Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Started teardown

I went out in the garage last night and started stripping parts off.  The front end is down to just the suspension now.  Mirrors, body, headlights, and instrument pod are off, as well as the front fender.  After also straightening the handlebars (one was pushed back and the other forward), the suspension actually looks pretty straight.  I have a new front stand coming in that should be here on Friday.  As soon as that comes in, I can pick the bike up by the lower triple, and pull the front wheel and forks to check for straightness.  Meanwhile I can strip the tail down and see if anything needs work in there.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Coming back–July 2011

I hope to start updating this again in the near future.  I’ll be rebuilding part of the SV again after my latest crash.  Such things will happen when you’re learning to feel and push the limits for the first time. I only wish I was about 15 years younger!

Some ask me, why do you want to keep riding when it can be so rough on you?  Well, I’ll explain that in the form of a joke I saw earlier:


I recently picked a new primary care doctor. After two visits and exhaustive lab tests, he said I was doing 'fairly well' for my age. (I just turned sixty-something.)

A little concerned about that comment, I couldn't resist asking him, "Do you think I'll live to be 80?"

He asked, "Do you smoke tobacco, or drink beer, wine or hard liquor?"

"Oh no," I replied. "I'm not doing drugs, either!"

Then he asked, "Do you eat rib-eye steaks and barbecued ribs?"

I said, "Not much... my former doctor said that all red meat is very unhealthy!"

"Do you spend a lot of time in the sun, like playing golf, boating, sailing, hiking, or bicycling?"

"No, I don't," I said.

He asked, "Do you gamble, drive fast cars, or have lots of sex?"

"No," I said.

He looked at me and said, "Then, why do you even care?"

Monday, April 18, 2011

Mid-April update 4/18

I’ve run the SV in 2 track days at Grand Sport Speedway (GSS) with Fastline Motorcycle School.  Now I’m addicted.  I’ve run these 2 with the stock suspension.  I had a suspension guy check my sag at the first event.  That pretty much just resulted in screwing the front preload in all the way and setting the rear shock preload on 5 out of 7 with 7 being the maximum.  It helped a little bit but it wasn’t great.  On the 2nd track day I could tell right from the start that the suspension was going to limit my confidence.  I was able to manage ok but I’m looking forward to some improvements.

By the end of the first day I was actually able to get my knee down in some of the corners and was feeling pretty confident.  If I hadn’t been so darn tired I probably would have done even better.  Riding on a track and moving around the seat is hard work!  However, on the second track day I was lightly putting a knee down in the 2nd session.  We were going too slow in the first session to get that much lean angle.  Somehow I ended up being the only student with my instructor so I got some kick ass 1 on 1 instruction.  We would catch the slower groups and pull into the pits for some spacing.  Then we’d take off and catch them again a few laps later.

So all in all, it’s been a lot of fun.  The next track day is 4/30 at GSS again, then we’re already signed up for an event at MSR Houston on 5/7.  It’s a bigger 2.7 mile track instead of the 1.3 miles at GSS.

Right now the SV is at a local shop getting RaceTech springs and valve emulators in the front, and an Ohlin’s shock/spring in the rear.  This should help high speed corner entry a LOT.  Stay tuned for updates on that, as well as more pictures when it gets back from the shop.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Mid-March Update

It seems I’ve been too busy to update the blog.  I’ll eventually get more pictures up.
But in summary, the muffler is installed and sounds great.  I’ve been out on a few rides and I’m really liking the motorcycle.  I swapped the coolant for Engine Ice in preparation for a track day this Saturday on March 19.  All I have left is to tape the lights, pull the license plate, and fill up the gas.  If I have time, I still haven’t put on the TechSpec pads on the sides of the fuel tank.  I’m off work this Thursday and Friday so if it warms up enough maybe I can get those installed on Thursday.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

New Muffler Arrived

As the UPS tracking page said it would, the new M4 muffler arrived.  Now I just need to find time to get it installed.  BTW, do you know how hard it is to get a picture of a high-polished muffler when you need to use the flash?


Muffler is on the truck

It looks like I may finally get my muffler.  I checked the UPS tracking site and it finally says “On truck for deliver” and shows today’s date.

And look for some pictures in the near future.  I’ve never really had a chance to take any with the weather we’ve been having lately. 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Quick update

A very quick update because I need to get to bed.  I got the hugger last week but either I’ve been busy with other stuff or out riding so it hasn’t gotten installed yet.  I started working on it this evening but ran out of time to finish it.

And I’m still waiting on my muffler to arrive.  The freezing weather last week, and the fact that the muffler was coming form Dallas conspired to delay its arrival.  I expect it to be here tomorrow.  The UPS tracking page is strangely out of date on this shipment, so if it doesn’t arrive tomorrow, I’ll be giving UPS a call to see what’s happened to it.

So that’s it.  Nasty weather tomorrow so I need to be sure my other motorcycle is ready to go to work in the morning and that I have the right gear loaded on it.  It’s going to be in the 40’s when I head to work, but drop down to almost freezing when it’s time to head home!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Muffler ordered

Watching about 3 hours of the Rolex 24 hours of Daytona.  Exciting stuff.  Back to the SV:

I decided to go with an M4 slip-on for the exhaust for several reasons. Looked good in pictures, even close-up high-res, made in the USA, and the price (and service) was good from Blair at svracingparts. I probably would have been happy with the cheaper Delkevic too, but I made my choice and there's no point in looking back! ;-)

Also have a rear hugger coming in from another member so if it all comes in this week I'll be riding AND wrenching next weekend!

Non-productive weekend

Saturday was jam-packed with family activities so I figured I would do some work in the garage on Sunday while it rained.  I slept until after 9:30 then after taking care of a couple of things we headed out to lunch.  Then on the way back we went to visit a friend who was having an open house for a customer.  By the time we got back it was after 3pm so I good part of the day was gone already. 

I figured I still had time to flush the coolant and maybe put on my techspec tank grips.  However, it wasn’t quite as warm as it needed to be.  It should be 80 and it was only 70 in the garage so I grabbed an old hair dryer to heat up the sides of the tank.  But the tank is full of gas so I was fighting a losing battle with a tank full of 4.5 gallons of cold fuel.  I was able to heat up the rear of the tank enough though to put the part on that protects it from snaps, zippers, and buckles.  Plus it was a single curve instead of the triple compound curve on the sides of the tank and would be easier to match the curves and stick.  So I got that attached and it’s already past 4pm.  Well, I have something to go to at 6 tonight and I still hadn’t watched any of the Rolex Sports Car Series at the 24 hours of Daytona that I had recorded so I decided to stop right there and just go relax. 

The rain that was forecast for almost all day stopped shortly after lunch and the sun started to come out, so I just left the SV outside.  I’ll ride it to the 10 West meeting tonight to put a few more miles in the saddle.  It looks like another warmer day tomorrow, so maybe I’ll even ride it to work even though that means carrying my computer in a backpack.  I’ll decide in the morning.  The luggage on the VFR may just look too easy to pass up.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend.  I’m watching racing.

Friday, January 28, 2011

3M Protective Headlight film is on

  • 3M headlight film - done

3M film was pretty easy, less than 5 minutes for each side.  No multiple curves on the lenses like the VFR.  That one was a pain to do.  And I put gas in it for the first time.  Had 102 miles on the tank and it held 1.88 gallons for about 54 mpg.  I dumped in some SeaFoam and B12 to help clean stuff up since I didn't know how long the original gas had been in it. 

I also finally had an extra key made as it only had 1.  Tried an Ace Hardware but their Suzuki key wasn't long enough.  It would open the tail, but not turn the ignition.  A locksmith about 2 streets down made one in about 60 seconds and it worked perfectly. 

While running errands I did about 25 miles today and took a couple of 90-degree curves labeled "15 mph".  30 mph entry and 35 mph exit were light and easy, even with only 40 miles on the BT-016 Bridgestones.  Going from the VFR to the SV is like trading a butcher knife for a scalpel.  Now if I could only get it out for a real ride outside of town.  The temps are fine in the Houston area but it seems it rains every time I'm free and I want dry roads while I'm learning how this new machine handles.

First Fill Up

I had over 100 miles on the odometer since getting the SV.  It also had the same gas it had when I picked it up and I had no idea how old that gas was.  So, I stopped to fill it up with 89 octane.  87 is the minimum but I decided to put in 89 to try to make up for any staleness of the old fuel in the tank.  I started filling it up and it stopped pretty quickly.  I turned around to put the hose up and saw that it had only taken 1.88 gallons for the 4.6 gallon tank.  I did the math and that comes out to a mileage of about 54 mpg.  I was impressed. 

I also had some SeaFoam and Berryman B-12 with me in my tank bag, and I put a couple of ounces of those in the tank too.  That combo should take care of just about anything wrong with the fuel from moisture, staleness, and fuel injector cleaning.

Overall I’m still impressed with this “little” motorcycle so far.  It’s more spirited than the VFR and as I get the tires scrubbed in I’m starting to take corners more aggressively.  I can tell it still doesn’t have a cutting-edge suspension and neither does the VFR, but the light weight still makes it feel better than the VFR in a corner.  I still need to get it out on the road for a good weekend ride, but the weather just isn’t wanting to cooperate lately on the weekend when I have free time.  It looks like this will be the case tomorrow and Sunday too.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Good Surprise

I got a good surprise today.  I received my Motorcycle Owner’s Manual (MOM) and the service manual as expected.  I took a minute to flip through the MOM and saw that there was a section called Tool Kit.  Well, wouldn’t you know it… There was a tool kit hidden on the bike! 

There was a rectangular section kind of below and behind the battery down in the sub-frame.  I had seen it before just figured it was part of the battery section where the fuses and other electronics came together.  After seeing it in the MOM, I saw there there was a little pull knob that I hadn’t see before because it was behind the frame.  I pulled on it and a little door popped off and I could see a small bag filling the compartment.  I pulled the bag out and there was a full tool kit!  There was the spanner that I was needing to adjust the rear shock pre-load, and all sorts of other stuff like hex wrenches, pliers, screwdrivers, metric wrenches, and a spark plug wrench.  Jackpot.  Honda quit putting full tool kits in their bikes in 2006 so I wasn’t even thinking about finding a whole kit in the Suzuki either. 

Now to see if I can get it all crammed back into that little storage compartment!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Weekend progress

I didn’t get everything done that I had planned but I made good progress.  You always find that one thing that you think will take 5 minutes and instead takes 30.

Here’s what my to-do list looked like.

    * Sliders - Done
    * Snake Skins - Too cold
    * Oil/Filter change - Done
    * Coolant change - Waiting until next weekend
    * Brake fluid change - Done
    * 3M headlight film/covers - No time, will do one evening this week
    * Clean and check the chain - Done
    * Overall cleaning - Nope
    * Put on the new license plate. - Done

Better than 50% aint too bad.  The leftovers are pretty easy anyway.  And in cleaning the chain and surrounding area, I found some parts that I thought were black but were instead just dirty and really bare aluminum.

I’d write more, but it’s getting late and I have to get up early tomorrow.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

More stuff arrived

I received my 3M film for the headlight covers today.  As an added surprise I also got my license plate in the mail today too.  I like working with smaller dealers from out of town.  Everything is so quick.  Now just waiting on the title.

I also just made another purchase.  Somebody on the forums was selling a rear hugger from their red 2007.  They’re putting a new swingarm on and the hugger won’t fit on it so he offered it up for sale.  I happened to be loading the forums right after he posted it and I sent a message just a couple of minutes before somebody else did so I got it.  It has one tiny scratch that should barely be visible.  Including covering the shipping cost, I got it for half the price of a new part from Suzuki.  I was wanting to eventually get one for the bike, so I’m happy to have stumbled across this one.  What luck.

I also swung by Honda of Houston and picked up 3 quarts of oil and a half gallon of Engine Ice. I’m glad the SV only uses 1.9 quarts of coolant because that stuff is expensive!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Finding a track bike, and more.

The group of folks I ride with out of Houston, the Ten West Sport Pilots, had been talking about getting a track bike for the group but we weren’t really ready as a group to get one.  In just talking with everybody, we wanted something that wasn’t too expensive, had decent performance but wouldn’t break the bank either for upgrades, tires, repairs, etc.

Well, I had been keeping my eyes open for interesting looking machines from time to time and posting them on the forum.  I was not really seriously looking but last week something caught my eye on ebay. It was a super clean 07 Suzuki SV650S from Columbus Cycle Shop out I-10 on Saturday 1/15/11.  It had just over 8000 miles on it, was adult owned and ridden with no damage.  My other ride is a 06 VFR800 outfitted with full bags and topcase and while I have fun sporting around on it, the sucker does weigh 600 pounds so I was looking for something lighter to play on too.  The SV650 weights barely 400 pounds. 

It got me started thinking.  I could either wait around for the group to finally get a 10 West track bike, but that possibly wouldn’t even happen this year.  Plus it would be much more simple to just have my own motorcycle that I could do with as I wished without any group decision making, committees, funds gathering, and such.  I had been saving some money for the track bike project anyway so the cash was already earmarked.  So only being half serious, I sent the link to my wife saying, “Hey, maybe I should get this”.  She responded back, “Go for it.” so I did.  I ended up calling the dealer to ask about it instead of waiting the 3 more days for the ebay auction to end.  I arranged to come out and look at it and agreed on a price if I liked what I saw, didn’t find anything wrong with it, and actually wanted to buy it.  I took a friend along to be a voice of reason, a second set of eyes, and to drive my car home!  Well, we couldn’t find anything wrong with it and I ended up buying it right there. By that time it was dark, oh and a light rain was falling, so we proceeded to make the hour drive back home to Houston.  It was a smooth trip, the SV650 rode just fine, and we made it home in one piece.

Here it is from a photo that the dealer had on their site.  It’s currently crammed in my garage and the weather has been blah, so I don’t have any good pictures that I’ve taken yet.

My first ride on the motorcycle until today was riding it home from Columbus on Saturday night in the rain. I'm an all-weather rider on the VFR so I was comfortable and I had a support vehicle along and we made it hope uneventfully. I won't say it was as comfortable as the VFR, but I had no complaints. I think we have a happy relationship in the future.  I'm going to keep it street legal so I can do more than just track days and I look forward to taking it up to my group's annual trip to ride the Dragon at Deal's gap. I think after pushing the VFR around those curves, this lightweight is gonna have me all giddy.

I'm already on the mod/farkle route. I normally like stock-looking bikes and don't make big changes, but I might be different on this one. It already has the fender eliminator kit along with the LED signals front and rear. I've also ordered and received a set of TechSpec snake skins for the sides of the tank for better grip, and 3M headlight kit from is on the way.  I have the Skins on my VFR and like them, and the headlight covers have prevented several scratches and nicks on the VFR headlights so I'm putting them on the SV as well. Tape for track days come right off the 3M without damage to the film.  Motoslider frame sliders and swingarm spools have also arrived from SV Racing Parts to help protect it should it get dropped.

After I get a few miles in the saddle to to figure out my riding posture, I'll send the seat off to Spencer (at to have him put gel into the seat for me (75 bucks). And eventually that humongous muffler has got to go as well.  There’s LOTS of options down that route.

Oh, and tires. It had a set of OEM Dunlop D220's and I don't know if I trust them. I had a set of hard Metzler Z4's be partially responsible for an off I had in the past, so I'm a definitely a fan of something stickier. I run Bridgestone BT-016 on my VFR and love them.  I was thinking to do something different on the SV. I started looking up prices for the BT-016, Pilot Powers, and some others.  In the end, I just let final price be the deciding factor and ended up ordering a set of the BT-016 rubbers for this one as well.  They arrived yesterday and I had them put on today.  We’ll see how they hold up on this lightweight.  This motorcycle isn’t going to be used regularly for commuting so straight line tire life isn’t as much a factor as it is on the VFR but I’ve still had good performance from the Bridgestone.  Of course when it hits 100 degrees in the summer, this semi-naked bike may get ridden more simply because there’s more air flow around the rider.

Anyway, stay tuned.  I plan to spend most of Sunday installing items that have arrived and performing general maintenance.   I don’t have the prior maintenance records, so just to start out I’m changing all the fluids (oil, brake, coolant) so I know exactly what’s in the motorcycle and when it was put in. 

The track season starts up in February and I hope I’ll be ready to try one in March.  I need to get some more time on the roads just to start getting a feel for how it rides.  In a month or 2, we’ll have to work on getting a new muffler on it.  Sounds like the fun is just beginning.