Project to Save my Back

It has been almost 5 months since I purchased the GSXR. From my previous posts, you can read about the efforts (and expense) to bring her up to a good riding condition. Now that all the major repairs and maintenance are completed, I am going to address an important issue that will influence the length of my ownership of this bike – comfort.

Committed Riding Position

After owning the motorcycle for a few months, I came to a realization that this bike is probably not the most ideal motorcycle for my usage. However, since I have invested quite a bit of money into her and getting her running like a dream now, I thought I might as well go on a little bit more and try and make her work for me.

The original 2001 Suzuki GSXR1000 K1 handlebars from the rider’s position. Notice the stretch to the bars and the low mounted position.

The bike has a head down, bum up riding position. It is a bit of a stretch to reach handlebars. This position puts a lot of weight on the hands, arms and shoulders. In addition, because of the stretch, the rider’s lower back is also strained. I have noticed that to ride this bike properly, the rider has to ride in a rather committed position. He or she has to lean forward, lower down the body and bend the elbows. That way, the arms will provide the necessary leverage to counter steer the motorcycle effectively while reducing the impact of the bumps onto the body. This position works best when cornering with frequent changes in direction and movement of the rider’s body. It sucks when you are riding in slow moving traffic or a long straight stretch of highway.

If I become lazy and ride with arms straight, this is one of the most uncomfortable bikes to ride. The impact of every bump gets transmitted onto the arms and body and the bike feels harsh. This was what I realised when we were traveling the 1000kms up and down Malaysia’s North South Highway. The long stretch of highway riding was very tiring for me (my wife was ok).

However, the reason for the focused riding position was made clear once we hit the turns going up and down the mountain. It was perfect. I would bet that the bike would be a dream to ride at Pasir Gudang’s Johor race track (which I intend to go once my fiscal hole is mended). One cannot not go to PG at least once when one owns the GSXR. It is just unforgivable. She was designed to live at the race track.

Anyway, for short sprints (like going to and from the office), the riding position is still tolerable. However, for two up riding and touring I had better to do something to the bike before it breaks my back.

Change Her into A Sportstourer?

I had to make the riding position more comfortable and the way to do it is to move the handlebars nearer towards the rider and lift them up a bit. As long as I can attain the riding position similar to the ZX6E, the bike should be comfortable enough.

Low mounted handlebars

I have made some investigation and decided to buy a set of Convertibars for the bike. The advantage is its ability to adjust the position of the handlebars to suit me. In addition, it also allows me to drop the bars if I need to ride the bike at PG (which I intend to). With this mod, I hope to finally turn this head banger’s bike into a light, fast and moderately comfortable sports tourer. That way, I can at least live with her and enjoy the ride. The more upright riding position should allow me more leverage to turn the bike. Hopefully the new bars will also reduce the vibration on the right handlebar.

The bars have been ordered and I am now waiting for the item to arrive from the USA. I’ll probably get my workshop to fix them for me. Hope to give a review soon.

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