Did over 1,400 miles of pure motorcycling from the back of very stock Z650 last week.
- North Georgia Six Gap for three days
- Robbinsville, NC US129 Dragon/Cherahola/Moonshiner 28 for three days
- Spruce Pine, NC Diamondback 226A for two days
- Split a day between Shady Valley, TN US 421 the Snake and US 58 (Jeb Stuart) near Damascus, VA
I trailered the bike from North Florida. The weather was generally good. The 2019 Z650 ABS did fantastic. It was the most comfortable bike I ever road up there since my Yamaha Virago 1100 over 20 years ago. I was a little worried about the softer front springs, but the bike did just fine. There was dive, but it wasn’t excessive. (I am 228 pounds before jacket &helmet.)
About the only performance “mod” I did for the stock bike was replace the stock tires with Metzler Sportec M7 RRs. The rear tire is a dual-compound. I give the tires an “A”, but they still required more break-in than any other tire I’ve owned. I had about 120 miles before I hauled it up there, but would have liked to have around 250 before I hit twisties that sometimes were still damp.
I had severe numbness the last time I did that many mountain miles two years ago on a Suzuki DR-Z400 SM. (Due to all the turns and breaking you end up putting a lot more weight repeatedly on your wrists, and you’re also keeping the bike’s revs higher.) On the Z650 I used some neoprene overgrips, rubber tank pads, a pseudo-soft tank protector, BB-filled handlebar and heavier bar end weights. They all helped tame the vibes. I could take a piss at the end of the trip without thinking I was being handled by a stranger.
PROS: Plenty of torque everywhere, minimal brake fade with stock cables/pads, no overheat issues, saddle comfort was great, comparatively. Engine dealt well with all of the crazy gas at stations in the boonies. Only got passed in the twisties five times in over 1,400 miles of gap carving. Once by a track prepped Gixxer 1k, a KTM Superduke, a Gixxer 750 (twice!) , an older Suzi TL1000, and some kind of newer inline Japanese 600. No cage ever threatened me. No tickets (or even warnings) from Officer Friendly! (Minimal LEO activity during this trip.) Oh, the fuel range means you NEVER have to worry about finding a gas station unless you ride between 10pm and 7:30AM.
CONS: Feelers at the ends of pegs protrude too far and get scraped easily in angled twisty turns. Handlebars could be a little wider for quick switchbacks/chicanes. Mine was the only Z650 I saw on the road in over 9 days of riding. (A few of FZ/MT-7s and SVs)
Nobody took me up on my offer in my previous post <above> so I rode alone. Attached are some pics from the US129 Deal’s Gap (aka the Tail of the Dragon).