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My Dual Sport Experiment

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If I can be nosey n toss in my 2 cents which may be worth half as much. I bought the 14.5 klr new and just did all the upgrades to a brand new bike that tourmiester stated are problems plus a few more. Total invested was about 8k on a bike I can ride 500 miles to big bend , play two days enjoying the dirt roads and ride home . I’ve taken my GSA on the same trip n cross my fingers n say prayers that I don’t break down in no cell phone areas. I’m no dirt bike guy, just a 250# geared up rider that feels safe trashing a cheap bike that knows its way home
a87f46f17f8cddb00de65666ddb836fd.jpg
What is wrong with the BMW that you'll scared to ride it to Big Bend? Guys ride thousand of miles with those bikes. Just curious what's up.
 

South Tex

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Oh I ride the gsa a lot and to big bend and parts unknown. But most of my trips are solo and that’s a big bike with a lot of electrical stuff. I went down the 18 mile old maverick trail to Santa Elena canyon and about the 3rd road washout from rains I started thinking of lifting it in the sand or some silly electric issue . That’s when I sure missed the klr. Paved , gravel, dirt roads are fine for the gsa but any technical riding I prefer the klr.
 
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Having lived out in the big bend area for over 4 years, I can attest that there is no advanced motorcycle help with in 4 hours of there. Any West Texas ranch hand can help you with your KLR if you need it.
Oh I ride the gsa a lot and to big bend and parts unknown. But most of my trips are solo and that’s a big bike with a lot of electrical stuff. I went down the 18 mile old maverick trail to Santa Elena canyon and about the 3rd road washout from rains I started thinking of lifting it in the sand or some silly electric issue . That’s when I sure missed the klr. Paved , gravel, dirt roads are fine for the gsa but any technical riding I prefer the klr.
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Jarrett

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How does the KLR do in Big Bend? Guessing it needs different tires than stock for dirt/gravel roads?

I read a few posts over at one of the KLR forums about complaints on gravel in stock form.
 
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I missed this thread until now. Reading everyone's thoughts has been quite entertaining. My fleet includes:

S10

Would have been more work on the K Trail section we did than the AT was but would have managed fine. Its awesome on the easy Texas gravel roads and eats black top miles. Mine currently has 46K miles on it. Has custom suspension and fleet of other farkles.

AT DCT

Was fun on the K Trail for me. The 21" wheel works a little better on rocks and obstacle than the S10 and feels and rides a little more like a big dirt bike. Does well on blacktop but not as well as the AT on big mileage days. Mine currently has 13K miles. Has custom suspension and fleet of other farkles.

Gen 1 KLR.

Has been my do it all bike for 13 years. Has done 500 mile days fairly comfortable on the highway to get places, soaks up rides like the K-Trail with relative ease, and is my bad weather commuter bike, If I was replacing it with another KLR, it would be with another GEN 1, or DR650. My KLR is currently has 51K miles on it. Has custom suspension and huge fleet of other farkles. If I ever had to get down to one bike, I would keep the KLR.


WR250R

Have had my WR roughly 9 years now. Wanted something a little smaller and lighter than the KLR for rougher rides, and trailer trips. Those that said if you are 250 lbs you can't ride a little bike are incorrect. I am quite a bit North of 250, and I have ridden easier single track, lots of rides like last weekend was and have some long highway days on it. The K-Trail section we rode would have been very easy and a lot less tiring on the WR than on any of my other bikes. Down side to the WR is it is low torque and HP, and needs rev. High elevation is its real nemesis with my fat butt on it. The flip side is other than a couple fuel pump issues, it needs basically no maintenance has been rock solid mechanically. Currently has near 25K miles on it. Has custom suspension and fleet of other farkles.


YMMV
 
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Just curious Rich since I'm see a pattern here. Do you have a preferred suspension guy or are you he, and do you do something line emulators/cartridges and quality shock?
 

2WheelNut

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I missed this thread until now. Reading everyone's thoughts has been quite entertaining. My fleet includes:

S10

Would have been more work on the K Trail section we did than the AT was but would have managed fine. Its awesome on the easy Texas gravel roads and eats black top miles. Mine currently has 46K miles on it. Has custom suspension and fleet of other farkles.

AT DCT

Was fun on the K Trail for me. The 21" wheel works a little better on rocks and obstacle than the S10 and feels and rides a little more like a big dirt bike. Does well on blacktop but not as well as the AT on big mileage days. Mine currently has 13K miles. Has custom suspension and fleet of other farkles.

Gen 1 KLR.

Has been my do it all bike for 13 years. Has done 500 mile days fairly comfortable on the highway to get places, soaks up rides like the K-Trail with relative ease, and is my bad weather commuter bike, If I was replacing it with another KLR, it would be with another GEN 1, or DR650. My KLR is currently has 51K miles on it. Has custom suspension and huge fleet of other farkles. If I ever had to get down to one bike, I would keep the KLR.


WR250R

Have had my WR roughly 9 years now. Wanted something a little smaller and lighter than the KLR for rougher rides, and trailer trips. Those that said if you are 250 lbs you can't ride a little bike are incorrect. I am quite a bit North of 250, and I have ridden easier single track, lots of rides like last weekend was and have some long highway days on it. The K-Trail section we rode would have been very easy and a lot less tiring on the WR than on any of my other bikes. Down side to the WR is it is low torque and HP, and needs rev. High elevation is its real nemesis with my fat butt on it. The flip side is other than a couple fuel pump issues, it needs basically no maintenance has been rock solid mechanically. Currently has near 25K miles on it. Has custom suspension and fleet of other farkles.


YMMV
Nice stable Rich. Didn't know you had all of those.

I noticed the common theme on all your bikes is custom suspension. (and farkles)

I totally agree on the suspension part and do the same on my bikes. You just don't buy a bike that has suspension that works for a 250 pound guy.

IMO, one should expect to upgrade the suspension on every bike they get if they are too far from the 160 to 180 range that most bikes work well with from the factory.

The single biggest improvement on ANY bike is usually the suspension. I have custom suspension on my WR, my GSXR, my Goldwing and my GSA. I don't on the Super Duke....yet and I don't on the Grom...but it spends most of it's time at college with the 150 pound son.

I honestly wonder what Jarrett's experience would have been like if he had proper suspension on that 250. For me, it's a night and day difference. I simply can't enjoy a bike that is under sprung and under damped for a big guy. It doesn't track right and I feel like I'm going to break it.
 
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How does the KLR do in Big Bend? Guessing it needs different tires than stock for dirt/gravel roads?

I read a few posts over at one of the KLR forums about complaints on gravel in stock form.
I never got to crazy off road down there but I have done lots of desert around New Mexico, with a good set of nobbies (maxxis m6001 if I remember right) it does fine. A little top heavy like a say but works well. It is not a full on dirt bike so don't think you will get that but it will go just about anywhere you point it. The stock front suspension is really soft for lots of sand in my opinion. I will say however I have not had a fresh front suspension in sandy conditions and that may have been part of the problem.

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I saw that. Seems like a good one.

I was thinking of a Gen 2 2015-2017 model, but that one is half the price of them.
Lots of room for upgrades and farkles. And it is better looking.

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Just curious Rich since I'm see a pattern here. Do you have a preferred suspension guy or are you he, and do you do something line emulators/cartridges and quality shock?
Piper Performance did a lot of the Race Tech work for me.

Some of both:

Gold Wing Race Tech fork mods and replacement RaceTech Shock
ST1300 Race Tech mods to forks and Shock
S10 Superplush Suspension fork mods and Cogent Dynamics shock
AT Konflict Motorsports mods to forks and shock
KLR Race Tech mods to forks, progressive rear shock
WR250R Race Tech mods to forks and shock

Vintage bikes have fairly stock suspensions.
 

jqueen

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If you really don't plan on k trail type stuff, I would say either gen1 or gen2. Gen 2 is a bit more comfortable with the fairing, lights are better, erc.

If you are going to do those kinds of roads where you EXPECT to drop it occasionally, stick with gen1. It crashes a LOT better, and is a little lighter.

For suspension, I went with a Cogent Dynamics shock and I really like it. They also have some emulators for the front that people rave about, but I like the front as it is (after springs).

I didn't have a problem with brakes on mine, but I grew up on dirt bikes that had brakes most would consider inadequate for highway speeds (at one point I didn't have brakes at all for a year or so).

I have a gen 2 that has been frankensteined a bit. I dropped it enough times that the fairing was not straight and I had cut off several parts as it broke...ok, a couple were crashes, not drops. So I reconfigured the wiring and removed it completely, and now it wears part of an irrigation control bucket and a 7 inch TruckLite LED headlight (which is the best headlight I've ever had by far, especially as high runs both high and low on the gen2 setup.

I have a 6.6 gallon IMS tank which doesn't fit the gen2.. I had to rig up a gen 1 radiator to make it fit without the radiator sticking out the bottom.

BUT... I have jumped mine, run it on the difficult single track sections at ohv parks, done the K Trail (including the hard part you didn't do) with a 140 pound passenger, etc. Mine is a Frankenstein because of a usage profile outside the norm. What you seem to want is totally within the norm for a KLR.

Also, my experience is that 70mph is not an issue, and the bike will hold 80, but 90+ is reserved for flat straight roads. Real gps speeds.
 

Jarrett

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Cool, thanks for the info.

I stabbed the brakes on the 2015 yesterday expecting them to be soft and that booger hunkered down.

Didn't seem like a brake issue on that one.

I ran it up to 70 (on the speedo) no problem and it felt fine. Not Africa Twin smooth, but much smoother than any other dual sport I've ridden.
 
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copb8

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If you really don't plan on k trail type stuff, I would say either gen1 or gen2. Gen 2 is a bit more comfortable with the fairing, lights are better, erc.

If you are going to do those kinds of roads where you EXPECT to drop it occasionally, stick with gen1. It crashes a LOT better, and is a little lighter.

For suspension, I went with a Cogent Dynamics shock and I really like it. They also have some emulators for the front that people rave about, but I like the front as it is (after springs).

I didn't have a problem with brakes on mine, but I grew up on dirt bikes that had brakes most would consider inadequate for highway speeds (at one point I didn't have brakes at all for a year or so).

I have a gen 2 that has been frankensteined a bit. I dropped it enough times that the fairing was not straight and I had cut off several parts as it broke...ok, a couple were crashes, not drops. So I reconfigured the wiring and removed it completely, and now it wears part of an irrigation control bucket and a 7 inch TruckLite LED headlight (which is the best headlight I've ever had by far, especially as high runs both high and low on the gen2 setup.

I have a 6.6 gallon IMS tank which doesn't fit the gen2.. I had to rig up a gen 1 radiator to make it fit without the radiator sticking out the bottom.

BUT... I have jumped mine, run it on the difficult single track sections at ohv parks, done the K Trail (including the hard part you didn't do) with a 140 pound passenger, etc. Mine is a Frankenstein because of a usage profile outside the norm. What you seem to want is totally within the norm for a KLR.

Also, my experience is that 70mph is not an issue, and the bike will hold 80, but 90+ is reserved for flat straight roads. Real gps speeds.
I followed Justin and his dad around Big Bend a couple of days and we hit a lot of the 'difficult' sections of that tour. He absolutely rocks on that KLR and goes anywhere he wants to.

It was quite demoralizing getting my b**t handed to me on my 690R with twice the power and suspension :giveup:
 
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Cool, thanks for the info.

I stabbed the brakes on the 2015 yesterday expecting them to be soft and that booger hunkered down.

Didn't seem like a brake issue on that one.

I ran it up to 70 (on the speedo) no problem and it felt fine. Not Africa Twin smooth, but much smoother than any other dual sport I've ridden.
A Gen 1 will do 70+ comfortably with proper gears. With stock gears it will do it but your running about 4800 rpm which has a good vibration. 65 is just right with stock gears and off-road trail riding is fine as well in my experience.

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Tourmeister

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:tab When I had my 02 KLR, I usually kept a 13 tooth front sprocket on it. I did not use it for blasting down highways at 70+mph for long stretches. So for Big Bend, Arkansas, Cloudcroft, Colorado, etc,... it was MUCH better at climbing and descending rough stuff than with the 14 tooth (stock). I ran the Dunlop D606 tires. The Pirelli MT 21s are also good tires (what I use on my 530 EXC).

The KLR out at Big Bend (Terlingua Ranch). The tank panniers have spare tubes and rain gear. They make good cushions for when the bike gets dropped :-P Look close and you can see zip ties near the front 1/3 of the fender.
IMG_5194.jpg


:tab I forgot to mention the radiator. If you drop a KLR on the left side, there is good chance the radiator will get crunched. They make guards for them that are not real expensive and worth every penny. Of course, if you get a big after market tank, that can work as a guard. The radiator fan is plastic. They are known for breaking. People that use these bikes for world travel usually replace them with a metal bladed fan.

You can see the guard here on my KLR (silver bar framing radiator)
DSC04861.jpg


This is Black Gap Rd., in BBNP. Lots of big loose rocks. This is why you need a guard...
IMG_5261.jpg


IMG_5262.jpg


Depending on who you talk to, Black Gap is probably the most technical road in the park just because it is steep and rough in one section. However, River Road, Old Ore, and some of the others are technical because of deep sand/silt with rocks hidden within, waiting to surprise you. My left foot peg went missing on River Road. I'm still not sure how that happened without me noticing!? Anyway, someone else found it, posted a pic of it here, then mailed it to me when they got home :lol2: They KNEW it had come off a KLR when they saw it.

There are quite a few sections like this... which usually give people problems, but that is not really bike dependent.
IMG_3223.jpg


:tab The 2007 and older (Gen I) bikes are definitely more dual sport worthy than the newer bikes just because of all the new plastic on the Gen IIs. If you tear that up, it will cost a lot to fix. Plastics for the Gen I are cheaper. My KLR was held together with zip ties, quite literally. After hitting a deer and having the plastics rip around the fender and the headlight, I just got out my dremel, put alternating holes on each side of the tears, and then stitched it back together with zip ties. It really looked like a Frankenbike! The plastic was relatively soft and flexible, so it could take abuse. It might get those white lines at stress points, but a heat gun could help take those out.

:tab The rectangular single headlights on the Gen I KLRs are actually quite good IF you upgrade the wiring harness (or at least the wires to the head light). The stock wiring has enough voltage drop before it gets to the light that the light is not real bright. This makes quite a difference if you fix it. It may sound crazy, but the headlight on my KLR was vastly better than the headlights on my 1150 GS and my 05 1200 GS (I put LEDs in my current GS). Also, the headlight is just a rectangular automotive head light, so they are cheap to replace if a rock takes them out, unlike the fancy fairing stuff on the newer KLRs.

:tab For ANY motorcycle, when you are packing, how you pack makes a HUGE difference in how the bike handles!

This is good... (see zip tie stitching below front blinker...?)
IMG_0886.jpg


This is a nightmare... The top bag was VERY heavy.
IMG_0865.jpg


:tab The difference between those two setups makes a massive difference in the amount of energy I had to expend over the course of the day of riding. With the top heavy setup, I was fighting the bike constantly. I could not keep the front end down on LONG and STEEP climbs. That combined with the poor suspension had me hitting rocks and bouncing up and off the road. By the end of the first day, I was literally pushing heat exhaustion. With the side bag setup, I was riding in Cloudcroft on some ATV trails and it was still a lot of work, but it was doable. I doubt I could have done it at all with the top heavy setup.

:tab If you start adding all that weight, up top or down on the side, you will REALLY start to notice the soft stock suspension. It completely changes the geometry of the bike. It raises the front end, making it harder to control it. On the trip where I had that top bag, I was literally sticking my upper body as far forward OVER the windscreen as I could get it in an attempt to keep the front end on the ground when doing climbs. The guy leading the ride was on an old worn out DR 650. He wasn't having the same problems. But, I think his genome is part mountain goat... If you are serious about a KLR, you might also consider a DR 650. They are air cooled, so no radiator to worry about.

Here are both side by side...
IMG_0754.jpg


:tab The "which bike" thing is a never ending dilemma. It comes to different conclusions (if ever) for different people. The newer KLRs can do all kinds of stuff. They have advantages over the older KLRs and disadvantages. My issue comes down to energy. If 90% of your ride is easy but there is 10% that is nasty, that 10% can easily ZAP 90% of your energy and raise the chances of you getting hurt and/or tearing up the bike. So for me, that means I am willing to endure a bit less highway comfort/performance in favor of better performance when things get nasty so I am not burning as much energy. That primarily means lighter weight and good suspension. Secondary to that is crash worthiness and potential expense of repairs. My KTM is much more crash worthy than my 1200 GS and it is WAY cheaper to repair than my 1200 GS. The difference between a Gen I and Gen II KLR in that regard is not as extreme.

:tab As much as I hate to point it out because I WANT IT, there is a KTM 500 EXC for sale here on TWT right now that would be a fantastic bike for you. It is light years better than the KLR for any kind of dirt. But, it would not be comfy for long days on pavement, even though there are people that have used them to travel the world. It has the FI you want. It has vastly superior suspension and power. It weighs much less. You can get better seats to improve comfort. It has a six speed tranny, which helps with the highway cruising. The headlight sucks, but if you really need to ride at night, you'd probably want/need to add auxiliary lighting to a KLR as well. I'd buy it in a heart beat if the timing were right, but... :tears:
 

Jarrett

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Thanks for typing all that up, I appreciate it. Really good info.

:tab As much as I hate to point it out because I WANT IT, there is a KTM 500 EXC for sale here on TWT right now that would be a fantastic bike for you. It is light years better than the KLR for any kind of dirt.
I saw that 500, thought about, decided it wasn't for me. At this point, I just can't justify spending $7500 (or more) to buy a KTM that I'm fairly certain I'd only appreciate in the rare times I was able to ride it hard off road. I have a feeling the second I took it up on a fast road, I'd get basically the same experience as I got doing 80 mph down the highway yesterday on the CRF250L. Just a buzzy, windy mess that I couldn't wait for it to be over.

It may come as a surprise, but I don't really have a desire to try and tackle all the worst roads that Big Bend has to offer. I'd rather just find some nice, scenic, dirt or gravel roads and piddle down them looking at the scenery.

And as much as I like riding off road, my opportunities to really do it are few and far between. My county is paving over every road in the area at a record pace. I have to ride farther and farther to find unpaved roads every month.

On the other hand, my opportunities to ride on paved country roads seem endless. And when I'm riding along and do find an unpaved road that goes somewhere, I'd like to be on a bike that can handle it easily and with reasonable comfort.

I also want to have a bike that is a little smaller than my Africa Twin, easier to pick up and able to get it in and out of my truck bed so I can take it when we do RV trips, which we like to do frequently. And most of the places we go end up also having lots more pavement than dirt to ride on.

Based on all of that, it seems like having an fairly inexpensive second bike of the dual sport flavor that favors the street over the dirt would make sense. From what I can tell, the KLR seems to fit that bill better than the others for that. I just wish it were a little lighter and had EFI, but that doesn't exist at this point, it seems.
 
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Thanks for typing all that up, I appreciate it. Really good info.







I saw that 500, thought about, decided it wasn't for me. At this point, I just can't justify spending $7500 (or more) to buy a KTM that I'm fairly certain I'd only appreciate in the rare times I was able to ride it hard off road. I have a feeling the second I took it up on a fast road, I'd get basically the same experience as I got doing 80 mph down the highway yesterday on the CRF250L. Just a buzzy, windy mess that I couldn't wait for it to be over.



It may come as a surprise, but I don't really have a desire to try and tackle all the worst roads that Big Bend has to offer. I'd rather just find some nice, scenic, dirt or gravel roads and piddle down them looking at the scenery.



And as much as I like riding off road, my opportunities to really do it are few and far between. My county is paving over every road in the area at a record pace. I have to ride farther and farther to find unpaved roads every month.



On the other hand, my opportunities to ride on paved country roads seem endless. And when I'm riding along and do find an unpaved road that goes somewhere, I'd like to be on a bike that can handle it easily and with reasonable comfort.



I also want to have a bike that is a little smaller than my Africa Twin, easier to pick up and able to get it in and out of my truck bed so I can take it when we do RV trips, which we like to do frequently. And most of the places we go end up also having lots more pavement than dirt to ride on.



Based on all of that, it seems like having an fairly inexpensive second bike of the dual sport flavor that favors the street over the dirt would make sense. From what I can tell, the KLR seems to fit that bill better than the others for that. I just wish it were a little lighter and had EFI, but that doesn't exist at this point, it seems.


IMG_1975.jpg
This set-up tackled River Road and Old Ore. Definitely requires an unconventional approach, but was dropped only once in the silty stuff. Was venturing towards Black Gap when a rock sliced the rear tire. Rode from Rio Grande Village to Midland on about 10 PSI for the "nearest" fix.

I'm not gonna lie: it was challenging. 17" front wheel and street pegs made things sketchy, although 2nd gear and 2500 RPM could negotiate most obstacles. Sand was best traversed with my butt as far back as possible, throwing my legs back to lower my CoG, and use my boots as steering outriggers. Yeah, an AT would have been most welcomed.



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South Tex

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.



It may come as a surprise, but I don't really have a desire to try and tackle all the worst roads that Big Bend has to offer. I'd rather just find some nice, scenic, dirt or gravel roads and piddle down them looking at the scenery.



Let me know if you ever move 300 miles south, we could be perfect riding buddies!
 
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If I can be nosey n toss in my 2 cents which may be worth half as much. I bought the 14.5 klr new and just did all the upgrades to a brand new bike that tourmiester stated are problems plus a few more. Total invested was about 8k on a bike I can ride 500 miles to big bend , play two days enjoying the dirt roads and ride home . I’ve taken my GSA on the same trip n cross my fingers n say prayers that I don’t break down in no cell phone areas. I’m no dirt bike guy, just a 250# geared up rider that feels safe trashing a cheap bike that knows its way home
a87f46f17f8cddb00de65666ddb836fd.jpg


$8000 into a KLR? Those things must be a cult. I wouldn’t pay that for three of them. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always wanted one. I just want a decade old one that I can snag for $2000.
 

South Tex

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Haha! Yeah it’s a long story. I been riding for over 30 years but only as a commuter . Then I met my 2001 klr and giggled it. World traveler, Alaska trips . I was sold. Sold that bike to a buddy for $400 thinking he would ride with me. I got in 2014 the 2014.5 klr and tore it apart, did the upgrades n headed to big bend. Alone of course , yayhoo buddy was too skeered to go with. So my first adventure was solo which taught me to just go and not wait on others. But no regrets dumping the $ into a bike that gets me there n brings me home.

No offense to anyone , but right now I like to ride to the spot where I wanna ride n then ride home .
 
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