A lot of people have been asking about John’s (BA.com handle: Freedom) new ride and having finally gotten the chance to ride it, I thought I’d share my thoughts.
After the Kootenay RAT Raid in Nelson, BC, this weekend, I passed through Thompson Falls, MT on the way home and took a few moments to ride the beastie. It all started in January of 2010 when I helped John find the 2007 Triumph Speedmaster to replace his wrecked 2002 Bonneville America. Later I gave him the heads up when the Voyager Trike kit turned up in the classifieds on BonnevilleAmerica.com, and then put the two together this past Spring. Last time I saw it there were no mufflers on it because the trike brackets got in the way of the long, Australian, Thunderbike mufflers. That’s when the pictures below were taken. Since that time John had his original stock mufflers cut down to fit.
In talking with John about riding the trike he complained of a high level of effort in steering. We fully expected it to “feel weird” because it doesn’t lean like a motorcycle but it doesn’t quite drive like a car. I don’t have any experience with “quad” ATVs so I can’t draw any comparisons there. I took it out and down the highway for a few miles. On the highway it rides fine, except that you feel every bump in the road. The machine isn’t technically a trike since it has four wheels. Most trike kits eliminate the rear motorcycle wheel in favor of some kind of axle/differential combo much like a car with car tires. This is more like a motorcycle with training wheels that can be taken off at any time. So not only do you feel the bumps that a car does in the normal tire tracks on the road, you get all the bumps down the center of the lane as well. Still, at 70-80mph, it’s not a bad ride.
In town is where it falls down. Any bump or pothole makes you feel like the thing will buck you off or beats your kidney and bladder up so much you have to pee. Any kind of sharp turn makes you want to hang on for dear life for fear of being flung off to the side. And the steering effort in town is significant. When and if John gets used to riding it he might just have Popeye arms to show for it.
The good news is that other than handling the weight of the trike doesn’t seem to effect the Speedmaster much at all. It still accelerates nicely and stops well with the dual discs up front. I believe the bike is bone stock—the airbox and carbs haven’t been modified at all. Time will tell but I hope John is able to get “up to speed,” if you will. He didn’t feel comfortable riding it to the Raid in BC and I don’t blame him. With all the 40-50mph twisty roads I don’t know that I could’ve made it without a lot of rest stops.
Pegs vs. Footboards: One of the first things I did to John’s Speedmaster last year was install the footboard kit that came new in a box with the bike. I’ve been riding riding my second bike, Reboot, with the stock pegs and having a nice time of it, but after this long ride followed up by riding a bike (trike) with footboards, I think will move the boards from Bollox to Reboot. They’re just better for long trips I think.
Windvest vs. Triumph windscreens: I love the Windvest on my bike. In the past I’d tried the large “roadster” screen, which looks like your typical Harley Road King windshield, but found that it buffeted my helmet too much. Freedom’s bike has the Triumph Summer screen and all the way up to 80mph I had no helmet buffeting at all. Good to know, though I won’t be ditching the Windvest anytime soon.
Speedmaster handlebars and pullback risers: Some time ago I’d picked up a used set of Speedmaster handlebars for Bollox, my first bike, and some Harley style pullback risers, 4″ tall and 1.5″ pullback. Freedom’s trike has this setup and I found the position very comfortable. So that’s good to know as well.
Differences in Corbin Solo Seats: Even though I had my Corbin’s padding reworked a couple years after I bought it, the Corbin that came with Freedom’s Speedmaster is much more comfortable. Comparing the padding there’s just a little bit more on his. I’m basically used to mine after all these years but it would be nice if I had that level of padding.
Overall Trip, Actual (943 mi):
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Side Trip 1, Creston Salmo Loop (154 mi):
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Side Trip 2, Nakusp (182 mi):
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Total Estimated Trip mileage: 1279 mi, 5 days (casual)
[Also posted on BA.com–FJ]
So, things I learned on the trip to the Kootenay Raid this weekend. In no particular order:
Reboot runs most excellent. It just hums along happily, fast or slow, handles great and stops …okay. The Metzlers still handle EXCELLENT.
I’m almost scared to change the pipes. I traded a jacket I won in the raffle at the Kootenay Raid banquet for some used Specialty Spares longs, see photo. I just hate the idea of potentially F’ing up the carb jetting and seriously screwing up the performance AND mileage.
Speaking of mpg, on one leg from Nelson to Bonners Ferry, ID, (100 miles of twisties with a 35 min. ferry ride in the middle) yesterday I got at least 43 mpg. For me, on Bollox, that’s unheard of.
I really must do something about the suspension. Way too compliant for my tastes. I might move the chrome PS 412HD’s over from Bollox (so I can buy black shocks for that bike). Not sure if I want to get another set of progressive fork springs or try those “intimidator” gadgets.
Short TORs are too quiet, though with the drilled and de-snorkled airbox they do have a nice little growl.
I must get my Jim’s Spacers installed.
I will swap a few more minor parts, mostly chrome bits, between bikes as time allows. The major part though is the footboards. I’ve been squawking about how much I like the pegs but for LOOONG trips (400+ miles a day) I think the boards, perhaps with some kind of highway pegs, are better.
Definitely getting white wall tires next. I already have a modified fender bracket from when I used to run 120/90-18s on Bollox.
I used the GPS on my Droid X on the way home and with the 110/90-18 Metzler ME880 my speedometer reads ONE MPH FAST. That’s it. One. Uno. 1. This was confirmed by one of those automated speed camera displays on the side of the road. That’s the most accurate speedo I’ve seen on one of these bikes. Note here, however, that’s the 90 series tire, not the stock 80.
The Biker’s Friend bag, shown in the picture above, has become indispensable for travel. It holds a ton, including a helmet if I so desire. It’s not technically water-proof but I got drenched last Thursday between Creston, BC, and Keith’s house in Trail. Absolutely poured rain and occasional hail. Contents of the bag were dry, without any kind of rain cover. It makes a good driver’s backrest or just a good roll bag for the sissybar. Can’t recommend it highly enough. Lastly, mounted on the sissybar it doesn’t interfere with my saddlebag lids at all (but my dufflebag does). Thus endeth the commercial.
All in all, I’m not displeased with Reboot in the slightest. But I must get Bollox running again…
Today involved pulling the rear fender and stripping everything off it so I can take it to the powder-coater. I debated using this fender vs. my new spare green fender. But the fact is this fender, as gorgeous as the candy orange paint is, is pretty screwed up. Eight years of my fat fingers scratching it with gear, bungie cords and the seat brackets. The pillion seat was particularly hard to put on and take off without scratching anything. Over the past couple years I finally bent and massaged and manipulated the seat brackets so that I can reliably get them installed and removed without harming anything, but the damage had been done. And for the life of me I’ll never understand how the rear fender gets the majority of the rock chips.
So it will be powder-coated gloss black to go with the Speedmaster tank and front fender. As I’ve stated in earlier blog posts I will hang up the orange tank. Conceivably I could run the orange tank with black fenders for a little variety or a special occasion, whatever that might be. What I cannot do, is get this fender repainted to match the tank and original front fender, as it was done in layers of candy which is nearly impossible to match correctly.
While I do like the black tin, with the neon blue graphics on the tank, I’m hoping that running for a while will kick my butt in gear to get the bobber tins done.
In addition to this I prepped the new license plate bracket for powder-coating by drilling out the turn signal mounting holes to the necessary size for the Kuryakyn retro bullets.
Just because I feel like adding a blog post…
Picked up a few more things for the bike:
- A Rivco centerstand (used)
- A lay-down license plate bracket kit from friend and fellow BA.com member, Zdenko Milin
- In the process of ordering a few things from BA.com site sponsor Fast Eddy: A temperature gauge to compliment my oil pressure gauge, a new speedometer cable loop coated in black teflon, and a Pingle petcock for the new Speedmaster tank. Also, he recently acquired a special headlight relay package that keeps the headlight off while starting the bike so as to not overly drain the battery, then uses the high-beam switch, flicked on and off, to trigger the low beam. Should help with some of my weak starting problems.
- I bought some goods from my friend Doug in California. Originally I was just looking for a pristine rear fender, but the one he sent is just too nice to hack up or repaint, and in a somewhat rare color, “Goodwood Green.” Doug also threw a few more things in the box, like a couple more matching green front fenders, a front fender bracket, a license plate frame, a license plate bracket, some “p-clamps” and oh, I don’t know, a few more knick-knacks. So whatever I don’t use I’ll sell and put the money in the BA.com operations fund. If I can find a Goodwood Green gas tank to complete that set, …well I don’t know what I’ll do. I really only want two sets of tin around.
If the weather stays in the 40s I’ll pull the scratched up orange rear fender off my bike and have it powder-coated jet black to complete my spare set of tin. The last fender I bought off ebay was a little too beat up and I didn’t want to spend time fixing it. So yesterday I sent it to it’s new home, in Australia. I guess they’re really hard up for parts down under. The shipping was more than the price of the fender. Crazy times.
BonnevilleAmerica.com is going great guns. Traffic numbers are rising for the homepage. I think people are starting to anticipate new Featured Member Ride articles on Wednesday afternoon. In fact, today, Wednesday the 9th, we had the biggest numbers since the launch in January. I have several member’s rides articles queued up or otherwise in progress and I’m trying to mix up the order, US member vs. Non-US, America vs. Speedmaster, Stock vs. Custom, newbie vs. veteran member… I’m probably putting way too much thought into it. But the articles seem to be popular. I’m getting ready for the next level on the BA.com main site. It’s going to keep evolving and growing. I hope to spend some quality time soon trying the forum upgrade again this weekend. If this hassle keeps up I may try to find a different forum software package to switch to. I guess I’m just spoiled with how easy WordPress is to use.
That’s all for now…
I was looking for my notes on the valve adjustment I did (more of a debacle, really) back in 2007. I’m overdue for another (minus the debacle part, hopefully). I have several posts over the years of “things I’m going to do to my bike,” most of which never happened. It was all bullshit. Life tends to get in the way. But I do have a much shorter, and realistic, list of things planned for my bike this year, as soon as it warms up a bit out in the garage.
- The aforementioned valve adjustment is close to the top of the list.
- Probably overdue for an oil change.
- The front tire is probably in decent shape. I’ll have to keep my eye on the rear tire. It wears quicker and was installed earlier than the front.
- Clean the K&N air filters
- If I’m feeling froggy I might redo the battery box under the seat so I can install a different set of larger airfilters I got from Zdenko.
- Red (thicker) fluid in the Scottoiler chain luber
- I’m about 99.5% certain my ignition module got soggy and stranded me in the squishy, sloppy, wet Pacific Northwest last September, so a new Procom CDI is on tap. Haven’t purchased it yet, however; didn’t want to tie up the cash for several months. Nods to Eddy.
That’s about it for maintenance. That’s certainly enough. I wonder about my clutch but I haven’t noticed any slippage. I’ve replaced other consumables like the chain, the battery and the tires, but I’ve got 52,000mi on the original clutch. Better order a clutch cover gasket just in case as that’s the only part of the job that has to come all the way from Old Blighty. Better order two or three… Read the rest of this entry
Went on a little poker run today, but bailed after the 3rd card. These things are often all day (and sometimes all night) affairs. I got stuff to do.
Pretty light day, 242 mi. Rode with Cindy, Neil, Neil’s father in law, his friend and spouse. Good group. Jelled pretty well. Cindy wanted to bail after the third stop since her old man was getting off work about that time, so we jetted back to Helena early. Just as well. Opened the three envelopes when I got home and had a crap poker hand.
It was indeed an awesome day yesterday, Saturday, August 14th. Started out cold and rainy. My buddy/coworker Neil and I decided to ride about 100 miles up to Seeley Lake, stopping in Avon for breakfast, of course. After breakfast the sun was shiny and the clouds were breaking up. It was gorgeous and only got better as the day wore on. Well, then Seeley Lake turned into Swan Lake for the Huckleberry Harvest Festival, then into Kalispell, then around Flathead lake (west side this time) to Polson for an awesome lunch and then Missoula and before you know it, we trod 430 miles over some of the prettiest scenery in the country.
And because 430 wasn’t enough I put on another 20 miles running out to Gene and Nancy’s house for bacon, bleu cheese and avocado burgers and blueberry pie.
The only downer was I couldn’t fit a fresh huckleberry pie in my new saddlebags.
You can where Seeley Lake is and how far things got out of hand…
I rode this Rocket III Roadster, a Rocket III Tourer, a Thunderbird 1600, a Thunderbird 1700 big bore, and a Scrambler.
The R3T is a HUGE bike. It’s brilliant, though. Super comfortable and you can’t hardly tell it’s “detuned” from the standard Rocket III. With all the same torque it pulls hard in every gear. It’s just too big and looks too much like a Harley Road King for my tastes. The Thunderbird 1600 is a pig. Oh sure it’s plenty fast if you don’t have carpel tunnel and can crank on the throttle and the brakes absolutely sucked compared to the Rockets and my bike with the dual discs (and it does have dual discs). The Thunderbird 1700 is a completely different bike. It goes like stink and stops much better, though I suspect it has ABS (but I didn’t check). It’s also a much better looking bike than the Rockets. But the numbers just don’t add up. I’ll explain later.
The Scrambler (their “dual-sport” Bonneville) was fun as hell, a virtual “bag of giggles,” helped in part by the 2-into-1 Arrow exhaust option which sounds almost as good as my bike with the Specialty Spares mufflers. But the Scrambler had one major drawback for me: the seat was horrible. The demo was configured with all kinds of accessories and truly looked the business, starting with a matte khaki paint and the aforementioned Arrow exhaust, and adding the solo seat with rear rack, engine guards, headlight grill, and handlebar crossbar with Triumph embossed pad. About the only thing missing for me was a left-side aluminum pannier and a center stand. Some day I’ll add one of these to my stable but it will probably be an older used model that I’ll customize as time and money allows to look something like what I rode yesterday.
(Update: Forgot to finish this before I published it.)
So the gist of this is I want a Rocket III more than ever, and the new Roadster is “the one.” I really want the matte black version but they’re discontinuing it next year. The corporate guy didn’t say what they were replacing that color with if anything. It was tempting to just say F it and sign the papers, but I really need to get some big ticket items fixed on my house before I take on anymore debt (which, of course, I shouldn’t do at all). Hopefully by Spring ’11 I can be in a position to handle it. I won’t need to do anything to the bike except possibly move my Windvest windshield and Tsukayu hard saddlebags from the Bonneville America to the Rocket. Then ride the piss out of it.
(Update: Damn, I still didn’t finish…)
So about the numbers:
Rocket III Roadster: $14k
Thunderbird 1600: $12.5k
Thunderbird 1700: $13.5k
Thunderbird 1700 ABS: 14.5k
Why the hell would I buy the Thunderbird? The only differences between the top of the line Thunderbird and the Roadster, beside aesthetics (which is everything to some people)…
Thunderbird has a 6th gear
Thunderbird is belt drive
Roadster is shaft drive
Both have EFI, water cooling, dual front discs, lots of power (though the R3 is way ahead), both have ABS if you fully load out the Thunderbird. And I believe the Thunderbird is almost as heavy, within 100 lbs. of the Roadster.
Really, those are the major differences. Admittedly the Thunderbird looks a bit better than the Roadster, but there are those who favor function over form. On the other hand, the Thunderbird looks like the twin of my bike, the Bonneville America, but all pumped up and ‘roided out.
Picture hot twin sisters, Bonnie and Birdy. But Birdy decides to dedicate herself to weightlifting and goes to the gym 4 hours per day, and becomes a mid-level weight lifter. She has to get implants because her boobs disappear from all the exercise and steroids, she starts to get that horsey/manly face, you get the idea. She’s still somewhat attractive, and can well out perform her twin sister Bonnie, but she can’t come close to the physical achievements of their brother, Roady. Even with all the changes and the loss of some of her femininity Birdy is prettier than Roady, of course. But Roady can still kick her butt in head to head competition and he doesn’t spend any time in the gym. Meanwhile, Bonnie has all the boys fawning over her because she’s still just as pretty as ever. It doesn’t matter that she can’t benchpress her own weight or run with the big boys. Out of the three siblings, guess which one doesn’t get as much action as the other two? The feminine Bonnie and the masculine Roady both have a place in this world. Birdy is a bit of an outcast still trying to find her place.