Zac finally gets the new smaller rear sprocket fitted and decides to take the Konker for a day trip to Deer Island.
It’s been a few weeks since I’ve written an update on the Konker,
but that’s not because of breakdowns. In fact, the bike is performing so
well that I have little to complain about — even after sending it shiny
It still starts every time I kick it over (actually, I don’t
kickstart it anymore. Yes, the feature I so blithely applauded in my
initial article has turned sour, mainly because I bark my shins on the
footpeg every time I try to use the dang thing).
The bike has done yeoman service in its role as a day-to-day commuter runaround, but that’s not very exciting magazine fare — so, with that in mind, I set my sights on a day trip to Deer Island aboard the Konker. And, as previously promised, just before I left I installed a smaller 44-tooth sprocket; I figured the trip would be an excellent way to gauge any improvements.
Putting through traffic, I could feel the difference the 44-tooth sprocket made right away. I could actually gain some momentum in first and second gear, and hit 60 kph in third.
This was a good sign. I knew the old 48-tooth sprocket was holding the bike back, but I didn’t know how much.
Before, the bike could cruise at 60 kph comfortably (and 70 kph uncomfortably). Now, the bike cruises at 70 kph, and could easily reach 80 kph with a little planning (just don’t expect roll-on performance when you’ve only got around 15 horsepower).
Getting away from urbania, I started looking for one of New Brunswick’s many roadside quad trails. Sure enough, within about 200 feet I saw a promising track, so I aimed the bike off the shoulder and onto the very well-maintained and oddly quiet trail that conveniently followed the highway south.
Flying out of the trail’s end I realized why it was so quiet — according to signs, I’d just torn down the NB Trail, a pedestrian-only domain. Oops!
I left that to look for a more legal option and found an old rail line that started off as a wide gravel road filled with whoops that sneak up on you, but soon narrowed down to a rutted section that quickly reminded me why the Konker needs bark busters included with its off-road package.
It’s nearly impossible to ride in the middle of an ATV trail, and when your tires slide into the ruts on the side of the track, you end up mashing your hands into the trees and brush on the side of the trail. It’s a good way to break a knuckle.
After a stint on some rough backroads (I feel far more comfortable taking the Konker down a slower secondary highway than I do dealing with impatient cagers breathing down my neck on the freeway) I got to the town of Lepreau.
Here I’d arranged to meet up with my longtime riding buddy, Glen Howatt, on his KLR650 (he’d generously given me a head start on the day’s ride, knowing how slow the Konker is). We peeled off down Route 790 which is a fun road on a light dual-sport machine, and the Konker fit it perfectly.
It starts off paved and twisty, with a speed limit of 50 kph, but after a few kilometres of barren backwoods mixed with cottages the road turns to gravel.
I thought the Konker performed as well as could be expected in the loose stuff, but the suspension is definitely limited. It’s no fun to have your bike’s back end chattering through washboard bumps, but thankfully, the road was well-graded in most parts.
It’s a pretty short crossing to a pretty small island with a couple of main roads cutting through the heart and around the edges of the island and smaller streets forking off in all directions.
The smaller streets always lead to some cove filled with weather-beaten houses, lobster traps, and an art shop or a kayaking outfitter.
None of the wider main roads or narrow streets are in very good condition, but they were fun for the little Konker — I didn’t feel like I was holding Glen’s KLR back too much with the new sprocket installed.
After looping around the island, checking out some side roads and scoping out future sites for stealth camping, we hit the return ferry to the mainland and motored back through St. George where I stopped for gas and discovered I was averaging 75 mpg! Not bad, considering much of the trip was pretty heavy on the throttle.
We hooked onto Route 790 again for the trip home and halfway through the gravel section I pulled over and swapped bikes with Glen. He thought this was a great idea — he got to zip along the gravel trail as fast as the bike would take him while I wrestled his portly KLR through the corners.
Back in Lepreau he returned the Konker, a big smile on his face. He wants one, bad! We parted ways in Lepreau — he headed home on the fast highway and I retraced the rest of my path from Saint John.
At the forbidden NB Trail, I turned the Konker onto the highway, to further test the new sprocket. Most cars passed me, but after ham-fistedly grabbing the throttle and twisting like a madman, I managed to get the speedometer up to 100 kph — a new record for the Konker!
I rolled into my driveway seven hours after I left. The whole trip had only taken a couple of hundred kilometres, but I’d been down roads less travelled, set a new speed record for the Konker, and explored one of New Brunswick’s most beautiful areas.
Too bad I can’t pull that off every Saturday . . .