A few pics are worth at least a couple of runon sentences:
Joe and I play a little game most every day, called Hi-Lo. At the end of the day, he simply asks: “High? Low?” Then it is your turn to think about the day you’ve just had and answer with the best moment, the ‘high’ and the worst moment, the ‘low’. Then you ask the question in return.
After 1K, I think it’s time for some Hi-Lo with a twist. I’m going to ask it of the S1000RR. The High: It’s wicked quick and pulls like the ‘Busa. The Low: It ain’t the ‘Busa. Let’s break this down a little. It’s got some quirks, as do all bikes, no matter what you park your ass on, there’ll be problems of one sort or another to varying degrees of nuisance. How does the saying go? “If it has wheels or testicles, it’s going to give you problems.”
Me and the Gear Shift Assist do NOT get along. I can’t pin the throttle and snick it in. No-can-do. Especially under hard acceleration. Especially going from first to second. I’ve figured what part of the problem is, the lever is not at the right angle for my foot. We shall have to fix that, since I can’t get enough leverage to nicely preload the thing. As the ‘Busa did, this one, too, likes its lever preloaded for a nice, smooth little clutchless upshift. And it has to be a decisive little snick, too. Shift like an old lady and the brain of the operation just tells you to shove off and ignores your foot completely. So, I’m still doing it old school, with the little blip (for the most part). I think I’d be better off just plopping down the 100some Euros and getting the conversion kit and just reverse the whole mess. I wanted to do that on the ‘Busa anyway, since the Gilles setup just screamed for it. That way I’ll also have an extra excuse not to let anyone ride my baby without feeling too badly about it. “You know how to GP shift? No? Oh, I’m sorry, this one’s setup like weird and stuff…” Note to self: Adjust the angle of the dangle. No, really.
I have a feeling this bike’s going to just take over when IT decides that YOU are being a jackass and can’t handle your business anymore. I don’t know how to feel about all that tech. Don’t get me wrong. I love me some tech. I’m a geek, after all. But I also love me some control. I still ride it like I used to (caveat inserted here for Joe’s benefit: Noooo, I don’t do THAT stuff anymore, just as I promised.) I’m neither more careful nor more aggressive. It’s more a matter of adapting to the new bike’s handling characteristics. I’m not being stupid but I’m also not wearing my granny panties when I’m rollin’ it. I haven’t made neither the Race ABS nor the Dynamic Traction Control intervene on my behalf. I’m riding in ‘Sport’ mode, as that is the setting optimized for street rac… riding. Street RIDING. Guess the S1000RR has so far not deemed me a jackass unworthy of the controls. *snorts* I don’t know how I’m to feel about this. I’m halfway tempted to turn the crap off and ride by the seat of my pants. However, I have promised Joe I would not turn it off, unless warranted (like riding through gravel, where the DTC would really be a kick in the rear… literally); but on the other hand I’m afraid that it might screw up my skill development. After getting used to having a bike that folds space and time in fourth gear, then takes over when you’re about to wrap yourself around the next available stationary object because you done early apexed another one, freaked the hell out, went wide, got on the damn brakes way too hard, way too late, kept staring where you shouldn’t and the famous words that should’ve been the last are you verbalizing a convinced ‘holy shit’ into your helmet. It takes over at that precise moment because the bike has deemed you a jackass, works its magic with its sensors and gyros, valves and pumps, does a little digital finger counting and saves your bacon yet again and then also wipes your ass for you as you make your panicked way out of that train wreck of a turn (“hope nobody saw that”). How are you going to manage when you’re used to that for a few thousand miles, a few seasons, or whatnot and then decide to ride a friend’s bike without all the bells and whistles you’ve become so accustomed to that you’ve taken them for granted and have forgotten that you’re still riding like a n00b on a bike that just makes you LOOK like you know what you’re doing. It’s a conundrum. I want to turn it off. I have to leave it on. Best to just ride it as always. When the stuff comes on, I know I screwed something up.
Those skinny hand grips have got to go. But, as with any ergo mods, I’m going to see if I can’t retrain my muscles to cope with the stockers first. The Hayabusa’s grips were fatties compared to these tooth picks; they’re only one step above wrapping grip tape around the bars and calling it good. And, boy, do they buzz. The Beemer does NOT like to go slow… hell no! Seems like the most vibrating is experienced scooting around town. It doesn’t seem happy unless it’s over 5K. Proper gear selection also helps, although the bike doesn’t lug, it lets you know it doesn’t like being in too high a gear.
The ride-by-wire throttle system is awesome. BMW calls it E-Gas. I call it freaking SWEET! No more on/off light switch action in first or second gear, like it was on the ‘Busa. That was annoying and a complete nuisance on roads with a speed limit of either 35 or 25. What a jerky mess that usually ended up being and who wants to ride the clutch for freakin’ three miles. meh. You twist the throttle on the S1000RR, you get power delivered proportionally to your twist, ramped. Just flowing on. Not: BAM! There you are, now deal with it. LOL
Here’s something I’ve noticed that made me giggle: It has no horn. Not that I ever used the wimpy things that come on motorcycles anyway. I’m going to just have to continue using hand signals, just like on the ‘Busa or the Harley. ;P
EDIT: About five weeks later I found it: The switch for the horn is right where it should be, below the turn signal switch on the left clip-on. But it’s recessed and way down there. I can’t see it when sitting on the bike. Neither could I ever feel it with my thumb. How did I find it? I was checking something out on the front end, don’t recall what, and I looked up and there it was, right in front of my eyes, the horn. Go imagine that. Now the owner’s manual also refers to a power outlet… I wonder where that is, because I’m still looking. Found the IR lap timer transmitter plug in the wiring harness though.
On a mere two hours of sleep, I toss my gear into the backseat and hubby, who is well rested takes me 112 miles in a northerly direction towards Greenville, SC; to our closest BMW/Ducati dealership. I try to sleep, as I had planned, in the truck but I can’t. Between being so excited that I can’t shut up talking, and hubby’s homebrew songs and stupid jokes, I can’t get a snooze in. I’m also a little nervous again; nothing compared to what I went through when I picked up my Hayabusa 11 months ago, but I was definitely feeling anxiety creep in.
Would I be able to keep the front end down? Am I going to over-steer and lean it right into the ground? Am I going to do something stupid in front of a bunch of people? Shit, am I even good enough of a rider yet to be on an S1000RR? Flighty thoughts, the sheer excitement of getting to ride again after almost two weeks since my crash mostly quiets my silly doubts.
I take my pinky splint off and before we get out of the truck, I sternly point a finger at my husband and tell him: “I don’t wanna hear you in there going on about how your wife trashed her Hayabusa like you did at Street & Trail.” That’ll be one hilarious scenario right there: “I wrecked my bike in a corner and now, please kind Sir, could I ride one of yours, because I’m in the market.” Yeah. NO!
So we go in, and they don’t jump all over us. Good. +1. I have plenty of time to drool over both S1000RRs that are sitting on their showroom floor, one in ‘Thunder Grey Metallic’ (read: black) and one in the ‘Motorsports’ color scheme. Hubby cracks a joke about how my riding skills only rate the pink Vespa he saw sitting outside and I reply that he’s just jealous because he still has those little rubber bristles sticking out the edges of his rear tire after over 5000 miles. He just grins and makes a slow chopping motion with his right hand: “Mine’s still upright.” Touché.
After several more minutes of reverence and quiet adoration, I finally park my butt on the object of my desire. It’s almost a religious experience. At first I’m not too impressed, sits kind of like the CBR1000RR to me. My ass is used to the comforts of the ‘Busa. Plush. Substantial. Wide. I wiggle around a little and rock the bike side to side between my legs to get a feel for it. Ah, that’s better. Nice. Feels lighter… no, not lighter, more at balance than any of the liter bikes I’ve sat on; the center point feels lower, too; however, it doesn’t feel insubstantial to me, even though it should, by logic alone. It feels compact, but rightfully so. It doesn’t make me feel like I’m sitting on a bicycle, like all the other bikes have felt to me in comparison to the ‘Busa.
Ryan, the sales manager, eventually saunters over to see if he can help. I introduce myself and tell him that we had been emailing back and forth about the S1000RR and taking it for a test ride. We chat for a while about service schedules, maintenance requirements, BMW’s way of doing things and then finally get ready to go out and ride. As I sign the waiver that requires me to pay for the thing if I trash it, Ryan asks me to please not wreck this one, since he’s planning on buying it once it has fulfilled its obligations as demo bike. I see Mr. Slow has been running his mouth again…We go outside and I circle the Double-R that I’ll be testing shortly. It looks a heck of a lot better in person than it does in the stock images on the Internet. I am starting to really like it. But it’s white. I’ve had a white bike… every little imperfection due to hastily applied unprofessional touch-up jobs stands out like a sore thumb. After concluding my adoration, I throw my leg over the S1000RR, put her in neutral and crank her up. She purrs to life. More menacing than the Hayabusa, at least at idle speed. I pull the clutch in and put the transmission in gear, to say hello to the gear box. CLUNK!
Ryan comes running around the corner like a shot, sporting that all-telling ‘holy shit!’ expression on his face. My hubby had also turned around and several other people are also paying closer attention.
Ooops. I smile sweetly, then sit there innocently, still in first gear with the clutch lever pulled in. I see Ryan visibly relaxing after he realizes that I’m not going to peel out of their parking lot and scream on down the road on their brand-spanking-new S1000RR. Hahahaa…
He goes over all the functions with me. He explains the controls and readouts and when I indicate that I’m ready to get the show on the road, Ryan picks a blue F800ST for himself and I follow him out of the parking lot with the bike’s DTC set to ‘Sport’ mode.As I roll over the curb and into the four-lane highway, I immediately notice how the S1000RR almost wants to fall into the turn. Whoa! Not used to that. I kind of scare myself a little, but relax as I notice how easily the bike is controlled. The throttle action is smooth, all the way through. No on-off switch-like jerkiness. The power just feeds in relative to the throttle movement. Smooth, without hiccups and predictable. The clutch lever’s friction zone doesn’t seem much different from what I’m used to riding the Hayabusa.
Once we get out of the heavy traffic I play around a little with acceleration in the lower RPM range and through several gears. Hot damn! This bike means business. The Hayabusa is no slouch in that department, but since the S1000RR is a lithe ballerina compared to The Fat Lady’s opera singer persona, it feels just as powerful and, if I dare say, quicker. 3 HP less on the rear, but 118 pounds lighter will probably explain that.
The Hayabusa is a somewhat cranky shifter and so is the S1000RR. Different quirks, but both bikes want to be shifted a certain way and once you figure that out, they are pretty much happy and won’t give you any problems.
I’m having way too much fun to really get technical about my test ride. I forget all about checking out the different traction control modes or check out the RaceABS with some purposeful over-braking. After two weeks caging it to work and having PMS (Parked Motorcycle Syndrome [and boy, did I park that one, huh?]) I’m just way too busy getting my throttle therapy in during the few miles I get to have with this awesome piece of Teutonic engineering.The bike is a precision missile. I just have to think about turning and it does. It corners like it’s on rails. It holds its line and reacts to steering inputs with confidence-inspiring accuracy. It is predictable, well-mannered, balanced and it sounds awesome.
The roar of the exhaust and the deep vibe the engine emits when I crack the throttle open makes my spine tingle all over with excitement. I gotta have this thing! If The Fat Lady is deemed repairable I’m going to have to figure something out, because I want one of these babies. Ooooooo yeah! Come to momma! I almost feel like I’m cheating on the ‘Busa with her slimmer, younger sister. Dirrrrrty gurl!!! Ohhhh riiiiight giggity diggity giggity!!!
I do not sit on this bike, I sit in it. It is almost like the bike tells me to sit a certain way and that’s where my bum seems to always end up. Like it wraps itself around me. I know this is a very subjective observation, since I am only 165cm tall, weigh around 115-120 pounds and have long legs compared to my torso. The BMW’s riding position gives me the impression of being more in control. The bike is definitely confidence inspiring. I feel one with the machine. Heck, I feel faster already. …and am probably a better rider than I was twenty minutes ago. 😉
The only gripe I have about the S1000RR are that the grips are way too skinny. They are not much better than wrapping grip tape around a set of clip-on ends and calling it good. I loved my fatty Hayabusa grips. They were comfortable. These horrid things on the Beemer have got to go! I’ve only been riding for what? 15-20 minutes and my fingers and palms already feel cramped and are aching. Ryan later assures me that this can be easily fixed with a set of OEM grips from one of the sport-touring K-bikes, but I cannot remember which model.
Of course the stock levers have got to go. But that is a problem with all the bikes I’ve ever owned or ridden. My hands are simply too small and my fingers too short for stock levers. That’s why Pazzo Racing rakes in a killing from my wallet. =D I also would need a set of grippy tank pads, to ensure proper grip when hanging off. This also would be a requirement for any bike of mine.
We arrive back at the dealership way too soon. I park the Double-R, hop off, practically tear my helmet off my head and loudly exclaim with a huge mischievous idiotic grin on my face these two simple words:
And it is thus that the girl with the rising sun Hayabusa kanji tattoo is on her way to become rebranded. She is a ‘Busa girl at heart, always will be, but her riding style is not compatible. How many Hayabusas must die before somebody steps in? Please forgive me. You will be missed. Mr. Slow, bring your wallet, this is going to cost you.
I’ve had these puppies on the ‘Busa for almost six weeks now, and I’m loving them. I have finally come to appreciate the beautiful piece of engineering that those awesome Euros blessed The Fat Lady with. Yeah, Gilles Tooling is a Luxembourgish company. Just a little FYI for all you peeps who think they’re a bunch of Brits who decided to label their boxes in Deutsch just to keep things interesting. =D That should have been the first clue… Jawohl! But I digress… the only problem I’ve had with them so far is that the shifter rod assembly came undone and I consequently looked like a total n00b trying to make it home without having the use of first gear and with an iffy proposition getting into third. But luckily I made it before the damned thing fell off the bike and I would have been left pushing the rotund beast home and then having to have someone overnight me the parts I tossed somewhere on the road.
Note to self: Next time something feels a little ‘off’ or gives you that ‘WTF!’ feeling… pull your silly ass over and check things out. Geez! But you know how us ‘Busa chicks are: we ain’t pulling over for NOTHING and NOBODY, that would just upset the moving average! At any rate, that is no fault of Gilles, that would be yours truly getting confuzzled with those blasted lock nuts. [I’ve had several remedial training sessions. I’ve got it now, I think… (somewhat).]
When I installed my fender eliminator (another Xmas present from hubby), I decided it was time for me to stick those two forgotten spacers on the bracket that holds the master brake cylinder in its place. Yeah. I know. I can’t ever get anything mechanical right the first time. I blame this on the cold, the deadline that is imposed by nightfall, and the lack of a decent workspace. And that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. It couldn’t possibly have anything to do with me being mechanically disinclined. No ma’am! It’s these horrible work conditions. Yeah, that’s it. If only the ‘Busa would fit through the front door… I’d be wrenching in the living room while watching Golden Girls reruns on the TV. See how many spacers are left over then…
Anyway, while I was down there I got this wild idea that I also need to adjust them a teeny bit. I wasn’t supposed to do that until I had a baseline for my suspension (Mike’s orders :)), but my wrists were killing me again due to my textile pants making me slide all over the place and there’s really no good way of holding on… I could slow down, I suppose… Nah! I need to find an alternative replacement for those StompGrip traction pads. Damn, those things were sweet! Too bad they really started doing a number on the inside of the knees on my leathers. Dainese vs. StompGrip? Not a difficult choice to make: the ‘shower mats’ had to go! What a waste of $45. I really need to buy a pair of leather over-pants to commute in or I could put double-sided tape on the tank… yeah… but no! I live in Georgia and Redneck Engineering is an art form around here and held in the highest esteem; I don’t even know why I came up with the idea… not really all that happy to claim it either. 😉
After fixing my earlier screw-up, I moved the pegs one column forward, but also had to move them one row down, because that was the only choice I had. The last column of mounting holes has one additional hole that is higher than all the others. That’s how the rearsets come from the factory, in the highest, most rearward position. I also took the opportunity to move the shifter on its lever one notch forward, to the center position, to see if that would enable me to gain better leverage with my toes for pre-loading the lever for those smooth little clutchless upshifts that I used to be able to do in my sleep, but haven’t done since I installed the new rearsets. I also adjusted the angle to make it slightly steeper in relationship to the peg. On the brake side all I did was a lever angle adjustment, also steeper, since I kept thinking I might be accidentally dragging the brake and that led to an awkward positioning of my foot, just to make sure that I wouldn’t.
I’ve solved my problems and gone is the initial dislike for how the new foot controls made me feel. How I felt like I was stuck relearning stuff I already knew and how it regressed my riding skill, or rather, how it made me feel like I was regressing. I took my own advice and was patient with myself and tried not to worry about it too much. Eventually muscle memory did set in. I can now shift equally well in my Harley boots or my Sidis and I’m back to not using the clutch lever while upshifting. It’s still not as smooth as it used to be, but pretty close to it. Some of that jerkiness I attribute to too much chain slack, which I still haven’t gotten around to fixing. It’s within the proper range the owner’s manual specifies, so I haven’t really bothered, but I need to take up about 5mm for me to find my groove again. I like it in the middle of its range (20-30 mm); I’m pretty smooth at 25.
I finally don’t feel awkward hanging off anymore! As a matter of fact, I think the rearsets actually make it easier to assume the proper position and get that knee out where it should be. I might just be imagining that, though. It definitely feels that way, but I have yet to get my husband to shoot some video of me cornering to look at myself. He needs to get his ass in gear and hook Miss Busa up. * hint hint *
Everything feels pretty good now. There might be some tweaking later, but I can’t really know until I do some real riding in some real twisties where I can actually string a few tight ones together. Do a little dance… then I will re-evaluate the rearset situation, but for now I’m in love. I might even go back to the rearmost position if I could only find something to glue my knees to the tank with.
The carbon fiber heel guards have also grown on me. After initial worries that they might be too flimsy to handle the way I like to dig my heels into the sides of the bike, I must say that I have developed trust in them now. That carbon fiber stuff seems to be pretty strong; it’s rock solid with just a bit of flex. I can dig! (literally)
Gilles Tooling rearsets get the Miss Busa stamp of approval and I recommend them to any (serious) Hayabusa rider who likes it on the aggressive side. Ride it hard, but ride it gentle. Be fast. Peace out!
Would you like to know more?
Continued: New Rearsets: 2nd Opinion
Intro: The Fat Lady’s Christmas Bling: Gilles Tooling Rearsets
EDIT: Well, damnit! I had it wrong, too. They are actually based out of Luxembourg, which is bordered by Germany, Belgium, and France. So now, having said that, I go assume my scroll of shame and fix that little misinformation up there. *points up the screen*
This would have been a heck of a lot harder and not nearly as easy without the help of Mike who is totally awesome and my hero! Kudos, dude! 🙂
I’d (Almost) Rather Watch Paint Peel Off The Walls:
I’m not enjoying this whole suspension thing one iota. Generally, I like technical stuff like this, but for some reason, this isn’t doing it for me. I think I’ve found my own personal Kryptonite. It is so boring, I don’t even want to think about it too much for fear of putting myself to sleep. I’m at work, I can’t afford to take a suspension-induced cat nap. However, I’m also too much of a perfectionist to simply let it fly; to just say screw it and leave it alone in the name of ‘it’s been good enough so far’. On the other hand, I really have to fight the temptation to ‘do my own thing’ and instead force myself to stick to the ‘Rules Of Ideal’ laid out in Trevitt’s book, while I am mentally sorting through how to affect the desired changes before actually touching the adjusters on the bike. I have to keep reminding myself that I do not yet have any ‘applied knowledge’, any idea how the changes I am proposing will actually translate into the real world. In other words, I’m yet too ill-informed (read: ignorant) to make a sound judgment call and to deviate from the guidelines set forth. Maybe that’s why I’m not enjoying this as much as I should, I feel caged in by perimeters and my brain can’t go on a mathematical exploration. Soon, I hope, all in due time. And it takes too freakin’ long. It’s like working out. Painfully slow progress, without immediate gratification (aside from the endorphin high, maybe.) Patience…. Arrgh, there’s that word again!
‘The Conundrum’ or ‘Trying To Keep My Feet On The Ground’
My front sag number is good. It is above 30mm, 42mm to be exact. However, my rear sag number is at 25mm. That may be good for the racetrack (25-30mm), but the range for street riding is 30-35mm. The rear free sag is also out of its ideal range of 5-10mm and stands at 11.5mm at stock settings. I think I have the rear figured out.
The rule is as follows: If you want MORE sag, you need to SUBTRACT preload. If you want LESS sag, you need to ADD preload.
Hence, to bring my rider sag up to 30mm from 25mm, I need to subtract 5mm of preload. Now to get rid of 5mm worth of preload shouldn’t be all that complicated, and it has the added effect of lowering my ride height, which in turn relaxes the front-end geometry. It also should take care of that annoying 1.5mm of rear free sag overage and put it within range.
Adding preload does not compress the spring inside the shock more; well, it would if the shock was either topped or bottomed out. It instead raises the bike on its suspension. Removing preload has the opposite effect: it lowers the bike on its suspension. You can clearly see that playing around with preload settings is one way to adjust your ride height. Just make sure you do it equally in the front and the rear, or you will change your geometry, which will change the way your bike handles. The rule here is as follows: Lowering the rear will relax geometry by increasing rake and trail, which enhances straight-line stability, but steering will be heavier. Raising the rear will make the geometry steeper – more aggressive — by decreasing rake and trail, which leads to quicker steering at the expense of straight-line stability.
Personally, I want one (the lowered ride height), but definitely not the other (relaxing the geometry). The Fat Lady is already a bit on the heavy side when it comes to steering. I don’t want to add to that, so it stands to reason, that I must offset this increase in rake/trail numbers with the addition of a little preload up front. Or conversely, I could raise the fork tubes in the triple clamp to offset the undesired change in front-end geometry. Cranking in preload would raise the front of the bike, which in turn raises my ride height. No-go. This leaves the only viable option: Raise the fork tubes to keep the geometry the same, which also has the added effect of reducing ride height.
As with the rear, adding preload raises the front of the bike; removing preload lowers it. But when you lower the front-end by raising the fork tubes in the triple clamp, the geometry is sharpened (decreasing rake/trail) and when you raise the front of the bike by lowering the fork tubes in the triple clamp, the geometry is relaxed (increasing rake/trail). This is opposite of what happens in the rear. Think of it in terms of a triangle: With A being the front axle, B being the rear axle, and C being the top of the steering head. Connect the three points and you can readily see how slightly moving one point or altering the length of one side has an effect on the others. There’s more to it than that, but for now let it suffice.
The path to be ventured down in the quest for a personalized suspension setup has been made clear. But by how much should I adjust? Generally, raising the fork tubes by 4mm in their clamps will result in a 1mm decrease in trail. How much trail offset could subtracting 5mm of rear preload really do? Can’t be much. Doubtful it’s more than 1mm, probably just a fraction thereof. I guess, I could figure this out with a few calculations of the geometric variety, but I’m way too lazy for that, although I’m entirely anal enough to see myself doing just that… if I wasn’t already half-asleep by the concept to begin with. Obviously, I can’t keep the geometry entirely stock, so decreasing trail by a mil or whatnot doesn’t really phase me. Not right now. As long as it isn’t an increase. Cornering with the handling of a minivan? Sure. Never drove anything smaller anyway. Going around a curve in a bus? Do NOT want. First problem solved.
So, Here’s How It’s Gonna Go Down:
- Lessen the rear preload by 5mm.
- Raise the fork tubes in the triple clamp by 4mm to affect a 1mm trail decrease to offset the slight increase from step 1.
- Go for a test ride.
But… The Fat Lady Is A Little Weak In The Knees
Technically, that would be her elbows, if she were to be properly antropomorphosized. However, that would be messing up my play on words, so the knees it is.
The front is a different story, though. Even though the sag number, being 42mm, is above its suggested minimum of 30mm, I would like it to be less. The front is already in danger of bottoming out, and I wasn’t even riding it all that hard when I went for my zip-tied test ride to check used suspension travel. Have I ever bottomed it? I don’t think so. I don’t even know what that would feel like. The result is loss of traction, but there are a multitude of reasons for losing traction, only one of which is bottoming the suspension. I would think I would notice the upset, but I can’t be sure of that. I could go out and try and do it on purpose, but I’m too chicken for that. Plastics are expensive, and I still haven’t repaired all the kisses from the last time I bounced the suspension. ;P
In order to move the travel up towards the middle I’d have to dial in more preload. Well, crap! Here we go again with the ride height increase. Can’t do that, unless I wanna start riding in hooker boots. Even though Icon makes a really cool pair that would do just fine. =D Those would go great with that Hayabusa vest I got for Christmas, too. Hmmmm…. Where was I? Oh yeah, I ‘member now… suspension travel. The Fat Lady’s at rest at 42mm (apparently I weigh ten mil, I like that way better than pounds, especially if you don’t tell anybody your spring rate =D), with the free sag being at 32mm. The halfway point of total travel, which is 116mm, is at 58mm. Looks to me like we need to crank in 16mm of preload, to raise the Fat Lady up on her fork tubes from 42mm to 58mm. Yeah. Not happening. I could offset the16mm ride height increase by raising the fork tubes by an equal amount and we’d arrive at a nice 20mm adjustment: 16mm to offset the added preload and the 4mm previously dialed in from the rear adjustment. That would effectively decrease trail by less than 1mm total. The Hayabusa’s trail is listed as 3.9 inches at stock settings, converted to metric that’s 99.06mm. I don’t even know if I have enough room between the actual top triple clamp and the top cover. And why in the hell didn’t Suzuki make the holes big enough for the fork tubes to fit through? Their band of merry lawyers decide that we needed a way to lower the front end about as much as we needed a top-speed unrestricted bike? I’d get rid of the blasted thing, if it weren’t for the small inconvenience of the clip-ons being attached to it. What brainiac came up with that idea??? Probably the same asshole who thought black plastics would be awesome under white paint.
Here’s How We’re Gonna Rise To The Occasion:
- Take the cover off and measure the clearance between it and the fork tube caps. If it’s 20.5mm or more, proceed to the next step. If it’s less, proceed to Step 7.
- Raise the fork tubes by 16mm to offset the added preload to prevent the inevitable ride height increase.
- Crank in 16mm of preload.
- Measure rider sag and free sag to ensure that the numbers are still within their respective ranges.
- Go for a zip-tied test ride. If all checks out, proceed to the next step.
- Get a New York style cheesecake and celebrate the completion of the first part of this odyssey. Stop. You’re done for now. Next up: Damping.
- Go for a ride to Greenville, SC.
- Buy a 2010 BMW S1000RR in Acid Green. 8)
- Go for a spirited ride!
- Damn, this thing comes with a suspension, too. Take it from the top…
My Work Here Isn’t Done (Just Yet):
I ran this ‘proposal’ by a very dear Twitter friend of mine, @mikegreenwald, who kindly offered to help me sort out my suspension woes and be my technical advisor. J He checked this thing for me, to make sure I had my facts straight and my train of thought was in the right direction. Then he gave me an alternative course of action, mostly to keep me firmly grounded. Here’s what he suggested I’d do, considering that I can go from tip-toeing to flat-footing the beast depending on the footwear I’m wearing any given day. Then there’s the matter of that awesomely sweet, but too tall, Suzuki OEM gel seat I got for Christmas. I had to take it back off, because I could only barely back the bike out of my own driveway in my Sidi boots. Here’s what he suggested I’d do first: Mechanically lower The Fat Lady.
- Get dog bones (lowering links) for the rear and drop her ass by 2 inches.
- Get 1-inch bushings for the front, to stick under that dreadful top triple clamp cover to make room for raising the fork tubes in their clamps to drop her 1 inch in the front.
- Get an adjustable kickstand, so the newly lowered Fat Lady won’t be tempted to take an asphalt nap while I’m not around.
This will ensure that I can have both feet firmly on the ground, even with the gel seat, no matter what boot I’m wearing. It will also lower her CoG (center of gravity), which is a good thing, but this, obviously, comes at the expense of reduced ground clearance. This will set me back by about $285, if I get all three parts at the site Mike hooked me up with. I was encouraged to go cruise the web for myself and he also told me to sleep on it. So I did (both).
Sometime The Next Morning (At Work):
Hmmm… I’m at work. I’m getting paid to… well, currently I’m getting paid for suspension tuning research. Ha! That makes me a professional by definition. Cool. 8P So, I’ve looked around online to see what’s available in the way of lowering my bike mechanically, then I’ve slept on it. Now, I’m sitting at work, tweaking this 2nd draft of my blog post and mulling it over.
Any solution that I come up with has to adhere to ‘The Fat Lady Prime Directive’. Which is a self-imposed rule that states that anything put on the bike has to
- improve performance, ergos, or riding quality;
- cannot hinder performance, ergos, or riding quality;
- has to be of equal or higher quality than the OEM part it replaces;
- can’t weigh more than the OEM part it replaces;
- be a Farkle (functional sparkle) rather than just a Pretty (non-functional, cosmetic only).
I think I’m going to break Mike’s idea down into two parts with a little tweak thrown in and merge it with my ‘proposal’. We’ll call this the MiMo Hybrid ;P:
‘I See That 165 And Raise You… 165’ or ‘The MiMo Hybrid’
I’ve decided against the lowering bushings. That will definitely get my front-end lowered by that inch Mike was suggesting to me, but it doesn’t leave room for more adjustability or fine tuning later. I will still not be able to raise the fork tubes any higher, since the OEM top triple clamp is retained. I want this fixed. I hate limitations that are there for no reason other than being there. It’s a matter of principle, like that X-TRE to derestrict the bike. But now that I have land speed aspirations, this actually has moved from principle to the realm of necessity. Anyway, that top triple clamp has either got to go or I need to have the holes drilled out in the OEM part to accommodate the 50mm fork tubes. Which one I’ll do depends on several factors, primary of which is cost. Secondary is time. Obviously I can’t wait around for a few days for them to mod the thing, I’m a commuter. I gotta have my bike. Besides, three days without riding and I’m in danger of nutting up and risking being stuffed into a straight jacket by the good folks in white lab coats of Milledgeville. 😉 The custom top triple clamps that meet my standards can be had anywhere from $165-$349, and I’m currently leaning toward the $165 model, since it’s skeleton and thus weighs a lot less than the OEM. Looks sharp, too. But I haven’t seen a pic of it on a Gen 2 Hayabusa and don’t know if — when all put back together – it would clear the fairing or the Double Bubble windscreen. More research is needed before I settle on which I’m going to end up ordering.
I will then go ahead with my proposed suspension adjustments. I’m too curious to see my work in action. I can’t help myself. I put in all this brainpower, and I need to see my narcoleptic time spent in action and see for myself how it translates into ‘real world’ application. This is my maiden voyage, after all, I need to finish it.
Once I’ve played around with the new settings, and had time to delve into damping forces a little, I’ll order the lowering links. However, I don’t think I’ll be going with dog bones. I want more control over my adjustments to satisfy my inner control freak and the touch of OCD I’m blessed with. Again, I would like to leave my options open, because I don’t know what I may want to do in the future. I may want to slam it all the way down, then I’m stuck buying different links. Or I may decide I don’t like a 2-inch drop in the rear and want it adjusted to 1 ¾” instead, then what? I want full adjustability. And it has to be somewhat simple to do. Like the link Ducati puts on some of their bikes. Brock’s makes a set of ‘Window Links’ that seem to fit the bill. (I just hope I’ll be able to check out without adding that Alien Head full exhaust system to my cart, too.) The links also run about $165. I see a pattern forming here. Along with the lowering links of choice, I will also get that adjustable kickstand, which also costs… wait for it… wait for it… $165. What’s up with THAT? Again, more research is needed before I finalize my decision on which parts I’ll actually end up with.
Now, I’m going to employ Mike’s suggestion of the 1-2-inch drop in the rear, and the 1-inch drop in the front, and feel that out. Then I can put that awesomely trick gel seat back on and roll it in functional style (until my ass gets too hot in the summer!). =D
[Pics will be added later, too awkward on the BlackBerry]
Linkage to the entire series:
- Suspension Tuning – Part 1: Rider Sag, Free Sag, and Preload
- Suspension Tuning – Part 1: Plan ‘A’. Plan ‘B’. Plan ‘C’ It Is.
- Suspension Tuning – Part 1: Exploratory Surgery
- Suspension Tuning – Part 1: Let’s Go Shopping!
- The (preliminary) results: OMG! OMG! OMG! The Fat Lady Can Dance?
- Suspension Tuning – Part 1: The Fat Lady’s Got Slammed
- Suspension Tuning – Part 1 (Results): There’s a first time for everything…