ADVENTURE LITE: Kawasaki KLR650 New Edition In Death Valley, it’s always good to have a trusty pack mule. Preferably one that’s green.

Kawasaki KLR650 New Edition action shot Back in 1849, 100 or so pioneers ventured across Death Valley in covered wagons, seeking a shortcut to California gold. Starving, they burned their wagons to make jerky of their slain oxen and then crossed the rugged Panamint Mountains on foot. Tough souls they were, able to keep going in the face of extreme adversity. Which, come to think of it, also describes the Kawasaki KLR650 New Edition, the bike I recently used to explore Death Valley, the starkly beautiful national park that doesn’t look like it has changed much since the 1800s. Now, though, a network of roads and trails crisscrosses the place, which allowed the street-legal KLR to take me everywhere I wanted to go: Ubehebe Crater, Twenty Mule Team Canyon, the Racetrack, up Furnace Creek Wash, down the West Side Road, and eventually out of the park via Harry Wade Road. In total, the KLR and I did a few hundred miles in the park, much of it on dirt with a fair amount of washboard chop and the occasional patch of sand. The scenery, as you’d expect, was exquisite—when was the last time you saw Joshua trees in bloom? So what did I learn on this adventure? Well, the KLR650 New Edition might be old school with its carburetor, 1980s analog gauges, and lack of electronic ride modes, but that simplicity, that proven reliability, make it ideally suited for Death Valley. Moreover, its liquid-cooled 651cc single keeps the bike from feeling too frantic on the highways that connect the dirt roads, yet there’s enough low-end tractability to navigate tricky (and steep) trails at an explorer’s pace. Sure, at 432 pounds the KLR is big, but it’s actually much lighter than larger ADV bikes, and you won’t find it unbearably heavy in technical sections. Moreover, if it’s dropped, you typically can just pick it up and keep riding. Kawasaki KLR650 New Edition static shot That stated, calling this latest KLR a New Edition is a stretch. The only parts that are really new are the firmer suspension and revised seat, which is narrower at the front and wider at the rear for legitimate all-day comfort. And the suspension truly does make the KLR a better dirt machine. Kawasaki still uses 41mm fork tubes, but the springs are 40-percent stiffer, with rebound damping increased by 28 percent. And in back, the new KLR is stiffer by 63 percent, with damping upped by a whopping 80 percent. The effect, Kawasaki says, is improved off-road capabilities, reduced bottoming, sharper handling, and less brake dive. I concur; the KLR never bottomed out on my ride, and it felt harsh only after I maxed out the preload just prior to a rocky climb and a heavily washboarded road. Don’t feel too sorry for me, though; at my next stop, I quickly dialed back the preload one setting, using a 14mm T-handle wrench. With its improved suspension, the KLR better fills the niche it occupies, that which lies somewhere between a dual-sport machine and an ADV bike. And, frankly, the KLR has wheels in both worlds. But when you factor its 6.1-gallon steel fuel tank (which translates to a real-world range of more than 250 miles), along with its available tank bag, saddlebags, and tail case (all accessories from Kawasaki), it’s perhaps easiest to view the $ 6,599 KLR New Edition as a two-wheeled pack mule, taking you and your gear anywhere you want to go. But never think of the KLR as your ox, mind you, because we all know what happened to them in Death Valley… Proof that we paid our entry fee to get into Death Valley. At The Racetrack, rocks like these mysteriously move long distances. Nice place to stop for lunch. Tight sections of the trail headed down from Wheeler Pass. Motoring along on Furnace Creek Wash Road. Springsteen’s “Badlands” comes to mind in Death Valley’s Twenty Mule Team Canyon. Who said Death Valley is all dry and sandy? Not us. On the road to Panamint, the KLR acquitted itself quite well on the pavement. Soft top case is loaded; we’re ready to roll. KLR felt like it was supercharged below sea level…just kidding. Many Gold Rushers tried to cross Death Valley in 1849. Would have been easier on a KLR. Read More

MotoGP: Round #12 Bridgestone Qualifying Report – Great Britain

Marc Marquez race action shot Bridgestone Motorsport Press Release: Marc Marquez was dominant in qualifying for the British Grand Prix on his Repsol Honda RC213V, the Spanish star setting a time of 2’00.829 to seize his tenth pole position of 2014 as he vies for a first MotoGP win at Silverstone. Marquez’s best time was just a couple of tenths shy of his own outright lap record at Silverstone, which he set last year in much warmer temperatures, but was enough to see him finish 0.311 seconds ahead of Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso who continued his impressive form by claiming his third consecutive front row start. Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Jorge Lorenzo was third quickest in qualifying, the two-time World Champion overcoming a difficult first day at Silverstone to claim the final slot on the front row for the British Grand Prix. Each rider on the front row used a different tire combination to set their personal best lap time; Marquez used the medium compound rear and soft compound front, Dovizioso was second quickest on the soft compound rear and soft front, while Lorenzo opted for the medium rear paired with the extra-soft compound front slick. Andrea Dovizioso race action shot The weather today was even cooler than yesterday with a peak track temperature of just 26°C recorded during FP4; 11°C cooler than the corresponding session at last year’s British Grand Prix. Despite the cool conditions, the riders were still able to evaluate a wide range of tire combinations and during race simulations in FP4, the soft compound front slick emerged as the most popular option for the riders due to its good balance of cornering and braking performance. For the rear tire, the medium compound rear slick was preferred by the majority of the Ducati, Honda and Yamaha riders, while the Open-class riders were impressed by the grip and consistency of the soft compound rear slick. Cool and breezy conditions are forecast for tomorrow’s twenty lap British Grand Prix which starts at 1300 local time tomorrow, with the twenty-minute morning Warm Up session starting at 0930. Shinji Aoki – Manager, Bridgestone Motorcycle Tire Development Department: “After a challenging start to the weekend yesterday, the riders were able to make a big step today in terms of setup which allowed them to get the tires working in their optimum temperature range and this resulted in improved lap times, and more consistent performance. We revised our front tire allocation for this year and so it was pleasing to see Ducati, Honda and Yamaha riders on the front row, each using a different specification of front slick tire in cool conditions. So many different tire options have been used so far this weekend, but I expect the soft compound front slick and the softer option rear slicks to be used by the majority of the riders for tomorrow’s race.” British MotoGP QP2 Times: 1 Marc MARQUEZ Repsol Honda Team 2 Andrea DOVIZIOSO Ducati Team 3 Jorge LORENZO Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 4 Aleix ESPARGARO NGM Forward Racing 5 Dani PEDROSA Repsol Honda Team 6 Valentino ROSSI Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 7 Bradley SMITH Monster Yamaha Tech 3 8 Pol ESPARGARO Monster Yamaha Tech 3 9 Stefan BRADL LCR Honda MotoGP 10 Andrea IANNONE Pramac Racing 11 Scott REDDING GO&FUN Honda Gresini 12 Alvaro BAUTISTA GO&FUN Honda Gresini
Marc Márquez: His fondest memory of British GP:
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