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Old 05-04-2004, 03:53 PM   #5
simple by nature
Gringo's Avatar
Joined: Jun 2003
Location: a small drinking village with a fishing problem
Oddometer: 1,349
Nice bike you got there - after my ' 92 PD I like the ' 95 classics the best. Here's my $.02:

I think the best upgrade for these bikes is suspension - progressive springs and 10wt oil in front, Ohlins or Works shock in back - you'll have a new ride you won't believe. Stock suspension on them is like a ' 63 Cadillac (with '63 springs). I've got ~ 18K on a Works rear and it's great, covers the whole range from 2-up camp-touring off the slab to solo commuting, with adjustment range to spare on each end. Cheaper and easier to find than an Ohlin last time I checked (though Ohlins distribution has improved alot since, mostly targetting the oilhead market though). Given that you're in Hawaii, you may or may not need the extra juice of an Omega 400W alternator to run heated clothing, lights and such, but it is a well-built setup and easy to install; at least don't discount it based on Stephen's concerns, they come with their own much beefier diode board, and heavier copies of every other connecting wire in there as well. If you stay stock, buy a spare rotor and the tool to replace it right away, along with the 'classic boxer charging' book, all from Motorad Elektrik, and carry them with you if you travel far - Rick Jones at Motorad is your friend, get to know him, he is a walking encyclopedia on the electrics for these bikes and sells good stuff. No matter what, DO get some kind of on-board voltmeter - otherwise a dead battery is something you will be sure to discover when it's most inconvenient. Stock lighting is weak - get the brighter bulb, and carry the stock as a spare. Hang a pair of your favorite aux lights on it, whatever suits your style and locale. I've got PIAA 1200's cuz they're low draw (got 'em long before the Omega) and have a medium-range beam that can be aimed low to stay on all the time, augmenting the pathetic low-beam in traffic without offending anyone; yellow is easier on drivers' eyes at night and more conspicuous in daytime too.
This bike's two real achilles heels are the aforementioned alternator rotor, and the drive shaft - unless you're prepping for a long trip elsewhere, Hawaii is small enough you'll get home if it starts to go - just spin your back wheel in neutral once a week or so and see if it's smooth. Any notchiness is a bad sign, and if you leave it go all the way you may hurt your tranny bearing too. Mine went bad at exactly the median age of 35K. Don't replace it with another stock shaft, there are a number of better options available - Oak of Airheads fame is developing some CV-joint shafts, had pics in last month's Airmail - they may be available for sale by the time you need one. I've got a rebuilt from Eric Demant in Germany, has grease zerks on it. I'm about to open 'er up to do the splines (every other year or so), and will grease the joints at the same time. He says it oughta go 100K or so; that'll take me awhile.

Strip the 'pure air system' off the motor (those ugly tubes that come off the motor and go into the air box) - they don't do much, just cause vacuum leaks that are hard to trace, look bad dangling down there, make it harder to clean if you're into that, and cause the valves to run hotter than they should. See either the Airheads or IBMWR websites for a good writeup and a complete parts list on how to do this.

What else? A front brake upgrade is the last thing I plan to do on my bike; I tried to get a Harrison for mine last fall and discovered the american distributor, CBT imports, bailed on Harrison last year; e-mailed Harrison direct and didn't get a reply so blew the cash on the Omega, then they replied months later and offered to ship me one, but it was very pricey alone plus $55 shipping via their 'only option', so wait for a good exchange rate if you wanna go that route. I'm now looking into fitting a 4-pot caliper from a newer BMW, or even from some jap bikes; you will need to build an adapter bracket, but it's probably half the price of a Harrison. Larger rotors are reported to be good; but it means scavenging the core from your stock rotor to mount it, and if it's bent (and the guy who sells these MAP rotors stopped exchanging cuz most are) you'll need to buy a new stock rotor (~$200 min.), scrap the disk, AND pay the ~$300 or so for the bigger roter (which comes with a machined bracket for your stock caliper). I'm still running stock, and have long believe what Stephen said here, that the limiting factor is the small front tire - but having felt the brakes on Jabba's 03 GSA, I now know what I'm missing. Will probably at least get a braided hose soon. As for rear brake, not alot of options - I just switched back to stock shoes in the rear drum, had EBC's in there for 2 years and they sucked. Stock is much stronger.

A set of Ricky bars would be the icing on the cake.

Enjoy your project, and post pics!! Over in the ' ride reports' forum there is a thread right now called 'what shape is your PD in' - so let's see yours!
- Gringo

"I mean seriously, what is funnier than Helen Keller" - Mutineer

"Ah, yes, Greasing the nipples is really the cure all for a whole host of ailments." - Stagehand
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