Long-Term Bikes with Modifications

2009 TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE
MSRP: $7699

Caretaker: TRESTICK

Measurements: 5'5"/30" Inseam

Odometer: 6285

Miles This Cycle: 1125

MODIFICATIONS
AVON ROADRIDER TIRES (SET) $250
WWW.AVON-TYRES.CO.UK
RACE TECH SUSPENSION
GOLD VALVE EMULATORS (PARTS) $160
G3-S SHOCK CALL
WWW.RACETECH.COM (951) 279-6655

First up for the Bonneville was a fresh set of tires, after a flat cut the lifespan of the originals short. After researching the Triumph forums, I went with Avon Roadriders. They should provide a good balance of grip and durability and so far, I'm pretty happy with them.

The biggest change on the Bonnie this cycle, though, is brand new suspension bits. I expected an improvement but the change is amazing. I don't think I can ever go back to stock equipment. I'm bigger than average and the Bonneville has a budget stock suspension set-up. When the pace increases in the canyons, I can have problems with the rear squatting. To solve the Bonnie's issues, I put myself in the very capable hands of Race Tech Suspension.

Don't let the name fool you-Race Tech has suspension parts for any kind of bike. They recommended heavier springs and their Gold Valve Cartridge Emulators for the Bonneville's front and their new G3-S shocks out back. The shocks are custom built in the USA and set up for the individual rider. This is the first time I've ridden a bike set up specifically for me and I'm thrilled with it. The G3-S shocks have a massive range of adjustments-high and low speed compression and rebound. Now I just have to figure out how to make those adjustments on my own.

2009 SUZUKI BOULEVARD C50
MSRP: $7799

Caretaker: Masker

Measurements: 5'5"/175 lbs./28" Inseam

Odometer: 1903

MILES THIS CYCLE: 621

MODIFICATIONS
BARON CUSTOM ACCESSORIES
SIDE MOUNT LICENSE $160
SIDE MOUNT LICENSE BRACKET $70
MASTER CYLINDER COVER $30
WWW.BARONCUSTOM.COM
(714) 274-4065

Before we could pull the rear fender off the C50, we needed someplace new for the license plate and run/brake light. I was all for using duct tape, but some people find that distasteful so I hit up Baron Custom Accessories. When they saw I was taking the bike in a Mad Max direction, they kicked in their black anodized Master Cylinder Covers to help me de-bling the bars.

Both changes helped stylistically. You've got to admit, the stock rear fender takes 'cluttered' to Def Con 2. By relocating the license plate and tail/brake light in one move, I've toned that ugliness down. Mounting the side mount license plate took about an hour and a half. The bracket bolts up directly to the frame with no problem. Wiring the Cateye light is what eats up most of the time on this install, though it was pretty painless.

Once the new plate/light combo was on the bike, I turned the key. Baron's new light is bright and I'm happy with it. I also took a good look under the fender while it was on the lift. We didn't lose any weight this month because the side mount unit weighs two pounds more than the plastic plate holder. Judging by what I saw under the skirt, though, we'll probably make that up when all the ugly infrastructure under the fender comes off in the next issue.

2010 V STAR 950
MSRP: $8290

Caretaker: Cherney

Measurements: 5'7"/155 lbs./30" Inseam

Odometer: 2205

Miles This Cycle: 455

MODIFICATIONS
SILVERTAIL BLACKJACK EXAHUST $599
WWW.LEOVINCE.COM
STAR SHORT WINDSHIELD $359
WWW.STARMOTORCYCLES.COM

The V Star has turned into a huge case of hurry-up-and-wait, as everything I'd planned for the bike fell through for this cycle. Luckily, there was a silver lining in the whole mess-actually, a Silvertail.

The lads at Leo Vince contacted me at the last minute to inform me they were working on exhaust prototypes for the V Star, and would I be interested. Would I! The Silvertail BlackJack 2-into-1 system arrived promptly the following week, and an hour after unpacking each individually-wrapped piece, mechanic Chris Vandevoort at CycleTune PDX had them installed on the V Star. Man, was I pleasantly surprised: right at start-up, the pipes let out a nice deep tone without the obnoxious, higher-pitch bark of a straight pipe, (thanks to a dB killer inside). Leo Vince marketing materials say these pipes "aim expressly for elegance", and I can believe it, looking at the clean, stainless steel manifolds and body.

The solidly-built, Euro-compliant Blackjacks are a nice change from the stockers, yielding a rich burble at low rpm, which swells to a thicker chorus when throttle is applied.

What's even better is that the Silvertails come with an 02 sensor, so within 20 minutes of installation and a break-in cruise, the Star's ECU had adjusted to the pressure and the bike has been running nearly flawlessly ever since.

2010 TRIUMPH THUNDERBIRD
MSRP: $12,799

Caretaker: ZIMMERMAN

Measurements: 6'/190 lbs./33" Inseam

Odometer: 2768

Miles THIS CYCLE: 607

So far, the T-Bird has been a revelation. I'm pleased to say that not only has the Bird lived up to my expectations, it's exceeded them, and that's not something said lightly. The power, the handling and braking are at the top of their class, and all far better than I'd thought they'd be. Vibration is nil, and the paint and chrome-despite spending an inordinate amount of time in the rain-remain perfect. The one area where it's been slightly less than perfect is a recent ride on the highway.

See, we ordered a bunch of stuff to convert the bike from a power cruiser to a power tourer, and normally the stuff would have been installed before I made any trip. However, Ma Nature had other plans, which included tossing a few million tons of volcanic ash into the air. All that spew from some volcano in Iceland kept flights in Europe grounded. Unfortunately, one of those flights had a container full of T-Bird touring accessories headed directly for yours truly. Since they didn't arrive until this morning, I did the trip naked-that is, the bike naked, obviously.

I didn't realize how much I'd come to appreciate the amenities of a touring bike, particularly a windshield, floorboards and bags. Without them, the bike is still a hoot, so long as you're not riding it at 80 mph on a big slab of macadam. The stuff just arrived, so as soon as the keyboard cools off, I'm going to start unpacking and installing. I figure there's enough work to keep me busy for a day or two, so stay tuned as I convert what's become my favorite power cruiser into what I hope will be my favorite tourer.

Long-Term Bikes