Just got back from second (2nd) Baja trip this year. This one a bit shorter than the last, which was in late March-Early
April. This one lasted just 9 days. My riding partner, Doug, and I went from PHX to Cabo San Lucas and back. The previous
trip I made solo, and was out about 12 days.
I rather like riding alone, but it was nice to have a partner on this trip---someone
with whom to share the experience. We had excellent weather, and the entire trip was without incident until we began our return
Doug, riding a 2008 KTM 990 Adventure, began experiencing engine problems several miles south of Loreto.
It began surging several hundred RPM, in any gear. In idle, it seemed normal, with the throttle response normal up to and
above 5000 RPMs.
This situation seemed to occur after burning off a few miles. We thought initially that it might be
a clogged air filter, then maybe bad gas, then maybe a bad fuel filter, but none of these things made much sense, since right
after refueling the bike ran normally.
Riding along pondering the situation, it occurred to me that perhaps there was
something blocking the fuel tank vent, which would cause a partial vacuum as the fuel level dropped, precluding fuel leaving
the tank. I passed Doug and we pulled over to the side of the highway. By this time, we were somewhere East of Catavina. I
suggested that he crack the gas cap(s) (this KTM has two inter-connected tanks with two gas caps), allowing air into the tank
to facilitate gravity feed from the tank into the fuel lines and the fuel control.
He tried it, and it worked----for
a while---quite a while, as a matter of fact. All went well with the tank caps cracked open until we got to the border, or
rather, just short of the border in Tecate, Baja California.
It quit in the middle of an intersection. He got it started
again, but only got a couple of blocks before it quit again. He let it sit for a few minutes, and it started right up. RPM
responded normally to throttle movement in idle, but when he put it into gear and let out the clutch, it quit immediately.
Some helpful police stopped and suggested we let the bike coast downhill half a block and turn right into a fire station,
where they said the "bomberos" (firemen) would help us, or at least look after the bike while we figured out what
to do. So, we got to the fire station, and they were indeed very solicitous, even taking us several blocks away in the station
suburban to find a mechanic reputed to be a KTM man. It was Sunday, however, day before Cinco de Mayo, and he was nowhere
to be found. So, what to do?
We considered trying it again, and if it seemed to run OK, to try to get across the border.
The idea had some appeal, but we had to acknowledge that if it quit once, it surely would again, and it was a lot better to
have it in a safe place like the fire station than broken down out on some highway, far from any aid.
So, we decided
that the best thing was for me to mount up and ride for PHX, get my pick-up truck, and return for Doug and the bike.
morning, I hit the road early---0530, hoping to beat a long line at the border. That was not to be. The waiting line was at
least half a mile long. There must have been 200 cars in the queque, but, Motorcycles Rule! And I went up the left side of
the long line right to the head of the line, and was across the border in less than five minutes! Remember that next time
you sit stewing in a long line. Motorcycles Rule! This is but another reason that lane sharing (lane splitting) should be
allowed in all states in the USA. Presently lane sharing is only legal and allowed in California. I will attack that topic
at a later post.
It took me just under six hours to make the 340 mile ride, and I was in the pick-up and headed west
less than an hour after arriving home.
I got to Tecate and through the border at a little after 1830. Would have made
it a bit quicker had I not taken the wrong exit off of I-8 and got lost for a time.
Doug had changed hotels, as our
first night in Tecate was at the VERY NICE Sanuario Diegueno Hotel up on the hill, just a few blocks from the fire station,
where, by the way, the firemen had insisted that the bike would be safer if they put it inside the fire house between the
fire trucks. But the hotel was very expensive, even though after I checked out they offered Doug the "Executive Single"
rate of only $88 USD.
He left directions to the new hotel with the Dieueno desk, and I met him there shortly after.
morning we had coffee, then went to the fire station at 0815, and, with the help of two Mexican firemen, and my boarding planks,
loaded his bike and headed for the border. A scant 16 minutes later we were back in the US of A, and Phoenix bound. We arrived
at 1515, unloaded his saddle bags and tie-on bag, took the scooter to GoAZ Motorcycles, and left it for medical attention.
The bike Tech thought it might be either a bad fuel pump or a tank vent problem. He said he wasn't sure about the year, but
there had been a recall on some Adventures regarding a tank venting problem. They were swamped with service orders, about
300 bikes waiting for service, but they would get to his as soon as they could, probably Thursday at the earliest.
was, all in all, a good trip, and we were quite lucky that the final break-down happened mere inches away from a safe place
to leave the bike. By the way, I consider the relative safety of the bike there in Mexico the same as it would be in the US.
Theft can occur anywhere, and I think leaving it unattended by the roadside is inviting theft or worse in either country equally.
down-side is that Doug felt a bit let-down by his bike, but as I said, even a good horse throws a shoe now and then, and this
inconvenient failure is no reflection on the motorcycle. Stuff happens! It is all part of the ride. I will only add that Der
Klunkenschiffter turned 117,000 miles on this trip and didn't miss a beat. It rode strong and true throughout, ugly to the
toes, but functionally perfect.
We had a great time, and the final mark of success is, as always, "Nobody got hurt."