Article posted: Saturday, August 30, 2014
Hypermotard U.P. Ride
After the first three stages of testing our project Hypermotard it was time to finally put the bike in the serious off road stage. All we did was soften the rear suspension and lower the triples 3/4”. This was done to help my 5’9” frame feel more comfortable on the bike off road. We also put on the Continental TKC-80 tires. We installed the touring windscreen and rear rack to strap on a Kriega bag. I also had the Kriega-15L back pack with hydration bag. Last year I tested a stock Hyperstrada off road near Grayling Michigan on two tracks and some limited single track. The Pirelli’s scorpions worked everywhere but the sand and I was anxious to test the TKC’s.
My riding buddy of 25 years, John Hallman, and I had planned on riding the Michigan Upper Peninsula adventure trail, but due to time constraints we decided to use Grand Marais as a base and ride the sand, gravel and dirt roads and trails in the Lake Superior state forest and Pictured Rocks National Lake Shore.
I have been to Grand Marais a number of times and I always eat at the Lake Superior brewing company which has great micro brews and Lake Superior Whitefish. Grand Marais also has the West Bay Diner, The Sportsman Main Stop Restaurant, and the Stone House Bakery Company. All tried and tested by me many times. All the more to use it as a base for day trips in the back country or as a stopover on the cross UP adventure trail.
On our first day we headed east on highway 58 and after about 5 miles we were on gravel and sand. I switched the Hyper into urban mode with traction control set at level 1 and ABS at level 2. The last time I rode the Hyper off road I turned traction control off. I think it was better at the 1 setting especially in the sand. Just beyond the Blind Sucker campground turn off we made a left turn onto road 407 heading over to Muskellunge Lake and deer park. After several more miles on paved roads and missing the turn off to perch lake we topped off our tanks at pine stump junction and headed east on 414. All the roads and trails from here were a mix of gravel, sand and dirt. You have to watch and be ready for the sand because it can get deep real fast especially at 35-45 mph, which we were running. We got off on one trail that dead ended and required back tracking. Our immediate goal was to get to the mouth of two hearted rivers. This area had a huge forest fire several years ago that took out most of the trees and the famous Rainbow Lodge where Ernest Hemmingway used to stay and fish. We made it to Two Hearted River campground where we met 5 riders from Grand Rapids riding the trail and roads on a variety of bikes from Yamaha and Honda 250’s to a KTM 525. They had experienced several bad get offs and were rehydrating at a cool well water pump at the campground. They told us we should ride out to the Crisp Point Light Station. So, we headed out on the Crisp Point road 412, which after about 2 miles left the burnt out area and headed into a second growth forest all the way to the light station.
The Crisp Point light house has been restored with a 300mm led marine light and is manned by volunteer keepers until November 1st. In the late 1800’s and 1900’s it had been a lifesaving station rescuing foundering ship crews in Lake Superior. We then back tracked to deer park all on sand and gravel. As my confidence built on the TKC’s I was up to 45-50 mph until I hit the sand and had to back off. I got sideways several times in the sand but didn’t go down. The hyper has a Full Termi System with Up-map and with the ride by wire it would get a little touchy. I had to be really smooth on the throttle.
Back at the North Shore Motel (just a few levels under a JW Marriot or a very adequate one star) we showered the day’s layer of dust off and headed to the brewing company for some good food.
Sunday morning there were no eateries open in Grand Marais so we drove the 48 miles on Highway 58(the serpent of the north) to Munising for breakfast and gassed up. By the way highway 58 has 25 miles of sweeper’s, one right after another, through the Pictured Rocks National Seashore area. Half way back to Grand Marais we turned off on the Adams Trail which wound past many lakes, some with beaver lodges. It was an improved gravel road and fairly easy going so we thought we would turn off on one of the many trails. The trail had no name and looked like it was passable until we started getting into some deep sand and decided to turn around. Upon turning around I sunk the rear wheel to the axle and John and I had to use the rear rack to pull the hyper out. Back on Adams trail we met a man in a pickup who advised us to try the Rocky Creek Trail which turned north and hooked up with highway 58 just east of Grand Sable Lake. We hit just about everything on that route including a bog with sand, water and mud. We made it through ok and finally came out on highway 58. We made it back to the North Shore by check out time.
I had one last lunch of whitefish before heading south to Grayling Michigan and to John’s cabin for the night. Bottom line the TKC’s made the hyper perform really well on the type of roads we rode on. I also think the stock exhaust and standard map would work better off road. All in all the hyper is a good platform for an adventure ride. The seat was very comfortable for this type of riding. The bike was well protected with sliders and bark busters if it went down. I could have easily ridden it more aggressively if I was a younger man and didn’t take so long to heal. If we had not been doing day trips but longer rides of several days I would have used the rear rack and a 30 liter Kriega bag for extra clothes and gear plus fill my back pack with other essentials. I may ride back up there sometime this fall on my Multistrada just to have some more whitefish before the season is over.
If you have not seen this bike set up for off road adventures come on in and see it and ride it. It will make you a believer.