The day that I left, I put up an out of office notice in which I shared my vague route, asked for suggestions, and also threw out the idea of meeting up with any readers along the way that were interested. Near Phoenix, I got an email notifying me of a comment by “Dave” suggesting I come by his place in Tucson to “see some bikes”. Well, alrighty then!
Day 2 – November 8th, 2019 – Blythe, California to Las Cruces, New Mexico: ~540 miles
Missed Day 1? November 7th, 2019 – Los Angeles, California to Blythe, California: ~225 miles
Before Dave’s message, I was just plugging along on the 10 East, covering miles and not stopping for anything but gasoline. It was a little bland, but I figured I should try to cover California, Arizona, and New Mexico as quickly as possible so I’d have more time to explore in Texas, a state I don’t get to ride in often enough. Part of me was worried that a visit to Dave’s place would slow me down significantly, but what’s the point of hitting the road if you don’t stop to enjoy yourself every once in a while?
I rolled into Dave’s driveway, but it wasn’t until I saw his legendary beard that I realized I had met Dave before! He brought four special bikes to this year’s Quail Motorcycle Gathering, two which I’ve recently featured: this incredible six-figure 1982 Kawasaki KZ1000S1 and one of my favorite bikes I’ve ever shared, this dB Customs 1982 Suzuki Katana Restomod.
Dave’s S1 understandably got a lot of attention at the Quail, but what was especially cool was how he was approached by Kawasaki employees who worked on the bike. In fact, the show and his bike brought together two specific employees who hadn’t seen each other in about 40 years!
This OW01 is another one of Dave’s bikes that I’ve featured, though it did not meet reserve.
I like Dave’s collection because every bike has a story – it’s not a case of “oh, my friend told me that a Ducati 916 is cool so I bought one.” Everything has some meaning to him, and I hope I’ll have the room one day to have something similar later in life. Dave loves Suzuki GSes, which is why there’s a few packed in tightly. This one was recently picked up and you probably wouldn’t guess that it has 67k+ miles on the odometer.
Dave bought the R100RS right next to the GS because he met his wife on a R100RS, so it seemed fitting to have one in his collection as well. He’s a bit of a deadhead, which is why you’ll see this logo every once in a while in his garage.
You may have also seen a few modern BMWs. That’s because Dave runs AZ Motorcycle Rental, an outfit where you can rent new BMW touring bikes and enjoy the area around Tucson. It’s geared towards experienced riders – they ask that you’re at least 23 years old, have a license for at least three years, and prove that you can handle a 500+ pound bike. He’s affiliated with Iron Horse Motorcycles out of Tucson, and he kindly added to my hat collection before I took off.
Hat in hand (but not in the usual sense), I got back on the freeway to see how far east I could make it before the end of the night. After a couple of hours I decided to break up the monotony with a bit of hard-packed dirt.
TIRESThere’s been a big surge of street-focused bikes with ADV styling as of late, and most of them run a wheelset of 19″/17″ front and rear. It’s a fine compromise between handling on pavement with a front wheel that’s large enough to deal with minor issues off-road. I actually found the 85 to handle quite well on pavement. It’s surprisingly easy to touch down peg on either side and the motorcycle feels planted while doing so. It’s a bit odd to call a 504-pound motorcycle “nimble”, but the V85 TT does feel well-balanced and light on its feet. It’s a fun bike to hustle around!
You’ll get different tires depending on if you buy the V85 TT or the V85 TT Adventure. The former gets the Metzeler Tourance NEXT while the latter comes with the Michelin Anakee Adventure. Both are sized 110/80 front and 150/70 rear.
I liked the Tourance NEXTs for the 98% on-road/2% off-road riding I did on this tour. What I didn’t like was how Guzzi utilized them. If you look closely at the sidewall, you’ll see that the Metzeler is tubeless.
However, Moto Guzzi kept costs low by utilizing spoked wheels that require tubes. I have three issues with tubed tires on a pavement-focused machine:
1.) Fixing a flat takes much longer.
I picked up a giant rusty nail at the BMW R1250GS launch, but I was able to ride to a nearby gas station, buy a plug kit, plug the tire, and re-inflate it within 10 minutes – and I am mechanically inept. If the same thing happened on this bike, I’d be stuck for a while: take the axle out, get the brake caliper off, get the wheel off, deal with the valve steam, break the bead, go to town with your tire irons (hope you don’t gouge the rim), install the new tube, and put it all back together again. My buddy Spurgeon over at RevZilla is very much mechanically inclined (hell, he calls himself thefixxer), and it took him four flats on his KTM 1090R before he could get the time down to 35 minutes – that’s just regarding the front tire.
Plus, my loaner doesn’t have a center stand to support the bike up for any of this. Thankfully, Guzzi does have an optional center stand, which I would highly recommend that you buy.
2.) You have to pack spare tubes and tire irons.
Yes, a plug kit takes up some space, but it’s a lot less than what’s needed for a tube tire repair. Some people also understandably would want to pack rim guards, bead breakers, lubrication, a SnapJack, etc…it all takes up space that could be used for other stuff. We’ll discuss the bags another day.
3.) I’m lazy, which compounds issues 1 and 2.
OK, so I guess that’s two issues. Part of me feels like I’m being overly harsh with this, especially as I rarely get flats. Maybe I’m just spoiled because my 15+ year-old GS had spoked wheels with tubeless tires. Moto Guzzi even had them themselves with the Stelvio. I just feel that if the V85 TT is supposed to be a good pavement touring option, tubeless tires make more sense. Those of you that don’t think this is an issue, great, you (and Guzzi) save a few bucks. The rest of you may want to call up Woody’s or Kineo and have some tubeless wheels made, but it ain’t cheap.
At this point the temperature had dropped into the low 40s, and I was getting quite cold. I threw another layer inside my Aerostich, but I longed for heated grips – an option that my loaner did not come with.
Down the street from my motel in Las Cruces was a shop called the Power Center. I thought the sign was amusing as it seemed to correlate “Honda Power” with Polaris and/or the defunct Victory Motorcycles. I was also tired and very cold, which may have had something to do with my impaired judgment in thinking this was funny.
During this trip I was curious about how the V85 would do with regards to gas mileage. Here’s the log:
1. Banning, CA
2. Blythe, CA
3. Casa Grande, AZ
4. Willcox, AZ
5. Deming, NM
Tomorrow, I’m headed to Texas!
Day 3 – November 9th, 2019 – Las Cruces, New Mexico to Sonora, Texas: ~480 miles