Just wanted to post a follow-up since I got some good advice from many members of this site regarding my previous post about traveling to Dealís Gap. I just got back and it was an excellent trip. I left last Sunday and returned home on Thursday. The LT performed exactly as I had hoped and it was not only a pleasure to ride for such a long journey (9.5 hours from St. Louis to Dealís Gap) but it was extremely fun to ride on the Tail of the Dragon. I saw lots of Gold Wings, trikes, BMW bikes of all style, Harleys, and of course the plethora of sport bikes. Had some fun conversations with other riders and it was an overall great experience that I will definitely do again.
This trip was my farewell ride for the LT and Iím selling it now that Iíve ridden it for one year. As I discussed in the ad for my bike thatís listed in the classified section of this web site, Iíve only been riding for two years since I completed the Riderís Edge safety course in 2006. I originally purchased a 2005 Harley soft-tail Fat Boy cruiser (FLSTF) after I got my license. I rode that bike for 1 year and then realized that I tended to ride long distances all day and that bike just didnít suit my needs. My plan is to buy a different bike every year until Iíve experienced several different types to see which one works best for me so this bike is #2 on the journey. One thing I do know is that my next bike will be a BMW since nothing else compares based on my limited experience so far as well as all the reading that Iíve done. Either a BMW RT or a GS will be next but for those that already own an LT they know Iíll be seeing a significant change in amenities and luxury but thatís the purpose of trying different bikes. Hereís a summary of what worked well for me on this trip.
Here are some inputs about the bike:
The Rick Mayer seat was worth every penny. I had taken some long rides before using the stock BMW seat and had to dismount every 2.5 Ė 3 hours to get some relief. I was able to ride much longer in comfort with the new seat so if you are considering a new seat for your LT my experience would say do it now. There are lots to choose from and Iíve read many opinions about the different manufacturers and they all have their followers but I can only speak to the Rick Mayer seat and it worked very well for me.
This is the first addition I put on the bike and I couldnít imagine not having somewhere else to put your feet on a long ride. Alternating from the stock pegs to the J-Pegs keeps the legs from getting numb. Between the custom seat and the J-Pegs I could ride non-stop and only needed to exit when the bike needed fuel.
My bike has a regular and a tall BMW windshield and I used the tall one for this trip. Thereís probably no perfect windshield thatís good for all riding but for this trip the tall worked well and provided some protection from the cold air when needed and then dropped down and out of my sight line when riding the twisties on the Dragon. If I kept this bike (see the classifieds on this forum) I would probably experiment with other windshields but the selection is huge so that could get expensive performing the search for the best WS.
I canít say enough about the copious storage capability of the LT. I will miss this feature with my next bike.
The audio system on the LT is excellent relative to features. I donít really listen to the speakers since I use in-ear monitors but the features of the audio system are exceptional. My GPS unit accepts an SD memory card and I use that to store lots of MP3 files and I send that signal directly from my GPS (a ZUMO 550) to my in-ears via a headphone extension cable that I have routed down the left handlebar and under the plastic housing to exit under my seat. I left enough slack so that I can lift the seat to access the cable and when I want to use it I simply lower the seat with the cable hanging out on the side with about a 4Ē length. I then plug my in-ear cable into that cable with the 1/8Ē jack. I also have a short male-to-male adapter cable from Radio Shack that I use to plug the output of my ZUMO directly into the AUX input of the bikeís audio system. This way I can not only hear the MP3 music via the speakers on the bike but I can also hear the voice commands from the GPS. Now, hereís the little trick that worked very well for me to keep me from exceeding the speed limit on the Dragon since the police monitor this very closely. I didnít use my in-ears while riding the Dragon and chose to feed the signal into the bikeís audio system. By doing that, I was able to use the speed dependent volume feature of the audio system (the faster you go, the volume automatically increases to compensate for wind noise, etc.). In other words, when the volume of the music got to a noticeable level then it got my attention and I would know that my speed was over the posted limit of 30 mph. That speed sounds low but once youíve experienced the quick turns of the road youíll realize that itís still fun to ride even at that speed.
Hereís some inputs about the accessories that worked well on the trip:
I have the BMW Rallye Pro II jacket as well as the BMW Venting Machine but the Rallye II was definitely the one to take on this ride with the expected temperature fluxuations. Iíve always liked this jacket and it once again proved that it was a good choice for me in that it provided everything that I want in a jacket. Protection from pavement impact via armor inserts, strong material that has a high melting temperature for sliding on pavement (oh my), lots of vents, lots of pockets, a removable liner to keep warmer and increase water resistance, Velcro in all the right places, a soft collar that doesnít grind the skin on the neck, and it just looks good too.
I have one pair of UnderArmour underwear (briefs) and they arenít good. They put the seams right on each hip so that you sit on this fat seam that burrows into your hips after a little over an hour and those will go in the trash can. I had some other Jockey brand made of the similar microfiber material and those worked fine. Maybe I just purchased the wrong pair of UnderArmour briefs but these didnít work for me at all.
I had a Shoei RF-1000 full-face helmet and that was a very comfortable helmet. I recently purchased a Shoei Multitec modular helmet because I liked the option of being able to flip the lower section of the helmet over my head when stopping for fuel and not having to remove the entire full-face helmet. This helmet is also very comfortable and is even easier to put on the head. It also made it easier to pull over my head with the in-ear monitors in place since they extend slightly from the ear canal when inserted. I also noticed on this ride that I found it convenient to be able to lift the lower section while riding and this provided excellent visibility to look down and access vents, zippers, pockets, etc. without having to rely on feel with gloves. Having a tall windshield was helpful since I didnít have to worry about the wind catching the lower section in the raised position.
I stayed at the Fontana Village Lodge (http://www.fontanavillage.com/
) and will stay there on my next trip too. If I go back via the BMW car that my wife recently bought based on my pleasure with the BMW bike then weíll likely stay there for the visit. She saw the pictures from the trip and wants to go sometime. Itís an excellent facility and location with every amenity that I wanted. Food in the restaurant was very good with plenty of variety and the room was very nice with a balcony that allowed me to see the mountains every morning and evening. Free wireless Internet access in the lounge by the fireplace and also Internet available via cable in the room for $10/day. Well worth my money since I tend to do e-mail in the evenings when on travel. Plus, they have a special for the month of September and the cost per night was only $69 rather than $99. Great price and itís not crowded now but it will be in October when the leaves begin to turn. Go right now if you can get away on the bike for a few days.
It was an exceptional week and Iím not much of a person for being alone (married for 30 years) but Iíll have to say that it was fun having all that freedom to ride all week with no specific plans. My wife says that the solitude is what she thinks I like so much about riding and I have to agree with her. Like most of us I have a lot of stress in the day-to-day life and climbing on the bike for long rides really helps to clear the mind. Iíll always have a bike, just deciding on which one that will be. I wouldnít be surprised if I end up buying another LT after Iíve tried the other flavors. I canít imagine anything thatís more comfortable than this bike. Thanks again for all the advice I received prior to leaving for this trip. If anyone has questions just fire me a note and I'll be happy to answer. I've attached a good picture of the LT along side the road on the Dragon that shows the many typical curves that you can expect. I also attached some other pics from the trip.