Oh, what a day yesterday! I am a bit behind my optimal schedule of preparation, both bikewise and homewise. I have not logged in as many miles by now as I would have liked, but I guess I am "ready enough." The bike didn't get out of the shop until Saturday. They did the 7500 mile service, as well as replace my stock tires with Michelin Road Pilot 2. They also replaced the cracked windshield bracket. Funny, but the oil already looks dirty, even though they apparently changed it. Why is that with motorcycles? I would like to install a new clutch lever before I leave, but they had ordered the wrong one (black). They think the silver one will be here in time. No biggie if it isn't, the current one is only slightly bent. I have my back-up master link, and only hope that should I need it, somebody (are you listening, LL?
) can show me how to use it.
Ran down to Cincinnati area Monday, to find the meeting place for LL & me. The Michelins didn't seem to be any improvement over the stock tires; they were actually stiff and hard. Really stiff. Bumps had me gritting my teeth. Every single person on the Versys forums who replaces the stock tires raves about the improvement. Most of them were Distanza's or Conti's, though. Maybe I made a mistake here.
Yesterday, I finally bit the bullet and did 2 tasks that should have been done earlier: I placed Ride-On in the tires, and changed out the hi & low beam bulbs. It took me for-frickin'-ever. Both cowlings have to come off, and before I can do that, the windshield has to come off. Then disconnect the wires and pull out the headlight assembly. 18 sets of nuts, bolts, screws, and washers--lots of different kinds of washers. Snapping out the old headlight, I put in a Sylvania Silverwhite H7, the brightest the Autozone guy said that they had. On the back of the package, there is a comparison chart, and it includes something called Silverwhite Ultra. Seems to me that
is the one the guys on the V forum were raving about, but oh, well. As I'm putting in the new hi-beam bulb, it dawns on me that I might as well do the low-beam bulb, since this was such a time-consuming activity. I zip down to Advance Auto, and they have a 2-pack of the Ultra. No single packs. I bite the bullet, pay the man, and go back and put in both bulbs. I don't really study headlights much, but apparently one of the reasons for the Versys' funky headlight shape is that it has four
bulbs. There are two little side lights in addition to the front hi/lows. Once I snap in the other two, I considered whether to upgrade the side lights. Nah. I'd have to pull them out, go back to the store, and then hope they had this size. Besides, they are very small. So, back goes the headlight assembly. The MOM talks about aiming the headlight, how to adjust it, where the beams should point and how high. Both forum and magazines have pointed out that factory and shop adjustments are frequently not correct. So, I measure out my 25 feet, back the bike out, sit on her to estimate the height of the center of the bulb, close the garage door, mark where it should optimally strike, etc. Did I mention it's a bright, sunny day? So, I move it up to 12 feet and change the mark by halving the measurement. The reason for doing all of this now is that the cowlings (and hence, the windshield) have to be off to make the adjustments. That isn't strictly true--I later found I could wiggle my hand in there to just barely turn the adjusters, but only because I knew where they were.
Next, I turned my attention to the Ride-On. I had dreaded this, because I had to remove the valve core. I was afraid I would damage the valve stem of my nice new tires. It was one of the things that should have been done much farther out from my start date than this. Having done it, I now understand how the core works. But it sure seems like a solid stem from the outside. It didn't go smoothly, either. I thought I had broken the core piece when a 2 little bits of metal flew out. Instructions had said to turn the (included) valve core remover counterclockwise. It was threaded clockwise.
Then it was free-spinning. This after the little pieces of metal came out.
Oh, sh . . . . t.
I worked on this, on my side, on my back, on my belly, in the sunny driveway, for an eternity. I checked out valve core removal on the internet. Hmmm. I went back to Advance, got a new valve core remover, and some extra valve cores. Discussed with the man at the counter, who coincidentally used to have a Harley. He'd never had a problem with them. "But how," I asked, "does this little remover head contact that itty-bitty piece of metal?" Even by looking at it, it was clearly too big. He didn't know, but they usually worked. I returned home, certain that I had somehow broken the core and that failure was imminent.
Ahhh . . . the core wasn't broken (much), the cheesy little tool they had included had broken. Of course, trying to force it in the wrong direction hadn't helped matters. Success!! Now I had 2 flat tires!!
The rest of the directions were easy. Pored in the peach-colored snot, replaced the core, inflated the rear tire. Blossom starts to list. IN MY DIRECTION. I'm stretched out on the ground, on the right side. Why is she rocking off of her sidestand? (I had lowered the rear stand to install the stuff.) I pushed on the saddlebag to steady her, carefully eased up and away, and put her back on the rear stand. The front tire also being flat had something to do with this, I think. Anyway, catastrophe averted.
Earlier, I had called Michelin to discuss psi, only after I had been placed on hold long enough for 5 pre-recorded apologies. The rear tire said max psi was 42. The front wasn't marked. When she returned from the shop she had 40 in the rear, and 38 in the front, but I wanted to hear from Michelin what the front was supposed to be. "Whatever your labels on the bike tell you," he said, "and that is true for both tires." Sooo, it shouldn't be 42 in the back? Why'd they put it on there? "That is the max that tire can go under any circumstances," he said, "but if your label says less, follow your label." Okaaay then, 36 rear and 32 front it is! So glad I called him.
Before putting her all back together, I read the service manual about damping and preload settings. I raised the rear shock from lowest to second-lowest, and softened the front & rear damping a little bit. I cleaned and polished the windshield, then couldn't stop myself from cleaning and polishing her headlight, tail & signal lights, cowlings and red trim. Dang, she cleans up well, even with all her little marks & scratches! Maybe I will get to all that lower work (aluminum and black powder coat) before I leave, just to see her really shine. If time allows.
It is 7:45 pm now, and as I suit up, John finally gets out of work. But he brought more work home, and I need to test ride all my hard work, so we exchange kisses and I take off. Well, what a difference! Hard to say what did it, but between proper tire inflation, RideOn, and resetting some of the suspension settings, it was one sweet ride! If I weren't cold in my mesh, I would have stayed out longer. The lights were great, too, and the blazing main lights made the side lights look dull by comparison. Next time, I'll change them all out. Only as I was riding did it cross my mind that I had taken absolutely no care with the handling of those halogen bulbs, so it may not be that long before I have the opportunity to reupgrade.
Today, I am going to go squeeze in as long a ride as I can.