The latest episode of our Planet Ramble has just been posted. This time we find tiny swoopy roads over and through Scotland’s mountains, find some amazing scenery and have an encounter with Wooly Coos. Don’t know what a wooly coo is? Tag along on this episode and find out. You can ride with us by clicking HERE or cutting and pasting the below link into your web browser:
We hope you decide to come along!
The latest episode of our Planet Ramble has just been posted. This time we unexpectedly discover the British Special Air Service and find ourselves in the lonely but absolutely gorgeous and amazing Scottish Highlands.
If you would like to ride along, you can click HERE or cut and paste the below link into your web browser:
We apologize for how long it has been between episodes and we’ll try to get a new one up each week. Thanks so much for your patience!
Mike & Kim
The latest episode of our Planet Ramble has just been posted. This time we travel to Slovenia and Hungary, find a 500 year old grapevine, lose a phone with almost all our pictures and dine while swimming (you’ll see what me mean in the post) in the sweltering heat.
You can travel with us by clicking HERE. If this link doesn’t work, simply cut and paste the below into your web browser:
We hope you will join us.
The latest episode of our Planet Ramble takes us further east across France with a visit to the famous Mont Saint Michel. An amazing Middle Ages Fortress and Monastery, it was attacked many times in history, but never taken. We walk through and find “interesting” things inside.
If you’d like to visit, click HERE.
If the link doesn’t work, cut and paste the below link into your web browser:
We hope you enjoy!
The latest episode has us arriving in France via the famous English Channel Tunnel (Chunnel). This is a short episode prior to us commencing our wandering all over Europe. You can find the latest by clicking HERE or by cutting and pasting the below link into your browser:
We hope you enjoy!
We’re getting excited to start Phase 2 of our Planet Ramble. Last year we rode across North America from Vermont, USA to Alaska, USA. For Phase 2 will we be shipping our bikes (both Ducati Scramblers) to London to start a large clockwise circular route. Although subject to change depending what we find and see along the way, we should be traveling through England, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Romania, Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia, Austria, Switzerland and France. We’ll return to England and fly back to the USA.
We will be storing the bikes in England until March, 2018 when we’ll return to London and complete counter-clockwise journey through Belgium, France, Spain, Portugal and Morocco. Once leaving southern Morocco, we will head north and once back into Europe, head east, ultimately spending some time in Italy, before returning ourselves and bikes to London for return to the US. This part of the journey is exciting and we’ll be posting about what we’ve seen and done as we travel.
Once again, we will have a satellite tracking capability so you can see us in real time as we travel. We’ll post link and additional info soon.
We’ve been to Iceland twice and it has been a wonderful experience. We’ve ridden around the Ring Road (Route 1) and also some of the “F” roads (designated for 4X4 vehicles and off-road vehicles only) into Iceland’s amazing interior. If you are thinking about riding in Iceland, you MUST do it. Each minute there is an exciting adventure. For our first ride into Iceland, click HERE. For our second ride click HERE.
If you don’t want to read about Iceland, you can view our compilation video with music in storyboard format, click HERE.
Iceland is a land that should not be missed. Make sure it becomes a priority on your riding bucket list!
The latest episode of our Planet Ramble has been posted. This time we travel over some mountainous gravel roads, see very tiny people, get a lobster surprise and pay a visit to Meat Cove. Great riding and gorgeous scenery was found. To check it out, click HERE or copy and paste the link below:
A few weeks ago, we asked whether a Ducati Scrambler could be made into a successful light duty adventure bike. Well the results of our first “test” are in and we can tell you that the Scrambler passed with flying colors. Since we asked that question, we have updated the Scrambler with a few ADV parts like engine guards, heated grips, wind deflectors, oil cooler guard, larger side stand foot, rear rack, ADV Monster flood lights, three drybags and a top box. Soon we will be installing an engine bash plate and will be fabricating mounts for a set of hard panniers.
To put the Scrambler to its initial light duty test, we took it on a trip from Vermont to New Hampshire, Maine, the northern shore of New Brunswick, Canada, Nova Scotia, Canada and back for a total of approximately 2,400 miles. We rode in mostly great weather, but did deal with a few days of heavy rain and high winds. Surfaces ranged from smooth pavement, poor condition rutted and pot holed pavement and a variety of gravel roads from flat, hard packed and clean, to steep loose and rocky terrain. In summary, the Scrambler handled it all easily. Coming off her Suzuki DR650, Kim remarked that it was becoming a faded memory.
You may recall that we recently finished a 7,500 mile trip from Vermont to Alaska and Kim rode that very same DR the entire trip. Now that she has put about 3,000 miles on her Scrambler, she feels ready to make her first comparisons. For simplicity (both in technology and mechanical) the DR stands out. The technology on the DR is little changed from the 1980s. There are no computers, fuel injection systems or the like to worry about. But this simplicity can come at a cost. It is easily repairable, but some might argue that with today’s technology, there is far less likelihood of a breakdown. So we are going to call this one a draw.
For difficult conditions and significant off road ability, we give a the edge to the DR. The DR has more ground clearance and it weighs less (approx. 50 pounds less). This gives it the edge in tougher terrain. But for the off road riding that most people will do, the Scrambler easily handled maintained dirt/gravel roads and did quite well on unmaintained roads. Only in the more difficult conditions would the Suzuki be the clear winner. For stock fuel capacity, the nod goes to the Scrambler by a 3 tenths of a gallon. Both manage fuel mileage in the 50s so range is quite similar. Of note, there are oversize fuel tanks for the DR and as of this writing there are no larger fuel tanks available for the Scrambler. So range for both bikes is just short of 200 miles.
When it comes to ease of riding in most conditions, the Scrambler shines. With an L-twin engine comes smoothness and much more usable power. As such, the Scrambler performed far more comfortably with less stress, and handled better on almost all surfaces. Kim felt that she now has the power to easily climb steep inclines on dirt and pavement. Worries about downshifting and gassing it to get up these hills or pass other vehicles on pavement are now a thing of the past. Kim also thinks that the Scrambler feels smaller with much lighter handling than the DR could ever provide.
Off road, the Scrambler was agile and easy to ride. During one part of the trip, Kim took the Scrambler up a 20 degree incline complete with small and large loose rocks. The Scrambler was capable of making the incline easily. Kim even stopped once on the incline to chat with a friend and then resumed the climb without issue. One last thing to note, Kim can now stand flat footed on the Scrambler when she was previously on tip toes on the DR, even though we had it lowered.
Tire choices are more limited for the Scrambler than they are for the DR. A number of different brand dual sport tires are available for the DR ranging from light off road to full knobbies. The Scrambler is somewhat limited in tire selection due to Ducati’s decision to use an 18″ front wheel. There are knobby tires are available in the 18″ rim size, but presently, it seems only Shinko and Kenda offer alternatives. For this test we used the standard Pirelli Scorpion tires and they handled all of the terrain admirably. For more difficult terrain, as stated above, the tire choices are presently limited. So once again it seems that the Scrambler can easily handle most surfaces, but for heavy dual sporting, choices are limited and the DR wins.
There is a difference in wheel types between the two machines. The DR with its more off road biased nature is equipped with spoked rims. The Scrambler comes with cast wheels. While spoked wheels may be more appropriate for heavy off road riding, we believe that for light ADV riding, the cast wheels handle the job easily. They also have the advantage of being able to be easily plugged in most cases. No wheel and tire removal is necessary as is the case with tube tires found in most spoked wheels.
The Scrambler and DR can also haul substantial loads. The DR has the current advantage with readily available hard panniers that can lock and secure your gear without removing it from the bike. The Scrambler presently has soft and semi rigid panniers available, but does not presently offer the security of lockable hard panniers. We plan to fabricate some pannier mounts in the coming months. However, for now we are using a range of Ducati branded soft dry bag panniers and tank bag, in conjunction with an SW-Motech/Bags Connection round dry bag. For this test, the soft bags performed well in most cases. All kept their contents dry with the exception of the top zippered compartment on of the Ducati Scrambler tank bag. We note that we are very impressed with the capability of the SW-Motech/Bags Connection dry bag. So much so that we will be publishing a more complete test/review of its performance in the future.
We’ll update this “test” as Kim gets more time in the saddle and we mount the remainder of her ADV equipment. We’d love to hear your comments as well so feel free to comment on this page with your thoughts.
Here are the present comparison results…
|Comparison – Suzuki DR650 vs. Ducati Scrambler – Winner Marked With X|
|Suzuki DR650||Ducati Scrambler (Icon)|
|Miles per gallon||Draw||Draw|
|Low Seat Height||X|
|Luggage Carrying Capability||TBD||TBD|
Can a Ducati Scrambler be made into a comfortable light duty (i.e. pavement and maintained dirt/gravel roads) adventure bike good for longer trips and gravel roads? I had been asking myself that question for quite some time and have finally decided to investigate for myself. Those of you that follow us know that Kim and me just finished a trip from our home in Vermont to Eagle River, Alaska. We rode mostly on paved roads, although we did travel on some forest fire roads and unimproved roads. Kim’s Suzuki DR-650 performed admirably and carried her to Alaska easily. However, the DR is a fairly low powered thumper and riding it for long distances became somewhat of a tiresome experience for Kim. She said that although the bike did everything she asked and had a relatively lightweight feel, she felt under powered on those 75 MPH stretches of two lane roads common in the western US. Passing was more difficult that she desired, especially since I was traveling on a KTM 990 Adventure twin cylinder machine. She also wished that the bike was not a single because the thump, thump, thump of the single was tiring over time.
So I set about looking for a machine that was relatively small and light that we could turn into a light duty adventure bike. Since Kim is only about 5′ 3″ the bike could not be too high, nor could it be too heavy. She really wanted to get away from a single cylinder machine and frankly I don’t blame her. She never said a word during our over 7,500 mile trip to Alaska, but I had to ask myself, whether I would have enjoyed riding a single for that long a distance. My answer would be no, so I really shouldn’t expect her to feel any different. As I looked around the market, there really wasn’t much out there that fit Kim’s want list. She had already been on a V-Strom and felt it was too big and heavy. She had also ridden the BMW F650GS (twin) and F800GS extensively in Europe and South America, but she didn’t really like them because of their relative size and ride height. If she were to like a new machine, it would have to be about the size of her current Suzuki DR-650.
One of the few alternatives was the Ducati Scrambler. It’s a twin of approximately 800ccs and is actually very small in stature. Scramblers were created for dual sport, so if Ducati at least considered dual sporting, perhaps we could make this new Ducati into a light duty adventure bike. After doing some significant searching I found a number of bolt on parts that could potentially give her the utility of an ADV bike. So maybe, just maybe, we could adapt a Ducati Scrambler for ADV touring.
After a test ride and a bit of deliberation, we have taken the plunge. Kim is now the proud owner of a 2016 Ducati Scrambler Icon. The Icon is the base model of the Scrambler line and that suits us just fine. We’ve seen and tried Ducati’s own ADV parts and they fall far short of what we will need for our purposes. I’ve identified a number of parts that we are going to try and we’ll report on how well the fit our mission. So stay tuned for more updates as we attempt to convert a base Ducati Icon into an ADV machine Kim can love.
Just to entice you, here are a few pics of Kim’s soon to be converted Ducati Scrambler Icon which we will test out on a tour of the Canadian Maritime Provinces in early September.
The latest update to our Planet Ramble has been posted. This time, we play with horses, munch on berries and visit with eagles. You can find it by CLICKING HERE or by using the following link:
The latest update to our Planet Ramble has been posted. This time we ride the “Going To The Sun Road” in Glacier National Park. While there, we meet some of the local residents. Check it out by CLICKING HERE or by using the link below and start with Reply #86…
The latest update to our Planet Ramble has been posted. Today, Kim’s bike takes an unauthorized nap and duct tape reigns supreme. You can find it by CLICKING HERE or clicking the link below starting with reply #85.
We finally get some good weather and find open prairie, Badlands like land and a tiny one room schoolhouse. You can get all the latest info by clicking the below link or clicking HERE starting with reply #83.
The latest update to our Planet Ramble is in Wyoming, where we find Spotted Horse(s) and grain elevators. Also one of the best mountain passes of this trip. You can find it by CLICKING HERE or on the below link starting with reply #78.
The latest update to our Planet Ramble has been posted. Ever wonder what the Devil’s Tower looks like? Ever wonder what they do with hundreds of locomotives. Check it out by CLICKING HERE.
The latest update to our Planet Ramble has been posted. We spend our last day in Custer and head for Wyoming. You can see it by CLICKING HERE and starting with reply #74.
While we are home now, we have posted the latest update to our Planet Ramble. At this point we are still in South Dakota and heading to Custer (yes that Custer) State Park. We make some friends while visiting.
You can find the latest update by CLICKING HERE starting with reply #70 .
Well, Stage 1 of our Planet Ramble is coming to a conclusion. Kim somehow has gotten the flu. The forecast for Denali which was our next destination is for 6 days of rain. So we are going to call it quits on this stage. Kim has done an amazing job running through gravel, mud and sand. She rides much better than she gives herself credit for.
So we are headed to Anchorage and will ship the bikes home to await Stage 2. I am so lucky to have found a soul mate like her. I can’t wait for Stage 2 to begin.
An AMAZING day on the Stewart – Cassiar “Highway” Took this shot at Lake Tatogga in Iskut, British Columbia. Which is up and which is down. You decide…
While in South Dakota, we meet some ex-presidents. You can get the details in the latest updates to our Planet Ramble. Click this link and start with reply 69.
Spent some time near Mt. Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies.
Yes, we find a ghost town somewhere in South Dakota. Don’t believe us? You can find out about it CLICKING HERE starting with reply 64.