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2008 Sprint ST, 2004 Suzuki SV650, 1974 Yamaha RD350
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8 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Prelude
I bought a '08 Sprint ST in early March, I'd been casually looking for the right deal on one for about a year, and was super excited about the price and condition on this one. The only challenge was that I bought the bike on a business trip in Arizona, and I live in Wisconsin. I was able to stash the bike in a local friend's garage while I made a plan to bring the bike home. After getting a couple of shipping quotes, it was clear that riding home would be way cheaper, and way more fun. I flew home with the bike safely stored and started working on my retrieval plan.

After a short stint at home, I went back out to AZ on a two week trip. The plan was to commute on the bike during the business part of the trip as a shakedown, and ride home at the end.

The bike ran great during the first part of the trip, which covered ~1000 miles between commuting and a day trip from Lake Havasu City to Jerome AZ. The only issue encountered was a leaky fork seal, which was temporarily addressed by making a knock-off seal saver from some scrap plastic packaging. I also really fell in love with the center stand, I've never had one before, but it's amazing. I've always been bad about chain maintenance, but not anymore now that it's so easy!.

I'm not going to recap the ride to Jerome and back, but I do highly recommend AZ 89 from Congress to Prescott, and AZ 89A into Jerome. Hands down some of the best sport riding I've experienced.

My main concern after the prologue was watching the rear tire wearing down quickly. I was checking it every day, and expected to have enough life to get home, I thought about fitting a new set of shoes before heading east, but I didn't want to take the time.

Day 1 (Thursday) - Lake Havasu City, AZ to Williams, AZ
After weeks of anticipation, it was finally time to start riding home! I hit the road after work on a relatively short leg over to Williams AZ. With the goal of making this trip as interesting as possible, I tried to avoid the interstate where I could. I rode on what was left of Rt. 66 for as much of this leg as possible. It was interesting and somewhat bittersweet passing through different towns, some of which were dried up remains, and some of which were still fairly active as tourist spots. Proximity to the interstate was definitely a factor in keeping the more lively towns, as is the number of attractions besides Rt. 66 tourism nearby.

The highlight for this day was the collection of cars and bikes parked at a gift shop in Seligman, including an old BSA single that looks to have been chained in place for a couple decades. I found it foreboding that the first (and only) other British bike I saw on the trip was a long dead BSA Single (not knowing the model really bothered me, after looking at many images online, I'm pretty sure it's a C11 1951-1956 that was bobbed).

752443

The only other British bike I saw during this trip

I got into Williams as the sun was setting, grabbed a late dinner and went to bed in anticipation of a long day (it turned out every day was a long day).

Day 2 (Friday) - Williams, AZ to Durango, CO
The route for the day was to head straight north up to the Grand Canyon, ride east along the south rim and out of the park, and then take US 160 past four corners and into Durango.

This was my first time seeing the Grand Canyon at ground level after flying over many times. It looks so much more impressive from the rim than at 35,000', I thought I was prepared for it and found myself completely in awe. This was also my first experience in a busy tourist area on a bike with luggage and out of town license plates, the number of comments and encouragement from other folks at each overlook was awesome. The best was a rider on a Gold Wing that passed by while I was parked, and then caught up with me at my next stop to talk about how much he missed his old Tiger and how 1050 is just a peach.

752444

My new baby at the Grand Canyon

Heading out of the park towards Four Corners, I was amazed at the variety of landscapes traversing the desert. It's something that delights me every time I do a road trip out west, watching the colors and textures of the scenery change every 50-100 miles.

The monument at Four Corners was closed due to covid, which makes sense since my understanding is that the main activity is to stand in line and take a picture (like replacing a mall Santa with a marker on the ground). Even though it's an arbitrarily picked location, I've been fascinated by the concept of this place since I was a kid. Now that I've been close, my conclusion is that I want to spend more time in that area, but exploring the natural features, not the man made ones. That said I did stop to take pictures at the New Mexico/Colorado border to checkout an arbitrary line since I couldn't checkout an arbitrary point.

I made it into Durango a little bit before sunset, parked at the hotel, and took a long walk to stretch my legs and find some dinner. I wound up eating out on a patio on Main Ave watching folks cruise through town in a mix of Subarus, work trucks, and overlanding rigs. It really satisfied my mental image of Colorado as cowboys and action sports. On a side note, one advantage of ending every day slightly cold from hopping off the bike was that I felt warm as soon as I stopped moving, so eating outside on patios was an easy and comfortable choice.

Day 3 (Saturday) - Durango, CO to Colorado Springs, CO
This was the best riding day of the trip, and the one I'd been most looking forwards to (and nervously checking the weather for). I rode up Million Dollar Highway (US 550) from Durango to Montrose, CO. Went a little further north to catch CO 92 and follow the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, meeting with US 50 to head east over the continental divide at Monarch Pass, then down into Colorado Springs.

Million Dollar Highway was a joy, the most technical riding of the trip by far. I really lucked out on conditions, there was still plenty of snow at elevations over ~8000' but the road was clean and dry. I stopped at a few overlooks up in the mountains to ogle the scenery (and watch some back country skiers doing their thing). I found parking to be necessary to really appreciate the scale of the environment. On the basis that "you go where you look" I didn't want to be looking over big drop-offs while in motion!

752445

Stopped on Million Dollar Highway (Engineer Mountain in the background)

I stopped in Silverton CO for a cup of coffee and ran into a small group of riders that I'd seen in Arizona the day before. It really is amazing how small the world can be even out in vast spaces.

CO 92 was another fun road with some big drops and great views. I stopped to take a short hike following the Hermit's Rest trail down to the Gunnison river from the highway, but I only went maybe halfway before turning back trying to manage my time and avoid riding in the dark. Also because it's a cruel trick to start a hike going down hill with a big climb back to the trail head, it felt easy and like a great idea until I turned around.

I hit my highest elevation of the trip at Monarch Crest, where it was quite cold and large parts of the road were covered in shadow. In another season I'm sure it's an awesome ride through there, on that particular day I got to the top and was very interested in getting back down. I stopped long enough at the crest to add one more layer of clothing and check out an old FWD truck with a giant snow blower attachment on the front and then started on my way down.

The ride on US 50 headed east out of Salida was the best road of the trip from a perspective of pure joy and amazement. The road follows the Arkansas river very closely with enough twists and turns to be engaging and fun, but not so demanding that there wasn't time to look around. Riding in the bottom of the river valley I was smiling every time I came around a corner to reveal a beautiful new set of scenery.

When I got to my hotel and got to my ritual chain lube and tire inspection, I was shocked to find cord showing on the tire, which had still been slightly above the wear bars 400 miles earlier. After kicking myself slightly I ordered some delivery pasta to the hotel and started checking hours of bike shops in town.

Day 4 (Sunday) - Colorado Springs, CO to Lafayette, CO
My original plan for this day was to go as far up Pike's Peak as was open (the summit was closed) then head up to Lafayette CO for my shortest day of the trip and a bit of a rest. Unfortunately that wasn't an option due to the tire situation. The Cycle Gear in Colorado Springs was the best option I could find for getting back on the road on the same day. The new challenge was that they could only mount and balance the tire if I brought them the wheel already off the bike.

I had a brand new 46mm socket waiting for me at home in Wisconsin (I'd been planning a tire swap as soon as I got home), but had no such thing on hand in Colorado. I called up the local O'Reilly to see if they had anything that large in a loaner toolset, but no such luck. I asked about a 1 13/16" socket and was told they had one on the shelves for purchase. So I checked out of the hotel and headed over to the O'Reilly, just to find out that the counter person thought I'd asked for a 1 3/16", heartbreaking stuff.

It turned out that they could get a 1 13/16" from their distribution center in Denver by midafternoon. The backup plan had been to ride out to a truck stop on the assumption that they'd have a proper sized socket, then take a long Lyft back into town to the Cycle Gear. Spending a few hours bumming around Colorado Springs waiting for the socket seemed like a better bet, so I ordered the socket and took a walk over to Cycle Gear to make sure they had staff on hand to do a mount and balance in the afternoon. I got a tire on hold with them and then hit the streets to kill a few hours. I took a walk, grabbed some coffee, checked out an e-bike from the local bike share (my first e-bike ride, pretty fun), and loitered at the Greyhound station under I-25 just because it was a place to get out of the sun.

The socket was supposed to be in at 1:30, so I got back to O'Reilly around 1:00 eager to start making some progress. The guys at the counter were cool with me loitering around in the parking lot waiting on the dispatch truck which came right on time. I had to buy a new 3/4" breaker bar to go with the socket, which I threw in my top case and headed up to the Cycle Gear. I didn't expect my souvenir from this trip to be tools, but I can't complain.

There wasn't any flat parking near the store, so I rode around the neighborhood before finding a relatively flat spot in front of someone's house and popped the bike up on the center stand and tried to do the dance of holding the rear brake and breaking the rear wheel nut loose. I couldn't quite manage it, I'm nut sure if the nut had been over-torqued, or if it had just been a long time since it had broken loose (the tires on the bike had 2011 date codes), but it was on there good. I wound up asking a couple of ladies that were hanging out nearby if one of them could help by holding the brakes. Dividing up the efforts did the trick and I was able to finally break the nut loose. I thanked them for their help, and one of them thanked me for "letting them be part of my experience." As far as I can tell you meet the nicest people on a Triumph, or maybe that's Colorado in general.

752446

About to go to Cycle Gear, note the cord showing on the old rear tire. My new friends were picnicking under that tree before helping me out.

After that the tire swap went smooth (again, the center stand is an amazing luxury) and I was able to get back on the road, taking a much less exciting route up to Lafayette on the expressway through Denver. I got a drink and some very good food truck Mexican before settling into bed early, my plan for the next day was to start riding early and attempt to do an Iron Butt Association Saddle Sore 1000 (1000 miles in 24 hours) back to Milwaukee.

Day 5 (Monday) - Lafayette, CO to Milwaukee, WI
My alarm went off at 4:45, and I checked the temperature, 31°! I bundled up with a pullover, light jacket, long johns, jeans, and a balaclava underneath my normal riding gear and was out the door by 5:00. My first tank of gas was the hardest riding of the trip, I was hugging the tank to try and stay down in the bubble, and taking turns reaching one hand at a time down into the fairing to warm up against the cylinder. The previous owner installed a bar end throttle lock, which in general I'm not a fan of, but it really made this part of the ride possible. Without the ability to warm up my right hand I would have been pulled over waiting for the sun to come up.

After it warmed up I was able to settle into a groove and just kept rolling getting ~130-160 miles between fill-ups. I was pleasantly surprised that Nebraska was not dead flat, there was enough elevation and scenery to at least know that I was moving. The only real challenge at this point was a strong crosswind out of the north, at times I was riding at maybe 5-10° of lean to the left just to keep going straight. It was persistent enough that I was starting to get sore in my neck and upper back from constantly leaning to one side, and was almost enough of an issue to stop, but I lucked out and the wind clocked around to come from behind shortly after crossing into Iowa.

In the end I did 1,039 miles to get home in about 14.5 hours. My longest stop was just shy of 30 minutes for lunch and a cup of coffee. Otherwise I was pretty much riding or fueling the whole way.

I would consider doing another Saddle Sore 1,000 if a similar situation came up where I needed to get between two points spanning that distance, but I wouldn't do it for fun. I have a lot of respect for folks that do this regularly, but having tried it once, it's not my cup of tea.

Epilogue
All in all, I'm loving the bike, and the trip went much smoother than I would have guessed for buying a 13 year old bike, giving it a minimal inspection, and riding 3,000 miles in 2.5 weeks. I'm writing this a few days later, my neck and left shoulder are almost back to normal and I've compiled a maintenance and modification list for the bike with my lessons learned.

Definite To-Do
  • New fork seals, the one I cleaned in Arizona started weeping again on the last day of the trip
  • Oil and filter change
  • New front tire

Maybe To-Do
  • Heavier fork oil filled a little higher? I'm happy with my ability to keep the front end composed trail braking into a corner, controlling rebound with a smooth brake release, I'm not thrilled with the feeling in corners entered without braking. I'm not looking for a big change in performance, just a little bit stiffer with more rebound damping
  • New bar ends without the throttle lock, I've accidentally twisted it on a couple times holding the throttle out where my part of my palm is on it, while it hasn't been a big deal, it still makes me uncomfortable
  • New bushings in the forks just because it's an easy/cheap job while I'm doing seals (and would help get a clean baseline before doing any other suspension tweaks)
  • Lower bars from an earlier model year, I find the posture to be quite upright, and the reach to the bars a bit close tucking into the bubble, I think being down a little would help
 

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2016 Diablo Red Thruxton 1200 R
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742 Posts
Wow that was a motorcycle adventure for sure. Yeh that tire had to b changed out ASAP, how lucky it didn’t blow before u noticed. Thnx u so much for taking the time to share with us all, I am going to read it again, great write up my man! ..... FTG
 

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Premium Member
2004 Daytona 955i, 2018 Indian Roadmaster, 1980 CB650C in resto
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17,801 Posts
I've ridden most of those roads. You had one heck of a great route. And nothing adds to the adventure like having to get an unexpected tire change!

And congratulations on getting one of the best looking sportbikes ever!

Your story inspired me to give in to the "heck, let's go to Ouray this weekend." Then I looked up the forecast; you lucked out. It's supposed to be a high of 39, low of 17F this weekend.
 

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2019 Speedmaster
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145 Posts
F'ing AWESOME write-up! Travelogue and commentary extraordinaire! (And what a ride, and bike, nice!!)
 

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Driftless Admin
2008 Bonneville Black
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12,242 Posts
Thank you @SomeCallMeTim, that was an excellent read. Good job on dealing with the tire, and it didn't cost you that much time. Glad you like that bike, I'm a bit jealous of it.

"Thanks for letting me be part of the experience", awesome. Best part of traveling is meeting cool people, and reminding myself that the stuff on TV isn't really giving me a good vision of what this country is. Better to get out there and see it first hand.
 

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162 Posts
I really enjoyed sharing your adventure from your writing about it. Thanks for taking the trouble. The road numbers don't mean anything to me but I did ride to North rim of the grand canyon on a GS425 a long time ago. And the tyre change meant you met me people. The spokes on the rear wheel of the GS425 started breaking (too much on the back of the bike) so I got to relace it on s campsite after having a spare wheel shipped out from a breaker in last Vegas. Meet some very friendly campers in the process.
It was part of a cheapskate tour of the USA, including from Canada thorough Iowa Dakota Colorado Utah Nevada California. I think I got that right. It was 30 years ago. I could imagine some of what you saw. Also, the elevation changes and scale of the terrain were spectacular. Like the weird experience of riding through the plains at a decent lick but feeling like I was not moving at all because there was so little change in the scenery. It's a different kind of big, no less impressive in its own way. So I got it when you wrote about Nebraska not being quite like that. Never been to Nebraska but your account and that album by the boss makes me want to see it before I die.
The elevation changes in Colorado are hard to describe from a European perspective. The GS425 coped amazingly but was not carburetting too well on the high passes. How did your fuel injection cope?
Anyway, thanks for helping to bring back some amazing memories. Life is what is happening in between the goals people set for themselves. Your goal of getting a new bike home meant you found a fair amount of living in the process.
Ride safe.
LeT

p.s. change your coolant too :)
 

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2008 Sprint ST, 2004 Suzuki SV650, 1974 Yamaha RD350
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8 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for the kind words everyone!

@LeT sourcing a wheel from a breaker and having it shipped sounds like a much bigger challenge than mine. I'm just old enough to have traveled without a smart phone, and to be grateful at how easy it was to check hours and inventory while the shops were closed on a Saturday night.
 

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Registered
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4 Posts
Prelude
I bought a '08 Sprint ST in early March, I'd been casually looking for the right deal on one for about a year, and was super excited about the price and condition on this one. The only challenge was that I bought the bike on a business trip in Arizona, and I live in Wisconsin. I was able to stash the bike in a local friend's garage while I made a plan to bring the bike home. After getting a couple of shipping quotes, it was clear that riding home would be way cheaper, and way more fun. I flew home with the bike safely stored and started working on my retrieval plan.

After a short stint at home, I went back out to AZ on a two week trip. The plan was to commute on the bike during the business part of the trip as a shakedown, and ride home at the end.

The bike ran great during the first part of the trip, which covered ~1000 miles between commuting and a day trip from Lake Havasu City to Jerome AZ. The only issue encountered was a leaky fork seal, which was temporarily addressed by making a knock-off seal saver from some scrap plastic packaging. I also really fell in love with the center stand, I've never had one before, but it's amazing. I've always been bad about chain maintenance, but not anymore now that it's so easy!.

I'm not going to recap the ride to Jerome and back, but I do highly recommend AZ 89 from Congress to Prescott, and AZ 89A into Jerome. Hands down some of the best sport riding I've experienced.

My main concern after the prologue was watching the rear tire wearing down quickly. I was checking it every day, and expected to have enough life to get home, I thought about fitting a new set of shoes before heading east, but I didn't want to take the time.

Day 1 (Thursday) - Lake Havasu City, AZ to Williams, AZ
After weeks of anticipation, it was finally time to start riding home! I hit the road after work on a relatively short leg over to Williams AZ. With the goal of making this trip as interesting as possible, I tried to avoid the interstate where I could. I rode on what was left of Rt. 66 for as much of this leg as possible. It was interesting and somewhat bittersweet passing through different towns, some of which were dried up remains, and some of which were still fairly active as tourist spots. Proximity to the interstate was definitely a factor in keeping the more lively towns, as is the number of attractions besides Rt. 66 tourism nearby.

The highlight for this day was the collection of cars and bikes parked at a gift shop in Seligman, including an old BSA single that looks to have been chained in place for a couple decades. I found it foreboding that the first (and only) other British bike I saw on the trip was a long dead BSA Single (not knowing the model really bothered me, after looking at many images online, I'm pretty sure it's a C11 1951-1956 that was bobbed).

View attachment 752443
The only other British bike I saw during this trip

I got into Williams as the sun was setting, grabbed a late dinner and went to bed in anticipation of a long day (it turned out every day was a long day).

Day 2 (Friday) - Williams, AZ to Durango, CO
The route for the day was to head straight north up to the Grand Canyon, ride east along the south rim and out of the park, and then take US 160 past four corners and into Durango.

This was my first time seeing the Grand Canyon at ground level after flying over many times. It looks so much more impressive from the rim than at 35,000', I thought I was prepared for it and found myself completely in awe. This was also my first experience in a busy tourist area on a bike with luggage and out of town license plates, the number of comments and encouragement from other folks at each overlook was awesome. The best was a rider on a Gold Wing that passed by while I was parked, and then caught up with me at my next stop to talk about how much he missed his old Tiger and how 1050 is just a peach.

View attachment 752444
My new baby at the Grand Canyon

Heading out of the park towards Four Corners, I was amazed at the variety of landscapes traversing the desert. It's something that delights me every time I do a road trip out west, watching the colors and textures of the scenery change every 50-100 miles.

The monument at Four Corners was closed due to covid, which makes sense since my understanding is that the main activity is to stand in line and take a picture (like replacing a mall Santa with a marker on the ground). Even though it's an arbitrarily picked location, I've been fascinated by the concept of this place since I was a kid. Now that I've been close, my conclusion is that I want to spend more time in that area, but exploring the natural features, not the man made ones. That said I did stop to take pictures at the New Mexico/Colorado border to checkout an arbitrary line since I couldn't checkout an arbitrary point.

I made it into Durango a little bit before sunset, parked at the hotel, and took a long walk to stretch my legs and find some dinner. I wound up eating out on a patio on Main Ave watching folks cruise through town in a mix of Subarus, work trucks, and overlanding rigs. It really satisfied my mental image of Colorado as cowboys and action sports. On a side note, one advantage of ending every day slightly cold from hopping off the bike was that I felt warm as soon as I stopped moving, so eating outside on patios was an easy and comfortable choice.

Day 3 (Saturday) - Durango, CO to Colorado Springs, CO
This was the best riding day of the trip, and the one I'd been most looking forwards to (and nervously checking the weather for). I rode up Million Dollar Highway (US 550) from Durango to Montrose, CO. Went a little further north to catch CO 92 and follow the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, meeting with US 50 to head east over the continental divide at Monarch Pass, then down into Colorado Springs.

Million Dollar Highway was a joy, the most technical riding of the trip by far. I really lucked out on conditions, there was still plenty of snow at elevations over ~8000' but the road was clean and dry. I stopped at a few overlooks up in the mountains to ogle the scenery (and watch some back country skiers doing their thing). I found parking to be necessary to really appreciate the scale of the environment. On the basis that "you go where you look" I didn't want to be looking over big drop-offs while in motion!

View attachment 752445
Stopped on Million Dollar Highway (Engineer Mountain in the background)

I stopped in Silverton CO for a cup of coffee and ran into a small group of riders that I'd seen in Arizona the day before. It really is amazing how small the world can be even out in vast spaces.

CO 92 was another fun road with some big drops and great views. I stopped to take a short hike following the Hermit's Rest trail down to the Gunnison river from the highway, but I only went maybe halfway before turning back trying to manage my time and avoid riding in the dark. Also because it's a cruel trick to start a hike going down hill with a big climb back to the trail head, it felt easy and like a great idea until I turned around.

I hit my highest elevation of the trip at Monarch Crest, where it was quite cold and large parts of the road were covered in shadow. In another season I'm sure it's an awesome ride through there, on that particular day I got to the top and was very interested in getting back down. I stopped long enough at the crest to add one more layer of clothing and check out an old FWD truck with a giant snow blower attachment on the front and then started on my way down.

The ride on US 50 headed east out of Salida was the best road of the trip from a perspective of pure joy and amazement. The road follows the Arkansas river very closely with enough twists and turns to be engaging and fun, but not so demanding that there wasn't time to look around. Riding in the bottom of the river valley I was smiling every time I came around a corner to reveal a beautiful new set of scenery.

When I got to my hotel and got to my ritual chain lube and tire inspection, I was shocked to find cord showing on the tire, which had still been slightly above the wear bars 400 miles earlier. After kicking myself slightly I ordered some delivery pasta to the hotel and started checking hours of bike shops in town.

Day 4 (Sunday) - Colorado Springs, CO to Lafayette, CO
My original plan for this day was to go as far up Pike's Peak as was open (the summit was closed) then head up to Lafayette CO for my shortest day of the trip and a bit of a rest. Unfortunately that wasn't an option due to the tire situation. The Cycle Gear in Colorado Springs was the best option I could find for getting back on the road on the same day. The new challenge was that they could only mount and balance the tire if I brought them the wheel already off the bike.

I had a brand new 46mm socket waiting for me at home in Wisconsin (I'd been planning a tire swap as soon as I got home), but had no such thing on hand in Colorado. I called up the local O'Reilly to see if they had anything that large in a loaner toolset, but no such luck. I asked about a 1 13/16" socket and was told they had one on the shelves for purchase. So I checked out of the hotel and headed over to the O'Reilly, just to find out that the counter person thought I'd asked for a 1 3/16", heartbreaking stuff.

It turned out that they could get a 1 13/16" from their distribution center in Denver by midafternoon. The backup plan had been to ride out to a truck stop on the assumption that they'd have a proper sized socket, then take a long Lyft back into town to the Cycle Gear. Spending a few hours bumming around Colorado Springs waiting for the socket seemed like a better bet, so I ordered the socket and took a walk over to Cycle Gear to make sure they had staff on hand to do a mount and balance in the afternoon. I got a tire on hold with them and then hit the streets to kill a few hours. I took a walk, grabbed some coffee, checked out an e-bike from the local bike share (my first e-bike ride, pretty fun), and loitered at the Greyhound station under I-25 just because it was a place to get out of the sun.

The socket was supposed to be in at 1:30, so I got back to O'Reilly around 1:00 eager to start making some progress. The guys at the counter were cool with me loitering around in the parking lot waiting on the dispatch truck which came right on time. I had to buy a new 3/4" breaker bar to go with the socket, which I threw in my top case and headed up to the Cycle Gear. I didn't expect my souvenir from this trip to be tools, but I can't complain.

There wasn't any flat parking near the store, so I rode around the neighborhood before finding a relatively flat spot in front of someone's house and popped the bike up on the center stand and tried to do the dance of holding the rear brake and breaking the rear wheel nut loose. I couldn't quite manage it, I'm nut sure if the nut had been over-torqued, or if it had just been a long time since it had broken loose (the tires on the bike had 2011 date codes), but it was on there good. I wound up asking a couple of ladies that were hanging out nearby if one of them could help by holding the brakes. Dividing up the efforts did the trick and I was able to finally break the nut loose. I thanked them for their help, and one of them thanked me for "letting them be part of my experience." As far as I can tell you meet the nicest people on a Triumph, or maybe that's Colorado in general.

View attachment 752446
About to go to Cycle Gear, note the cord showing on the old rear tire. My new friends were picnicking under that tree before helping me out.

After that the tire swap went smooth (again, the center stand is an amazing luxury) and I was able to get back on the road, taking a much less exciting route up to Lafayette on the expressway through Denver. I got a drink and some very good food truck Mexican before settling into bed early, my plan for the next day was to start riding early and attempt to do an Iron Butt Association Saddle Sore 1000 (1000 miles in 24 hours) back to Milwaukee.

Day 5 (Monday) - Lafayette, CO to Milwaukee, WI
My alarm went off at 4:45, and I checked the temperature, 31°! I bundled up with a pullover, light jacket, long johns, jeans, and a balaclava underneath my normal riding gear and was out the door by 5:00. My first tank of gas was the hardest riding of the trip, I was hugging the tank to try and stay down in the bubble, and taking turns reaching one hand at a time down into the fairing to warm up against the cylinder. The previous owner installed a bar end throttle lock, which in general I'm not a fan of, but it really made this part of the ride possible. Without the ability to warm up my right hand I would have been pulled over waiting for the sun to come up.

After it warmed up I was able to settle into a groove and just kept rolling getting ~130-160 miles between fill-ups. I was pleasantly surprised that Nebraska was not dead flat, there was enough elevation and scenery to at least know that I was moving. The only real challenge at this point was a strong crosswind out of the north, at times I was riding at maybe 5-10° of lean to the left just to keep going straight. It was persistent enough that I was starting to get sore in my neck and upper back from constantly leaning to one side, and was almost enough of an issue to stop, but I lucked out and the wind clocked around to come from behind shortly after crossing into Iowa.

In the end I did 1,039 miles to get home in about 14.5 hours. My longest stop was just shy of 30 minutes for lunch and a cup of coffee. Otherwise I was pretty much riding or fueling the whole way.

I would consider doing another Saddle Sore 1,000 if a similar situation came up where I needed to get between two points spanning that distance, but I wouldn't do it for fun. I have a lot of respect for folks that do this regularly, but having tried it once, it's not my cup of tea.

Epilogue
All in all, I'm loving the bike, and the trip went much smoother than I would have guessed for buying a 13 year old bike, giving it a minimal inspection, and riding 3,000 miles in 2.5 weeks. I'm writing this a few days later, my neck and left shoulder are almost back to normal and I've compiled a maintenance and modification list for the bike with my lessons learned.

Definite To-Do
  • New fork seals, the one I cleaned in Arizona started weeping again on the last day of the trip
  • Oil and filter change
  • New front tire

Maybe To-Do
  • Heavier fork oil filled a little higher? I'm happy with my ability to keep the front end composed trail braking into a corner, controlling rebound with a smooth brake release, I'm not thrilled with the feeling in corners entered without braking. I'm not looking for a big change in performance, just a little bit stiffer with more rebound damping
  • New bar ends without the throttle lock, I've accidentally twisted it on a couple times holding the throttle out where my part of my palm is on it, while it hasn't been a big deal, it still makes me uncomfortable
  • New bushings in the forks just because it's an easy/cheap job while I'm doing seals (and would help get a clean baseline before doing any other suspension tweaks)
  • Lower bars from an earlier model year, I find the posture to be quite upright, and the reach to the bars a bit close tucking into the bubble, I think being down a little would help
Hi from a Concours rider (I also have a Street Triple R....). Try a set of Michelin Road 5 GTs (they are fantastic) and get a heated jacket. I use the Hotwired from Cycle Gear/Revzilla.
 

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Prelude
I bought a '08 Sprint ST in early March, I'd been casually looking for the right deal on one for about a year, and was super excited about the price and condition on this one. The only challenge was that I bought the bike on a business trip in Arizona, and I live in Wisconsin. I was able to stash the bike in a local friend's garage while I made a plan to bring the bike home. After getting a couple of shipping quotes, it was clear that riding home would be way cheaper, and way more fun. I flew home with the bike safely stored and started working on my retrieval plan.

After a short stint at home, I went back out to AZ on a two week trip. The plan was to commute on the bike during the business part of the trip as a shakedown, and ride home at the end.

The bike ran great during the first part of the trip, which covered ~1000 miles between commuting and a day trip from Lake Havasu City to Jerome AZ. The only issue encountered was a leaky fork seal, which was temporarily addressed by making a knock-off seal saver from some scrap plastic packaging. I also really fell in love with the center stand, I've never had one before, but it's amazing. I've always been bad about chain maintenance, but not anymore now that it's so easy!.

I'm not going to recap the ride to Jerome and back, but I do highly recommend AZ 89 from Congress to Prescott, and AZ 89A into Jerome. Hands down some of the best sport riding I've experienced.

My main concern after the prologue was watching the rear tire wearing down quickly. I was checking it every day, and expected to have enough life to get home, I thought about fitting a new set of shoes before heading east, but I didn't want to take the time.

Day 1 (Thursday) - Lake Havasu City, AZ to Williams, AZ
After weeks of anticipation, it was finally time to start riding home! I hit the road after work on a relatively short leg over to Williams AZ. With the goal of making this trip as interesting as possible, I tried to avoid the interstate where I could. I rode on what was left of Rt. 66 for as much of this leg as possible. It was interesting and somewhat bittersweet passing through different towns, some of which were dried up remains, and some of which were still fairly active as tourist spots. Proximity to the interstate was definitely a factor in keeping the more lively towns, as is the number of attractions besides Rt. 66 tourism nearby.

The highlight for this day was the collection of cars and bikes parked at a gift shop in Seligman, including an old BSA single that looks to have been chained in place for a couple decades. I found it foreboding that the first (and only) other British bike I saw on the trip was a long dead BSA Single (not knowing the model really bothered me, after looking at many images online, I'm pretty sure it's a C11 1951-1956 that was bobbed).

View attachment 752443
The only other British bike I saw during this trip

I got into Williams as the sun was setting, grabbed a late dinner and went to bed in anticipation of a long day (it turned out every day was a long day).

Day 2 (Friday) - Williams, AZ to Durango, CO
The route for the day was to head straight north up to the Grand Canyon, ride east along the south rim and out of the park, and then take US 160 past four corners and into Durango.

This was my first time seeing the Grand Canyon at ground level after flying over many times. It looks so much more impressive from the rim than at 35,000', I thought I was prepared for it and found myself completely in awe. This was also my first experience in a busy tourist area on a bike with luggage and out of town license plates, the number of comments and encouragement from other folks at each overlook was awesome. The best was a rider on a Gold Wing that passed by while I was parked, and then caught up with me at my next stop to talk about how much he missed his old Tiger and how 1050 is just a peach.

View attachment 752444
My new baby at the Grand Canyon

Heading out of the park towards Four Corners, I was amazed at the variety of landscapes traversing the desert. It's something that delights me every time I do a road trip out west, watching the colors and textures of the scenery change every 50-100 miles.

The monument at Four Corners was closed due to covid, which makes sense since my understanding is that the main activity is to stand in line and take a picture (like replacing a mall Santa with a marker on the ground). Even though it's an arbitrarily picked location, I've been fascinated by the concept of this place since I was a kid. Now that I've been close, my conclusion is that I want to spend more time in that area, but exploring the natural features, not the man made ones. That said I did stop to take pictures at the New Mexico/Colorado border to checkout an arbitrary line since I couldn't checkout an arbitrary point.

I made it into Durango a little bit before sunset, parked at the hotel, and took a long walk to stretch my legs and find some dinner. I wound up eating out on a patio on Main Ave watching folks cruise through town in a mix of Subarus, work trucks, and overlanding rigs. It really satisfied my mental image of Colorado as cowboys and action sports. On a side note, one advantage of ending every day slightly cold from hopping off the bike was that I felt warm as soon as I stopped moving, so eating outside on patios was an easy and comfortable choice.

Day 3 (Saturday) - Durango, CO to Colorado Springs, CO
This was the best riding day of the trip, and the one I'd been most looking forwards to (and nervously checking the weather for). I rode up Million Dollar Highway (US 550) from Durango to Montrose, CO. Went a little further north to catch CO 92 and follow the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, meeting with US 50 to head east over the continental divide at Monarch Pass, then down into Colorado Springs.

Million Dollar Highway was a joy, the most technical riding of the trip by far. I really lucked out on conditions, there was still plenty of snow at elevations over ~8000' but the road was clean and dry. I stopped at a few overlooks up in the mountains to ogle the scenery (and watch some back country skiers doing their thing). I found parking to be necessary to really appreciate the scale of the environment. On the basis that "you go where you look" I didn't want to be looking over big drop-offs while in motion!

View attachment 752445
Stopped on Million Dollar Highway (Engineer Mountain in the background)

I stopped in Silverton CO for a cup of coffee and ran into a small group of riders that I'd seen in Arizona the day before. It really is amazing how small the world can be even out in vast spaces.

CO 92 was another fun road with some big drops and great views. I stopped to take a short hike following the Hermit's Rest trail down to the Gunnison river from the highway, but I only went maybe halfway before turning back trying to manage my time and avoid riding in the dark. Also because it's a cruel trick to start a hike going down hill with a big climb back to the trail head, it felt easy and like a great idea until I turned around.

I hit my highest elevation of the trip at Monarch Crest, where it was quite cold and large parts of the road were covered in shadow. In another season I'm sure it's an awesome ride through there, on that particular day I got to the top and was very interested in getting back down. I stopped long enough at the crest to add one more layer of clothing and check out an old FWD truck with a giant snow blower attachment on the front and then started on my way down.

The ride on US 50 headed east out of Salida was the best road of the trip from a perspective of pure joy and amazement. The road follows the Arkansas river very closely with enough twists and turns to be engaging and fun, but not so demanding that there wasn't time to look around. Riding in the bottom of the river valley I was smiling every time I came around a corner to reveal a beautiful new set of scenery.

When I got to my hotel and got to my ritual chain lube and tire inspection, I was shocked to find cord showing on the tire, which had still been slightly above the wear bars 400 miles earlier. After kicking myself slightly I ordered some delivery pasta to the hotel and started checking hours of bike shops in town.

Day 4 (Sunday) - Colorado Springs, CO to Lafayette, CO
My original plan for this day was to go as far up Pike's Peak as was open (the summit was closed) then head up to Lafayette CO for my shortest day of the trip and a bit of a rest. Unfortunately that wasn't an option due to the tire situation. The Cycle Gear in Colorado Springs was the best option I could find for getting back on the road on the same day. The new challenge was that they could only mount and balance the tire if I brought them the wheel already off the bike.

I had a brand new 46mm socket waiting for me at home in Wisconsin (I'd been planning a tire swap as soon as I got home), but had no such thing on hand in Colorado. I called up the local O'Reilly to see if they had anything that large in a loaner toolset, but no such luck. I asked about a 1 13/16" socket and was told they had one on the shelves for purchase. So I checked out of the hotel and headed over to the O'Reilly, just to find out that the counter person thought I'd asked for a 1 3/16", heartbreaking stuff.

It turned out that they could get a 1 13/16" from their distribution center in Denver by midafternoon. The backup plan had been to ride out to a truck stop on the assumption that they'd have a proper sized socket, then take a long Lyft back into town to the Cycle Gear. Spending a few hours bumming around Colorado Springs waiting for the socket seemed like a better bet, so I ordered the socket and took a walk over to Cycle Gear to make sure they had staff on hand to do a mount and balance in the afternoon. I got a tire on hold with them and then hit the streets to kill a few hours. I took a walk, grabbed some coffee, checked out an e-bike from the local bike share (my first e-bike ride, pretty fun), and loitered at the Greyhound station under I-25 just because it was a place to get out of the sun.

The socket was supposed to be in at 1:30, so I got back to O'Reilly around 1:00 eager to start making some progress. The guys at the counter were cool with me loitering around in the parking lot waiting on the dispatch truck which came right on time. I had to buy a new 3/4" breaker bar to go with the socket, which I threw in my top case and headed up to the Cycle Gear. I didn't expect my souvenir from this trip to be tools, but I can't complain.

There wasn't any flat parking near the store, so I rode around the neighborhood before finding a relatively flat spot in front of someone's house and popped the bike up on the center stand and tried to do the dance of holding the rear brake and breaking the rear wheel nut loose. I couldn't quite manage it, I'm nut sure if the nut had been over-torqued, or if it had just been a long time since it had broken loose (the tires on the bike had 2011 date codes), but it was on there good. I wound up asking a couple of ladies that were hanging out nearby if one of them could help by holding the brakes. Dividing up the efforts did the trick and I was able to finally break the nut loose. I thanked them for their help, and one of them thanked me for "letting them be part of my experience." As far as I can tell you meet the nicest people on a Triumph, or maybe that's Colorado in general.

View attachment 752446
About to go to Cycle Gear, note the cord showing on the old rear tire. My new friends were picnicking under that tree before helping me out.

After that the tire swap went smooth (again, the center stand is an amazing luxury) and I was able to get back on the road, taking a much less exciting route up to Lafayette on the expressway through Denver. I got a drink and some very good food truck Mexican before settling into bed early, my plan for the next day was to start riding early and attempt to do an Iron Butt Association Saddle Sore 1000 (1000 miles in 24 hours) back to Milwaukee.

Day 5 (Monday) - Lafayette, CO to Milwaukee, WI
My alarm went off at 4:45, and I checked the temperature, 31°! I bundled up with a pullover, light jacket, long johns, jeans, and a balaclava underneath my normal riding gear and was out the door by 5:00. My first tank of gas was the hardest riding of the trip, I was hugging the tank to try and stay down in the bubble, and taking turns reaching one hand at a time down into the fairing to warm up against the cylinder. The previous owner installed a bar end throttle lock, which in general I'm not a fan of, but it really made this part of the ride possible. Without the ability to warm up my right hand I would have been pulled over waiting for the sun to come up.

After it warmed up I was able to settle into a groove and just kept rolling getting ~130-160 miles between fill-ups. I was pleasantly surprised that Nebraska was not dead flat, there was enough elevation and scenery to at least know that I was moving. The only real challenge at this point was a strong crosswind out of the north, at times I was riding at maybe 5-10° of lean to the left just to keep going straight. It was persistent enough that I was starting to get sore in my neck and upper back from constantly leaning to one side, and was almost enough of an issue to stop, but I lucked out and the wind clocked around to come from behind shortly after crossing into Iowa.

In the end I did 1,039 miles to get home in about 14.5 hours. My longest stop was just shy of 30 minutes for lunch and a cup of coffee. Otherwise I was pretty much riding or fueling the whole way.

I would consider doing another Saddle Sore 1,000 if a similar situation came up where I needed to get between two points spanning that distance, but I wouldn't do it for fun. I have a lot of respect for folks that do this regularly, but having tried it once, it's not my cup of tea.

Epilogue
All in all, I'm loving the bike, and the trip went much smoother than I would have guessed for buying a 13 year old bike, giving it a minimal inspection, and riding 3,000 miles in 2.5 weeks. I'm writing this a few days later, my neck and left shoulder are almost back to normal and I've compiled a maintenance and modification list for the bike with my lessons learned.

Definite To-Do
  • New fork seals, the one I cleaned in Arizona started weeping again on the last day of the trip
  • Oil and filter change
  • New front tire

Maybe To-Do
  • Heavier fork oil filled a little higher? I'm happy with my ability to keep the front end composed trail braking into a corner, controlling rebound with a smooth brake release, I'm not thrilled with the feeling in corners entered without braking. I'm not looking for a big change in performance, just a little bit stiffer with more rebound damping
  • New bar ends without the throttle lock, I've accidentally twisted it on a couple times holding the throttle out where my part of my palm is on it, while it hasn't been a big deal, it still makes me uncomfortable
  • New bushings in the forks just because it's an easy/cheap job while I'm doing seals (and would help get a clean baseline before doing any other suspension tweaks)
  • Lower bars from an earlier model year, I find the posture to be quite upright, and the reach to the bars a bit close tucking into the bubble, I think being down a little would help
Love the Travelogue! I'm stoked to take a long ride sometime, but I worry about riding in nasty weather (rain, particularly). I've got new shoes on the 2011 Sprint GT 1050 with the same luggage set up (and the same color) that you have! So I should be ok for the occasional rain shower. Did your hands stay warm in the cold temps? Do you have grip heaters?

What are your thoughts on changing fork oil? I don't think that my bike ever had that done (it has 33k on the clock now, bought used with 25k). Overdue? Not necessary?

Thanks again for sharing the details of your adventure! BTW, congrats on sorting out the tire problem on the fly!
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Love the Travelogue! I'm stoked to take a long ride sometime, but I worry about riding in nasty weather (rain, particularly). I've got new shoes on the 2011 Sprint GT 1050 with the same luggage set up (and the same color) that you have! So I should be ok for the occasional rain shower. Did your hands stay warm in the cold temps? Do you have grip heaters?

What are your thoughts on changing fork oil? I don't think that my bike ever had that done (it has 33k on the clock now, bought used with 25k). Overdue? Not necessary?

Thanks again for sharing the details of your adventure! BTW, congrats on sorting out the tire problem on the fly!
I don't have grip heaters, I wear a set of Alpinestars Drystar gloves when it's cold. They're comfy from something like 40°F to 60°F, too sweaty above, still chilly below. The coldest temperature that I saw was about 31°F, and I was reaching off the bars down through the fairing cutout to warm them with engine heat.

In the past I've only changed fork oil in combination with other modifications like stiffer springs, never as a routine service item, so I've never been able to get a good A to B comparison of new vs. old oil. I've seen a lot of different intervals called out online some by mileage, some by years. For what it's worth I wouldn't be doing it on my bike other than I have a leaky seal to replace.
 

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I've changed the fork oil on my Sprint at 29k miles, one leg was a lot more empty than the other & the oil was very worn out.
 

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Love the Travelogue! I'm stoked to take a long ride sometime, but I worry about riding in nasty weather (rain, particularly). I've got new shoes on the 2011 Sprint GT 1050 with the same luggage set up (and the same color) that you have! So I should be ok for the occasional rain shower. Did your hands stay warm in the cold temps? Do you have grip heaters?
You have the perfect bike. Quit waiting; get out there. There are few feelings in life that can match waking up in a strange hotel room knowing you have nothing to do but ride all day. I've been in one rainstorm that really qualifies as nasty weather. Once you get caught in snow on a mountain pass, most rain is no big deal. You can do this, and once you do you'll wonder why you waited. Go. Get out there. Pick a spot 1000 miles away, plot a route, and go. Okay, maybe start with a spot 500 miles away. But go.
 

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I agree. It could even be a spot 200 miles away with maybe another 300 miles beyond that. Weather is part of the experience. Cars are all about removing the driver from the elements. You get to experience then on a motorcycle, remind you what it means to have the senses filled with the world as you move through it. The great thing about getting soaked is that the long hot bath afterwards never felt so good. The Great thing about getting overheated is that the cold drink after never tasted so good.

Get on your bike and ride.
 

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Fun write-up - thanks for putting in the time and effort!
Regarding the fork seals ... if a new went bad so quickly I'd suspect a little nick in the stanchion ... you might give it a scrub. That damn big nut on the rear wheel - I guess you have to carry that socket with you on extended trips (my '02 Sprint RS is DSSA so I don't have that concern).
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Fun write-up - thanks for putting in the time and effort!
Regarding the fork seals ... if a new went bad so quickly I'd suspect a little nick in the stanchion ... you might give it a scrub. That damn big nut on the rear wheel - I guess you have to carry that socket with you on extended trips (my '02 Sprint RS is DSSA so I don't have that concern).
Glad you enjoyed it!

As far as I know it was the original 13 year /15k mile fork seal. I was able to slow the leak down to a weep by running a piece of plastic between the stanchion and seal. I got around to tearing the forks down on Saturday, there weren't any obvious tears in the seal, but the lip was lightly chewed up all the way around. I'm pretty sure that was my issue, no pitting or scratching on the stanchion (thankfully).
 
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