Can We All Just Get Along?

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Lately it seems to me that the deeper I get involved in the ADV community, the more division I see. Is it a sign of the times? Is everything in our society now binary with no room for the vast area between? Do all opinions have to be polarized one way or another? Let me explain.

When I was growing up waaay back in the 60's and 70's there weren't a lot of families, let alone kids, that had motorcycles. In the later years of grade school and into middle school there started to appear mini-bikes here and there in the garages and back yards of the fortunate few. Most of these were a rigid-frame small bike with lawn tractor tires and no suspension, powered by, typically, a Briggs & Stratton or Tecumseh engine. The standard of the day was typically about a 3.5 hp with chain drive (no transmission)... basically a lawn mower without a blade and put onto two wheels. They were pretty sketchy, but fun. If you had deeper pockets you could get up to a 5 hp with a torque converter or go all-out on a Honda mini-trail 50, SL70 or perhaps a Suzuki Trailhopper 50.

Soon everyone was getting in on the act with Rupp making the most motorcycle-like of the pull-start lawn mower engine bikes and soon Harley had it's own version with 2-cycle, Italian made 65 and 90cc offerings. The Harley was just a bit more in the full-size motorcycle direction with a 3-speed manual transmission. I bought a used Chibi for my first bike. It was manufactured by Rockford Motors of Japan and had a 60cc, 2-cycle, 3-speed manual transmission. I still remember my neighbor calling it a Cheapie because it wasn't a Honda or Suzuki. Never mind the fact that he never had any kind of mini-bike.

I guess the real point of all that rambling nostalgic talk of days gone by was this, it didn't matter what kind of bike you had, or even IF you had one, what mattered was the riding. The fun we all had spending an afternoon in the vacant acreage down by the soon-to-be Cresthaven Park. Sometimes our friend Steve would show up on the REAL motorcycle, the Kawasaki 100 and show us all how it was really done. No matter who showed up, or how well they could ride, we all had fun. That's how it was. That's how it should be.

Fast forward to the new millenium. Road rage, special interest groups, politicization, polarization and everybody is a victim or aggressor. In today's environment we need a activity like ADV. Something that can get us away from the noise, division and stress of the world. The more I watch, listen and read social media, however, I see the same thing creeping into the world of motorcycling and specifically off-pavement riding. On one side are the smaller dual-sport bike riders, on the other, the large adventure-touring bike riders. I don't care if you ride a small, nimble and light 250cc enduro or a large, heavy 1200 with all the latest technology. It takes a certain level of skill to ride either one well, they are just representative of different riding styles. Some like to be able to tear up the dirt roads and single track like they're in an enduro race. Others like to cover long distances and work their way through more technical sections at a crawl. It really doesn't matter which is for you, or if what you enjoy lies somewhere in between. It's still motorcycling. It's still an adventure. It still beats a day at the office. So, can we learn to appreciate the differences? Can we all just get along?

(and yeah, I do like Starbucks and craft beer... )

Do it, ...or Don't. It's Up To You.

There are many great opportunities available in our world today. Possibilities that didn't exist 30 years ago, or 10 years ago for that matter. The saying that you can be whatever you want to be has never been more true and opportunities more accessible than they are now. Things that for so many years were only obtainable for the wealthy, can now be enjoyed by the masses. Travel is a good example. When I was growing up in the 1960's air travel was a special and rare treat. So special that I remember the entire family dressing up for flights on Eastern Air Lines during a vacation trip to the Bahamas. Ocean cruises were only for the privileged and so costly. Both of these things are now easily enjoyed by the majority in the Western world...  if we make it a priority and commit to making it happen.

That special weekend, week or month long motorcycle adventure is no exception. Social media has made networking so incredibly easy, thereby opening up a vast supply of information and assistance for making that trip happen. I have found people that are willing to help in so many ways. From giving directions, to lending a hand with maintenance or repairs, to even offering a room to stay in while traveling. The motorcyclist world has never been more interconnected than now, and your chance to do something epic never easier. The only obstacle is you.

You are the one that makes it a pipe dream, a possibility, or a reality. It all boils down to that one simple, but powerful word: commitment. I heard a motivational speaker once (yeah, that was a big thing back in the 80's) that said it is as if the whole universe will line up to make something happen once you make a commitment. He said there are possibilities and situations that are just waiting on someone to make the decision so they can present themselves. Sadly, most people will not make that commitment. Whether it is fear of failure, ridicule or lack of motivation, many people lead a life of quiet desperation. Always wanting more. Forever wishing and hoping it will happen someday, But someday never comes.

If there is a motorcycle adventure of a lifetime in your mind, regardless of how big or small, why not take that first step to making it a reality? We at Adventure Tejas would love for you to ride with us, but whether with us, your friends, another company or alone. Commit. Plan. Do it. You'll be glad you did.

Finding The Perfect ADV Bike

For any of us that are on social media, forums and read discussions on moto websites there is a recurring topic most everywhere you look. What is the best ADV bike? Most of the time it is a innocent question asked by someone that is new to the ADV(Adventure)/Dual-Sport (DS) community. Some of the time it is raised by experienced riders, sharing insights on a new model they have tested or bought. Often it is a deeply divisive topic that is skewed tremendously by riders with extreme brand/model loyalty. I am writing this to help everyone come to a conclusion and sort this whole thing out.

I personally own three adventure bikes. I have a BMW F650GS single I call Little Red. I also own two BMW R1150GS's named Big Bird and 'Ol Yeller. I have owned several other brands of motorcycles in my life including Suzuki, Yamaha and Kawasaki. I have not ridden all the offerings out there in the ADV/DS world (I'm sure VERY few have), but I love the BMW GS series of bikes. The 650GS is small and light enough to be fun and more agile that the big bikes when you get to more technical parts of the trail. However, unlike many of the less than 650 offerings out there that may offer more finesse on tough terrain, it is large enough to ride comfortably at 70-80 mph on tarmac while getting to the fun. My 650 has several upgrades including Ohlins forks and rear shock, HID headlamp, crash bars, Caribou Pelican cases, Corbin seat and Throttle Meister which make it a little more enjoyable.

Then there are the 1150's. I absolutely love the 1150GS. Although slightly dated now, the German engineered design is revolutionary. The Paralever and Telelever suspension is a engineering marvel, along with the lack of a cradle frame. Then there is the wonder of the boxer engine. Self balancing, nearly unequaled for longevity and I love the way it keeps the center of gravity low. It does take some getting used to, but, as with most things, once you are fully immersed and experienced in the boxer rebellion it is a wonderful thing. Sure the 1150, like the other big bikes, can be a handful in deep mud and technical tracks, but the adventure I am most often seeking is the one that allows me to cover large distances, ride the road (or hopefully dirt) less traveled and get away from all the congestion and cagers. That brings me to my take on this whole "best bike" dilemma.

When searching for the best ADV bike, you need to sit down and list out what it is you want to do with that bike in your adventures. Are looking for something you can blast through the sand, mud and water crossings on while searching for that challenging section of highly technical track? If so, smaller is generally better. From a WR250 to a 501 Husky there are lots of quality choices. Want to cover large parts of the country, or world, with long days in the saddle at higher speeds but still maintain the ability to travel the unpaved parts of the earth? Then a large ADV bike may be your style, but realize you are paying a 500+ lb price for most of that comfort and power. If you want the best of both worlds then take a serious look at the middle-weight contenders such as the KTM 690, 650-800GS, V-Strom 650 or the workhorse KLR650, to mention just a few.

The perfect ADV bike for you? That's as simple as picking the one you like. Test ride. Talk to friends you may be riding with. Think about what it is you want to do with that bike. Not all of us are looking for a MX bike with headlights. Some of us are. Either way, when all is said and done, the perfect bike for you is the one that gets you off the couch, away from the idiot box (TV) and out on the road. The ADV/DS community is full of great people that are nearly always willing to help out the newbies, share great tracks and welcome you to the fold. Go out, find some dirt and have fun. Hopefully we'll meet you on the trail.


Don't Look Back

At Adventure Tejas we had many experiences, good and less-good, over the past year. I don't think we really had any bad experiences, because we were able to learn something from each and every one. I think that is the key to moving forward. Life is full of experiences that we can choose to see as bad, but are they truly good or bad? For sure there are some we would never wish for, however, we alone decide how we perceive these opportunities for learning, changing, mourning and growing. Let me cover a few quick highlights of our year in 2016.