The Fat Lady’s Christmas Bling: Gilles Tooling Rearsets

OMG! She’s armed herself with a torque wrench and set it to 20Nm!
Yesterday I installed the Gilles Tooling rearsets my baby bought me for Christmas. May I add that it was a breezy 41˚ F and under a pregnant looking sky? They had called for 54˚ and sunny. Liars! I was freezing my buns off out there, not to mention my fingers were getting cold and I get grumpy when I have to kick around in low temps. Husband, meanwhile, was putting the Throttlemeisters on his Connie and wiring up the power harness for his Gerbing heated gear. We were out there, cussing up a storm and losing tools and parts. I don’t know what it is, but I set stuff down, then can’t find it and it takes me 10 minutes to locate the missing object. Hubby apparently has the same problem. Stuff like that turns a 30-minute install into an all-afternoon affair (and so does adjusting). I don’t have the patience for this and I’m mechanically disinclined. I mostly understand the theory but the hands-on experience always turns out to be quite different from the theoretical. It was glorious. Hubby finally told me that I have the filthiest mouth that he’s ever heard on a woman. Ah! Shut the hell up! LOL Apparently he had already forgotten about that rear tire changing experience. ;P I know what the problem here is anyway: we need a garage and a workbench so I can get my anal-retentive little butt organized and I don’t have to sit in the driveway like a hobo with a 50-pound manual in my lap, holding e-ring pliers and looking lost.

I’m the resident plastics specialist, he knows how to play with nuts and adjust rods. We trade up and help each other out. It’s a symbiotic relationship. You know what they say: A family that wrenches together ends up having a fistfight in the driveway. =D Actually, we did have quite a bit of fun. He’s not quite ready to send me to motorcycle mechanic school, though. * dies laughing * In addition to the rearsets, I also put the X-TRE back on, fixed a small problem with the Fat Lady’s grab rail mod and installed her new Hayabusa OEM gel seat. We finished right before dark, but I didn’t have time to wash her, not that I was going to play with the hose when it’s barely above freezing. But I had planned on it, it was supposed to be 54˚ after all. I managed to squeeze in the much overdue chain maintenance, though. I took her for a quick test ride and everything seemed in order and working properly.

Gilles Tooling rearsets (left side)

The Fat Lady's Christmas Bling

Gilles Tooling rearsets (right side)

The Fat Lady's Christmas Bling

Off on a gelled tangent…
I’m not entirely sure about this gel seat, yet. It makes her taller, but I can still flatfoot her (barely) when I scoot up to the tank where the bike is the skinniest. However, I would have thought a gel seat to be softer, but this thing is kind of hard and makes my butt cheeks feel like they are floating, not unlike a hydroplaning tire over a puddle of water at 65 mph. You know, sitting right on top, presented in all their double-bubble JLo glory, butt cheeks ridin’ high, no doubt pressed all towards the outside and squashed into an almost perfectly round shape (think Buffy The Body here)… If I notice an increased amount of tailgating I’m ditching the thing, I swear! But it sure looks nice, with the embroidered white Hayabusa logo and the ‘carbon fiber’-looking texture on the sides. The OEM seat looks cheap in comparison.

Suzuki Haybusa OEM gel seat

The Fat Lady's Christmas Bling

Damage Report
Only one screw was stripped and two zip ties wasted during the installation process. Not bad for a geek who hates getting her hands dirty. Hubby also has a black eye and a skinned knuckle and I came away with a cracked rib and a few new curse words. No, not really.

Lessons Learned:

  • 1. The information you need is located on the missing pages of the service manual.
  • 2. The Suzuki service manual sucks to the point of borderline uselessness. They need to take some pointers from Kawasaki!
  • 3. Supplied installation instructions are sketchy at best and are usually written in bad English with horrible grammar so you’re left figuring most steps out on your own anyway. And in this case I could speak both languages the manual was written in, which in itself, is double bad.
  • 4. Leave the damn BlackBerry in the house! It just leads to annoying interruptions in the form of unwanted phone calls.
  • 5. I need kneepads or a bike lift.
  • 6. Master Kong says: “Sitting in cold driveway leads to cold ass.”
  • 7. I have no patience for shitty directions, they waste my time and serve to confuse me, either of which piss me off.
  • 8. When I’m cold I get cranky.
  • 9. When I’m cranky I get pissed off sooner.
  • 10. We need to sell our house and buy a place with a four-bike garage.
  • 11. Always multiply the length of time you think a project is going to take by 4. For example: if you think an install is going to take you 30 minutes, you can bet your sweet buns that you won’t be done for at least 2 hours.
  • 12. Any project will require a minimum of two trips to the automotive store of your choice. Luckily we have two within walking distance. This is very similar to the phenomenon that occurs during home improvement, which requires an average of four trips to the hardware store.
  • 13. Harbor Freight Tools is the Mecca of all who are on a tool fetch quest.
  • 14. Galvanized does NOT mean rustproof. No, not at all.
  • 15. Zip ties are an ingenious invention (so is duct tape, but none was used today).
  • 16. If a part costs more than $350, you can bet your ass it’s going to have a scratch on it before it’s even bolted down and torqued to spec.
  • 17. There’s never enough room to work, which is where most frustrations come from.
  • 18. You never bring out the right tool. You always have to go back in the house to get something else.
  • 19. Green Loc-Tite, there’s green Loc-Tite?!?
  • 20. Fairings are like onions… you have to peel them back in layers, preferably starting at the top.
  • 21. Connie fairings are way easier to cope with than ‘Busa fairings. As a matter of fact, add ‘Busa fairings to the L.E.I. (List of Evil Inventions). (Remove four panels and 12 fasteners in 3 different sizes to change out a fuse? WTF!)
  • 22. Add lock nut limited adjusting mechanisms to the L.E.I., right below those blasted e-rings and the flimsy plastic fairing rivets (in four different styles and sizes).
  • 23. If it isn’t aligned properly, 10Nm of torque will make a round hole out of a hex-shaped one.
  • 24. Buy a “stripped screw removal” bit set for the drill; you’ll be in need of it in the not so distant future.

First Impressions
On the ride to work this morning I had occasion to test out those rearsets a little more. I don’t know if I’m going to like them. I’m sure it’s just a matter of getting used to something new. First thing that I’ve noticed, when rolling down the drive and pushing the bike backwards (up a slight incline), is that they are not hitting me in the back of the calves like the stock footrests did. Which wasn’t really a problem since they were spring-loaded and just folded out of the way. But this is nice, since it opens up more options of foot placement at a stop. They are also a lot higher up, set farther rear, and smaller. My combat-style Harley FXRG boots are too clunky for the new controls. I’ll have to ride in my Sidi racing boots and see if the levers still feel too small. (Maybe now I have reason to justify [to hubby] the purchase of those Sidi waterproof touring jobs. ;)) I have left the rearsets in their boxed condition: All the adjustable parts are at their respective extremes. Lever length is at max, height is at max, and so is rearward positioning. I decided that it’s best to adjust them over time until I find the right fit. I have to put some miles on them before I know what, if anything, needs changing. They feel comfortable enough for now.

Shifting is different. It seems that I don’t have to move the shifter as far to change gears. This will take some getting used to, since it now feels ‘cramped’ in comparison to the stock shifter. I’ve had a few occasions where I hit neutral instead of second. Once, during the test ride, I completely missed and ended up stuck in neutral. But that’s the ‘Busa for ya, she’s cranky when you don’t shift her just the way she likes. Fortunately, I know the Fat Lady and can get her to cooperate without too much hassle. On a side note: All you peeps complaining about the ‘Busa’s gearbox need to learn how to use a clutch and know this: the girl likes her shifter pre-weighted. ’nuff said. ;P I’m going to have to go back to using the clutch again until the new controls become more familiar. No high-performance, clutchless, awesomely sweet upshifts for a while. Oh well. The reverse shift pattern does make a little more sense to me now. I can see where the “down to up” would actually be more efficient and more intuitive. Eventually, I’m going to teach myself, I’ll have more to say about it then, I’m sure. (This is — without much doubt — about as legal for street use as that Healtech box stuck to the inside of the frame in an inconspicuous location.)

I really have to force myself to leave my feet in position. On the stock footrests I rode on my tiptoes and slid my feet under/over the levers as needed. Sometimes I left them hanging off the pegs by the boot heels, but when I needed to be at the top of my game, concentrate and be quick, I reverted back to tippy-toe position. The only exception to this, of course, was foot position while hanging off, which really makes me wonder if the feet are always supposed to be in the same position and just rotated. The books I’ve read didn’t really make a big deal out of foot position other than where they need to be when dragging knee (end of peg poking into the center of the ball of the foot, rotated outward at about 45 degrees) to facilitate the hip rotation needed to get that knee in the proper position. That kind of leads me to believe that foot position is not stationary, but dynamic. Because even if I just rotated my toes back inward, I would never be able to reach neither the shifter nor brake lever. I need to look into this further… Sliding the feet around is pretty much impossible now. The stock footrests were longer, wider, and had rubber inserts on top. These are short, round, have no rubber, and are very grippy by design: The entire peg has mini-spikes and grooves milled into them, no smooth surface whatsoever. I actually have to pick up my foot to reposition it. I’m sure this is a good thing, actually I’m certain of it; however, I don’t like it much right now. Again, I will have to get used to it.

The rear brake lever feels almost like an afterthought. I have adjusted it where I don’t have to worry about my foot inadvertently activating the brake while riding. It seems so small and insubstantial. That’s ok, really, since I hardly use the rear brake anyway. This was the easiest to get used to, it almost feels more natural than the stock brake lever, which was huge in comparison and almost deserved the title of ‘foot pedal’.

The rearsets changed my entire rider triangle. All my ergos seem slightly different. I think I might have to adjust my clutch and brake levers again, because putting the feet more rear and up has caused my upper body to naturally lean forward farther, which in turn brings my arms in on the clip-ons at a slightly different angle. My hands may now be out of alignment with the levers and not in a neutral position anymore. I’m not going to mess with the levers just yet, though, until my body has found and settled into it’s “natural state” or I’ll be endlessly fiddling with them. Standing up on the pegs is slightly more difficult now, although still no problem, however tucking in seems a lot easier and more natural with my feet in their new position. I have to pay special attention to keeping my weight off the wrists again, just to make sure I’m not inadvertently developing a bad habit. I also wish I had those StompGrip traction pads back on my tank; they were awesome for grip while hanging off and keeping from sliding around during hard acceleration/braking. However, I scrapped them when I noticed that they were wearing my leathers on the inside of the knees ($50 vs. $1500, simple decision there). I’m still looking into a solution to fix that little annoying problem. Anyway, it seems that with the altered body position I’m sliding around more than I used to.

It’ll probably take me a few weeks to get them adjusted just right, but I think once I’m used to them and got them where my body needs them to be I’ll be extremely happy with them. For now, I’ll just trust that my initial uncertainty comes from having to relearn something I had paid no attention to in a while and emotionally I tend to view things like that as setbacks, since I rather spend time learning something new than relearning something old.

They are lighter than stock, look heaps better, are highly adjustable and give me more clearance, although a new exhaust system would be in order to take advantage of it (* hint, hint *) and I would probably have to lose the kickstand… not very practical. So why did I get them? They fall into the category of ‘Functional Bling’ and they are lighter, so I can justify ‘pretty’ with ‘function’. I can’t see myself adding something to the bike that looks good but would negatively impact performance. I am, after all, a practical girl on a mission to join the 200-mph Club. The only thing I don’t like about them is the carbon fiber heel guards; I would have liked them to be metal, too. I know this is probably another weight-reduction issue, but I’m not sure how they’ll hold up, since I tend to ride with my heel pressed up against the body of the bike, so much so that I’ve worn the paint thin in the spots where my boots make contact. The left side is way worse. I wonder why? Couldn’t possibly have anything to do with practicing the fine art of hanging off on cloverleaf ramps, could it? LOL There’s one other reason why I chose the Gilles rearsets over the other ones I had under consideration: All individual parts are readily available separately. I break something (and I will) I don’t have to buy the whole dang thing again and considering the cost of rearsets, that’s definitely a plus.

Would you like to know more?
Continued: New Rearsets: 2nd Opinion
Conclusion: Gilles Tooling Rearsets: From Ick! to meh. to Weeeeeeeee!!! in 6 weeks

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