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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Before moderators step in to edit my thread title, the TWAT I'm referring to is the Trans-Wisconsin Adventure Trail. It's actually more of a route than a trail, in that the guy who planned it out used existing gravel roads, fire roads, 4 wheeler trails, and as many off pavement options as possible to traverse the state of Wisconsin. It starts at the IL border and goes to furthest northern tip of the state on Lake Superior.

I learned about it earlier this summer from a friend who had done it, and seemed to think my Scrambler would be up to the task. After reaching out to another friend who has an F800 GS Adventure, he (Chad) was on board and a date was picked, and I (Dan) managed to convince my brother (Casey) to come, who also has a new Scrambler. So the question was, can the Scrambler scramble the TWAT? The answer is HELL YES!

I'll be sharing the whole story with pictures below, so I hope you enjoy. :)

Over my 5 day adventure, I covered over 1100 miles. I have never left my house and ridden a motorcycle longer than 250 miles before landing back at my house, and I've never carried more on a bike than a backpack to work, so this was quite a new thing for me. However, I am in to backpacking and canoe trekking, so the idea of carrying everything with me is nothing new. I've just never combined the two.

Here is the approximate mileage breakdown (with some omitted extra runs in-between):

Day 1 — 250 miles — from home to Galena, IL (the start of the trail)
Day 2 — 250 miles — from Galena, IL to a campground in Black River Falls State Forest
Day 3 — 200 miles — from Black River Falls State Forest to the Chequamegon National Forest
Day 4 — 150 miles — from the Chequamegon to the end of the TWAT (Lake Superior), then to our family cabin for the last night.
Day 5 — 175 miles — from the cabin to back home

Omitting day 1 and 5, which were just getting to and from the route, I'd say we spent about 50% of our time on pavement, and about 50% of our time off pavement.

PREP

Bike prep was pretty simple. I had a fresh new rear tire, and I wanted to know how the MT60's would really do off pavement, so I didn't do squat with my tires. I figured a $100 Evotech engine guard was cheap insurance, so I picked one up. I added a Hepco and Becker tail rack, because it's actually the only one made for the Scrambler right now that I figured could handle the abuse (rough terrain and a lot of gear). Other than that, I made no other bike modifications specific to the trip. Other mods/options I had already were a Dart flyscreen, OEM heated grips, Termi exhaust, disabled SAI, and I removed charcoal filter. That's it (and some cosmetic stuff).

I did need luggage. I picked up a 40L Wolfman Expedition Dry Duffel off ebay for about half price. I also got a Wolfman Blackhawk Tankbag. I already own several waterproof bags, of which I used two 8L bags that I strapped to the Expedition bag. This gave me a total of 64L of capacity, which I thought would be enough. In reality, it was a little tight, but I could have left a few things behind too.

Camping prep was also easy, I'm into ultralight backpacking, and have all sorts of other camping gear as well. I didn't have to acquire anything at all.

As for riding gear, I was fine with what I had, except for the pants. Luckily my friend Chad, who was coming, had a spare pair of Aerostitch Darian pants that fit me. Those things are fantastic! I will need to get a pair for the next time I do something like this.

Below is a pick of everything I brought and wore, including the bags themselves. Total gear weight with bags was 55 pounds (not including what I was wearing). The tools I brought added a lot of weight. If you want to see a hi-res version of the image below, click here. This is WAY more than I'd ever bring backpacking.



DAY 1

The first day was not the TWAT, but rather getting there. It was a beautiful ride down the Mississippi River Valley in the driftless area of SE MN and SW WI. The glaciers missed this area, and it's stunning with huge bluffs, valleys, and cliffs. It's some of the best motorcycle riding in the midwest. We motored 250 miles to Galena, IL to a little campground and set up camp. There wasn't much more to it, even though it was a fantastic ride.

Here is my Scrambler next to my tent:



And a picture of our whole camp. My brother Casey has the red scrambler and my friend Chad has the orange F800 GS.



DAY 2

Apparently because of dairy production in the driftless area, there aren't actually a lot of gravel roads. Much of the first day is absolutely pounding corner after corner after corner as you carve up and down the hills. As I said above, it's some of the best riding in the midwest. Early on in the ride, there is a little gravel spur that runs out on a peninsula into the Mississippi River. It's fun because it has all sorts of dips and bumps and a got to jump the Scrambler a few times! It handled it great! Here are a few pictures from the end of the peninsula (mine is the yellow one):





From time to time on day one we'd get to tear off down a trail like the one below (which had lots of water crossings). I have to say, the Scrambler did great handling everything the day threw at it. As the day continued on, I got more and more comfortable pushing the limits on the dirt surfaces, and the bike continued to reward me with huge smiles!





As the gravel roads and trail wound through the forest, there are all sorts of cool things to see, like this overhang that sticks out over almost half the road:



We cooked our breakfasts, but for lunches we had fun dropping into small town establishments off the beaten path. I always wonder how these places stay in business. My brother is in black on the right, and my friend Chad is in the yellow Aerostitch jacket on the left.



This is my brother and I enjoying lunch.



We got into camp late and tired after 250 miles, and I didn't have time to take any camp photos.

Continued in next post...
 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
DAY 3

BURRRR! We woke up to 28° F and ice on my helmet!



But the campsite was on a river and the sunrise through the fog with the fall colors was beautiful!



After making a delicious chorizo mexi scramble...



And fixing my brother's left foot peg, which had become loose...



Day 3 quickly revealed itself as dramatically more dirty than day 2! This was very welcome!



There were tons on fantastic little routes that cut through the forests where we were dodging boulders, hitting the occasional small surprise jump, splashing through mud puddle after puddle, and generally being absolute hooligans through the woods! It might be the most fun I've had on 2 wheels! On top of the surface fun, the woods were just beautiful as well!



And then... my GPS routed me down what it thought was a road, but it wasn't anymore. A beaver had backed up a creek, made a pond, and flooded the trail into a swamp. This was where I turned around, realizing that this road wasn't going to happen. We ran into some 4 wheelers on the way out that laughed and said they couldn't even get through. This picture was taken after I had already dumped my Scrambler twice in different mud holes. But, at least the Pirellis gave me enough grip to get back out of what I had got myself into. Also, picking the bike up twice, moving it around, getting it unstuck, and all that went with it was absolutely exhausting. Whew!



After that, I looked pretty hardcore! The bike was a dirty dirty mess. :)



The last treat of the day was many many miles of beautiful hard packed dirt road that we absolutely tore up. We were ripping down the dirty at 60 mph trying to beat the sun, and the Scrambler was in it's element! I had hundreds of miles of dirt under my belt already, and I was confident and the bike capable. It was so much fun! We arrived at a really nice campground in Northern Wisconsin and set up camp just before dark. I was downright giddy after the high-speed run on dirt!





DAY 4

We started out the day zipping down backroads and 4 wheeler trails to get to the famous Delta Diner. This place is amazing! It's an original 1940s diner that was hauled from New York city and completely restored to it's former glory. The people are fantastic and the food is even better! Here is a pick of the three of us outside. My friend Chad on the left, my brother Casey in the middle, and me (Dan) on the right.



The inside is super cool! And the food.... ooooh the food! I will be coming back here!



The last day of the TWAT again offered lots of dirt surface! There were some gorgeous forest roads that again let us rip down the trails.



Here is a little trail selfie. You can see the pretty road behind me. That little road was my top speed dirt moment at just about 70 mph. :)



It wasn't all joy though. There were many miles where there was large sections of sand. Not easy sand. Very very fine sand that you couldn't get any traction in. The front tire would dive and wash out constantly. It was exhausting work. If you want to know what I'm talking about, go to 4 minutes in this video (not my vid):


The MT60's actually did quite well in the sand. Chad had TKC-80's on his GS, and he was surprised at how well we did with the Pirelli's. We never got stuck or bogged down. They just kept churning as we battled the front tire.

But then we came around a corner, and the sand gave way to a stunning view of Lake Superior! I almost go choked up when I saw the lake. It was kind of weird. After over 500 miles of cutting through the back country of Wisconsin, it was our first glimpse of the end. It was really neat. I snapped this photo.



However, I found the actual end of the trial to be incredibly anti-climactic. Yes, it's the furthest north you can drive in Wisconsin. But it ends at a turn-around, and you can even get to the lake.



This was the closest you could get, so I snapped a selfie:



Luckily, I knew of a place nearby on the way to our cabin that let me get the REAL end of the trip picture I wanted! The water is normally crystal clear, but the wind was raging and it churned up all the sand. It actually looked really cool.



From there my brother and I went to the cabin. Chad lives a lot further away and wanted to get a jump on the next day, so we parted ways at the location pictured right above.

DAY 5

I rode home. It was boring and cold. Final mileage:



FINAL THOUGHTS

I will ABSOLUTELY do this again, but not this trail. I've already done it. I think next year I'll tackle my own great state of Minnesota. I highly recommend you try this in your own state, or one nearby. Pick the longest distance across the state, and then route all of it down gravel roads, fire roads, and and any other legal dirt surface you can. As long as the trail isn't too gnarly, the Scrambler will do it, and it will eat it up with joy! It's a far more capable machine than many people give it credit for.

It's along post, but there was a lot I didn't cover. If you have any questions, ask away!

People typically do this route on dual sport or adventure bikes, but I wouldn't trade them for this. This was the perfect route for the Scrambler! It was carving corners on pavement, being a hooligan on dirt, and just having an absolute blast! And in the end, I got to say...

I scrambled the TWAT!
 

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What a great trip AH, thanks for taking the time to tell us all about it, great memories were made on that ride, :cool:
 

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Excellent! Way to go Dan, thanks so much for the pictures and report.

Sarah
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks! I thought I'd add a few additional observations on the bike itself and how it handled the hundreds of miles of dirt surfaces I did.

Tires: The Pirelli MT-60's did excellent! We didn't get into any soupy mud, other than the one pic above where my brother is helping get me unstuck. On gravel, hard pack, sand, loose forest dirt, reasonable mud puddles, and everything else, they did really did great. I had zero need for something like a TKC-80. If it rained, I'd probably change my tune, but we had great weather. Overall, I was really happy with them, and they do light-duty dual sport quite well.

Ergos: Many of the dirt trails were easier standing on the pegs. The Scrambler doesn't have dirt bike ergos, but it actually worked quite well. I'm 6' tall and was expecting standing to not work as well as it did, but there were several areas where I was able to really rip the speed up and soak up the trail with my legs. The only part that was odd was sitting down after standing for a while — I felt like I was sitting on a mini bike after being up so high. I have some FT handle bars on order that I will be canceling. After doing this trip I don't want lower bars.

Suspension: No complaints. It did really well. It soaked up big bumps, rocks, wash board roads, pot holes, and more. I have over 7k on my bike now, so I'm used to the stock suspension, but I know there have been lots of comments about how it wouldn't work well off road. Well, those people are wrong. It worked great. I even jumped the bike several times, and it was loaded with gear. No issues!

Throttle: Not once was the throttle an issue or a liability. Standing on the pegs in first gear, motoring up steep rocky sections of trail, doing low speed corners on gravel where the front could wash out very easily, and everything else I did, I never had a single throttle issue. Some of that may be due to the fact that I have the Termi with the remap, I've disabled my SAI and removed the evap canister, and I'm used to it. Either way, it was a non issue, which was a little surprising given all of the jibber jabber about the "snatchy" throttle.
 

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Hello AnotherHobby.
Brilliant write-up of an amazing ride through the wilderness.
I am from India and I own a Triumph Tiger XRX on which I have clocked 6000 miles in the last 6 months.
Ducati has set shop in India recently and I was eyeing the Ducati Scrambler .

I am 49 years old ,with a not -so -impressive height of 5 feet 7 inches and weigh a good 148 pounds.
I find it difficult to manage a Triumph Tiger at times ,especially on solo rides due to its height and weight.
I seem to be well suited for the Scrambler's dimensions instead.

I had this question ,lingering in my mind ,whether a Scrambler could see me through a 500 mile haul a day ,through mixed riding (highway ,unpaved roads and trails)without being unduly taxing ?
Many of questions were answered by your write-up.
Did you ride on a stock -seat ?
What would be your opinion if I asked you "Should I shift to a Scrambler from a Tiger " ?
Thanking you in anticipation.
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
Hello AnotherHobby.
Brilliant write-up of an amazing ride through the wilderness.
I am from India and I own a Triumph Tiger XRX on which I have clocked 6000 miles in the last 6 months.
Ducati has set shop in India recently and I was eyeing the Ducati Scrambler .

I am 49 years old ,with a not -so -impressive height of 5 feet 7 inches and weigh a good 148 pounds.
I find it difficult to manage a Triumph Tiger at times ,especially on solo rides due to its height and weight.
I seem to be well suited for the Scrambler's dimensions instead.

I had this question ,lingering in my mind ,whether a Scrambler could see me through a 500 mile haul a day ,through mixed riding (highway ,unpaved roads and trails)without being unduly taxing ?
Many of questions were answered by your write-up.
Did you ride on a stock -seat ?
What would be your opinion if I asked you "Should I shift to a Scrambler from a Tiger " ?
Thanking you in anticipation.
Especially considering your size (you'll fit well on the bike), I honestly think the only thing that would hold you back on a 500 mile ride is the seat. I've done several 250 mile days on mine, and that seems to be about my max tolerance for the stock seat. The stock suspension does fine for long rides, especially when loaded up with gear. Other than that, the only other considering for long rides is a windscreen. The Dart does the job well for me, and would probably work even better since you are 4" shorter than I am.

I also think a huge advantage the Scrambler has over an ADV bike like the Tiger is just how much fun it is to ride the rest of the time, when you aren't on an adventure!

I posted further thoughts in another thread, so I figured I'd repost that here as well.

Our lightest day of dirt on our trip was probably 80/20 pavement to dirt, and we could only do 250 miles with the amount of sun we had.

The sun came up at exactly 7:00 am on October 1st. We woke up in our tents, got dressed, made breakfast, cleaned up camp, took care of our personal needs, loaded up our bikes, got all our gear on, and were on the road around 8:45 am. We stopped for gas twice along the way that day. We also stopped for 1 hour for lunch, and I think there was one 15 minute break at a cool location. Other than that, we were on the road. Sunset was at 6:45 pm, and we rolled into camp at about 6:15 pm with just 30 minutes to set up our tents before sunset. We cooked dinner in the dark.

That's 9.5 hours from leaving camp to arriving at camp with zero breakdowns or getting stuck and in ideal/perfect weather conditions. Figure 2 hours of stops total, and it took 7.5 hours to get 250 miles with 80% of that surface being beautiful paved roads in Wisconsin. There were lots of turns and several towns to slow down for. The speed limit was 55 mph most of the time (zero freeway or interstate riding), and we averaged about 33 mph overall.

To extrapolate that out, it would have taken us 15 hours to do that same day if it were 500 miles. I wouldn't do that on any bike... ever. Even in the summer in June when the sun comes up here at 5:30 am and sets at 8:30 pm, it would be hard to do it without riding into the night, even under perfect conditions (no rain, no breakdowns, not getting stuck, etc). Considering the need to set up camp, eat dinner, sleep, eat breakfast, breaking down camp, and load back up, you would be short on sleep every night. It's not possible, and would honestly be dangerous due to how hard it would be to stay focused.

The only way I could do 500 miles in a day would be on the freeway/interstate, where you could go 75-80 mph the whole time and only stop for gas and sleep in hotels. That would be exhausting and boring and zero fun.

If your trip has 500 mile days, go back and replan your trip so that you can have fun instead.
 

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Wow, that was an incredible write up. Thanks for sharing! I would love to try and organize something like that.
 

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Great write up and photos. I have a BMW 1100 GS (for the past 22 years), but am very interested in a Ducati Scrambler. Will never get rid of the GS-too sentimental, but could see parking her except for long trips in order to enjoy a scrambler. Enjoying the blog so far, look forward to your next adventure!
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Thanks for the comments. :)

My only regret is discovering the Scrambler could do this type of thing at the end of the riding season. This trip definitely whet my appetite, but there is little I can do to satiate that now. Crazy cold temps, ice, and snow will soon own this place I call home for the next 5-6 months. I guess that gives me lots of time to plan and obsess of my next trip.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Where do you think you will go next?
Riding season is basically done here in MN for the year, so I won't be dong anything like this again for 6 months or so. I think my next trip will be the TMAT, or Trans-Minnesota Adventure Trail. Again, it's more of a route than a trail, but I didn't name it. :)

Same concept was the TWAT (maximize off pavement options), except it's in MN, and there are two routes both going from the Iowa/MN border to the Canada/MN border. There is an Eastern and Central route, but they both start and end at the same points, thus allowing for a loop of about 1300-1400 miles.

The Eastern route goes past my house just 20 miles away, so I could conceivably do the whole loop and not waste any time getting to/from the route. So it'd be about 200 miles further than my whole TWAT ride, but it'd all be on route, which would be pretty cool. Of my total TWAT mileage, about half was getting to/from the route.

I think it'll take about a week to do the whole loop, camping along the way again.
 

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Riding season is basically done here in MN for the year, so I won't be dong anything like this again for 6 months or so. I think my next trip will be the TMAT, or Trans-Minnesota Adventure Trail. Again, it's more of a route than a trail, but I didn't name it. :)

Same concept was the TWAT (maximize off pavement options), except it's in MN, and there are two routes both going from the Iowa/MN border to the Canada/MN border. There is an Eastern and Central route, but they both start and end at the same points, thus allowing for a loop of about 1300-1400 miles.

The Eastern route goes past my house just 20 miles away, so I could conceivably do the whole loop and not waste any time getting to/from the route. So it'd be about 200 miles further than my whole TWAT ride, but it'd all be on route, which would be pretty cool. Of my total TWAT mileage, about half was getting to/from the route.

I think it'll take about a week to do the whole loop, camping along the way again.
Super cool write-up!! Any reason the photos are gone or is it just my browser?
 
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