New to me '91 SE


Information and questions on GL1500 Goldwings (1988-2000)
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thebruce
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Joined: Sat Jun 22, 2019 10:12 pm
Location: Boundary Country, British Columbia, Canada
Motorcycle: 1991 GL1500SE Anniversary Edition #54

New to me '91 SE

Post by thebruce »



Hello all, it was a good day to Goldwing.










Just picked up this little gem yesterday. A bit of a $#!+ show getting it home, but otherwise it ran well.

Paid $2700 Canadian dollars for it. Pretty much knew it was coming with me as soon as I saw it. Has a pair of colour-matched helmets (strangely they fit me and my peeps), luggage bags, cover, original owner's manual, 1995 FSM (close enough), compressor works, etc. etc.

I come to Goldwing by way of Harley-Davidson. I worked over 4 years in parts and as a tech (took the 15 week propaganda course in Fairview, AB) and have ridden everything under the sun that they made from about 1980-2008. Spoiled rotten riding 120" Jims-powered this and that. Dyno time, fuel injection tuning, fun stuff. Favourite ride was the road glide.

Fast forward 10 or so years. I have a wife, 2 kids, my own small business (electrical contractor), and the want for a bike. I am not willing to finance a toy like this, and I am not so brand loyal that I wouldn't give the other American motorcycle a chance.

So far not disappointed.

Other than feeling like I'm riding a high powered hair dryer (so damn smooth) I can't come up with any negative whatsoever about this bike.

I won't say it doesn't need work. The rear tire needs replacing (could swear I have one kicking around). Rear brake pads are worn, but still passable. Forks need to be serviced (came with seals and dust shields) Vent on windshield flops up and down. Windshield is squeaky, which drives me bonkers because I can actually hear it over the exhaust, imagine that. Probably some other stuff that I am forgetting or have not found yet.

I have timing belts on order, mileage on them is ok but they are over 10 yrs old. I have a thermostat coming as it seems to run cool, like 1/4 of gauge or less. I may regret the decision to change it... need the proper Honda gasket yet. Hoping I can pick one up at a local dealership a couple hours away.

I get a bit of a howl from the rear end (I think) in turns. It could be the tire, or it could be worn wheel bearings or some such thing. This is the first shaft drive bike I have owned that actually runs. I will change the gear oil in the back when I change the tire.

I had to bleed the rear brake. A lot. I rode it home without (130km mountain highway, 20 km city) and it was a bit unnerving. Had to dodge a deer and a strange dog-like animal who crossed the road in front of me. I had read in a few places that using the front brake on one of these while coming to a stop was a little hairy sometimes. I can say with some confidence there are worse bikes to stop with the front brake.

Took the family for 'wing rides (separately) today and the response was positive. This bike checks off every box a road glide would (plus some) at a fifth the price. The radio works so I can use my bluetooth FM transmitter to pipe the Tragically Hip (it just seemed right) from my phone to my ears as I scrape the pegs in turns.

Going to stop ranting and raving. Cool bike, can't wait to put some in time dialing it in so I can be absolutely confident in it.

Cheers!
Steve.


It doesn't matter what you ride, as long as you have your knees to the breeze.

Rodzim
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Re: New to me '91 SE

Post by Rodzim »

Nice ride man. Ive been with my wing for a little over 6 months now and i cant see myself selling this thing. Once you do the front forks and springs it will be even better.

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DenverWinger
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Past rides
1972 CL350 (1980-1988) sold
1978 Suzuki GS550 (1985-2005) sold
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Re: New to me '91 SE

Post by DenverWinger »

Hi Steve, and Welcome to the forum!

Nice looking SE you got there!

I've heard Goldwings called a lot of things, but "High-Powered Hair Dryer" is a new one :lol: :lol: I'll have to remember that, I like it!

First photo shows a battery charger and you mention bleeding the brakes, this suggests the bile has been sitting a while. I'd recommend a double-dose of Seafoam in the first three tanks or so of fuel, it couldn't hurt - will clean out the carbs nicely.
thebruce wrote:
Sat Jun 22, 2019 11:40 pm
I have timing belts on order, mileage on them is ok but they are over 10 yrs old. I have a thermostat coming as it seems to run cool, like 1/4 of gauge or less. I may regret the decision to change it... need the proper Honda gasket yet. Hoping I can pick one up at a local dealership a couple hours away.

I get a bit of a howl from the rear end (I think) in turns. It could be the tire, or it could be worn wheel bearings or some such thing. This is the first shaft drive bike I have owned that actually runs. I will change the gear oil in the back when I change the tire.

I had to bleed the rear brake. A lot. I rode it home without (130km mountain highway, 20 km city) and it was a bit unnerving. Had to dodge a deer and a strange dog-like animal who crossed the road in front of me. I had read in a few places that using the front brake on one of these while coming to a stop was a little hairy sometimes. I can say with some confidence there are worse bikes to stop with the front brake.
The rear brake is linked to the right front caliper. To bleed it good, bleed the right front caliper FIRST then the rear. Hand brake only works the left front.

You might hold off on the thermostat, 1/4 scale is normal on a cool day. On a very hot day in stop-go driving it can read as high as 3/4 scale, this too is normal. Changing the thermostat is a bear of a job, and they very rarely fail on these. (Thankfully)

Your rear end howl is most certainly a cupped tire, probably an E3 Dunlop. New tire will fix that. 44PSI is a good air pressure to prevent that. Don't forget the High-Moly (60% or better) paste on the rear wheel and final drive splines, wouldn't hurt to unbolt the final drive from the swingarm and get the U-joint and driveshaft splines too while you are in there.

'95 FSM will be mostly good for this bike, there were a LOT of changes between '89 and 90, the changes from '91 to '92 were mostly electrical, the '95 manual is pretty much spot-on for '92 thru '00

Front brake on a stop isn't so bad as long as you aren't turning, keep the wheel straight ahead. Front brake with wheel turned (like maneuvering a tight spot) and these bikes like to lay down for an unexpected nap!

This old girl should give you a very many years of happy riding! Enjoy and be safe!
♫ 99 Little Bugs in the Code, ♪
♪ 99 Bugs in the Code. ♫ :(
♫ Take one down, Patch it around, ♪
♫ 127 Little Bugs in the Code. ♫ ♪ :shock:

~Mark

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bellboy40
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Motorcycle: 2000 GL1500SE Candy Spectra Red

Re: New to me '91 SE

Post by bellboy40 »

DenverWinger wrote:
Sun Jun 23, 2019 6:08 am
Hi Steve, and Welcome to the forum!

Nice looking SE you got there!

I've heard Goldwings called a lot of things, but "High-Powered Hair Dryer" is a new one :lol: :lol: I'll have to remember that, I like it!

First photo shows a battery charger and you mention bleeding the brakes, this suggests the bile has been sitting a while. I'd recommend a double-dose of Seafoam in the first three tanks or so of fuel, it couldn't hurt - will clean out the carbs nicely.

snip...

The rear brake is linked to the right front caliper. To bleed it good, bleed the right front caliper FIRST then the rear. Hand brake only works the left front.
The rear brake is linked to the left front on the GL1500s. So you need to bleed the left front caliper first then the rear caliper.
Everything else DenverWinger said is spot on and is some good info.

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DenverWinger
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1983 Trav-Lite Camper (2010-)
Past rides
1972 CL350 (1980-1988) sold
1978 Suzuki GS550 (1985-2005) sold
1977 GL1000 (2002-2006) sold

Re: New to me '91 SE

Post by DenverWinger »

:oops: I knew that, too! That's what happens when you type before the morning coffee kicks in! :oops:
♫ 99 Little Bugs in the Code, ♪
♪ 99 Bugs in the Code. ♫ :(
♫ Take one down, Patch it around, ♪
♫ 127 Little Bugs in the Code. ♫ ♪ :shock:

~Mark

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thebruce
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Location: Boundary Country, British Columbia, Canada
Motorcycle: 1991 GL1500SE Anniversary Edition #54

Re: New to me '91 SE

Post by thebruce »

Rodzim wrote:
Sat Jun 22, 2019 11:55 pm
Once you do the front forks and springs it will be even better.
Right, the springs. I have seen a lot of talk of progressives, I will look into what options they have. If that fails I will increase the preload to the factory springs if they aren't completely sacked and aren't some silly configuration.

I have seen some weird mismatched forks (not unlike the shock configuration rear of the 'wings) over the years. Not an engineer, but not a fan. I really approve of symmetry for whatever reason.
DenverWinger wrote:
Sun Jun 23, 2019 6:08 am

I've heard Goldwings called a lot of things, but "High-Powered Hair Dryer" is a new one :lol: :lol:


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The battery charger is due to the battery dying in an A&W parking lot in Kelowna. Being a safety conscious individual I wanted to make sure all the lights worked while the family was getting some road food. A carload of Germans saved me with a comically undersized set of jumper cables (for anything other than a motorcycle) and I didn't turn the bike off again until it was safe in my carport.

I do have a can of seafoam kicking around. I'll use some when I fill up next.

I can't quite relay what went through my mind when I read the front and back brakes were linked. Something like "what would it take to fix that..." then i got to thinking master cylinder bores, brake hoses, Tupperware, to hell with it.

Sounds like all the brakes and the clutch will be getting bled, get some new fluid in the hydraulics. Makes sense now why the front brake doesn't have the bite I was expecting.

Left front, right front, whatever. I would have figured it out eventually... Nobody can be held at fault for misinformation before proper caffeine levels are attained.

I'll be neglecting the thermostat for now. If I feel like a challenge maybe I'll do it over winter.

Rear tire is an old bridgestone, hardened but not worn out. Probably the howler. Front is a brand new metzler 888, which is nice. Metzler was my favourite decker tire with the 880s 10 years ago. I'll make sure to use the moly on the splines, will hit the ujoint and ds as well.

I have to chase down an electrical gremlin in the wife's car today, so the wing will get a break. I have a vrod on my motorcycle lift right now so as soon as it leaves I will be free to change the rear tire. It seems I have a choice of dunlop or Avon for now until I can afford a matching metzler.
It doesn't matter what you ride, as long as you have your knees to the breeze.

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Happytrails
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Re: New to me '91 SE

Post by Happytrails »

Welcome to the forums and congrats on your new goldwing! :)
1991 GL1500 SE Anniversary Edition
Sun Flare Gold Metallic
Vallant Brown Inset

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thebruce
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Re: New to me '91 SE

Post by thebruce »

Thanks, happytrails.

I notice your 'wing looks a lot like mine!
It doesn't matter what you ride, as long as you have your knees to the breeze.

TwoTone Trike
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Re: New to me '91 SE

Post by TwoTone Trike »

Congrats. That's a good looking ride bro. I love that color. Ride safe and ride often.

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thebruce
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Re: New to me '91 SE

Post by thebruce »

Thanks TwoTone Trike.

I ride as safe as possible, rarely in a rush. Particularly when my hands aren't going numb from vibration and I can hear the radio...
It doesn't matter what you ride, as long as you have your knees to the breeze.

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Sadanorakman
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Motorcycle: 1991 GL1500 SE

Re: New to me '91 SE

Post by Sadanorakman »

thebruce wrote:
Sun Jun 23, 2019 12:37 pm
It seems I have a choice of dunlop or Avon for now until I can afford a matching metzler.
NO, don't put a Metzeler on it, unless you like tread separation and blow-outs... there have been many potentially lethal failures of Metzelers reported here. Please search the forums for info!
Stick to a Dunlop or Avon, proven to be reliable for the significant weight of this old gal.

I have the same 91SE, only mine's not running at the moment, I still have another £1000 and many many hours of work to spend on her yet!
Every day's a school day....What have you learned today?

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thebruce
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Re: New to me '91 SE

Post by thebruce »

I didnt realize the metzeler brand took such a dive since I last had my ear to the ground.

When I left the dealership (early 2008) metzeler was THE tire for dressers. I would have not chosen any other tire at that point.

Avons (venom) were sticky, but the sidewalls were too weak at max inflation to support a 900lb bike with luggage and pillion. They wiggled a great deal and it was extremely unnerving. Great for anything smaller than a touring bike.

Dunlops (401s, I think) were definitely a long wearing tire, but were slippery if you pushed them at all, especially in the wet. Not that I need to ride like that...

I will put some time into reviewing tire choices. It's hard to believe that the separating tires are anything more than a bad batch, but the way the company has not owned up to the problem (from what I have read so far) is a definite downer.

Thanks for the info!
It doesn't matter what you ride, as long as you have your knees to the breeze.

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Sadanorakman
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Re: New to me '91 SE

Post by Sadanorakman »

thebruce wrote:
Tue Jun 25, 2019 1:01 am
I didnt realize the metzeler brand took such a dive since I last had my ear to the ground.
I have not said the Metzeler brand do not make serviceable tires (for other bikes). There is just seemingly an issue with their rear tire sold as suitable for a GL1500. It seems to not stand up to the demands of this bike, and there have been numerous posts showing photos of these tires coming apart.

Common sense tells me that when numerous examples of a tire have failed with different owners, over a significant time-scale, then it's not going to be down to a bad batch of tires, or every failed tire having been run underinflated.

https://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=ht ... mrc&uact=8
https://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=ht ... mrc&uact=8
https://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=ht ... mrc&uact=8

disclaimer:

I am not rubbishing Metzeler's name, I'm just indicating there have been numerous Metzeler tire failures on the rear of GL1500's reported within this forum with accompanying photographs. I personally would never fit one having seen what I have seen, because why would I want to risk my life in this way? It seems Dunlop E3's and latterly E4's are a very popular tire on this forum, as are Avon Cobra's. I have no affiliation to any Tire manufacturer or distributor. I do not profit from sharing the above information.
Every day's a school day....What have you learned today?

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WingAdmin
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Re: New to me '91 SE

Post by WingAdmin »

Agreed. I have bought and used Metzelers before on other bikes...but I would never put one on my GL1500. The problem of Metzeler tires delaminating and failing catastrophically on Goldwings has been documented for more than ten years now, and the company has never so much as admitted that there is a problem, let alone change the tire to fix the problem.

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thebruce
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Re: New to me '91 SE

Post by thebruce »

Thanks for the info and warnings, I'm pretty much sold on not running a metzeler. There are a few more brands of tire to choose from out there...

I'll be slapping the dunlop I have on the 'wing until it wears out or I find something better.

Nobody suggested the darkside as yet, seems like those taxi tires are hard to find these days. It's the kind of thing I would almost consider.

Get to ride the 'wing out to do a little service work this morning. Good stuff!
It doesn't matter what you ride, as long as you have your knees to the breeze.

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Mh434
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Re: New to me '91 SE

Post by Mh434 »

Welcome to the asylum, from another BC GL1500 rider! You're going to LOVE that bike. I, too, spent many years riding Harleys (professionally), and the 'Wing is just....better.

The rear end howl you hear in turns is, as others have mentioned, almost certainly the tire. GL1500's are very heavily loaded, often at the razor's edge of overloading for the available tires and, as they wear, the howling starts.

I've stuck to bias-ply Dunlops, the latest being the E4's. They have a softer compound on the sides for cornering, and a harder compound in the center for longer life. I've found the traction under braking, and even in wet conditions, far superior to the other tires I've tried, so at least for the time being, they're my "go-to" for the 'Wing.

Really, there are very few known trouble areas on the GL1500, sticking switches being one of them. Be careful of infrequently-used switches, as they may stick on you. My 4-way-flasher switch has been a problem, so I try not to touch it. If I do, regardless of how many times I've taken it apart & cleaned it, it sticks on....making the bike unsafe to ride in traffic until it's fixed.

It sounds like you're on top of the major maintenance items. The timing belts are generally at the top of the list. From what I've read, failures are almost astronomically rare, but the consequences of an interference motor are dire, so it's definitely worth doing those. It's a fairly big job, as there's LOTS of plastic to remove (be careful - the various interlocking tabs are fragile, and get moreso with age), but once you're in there, it's a breeze. The step-by-step instructions posted by WingAdmin (Scott) are invaluable, with many clear pictures, and if you follow them religiously, you can't go wrong.

I, too, suggest running SeaFoam in your fuel for a few tanks. It can't hurt, and it can save you a ton of repairs down the road. I was an "extreme skeptic" about it, until I got a tank of bad gas (Shell, of course). The bike instantly ran like crap, and I figured a carb rebuild was in my future. The SeaFoam (lots of it - like, a full can in a fresh tank of gas!), used over 3 successive tanks of fuel, fixed it 100%. Now, I'm a convert.

Anyway, there's a TON of support for us GL1500 owners here.

Enjoy your new ride!

**By the way, one common issue to GL1500's is the shift linkage. it looks simple from the outside, but it's actually very complicated, and the shift lever itself is NOT well supported. There's a seal going into the trans that wears as a result, and oil leaks can happen there (horrors! - shades of Harleys!). Plus, as it wears it can actually cause serious (i.e. fatal) damage inside the gearbox, such as the dreaded 4th gear shifter fork failure. The cost of repairs for that failure usually are more than the bike is worth. HOWEVER - there is a shifter brace kit that 1) sharpens & improves shifting, and 2) may permanently prevent the 4th gear fork failure.**

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

**One of my favorite memories about my GL1500 was riding with my Blue Knights chapter one day, and everyone was chattering on the CB's. One of the Harley owners (about 80% of the members ride them) was complaining about a major failure on his year-old-Harley. Not to be outdone, I chimed in, advising that I, too, had a failure on my bike. There was silence for a moment (they all know how good 'Wings are), and one of them asked what the problem was. I responded that the built-in Cappucino maker had stopped frothing the milk properly & had needed cleaning. I could see the shoulders of the riders ahead of me shaking as they laughed.**

TwoTone Trike
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Re: New to me '91 SE

Post by TwoTone Trike »

Hey Mh434, I had the same problem as your cappucino maker. How did you go about cleaning it? Must be a common issue. :lol: :lol: :lol:

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Mh434
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Re: New to me '91 SE

Post by Mh434 »

Silly me! I’d forgotten about the auto-clean button!! Seconds later, lots of foam! The button’s just to the left of the cinnamon auto-shaker dispenser button.

Can’t do without my foam! :lol:

TwoTone Trike
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Re: New to me '91 SE

Post by TwoTone Trike »

I guess it serves us right for throwing the operating instructions away. :? :shock: :o :roll: I LMAO bro. That was good. I'll have to remember that one the next time one of my Harley buddies complains.

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thebruce
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Re: New to me '91 SE

Post by thebruce »

Thanks, Mh434. The thing that's killing me these days about HD is the noise. It was always excessive, but I guess I had more patience before. Getting old or something. There's a south park episode that addresses the issue. I love south park.

The howl doesn't bother me at all, I'll hopefully change the tire this weekend. It would be nice if someone made a tire with a load index that was overkill for the application. Like E rated tires on a 1/2 ton truck (or the wife's SUV), which is something I like to do.

I'll be looking into elite 4 tires as these wear or as I come into a bit more disposable income. The purchase of the wing and necessary maintenance is going to be a hole in my pocket for a while.

My 4 way switch already stuck on when the battery died... funny you should mention that.

I'm sure I will eventually find my way past all the plastic stuff. I expect it will require patience. The service manual will help a bunch. Also, the incredible DIY section on this site is pretty much what sold me on coming here. LOTS of procedures mapped out with pictures. Love it.

So far the carbs have worked as they should. I feel like they could use a rejetting, but I'm sure mileage and riding at altitude would suffer.

Ran 1 tank with the seafoam and the current one was filled away from my supply. I'll keep dumping it in as I remember until the can is gone. Another thing I have noticed that works in a similar fashion is marvel mystery oil. Made a couple of my other vehicles straighten up and fly right. Or at least idle smoother...

The shifter issue is on my radar. It is a little sloppier than I would like it to be. All the gears work properly for the moment and I'd like to keep it that way.

MY cappuccino maker works flawlessly...
It doesn't matter what you ride, as long as you have your knees to the breeze.

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offcenter
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Re: New to me '91 SE

Post by offcenter »

My two cents?
My GL-1500 handled like a truck and howled like a banshee when I got it. It had those damned Dunflops on it.
I put Michelin Commander II tires on it.
WHAT A DIFFERENCE!!
Now it handles almost like a sport bike and there is NO HOWLING!
And don't believe the owner's manual. Run 41 pounds of air in the
front tire.
George in Jersey.
99 Goldwing GL-1500 SE
76 Goldwing Gl-1000
77 Honda CT-90 "Trail 90"

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Mh434
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Re: New to me '91 SE

Post by Mh434 »

The noise riding Harley’s was bad, and the seating position was awful, but the vibration was the worst. Even the last Harley I was issued, a brand new ‘03 Anniversary Special, shook badly. It was like riding a paint shaker. Guys had a lot of back & kidney problems from that. Of course, we rode over 40 hours a week, more than most Harley riders ever do, but still...at that time, I still had my GL1100, and getting on that to ride home from work after a day in the saddle on my Harley was...heaven. :D

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thebruce
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Re: New to me '91 SE

Post by thebruce »

I can't imagine being issued a motorcycle at work. Sounds like a dream job until reality sets in, I would imagine.

I haven't figured out the problem with the seat on mine. If I'm riding solo I want to sit halfway on the pillion so my knees aren't bent so much. If I have my feet on the highway pegs it isn't all that great either. If I rest the back of my leg on the highway pegs it's ok but I'm losing the heel off my boots at a tremendous rate scrubbing them in corners. I guess I miss the forward controls and floorboards. Ain't gonna happen.

What were you riding that vibed so bad? The sportys were shaky until the rubber mounted them. I recall an '00 heritage from Campbell River had slipped the counterbalance sprocket pressed onto the crank so it pretty much shook the fillings out of my teeth. And I dont have any. Even the lady riding it didnt like it anymore.
It doesn't matter what you ride, as long as you have your knees to the breeze.

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Mh434
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Re: New to me '91 SE

Post by Mh434 »

It was an '03 Police Special, with the 2nd generation rubber mounted engine (and handlebars, but that's a separate issue!! :shock: ). Even so, it still shook like crazy. Not as sharp a vibration, more like having all-your-children + the dog-jumping-on-your-bed kind of shake. It's mildly amusing for a few minutes, but gets tiring fairly quickly. After 8-10 hours, it's agony.

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thebruce
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Re: New to me '91 SE

Post by thebruce »

off center I haven't ridden on a set of dunlops for 8 or 9 years now, but that's what I recall them being like. I assume the elite 3/4 will have improved handling from what I recall... or at least I hope so.

I do like the Michelin name, had a set on my GSXR and they were definitely a good tire. If the price point is right I would consider them for sure.

The tar snake problem yesterday wasn't so bad in the morning while it was cool, but in the afternoon heat I could feel the rear end flopping around in corners... for some reason it seems like portions of road here have been reconstructed with spare parts. Not cool.

Whatever I come up with in the long run will certainly be better than the rugged looking bridgestone I have.

On a happy note the Vrod should be leaving my shop today. I'll be able to change the tire myself as a friend has a machine.

Mh434 that completely makes sense now... pogo seat? Not my favourite by a stretch.

I have ridden a few FLHP and unless you really lust after that '59 pan feeling of sitting an extra foot off the ground, pass that one up. They weren't the worst with a proper solo seat but if I had to be on a bike 8 hours + a day I'd probably be sick of the vibes too.


It doesn't matter what you ride, as long as you have your knees to the breeze.

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