10.05.2006,5:19 AM
Journey Review: Your Bike is Your Friend
An essential part of any journey, often a journey unto itself, is the preparation. Most previous posts describing preparing the bike are titled ‘The Continuing Education of Whee,’ in reference to feeling like an expectant mother and ‘Bringing Home Baby’ before the bike arrived home. Well, it did feel like a new baby to the family.

Thus upgrades or modifications to the bike have been analogous to a youngster going to school and learning about life…….as a bike.

You may wonder about my anthropomorphism of my bike. Sure, it is a machine, but it is one that I have become a part of, and it has become a part of me. In essence, it is an extension of myself; a mechanical one. For some unknown visceral and probably illogical reason, this bike is a ‘he’.

And his name is ‘Whee’.

Now, the name is not to be confused with the colloquial use of ‘Wee-strom’ in reference to the V-strom DL650s. It’s name was conceived after my first ride on it; a planned 1-2 mile around-the-big-block first-trial trip that ended at 78 miles. It was love at first ride and several loud “Wheeeeeeeee!!!!!!”s emitted from my helmet where my face sported a maniacal grin the entire ride.

So now you may understand, if in a rather quizzical way, how Whee came to be and why he is continuously being ‘educated’. Almost anyone who genuinely rides a bike, versus parking it in the garage and bringing it out for a weekend-day 2-mile ride, can empathize with continual modifications, gadgets, changes, additions, and customizing that seem to be never-ending. It’s a process, not just a dress you put on for one night then hang up in your closet to gather dust.

Although I originally intended to minmize modifications to the bike, something was always added to the list. Now I just accept this as a matter of fact, like buying bigger shoes for your kids every school season. A few previous posts relate some of the most important customizations and I won’t belabor them by repeating all here. However, I will mention those that were highly relevant on this past journey.


Not one seat fits everyone. All humans share the same general anatomical shape of the posterior that we sit on, but nevertheless they come in all variations of shapes, sizes, and softness, or hardness. Since riders spend nearly all their rides with this anatomical area in intimate contact with the bike, the seat is very important.

The stock seat on Whee was not terribly uncomfortable, but I knew from the first few rides that comfort level would plummet after an hour. I intended to have the seat modified anyway, scooping out some of the foam and reshaping it to seat me lower and reach the ground with my feet. The sheepskin pad from the cruiser was put on the seat to increase comfort and moderate temperature. And it is very successful no matter what the temperature: hot or cold.

I also tend to scoot back in the seat when on long straight rides which don’t require frequent braking or shifting. Then I put the balls of my feet on the pegs which puts my entire body in a good position to relax and even flick the bike in corners.

When preparing to stop, I scoot forward so my thighs are straddling the nose of the seat; both feet are nearly flat on the ground in this position. So the rear of my seat was extended into the passenger seat section and the nose was narrowed and lowered, although it could be narrowed a bit more.


I can’t praise the addition of Stebel horns enough. No longer does Whee sound like a sick bluebird when pressing the horn button. Now he sounds like a flock of geese on steroids.


These are worth their weight in gold! I chose Probend guards on the recommendation of a KLR rider; they allow for ample room of hands and levers and have interchangable shields. They deflect the wind and rain, helping to keep the hands warm. They also offer protection of the control levers and handgrips when the bike falls. Since Whee appears to have bouts of narcolepsy and takes 'naps' on his side, this has been a plus.

Future prospects:

Highway Pegs: During the long hours of riding on the road, visions of highway pegs danced in my head. Another option to the two riding positions I normally assume would help reduce fatigue and muscle cramping, especially in my hip flexors. Clamp-on pegs may be my only option for this add-on.

Electronic gadgets: Several of these are on my list: voltimeter, outlet for hand or vest warmers, and cruise control would be super! First order modification is installing a power distribution system before any other electronics are added.

GPS: I don't necessarily mind being lost, but it seems that getting lost at the wrong time was the rule. All four times were when I was pressured to ride to a destination quickly due to inclement weather conditions or encroaching darkness. Being lost at night is not fun.

These useful gadgets can also supply useful travel information such as riding speed, average speed, altitude, total mileage, average daily mileage, and so much more. It's like a miniature cockpit in a box on your handlebar.

Windshield: Again, not one windshield fits all, based on riders' heights and postition. I would like to extend the height of the stock shield with a laminar lip, or one that deflects the wind from my head better.

For now, these are the modifications I have listed thus far. Of course, that list is subject to change at any time.

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posted by Macrobe
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