Got new "street" wheels for the 950

Discussion in 'Dakar champion (950/990)' started by kirkmoon, Mar 10, 2004.

  1. kirkmoon

    kirkmoon Making up for lost youth

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    Finally got out and put the bike through its paces with the new wheels/tires today. Pretty much confirms what my initial impressions were.

    The bike is markedly more glued to the road in turns. No sensation of front end slippage at all. Feels like a good, high performance street bike. Close to but not quite as stuck as a full on sport bike. Was able to scrape the side of my foot on the pavement while my foot was on the pegs today, which is not terribly easy to do on the 950 in the stock setup. This was due mostly to the steeper lean angles I obtained, but also to the lower height of the bike.

    The bike doesn't feel like it is "flopping" into turns like it does with the 21" wheel on the front. Press on the inside handlebar and the bike just smoothly leans over into the turn. Feels similar to the sensation on the GS. Get the bike leaned over and then let the tires do the rest. Very stable feeling.

    Fine tuning of the line is less easy than with the taller, skinnier front wheel. The front doesn't respond quite as quickly to steering input as it did with the larger wheel. Not too surprising. Significantly less "road feel" with the Tourances on. Don't feel as much feedback from the front, but less "disturbing" feedback as well. Mixed bag.

    I'm am able to carry higher speed throughout all turns with the new setup. A bit more pressure is required on the handlbars to transition from one turn to the next. Can't tell if this is due to geometry, tire profile, or larger gyro effect due to faster speed. The bike isn't hard to turn, but requires a bit more work than it did with the bigger wheel.

    The front end seems to be a little more willing to oscillate with rapid to and fro motion applied to the handlebars when travelling in a straight line. I never had the sense that a tankslapper was going to happen and absolutely no spontaneous oscillation of the front end occurred, but when I tried to make it oscillate by moving the handlebars from side to side rapidly there was significantly less self-centering tendency with the new setup. Probably due to the steeper head angle and ? smaller trail. Might potentially be important at higher speeds but didn't test this.

    All in all, I think that this has been a successful experiment. I think with a little more fine tuning, this setup makes the 950 a superior street bike. It cruises very steadily on the freeway, transmits less road chatter into the handlebars, sticks better to the road in hard turns, and generally feels very solid and stable.

    The downside is that it no longer feels like a dirt bike. The front end isn't as quick and scalpel like. It doesn't feel as "exciting" in everyday riding. It has lost some of the character that makes the 950 unique.

    I plan on using the 17/19 combo as my standard setup for street riding. If I launch out on a trip where I know that I will be going off road, I will use the 18/21 combo. Not sure which tires I would install. Might just be that the stock tires are the best compromise for this kind of riding. I think that putting TKC80's on the 17/19 combo would be a reasonable compromise, but I am guessing that the off road performance of the bike would be seriously degraded and I am not sure that it would be worth it. Over time I hope to test out all the various permutations of tires and wheels and will let you know how things unfold.

    Happy riding/ :freaky
    #41
  2. KTMax

    KTMax Ninth of the Nazgul

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    Excellent feedback Kirkmoon! Very useful and objective. :nod Most people only tend to rave about changes to their bike no matter what. Like most mods, the 19-17" combo obviously has strong points in favor and some downsides. You have pointed them out clearly. Thanks! :thumb

    My position on the subject is that I'll wait for some more road oriented tires to come available in the 950s' stock sizes (like Tourances, Anakee, MT90 S/T) and try this step first.

    BTW, I'm still amazed how good the stock Pirelli Scorpions are on tarmac. I've used them up to the outer edges without a hint of sliding (yet). You do feel the knobbies moving and deforming but they hold really well.
    #42
  3. Greg Minor

    Greg Minor The Trespasser

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    well I think you should give it a real test and ride down here to the San Diego area so we can go riding and you can let me try it to see if I should set one up this way for my street machine :freaky
    #43
  4. kirkmoon

    kirkmoon Making up for lost youth

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    Hi Greg -

    If you are ever up my way you are more than welcome to try the bike out and see what you think.
    #44
  5. Greg Minor

    Greg Minor The Trespasser

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    Laguna Seca in July ????
    #45
  6. kirkmoon

    kirkmoon Making up for lost youth

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    That would be perfect. I think that I am supposed to work that weekend, but I am trying to change things around. If I can get it off, you're on. :thumb

    BTW, you shouldn't interpret my comments as indicating that I don't like the setup. I do. But this kind of stuff is very subjective and I don't want to rave about it and then have others spend a lot of money building new wheels only to discover that it isn't what they want.

    Based upon what I have heard you say in your posts, I suspect that you would be VERY happy with the setup if you dialed in the suspension geometry, spring rates and valving to match your weight and set the compression and rebound damping settings to optimize it for street riding.
    #46
  7. kirkmoon

    kirkmoon Making up for lost youth

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    KTMax -

    Thanks. Don't want to lead anyone astray. Much of this is subjective. A lot of the performance characteristics of the bike can be dramatically altered by changing suspension settings independently from the tire/wheel combo. Position of the forks in the triple clamp, rear shock height, spring rates, valving, preload settings, damping adjustments. I am fairly sure that a significant portion of the changes that I am seeing can be accounted for by geometry and it seems very likely that it would be possible to modify the performance characteristics of the bike in different directions by adjusting these parameters.

    You mention that you will wait until someone makes a more street oriented tire for the 950 in the stock wheel sizes. Since most of the change in the feel and performance of the bike in my experiment seems to relate to the front end, and since Metzeler already makes the Tourance in a 21" size, why don't you just put a Tourance 90/90 21" on your front wheel, leave the Scorpion on the rear and see what that does to the feel of your bike? Would be most interested to hear. I might even try that myself one of these days.

    Cheers. :beer
    #47
  8. teabagger

    teabagger Been here awhile

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    Perhaps the headshake I felt at 106MPH was related to my tires. I drag the pegs pretty regularly on my twisty road, and it feels very planted and more stable than many pure sport bikes. I love the feel, but am still considering the steering dampener. I will also check the alignemnt as my buddy knocked himself 4' off a loading dock when forgot about the hard bags....
    Teabagger.
    #48
  9. Renazco

    Renazco Formerly AKA Boejangles

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    On the 950? I'd love to see that!
    #49
  10. kirkmoon

    kirkmoon Making up for lost youth

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    Remember that with 17" wheels front and back the bike is almost two inches closer to the ground than with the stock wheels. This makes it a little easier to get those pegs scraping!


    I would guess that the headshake you felt has to do with the significantly steeper head angle you have with the 17" wheel up front. Unless your dealer changed the length of the rear shock or adjusted the position of the forks in the triple clamps, you bike will have a much steeper head angle and probably much less trail than the stock setup, both of which will make it easier to get head shake and loss of front end tracking stability. If you plan on running this setup full time, it would make sense to make the necessary adjustments to the suspension to optimize the bike for this wheel setup. A steering damper isn't a bad idea, but it would be more of a bandaid solution than a definitive fix.
    #50
  11. KTMax

    KTMax Ninth of the Nazgul

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    Yes I thought about that too. Just about every decent dual sport tire is available in 90/90/21. I might try a Tourance or Anakee but I'm a little sceptical towards a mixed tire setup. My experience with this in the past were not that good in most cases.

    But I am really curious how big the role of the tires is in the excellent 'scalpel steering' of the 950. :wink: It's one of the best things of this bike (and I'm very cautious not to mess it up).
    #51
  12. Boottrac

    Boottrac Been here awhile

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    Dont you have a 450EXC also I have just finished getting all the dual sport parts and will do a full picture story for a run through by every one. You go first class my friend and the bike looks assume. In on pic of the rear brake do they use the same on both the 950 and 450?
    #52
  13. Doug Matson

    Doug Matson Long timer Supporter

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    I also have a 450EXC dualsported and I just took a look at the rear brakes on both, the rear of the 450 is a single puck the 950 is a dual. The front on the 450 is almost identical to the 950's rear.
    #53
  14. kirkmoon

    kirkmoon Making up for lost youth

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    I have now put a few hundred miles on the new setup and I must say, the more I ride it the more I like it.

    The added grip is substantial. I am now willing to commit to turn entry speeds and lean angles that I would not have tried before. I have not yet found the traction limit despite looking for it fairly agressively.

    The front end feels completely planted. Just as solid as a GS but with more road feel and better bump absorption. No stepping out at all. No sensation of slippage when pushing the limits. Just solid.

    The turn in is VERY smooth. Similar in feeling to the turn entry sensation that I loved on the GS. Apply pressure to the inside handlebar and the bike just leans quickly and smoothly into the turn with no muss or fuss whatsoever. Feels as though the bike is pivoting around a very low center of rotation. No feeling as though the bike is falling or flopping into the turn. No funny weight shifts. Less suspension movement, even in quick transitions. Less front end diving on braking. And I have not adjusted anything!

    The only real loss that I can see is the loss of that sensation of having a large skinny wheel up front. With the 21" wheel up front it sort of felt like having a pizza cutter up there. Sharp and precise. Unfortunately, that wheel/tire combo just doesn't stick as well as a regular street setup. The low speed twitchyness that I have described is real, but not a problem, and is nowhere to be found at speed. I am quite sure that I could dial it out with suspension adjustments but doubt that I will bother.

    So my current thinking is that if you want to optimize this bike for street riding at the expense of decreasing its dirtworthiness, putting on 17"/19" wheels is a winner. I highly recommend it. The pros far outweigh the cons.

    It seems to me that KTM should seriously consider marketing two forms of this bike, one set up for street riding with 17"/19" wheels and mounted with Tourances or Anakees and one for dual sport riding set up like the current model with 18"/21" wheels and dual sport tires.

    I think they would sell a whole lot more of this wonderful bike if they were able to market it to folks looking for a totally fun street bike with middle age friendly ergos. The bike is shorter with the street wheels on it, so the "inseam challenged" would be less put off by the bike. If they put a comfy seat suitable for touring and two-up riding on it, added heated grips and power outlets for a GPS up front and another one for heated clothing on the side and threw in a set of bags (preferably a bit better looking than the current crop of bags) they would probably have a GS killer.

    One final observation for now. I had swapped out the stock 17 tooth countershaft sprocket for a 16 tooth sprocket before the wheel change. This worked great with the 18" wheel. With the 17" wheel out back, the gearing is just a tad too short and I think it would be better with the 17 tooth back on. I don't notice any problems in the twisties, but out on the freeway the rpms are a bit too high in 6th gear for long distance high speed cruising.

    Oh, and one more final, final observation :evil . Now that I am getting better stickyness on the tires, I am pushing the throttle a bit harder than before in the middle of turns and I am...horror of horrors....starting to wish for just a bit more power. The 950 engine is wonderful, but it doesn't have the oomph of the V-Twin engines that I got to know and love on the Aprilia Mille and Tuono. I believe that they crank out around 125 hp and those bikes weigh quite a bit less than the KTM. If KTM wants to go all out on a street version of the 950, they might as well put a full out street version of the engine as well. I haven't heard what the hp on the upcoming Duke II is supposed to be, but I bet it is close to 120-125. So I humbly suggest to KTM that if they decide to come out with a streetified version of the 950 Adventure, that they put the more highly tuned version of the LC8 engine in it as well. No harm in askin'.

    Cheers. :freaky
    #54
  15. Greg Minor

    Greg Minor The Trespasser

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    Did you get a chance to run up around 100 mph for any distance? I'm also real intersted to see just how much it suffers on a dirt road nothing tricky just a nice smooth mountain road
    #55
  16. Mack

    Mack Gone, but never forgotten. RIP, Mack...

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    KM, Thanks for all the quality info, sounds like it worked out great. The Duke 990 IIRC is said to put out 124hp. Cheers, Mack
    #56
  17. kirkmoon

    kirkmoon Making up for lost youth

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    I spent most of my testing time out in the twisties. On the freeway today I had it up to around 85 mph for a while but the bike was revving around 5800 or so due to the smaller sprocket up front combined with the smaller wheel out back and there was too much traffic to test it out at any higher speed anyway. I will make a point of finding a safe spot and test it out at higher speed but with the low gearing it may not be very representative of what it might be like with stock gearing. I haven't had a chance to take the bike out onto dirt with the "street" wheels and tires on it. I will do this sometime in the next few weeks and let you know. What I can say for sure at this point is that the bike is great in the twisties and on any kind of paved road at any speed less than 80 mph.
    #57
  18. Doug Matson

    Doug Matson Long timer Supporter

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    Thanks for the detailed report Kirk. I will only being doing dirt that I would call mild and little of that. I don't need all the travel that I have on my standard (or short version as some call it). I do need to have good footing when riding 2 up. Actually thought about adding an RT or FJR (for the longer road trips), but this bike is so much fun I will try to make this do. Anymore thought on what are you going to do about the tube vrs tubless issue? When you chose the rims was black available? Thanks again for your help.
    #58
  19. kirkmoon

    kirkmoon Making up for lost youth

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    I can't imagine that the KTM with 17"/19" Tourances on it will be any less capable than the GS with the same setup, and lots of folks have taken their GSes on the easy (and even not so easy) dirt with that setup with no problems at all. The only stuff that I would avoid like the plague with the Tourances on would be mud (and maybe deep sand.) Regular graded dirt roads would be a piece of cake I would think, even two up. I am certain that these wheels with TKC80's mounted would handle even moderately technical stuff reasonably well. I did a dual sport trip in Mexico to Copper Canyon on a GS Adventure with TKC80's mounted two up with my wife and we covered some moderately technical off road stuff one day on the road from San Juanito to Madera and the big bike, wheel, tire combo worked beautifully. I don't know why that wouldn't be true for the KTM with the same setup.

    I have been avoiding thinking about the tube/tubless "problem". I decided to not seal my rims because they told me that they had a 5% failure rate and I was afraid that if I dinged the rim out in the backwoods I would be screwed. So I just put in ultra thick tubes (Heavy Duty tubes from Moose are in there now) and some AmerSeal tube sealant and am hoping for the best.

    Regarding rim color: yes, black was an option. I think that they had to be special ordered, but you could get them if you wanted them. They cost a little bit more. The website for Buchanan Spoke and Rim is http://www.buchananspokes.com.
    #59
  20. KTMax

    KTMax Ninth of the Nazgul

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    Wow... Your bike has the Akra's, carb changes and lower gearing. If you're wishing for more power in the middle of turns it sounds like you may have missed out on a career. Or is Kirkmoon just an alias for Randy Mamola? :lol3

    I'd love to see a pic of your completely fried'n wasted rear Metzeler! :nod

    BTW, KTM is building the bike of your dreams. The new 990 Duke will have 123 HP with wider and even stickier tires! :evil
    #60