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I didn’t do much with the bike last year.  The rear tire was getting wore pretty good but it was September before I saw it completely wore out.  I could have changed it then and gotten another month of riding out of it…but I elected to shelve it until this spring.  The reason for that is I was planning on changing up tire styles and didn’t want to mess with it at the end of the year.  This spring I finally pulled the trigger on something I’d been toying with for a little bit.  I put a car tire on the back of my bike.

It sounds like it would be pretty stupid at first.  Clearly there is a reason they build bike tires differently than they do car tires.  A bike tire is rounded for easier cornering.  A car tire is more flat on the face but squared off at the edges…it’s not designed to roll over like a bike tire.  It also doesn’t “look right” if you’re a bike guy.  The reason I went with a car tire is economics.  The tire is 1/2 the price of a bike tire and it should last a minimum 3x as long.  There are plenty of guys that are getting 30k out of them, I’ll be happy with 15k.  I’ve been getting about 5k out of bike tires.  I’m assuming it’s because of my ample ass as well as the amount of gravel I ride.  Speaking of gravel, I’m expecting that having more surface area on the road with the car tire will improve handling on a gravel road.

There are some handling issues with the car tire.  Straight, clearly there is no real difference.  Turning takes a little more effort.  The bike wants to pop up quicker than a rounded tire so you have to muscle it a little bit.  I drove it around town a bit to get a feel for the turning, then took it up and down a windy road.  I did reduce speed a little bit, but I would have with a new bike tire as well.  I have to “feel” like it’s going to hold before I’m comfortable enough to crank in to it.  And in all honesty, I’ve never been someone who was agressive in the turns.  I’ve always had the image of the bike slipping out from under me in my head.  I’ll run it wide open on the highway, drive down gravel and muddy roads with it and I’ve even gone up and down prairie trails…but I’m still a little sketchy in the corners.  I think it’s a product of riding on gravel roads and actually feeling the bike slip under me in the corners.  In any case, aside from being heavier in to the turn, she handled fine.  I’m confident she’ll stand up and be very usable.  Maybe next time I’ll go back to a bike tire, but for right now I’m good with the car tire.

I also pulled the trigger on another upgrade that I’ve been putting off due to cost.  Cost not only being money but down time for the bike.  Last year I started to see information about guys that have had their ECU flashed.  They send it off to this dude in new york and he flashes the ECU for right about $400 shipped both ways.  The purpose of this is to clean up some of “factory crap” that comes with these bikes.  Due to emissions laws, when you get off the throttle it completely shuts off the fuel.  This causes some popping.  I had hoped a fuel manager would handle this problem…but it didn’t.  There is also some jerking at low speeds that I would like to see go away.  Beyond that, most bikes come with a very conservative fuel mapping from the factory.  This flash brings out a little more power in the bike.  From dyno testing, it’s been shown that with bigger air and exhaust (which I have) just flashing it brings out 10 more horse power over the mods with the stock ECU.  I’m never going to have my bike dyno’d, so I’ll believe what I’ve seen.  Sending it there and back would cost me about 2 weeks without it.  I decided to pull the trigger this spring, new ECU.

I have been really impressed with the new ECU.  The throttle response seems snappier, the popping is gone and there is less jerk at low speeds.  There is still a little bit when you roll on the throttle, but I’m adjusting my fuel manager to try and tune that behavior out of it yet.  I can’t say what the horse power and torque improvements are, but the “butt test” and “weeeeee” factor is there so that’s good enough for me.  If anyone was thinking about improving their bike, I would recommend the ECU flash over a fuel manager…especially on an older bike.  I’m not sure that there would be as much benefit on the newer ones.  I have an 07, which is the first model year for the vstar 1300.

The bike is ready to roll.  I’ve changed oil, even changed the coolant.  She has a new tire and we are ready to roll…the weather needs to cooperate.

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