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.

Exhaust Tips

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 pursue it.


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.

Lean Running

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:

Air/Fuel Ratio

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 gas. 

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.

Discharged Battery

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 before winter.