Thursday, April 2, 2015

Dilettante to professional in 50 easy steps

All bikes leave the showroom ready to roll.

But there is rolling, and then there is rolling.

I can't say the last time that I added anything to a car. Adding a GPS unit doesn't count.  I wouldn't call that adding anything, really.  Sticking a suction mount on the windshield or plopping a friction base on the dashboard doesn't cut it as an addition.  Nor does plugging the unit into the 12 volt outlet in the console, or stuffing the excess wire into the glove compartment.

Stock bikes are fine for leisurely cruising on local streets.  But once there is a higher calling, there is little choice but to get cracking and make some changes.

Take my Vespa for instance.

Daily commuting along a 30 kilometer route each way, and doing it with the blessing of the security goddess, has meant adding an Admore Lighting light bar, convex blind spot mirrors, a Stebel Nautilus horn, and ScooterWest LED driving lights.  The god of convenience dictated RAM mounts for a GPS and iPhone, dual 12 volt outlets to power them, and a top case.  Comfort insisted on a windscreen, Tucano Urbano Termoscud apron and heated grips.  Vanity asked me to install a chrome rack on the top case, to match the chrome crash bars.

When touring seemed like a good idea, a Classic Racks floor rack, an SAE power outlet, and saddlebags were demanded by the camping god (actually, having met him, I'd say he's more of a minor wood nymph, much less imposing than say, the parking god).

If I add to that list the stuff I carry to placate my inner Boy Scout (being a disciple of lord Baden-Powell is a life sentence),  there are tools, a compressor, fuses and a tire repair kit, rain gear, extra gloves, locking devices, a tire pressure gauge, two ridiculously powerful flashlights, a multi-tool, ROK straps, and other odds and ends. Really, I'm not kidding.

The Vespa has everything it needs for commuting, and touring.  Peace.

Now the Shadow, on the other hand, is, aside from the unhelpful Cobra exhaust system which will soon revert to stock, basically a showroom virgin.  In fairness I must say, when I was poking around in its nooks and crannies, I found the well-supplied Honda emergency tool kit, and an SAE outlet.  I'm almost positive the former owner didn't know they were there.

The first wave of accessories has now landed: RAM mounts, a Stebel air horn, and an Eklipes handlebar-mounted dual 12 volt power outlet.

Sonja is presently shopping for a windshield, and together we are working on some really nice saddlebags.  Then there will be Hot Grips heated grips (nothing but the best), wind deflectors, crash bars, maybe some engine guard mounted driving lights (I find the triangular headlight pattern much more noticeable than a single light)... oh dear...

As you can see, I've got my work cut out.  There's that, and because simply installing this stuff is not enough, everything needs to be documented in a series of project reports.  That takes a little more time and effort, but I'm reasonably sure one of you out there will appreciate the effort.

So keep an eye on this space folks.  Shadow mods are coming.

14 comments:

  1. We're you going to put on a top box as well or leave the sissy bar and attach something to that? It would provide somewhere to mount brake and turn signals that are more along other drivers sight lines. Most people don't look down at the tire.

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    1. A nice spacious top box would be really handy. I'm not sure about the look on a Shadow, and in the end, I'd personally like to have an attractive as well as functional bike. That's a really good suggestion though, and I think I'll start looking.

      I have the Admore unit on the Vespa: it provides a very bright integrating brake light and sequential turn indicators. The trick is positioning it so that it doesn't get obstructed by touring stuff like dry bags. Mounting it on the sissy bar would be ideal, if it didn't interfere with loading the bike with touring luggage.

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  2. BTW, I've added hundreds of pounds of stuff to the truck to get it to fit my needs. Stock just didn't work for me...

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    1. Yes, yes, yes. I am thinking of a Jeep Wrangler when the Civic's done. No end of farkles for that baby.

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  3. Farkling is fun!

    Both my bikes have more than a few. A Stebel is always a good start - both my bikes have them and they get used...

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    1. Andrew, a good horn is essential here. In Europe where there are many more motorcycles on the road motorists are far more aware. They also use their horns differently, more as a discrete reminder to surrounding motorists that they are cutting in or overtaking. The stock horn is fine in that environment. Here something much more robust is needed.

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  4. Given that the Shadow has a sissy bar, extra luggage can just be strapped over the passenger seat over the to be acquired saddle bags.

    I am going to echo what Andrew said: farkling is fun! And soon the former stock bike will be an appropriate touring vehicle. Looking forward to the changes ;-)

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    1. Sonja the work has begun. The power outlet is on the handle bars and fits right in. The wiring is the next step. I've got a wiring plan worked out. Next stop is to pick up the electrical supplies needed. The SAE plug on the bike is direct to the battery. The circuits I'm adding will be switched with the ignition eliminating the risk on unintentionally running the battery dead.

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  5. Farkling one's motorcycle is a necessary step to place your mark on it, or in this case, your collective mark on it! Will the Shadow get a name?

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    1. Dom I'm not into naming vehicles, but Sonja is.

      First she thought 'Ugly Betty', but now 'Black Betty' has taken hold, and appears as stuck on as the flames.

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  6. You're right. The last (and only) thing I added to my Escape is a trailer hitch. The Harley? Well that's a whole other story. :) Have fun.

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    1. A trailer hitch is a really useful thing to have. None of our cars has ever had one.

      If I go the Wrangler route, that will be farkle #1.

      The next stop will be a safari rack modified to haul a Trailer-in-a-bag, and then I'll have a PTW recovery and hauling option, very useful for husband and wife road trips.

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  7. Ah the farkling has begun! I have a soft zipper day pack by Nelson Rigg from Canada's Motorcycle and it attaches easily if you need it for longer hauls. Top box may look very awkward on Betty. Happy farkling!

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    1. Dar I agree a top box would look strange.

      The Vespa is so much more suited to touring, just oodles of options for storage.

      I think that will saddlebags, Sonja will be fine, particularly if she isn't planning to camp. Two or three dry bags on the pillion seat and rear rack should be ample, with the remaining supplies (tools, locks, rain gear, etc.) in the saddlebags for easy access.

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