The penguin's motorcycling and Jeep blog

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Menagerie

The Silver Demon, so-called because it whispered in my ear, "Buy me! Buy me!" until I did: The Demon is a 2006 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited with a 2" spacer lift, 32" tires, and an Aussie Locker in the front axle. This was the last year of the classic Jeep TJ design and 4.0L inline 6 engine that could trace its heritage to the Rambler six's of the 1960's. It is slow, crude, evil-handling, drinks gas like it's going out of style, reliable as dirt as long as you keep on top of the maintenance, and it'll go anywhere reasonable for a 4x4 to go, and some places that aren't -- I have a couple of dents on the underside to prove the latter.


The Green Mule, so-called because, well, you'll see: The Mule is a 2002 Kawasaki KLR-650 dual-sport, outfitted here for some serious desert expeditioning. With the 7 gallon gas tank and 40mpg fuel economy it'll go over 250 miles on a tank of gas in relative comfort. The KLR is a crude and simple design that will run on any gasoline capable of being called "gas", is fixable with duct tape and a BFH (Big Fuckin' Hammer), and reliable as dirt. It's main problems are a) very weak on power (as in, top speed of about 75mph loaded down like the picture slowing down to about 50mph on long mountain grades), b) a ton of vibration, and c) a feeble headlight that fireflies laugh at. Unfortunately fixing parts a and b is very expensive and part c is unfixable without dumping the OEM headlight cluster entirely because the square headlight reflector simply won't produce an acceptable headlight pattern. Plus the KLR lacks the electrical generator capacity to run a high wattage bulb even if you did dump the OEM headlight and fairing.


The Wabs: Sorry I don't have a better picture yet, I just brought it home and this is the best that I can do in my garage. This is a 2008 Suzuki DL650AK8 V-Strom ABS. It is a sweet bike that is comfortable for the solo tourer when equipped with hard luggage and a big windshield (which this one will be), but still lightweight enough to be a fun commuter in the city when you strip the luggage off and run with the small OEM windshield. It has nearly twice the horsepower of the KLR and headlights that'll light up the night, especially now that I've put Phillips +50 H4 bulbs in there -- twice the headlight power of my KLR, with much better reflectors that put the light where it needs to be. The Weestrom (as the 650 V-Strom is nicknamed) has only one real weakness as a light tourer, and that's a lack of electrical power. You can run heated grips and a heated jacket liner, and a couple of light electronic gadgets like a GPS and an XM radio, and that's pretty much it. But you don't need auxiliary lights with the excellent headlights that the Weestrom has, so that's not a real problem. The Wee has only one big problem, and that problem is a serious lack of personality -- it is a pleasant bike that is good at everything but doesn't have the character of the KLR or Jeep. On the upside it gets 60mpg due to the more modern fuel-injected engine and while it has all the personality of a blender, it is as reliable as one too.

So that's the menagerie. More on them as we go along...

-- Badtux the Motorin' Penguin

1 comment:

James F. Elliott said...

Sweet. I want a motorcycle.