“New” Bike

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I have bitched and moaned on here constantly over the past couple years about my perceived “need” of a bigger bike.  While I was living in Fargo, the 650 was decent to get around town.  It ran good, sounded and performed well and was easy to toss around in traffic.  Last summer out here I rode the bike in to work a few times and it sucked.  Given the size of the bike…and my size, any head wind at all pretty much shuts it down.  With a fair head wind I can maybe get 80 out of her.  That seems like it should be enough, but the problem is with a top end of only 80, if you are cruising down the highway, getting from 70 to 80 takes a few seconds…and then being able to do only 80 you don’t pass very quickly.  Also, the bike isn’t a very comfortable ride for more than 45 min or so.  Granted my ample ass doesn’t help things, but one of the big deals for me is how the wind hits my legs.  As I’m sitting there normally, the wind will constantly push my legs off of the gas tank.  With this going on I have a couple of options, I can let the wind push my legs apart until they naturally stop…which isn’t comfortable, or I can hold my legs against the tank…which will eventually lead to some pretty significant muscle fatigue depending on the length of the trip.

I had looked around a bit and found a really nice looking bike at umotors.  It was an ’02 1700 roadstar, pretty well setup…within my price range.  Since it was after hours, I emailed them.  To my disappointment the bike was sold.  The wife and I were making a trip to minot for a dr. appointment, and on our way back I decided to check out a few dealerships.  The first ones didn’t have much for used inventory.  At the last stop, purehonda, we found a 2007 1300 v star with 17k on it.  The bike had quite a few of the niceties that I was looking for, hard bags, high windshield and floorboards.  It looked sharp and seemed to have lived a fairly easy life.  I decided to explore financing options for the bike.

I spoke with the dealer about financing.  Given the baby coming, I didn’t want to lay down cash for the bike.  Also, depending on what interest rate the dealer would give us…why not just go with them?  I filled out the paper work and headed home.  Anytime I apply for a loan I get nervous.  I’m not sure why…they will either give it to me at a price I agree with, charge me more interest than I want…in which case I walk away, or they say no.  I have never had an issue getting a loan before…but I have also never applied for a loan for a bike before.  I know banks do things a little bit differently with recreational equipment than they do with cars and houses.  Also, I’m in kind of a weird place right now as far as finances and assets go.  Due to the passing of my old man, we are in the process of changing things around.  I am selling my house (hopefully on the 4th!), so my asset to debt ratio probably isn’t the greatest right now…but it’s not exactly accurate either.  Long story short, they wouldn’t give me a loan for the bike.  I asked them when I applied for it if it would make a difference if I made a down payment.  I’d put 2k down easy enough…but nope, no amount of down payment would work.  This makes no sense to me at all…but it is the way it is.  The loan guy said it’s most likely the house that is hurting me and to reapply after the house is sold.

Now I’m a bit growly…I hate being told no for things like this.  If I decide I don’t want to buy it fine, but I could have written a check for it…and whatever bank they use won’t give me a loan?  Crazy.  I went to my bank and asked them what is their process for applying for a loan.  I’ve never gotten an unsecured loan from my bank before.  My financial guy digs out this long yellow sheet of paper that I’d need to fill out…front and back.  Nope…not dealing with that.  I asked him if he could just do it against a CD or something.  That was no problem at all…no credit checks, no nothing…just good to go.  He asked me when I would need the money and I told him “today”.  He said the guy that does the loan paperwork for them is out of the office (something about a new system or something), but said to write the check and they will cover me.  I dig on working with the hometown bank.  I went back in to the bank a week later and signed the paperwork, 3 signatures and done.  2.xx% interest, I doubt the dealer would have done that good for me.

Armed with this cash and a go for broke attitude I headed in to purehonda.  I was on my way to a techy conference in Bismarck and had to go through Minot anyway.  The salesman I spoke to the day before wasn’t there, so I found another dude.  “Can I help you?”, “yeah, I wanna buy that bike”, “um…oh, ok…um”, “you take a check?”, “yeah, sure…um” “ok”.  He seemed a little floored that I would come in and just buy it, but I’d been there before and knew what I wanted.  A lot of the used bikes are on a second floor balcony that over looks the main show room.  Some guy was looking at it, threw a leg over it and all that as I was telling the salesman that I would take it.  The salesman went up to get the bike and the guy that was looking was all irritated about it…I thought that was kinda cool.  I told him I wanted to ride it quick before I bought it for real.  They had to charge up a new battery so I had to kill about an hour.  I rode it…and it passed (more on it’s ride later).  I filled out the paper work and they agreed to keep it for me until I could pick it up.  I happened to be going down to minot for another techy conference 10 days later, so this would work out fairly well for me.  The weather was kind of crappy to ride (except for the day I picked it up).  I rented a uhaul for 15 bucks and got her back home.

The bike looks pretty cool…but the reason I bought it was for the difference in the ride.  I fit so much better on this bike.  I never thought of the 650 as “small” outside of the engine…until I sat on this thing.  Sitting side by side the difference in them is really surprising.  The windshield is higher so it blocks the wind better, and it has lowers to help block some of the wind on my legs.  The upper end power this thing has was really surprising to me.  On my test run I was doing 85 in third gear at about 1/2 throttle.  I am very happy with the power increase.  Also, I’m not sure if it’s due to the lowers…the side of the bike or a combination of the 2 but the wind does not push my legs apart at all.  For my legs and lower body it’s a very comfortable ride.  The bike is a bit heavier than the 650, but the power difference makes it hardly noticeable on the road.  I do notice it when I am stopped or when I’m rolling in to and out of parking spaces.  I was a bit hesitant to get something bigger on the gravel, but after rolling this around it handles fine.  From what I read, it has a lower center of gravity than a roadstar or harley, so that would help a bit…but I’ve no real experience with either of those to say for sure.  I have gone on a few short runs, and so far I’m satisfied with the stock performance of the bike.  I think in the long run this was a good value for a bike.  I would have to spend quite a bit more to get a harley of the same comfort, storage and year….or spend less and go back to a carbureted engine, higher miles…etc.

Now to the cons…and I knew these going in.

The bike is almost entirely stock.  It has after market heated grips, which is nice but I wouldn’t have spent money on them.  Otherwise it is bone stock.  The first time I rode the 650 to fargo it was stock.  I remember thinking it was alright, but after I made the performance adjustments there was a huge difference.  On the lower end the 1300 lacks for “power”.  The reason for this is to meet emission regulations.  This is the case for almost all bikes, the “power” improves as it gets to midrange and it really opens up at the top end.  (This thing cruises very nicely)  To fix the low power issue I’ll need to do 3 things.

  1. open the exhaust
  2. open up the intake
  3. “re-jet” (power commander for fuel injected bikes)

A guy might get away with doing any one of these first, but I think the best bet is to go with the power commander before the rest.  Ideally, I’d do them all at the same time…but I dunno how things are going to work out with the new kid so I might have to step through it one by one.  The bike runs “lean” which means it has more air (or less gas) than it should in the fuel/gas mix.  If I open the exhaust or intake this will introduce more air and make it run even more lean.  There comes a point where running lean not only hurts the performance of the bike but it starts to damage the bike.  The power commander will adjust this lean condition, the one I want to get actually checks the mix “up to 80 times a second!” and adjusts the mix on the fly.  This device is about double the price of the standard power commanders, but I think it’s well worth the cost.  From what I’ve read it works quite well.  After that is installed, I can then change out the exhaust and intake…and not have to fiddle with remapping the power commander.  It will take care of itself.

I was thinking about a complete dual exhaust system, but I think I’m going to stick with the 2-to-1 setup.  I think it looks unique and a little cool.  Also, if I go with a slip on I will save myself around 300 bucks.  I’ve listened to a few exhausts on youtube and I dig on the cobra slip on.  It has some rumble but it’s not over powering.  Since I’m hoping to take this on a few trips, not getting a headache from the exhaust will be nice.

All together, these mods will run me around 1k.  that is quite a bit more than the mods on my 650, but most of the money in the new bike is tied up in the power commander.  For the 650 I could spend 10 bucks a carb on jets…spend about 30 min and I’m done rejetting…the 1300 costs me about 480 but it is a little more high tech I guess.  I could drill the exhaust and intake…but I’d rather go with something a little more refined.

The ride of this bike is so much different than the 650, and it’s some of the reason it “needs” these adjustments.  The 650 is a five speed, the 1300 is basically a four speed with over drive.  If I was flying down the four lane or a long stretch of two lane highway I would drop it into fifth and let the engine wind down.  I have used 5th for a little bit and it works just like you would expect.  For my daily commute and drives up and down the hills 4th gear will do the work.  The 650 would pull hard all the way through the transmission…each gear was fairly “short” and I had to shift up quite a bit even in town.  The 1300 has comparably tall gears, and I need to get use to not shifting as much.  Around town, 2nd gear is fine…the entine doesn’t wind up at all.  It’s quite the mentality change but I am starting to adapt.

I took out the emissions stuff on the 650, this gave me some power…but the main thing it did was virtually eliminate the back fire.  Now that I’m riding a stock bike again…I have some back fire on deceleration.  The adjustments I listed above will take care of the vast majority of the backfire issues.

Another change that needs to be made (in fact I got the part today to do it) is the handle bars.  The stock handle bars are very short and low (rise the pullback).  I wasn’t sure how much this would really affect my ride.  I was hoping I would be able to work with the stock bars…but I can’t.  There is a recommended replacement that a lot of people on the interwebs use.  I had no real way to test this out before I bought it and that caused me some hesitation.  The bars are only 100 bucks…but I didn’t want to start throwing money around on something I wasn’t sure about.  I did quite a bit of reading, and I finally pulled the trigger.  I sat on my bike with them today and they should work out…they are certainly better, so thats something.  It really surprised me just how much only a couple of inches of rise and/or pull back would affect my comfort…but after running around on the bike a little bit I now get it.  After an hour ride I have a lot of discomfort between my shoulders and lower back.  If I were to ride a few hours or more it would be crazy uncomfortable.

The kid rode home with me tonight after school, again the difference was pretty amazing.  There is a lot more room, she was more comfortable and the bike didn’t seem to bog down with the extra load.  I was able to put both my gear and her’s in the trunks.  I did have to shove a little bit, but it fit alright.  I would probably be able to haul a few gallon containers in each trunk.  That is quite a difference over the other bike…and makes it so I can reasonably be able to ride it to work and still pick up a few groceries.

So far I’m satisfied.

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