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Sunday, 15 August 2010 06:48
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August 2010 Vol 10 - 8
Star of the Month: Brazilian Beauty
Motorcycle Diaries: an 800-km Weekend
Tech Talk: Long-haul Evolution
Globalizer: 7th Motocapital
Pic of the month: They made my day
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Tech Talk: Long-haul Evolution

Turning your cruiser into a tourer


By Anton Popov,

Star Cruiser Editor


I dreamed about motorcycle travelling long before I even got my first bike. Buying a Star gave me an opportunity to make my dream finally come true. Many people would say a cruiser is not the best touring solution especially compared with genuine mile eaters like BMW GS/RT, Yamaha FJR or Honda Gold Wing/Pan European. But what can I do, if I like the charisma of chrome and the sweet V-twin sound – but still want to travel distant lands? My whole experience of owning a Dragstar 1100 Classic suggests a solution to this dilemma.


I could get myself a bigger bike, if I were a bit bulkier myself. But Mother Nature gave me only 62 kilograms of live weight. Can you find a prêt-a-porter cruiser-tourer bike light enough for me? Nope. Everything readily available is either too heavy or too sporty. So the only way I could have what I wanted was to do it myself. So I chose an XVS1100A as a middle-weight cruiser – soft, friendly and reliable – and started turning it into a tough traveler.


First I had to deal with ergonomics. On a stock bike my whole body went numb after a mere 200 kms – no way to go if you want to cross Europe. So I changed the stock seat for Corbin Dual Touring (my bottom said “thank you very much indeed”), Baron’s DT Pullback risers (a huge relief for my back), Kuryakin’s ISO grips and Throttle Boss to put some vibes and pressure off my hands and Lindby Custom’s Chrome Clamp-on Footpegs to have a choice of positions for my feet.


The second problem was the luggage. My Dragstar came out of the shop bare as a newborn, so at first I had to use a backpack. I never really liked leather saddlebags, so my first choice was a pair of Nelson-Rigg textile throw-overs and a cordura rollbag by Saddlemen. Sure enough, I ran out of luggage space sooner than could say “camping”. So the final decision was a set of Yamaha OEM hardbags and a DMY trunk by Mutazu. Hardbags are expensive stuff, so it is well worth to protect them. I used a set of protection bars originally made for the RoadStar at the rear and Cobra Highway bars at the front.


Then there was an issue with the wind. Deafening noise and sore neck made continuous riding really difficult. So I started with a Yamaha OEM windscreen, which worked really fine. But aesthetically the bike’s front end looked too light compared with the rear end, swollen with hardbags and trunk. So I decided to try a Batwing fairing. After some thought I chose outer-only fairing by DestinationCycles. I preferred this design not only for its lower price, but also for its modest weight and maintainability. When I bought it four years ago, plug-and-play fairings for metric bikes were ridiculously expensive, costing over $1,000 per piece. Now riders have cheaper options, offered my companies like Memphis for less than $200. The aesthetical issue was solved. But to be honest, the fairing was less efficient in terms of wind protection than an OEM windshield. The problem was in vortex-like disturbances coming up from beneath the fairing. I solved that by installing Yamaha OEM lower deflectors. Another little, but useful aide that I employed was a Laminarlip deflector on top of the fairing’s windscreen. It raised the airflow well above my head. So I got rid of head buffeting, but at the same time I still had a “look-over”, not “look-through” windshield, which is very important in bad weather. Finally, I added a pair of National Cycle hand deflectors. But in my opinion, their effect is limited (if any), probably because the fairing already takes most of the wind off my hands.


When you have the upper part of your body protected from rain and wind, you legs and feet start feeling particularly vulnerable. So at first I decided to put a pair of Sage Brush Design vinyl covers on my Cobra highway bars. The covers worked absolutely fine, the only disadvantage being the lack of adjustable ventilation. You either have them on – or off. The process takes just a couple of minutes, but I wanted something truly adjustable and more solid maybe. So I got a set of JTD lowers with vent doors. Additionally they provided me with housing for my new 6 ½ speaker system to replace the poorly-working handlebar set my MH Instruments. To my surprise, the lowers added some whirlwinds from below and I still have to solve that issue. But in other aspects they work fine and endured my latest 9,500-km trip around Europe flawlessly.



So what did I get in return for spending 5 years on trial and error and a hefty investment of $6,000+? What I got as a result is my dreambike and a fair travel mate. The bike is so comfortable that I ride continuously for up to 30 hours. I think this is the best proof of efficiency for the mixed concept of a midweight cruiser-tourer motorcycle.


P.S. I would like to thank the guys from the ISRA and UltraStar forums for their advice and support. This bike would never come to be what it is without your experience and ideas.


Last Updated on Sunday, 15 August 2010 07:58
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