KEVIN RILEY: LOOKING FOR A BIKE WITH NO SECRETS
By Paul Strubell of Dirt Orcas – 11/21/16
The 8th installment of our ongoing interview series at Dirt Orcas speaks with Kevin Riley.
Kevin is a web designer and lover of motorcycling in the dirt. He’s been riding for many years but has only recently caught the adventure bug. We spoke to him about his evolution into adventure riding.
Full disclosure, Kevin is my web designer and I am damn proud of it. We ride together often and he is as solid as they come, both behind the handle bars and as a travelling partner.
He loves to ride and make an adventure out of nothing. He is enthusiastic about just about everything. Long day in the saddle? Kevin will convince you that there is better riding and a better campsite ahead.
Kevin is a great reminder that the even the most mundane task can be fun with the right attitude.
Year, Make, Model?
2009 Suzuki DR650s
Did you name your vehicle? What do you call it?
Suzi or The Black Stallion when she’s feeling frisky
When and how did you get it?
I was looking for an upgrade to my Suzuki DR350 that could take me further, faster, and with less kicking and sweating. I’d only known the Suzuki DR350 and it had been great to me, so naturally, the DR650 popped onto my radar. I found my 09 listed online from a dealership in the quad cities. I’m a fan of classic simplicity and this bike just looked like it had no secrets. I pretty much made my mind up when I saw it online that it was coming home with me. I even negotiated a deal to have the dealership deliver it to me because my truck’s transmission was not doing well. After sleeping on it, I decided I couldn’t wait the week for them to deliver it to me so I drove up to secure the deal. At the price they were asking, it probably wasn’t in danger of being snatched up but as anyone who loves their vehicle knows, the price tag is ancient history as soon as the wind hits your face. Consequently, I destroyed my trucks transmission bringing that beauty home.
What other vehicles did you consider and what made you ultimately pull the trigger on the one you bought?
Well… I guess I kinda answered that already. I will say the Kawasaki KLR650 came up in my searches quite frequently but I couldn’t find one that called to me and my research of the Suzuki DR650 indicated I would be crazy not to at least try one on. At the dealership, I had the opportunity to see and sit on the KRL and DR side by side. The deal was done. The DR650 is an awesome and inexpensive way to to see if dual sport or adventure riding is for you.
Have you made any upgrades or changes?
Hehehe…. chuckle.. chuckle… snort.. smirk…. Yes. A few… hundred. A big part of the joy in owning a DR650 is the knowledge base, support forums, and upgrade/aftermarket parts availability. Options galore! Suzuki made the “fortunate” decision to change very little on this model in the last 20 years… Wow, I have to do the math every time I say that to confirm it. I suppose you could view this as a flaw if you had a limited mind and an unlimited budget. With a little research, a couple phone calls, and a credit card, you can design the perfect bike for your personal riding style from the DR650 platform. I hope you aren’t going to ask how much I’ve invested in this bike.
What is your favorite part about it?
I trust it. It’s a blast to ride. I could stop right there but I’m not going to. For a 50/50 rider (that’s half on-road and half looking for the worst road you can find), I can’t imagine a better dual sport for your money. It destroys gravel & rutted dirt roads, single track, and doesn’t mind a couple hours wide open on the highway when you’re trying to get to camp before sunset. You can load it with gear or dress it down for the town. This bike has literally stood the test of time. It’s unstoppable.
What is your least favorite part about it?
That answer will depend on what day it is and where I’m headed next. Dual sport and adventure bikes are, by their very nature, a compromise. You are giving something up to be able to do almost anything. So…. it’s a gorilla on a motocross track and a lesson in extreme tolerance on the Freeway.
How many miles have you put on it?
Purchased in 2014 with 15,000 miles. I’ve only put 8,000 on it as of Nov 2016. Wait, do trailer miles count?
What is the best place you have taken it? Is there just one?
I love the unknown. I also love a challenge. If the road is too straight or too flat or even too damn wide, I’m already over it. Riding through the mountain passes of Colorado presented so many highlights. Hills or better yet mountains, rocks, water crossings, jumps, views, crisp cool air. Who doesn’t love that? A motorcycle just allows you to cover a lot more scenery in a shorter time than you might if you were riding a mountain bike or some other primitive mode of transportation. Sometimes it feels like cheating but that’s usually only when I’m passing someone on a bicycle on a long, steep incline and the other half of me is thoroughly tickled.
Favorite road you driven it on?
I don’t remember the names of the roads, just the people I’m riding them with, plus a kaleidoscope of sights, sounds and smells that come rushing back when I view a photo or video of it later. In general, I spend most of my time dreaming about the next ride and very little time reflecting on the last.
If you could give a person one piece of advice when thinking about living out of a vehicle what would you tell them?
Develop a system to organize your stuff based on the frequency of use and time of day that you’ll need to access it. On a motorcycle, if you’ve gotten it down to the essentials, just about everything you brought is coming off your bike at camp and back on in the morning. Note: I always over pack but that’s the boy scout in me. (Scouts Motto: Be prepared). I believe less is more on many levels and perhaps some day I’ll figure out how to live that way.