Ella’s New Clothes

I knew that I had a bit of work to do on the bike when I bought her, but before I was really sure that I wanted to keep this bike, I was going to spend as little money on her as I could.

The first thing I did was to remove the panniers as they were wider than the handlebars and that is a bad idea when lane splitting. I took my well used saddlebags and put it on the bike instead. They are worn and tatty, but they do the job for now.

Next I took my lube and the cable oiler and lubed the clutch and throttle cables. The clutch felt great after that. I increased the travel to make engagement point the way I like it.

Cable-Luber
The cable oiler is worth the $6 that I paid for it.

When I removed the throttle cables, I found that even without tension, the throttle grip was stiff. That was odd. Removing the bar ends and then the grip revealed the problem. The handlebar underneath the throttle grip was rusted! Yamaha, come on…

Throttle-Cable
The cable and surrounding items were dry and there was also evidence of rust.

Sandpapering that part of the handlebar, cleaning it up and applying liberal amounts of grease solved the problem. The abrupt throttle response from the engine disappeared after that. Some forums recommended that we keep the throttle clearance to a minimal to minimize the throttle lag, but I like one with more free play and set it as such. To each his own. In fact, after this simple service, I have not really noticed this throttle lag that riders complained about. The brake and clutch lever pivots were also cleaned and greased.

Rusted-Handlebar
The rusted handlebar sanded down before greasing

Moving on, I raised the fuel tank and checked the air filter – filthy! I did not have a new one with me, so I just cleaned it as best as I could. Next, I synchronized the throttle bodies. Brakes were cleaned and copper grease applied and the brake fluids were changed.

Dirty-Airfilter
Need a Change
Throttle-Body-Sync
Throttle Body Synchronization

After this basic TLC, the bike was much nicer to ride. However, the handling issues were still present.

Handling Setup

There is only 1 adjustment at the rear shock – preload, so there are not too many things to fiddle around.

First up, check the tyre pressures; under inflated as suspected. I am about 70-74kg and set the pressures to Fr 225kPa (33psi) and Rr 250kPa (36psi) and took a ride (now I set it FR 220kPa and Rr 245kPa) . She still felt low at the rear and was reluctant to lean. When I braked in a corner, she stood up and went wide. Not good.

A look at the rear suspension’s preload showed that it was still at its stock setting of 3 (there are settings 1 to 7). Using the preload adjusting spanner, I cranked up the preload and after some tries and some time getting used to the bike, I found that setting 5 works well for solo riding and 7 was good for pillioning my wife.

Now, the bike feels tight but compliant. She leans into turns easily and I must say, holds her line quite well. She is not as sharp as the GSXR and you cannot flick her on a dime into turns. She feels heavier but perhaps due to the more compliant suspension and higher weight, she is also more composed. Sweeping turns are her forte.

A check on Racetech’s website seems to suggest that Yamaha intended the stock suspension to accommodate a rider of about 60kg. To be honest, I feel that Japanese makers seem to favour comfort over cornering performance. Perhaps, it is just most riders ride their machines on everyday roads and do not go nuts. However, considering that at my weight, the rear preload setting for solo riding is already 5, there is not much room for further adjustment for someone who is heavier. Go on a diet or splash out for aftermarket suspension I suppose?

The other thing I noticed was when riding at softer settings, I was complaining that the FZ6S had no mid range. Twisting at 4,000rpm gave no drive. I was wondering what the heck was the problem and thought that the reviews were right about the engine having no mid range and only a screaming top end. However, after setting the rear preload to 5, the bike changed, now she accelerates nicely and feels more connected to the road. Perhaps the harder suspension now helps to transmit power better to the ground?

Brakes wise, I have no complaints except that squeaking sound came back a few weeks after servicing it. It could be the brake pads, but it is no big deal. The braking power is on par or even better than the GSXR on non-sintered pads. With sintered pads, I am sure it will be awesome.

Oh yes, I like the rear brake on this bike! This is the first bike that gives lots of feel from the rear brake and is sufficiently soft enough so that I can modulate it. All my previous bikes have rear brakes that felt wooden and I hardly use them. Now, I can use both the front and rear brakes when stopping. Very nice!

Comfort is great. I am 1.72m and the low seat height allows me to flat foot both feet on the ground. No more tippy toey or 1 foot stops at stop lights and no more nervous backing and paddling around when parking. Riding position is almost upright and initially I found the handlebars a bit too high and pulled back. After riding awhile, I realise there is a secret to it. This allows the rider to quickly and comfortably get into the countersteering position to corner. Brilliant! Cornering without the hard work!

Wind protection is not bad. The half fairing does its job of keeping the wind off the chest but at speeds of 120kph and above, the wind blast becomes noisy though there is not much buffeting. You can crouch down but the higher handlebar makes that awkward. I have ordered a cheap double bubble windscreen from Tao Bao for $15 and will see if that helps. If that doesn’t work, perhaps a taller touring style windscreen may be the answer.

After being convinced that this bike may be the one to keep, I sent her off to my usual mechanic to have the valves adjusted the linkages, swing arm pivots greased and a general service (filter, oils, fluids and etc…). I guess, all that’s left to do is to ride and enjoy my time with CinderElla.

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