riding parting company early 2nd day on his way from Arkansas to Argentina to check out a job opportunity there coaching Rugby.  Tim’s a veteran U.S. Marine, has lived and worked as a stone mason in New Zealand where his fiancée resides, and was in El Cajon, Ca. for about a week where our local rider-mentor Elden Carl helped prep his bike for the ride of a life-time over the 10,000 foot plus Andes mountains.  Best of luck & God speed Tim!

Our 1st trip was four days & three nights starting in Tecate hitting the dirt ~ 80 miles across hills & valleys of the El Compadre to overnight in the Hotel Balboa of Ensenada.  2nd day down to the very scenic mountainous Melling Ranch, then on to overnight in coastal town San Quintin.  3rd day heading northward off-road ~ 30 miles along the coast to see the shipwreck and Bay of Colonet before overnight Hotel Balboa Ensenada again.  Hotel Balboa is not in the tourist area, but local part of town, quite clean by Mexico’s standards with bottled water and reasonably priced.  4th day back across the mountains canyon carving Hwy-3 pavement to Tecate & home.

2nd 2-day trip began again in Tecate down Hwy 3 to Valley Guadalupe before ~ 40 mountain scenic off-road miles to La Mision then overnighting Ensenada.  2nd day eastward Hwy 3 before ~ 100 miles off road through partly forested remote mountainous terrain by way of Laguna Hanson through Mexico’s very scenic Nat’l Constitution Park before returning home again through Tecate.

Highlights: Of course spectacular scenery!  An unfortunate fatality seen carried by emergency personnel straddled in a blanket feet hanging out within the median of a busy morning 4-lane suburban highway as we exited southward out of Ensenada.  The 18-inch garter snake I accidentally stepped on upon exiting the shower of the San Quintin hotel, the place was clean and well kept but inspection revealed it must have entered through a 1/2 inch gap under the front door.  Riding partner & roommate Rod Morris promptly caught it in a bathroom trash basket transporting it to a more appropriate exterior landscape environment while I rolled up a towel to block any further unwanted visitors.  Elden Carl & wife Pauline in an adjacent room disposed of a mouse found in their bathroom the same night.

Then there was the local fast talking young man in the Nat’l Constitution Park who was so proud to show us his acquired mountain lion pawl stretching as long as my own hand with about 1-inch claws.  Same guy had a stuffed bobcat and posters of Poncho Villa & Bob Marley on display in his small 1-room beverage snack business located miles from civilization deep within the Constitution Park with a couple of rudimentary cabin rooms rentable to visitors, hot water was available by wood fire.

Regrets: None!  Except possibly to take more than just 10 photos next time, but then again I was having so much fun just soaking up miles of terrain both on and off road.

I’d like to mention between the 2 Baja trips, Elden Carl & I explored on 2 separate days new dirt road between Tecate and Boulevard created by the border fence under construction.  Worth checking out, what’s significant is the border is a straight line resulting in some newer dirt road sections following the fence up & down in roller coaster fashion producing exceptionally exhilarating riding!  What’s better is there’s even more to come as construction progresses towards completion.  But be advised, the Border Patrol doesn’t mind sharing as long as you stay to your side of the road at blind spots to avoid on-coming vehicles, especially if they’re in pursuit.

Thanks for your interest in our adventure.  Hope you enjoyed reading as much as we did doing.