Paul's VFR750 Pages

Motorcycling in the Nation's Capital

Mods and Toys


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The VFR came bone stock and I've been fiddling with it quite a bit to fit my riding needs. The mods are roughly in chronological order.

Throttlerocker. It's a small plastic device that slips over the throttle grip. It fits the palm of your hand and allows you to keep the throttle open with a downward rotation of the wrist without the usual "death grip." It's good in traffic where you want to cover the brake and still have good control the throttle. Not using a "death grip" also keeps your fingers warmer in the winter and prevents fatigue year round. Since I do many long rides I also got a throttle lock.

UNI OEM-style foam air filter. I had one in my Nighthawk and liked it very much. Oil it, drop it in the airbox and go.

Speedbleeders. I replaced the stock bleeder screws on the four hydraulic circuits (three brakes and one clutch) with Speedbleeders. The little one-way valve make brakes bleeding and fluid replacement a snap. I replaced the old brake and clutch fluid also.

LP Glasmask Half Tank Cover. Keeps the Aerostich and the leathers from scratching the paint on the tank. 'Nuf said.

Vista-Cruise Throttlelock. The poor man's cruise control. It's great to take the load off your right hand from time to time. The Vista-Cruise requires some modifications to work on the VFR's throttle grip. You need to trim the throttle grip a little. I removed a 1/4" section of the grip, just to the right of the rubber flange. I then slid the rubber flange over giving the lock enough room to sit. I also needed to trim the fork-like protrusion that holds the lock in place between the two nuts on the throttle cable housing. It took a lot of fiddling to get the tension right. The vibration of the bike means that stationary adjustments usually don't do. You need to take the bike out on the road and futz with it, ride some more, re-adjust. I found it needs to be fairly tight to hold the throttle at the desired position, almost to the point that in the "off" position the throttle has a hard time returning to idle on its own. Update: I've chopped off a good bit of the thumb lever so it doesn't hit the tank at full lock right. Works fine.

GiVi Wingrack and Cases. In September 2001 bit the bullet and equipped the bike with hard bags. My only regret is waiting so long. The Wingrack 2 attaches to the passenger grab handles and the passenger pegs. You have to remove the stock bolt and cotter pin and replace it with the GiVi hardware. I'll have to say that the instructions are a bit opaque and very sketchy. Basically it's best not to tighten anything home until it's all lined up and in position. As for functionality the bags are tops. No more worries about having enough space. They do leak a slight bit in a downpour. Even people who think they're ugly are the first to ask if they can secure something in your bags during a stop or if you can carry something home for them. I do notice a slight lightness in the front end, but only under slow speed maneuvers with loaded bags. For the record I got an E460 top box and two E36 side cases. UPDATE 3/7/03: I have sold the E36s and replaced them with E21 side cases.

I bought a used Micron slip-on muffler off eBay. It was missing the connector pipe, which set me back another $120, since I had to buy that direct from Micron. It is an aluminum round low-mount exhaust (to accommodate the Givis), Model #PCH-47. Micron's attention to detail and quality of construction is superb and I like the look of the can on the bike: much sleeker, not to mention smaller and considerably lighter, than the stocker. It's not terribly loud, either, and barely noticeable at idle. It goes have a nice "bark" when you get on the throttle that brings out that trademark V4 snarl a little bit.

I bought a set of 2000+ model VFR mirrors since I like the look much better than the stock "condom" style mirrors. They're way better than the cheap Emgo replacements that I've had on the bike recently. They mount very easily. You will need four 6 x 16 MM bolts. I got allen head stainless steel bolts from the local Mom and Dad hardware store. Click on the picture for a large image. By the way, that's my VF500F in the background.

A GPS receiver is a toy I use on the bike. I've been using the entry level model Garmin eTrex for a couple of months. I won it as a door prize and it's not a unit I would recommend if navigating and replacing paper maps is your goal. It's the basic model and I'll probably move up to the eTrex Vista which supports maps, etc. It accommodates 500 waypoints, routes with up to 50 waypoints and about three-four hours worth of "breadcrumb" tracking data. Waypoints have to be uploaded from a PC since the unit itself comes with no built-in mapping data. You also need to save the track periodically or it starts overwriting it. It's primarily designed for the camping and hiking market, hence the puny memory and my desire to move up. It does have all the case features of the entire eTrex line, including being waterproof to something like 5 meters. I got a RAM steering stem mount for it and modified a cigarette lighter plug DC adaptor to serve as a power supply.

I've used it on lots of trips, but mainly as an adjunct to a paper map. Due to the small screen size, it's not something I want to scrutinize too closely while zooming down the road. Also, unlike the Emap, it's really designed to be purely a hand-held unit. All the controls are on the sides of the unit, which doesn't lend itself as well to fiddling with while in motion. It displays information like the "crowfly" distance to your destination, current speed, heading, bearing, etc. It's also fun watching the elevation readings change when you're in the mountains. Based on the elevation markings at various mountain crossings, it's very accurate.

I use a piece of freeware called Waypoint+ that lets my GPS "talk" to a PC.

I finally got the used Fox Twin-Clicker I bought off eBay mounted last night. It took two sweaty evenings in the heat and a half-hour early AM session at my sidewalk maintenance bay to get everything done. It turned out to be more of a job than I was expecting. Rear cowl and tank come off. Remove battery and metal housing in front of the battery. Move the starter relay assembly and two rear-cylinder ignition coils out of the way. It's kind of close quarters underneath the frame cross-member directly above the shock, but a pivoting-head ratchet did the trick. Oh, yes, I stuck a piece of wood under the rear tire to take the weight off the shock and linkage. I pulled the old shock (a clunker) and installed the new. When putting the new shock in, I loosened the top bracket at the frame to align with the shock, instead of my first impulse which was to try to raise and lower the tire to get everything to align perfectly. Work smarter, not harder.... I decided to raise the new ride height just a hair. It doesn't take much change in the shock length to affect ride due to the geometry of the linkage and swingarm.

I put the compression adjuster reservoir on the passenger peg bracket with wire ties, but I'm looking at perhaps a more elegant solution. Any thoughts? It's down near the exhaust can. I have no idea if the heat is going to adversely affect the unit.

My first reaction, is, wow that old shock was spent. On the way to work this morning, a route where I know every bump and tittle, the bike felt brand new. Total cost, about $400 for the upgrades, including the new Race Tech springs up front, plus some hours of my time obviously.

Tapered Steering Head Bearings. I completed the tapered bearing swap in about six hours. It is pretty straightforward, although a bit frustrating with makeshift tools and only the out of doors and a couple of milk crates as a workshop.

First, I prepped the patient for surgery, laying non-slip carpet pad stuff over the tank and upper fairings. That way I'd have some place to put the clip-ons, triple clamp and master cylinders without undoing hydraulic lines and wires, as well as ding protection for the tank.

Next, with side fairings and belly pan off, I lifted the front end with a bottle jack under the engine and remove the front wheel, fender and forks. Remove the triple clamp and stem. Getting the bearing outer races out was a bit of a chore; I ended up using an old long flat blade screwdriver and driving them out with a hard mallet. The real bugger was the inner lower race, which sits on the stem. It took heating with a propane torch, prying with a wonderbar to loosen it and finally aforementioned screwdriver to drive it off the stem.

The old bearings didn't look visibly worn, but they pale in comparison to the tapered bearings in stoutness. The old ball bearings appear to be slightly huskier versions of the ball bearings in my racing bicycle. I installed the new outer races using the old races as drivers to bung them home. For the new inner race on the stem a makeshift driver consisting of a piece of steel pipe, a PVC coupling and finally the old race on the business end did the trick. I re-assembled everything with grease and the proper dust seals and torqued the nut until it "felt right" and test rode it. It turned out to be a little loose, so last night I tightened it again. The headshake is gone and I don't have the looseness in slow turns. For about $50 in parts this is a worthwhile mod on the VFR.

Honda parts list (thanks to Blaise in Fairfax for providing it to me)

lock washer 90506-425-830
upper dust seal 53214-KA4-701
upper bearing 91015-425-832
grease holder 53223-371-010
lower bearing 91016-371-000
lower dust seal 53214-371-010

Race Tech fork springs. I went on the Race Tech web site and ran through the setup procedure, indicating my weight and riding style. Based on that information I ordered the Race Tech springs with the right rate. The swap was very simple. The stock spacers work fine. Sometime soon I'd like to go through Race Tech's sag measurement procedure and then adjust the pre-load. The stockers are about .7 kg/mm progressive rate and the Race Tech are .95 kg/mm straight rate based on my weight and the weight of the bike. I'm getting much less dive now without sacrificing compliance.

Goodridge Stainless Steel Brake Lines. While I had the front end disassembled for the fork spring change, I also mounted the stainless steel brake lines and the double air free banjo bolt at the master cylinder. Piece of cake and I got more responsiveness in the lever.

ScottOiler. I got a new ScottOiler touring model (large reservoir) off eBay. Given my aversion to chain maintenance, the ScottOiler is right up my alley. I elected to mount the reservoir and metering device inside the rear mudguard. All that is required is drilling a couple of holes in the fender. I also elected to use a spacer on the upper mounting bolt to angle the device a little, due to the license plate light mounting bolt. If clearances become an issue, I'm move it to the outside and come up with a different solution for the license plate light. Given the District's huge validation stickers for license plates, that plus the license plate nearly covers the oiler reservoir. Clearances should be good for a while unless the chain needs to be tightened a lot. The oil orifice hangs down off the chainguard mounting bolts.. It works greats too. You do not to adjust the flow rate based on ambient temperatures.

Notice how clean this chain is. It has not been cleaned once in the traditional sense of scrubbing, WD40, etc., since it was installed 12k miles ago. I do give the sprocket, swingarm and undercarriage a spray down with Simple Green and a scrubbing once in a while to deal with the build-up of fling off. Since the fling off is not nearly as nasty as that produced by those sticky spray-on chain lubes.

I've installed a fused power strip on top of the battery to handle all the accessories. It's velcroed on top of the battery and held in place with the battery strap. This means only one tap needs to be connected to the battery.

 

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This page created and maintained by Paul Wilson

In "Our Nation's Neighborhood"

Capitol Hill, Washington DC, USA

Last modified 12/28/2002.