I have 3 Kawasaki Super Sherpas. Why? Because I really like them!
My regular ride is a 2009 Sherpa that I bought for my wife brand new in 2010. She rode it a tiny bit but had a scare and decided riding wasn’t really her cup of tea. The Sherpa stayed parked til 2012 when I decided to ride it to the hardware store. I really didn’t have much experience with it. I rode it around the backyard every month or so just to keep it running, so the hardware store ride was really my first ride on it. I loved it.
I had been spending all my time on a 2009 KLR650 and a 2009 KLX250S and the thought of doing any serious riding on the Sherpa never occurred to me. The next weekend I decided to rack up some miles on the Sherpa and see how it did so off to the Olympic National Forest. I rode from my home in Elma WA to Wynoochee Dam, then across the forest to Shelton and then back home on the highway. Even though it rained almost the entire 6 hour ride, I had more fun on the Sherpa than I had on either the KLR or the KLX doing this same loop.
The Sherpa handles incredibly well. At 284 lbs (something like that) wet, it’s really easy to flick around and at 250cc’s and with a 6 speed transmission, it goes really well. It’s a simple, no frills bike that’s compact, comfortable and a shorter person can plant both feet flat on the ground while sitting in the seat. On the KLR and the KLX, I can only put my toe of one foot on the ground at one time. Both of those bikes are very tall, but not the Sherpa, even though it has a ton of ground clearance.
The suspension is really good for stock. The only thing I changed was putting 15 weight Spectro fork oil in place of the 5 wt stock and changed the stock fork springs to progressive wound springs. It helps the front end from bottoming out since I’m not what one would refer to as a “lightweight”…
Stock tires are Bridgestone Trailwing TW 301 snow 302. Many people complain about the Trailwings, some even call them Deathwings, I however, have run through 3 sets of them and I love them. They work beautifully for me in everything but mud and super deep sand, and I avoid mud like the plague. I try to work my way through sand, and have only turned back once out in the Dale Mining District near 29 Palms, California. I was on a 6 day trip across the desert and was carrying gobs of water, 40 liters, and the bike was so heavy it simply sunk! Today, I have a set of Shinko 700’s and have logged a lot of miles on them both on pavement and on dirt and gravel. I’ve run the Shinko 700’s on the KLR for a ton of miles in very hard conditions and they have performed flawlessly, held up quite well and are quite reasonably priced. The only problem with running them on the Sherpa it they’re a tall profile tire so the tire radius is larger that the stock size. I experience a little loss of power as well as diving in turns because the profile is much more round than the stock tire. Neither one of those issues are a deal breaker for me. Recently, I purchased a Heidenau K60 Scout. I haven’t installed it yet, but it looks like it has about the same circumference as the Trailwing with a very tough, low profile sidewall that’ll likely be a bear to install. As soon as I wear out the Shinko 700, the K60 will go on.
I rejetted the carburetor to something that’s a little easier starting and smooths out the throttle a bit more since stock was super lean and it always felt like it was starving for fuel.
I changed the seat foam and cover to a Seat Concepts kit and shaved the front half of the seat down about 1/2” and added some cushier filler. I’t pretty decent now. I’m able to spend all day on the seat well enough, though monkey butt still creeps in toward the end of the day.
I’m using a Happy Trail SU pannier rack and a Happy Trail tail rack. I’m pretty satisfied with it. I recommend it over soft bag racks.
I use Happy Trail Sahara soft bags which are semi-adequate. Their design is good in concept, however lags in performance in a variety of ways. More about that later.
For the tail rack bag/s, I use a variety of bags that depend on what I’m riding and for how long. My mainstay bag is a large size Happy Trail Mojave bag that I made a corrugated plastic box insert for. Depending on the ride and what I’m carrying, I might put a small Mojave bag on top of the large and sometimes even two small Mojave bags on top. Sometimes I use a Bilt Explorer Dry Bag (medium) or a large Moto-Fizz camping bag. Again, it all just depends on the situation.
I use a Wolfman Enduro tank bag and have added a cigarette lighter type of plug for electrical stuff. A TrailTech TTO tachometer/hour meter and a set of inexpensive 10 watt LED lights to the front, one is a spot, the other is a wide beam. They really light up the night!
That’s it.. Oh, again, depending on the ride, sometimes I mount a 2.5 gallon fuel container to the back rack, under the tail bags. This increases my rang to up to 350 miles, depending on ride conditions. It’s great for back up fuel!
Sherpa #2 is a 2004 with about 6k miles on it.
Sherpa #3 is another 2009 with 300 miles. This one is sort of like a reserve Sherpa…
Like I said before, I really like this bike a lot! It’s a great small displacement bike that performs well in just about any scenario.