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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
In case you haven’t heard, the factory re-flash is amazing! So amazing, in fact, that between getting the re-flash done last Wednesday and leaving for my hunting trip Sunday morning, I decided a motorcycle ride was in order. Where to? Can you say Deals Gap?

I had already taken this week off to use as a hunting trip. My family and I eat venison in place of beef 100% of the time, so hunting Whitetail each year is an important event for me. I don’t have any land in Savannah, so I have to drive 160 miles North, back to Lincoln County to hunt. I decided that I would send a bag with my hunting gear up to Lincolnton with my wife, who was leaving Friday evening. I would get off work at 0200 hours Sunday morning, catch a few hours sleep and ride up to meet her there.

I didn’t know when I would take my trip, though, so I started checking the weather forecasts in Augusta, Toccoa and Robbinsville. Monday and Tuesday were clear with temperatures in the 50s up to the high 70s and low 80s by the middle of the day. Wednesday showed a fair chance of rain, so that was out. Monday was my birthday, so I decided on Tuesday.

For the route, I would ride North through Elberton, Lavonia, Toccoa, Clayton, and Dillard Georgia. I would continue through Franklin, NC, where I would pick up Hwy 28. I’d take 28 all the way to the Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort. That leg of the trip would be over 200 miles, and I estimated would take around 4.5 hours. I would ride the “Dragon” a few times, then over the Cherohala Skyway before heading back the way I came. I guessed it’d be at least 12 hours all in all. I don’t have a GPS, or a smart phone, so all navigation was done by memorizing the route before I left.

Tuesday morning, the weather was cold! Not as cold as my 160 mile ride up from Savannah two days before (46 degrees,) but was still uncomfortable at around 55 degrees. I rolled out at 0815, and not 30 miles into my trip, I began to wonder why I’ve put off buying hand guards and a functional wind screen for so long. I was wearing a perforated leather jacket with a wind/rain liner over a t-shirt, and jeans. I also wore Alpinestars SMX-5 boots, Icon gloves and an Icon Airframe for those who care to know. I carried a set of Frogg Toggs, long underwear, multi-tool, clear shield and a few other odds and ends in a Joe Rocket backpack, too. The weather eventually warmed up, though, and all was well.

Traffic was light and police were thin, so I made good time. Once 28 turned into two lanes and began winding along the Fontana and Cheoah lakes up into the mountains, the ride became surreal. Leaves were turning various shades of yellow, brown and red, and were scattered across the road; not to the point of reducing traction, though, because they were dry and not piled thick in the lanes. As I was riding, yellow leaves were steadily falling from the trees, slowly floating down and all around almost like snow. The sunshine was just peaking through the trees, adding to the ambiance. I really wish I had it on video. Also, somewhere on 28 I came upon a large coyote on the side of the road. I startled him and he ran up the side of the mountain turning to look me in the eye as I passed. It was one of those “Wow” moments.

I arrived at 28/129 a little bit ahead of schedule. The resort wasn’t especially busy. As I was there during the week, most patrons were retirees on big Harleys, Gold Wings and other touring bikes. I bought some crappy overpriced chicken fingers from the restaurant, and a t-shirt for my wife. I also purchased some requisite “Dragon” stickers.

After taking the liner out of my jacket, I headed out onto the “Dragon,” and quickly got up to speed. Traffic wasn’t especially heavy, but I got stuck behind a few cruisers and minivans here and there. It seemed nearly every time I passed a Killboy.com or other photographer, I was behind a truck or slow bagger. Most were considerate and pulled off when they could. A few cruisers, however, seemed determined to dictate my pace and refused to let me by. They were abruptly passed when the road allowed. I made two runs back and forth, turning around at the overlook and the TN/NC state line.

Here, the lesser points of the FZ-09 came into light. The rear suspension was certainly not up to task, but it was the front that gave me the most trouble at speed. In fast transitions, especially when crossing over banking, the front would unload and wallow, not taking a set until mid corner- or later. This left feeling of total detachment at the bar. A mid corner bump would also introduce an unnerving sensation as the whole bike would squirm. Because of this, I just didn’t have the confidence to push. Whenever grabbing the front brake, the fork would dive, causing the shock to unload, reducing traction in the rear. From an off to on throttle transition, despite the re-flash, there is still a bit of a jerk no matter how gentile you are. Combined with the unloaded rear end and driveline slack, throttle application mid corner upset the bike. I mitigated this by overlapping trail braking and throttle application. Doing so smoothed the transition between off and on throttle; keeping the rear planted, but requiring trailing the rear brake very deep. This is common practice, but usually not needed at such a moderate pace. No amount of adjustment would help. My 200lbs weight+ gear is just too much for the fork and shock. The front brakes also offered zero feel.

The real high point of the bike, though, was the engine. I left the bike in 3rd gear most of the time, occasionally up to 4th on “Straights” and down to 2nd for the really tight switchbacks. I’d run the revs down to 3k and as soon as I’d crack the throttle, the engine would pull it’s way up to speed with authority. Rev matching downshifts was flawless with the new and improved fueling.

I continued on 129 to 72, to 441 South to Madisonville, where I refueled. I then rode to Tellico Plains to the start of the Cherohala Skyway. My right forearm was already screaming so I stopped and bought a “Cramp Buster” in anticipation for the trip back. I had one in the past, but don‘t know what happened to it. It was a lifesaver, though, and I wish I had it from the start. To me, the return spring on the FZ-09 seems especially strong.

I’ve ridden the Skyway a few times on my old GSX-R1000, and driven it once or twice in a car. This trip reaffirmed my opinion that the Skyway is a much better ride than the “Dragon.” The scenery is amazing, the asphalt is smooth and the traffic is light. The road climbs to over 5,400 feet and offers amazing views of the surrounding forests, devoid of power lines, houses and commercial buildings. It is truly breathtaking. The “Dragon,” by comparison, offers little to no scenery and heavy traffic.

You have to be careful on the Skyway, though, because it has the potential to be more dangerous. Where you’re in 3rd gear for most of the “Dragon,” you’re easily in 5th and 6th on the Skyway. Dangerous corners aren’t as well marked as they are on the “Dragon,” either. You’ll be bombing along at 75mph plus (with the potential to be doing much, much more than that speed,) and arrive at a 30mph, decreasing radius sweeping turn without warning. The downhill sections also raise the pucker factor and really test your brakes.

I torqued around in 5th gear most of the time, dropping to 4th here and there and 3rd rarely. The engine/transmission of the FZ-09 shined again, digging itself out of low revs without hesitation. The faster, longer turns of the Skyway didn‘t upset the chassis nearly as much. The bike is leaned over for what seems like ages in the sweepers, letting the front and rear take a set, and the transactions between corners are longer, with less banking to upset the front end.

After a brief stop in Robbinsville, I headed back to Franklin, NC. Until that point, everything had been good to go. Here, though, my butt started to burn. The Saddlemen Sport seat had been doing its job superbly, but I had just been on the bike too long to stay comfortable. 10 or 12 hours sitting in a deer stand the days before didn’t help, I’m sure. Butt burn was quickly overshadowed by back pain, though. Muscles in the middle of my back, right below my shoulder blades began to ache, and continued to be a problem no matter how much I tried to stretch or change my riding position. I was carrying the backpack, but I think most of the pain is attributed to not being used to riding. In the past 2, nearly 3 months I’ve only ridden but about 60 miles. Had I been accustomed to riding longer distances, I’m sure my body wouldn’t have protested as much.

I arrived back home almost exactly 12 hours and 30 minutes after I set out. My mileage, determined from my start/finish ODO reading, was exactly 555 miles. During the trip, I refueled a handful of times, usually around 100 mile intervals. I figured up my average each time. Fuel economy was in the 48mpg range most of the time, with one tank returning 50mpg.

Despite physical exhaustion and soreness, the trip was amazing! I’m excited to have done it and even more excited that Yamaha decided to fix the fueling issues with the bike. I’ve definitely got a few problem areas to address- Front and rear suspension, brakes and wind/weather protection; but those will come in time. Now, it’s time for a cold beer. Thanks for reading. Y’all have a good one.

-Andrew





 

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Great write up. Thanks for sharing....!!!

Check out the Puig Windscreens made for the FZ09. Two thumbs up. :)





PS How'd you take those bottom two pic's...???
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Great write up. Thanks for sharing....!!!

Check out the Puig Windscreens made for the FZ09. Two thumbs up. :)





PS How'd you take those bottom two pic's...???
There are a few companies, Killboy.com and us129photo.com specifically, who have photographers staged at a few corners on the dragon and snap pics of passing cars, trucks and bikes. They post them on their website where you can search by date and time to find your proofs. The digital copies are around $7 a pop, but it's worth it. They've made quite a successful business out of it.
 

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Nice write up and it sounds like you had a great trip. I love that area. When you were on Rt. 72 (between U.S. 129 and U.S. 411 South), you went past a road that turns right and from there, it's about 4 miles to my house. Glad you had a great time.
 
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Nice write up and it sounds like you had a great trip. I love that area. When you were on Rt. 72 (between U.S. 129 and U.S. 411 South), you went past a road that turns right and from there, it's about 4 miles to my house. Glad you had a great time.

And for the record, had He taken US State Rd South, about 850 miles into South Florida, he'd have been within 1.5 miles of my house. If, if, if :cool:
 
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And for the record, had He taken US State Rd South, about 850 miles into South Florida, he'd have been within 1.5 miles of my house. If, if, if :cool:
Ya gotta love South Florida....it's famous for sure........... "11 Turns in 318 Miles!" :cool: ......Why Bother!
 
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Great trip report Andrew. My family had property in Lincoln County until we sold it a dozen years back. I grew up in Augusta.
Glad you made it up north during that brief spell of warmer weather. It snowed a bit in Suches last night.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Great trip report Andrew. My family had property in Lincoln County until we sold it a dozen years back. I grew up in Augusta.
Glad you made it up north during that brief spell of warmer weather. It snowed a bit in Suches last night.
It's snowing in Lincoln County as I type this; not sticking, but it's snowing none the less. Not too excited about riding back to Savannah on Monday.
 

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I hear ya. It was 85 degrees here on Monday, and five days later, we are getting snow also. They are talking about 12 to18 inches up in the mountains at the highest elevations. By the looks of the weather radar, Deals Gap got some snow last night/this morning. That's just WRONG!
 

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I hear ya. It was 85 degrees here on Monday, and five days later, we are getting snow also. They are talking about 12 to18 inches up in the mountains at the highest elevations. By the looks of the weather radar, Deals Gap got some snow last night/this morning. That's just WRONG!
Agreed. That really sucks.:)

On the other hand, it's 71F here and Not one cloud in the sky....visibility 10 miles!:D

image.jpg
 

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Agreed. That really sucks.:)

On the other hand, it's 71F here and Not one cloud in the sky....visibility 10 miles!:D

View attachment 10704
Visibility is 10 miles because there is not a single mountain in sight...or a curvy road either..:)

Today I moved my street bikes into the back of the garage and moved my quads out to the front..as the seasons change, so do the toys..:p
 

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Visibility is 10 miles because there is not a single mountain in sight...or a curvy road either..:)

Today I moved my street bikes into the back of the garage and moved my quads out to the front..as the seasons change, so do the toys..:p
You know Crosshairs........I wish there a way to click something instead of just "like"..........I wish there was one to click that says...."really, really, like", or maybe "you owned him with that post".....:cool:
 
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Great Read! I had been planning a trip from Charleston to Knoxville around the same time. I would have taken the same routes as you but Saturday's forecasts ruined my plans and I had to take the mini van. Of course, all 800 miles, I was thinking about what it would of been like to ride the FZ.
 
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