There were three of us for most of the ride, all mounted
on Kawasaki KLR650s of various ages. Due to the
distances and lack of services, Tom fitted an IMS gas tank
on his 2004 KLR650 that held nearly 7 gallons of gas. He
became the default “mother ship” of the group. I carried
a siphon tube and stayed close to him when distances
between gas stations lengthened.
Ross’ 2007 KLR was pumped up to a 685 at its last
rebuild, but despite this, his gas mileage was still good
enough to get him out about 300 miles before he began
My ’ 99 KLR is capable of getting up to 63 mpg, so I kept
the stock tank. I wanted a steering stabilizer on my bike,
not only for the customary stability on dirt, but to help
the bike’s manners in strong crosswinds on the highway.
Since I was unable to find one made for the KLR, I enlisted
Tim Morrissey at West Tek in Topeka, Kansas, to install a
WER stabilizer on the KLR. He also built the custom racks
for my bike.
We all kept the stock mufflers and spark arresters on
our bikes in the interest of keeping them quiet and being
able to run stock jetting. About all we had to do was turn
our pilot fuel screw in about a quarter turn or less when we
rode above 9000 feet.
Tom and I rode highways to the starting point in New
Mexico, making the whole trip close to 5500 miles—about
40 percent dirt and 60 percent pavement. We wanted a
compromise tire with a dirt design that worked well in
both environments and would last long enough to do the
job. We chose Continental TKC 80s. These tires hold up
well and work well in all environments. We knew we could
easily get about 7000 miles from a front and expected to
get about 4000 miles from the rear, which is lower than
normal because of the many miles of hot blacktop we
rode. After about 2000 miles of riding, we mounted new
rears in Colorado, where we had a shop with tools and a
compressor. This was preferable to trying to find tires later
in Montana when the original tires would be worn out. The
tires we removed still had about half of their life, so we will
use them on future trips.
Ross’ mileage would be less than ours, so he opted for
increased dirt stability and used Dunlop 606s front and
rear. They held up well for his northern half of the ride.
We all used heavy-duty tubes and carried lightweight
front and rear tubes for backup. I went a step further
by using a latex product called Stan’s No Tubes that is
designed to convert tube-type mountain bike tires to
tubeless. It works best in thick tubes that help resist
burping air out through small punctures. The beauty of the
stuff is that it tends to form a latex plug when it hits the
air. I hate flats!
We didn’t want our trip to be dictated by motel
locations, so we all packed camping gear and used it
The divide route itself is mostly dirt
and was laid out by mountain bike
guys. Some pavement is inevitable.