KE100 - Slow ride Chicago to Pacific Northwest

ihatemybike

Explorer
My wife primarily works as a school photographer, as such she's laid off for a couple months each summer. In 2012 and 2013 she's taken this time to fly to Alaska and volunteer at some farms in exchange for room and board. I was fortunate enough in 2013 to drive one of my vans up with my Husky chilling on the floor next to me, pick her up in Homer, cruise Alaska for a week and drive back, van-camping the whole time.

In 2014 she's made plans to volunteer at a Chestnut tree farm in Oregon and an artisan lumber farm in Washington this time driving her expedition prepped Jeep Liberty to the farms. Originally we talked about me flying out and driving back together, but then my own adventure bug bit me. Why don't I ride my motorcycle out? My wife can take the motorcycle hitch carrier with her, allowing us to return together. Brilliant!!

The trip West is planned to start after work on July 11th and hopefully not take over a week. I've never ridden a motorcycle that far, my longest being a one day trek just over 200 miles. The KE has a top speed of roughly 55 mph and seems to cruise happily at 50 mph, has roughly 1.75 useable gallons in the tank and has averaged 42 mpg for me thus far. That mean without carrying extra fuel it has a range of roughly 70 miles. The KE is a self metering 2 stroke, so I'll need a ready supply of 2 stroke oil as well. I really should start keeping track of it's oil usage as well. Knowing the miles per quart will definitely be helpful in the planning.

Last night using DeLorme Street Atlas and Google maps I started planning my route. Eliminating interstate usage, both agreed with primarily routing me along US-2, giving me a route of roughly 2200 miles. This route will have me pass through Glacier National Park on the Going to the Sun road. I truly enjoy the Glacier area and this will be my third time through, and knowing my wife, my forth time through will be on our way back.

Since fuel will be a big issue for me, I'm taking a close look to see the distance between towns and searching for fuel stops in those towns. Based on the overview, North Dakota and Montana will be the states that will give me the most trouble, so they are the states I'm starting my research with, Montana first. East to West I've researched about halfway across the state so far. I've found sections of road labelled "Old US Hwy 2" that I may just have to take and so far no distances between stations that I shouldn't be able to make with fuel to spare. I'm also taking into consideration that fuel stations actually close outside of metropolitan areas. Not sure if that will affect Sunday travel plans.

For sleeping, I'm torn between bringing lite camping gear or couch surfing. Camping will let me not have a set daily destination, which is how I've primarily traveled the past several years. Couch surfing will mean less to carry and most likely shorten the daily miles covered to ensure making the destination, but will increase interaction with locals. My KE currently has no provisions for carrying gear.

So, there's the plan so far. Feel free to make suggestion of things to see and do, planning and gear tips, offer me places to stay, etc.....
 

0ddball

New member
Aaron good luck and take lots of pictures. Went to your ihatemybike to see your bike and it is not there. I camp from my bike if I was going on this trip would try and do a combination of camping and couch surfing.

I'd offer you a place to stay, but current living just south of Rockford and hope to be near Janesville when you do this trip.

Take Care, Odd Scott
 

Eaglefreek

Eagleless
Your crazy and I like that. I would consider some way to carry extra fuel to extend your range. You will probably want to get of the bike before the stock tank gets close to empty, but just so you don't run into problems finding fuel. Here's an idea http://justgastanks.com/product_info.php?products_id=351&cPath=140&m1track=googlebase&utm_source=googlebase&utm_medium=cse&utm_campaign=export_feed&gclid=CPTbzIaUorwCFSFo7AodZxEACA&osCsid=4b6fe3bb9e3962aaa61ee024731ebd95#googlebase
 

ihatemybike

Explorer
Finished mapping across Montana yesterday. Only found one span between available fuel stops that comes close to emptying the tank. Clocks in at 77 miles, most I've ever pulled of a tank so far is 80 miles. It's a leg that I really don't need to do, but it's a dirt road through Glacier National to Polebridge, MT, a little town that I really dig.

Doing research into carrying more fuel, I started to really notice the difference between early and later KE100 tanks. The newer ones appear to have larger tanks and based on the fill ups of others' online fuel logs they are at least a half gallon bigger. If I can fit one of the newer tanks my range increase to roughly 90 miles.

Another thing I've seen that looks interesting is the Acerbis handlebar mounted auxiliary fuel tank. Holds an additional .6 gallons and is designed to siphon to the main tank causing the aux fuel to be used first. This would add roughly 20 miles to my range. These don't seem very popular as my net searches haven't found many forum discussions about them.

I'm also hoping the recent cylinder and piston repair increases my mileage, but the roads have been too snowy/icy/wet lately for me to ride much and finish breaking it in.
 

bicyclist

Observer
The Adventure Cycling northern tier bicycle route uses US 2. When I pedaled across the country from Seattle, I looked at that route and decided to go another way. There are long, empty, boring stretches and the oil boom has increased truck traffic along the way. I crossed the top of Wa, dropped down through Missoula, down through Yellowstone and then headed across the country on US 20. I think that it was a much more interesting route than US 2 with enough civilization along the way to make travel fairly easy on a bicycle. US 20 would be ideal for a KE100. Take a look, it might work better for you, except for missing Glacier.
 

ihatemybike

Explorer
Finished gas station mapping across North Dakota. No range problems found with the longest stretch between stations being 57 miles.

Scanned over Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota many bigger towns well within range, so I'm not going to bother with any research in these states.

I should have Idaho and Washington figured out by the end of the week.

My wife and I have used US 2 through Montana a few years back on our first vacation where we had some destinations in mind, but no real schedule. I'm not 100% set on taking US 2 yet. I have briefly looked into US 20, it's the route my wife is taking out to the first tree farm. Just did a quick route using US 20 for the majority of the ride West, turning North just before Yellowstone to ride through Glacier then continue West. This route would add another 300 miles to my journey. My wife leaves 6 weeks before I hit the road, so her road reports may play into my route decision. I'm also going to look into US 12.

I've only ridden the bike around northern Illinois so far, I know that's nothing compared to riding in the Rockies. Discussions have started about taking a long weekend and riding to the Appalachians as a primer for this trip.
 
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XRrider

Observer
You're a brave adventurous man. Good luck on your journey. How much would a spare piston and cylinder be, a simple tool roll should carry all you'd need to do a just in case top end repair. I can't imagine running a small displacement two stroke that hard for that far. Not that it hasn't been done I suppose, RD and GT two smokers ruled the roost for how many years.
 

java

Expedition Leader
AAron,
Sounds like an awesome trip! I would plan on bringing a fair bit of extra gas. Rocky mountain passes eat gas milage in a hurry. Especially underpowered. I think a couple changes of clothes a a little tent would fit on your bike and be better than couchsurfing, gives you the freedom to stop wherever or go as long as you want.
 

mhiscox

Expedition Leader
My goodness, Aaron.

Adventurous, indeed, and it will certainly be memorable, but it seems to me to be borderline impractical. That small an engine will be wound tight all the time, and getting over the mountains will be a handful, both because of the low power and potential problems with the jetting. I also don't know how much fun you'll have sharing the road with the big trucks, every one of which will have to pass you. I assume the bike fits you tolerably, but I would still think that it might feel awfully cramped by the end of the trip.

I'm with you on the adventure of taking Bessie's 11 horsepower across the country, but it'd still be a fine adventure with any modestly-powered standard that would fit well on your hitch carrier. My feeling is that around 250 cc, the trip would become doable--still challenging, but not so much potential for problems and worry. I envision myself doing your trip on my 250cc Big Ruckus, and feel like I'd have a good adventure without always feeling uncomfortable. With the KE, though, I worry that between fuel issues, potential mechanical problems from flogging Bessie over the grades, and dealing with traffic flow on a 50 mph bike, you might be too stressed to enjoy yourself.

Admittedly, though, free advice is worth what you pay for it . . . ;)
 

ihatemybike

Explorer
Current size ring and piston is $85. Four 12mm nuts and a couple good whacks with the palm of my hand is enough to get the cylinder off.

I've found the newer KE100s have 1.5L bigger fuel tanks and the carbs are more adjustable. Seems the bikes with the updated carb are the ones that report 70-75 mpg. These upgrades are seriously being looked into for my bike. I'm also pretty set about adding a Trail Tech Vapor so I'm able to monitor the cylinder head temp, not to mention being able to see my RPMs and having a speedometer that doesn't bounce around at higher speeds.

I've decided to carry a low temp sleeping bag, sleeping pad and tent or tarp, but will see what I do between the CouchSurfing site and chatting up the locals.

The impracticality of this whole thing is part of my amusement. Then I am someone that bought a 297k mile Astro for $250 and has driven it Chicago-New York-Tail of the Dragon-New Orleans-Chicago twice and Chicago-Seven Mile Rim, Moab-Santa Monica-Original 1929 alignment Route 66-Chicago.

A bit of mechanical adversity on trips doesn't bother me too much. On our long distance vehicle adventures, I've refilled a radiator with water from a downspout in a very light drizzel, had to bypass a heater core, remove a couple front prop shafts, replace a tensioner pulley / serpentine belt and the resulting popped radiator, reconnect the wire on a speed sensor with a sewing needle shoved in the connector and hold it together with duct tape and replaced a power steering pump. Slight headaches at the time, but they end up being the stories we tell over and over again.

A contingency plan is already in place for this trip should the bike fail beyond reasonable en route repair. Depending on when and how far I've gotten she'll either pick me up on her way back or I'll find a secure place to store the bike, thumb my way West and pick it up on our way back.

Since I've never done a such a long trip on any motorcycle (let alone a 34 year old, 100cc, $100 garage find), I'm going to do a series of training rides.
First weekends that it's warm enough to ride for hours on end, a couple of one day rides to Dubuque, IA and back taking state highways out and US20 back.
April 11-13 Moonshine Lunch Run, plan is to camp one night and CouchSurf the other.
May 7-11 15th Annual Deals Gap 2-Stroke Meet
Might try to fit the Trans Wisconsin Adventure Trail in somewhere too.
Hopefully the training rides will be enough for me to figure out what the bike and I are capable of.

A bigger bike might be a better choice for the trip West, but I currently don't have one. I wouldn't even have the KE if I didn't find it so cheap. I watch CL quite a bit and haven't seen another magic price bike that really talks to me yet. Who knows, in the mean time my plans are all KE based.
:coffeedrink:
 

kennyj

Explorer
Amongst the droves of Harleys that came out of the woodwork today I heard the distinct sound of a two stroke coming around the bend. Looked out toward the street and saw a tall guy in a helmet on a little red bike, heading east out of town. Field Street in Galena, between downtown and Stagecoach Trail.

So Aaron, how did it do on the hills out this way?
 
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