On August 2, 2010 I bought a 2008 KLR650 just five days after returning to the States after eight-months traveling in Costa Rica, Panama and Ecuador; six-months of which I spent teaching in Cartagena, Colombia. My first goal was to gear up the bike for the Trans-American Trail; an idea instigated by moto-guru Eric Anderson of Vroom Network. Coincidentally, the trail ends in Tennessee, the exact destination of the 10-10-10 binary wedding I am to float down the aisle in as a bridesmaid. So, as any lunatic who gets a thrill out of spontaneously saying “yes” without an inkling of research, I did indeed begin to prep for the Trans-Am Trail.

Now, after hours of gluing my eyeballs to my laptop, advice from a few men who have been-there-jumped-that in the moto world, insanely lucky hooks-ups through them and some help from my friends, we have spawned a roided-out KLR from stock to dual-sport glory in three weeks!

The Additions:

•    Progressive Suspension 465 Shock and stiffer fork springs: This falls under the aforementioned, 'hit with the lucky stick and hooked-up through some moto-guru friends' category. But after loading 100-pounds of luggage onto the stock KLR suspension this sponsored modification became mandatory. The stock shock is like Sponge Bob trying to weight-lift.
•    Schuberth C3W Modular Helmet: The C3W is a brand spanking new modular helmet (not on the market yet, shhh!) that was made for women. Why? Because according to Schuberth’s research, a woman’s head has different dimensions, which is why we’re cuter, of course. But even more so, the reason behind this is a more secure fit with all the amazing C3 flip-top, sun shade, anti-fog modifications with a hypo-allergenic liner for the ladies. I was again lucky-struck with the opportunity to wear this and will be taking my pearly white C3W lid out to give it the shakedown.
•    Happy Trails Nerf/Crash Bars with Freeway Pegs $214 (I saved $50 by finding half of the set on CraigsList): According to many KLRers, crash bars will save you buco-bucks on the high probability of fairing damage; pending you do ride your dual in the dirt. I used the stock skid plate with the nerf bar set, modifying it with a little bit of drilling and sanding to fit the new crashbar with some every-so-friendly zip-ties.
•    Happy Trails Center Stand $140: I lifted it two drilled-holes higher than the recommendation, so the rear tire spins and the chain can be lubed.
•    Precision Motorcycle Racks for Nelson Rigg CL-850 $95:
I found the racks on Ebay and coincidentally, the creator, Lee at 619-674-4467, lives in the San Diego area. I rang him, rolled over and got some free mounting too.
•    Nelson Rigg CL-850 soft luggage $93: I bought these bags from NewEnough.com and although I have yet to set out, I find it to be sturdy, roomy and well-crafted … and perfectly fit to my frame, of course.
•    Emgo Travel Trunk $60: This trunk is hard plastic, lockable and easy to lift off and carry. There is a trick to opening it, though. Fortunately, I was told by a NewEnough.com staffer that I wasn’t the only one tricked by it. Anyway, when the key is turned to 'open,' pull out on the very bottom of the latch - the one with the keyhole that looks like it’s glued to the case. This will unhook the latch. Although, they could just send the "how to open" directions attached to the outside of the trunk instead of locked away. Seriously.
•    MotoCentric Mototrek 7 Magneic Tank Bag $60: I got this because of its easy on/off magnetic mounting and because it comes with backpack straps. I plan to go hiking and touring on route and want to take my snacks and wallet with me. This is like the perfect multi-functional purse … not that that description with be a selling point for the majority of burly man-riders out there. The drawback is that, unlike Kawasaki’s strap-on KLR custom tank bag, the MotoCentric bag covers the gas tank. But with my options weighed, being on such a long trip with no security, I chose the on/off ease to keep my precious cargo on hand.
•    Kawasaki KLR handlebar bag: It fits securly with Velcro straps, stays out of the way and is the prefect pocket for my tools; upfront and ready.
•    Symtec Heated Grips $45: Now these were a pain in the fanny to install. I bought them on HappyTrails.com with a free pair of ProGrips. They are the wired pad type that stick to your bars underneath your grips. Wiring them to your electrical system isreally just a simple circuit that shouldn't be difficult to install. However, I tapped into a yellow/black wire that, according to my wiring diagram, should have had a direct battery connection and thus the ability to power the grips. But no luck. I ended up having to borrow a volt meter and some good-buddy electrical assistance and run a wire to the headlight/fan fuse box under the seat.
•    Garmin Nuvi 500 GPS: This is a touchscreen, waterproof GPS that comes with Topo maps of the US of A. Don’t let the $499.99 list price fool you. I got a new one for $190 on Ebay with cig-lighter charger and car mounts included. Although, to mount it on your moto, you'll need to modify any of the provided mounts to offer both security and shock apsorption. Without shock absorption, I was advised that the screen could simply blackout.
•    Cigarette Lighter Accessory Plug: I bought this waterproof accessory plug at Wal-Mart for $8.38, pinched some battery terminal connectors on it and zip tied it good and tight to my frame. The best mod; cheap and effective.
•    Aerostitch Heated Vest: This is an electrical addition, more junk on my battery terminals, but something I find indispensable for moto traveling.
•    Dashboard clock: This was a $4 addition I found at Napa. But since gauntlet gloves don’t allow easy access to your watch, I found it to be a convenient addition.
•    Superlamb Sheepskin Seat $25: I cruised down to Suerlamb in the San Diego, Mira Mesa area and for $25, I had a think gray piece of absorption cut and mounted with elastic and Velcro. Bye-bye monkey butt!
•    Kenda Z270 Tires $94: After calling every motorcycle shop in San Diego and finding out that the Z270's were on back order, I got lucky to find that Cycle Parts West keeps them stocked. They're aggressive, affordable and after much forum research, recommended. I'll let you know what I think in a few weeks! The stock Dunlops I bought the bike with were running on thin threads and I was told that running them to Utah with a fully loaded bike on hot pavement would be risky. So, I mounted the more dirt-oriented tires early to prevent a possible pop.
•    Deka ETX15L $70: This is a sealed battery that, other than the swapped +/- terminals, fits snug into the KLR's stock battery slot. It arrived with a full charge and the cost, from TriStateBattery, included shipping.

Oh, there’s more to come, but it’s 6:00 glass of wine time!

Eric Anderson of Vroom Network giving the "Vunny ears" to David Zemla of Progressive Suspension, who is utterly relaxed as he chats on my fully suspended KLR with massive waterproof sleeping bag/tent holder tote/backrest.