It’s been just about exactly a month since I traded in my old police bike for a shiny new Kawasaki Concours.
In that month, the new ride has accumulated roughly 850 miles. No, I haven’t been able to get out as much as I like. The workload at the office at the moment is a little on the crushing side, then I go and teach all weekend nearly every weekend on top of that. My rationale in the last couple of weeks has been, “vacation’s coming, relax then.”
I have been able to put some time in to the new ride. I’ve added handlebar risers in order to bring a little more upright riding posture to the equation. I’m in the process of perfecting the mount and such for the TomTom Rider GPS, and it has permanent power wiring now. I’m finding the right spots to attach my Rok Straps to hold my travel bag on board. In fact, one of the ways I’ve been working out the kinks with mounting the bag is to go grocery shopping with it. I’ve used an Ortlieb Dry Pack for years now and I’ve discovered that it will hold just about three full bags of groceries. That is, three Portland friendly reusable hemp handle bags – those each hold a little more than a standard paper 1/2 barrel bag, so the Ortlieb would hold maybe four of those I guess. Anyway, it’s a simple Saturday or Sunday morning task – I grab three of the hemp shopping bags and the Ortlieb bag and strap them all to the back of the bike with a bungie-net. Shop, pack bike, ride home. Remove Ortlieb bag and carry it upstairs to the apartment – easy peasy.
The longest riding day so far was a five hour jaunt around the area after class one afternoon. I had a range-only AM assignment about 3 weeks ago (meaning no afternoon classroom to teach) and it happened to be one of the first really nice Saturdays we’ve had so far this spring. I ended up heading out the Columbia River Gorge to Hood River on the Washington side, then coming home on the Oregon side via the freeway. My main test that afternoon was the saddle. I figure if I can do five basically non-stop hours on that stock saddle, I’ll be fine for the upcoming road trip.
The Concours comes with some “gadgety” functions – nothing over the top, just a couple of settings for the ABS and the ability to turn the traction control off. But one that I’ve been playing with is what Kawasaki calls “Eco Assist” mode. With the flick of a handlebar mounted switch, the ECU mapping is selectable between the normal mode and a fuel-sipping econ mode. I’ll really only be able to gauge the effectiveness of this on the road for longer periods, but so far, it does appear to be helping a little with overall gas mileage. Hard to tell though – I haven’t yet ridden a whole gas tank off at highway speeds.
I feel like I’m finding the comfort spot with the throttle that is less likely to cause me to have to do business alongside the road with a fine and upstanding member of the Professional Law Enforcement Community. The bike has a darned near 1400cc motor, and yes, Virginia, it is possible to go really, really fast without noticing for a bit. The ride is that smooth and predictable. I’m getting used to the area where the speedometer needle should rest by using only peripheral vision. Otherwise I find myself staring at the thing.
I won’t be doing much else to the bike before this upcoming trip except, eventually, attaching the new license plate. Hopefully that arrives before I leave. I really don’t like the idea of riding across Canada with a temporary paper dealer plate in the saddlebag… I feel very comfortable on the bike and I’m really looking forward to the big trip.
The countdown continues.