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Discussion Starter #1
I'm hatching a plan here that might be a bit too ambitious, so I'm hoping for some advice from more seasoned distance riders. This is gonna be a long one, so you might want to grab a drink...

I've been riding for four years on a 1982 Honda CM200T Twinstar. I picked the bike up for $500 when I first got my license, thinking it would be a good starter and I'd move on to something else the next season, but then I fell in love. I won't pretend she's never given me trouble, but she's always gotten me where I need to go. Beyond runs to the grocery store, most of my experience is with weekend trips around New England, mostly ~200 mile round trips, maybe max 500.

At the end of the summer, I'll be moving from Providence RI to the Twin Cities in MN. I want to ship most of my stuff and do the trip by bike. My plan is to take it real slow. I can give myself a week or more to make the trip, ride the back roads at 50 mph, take frequent breaks, don't spend more than 6 hours a day on the bike, don't ride in weather, etc. I also plan to spend a lot of time over the next two months getting ready. I'll replace everything on the bike that I think might go out, make sure she's well tuned, and try to figure out a luggage rack and maybe a fairing with windshield.

Despite these precautions, a lot of people have told me that they think I'm going to get killed, or break down immediately, or just be miserable the whole way. While I'm reasonably confident that they're wrong, I know that my own self-confidence isn't always well-placed, which is why I'm checking in with you all.

There is also a slightly more moderate option; I could make the trip, but get a bigger bike to do it on. My dad is currently pulling for me to buy an 81 Kawasaki KZ550 that's for sale near where he lives, supposedly in excellent condition with a full fairing, hard saddle bags, a luggage rack and sissy bars. Obviously that particular bike could fall through, but I bet I could get something similar at a reasonable price if I kept my eyes open. There are a number of obvious advantages to this. I would probably be a lot more comfortable on a bigger bike (the Twinstar was not designed for people of my height), and I think the fairing might help a lot with endurance. While I'd still probably stick to back roads, it'd also be nice to be able to get up to highway speeds a little more comfortably (the Twinstar tops out around 65). On the other hand, I know the Twinstar well, and have a lot of experience riding and working on it, while any new bike I might get could prove to be a lemon. And while a bigger bike might be nice, it'd be also nice to hold on to the money I'd spend on it. And finally, there's a part of me that's kind of into the idea of pulling this off on a tiny bike.

So, there are all my thoughts- what are yours? Do I need cold water in my face? Should I stop doubting and go for it? Should I get a bigger bike or stick to the Twinstar? Other things I should bear in mind while prepping for this trip? I can't promise I'll take your advice, but I'd love to hear it.
 

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I'm a long trip newbie myself, so take what I say with a bucket of salt. I personally wouldn't want to make a trip like that on a 200. That's partly because I just don't want a small bike, but also partly because the idea of not being able to hop on the freeway if you need strikes me as unsafe.

That said, my most important consideration would be making the trip on a bike I trust. A small bike that you know and have spent a lot of time making sure is up to the task might be better than a new bike that's completely unknown. You've got to play the odds. Which is more likely to get you to your destination, your mechanic skills or your money? For me? It's going to have to be money, because my mechanic skills are crap.
 

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American Legion Rider
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Well I've done it on a Twinstar 185 but that was back when the national speed limit was 55mph. That was as fast as that bike would run so it was wide open most of the time. Your 200 is better but the speed limit is much higher.

I actually think I learned a lot on those trips. Yeah, I did it several times. If your route is where speed limits wont be an issue and the bike is mechanically sound, hit the road. But if you need to keep up with 80mph traffic, I'd wait until you get something larger.

But if you are like me, you'll learn how to use that bike like no one else. Learning to draft trucks was a real eye opener to me. And I'd carry a chain repair kit and know how to use it. Don't ask why I suggest that.:D
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thank you both for your insight! A few things to add...

...the idea of not being able to hop on the freeway if you need strikes me as unsafe.
I feel like it would be inconvenient more than unsafe, unless I were so desperate to get somewhere that I hopped on a road I shouldn't be on. And while I prefer not to, I can ride safely and legally on a freeway as long as traffic is light enough that I can stay in the right lane and let others pass. Probably wouldn't want to get caught in a 75 mph rush...

That said, my most important consideration would be making the trip on a bike I trust. A small bike that you know and have spent a lot of time making sure is up to the task might be better than a new bike that's completely unknown.
I agree, which is the biggest plus in the Twinstar column right now. That said, whatever bike I go with I'm going to take out for as many weekend trips as I can before the summer's end, both to prepare myself and to give any problems a chance to emerge.

Well I've done it on a Twinstar 185 but that was back when the national speed limit was 55mph. That was as fast as that bike would run so it was wide open most of the time. Your 200 is better but the speed limit is much higher.
Glad to hear someone else has succeeded at this sort of thing! Most of what I've read and heard about the Twinstar over the years has been along the lines of "great bike for short distances, but I'd never want to tour on it". Glad to see there's an exception. And yeah, I'd like to keep it around 55 mph- even if I had a bike that could comfortably do 80, I think I'll always prefer taking in the scenery on back roads than cruising the highway.
 

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The 43rd Poser
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Do some long trips around home. You don't have to be far from home, but ride until the tank is near empty, fill it, and do it again.

I do that here... I will ride 150-175 miles, and never be more than 25 or 30 from home, stop and get gas, and do it again.

That will get your body ready for the trip.
 

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Retired twice: Navy and as a govt contractor
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Plan your route and see how many Cities you have to go through on the back roads. Can you go around them? If your week includes the weekends on both ends you are only looking at averaging 166.67 miles a day. If you are talking a 5 day week then 300 a day. Including both weekends would give you a safety cushion. It can be done with proper planning
 

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Charlie Tango Xray
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I recently rode my 1980 Twinstar over 850 miles, touring the upper peninsula of Michigan with some buddies on similar bikes. And we had a flippin blast! The only mechanical issues we had were electrical (lights coming on and off) due to riding 30+ year old bikes in the rain. But like Safetyman, we started in a central location and did a big loop. So we were never more than a few hours from our starting point, and our trucks.;)
We've done a similar ride on big touring cruisers, but it's amazing what you miss traveling at over 65 mph. Next time we're going to put enduro/knobby tires on all our bikes so we can explore more of the forestry roads. I guarantee if you do this ride you'll remember it your whole life. :)
 

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American Legion Rider
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I would suggest you put a windshield on. I made my bike ready for touring. And like has been suggested work up to the long haul. I just up and went one time after work on a Friday. One of the best trips I've ever had.

 

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For such a long trip, possibly at near maximum speeds, I would look into changing the sprockets, to reduce rpm at those speeds. Perhaps one more tooth on the front, or 2-4 fewer on the rear. Yes, you'll take a hit on acceleration, but you can always switch back at your destination. I used to ride my S90, top speed stock 62mph, up to 110 miles at a stretch at highway speeds (60-65mph back then), and changed the sprockets to do it.
 

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Troublemaker
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And I think 50 miles is a long trip on my 360!

I would say that if you trust your butt and your bike, go for it! Vibration on smaller bikes at highway speeds gets to me, but I'm spoiled I guess. I know that I can only get about 80 miles on a tank on my 360, so I would be carrying extra gas too, just in case.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I appreciate the votes of confidence. I am still going to check out the Kawasaki this weekend, but thinking of it more as a nice possible upgrade than as a necessity for the trip. Unless I absolutely love it, I'll probably pass. Maybe I'll do the trip on the Twinstar, and then look to get a bigger bike once I arrive and have proven that I don't actually need one...

Definitely going to do as much medium distance stuff as I can beforehand, starting with 200 miles this weekend to spend father's day with my dad, and get his seasoned advice on all this. I'll try to work in some longer trips before too long up into Vermont and New Hampshire, or anywhere outside of the urban wasteland.

@hogcowboy, where on earth did you find such a nice looking fairing and luggage set? I've been looking more into getting some "universal" aftermarket stuff and gery-rigging it on, but I'd love to get my hands on something prettier.
 

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@hogcowboy, where on earth did you find such a nice looking fairing and luggage set? I've been looking more into getting some "universal" aftermarket stuff and gery-rigging it on, but I'd love to get my hands on something prettier.
Back in the very early 80's I lived near a motorcycle accessory store. All of that was for much larger bikes. I reworked all of it to fit and made my own brackets when the supplied stuff just wouldn't work. Far as I know most if not all is still available from different suppliers today. Maybe not the exact same thing but close.

But the real answer is it just took a lot of looking and work. Was very much worth it for me but when I sold it I know for fact it was all taken off. Probably just thrown away. It was my first bike so I figured it would be my last so I put a lot of time in on it. Worked great for the road I must admit. I know it headed to Mexico so I couldn't care less. They paid cash for it so it was theirs to do whatever with.

If I was doing it again today I'd be hitting up the nearest accessory store or catalog at a dealer that carries parts like bags and fairings. Or the internet now. I did basically the same thing to a Honda VTX 1300 R. That was all internet. So the parts are out there. Just takes some hard searching. The place I got the stuff for the Twinstar is long gone.
 

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LWRider has done some long distance rides on a little CB350, so maybe you could look him up.

Look into the best MC insurance that includes a generous towing package that you can afford.

Joejinky has written about how he has fresh clothing delivered to Post offices along his trip route. I do not completely understand how it works, but it is something to think about.

My daughter really likes the idea of a hammock. .She stretched it under the apple trees in the back yard and it was very comfortable. The thing weighs nothing and takes up the space of a softball. IIRC

There are forums related to adventure riding that also deal with trip planning.I am sure that you could research what others have done in planning trips similar to yours. It is verboten to mention these competing forums by name on this forum but I am sure that you can find them.

Probably the biggest potential problem you could face is a mechanical breakdown that requires the services of a shop. Remember that many shops will refuse to work on the old stuff, so plan accordingly or just let the trip happen and figure things out as you go. Having a fat wallet or friends or family who can wire money to you is part of your planning should you have a breakdown that stops your bike cold.
Good luck on whatever you decide, and we would love to hear a trip report.
 

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I believe the bike will handle the trip easily enough. However, you cannot always camp out in a hotel and wait for the weather to blow over... Invest in some decent gear: an armored, waterproof jacket (3/4-length is best for touring), with hi-vis colors for safety); Frog Togg rain suits actually breathe, while keeping you dry, and they compress down to a small packet -- buy them just for the pants! Dress for the crash, first, the ride second: leather chaps don't cover your groin, or your buttocks, but they provide fantastic protection in a low-side, for less than $100. Get some type of waterproofing coating for your garments, something which will work on both textiles, and leather -- not silicone based, as these will permanently clog the pores on the leather so it cannot breathe... Get some Goretex boots, and gloves, which will be waterproof.

The best fairing for your bike, is a late-70's Vetter QuickSilver, frame-mounted fairing -- check CL and e-Bay, as well as local bike scrap yards. A frame-mounted fairing will transfer the stress and force of the wind, directly to the bike frame, so it will try to move the whole bike; a handlebar-mounted fairing is a kite, attached to the handlebars -- the wind will twist the handlebars rather easily. With a frame-mounted fairing, you will have an easier time riding in winds, suffering far less fatigue, as the whole bike will bear the brunt of the wind's force. Fairings offer fantastic protection from the wind, and the weather, drastically reducing the strain on the rider -- you can go farther and longer, more comfortably.

The Twin Cities is not a fun place to ride bike. Avoid the Interstates if possible (494/694 loop the outside perimeter, but the traffic is still heavy, congested, and moving at highly variable speeds)! You do NOT want to ride through "Spaghetti Junction" (downtown St. Paul, I-94) on a bike -- any bike, IMO. I lived there for 3.5 years, drove 40 miles to/from work: 30-minutes, to 90-minutes+, depending upon traffic, and that was back in the late 80's! There are two seasons, in Minnesota: Winter, and Road Construction. Guess which season we're in currently? :frown: Choose your bike route in/near the TC area carefully, well ahead of your arrival. Best of luck! Cheers!
:coffee:
 
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