Another day, another dollar!.....ummm......yeah, nah.......I had the day off and spent nearly three grand!!
There was a time I would have been ecstatic to be riding a $3K bike but we nearly spend that on decent riding gear these days and today I spent that much making improvements that probably won't do anything to the value of the bike.
At the beginning of this year I was chatting with Andrew Templeton at a Capital Coast Conehead session and he mentioned how rapt he was with his new rear suspension (a custom made Nitron from Kiwi Suspension Solutions. We swapped bikes (both ST1300's) and went for a ride around the block and I couldn't believe how different the same bikes could feel. It was like getting off a sprotty and onto a cruiser. Mine was twitchy and wallowy while Andrew's was stable and solidly planted on the road. The difference wasn't all to do with suspension as my bike had a set of screwed and squared Z8's compared with a brand new set of PR3's on Andrew's, but I took note, thought, 'bit too much' and left it at that.
Then a few months back I was chatting to a client about his insurance and we got onto bikes...as you do. He rides a Bandit which he had had the suspension done by KSS and was bleating the same story as Andrew.....I was convinced.
I love my ST's but I have always found the current bike to be uneconomical and soft, or wallowy compared to my old 'red', so I got on the blower to Robert Taylor and next thing you know, I had paid for a new rear shock as well as ordering a Racetech rejig on the front. Two months later I got a call to say, "I can fit you in on Friday, 7th Nov", but I didn't think that would be very convenient as I had the C1KC on the 8th and figured I'd be busy getting everthing sorted on the Friday, so I booked in for today, 10 Nov.
Since ordering the gear, I have been taking special note of how the bike rides and this was easy with the North Island 1600 in Oct and the C1KC on the weekend just gone, because both rides incorporated a great range of roads. On Saturday's 1,000Km ride I was negotiating some slumps on the Forgotten Highway and one of them just about catapaulted me off the bike and the bike off the road. I've also been noticing how much care I've been taking to pick my lines and avoid rough patches.
I recall reading at some stage how what we see and experience is our reality and, for example, if it is raining where we are we tend to think it's raining everywhere. This is a bit of what it was like with my bike. I accepted it for what it was and persevered....or put up with it!
Anyway, today was the day. I had set the alarm to rise at 0400, set out from home at 0500 and pootled up to New Plymouth to get there at 0900. It was quite funny because I had entered the address in the GPS unit last night and this morning I just selected that from the favorites, then had a double take when the ETA came up as 1100!!??? Then I looked at the Km-to-go, which was 584!!, so I backed out on the map and the bloody GPS had me going up via National Park and back over the Awakino Gorge......damn thing knows just what roads I like....never go straight there!
I arrived at Bulls and paused for fuel at 0635, getting back on the road at 0646 and finally arrived at KSS in Spotswood at 0904, 353km done at a piddling 17km/Ltr on the economy. I checked in, handed over the keys, they dropped me in town, where I had a feed, took a liesurely look at the museum, then strolled along the waterfront walkway to the port and back to Spotswood. The breeze was cooling along the sea but once I got on the streets it heated up so I ended up getting an icecream soda to cool down, then got back to KSS at about 1230, read a couple of magazines then napped for an hour or so.
I was brought back to reality a bit after 1400 when Robert got me, then did the setup before he took it for a test ride, then sent me off to check it out.
I had kitted up while he was gone and rode out past Oakura where there is a set of 45kph corners. The first thing I noticed was that the screen was wrong and I assume Robert had dropped it a bit, then I noticed the odo's had been reset...but so had the clock so they'd obviously disconnected the battery. The bike felt firmer right from the get-go and when I got to the 45's it just flew through them. Or at least, they were so easy to negotiate, I felt like I was crawling through them. I turned and went back through them a little quicker and this time I found myself bracing for the 'squash & wallow', but it didn't happen. The bike just went round the corners like it was on rails??
I got back to KSS, had a debrief with Robert, who mentioned that he 'had jacked the rear a bit and did I notice?' I replied that I wasn't that sensitive, but later realised that had been why I thought the screen had been dropped.
I finally got away at 1535 and took the Surf Highway for the better ride, plus to avoid the traffic. I felt like I was on a new bike. I filled in Whanganui at 1735 and got home at 1955 and what did I notice.
I got great economy!? Hard to say what that is all about? I was using BP 98, and I was riding downwind around the Surf Highway, but once I turned south at Sanson and copped the cross/head-wind, the economy hardly dropped off and I got home with it reading 18.4km/Ltr? That is what I would have expected of the red at that pace. Has jacking the rear adjusted the angle of attack to where it should be and improved the 'slippery-ness'?....that's a bit hard to believe with the big improvement? Maybe also though, I found myself able to take corners at 10-15kph quicker than before, maybe even more. Not having to slow down as much going into a corner means less wrist and 'roll-on' coming out and the ST is a heavy beast that sucks gas under acceleration? This is something I will have to monitor and study to know that the economy has definitely improved and maybe search for an answer?
It definitely handles better and is quicker through the corners. I finished with a scoot over the Paekak' Hill and the fang up was a dream while the 'No-Brakes' scoot down to Pauatahanui was much easier and a little quicker than what I was capable of before! Suffice to say it was somewhat quicker than the speed limit. The term 'point and push' comes to mind. The bike just seems to go where I want and I seem to have way more control and scope for adjustment within the corners.
It's harder!....But this is good because there's no wallow and it doesn't squash and bottom out. The wheels track where they should and I don't have to worry so much about keeping a clean line to manage the crappy response. I look forward to trying some more technical roads to test this more thouroughly.
Bottom Line: I'm rapt'.
Was it worth it? Hard to say? It was a lot of ping but.....
If the economy has improved as much as it first appears.....I'm doing my bit for the environment and that has to be good! ($3K is a lot of gas but)
If the ride is cleaner and capable of being quicker, then it has to be safer! I am less likely to get in the crap or get thrown off line as happened on Saturday and that has to be good.
Robert and Dennis at KSS....you rock!!
These blogs were posted on the KiwiBiker forum but I decided it was time for a change.