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1993 Kawasaki ZX-11D 
A Motorcyclist's Modifications

The Creation of a 180mph Sport Touring Machine

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Click for Suzuki Hayabusa Mods 

A One Year 20,000 Mile ZX-11 Story

Exhaust

I bought the ZX-11 with a brand new 4 in 1 Vance & Hines SS2R Carbon Fiber Exhaust with the competition baffle.   $578!  The guy still had the stock exhaust which came with the bike.  In the first month that I rode it with the Vance & Hines- I loved the throaty ominous sound of the exhaust.  The bike sounded mean.  At stoplights, even at idle, everyone new I was there.  When I took off from the light, the whole neighborhood knew I was there.  It was beautiful sound. What I didn't like was it changed the looks of the ZX-11 dramatically and I actually began to regret buying a ZX-11 with the 4 in 1.  It just didn't look right.  The absence on the left side of the bike looked like there was a big hole (where the exhaust canister should be).  Everybody (it seems) talks about 'putting on a pipe' when they buy a sport bike.  I realize now pipes aren't for everyone and don't always look good on every bike.  I wiped the bike out a month after buying it and had my mechanic put one the stock exhaust back on the bike.  I absolutely love the chrome stock dual exhaust and the bike is quiet at idle and screams when you get on it.  Perfect.


Vance & Hines SS2R Carbon Fiber -more-

Acerbis | Akrapovic | Arrow  | Bartels   | Cobra | DevilBikes | D&D | ErionFerracci | Hindel | Holeshot | Indigo | Jardine | Jet-Tek | Kerker/Supertrapp  | M4 | Micron | Muzzys | Pro Dyno | Roadhouse | Staintune | Sudco | Two Brothers | WhiteBrothers | Yoshimura   

Cruiser-only-  Arlen Ness | Borla | Bub | Chrome Specialties | Cobra | Custom Chrome | Cycle Shack | Khrome Werks | PowerHouse | Rebel | Roadhouse Brand | Samson

Windshield

I quickly diagnosed the original windscreen as useless.  The wind hit my 5'9" frame directly in the chest and it felt as though I was fighting the wind at freeway speeds.  I called everyone in search of the tallest windscreen out there for the ZX-11.      Lockhart Phillips.  Finally discovered Zero Gravity had one that was 2" taller.  This they claimed was the highest and worked great.  They tried to talk me into the 'double bubble' but I merely wanted the tallest.  Difficult to tell with the pic at right & the pic up top (stock) but riding- you can feel it.  Best 75 bucks I ever spent.

Givi | Memphis Shades | National CycleSlipstreamer | Targa | Rifle  

Carbs

Stage 1.  Just a wee bit more horsepower.  Stock air filter.  180 mph & 135 Horsepower is enough for me.

K&N 

Steel Braided Brake Lines
The former owner added these right before I bought the bike.  In reading the old articles when the ZX-11 came out, everybody complained about the brakes not being as good as they should for a motorcycle capable of 180 mph speeds. In their test around the race track, the common adage was the brakes fade over time.  I rarely ever ride the bike this hard and would have difficulty making that determination.  But if anything, another safety add-on.  I can honestly say that the brakes are great with the new lines. And my Galfer pads.  I haven't made any other brake mods but Ferodo BrakeTech does sell Nissin calipers for the ZX.  Now if only $700 would fall out of the sky.

Braking USA | Brembo | DP Brakes | Ferodo | SBS  

Seat
After a few 3-6 hour solo rides on the ZX-11, it was painfully apparent the stock seat sucked.  The former owner was only 5'5" and had taken all the padding out of the seat.  Every bump, shall we say, compromised my ability to reproduce.  Made an appointment 3 weeks out (earliest they could fit me in) with Corbin in Hollister, CA for a Saturday morning.  They custom made the seat in front of my eyes.  I'd take it for a short ride, then say- shave a little more off here.  Take it for another ride, then say make this rounder in the back here.  Take another ride.  After 3 rides, we had a match.  The solo saddle was a mere $250 and the best investment.  Having a Corbin is like a whole new world.  Now with 40K on a Corbin Gunfighter Solo saddle on both the ZX-11 and FJ1200, I doubt I could own a bike without getting rid of the stock seat. -more-

Airhawk | AirRider | Butt Buffer | Dynamic Systems 828-683-3523 | Mustang Seats | ProPad | Sargent | Second Look | Travelcade | Tobin Custom Seats

Tank Bag
I had a Tour Master TB-24 tank bag on my FJ1200 with straps and it slowly fell apart- stitching and so on.  The cheesy foam pad was ridiculous and ripped easily.  However, I liked the amount of pockets (4) and the 24 liter large size.  I checked them all out.  I almost bought Marsee's 14 liter expandable magnetic tankbag but low and behold, Tour Master put out a new one (not yet on their website at last check) that is magnetic with even more pockets (still 24 liters) and had an additional tank bag that zipped to the top.  The magnetic part is detachable and it has back pack straps built in.  Expensive at $134.00 from Competition Accessories but now after 20K, worth every penny.  I liken a tank bag to a male purse and I take it everywhere.  Even in day trips in the car.  The second zip on top (expandable) bag I discovered is too high for the ZX-11, I can see over it (it comes to the bottom of my chin) but I can't see any gauges, so simply bungee it with my tripod to the back of the bike.  Worth every penny.  Mine only wah-wah is the carrying handle is a .5" thick hard rubber handle which supersedes my older model at right.  Sounds good on paper, right?  Most sportbike riders have a tendency to lean their chest on the tankbag in freeway travel.  This rubber handle will dig into your chest.  What non-motorcycle ridin' idiot designed that?  

Aerostitch | Chase Harper | CoverCraft | Dowco | Eclipse | Givi | Iron Horseman | Joe Rocket | LeatherLykeMarsee | Motoport | Nelson-Rigg | Rev-Pak | RKA | Rocket Locker | RS Taichi | Sargent | T-Bags  | Willie & Max | Wolfman 

Discussion: Pashnit Forum


Tour Master TB-24

Helmet
New bike, New helmet, right?  HJC's seem to fit me best and I paid $179 for a CL-12 in black (full-face, of course).  With a smoke shield and all black leathers, the cool factor is very much up there.  I usually carry two extra shields with me in addition to the dark smoke (on the helmet most the time).  I discovered while riding through the mountains when it's shaded going in and out of dark/light- I can't see anything with that dark shield so I slap on a medium smoke shield and that works much better (no sunglasses).  I have used mirrored shields for years and love 'em but they wear out in 6 months flat as the mirrored coating eventually comes off or gets increasingly scratched.  HJC mirrored is like $30.  Mirrored definitely has the maximum cool factor though.  Both of these helmets have the quick release shields and once you go quick release, you can't go back.  Countless times I stood at the side of the road at dusk with a key taking out the helmet screws of my HJC FG-9.


HJC CL-14

The HJC CL-14 is in the middle of the pack when it comes to price.  It will put a fabric impression into your forehead every time you wear it, although this quickly goes away when you've stopped.  It also does not have a lot of tightness around the cheeks for yours truly.  In reviews, they say that the CL-14 is moderate when it comes to wind noise.  This I can concur, and the older I get, the more apt I am to use earplugs because the helmet is so noisy at freeway speeds.    The Shoei RF-800 Mankato we bought my wife has proved to be well worth the money.  Although accessories such as $52 for a mirrored shield for the Shoei seem pretty stiff.   It would be nice to pick up a second new Shoei RF800 Mankato in red.  $359!! to match my wife's.  It has fangs and eyeballs everywhere.  Very cool.  We dream of having our helmets hand painted by Upbeat Productions or someone else.  Very $$$. 


Shoei RF800 Mankato

 AGV | Bell  | Carbon Fiber Helmets | CKXLazer | Nolan | SuomyVega | Reevu  - http://www.reevu.com/   <--Amazing !!

Diamond Star Headlight Modulator
I have always wanted one of these!  I have seen the Goldwings with these, headlights blinking away, and you can see the bikes a long way off.  Expensive though, I never had a spare $100 laying around.  Finally bought the Signal Dynamics Diamond Star Modulator from Sport Touring Accessories with all sorts of options to it.  It has some sort of 'starburst' mode, hyper-mode where the light blinks really fast, an on/off function- where you can simply turn it off, and it's hooked into the horn- you hit the horn (as is anyone cares) and the headlight blinks really fast.  I paid my mechanic $40 to put it in and he said it was very easy.  I am colorblind and tend to shy away from anything detailed that involves electrical wiring ( is this green or red?  Yes, I have some good stories).   MT&C recently did an article on how to put one in too.  Yes, it has a daylight sensor which as long as it's facing up, works fine.  In hindsight, I should have bought a more basic model, like the one Kriss sells but oh well.  Does it work?!  Does it ever!  I am so sold on these headlight modulators, they should be required (law) in every single motorcycle.  Way too many idiots in cars out there (didn't see me?)   I split lanes religiously in accordion stop-n-go rush hour freeway traffic and people can see me way off. 

Purchase your Headlight Modulator Here...


Signal Dynamics Headlight Modulator

Signal Dynamics BackOFF Module 
Originally- I bought a $40 module from Signal Dynamics that would blink the tail light several times each time I hit the brakes.  This works but I wanted something even more conspicuous.   My new BackOFF module allows the rear turn signals to be running lights and turn signals..  Both turn signals are on all the time.  On the ZX-11, they are brighter than the brake light.  Again all you doo-doo heads with that teeny tiny little red brake light, do you honestly think anyone can see you?  My brother was hit from behind on his Goldwing- which totaled it (how can you not see a Goldwing?) and sent him to the Chiropractor with a nifty case of whiplash.  AND... the wife said no more bike for you.  And to this day he has no motorcycle.

Purchase your Back Off Module Here

HyperLites (blinking brake lights)
I saw these at the motorcycle show and wanted them bad.  Another 50 bucks to Sport Touring Accessories.  Well worth the money.  Another item that should be standard equipment on every bike. Again,  I do not understand motorcyclists with that tiny red light in the rear and that's it.  Do you honestly think anyone can see you, especially at night?    Again, too many idiots on cell phones driving 3 ton cars.  Very easy to install (even for a colorblind guy)  Clip here, solder here, electrical tape there.  It has the option to blink for 5 seconds and go solid, I opted to have it blink always when the brakes are on.  This has to be one of the coolest inventions!  Everyone should have one.  If it were up to me, when I hit the brakes, the whole bike would light up in neon, flares would shoot off, and an overhead helicopter would have a searchlight over me in the midst of commuter traffic.

  Hyperlites  

Throttle Lock
Every bike I have ever owned has had one.  A three hour ride on the ZX-11 and it would take two days to get the feeling back in my hands.  I put 10K on the bike in 6 months without one then after my 800-mile-one-day-Crater Lake ride gave in.  Another $20 item I don't understand how anyone can live without.  Finding one to fit the Kawasaki was difficult.  They all seem to be for Yamaha, Suzuki, or Honda.  I had the Vista Cruise on my FJ1200 and it fit perfectly, just snap it in place. My Venture had a fancy manual one that worked well too.  

For $100, you can replace the bar ends with a billet stainless steel Throttlemeister throttle lock device from distributors Sport Touring Accessories or TailLocker.  While at speed, you twist the right bar end, and it twists inward to lock the grip in place.  For the longest time I wanted to get one of these.  Unfortunately, there is no ready made throttle lock for Kawasaki's (that I am aware of) and so a little backyard ingenuity will save you some bucks.  I shot this picture (right top) at Laguna Seca of a ZX11 of a Vista Cruise.   This guy's modification involved putting a small hole into the starter/cut-off switch module, shaving down the left side of the stock grips, and cutting off the other little plastic clip thingy on the bottom (look closely at the bottom of the pic).

For my ZX-11, I had to drill a tiny hole through the throttle lock into the side of the module, and drill a small screw into the handle bar to hold it all in place.  Works great.  My wife's '90 Kawasaki EX500 was much more difficult.  Using the same throttle lock, I had to use my Dremmel tool to make it fit the handle bar diameter and position, then screw it into the handlebar.  Trial & error and it finally works with quite a bit of modification but very simple concept.  Works just fine.  Throttle Locks are a total must have for the everyday rider.  Once you put one on your bike- you'll wonder how you ever survived without it.  You can also put an Electronic Cruise Control (available from Sport Touring Accessories) on your bike- including the ZX11- but this may run about $350-$450.  For more info, check out these posts on the ZX11 Message Board.

Crampbuster | Sport Touring Accessories 800-889-5550 | Throttle Rocker | TailLocker | Vista Cruise

Throttle Lock Install

http://www.mccruise.com/ - Australia


Vista Cruise Throttle Lock


ThrottleMeister

Frame Sliders

It's only a matter of time until the bike you own is going to be dropped.  I do not understand why all bikes are not made with replaceable pucks.  My Yamaha Venture had crash bars.  You could lean it over and it would just sit there.  Very cool.  I modified some highway bars to fit the Suzuki GS850L and the Yamaha FJ1200 has replaceable pucks built into the air intakes, which are also replaceable. After having $1500 in damage from a simply losing balance in a parking lot on the side of a hill, I learned my lesson.  The best I could do with the ZX-11 was mount them to the fairing mounts.  Better than nothing and they'll help if the bike falls over in spite of my 160lb frame, riding a 500+ lb. bike, it's just a matter of time.       

 I modified a set of ebony GSXR bar sliders from IntuRace, yeah the ones for the handlebars, with a hacksaw and Dremmel tool and put one on each side to both of the lower fairing mounts on the frame.  Although they probably wouldn't help sliding down the road, they work great if the bike falls over.  This is one of the ZX-11's few flaws, in that there isn't anywhere to mount these things, not to mention nothing is available for the bike except the bar sliders.  The time I dumped the bike in a parking lot, I was so angry, I almost sold the bike and bought a TL1000S right then and there.

Handle Grips
The problem was any ride over three hours straight and my hands were numb.  Even on the thirty minute ride to work each morning, my hands and wrists were mildly numb.  This thing was built for 180 mph speed and it's quite the leaned over position tuck position.  Forget about bragging about your neato sport bike grips, I ditched those, slapped on some foam ones and problem solved for a whopping ten bucks.  I have had a set of heated handle grips I bought long ago but have never installed them.  Keeping my hands warms is a daily habit of which gloves do I wear today?  I have about 5 pairs of gloves- all for different temperatures.

KuryAkyn | ProPad 

Tires
I have to confess I have tried them all.  Even racing compound, come to think of it, I've never tried Pirelli's  Back when I had the Suzuki- I ran across America on Bridgestone S11' Spitfire dual compound sport touring tires..  For my trips to Alaska and again across the United States on the Yamaha Venture, I fell in love with Metzeler ML2 Marathon High Mileage tires.  Ran great and lasted well for a 750 lb. bike.  

The ZX-11 came with a new set of Dunlop D205 Sport Touring Radials (Rider May 2000).  Although I got 10,000 miles out of them (impressive for this type of bike), I never felt that confident on them to be honest.  Like I couldn't lean the bike over as far.  As if they were going to start slipping.  I switched to Metzeler ME Z1 Radial Sport Tires and like them much better.  I always went one size wider in the front to a 120/60-17 and kept the stock 180/55-17.  It may sound odd by I can actually feel the wider tire up front.  After breaking the tires in (slipping and sliding) and on a rather spirited ride, I felt much more confident to lean the bike over at speed.  The rear tire lasted a mere three months, sheesh, a mere 5000 miles, so now $112 later to Motorcycle Accessory Warehouse am trying the Z4.  Same tread pattern, just a little more for sport touring. 

The stickiest tires I have ever tried were a set of Avon AM23 Hyper-Sport Production Race tires.  Wow! Like glue.  And 4000 miles and 4 months later, I was changing tires again.  Enough of that.

Avon | Bridgestones | Dunlop | Maxxis | Michelin  


Three months later...


Got 10,000 out a set of these...


Tried all these...

 
Metzeler ME Z1 Radial Sport Tires

Rear lasted 5000 miles


Metzeler Laser ME33

Bungee
Never leave home without it.  I have carried anything and everything with a square 6-hook bungee.   Back in the old days- food shopping on the Yamaha Venture, I once fit $75 worth of grocery's in the hard bags.  The strangest and biggest I carried was an antique trunk 36"w x 12"h x 20" deep  (I restore them) on the back of the Suzuki.  Wouldn't recommend it.  But not having a car inspires you. 

Blind Spot Mirrors
Another item I am convinced should be standard equipment on every bike.  At the very least- sportbikes.  I learned very quickly that in order to change lanes, I had to turn my head to the left or right. This takes a half second.   A half second I have to take my eyes off the road in front of me.  A half second too long.  A 2" round blind spot mirror for $1.99 from the local auto parts store solved this problem.  My head never moves from facing forward (except to drink in the wonderful scenery I'm riding past).  A quick eyeball glance to the right or left, and the lane change takes place in the half second it would take to move my helmeted head.  It does take a bit of practice to get used to looking at the blind spot mirror- judging distances, especially at night, and making the decision to change lanes (or identify the threat).  In rush hour traffic, boulevard traffic and while splitting lanes, these are invaluable little item.  I have lately seen cafe style  mirrors that are nothing more than a round concave blind spot mirror that attach to the end of the handlebar, very cool!  Another insightful blind spot mirror attaches to the helmet and is available from BugEyes.  Still another from Muth Mirror Systems has the turn signal built into the mirror itself.  Although the best yet was a pair spied at Laguna on a SpeedTriple.

BugEyes | Muth Mirror Systems | SkyKing Mirrors


Note the mirror

Bike Cover
The best thing about a bike cover is using it when you are traveling.  Out of sight out of mind.  If you are not concerned with showing your bike off at rally's and races, I have loved my bike cover to stow all that gear under it.  One strange thing that did happen was with the ZX11, the cover quickly took all the clear coat off the mirrors each time I pulled the tight fitting cover on, some totally unexpected not to mention the $98 each mirrors were new.  Eventually, I'd get a Geza Gear & never look back.

Purchase your Geza Cover Here

Steel Cable & Lock
I admit I don't worry too much about my bike getting stolen.  That's what insurance is for, plus an excuse for a new bike!  I have used disc locks in the past with little success.  But my problem was what to do with my jacket- this thing is bulky, armored, and boldly colored.  And my Teknic jacket is also heavy, bulky, and armored- and it drips of motorcycleness.  I'd rather leave it on the bike but how?  The solution was to use a small diameter steel cable which I set out to make since I couldn't find one anywhere.  Off to the hardware store I go with my mental picture.  Hmm, steel cable, u-clamp thingy...  I was saved when I went to Office Depot and discovered a 6 foot computer security cable for $18.  It was perfect.  And with a push combination lock, it was exactly what I envisioned.  The cable is coated and has a little loop end.  I arrive somewhere, loop it through the sleeves, under the triple tree, and lock it to the tankbag.  It works great.  I even use it (when I carry everything with me) looped through the rear tire and around the backside of the bike locking it to the frame.  It's light and can be coiled up to take with me in the tank bag.  A great solution!!

The Motorcyclist's Apparel
Probably the toughest thing about motorcycling is how to dress.  We can encounter all types of weather on a single ride.  And when I started out, I had no money for anything.  I had my military issue combat boots and my flight jacket.  The helmet came with the bike (an outdated Nolan) and a couple sweatshirts.  If it rained, I got wet.  It took years to slowly acquire all this stuff and I promised myself I'd buy full leathers if I ever bought a sportbike which eventually happened.  Donelson Cycles 800-325-4144 offers a two-piece leather suit, pants & jacket for $299.  Cheapest in the whole biz.  I bought it sight unseen.  I am still wearing the pants, the jacket, which is a copy of the Heins Greike V-Pilot, I wore for awhile then picked up the Yamaha jacket.  Previously, I had finally saved up a mere $99 for a set of chaps from JC Whitney no less.

Leather Wind Triangle
On my very first trip across the United States, the temperatures ranged from 19 degrees to 70 degrees in the month of May.  Quite the draw.  And I quickly noticed that the worst problem with motorcycling is trying to keep your neck warm.  The only thing I brought with me was a Marine Corps standard issue scarf.  It's about 30 inches long, distinctly military green, and actually a tube.  It could even be used as a stocking cap.  I would wrap it around my neck and push it up into the edges of my Nolan helmet to try to keep the cold wind out.

Riding Boots
I bought the Sidi On-Road Sympatex riding boots after getting back from Alaska and riding through endless rain and soaking wet boots- at the time standard issue combat boots.  The Sidi's ran $220 and look like motorcross boots- all black though, I absolutely love these things.  With Velcro straps, they are high and thick and I have never been able to fit jeans over them so I only wear them with leather riding pants tucked in.  I added steel motorcross toe caps for safety (looks very bad!) A little too much Mad Max as a kid.  And I have ground off the bottom tread & edges from peg-scrapping' so much.  Love these boots.  For an all black boot, they look great, and are completely water proof (except when the water is higher than the boot- happened once while fording a stream that went over the road on the FJ1200 in the rainy season).  They've done well in temperatures in the 30 degree range although it doesn't get any colder than that out here unless you seek it out- i.e. riding at 8000 feet in the dead of winter.  Despite what they say, they can get rather hot in summer (what boot isn't?) and my socks are rather damp on hot 100 degree days.  They claim the liner "whisks away moisture".  Still one of the best boots on the market (currently for $240).

Acerbis | AGV | Aerostich | Bates | Bieffe | Dainese | Dayton | Diadora | Firstgear | Fieldsheer | Frey-Daytona | Gaerne | Joe Rocket | Hein Gericke | Motoport | Prexport

AltimateCruiser Works | West Coast Shoe | Wesco | West Coast Shoe


Sidi On-Road Sympatex

The Leather Jacket
Good things come to those who wait.  At the Easy Riders Motorcycle show (an all Harley show), one of the vendors had a unmarked brand new black armored leather jacket with liner.  For $99!!  Too good to pass up.  She chuckled in that it was unsaleable because it had such a small waist and none of the Harley crowd could fit into it.  She was thrilled to off-load it for $99.  I have the opposite problem, as all the waistlines are cut too big for my 30" waistline.  When I got home, I rifled through my library of brochures and discovered it was a $450 Teknic Freeway jacket w/ 1.3 mm cowhide and all the bells and whistles.  I have several other leather jackets including a one-off FirstGear cruiser jacket with a huge embossed American Flag on the back (another motorcycle show bargain- I get comments on the embossed US flag where ever I go), but the Teknic is my heaviest and warmest.  The jacket weighs 7 pounds!  I have always been a big fan of leather.  Sorry 'Stitch aficionados.  I have always lusted after Vanson jackets but the $500 price tag for one jacket is a bit much.  My lovely wife rides her EX500 with the Fieldsheer Raider Jacket.

I once almost bought a Fieldsheer Terminator jacket (advertised on page 74 of Motorcyclist April '94) while in Vancouver and have forever regretted it (it was $495 Canadian- a ton of money back then).  If anyone has this in like a size 40 and you aren't using it-  Give me a call.  Little too much Mad Max as a kid I suppose.

Aerostich | AGV | AlpineStars | Arlen Ness | Belstaff | Bikers Den | BMW | Brockton Cycle | Chaparral | Clover | Cycloak | CycleGear | Dainese | Dennis Kirk | Donelson Cycles | Draggin' Jeans | FroggShop | Grey Wolf | Hawg Paws Gloves | IXS | Joe Rocket | JP Cycles  | Fieldsheer | FirstGear  | Kusitani | Marsee | MAW | Motoport | NJK Leathers | Roadgear | Spidi | Tour Master | Vanson | WomanBiker | ZCustom 


The Yamaha Armored lightweight


FirstGear Cruiser Jacket-
with embossed American flag on the back


Teknic Freeway Armored

Electric Vest
When I went to Alaska, I was real worried about the temperatures.  Suffice to say, I just left and did little research.  It was 60 every day all the way.  But I did buy an Electric Vest and matching Electric Chaps from Mr. Motorcycle in Colorado.  They were the no-name-brand and worked great on the 10,000 mile trip.  Except I learned I had to wear the electric chaps on the inside of my leather chaps (a tight squeeze) to feel any heat.  Later, what I didn't realize was you probably shouldn't use an electric vest in stop and go boulevard traffic and I'm pretty sure I blew out the electrical system on my Yamaha Venture doing this.  It just never seemed to work as well after that.  I set a rule to only use it at speed or traveling.

In 2000, with the advent of having to ride around California on the ZX-11 for my job, I looked at all the electric vests once more and decided on a Widder, mainly because it's $100 price was economical and  the new Mark IV had snap in 'chaps' for your arms, not to mention the option of leg chaps.  The only complaint is on the ZX-11, it seems very temperamental which must be the bike.  Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.  Sometimes, at speed, the vest won't heat up, I shut the bike off, turn the key back on, and pull in the clutch to start the motor and now it heats up.  Strange.  Any ideas anyone?  (yes, bike charges fine) Other days, the vest works just fine.  Winters around Sacramento are cold (33-53 degrees) and very wet (try non-stop rain for a month). Summers are hot so I don't use it as much.  I finally roasted the battery after a 200 mile non-stop down the freeway one fine 30 degree morning.  The battery was completely dead.  Fortunately for me when this happened, I was at the crest of a hill, shooting pictures of course.  So I push started my 600lb superbike and finished my day long ride without ever shutting the bike off. When I got home, I discovered the new battery was $65.  Twice the price of our EX500.

After you buy an electric vest, you will wonder how you ever lived without one and how intensely stupid it is to be cold on a motorcycle.  There have been some times in my motorcycling career when I promised myself I would cough up the $100 for electric socks.  I have yet to do this. 

Aerostitch Unobtanium vest | Custom Heat | Gerbing | Eclipse 800-666-1500 | Electric Socks | Warm Suit 800-555-5541


Widder Mark IV

Toe Caps
Maybe because they simply look cool.  And because while going full-tilt, I've hit a few rocks (or bumps?) in the corner with my toes (scary) and so on the side of safety, anything I can do to increase the level of protection.  I clink when I walk.  They're like Superbike Spurs.  And a little too much Mad Max as a kid.  AlpineStars makes 'em.  Keep in mind you need a motocross style sole to be able to screw them on (like the Sidi).  Most sportbike boots aren't made that way.

Helmet Halo
An elastic band with several colors to chose from of reflective material.  Great when it gets dark out at 5pm and my commute is seemingly at night.  Removes really easy and stows in the tank bag during the day.  Nifty little $12 item.  Wear it all the time and it gives a little more piece of mind.

Leather Chaps
After my fiasco of crossing America in the middle of winter on a bike wearing two pairs of long john & jeans and still practically freezing to the brink of hypothermia I was ready for some leather.  JC Whitney, the mother of all mail-order companies offers a pair of chaps for $99.  And they are the tight straight leg type rather than those floppy big ones I see the cruiser set wearing.  Floppy and motorcycles don't work for me.  And seriously, you cannot tell the difference between these and a pair of $250 ones, at least I can't.  They work great except for a couple divots out of the knees from assorted wipeouts and crashes.

Gaili | Zone Tailed 

The Next Items- things I plan on acquiring next...

Helmet Cam

I dreamt of owning one of these for years but still haven't had the money.  In '96, one of the moto-mags published a new product spotlight on a little suction device gizmo that you could mount a video camera to your helmet (or handlebars).   For $99, it seemed like a bargain but I was quite broke at the time and never bought it.  A year later I called the number and it's disconnected and no forwarding.

The idea of a video camera on the top of your helmet garnered an intense fascination- the idea of filming the roads I was riding. Back then, I was riding every weekend and began keeping track of all the roads I wanted to film at full tilt.  I never traveled the same road twice, began collecting county maps and looking for the curviest roads in Northern California.  My maps began to collect little penciled in comments like- 'wow!' and 'film!'.  Collected enough to write another book, here's the on-line version of my CA Motorcycle Roads.  The out of the way stuff.  Anybody can take the scenic route (so is everyone else), I wanted to find the out of the way stuff.

This little gem in the picture is what I dream of.  Plugs right into the video camera that is safely in the tankbag.  Then mount that little eye on my helmet and zoom zoom.  Finally found it at HelmetCamera for $195 and saw it recently at Laguna Seca for $249.  Neato.  Saeng also sells cockpit mounts to mount your video camera too.  I also met a guy on an RF600 who had an interesting solution....  

-More Motorcycle Video Camera Mounting Solutions & Cockpit Mounts-

Desert Iron Camera Mounts

Heli-Bars    
These need little explanation.  But if you've never heard of them- here's the scoop.  Heli-Bars were started some 10 years ago by some guy who didn't like the placement of his handlebars.  What if they were a little higher and closer to the rider. And so it was in the land of the Canaan...  Anyway, someday when $420 falls out of the sky.  Heli-bars has the all-knowing monopoly on this market.  They make them for most bikes, even the 916.  I am green with envy when I see these on all the VFR's.  Great product!  Not cheap.

Or instead of spending $420, I could spend only $100 for GenMar Risers.  


Heli-Bars


GenMar Risers

Earplugs- custom fit
In hindsight, in all the tens of thousands of miles I've ridden, I never wore them.  Nor did I have outstanding helmets (like my wife's Shoei RF800 which is super quiet) to keep out the noise.  After 7 years of motorcycling, I came across an article in a medical journal stating my generation is losing it's hearing prematurely comparatively to former generations.  A short time later, Motorcycle Tour & Cruiser, Sept. '00, did a similar article.  Sign from God?  Motorcycle riding was ranked at the second highest level of noise of 90 db (now is that a race bike or a Suzuki GN125?)- mainly because of sustained wind noise for long periods of time.  A jackhammer is rated at 100 decibels.  Made sense to me- I've done 20 hours straight and although the ringing in my ears subsides, should I be worried?

I now wear earplugs if my motorcycle ride is more than 30 minutes using the generic ones we used to used on the rifle range back in the Marines.  A box of these runs a couple bucks from any drug store.  I stumbled across a guy that will custom fit earplugs to your ears on the net then ran into another at the Superbike Races at Laguna Seca.  For $35, he form fits them right there. 

Earplug Company  

Givi Tailpack
When a zillion dollars falls out of the sky.  When the bike is the primary vehicle, you end up carrying all sorts of things where the passenger might go.  I've bungeed all manner of things back there, some things I'd be too embarrassed to admit.  A Givi Tailpack would make this so much easier.  Givi hard saddle bags of the side of the bike would be nice too.  

Leather Lyke | Leather ConneXion | Tailgunner Trunk  | Givi Installation

Motorcycle Bike Rack
Is the bike the main method of transportation like it has been for myself in many of my past years?  I've carried all sorts of stuff on the bike over the years. (Check out all the junk I hauled to Alaska and back in my 30 Days story.)  So you want to carry all sorts of stuff on your motorcycle?  Check out this bike rack for carrying a bicycle on your motorcycle.  Mark even offers a rack to carry your boards, rodeo kayaks, and golf clubs!

Mark Schuette of Bend, Oregon sells it. -website-

Click the pic to check out Mark's website of Motorcycle Bike Racks

Past Modifications
Progressive Fork Springs
After my FJ1200 fork began bottoming out constantly after my mechanic put new fork seals in and botched the job- I looked at options.  This led to having the fork rebuilt.  This time with Progressive Fork Springs.  The kit comes with three sets of spacers.  You choose the setup based on your riding style.  After this final rebuild, I never again had problems with the front fork and it was well worth the investment.

DynoJet | Fox Racing Shox | Koni | Ohlins | Progressive Suspension | Race Tech | Works Performance

Altimeter
I added this to the Yamaha Venture when I was traipsing all over the mountains.  Up, down, up, down, the altimeter was great fun and it was kinda neat to know the elevation.  On my 10,000 mile trip to Alaska, this was also useful in knowing the elevation to determine the temperature(s) I could expect.  Especially when camping.  This probably wouldn't be very exciting if you live in Iowa.

Temperature Gauge
Something that should be on all motorcycles.  Knowing the temperature helps you dress for the temperature.  This isn't exactly a car with a heater and air conditioning.  This was also especially helpful when traveling long distances, and for camping.  Plus it is just plain cool to wake up in the morning and look at the temp gauge and have it read 29 degrees.  

Radio/Tape Deck/Amp
Yeah, yeah, everything but the kitchen sink.  If it resembles a couch, why not just stay at home?  Another comfort for distance travel.  When I had it on the Venture- it was great, especially for daily commuting and around the town riding when you can hear it well through the speakers.  Helps to replace the factory originals (once you've blown them) and putting in a higher quality 3" speaker.  I don't think I've ever read a review of a luxo-tourer and had the riders be happy with the speakers.  Not even on the new GL1800.  I wired in an amp to the right side of the fairing and this helped a great deal for sound.  Some of the newer bikes are now coming out with a CD player option which is very cool.  What's next?

Disc Lock

I tried these with little success.  Human nature has it that sooner or later you are simply going to forget that it's there.  This happened to me in front of a movie theater that had just let out.  Me, all cool on my sportbike, hopped on and started out, the Disc Lock hits the fork, and over topples to bike, in front of God and everybody.  Hey, look at the idiot on the sportbike that forgot to take the disc lock off!  Embarrassment is a motivator.  No more disc lock.  Most people who've lived through this experience devise ways to remind themselves.  'Remove Before Flight' ribbons I see all the time.  Another good idea is a coiled cord from the handle bar to the front disc.  A Concours rider suggested putting a film canister over the ignition or some other type of ignition cover.  Anything will work.  The point is, don't just buy a disc lock and go your merry way- devise a way to remind yourself you put on the disc lock.  Personally I switched to a long steel cable with a combination lock.

Abus | Bike Lock  | Boston Lock | Emgo | Kryptonite | Targa | Xena

Fog City Fog Shields
Sacramento has a lot of fog.  A whole lot.  This is one solution I have tried.  The Fog City shield is very inexpensive, say about 15 bucks and available from your local dealer or mail order discounter like Chaparrel or MAW.  It's simply a clear piece of plastic and works by attaching to the inside of your shield on your helmet.  There is even  a special model for Aria, Bell, Shoei & Simpson helmets.  They're several models to choose from- tinted, racing, etc.  When you breathe on it, instead of fog forming from your breath- droplets of moisture will form instead if you breath hard enough.  Think of it as a oil in water sort of situation.  They essentially don't mix and so no fog forms.  Yeah it does work, but what no one will tell you is that because it's a thin film of plastic, it won't last long.  Within weeks, my Fog City Fog Shield became so scratched, even from using merely a cotton cloth to clean my shields, I couldn't see through it.  I also change my shields quite often (I carry two extra- smoke & light smoke- with me in my tankbag always).  No it doesn't fog up, but I can't see through the darn thing.  Needless to say, when the first one wore out, I didn't buy a second one.  Instead I added a Shoei breath guard to my HJC helmet.  Combining this with simply raising the shield up one notch works just fine. 

Running Lights

More lights the better.  While I had the Yamaha Venture, I simply went to the local auto parts store and bought a pair of generic running lights.  They were much less expensive than buying some fancy set out of a brand name catalog or dealer.  They easily fixed to the engine guards and worked great at night for illuminating the sides of roads in the country especially.  I did wire in a on/off switch to the dash but rarely used it.  I simply left the extra lights on all the time.

MotoLight | Harley Driving Lights

Motorcycle Carrying Trailers
Bill's Trailers | Chariot  | Trailer-in-a-Bag

More Mods
Sport-Touring.net Modifications page

Another Mod Page like this one - Honda ST1300



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