Kayaks loaded! Mountain bikes loaded! Fishing poles packed! Hiking gear packed! Camper loaded and ready to go! My husband and I are geared up for our annual Smoky Mountain camping trip. We look like a rolling sporting goods store clipping down I-75 South. This trip however, would also include one more activity that we were both excited about. My husband had been researching the Kawasaki KLR 650 dualsport motorcycle for sometime. We both ride our own street bikes and have been riding off and on for years, but dirt and gravel were something we avoided. My husband’s desire to hit some back gravel roads and to explore new territory led us to GSM Motorent in Townsend Tennessee, just 7 miles from where we would be camping in Cades Cove.
Dan and Debbie Dickie own Motorent with most of their inventory being the highly revered KLR, (great on gravel, great on highway-hence, dualsport).
The morning we arrived we met Debbie and Sam the dog. Deb gave us a quick orientation on the bikes and suggested areas that we may want to ride.. After we signed enough papers to keep the lawyers happy we set out for Parson’s Branch Road, exiting the back side of Cades Cove to intersect highway 129, the infamous Dragon. From there to Robbinsville with plans to ride some gravel roads off the Cherahala Skyway. As we rode deeper into the back country, the more it rained. Luckily these bikes do there job very well, so it didn’t matter if it was raining,dry,pavement or gravel. Dan had upgraded the suspension and brakes on the KLR’s, which enhanced the ride even more. It was a fantastic experience to ride these bikes in the beautiful Smoky Mountain area.
There was only one drawback to this whole experience- Time. , or the lack of it. It was getting late and we still had to ride back to camp. As I rode up beside my husband to turn around, there he sat on his 650, a gleam in his eye and a smurky little grin in the pouring rain. “We’ve got to get a couple of these”, he said. Oh my goodness,I thought, I’ve seen that look before! (This was Thursday. By Saturday afternoon we were sitting on our own new Kawasaki KLR’s)
After having a very enjoyable riding experience on the KLR’s, we turned the rentals in Friday morning and my husband became a possessed man calling every Kawasaki dealer east of the Mississippi. He contacted Tommy’s Motorsports in Clinton Tn. just 50 minutes from our campsite. Tommy gave us the best deal and lowered my motorcycle with no extra charge! Everyone at Tommy’s were very helpful and professional and made our purchasing experience very enjoyable. Tommy, the owner has a great sense of humor and fun to talk with, but has a no nonsense approach to selling motorcycles,which also added fun to this crazy midlife crisis ordeal!
We rode the 650’s back to Cades Cove and spent the next 4 days exploring places where these bike excel. When the 650 is lowered, the kickstand becomes too long and needs to be shortened. Dan at GSM Motorent cut about an inch and a half off my kickstand, rewelded and painted it for $20.00 and it looks like factory!
The KLR’s consumed us. The kayaks never saw water, nor was there a fishing line wet. Bicycles never left the rack of the camper and our backpacks and hiking boots took a rest this trip. We had put 600 good break-in miles on the bikes by Thursday . We stopped at Tommy’s to buy oil filters and pick up some paperwork on the way back home.
Our thanks to Dan and Debbie and Sam at GSM Motorent for all their help and the try before you buy plan! Thanks to Tommy and the guys at Tommy’s Motorsports, who made this a most memorable vacation, with 2 great souvenirs to take home.
P.S. Our street bikes are for sale!
Once we made it home safe and sound, driving down our driveway, my husband looked over at me grinning like a possum and said ” The Kaw’s have come home”.
Jerry and Mandy