My Motorcycle History
My dad grew up riding dirt bikes so it should be no surprise that I too grew up riding dirt bikes. I began riding in 2008 on a Honda XR100. Since then I’ve exclusively owned bigger four stroke enduro style bikes; a 1993 Honda XR600R, 2004 Honda XR650R, 2017 Husqvarna FE501S and the latest of the bunch a 2017 Honda Africa Twin (aka CRF1000L). It is hard to pick favorites from this similar lineup, however the XR650R always stands out.
Honda XR Series
The XR nameplate was Honda’s branding for their models of off road/enduro motorcycles from 1979 to 2004. Current models use the CFR name, however the XR650L is still produced. (not to be confused with my discontinued XR650R) The “L” is one of the longest running unchanged production models in the history of motorcycling and is still available today exactly as the 1992 model specifications. Similarly, Kawasaki’s KLR 650 also remains vastly unchanged since its first generation.
My dad became the second owner of our XR650 in 2008. This was around the same time I got my first bike, the XR100. The previous owner of the 650 took care of it. Most notable they “uncorked” it, invested in a Baja Kit and jumped through the legal hoops to get the “off-road only” XR titled for road use. I’m not sure why my dad bought this street legal XR specifically. He never used if for on-road use, but I’m glad he happened to pick one that had already had the title converted.
In the early days of motorcycle riding I was always disappointed when the cycles would run bad or break down. Dad and I hardly maintained the bikes. Middle school William thought noting about jetting carburetors, adjusting valves, or preforming oil changes. The typical maintenance routine was to wait till my uncle Teddy from Mississippi would visit the cabin about once a year to perform all necessary bike maintenance. My dad knew how to do some mechanical work on the bikes, but he’d rather take it to the dealer and pay a pretty penny for maintenance tasks I now knock out myself in less than an hour.
Pictured above in 2009, the XR600R was more or less retired when my dad bought the 650R. This is the only photographic proof I have of it being ridden between 2009 and 2016. In august 2016 I decided to revive it. After ordering some eBay parts the 600R got a refreshed carb, engine tune up, and paint job by yours truly.
By 2016 I had long out grown the XR100 and had since sold it. Dad and I rode the 650R and 600R respectively. Somewhere during this time the 650R’s carburetor decided to spit out one of the jets thus making the bike inoperable. Dad took it to a Honda dealership in New Braunfels, Texas and they ultimately did more harm than repair. The bike went in for service needing a new pilot jet and an oil change. It was returned with the Baja kit wiring disconnected,(cut, not just unplugged) an ugly green kill switch zip-tied to the handle bars, and major oil and gas leaks all around. Dad returned it to the shop. 6 months later they returned it in working order, but still with a destroyed Baja kit and the dreaded green kill switch. From then on I decided I would DIY any motorcycle maintenance within my skill level.
The adventure bug is caught…
In November 2016 we bought a Husqvarna FE 501s brand new from Santa Fe motorsports and immediately fell in love with it. Being 40lbs lighter than the 650R, the Husqvarna handled very nimbly and felt much quicker.
Since purchasing the Husqvarna I began to get my close friends interested in cycles. I began sharing some of my riding experience with them as they got rid of their training wheels while carefully riding up and down my street. Two of these friends, Luke Hallier and Daniel Schafer, have since gone on to buy their own motorcycles (a KLR650 and an Africa Twin). We frequently go on cross country adventures together.
In August of 2018 three buddies, Daniel, Luke, Robert Dominguez and I embarked on an epic two-week cross country road trip with the three cycles in tow.
Our route was San Antonio, TX > White Sands, NM > Taos, NM > Grand Tetons NP > Yellowstone NP > Bozeman MT > Glacier NP > Yoho NP, Canada > Vancouver, Canada > Seattle, WA > Bonneville Salt Flats, UT > Buckskin Gulch, Kanab, UT > Taos, NM > San Antonio, TX.
Fast foreword a year to Summer 2019. I moved to Seattle, WA to spend the Summer with Robert who was working at Microsoft. While there I prepped the XR650 to do the Washington Back Country Discovery Route. This was my first big cycle camping adventure and it was great. This adventure has its own story (to be linked here at a later date).
After that summer in Seattle I realized the ideal bike for me would be something that can handle normal dirt-bike stuff while being able to carry camping gear and travel almost anywhere. I decided to put the Husqvarna and its bundled accessories up for sale and began the search for a Honda Africa Twin.
Within a week of listing the bike I found a seller on Craigslist who was willing to make a near even trade: an Africa Twin with spare tires for the Husqvarna plus gear. It was a great deal and we swapped with little hesitation.
Ever since acquiring the Africa Twin I had been itching to go on a trip with it. In April 2020, amidst the corona-virus pandemic, Luke, Daniel, and I went on a short expedition around New Mexico. The trip was a success and we learned alot about living off our bikes.
The Northwest Passage Cycle Trip of June 2020
Amidst the height of the SARS-COVID19 pandemic, Daniel and I set out on an 8k mile bike trip to social distance.