Long-Term Bikes with Modifications

2010 Star V Star 950, 2009 Suzuki Boulevard C50, 2009 Triumph Bonneville

2010 Star V STAR 950
MSRP: $8290
Caretaker: Cherney
Measurements: 5'7"/155 lbs/30" Inseam
Odometer: 1,750
Miles Since Last Issue: 975

Things got off to a slow start for my long-term player, but after a few mixed signals with Star Motorcycles and a couple of weather delays, I was happy to snag myself the V Star 950, one of the more complete bike designs Star has turned out in recent years. Based on what I've heard from dealers, it's also a top sales leader in its class, and that's understandable; it's fairly lightweight and versatile and offers plenty of punch, plus it's a good-looking machine, all of which also means it (presumably) has tons of aftermarket support. I'm hoping i'll have to fight off the customizing opportunities with a large, chrome-covered stick.

Right off the bat, I logged a 1000-mile shakedown cruise on the thing (to the Pacific Northwest) so I was in fine position to evaluate what changes were needed. First of all, a friggin' shield! But I definitely didn't want to muck up the bike's lines with touring accoutrements, so it had to be detachable. Luckily, Star supplied me with one of its short-rise, in-house units, which gave just enough protection to keep wayward trash off, yet wasn't so tall as to gum up my line of sight with a piece of road debris-attracting plastic. I plan on testing a few others like it, to see how the quick detach systems compare. Look for stuff from National Cycle, SporTech, Memphis Shades and the like.

At higher freeway speeds, I found the 950 straining a bit, but I far prefer its lighter, more friendly road manners to that of its bigger brethren, specially round town. I may play with some light performance mods, but it won't need much to get into the sweet spot. I almost hate to say it since it's become so par for the course around here, but the thing definitely needs a set of new pipes to flesh out the tinny sound coming out the back now

Regardless of what happens next, I'm looking forward to a machine tuned to just my type of riding style.

2009 Suzuki Boulevard C50
MSRP: $7799
Caretaker: Masker
Measurements: 5'5"/167 lbs./28" Inseam
Odometer: 746
Miles Since Last Issue: 609

Say hi to our new Suzuki Boulevard C50 guinea pig. Bone stock, it looks a lot like a Harley Fat Boy, minus the bigger motor. The C50's 900 cc engine makes good power but you've got to give it a serious throttle twist to get there. Part of that may be due to excess weight; we're hoping to rectify that with some key changes.

Our first choice was a seat swap. That two-up saddle is okay, but transferring over to a solo seat is a quick way to drop some unnecessary pounds.

Or so you'd think. Mustang Seats kicked us a two-piece Vintage Tour butt cradle that lets us go with or without the included passenger pad. The entire stock seat weighed a total of 6 lbs. The Mustang solo by itself weighed 8 lbs and the rear portion adds another 4 lbs. Yep, we actually added 2 lbs with our solo option. It was a very Wile E Coyote moment, only without the cliff diving.

So why didn't we just keep the stock solo portion and remove its passenger portion? Cleanliness and comfort, my friend. What the Mustang didn't give us in weight reduction it made up for with improved lower back support, thanks to its scooped back. Sitting against it takes some of the pressure off of your spine. A lot of that additional weight went into making a plusher cushion, too. Plus, the solo seat's rear mounting bracket hides under the seat itself. Suzuki's bracket not only sticks out from under the seat, it sticks up like some sort of butt rollbar.

For the Mustang installation we used the stock hardware and took all of ten minutes (fifteen if you're lazy). If you've got an 8mm Allen wrench, you're good to go.

(800) 243-1392
TOTAL: $469.00

2009 Triumph Bonneville
MSRP: $7699
Caretaker: Trestick
Measurements: 5'5"/30" Inseam
Odometer: 3530
Miles Since Last Issue: 668

It has been a busy month for the Bonneville. The most obvious update is the Arrow exhaust, which came straight from Triumph; so far I am totally impressed. The pipes sound great and include removable baffles so you won't annoy the neighbors. I was shocked at how much of a difference it made in the Bonnie's power delivery, I expected it to sound good but the noticeable increase in power was a nice bonus.

The full system with the mapping made such a difference, we put the bike up on the dyno. Unfortunately, we never did a stock run. The little parallel twin is now topping out at 61.2 horsepower at 7250 rpm. It may not seem like much of an increase, but published horsepower numbers tend to be at the crank and our dyno measures the output at the wheel (There's generally a 10-percent loss in power from the crank to the wheel).

Another thing that had to change was the seat. The bike came to the Cruiser garage with a Triumph accessory seat already installed. I understand why they offer the brown seat but I felt like we clashed-don't laugh, style is important. Triumph was willing to swap the seat for the same Contemporary seat in black and gray.

I don't have incredibly small hands for a woman, yet I always seem to have to stretch for stock levers-and my Carpal Tunnel doesn't help with that issue either. I changed out the stock levers right away for these machined billet aluminum ones from Pazzo Racing; the simple switch really made a difference in riding comfort. The Pazzos give you a wider range of adjustments than the stocker and can be easily changed on the fly. The levers come in big array of color combinations; I went with classic black and silver.

TOTAL: $1599.97