And then the piglet balked


THE PACK PIGLET is hereby stripped of the pack part of the moniker she briefly enjoyed. Ay god, Woodrow, she’s not a pack-hauling beast at all.

She was pretty unhappy with me last week when I loaded 63 pounds of gear and got ready to head to Canada. That’s about half the weight the iron piggy hauls while making it look easy. The more you throw at her, the better she rides.

I imagined how the piglet might behave if I were to throw the last of my gear aboard. Sleeping bag, tent, couple of gas cans, fill the water bottles…

If the point was to go see Labrador, I’d have gone as-is and fought the piglet all the way up & back. But the point is to see what works on this little dual sport before I take it to South America in the fall. So that meant putting in the time and getting it right instead of getting on the road.



This setup? Forty-eight pounds of side cases, ammo cans and top box? Gone.

I had positioned the cases to put a fraction of the cargo weight aft, given that my big aftermarket fuel tank is already bearing down heavy on the front. But a test ride proved me wrong. What I didn’t take into account is that the piglet’s suspension, unlike the iron piggy’s, doesn’t support weight off the rear axle; it supports it under the seat. The subframe is a lever; the farther back you go, the more easily the spring compresses.

Seems obvious now, I don’t know how I missed it.

Still learning.



I stripped off the boxes and started over. Had to start thinking of the piglet as a weekend backpacker. She’s just not designed to do half of what the through-hiking iron piggy does for months on end, and with ease.

After much trial & error, here’s our new setup.


I recycled one of the side cases for use as a top box, hung a couple of cheapo Amazon book bags on the side racks.



I threw gear overboard, stuff that will absolutely be missed—tools, food, cooking fuel, clothing, camera—and packed the remaining weight tighter, lower, and more forward.

She hauls fine now with 54 pounds of gear, all-in. The container weight is down to 15 pounds from 48. Makes a huge difference.



There’s no weight aft of the brake light anymore. The top rack carries a much lighter load and carries it all in the center. All good!


In Houston, meanwhile, CCjon has already proven his South America 650. He rode it up into the mountains of New Mexico on a test run. I kept him apprised of my own efforts. Here’s one dispatch from the depths of the trial & error phase:

Well… she goes all right but we’re still heavy. I can keep paring, find some grub to take off, a water bottle, a shirt, pair of socks… The nature of long-distance dual-sporting on these lightweight bikes, I guess, plan on being hungry, thirsty and cold.

Actually, water’s not a problem at all. A motorcyclist who can’t find ground water in Labrador deserves to dry up. But it’ll be a serious concern crossing the Atacama this winter, which I guess is why I set up for more than I need now.

Weight isn’t a problem on CCjon’s KLR. With the sidecar rig he built the machine and cargo weigh in at 1,000 pounds. It’s geared low, as you would expect, to move half a ton up and down mountains on 650 cc’s. She turns 4,000 rpms at 45mph. The piglet turns that at 65, her sweet spot on the highway.

In Laborador, I’m sure I’ll find out she’s geared too tall for gravel. But I already know she’s geared just right for getting to the start of the gravel.



So now that I’ve got the major bugs ironed out, my gals can go to Canada with me. I like to keep them in front of me in case it’s my last hurrah. As you know, these days about every fifth driver out there is a menace to self & others.



As of this morning, there’s one new face looking back at me. Daughter #3 laminated this pic so that Daughter #1’s Daughter #1 (little D1D1) can travel along, before my eyes as surely as in the heart.



Here’s the original. She came to visit a few weeks ago just to show off her first two teeth.

I hope to be around long enough to know her when I’m the one with two teeth.


Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 6.09.44 PM

By then, the iron piggy will be heavy for me. Maybe even the little lightweight piglet will be heavy. I’ll take up riding around the world on a chainsaw engine. Forget these 1,440’s and 650’s, I’ll ride to the Arctic Ocean on 49 cc’s of getchy moda run-nin, head out on the highway…

Just enough displacement for hauling around a stick man wizened to perfection. Dig it, the polar bears will see me motoring north at jogging speed and think, Ooh, free jerky!


In closing I’ll say—as I’ve probably said before—I’m not even gone yet but I miss the bride. It’s fun to see her enjoying her new job, climbing a new learning curve (bride, curves, steady there Freud…) She’s still with Bank RI but has a new title now, liaison to…? To something. Of something. From something? What do I know.

Her office is downtown in the Turk’s Head Building, a landmark in the financial district.


See the Turk up on the wall? As advertised, there’s his head.

If you like, click on a little preview for, you know, a little preview of where the piglet and I are headed in the morning, barring calamity. SO3 called my attention to the write-up a few days ago. He’s D3’s Significant Other, as pleasant and thoughtful a fellow as D1’s SO1 and D2’s SO2.

My el cheapo Tracfone dumbphone, best deal on earth, cuts out at the border. I won’t have WiFi either, not even in the towns. There’s no space to carry the Macbook, so I’ll be working longhand in a composition book. Will be fully off-grid and incommunicado for a while, free man on the earth.

I’ve asked the bride to put up with three weeks of no news is good news. After that, I won’t object if she thinks she ought to put in a call to Dudley Do-Right.

Tony DePaul, August 19, 2015, Cranston, Rhode Island, USA.





About Tony

The occasional scribblings of Tony DePaul, 63, father, grandfather, husband, freelance writer in many forms, ex-journalist, long-distance motorcycle rider, motorcycle wrecker, motorcycle rebuilder, collector of surgical hardware, blue routes wanderer, outdoorsman, topo map bushwhacker, handy with a wrench, hammer, chainsaw, rifle, former photographer, printer, logger, truck driver, truck mechanic, jet fueler… blah blah...
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18 Responses to And then the piglet balked

  1. Tom Brown says:

    Stupid me, when you mentioned “keeping the girls in front of me,” I pictured Pam & the clan piling into an SUV for the trek to Labrador. Then, on second read, I realized you were talking about photographs, not people. Have a safe trip. We will be in RI for a few days from about Sept. 17 onward, but you will probably be in Canada at that point. Catch you next time.

  2. Bill Boogaart says:

    Trial and error to get it right. You’ll need to get it so before you head off to S. America, Labrador should be great this time of year. Have a great ride, and be safe!

  3. Bruce Jarman says:

    BMW 1200 GS. Never mind…

    • Tony says:

      Haha! It’s a wonder that Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman didn’t put the big GS line out of business by falling off them every few hundred feet in 50 different countries.

      • steve lyon says:

        I’ve got a 1200 GS, and it’s too heavy for what Tony’s lookin’ to do. I’ll take mine on Forest Service fire roads and some smaller trails, but not loaded down with the kind of gear he’s carrying.

  4. Hugo says:

    Happy Trails Tony!
    Love to all.


  5. David Bright says:

    So this little piggy is so small you’ll be able to ride UNDER the caribou and moose, yes?

  6. Tarquino F. Flores says:

    Maybe the man is far away from home, but his heart will be always close to his family. Have a great trip!

  7. Ron & Linda Dunne says:

    Just saw Pam’s email stating you are heading for Labrador. Are you coming to PEI?

  8. David Booth says:

    Good luck on the rides Tony.
    When you are done on those, you could join me across Australia via the Nullarbor (either piggy or piglet)?

  9. John Lassiter says:

    It’s good to keep up with you this way – I always look forward to these musings. AND you need to ad Grand Pappy or what suits you best to the “About Tony” section. Maybe it’s Whoo Haw Grand Pappy?? I recently found out I’m going to join you as a GRAND parent in Feb. I always though I was a pretty good parent and now I’m going to be GRAND! My oldest, the Northeastern girl, is the one responsible for soon putting me in that category and I must say I’m so looking forward to my new status.
    Be safe my friend,
    John Lassiter

  10. Jorge Nelson says:

    Luck with that rig – hope your leg can move in enough positions to suffer through it gently.

  11. Vincent Ogutu says:

    Safe travels Tony! I hope we get to speak before I travel back home on Sept 15 (defending on Sept 8). Great idea to have those photos right in front of you – your guardian angels 🙂

  12. Pat says:

    Thinking of you and your ramblings today. Visiting Newport today, Labor Day. Pretty.

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