My First Versys-X Mods

One of the nice things about motorcycles is how available customizations and accessories are. It is also the case that most motorcyclists will modify their bikes in one way or another, and I think this is much greater than the number of car drivers that modify.

So I have already started to modify my Versys. I have one modification and one accessory that I have already added to the bike.

My First Accessory

I need my phone with me when I ride for navigation and for music.  So after a dig through Instagram and the web, I decided on a Quad Lock case and mount and I have to say it was easy to fit and looks great.  Rather foolish of me but I did not take pics of the mount, but then I guess you have all seen a phone mount before.

My First Modification

I noticed that when I got the Versys over about 50mph, I started to get a lot of wind noise and buffeting around my helmet. Ducking down behind the screen cleared that up so clearly I needed a taller screen.  After some research I ordered a Puig screen from Revzilla.  The process of changing the screen out is very simple and hardly worth writing about.  The whole process took maybe 10-15 minutes as it is just 4 bolts.

The old screen

The new screen

After fitting the new screen I took the bike for a short ride where, after letting it get warmed up, I took it up to about 75-80mph and the wind noise and buffeting is now much more tolerable.  I need to take it out on the highway and give it run to see how tolerable highway riding will be but my first impression is that it will be just fine.

Versys-X Upgrades

Now that I have ridden the Versys-x 300 a few times, in my quest to get it run in, there are some changes I might like to make.  The Kawasaki Versys-X 300 is an adventure bike, meaning it is a road bike but can also be taken off road; at least to a limited extent.

Some of these changes are driven by the ride and some by what I want to do later in the year.

Road Riding

The first thing I should add is a taller screen. On my ride this evening (2023.05.21) I noticed considerable wind noise above ~45mph. Ducking down behind the small windshield reduced the noise considerably, so I guess I need to get a slightly larger screen.

Puig Touring Windscreen Kawasaki Versys 300

Frankly that is probably all I would change about the bike itself for road use, but I also want to do some basic adventure riding, and that means adding some more parts to the bike.

Off Road Riding

I am not planning anything fancy here but I do now own an Adventure bike so I should take myself on some off-road adventures.  Maybe some logging trails or some dirt/gravel roads.  There are a few around here and I should give them a try.  So what should I add to the bike for this?

Hand Guards

There are a variety of hand guards available but I think I will get the kawasaki hand guards.

Versys®-X 300 ABS Hand Guard Shell Set

Add a Skid Plate & Engine Bars

Some of the gravel roads might have bigger bits of gravel and we don’t want the exhaust to be damaged.

2017 - 2023 Kawasaki Versys-X 300 Skid Plate

Add a Tool kit.

I will need to carry a tool kit and at the moment all I can think that I will need are 8, 10 & 12 mm spanners and a screwdriver.  Might also need a spare spark plug, and maybe a tire changing/repair kit.

Replace the Tires?

The bike came with Trail Winner 100/90-19 M/C on the front and 130/80-17M/C on the back.  These are 70/30 on/off road tires so most likely perfect for what I need.  At this time I see no need to replace them. 

And I think that is all I need to do to the bike to improve my on road experience and help it survive some off road riding.  As I make these changes I will detail each change with a blog post.

Gerber Compact Keychain Knife

I recently picket up this little best.  It's is a Gerber Gear 30-001691 Key Note Compact Keychain Knife.  It has a one Inch blade, and as you can see comes in my favorite color, black.  Now this is a little chunky for a keychain knife, I am not sure I want this on the zipper of my anorak.

Chonky little fella.

It has a small tab to flip the blade open and a substantial belt loop. I have not carried it on my belt, I am not sure how that would work. I have also not carried it on my keyring as it's a bit heavy for that so i am not really sure where this fits.  With that said though, it is very well made and feels very solide when in use.

The blade is nominally 1" but as you can see from the pic it is a little irregular in shape however it has 2 cutting edges and really feels more like chisel than a knife. For cutting up boxes, opening Amazon packages and other types of packages, it works really well, and is very sharp right out of the box.

I like the knife and it is a good addition to my collection, but I am not sure where this would fit in real life. Maybe hooked to a pack or belt as a last ditch emergency knife perhaps but even then, there are better options.  Good solid knife though.

Can I catch a break?

So my new Kawasaki still has only ~150 miles on it.  Now you would think that having a new bike, I would be riding it as much as is possible, and I am, but; the weather currently sucks.

Look at this shit!

The weather has been like this for the past few weeks, so my opportunities to ride have been very few.  What makes it even worse is this:

I work from 6am to 3pm.  This means I miss all the sunshine.  I finish work at about the time the storms start. And it has been like this for weeks.  My frustration level is sky high at the moment but what can you do.  I hope this weather breaks sometime over the next week or so, so that we can get back to the Colorado sunshine and some riding!

It's New SAK Time Again!

It is that time of year that I purchase my limited edition Swiss Army Knives.  This year the collection is the same as last year with the exception of the color.  Now I wasn't sure about the color as from what I could see online, it's not an attractive color. Some might like it, but me, not so much.  But I purchased them anyway in the hopes that the color would be better in reality.

So was the color better? No, no it wasn't.  I love the knives but the color this year is ghastly.
Pioneer X Alox

Hunter Pro Alox

Hunter Pro again

Classic SD Alox

Yeah this is not a nice color at all but what do you, dear reader, think of the color?

Up into the Mountains.

Today is memorial day so I get the day off.  After a ride out on the wife's trike for breakfast, I decided to go on a solo ride to add some miles to the Versys-X in order to get it broken in.  I live in northern Colorado and I had noticed some twisty roads near where I live so I figured I would explore them.

Now at the moment I do not have a mount for my phone (I have a Quad lock on order) so I figured out my route using Google maps and off I went.  Of course my memory failed me and I ended up going down roads I had no intention of going down, and missing the roads I was supposed to take.

This ended up with me heading up in elevation as I headed into the mountains, on my way to Nederland, which is sort of out there.  It got a bit cold up in the mountains; as I increased in elevation the temperature dropped. I felt it because I was wearing my summer jacket, which was certainly suitable for my starting location, but was a little breezy for the higher elevations.

The route I took, not the one I planned

Despite taking the wrong route, I had an excellent ride.  The Versys behaved very well, but being in its break in period I did not let the revs get any higher than about 7500rpm peak and 6000rpm continuous.  The bike seemed to be quite happy at these rpms. It really does have some pep when you give it some throttle so I am looking forward to getting out of the break in period.

The view

One advantage of taking the wrong road was of course the views.  Being so close to the mountains and seeing these views as I trundled along was amazing.  And the roads, despite the car traffic were still fun and twisty.  Because this is a new bike, a new bike to me and still in its break in period, I am still in that phase where I am getting to trust the bike. New tires and twisty roads had me a little nervous but after me and the tires got nicely warmed up, we were off to the races.

The overall ride was about an hour and a half and put me at about 55 miles, so the bike is now at about 150 miles.  Just another 450 to go!

Back in the Saddle - 4/4

Clutching my new motorcycle endorsement in my hand, it was time to go and purchase a bike.  But what to buy? There are so many choices! 

Over the past few months I have spent time in most of the local bike dealers in the Northern Colorado area, sitting on bikes and considering what to get.  I did briefly consider another sport bike as that is what I am most familiar with but having completed the bike training, I know my reactions and eyesight are not what they used to be, so lets leave the sport bikes in the past where they belong.

I did look at cruisers, especially the Kawasaki Vulcan 650 and the Indian Scouts.  I also took a look at some of the triumphs and BMWs. Very nice all of them.  But the conclusion I came to was this; in my first year of riding I will just be getting back into it, relearning and honing skills I had let atrophy.  Therefore the ideal solution seemed to be a mid capacity adventure bike.  

The choice for me came down to either the BMW G310GS or the Kawasaki Versys-x 300. Both excellent bikes and I was lucky enough to ride both almost back to back.  

And this is what I chose

So my choice was the Kawasaki Versys-X 300.  It is a 300cc twin but it's the right height for me, light, maneuverable and as you can see shiny and new.  At the time of writing I have owned it less than one week and so have put a grand total of 5 miles on it which is the distance from the local bike shop to home.

Yeah its all shiny!

I had fun riding it home, but since then, work and the weather have got in the way of riding, but this coming weekend looks like I might have some opportunity for saddle time. lets hope that works out. 

As a footnote, anyone who has owned a bike knows they tend to multiply after a while. I think next year a BMW R nine T is a possibility to add to the collection. Time will tell...

Back in the Saddle - 3/4

Part 3: Testing Time

The day soon approached for my motorcycle training and testing.  The MSF course is really quite comprehensive, covering a lot of slow speed maneuvering and general road safety.  

Sadly I was so busy learning and relearning how to ride a motorcycle that I did not get a single picture during the entire two days.

Pre Course Online Training

Prior to taking the training, I was required to complete the MSF online course.  As it turns out, this is a 5 hour online course, and gods it is so boring. But pay attention to it because there is a test at the end and the material in that course comes up time and again in the 2 day course. 

Day 1

The first day is mostly concerned with getting you used to the bike, and executing some slow speed maneuvers. If you can ride a push bike most of this should be fairly simple, except there was not a lot of time spent on getting you used to the bike controls.  It seems like there is an assumption that you can drive, and think this is perhaps a failing of the course.

The bike I got was a Honda Nighthawk 250. Not a bad bike but it had this feature where once it got warmed up, Neutral was nowhere to be found.  To get it into Neutral, one had to turn off the bike and then restart it, and it would pop right into neutral.  

Day 2

Day two saw more of the slow speed maneuvering but also we started to speed up a little. The morning and though lunch was training and some classroom sessions, but the afternoon was testing time.

The Test

The test comprised of 5 parts practical and a final written test.  The written test is easy, as it is multiple choice, and as long as you have been paying attention to the online course and classroom sessions, it will be quite straight forward. 
The practical test is based on the exercises that the instructors put you through over the past day or so, so again none of this will be a surprise.   From what I can remember, the test for me comprised the following 5 stages:
  • Slalom in and out of the cones
  • The U Turn 
  • Emergency stop
  • Swerve
  • Sharp turn from stationary
In the end I passed, dropping a few points on the riding test and scoring 100% on the written test.  That got me a little card that I took to the DMV to get my motorcycle endorsement on my license. 

Now the next step is to go and buy a bike and start riding. 

My First Big Ride

Now that I have my Versys-X, what next? Do I just go out and enjoy it, or do I blog about it. Well you know I am going to blog about all my bike related activities.  So here goes.

After getting the bike, a few weeks ago, I have taken the odd short trip about town, but I decided it was time to take it for a bit of a run. Now given that the bike is brand new, it came out of the show room with one mile on the odometer, I need to break it in. According to Kawasaki I need to keep the revs below 4000rpm for the first 600 miles.  This is of course laughable because at 4000rpm even in 6th gear you might be doing 40mph and would in danger of being crushed by passing vehicles. 

For most of my short trips I have been keeping the revs no higher than about 6000rpm, and they get varied a lot as I navigate traffic and go up and down through the gears. 

However the long(ish) trip that I took, I did bring the revs up to about 7500rpm, and it seems just fine with that. I did not record the ride this time but I have ordered a quad lock for my phone and might get myself a camera and start to record some of my rides.   This ride was about an hour 20 minutes and covered about 55 miles, getting me almost to 100 miles on the clock!

Back in the Saddle - 2/4

Part 2: Shopping & The Testing Process

Now that I have made the decision to get a bike and become a fair weather local rider, I have to go about the task of getting my riding gear and my license.

I started by going to my local bike dealer for a mooch about.  We don't have that many bike dealers in town but my local dealer is a Kawasaki dealer with a good selection.  I walked out of there with an appreciation for Kawasaki adventure bikes, and I managed to get a helmet and gloves

The local bike shop (Elite Powersports of Longmont) pointed me in the direction of a local motorcycle school called ChainReaction.  After a brief email conversation I booked myself in for a two day training course.

As part of the training and because the training is put together by the MSF, I had to take the MSF online course, all 5 hours of it.  

I also paid a visit to the local Cycle Gear store for a jacket and some boots.
This is my gear list:
  • Shoei RF1400 Helmet
  • Read Tasker Waterproof Boots
  • Alpinestars C-1 V2 Windstopper Gloves
  • Street & Steel Mission Moto Shirt
I consider this the bare minimum and as the year goes on I will add a better jacket, maybe another pair of boots and more gloves. I may even get another helmet as it never hurts to have a spare helmet.