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June 21, 2010


Ride Report #3 – Fuel Costs


The V-Strom and I continue to travel well.  I exited Yellowstone over Bear’s Tooth Pass at 10,940.  Yes it snowed there while I was riding.  The third different state I’ve hit snow in.  I’ve put 6,500 miles on the motorcycle during my nearly two months of my journey reaching Missoula Montana.  

That’s right, Wednesday will be two months I’ve been gone!  The time seems to gone by in the blink of an eye until I look back and think about all that I have seen and done; Big Bend, White Sands, Chaco, the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Yellowstone, and plenty more in between – then it seems like much longer than two months.

I admit I don’t keep records of how many gallons of fuel I use, what it costs, or how far I drive per day.  The trip is about seeing and expeiencing new places and those details are just ways to get me there.  Still, I zero my trip odometer at each fillup to assist me from getting stranded and look at how many mile per gallon I get each tank.  This has been almost exactly 50 mpg for most of the trip.  Same as when I was tooling around back home without the panniers and additional weight.

Approaching Bear's Tooth PassApproaching Bear’s Tooth Pass


Approaching Bear's Tooth Pass


6,500 miles at 50 mpg means I’ve purchased 130 gallons of fuel.  Drop it to 48 mpg and its only another 5.5 gallons.  While I haven’t kept records of what I’ve spent, my credit card company has, and I’m at $377 on fuel, roughly $2.90/gallon, which feels right.  If you’d told me guess the total I’d spent on gas I’d have said double that.  Apparently when a fillup is under $12 it takes a lot longer to add up.

I’m anticipating costs rising in Canada and Alaska so that average will come up to say $3.00/gallon.  At 50 mpg that is exactly $0.06/mile.  Mentally I’m adding another $0.04/mile in maintenance costs making it $0.10/mile total and for easy math.  I’m averaging about 110 miles per day so far or $11.  Right now I’m well below that $0.04 in maintenance costs, but I will need some new tires before long which will eat that up.  Still a $2,200 projection for transportation costs on a 20,000 mile, 200 day trip is pretty freakin good if you ask me!

The saga with the my Symtec heated grips took another turn earlier in the week when the high level stopped working one morning.  You may recall that the high connector is actually on the low switch now since the high switch went out in New Mexico.  Well this I couldn’t stand for at all!  However, all I could while driving down the road was bang on it with my fist a few times.  Turns out it just needed to be shown who was boss and now both high AND low work, just opposite of what the switches indicate.  Problem solved 😀

Bison Traffic Jam - They Are A Lot Bigger Than Me and the Bike!Bison Traffic Jam – They Are A Lot Bigger Than Me and the Bike!


Bison Traffic Jam – They Are A Lot Bigger Than Me and the Bike!


My horn a, Stebel Nautilus Compact, is giving me fits.  It has nothing to do with my super glue fix which is holding steady.  I try to test it at some point on every ride and on my last ride I kept getting nothing at all from it.  I was all set to tear into the wiring when I got back when it returned to normal near the end of the ride.  As I rode back, I remembered an air inlet hose attaching to it and thought maybe that was plugged since I was now riding at 65 and it could get air easier.

I tested it more after I got back and it continued working fine while it was parked, there goes that idea.  Good news/bad news.  I’m glad it’s going, but it’s tough to troubleshoot it acting like it is.  It is disconcerting not being 100% sure it will go off when I may really need it.  Its main use in life has been to let birds know I’m coming as they scavange roadkill.  At some point it will be needed for more than convinience.

I want to send a few shoutouts to other riders I know either on or getting ready for big trips.

Al and Chris at EtaUnknown are a Kiwi couple I met in Yellowstone travelling on a KLR and Kawasaki 250.  They flew into Seattle and bought bikes there planning to go to Alaska before heading south.  After a weeks of cold rain, including while we were in in Yellowstone, they decided to turn south and make the most of their two month US visa before going to Mexico.  Last I heard they were in Moab and loving the warmth.

Skip Hunt is a buddy of mine from Austin who left last week for the 4 corners region on his V-Strom.  Skip is a photographer and artist who takes a couple month trip on his bike most years, often to Mexico.  His blog for this trip is Skip Hunt Go West! I’ve never seen anyone capture colors on film the way he does.  Earlier this year he was an editors choice selection in a photo contest by the Smithosian and the photo will be hanging in the Castle museum from July 1 to Feb 28!

Cornelious Aseop is a fellow travel junky who had other plans fall through and decided to take a month long bike trip.  The motorcycle he was planning to ride then crapped out on him and he borrowed his dad’s ride.  He is now hopping through the midwest for a couple months and blogging about it at MonkeyBrewster.

Another Brian, of Ribbons of Highway, is setting off from Colorado to Alaska to ride the Alcan Highway.  It’s a trip he was about to set off on in 1972 and is now going to make his dream a reality.  Best of luck to you Brian!

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6 Comments Post a comment
  1. PA
    Jun 21 2010

    I love the pic of the bison. My brother and I encountered the same scene a few years ago but instead of being on a moto, he was on a mountain bike. We started out at the top of the hill and he went first while I followed in the car. He came around the bend only to find the road filled with Bison. I didnt slow him down at all and he zig zagged his way through the herd. It was quite fun, if not a bit foolish.

    Stay safe.

  2. Jun 22 2010

    We considered making a massive roadtrip on Shaun’s Ninja 500R until I spent a few hours as a passenger and my back and knees felt like they were going to fall off. Being a passenger is much harder than driving!

  3. Jun 22 2010

    Used to pack (Horse) Yellowstone… ’bout 32 years ago… my favorite place on the Planet… Ya gotta watch them Buffalo… They’ve ruined a lot more days for folks, than the Bears ever even thought of! :o) the only critters with worse attitudes… are Moose!

    Awesome trip… I’ll be following along shortly… ’bout the 24th of July…

    Many Thanks for the “Shout”

    Ride Safe!

  4. Jul 1 2010

    I have to agree with you I thought I was spending a lot more on gas but at about $8 a fillup after every 120 miles it wasn’t that bad. I can’t imagine riding in snow, I know rain hurts but snow has to be a bit scary. I like to do the flinging not sure I want my bike to fling me.

    • Jul 3 2010

      Glad I’m not the only one. Guess it’s better to think you’re high and be low than the other way around. No snow yet in July, but I’m still heading north….

  5. Thomas
    Jul 1 2012

    Best of luck. I have enjoyed reading the posts.
    Stay upright. I look forward to more images and commentary.


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