Rod Morris, an excellent all-around multisurface motorcyclist, has been a riding companion to Top Gun’s dynamic tandem duo Pauline Read and Elden Carl for almost 3½ decades. Having long ago formed his own opinions concerning the thousands of miles traveled with Pauline and Elden, Rod decided to get the opinions of a couple of other riders who had also traveled with them in Baja and around the Southwest.
Rod first talked to Bruce Redding, who has won more than a dozen motorcycle, auto, and airplane racing championships. Here’s how their conversation went:
Rod: What do you think of Elden’s all around motorcycle riding ability?
Bruce: He’s the best!
Rod: What about Pauline and Elden’s two-up riding ability on and off road?
Bruce: It’s difficult to get close enough to study their technique.
Rod: You had Elden set up your DR and KLR motorcycles for multisurface riding. How would you rate his bike building and prepping skills?
Bruce: He’s the best!
On another occasion Rod asked ace-motorcyclist and former pro-motocrosser Garry Wright about his experiences riding with Pauline and Elden. Garry’s most vivid memory was being behind them riding off-road as they followed some meandering truck tracks across a mile wide open field south of San Vicente and east of Highway one in Baja. Garry was initially surprised that he was quickly topped out in fourth gear, going about 75-80 mph. Since the truck tracks were packed down decomposed granite, there was very little dust, which allowed him to stay close enough to see the action. Garry used the word “incredible” to describe the fact that despite all the bumps and side motions encountered at high speeds, Pauline never held on to Elden. She kept her hands in the middle of her thighs apparently using her arms as additional shock absorbers. The fact is Pauline almost never holds on to her co-rider, only a hard sideways jarring motion usually caused by rocky conditions would cause her to “grab hold” momentarily in order to stabilize herself.
Lastly, Rod asked Garry what he thought of Elden’s ability to build and set-up street legal multisurface motorcycles. Like Bruce Redding, Garry said, “He’s the best!”
Because of feedback from people like Bruce Redding, Garry Wright, and Rod Morris, Top Gun has decided to ask Elden to describe in detail the changes made to his very special DR’s. This new series of articles will begin soon.
Among other things Elden Carl is a Founding Master of the combat pistol as well as a long time master of multisurface motorcycling. He would be the first to tell you, as he explained to me, that there are three important ingredients needed if one expects to attain the highest level of performance. First, attain the maximum physical condition possible. Secondly, develop all the applicable skills and techniques required. And lastly, acquire the best instrument for the task at hand and then bring it to its highest level of functionality. In other words, the more thorough your preparation the more you are guaranteed the highest level of performance.
Elden purchased his first DR350 and KLR650 in 1990 and his first DR650 in 2002. Since 1990 he has logged:
279,000 miles on KLR650’s
173,000 miles on DR650’s
82,800 miles on DR350’s
Elden developed his spectacular multisurface motorcycles with help from some great component specialists, which we will talk about later. We will begin with a study of the DR650 which was developed with some major input from Top Gun’s Todd Vosper, a retired Marine attack pilot who is currently contracted to help build the new F-35 strike fighter.
Some of the DR650SE items to be studied are as follows:
- Break-in procedure for a new motorcycle for long-term health
- Buchanan’s special wheels and spokes
- EBC light weight discs
- Lightened drive system, including machined parts and 520 drive conversion
- MacDonald’s shifter (why)
- Lowered rear foot pegs
- Lowered chassis
- Lowering links
- Top Gun chain master (upper chain control unit)
- Engine protector
- Left side rack and equipment bag
- Nomadic rear rack
- Top Gun license bracket
- Custom P.P.S./Ohlins rear gas shock
- Suspension and brake lever zerking
- Vey’s top end engine work
- IMS 4.9 gas tank
- Custom seats
- Acerbis front fender
- Neutral sending unit fix (a loose one can blow your engine)
- Right foot peg side stand bracket
- Exhaust system realignment (don’t do this and you may break a header)
- Off-road handlebars
- Handlebar rise (when needed)
- Top Gun tachometer
- Fork cap air bleeders
- Top Gun’s custom replacement rear shock spring
- DR350SEX master cylinder with adjustable lever
- Honda XR650L lightweight mirrors
- Top Gun secondary air filter
- Shorai lightweight battery
- Rake and trail changes
- Permanently attaching the front of the right side cover
Elden will write about Top Gun’s various DR650SE improvements in detail, but not necessarily in the above order. Here at Top Gun our goal is to build the safest, best handling and most reliable motorcycle possible. If your goal is to maximize efficiency and longevity of your DR650SE … stay tuned!