KYLE AND KIT: @WORLDWIDERICKS
By Paul Strubell of Dirt Orcas – 10/30/17
For the fifty second installment in our ongoing interview series here at Dirt Orcas, we are very pleased to be speaking with Kit Taylor and Kyle Vanderstoep of The World Wide Ricks.
They are taking a dream ride at the moment hitting remote locations by adventure motorcycle. I am very impressed by their route and destination goals. I see a lot of round the world trips and travel destinations as editor of this site and I have to say their track is unconventional. I applaud them for that.
Many of you might be unfamiliar with the term “Rick”. What is a Rick? To help clarify I have pulled a description directly from the World Wide Ricks website, “It’s a colloquialism for people who sacrifice much of their life to do outdoor shit very uncoordinatedly, aka us and all our friends. Or just generally, someone who is very enthusiastic but typically not well prepared or cautious.”
Whether you view yourself as a Rick or not is hardly the point. The larger point is watching Kit and Kyle rick their way around the world on motorcycles is very cool. You can stay in touch with their travels though their website and learn more about their route and their bikes. I’d also recommend following their Instagram page and their Facebook page as simple options as well.
If you are a fan of ADVRider.com you can also check out their ongoing travel thread HERE.
We spoke with Kyle and Kit about their travels in our interview below.
They are terrific reminders that our time is our most valuable resource and the time to take action is now.
Check it out.
What do you consider to be your place of work?
Kit: Currently unemployed, but was previously an engineer at with an aerospace supplier.
Kyle: Nowadays? I would consider my place of work to be keeping the blog updated. I was lucky enough to save enough money to get by comfortably without working on the trip, so it provides some structure and a fun project.
Tell me about your bikes. What do you call them?
Kit: For this trip I have a 2009 KTM 690 Enduro R. It is fitted with the Rally Raid tanks and fairing. I call it a ‘KTM’ or the ‘690’.
Kyle: 2007 BMW G650 X-Challenge. I am too practical of a man to give my bikes names to be perfectly honest but it goes by “the beemer” and perhaps jokingly “black beauty” (because the truck bed liner coating is a bit hideous to be honest.
When and how did you get them?
Kit: After deciding this would be the best bike for me on this trip we were planning, I searched up and down the east coast for the used bike with low miles and many of the extras (like the rally raid tanks) already installed.
When I finally found the right one it was in Sacramento, so I flew down and road it the returning 1000 miles to Seattle up the Pacific Coast. Turned out to be quite a cool little unexpected trip getting to know the bike.
Kyle: I previously owned the most heavy and cumbersome “adventure” motorcycle ever made (2001 1150GS ADV). I was so dead set on making that bike work to be my “Round the world bike”. A year before I was set to leave on my trip I was fortunate enough to spend a week motorcycling with my dad through the Alps on a brand new water cooled 1200GS. While going over Col de Turini from Nice FR to Cuemo IT I got overtaken by a guy on a F650GS two up. I wouldn’t consider this moment as a breakdown of my ego as much as a point where my thinking completely changed. That combined with reading Colebatch’s articles on what makes a good adventure bike made me realize I was completely deluded thinking I was going to have fun with my friend on a KTM 690 while riding an 1150GS ADV. I liked the F650 engine a lot (not because the guy passed me, it just seemed pretty bombproof) but still wanted a 21” front wheel, so I kept my eyes open. I ended up finding a G650 X challenge that had every single bell and whistle already put on it. And the rest is history.
What other bikes did you consider and what made you ultimately pull the trigger on the one you bought?
Kyle: See above
Kit: Primarily I looked at the Suzuki 400 and 650. With the main draw to those bikes being increased reliability due to simplicity. In the end I decided that for me this trip was just as much about enjoying the riding as it was about traveling the world. So far, ripping it both on and off road has been worth the additional maintenance hassle of the 690.
Have you made any upgrades or changes to it?
Kit: Quite a few. I purchased the bike with Rally Raid tanks and the suspension already professionally tuned and lowered 1”. It also had a Lynx fairing but I found a good deal on the rest of the Rally Raid kit so I swapped that in and gave the Lynx to Kyle. Throw in some riding improvements like a Scott’s damper and custom seat and I was set.
Kyle: I was lucky enough to find a guy who had already done 90% of the work of making the X challenge not suck: Shiver fork dampers, complete hot rod welding set (rack, aux tank, peg lowerers, brake guard etc), hyperpro rear shock, bar risers etc. I took it from there and slapped some Giant Loop Round the World Panniers on it, threw on my friends Britannia composites Lynx R fairing, and did a little bit of custom electrical work (USB charger, LED lights hooked up with dash controls, heated grips, wired in jumper cable, louder horn). I am pretty happy with it now and I don’t think I would do anything else.
What is your favorite part about it living/working off of your bike?
Kit: The mandatory simplicity. I can be a bit of a gear whore when given the chance; my old apartment was full of all kinds of action sports equipment. But on the bike you have to keep it simple and light, which makes it much easier to ditch the chaff.
Kyle: I am going to attempt to take a departure from the usual “Like. The freedom it brings man…. And you can go like… anywhere” and touch on how great it is learning how to live with very little. Putting all my stuff into storage I really realized how much useless stuff I own and how that is just wasted energy dealing with it all. I certainly clung to my possessions thinking that I might need to use them someday when in fact they were just wasted money.
What is your least favorite part about it?
Kit: Packing, unpacking and adjusting everything. Fishing that flashlight you need right now out of the bottom of your pannier in the dark can suck. As can trying to dig through your bags for only what you need when you are staying in a hotel and locking the bike up overnight. So far my two best solutions are:
1) organization: use lots of inner bags and a divided tank bag like the Mosko Moto Nomad for the essentials.
2) run oversized panniers/tail bag so you don’t have to play Tetris each time you need a sock. The haters who think you have too much stuff just don’t understand. Weight is what really matters, not volume.
Kyle: When you are on the road moving a lot I have found it very hard to get a consistent 3 square meals a day. I am a big guy and I really start to fall apart if I don’t eat enough food. Additionally, finding places to exercise regularly can be difficult. I am pretty excited to take a few months off in Georgia (the country, to ski) and have both those things squared away.
How many miles have you put on your bike?
Kit: Just passed 20k.
Kyle: Figuring that from immediately after I purchased the bike to when I left on the trip it was in pieces in Kit’s garage, so the same number of miles that I have done on the trip: 7400.
What is the best place you have taken it?
Kit: On this trip it really shined in the San Juans of Colorado. Tackling multiple 13,000 foot off-road passes (including black bear pass) fully loaded is not something a carbureted DR650 would have done so easily.
Kyle: The best place I have taken it so far was the High/Eastern Sierra. Absolutely amazing combination of camping and riding, and most likely my favorite places in the entire world.
Is there just one?
Kit: Part of what makes the 690 special is its versatility. It was just as at home on the winding Hwy 1 of the pacific coast as the mountains of Colorado.
Kyle: To be honest, no. Anywhere where the sun is shining, its 68-88* F, low humidity, the mountains tall, the roads twisty, and not too many people gets an A++ in my book.
Favorite road you’ve driven?
Kit: Griptwister.com’s Olympic loop tour. Not only one road I know, but an exceptionally well put together package of a multi-day, self-guided trek around some of the best motorcycling in North America.
Kyle: Route de grandes Alpes, I don’t think I have ever had so many jaw dropping views combined with fantastic turns and a week of beautiful weather.
In one word, what describes your approach to life?
Kyle: Be conscious to direct your path in life, or you most likely will find someone else directing it for you, to your likely unhappiness. In addition, it’s usually smart to do the opposite of what the unthinking masses are doing.
If you could give a person one piece of advice when thinking about living off of a bike, what would you tell them?
Kit: Keep your toilet paper in your tank bag. You never know when nature will call. Particularly when traveling abroad.
Kyle: Pick your trip first, then pick a bike. It helps to specialize. We found ourselves on 650 Enduro’s because we were doing a lot of mixed riding, and in hindsight we could have made the trip much more specialized towards road riding or dirt riding and had a lot less situations where we had a bike that wasn’t really ideal for the conditions.
It takes a special kind of person to recognize that the journey, not the destination, is the point of life. Travelers know this. Was there a point in your life where you became conscious that you were one of those people?
Kit: Since college I have been developing this need to break out of routine life and do something exceptional. My original plan wasn’t a moto trip, but I have known for a while I needed to get out of the office and explore the rough edges of the world if I wanted to keep growing as a person.
Kyle: Ever since I entered into the real world I realized that I was responsible for making my life the best it could be. Reading other people’s thoughts on how to accomplish that I stumbled upon keeping in mind to avoid searching for “completion” or to “arrive” and be “done”, because once you are “complete” you start to decay.
You have found a strong place in the community of adventure riders. What values do you think your home or family instilled in you, that you take on the road?
Kit: My parents really tried to teach me to do whatever I was doing right the first time. And while I maybe didn’t listen at the time, I am finding this to be an increasingly important rule in my life. When you are tired and dirty the temptation of the easy fix is always there. But taking the time to do things properly usually pays dividends in the end (and is much more fulfilling).
Kyle: Assume the best in people (unless there is reason to otherwise), don’t take things personally, and realize that whether you like it or not you are an ambassador for your community.
I admire your outside the box approach to career and home. Do you see yourselves as people who took a leap of faith to live in an unconventional way or do you think it kind of just happened?
Kit: I certainly was counting the days until I left my job and my home with little or no trepidation about whether this was the ‘right’ decision. We maybe had a bit of overconfidence in our ability to handle some aspects of this trip (currently bureaucracy in Africa) but we are learning. Which is the point.
Kyle: It kind of just happened. It began by watching Top Gear specials where they bought old cars and drove them around in strange places over several days. Eventually I got it in my head that I wanted to do a motorcycle trip in the same vein. After telling my friends for years that I was doing it, the momentum just built so much that it was impossible to keep it from happening.
Where do you want to go next?
Kit: After this trip I intend to return to the Pacific Northwest and my job as an Engineer. Leaving all that behind as actually made me appreciate many aspects of that life, even some that I previously griped about. I don’t know if another trip of this magnitude will align with my other goals in life. My guess is some more focused, 1-3 month long trips are on the agenda. Some combination of the TAT and Continental divide trail we be awesome. Buying a local bike in South America and Himalayan India are also on the list.
Kyle: This whole trip was really centered around the Central Asia leg, the Pamir highway, maybe the Wakhan corridor, and Mongolia. It’s a long ways off but I am still very excited for it. I am excited also to be a ski bum in Georgia for several months and experience that life as well. Career wise, I am sort of placing myself in the same mindset that I was in when I was 16 trying to figure out college. Making tons of money doing engineering has been great, but I am not sure if it is what I will be doing for the rest of my life. I hope maybe I will come up with an idea sometime on this trip.