Stock Windshield Back On

I think the Cal-Sci windshield is gonna be a wintertime shield only.

Today it was about 90 degrees. Hot. I rode to Office Depot this afternoon for some compressed air bottles for the job I posted about below. And, as I mentioned previously, the Cal Sci shield cocooned me in a quiet, perfect cocoon of still air. Not even the hint of a breeze reached me through my armored mesh jacket.

Perfectly still, breezeless, 100-degree air. It’s great. If you’re baked frickin’ potato.

So, the stocker went back on, and the Cal-Sci went back into its pretty purple sock, and its shipping box. I’ll see it again in October, I think. For now, that extra air-flow is necessary in the desert summer that’s coming.

Why I Don’t Wrench II

So, everyone says that removing the stock throttle tube from the FJR and replacing it with the G2 tube and cam is a 30-minute job.

They are wrong. it’s a 3-hour job. At least, it is for me. I start the job off at about 6:15 this evening. But what I don’t know, is that the things I do know, are wrong.

First misconception: The heated grips on the AE model are heating elements that are wrapped around the throttle tube. Wrong. They are integral parts of the grip itself. I did not know this. I learned this the hard way.

Second misconception: The throttle grip is a discrete piece that does not go into the throttle assembly housing. Wrong. The electrical cable for the heater connects to the grip via a rubber bushing that is an integral part of the grip, is about 1/2 inch in height, and is housed in the throttle assembly housing.

Third misconception: The grip can simply be pulled right off the tube without disassembling the throttle assembly housing. Wrong. See first and second misconceptions.

These misconceptions arose from the fact that I couldn’t find any detailed instructions for removing the grips of the AE model.

So, after various attempts to pull the grip off, and getting some advice from FJR Forum members, I purchased a couple of bottles of compressed air, and jetted some air under the grip while pulling. No joy.

So, I begin to wish for a long, thin Philips screwdriver to stick under the grip, to roll it around and try to loosen it. I go inside the house and tell this to Chris. She suggests I get a wire hanger, cut a piece off, and use it, instead.

Aha! I grab a wire hanger, get my fence wire cutters, and snip off a 12-inch section. Then I get a file, and file one end smooth and round, and bend an “L” into the other end. It slips right in. Now, I can slide the plastic tube from the compressed air way up under the grip.

I give it a good spritz of air, and pull hard. The grip started to come off. It moved off about 3/4 of an inch…then stopped.

It stopped because the rubber bushing inside the throttle housing was now jammed into the edge of the housing. And, I couldn’t push it back in either.

After much futzing around, I pull off the throttle housing, at which time my problem becomes apparent. Also apparent is that I’ve torn the insulating cover on the heater wires. I suspect that I no longer have grip heaters on the right grip, due to excessive wire stretching.

So, I cant get the grip off, and I can’t reseat it on the stock tube, so I pull the throttle cables off and try to remove the whole tube. But, of course, since I’ve moved the grip about 3/4 of an ch off the tube, there isn’t enough slack in the heater cable to pull the whole throttle tube off.

At this point, I call “Neil in Vista”, who is a regular commenter here. His only suggestion, now that I’ve totally fracked it up, is to shoot some WD-40 under the grip, and try to move it. Too bad, I tell him, that I have no WD-40.

Well, I’m two hours into the “30-minute job” at this point, so I decide to hang it up for the night, since it’s 8:30.

At this point Chris comes in, and I commence to whining about the whole deal, and musing about how much it sucks that we don’t have any WD-40. She points to a shelf 10 feet in front of me in the garage, and says, “We have a brand new can right there. In plain view.”

Once again, I stick the hanger into the grip, Chris sticks the WD-40 tube in and squirts it a couple of times, and the grip slides right off!

Holy smokes, maybe I can do this!

And I can. It’s all downhill from there. The grip slides right on to the new throttle tube. I slap it on the bar, hook up the clutch cables, and begin the tedious job of sticking the throttle housing back on.

Neil calls again and asks if the bike isn’t rideable, if I need him to come over to the house and bring his air compressor. Thankfully, I don’t have to inconvenience him with my massive incompetence.

After a while, I get the two throttle cables seated in their respective halves of the throttle housing slap the hex screws in, and, voila! I’m done!

It’s 9:30 pm.

I have to say, though, it appears that the change was really worth it. I took off on 20-minute test ride, and the throttle response is now perfectly smooth, linear, and predictable. No more throttle surging. It vastly improves the ability to handle the bike at low speeds, and makes throttle usage in cornering 1000% more predictable.

Oh, and I still have two heated grips.

It’s really a very effective mod, and I highly recommend it to anyone with an ’06 or ’07 FJR. Just be sure you know what you’re doing before you install it.

To sum up, this eveing I learned, once again, that being a mechanic just isn’t my calling. I think it may be Chris’, though.

Farkles Arrived!

All of my remaining bike mods arrived today. As soon as I got home, I put them on the bike. In fact, the picture to the left is my bike. I took it right after I got everything installed.

They aren’t much, as far as mods are concerned. A passenger backrest, my Cal-Sci windshield, the black reflective racing stripes, and the G2 Ergo Throttle Cam.

They don’t change the looks of the bike much–although I really like the racing stripes–and I think I’m pretty much finished with farkling.

Chris helped me with the stripes, and I think they came out nice. Th really nice thing, as far as she’s concerned, is the passenger backrest. when i first got the bike, she got on the back, and the lack of a backrest really bothered her. she didn’t feel comfortable at all, even though we were just sitting in the driveway. But, once I got the backrest on, and she got on the bike, she felt a lot better. She likes the seat, and, since the backrest comes up just to the bottom of her shoulder blades, she says it’s very comfy.

She wants to take a ride on Sunday. I’m ready to roll.

First Farkle Arrives

Well, the first farkle (second, if you don’t count sliders) arrived this afternoon from California Scientific. I got the +3.5 inch windshield.

First, good on Cal-Sci for sending along real, live, stainless steel machine screws to mount it. Good thing, too, because one of the OEM plastic screwheads just snapped off

The screen itself works first-rate. At the lowest setting, I get a smooth flow of air on the helmet and shoulders. At the highest setting, I am sitting is a cocoon of almost perfectly still, noiseless air. It really is a first-rate screen for being buffet-free, even at speeds approaching–but not crossing, because that would be wrong–100 MPH.

There’s no back pressure at all, and the weather protection is really excellent. I’m very impressed, especially coming from the windshield on my Sporty, which was a buffeting monster. The stock FJR screen is better than the Sporty’s but the Cal-Sci windshield seems just about perfect.

I’m very happy with it.

OK. So Maybe One More Farkle

I ordered the black racing stripes for the Fairing and bags. The picture here is from the PCA web site, not mine, which is a bit surprising, since they are a business web site. You’d think they’d use better pictures.

In any event, they are the reflective black 3M product that looks black in daylight, but works as a reflector when car lights shine on them at night. So it isn’t the looks that are important. I mean, who needs cool-looking racing stripes on heir FJR?

But this is a safety issue, which is, like, totally different.

I also ordered the reflective black panels that cover the rear of the saddlebags, too.

I’m all about the safety.

Oh, by the way, I got her up to 115 from a dead stop at a light, in about 11 seconds or so, this morning.

Why I Don’t Wrench

I decided to put my frame sliders on today. The FJR is pretty simple in this respect, because the two frame bolts are right out in the open, so no cutting or anything is required.

The thing is, I didn’t have a torque wrench, a 1omm hex driver, or a 17mm long bolt driver.

So, I whipped on over to Home Depot to pick up a torque wrench. Unfortunately, all they had were three foot long torque wrenches that put 1200 ft/lbs of torque on a bolt. That was a bit too much, and, since i was on the bike, I couldn’t see how I’d get the wrench home. The nice home Depot guy sent me across the parking lot to Auto Zone.

I went into Auto Zone, found $20 torque wrench, and a 10mm allen head driver, and, mistakenly picked out a 12mm instead of a 17mm driver for the slider bolt. I didn’t realize that quite yet, though.

Thinking I had everything I needed, I went out to the parking lot, pulled the left side engine bolt off, then tried to install the slider. Of course, the driver was the wrong size, so I had to go back inside, and exchange it for a 17mm.

So, it was back out to the bike, where I grabbed the new 17mm driver, and tried to attach it to the wrench. This didn’t work, because the wrench had a 3/8″ drive, and the socket was for a 1/2″ drive.

Back into the store I went, to get a 3/8 C 1/2 adapter for the torque wrench.

I then went out to the bike, got the torque wrench all put together, then picked up the slider for the left side. Naturally, the socket, while it fit the bolt perfectly, was too large to fit inside the bolt hole for the slider.

Now it’s back inside, to see if they have a smaller socket. As it happens, they do. It’s a 3/8″ drive socket, so now I get to exchange the adapter and big 17mm socket for the new one. Finally, I have the tools I need.

So, it’s back out to the bike. Once agin, I assemble the torque wrench and socket. Now I have to set the torque to manufacturer’s specs, with is 35 ft/lbs for the bolt. Naturally, the wrench itself is calibrated in inch/pounds.

So, now I have to try and do the math in my head to multiply 35 x 12 to figure out the number of in/lbs.

At last, after 25 minutes of buying, returning, and exchanging tools, I could install the sliders, which is literally 80 seconds of wrench turning.

And people wonder why I go to the dealership to have work done.

Give me a couple of pieces of wood, and I’ll build you something real nice. I’ve got my table saw, and my miter saw, my planer, my sander. No problem.

But cars and motorcycles? Forget it.

Other Farkles

For the most part, the FJR1300 is pretty darn good right out of the box. But, like any motorcycle, it isn’t perfect. I need to add some farkles, to make it “just right”. I don’t want to change the look of the bike, and there’s no need at all for performance modifications. So, this is probably going to be the one big farkling that my FJR gets. But, today, I ordered those things I think I need to get it set up right for me.

Sliders: The FJR is a fully-faired bike, of course, so it needs some tip-over protection. There’s a company here that makes frame sliders. It’s located in Vista. I gave them a call today, and they said if I wanted to come pick them up, they’d give them to me for 50 bucks. So, I dropped by after work to pick up the set.

Windscreen: The stock screen is OK, but California Scientific makes a highly-rated windscreen for the FJR that’s about 4″ taller, and has a more aerodynamic shape. Everyone that has one says that it really cuts the wind noise, and provides excellent weather protection at the highest setting.

Passenger Backrest: This is not really something I want, but Chris let me know that she’s uncomfortable riding without one. Must be a psychological thing, but if I want her ride, I have to buy it. So, I got the stand-alone backrest from Premier Cycle Accessories.

G2 Throttle Cam: This is not a visible mod at all, but it is kind of an important one. It’s a grip tube and throttle cam to reverse the throttle cam that Yamaha put on the ’06 and ’07 models to provide more sport-like throttle response. The stock cam comes on strong at first, then gets more linear with a further twist. That strong come-on isn’t very helpful on the AE model though, so G2 Ergo makes a throttle cam and tube called the FJR1300 Fix. This reverses the stock cam, and returns the throttle to a linear response.

By way of an update, the throttle boss I put on yesterday really did fix the throttle stiffness and hand pain problem. I’m very happy with it, and rode for about 80 miles total today in perfect comfort.

And…that’s it. I can’t think of anything else I want to do to the bike. It’s really great in stock form, and I intend to keep it that way.

First Farkle

I’ve solved about 90% of my complaints and discomfort with the throttle on the FJR. I stopped off at North County Yamaha and spent ten bucks on a throttle rocker. So long, throttle-handle death grip!

Seriously, it solved a lot of problems.

Flight Log: Day 1

Why, yes, I do plan to stretch the pilot analogy for all it’s worth. Why do you ask?

Last night’s brief run on my new FJR1300AE was interesting, but not really long enough, or varied enough, to get a very good idea of what riding the FJR is like. And it was after dark, so I was very conservative. But, because of an extra-long commute today, I have better grounding in the feel of the new bike.

Last night, I forgot to pull the DoD sticker off the Sporty, which meant I had to go back today. So my round trip commute was about 70 miles. The morning bit was 1/3 city-1/3 interstate-1/3 twisties as usual. The afternoon commute, on the other hand, was 3/4 heavily trafficked surface streets, and 1/4 jammed freeway. So, I got to open her up a little bit, as well as deal with about an hour of stop & go traffic. this gives me enough initial experience to provide a first ride review.

My observations, in no particular order:

The stock grips and throttle are a pain. First, they are a bit too small for my hands. The diameter of the grip tubes is pretty tiny, so holding he throttle is harder than the Sporty was, especially with the thick Kuryakin ISO grips I had. Even worse, the throttle is stiff. It takes a signifigant amount of grip strength to turn and hold the throttle. So, after a while, your right hand aches and numbs a bit. it’s not a problem in city traffic, but on the open highway, it’s a bit unpleasant after about 10 minutes of steady gripping. I had a throttle boss and throttle lock on the Sporty, and I really miss them. So, those are gonna be a mandatory add-on for the FJR. That’s the only bad thing I can find to say about the FJR so far, though, and it’s easily fixed.

The surging of the throttle is noticeable, but pretty controllable with a little practice. Since you can’t be ham-handed on the throttle and expect your clutch work to save you from surging, using the throttle on the AE model requires a more deft touch. It’s a learned behavior, but it’s a mandatory lesson. My understanding is that on the ’06 and ’07 models of the FJR, Yamaha installed a throttle cam to give it more sporty, and less linear, throttle response. This was discontinued for the ’08 models due to complaints about surging. there is, however, and aftermarket product, the G2 Throttle cam, which is essentially a reverse of the Yamaha throttle cam, and which installs in the throtle housing on the handlebars. This cancels out the Yamaha cam, and makes the throttle response properly linear for the AE model. I suspect the manually-clutched A model would be just fine without it, but for the AE, it seems like a good idea.

I feel more visible on the FJR than I did on the Sporty. You’re just up much higher. With the Sporty, you are very low slung, and in heavy traffic, the cars all seem to be above you. With the FJR you stick up a little higher with is a good thing for visibility, especially with nearly everyone else driving an SUV. It’s only about 6 inches higher, but it seems significant.

It also makes you feel like you are riding “on” the bike, instead of “in” it. You sort of feel perched on top of the bike, which is not a bad feeling, but it is different. The FJR is very similar to the feel of the Road King in that way.

All the sport-bike guys wave at me now.

The feel of the FJRs engine is…electric. And I mean that in both ways. It’s performance is electrifying, although in a an amusingly sedate way. You really have to look down at the Speedomoter to assure yourself that, yes, you did just start moving, and yes, you are going 80MPH in a 50MPH zone. It is really a deceptively fast bike.

Until you hit about 6,000 RPM. Then all the deception fades away. The engine comes on with a high-pitched shriek…and you frickin’ move. It gets not just fast, but scary fast. Below 5,000 RPM, it’s still very fast, but it’s so quiet and well-mannered, you just don’t realize you’re pushing triple digits. It’s a pleasant, friendly fast. Above 6,000 RPM, and the demon that lives in the engine wakes up, looks into your soul, and says, “Oh. You think you wanna go fast Nancy-Boy? Let’s see…”

Oh, and keep in mind that 4,000 RPM in fifth gear is 80MPH indicated. If the bike has a 9,000 RPM redline, what is the theoretical speed at redline in 5th gear? You do the math.

The FJR’s speedometer goes to 180 MPH. I’m just saying. No one that you know can hld the bike at that speed, I bet. Even if the bike could, in fact push enough air out of the way to reach it’s theoretical top speed, which I doubt. You’d be lucky even to get it to 150 MPH I bet.

It’s also electric in that the engine responds with the kind of precision and immediacy an electric engine does. Twist the throttle to a degree that is supposed to provoke 4000RPM from the powerplant, and you are immediately getting 4000 RPM. It doesn’t hesitate or delay, and it provides the asked-for level of power instantly. The Sportster, with it’s two cylinders and long stroke, really lags behind the throttle response you ask for. It feels mechanical, which, of course, it is supposed to feel.

The engine is also electric in it’s sound. The thumping and roaring of the harley is replaced by what seems to the rider like a whisper quiet, yet snarling, whine. I can hear things now that I couldn’t before, including the headphones of my XM unit at highway speed.

I can see things, too, such as a clear picture in the rear-view mirrors. They are perfectly clear at all speeds. Vibration, compared to the Sportster, is simply a non-issue.

A lot of the quietness of the FJR comes from the management of airflow. The Sporty, especially at highway speeds, buffeted my head around quite a bit. I’ve sensed no buffeting on the FJR with the stock screen. At it’s lowest position, I get clean air right below shoulder level, which puffs out the vents in my Tourmaster jacket, and provides a significant amount of cooling. At the highest position, the top of my helmet gets a clean, but a bit noisy, stream of air. This is perfectly adequate for summertime, but before next winter, I’m going to need to get the 4″ taller screen from California Scientific. That should get me an undisturbed pocket of air at the highest position, which will be great in winter.

So will the heated grips. Indeed, when you heat ’em, they get hot. This morning the temp was down around 45, and I had to turn the grip heaters down to medium, or else they were too hot for comfort. I certainly could have used them on my Sporty for the last few months.

The handling on the FJR is nothing short of confidence-inspiring. Unlike the Sporty, the FJR simply will not fight your handlebar inputs. If you want to lean, it’s perfectly happy to lean. Indeed, even relatively minor handlebar inputs provoke a response. It really does want to do what you want it to. I always got the sense that the Sportster was fighting me when I wanted it it to lean. There’s none of that sense at all with the FJR. It wants to respond to your inputs, and does, with alacrity.

The YCC-S auto-clutch system, despite requiring you to learn a few new tricks at low speed trundling about in parking lots, really is an excellent solution for riding in city traffic. Going from light to light, constantly upshifting and downshifting is just so much less of a hassle with the AE. It really does save you a lot of left-hand fatigue. I’ve gone from being initially iffy about the YCC-S system, to wondering why every street bike doesn’t have it. whatever the costs are in relearning how to handle the bike at very slow speeds, the payoff in congested riding conditions is phenomenal.

I’ve actually worked out sort of a hybrid system of using it. I upshift with the finger paddle, and downshift with the foot pedal. No more wearing out the top of my boot toe before the rest of the boot. Downshifitng with the finger switch isn’t a problem, it’s just that, since it’s designed to use the forefinger for upshifting and the thumb for downshifting, what occasionally happens is that, instead of downshifting, your thumb punches the horn button. Then everyone around you looks at you like you’re an ass. Which, of course, you are.

Finally, the FJR makes you think. It makes you think about what you want to do, how you’re going to pass, and what moves you’re going to make. It makes you think ahead, because, when you twist that throttle, you’d better have a f*cking plan. Because whatever is gonna happen, is gonna happen extremely quickly.

Like every bike, the FJR has some shortcomings, although they are mainly centered in the operation of the throttle. For everything else, though this bike is more fun a barrel of monkeys.

I’m a "Pilot" Now

“Pilot”, apparently, is the term of art for someone who rides a Yamaha FJR1300.

I traded in the Sportster for one tonight. And here it is, a 2007 FJR1300AE. This was a Yamaha corporate motorcycle that was a factory rep bike.

And, surprisingly, I said “screw it” and picked the AE model for $11.1k. I was worried about the automatic clutch deal on the AE model, but oddly, what decided it for me was a very little thing. I had to drive through a lot of heavy stop-and-go traffic on surface streets, and my hand was aching a little.

I was a bit worried about low-speed maneuvering without a clutch to moderate engine inputs to the wheels, but I did about 20 minutes in the parking lot doing U-turns and figure-8s and decreasing radius circles. It wasn’t that bad. Although, I think I need ,something called a “G2 throttle tube” because the throttle is stiff and…surgey (is that a word?). This G2 throttle tube is apparently an aftermarket add-on to reduce the strength needed to twist the throttle, and reduce the attendant throttle surge.

It’s a different riding experience on the street, but I think my achey clutch hand is actually gonna enjoy the rest.

I was only able to put 18 miles on it, mixed freeway/street, and I never got it above 80. But it got to 80 fast!

I don’t think this a bike I’ll ever outgrow. It’s comfy, and I love the electric shield, although I’m probably gonna need a Cal-Sci shield with a few extra inches in height. I can flat-foor it comfortably, and it’s just amazingly well balanced compared to the Sporty.

Oh, I think I’m gonna have fun…

No Deal

Well, the dealer called back today, and told me no deal on the FJR. They did offer the same deal, with a $149/month payment, on an AE model that had been used as a demo.

Considering what that means I would be getting the bike for, that’s a great deal, actually. But, I’m not sure about all that newfangled machinery for the automatic clutch, so I turned that down.

The nice thing about already having a motorcycle, is that I don’t feel any pressure to replace it with anything other than exactly what I want.

They’re serious about getting me into a bike, though. That’s “nice” (i.e. desperately greedy) of them.