Multistrada 1200S Touring - 4100 miles, 8 States, 11 days I was lucky enough to pick up the first Multistrada 1200S delivered in Seattle a few weeks ago. I picked it up on Thursday May 20th, added GPS, heat controller Thursday night, radar detector Friday night, had final check outs Saturday at Ducati Seattle and left Tuesday morning for southwest tour from Washington through Oregon, California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Colorado and Idaho returning through Oregon and back into Washington again. We traveled through slush and snow, rain and sun, wind and calm, and mud, gravel and desert! What an amazing experience. I traveled with just one of my riding buddies and while we did need to make a couple of unplanned service stops along the way, we had no breakdowns, no major failures and followed most of the original plan. GPS tracks at http://www.martysteinberg.com/SR2010/, full trip photo set is here and more on my 'adventures here: http://martys2010.travellerspoint.com/ Yippee cay yay! Can't wait for the next trip. Final Thoughts OVERALL REFLECTIONS ON THE TRIP, THE EQUIPMENT AND LESSONS LEARNED 06/06/2010 "Spring Ride 2010 Final Thoughts" The Plan ~ Lessons Learned ~ The Bike ~ Additional Equipment ~ Things I wish I had figured out before leaving ~ The Roads The Plan This ride has been in planning for almost 2 years. I was supposed to go last year but was sidelined for most of the 2009 riding season due to an unexpected surgery. You can spend months, or years, pouring over maps, reading ride reports, reviewing “road sites” on the web but in the end you just need to decide how much time you have and where you want to go. There will always be a variety of roads to get you there and back, I call these “transit roads”, and there will be the “money roads”, the reason you went there in the first place. Transit roads you just need to do, they’re typically uneventful and forgetable and may or may not be freeway. The money roads you’ll remember, dream about and talk about over and over again when you retell your glory tales from the road. This trip sort of went as planned in as much as we started in the right general direction and ended up coming home from where I thought we should head home from, but being adaptable is key and we did make changes along the way due to changing weather conditions and a couple of unplanned service stops. When you get caught up in the excitement of planning it’s easy to end up with an overly ambitious plan for either total distance or daily distance. I wasn’t worried about the 4000 mile total distance. I had a couple of buffer days in the plan in case we got stuck anywhere. I tried to plan for 300 mile days, plus or minus a little, but we ended up averaging 370 miles per day with several days over 400 miles. We did much more transiting than I would have liked and had fewer money days vs transit days. We missed several highlight points in order to make the next destination because our destinations were too spread out. We made a couple of unplanned exploratory side legs that were absolutely worth doing, but it caused us to come up short each day of where we needed to be for the following day. Lessons Learned • Don’t try the west coast AND Utah, Colorado on the same trip. You are forced to transit vast expanses of nothing to connect the good spots, in particular central and southern Nevada is a suck hole of nothing but desert and flatness that should be avoided if at all possible. Furthermore, the weather patterns for the best time of year for travel don’t align well between Oregon and California with Utah and Colorado. In the future I’ll plan for either an entire west coast trip in late summer or early fall OR a Utah, Colorado, trip in late spring. But not both. • Transit days should be limited to getting there and getting back, if you have transit days in the middle of the trip you’re covering too much ground in a single trip. • Try to limit getting there and getting back to two days (or two nights) each way max. Don’t go out of your way to ride good roads close to home, if they’re that close you can hit them on another shorter trip. I’m totally ok with 100% freeway to get out of Washington to buy more time in the money zone. Yes there are great roads in eastern Washington and Oregon, but there are better roads in Utah, Colorado and Wyoming. • Maximize your time in the money areas. I was reminded several times to do this on our trip, but the original plan didn’t allow for it. Planning in multiple days in good areas gives you time to explore in star patterns and return to the hotel that evening. You can also ride without full luggage to lighten your bike and enjoy the ride more. • Don’t plan to go through the National Parks on Memorial Day weekend. You might as well be stuck on the 520 bridge. In general be cautious of travel on holiday weekends or you might end up in Bishop, CA during Mule Days where every hotel room has been booked for months and you'll need to ride another 40-50 miles to find a room for the night. • Check the weather conditions of every place you want to go for the time of year you’re going! We had no idea there would still be snow up in the mountains the first week of June. All of the passes we wanted to hit in the Sierras were closed due to snow. Had we known that, we’d have skipped the west coast entirely and gone straight to Utah. • Don’t do Northern California in the spring. The locals tell us the Sierra’s are best done in July or August. There’s still snow in parts of June at the higher elevations and freak snow storms have been known to hit in September. • Be sure ALL your gear is waterproof. I was pretty dry during all the rainy days except for my hands as my heated gloves got soaked. The Bike • 2010 Ducati Multistrada 1200s Sport o DP side panniers o DP comfort seat o DP tall tinted windscreen I was lucky enough to take delivery of the first MTS 1200s in Seattle on Thursday May 20th. That night I wired up the GPS and Warmnsafe heat controller. Friday I added the Adaptive TPX radar detector. Saturday I returned to Ducati Seattle to get the center stand added. Monday I rode over to Touratech in South Seattle to test fit a number tail bags until I found one that looked like it would work. Tuesday we departed from Issaquah around 8:30am and headed east to start the journey. The weather had been very crappy the previous week and I had barely ridden the bike aside from riding it home and commuting to work 2 days. The entire ride has been a learning experience, but I have to say it’s been a very positive learning experience. I tried to pack the Multi the same way I had packed my ST3s from trips past. Typically I would load up the right side bag with tools, spray cans and other roadside gitch. The left side carried all my clothes. Seat/tail bag would carry the laptop, extra gloves, face shield, snacks, etc. The right side Multi pannier is half the size of the left side pannier to accommodate the exhaust flow. This is a big deal when combined with the miniscule space under the seat where there isn’t enough space to even store the owner’s manual. Storage in general will be a problem for this bike until aftermarket vendors start producing other options. I usually ride with a tank bag for sunglasses, camera, extra maps, etc, but the one I had didn’t fit and I was out of time to keep shopping. I used a simple map pocket with shock cord wrapped around the headset and a simple loop attached to the center tank fairing screw in front of the seat for the rear shock cords. The aerodynamic design of the fairings and lack of trellis frame in the rear provides few attachment points. It took a few tries with the tail bag to find a configuration that was secure yet simple enough to mount, unmount every day. Turns out the tail bag is not waterproof, so I had put the contents in a heavy duty trash bag. Near the end of the ride with it raining in buckets I got another trash bag wrapped around the outside of the bag to protect its contents and secured it with a stretch net. The weight of all the gear in back was very noticeable with an extra light front wheel. I had the load set to two passengers with luggage but it didn’t seem like it was enough. I need to spend more time playing with the overrides for the suspension to get it right for my weight which is much more than the “stock” 165lb “average” rider. I need to set the SAG on the forks as well, when pushing through the turns the forks/front wheel would chatter. Even now the bike unloaded I can feel the chatter in the forks. I’ll tighten up the SAG this week, hopefully I won’t need higher spec springs for the forks. The bike itself runs GREAT. It’s super easy to change modes and I changed them often depending what we were doing. It totally made a difference in every mode. I love Sport mode when the twisties get busy. The instant throttle response and tight suspension really helped the bike carve the curves. The Scorpion Trail tires were ok, but I sure missed my Pilot Road 2’s. The Scorpion’s felt “tippy”, I think they have a more pointy profile than other tires I’ve used. Riding down Canyon Road from Ellensburg to Selah in sport mode my eyes lit up as this was the first time I was able to actually feel and begin to understand the capabilities of this bike. I rode this bike in sun and in rain, in snow and mud, in wind and in calm and it handled every condition flawlessly. The range of this bike is everything it’s claimed to be. I always got 200 miles per tank, most days more. At its best I saw 47mpg when riding through Utah and Colorado, on the freeway I got about 41-43mpg consistently. The touring windshield does a very good job of protecting the rider from wind, rain and bugs. At the end of sunny days my riding buddy would be covered in bugs while I would have only a few above my visor and the windscreen would be covered. The screen is also very easy to raise and lower while riding. I rode with it up most of the time except for the few hot days we had in Nevada and Utah. The comfort seat is surprisingly comfy compared to the stock seat. I had already made up my mind that I would get a Sargent seat as soon as they develop one, but after 4100 miles on this seat I think I’ll stick with this one for a while. The only issue I had was on the second and third days while riding in freezing temps though slush and snow over mountains was getting several low battery warnings. I had excellent communication with my dealer Ducati Seattle and Ducati North America to help try to understand what was happening and we’re making an educated guess that this was due to a combination of excessively low temps combined with very slow riding in poor conditions which limited the alternator from producing its full charging amperage while I had all my heated gear on high. Once we got to slightly warmer weather and conditions where I could sustain runs where the rpms were kept over 3500 for extended periods of time I never saw these warnings again. Ducati Seattle made arrangements for me to visit Pat Clark Motorsports/Ducati Las Vegas while on route to run diagnostics and replace the battery under warranty if necessary, but everything checked out ok further confirming the hypothesis of slow riding in cold weather with full heat on as the cause of the warnings previously seen. I have not seen these warning since, but I do religiously plug the bike into a battery tender nightly. In the future I will probably bring a tender with me as a preventative measure. Additional Equipment • Garmin Zumo 550 • SPOT Satellite Messenger (Gen1) • Adaptive TPX radar detector • iPhone 3G – acuweather app used for monitoring the forecasts • Touratech Tail Rack Bag XL R1200GS • First Gear Kilimanjaro Jacket • Motoport Ultra II Kevlar Pants • REI Taku pants worn under the Motoports - kept me dry and warm every day • Warmnsafe Gen4 heated jacket liner • Warmnsafe Ultimate Sports heated gloves • Warmnsafe wireless dual channel heat controller • Canon Powershot SD3500 IS • Lenovo Thinkpad X201 Things I wish I had figured out before leaving • Throttlemeisters – needed for those long stretches of transit roads and for taking pictures on the fly • Bike mounted camera or easier way to pull camera out while riding. I missed a lot of great scenes that would have been perfect grab shots but didn’t want to or couldn’t pull over. • Waterproof gloves or glove covers – I’ll be ordering the 3 finger claw gloves from Aerostitch to carry with me from now on. The Roads • Bickleton highway from Mabton to Goldendale is well worth riding, even if it’s nearby to home (see note above about getting to the money roads) • The Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway over Mt Bachelor is beautiful, just wait until its warmer • The Trinity Alps over Scott Mountain – same as above, just wait for warmer weather. • Callahan is an interesting little old west town that time forgot off of Rt 3 on the way up to the Alps. • Prospect through Butte Falls by way of Butte Falls Highway southwest from Crater Lake is a nice little side road to break up Rt 62. Watch for loose gravel in the turns here. • From Ashland, the Dead Man’s Highway loop clockwise past Howard Prairie Lake and back west on 66 is very tight. I can see where this is a very appealing road, but it was a bit too tight for my likings in the rain with a new bike laden with luggage. This would be a kick on a smaller motard style bike. • The Trinity Alps over Scott Mountain is beautiful, would be much better in July when it’s warm. Coming out of the Alps on the southern side I am struck by the beauty of the lakes surrounded by the burnt tree trunks from recent forest fires. • Rt 36 from Hayfork to Red Bluff – totally awesome, would love to ride the whole thing when its dry and warm • Rt 70 from just south of Chico northeast to Quincy is terrific. I think Destination Highways rates this road as DH3. Long scenic sweepers through lush green canyons. Only occasional patrols. From Quincy to Rt 395 and the Nevada border it straightens out and while scenic is just ok compared the western half of the road. • Rt 395 through Reno and Carson City just sucks, all strip malls and traffic lights. Once Rt 395 makes it way back into California it gets good again. Nice sweepers, nice scenery all the way past Mono Lake into Bishop. • Rt 190 to Rt 127 through Death Valley was interesting. You can definitely sustain some good speeds through here and the diversity of the mountains through the valley and back into the mountains again is a great way to ride through 100 miles. Be sure to stop at Amargosa at the east entrance to check out Death Valley Junction and the Amargosa Opera House. • Pahrump to Vegas by Rt 160 was just boring, the traffic in Vegas was horrible bumper to bumper and the ride up Rt 15 from Vegas to St George was punishing from the battering crosswinds that would make grown men weep. There are some nice sweepers from Mesquite into St George that foreshadowed the beautiful red canyons to come in Utah. • Rt 9 through Zion NP was spectacular, unfortunately the holiday traffic made the riding painful even amongst the uncanny beauty of the park. The tunnel you pass through is amazing, and you get a good 15 degree drop in temp when passing through. • Rt 89A to 67 south to the North Rim is well worth the 47 miles to get to the edge. • The ride up Rt 89 from Mt Carmel Junction to the west end of Rt 12 at the entrance to Bryce is pretty boring. There are a number of better roads in that area we skipped as it was late in the day. Had it been a little earlier we definitely would have done Rt 14 and 143 between Cedar City and Panguitch. • Rt 12 from Bryce to Torrey is THE money road in Utah. The million dollar highway is just spectacular. I don’t know that I would ride it multiple times, but the area around Torrey has so many good roads this is one of the areas where you should get a hotel room and ride the surrounding roads in a star pattern from the hotel. Burr Trail, Capitol Reef Park and more can be ridden easily from Torrey. • Rt 24 from Torrey to Hanksville is really good too. There’s not a lot of gas around here so get it when you see it. Get gas in Hanksville whether you need it or not! • Rt 95 from Hanksville south is really straight, windy and boring until you get to Rt 276. From Rt 276 south it gets better but still nothing to go out of your way for. • Rt 261 south to Mexican Hat was one of those unexpected side trips recommended from the gas station guy in Hanksville. Heading south on 261 you start to notice the roadsides turning green form the persistent browns or red you’ve seen most of the last two days going west to east across Utah. 261 is a nice little two lane road all the way to the Valley of the Gods. It ends at a 2000ft overlook from the mesa down to the valley. The only way down is 3 miles of 15 mph switch backs carved into the side of the mesa until you get to the valley floor, where its’ wide open for 30 miles until you turn north again at Bluff. • Rt 191 from Bluff up to Monticello is a nice scenic ride, but nothing special other than the beautiful scenery. • East on Rt 46 about 30 miles south of Moab through La Sal towards Colorado the road is mostly straight and uneventful. Crossing into Colorado Rt 46 becomes Rt 90 and the road suddenly gets more interesting. The curves get better, the road surface is nicer, the scenery gets greener and the elevation changes are more noticeable for the first 10 miles or so. Descending through several switchbacks into the Valley toward Bedrock, Rt 90 continues until it ends intersecting Rt 141 just north of Naturita. Be sure to stop at Naturita for gas because the next gas is 90+ miles north at Grand Junction. • Rt 141 from Naturita to Whitewater is simply spectacular. The road winds beside the river for most of the 90 miles and many of those miles there are high red canyon walls on the opposite side. Watch out for livestock as this is an open range area. Rt 141 ends intersecting Rt 50. • Rt 50 South from Grand Junction is fast, wide, high crosswinds and pretty boring all the way to Delta. • From Delta, we went up and over Grand Mesa by way of Orchard City and Cedaredge via Rt 65. The southern side of Rt 65 sucks, it crawls through multiple small towns with foot traffic and slow cars until you get near the top and the gate that says “closed in winter”. Once past the gate there are no residential areas, the rad starts to wind nicely past several parks and lakes. The road peaks at 10,800ft before beginning the decent down the north side. The north side has no residential areas and is quite nice to ride down all the way to I-70. The summit and north side of Rt 65 is very good, if you’re in this area I would recommend going up the north side, check out some of the lakes or parks at the summit, then turn around and go back down the north side again. This avoids the crappy Rt 50 south from Grand Junction as well avoiding the slow residential areas from Delta up to the summit. • Rt 139 from Fruita to Rangely starts off start and boring, but quickly gets interesting and fun again approaching and passing through Douglass Pass. From Douglass Pass north to Rangely continues be a pleasant rideall the way into town. • From Rangely to Dinosaur Rt 64 takes you to the border with Utah where the road changes to Rt 40. • Utah Rt 40 is a multilane, high speed road that takes you clear into Salt Lake City. It’s a legal 75mph road where the locals drive even faster. For a freeway, this road has some nice sweepers to enjoy even if you’re sharing them with cars, trucks and campers. • From Salt Lake City, I-80 is a long straight high speed road that goes through Great Salt Lake and passes by the Bonneville Salt Flats into Wendover. The rest of the ride home was high speed transit from Wendover to Elko, then north on Rt 225 through Owyhee, Rt 51, Rt 78 to Grand View to Marsing and Rt 95 to I-84 into Ontario. From Ontario, we continued on I-84, to I-82, to I-90 then home to Issaquah.