Post Stage 1 Report

Now that I’ve done the stage one, and had a few days to drive it, I seems like I have a completely different bike.

When the bike was stock, it sounded like it was puffing hard when I pushed it just a little bit. The engine/exhaust sounds were really high and whiny, making me think I was pushing a lot more RPMs than I actually was.

That’s all gone now. And, I can see the RPMs on the tach. The redline is about 6000 RPM, and what I thought were speeds at which I was pushing the bike, like, say 25 MPH in first, weren’t even 3000 RPMs.

The Sporty wants to run at 4000 RPM, which is the peak of its power band. At 4000 RPM, then, you’re talking the following shift points for each gear:

2nd @ 30 MPH
3rd @ 50 MPH
4th @ 65 MPH
5th @ 80 MPH

With 4000 RPM in 5th gear translating out to 88 MPH. That’s where she runs at peak power (torque).

Having done this for the last two days (131 miles), I can tell you that while she really likes to run at those speeds, she also wants to drink a lot more gas. Driving sedately, I’ve been getting around 44 miles per gallon. Riding in the peak power band for the last two days, my mileage, calculated after filling up tonight, has been about 39 MPG. About 1/3 of my driving has been open highway, so I’ve been doing 88 MPH, rather than my usual 75-80.

I’ll be going back to that 75-80 tomorrow, now that my testing is done, because while the CHP will forgive 80 MPH, they will not forgive 88.

That aside, since doing the Stage I, she will pull as hard as you like in any gear. For a cruiser, that is. It’s not a Hyabusa, after all, but it’s plenty powerful enough to pull the front tire off the ground, dump you off the back, or both.

I really like the new sound of the SEII Performance Slip-ons, too. The higher-register noise is gone, with a lot more bass rumble. They say–whoever “they” are–that after about 1,000 miles, after some of the glass and stuff has burned out, it settles down into a very nice tone. But, since the SEIIs are 50-state legal, the sound isn’t annoyingly loud.

Although, having said that, I set off a car alarm for the first time going to work on Monday morning, just by driving by.

It really has improved the performance of the bike, and it’s noticeably quicker in every gear. But especially third. Third gear is my new favorite gear. You crank the throttle in third, and you’re going somewhere.

The Long Leather Dealie

Out here in California, I see these long, braided leather things hanging off handlebars. I’ve always wondered what they were. I thought they were just some sort of silly decoration, but I had no idea what, if anything, they were supposed to signify. I’ve scoffed at them as just some sort of over the top decoration.

Yesterday, I learned that tey are actually called a getback whip. In old-school biker culture, the biker getback whip served two purposes. First, the braided leather was dyed in the colors of the motorcycle club to which the bearer belonged. Second, the whip served as an emergency weapon. In the old days, the end of the whip close to the fringe was wrapped around a piece of rebar.

In many jurisdictions now, including California, putting a piece of rebar in the end would constitute making a sap, the manufacture or possession of which would be illegal. So, you can’t really obtain one from any retail source that has the rebar in it. It is still used by motorcycle clubs, however, to fly the club’s colors, and the whip–minus rebar–is perfectly legal everywhere.

The thing is, even though adding the rebar and making a flail or sap out of it would be illegal, it’s held onto the clutch or brake cable by a big, heavy, quick-release clip made out of brass or iron. So, if you swing it by the leather-wrapped end above the fringe, it makes a nasty–and perfectly legal–flail anyway. That quick-release catch is heavy.

When I thought it was simply some stupid leather thong put on for looks, I thought it was stupid. Now that I know it’s a weapon, I really like it.

In fact, I purchased one this evening directly from the manufacturer, who happens to live locally. I didn’t get it in any club colors, but dark blue and black to match the color of my bike.

I don’t care for leather fringe or accouterments that have no purpose. But, I have nothing against weapons at all. Quite the reverse, in fact.