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Thursday, February 24, 2011
Praxis: More on motorcycles from Fragraf in Michigan.
I have two motorcycles, and would like to help Sipsey Street readers understand the value of having a lightweight, fuel efficient motorcycle capable of off-road travel. Specifically, I would highly recommend an on/off road bike that is capable of keeping up with traffic on most state and county roads, and have the ability to travel on lesser unmaintained roads and trails. My motorcycle is a Yamaha TW200, that comes standard with a very wide rear tire, is very low geared and is very comfortable off road and on backroads. The stock Yamaha lacks gearing to travel on a state trunk line, but this can be remedied with minor modifications. Other motorcycles of various makes and models, from KTM, Honda, Kawasaki, BMW and others would make a good "survival" bike. I bought mine used for $1200 with 1050 miles on the clock.
Here is my logic and ideas on ownership, use and deployment of the bike:
1. This motorcycle is easy on fuel. I've calculated the mileage at 87 mpg for this bike, on rural dirt roads.
2. This motorcyle (and other similar motorcyles are) are easy and inexpensive to maintain and fix. The machine is simple, and the book covers easy maintenance
3. This bike can go pretty much anywhere I might want to go. If I need to change location to evade, avoid or make a logistics run this bike stands a better chance of getting there in a SHTF scenario. If you remember the evacuation of New Orleans during the lead up to Hurricane Katrina, you might remember the long traffic jam on the freeways leaving town. This type motorcycle can keep you moving, and avoid the inevitable traffic jam during a mass evacuation.
4. The motorcyle can be deployed as a route recon vehicle for moving larger vehicles. The rider can help a convoy of larger vehicles avoid traffic jams, defiles, sharp curves, and other potential trouble spots and/or ambush sites.
5. It is a good bike to ride, and way more fun than driving my truck, and has become more fun to ride than my other bike, a Harley Davidson.
Limitations are few. These type bikes have small fuel tanks. They can be replaced by larger tanks, and gas cans are readily available. Storage is limited, but ammo cans or other make shift bags can be fitted on the bike. Other limitations are specific to the rider, and might be different for each individual.
In your original post, you mentioned stockpiling fuel. I have done so for the past two years. I have taken 30 gallon blue plastic barrels and buried them, leaving about 8" sticking out of the ground. I'll by 5 gallons and load the semi-buried barrels. Having the barrels in the ground will prevent theft, since a crook cannot easily carry away a barrel. As far as getting fuel out, I use a small foot pump and hose to remove fuel from the barrel. I treat with Stabil, and rotate my stock.
Good Luck to the Sipsey Street community and God save us all
Fragraf. Michigan III
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How good is the muffler?
TW 200 is a 4 stroke with a stock muffler. It isn't silent, but not a much louder than a 50cc moped. It certainly isn't a harley. If you change the pipes out, it can get be loud, but that is not how I'd use the bike.
further "limited" by not displaying a front license plate, the rear license is often unreadable if bent, and the operators face is covered by a helmet - can't tell who it is.
The TW200 is definitely a good ride and cheap if you find them used which isn't to hard to do. They may be a bit low for a guy that is 5'10 or taller and they run a carb vs fuel injection. It's advantage could be a lower center of gravity compared to other bikes like the WR250R
The XT225 is another possibility.
At 6' and 200 lbs the WR250R is good in sugar sand and prolonged highway cruise speeds of 70 to 75 indicated (probably closer to 65 70 ground speed). It has fuel injection and an electric start which may be important for situations when you have to have the bike start immediately.
Most all of these bikes are good in 3 feet of water as the air box is up under the seat. The WR250R has taken me through so much water and mud that there was dirt under my toe nails which is an achievement since they were in boots the entire day.
If you want to use if for off road work and cruise at highway speeds for prolonged periods the WR is the way to go.
There are endless mods as well http://wr250rforum.forumotion.com There is even a female rider (shewolf) who has lowered hers so they can work for shorter riders as well.
The BMWrs will probably bottom the shock if you hit any off road terrain that isn't a nice fire road and they are heavy.
During the '79 Gas Crunch, I parked my van with half a tank, and commuted on an SL125 Honda. It took about a gallon or so a week. I started my cars once a week and went for groceries or something close by just to keep the battery charged up. I never had to wait in lines. When that crunch was over, I hadn't even finshed the gas in cans in the garage and I had 15 gallons in the van to siphon.
Moral: If you have a little bike you can really stretch the gas if you must.
I have an XL250R that gets 77 mpg, and XR600R (made street legal) that gets 47 mpg. An VT500FT (street bike) will get 60+ mpg and do almost 100 mph. Most big bikes will get at least 40mpg.
If you have an older bike with a carb, all you need is a spare ignition system for EMP survival, if that's a concern.
You can tune any of them to start on one kick.
You can carry a passenger and a lot of stuff in a pack if need be.
However, they are pretty vulnerable.
Past employer and his son both ride MX. Dad rides a 125 and is older and heavier but has a few decades on his son in riding. Kid rides a 250. Usually pretty close on the track practicing, as far as lap times.
Relevance to this issue--Little bikes can go really fast if you conserve your energy and use them at their strengths and you can pick your way through obstacles better than you can on a bigger bike. Also, you're less likely to waste hp on unwanted wheelspin.
As the token New Orleanian here, I'd just point out that traffic was moving perfectly well on the back roads out of town.For Gustav, I made it from the New Orleans suburbs to Cleveland, Mississippi in around 7 hours, which isn't a bad time under normal conditions. Plan your routes ahead of time. Drive them under normal circumstances to confirm what the map says, and plan for detours in case of trouble en-route. Do the same, as far as is practical, for cities you plan to visit. You may have to substitute Google StreetView for the test drive.
One overlooked route for "Getting out of Dodge" is using the Rail Road tracks. In the event of TSHTF, Interstates will be gridlocked, State highways will most likely have roadblocks but nobody pays any attention to the train tracks. Wouldn't want to encounter a train but the radio frequencies for the railroads can be easily located online and a scanner makes it easy to determine the schedules and chatter one would find on the air. I already have my route planned to reach my rural retreat and 9/10th of it involves the train tracks. Using a motorcycle (even one pulling a small trailer) would make for a quicker trip and avoid the traffic & roadblocks.
Check out www.rokon.com Rokon makes a 2-wheel drive motorcycle that will go just about anywhere. Sweet design but a bit pricey. Worth taking a look at anyway.
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