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    ac255 at ncf.ca


Charity Rides

If you do nothing else, get out and support a local charity ride in your area, such as :

They're all worthy causes, and they need our support. Do what you can...

My Ride...

One of the few things that I really enjoy doing is taking off for a weekend ride on a motorcycle. My first ride was a 1995 Honda XR250L. It served the purpose, and had been a very reliable (if not overly exciting) bike. As a dual purpose bike, it's a great bike for taking to the back trails, provided you live with the limitations of the smallish engine...well, small for hauling my fat butt around. Surprisingly enough, it was strong enough to use for the M-2 exit test here in Ottawa (which meant some ride time on the 416/417 highways)...'twas scary, since the bike was light enough to be pushed around by the draft of small cars, but it did the job.

Finally, I had to face up to a few facts:

  • I wasn't riding off-road as much as I used to (in fact, not at all since 2001 :-( ).
  • A 250cc bike is too small for a 250lb man.
  • I'm riding the bike day in and day out to get to work.
  • Kickstarting can be a royal pain in the butt.

As a result, I found and purchased a 2002 Kawasaki KLR650-C8 in 2003.

2002 KLR650 C8


Damn nice bike (hell of a lot more power than the old scoot), but it's heavy. Having an affinity for dual-sport bikes, I made a great choice. For those looking to find out more about the KLR650, I strongly recommend checking out the KLR650 FAQ and Mark St.Hilaire's KLR650 Website.


There are also a number of forums dedicated to the "mighty KLR"

Join the one or more of the forums...if you do, you'll become well acquainted with the ups and downs of KLR ownership.


One thing that bugs me is that the 'C' model of the KLR is that there is little available for this particular model in the North American market in the way of aftermarket accessories. The model carried in the US (the 'A' model) is the only one that most companies are aware of. As a result, shopping for parts is a bit hit or miss. There is some hope, however...

Luggage Racks
Hepco and Becker (Canadian distributor is Moto Internationale in Montreal) and MetalMule make panniers and replacement tail racks. Anything back there is better than the plastic excuse for a rack that Kawasaki put on there.

Center stands
SW Motech (North American distributor is Twisted Throttle) makes a center stand for those who wish to have one.

Larger Tanks
Acerbis used to make a tank for the 'C', but it has been discontinued. Some people have adapted the IMS tank for the 'A' model, but that requires either modifying the seat to handle the different tank/seat junction, or replacing the rear subframe and seat with the one from an 'A' model.

And that's about it. For anything else (engine guards, skid plates, etc), it's buyer beware. Some manufacturers may indicate that you need to look up the part number..if it's the same as the 'A' model, then it might work. Since the service manuals don't list all of them, an online source to look up those numbers would be handy. The only one I've found to date can be found here.

However, after six years, I was starting to look for a change. Fate smiled, and in 2009 I traded in the KLR for a Versys

2008 Versys


This is the first street-only motorcycle I've ever owned, and I'm likin' it. It's quite smooth, and maintains the upright seating position that I really favour. . It was a hard choice deciding between the Versys and the "new" KLR (it was redesigned in 2008), but I decided to try a street bike this time. Who knows...I may go back to a KLR in the future, but for now, I have to give the Versys a fair shake. We'll see what's available in about 6 years or so...

As with the KLR, there are numerous resources available to the owner on the web.


All of the KLR forums listed above also have Versys sections. The following boards are also available:
  • KawasakiVersys.com
  • Kawasaki KLE650 Versys Forum (kle650.com)
  • Versys.co.uk
  • All of the forums contain a lot of information on the bike. There's also great write-ups on the bike on WebBikeWorld.


    One thing I am always looking at are tires (mostly 'cause I'm never satisfied). Trying to find the manufacturer's websites for motorcycle tires can sometimes be a pain, though. So, here are the pages I've found listed below. If there are others that should be listed, let me know:

    Local shops

    For those in the Ottawa area, the main dealers are:

    For a short (?) drive outside of Ottawa, you also have:

    Others / Web shops

    I currently know of two other shops in Ontario that cater to dual-sport motorcyclists, KLR's in particular:

    For the Versys, there are a few small shops specializing in parts for the Versys and other Kawasaki motorcycles:
    • MotoWerk (aka "Speedy" on the forums) in California.
    • Palmer Products (aka "Strada" on the Versys.co.uk forum) in the UK.
    If there are others, drop me a line.

    I'm sure there are others I've missed, but those are the main ones. While most of the sites have a "Used" or "Pre-owned" section, they're usually months out of date. Best bet is to call or visit the stores. And if you're in the market for a used bike, definitely visit the Boat, Bike, and RV Trader site.

    For other sources of motorcycling info, check out Motorcycle Experience, "the voice of motorcyclists everywhere" on TSN. This show has been on and off the air over the years (it used to be called "Motorcycle Rider" in its first few incarnations), but provides some good information - kinda like a "Motoring 20yy" or "Motorweek" show for motorcycles. There are also piles of magazines to choose from...I currently read Cycle Canada. I used to like Dirt Rider, but it's too focused on the motocross scene for my liking. I also used to subscribe to Canadian Biker, but it's a bit too focused on the Harley-esque scene. Online, there's also Inside Motorcycles and the Canadian Motorcycle Guide.

    Finally, if you're in the Ottawa area and looking to get your license, I highly recommend the courses offered by the Ottawa Safety Council. Over the past five years, I've taken

    • The "Gearing Up" course (M1-Exit)
    • The Experienced riders course (on a soggy day in May 2003, no less. It rained all freakin' day!).
    • The M2-Exit course.

    There is also a course offered at Algonquin College through the Canada Safety Council...while I have no first-hand knowledge of the course, I do know some people who took it, and they felt it was well done.

    As someone who had last ridden a bike in the mid-80s, the courses provided a great refresher, and taught me how to be a safer rider. Was it worth the money? Every penny. You can't put a price on peace of mind.

    Take care, tread softly off-road, and ride safe.


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