In May of 2013, I had returned home from a temporary work assignment in Phoenix where I had spent seven months living and working. The last six months were with my old 2004 BMW R1150 GS Adventure. It was very long in the tooth and rapidly closing on 200,000 miles on the odometer. I knew it was beyond that number in reality thanks to having ridden it for a few months while I waited on a new speedometer cable. I had a decision to make regarding the BMW. I knew if I were going to keep riding it, it was going to need a lot of work. I counted up the cost of parts and a few special tools I’d need to complete the work. That was an impressive number. I figured around $3,000.00 parts and tools and I figured I’d need three weeks of my time to complete the work. I’d be working on the ground and being old enough to know how much I can work standing and bending and lifting over such stuff, three weeks seemed like a number I might be able to do. I figured to take vacation since I’d accumulated enough to max out my savings. But, I thought, I could spend the monty and the time and in the end I’d still have a bike that was worth around what I’d just spent in parts and tools. Not counting the labor. So, I sold it.
Selling the BMW meant I now either had to buy another motorcycle or a car. I was not too much interested in cars. Plus, I was still working and commuting so a car would have to be carpool lane legal, but still couldn’t split lanes like a motorcycle.
So, motorcycle it was. I briefly toyed with buying another supoersport, and rode a Ducati and MV Agusta and thought pretty hard about them. In the end I was just not that interested in folding my aging body up enough to fit onto a racer-replica motorcycle.
Back to adventure bikes. I had no interest in big luxury touring bikes. I’d gotten that out of my system way early in my life from riding touring BMW, to riding and working on used Goldwings. Nice stuff and comfortable, but not what I was after. It struck me I was at the point where KTM was selling what was their last 990’s here in the States. They called them the “Baja Editions”. I liked them well enough, but didn’t want to buy new. I went off searching for used and found nothing I could get at easily. I’d resolved to buy a new Baja and had talked a lot with the dealer. I walked in there one afternoon deciding I was writing a check to order one. I got asked how badly I wanted the Baja.
Suddenly I had visions of inflated pricing or none available. None of that was it, they had a lightly used 2010 990R coming in on consignment and would I be interested in that? Yes! Absolutely. No ABS got me. Too tall I could deal with somehow. One short ride, the bike was basically new, OEM tires in fact. Looked to have been ridden down a muddy alley as a last hurray.
I purchased the bike used from 3 Brothers KTM in Costa Mesa, California September of 2013. The bike had just at 2,000 miles on it. It had barely been ridden since the original owner purchased it. It had Akropovic end cans, the ECU re-mapped to them and a hard top box that was ugly as a mud fence. The bike also had a KTM Touring screen and large tank bag. The screen and tank bag were both far too large for my liking, so they along with the tail box were first to go.
This series will serve to document all the modifications I made, mileage I accumulated along with my impressions and some travel summaries. I know for certain this is my last motorcycle. I figure this is a good place to, at this point in my life collect all this clutter for when I do finally decide to part with the bike and close the motorcycling chapter of my life for a final time.
I’ll break up the installments into year-long chunks.
I gave the tail box away to a friend who lived in a city and would have use for such things. I had used it for work, but it was not the right shape for my work computer to fit in nor my helmet easily. I could make the helmet fit, but it was an annoying task each morning. Next up I ordered an OEM screen, Touratech 38L Zega Pro sidecases and a top box, mounting hardware and racks all the boxes in black. While I waited on all that the tank bag got used for my daily commute of around 70 miles round trip.
The first thing to change after the tail box was removed was under the seat, the Tool box and ABS cover. I removed the ABS cover to reveal a larger space for tools and spares.
And just look at all that empty space.
And finally filled with tools and spares,
The tail section has a small space where I stuffed some tie-wraps, gloves and a space blanket I’ve carried since the early days of motorcycling. I even managed to fit the fork seal cleaning tool in there.
The Touratech Zega Pro bags arrived almost all at once then the side stand relocation kit, with the dongle to disable the side stand switch and a new Antigravity battery.
I also installed air bleeders at the fork caps, replacing the sealed screws. The fork springs were swapped out for stiffer after consulting with Super Plush Suspension by phone. he shipped me the springs and I was able to swap them easily one morning.
The Antigravity battery swap also lightened the load, by almost six pounds.
I added a second fan for the radiator and lower temperature thermal switch for both fans. The coolant was changed to Engine Ice at the first service along with fresh oil and all filters. Including the air filter. I even checked and corrected the valve clearances figuring this had not been done.
As long as I was there, I installed an Oberon clutch slave cylinder and spacer, replacing the plastic OEM units.
A Rottweiler Performance snap out kit was added to the glove box at this first service. And as long as I had the bike all apart I installed a power outlet in the glove box as well.
The throttle was replaced with the G2 profile tamer and I removed the SAS and blocked off the exposed ports in the heads. I never took a photo of the SAS removal.
Then at just under 6,000 miles a set of proper knobbies to replace the worn OEM Scorpions.
Dunlop 908 Rally Raid knobbies front and back. These have very stiff sidewalls which I would find useful when a landscaping truck dropped a large hook of quarter inch thick bent rod with a sharpened end and it bounced off a car and into my rear tire. This shredded the tube nearly instantly at about 75 mph in rush hour traffic. The stiff sidewall on the rear tire allowed me to control the bike to the shoulder, where I quickly changed the flat thanks to having tools and a spare tube with me. What I didn’t see at the time was the rim strip had also been shredded into several chunks that ended up with a very unbalanced tire. I was only six miles from home so a slow ride on side streets got me to my garage where I removed the tire and replaced the rim strip and remounted the tire, checking the balance again. Good to go for the next day’s commute.
Finally I felt ready to venture off into the sand of the high desert with this bike.
I strapped my tire repair kit to the rear with the bags removed and rode one weekend out to El Mirage Dry Lake.
And that pretty much completed my work on the bike for the first three months of life with me.