Friday, July 04, 2008

A troublesome start but we made it to Iowa

Even though I haven’t been working for exactly one week, I’ve been super busy trying to arrange things for our ride among other things. Originally we were planning on leaving for our ride on Friday July 11th in the late afternoon after Mike was done with work, but two days ago the call that I’ve been waiting for finally came in. My ST3 was ready!

Since a three day weekend was coming up, we wanted to take advantage of the extra day. Our first stop was Colorado and having three days to get there was better than trying to ride there in two days.

So just when I thought I had a week to get ready for the trip, now I only had two days. Since we knew we would be on the road for at least a month, possibly two, there was a lot of things to consider when packing for this trip. My longest ride so far was 10 days, this doesn’t even compare to a month or more on the road, carrying all the necessities one might need during that time. In my case I also needed to bring some papers, resumes, a lop top, mouse and mouse pad, DVD's for the computer, my check book, a note book and other things I usually don’t take on a sport-touring ride.

We picked the bike up yesterday. The 20 miles to get home it ran fine, although it did have two small hiccups when at a light the RPM‘s feel for no particular reason. We didn’t think much of it. Friday morning we still needed to finish packing, we knew an early start was out of the question, it took me 4 hours to load up the ST3. The bike has never been this loaded and fitting everything just right was like working an on intricate puzzle, where each piece had to go in a particular place. We planning on heading out no later than 10AM to still be able to ride 400 miles today.

Just after 10AM we were ready to go, I started the ST3, let it run to warm up but a few minutes later it died. I started it up again and again after about two to three minutes it died. I started it for the third time, but again it died. It wouldn’t even run long enough to come to the operating temperature. Finally we let it run with the enricher so it could come to temperature. Once it reached the operating temp we turned it off and let it idle but again it died again.

As frustrated as I was in the last few weeks having to bring the ST3 back again to the dealer, it was nothing like I was feeling right now. Having the bike all loaded up and ready to go. If we had some time, we should have ran the ST3 last night, but we were so busy packing since we brought it home that there was no time to take it for a test run.

Obviously there was still something wrong with the ST3.

A decision had to be made. Today was a holiday and the dealer was closed. Do we wait to leave for Colorado next weekend hoping the dealer could work on the bike and get it squared away this following week? I had no confidence in them anymore, they had the bike 3 times and it still was not running the way it should. So the other option was to take my Honda 954RR but with the soft saddle bags there was no way I could take all the stuff I already had packed on the ST3.

The ST3 all packed up to go

As a last resort, Mike took the side panels off the ST3 and went looking for loose connections, hoping the dealer missed something putting he bike back together. I remember back in 2005 when my bike kept stalling on me, the ground wire had slipped out of the ECU. We checked that and other things, but everything seemed fine. Mike went back in the house to search the internet for any clues to what this might be and what to check and I started to re-pack from the ST3 to the 954RR. We really wanted to leave today.

Last try to see if we could fix the problem

I used to tour on my 954RR back before I got the ST3, so the GIVI top case got moved to the Honda. Then I pulled the saddle bags out, I haven’t used them in like 4 or more years. Only problem was, back when I used to use the saddle bags, I didn’t have a GIVI rack on this bike. The GIVI rack was in the way, but after 45 minutes of adjusting the straps I finally strapped the saddle bags over the GIVI rack and secured it the bike. Then the tail bag got moved and a whole bunch of stuff got placed in the “can’t fit on the bike” pile. Basically I had to leave behind most of my clothes, many emergency items, and other redundant or luxury items. I was really going to be ruffling it without some of these things. With the ST3 I’ve gotten used to having the space for all the items I wanted to bring, but obviously the soft saddle bags didn’t hold nearly as much. I got so lucky, my new Ogio Tanker tank bag actually fits on the 954RR. I didn't think it would because it's so big. I'm so glad though, if I had to use my small Nelson-Rigg tank bag, I could only bring 1/3 of the contents of the Ogio tank bag.

My 954RR almost ready to go sitting next to the pile of stuff that I can no longer take with me

We also needed to dump some of the tools that we were bringing for the ST3, and bring the tools for the 954RR. The bummer was, the ST3 had a new back tire and new sprockets and chain. Its good to go for another 10,000 miles or more. The 954RR has about 6,000 miles left on the back tire and will need new sprockets and chain really soon and a valve service. The 954RR has 35,030 miles as of today so who knows what else will need replacing. I’m still on the original clutch.

The most upsetting part of this whole satiation is, especially now that I’m not employed is having to pay for the valve service on my ST3 $700+, then having to pay $400+ for them to fix the St3, on top of that paying for the new back tire, mounting and balancing, chain and sprockets. So that is an additional $400+ and now I'm not even taking the bike. Soon I'll have to spend that money again on the 954RR. With no income coming in this will be tough, since gas, food and lodging is already expensive. The thoughts of fixing the ST3 and selling it are running through my head. People keep telling me it’s not the bike but the bad dealerships and service, and I agree. For the dealership not being able to figure out in three visits what the problems is with the bike, is inexcusable. And they never even took the bike on a test ride after the fixed it each time.

This was the second Chicagoland Ducati dealer that I’ve been dealing with, the previous place I was going to also took over a month and three tries to figure out I needed a new ECU and exhaust valve springs in 2006.

By 5PM the 954RR was all packed. The bike felt so heavy that when I pulled out of the driveway I almost didn’t think I could ride it. The sport bikes don’t carry the weight as well as sport-touring bikes. That is why I like my ST3 for touring, it carries the weight really well. I don’t even feel the top case. On the 954RR I especially feel the top case and the bike gets really top heavy and slow maneuvers are tough with all the extra weight.

954RR is packed and ready to go

The roads out of Chicagoland were not too busy on this 4th of July afternoon. We had a camp site scoped out about 400 miles from home but leaving this late, we would not make it there. The plan was to put on as many miles as we could today.

With the sun already low on the horizon we pulled over for gas in Williamsburg, IA 255 miles from home. We have not seen any camp grounds near by. We could have gone another 50 miles, but riding in the dark wasn’t appealing with all the trucks on the interstate and the wild life, possibly drunk drivers on this holiday. Any way, at this point we decided to bite the bullet and get a motel room. Didn’t feel like looking for camping in the dark off the interstate. There were a few motels at this exit and we chose the Super 8. The rate was $75 per night, we almost wanted to ride down to the next exit and see if we could find something cheaper, but that would waste another 20-30 minutes, so we chose to stay at the Super 8. By the time we unloaded the bikes and wet next door to the restaurant for dinner, they were already closed. Apparently everything closed at 9PM in this town. We grabbed some food at the gas station, went to our room and by 10PM went to bed.

All interstate, we made it to Williamsburg, IA today, 255 miles from home


Mike said...

The problems with your Ducati absolutely SUCK! I can't believe it. Good luck on the rest of the journey.

Jerry said...

I am sorry you are having issues with the ST3. We had friends this last weekend who had to adjust their departure due to issues with their ST3.. That sucks. Hope you all have fun! Enjoy the days ahead.

Jerry & Jamie

ray916mn said...

Is it really that your Honda can't carry enough or that Mike's Tiger, can't carry enough.

From the pics, it looks like you're carrying most of the stuff for the trip!

Move to the Minneapolis area, and I can make sure both your Ducati and Honda get taken care of by proper mechanics...

Anna said...


Mike wants to get the GIVI side bags, but they can not be used with the GIVI top case. Only way to have all 3 cases on a Tiger is to get all motech racks. The Triumph side cases are small and very expensive, he rather get GIVIs. For now he's making it work with just using the large tail bag but on a trip like this with camping gear it's not enough.

We’re actually carrying our own stuff and Mike is carrying the tent.


PS) Too cold in MN :)