Long-Term Bikes

Kawasaki Vulcan 2000 Classic

MSRP: $13,899
Caretaker: cherney
Measurements: 5'7"/155 lbs/30" Inseam
Odometer: 2515
Miles Since Last Issue: 422

MODIFICATIONS:
COBRA SPEEDSTER SLASHDOWN PIPES $609.95
COBRA FI2000R $234.95
COBRA FORMED SISSY BAR LUGGAGE RACK $129.95
COBRA {{{MINI}}} SISSY BAR $249.95
COBRA MINI SISSYBAR PAD $59.95

In last issue's installment, I opted to swap out the big Kawasaki's stock pipes for a set of Cobra's Speedster Slashdowns, with (optional) Quiet Core baffles.

Cobra had assured me the Quiet Cores would keep things manageable in the decibel department and I have to admit they've been sounding fairly throaty but not obnoxious in that regard, though popping and backfiring on deceleration was the norm initially. I figured a Fi2000 fuel module would solve the issue, so I hauled the ol' girl down to the local shop, Cycletune PDX, for a professional going-over. I chose Cycletune mainly because former Honda factory mechanic Chris Vandervoort had agree to fiddle around with the Kawasaki's pipes and Fi2000 module settings and I respected his judgement. Within two hours, Vandervoort had dialed in the module and plugged up any leaks.

Now the popping is almost completely gone, and I could be wrong here, but with the Quiet Cores, the Speedsters sound almost quieter than the stock pipes-at least at idle. Once you crack the throttle, the secret gets out quickly, though the pulses are much less invasive than on pure straight pipes.

I'm convinced bike feels lighter (even if just a touch), though judging by seat-of-the-pants impressions, power gains- if any-seem fairly unimpressive. Hopefully I can locate a dyno soon to quantify the plusses or minuses.

Other, more practical considerations on the Vulcan 2000 had to be addressed as well; my wife practically demanded that I install some form of support out back if I expected her to accompany me on any future outings. Marital bliss being the lesser of two evils, I quickly slapped on several more items from the Cobra catalog - a sissybar with backrest pad and a sissybar luggage rack. The whole ordeal took all of 45 minutes, and the new accessories actually make the beefy Vulcan look pretty good. I've been told they're a lot cheaper than marriage counseling as well...- AC

Honda Shadow Aero 750

MSRP: $7299
Caretaker: Masker
Measurements: 5'5"/175 lbs/28" Inseam
Odometer: 2646
Miles Since Last Issue: 195
Modifications: Road rash removal

Well, we finally got the Aero back from Honda after its spill and have had little time to do anything other than revel in its shine. We did take it out for some riding but nothing big to speak of, just pressed back into duty as a commuter machine. To further our goal of making this the sweetest-riding little bagger this side of the V-Star 950, we ordered up a set of tires-make that Tyres -from Avon and we'll be mounting them up soon. We've also got to make it down to get this thing dyno tuned as it seems like it lost some bottom-end grunt with the new pipes. - MM

Honda VTX 1300T

MSRP: $11,299
Caretaker: Zimmerman
Measurements:5'10"/220 LBs/32" Inseam
Odometer: 2086
Miles since last issue: 1013

!@#$%^&** It's been six weeks since I wrote the last update and during that time it's rained for at least some portion of nearly every single day. The end result being that I've put a measly 1013 miles on the VTX and the majority of those were accrued riding to and from Americade. During the few nice days that we had, I did manage to put on some miles; unfortunately, those were on test bikes other than the VTX.

Running up to Americade exposed the VTX's only serious fault- when pushed hard I was lucky to get 150 miles the tank. Granted that's somewhere between 40-45 miles to the gallon at speeds that average around 80 mph, and I do fill up as soon as the bike goes on reserve, I've pushed out of gas bikes before and it's not much fun, but that being said I feel like I just get into a groove and then it's time for fuel. I suspect that the Ultimate seat I've got on there has something to do with that, but the VTX does have some long legs, and it'd be nice to use them.

With the bike sitting you'd think I'd at least get some accessories bolted on to it, I've got a great set of Motosens gauges sitting on the shelf that are just begging to be installed but as yet I just haven't got them on. I promise to have them in place by the next issue though, and to do a full write up on installing and wiring them.

It's not as if I haven't done anything though. Prior to Americade, I changed the oil and filter, (using full synthetic Penn Grade 1 Oil) and made sure the bike was in perfect fettle. I could have save my energy though once I got past the oil change, and adjusted the tire pressure, there wasn't a whole lot more to do, but it is a Honda so I'd have been extremely surprised if that hadn't been the case.

On a downside during the trip to Americade the saddlebag, snaps on one side decided to pull out of the bags. It's no big thing and I'm sure if it happened to you it'd be covered under warranty, but it doesn't say much for the quality of the bags, or at least the snaps.

In the mean time, it's still raining, and more is predicated so whether I'll be putting any more miles on the VTX in the very near future is doubtful. As soon as the weather changes and it always has before, I'll try to make up for lost time. I wonder if Honda makes Arks? - MZ

Star Road Star S

MSRP: $13,090
Caretaker: Bartels
Measurements: 6'0"/198 lbs/33" Inseam
Odometer: 3117
Miles Since Last Issue: 408

MODIFICATIONS:
STAR QUICK-RELEASE BACKREST SIDEARMS $245.95
STAR QUICK-RELEASE BACKREST TALL UPRIGHT $123.95
STAR CUSTOM BACKREST PAD $107.95
STAR REAR LUGGAGE RACK $113.95

It was a season for ups, downs and disappointments for our Roadie. Our stated mission from the outset was to make a bike both functional and cool, in this installment we're hoping to bridge the two requirements with a little tomfoolery. To be blunt, there's nothing badass about a bike with a sissy bar and luggage rack, it messes with the lines a little too much. So we needed to be able to strip this girl in a hurry (before her daddy comes home).

To this end we ordered up a few Star Genuine Accessories. A passenger backrest not only lets a passenger relax a bit and not feel the need to constantly cling, but opens up a world of luggage possibilities for solo riding, Add in a luggage rack, and you'll also have the ability to strap things above and below the rack, as well as add a ton off bungee attachment points. So to achieve all of our goals we made sure we got Star's Quick-Release accessories.

To install it, I had to swap out the stock fender trim rails for a set of flat chrome ones while the mounting hardware gained some almost-invisible mounting points for the Quick-Release gear. I'd like to say that the sidearms, backrest and pad went together without a hitch, but that would be a lie. The vinyl cover on the pad covered two of three threaded screw holes, and needed to be trimmed, while the holes in the sisybar didn't exactly line up either, and I needed to take a Dremel to it.

Once all bolted together, everything slides together relatively easily, though the sidearms do take a little coaxing to line up with the front mounts. It seems counterintuitive, but to go from passenger and luggage-friendly to stripped for the strip, it's best to put everything on and take it off in reverse order, starting with the rider seat (just a flick of the ignition key) followed by the passenger seat (which needs the rider seat off first), then the backrest. On our tester the wide Corbin passenger seat interferes with the backrest some during installation (requiring some wiggling to get it together), but for anyone with a stock seat this isn't a problem.

Once I had the program down, it's doable in about three minutes, if all the tools are at hand.

For the next step, I have a set of Corbin's Beetle Bags, but it seems like they're not compatible with the backrest, so there are a few hard decisions to make: backrest or hardbags? I'm pretty sure I can strap more stuff to the backrest without bags, but it's not as secure from theft or the elements that way. It's all a moot point until I get the new exhaust put on, as the bags don't work with these pipes.-BB