Saturday, September 9, 2017

Tweaking the Pumpkin

Let's face it.  I'm a person that like to modify things.  Likes to make them my own and work well for me.  When it comes to motorcycles, I seem to do that more the ever.  Frankly, I don't understand those people who buy a motorcycle, ride it for one year, then sell it.  They tell me that they enjoy the experience of the motorcycle as it is.  That doesn't work for me.  For example, I have been tweaking on the new KTM all the first season and I am finally getting it working well enough to decide that I will keep it.

It was really the most recent tweaks that got the bike talking to me.  I had gone down the wrong road with stiffer springs.  That made the bike harsh without improving suspension feedback to the rider.  After going back to the stock spring rates, I set the sag for those springs, used the clickers to adjust the shock/forks with in the available range of adjustment, and those things made a better ride compromise, but it still wasn't talking to me.



The previous owner had dropped the triple trees down the forks by about 12 mm which decreased the trail/rake.  I brought them back up to factory level and that helped the feedback a bit.

The final tweak was tire pressure.  Both Kawasaki's like high tire pressure.  In fact, depending on the specific front tire, a low front tire pressure on the KLR can result in a high speed wobble.

Force of habit I guess, I had been running the KTM about 4 psi above the "loaded" tire pressure recommendation.  Dropping the tire pressures down to the "loaded" recommendation made all the difference.  It helped both steering feedback and ride comfort.  Now I have a bike that is well controlled for ride, yet envelops most bumps.  At the same time, talks to me in a way that gives me very good confidence.  All of this with a minimum of flex and shake.  Nice.

I may someday try to tweak the shim stack in the compression fork to be a bit more digressive, but for now I am happy with the suspension.

Coming back to this question of riding a bike one year and then selling it.  It seems to take me a minimum of a year just to get the suspension setting right.  I keep wondering what they are missing by not taking time with the bike.  Oh well, each to his own.

In case you are wondering, the nickname "Pumpkin" seems to be sticking for the KTM.  After I made it all orange and black, a friend of mine saw the bike for the first time.  His question to me was, "Is that your pumpkin out there?"  I like that bike in orange.  Not only is orange the company color, but it makes the bike more visible and the color has a lot of flop that works very well with the angles and curves of the body.  So, pumpkin it is.


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