Long-Term Bikes Wrap Up

We wrap up the VTX, Aero and Vulcan, and introduce a Bonnie to the fleet

Honda Shadow Aero 750

MSRP: $7299

Caretaker: Masker

Measurements: 5'5"/167 lbs/28" Inseam

Odometer: 3205

Miles Since Last Issue: 415

It's time to say goodbye to our Shadow Aero. Overall, it's been fun; we came into this experiment with some clear ideas of what we wanted to change, made most of them happen, and enjoyed the results. Sure, the Aero suffered a few scratches in the course of testing, but the Honda knew the job was dangerous when it took it.

We started off with a Saddlemen Tattoo Profiler seat for quick added comfort, then upgraded the suspension front and rear suspension with some Progressive Suspension products, and gave the motor a little more grunt with a Jardine exhaust. Last month, we finally pinned down the pesky turn wobble with a new set of treads from Avon.

All through the ups and downs, we've had a reusable Flo oil filter standing by patiently. It was donated in the beginning, and before we say goodbye to the Shadow, we felt we owed the little guy his fifteen minutes. It's not exactly a performance enhancer, but it can stretch your dollar if you log tons of miles by eliminating the need to purchase a new filter every time you change your oil. It has a re-usable element, much like on an air cleaner; you pull it out of the casing, wash it with a solvent (or even soap and water), then spray it with compressed air to "rinse" it.

412 SHOCKS $299.95
EXHAUST $516.00
FRONT TIRE $123.58
AVON VENOM 170/80B15
REAR TIRE $216.97
TOTAL: $ 1,672.39

Kawasaki Vulcan 2000 Classic

MSRP: $13,899

**Caretaker: **cherney

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

Odometer: 4584

Miles Since Last Issue: 1500

With 2009 drawing to a close, it was no surprise that Kawasaki came calling for their machine to be returned. Alas, the suspension plans with Race Tech and Progressive Suspension never came to fruition, but frankly, the rear end became much more tolerable after I swapped in the Mustang seat. So last month, I stripped the girl back down to stock and steeled myself for another run down to L.A. from Portland. It being November, I knew there'd be weather issues along the way, and Mother Nature didn't disappoint: much of the I-5 corridor had snow in the passes, so I was forced to take the coastal route. The detour added 350 miles and two days, but through it all, the V2K was ol' reliable: rock solid through rain and hail as well as 35-degree mornings, starting up without complaint and running smoothly even through the worst Bay Area traffic. I was pleasantly reminded of how damn good the stock pipes sound and run, too. The motor is a brute, but never in an obnoxiously aggressive or abrupt way, it just always seemed to be there, with gobs of torque standing at the ready.

The 1300 mile trip served to remind me that the V2K steers too heavy for my liking, but that usually happens when you're a short-armed, 5-foot, 7-inch dude trying to wrestle a 900lb. machine through days of twisties.

So now i'm eagerly awaiting the next long termer, a V Star 950.

Cobra Speedster
Slashdown exhaust $609.95
Cobra Fi2000R $234.95
Cobra Short Sissybar $254.95
Cobra Short luggage rack $139.95
Mustang Two-piece Vintage
Touring seat $489.00
Total $1,728.00

Honda VTX 1300T

MSRP: $9599

Caretaker: Zimmerman

Measurements: 5'10"/220 LBs/32" Inseam

Odometer: 4800

Miles since last issue: 569

In the December '09 issue, reader Lee Bloomquist took us all to task for not riding our long-term testers more. He's got a point; in many instances readers probably do rack up many more miles between issues than we do, or so it might seem. Speaking only for myself, let me just clear the air. This year I accumulated something over 10,000 miles between January and November on a variety of bikes. That's by no means serious mileage but it's healthy, especially when that mileage is divided up between test bikes, my own motorcycles, and even some track time. So it's no wonder the VTX has barely accumulated 5,000 miles. I try to ride it every day, but there's only so much time I can spend wandering around before work intrudes. The flip side is that, like many of you, I also have other things I enjoy doing of a non-motorcycling nature, as well as family responsibilities that take precedence over riding.

All that aside, I've managed to hang onto to the VTX for the time being, but since I don't know when it'll be going back to Honda (it's mid-November as this is being written) it's unlikely I'll do more than ride the thing whenever time and weather permit, until they ask for it back. Frankly the way the bike's been working for me, I'm afraid there's not a whole lot to write about anyway.

Triumph Bonneville

**MSRP: **$7699

**Caretaker: **Trestick

Measurements: 5'5"/NA/30" Inseam

**Odometer: **2862

Miles Since Last Issue: 858

Observant readers might recognize this Triumph Bonneville, since we used it for the "Beginner Bikes" story in the October '09 issue. That very same Bonnie showed up in the Cruiser garage as my long-termer. Because it had already been functioning as a test bike, it already had over 2000 miles on the clock. Unfortunately, the first day I rode it home, it came up lame with a blown fork seal. So off the Bonneville went back to Triumph, eventually reappearing with a brand new fork leg.

One of the reasons I set my sights on the Bonneville is that I wanted a practical and comfortable urban runabout I could have fun with too. With our office relocation bringing a significantly longer commute, I'd be riding in to work much more frequently. My new commute is mainly city streets followed by a short blast on a free-flowing freeway. The Bonneville with its light weight and narrow profile fit the bill perfectly.

The miles I've spent with the Bonnie so far have been a blast. Its sharp handling dispatches the curves of the local canyons with ease. It's like riding a piece of moto-history without the inconvenience and unreliability of vintage iron. I particularly like that the EFI system is cleverly disguised as carburetors, keeping the retro flavor alive.

I like to live with a stock bike for a bit to figure out what I want changed. My plans are to keep modifications relatively simple. The very first thing that I had to take care of was the glaring lack of a helmet lock. HelmetSecure came through with this lock for a full face helmet. It's more secure than a typical D-ring lock. It fits to round handlebars and locks with a key. The integral steel cable then goes around the chinbar of your full face helmet and sits securely on your bike.

My big extravagance will be the exhaust. I'm dying to get a set of Arrow pipes on it and because they actually come from Triumph they would be an easy purchase for a buyer. Stay tuned to see what I come up with.

Helmet secure lock $59.95
Total $59.95

Long-Term Bikes - Motorcycle Cruiser Magazine