Thursday, January 29, 2009

Getting ready for the BBFO '09

Tomorrow I'm heading west with my normal riding buddies for the annual Big Bend Freeze Out. This year the weather looks very comfortable with highs in the low 60's and lows around freezing. That's just perfect, I have the electrics to handle the frosty mornings.

Yesterday my Hyperpro shocks came in. Talk about timing. The folks at EPM really stepped up when I told them I was leaving for a trip tomorrow and they turned them around in their shop in just 1 day from when they received them from the manufacturer. They did a bang up job on the initial set up too. I still plan to tinker with the clickers and I want to double check the rider sag but out of the box they are many times better than my worn out stock shocks with 50K miles on them.

I decided to skip the pictorial of the shock install because a quick google search shows several others and they did a fine job. The others showed installing Ohlins but the install is the same with the Hyperpros. The total installation took me about 5 hours but at least 3 hours of that was consumed with fabricating a new horn bracket for my air horn. If I had cheaped out and went with the less expensive model 360 front shock there wouldn't have been an issue. But I went with the top of the line model 367 which has an external reservoir. I found out, reservoir is code for "Pain in the butt" because that's what it was to get it to fit along side my air horn.

When all was said and done I pushed the bike off the center stand and immediately noticed the difference. The bike didn't bounce so much when it came off the stand. It didn't bounce at all really. It still compressed quite a bit from resting on the side stand to me touching the ground. But even with the 1/2" shorter shocks I still wasn't any closer to touching the ground. In fact I may be a little farther away from the ground but not much. So after running inside to put on my gear it was time for the test ride.

I pulled out of the driveway and headed down the street. I did a quickstop and I'm fairly certain I managed a small stoppee. The GS isn't supposed to do stoppees. There's a definite change in the front spring rate and compression. The next thing I noticed was how much stiffer the ride was. I mean it felt like my old GSX-R.

As I worked my way along my route I found corners to be better with plenty of feedback that wasn't there before. The longer I rode the more I noticed my speeds increasing through corners. I was actually able to enter corners at higher speeds because the bike simple felt like it was on rails going through the corner. Accelerating now actually seems to raise the bike instead of the sqauting sensation with the old shocks.

The test ride had the bike completely stripped of any cases and I had zero preload dialed in. Tomorrow I'll have all the cases on it with a light load so I'll see how it does with a little more weight. I suspect the rear spring may be a little too stiff without the cases on. It's my fault though, when I ordered the shocks I probably spec'd my weight a good ten pounds heavier than I am right now. And I'm on a diet with another 10 pounds to go. I may talk to EPM about changing out the rear spring but first I want to see how it does with a load, and with my passenger. Since I usually don't ride without the Micatech cases anymore, I'm not too worried about the setup without the cases. If I ever do take it to the track I'll just have to deal with it.

Yesterday while I had the seat off, I plugged in the GS-911 to read the computer codes. It told me there was a fault in the heated grips. Duh! I knew that since my right hand gets cold. When I get back from the trip, I'll take the bike over to Wild West and see if they can fix it under warranty. Otherwise I'll have to splurge for a new right grip which is about $100, I can get both sides for $180 though. I may just do that so I know I have 2 good working grips going to Alaska this summer. But let's hope I can get it fixed under warranty.

Well, I guess I'd better go pack. And I'm going to put my wallet in my jacket pocket, NOW, so I don't have a repeat of last year when I had to turn around a go back home to get it. 5:30am is the call for side stands up, and I plan to work out before I leave so the alarm will be ringing early.

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