The Transformation of our F6B: Almost Done!

A brief summary of how our F6B changed from the time it was produced until the day we purchased the bike, as least as best as I can tell:

  • The two-tone gloss black & flat black color scheme was changed to all gloss black by the selling dealership, Honda of Russellville, Arkansas circa 2013.
  • The stock exhaust slip-on pipes/mufflers were replaced with a set of Vance & Hines “Monster” pipes; however, the catalytic converters are still on the bike.
  • The stock 6.5″ windscreen was replaced with a medium size Clearview Shields windscreen, making the front of the bike look more like a Gold Wing than the sporty “cruiser” or “bagger” persona.
  • The stock saddle was replaced with a Corbin F6B Touring saddle, covered in an embossed, faux black snake finish with a mid-saddle back rest.
  • The stock suspension was lowered 1″ using a Lower Wing, Inc. shock link, reducing the bike’s ground and cornering clearance, as well as making the center stand un-useable. Interestingly enough, the front suspension was never adjusted to level the bike which caused the steering trail to be altered.
  • All of the “Honda” badging was removed and/or replaced with custom-made F6B badging.
  • The stock rider’s foot rests were replaced with Kuryakyn “mini footboards” and set of Kuryakyn Ergo II Cruise Mounts were attached to the front engine guards.
  • The knock-out panels on the lower driving light housings were removed (poorly, I might add) and a set of HID driving lights were installed in the housings.
  • A set of Kuryakyn ISO handgrips were installed over the stock handgrips.
  • A set of Kuryakyn Skinni Mini™ Ultra Bright L.E.D. Strip Lights were added around the two large headlights.
  • A set of foam “Tunnel Fillers” were inserted into fork tube passage in the fairing to block air movement and road debris from passing through the fairing.

How the F6B was configured when we purchased it.

A Quick Recap of My Early Changes Made Right After Acquiring The Bike:

  • Replaced the Corbin saddle first with a stock model purchased off of ebay  ($189), less a few parts that I only discovered were needed for proper installation. The latter are now on their way to us. Note: the Corbin saddle will be offered up for sale such that the proceeds will defer some of the other equipment purchases.
  • Replaced the Clearview Shields 15″ touring windscreen with the stock 6.5″ tall model purchased off of ebay ($85); however, it has proven to be too small for two-up riding so I have purchased two other, taller models via ebay to experiment with: a National Cycles VStream Sport ($107) and a BaggerShield Sport Shield ($89).
  • Removed the Kuryakyn Ergo II Cruise Mounts. These were “highway pegs” bolted to the engine protector bars. I’ve never used highway pegs and saw no need to keep them, never mind wanting a cleaner look to the very sleek bike.  If I find I need an alternate position for my feet on longer rides Rivco makes a very well-integrated “flip-out” peg that I’ll use. ($0)
  • Removed the Kuryakyn Skinni Mini™ Ultra Bright L.E.D. Strip Lights.  The previous owner had them wired into the running light circuit and wrapped around the headlights, ostensibly for enhanced visibility but presumably for the added aesthetics as well. I’m just not into decorative lighting. ($0)
  • Removed the Kuryakyn ISO handgrips, using a little farmboy engineering to salvage the end-weights for use on an interim basis until I decide if I’ll outfit the F6B with a Throttlemeister throttle lock. There was also an ISO foot shifter cover that had to go. ($0)

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How the F6B was configured shortly after joining our stable.

The More Recent Changes:

It was a busy week couple weeks with packages arriving almost every day. Thankfully, that has just about come to an end and I can now shift from buying parts to selling off a few as a way of recouping some of the transformation costs.

Radiator Cowl Badges:  It was purely cosmetic, but having the “F6B” branding down on the mid fairings in one typeface and then in a badge on the radiator cowl in a different typeface seemed redundant as well as aesthetically out of balance.  I looked at the wide variety of aftermarket badges that were available, but decided the original Honda flying wing badges would be the most appropriate and add-back some of the Honda polish that differentiates their products from others.  I purchase the badges off of ebay for $56 and they arrived a week later.

 

The custom F6B aftermarket badges at left, and then the stock badge at right.

Removing the aftermarket badges required removing several panels from the upper left and right cowlings to get to the access holes behind each badge that allow you to push the badges away from the cowling.  With rear access now available, I applied a little heat to the badges to help release the adhesive and then used a nail punch to push the badges away from the cowl to where I could grasp them with my fingers. With the F6B badges off, it was a simple clean-up of the mounting surface before applying the new Honda badges with their pre-applied double-backed adhesive tape.

Passenger Backrest & Luggage Rack: This was a really important, albeit expensive “must have” for the bike.  Without the backrest, riding two-up with Debbie would be a non-starter: she needs her backrest!

As mentioned in my last update, the back rest came from Japan at a cost of $266 and the mounting hardware and luggage rack came from Ohio for another $260.  Amazingly, both packages arrived on 2 September, several days ahead of the original ECDs.  Of course when I say they arrived, they got into the hands of our local post office where upon they were not necessarily delivered promptly or without angst.  Not sure what’s up with the USPS: seems like they’ve gone to contract labor or something. Anyway, I was thrilled that they arrived as quickly as they did and I had them on the bike Wednesday night.

Installation required removal of the saddle side rails, saddle and then the upper rear cowl which is somewhat tricky.  With the cowl removed, there were four parts that had to be added to the bike to support the backrest and/or luggage rack installation.

 

The first two were plastic panel cover plates that went in the rear center top cover. The new parts were simply covers with pre-formed access holes for the mounting brackets that replaced the solid, stock cover plates.  While I could have saved about $80 by simply drilling holes in the stock covers and buying only the lower pair of brackets from an aftermarket company, I opted to go with the Honda OEM parts for a factory-finish installation.  With the rear center top cover removed the two screws that held in the small cover plates were now accessible: it was a two-minute parts swap.  Also, with the top cover removed it was now easy to see where the other two metal attachment plates for the passenger back rest and luggage rack would go.

 

The only trick to installing the metal brackets was figuring out if the antenna mounting bracket went under or on top of the bracket as it was not clear how they stacked-up at first. However, upon closer inspection it had to be under not over. And, with the bracket installed and the top cover back in place it was just a matter of stacking up the passenger back rest, four bushings and the luggage rack, all of which were attached to the brackets using four bolts.

 

The final fit and finish was excellent. Moreover, Debbie did a test sitting and gave the backrest a big thumbs-up.  It fell in pretty much the same place as the back rest on our Harley-Davidson Road King CVO which she has no problem riding for hours upon hours without any discomfort.  And, at least in my humble opinion, I think the F6B looks more complete and balanced with the back rest and luggage rack.

The Mustang Tripper Fastback Deluxe Saddle: As mentioned, when I first saw the stock saddle (pictured above with the back rest photos) I could tell it would probably not be as comfortable as it should for Debbie.  The very blocky, two-tier design just looked like it would hit her in the back of the thighs in a way that would become uncomfortable even on hour-long rides. mustang_delux_tripper_fastback_seat_for_honda_gold_wing_f6_b20132014As luck would have it, one of the aftermarket saddles that looked like it addressed this issue was the Mustang Tripper Fastback and I found a second-hand one for sale that had been in use for a few years.  The seller had it shipped out last Tuesday and it arrived just two days later on Thursday afternoon via UPS: that was impressive!  And, upon opening the box the saddle was equally impressive. Fantastic quality and the cover looked “as good as new”.

As I went to install the new saddle I’d finally figured out why I’d been having so much trouble installing and removing the stock saddle that I’d purchased via ebay: it was missing four large rubber & metal mounting bushings which was causing the mounting bolts to go too far into the mounting bosses and damaging the threads in the bosses.  While I’d address the missing parts with the seller later on, my immediate concern was re-tapping the threads in the bosses so the new saddle installation would be trouble-free.  It added about 20 minutes to the seat installation process but it was time well spent.

The Mustang saddle had a much better fit and finish that either the Corbin or the stock saddle and, in terms of comfort, it did in fact eliminate the interference issue for Debbie just as expected.  And, because the Mustang saddle moves the rider down and back an inch I’d no longer need to have the lowering link on the bike to accommodate my somewhat short inseam.  Now, I will have to note that having me sitting an extra 1″ lower in the saddle is not something Debbie was thrilled with. She doesn’t like to be perched up above me on a motorcycle and as you can see in the photo below, there’s a fairly significant difference in height between where my butt hits the rider’s saddle and where Debbie’s butt hits the pillion position on the saddle.  She says it’s not awful and something she’s already getting very used to.

Getting back to the missing parts on the stock saddle, I’ve since shared correspondence with the seller and he’s purportedly found the missing parts and is sending them my way. That’s a good thing!  After all, the stock saddle is of no use to me without them!

Replacing that Lowering Link: One of the things I quickly realized I’d have to address with this particular F6B was the lowered rear suspension.  The seller, like me, is inseam challenged so the seat height of the F6B can make your footing marginal on any other than dead flat surfaces.  But, taking an inch out of the ride height and cornering clearance on any motorcycle creates trade-offs and I quickly realized how quickly that cornering clearance can be consumed just on our local roads.  Having ‘found’ the Mustang saddle, I knew I’d gain the same inch of standover height that the Lower Wing, Inc., lowering link provided, so I went ahead and found a stock shock link from a salvage yard on ebay for $39 that came off a 2013 GL1800 with 11,000 miles; new ones have an MSRP of $256 and even at a discount are around $200.  The link arrived on Thursday, same day as the saddle.

After confirming the Mustang saddle provided me the solid footing I’d need with the Lower Wing link removed, I cleared my calendar for Friday morning so I could take on the link removal project.  I will say that not being able to use the center stand made changing out the link a bit more of a challenge, noting it was the installation of the lowering link that rendered the center stand useless.  Instead, I had to use my J&S lift to raise the bike up high enough to get access to the three large bolts that secured the link to the motorcycle frame, shock and dog-bone linkage, noting the center stand needs to be up to use the J&S lift and here’s the rub: it’s hard to access the bolts with the center stand up and two of them won’t come out unless the stand is down.  Therefore, it became a two-step process whereby I removed the nuts from the three bolts while the bike was on the J&S lift, then lowered the bike onto three 4×6 pieces of lumber to raise the bike the extra inch needed to use the center stand.  Once the bike was up on the center stand the bolts came right out and the lowering link was out.

 With the stock shock link in place and the lowering link removed. 

Putting the stock shock link back in required the use of a small hydraulic jack to compress the shock enough to get the shock bolt holes aligned with the link, but that was the only tricky part.  After that it was just a matter of torquing the bolts back to factory spec, getting the lumber out from under the bike and then removing a small shim from the side stand to adjust the lean angle of the bike back to the stock configuration.

The removal of the lowering link immediately returned the center stand usability, it restored the original handling / steering characteristics as well as the stock cornering clearance and with the addition of the Mustang saddle I still was able to get both feet flat on the ground when stopped and seated in the saddle.

I think I already have a buyer for the lowering link which new sell for $385.  I’ll need to see if I can’t find what these things sell for second-hand.  Same with that Corbin saddle.

Finding the Right Windscreen: It’s always a bit of a challenge to find the right amount of wind protection for a motorcycle. On one hand, you don’t want to be beat to death by wind blast or buffeting but on the other there’s a reason you’re inclined to ride a motorcycle instead of driving a car; just ask any dog and they’ll explain.

So, the F6B presents us with a few challenges in this regard.  The GL1800 was designed to have a full-size fairing but that sort of kills the “bagger / cruiser” persona of the GL1800B / F6B.  Of course, as we’ve now learned first hand the very stylish-looking F6B windscreen at just 6.5″ tall is simply too short to be effective at speeds above 45 mph for a single ride and only 30 mph for two-up.

At least from my perspective, what you see below represents the two extremes for windscreens: the Clearview Shields 15″ (Medium) windscreen on the left is 3″ too tall for me and the Honda original equipment 7″ tall windscreen on the right is too short.  Oh yeah, it looks really good and would actually be a pretty good windscreen for the summer but that’s about it: no way it could be used for two-up riding.

 

The following windscreens “appeared” to be good candidates with screen coverage and heights that fall in between the two models above.  The one on the left is the National Cycles VStream Sport model and the one on the right is the BaggerShield Sport Shield model.

 

The VStream Sport model is about 12″ tall when measured the same way as the first two windscreens, whereas the BaggerShield Sport is 13″ tall.  However, the Lexan polycarbonate VStream incorporates a “flip lip” across the top edge of the windscreen similar to the Clearview Shields models as well as some shaping at the outside edges whereas the BaggerShield is just a curved piece of aircraft grade Lucite acrylic.  The shaping on the VStream made all of the difference and the height was spot-on for allowing me to see over the top edge instead of through it, which was also a problem with the BaggerShield.

Therefore, at least for the time being, the VStream will be the windscreen of choice for both my daily commute as well as any weekend riding Debbie and I do on the Honda.  The BaggerShield will be going out on ebay as it’s just not useable for me and it’s also not returnable after being used and, well, how the heck do you know if they work without installing it and riding around.

Tunnel Fillers: What the Heck Are These?  When I had the bike taken apart to work on the windscreens I found two large pieces of foam stuffed down in the fork tunnel of the bike’s fairing.  These foam fillers are apparently designed to fill the gap between the fork tubes and the fairing to keep cold air, bugs, water, and road debris from coming up and hitting the rider.  In doing some quick research on these things I learned there are people who think they’re the greatest thing ever, whereas other people see them as a solution looking for a problem.  I’ve pulled them out, but have not yet decided what to do with them beyond that.  We’ll see if they are of benefit when the cold weather comes this winter.

J&M Speaker Upgrade:  Having been spoiled by the four speaker sound system on our Harley-Davidson Road King CVO, the two speaker system in the fairing just seemed a bit lacking on the Honda.

As I was doing my homework and learning about the F6B I stumbled across the high output J&M FSPU-GL06-XT speakers that were a plug and play replacement for the stock  Honda speakers.  At $129, that seemed like a reasonable approach given how much better most aftermarket speakers are vs. the factory spec.  I ordered them on a Tuesday and they arrived on Saturday at noon via FedEx.  Installation took all of about 15 minutes as the dash cover on the Gold Wings pops off and the speakers are each held in with four screws and a single two-pin power/signal wire.  From the J&M specs, the XT’s are rated at 3 ohms impedance and 140 watts max power, they feature a very thin, hard, injection molded combination carbon fiber/polycarbonate cone, titanium colored dust cover, super flexible rolled edge, high sensitivity voice coil and dual-donut design high-flux strength Neodymium magnet structure, to provide for maximum air movement & voice coil cooling, along with superior bass and midrange response.

The original equipment speakers are at left with the dash off, XT’s installed at right.

The J&M XT speakers definitely sounded a lot better than the original equipment: very clear, crisp and with better bass response just as advertised.  So, at least to me, well worth the cost since the entire sound system is built around just the two-speaker system.

Switching Out Mini-Footboards for OEM Pegs: As noted, the previous owner swapped out the basic Honda OEM foot rests for a pair of Kuryakyn Mini-Footboards. While I’ve learned to like the footboards on our Road King, they were nicely integrated with the Harley’s foot shifter and brake pedal such that the footboards did not interfere. That was not the case for me with the Kury Mini-Footboards and the Honda’s foot controls.

While I was surfing one of the F6B owners discussion forums I noted someone was also looking for a set of OEM driver’s foot rests and in the midst of his search apparently found a set about the same time another list member offered up a set.  I jumped on those and bought them for $32. The seller had them in the mail in no time and they arrived on Saturday, about the same time as the J&M Speakers.

 

The aftermarket mini-floorboards at left that I replaced with stock foot rests.

I had the footrests changed out in about 10 minutes and really enjoyed having them on our first post-change ride on Saturday afternoon.

Homemade Glovebox & Saddle Bag Key Knobs: One of the odd design features of the Gold Wing are the lockable glovebox and saddlebags.  While on the surface having secure storage on a motorcycle seems like a really good idea, and it is.  However, in most cases a key lock is in addition to a latching mechanism that can be operated without a key, but then locked if needed.

On the Honda, that was not the case: the saddlebags are either locked and latched or unlocked with a key sticking out of the key hole.  Same thing goes with the glovebox: you can only open the glovebox with a key. The work around that Gold Wing owners have come up with over the years is using a replacement radio knob and spare keys to create a “key knobs” for the glovebox and saddlebags.

I’d ordered the radio knobs for this little trick from a local dealer on Wednesday and they arrived on Friday afternoon. There’s actually a video out on the web that describes and demonstrates in detail how to make these key knobs, but in short it takes about 20 minutes to cut the keys to the right length for the two different key knobs needed for the glovebox and saddlebag locking mechanism. Add another 10 minutes for putting a notch in the middle of the radio nob and then 6 minutes for mixing and then filling the radio knobs with epoxy and getting the keys centered as the epoxy sets up. Twelve hours later, we’ve got key knobs!

 

So, What’s Left To Do?

In theory, I’ve got everything I need for the original purposes of this bike: replacing the BMW R1100S as my daily driver.  However, as much as Debbie enjoys riding on the Honda there’s a 50/50 chance it could end up being our only motorcycle going forward!  More to follow on that.  But, if that were to be the case the Honda would definitely need some type of throttle lock installed for longer rides as a pseudo cruise control and I’d also need to add a trailer hitch and wiring for the Bushtec trailer, never mind getting the Bushtec repainted.

Beyond that, it’ll need an oil, oil filter and air filter change in about a month along with a change to the brake and clutch fluid.

So, there you have it: you’re up to date!  And here’s the bike as it sits today:

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Great Weekend: We Did a Little of Everything

Dental Update:

Going into the weekend my lower left jaw and even the area around my root canal was pretty sore. However, by the end of the weekend everything is feeling nearly back to normal, and that’s a good thing! Here’s hoping the trend continues and that when I get my permanent crown on 20 September I don’t have any lingering after effects.

Thursday – Dropping Blue off for Service at Atlanta Harley

Thursday only gets special mention as it was one of the first Thursdays ahead of an off-
Friday for work where I did not have to work from home. For whatever reason, I was able to close out all of my work before leaving work a little early on Thursday. That also worked out well as the plan for Thursday afternoon was to take our Harley-Davidson Road King over to Harley-Davidson of Atlanta (HDA) and leave it overnight so they could give it a re-tune on the Dyno Thursday and also service the brake and clutch fluids. The brake & clutch service is something that was way overdue: 2 year intervals are recommended given how DOT brake fluid breaks down and the brake and clutch fluid in ‘Blue’ was over 5 years old.

The ride over to HDA in Lithia Springs wasn’t too bad since it was just Thursday afternoon traffic. We had Blue checked in with Kelly in service around 5:30. The re-dyno tune of the bike @ $400 was probably overkill, but the bike has not been running as well as it once did and had recurring issues such as:

  • Balky, clunky and difficult cold start-up. At times I would think it was the starter or compensator in the primary case area that had an issue, and at others I would think it was air/gas as I could see a backfire through the air cleaner now and again.
  • Difficult hot re-starts. In addition to demonstrating the same balky cold start-ups it would sometimes have a hard time on hot re-starts. The most recent was when we were looking at the Honda F6B and had just fired the bike up to leave, then had to shut it down so we could talk to the sellers for a minute before firing it back up to head for home. Yeah, well it didn’t want to fire until the 3rd attempt: I thought at one point that we might end up sitting there for a while.
  • Popping on de-acceleration.
  • Backfire / Fuel Starvation on throttle blips.

20170907_201454Since we were out and about and on Friday we stopped in for a bite to eat at Loco’s on the way home. In an effort to expand our menu selection options we tried something new for us: the Loco’s Wrap. The Loco’s Wrap has flash-fried chicken strips tossed in hot wing sauce that gets stuffed into a flour tortilla along with blue cheese, shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, shredded cheese, fried jalapeno and bacon; it’s a keeper! I also had a side salad as I was feeling the need for some greens. It was a really nice change of pace.

Friday – Riding the Tandem & Working on the Honda

Friday started with me up early working on the Honda. 1st up was perhaps the most important change to date and that was replacing the shock-lowering link with a stock shock link to put the bike back to its original ride height. The seller’s had the big bike lowered an inch by using the Lower Wing, Inc., lowering block and while it makes the bike a better fit for shorter riders, it also changes the steering geometry and reduces the cornering clearance, and those two things are not a positive change. I’ll spare all of the details and simply say, it took about two hours to change out the block as there were some challenges associated with not being able to use the bike’s center stand with the lowering block installed. But, the block-swap was a success!

It was around 10:30am after I finished the suspension work on the Honda and high on our “must-do” list was a tandem bicycle ride. We’d not been able to get out for a couple of weekends and the hope was that we’d get out for at least two rides over the 3 day weekend. This would also give me a chance to see how well the new front derailleur would work. The weather was a bit cooler than when we’d last ridden, but the sun was shining and it made for perfect cycling weather. Sadly, the shifting on the tandem quickly became problematic and I’ll be darned if I know why, other than thinking that I’d simply not tightened-down the pinch bolts on the cable ends enough. However, the bigger problem was that I’d left the tool I’d need to make any adjustments at home so we had to nurse the mis-shifting bike home. Things really got screwed up when the chain jumped off the big chainring and got wrapped around the rear derailleur. I got that sorted out but could tell that the shifting had been made even worse by that little incident. That said, while the shifting was an annoyance it was an otherwise delightful ride.

Back at home we switched clothes into something more motorcycling appropriate and rode down to The Red Eyed Mule for lunch on the Honda. We arrived right after “rush hour” so we had no problem finding a seat and I swear the Jakes Big Daddy gets better and better with each visit! On Friday it was the Sloppy Jake piled on top of the burger than seemed to be exceptional. Just the perfect lunch and as always a ½ a burger is all each of us want or need.

Riding the Honda to and from The Red Eyed Mule pretty much confirmed the need to switch out the windscreen for one of the two that were due to arrive next week. There was just too much wind blast coming over the top and around the sides of the very minimal stock windscreen to make for a comfortable ride. I was actually doing OK with the new saddle since it lowered me by an inch, but me being down an inch meant I wasn’t blocking as much wind for Debbie as I did on the stock saddle so she was getting even more wind blast than she did on her first two rides.

Shortly after arriving home from lunch I received a phone call from the local Honda dealer telling me my radio knobs had arrived. The radio knobs would be used to create a pair of key knobs for the bike’s glove box and rear saddle bag locks. I quickly made my way down to the dealer to pick those up along with some epoxy that would be used to affix the key ends in the knobs. While I was out I also had to pick up some hardware to finish the Mustang saddle installation, as there were a couple of stock fasteners that weren’t used for the Mustang saddle that had to be replaced by shorter machine screws to plug a couple chassis holes. My errands took a bit longer than originally planned as the Florida evacuations ahead of hurricane Irma had Interstate 75 bottle necked and that, in turn, caused US Route 41 to back up to a standstill that spilled onto other secondary and tertiary roads.

After finally getting home after my hour-long errand took two hours, it only took me about 20 minutes to cut the keys to the right length for the two different key knobs and to get the epoxy mixed and poured so the keys would set up and dry for the next day or so. It suffices to say I’ve gotten very efficient at removing and reinstalling the passenger back rest / luggage rack, side rails and saddle so it didn’t take long to get that other little project associated with installing a couple of small machine screws taken care.

You can see how the key knobs turned out in the photos below.  I left the key knob sticking out of the lock a 1/2″ for the photo, but it pushed in flush with the lock face.  From the back you’d never know there was a lock hiding under the black rubber knob that matches the radio volume and control knobs on the left fairing.

 

And then here’s the key knob for the rear saddlebag lock.  This one had to stick out a bit from the rear valance surrounding the lock otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to turn it to lock and unlock the hand latches under the side rails.  All said and done, having these knobs has proven to be one of the best convenience features of the bike at this point.

Given it was a Friday night we headed to Loco’s for our Finally a Friday celebration with friends. I felt the need for a kilting, as it had been a couple of weeks since I’d ventured out in anything but jeans. Yes, I’m still loving the kilts! Most of the usual suspects were on hand at Loco’s and we had a great time as usual. We didn’t make a late night of it as we knew we had a busy, long day ahead of us for Saturday. We were also a bit pre-occupied with the ongoing hurricane watch as our beloved Key West was definitely in the cross-hairs for Irma as were a lot of friends who lived along both coasts and in central Florida.

Back at home I had an unexpected surprise when I found two boxes containing what I suspected were some windscreens for the Honda F6B that arrived almost a week earlier than originally projected: thank you UPS!

I wasted no time in getting those out of the boxes and test fitted to the Honda. One was a National Cycles VStream Sport model and the other was a BaggerShield Sport model, noting that the two different manufacturers measure their windscreen “heights” quite differently from each other. For National Cycles they measure from the base of the windscreen gasket to the top of the edge along the face of the windscreen so, compared to the stock windscreen at 6.5” the 11” screen was about 3” taller relative to my line of sight from the seat of the bike. BaggerShield measures height from the ignition key so their 11” screen would have been a 13” screen per the National Cycles approach. This put the screen right on the brink of being too tall for me to see over, and I’m a look over the windscreen rider not a look-through. So, at least for our first test ride on Friday I switched the bike back to the National Cycles VStream as it seemed like the better fit and it also looked better on the bike.

Saturday – Making it Up As We Went Along

It was around 50*F when I woke up at 6:00am on Saturday morning, which meant our Saturday tandem ride would likely be delayed until around 10:30am once again. In the interim I went out and got to work on the tandem so that the shifting issues from Friday would hopefully be resolved. Again, our hurricane watch continued in the background.

I do feel the need to make one observation about the weather coverage by the news media. As we watched some of the morning news programs you could clearly see there was a certain degree of disappointment that the “worst storm of the century” that was going to decimate Florida had been downgraded from a Category 5 to a Category 4 storm as it lost energy along the coast of Cuba. Really? Not one, “Thank goodness or we’re feeling optimistic” that the storm will continue to lose energy and thereby limit the amount of damage, destruction and possible loss of life / hardships we’ll see as a result of the storm? Yeah, yeah… I get that the media feels an obligation to not create a false sense of “it’s no big deal, go ahead and ignore the evacuation orders” with the general public, but I honestly got the sense that they could see a huge and historical disaster story being diminished by the storm’s downgraded status. End of rant.

After getting a little breakfast we headed over to Harley-Davidson of Atlanta, arriving around 9:20am so we could pick up the Road King. Kelly had called around 3:00pm on Friday to tell us it was ready for pick-up, but not wanting to get stuck in traffic trying to get back home we deferred the pick-up to Saturday morning.

Per Kelly, David M. didn’t pre-ride the bike before the dyno run since it really didn’t matter; whatever might not be “right” with how the air/fuel was behaving would be fixed by the dyno run. However, after the run it was reported that the bike was running great, no issues. Looking at the dyno run plot, David actually got a little more horsepower and torque out of Blue this time than he did back on 18 December 2015:

  • Horsepower:  Was at 94.66 and is now showing 96.32
  • Ft Lbs Torque: Was at 111.12 and is now showing 112.72

Riding home proved to be interesting for a couple of reasons. First off, the bike seemed to be running incredibly rough, more so than I remembered from the ride down. Also, and this is weird, I felt like I’d forgotten how to make the darn thing turn. I’m not sure if it’s because I’d been out riding around on the Honda all day Friday – noting the Honda’s steering geometry is different from the Harley – but I just really had to consciously countersteer the Harley to get it to initiate turns and don’t ever recall that being the case. Even Debbie noticed that I seemed to look really uncomfortable as she followed me home. It never got that much better on the ride home, so that was really strange.

Back at the house we swapped the Harley for our tandem bicycle and headed out for a somewhat shorter than normal but more spirited ride on what was another lovely day. We were riding about 1-2 miles per hour faster than usual and that was a good thing given we were only working a little harder than normal and not killing ourselves to go fast. And, the adjustments I’d made to the shifting were all spot-on and nothing “changed” during the ride.

While we were having lunch and watching a little college football at home after our bicycle ride two more packages arrived with parts for the Honda: a set of new speakers and some foot rests to replace the mini-foot boards that the previous owner had installed. It didn’t take me long to get those parts on the bike and they were pretty much the last “real parts” I needed to get the bike set up to match my preferences and tastes for form and function.

 Old ones at left with and new J&M XT’s with their titanium cones at right. The aftermarket mini-floorboards at left that I replaced with stock foot rests.

After finishing lunch we changed into motorcycle riding-appropriate clothes so we could head out on the Honda to see if the National Cycle VStream windscreen would solve our wind noise and buffeting issues. We combined a pleasure ride with an errand as we had to be back home in time to leave the house by 4:00pm for a birthday party that was a good hour and a half drive from the house.

The VStream windscreen turned out to work a lot better than I would have guessed given its size. However, as the name VStream implies they use some shaping techniques to help channel air away from the riders and son-of-a-gun if that didn’t work pretty well at speeds up to 60 mph. We still had some wind noise and light buffeting on par with what we experience on our Harley-Davidson Road King, but that’s never proven to be all that bad. And, well, these are motorcycles. If I wanted to be completely shielded from the wind and weather I’d drive a car! We’d still test out the other windscreen on Sunday, but the VStream was definitely looking like the keeper.

 

As for the rest of our day. We arrived home in plenty of time and were on the road by 4:15, which was “close enough”. That gave us enough time to visit with some friends at our little mountain resort before having a little dinner and making some last-minute lodging arrangements. Our original plan was to go up for dinner and the birthday party at 7:00pm and then head home afterwards. However, given how the weekend was going we both wanted to do a little dancing and there just wasn’t anything promising in that department back at home as the dance floor at SuBourbon’s has just gotten too small to enjoy even when a great band like 3 Left Standing is playing. Suffices to say we had a great Saturday evening. Dinner was actually pretty good, the birthday party was a blast and the DJ / dancing was great. Not having to come home afterwards was also a great audible on our part as it really allowed us to enjoy the evening since we didn’t have to drive anywhere.

Sunday – Yard Work & Other Stuff

We had breakfast at the resort and were home around 11:00am. As much as I wanted to get out on the tandem again, I had to get some motorcycle parts for the Harley Wide Glide we’d sold back in May out of the attic to pass on to the new owner and I also had a good couple hours of yard work ahead of me so that pretty much consumed the day.

I’d forgotten just how many “left over / original parts” there were from the Wide Glide:

  • Front & rear tires & wheels
  • Exhaust system, to include the header, heat shields and slip-on pipes
  • Intake cover and filter
  • Rear shocks and front springs
  • Headlight, riser bars, sissy bar, license plate holder & chrome battery cover
  • Speedometer
  • A variety of turn signal covers and other miscellaneous small parts

With all of those packed up and moved down to the garage to await a 2:00pm pick-up I was able to switch into yard work clothing and begin that process in earnest. Fortunately, having switched from electric and gas to cordless battery-powered hedge and weed/grass trimmers I can to monthly touch-ups on all of the hedges and plants without creating a huge pile of debris. So, what used to take several hours now takes all of 30 minutes. With the hedges back under control I loaded a new piece of trimmer line to the line trimmer and had the grass trimming around the various stone retailing walls knocked out in no time followed up by the driveway and sidewalk edging. After that I felt the need to blow the leaves out from a large front island and then pack those into trash bags before starting on the lawn. It was just after starting on the lawn that Monica arrived to look at the Honda and pick up the parts for the Harley Wide Glide. We visited with Monica for about 30 minutes and then I finished up the lawn.

As dinner time rolled around Debbie and I had one last “to do” on our list and that was to get cleaned up, put on some riding clothes and then swing our legs back over the Harley to see how it would feel riding Blue again after two days on the Honda. Yeah, well… that was interesting.

  • The first surprise was that the balky, clunky and difficult cold start-up issue had not been solved by the dyno work. So, it wasn’t an air/fuel issue it was something mechanical which means Blue will probably be going back to HDA. However, I’m going to have to try to catch that cold start-up issue on video so they can see and hear what I’ve been experiencing as the bike has never demonstrated that particular issue while they had it at the dealership.
  • The second surprise was how small Blue felt when we both got on the bike. And, I’m not talking about a slight difference, I’m talking about feeling like we were crammed back on the Wide Glide.
  • The third surprise was Debbie’s entire experience with being back on the Harley. She wouldn’t say a thing and said just that, “I’m not saying a thing” but the message was clear: get me off of this thing and put me back on that Honda.

She finally came clean at Loco Willy’s and said we needed a new Harley.  She was simply amazed at how noisy and uncomfortable she felt on our beloved Road King after just a couple of rides on the Honda.  As we talked about motorcycles on and off through our dinner we went through all kinds of go-forward options, everything from just keeping the Honda to replacing Blue with a water-cooled 2017 Road Glide with the more quiet and smoother running M8 engine.  However, after riding home on the Road King we both felt a bit more at home such that Blue may still be safe as our primary weekend / bike week bike.

We may still need to do a few more back-to-back rides on the Honda and Blue and may even need to go and take a test ride on a Road Glide.  The only thing I’m certain about is that the Honda is going to be a GREAT bike for my daily commute and other “around town” errands.  As for touring, without the Cruise Control it could be problematic.  Still need to get over to the local BMW dealer and talk to Bobby Wooldridge about the value of the BMW R1100S as I’m definitely leaning towards selling it vs. keeping it around for decoration.

Final Thoughts

Anyway, that was pretty much our weekend.  As I write this we’ve got Tropical Storm Irma’s rain and wind driving against the house and are keeping our fingers crossed that the maximum sustained wind outlook will continue to fall off from the earlier predictions so that we don’t have to deal with downed trees or power-outages.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that throughout this past week we’ve been thinking about all of our friends as well as just everyone else who has been dealing with life-changing weather, fires, earthquakes, floods, drought and who have loved ones in harms way in the Middle East.  We try not to take our good fortune for granted and remain ever-mindful of just how fast things can go from amazing to awful.

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Honda F6B Background Info

A little background on the GL1800B / F6B:

The GL1800B / F6B was introduced by Honda for the 2013 model year. The F6B is essentially a stripped down version of the ‘standard’ Gold Wing that targeted the same market space dominated by Harley-Davidson’s Road Glide Custom, Harley’s stripped-down version of it’s fully-faired Road Glide Ultra touring bike.  As you can see with the side-by-side image comparisons below, the marketing approach is pretty obvious.

At left is the Gold Wing GL1800A and at right left is the Gold Wing GL1800B / F6B

  

At left is the Harley-Davidson Road Glide Ultra, at the right is the Road Glide Custom.

For both bikes, the ubiquitous integrated top case and “Lazyboy” lounge chair passenger seating were removed while still retaining the full-size hard saddlebags. The stock F6B’s saddle is a massive one-piece, two-tier slab with an optional, very small back rest for the passenger which is also true of the Road Glide Custom.  The large, adjustable windscreen on the Gold Wing was replaced by a much smaller fixed windscreen (same as Road Glide Custom) and the Honda’s left and right radiator grills were restyled to further differentiate it from the Gold Wing touring model.

To hit their targeted $19,995 price point Honda also eliminated: (a) the reverse gear, (b) cruise control and (c) the Anti-lock Brake System (ABS) on US models where ABS is not a mandated requirement as it is in Canada and Europe where the F6B’s do, in fact, have ABS.  The latter — the lack of ABS — remains a huge barrier to a lot of potential F6B buyers, noting that they did finally add-back cruise control in 2015.

In terms of color options for the 2013 model launch year, there were just two: a two-tone gloss graphite black & flat black or gloss magna red &  flat black.  As mentioned in one of my earlier updates on “our” F6B, the dealer who originally sold the bike re-sprayed all of the flat black panels in a gloss black finish as part of a Honda of Russellville Special Edition (SE) package.  Our F6B carries a special little plaque to that affect noting it is #007 in the series.

As for the model designation, as best as I can tell here’s how they classify the Gold Wing-based motorcycles:

  • GL = Grande Luxe, or Grand Luxury is the best anyone’s every come up with.
    • Honda has never official explained the designation.
  • GL1800 = the basic 5th Generation Gold Wing introduced in 2001 with it’s 1832cc motor, hence the 1800 designation.
  • GL1800A = a Gold Wing with the optional Anti-lock Brake System.
  • GL1800B = the stripped-down Gold Wing “Bagger” or F6B.
  • GL1800C = the Valkyrie, a “naked” Gold Wing introduced in 2014 known as the F6C outside the US market.

That Honda chose to use the F6B designation for the US market is a bit unusual but, then again, it is Honda and they definitely lack consistency in how they use names and designations for their motorcycles depending on where the bikes are sold.  However, “Bagger” seems to be the pseudonym for the F6B which is what the hard-bag Harley-Davidson touring bikes have been called for many, many years.

Now, there is also an “alternate” explanation of the F6B & C designations which suggests that the F6 represents the Flat-Six motor used on the Gold Wing where the C means Flat-Six Cruiser and the B means Flat-Six Bagger. But, again, like the GL designation there’s never been an official clarification from Honda.

 

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Where does the time go?

Well, it’s been a busy two weeks since my last “journal entry” as my writing juices were focused on the new-to-us Honda motorcycle. Yes, I’ve been the proverbial little kid with a new toy right after Christmas ever since bringing it home last Saturday. However, in terms of what’s been going on in parallel since Sunday the 27th when we purchased the bike…

DENTAL UPDATE

It’s been a turbulent time for me and my tooth. As mentioned, the temporary crown popped off a couple times after my procedure on Friday the 25th. However, I was able to clean it up and press it back on so that carried me through until I had the full-blown root canal surgery on Wednesday, 30 August. Yeah, that was a special kind of new experience for me… and one I’d rather not repeat! On the bright side, I received a new temporary crown… one that would hopefully stay put! Sadly, the post-procedure has not been one that is free of any pain. I’ve had a sore jaw and a little tenderness around the tooth which has been disconcerting. I’m hoping that the permanent crown installation on the 20th of September will provide a more solid cap on my cracked tooth, as I do recall my dentist telling me that the temporary will flex and that could be a source of some discomfort. Anyway, making the best of it until the 20th is my current plan.

THE NEW MOTORCYCLE

Again, I’ve got a couple of overly detailed blog entries out there on the new Honda F6B motorcycle acquisition, but here’s the bulletized summary of what’s happened thus far:

  • Handed off a check on Sunday afternoon.
  • Started ordering a few key parts for the bike Sunday night through Tuesday night.
  • Check cleared at the close of business on Wednesday.
  • Thursday contacted State Farm Insurance to add the bike to our portfolio of policies.
  • Parts began to arrive on Thursday afternoon.
  • On Friday, picked up the title and bill of sale so that I could go to the DMV to initiate the title transfer, vehicle registration and get a license plate to attach to the bike for the ride home on Saturday.
  • On Saturday, picked up the bike at 9:00am.
  • On Sunday afternoon the bike got pulled apart for a deep cleaning!
  • On Sunday evening Debbie got her first ride on the bike; she really likes it!

As far as having buyer’s remorse, there’s none! I’ve been riding the bike to work this week and it’s even better suited for my daily commute than I envisioned. In fact, it’s probably the best-riding motorcycle I’ve ever ridden: lots of quiet power, a smooth-running engine, sport-bike handling with a plush suspension.

OTHER DISTRACTIONS

Friday night was a not-so-typical Finally a Friday celebration at Loco Willy’s as a large group of friends joined us as part of a weekend visit by a couple from New England, Stacey & Joe. It was a great time but I may have over-achieved and we opted to head home instead of joining the gang for an evening of dancing. It was a good night and I even got a few hours of deep sleep!

Saturday was all about picking up the motorcycle and then heading up to the mountains for a day in the sun out by the pool, watching college football and then a night of dancing and visiting with friends at our little resort. It was a great way to spend the day and we were back at home by noon on Sunday.

Sunday was all about getting the new Honda cleaned-up while Debbie headed off to run some errands before we headed off to Loco Willy’s on the new bike for dinner. There were just a few friends at Loco’s where Debbie and I decided we needed a wing fix: yummy stuff!

 

Monday saw Debbie headed off to the American Girl “complex” in Alpharetta, Georgia, for a birthday tea party with Charlotte, her sisters as well as Julie and Julie’s mother Belva. I tended to some yard work and did a little more work on the Honda while Debbie was at her tea party. Once Debbie was back home we relaxed out on the breezeway sipping frozen margaritas and ended up having grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner, which made for a nice evening and home before heading back into the work week.

That was about it! Exciting times to be sure. As for what’s ahead, our next “big thing” will be the fall version of Bike Week in Daytona Beach, Florida on 19 through 22 October.

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Making the F6B “Ours”… Little Changes and a Lot of Cleaning

IMMEDIATE NEEDS

Ahead of bringing the new-to-us Honda F6B home on Saturday I was already burning up ebay and the F6B forum classified ads to get a few parts on their way that I knew we’d need to “make the bike ours” both functionally and aesthetically.

High on the list was the original equipment manufacturer (OEM), Genuine Honda passenger backrest.  And, just in case we needed it and to help break up the huge “back deck” on the F6B, I also had the OEM luggage rack coming.  Oh yeah, and neither of these come from Honda with the hardware needed to install them, so that’s also on its way.

Of course, Honda being Honda, there’s always a huge amount of sticker-shock with parts.  I tried to find some second-hand take-offs on the F6B owner’s forum classifieds, but alas they are few and far between and still expensive when you do find them. I ended up finding the backrest in Japan and even with shipping included it was about 30% less than retail.  The rack and hardware are coming as a set from a Honda dealer in Ohio.

It’s pay to play, but the backrest is a must for Debbie, which we confirmed yesterday when she had her first ride on the F6B.  And, as I said, if we want to take a day trip somewhere on the big black bike the luggage rack will come in handy.

One of the other big items was a stock saddle, as the really nice and expensive Corbin, dual-heat saddle covered in a faux black snake leather hide just wasn’t doing it for me.  I’d ridden it twice with the saddle and even ignoring the mid-saddle backrest it wasn’t a saddle I could get comfortable with.  So, given the cost on the thing had to be close to $1,300, I’m hoping I’ll be able to sell it for about 1/2 of that to cover the cost of a few of the other parts I’ve been acquiring.

And yes, the saddles for the F6B are HUGE!  In fact, when the stock saddle arrived just 3 days after I bought it off of ebay, I got a little panicked as it didn’t look like it would be nearly as comfortable for Debbie as the saddle on our Harley Road King.  But, as I’d been doing my homework and looking at different parts for the F6B there was one saddle made by Mustang that looked like it might be a bit more comfortable for Debbie than the stock one.

At left is a photo of the actual seat that’s coming and as you can see the corners are contoured where the thighs go so hopefully it will be a better fit for Debbie.  They also added a “hump” or integrated mid-seat backrest for the driver which looks interesting.  This particular seat also moves the rider back and down an inch which should also prove to be a good thing. As luck would have it, there was a used one for sale on the F6B forum classifieds and I snapped it up.  It won’t ship until Tuesday the 5th and will probably take a few days to get here, but I’m cautiously optimistic it will prove to be a good fit for us. If not, I’m sure I can find another buyer to recoup most of my expense, less the shipping costs.  Yeah, it’s those shipping costs that are always non-recoverable.  Cest la vie.

One of the other parts I wanted to have in hand for the initial conversion was the stock, chopped windscreen… as it’s one of the things that really makes the F6B look like something other than a Goldwing.  Ebay came through with a take-off from a new bike that was 80% less expensive than a new one with free shipping; can’t beat that!

And, the last thing I ordered before even bringing the bike home was a set of the stock Honda fairing badges. The gal who owned the bike did a great job of de-badging the entire bike, to include finding a set of F6B badges for the fairings. But, it seems redundant since the side cowls already have F6B badging. Therefore, I’m going to either put the OEM chrome and burgundy colored badges on or a set of black and chrome ones.

THE FIRST 3O MINUTES AT HOME

As you can imagine, having handed over the check for the bike on Sunday afternoon I was chomping at the bit to bring the big bike home.  It was Wednesday or Thursday when I “poked” Chris with a request for the VIN and mileage so I could go ahead and get the bike added to our auto insurance “portfolio” of vehicles.  When he sent that along he suggested picking the bike up Saturday, which would be OK.  However, to make that work I also made arrangements to come by and get the title and bill of sale on Friday so I could go ahead and get the title transferred, pay our taxes ($843, ugg) and get the bike registered and tagged for the ride home.

Saturday would be a busy morning and, interestingly enough, it was the first day we saw temps in the high 50’s when we woke up. I’d had my helmet, gloves, tag, etc in the truck but definitely needed to add a jacket for the 9:00am ride home.  It was a quick pick-up and go with the bike: there weren’t a lot of “extra parts” sitting around which I found interesting: I’ve got an attic full of extra motorcycle parts!  In fact, I’d already started my F6B collection!  But, it was good to be on the bike and headed for home.  As much as I wanted to stay home and fiddle with the bike, we had to leave around 11:00am for a short overnight trip to the mountains which didn’t leave me a lot of time with the bike. However, me being me…

Within 30 minutes I had the Corbin saddle off and replaced with the stock model; it was a lot faster and easier than I’d been led to believe based on on-line reviews and videos of various saddle installations.  The windscreen replacement was also a very quick and easy process and I also removed the “highway pegs” that had been attached to the front case protector bars.

 

These photos aren’t great, but you can get s since of how just getting the stock saddle and windscreen back on the bike really changes the look from one of a light touring bike to a sporty heavy cruiser.

 

The jury is still out on whether or not I’ll be able to live with the very short windscreen. And when I say me, I mean Debbie as she noted there was a lot of wind when she took a short ride with me on the bike yesterday.

 

THE DEEP CLEANING

We came back from the mountains on Sunday around noon and despite being in a bit of a fog after over-achieving on Saturday night, I was highly motivated to give the big Honda a much-needed deep cleaning.  Just as I remembered from my prior Honda motorcycles, the F6B was very easy to work on. Most panels popped off or were only held on with a few bolts that could be removed with a t-handle hex wrench.  Also as suspected, this bike may have never had most of the panels removed for a deep cleaning!

My cleaning process basically entailed a hand wash using Dawn dishwashing detergent as it does a great job of degreasing. It’s not something you want to use that often, but for a deep cleaning job like this where you’ll immediately follow-up with polishing compounds and then put a nice coat of high-quality polish on the bike, it’s safe.

I was amazed at the amount of dirt that was left sitting on the driveway after the bike with all of it’s panels removed was washed down.  Again, I’m not sure many of those panels were ever removed for something other than oil changes or wiring in accessories.

Again, my process was to wash, followed by a deep cleaning with Meguiars rubbing compound.  After that the entire bike was wiped down with Zaino Z-CS, a clear polymer-based product that seals the paint and creates a chemical bonding action that allows the other Zaino polymer polishes to bond together.  So, Zaino Z-CS, then a wipe down with Z-6 detailing spray before applying a coat of Z-5 Pro Show Car polish. That was followed-up with a spray and wipe down using Z-8 spray sealer.

I was very pleased with how well the finish came back.  With 11,000 miles of use it’s not blemish-free bike. There are a few minor nicks and scratches and the “custom paint job” that Honda of Russellville, Arkansas applied as part of its Special Edition bike program was pretty awful. They essentially scuffed up the flat black panels on the original bike, shot those with a gloss black to make the bike all-black and then hit it with a clear coat. The sanding marks are still visible through the clear and the clear had a few blems when it was applied.  Glad I didn’t pay that SE premium!  But, again, the bike looks really good and I’m very happy with it.

DEBBIE’S FIRST RIDE & MY IMPRESSIONS SO FAR

After spending the better part of three hours working on the bike, it was close to dinner time so I invited Debbie to take her first ride on the big Honda to Loco’s. Ideally, the bike would have already had the passenger backrest installed to give her some added piece of mind, but being a trooper and trusting me not to “launch the bike into Hyperdrive” she made do without it.

I think she really enjoyed the ride. The seats are truly massive and the bike has a big, plush and comfortable feel.  She could definitely tell it wasn’t a Harley!  The saddle was OK, but as suspected, there’s a lot of contact between the thighs at that sharp front edge.  She also had a lot of wind noise which was interesting. Probably going to have to give up with razor-thin windscreen for one that’s a bit wider and just a little taller to replicate what we experience on the Road King.

Debbie’s most oft-repeated comment was that the big black Honda felt a lot like our 1998 Honda Blackbird, and that’s a good thing: she loved riding on that bike.  Now, to be honest, there’s no comparison, but I get it: the feel and sound of the big 6 cylinder Honda, never mind being an all-black, bad-ass looking bike is unmistakably reminiscent of the our Super Blackbird.

As for my impressions, the suspension definitely needs some attention, both in terms of ride height and shock set-up.  The previous owner had a lower-link installed that lowered the ride height about an inch or so.  I’ve just ordered a used, stock bracket off of ebay that I’ll use to put the bike back to the stock ride height.  The slightly lower ride height is nice, but I’m thinking that if the aforementioned Mustang saddle lowers my riding position by 1″ it’s a wash. But, the trade-off in increased ground clearance will be huge as I was already dragging the front pegs just on our very mild ride to Loco’s last night.  Admittedly, our roads around here a nice and curvy, so it was a pretty good lean angle, but I definitely didn’t expect to have my left shoe rubbing asphalt!  Of course, the after market front pegs didn’t help with that either: they’re a bit too big and will also be going into a parts box, to be replaced by stock foot rests.

Screen Shot 2017-09-11 at 7.22.13 PMThe handgrips were also not long for this world. They seem massive and just didn’t have a nice natural feel in my hand. Thankfully, I discovered the stock grips were hiding under the aftermarket, ISO Kuryakyan grips!  After removing the Kuri grips and doing a little farm-boy engineering on the bar-end weights I’m good for a few weeks until I pick up a set of Throttlemeister bar-end weights / throttle lock.  And, what was Honda thinking with all of the key-lock activated compartments?  There’s a solution for that — a home-made key / knob — and I’ll get to work on those today!  In fact, I stopped by HomeDepot and sure enough, the 27R key @ $2.50 is the perfect slug for a non-ignition key-key.  I had two made, one for glove box and one for the saddlebags. Just need to mate them to the radio buttons to complete the hack.

SUMMARY

I think it will be a keeper!  There are still a lot of little tweaks to make and I’ll be looking forward to giving it a thorough 12,000 mile service with new air filter, oil, brake fluids, etc. per the manual.  Very anxious for the backrest to arrive and to get the suspension sorted out.

 

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Me and the Honda F6B

Back in November 2012 Honda introduced a “sport touring” version of their venerable GL1800 Goldwing touring bike called the F6B.  I wrote a short little blog entry on it as it was just one of those bikes that captured my attention.  Sadly, bikes, cars and the like that catch my attention in just a certain type of way tend to manifest themselves with acquisitions at some point.

As a recent example, you may recall that before we bought Debbie’s new Honda Accord Sport SE in November I mentioned seeing the very first Honda Sport in front of Costco in 2013. I really liked it and it stuck in my head as a car that I thought Debbie and I would both really enjoy owning.  That turned out to be truer than we could have imagined.

I’ve done the same thing with motorcycles and bicycles over the years, where a certain model of bike would hit my radar and after doing my homework I’d know, “that’s the one.”

That was the case with both of our Erickson tandems as well as our Calfee tandem and the two Calfee single bikes: I was smitten by the builder’s and knew that they would be the right bikes for us.  The Calfee’s have proven to be the bikes with the real staying power since we’ve been able to sell off the two Erickson tandems without too much separation anxiety. Well, that’s not true either… I think about those bikes all the time.

Moving on to motorcycles, our 1998 Honda Blackbird CBR1100XX was something I’d seen when we were out shopping for a possible motorcycle purchase in the summary of 1997 and the decided to take up tandem cycling instead.  I never got that bike out of my mind and ended up buying one in May of 2000 that I owned for the next 10 years and put 34,000 miles on.

That was replaced by a motorcycle Debbie and I had seen at the International Motorcycle Show back in 2003: a BMW R1100S Boxer Cup Replica racer.  It was just a stunning-looking bike and after the Blackbird was done-in by a Ford Expedition one cold December morning in 2010 I decided to go looking for one… and found the one we have now over in Alabama.  It too has been a great bike that I’ve been riding for 7 years and some 30,000 miles without any regrets.

Along the way we picked up the Harley-Davidson Wide Glide back in July 2011 on a whim – that really wasn’t a bike that I had ever been lusting after, that would have been the 2003 Harley-Davidson Screaming Eagle, 100th Anniversary Soft tail Deuce which still pulls at my heart strings whenever I see one.

Thankfully, it’s so impractical that it makes it easy to pass over since they still pull strong money at $10,000-$11,000.

But, when we saw the first 2013 Harley-Davidson Road King CVO’s, that too became a bike that I knew I really wanted to have… just not in the correct color right away.  It was the red one that I was all worked-up over as the blue one just didn’t do it for me at first. Well, we’ve had two of the Blue CVO Road Kings and I can tell you it’s another bike about which I have zero regrets and blue was definitely the right color.

So, this brings me full circle to the Honda F6B… because we went out and bought a previously owned 2013 model yesterday. Yup, it’s always been stuck in my head and I think it was in May when we were at bike week in Panama City Beach when the subject of Goldwings came up.  A friend and his wife from Atlanta rode their GL1800 down and joined the our group of motorcycling enthusiasts — most of whom ride Harley-Davidsons — for a couple days of riding.  In fact, his dad who lives in Panama City Beach was also out with us on his Goldwing and I was reminded of just how much I liked the whole concept of the F6B.

Now, I will confess that the F6B has a few design flaws: it’s an 850 lb motorcycle made for two-up riding that doesn’t have an Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS); what’s the deal with that? Even our Road King CVO came standard with ABS, as do just about every other touring and sport touring bike. Our 2004 BMW R1150RT Sport Touring bike even had ABS.  It also lacks cruise control, which is equally weird. They added it as a standard feature in 2016 which I believe ended up being the last year for the F6B after lagging sales as most buyers were waiting for the ABS plus Cruise to be offered as standard equipment on the $20,000 sport touring bikes.  And what’s the deal with not having self-cancelling turn signals?  Really?  I’m sure sure there’s even a good work-around for that.

Anyway, I saw the F6B as a replacement for the BMW R1100S not as our next touring bike so the lack of ABS and cruise control weren’t deal killers for me.  And, quite frankly, my goal was to find one at the right price where I could get into and back out of it without getting a huge haircut, aside from the $900 in Georgia Ad Valorem sales tax. Yeah, that always leaves a mark on a short-term acquisition.

I stumbled over an example close to home during the past week after several evenings surfing classified ads for the sometimes hard to find F6Bs.  The one near us was a 2013 F6B that had been originally been sold by Russellville Honda in Arkansas as one of their Special Edition bikes.  By special edition, they’d given it an all gloss black paint scheme vs. the two-tone black and flat black that came standard, they added a Vance & Hines exhaust system, driving lights, heated grips and a few other little modifications.  The couple that owned the bike had actually bought it second-hand from a local reseller with just 700 miles on it, so whoever the original owner was didn’t ride it all that much as it’s sitting with just under 12,000 miles on the odometer.  For comparison purposes, our original 2013 Harley-Davidson Road King CVO that we purchased new in Aug 2013 had 18,000 miles on the clock when it was wrecked in October 2015 and our second one that we purchased in November 2015 now has 12,000 miles.  So, for a touring bike, the F6B has low miles.

Now, it also has some accessories and modifications that I’m thinking I need to change to suit my own tastes, riding needs for daily commuting and short rides with Debbie aboard when we just I / we might want or need a change of pace from the Harley, something we can’t do on the BMW as it’s just not comfortable or practical for two-up riding at this point in our lives.  The biggest visual challenge is a massive Corbin saddle finished with a faux snake skin cover and a really funky-looking mid-seat backrest, but no passenger backrest. The windscreen is also way too tall for my tastes, as I like to look over my windscreens not through them, so those are the first two things that I’ll put back to stock with less expensive take-off parts.  And, before Debbie can ride with me I’ll need to find an original equipment passenger backrest and perhaps the luggage rack “just in case.”

Anyway, we’ve handed off a check for the bike to the sellers on Sunday afternoon and as soon as it clears we’ll transfer the title and bring her home for a deep cleaning, etc.  it will be a tight fit in the bike bay. The Honda is a very large bike, bigger than the Road King, and the BMW will still be with us for a while until I’m confident the Honda will work out as my daily driver so it will take a bit of shuffling around to make it all fit while still being able to get bicycles in and out of the garage.

So, that was our / my latest itch that needed to be scratched.  Good thing we don’t have room for any extra cars!

 

Posted in Bloggishnish, Miscellaneous ramblings on Motorcycling, Motorcycle / Equipment | Leave a comment

I Think I May Have Over-Achieved A Few Times This Week…

That Pesky Toothache

So, you may recall from last Sunday’s report, I was still struggling with a severe toothache where it wasn’t clear if the real source of the pain had been discovered.  Just going by how much Ibuprofen I was having to take it sure seemed like the first diagnosis missed the mark.   Sunday night and Monday night both ended up being sleepless affairs such that it had been nearly a week since I’d had more than a couple of hours of any real sleep.

On Tuesday afternoon the pain in my neck and face had gotten to the point where I asked Debbie to see if they could see me on Wednesday the 23rd, as well as getting me some stronger pain medication and possibly a script for antibiotics as it really “felt” like I was harboring some type of infection in connection with the toothache.

During Wednesday’s appointment a new X-ray revealed a cracked tooth was likely the source of my woes.  The near term “hope” was that by smoothing the crack to prevent further migration and putting a crown on to stabilize the top of the tooth my discomfort would quickly fade.  Yeah, well…

I was back in the chair on Friday for a root canal.  Once the dentist got into the roots of my tooth he discovered one of the segments of pulp and nerves was seriously infected which fully explained my condition: good thing I’d gone on antibiotics Wednesday afternoon!  The root canal procedure took about 1.5 hours all told and there were some tense moments when it was thought the tooth would be a goner. However, everything was finally sorted out and by late Friday night I was finally pain-free.  That lasted until around 3:00 on Saturday the 26th when the temporary crown popped off; really!?  I was able to flush out the crown and tooth cavity and pressed the crown back on which has only popped-off once since then.  So, this was all running in the background throughout the week and I still have to go back to the dentist on Wednesday the 30th for some additional follow-up procedures on the root canal before they do a final crown, or at least I believe that’s the plan.

Fixing the Tandem’s Shifting Woes & Lots of Plants on the Breezeway

This then brings me full circle back to the rest of our week and weekend.  As mentioned, during a tandem ride on Sunday our trusty Calfee developed some shifting issues when we went to use the very small climbing gears.  After getting back home and diagnosing the source of the shifting woes I finally gave in to the fact that I really needed to replace the odd-ball Campagnolo front derailleur that wasn’t compatible with the Shimano shifters I’d installed last year. Thankfully, I was able to find the correct front derailleur for sale out on ebay Sunday night and had it in hand by Thursday the 24th.  It was a fairly quick fix to replace the front derailleur and get it all dialed-in and also threw on a fresh set of chains which were a bit overdue.  Now, if only we’d have enough time to get out and ride the tandem in the next week or two!

I should probably note, at my suggestion Debbie has turned our breezeway into a stunning space filled with greenery!  We’ve always enjoyed sitting on the breezeway, but we somehow never got around to figuring out what kind of plants to put on all of the various end tables and around the seating area to “warm it up and give it life.”  Debbie set out to do that last weekend and has been tweaking it ever since and it’s really quite lovely out there now!  It’s amazing how living plants can transform a space into something extra special!

Finally a Friday Despite Having Just had a Root Canal

Yes, coming right on the heels of my Root Canal and with a mouth that was still pretty much numb, we headed over to Loco Willy’s around 5:00pm so that we could celebrate the end of another week.  We were pretty sure we’d have several of our motorcycling friends joining us around 6:30pm so we alerted the staff and were doing our best to secure “the big table” where we’d be able to seat the dozen or so friends who’d be descending on Loco’s.  Our usual suspect friends – David & Deb, Billy & Dava and several other friends both behind the bar and out in front — were there so it was a good night to be sure.  Debbie and I delayed our food consumption until our friends arrived and I think we ended up with a pretty good crowd. Between my meds and my tequila shots I think the friends on hand included Jeff & Sharon, Ryan & Jeanette, Bobby & Carrie Ann, a friend of someone’s, our buddies Dave R. and Matt and I want to say at least one other couple but I could be mistaken. It was that kind of night.  We had a great time a Loco’s and then someone suggested heading over to a local pub where they had a pretty good DJ on Friday nights called The Place. We hadn’t been to The Place in years, so this would be interesting.

Well, we had a great time: the DJ was playing great music and I turned into “that guy” and pretty much spent the entire night out dancing up a storm, noting that I was finally rid of my dental pains!  Now, it was a good night but not a late night as we were home just before 11:00pm, so that was goodness.  We were both a bit hungry and I cooked up some grilled cheese, one of our favorite mid-night snacks and all was good.  And, best of all, I believe I finally had my first full night’s rest in 10 days!

Saturday and A Wedding in the Mountains

Given that I was feeling really good when I got up, we firmed up plans to head to the mountains were some friends were going to be celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary by renewing their vows. But, before doing that I’d need to knock out all of the yard work while Debbie headed off to do some shopping for our granddaughters’ Charlotte and Vivian’s birthday celebration on Sunday.  It was good to be feeling good and having energy once again after being rid of the soreness and having had a good night’s sleep.  We headed off around 10:30am and arrived a good hour before the 1:00pm ceremony which gave us time to get a bite to eat, a cocktail and to visit with some other friends.

The ceremony was really quite nice and it even stuck a chord with Debbie that had her crying tears of joy several times.  The “bride” was given away by our friend Jeff who also owns and manages the resort, and another friend officiated the ceremony and offered the vows. It was all just as nice and sweet as it could be and the weather was picture perfect.  We spent a couple more hours just relaxing before heading home, but I must add that our departure was hastened when I was having a snack and the temporary crown over my root canal came loose; ouch!  Yeah, I was back on Tylenol in no time and struggling for the next couple hours. However, back at the house I was able to clean up the crown and tooth socket and press the crown back on the tooth so all was mostly good for the rest of the day.

Well, I say that….  Not having had much to eat because of my dental issues I ended up getting a little over-served when we went over to Loco Willy’s for dinner.  Loco’s was pretty empty since so many of the regulars were hanging at home waiting for the Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor fight later that night, so without a lot of chit-chat from other than David & Deb to keep me pre-occupied and also being a big out of sorts due to my dental issues once again being an issue I got a little bit “ahead” with my cocktails and a bit behind on eating and drinking other fluids.  I’m told I was entertaining and colorful once I over-achieved, but Debbie finally realized it was time for us to go and drove us home.  I have no recollection from that last hour so I’m no able to offer any further observations other than to note that I had been “kilting” and apparently was at some point challenged on what I was wearing under my kilt: that’s never a good thing when you’re feeling no pain so I’ll be hearing about that for a while.

I’d like to say I got a good night’s rest, but in all honesty I woke up around 3:00am and never did fall back to sleep.  So, Sunday was going to be a bit of a challenge for me once the sun finally came up.

Sunday and Birthdays

Sunday was going to be mostly about heading over to the kids house where we’d be celebrating Charlotte’s 9th birthday and Vivian’s 3rd And, no… it doesn’t seem possible for them to be that old already!  Debbie and I were both up a bit early and knocking out errands around the house, being mindful that we’d need to head over to the kids place around 11:20am for the noon event.

We were both feeling a bit groggy as neither one of us had been sleeping well of late.  Between my dental issues and some things that have been weighing heavy on Debbie’s mind with her family – and then by extension to me because when Debbie’s stressing I’m stressing for me – we were both just trying to do our best to stay chipper. Thankfully, near perfect early fall weather in August went a long way towards lifting our spirits.

However, we managed to find and watch a 46-minute replay of the Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor fight on YouTube so we were able to see that and would then be able to know what folks who stayed up to watch it live at midnight would be talking about.  It was a really good fight, to be sure.  I certainly didn’t expect McGregor to go 10 rounds and they both seemed pleased with their performance and the outcome, so that’s always nice.  With that out-of-the-way I went outside and sorted out the garage, to include putting the tandem away since the likelihood that we’d get a ride in was evaporating rapidly but also getting Debbie’s single bike ready in case she found herself with enough time and energy to get out for a weekday ride on Monday or Tuesday.

We were over at the kids house in plenty of time and as they had for Caroline’s birthday earlier this month, they’d rented a large water slide for the kids to play on after everyone had lunch as a way of letting all the kids – Caroline, Charlotte, Vivian and their cousins Anderson and Avery – burn off some energy before the presents got unwrapped and sugary cakes and ice cream were dispensed.

   

Granddad was even able to spend a few minutes checking out the dead key on the kid’s spinet piano.  As suspected, it wasn’t a significant issue: just a lifting rod that became dislodged from the movement… most likely from someone banging on the key a bit too hard.  Regardless, the spinet now has all of its keys back in working order.

 

…and then we did a little shopping

Now, I should probably note that in the background for the past few weeks I’ve been struggling with a burning desire to either add to or change out a motorcycle from the livery.  The one motorcycle that I’ve had on my mind of late is a Honda F6B, sport touring bike.  Essentially, a sporty version of Honda’s flagship, big touring bike the Goldwing.  And, when I saw a few weeks I’ve actually had this bike on my mind since it was first introduced back in 2013.  Regardless, I found one for sale locally – noting they’re not all that common to find up as used bikes being sold – and on Saturday night I’d called the owners – Chris & Laurie — to learn more about the bike.   On Sunday morning I firmed up a visit to come and take a look at the bike around 3:30pm – 4:00pm as I figured the birthday party would be over by then.

So, around 2:45pm Debbie and I said our goodbyes and headed back home so I we could ride over to the seller’s home about 24 minutes from our place and, well, to grab my wallet: yeah, that’s always trouble.  But hey, I did make sure I couldn’t take it home by riding over on Blue!  Suffices to say, the bike looked good even though there were a few things that weren’t quite the way I’d want them to be if I owned the bike and Laurie was gracious enough to trust me on a test ride,  a test ride that pretty much sealed the deal for me.  Now, I was going to try to be patient and “go home to think about it” but before saying our goodbyes I asked Laurie – noting it was actually her motorcycle not Chris’ – what kind of dollar figure she had in her head as to what she really wanted to get out of the bike. Well, she just about floored me with a number so low that I would have even been embarrassed to offer: it was substantially less than they’d been asking.  I had to mentally regroup and said, well… in that case I don’t need to think about it and wrote her a check on the spot.

I’ve penned an entire blog entry on the F6B so I’ll not ramble on here.  I hope to have the Honda in our garage by the end of the week after they have received all of the funds from any hold that might be placed on the check by their bank, as I just prefer to do transactions that way, e.g., with a personal check vs. hitting up the bank for a loan or a cashier’s check.  Then again, I only deal with people who give me a good vibe and Laurie and Chris are both about as nice as folk come.  You could tell she was struggling with the sale of the bike, pretty much the way I struggled with selling the Wide Glide.

So, I’ve had to once again re-arrange the garage so there’s enough room for all the bikes.  And, I may have to get serious about selling off the BMW since that’s the bike the Honda will truly be replacing.  Oh, what excitement.

A Small Celebration at Loco’s

As we were enjoying the lovely weather riding home from Laurie & Chris’ we decided to head on over to Loco Willy’s for a little dinner and a brief toast to the new acquisition.  Debbie has made no bones about it, Blue is OUR motorcycle and the Honda is pretty much like the BMW; it’s one of MY motorcycles.  We actually had a pretty nice time visiting with Christain who was working the bar and our friends Billy & Dava also stopped in.  We split a delicious Reuben while watching the 4:30pm NFL pre-season game between the Washington Redskins and I think it was the Indianapolis Colts and then headed home to chill on the porch and surf the web on our respective laptops.  Debbie was doing research on hair care while I was looking for saddles, windscreens and other parts I’d be needing for the Honda!

Not a bad weekend considering how Friday morning’s pre-root canal day started-out!

 

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