2021 RE Himalayan

Classic Goldwings

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Have installed side bags. Used 2-15 litre tactical sling bags.
Straps, mollee atachments, bags, rain covers - under $120.00

Have bought a YSS suspension upgrade - front forks and rear shock. This will replace the OEM suspension.

The rear shock has a progressive spring and the upper close wound coils are already coil bound/locked out, and only after some 1700 Kms.

The suspension upgrade rear shock is a coil over shock, uses a straight rate shock spring, rebuildable, and the shock spring can be upgraded if required. The front suspension replaces the fork spring, uses an emultor valve, has new fork caps/bolts to adjust preload.
Ordered and received a fork oil level gauge. $28.00 CDN delivered. Could have continued to use the coat hanger level gauge, but felt it was time to up the game. Will be better for oil level in the forks.

All of my riding has been on road, do not like gravel, can handle a good dirt road for short periods of time and to get from point A to B as quick as possible. Took my '85 GW on a road of 3/4 crushed gravel, two-up, and it does not make a good off road or adventure style bike.

I have decided that I need to branch out and start riding off road. Floated this idea at the local RE dealer yesterday and have been invited to join the owner for an off road ride this Sunday. It's a small mom/pop operation.

Must be doing something right becasue the owner now calls me by my first name and not just "Murray's friend". I was also given his cell number for future reference.

He will be on whatever. His wife mentioned that he has a dealer plate, goes in to the shop on the morning of the ride and picks whatever suits his fancy that day.
Mentioned that I have a YSS front/rear suspension upgrade kit on the way. The front fork kit has an emulator, new spring, spacer and preload fork caps/bolts. The emulator is similar to the Race Tech Gold Valve Emulatur in that you have to remove it from the fork to adjust it - bit of a PITA, but these do work well for the intended use.

Have a continuous dialogue on the RE forum regarding suspension. One of the issues was drilling additional holes and making the original holes larger.

The fork kit does not specify this as a requirement unlike the Race Tech emulators that require you to do this.

Contacted the company and asked the question. The YSS front suspension kit does not reauire any additional holes to be drilled in the damping rod if you have one of its emulator valves in each fork leg. If you only use one emulator, you must drill additional holes, and possibly enlarge the original hole size in the damping rod of the side you are installing it.

This makes sense to me in that most low end cartridge sets, and those from an OEM, have a compression damping adjustment on one cartridge and rebound damping adjustment on the other.
Both cartridges do rebound and compression damping; however, only one cartridge controls the damping affect.

The internal design of the cartridge doing the damping, needs to be able to do the damping for that cartridge and a little more for the cartridge without that specific damping requirement. In other words, needs to bring the other cartridge along for the ride without upsetting the balance between the two.

I'm still of the mind to order and install a set of Andreani fork cartridges in the Himalayan. Like having the ability to adjust settings without having to pull the forks out and apart.

Andreani has a set of fork cartridges for the 1500 GW that I think will fit in my 1200 GW. Interesting thought.
Yesterday was a day to be remembered. It was my first official foray into the off road riding that I have read so much about, and on a motorcycle that has good off road capability for me.

Started off with a great breakfast at Mom's restaurant in Sooke. Met Ken and his wife, Robert and his wife for this. I was there a bit early, but it was a pleasant morning. Ken rode up on his road RE, looked at my Himalayan adn was reminded by his wife that he and I were to go riding today off road. He went back home after breakfast and swapped bikes, came back on his Himalayan.

His Himalayan has the YSS suspension upgrade and he feels it works well for his riding profile, good to know - makes me feel much better about doing the YSS suspension upgrade. He has aPower Commander installed and it too, is working well. He installed the Power Commander when he first got the bike and before it hit the road. There is a unit out by Powertronix - the FuelX. Used an ECU add on from Healtech for the V-Strom. Didn't notice a positive change, but it did overfuel the engine, removed it and it collects dust as I type.

His thoughts on an exhaust system upgrade was insightful as well. There is a company that has an exhaust pipe, no catalytic install and this could be matched to a different muffler cat free. Reminds me of the HD stage 1/2/3 and such. HDs are choked to meet EPA standards. Doing the stage mods, allows the engine to breath and work better. The same for the Himalayan.

Went up to the Jorden River Dam - commonly called the Diversion Dam: Jordan River Dam - Wikipedia

Diversion Dam.jpg
Picture of Diversion Dam - water level is a bit low.

The road to the top of this dam system started off rather tame, I had thoughts that this was going to be an easy off road experience. It wasn't long before this mindset went poof, up in smoke. The road got much more narly, larger rocks, the type you would not want to meet on the road, potholes 8-10 inches deep, road crators, sometimes with water in and a few in a row. Tree branches 3-4 inch diameter on the road, washouts near the sides, and a good view of the drop to the bottom.

Knew that a good riding strategy was to be able to stand on the pegs and navigate the road and various obstacles. Not being used to this, I did get a what I thought a good grasp on this concept. Tried it several times and it worked, also pracaticed riding for short distances when the raod was more civilized. I found the OEM suspension worked much better when I stood on the pegs - more suspension travel.

Rode through puddles, over the branches, close to the edge, keeping the RPMs up. I did lay the bike on its side once. I was going up a short incline adn had to turn at the top. Had a brain fart and let off the throttle. he Himalayan is similar to my Gold Wing, sensed a reduction in throttle and power and took this to mean that it was time for a nap. Minor glitch and I know I am not the first person to do this.

My riding partner Ken, can out ride me off road as it should be, but also on the road. Have to step up my game. I followed mostly because he knew where he was going. It was good of him to have me along. Hope to ride wiht him more so I get to know the off the beaten track roads that chnage up one's riding area and make it more interesting.

I kept my focus on what I had read about ring standing up, throttle control, no death grip on the throttle, and my line through the various obstacles. I didn't do too bad if I don't say so myself. The trip in was slower for me, but the trip out back to the road was much faster. Ken mentioned that I was getting use to being on the road. His expertise was very evidient. Not only did he travel at a much faster pace, but every now and then he'd one arm steer the bike. Show off.

Riding behind Ken did emphasize the need for a better suspension. He seemed/appeared to be riding the road in a much more soft/subtle, absorbing mode becasue of his YSS suspension upgrade.

I have looked at handlebar risers, and different handlebars for riding standing up. Ken and I discussed this at breakfast and he has found no need for this modification, he's 6'4". In the short time I was riding standing up, I found this to be the same for me. I positioned myself so that I was slightly forward, bent my legs ever so slightly and pressed my knees into the fuel tank for support. My hands easily gripped the handlebars.

Have to look at tires, and tire tread profiles. Realistically, I will be mostly riding on road. This will be the deciding factor in what I choose for next years trip to Tuktoyaktuk.

When I returned home, realized that this first experience off road was a more tiring experience than I thought. Lots of concentrating and different riding requirements.

I was told on one of my motorcycle courses about a different motorcycle that the motorcycle will do the course, not sure about the rider. The same can be said about the Himalayan, the Himalayan will do the off road riding quite nicely, don't know about the rider. The Himalayan performed admirably, taking everything in stride. Thinking the Himalayan is a very good dual sport/adventure type motorcycle. It may not be a Dakar Rally motorcycle, but it is going to take me places that I would not have thought possible.

It was a good day of riding, learning, and reflection on what I might do to the Himalayan. Looking forward to many more off road rides.
Have started a spreadsheet regarding tires for the Himalayan. Have 17 listed by tire size, cost, OEM on/off road recommendation, and tread pattern. Just a bit detailed. Have been viewing videos and reading tire reviews. The reviews and videos are good, but most are done with the higher powered BMWs and such, and on dirt covered roads, with some larger rocks, areas of sand and the likes. The person(s) doing the reviews were travelling a lot faster than we were.

I have yet to find a video or review that is close to the goat trail I was on. I think if I got to 30 KPH I was doing well. Too many potholes and craters that could ruin your day.

I've been talking to a friend of mine who is a lead rider for the local BMW club in Ottawa. He takes riders out on the backroads, abandoned rail lines and such. Has two or three sets of tires/rims depending on where he will be riding. A friend of his has a 1200 Super Tenere and he apparently spares it no pain when riding off road.

My friend likes the Michelin Anakee Adventure/Wild and Continental series tires. His friend likes the Metzeler Karoo 3 and will be trying the Dunlop TrailMax. Here's a PDF of the tires and tread profiles.

The YSS suspension upgrade kit will be here today.


  • Tire - Tread Selection.pdf
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Discussed the front suspension with the local dealer. Mentioned the Andreani front fork cartridge kit. He has the YSS suspension on his Himalayan, and mentions that it does a very adequate job. Will do the YSS upgrade first, but keep the door open to the Andreani.
Spent the past couple of days installing the YSS suspension upgrade. Looked on the internet for information regarding the front fork suspension install such as air gap, amount of oil, which way to install the fork springs.

Found these parameters:

air gap 150 mm
fork oil 410 ml
fork springs go in with the stamped end up

Would be nice for this information to be on the install instructions. Don't know if I got the amount of fork oil correct, but used an air gap gauge that allowed me to set the air gap. With the gauge set, you use a syringe to suck out excess oil, and when the level needed is reached, the syringe sucks air, worked well.

Needed to pull the air box to get at the upper shock bolt. Not that easy. Front fork install was done quickly.

The company apparently sets the shock spring and preload for the riders profile and weight, same with the front. The fellow I bought the YSS suspension from is 240 pounds, slightly heavier than I with riding gear on. Did new sag eadings and did not have to change any of the settings. The front forks have a preload cap and it is fully retracted. Thinking the emulators are set for his weight as well.

Road test now for the ride quality and performance. Will leave the front fork emulators as received, may have to tweak in a year. The rear shock rebound damping has to be set.

Having new tires installed. There are a plethora of choices out there. 80/20 street/off road, 50/50, 20/80 and so on. Tread profiles are just as many. Companies do pay attention to the look of the tread profile. There are a few tread profiles that I prefer.
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Went for another ride on the Diversion Dam road. It's a good learning road going from easy hard packed dirt riding with lots of road room to a narrow, pot hole/tree branch/water filled crator road.

Much better and a bit easier second time round.

I've mentioned in some of my other threads that riding the roads on the island limits your riding variety, and that you need to get off the island to get new variety. With the HImalayan can now venture off road and see more of the island. Riding on the island will get more interesting.

Here are more pictures of the road I was on:

Himalayans Off Road.jpgRoad to Diversion - 1.jpgRoad to Diversion - 2.jpgTruck Didn't Make It.jpgWater Level Top of Dam System.jpg
New tires installed, front is an Anlas Capra X, and rear a Mitas E07. Like the tread profiles. Did a road test this afternoon.

The tires felt good even with a more aggressive tread. The YSS suspension is firmer that the OEM suspension. Have dialed down the rear shock rebound damping so it is not as quick acting. The front forks have 15 weight fork oil, may have to change to a 10 weight.

Took tread depths and logged the Kms. Will monitor over the next year.
Had another off road adventure yesterday. Back to the Diversion Dam, but the route was different.

Out today for a ride off road. Met up at Mom's in Sooke for breakfast. Went back to the Diversion Dam, but took a different route. My riding partner is a wealth of knowledge of the local area.

Ken, the owner of the local dealership, rode to the restaurant on a street RE, went back to get his Himalayan after breakfast. I noticed he changed hs riding clothes and had a backpack. We stopped after a bit at the Diversion Dam site. He went to the waters edge, took out his collapsible fishing rod, and did some catch and release. Wondered what he had in his backpack.

The new suspension performed well. Sucked up road irregularities quite well. Liking the new suspension.

We journeyed further, had another brief stop for Ken to try his hand at fishing again.

Couple of pics from the ride. The trestle in the third photo is from the '40s when this lower dam was being built

Lower Diversion Dam 1.jpgLower Diversion Dam 2.jpgOld Tressle Bridge.jpgWatershed.jpg

Left our last stop and he mentioned we'd do a different route back to the main road to keep it interesting. Unbeknownst to me, this meant a ride up a medium steep road, that was washed out and had 3 to 6 inch rocks as the base. Tried to stand on the pegs, but didn't last long. Had to downshift half way up the incline, always a calming experience; however, got into first and continued up the road sitting. The Himalayan went through the wash quite well even though I thought I might dump every now and then. Have to mention that about 3/4 way up had a left turn to do. Pucker factor was high.

This pic is similar, but I'm certain the road I was on was way worse:

washed out logging road.jpg

Will have to reflect on the road, what I did right (not much), and what I did but should not have.

I do know that the Himalayan was more than capable of taking on this terrain, watched Ken go up, standing up and without an issue. Would not have wanted to be on a heavier bike such as the 1000 cc V-Strom I had, or even a BMW. I'm fairly certain the outcome would not have been the same.

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