April 19, 2014
“Deceleration – mathematically it is simply acceleration in the opposite direction to that of motion”
(Before we being, might I show you what I’ve been doing since the last chapter was written 6 weeks ago? Riding. The weather has been great, and I’ve been taking the bike on short trips to work, and slightly longer trips, like this one to Fort Hoskins – in other words riding and riding.)
From the title one might think that we’re going to be talking about braking systems or me slowing down some aspect of my life, but it’s neither of those things.
I’ve taken some steps to remove some acceleration from my bike – Was it too fast? No. Well, sorta.
First thing is about my lack of experience with a modern(ish) motorcycle. I’ve owned a lot of single cylinder two strokes and a couple of old British twins, but never a high-revving four cylinder. I love this bike. I looks fierce and it sounds fierce and it pulls through the gears with a lot of strength. But the gearing seems unnatural to me.
The tachometer says redline is at 9,000 RPM, but even though the motor only has 8,000 miles on it and there is no smoke or bad sounds coming from it, I worry if I rev it too high, it will blow up! It just seems ridiculous to me that at 60 miles an hour the motor is turning over at 5,100 RPM – is that really necessary? There’s plenty of power at that rate – I can pull up steep highway hills from 60 to 70 with ease, so wouldn’t it be nice to be putting along, doing 60 at say, 4,000 RPM? I think if I change the gearing, I’ll get plenty of power at any given speed with less stress on the motor – Who am I to second-guess the engineers of Kawasaki, but there’s a lot of knowledgeable folks on an internet forum I partake in called kz650.info and there seems to be two schools of thought there. One – leave it stock and just rev the hell out of it – that’s what it was designed for, and two – save some fuel and wear and tear and gear the bike taller…
Gearing the bike taller will come at a cost of losing some acceleration.
Here’s a fantastic interactive chart where you can compare different scenarios in gearing for hundreds of motorcycles – http://www.gearingcommander.com/
My bike is one of the many listed, and here’s a snapshot of what my bike will do if I change the front sprocket from a 16 tooth to a 17 tooth sprocket and change the rear from 42T to 38T (I found both on eBay for about $35 and they’ll be here this week : -)
While waiting for the gears to come in the mail, I was able to acquire some interesting handlebars from the mechanic up the road and I really like them – At least as a step down, while waiting for enough money to make the changes I need to have a full-on cafe racer, which will require clip-on handlebars.
The bars in the pictures below give me a nice forward position an I’ve grown to love riding this way. I’ll keep them until I can do the following:
1. Buy shorter rear shocks so…
2. When I push the fork tubes 1.5 inches through the clamps (to affix the clip-ons above the clamps) the whole bike will be lowered and have a more aggressive stance and my feet won’t be on tiptoes anymore.
3. Before I can lower the bars I need to be able to afford to shorten both throttle cables, shorten the clutch cable, buy an new front brake master cylinder (the stock one sticks out too far in the front to use on clip-ons), buy new shorter front brake hoses and a different junction box to split the hoses to the two front brake calipers.
4. Once I get the controls on the clip-on handle bars functioning (#3), then I can workout how to lower the headlight and instrument cluster, so the front of the bike doesn’t look top heavy.
Until I can get all the above done, I’ll just enjoy the bike less upright – maybe halfway between stock and cafe.