T-Minus 9 Days: Getting Ready for the Great White North

By: Kevin JohnsonJun 28, 2019

July 1, 2019 (9 days out)

Hello everyone!  As you may or may not know, my cousin Bob and I are going to Canada and back on two wheels.  We’ll be covering about 4000 miles over the course of 11 days…so a decent haul averaging a little over 350 miles per day.  Obviously some days will be shorter or longer than others for where we’re stopping.  Over a few iterations, here is the super, ultra, uber, final map v4 that I have put together for us on this jaunt (going clockwise).

So despite planning for this trip for months, I’m just now starting to write the trip planning report…so I’m going to try to cover a lot in this first day, probably starting with the oldest planning phases up until…well, today.  If you recall back to my NIN Vegas ride report there were a few comfort things I wanted to get done on the bike, first and foremost the seat.  I’ve given them a few shout outs already, but the guys over at Bitchin Stitchin were great in building me a custom seat for my tushy.  I also wanted some highway pegs so I could stretch out some.  Does it look pretty goofy on an adventure bike?  Sure…BUT I care more about functionality and my knees not cramping up.

I also picked up a Garmin Zumo 396 LMT-S for the trip.  And after fighting with it some, getting decently annoyed, and finally spending time learning Garmin Basecamp I believe I finally have the damn thing figured out!  This is important to me because we have certain routes we want to take and thus, I want the GPS to navigate me along the route specified vs creating some sort of shenanigan route all along interstates.  It’s got settings to not take you on highways, etc. but I played with it some, didn’t care for it for this trip, and planned out our own routes for things we wanted to see.  If you have a Garmin device do yourself a favor and learn their Basecamp program.  There is a little bit of a learning curve, but once you get the basics it’s pretty simple and I think will be super handy for things like estimating arrival times, traffic, etc. as well as generally knowing where the hell we’re going.

I just rolled over the 12,000 mile mark on the BMW on a shorter trip to the Black Hills and according to their service schedule that’s the time to have the valves checked and adjusted.  Instead of spending a few days figuring that all out I just brought it over to the BMW of Denver crew and they had it all checked, adjusted (I don’t think it needed it, briefly ran into the mechanic and he said everything was in spec), and got the spark plugs replaced while they were in there all for about $400.

About a week ago I changed the oil…the timing worked out great since it was due right before this big trip when I would have done it anyway.  I also checked the chain to make sure it was still within spec – everything good there.  And last week I pulled the rear wheel off to get a new tire put on.  There was still plenty of life on the current one so I brought it home with me to burn off over the winter or something, but I wasn’t about to set sail to Canada with a half used rear while the front is still in very good shape.  Since the wheel was off it was a great time to check and lube the wheel bearings and generally clean all of that old grease and grime out of everything…so I did that too.  I slapped the new rear back on, tightened the chain ever so slightly, maybe 1/3 turn on each swing arm adjuster, and noticed that the back end felt a lot better.

In the next week or so before taking off I’m also going to be flushing and replacing the brake fluid as it’s starting to look pretty bad and it’s also about time for that to get done.  I’ll also hook up the GS-911, reset the “Service” indicator light so it’s not bugging me the entire ride, and I think be all set except for packing!

I keep a set of tools and spare tubes with me, and will obviously have all of that with me on this trip.  Here is all the things I’ll be dragging along in my “kit” so that hopefully I have them and don’t need them vs. the other way around.

  • Hex GS-911
  • spare front tube
  • spare rear tube
  • tube patch kit
  • Slime mini-compressor
  • small can of chain lube
  • 3 Motion Pro tire spoons
  • electrical tape
  • 3/8 drive socket wrench (all sockets to fit this wrench)
  • 24mm socket
  • 17mm socket
  • T25 socket
  • T30 socket
  • T45 socket
  • 3″ socket extension
  • 13mm wrench
  • needle nose pliers
  • 8″ crescent wrench
  • 5mm allen wrench
  • handful of zip ties

Kevin Johnson
Kevin was destined to ride motorcycles from a young age since bikes are a family pastime.  Only recently did Kevin become an internet motorcycle influencer and change the lives of no one while blogging about his exploits, both on and off the road.  He is currently (and constantly) thinking about the next places two wheels might take him, much to the dismay of his wife, so stay tuned for what's to come!