Preview – Escape From LA
Photography by Henry Z. De Kuyper
We’re Not Waiting Until Plutoxin 7 Courses Through Our Veins. We Find Out Now If a Dual-Sport Bike Can Be Our Bug-Out Vehicle.
Imagine, if you will, living in a major metropolitan area. Everything seems fine, but then initial reports of a looming disaster start filtering in. In order to minimize potential casualties, the civil authorities order a mass evacuation of the area, leaving you with just a few hours’ notice to grab your gear and get out of Dodge. Now let your imagination wander to just what that might look like on major highways. Better yet, Google some images from the days just before Hurricane Katrina. Go ahead, I can wait. This isn’t idle speculation — it actually happened.
Look carefully at all the cars and trucks jamming the roadway, bumper to bumper. See that empty shoulder to the side, or the uncluttered median? How about the gaps between each lane? What if you had a vehicle that could transport you and perhaps one other person, along with enough essentials to ride out the impending emergency? A vehicle that would slip easily between the stuck cars and allow you to escape, getting out of the affected area without having to deal with the potential problems that might arise when tens of thousands of panicked people are stuck in the world’s biggest traffic jam.
That vehicle exists. It’s readily available, gets great gas mileage, and can be had for a couple of grand, via your local Craigslist. Dual-sport motorcycles bridge the gap between dedicated dirt bikes and asphalt-bound cruisers and have been used to travel around the globe, through places where potholes, poor-quality fuel, and high-quality corruption are the norm. Getting your sweet ass out of the way of a Category 4 storm should be a piece of cake.
Dual-sports run the gamut: There are the cheap and cheerful single-cylinder 250cc machines (think Yamaha’s XT250), the middleweight offerings (re: Kawasaki KLR650), and the deluxe Euro tourers (such as the BMW GS series and KTM’s Adventure lineup).
For our purposes, the offerings that strike the best balance of price and capabilities can be found in the middle of the pack, though one-lungers from the Japanese manufacturers can certainly be improved upon when it comes to luggage capacity, protection, and performance. We decided to see what was possible with a limited budget — building a machine that was capable off-road, had enough range to outrun any natural disaster, and could support its rider with enough survival gear to make life tolerable while he made the journey to a safer location.
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