First 300 miles, Newbie Findings, really long... - Kawasaki Versys Forum
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post #1 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-15-2010, 01:49 AM Thread Starter
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First 300 miles, Newbie report, REALLY long...

Okay, to start, what a blast!

Preface: I rode as a kid on dirtbikes and it was awesome, didn't ride again for another 10+ years, got my license, got a bike, didn't enjoy it that much. Back then I was into the bar scene a lot and IMHO bikes and alcohol don't mix. Sold that bike, didn't ride again for another 5 years, contimplated/researched bikes, found the versys and this forum, bought the Fantastic V, and away we go...

So I bought the bike, haven't been able to ride but 2 days within the first 2 weeks of ownership (work keeps me busy). Though she now has a grand total of 315 miles on her. Let me tell you about my day/ride and then hopefully some of you will be able to offer some insight.

I've been researching riding gear due to my only having a lightweight jacket, gloves, helmet, and some old boots. Problem is that I find a limited section wherever I go. Someone on here recommended CycleGear and since they have an outlet 120 miles from me, I figured that would make for a good ride.

So I started out pretty easy, accelerating/deaccelerating (the break in stuff) and rode on 301 North towards Delaware from Maryland. This ride is primarily highway speeds which isn't that much fun but since I plan on using this bike as a commuter for 60 miles of highway driving a day anyway...it was a good way to get a feeling for the bike. The weather looked bad and kept on calling for rain but I got pretty lucky as I was only caught in a good downpour for about 5 minutes. I actually had a great time in the rain as I was laughing while it was coming down. I kept on thinking to myself, yep Bill, you're gonna be riding in all kinds of weather, better get used to it. So come rain, sleet, snow, shine, tropical storm, hurricane, tsunami, nuclear fall out...I'm gonna be in it. (Actually, I won't do it in the snow, that really is just crazy!)

So I got to CycleGear and it was a nice store (good looking gal working there, that always helps) but I was kinda disappointed. They did have a lot of riding gear, and finally more than 1 or 2 brands, but I really hoped for a wide assortment, something I could get lost in. Anyway, I tried on Tourmaster, Joe Rocket, Icon, Frank Thomas, and Alpine Stars. Of what they had there here is what I think:

Tourmaster Textile Jacket was a good fit, comfortable, though I was hoping for a little more protection.

Joe Rocket was okay, not as good as Tourmaster.

Frank Thomas textile, same as Joe Rocket.

Icon/Alpine stars, nice quality, didn't like the way it fit/felt.

Frank Thomas Leather jacket, FANTASTIC! Really liked the way it felt!

So what did I buy? None of them! This is where I need a little advice from y'all. First thing, I didn't buy anything because I wanted to do some price shopping online. Second, I didn't like their color selection, almost entirely black. I would like to have something that is a little more striking in the safety/hi-vis gear. Third, I don't know about leathers that much. You see, I like the textile because you can strip it down to almost nothing and still have the protection, or it comes with liners. The leather has liners, but you can only strip it down to the basic jacket. Now, I know that this is all about what fits me best and what I like, but I would like to know if I am thinking correctly and what y'all have found. So, I liked the Tourmaster textile because of the layers/liners and such, but I wonder about it really being waterproof? It said something about rain/waterproof, but I'm wondering if I would need some additional rain gear with it. (They had rain gear there also, but it was primarily dark colors again.) I really REALLY liked the Frank Thomas leather but they only had it in one size and I wanted to try on some different sizes to get an idea about proper fit. The other question I have about leathers is this. I know that it offers good slide/fall protection but I believe that you literally just bake wearing one of those jackets? I also know that you can put something on them to protect them/waterproof them, but I think I would need raingear with one also. Am I right on all of this? Bottom line, if I could I would like to buy both, but for now must choose one until the wallet gets thicker. With the temps outside ranging from 70-100 degrees F, I'm thinking that textile would be a better choice.

Boots: Okay, do you all out there actually ride with professional riding boots? I have always used a pair of combat boots or something similar. Someone was buying a pair and I figured he was doing some track days or such. When I found out that he was using them for everyday riding and a lot of other people use them for everyday riding I was a bit shocked. They always seem so cumbersome, anyway, tried some on and was really impressed with the comfort and feel of them. On the other hand, when I saw the $200+ price tag on boots, I think that combat boots (with good leather on them covering the ankles) is a better buy. Other opinions out there?

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post #2 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-15-2010, 01:51 AM Thread Starter
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Part 2

Alright, time to get more bike/rider orientated. Windscreens. I've never had one on a bike, this is the first. So, while messing around and moving around on the bike I came to find out that, yes, they really do block out a lot of the wind! I also found out that this is a good thing and that I like it a lot! So, the question I have here is about the height/type. If memory serves me right, you aren't supposed to look through the shield but actually over top of it? Also, they make short/tall windshields (sport/touring), though for wind protection and comfort I assume the tall windshield is better at this? And finally, I know that there is Givi, Calsci, and Mikes Shields as popular choices. Does anyone have/tried all three and what are your opinions?

Mirrors. So, the blurriness isn't much fun, but I can live with it for now. I'm much more into function than form (though I still like to spoil myself...hey, I bought a Versys) so what should I do here? I've read through some of the threads about caulk and swapping mirrors, though no real solution it seems for the stock mirrors. Has anyone tried putting rubber washers on the stem that screws the mirrors onto the handlebars? I know that Bones and some others have used Emgo mirrors, is this the best option to get rid of the blurriness? Of course, no offense to others, but I really don't like the way those mirrors look...better yet, it almost sickens me how they look. Though, if they work, I believe I could fall in love with their insect antenna appeal.

Buzz/Cowl noise: none, because all I hear is wind! I have an HJC IS-16 which is really a great helmet. Nice fit, lightweight, anti fog (so nice) good ventilation, blah, blah, blah. Though wind, so much wind....of course I was fighting wind while riding, for a long time I was leaned over to the left slightly to fight the wind. BTW, this helmet has the internal sunvisor on it which I really like and works well, though the mechanism seems kinda cheap. If you are thinking about getting one with an internal sunvisor, you might want to look at Scorpion helmets, though they are a bit more expensive. The only thing I would change on this helmet is that I wish it had a small notch/opening right when you first flip up the faceshield to allow a minute amount of air in. My Shoei did this which I liked a lot, but I didn't like the way the old Shoei fit on my head.

Handlebars and vibration. While riding it is nothing, but at my first pit stop I could feel my hands still vibrating...I don't remember this on other bikes...which leads me to the next part: back/riding posture. Okay, so at the top of my back around the shoulder blade area on either side of the spine I am having some discomfort. (Imagine giving a back massage to someone. When you first put your hands on their shoulders, now move your hands a fist length down and that is where I'm talking about.) So, I'm wondering if I have a bad riding posture or if I might need to move or adjust my handlebars to fix this? Or is is just that my body isn't used to riding and that I have to let my body adjust to it? BTW, on the handlebars it feels to me that the left hand grip/bar should be about 1 inch more out to the left while I ride. I also think the clutch lever is short (not in reach, but length). Any ideas here?

RPM's. So, I'm taking it primarily easy on the bike, but going a bit more than the manual. It seems to me that around 5000RPM's is the sweet spot, sound right? Also, sixth gear seems more like an overdrive to me.

Heat, the bike puts off warmth/heat and I can feel it but nothing that is melting. First is that normal. Second, I thought the cooling fan kicked on all the time to cool the bike off, but when I parked her tonight and turned her off, the fan wasn't on at all, I'm guessing that is normal too. I've checked all the hoses for leaks/coolant/oil levels and everything there is fine. I guess this is just me worring.

The seat. Well, I'm 6' tall and at most 165lbs. So I have a boney flat butt and I know it. The seat isn't terrible but I definately had to shift while riding. This upgrade/fix is a long way down the road but I just was wondering if anyone else does what I do. Okay, so after riding for a while and your butt hurts a bit, stand up on your pegs while riding (like you are going over some debris) then when you sit back down, sit down on the back seat. My arms/feet reach the handlebars/pedals fine like this and it offers a different posture/seat to help sooth your rear.

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post #3 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-15-2010, 01:52 AM Thread Starter
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Part 3

Bad driver = Me. Okay, so before I go out again I will be spending a number of days/weeks practicing in an empty parking lot! I know the basics on how to ride, but am nowhere close to good. I want to be smoother at my stops, lane positioning (if riding in a group), turns, etc. I am getting much better at not putting my foot down in tight/slow speed turns (old dirt riding days). Though I will be REALLY practicing sudden braking and swerving manuevers!!!

So, I know that I am a newb, I'm talking it pretty slow, riding in the right lane, giving some good car length to the vehicle in front of me (approximately 4-6 car lengths), etc. Well, we were traveling down the road approximately 45MPH on a 4 lane (two one way, two the other way, with a grass median). We come up to a traffic light and it is green. It is so green and I am so close, that even IF it turns yellow I will be far past it before it has an inkling of turning red. Well, it turns yellow, the car in front of me MAYBE had 20 feet before being in the intersection (mind you we are going 45) and slams the brakes to stop for the light. Well, newbie here immediately pulls in the clutch and starts for the brakes though then I kinda/not really panic. I worry about how I had practiced braking suddenly at about 15-20 MPH but not this fast. I then recall something I learned about how it is better to swerve to avoid an object then slam your brakes if you are over 15 MPH. So I decide to swerve...here is where it gets a little worse...I am riding in the left part of the right lane. I swerve, but don't have enough time to swerve to the right of the car, so I swerve to the left. I don't go into the left lane but actually swerve enough to avoid the car, and ride the white spacial divider line between the lanes. Thank goodness there wasn't a car in the left lane! Okay, past that debacle, time to relax and reflect.

1) I should only ride within my capabilities, which are minimal, and need to get a lot more practice.
2) I should expect the unexpected, and then expect even more crazy things to happen. Also, have a back up plan, then a back up for the back up plan.
3) I should ride the right part of the right lane in case such scenario comes up again. Likewise, left side of the left lane.
4) More space between me and others. I have to remember that I'm not driving a car and that this isn't D.C. rush hour traffic, relax, and take it easy, don't try to go through a light even if it is green, after all it might turn yellow. (I've picked up a lot of bad habits in my driving over the years, need to remedy them.)

Like I said, Bad Driver = Me...but I'm going to fix this. There are two upsides to this though. In reality, if one of you experienced riders encountered this, it would have been a piece of cake to handle, plenty of space to stop, and most likely just another day of riding. I am new and need a lot ot practice/experience. The second good part, is that while I thought about it all afterwards, while it was going on, it was so quick that I don't actually recall "thinking" about it. My reflexes just kinda kicked in and went with it.

Alright, on to a good note. Complimented on my bike by various people and asked what it was (I debadged it). I told a Harley guy it was a Kawasaki. To which he replied, "Yeah...but what is it!?" He did say that he liked it and that it looked like a fun toy. Bike rode like a dream! Plenty of power to me, smooth, good all around, loving it! After these few hundred miles I started taking turns better also. Not fast, but I have a habit of looking downward on the road instead of looking through the curve. Started looking through the curve more and it was much better.

So this part I'm a little nervous about...okay, so I consider this to be my second bike but my first REAL bike. I believe that your first bike is always the "dream bike" of better days and the one that got you started. Mine was a 1981 Suzuki 250 Enduro, God rest her soul. So I consider this to be my first real bike because it is the first bike that I have ever researched and chose on my own. It is also the first bike that I will ever perform any maintenance on. I hope to never have to take it to the dealer or a professional as much as possible. With that being said, I am a COMPLETE NEWB!!! I just learned how to operate a torque wrench a week ago and what a hex bit was about a month ago. Yeah, pretty bad...though we haven't even started with maintenance. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not stupid, just ignorant. So, I hope, with the help of manuals and y'all's support I will be able to perform all modifications/maintenance on this bike. In other words, if I have a question, would you help answer/explain it and use small words/steps so that I can understand?

I have changed the oil on it, taken off the cowls (wanted to get intimate with her) and checked fluids/such. I know I don't have to do any of it yet, but eventually I will change tires, check valves, sparkplugs, etc. I did see on here the oil change, tire changing, and the sparkplug how to, but didn't see one for the valves or for balancing tires. Did I not research it enough?

Another question I have is about chain slack. When I got the bike from the dealer the chain looked quite tight. Now, I look at it and it seems quite loose. I read in the book about how you should have 1 to 1.4 inches of slack and how to measure it. It also looked to me that you have to remove and/or loosen the back wheel to adjust the chain slack. It says to get a new cotter pin, at the hardware store or OEM? Another thing I noticed was the notches on the swingarm (yeah, something for a newb like me). Problem, one one side of the tire/swingarm it is right on a line, on the other side it is slightly off. Not a whole lot, but enough to easily see by looking at it. So, is it okay for it to be slightly off? Did the dealer set it up wrong? Also...as I'm sure you might not like hearing this...does anyone have a picture showing chain slack and measurements. Example: How it looks low, measuring, how it looks high, etc. (I know, I know, overkill, but piece of mind is wonderful).

So if you are still reading this congratulations! It was quite a hefty post and I appreciate it! I guess in the long run, I just really had a great time today and wanted to share it with all of you. The bike is great, y'all were absolutely right, I am extremely happy with it! Also, I sure hope I don't annoy, offend, or upset anyone with my posts. If so, please bare with me and for the most part I don't do well with hints, so just come straight out with it if you are ever dealing/explaining stuff to me. Thanks and have a great day/night.

Bill

P.S. Man this post is long! Maybe I need to write a book.

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post #4 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-15-2010, 02:41 AM
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Hey, somebody as verbose as I! Welcome to the Klub. (Get it? It's like Club, but with a K like in Kawasaki... What? Why are you all looking at me like that?)

Lots of stuff I can't really weigh in on, and some I shouldn't, but here goes.

Boots: I personally wear Red Wing work boots. They lack some things moto boots tend to have, like reinforced shift pads, extra ankle padding/support, lace management, ventilation or waterproofing, etc. But they go over my ankles and I already have them.

Seat: Hardly anyone likes the seat. I get pitched forward by bumps and slide forward at stops, so I'm constantly readjusting around town. Cross country isn't too bad, at least for the 150 miles I've gone at a stretch. A search on seat mods will garner you more information and opinions than you could dream. The Baldwin seems to get the most thumbs up for an all-out remodeling, or the sheepskin pad for cheap(er) and easy. Others have resculpted, raised the front, you name it.

The cowl buzz usually takes a few hundred to a few thousand to show up. Give it time. Your experiences with bar vibes mirrors mine. Don't notice while riding, but the hands tingle when I get off. Filling with shotgun pellets or ball bearings, or an aluminum bar are the accepted remedies.

Good work getting out of your first bad situation unscathed. I wasn't so lucky. Locked my front when a car started to pull out in front of me. Your situation actually parallels mine in a lot of ways. Same height/weight, V is bike two, first was a 250 (Virago for me), still a rookie (3 yrs/6000 mi here). Almost eerie. And way to go on the commitment to skill development. I have some progress to make in that department myself. Probably MSF advanced course next year at the least.

Chain: A new chain will often stretch the most in the first few hundred miles. It may very well need tightening. You do have to loosen the rear for that. The procedure is fairly well documented in the manual. You'll need a torque wrench.

I missed some stuff, but others will step up to fill in the blanks.

Regards.

Jon
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post #5 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-15-2010, 03:01 AM
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but will try and answer:

Q.In other words, if I have a question, would you help answer/explain it and use small words/steps so that I can understand?

A.I think most of us will help in any way we can.

Q.1) I should only ride within my capabilities, which are minimal, and need to get a lot more practice.

A. If have confidence than ride the highway otherwise better to avoid highways.

Q.With the temps outside ranging from 70-100 degrees F, I'm thinking that textile would be a better choice.

A. Try Akito Desert Storm, good but pricey.

Q. Boots: Okay, do you all out there actually ride with professional riding boots?

A. Yes, most of us do. It is design for bikers and for maximum protection.

Okay I will leave the rest for the others to answers and hope they do if the read the full 3 pages.

Bill for been yourself.


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post #6 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-15-2010, 03:15 AM Thread Starter
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80-Watt Hamster, whew! I didn't know if anyone would actually read all of that, let alone respond!

Almost eerie the similarities...well, I have been following you for a few years now and... J/K

I'll be looking up the handlebar situation on here more, thanks for the heads up on all of this.

Sorry to hear about the lock up and drop. Hope your leg is better now.

Bill

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post #7 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-15-2010, 03:34 AM Thread Starter
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Hey Fastoman, thanks! Those Akito Jackets look nice, It looks like I'm going to be doing more research. (I love researching products BTW. Like a kid in a a candy store.)

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post #8 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-15-2010, 06:26 AM
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First off, welcome to the Versys world. I'm not the most experienced rider here having only been riding now on my third season (12,000 miles) all on the Versys but I have found out a few things. This site will answer most if not all of your questions, even those you haven't thought of yet. As to gear, I have a Tourmaster Jet II jacket and yes it is waterproof (from experience), and Sidi Strada Air riding boots, very comfortable riding and walking with good vents. http://www.motorcycle-superstore.com/ is a great place to find and research gear of all kinds with great prices and great support. The rest of your questions have already been answered elswhere on the site so have fun browsing


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post #9 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-15-2010, 10:11 AM
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Quote:
I think that combat boots (with good leather on them covering the ankles) is a better buy. Other opinions out there?
Yeah, I thought that too. Then I went down. I haven't been able to ride for three months with another three months ahead of me while my broken ankle and fibula heal (along with other injuries). I'm now thinking that the price tag for real ankle protection really isn't that bad. A few hundred dollars for boots compared to $30K+ for medical care (glad I have good insurance!) including two (soon to be a total of three) surgeries, a lost riding season and so on.

I was riding with a leather jacket (which was cut off by the EMTs), heavy jeans, heavy leather gloves (elk hide), combat boots and my Shoei Hornet DS. My Motoport Kevlar gear was on order but it was a nice day and I had horrible spring fever so just took a "take it easy ride" then hit gravel in a sharp corner (going <20mph) and the tragedy of errors ensued (locked brakes, braking in a corner, yada yada).

My Motoport gear would have saved me from the bit of road rash and the padding/armor probably would have prevented the majority of my injuries except for the leg stuff. Turns out I sprained the ankle so hard it broke the fibula as the ankle broke. I also trashed my shoulder which proper armor would have at least diminished if not prevented.

My wife had insisted that I couldn't afford the new bike until I could afford the best gear to go with it. Now if only I had waited to ride until the Motoport got here. I was sad when the UPS man showed up just 8 days after my accident to deliver my gear and all I could do is look at it in the boxes.

Looking at Sidi Adventures to celebrate my return to riding next Spring. I won't be medically released to ride until at least November and around here that means snow.

And the bike? $384 in parts later it will be good as new. Need two good arms to swap out the parts though and that won't happen until at least October.

The moral here? Don't go cheap on gear. There is good gear out there that isn't really much more expensive than the not so good gear.

Happy riding!
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post #10 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-15-2010, 10:55 AM Thread Starter
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My goodness Kimel, that all just sounds horrible! I'm so sorry about your experience, and sure hope that everything heals up well and that you are riding again sooner than later. I guess this helps me rethink the boot position.

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post #11 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-15-2010, 10:58 AM Thread Starter
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BTW, about my wanting to ask questions and worried about y'all's responses, let me make that one a little more clear. You see, I'm pretty sure that I will ask some questions, do something, and then possibly post about it, so that the veterans out there can verify I did it right. A classic example that I have seen on here is that someone will perform some maintenance and then go back and wonder if they should have used loctite. I know y'all are great at helping out, answering questions, and offering advice. I just don't want to get on anyones nerves. Alright, time for work, bye.

Bill

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post #12 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-15-2010, 11:31 AM
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Bill,
My experience with "Cycle Gear" is good - go to the 'clearance' area and check out the stuff. I bought 2-piece Frank Thomas leathers (about $180), as well as 2-piece textile and mesh stuff. It MIGHT be last year's design, but - works for me! Even got Frank Thomas waterproof boots (normally $129) for $65 on January 1st!!!

Ed
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post #13 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-15-2010, 12:54 PM
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try coleman powersports in woodbridge. they have a tourmaster transistions2 jacket which is awesome for only 150$ they seemed to have alot of stuff to choose from also.

bob's bmw has alot of good stuff, but definitely expensive.
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post #14 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-15-2010, 12:58 PM
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Originally Posted by bill_milstead View Post

Boots: Okay, do you all out there actually ride with professional riding boots? I have always used a pair of combat boots or something similar. Someone was buying a pair and I figured he was doing some track days or such. When I found out that he was using them for everyday riding and a lot of other people use them for everyday riding I was a bit shocked. They always seem so cumbersome, anyway, tried some on and was really impressed with the comfort and feel of them. On the other hand, when I saw the $200+ price tag on boots, I think that combat boots (with good leather on them covering the ankles) is a better buy. Other opinions out there?
I wear the shift boots. But here is a pic from my personal collection of the icon boots after a wreck:




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post #15 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-15-2010, 01:02 PM
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Originally Posted by bill_milstead View Post
Buzz/Cowl noise: none, because all I hear is wind! I have an HJC IS-16 which is really a great helmet. Nice fit, lightweight, anti fog (so nice) good ventilation, blah, blah, blah. Though wind, so much wind....of course I was fighting wind while riding, for a long time I was leaned over to the left slightly to fight the wind. BTW, this helmet has the internal sunvisor on it which I really like and works well, though the mechanism seems kinda cheap. If you are thinking about getting one with an internal sunvisor, you might want to look at Scorpion helmets, though they are a bit more expensive. The only thing I would change on this helmet is that I wish it had a small notch/opening right when you first flip up the faceshield to allow a minute amount of air in. My Shoei did this which I liked a lot, but I didn't like the way the old Shoei fit on my head.
Sorry to say it but i'll never buy an hjc product again. There helmets are junk, poor aerodynamics, and that leads to lots of wind noise and the constant battle with the windshield. I ride in a shoei rf-1000, I can take the windshield off the bike and its the same, perfectly stable and no bouncing around or anything. Sound is manageable. That is why you wear ear plugs. Go to accadamy, they have some pink one's desinged for women that are great. They arn't near as stiff as the oange one's.
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BTW, jackets, windshields, seats...all are pretty subjective. get what works for or fits you. seats and windshields are especially different for each person. mostly i choose as well as i can or buy a good used one on the forum. if i pick wrong, i sell it at a discount here and buy another.

jackets: try it on somewhere first. if it doesn't fit like a dream in the store it won;t be comfotable riding for hours. the transition 2 jacket fits me great, but maybe not you. i also love my olympis bushwacker mesh jacket. Go to a bunch of stores and try stuff on. when you find the right one, go online and see what colors are available and check the specs. then either buy online or see if the store will get close. usually they will.

Stopping: take the msf course!!!! you can definitely brake hard at way over 20mph. be careful of the back brake in those situations, it will lock up more easily because weight is transferring to the front as you stop. abs is awesome, but with practice you can easily hard brake from 60mph+. as you said, practice practice practice. and take the class!

how to's: invaluable! having a good mechanic: even more valuable.
some stuff you will want to do, some you will want to leave to someone else unless you are really pressed for money. such as changing tires. you happen to have a wheel balancer? alot though you can learn as you go though. If you develop a relationship with a mechanic or shop you can really learn alot! luckily my brother used to race bikes and helps me out. like he says, if you do it yourself you know it's done right, but some stuff you just can't feasibly do.


sounds like you are having fun and facing some of the same issues i have with my new versys i got saturday. maybe we can hook up sometime and ride. hang in there and if you have questions we miss on the board, you can email or PM me directly and i will try to help you out.

Keep the shiny side up!
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post #17 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-15-2010, 02:33 PM
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I like cycle gear too but they do lack different colors. A lot of black as you said...sometimes expensive but sometimes you can find good deals.

I would definitely get separate rain gear to go over your jacket and pants. Especially if you're commuting. My jacket has a rain liner but it's total crap. I found a nice yellow rain jacket at cycle gear for 24 dollars. It's a good winter rain jacket since it's not breathable. I think I need a summer rain jacket as well, but all they offer is black. crappy.

About the handle bars and vibration. You might want to start off by changing your grips. I put on some 9 dollar gel grips (from cycle gear) and that seemed to help a bit. Also a throttle lock was a huge help since most of my problem was on the throttle.
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post #18 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-15-2010, 03:39 PM
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from my experience, waterproof is relative on a bike, alot depends on your gloves, boots and how the collar of the jacket meshes with your helmet. wet feet, hands and up arms or down neck kind of defeats the purpose.

I have a kilmanjaro jacket, which is definitely waterproof, but not good for hot weather. I rode to bike week in florida in 2005 and rode through snow(not suggested) wind and cold rain down and the same back north of rocky mount, NC.

A 35 degree rain will test your gear and your skills.

For now, if you plan on riding in rain, one good option is frog togs or some other rain suit that goes over your gear(like the other gentleman suggested) and you keep handy in our cases. they usually pack REAL small. Get a mesh or well vented jacket. I suggest checking out newenough.com. they have alot of deals on leftover stuff. You can usually get a decent jacket for under 50$ if you are patient.
boots will help in a crash, especially if they have ankle protectors. find some motorcycle boots if possible. combat boots will help, but do not have anklle protectors or shift pads. having boots you will wear is important.

as to pants, i have gone down in jeans and they are amazingly good at absorbing abrasion. wear at least jeans. Another great option which also solves the rain issue is to get a good riding suit like an aerostich darien lite or roadcrafter. expensive, but worth it.

i like my hjc 3/4 helmets. hjc helmets are good cheap helmets, but once you try a top end helmet you may not want to go back so be careful! high end helmets usually cost 300-600$ and are much lighter and quieter than regular helmets and have better ventilation. As far as helmets, there are 2 basic shapes round and oval. make sure to try on any helmet first. best to have a professional help you fit it.

as i think f more stuff i'll write more. sorry for being longwinded, but i do have a bit of experience having ridden for almost 30 years and owned well over a dozen bikes, probably 8-10 just in the last 6 years! lol
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post #19 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-15-2010, 07:20 PM
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We ride year round here in Georgia and looked for a jacket to cover all four seasons. We went thru a couple different options and have settled on the Tourmaster Flex Series 2. We have both been using them for about 2-3 years now.

It's a mesh jacket so that takes care of summer riding. It also has a full zip off removable shell that is water resistant (not water proof). I spray some Aerospace 303 protectant on it and it beads water well in the rain. The shell blocks the wind for late fall and winter riding. It also has a zip out quilted liner which we usually only have to put that in around January/February.

We still keep a decent waterproof jacket in the top case so if we get caught in the rain in the summer, we can slip it over the mesh jacket. We have decided it's too much trouble to carry the zip-off outer shell around for warm weather riding, just in case of rain. When we put it on, it's usually because it's getting cool outside or we know we will be riding a couple of days in wet weather.

It works well for us and about $165.

For boots, we went with Sidi Doha. They have more protection than a low cut boot but not as much as a high calf racing boot. My reasoning on these was I wanted something I could also wear to work once I got there and not have to change into running shoes or something cooler/more comfortable. When we tour, it's the only shoe we take and have no problem walking around in the once we stop to see things.

Congrats on the Versys. They are fantastic bikes.

2008 Versys
2004 Honda ST1300
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post #20 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-16-2010, 10:57 AM Thread Starter
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Wow everybody, that is a lot of responses and suggestions, thank you!

I will definitely be going around a lot more and trying riding gear on, seeing fit, and then coming back home to do price comparison. I guess the part that I don't like that much is places typically don't have much variety in their stores. I know that it is hard to carry a bunch of stuff in stock and that anything can be ordered, but it is always nice to try stuff on. I personally don't like malls, but sure would love to see a biker mall. At the Cycle Gear I went to they only had the Tour Master Intake Series 2, nice jacket, but I still like variety. Frogg Toggs were also there, but in black....shame, I like neon in the rain, even if it is pink!

Thanks for the heads up on boots, even though it might be more expensive than combat boots, I can see where it is totally worth it. Jake, your boots look scuffed, though still quite solid...that is nice! I figure on boots I will be changing my shoes when I am not riding. I work in a warehouse and on my feet a lot, also require steel toes and it is quite helpful if they have a lot of grip/slip-proof protection.

Helmet, I know the HJC isn't top of the line and that a lot of people like Shoei. I think Shoei is fantastic but I purchased one at a motorcycle shop years ago (limited selection) and I think it was a RF1000, can't quite remember. Anyway, great helmet, but after I wore it for a while, I found it to be really uncomfortable. I bought the HJC at the dealership, figured I was there and they offered discount since I had just purchased the bike. What I found out is that in PA you don't need a helmet, so their selection of helmets was limited to HJC brand only. Now this helmet is VERY comfortable to me, but the wind isn't fun. I know everyone had different head sizes and comfort levels, I just found what worked for me. The next helmet I will try some different ones and see what happens. I do have ear plugs and prefer them, though for this first ride, I really wanted to listen more to the bike and get a good feel for how it sounded. That way with ear plugs in I will still be able to kinda hear things.

Drevil, 35 degrees and you rode your motorcycle home in the rain.

Steelybeast, I like the thought of that Aerospace protectant, gonna look into that also, thanks!

Rumbo75, grips is a low cost solution and sounds nice. I think I'm gonna ride the bike stock for the rest of the season so that I can save up some money, get a good feel for how I ride/sit, and so that my money will go towards better protective gear. That way by next season I will have a lot more figured out.

Fasteddiecopeman, going to a wedding in VA, so I'll try out the cyclegear outlet down in Norfolk while I'm there, hopefully I'll find some more options.

Mechanic, well I'm still waiting for that sweet gal who can cook, clean, sew, cut hair, is mechanically inclined, funny, and all that jazz to come along. I figure when that happens I'll just have her check out the bike. Had a girl like that once but let her slip away. Seriously though, I have a car and when the time comes that I have no clue/problems, the bike will go to someone more experienced than me. (BTW, not sexist or anything, I just don't know how to do any of that stuff well.)

Okay time for work, have a great day and an even better weekend all!

2009 GREEN Kawasaki Versys


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Last edited by bill_milstead; 07-16-2010 at 11:01 AM.
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