Friday, June 3, 2011

Gearing Up!

I do believe we're going to need to carry some "stuff!"

With just nine days remaining before departure trip preparation has entered a new phase. Over 500 miles of road testing has left me feeling vaguely confident that my 125 Hodie will be up to the task of at least departing and heading out on the road. Now attention is kind of shifting away from the mechanical bike preparation and into all the other logistical elements of a long trip such as this. Like, for example, how will I go about carrying all the crap that's necessary to support a two week ride.

I don't believe that Hodakas were ever intended as pack mules. Yeah my little 125 Wombat came equipped with a sort of vestigal little rear "luggage" rack. It was probably adequate for a schoolkid to carry a couple of books to class or even a small kit of spares (big heavy stuff - like spark plugs and spare points) for the more serious dirtbike riders.

Can't help but think we'll require something a little bigger than this!

Having done most of my long distance travel on BMWs and the like, with fully integrated hard luggage, this was a new challenge for me. How to transport a couple of weeks worth of clothing, riding gear and rainsuits, laptop computer (indispensible!), spare parts including tire tubes, tools, and maybe (just maybe) a gas can? How indeed! 

Consideration was given to that hardy perennial, a duffle strapped across the rear seat. Perhaps supplemented by a small back pack. We also looked into some of the simpler soft saddlebag solutions that are available from a variety of sources. Then we stumbled on the guys from Giant Loop Moto out of Bend, Oregon and their line of soft luggage. Their stuff, which requires no mounts, racks or special hardware, looked promising enough to take a closer look. Turns out that the principals at Giant Loop are hard core off riding nut jobs (kinda like us). They promised that we'd find it easy to mount their stuff to bikes like our Hodies. In fact they advertise that their bags will fit any bike designed for a passenger. It turns out that their stuff is just about perfect for our application.Voila!

We chose the middle of Giant Loop's 3 sizes of rear bag, the 30+ Litre Coyote. Now the cool thging about the Giant Loop bags is that they combine a pair of panniers with a tail pack in one soft, integrated, and durable piece. Here's how the mounting of the Coyote went on my 125cc Wombat (trust me, Giant Loop lists bikes like VStroms, KTMs, and KLR650s as suggested applications for the Coyote. They NEVER thought about Hodakas before us!) 

Step one, lay the bag over the rear of the bike and discover that the right side hangs down over, and sits directly on the exhaust pipe. Problem? Well sort of. Most modern dirt bikes have some manner of side panels or bodywork in place to tuck the exhaust beneath. Think DL650. Not my 237 pound Hodaka. Not to worry however. The giant Loop guys have seen this issue before and go to the trouble of packaging a small, universal mount, stainless steel heat shield with each bag. A couple of minutes with a pair of tin snips and that heat shield was slightly altered to fit perfectly on the Wombat Tailpipe. 

Simple trim job to allow the Giant Loop heat shield fit the Hodaka tailpipe.

Perfect fit. Good to go!

That major (Not!) issue resolved it was a simple matter of strapping the Coyote in place with the integral straps. At the front it was straightforward to loop the straps around the shock upper mounts.

Forward straps of the Coyote bag looped around the rear shock mounts.

Then at the rear, the center attaching strap was laced to the previously mentioned Hodaka "factory" luggage rack. In order to carry the bag as far rearward as possible I also the Coyote bags packing straps around the Hodaka rack. I wanted to mount the bag as far rearward as  possible to allow space on the seat to move around a bit and also to mount something else on the rear of the seat if necessary (like that gas can?)

Center retention strap laced to Hodaka luggage rack.

Coyote Bag tautening straps laced through pegs on Hodaka luggage rack to pull bag as far rearward as possible.

That's just about it. Quick to install. quick to remove. And I've ridden some 150 miles or more now with the loaded bag in place (about 18-20 pounds fully packed) and it doesn't move, doesn't shake or vibrate, and it doesn't get cooked on the exhaust! Perfect! 

Coyote Bag fully installed. Locked down and ready to ride!

In order to acquire just a little more space for "stuff" we also went back to the Giant Loop guys and secured their "Fandango" tank bags. Fandango is just a plain and simple tank bag and perfectly sized for my Wombat. It is a three point mount with a loop around the steering head at the front and straps at the rear corners that I've elected to lace around the frame tube beneath the gas tank. 

Mounted Fandango Tank Bag.

The Fandango does have a couple of very cool, and user friendly, features. In attaching it to the bike you are, in fact mounting the base of the bag to the tank. The bag itself zips on and off of the base for easy removal at overnight stops for example. Also, simply unzip the bag part way and gas fillups are simple and do not require removing the bag. Or, for that matter, forgetting it when you ride away!

Fandango Tank Bag base installed.

Fandango Tank Bag partially unzipped and rolled out of the way for fuel filler access.

As I mentioned before, I've got quite a few miles under my belt now with this Giant Loop stuff in place. I'm very confident it'll do the job and, in no way contribute any unnecessary drama to the trip. Want to learn more about their road and trail ready soft luggage? Check 'em out at 

So there you go. That's how we're gonna carry stuff sufficient for us to try to cover the 2800 miles between us and our destination in  Oregon. More stories coming up soon and departure is only days away!

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Sincere thanks to our supporters including Giant Loop Moto, REV’IT, Strictly Hodaka, Bell Helmets, Martin Motorsports.

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