Thursday, March 14, 2013

V-Strom Mid-life Maintenance

I took my 2007 Suzuki V-Strom DL650 to the shop this week for some mid-life maintenance. It now has 53,000 miles and other than a faulty TPS sensor, it's never had a thing go wrong with it. Think about that for a second. That's the equivalent distance of riding twice around the planet with only a single electronic sensor going bad.

I'm having the coolant flushed and the radiator, hoses and clamps inspected. It's getting some new shoes, another pair of Metzeler Tourance tires. I prefer Shinko 705s, as they have quite a bit more grip, especially on wet pavement, and a bit more off-road traction. However, I can only get about 5,000 miles out of a rear Shinko; the Metzelers give me 10,000 miles, which will last me all season.

I'm also getting the battery replaced, not because of age but because I ran the current unit down by leaving my Garmin Zumo 220 GPS plugged in over night. It draws current even when powered off. Speaking of which, I'm having the shop re-route the GPS' power cord to a switched circuit. This will prevent power from going to the GPS when the ignition is off.

Finally, I'm having braided stainless steel brake lines installed, replacing the factor rubber hoses.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Hanging off up the river

We've had two dry days in a row in Western Oregon and I've taken advantage of it to put some miles on the GSX-R750. I rode it to work on Friday, carrying my gear in my MotoCentric soft bags. They are light, functional, and look fantastic. I rode the long way home, following the Sandy River through Springdale, past Oxbow Park, then through the rural communities of Aims and Bull Run before emerging back up the hill to Sandy and home.

Saturday I took the Gixxer up the Clackamas River on Highway 224 to Ripplebrook Ranger Station. It was overcast and chilly up the river valley but the pavement was mostly dry. There was only a smattering of sanding gravel in the center of each lane on the last few miles before reaching the turn-around point.

The ride wasn't just for fun (although it certainly was that). I was specifically practicing my right-hand turns. To counterstear, you push right to turn right, and push left to turn left. The problem with pushing right to turn right is that's where the throttle is. You don't want your pushing to affect your throttle input. So how do you push without pushing?

I practiced two techniques. The first was gripping the tank with my knees and keeping my upper body directly lined up with the bike; i.e. no hanging off. This works fine for slower cornering, but doesn't work if you jack up the speed around the turn.

The second technique was to lean my body to the right, hanging half of my butt cheek off the seat, and supporting my body by pressing the inside of my left leg and my left elbow against the tank. This removed weight on my right wrist. I made sure I was supporting myself enough by flexing my right hand and ensuring I had a light touch on the grip.

After riding 80 miles of a decent set of turns, it started to become easier. By the time I was heading home I was easily able to double the posted corner speed with a great deal of control and comfort.