Niko’s Kantina Ride: BC1 (about my Kawasaki KLR 650)

Is this bike the ultimate adventure bike? Arguably, depending on your definition of adventure I’d say.

BC1, or the Kawasaki KLR 650 as the rest of the world knows it, it is a peculiar bike that will never blow your socks off, but it will never bore you either.

It’s a bike that can do pretty much everything, but it’s not excelling at anything. Pretty much as the owner I must say.

Lets take handling for example. Once you’re really into it, it handles sweet, but if you drive too slow or too fast, it feels like riding a unicycle. The BC1 has a lot of aftermarket parts that are supposed to make it handle better, like progressive springs in the forks and a fork stabilizers. I guess it makes it handle a bit better.

Engine, pretty similar to the KLX 650 engine, maybe a bit less power, but with the brakes on this bike, you don’t want to be going fast anyway.

The front rotor is a joke. It’s the size of a rear disk on an average 125cc bike. The rear is pretty much the same size, but does a better job. Many people do an upgrade on the front. Braided brake lines, bigger rotor and even dual piston calipers. I wanna do that too, but it’s hard to just find it in a random bike shop and internet orders don’t work so well when you’re moving. I hope we’ll stay here long enough so it gets here, otherwise I’ll have to blow more cash to order the same piece again and find an address further down the road.

Other upgrades/downgrades. Shorter spring on the monoshock. Not my favorite, but the bike sits high anyway. When not loaded with all the shit I carry around it’s actually pretty high. So high that I wish I was into stretching.

Another thing I find interesting the previous owner did. Clutch lock and side stand lock are taken off. That way it’s easier to spot electrical problems which I like big time. I took off with my sidestand twice so far. That’s how much you get used having this piece of equipment thinking for you …

Highway pegs. Everyone is super stoked about having them on my bike, personally I couldn’t care less. I use them every now and then, but having no access to my only working brake makes me feel a bit uncomfortable. The position is not so great either, reminds me of a squat toilet. But hey, it came with the bike and on long rides, every chance to change the position is welcome.

A very great addition I find almost life saving is my gel seat cover. Like an airhawk but with gel instead of air. This was a gift from Jay and Barbara that I used only on my computer chair so far. On a “serious” bike, when you want to go fast, I could never use something like that. Makes you feel detached from the bike. But on a ride like BC1, with that seat it has, I love the gel thingy. Could ride for hours! I’m curious what will happen with the gel at higher temperatures though.

Sidecases are from Happy Trails and they’re kick ass. I wonder when will the frame snap from all the vibrations, but in terms of robustness, waterproofness and storage capacity I’m glad I have them. Once I’ll put a dent in the spare parts I’m carrying I think I might be able to get rid of a dry bag or 2. Probably not though.

All in all, I love the Kawi. It handles like a piece of crap and working on it, it feels more like a Russian than a Jap bike. But it makes me confident to ride it through anything and it seems indestructible. It has a carburetor, chain drive and a big tank, that’s my kind of bike. And remember that this bike already has an around the world trip under its tank and we put it through some pretty gnarly off-road and crashes and still everyday it starts with a smile.

Is it the perfect adventure bike? For what I’m doing it’s probably quite close. However, if you want to ride the Road of Bones in Russia you probably want to consider a different machine and of course, if your kind of adventure is riding to a Starbucks, we all know what’s the perfect bike.

 

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