1300 Miles Later and Counting
I've been riding the Honda for over 1300 mile, both street and track,
and for the most part it's turned out to be a good experience.
But not without the necessity for a few changes from stock.
The change which made the greatest difference was putting a set of
Helibars on the bike. The amazing thing about the Helibars is
that by looking at them they don't really seem that different from the
stock clipons. Yes, it's noticeable when you see them side by
side, but I didn't think they were really going to make a
difference. They do. They transform the bike from one that
I couldn't ride for more than 20 minutes without squirming into a
bike that just fits. The bars are right where they need to
be. No, it's not a touring bike now, but the idea of taking it on
a tour doesn't seem like it would be an exercise in self torture.
With the Helibars in place the discomfort zone moves to the feet.
With soft soled shoes on, the pegs are too narrow, and quickly start
putting enough pressure on a small enough area, to make it
uncomfortable. I combat that by shifting my feet forward and back
occasionally to keep the circulation going. Let's face it, what
can I expect from a couple sticks of aluminum less than an inch wide.
The other change I made was to add a couple exhaust tip extensions to
the stock exhaust. The problem being that every time I came back
from a ride, my back smelled like exhaust. The problem isn't
entirely gone, but the extensions make a big difference; they route the
exhaust gases down and further back than the stock outlets and prevent
the majority of the gases from swirling back on me. I actually went to
the extent of writing Honda customer service a letter about the
problem, but they basically said that's the way the exhaust it's
designed, and yes they can see how it may cause exhaust gasses to swirl
up, but other manufacturers use similar designs, and other customers
aren't really reporting it as a problem, and so tough luck, they're not
going to do anything about it. They're response ticked me off,
but after putting on the exhaust extensions I didn't care enough to
One of the things I've gotten better with over time is getting a smooth
shift at lower RPM's. I think the bike still has too much of an
off/on throttle action. But, what I've discovered is that unlike
every other bike and car I've owned, you don't let off the gas between
shifts. The key is to keep the gas steady. There's just no
other way to make up for the lack of flywheel effect and prevent the
RPM's from dropping too low by the time you click into the next gear
and are ready to release the clutch and get back on the gas.
Something that's become clear is that even with running premium gas, if
you get on the throttle below 3000 rpm, the bike pings. It seems
the reason for that is the fact that the bike runs very lean at
anything below 5000 rpm, which is where most street riding is
done. Here's a Fuel/Air ratio graph borrowed from hooliganbiketech
which shows that fact:
So, seems like a modification may be in order to bring that ratio back
in line... like a Powercommander or TFI box. I'm sure that
will do wonders for the throttle response too. But, that's not
quite in the budget yet.
Speaking of modifications, I also went ahead and did the "flapper"
mod.. Basically it's a flap on the intake which stays closed
until the bike hits higher RPM's. Disabling it, by unplugging a
vacuum hose, and leaving it open all the time, seems to produce a
horsepower gain. Apparently the only reason it's there is to help
meet noise standards. I can't say I can feel the horsepower, but
now the bike makes a loud bwaaaaaaaaaaaa sound when you get on the
Tires and Handling
The three track days have taken their toll on the rear tire. I've
still got plenty of tread down the center, but the sides have seen
better days, I just hope the tire gets me through the season (two more
track days). The front looks fine so I'll probably stay with the
Pirelli Diablo Corsa's that came with the bike when I replace the rear.
There are no complaints about the power or the handling. There's
so much torque and horsepower on tap that I barely have to shift at the
track. Up to third on the straights, down to second, on some of
the corners, and that's about it. Yeah, I could exit corners a
lot faster than I do, and get more speed down the straights, but
why. Plus this way if anyone really wants to get around me, they
have an opportunity.
Regarding the handling. My front spring preload is turned all the
way up, so I could use some heavier springs, but it hasn't caused me
any problems yet. I had a bit of wallowing in fast bumpy turns,
but I turned up the rebound dampening on the front and back and it now
goes like it's on rails. Even at high speeds, leaned way over, on
some very bumpy asphalt.
Ticks at 3000-3500
I realize that an engine can't sound like an electric
motor. They all have their share of unique noises. I find
it strange that the bike seems to have noticeable valve noise, but only
between 3000 and 3500 RPM. Outside of that range you can't really
hear them. It's kind of annoying because that's typically where the
engine is spinning at street speeds. This winter, or next spring
I'm going to check the valve clearance and see where they are at just
to make sure. Actually I'll have a month between upcoming track
sessions, so I could do it then.
I've had one problem, which if you ask me is one problem too many for a
new bike, and that is that my battery discharged a couple months
ago. One day I go out to take a ride, I got to start the bike up,
and besides a couple clicks and some light flickering, it's dead.
I jumped it with the car (and don't let anyone tell you that you can't
jump a motorcycle with a car) and it started right up. I ran it
for a bit, turned it off, and still dead.
Called the local dealer and he told me to bring the batter in to see if
it will charge and so they can test it. I brought it down there
and I picked it up a couple hours later. They said it charged
fine and it tested fine. One of the things they said is that the
gel batteries in these bikes (later learned it's not a gel battery)
have to be charged up right when the bike is set up. If they're
not charged all the way then they'll just discharge over time. I
don't know. I didn't buy it. Then why was I fine for months
and all of a sudden dead.
I set up an appointment to have to bike charging system checked.
And to make a long story short, they didn't find anything wrong with
it. So, I don't know what to think. Based on discussion on www.1000rr.net the bike does have a
stator burnout problem, so I'm crossing my fingers that's not the
issue. And seeing I haven't had a problem with the bike since
then, it doesn't seem to be. But it would be nice if I knew
exactly what went wrong.
The only unusual thing I can think of is the fact that I had one of
those batter tender chargers hooked up to the battery all the
time. Maybe there was a problem with it and it was actually
discharging my battery instead of charging it. It was a cheapo
unit, so I don't use it any more. Will need to get a new one