Long-Term Bikes

Star Road Star S
MSRP: $13,090
Caretaker: Bartels
Measurements: 6'0"/198 Lbs/33" Inseam
Odometer: 3220
Miles Since Last Issue: 97


Before launching into this pathetic long term update I'd like to point out that during the production of this issue (7 weeks, give or take) I've ridden about 5500 miles. If you count the miles I did in all of the tour stories this issue it's more like 8-9000. But, yeah, the long term Road Star? Under 100.

So with that said, lets pretend it's winter right now. Let's say I live somewhere with snow on the ground (as I sit in an air-conditioned cubicle in Los Angeles, with the thermometer outside at about 85 degrees) and I have some time on my hands to modify the bike. Lets also say I've already done all the big stuff (in reality, pipes, wheels, tires, hard bags, paint, etc are still in the pipeline). What to do now?

Details, my friend, are the answer. One nice touch that is frequently ignored in the press (though not on real-world customs) is internalizing the handlebar wiring harness. Run along the bottom of the bars like it's done at the factory, is a great way to distract from the clean lines of your bars and (in our case) braided cables. There's some drilling involved; a pair of holes out near the controls, and a larger on at the bottom of the bar, and definitely some wiring, but in the end it's a nice detail that goes a long way towards that smooth custom you've always wanted. Our Burly Brand apes never looked so good.

The other change this issue was ergonomic. It seems like, other than on the big tourers, many of the OEMs pay absolutely no attention to where the passengers feet go... they simply find a spot that works with the pipes and leave it at that. The Japanese seem to be the most guilty, putting passenger's feet in a position best suited to riding on the back of a sportbike... or a gynecological exam. In any case, we found these cool little peg relocators from Kury Akyn that shif the feet down and forward a few inches. Doesn't seem like much, but combined with the wide, adjustable Zombie pegs, they made for one happy passenger.

Honda VTX 1300T
MSRP: $11,299
Caretaker: Zimmerman
Measurements: 5'10"/220 LBs/32" Inseam
Odometer: 2687
Miles since last issue: 601

When I realized how few miles I'd put on the VTX since the last issue I was humiliated to say the least, especially since I've been riding the thing at nearly every possible opportunity. The problem being that for one reason or another, those opportunities haven't been coming as often as I'd like. Unfortunately, that means the VTX has spent more time on the kickstand than on the road and that, in common parlance, sucks. What time I spent in the saddle has been put to good use. There was uh, the recent trip to the hardware store, and the ride out to my favorite ice cream stand, hey, quit smirking it's 60 miles each way, and then I err, rode to breakfast on Monday. Who I am I kidding? I haven't ridden enough miles these past six weeks to knock the cobwebs off the brake rotors, but at least I did get those Motosens gauges that have been sitting on the shelf these past few months bolted on. As you can read in this issue's How To, that went quite nicely and I'm very happy with them.

Honda Shadow Aero 750
MSRP: $7299
Caretaker: Masker
Measurements: 5'5"/175 lbs/28" Inseam
Odometer: 2790
Miles Since Last Issue: 144

AVON ROAD RIDER 120/{{{90}}}-17 FRONT TYRE $123.58
AVON VENOM 170/80B15 REAR TYRE $216.97

Well, this month was anemic for mileage but we made up for it with the mods. When we first adopted the Aero, we made it our mission to get rid of its pesky shimmy at full lean. Phase one of that operation involved suspension upgrades from Progressive Suspension to make the forks less reactive to every little bit of road input. Now we've gone to part two: the tire swap. We just didn't like the way the tires handled in a deep turn, so we swapped them out for a set of Avon treads.

The results were night and day. Avon's Road Rider front and Venom rear practically eliminated the full-lean shimmy. We suspect that's due more to a compliant tire carcass, versus the cheap, hard stock one. Turning just got a lot quicker with these, and the grip is great (not that we ever slipped with the old ones). Riders who like the "sold-feeling" slow turn-in of many cruisers might not be into the Avons, but we really enjoyed flicking the Honda into corners courtesy of them. It was never a heavy-handling bike, but now it's super-responsive.

There were also a couple of added bonuses. For starters, we gained improved comfort over bumps and rain grooves. The new rubber also makes for a meatier profile that enhances the baby bagger look. Between the tires and Progressive Suspension, we've scored a big win for handling. Now we just need to get the intake synch'ed up with the new exhaust and hopefully we'll have a very happy Shadow. And, of course, put a lot more mileage on the bike next issue.

Kawasaki Vulcan 2000 Classic
MSRP: $13,899
Caretaker: cherney
Measurements: 5'7"/155 lbs/30" Inseam
Odometer: 3084
Miles Since Last Issue: 572

With the pipes and saddle swapped out and the Vulcan's once-uneven air/fuel mapping smoothed out (the Cobra Fi2000's dials have been fiddled with yet again), the next upgrade on the big Kawasaki looks to be suspension-namely the direct-action single rear damper. I've fiddled with the 7 possible preload settings (no easy feat on the V2K's hard-to-access shock collar), and finally settled on the service manual's recommendation of Position 4 (based on a 150lb rider).

It's a step in the right direction, but i'm talking to the guys over at Race Tech, Works Performance and Progressive Suspension to see who can come through with a better solution.

Other than that, not much has changed on the big Kawasaki in the last 45 days; summers in the Pacific Northwest, it seems, are all about getting out in the wind before the fall rains shut down the whole show. Long, warm days and acres of oceanfront are made for riding, not wrenching, so I've taken the Good Ship Vulcan on a couple of waterfront excursions - one to the Hoh rainforest on Washington's Olympic Peninsula, about 5 hours due north, and a jaunt down the Lewis and Clark Highway through the Columbia River Gorge. Over the course of muscling the Kawi around that snaking blacktop, I discovered another modification the bike needs - a higher, longer handlebar and risers, for better control and leverage.

Meanwhile, I've got some more riding to cram in. Autumn is right around the corner.