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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Pre-Trip Maintenance

I've got big plans for a road trip to Oregon next month so I've been spending some time with the Big Red Bitch getting caught up on maintenance. New air filter, new front brakes, also changed the final drive oil. Pro Tip: always install a new crush washer with a final drive service. I neglected to last time and it dribbled hypoid oil on the back wheel and hub and made a hell of a mess. 

That's all the riding I've done in 5 years... 

Old pads on left, new on right. Didn't consider any aftermarket brands because the Honda OEM spec are just so damned good. They grab like racing pads. I suspect they're a pretty soft / aggressive compound.  Installing the pads with the springs was a whore. Each caliper has 2 retainer springs and they're a pain in the ass. 

Honda recommends replacing the caliper bolts when the pads are changed. I've done plenty of pad changes on different bikes but this is the first time I bothered to change the bolts. 8 bucks a piece!

Gnarled old front pads. 2 of these are engaged by the rear brake pedal. Want to guess which?

Airbox resonators / vortex generators / oil separators


Throttle plates and airbox inside were a little grimy. Looking at the throttle body layout reminds me of the unique crankshaft configuration of this V4 engine. One of the coolest motorcycle engines ever designed IMO.

Old filter. I've blown it out and re-used it a couple times but this time I replaced it. When the Honda partsman rang up the part number he stared at his screen in disbelief and told me that this filter takes the record from the ST1100 for the most expensive he's seen. He offered a K&N for a bit less but I don't want to mess around with a cloth filter, especially considering how much tupperware needs to be removed from the 1200 to get at the airbox. I bit the bullet on the Honda part and he gave me a good deal. 

Cleaned up the interior of the airbox re-installed the "resonators" which I removed out a few years ago. I think I was a bit arrogant trying to outsmart the Honda engineers. I assumed these were for tuning intake noise but I think airbox design is more sophisticated than that. An experienced engine builder / master technician suggested to me that they could be placed in the 'box to create a "tumble" of air into the intake funnels to better fill the cylinders. They could also have a function of separating oil so it doesn't build up on the plates. In either case, they're back where they belong and will remain there.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Heated Grips and 12V Accessory plug

After almost 4 years I finally bit the bullet one night and ordered the Honda genuine accessory heated grips and 12V accessory harness. They were expensive.... 3 or 4 times the price of comparable aftermarket stuff... but worth it. After doing the installation, I think the price is mostly justified.

The harnesses and plugs for these accessories have the perfect amount of slack in the wires, the right connectors, quality fittings, and are connected to a fused, switched power source. I didn't take the time to put together a tutorial for installation but I did take a few photos and made some mental notes.

The installation was very tedious and time-consuming. BUt after seeing how it all goes together I like the way these accessories were designed as a high-quality permanent solution. Once it was all finished, the wiring and fixtures looked like factory-installed options.... which is nice but frustrating as the VFR1200 really ought to have been equipped with these features as delivered.

The mid fairings and tank covers had to come off

A lot of time was taken to carefully route the wires properly and cover them tidily.

The connections are all very clean and tidy

The bracket for the 12v plug had to be riveted in place... meaning I had to buy a rivet gun and figure out how to use it. :P

The heated grips have 3 settings indicated by a blinking red light.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


I'm really a squid at heart.
The Pirelli Angel ST tires on my 1200 are done. I'm having a pair of Angel GTs fitted tomorrow. Before I take the wheels off I find it neccessary to burn the remaining tread off the old tires. Because I'm immature.


pic of VFR with the wheels off: Notice the automotive-style solid steel brake line fixed to the swingarm.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Ventura Pannier Liners

I ordered these direct from Ventura's US importer. On my last tour I found it was a pain to detach the panniers every time I stopped for the night so I thought some fitted liners would come in handy. I had read a little about a product that Ventura offered as an alternative to the Honda official accessory pannier liners so I went with those instead. Ventura has a great reputation for quality and customer support, and the user reviews I had seen indicated that the Venturas have a little more useable space than the Honda stuff.

I haven't been on a long trip with them yet, but I'm very impressed with the quality and fit. Looking forward to putting them to the test.

Monday, October 22, 2012


My VFR is now sharing floor space in the garage with something on the opposite end of the street bike spectrum.

Take a look at my new blog:


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

5 Star Rating

My favourite motorcycle magazine BIKE from the UK recently updated their 5 star motorcycle rating system which appears in their guide at the back of every issue. Previously, they almost never awarded five out of five stars (never, in fact, since I've been a subscriber). In their new format, they award five stars to the best bike in each class. The VFR1200 was upgraded from four to 5 stars under this new rating, presumably for top sport tourer.  The caption remains unchanged:

"No gizmos, but a great engine, chassis and finish meas they're not missed. Auto (DCT) is pillion friendly, smooth, and 600 more. Bike Tip: The definitive sports tourer"

To my knowledge BIKE has not yet tested the updated 2012 version of the VFR.

Other motorcycles that were awarded five stars:

Ducati Multistrada 1200s
Honda NC700x
Kawasaki ZZR1400 (ZX-14)
Kawasaki ZX10R
KTM 990 Adventure
Triumph Speed Triple
Triumph Daytona 675
Triumph Street Triple R

Pardon the crummy cell phone pics:
August 2012 issue. SPOILER: the most fun bike ever is the Triumph Street Triple

High praise... I'd like to see a test on the 2012 model

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Shorai Lithium Battery

My VFR didn't need a new battery but it was treated to a new one last night. My friend Rob needed a new battery for his R1200GSA and I recommended that he check out Shorai.

 I found out about Shorai a few years ago and I've followed their product with keen interest. Their Lithium Iron technology would seem to address all of the shortcomings of a traditional lead-acid motorcycle battery. They're smaller, MUCH lighter, hold a charge better, and are more environmentally friendly.

Being ordered up Shorai LFX battery for his BMW, and being as thoughtful as he is, ordered one for my VFR as well and surprised me with it last night. He ordered direct from Shorai USA and they had the package shipped from their California distribution centre to his doorstep here in Airdrie Alberta barely 24 hours later. 

Installation was simple but not completely straightforward.

Here's how my standard battery sat with a trickle charger hooked up. The Shorai won't need this type of mainenance.

One could easily be fooled into thinking the box was empty.

The Shorai is so light that it feels toy-like compared to the standard battery.

The BS12 battery that Shorai recommends for the VFR is 2mm narrower, 5mm shorter, and 21mm thinner than the Yuasa 14S it replaced. It weighs 960 grams to the Yuasa's 3900 grams. It has a higher capacity and higher cold cranking amp rating.

Shorai supplies a large assortment of adhesive-backed foam spacers for a snug fit. I stuck a 1" thick strip to the bottom of the battery tray, a small 5mm thick strip to the bottom of the battery (it mounts on its side) and another small 5mm strip to the side of the battery. Ideally the foam should be placed in the tray rather than on the battery itself but the tray in the VFR is more of a basket and doesn't have enough surface to stick it to.

A thoughtful touch: Shorai sticks the mounting nuts to a little chunk of foam so they sit nicely in place to thread the bolts.

The positive wire crimp on the VFR has a complex shape designed specifically for the OEM Yuasa battery post. The casing of the Shorai battery interfered with the crimp so I had to add a spacer. Rob's battery came with a 90 degree threaded spacer which I bolted perpendicular in the post. Then I bolted the wire to the spacer. It sits up about 5mm higher than the original arrangement but doesn't interfere with the seat. I could easily lower it by using a thinner foam spacer under the battery.

Will I be able to feel the difference in weight? Maybe... but doubtful. I suppose in side-to-side transitions there will now be almost 7 fewer pounds to throw back and forth. Regardless, the maintenance benefits make it worthwhile.