After riding 45,000+ miles in the last couple of years I decided I had earned my wheels to put a little more money into the bike. I am by nature a fairly frugal bloke, even been called cheap more than a few times. Push finally came to shove this Spring when my second-hand stock seat was wearing out and growing painfully uncomfortable. What followed is a series of changes that has transformed this Honda ACE 750 cruiser into a tour worthy machine.
First the Seat
I looked around for seat options. I considered having the seat modified locally. By the time I had the seats recovered and some foam replaced I was looking at around $300 for the driver, passenger and backrest. I decided that the investment in a real touring seat, while expensive, would be a choice I would never regret. I ordered through a local dealer and got a brand new Mustang touring seat for $600 with tax, which was a fair price. The seat was a little stiff at first and set me up a couple of inches higher which for my long legs was a welcome addition.
What I didn’t realize at the time was that the higher seat also lowered the reach for my bars and lowered the windshield height relative to my face. As a result I started messing with the bike trying to get everything just right.
Next the New Bars
Previously I had risers which raise the stock bars up and back a few inches. I was able to pivot the bars up but still was not quite right. I found some mini ape hangers at jpcycles.com for $43 with shipping and opted to go that route thinking it wouldn’t be too expensive. The process was certainly more involved than I thought it to be. The bars were light weight. I took my weights out of the stock bars, sawed them to length and inserted them in the new bars with some silicon to prohibit vibration along with some muffler weld at the ends and some spring pins. I also shot the middle full of caulk. Mini ape hangers are by nature more springy so I did everything possible to dampen that effect.
The old risers had munched the bushings in the triple tree, so I found one on e-bay for $45 with shipping. I busted one of the stock risers and learned the hard way about the importance of using a torque wrench. I wrestled with getting the triple tree back on finally taking the bike in and having the dealer reset it. I was experiencing significant vibration. After much pain and suffering from riding around with vibration during the installation and troubleshooting process I finally got everything installed correctly.
I ordered some Kuryakyn grips $58 from e-bay and bar end weights $38 from e-bay. They helped to dampen the vibration and further reduce the spring in the mini apes.
I have on order a new clutch cable. The stock cable fits but is a bit taught but is functional. It is at end-of-life anyway so I ordered a new one that is stock +4 inches for $72 with shipping that will arrive soon.
Still I was having some additional vibration.
The New Fork Springs
In the process of riding the bike while doing the mods I added some weight to the windshield bag which I believe finished-off the stock springs. The bike now has 55,000 miles on it and had never had the forks redone. The front suspension was now shot and I was getting vibration from the front forks. I opted to upgrade to Progressive Springs, with the oil, seals and labor it totaled around $280. The new suspension was much improved but a little too firm. One return trip to the dealer to reduce the spacer by 1/2″ and drain a little fork oil and it softened a bit. I also changed the pre-adjuster from 4 down to 2 which has made a huge difference. The bike now has a firm but comfortable suspension that can take on some pretty mean potholes and keep on cruising.
Final Out Come
The bike now fits my perfectly. The bars are at a nice height that keeps me from bending over, the seat is very comfortable and the bike has a good suspension which makes all the difference in handling. The mini ape hangers also straighten my back which sets my head further back and reduced in the increased buffeting from the rise in seat height.
What I Learned (Again)
- Making one change can and often does lead to a series of changes.
- The expense for these changes can also be greater than originally anticipated. What started with a $600 seat and a $43 dollar set of bars grew significantly.
- If possible purchase a bike with as many add-ons and modifications that fit you as possible, the most expensive item being an upgraded seat.
- I enjoy working on motorcycles but am a better developer than a mechanic. Next time I make significant mods I may work through a dealer for the changes and probably would not have incurred any extra expense, maybe even saved a few dollars. More importantly my time is worth more than what I saved.
- A motorcycle is an expensive hobby but a cheap form of transport. Even with all the expense the miles I’ve saved on our cars in the last two years has extended the life of the vehicles.
The changes to the bike made a world of difference. I look forward to appreciating the investment mile after mile.