The time I have been waiting for so anxiously has finally come. The GS850 was a fine bike to begin with, but now it’s even better. The second leg of the expedition has started and in order to maximize the storage capacity for the longer push, the bike had to go through some more modifications along with the regular maintenance. Finally, it’s in tip-top shape.
First thing was to resolve the fork seal problem by installing bright yellow dirt bike fork boots to prevent dirt and bugs from ruining the fork tubes and seals. It kind of looks funny (Cynthia calls them Big Bird Legs), but I’m convinced that they will make the seals last much longer.
After exhaustive research for the best navigation system, besides stopping and asking Seven Eleven clerks en route, we finally decided on the Garmin Nuvi 260W GPS with 4.3” display. This unit is a discontinued model, but it is powerful and robust. The routing engine is excellent and since we have no use for Bluetooth, MP3 player, or traffic updates, this $100 GPS fits the bill perfectly. I had to come up with my own ingenious hillbilly-design mounting system, but it works like a charm.
In order to make more room in the aluminum panniers, I got rid of the big water bottle and instead, installed two smaller external bicycle-style water bottles on the outside of the boxes. I mounted another bottle cage on the back for the fuel bottle so it now sits outside instead of taking up room inside the pannier.
The pannier rack had to be redesigned to accommodate more rearward mounting of the panniers, so a completely new rack was built from scratch to move the boxes back 11 inches. The rear turn signals had to be relocated, and they are pointing downward nesting between the boxes now. The rear footpegs were also relocated by drilling two holes in the aluminum receiver so the rack could be mounted using the stock rear footpeg mounting holes.
I ordered the Kenda 761 tires and after a long mounting battle, they are on and looking good. The complete test report will follow on how they perform, but my initial impression is that they seem to be well made, have sticky rubber compound, and I like the tread pattern.
There were two pieces of equipment which failed during the first leg of the expedition. One was the trusty Optimus Nova multi-fuel stove and the other the Princeton Tec Fuel headlamp. I have used Optimus stoves on the highest mountains and harshest terrains and have yet to have a problem with any of them, but this particular one baffled me. It kept leaking and regardless of what I did to fix it, it refused to get better. Optimus kindly and promptly replaced the stove after only one email, and they even sent a newer model right to my door. Princeton Tec also replaced the faulty headlamp for a new unit for no charge. I’m sure these were just couple of bad apples in a bunch, and both companies stood by their products. I will continue to use their gear and will attest to their quality and customer service.
Stay tuned for the reports as they will come more regularly from now on.