OT: Am I crazy - ride an 883 Sportster across the country?

drummerjohn333

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So, I have this friend, who lives 2186 miles away, who wants to gift me a 2002 Harley Sportster - and a router table, and some drums, and some tools.
Tentative plan is to fly out there and get a Ryder truck, load it up and drive it home. California (SoCal) to Michigan.

Talking to another friend today - who suggested that I ship all the stuff (freight) and ride the Harley home. We start discussing it - and he is right. It would save SO MUCH money.

BUT AM I CRAZY? The furthest I have ever ridden is 165 miles in about 3 hours. Can I do this 13 times?

Another consideration - is can I find a gas station every 115 miles? (this is a Sportster tank, not a large tank at all --- 3.3 gal / .5 gal reserve.)

Another consideration - can I find someone to do this with me - as I would think it would be unsafe and unwise to try to pull this off solo.

This would be in October - wondering if weather would be a factor. Alot of details to consider.

Please indeed share your experiences and advice. I am 48, generally in good health. I have ridden for 26 years, but never a trip like this.
 

Nacci

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There is a lot going on there. I have ridden cross country on a motorcycle three times, been to AK and Mexico and back. Probably logged a year and almost 100K on the road. Definitely some of my best memories and a few of my worst.

Michigan to Southern California is just packed with so many possibilities. There are routes you could plot that are the absolute cream of what this country has to offer.

I road with my uncle on many of my trips. He had an older 800 Honda Shadow with a small tank. He had one of those sissy bars in the back with a little shelf and a two gallon red plastic gas can strapped to the back. It had a set of saddle bags and he would strap his duffle bag across them and use the whole thing as a back rest. It was a little ad hoc and primitive but it was adventure and we did what we had to do to get things done.

As far as Weather, it is always a factor on the road. Be prepared for anything. The high desert can put a chill in your bones on a July night and central Wyoming could bake your brains out waiting for a tarring operation to finish in October. You could be driving along just fine and the sky could open up and dump a sheet of water on you out of nowhere or a dust devil could grab you going through the central basin of Nevada. That is the adventure of it, you have to expect and deal with anything that comes at you.

It would be nice to have a friend to ride with but if not ride yourself. I have don’t that plenty and it has its own charm.

As far as the 883, well it ain’t a Goldwing, that is for sure but you’ll get some bragging rights for getting that done.

I say do it, set yourself up comfortable, bring a gas can. Prepare for just about anything and enjoy. Some of your best memories will be the adverse and unexpected.

Lots of good things to see on that route but try not to miss the north central Nevada. It is stark.
 
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Pounder

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Sounds fun! I haven't even ridden that much and I'd totally consider it. The more carefully you plan it the better off you'd be. I'm not a fan of the vibration factor, but as a way to get your new bike home, you would probably have tons of fun.

Still I hesitate to advise you do it because of the risks involved. You know yourself better than anyone else.

So, I don't think you're crazy.
 

Mcjnic

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I’ve shipped cars I’ve located around the country and purchased. I’ve not found it exceptionally expensive ... several hundred to a grand or so. Perhaps look into a different carrier?
I’ve got a very good friend (John Hollansworth) that has spent most of his life racing professionally ... Midget Cars in the 60s, motorcycles, etc. Even his sons race professionally. He is much older these days and still competes in the Vintage cross country races (cars and motorcycles). He rode a very very very old Indian in one of the races a few years ago, the Coast to Coast Cannonball Run on Century Old Motorcycles. He does it because he can’t not do it.
Me? Not enough money. That’s a loooooooong trip on a bike. Heck, it’s a haul in a car.
 

Mongrel

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I *wish* I had a reason and TIME to do a 2200 mile ride like that. And I would take my 2012 Bonneville without hesitation. Don't know about an older 883 though.

Also-it seems like quite an investment for a "2002 Harley Sportster, a router table, some drums, and some tools." Are the tools and gear even worth the cost of shipping? And around here that's $4500 bike tops.

If you just want the adventure of the ride-maybe fly to Cali and sell it all...put the money towards a Road King, or at least a Dyna, better yet, a Triumph, and ride THAT back? Lol.

A 2002 883 Sportster is a hard mounted engine. In 2004 they went to a rubber mounted engine and stiffened the frames. There is a difference, some say a big difference, between the two models as far as comfort and ride-ability. In my twenties no big deal but after 30 you get a bit smarter and stop making those kind of sacrifices for "bragging rights"...lol.

But, I will defer to Nacci's most excellently written post above. Read, and re-read his post and then decide if it's worth it. I've done 6-8 hours just stopping for gas and a quick stretch of the legs but you will be out there for days so planning and comfort are key. 2200 miles is a pretty challenging first big ride though so choose wisely....
 
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Bandit

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Well I have driven farther than that just for a Corbin seat, but it was in my truck, and my softail was in a box trailer. Do you have a truck? You could rent a bike trailer and put the other stuff in your truck. I have done many long trips on my softail with many a stop. This is with a thousand dollar seat, highway bars, cruise control, etc. It would be a very long trip on a vibrating older sporty. What size are you. I find those bikes very small to sit on, and I am 6'. If you can't change positions or stretch out, it can get very restrictive. You will be stopping at gas stations many times, which will make the trip even longer. What condition is this bike? I wouldn't want to drive something that far unless I knew that it had been maintained properly, and recently. Do you have time in the saddle recently. Biker butt is something you build up over time and miles in saddle. Yes it could be the trip of a lifetime, but I think you need to look at it realistically. Small bike you don't really know, small tank, very long trip there and back. Make sure you have AAA it you do go.
 

Mongrel

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Well I have driven farther than that just for a Corbin seat, but it was in my truck, and my softail was in a box trailer. Do you have a truck? You could rent a bike trailer and put the other stuff in your truck. I have done many long trips on my softail with many a stop. This is with a thousand dollar seat, highway bars, cruise control, etc. It would be a very long trip on a vibrating older sporty. What size are you. I find those bikes very small to sit on, and I am 6'. If you can't change positions or stretch out, it can get very restrictive. You will be stopping at gas stations many times, which will make the trip even longer. What condition is this bike? I wouldn't want to drive something that far unless I knew that it had been maintained properly, and recently. Do you have time in the saddle recently. Biker butt is something you build up over time and miles in saddle. Yes it could be the trip of a lifetime, but I think you need to look at it realistically. Small bike you don't really know, small tank, very long trip there and back. Make sure you have AAA it you do go.
Good stuff, Bandit.

BIG +1 on the Corbin seat. Have one on my America for two up riding with my wife. Great seats for sure.
 

Bandit

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My slim s in travel config. Many consider my bike too small for long trips. It is a medium sized Harley. I didn't want to drive a motorhome(road glide, street glide) around all the time. I am 54 and found 6 hour days enough on the bike, even with that seat. In my truck I can drive 16 hour days.

 

dtk

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Just a few random thoughts from a guy with no motorcycle experience
1) You can't buy an experience.
2) If you go with someone...that can be safer and less safe...when I worked for Clean Harbors I was told that most of their vehicles get into accidents...with other of their vehicles when someone gets sloppy in a convoy.
3) Weather...give yourself extra time and an out if you need it

And just a random thought...can you bike halfway...leave the bike...and come back in a few weeks and finish?
 

Lazmo

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I’d love to do it, and would jump in, for sure. But, I would want to see the bike first, check its condition and service history, and then take it for a decent ride. Only after that, would I know whether I could ride it three hundred or so miles a day for a week. I’ve only ridden two sportsters, and somehow, I think the frequent stops to refuel, may be welcome. For a three hundred mile day, it’s likely two fuel stops, which will help to stretch your legs anyway. Regardless, a fuel can is a good idea, with such a small tank. Also, some type of seatcover might help, maybe lambswool or see if Sit&Fly do a cover for that particular bikes seat.

I have a very comfortable long distance adventure tourer these days, but back in the day, I did all my trips on sports bikes with clip-ons. One very memorable one, was a 4,000km/2,500 mile trip on a 600 Ducati, with my girlfriend and camping gear on the back, and we had a blast, but I was a maniac, and we were young. It is not always necessary to have the ‘right’ gear, but it helps.

If you are not in a rush and could actually take your time, you could make the journey the thing, and that would help a lot. Do some research, and get an idea of interesting places to stop. Do it in bite sized chunks. Don’t tough it out, take your time. If you don’t sweat the small stuff and you are adaptable, and you adjust your journey to suit your ride, you’ll be better off. The trip will not save you money, not with all the fuel, accommodation, food and most importantly beer consumed, but assuming no disasters, the trip would expand your personal viewpoint and horizons immensely.

But, I’m not really one to listen to… I’ve ridden in many countries all over the world, and will assess the local situation, then decide. So, personally, I’d fly there with my bike gear, check out and test ride the bike, and then make my mind up. If it’s a vibrating dog of a bike, just put it on truck and freight it home. If it's an OK thing, and you actually like riding it, set it up a bit for the trip, head off and enjoy. Plus we’ll get to read all about it.
 

Vistalite Black

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You'd have to really love the idea of making that trip on that bike because it's going to be hard.

That's not to say don't do it. I will warn, though, that a bike that's been sitting for years may look great, but not running can take a heavy toll on a machine. It might start up immediately, but it could still break your heart down the road due to accumulated gunk in the fuel link, leaky rubber and more.

As to the people who talk about the 883 like it's tiny, I rode hundreds of miles at a time on my Yamaha 400 (many years ago). Also, your grandfathers rode for days at a time on far worse roads (and no 24-hour gas stations) with no fancy on-board stereos, GPS, up-to-the-minute weather forecasts, saddlebags, backrests or effective helmets. Yes, life spans were much shorter then, but still.
 

Mongrel

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You'd have to really love the idea of making that trip on that bike because it's going to be hard.

That's not to say don't do it. I will warn, though, that a bike that's been sitting for years may look great, but not running can take a heavy toll on a machine. It might start up immediately, but it could still break your heart down the road due to accumulated gunk in the fuel link, leaky rubber and more.

As to the people who talk about the 883 like it's tiny, I rode hundreds of miles at a time on my Yamaha 400 (many years ago). Also, your grandfathers rode for days at a time on far worse roads (and no 24-hour gas stations) with no fancy on-board stereos, GPS, up-to-the-minute weather forecasts, saddlebags, backrests or effective helmets. Yes, life spans were much shorter then, but still.
It's not the size....it's the bike. Plenty of power, brakes are fine, etc., just not engineered for the tailbone lol. Plenty of more comfortable larger and smaller displacement bikes.

And, yep, we sure owe the oldtimers with their hardtails, foot clutches, drum brakes and tank mounted gear shifts our highest respect....but it is 2019 afterall, and even they would call us crazy for not taking advantage of technology.

Lol
 

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