4.20.2008,8:38 AM
Whee Projects
The Doc extended my work release for another two weeks. He didn't even remove the stitches yet from the incision. I'm still popping pain pills and the foot swells up like elephant's when I'm up and moving around on crutches. The good news is I have a tax refund coming soon.

Now I can fix my bike. So the Whee and I will be undergoing repair simultaneously. The first and foremost issue is suspension; the rear shock and spring are blown. The ride has been torture; I feel every small bump, a series of bumps or rippling pavement have become tank slappers, and any significant bump, the rear bottoms out if I don't stand on the pegs. Riding it has been hurting my back and I suspect responsible for the neck problems I've had for the last few months (they are gone since not riding for three weeks).

The stock shock is non-serviceable, therefore, it can't be repaired. This bike is my commuter, traveling horse of burden, joy ride and grocery cart. I practically live on this bike. Lately, there has been no enjoyment because it rides terribly. In fact, it has been torture: I feel every bump, it wallows in corners, and feels like an old man in need of a hip replacement. Rough roads are almost tank slappers. It's to the point where I'd rather ride the dirt bike all the time.

I need a new rear shock/spring. Shock is confirmed 'blown'. Because my situation is converse of most of everyone else that rides a Wee-strom, although I know there are others out there lurking in the shadows, several have suggested a custom shock. I weigh ~128 soaking wet. My total weight with gear is probably ~134-140 lb. More in winter because I wear many many layers. Rarely are my sidebags empty, except for an occasional short joy ride. On trips, the extra load varies from 15-75 lbs.

I don't do much serious off-roading with this bike; I have a dual-sported dirt bike for that. But I do live on gravel roads and ride rough roads as well as nice manicured highways. But I ride this bike every day. It is my primary transportation.

Because I am vertically challenged (29" inseam) the bike is lowered 1 1/8" in rear with Kouba links, 1" in front (by raising forks). I need a shock/spring that is adjustable for a wide variety of conditions and serviceable (the stock is not). Remote pre-load adjustment (knob) a definite requirement and single adjustable for rebound and damping preferable (hi and low speed compression damping not necessary for the riding I do).

The mechanic I take my bike to for intricate work is good; he's an ex-racer and works on race bikes as well as general riding bikes. He suggested a Works Performance shock. I have heard/read good reviews of Wilbur shocks/springs. Ohlins is overkill and too expensive. After soliciting feedback on shocks on ADV and TWT forums, I've decided on a Wilbers shock. They are built in Germany and take a few weeks to receive, but their five-year warranty compensates for the wait. Compared to the poor quality stock spring, a Wilber shock is only about a hundred dollars more (varies with the sinking value of the American dollar, of course).

The stock fork springs are notorious for being 'soft': under sprung for street use and too much compression damping so it's a bit harsh. This can be moderated to a point with adjusting the rebound and changing the oil weight. Because they are progressive springs, they tend to nose-dive on braking or going down hill (now, that can be unnerving) and they clunk.
Replacing the stock with straight-wound springs of the correct spring rate for my weight and riding style will greatly improve the suspension. After reading reviews, I'll order Sonic Springs based on their spring calculator.

Under adult supervision (fellow rider friends who are experienced mechanics), I'll be doing some or most of the work. I watched the process of changing out a set of forks a few weekends ago and it appears straight-forward.

Another series of projects are electrical:
  • * Installing another Powerlet socket, but this time in the left-side front cowling. This will be wired into the marine fuse box with a relay that I installed under the seat. I'll run the wire in the same housing that holds the wiring for the heated grips. The control for those are in the same cowling.
  • * Coupling a cable for the Garmin 60csx GPS and a Powerlet plug for the above socket.
    The right angle plug (PPL-004) will fit wonderfully into the new socket. Since the mount for the GPS is on the left side of the handlebar, only a short length of cable will be required (allowing for steering turn). It will be nice to be able to see the screen of the GPS at night; it dims way down when running on battery power. Also, having it hooked to battery supply will charge the unit.
  • * With all the gadgets added over the last two years that add to the electrical draw it's smart to start monitoring the battery status. (A helpful calculator for determining power draw is on the Plowerlet site.) For that, I'm adding a voltmeter.

    V-stroms are not generous on electrical power: only 360 watts at full charge, which requires some time running at 5,000 rpm. Wearing a heated vest* and running heated grips in the winter, I am often concerned about tapping too much into battery power. On my commutes, I usually turn the heated vest off 10-15 minutes before arriving at destination to help recharge the system. (I leave the heated grips on until I turn off the engine; I hate cold hands.)

    I intend to install a digital Datel voltmeter in the right front cowling. The size of the meter display with mounting bezel is only 1.83" x 1.28" and will be mounted in an existing hole (meant for Powerlet socket). Blue is cool, but red will be less distracting at night and $10 cheaper. The meter will be installed in an existing hole once intended for a Powerlet socket. A photo of a meter installed in a V-strom appears near the bottom of a web page on DigitalMeter.com site. If I want to get real techy (geek), a digital thermometer (remote sensor and waterproof) would be nice to have, too. That's a later addition.

Brake pads. Front pads are not completely worn but badly scored. The front brake rotor is also getting scored. Front pads, wheel bearings and forks will be done all at the same time. In addition to changing out the rear shocks, all the bearings and axles will be greased in the rear. A rear tire is also on the list; the flat spot is now throwing off handling to the point where the bike veers and wobbles in turns.

So that is my list of projects. Stay tuned for updates.

* I use a Widder heated vest with a thermostat and coiled cable that inserts into a Powerlet socked installed in the left fairing under the seat. This socket is always 'hot' rather than wired into the relayed fuse box which is not powered when the ignition is off.


posted by Macrobe
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