After reading ianpís post on his trip, I was inspired to write about the trip I took on my 2003 Ninja 500R starting on the 2017 Labor Day weekend.
I originally purchased this bike for track days but found it excellent for this 4453 Km (2765 mile) trip. The only real complaint would be the stock seat.
My bike did not miss a beat the whole time and returned terrific fuel mileage. I could get about 350 Km from a full tank (before reserve) which was better than most of the bikes in our group. We also did about 600 Km each day and felt ready to go the next day after a good sleep. The highest elevation we saw was over 9000 feet and the bike lacked some power but was fine after shifting down a gear. Not really a problem.
A brief summary of our logistics: Nine of us sent our bikes from Hamilton, Ontario to Las Vegas on a Penske 26 foot box truck. One of our riders drove the truck and we all had to provide documents for customs. He took three days to get there while the rest of us flew one way from Toronto to Las Vegas. All this went off without a hitch. Once there, we unloaded our bikes and returned the truck to a local dealer.
Day One: Left Las Vegas at 7:00 AM, rode through Boulder City, then south on Route 95 to Needles, Ca for gas. Temperature in Needles was 110 degrees F and the engine temperature needle stayed in the normal position. Rode south on Route 40 to the California Arizona border crossing the Colorado River. This bridge can be seen at the beginning of Easy Rider. We turned onto the Oatman highway (Route 10) travelling north to the town of Oatman for lunch. Here we drank four big glasses of lemonade not realizing how thirsty we were. Oatman is an 1863 mining town where feral burros roam the streets.
After lunch we rode to Kingman onward to Seligman for dinner. A frightening storm passed through briefly and we decided to wait it out. After dinner we headed to Williams, AZ for the night. Much of this day followed the old Route 66; amazing this was the only way west at one time. Without much thought, I consumed of nine bottles of water this day underscoring the importance of hydration.
Day Two: We rode north of Route 64 to the south rim of the Grand Canyon. Admission for motorcycles is $25.00. Once we had seen it we headed west on Route 64 to Cameron, AZ. Here we headed north on Routes 160 and 163 to Monument Valley, Utah. Nine John Wayne westerns were filmed here. Continuing north on 163 and 191 we stayed in Monticello Utah for the night.
Day Three: We rode west on Route 491 to Cortez and 160 to Durango CO.
From there we rode north on 550 through Silverton, Ouray and Montrose, ending up in Delta, CO for the night. After reading other people post about Route 550 I wasnít sure how safe it would be, but it was fine. You do have to pay attention as there are serious drop offs with no guard rails. We hit a maximum elevation of 9300 ft here. Didnít feel the effects of altitude sickness as expected, but I could see the smokers among us did.
Day Four: Heading north east from Delta on Routes 92, 133 and 82 I have to say these were the best roads of the trip and we were riding faster than we should have. I only mention this because we did not really appreciate the beautiful scenery here. We made it to Glenwood Springs on Route 70 heading to Denver. Along this section the Labor Day traffic was quite slow.
Days Five, Six and Seven: Leaving Denver, the curvy roads were over and we rode on Route 70 through Kansas, Missouri and Indiana. This wasnít as boring as we expected and we met some cool people here. We rode flat out in Kansas for about ten minutes and found out later this would mean certain jail time if caught.
Day Eight: Leaving Indianapolis we hit the first rain of the trip and made it to Windsor ON.
Day Nine: Rode home to Hamilton ON and it was 8 degrees C (46 F) in the morning. Quite a shift in temperature and was glad I packed long underwear.
Before leaving I put a new Shinko SR741 on the rear and it performed great but soon was flat across the center. The front Bridgestone BT45 showed no signs of wear. We rode 120 to 130 Km per hour most of the way and bike did not seem to care. Virtually no vibration on the highway. As mentioned, the seat wasnít great but was OK since we had to stop for gas every few hours. I had a Throttle Rocker (Cramp Buster) and a Go Cruise throttle lock for the trip. The Throttle Rocker seemed like a safer device. I had soft saddle bags and a backpack tied to the passenger section of the seat. This was enough space for the trip. Since then I have changed to a 17 tooth front sprocket and added a USB charger.
I hope this story wasnít too boring. The point is the 500 Ninja is a great touring bike. It was light, good on fuel and had plenty of speed.