Shop Talk | Tech Questions & Answers

Got a question? Try to stump Mark at Zimmer@aol.com

Right is the new normal

Situation: V Star 1300, 8K miles. Rear tire recently replaced with a Metzeler ME880. When I remove my hands from the handlebars, the bike veers slightly to the right. It did not do this when the bike was new. Dealer says it’s normal for the bike to veer to the right. What do you think?

S. DuCett
Via email

_In this case I have to side with your dealer. Under most circumstances, a slight pull or drift to one side or another is normal and no real cause for concern, especially if it only occurs when you let go of the bars. In truth, since you’re running a well-worn front tire in conjunction with a new rear tire, I’m surprised a “slight” drift is all you’re experiencing. If the situation worsens, I’d recommend replacing the front tire, and depending on the results, checking the wheel alignment. _

Tire trials

A riding buddy installed TPMS on his trike. He checks tire pressure before we go riding and adjusts it to spec. After riding about an hour, he will turn on his TPMS, look at tire pressures, then let air out until they are back where he started at spec.

I, on the other hand, will adjust my pressures 2-3 psi below spec, so that when the tires heat up the pressures will be about at spec.  

Which method is correct????

Oliver
Via email

The proper process is to inflate cold tires to the manufacturer’s recommended specifications, then ride the bike for a few miles to warm up the tires, and re-check the pressures. If the pressure has increased by 2 to 3 pounds then the starting pressure was right on the money. If the warm pressure has increased by less than 2 psi, the starting pressure was slightly high. If the pressure has increased by more than 3 psi, the starting pressure was too low.

Tire pressures are best adjusted when the tires are cold, so frankly, unless the numbers are way off, I wouldn’t be overly concerned. Setting the cold tire pressures to the manufacturers recommendations before the ride should eliminate all the fuss of fooling with them on the road.

Weighty issues

Mark, I’ve been reading your articles for years, but never thought I’d be asking you a question. I guess I’ve finally found a reason—I’m trying to get information concerning load capacity, or GVWR. I’ve been looking at the new Kawasaki Voyager, but recently read an article that stated load capacity as 378 lbs. The more I thought about it the stranger it seemed. I don’t totally understand all that goes into calculating load capacity, but if we’re talking what the bike can carry, well, 378 lbs. doesn’t sound like a lot. It’s close to 380 lbs. if I count myself and my girlfriend aboard; add whatever she packs in the saddlebags, and I’d easily crack that number—probably by a pretty fair amount.

**Most manufacturer websites don’t list these numbers in the specs, but I’ve been able to determine that the Victory Vision lists a GVWR of 1414, with a dry weight of 849 lbs. Kawasaki lists a “curb weight” of 886 lbs, so the Victory and Kawasaki are probably both fairly close in actual tonnage. If my thinking is correct, the Vision still has a better than 100 lb. advantage in load capacity over the Kawasaki, and I’d think that would be significant for a touring bike. Harley-Davidson claims a 2009 Electra Glide’s load-carrying capacity increased from 479 lbs. to 549 lbs., which gives it a 150 lb. + advantage. Heck, a Fat Boy appears to have about the same load capacity as the Voyager. **

I’ve had people tell me it isn’t a big deal and people tell me it is. Just how important is a bike’s rated load capacity? Does the Voyager’s rating seem low?

Brian
Via email

As a rule, manufacturers fudge the carrying capacity toward the low side to prevent riders from overloading their bikes, so between you and me, there’s always a little wiggle room. By ‘little’ I mean no more than about 5-percent, so in this case you can probably get away with adding another 20lbs. to the total, but anymore than that and I’d say you’re asking for trouble.

_As far as the importance of the rated load capacity, it’s hard to quantify, but overloading the bike compromises handling, braking and performance, and in a worst case scenario, may cause physical damage to the motorcycle. After seeing all those web photos of third-world motorcycles loaded down with everything from hundreds of chickens to entire families, though, I have a hard time believing a few extra pounds will mean much to a Voyager. _

_Lastly, the Voyager’s carrying capacity does seem a little low, but it is what it is, so bottom line, if it’s too restrictive, another bike with a greater carrying capacity is a better bet. _