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It’s what we do

This entry is part 1 of 17 in the series Adventure Rider Issue #20

I’ve just bought a KLR650.

It’s a 2007 model, and it’s making sure my feet are firmly anchored in the real world.

There’s lots of great things about working for a bike magazine, and the obvious one is getting to ride new bikes. The only problem with that from a professional point of view is it’s easy to lose touch with the rides, limitations and frustrations of a massive group of owners who aren’t being pampered and given the best of everything all the time. I’ve just had six months or so with BMW’s F800GS, and my only complaint with that bike was I felt it did half the work on rides for me. It made everything so easy.

Like so many modern bikes, the electronics, rider aids, and superbly easy-to-use motors mean the rider can make less decisions, and the time taken to make those decisions has been expanded considerably over the bikes I grew up with. And of course, BMW Motorrad made sure I had access to the right people and tech advice to ensure that bike was always a great pleasure to ride.

Even my own personal bike, a carbureted, single-cylinder ’95 model, is so well-sorted I feel it’s an easy option on just about any terrain.

That was the pampered world I’d been in when the somewhat beat-up KLR made its home in my shed.

My first smackdown came from the NSW motor registry – or whatever it calls itself these days. Changing the rego from an interstate owner to NSW was an exercise “I wasn’t game to ride too far from home,waiting for it to break down. ” in pedantic paperwork at its worst. I could actually see the importance of that, so it was kind of okay, but the financial gouge is a disgrace. The bike was registered interstate on the day I picked it up. When I changed the rego to NSW two days later I was told I could flush existing rego down the toilet and start again from zero in NSW. “Pay up,” was the stone-faced attitude.

As I was seething away about that, I was casually slugged for the stamp duty.

With all that done and paid for I set out to finally enjoy riding the bike.

It’s actually mechanically fairly sound – I think – but it’s pretty rough cosmetically.

There was no need to sort through my riding suits to see which one fit the look of the bike best. A pair of old jeans, a footy jersey and elastic-sided work boots would’ve been most appropriate.

The plastics were all scratched to the shithouse and the front panels were broken at the lower mounts. The ’bars were giraffe-tall and a little bent, the seat was held on only by gravity and the front brake was woeful. I wasn’t game to ride too far from home, waiting for it to break down the first time. I didn’t want to have to push it too far.

The more I rode it, tentatively working it a little harder all the time, increasing the distances and decreasing the nursing, the more confident I became. I was just starting to smile when I pulled up to the smell of burning plastic. One of the rear blinkers had vibrated loose and melted in the heat of the exhaust. As I walked around the bike I saw one of the footpegs had vibrated loose, too. The pipe’s a tad loud, but it does let the motor work well, and the oil had vanished from the sight glass (it all returned to the correct level in a couple of minutes sitting idle).

So where does that leave me?

A smiling, happy adventure rider with some work to do, and, I hope, a whole lot in common with a lot of other real-world adventure riders.

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