600 mile test run yesterday. i had been riding the bike locally, but i needed to get it out on the I system for an extended speed run and then onto gravel roads for at least 100 miles. i wanted to verify overall performance, and make sure there were no handling quirks. with the suspension changes, the bike geometry and ride height had been altered. if there was a problem, i needed to find out now, not later.
off to West Virginia to ride gravel in the George Washington and Monongahela forests. if you're anywhere close and haven't ridden the WV back roads, i recommend it. you can ride all day and see very little paved surface.
i had been riding without my AirHawk, but for 600 miles i put it on the seat. now i can just barely get the toes of those size 14s down. the bike is tall, and with my very upright riding position setup, my view from the seat is over the roofline of all but the biggest SUVs.
i could not find any problems with stability, cornering, tracking, or handling in general. i thought the bike rode beautifully on both pavement and gravel. I system speeds up to 85, with cruise at indicated 80, GPS actual 77. on this unfaired bike i got 38MPG at 80, and was glad i had the larger Versys tank. limped in on the last leg with the fuel light on and .3 gal in the tank.
the new suspension was great especially on the gravel, and is a major leap forward in the evolution of the rat builds. i have the forks set for about 7" of travel, maybe 10" overall, with no interference issues. i could get more out of them, but i don't like a mushy front end. likewise, the R1 shock is also a vast improvement. i have not maxed out all the adjustments that could be made on the shock.
dirt bike riders know what it's like to mount a fresh set of knobby tires, then go out for a ride. this is not a dirtbike, but riding gravel with a fresh set of Big Blocks is similar...and man, is it fun. you would not want to be riding behind this bike, gravel flying everywhere off that rear tire. coming up off those corners and gassing that cop motor, lordy, ya better be hangin' on.
i love the big Fastway footpegs mated to the Versys brackets. my boots stay planted on the Fastways, and the Versys bracket position makes it easy to stand on the pegs. the new shifter and brake pedal got a workout too, glad i made those changes.
i hadn't done a field test of my new model 44 LED auxiliary lights, but yesterday i switched them on at dusk. i thought i had them aimed a little low, but then i noticed that i was starting to see the guardrail reflectors light up about a half mile ahead. hmmmm. it got darker and the big reflective highway signs would light up like fireworks. hmmmm. then it got full on dark, but lit up big time in front of the bike. hmmmmmm, these things are freakin' bright, but it was when an oncoming car pulled off on the shoulder just to get out of the way that i realized how bright they must be from the other direction. might have to install a different switch.
i'm very pleased with the bike, and had a ball riding it. big, rangy, edgy, kinda old school riding experience on this unfaired bike. not for everyone, but it works for me.
now i need to finish some prep work.