Motorcycle Touring in CA
May 13, 2004 11:00 AM   Subscribe

I live in San Jose, CA and I recently got a new (used) SV650S motorcycle. I am looking for tips with regard to doing some touring and/or camping using the bike.

Also, if you have any tips on how to have a more pleasant time getting to Yosemite and the rest of the Sierra than riding through the flotilla of bugs that is the central valley, I'm all ears.
posted by gkostolny to Travel & Transportation around San Jose, CA (6 answers total)
CJ Silverio, who's been keeping an online journal for years and years and years, has a nicely searchable blog/wiki thing that neatly lists posted links re motorcycles. She has (or at least had) an SV650 -- she recently got some big ol rocket, too. She does track days and all that, but she really digs everything her bikes can do, and between her blog and journal she's written extensively about her trips, planning, gear, equipment, and mods. She lives in Palo Alto, and there's definitely local info in there.
posted by caitlinb at 1:22 PM on May 13, 2004

Also, if you have any tips on how to have a more pleasant time getting to Yosemite and the rest of the Sierra than riding through the flotilla of bugs that is the central valley, I'm all ears.

Drive at night, less bugs (just moths, mostly). You get the added benefit of great stars, especially if you take side roads instead of the major ones.
posted by inviolable at 6:55 PM on May 13, 2004

But driving at night has other hazards like less visibility (for both you and others) more nocturnal critters (deer, etc.) and people are often tired/drunk at night too.

Can you be more specific about tips? Gear? Bike gear? Camping gear? Process? Locations?

I'd say start with the RiderWearhouse catalog. You may want to consider an Aerostich as well. Many serious bikers use them religiously as I do.

Where Neon Meets the Road [nytimes registration required]
posted by gen at 12:02 AM on May 14, 2004

The lady in the NYTimes profile has the Ventura Pack system which is a great way to carry stuff while bike camping. I had Givi hard luggage on my TDM, but it did cut down on the lanesplitting. There's SVRider and the NorCal SV group too.
posted by gen at 12:08 AM on May 14, 2004

Don't drive near yellowstone at night, first of all, you'll run into more forest rats (deer) than you ever want to think about. Just grin and bear it ... chicks dig guys with bugs in their teeth.

Second, if anyone's considering camping/touring on their motorcycle, they need two links: -- Pashnit's site, the California Sport-Touring BIBLE. Anything you need to know about routes and whatnot -- here it is. - A collection of weird old codgers that I ride with, and a whole helluva lot of collected wisdom about touring on a sportbike.

And since you own a SV, check out Carolyn's site(s):
The original, with maintenance write-ups and her old trip journal
Her new, shiny blog
(Carolyn, by the way, is one of my favorite people in the world, and she's a better wrench, a better programmer, and far cuter than I am. On top of that, she was sweet enough to check out my bike before I flew to San Jose to buy it, and then loaned me her garage and her pizza for a few hours while I prepped it to ride back to Portland.)
Reading through Carolyn's website will hook you up with all kinds of local resources. That woman is CONNECTED, yo.

As far as gear goes --
1) Wear leather. No, seriously, wear leather. I had a get-off on textile and I won't buy textile again.
2) Look at what bicyclists use to camp with. They've got less hauling capacity than you do... so buying the same sleeping bags and tents that they do will do you well. ;) Although, personally, I strap a huge down sleeping bag to the back of my bike, because I get cold very easily.
3) Think about hard-bags. Givi bags aren't that expensive (relatively...) and they're waterproof and you can practically pack your whole house. A set of e360 bags and a tube rack will make your trip comfy. Oh, and I would heavily reccomend one of those self-inflating little roll-up air mattresses. Makes life a lot more comfortable.
4) Consider getting the Suzuki OEM gel seat or getting your seat rebuilt by Corbin or Sargent. I was a doubter, until I got a bike that has a used Corbin on it... And then I did an 800 mile day without getting a sore ass.

Now, personally, I camp by strapping a sleeping bag and air mattress to the back of my bike (A '93 Honda VFR), throwing the rest of my crap in my Marsee tank bag, and leaving. However, I'm getting older (I'm almost 25!) and that's not as alluring as it was. ;) I've got a set of Givis and a WingRack on order.

If you're up to it, join up over at and check out the Western Regional (Under the Region 1 forum) that's coming up on the 21st to 23rd. It's just up 101 from you, only about five hours, max, and there'll be somewhere between fifty and eighty people riding all sorts of bikes to camp, eat good food, and ride good roads. You're perfectly welcome to just show up; that's what I'm doing. ;)
posted by SpecialK at 2:14 AM on May 14, 2004

Gen: I'm interested in options for luggage (i.e. carrying stuff on the bike) and locations. I'm an experienced backpacker/camper with a good outfit of light and ultralight gear already.

SpecialK: Thanks for such a comprehensive post! I have been debating whether to go for an Aerostich or leathers. Was your getoff in the Aerostich or do you have any feedback on it? I've seen the bluepoof blog and it's been really useful for me thus far. Thanks for that tip.

I would love to check out the get together, but I don't know if I'm up for such a long distance ride at this point. Still trying to work out some kinks for such ld riding, such as whether to pick up a throttle minder, luggage, etc.
posted by gkostolny at 3:34 PM on May 14, 2004

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