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TomJefferson

My Harley Gets a Makeover

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I plan to retire next year so that means next season I do my bucket list "Easy Rider" tour. Point the bike that direction go till I can't go, stay until I rest up, then go some more. That means this season its get me and the bike ready. Half way through the season, I have the redneck tan from hell. I'm so dark in the arms and face i'm like the old comedians interracial joke Zebra. Getting ready is like getting ready for a race its get in shape and get your gear in shape.

 

Tires

 

I got 14,500 miles out of my last set of Harley Dunlop Elite tires, longest I ever got out of any tires in my life on a bike. Now that said like you guys I'm a researcher on the web so did a lot of research.. 2009 Dunlop combined with Harley to upgrade their tour bike tires. The goal was longer miles and better grip, an almost contradiction since the rule of thumb is harder the rubber the more miles but less grip and vice versa. The result was the Dunlop Mt Multi-tread technology. That's a industry term for bonding two different rubber hardnesses in the same tire. They increased the center of the tire to a harder rubber while adding more rubber a softer rubber on the sides where you lean. Now anyone who rides knows front and back is a harder nut to crack so in that Harley made changes in their 2014 Rushmore bikes, which mine is one. The increased the front tire size. Makes sense, bigger the tire, less it rolls per mile. Now if you follwed the motorcycle forums, I increased the front tire life even more by upping the pressure as the tire wore so it wore evenly. I was up to 40 PSI on the front tire when I retired them but for the first time ever retired both the front and back at the same time. Though none of this is rocket science really and makes sense that in its self was amazing. Needless to say, I'm a researcher but I don't lack common sense either. Don't fix what anit broken and because I'm not on a fixed income yet, I went with the tires that worked for me. These are expensive tires as tires go, over $500 just for the tires not counting putting them on. Next set, I may go with the harder rubber Thailand made Michelin Commander IIs that with their Kevlar reinforced walls and deep channels which claim better water channeling but for now I went with the American made Dunlops and their better handling.

 

15,000 mile service

 

Harley hasn't touched my bike since the breakin service but on this one I wanted the full service manual check up and change. Besides the engine, transmission, and oil change it included a full hydraulic fluid change, brakes, clutch, and forks. Their service also includes a bunch of checks including a spark plug gap check. Plan is to change the plugs before next season. I considered some new slip ons and hotter plugs but the more I learned about the Rushmore's improvements in heat management and how that works, the more decided not to. If you recall, neither Mobil V Twin or Amsoil did better in my engine than the Harley Zyn 3. A lot of that has to do with the HD heat management which took a dramatic change in the Rushmore upgrades. For example what was the "Parade Mode" that shuts the back cylinder down at idle to control heat now does not open the oil cooler till temp is reached and adds more fuel, runs rich, for cooling. Messing with the air flow then messes with that. The hardest guy I know on Harley's puts 150,000 on a bike, rebuilds the engine then puts another 150,000 on a bike before he sells it. He runs stock and btw has a Harley service contract. That said, I don't put enough miles on mine in the time frame he does to make a Harley service contract financially work for me. He's an "Iron butt" of the highest order and puts that many miles on a Harley in the time I wear out a set of tires. (Yes there's people that crazy out there. His idea of a short ride is 2-3 states.) Anyway that service plus the labor for the tires was another $500. One change I did do on the service is went with a gear oil on my transmission. My clunk is gone. I did if for the increased life before a change but kind of miss the clunk when shifting. Going into 2nd I cant' tell if I missed second. LOL

 

My battery was doing fine another kind of shocked me. Never got four seasons out of a motorcycle battery before. I decided like my cars to go ahead and change it before its "OH crap it won't start." I found out why they do so well. The damn thing is 23 lbs of AGM battery. Biggest heaviest damn motorcycle battery I ever saw. Now this one I didn't buy Harley. The Harley stock battery is made by a company called Throttle X and cost a whopping $170. Throttle X sells the same battery direct for $120 under the label Rated X which consistently gets top five and top ten ratings. I can see why. I've had cars with less batteries.

 

Visibility Enhancement

 

That's a two way street, seeing and being seen. I am very pleased with the Custom Dynamics LED upgrades to my turn signals and headlights. The front turned my turn signals to running lights that glow white until the turn signal is turned on then classic orange and the back are a much brighter red (on the Street Glide the back turn signals are the brake light too) but the biggest improvement was the headlight. The two LED inserts are so bright I don't even use the brights at night anymore when I had to on the factory lights. I wanted more visibility in the rear but instead of the Custom Dynamics went with Ciro. They make a light just for the Street Glide so I don't have to give up my lower fender extension. Its a between bag light on both sides that adds a gap fill between the bag and fender that matches the styling of the fender extension. Unlike the Custom Dynamics, along with a red panel for running light and brake lights, they have an orange center bar that works with the blinkers. These are expensive suckers, $369 with plug and play controller which automatically compensates for impedance changes so the blinkers plink at the right speed but also make future upgrades like upper or lower saddle bag lights or ferring accent lights plug and play. These were almost too simple to install.

 

Last but not least, I wanted a new tour windshield something designed for 70 mph interstate running with no buffeting and in the rain. First let me say, I had probably four windshields. A Harley tour bike is max simple to change sheilds. Its three bolts. For my height and riding position, an 8" was just a tad low in some circumstances and a 9" too high. Then you have the whole in the rain you need to be a tad lower and even see through the thing. I went a new direction on this. Memphis Shades makes a 8.5" optically correct recurve that's tinted lower half and clear the top half. From a distance, it actually looks like a much lower tinted shield. In the rain, its simply sit back in my drivers backrest and see through the shield. I sit upright and see over it. Its fantastic in the rain (that is if I can remember to turn off the Harley ferring vent. LOL That ferring vent if you don't hit the button buts rain right in your face. I never can remember to until its too late.) Anyway, this a premium shield $140.

 

Military Discount

 

Harley offers a 10% on parts and 20% on tires for military and vets. This saved me around $200 with one exception the windshield which I could have bought for the same money from one of the discount online houses. That was a break even with the discount house so I just bought it from Harley so I didn't have to deal with shipping a windshield. Total, I figure I just sank $1,500 in my Harley.

 

The End Result

 

No kidding, 14,500 miles in my bike is running like the day I bought it with enhancements in visibility and weather. Its like having a new bike again. Anyway with a few seasonal things, like change the air filter again, new plugs, etc. and figuring a couple thousand miles this season, she should be ready for "Easy Rider". I figure 3,000 miles in I'll need an engine oil change but the tranny and primary should be good for 7,000 miles after I start the adventure.

 

Now me, I'm still working on that. Increasing your " butt ability" is not just a matter of gear. Its a lot of conditioning.

 

Tj

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Sweet. I just put a set of the new Michelin road 5's on my R6. I don't ride that thing hard at all anymore. Also changed the chain and sprocket. Went up 2 teeth in the rear for a little better low end. Don't think I'll miss 5-10mph of top speed.

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Sweet. I just put a set of the new Michelin road 5's on my R6. I don't ride that thing hard at all anymore. Also changed the chain and sprocket. Went up 2 teeth in the rear for a little better low end. Don't think I'll miss 5-10mph of top speed.

Back during my chain days, I use to change sprockets all the time to fit the riding I was doing. As for the grip, you know I think its a bigger deal on a bigger bike. 900lbs has a lot of inertia going into a curve. I don't think I would notice the difference between the Dunlops and Micheins as much on a sports bike and may even pick up some on wet roads due to their tread pattern.

 

I will add that during my sprocket days, a good chain made a world of difference in maintenance, life of the chain, and wear on my sprockets. I considered it something worth the extra money.

 

Tj

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I know Texas is on your tour, so let me know when you head this way and we can do Big Bend, Palo Duro Canyon, Padre Island, etc..

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I know Texas is on your tour, so let me know when you head this way and we can do Big Bend, Palo Duro Canyon, Padre Island, etc..

Will do but this I will tell you. My plan is north in summer and south late in the season.

 

Not set in stone, the idea is NW on the way out and SW on the way back. Never been up north that way farther than MN on a bike and after ten years of living in TX and riding the SW, mid-summer is not something I would look forward to again. Man, it can be hot. Of course, riding here right now with 90+ 80% humidity days, it damn sure doesn't feel like I'm doing much better right now. LOL

 

Tj

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I understand..over 100 here for next 10 days (at least)..not scheduling trips until September..

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Same trip in 2014: ran into a snow storm in southern CO and had to spend 2 nights, then crossed Rockies, on to Tahoe, and rode through Death Valley..scooter was saying, what the hell, dude?..

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Sounds like you are prepared for a nice trip. Make it a safe one. I love motorcycles although I have not owned one in over 45 years. Maybe again in my next lifetime. You enjoy and share some pictures.

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Sounds great. Regarding "hard compound" tire on that Harley, you definitely don't want to do that unless you have extensive experience on the harley with a hard compound tire. Wet, oily, dust, gravel, all that surface contaminant stuff you easily deal with normally with a soft compound tire will bite you in the butt very quickly with a hard tire. Replaced my rear at 10,000 miles(factory dunlop) and the front was still excellent. Switched to a harder compound and about messed my britches a few times. Not cool.

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Sounds great. Regarding "hard compound" tire on that Harley, you definitely don't want to do that unless you have extensive experience on the harley with a hard compound tire. Wet, oily, dust, gravel, all that surface contaminant stuff you easily deal with normally with a soft compound tire will bite you in the butt very quickly with a hard tire. Replaced my rear at 10,000 miles(factory dunlop) and the front was still excellent. Switched to a harder compound and about messed my britches a few times. Not cool.

Thanks. I know what you mean but I may have been a tad harsh on the Michelin Commander IIs. What I hear, they are very good tires but they are harder than the Dunlops and unlike the Dunlops one rubber hardness. I should have said harder rubber tires. You probably couldn't give me Walmart China or a hard rubber tire like that.

 

I can't explain to someone use to a mid-weight bike how much better the heavies ride especially the HOG tour bikes. All that weight makes for one hell of a smooth ride. I've rented cars for trips that didn't have as good a ride. With its engine part of the frame and low center of gravity, though about the best mid-size ride I ever had on a bike, my Indian Scount a 535 lb bike still doesn't hold a candle to my big bike as far as ride goes but it will run circles around it in a turn. The reason why is just like riding two up, all that weight puts a lot more force on the tires in a turn that Newtons Law of motion thing. Just before my planned longest ride in my life, I just can't see giving up an iota of handling and ride for a couple extra thousand miles before I have to buy tires again. A little bit of grab is a lot in a 900 lb bike.

 

Many years ago, I had an old used van I bought for fishing. I stupidly bought these 9 ply Mexcian tires guarantee for life. Man, what a waste of money. Damn things were terrible. Sang like a Rock Star, thumped when cold for what seemed like forever, and despite a nice tread pattern wouldn't hold the road even on dry pavement. No doubt they probably would have lasted forever but I'd not find out. I'm a stubborn man but that was a set of tires I took off and gave away. I chocked the money up to one hell of a learning experience. Its influenced me my entire life in many areas foremost if something works and you are satisfied, don't change it. Now that said, cars are a lot easier than bikes because there's a lot more tires to choose from and many of them very comparable to each other. Smaller bikes are almost as easy as a car but bigger bikes nope. Once you get past the top five, man, you're in another world. Because bike tires don't last that long anyway, you are way more into give up performance for life of the tire.

 

Though the cost stung. I'm very pleased with the tires. The bike is handling just like when I first bought it. Sometimes and more often than not, you get what you pay for. That's no saying I could have not saved money. Like the battery, I could have bought Dunlops from Amazon then paid a third party to put them on instead of Harley.

 

What I am convinced now after four seasons is that Harley Rushmore project did indeed put a hell of a lot of research and development into the Rushmore tour bikes. I had read that, of course, they had a big promotion around it, but now owning the bike, man, is it driven home. They did their damndest to match up what works best on the bike in all sorts of areas. Even the new Triple vent jackets were part of the Rushmore Project which they put their jacket designs in a wind tunnel for use just with a batwing ferring. After my trip down which oil that indeed I have no doubt whatsoever on pre-Rushmores there's better oils than Syn 3, I'm hesitant now to deviate on anything for anything has a give and take. The more I research it and experience it first hand, the more I realize it.

 

I got a buddy which btw is giving me shat for not going with the Commander IIs that rides an older Soft Tail. Man, he changes pipes like most of us change a piece of chrome. He tries this setup then that setup two three times a season. He takes the baffles out then puts them back to the point hell I've had to dodge his baffles coming out on the road twice now. Despite an older bike that isn't as forgiving through the computer system, he never tunes it to the exhaust. Sometimes it will run so hot the pipes will turn red hot and other times runs so rich he leaves a trail of gas fumes. I'm not that guy.

 

Tj

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My original battery (2003 Road King Classic) was a YEUSA. The bike had one metric fastener. One battery terminal was 7/16" and the other 10mm. Not a sloppy 7/16" but an actual 10mm. :laugh:

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The longest lasting set of tires I've used on my R6 were the Dunlap roadsmart. I got 8000 from the front and 5000 from the rear. The least I got were the Michelin pilots. They only lasted 3k. I'm told some sportbike guys are getting up to 12k from the new Michelin road 5s. That's 12k with great handling and traction. We'll see. I also put mine on a diet. She only weighs abouy 398lbs wet.

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I wish I could join you on your trip, it sounds great!

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The longest lasting set of tires I've used on my R6 were the Dunlap roadsmart. I got 8000 from the front and 5000 from the rear. The least I got were the Michelin pilots. They only lasted 3k. I'm told some sportbike guys are getting up to 12k from the new Michelin road 5s. That's 12k with great handling and traction. We'll see. I also put mine on a diet. She only weighs abouy 398lbs wet.

From what I have been reading, that's classic for Michelin, a harder rubber tire with more emphasis on tread pattern. Ironically though the Pilot series is geared towards sports bikes so it is a dual rubber compound like the Dunlop Elite is for heavy tour bikes. Now I'm not a sport bike person so what I garnered was while simply researching heavy tour bike tires, the higher you go up in the Pilot series the more hard rubber in the center of the tire and less on the edges. I think of that as how much lean time. Which btw if I still lived in predominate flat lands say TX or IL, I may have went with the Michelein Commander IIs but I don't and where I ride my big bike is in a lean a lot. Anyway by the time you get up to the Pilot 5s, they're aimed at the sport touring market so the most hard rubber in the center of the family of tires.

 

Now its good to keep in mind here is what we are doing in this thread is debating the two big boys of tires, Michelin and Dunlop, which are consistently in the top five tire ratings. Both are really good tires.

 

There's somethings Michelin does I like and others I really think is BS but one thing they do best is marketing. They got these really BS terms for some very simple concepts. For example, their water channeling is based on simply more treads and a tread pattern that gets wider the deeper down it is in the tire so when the tire wears the channel can channel the same amount of water. It works but despite all their talk of patents etc. honestly that shat has been around forever. Everything is a damn trade and if you multi-tread a softer rubber it wears faster and it always comes back to softer rubber grips and rides better but wears faster and vice versa. That's why in race cars, they change the tires before the race is even over. Those are some damn soft ass tires. Anyway the slica compound they put in their treads that kind of looks like a glue that they claim helps with water channeling, well, that's marketing BS. That's the sand residue from the molding process and another been around forever thing.

 

Both these companies have been around one very long time in the tire business and I can tell you from selling a part that goes into tire molding machines for over 30 years not much has changed in tire making technology. That said, vehicles have changed dramatically and that's where tire design has had to shift dramatically. No vehicle type is more dramatically different in tire demand than motorcycles because of how many different types there are now and Dunlop and Michelin are on the ground floor with manufacturers in model specific tire design. Though this size tire will work on this size rim, they design those things for specific applications. Its a win win for the motorcycle manufacturer in that it enhances the performance and customer satisfaction of their bikes and leans riders to buy tires from them.

 

Like I posted, I could have saved a few dollars by buying the Dunlop tires from other than Harley. In fact, Dunlop doesn't even take the Harley off the side of the tire most of the time even if they aren't sold through Harley. That's because they were designed specifically for Harley. Michelin is they same. They have this tire for this class of motorcycle.

 

One of the biggest changes in the Harley Rushmore Project is Harley increased the lean on their tour bikes by 16%. Though the seat height isn't that much difference, if you look at a pre-2014 Tour bike compared to 2014 up Rushmore tour bike, its noticeably higher under the frame to the ground. Now despite they worked specifically with Dunlop to redesign their tour bike tire, every tire company is going to react to that but then there's the entire concern of when and how many tires are out there in warehouses etc. Its not like tires are custom made to order. That's why we end up with so many and subtle model number changes like a suffix B or something like that. The two biggies in Rushmore tour bikes are the Dunlop American Elites and the Michelin Commander IIs which both are specifically designed for the model change.

 

Hell when I was a kid the big deal was getting a handle on bias or radial. This is some complicated crap these days. A guy should match his tire to what type of bike he rides and within that what riding expectations. Living where I live I see literally 1,000s of motorcycle every season. We are one of the top motorcycle destinations in the world. Mostly its the big tour bikes, probably second sports bikes most actually trailered in, and the sports touring bikes. Of course, we see mid-size cruisers but not as many as the other types. Most people don't hop on a 750 cruiser and cross the country. I had been looking at tour bike tires on bikes about two seasons now. Some of those tires has blown my mind. Some of these guys come in here from flat lands their tires are almost square a flat surface to a sharp edge. That's from most of their riding being upright and not in a lean. (Hell some of these folks don't know how to lean and they slow down slower than a car in curves.) All that influence which direction I went. In this I do like the sports tire concept a harder compound in the center and softer on the sides.

 

Tj

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I've been fixing cars and selling tires for a long time now. You are absolutely correct about the tires. All their new "technology" is just relabeled or rebranded same ole same ole. They'll change the shape a little to make it look a little different for the consumer at least.

 

I rode in to work this morning. I will say these michelins are a lot more neutral steering wise than the pilots. With the pilots my R6 wanted to lean over as far as possible as fast as possible in every turn. These road 5's feel a lot smoother and more predictable. I like this a lot better. The rear I'm told is a triple compound. Hard center, softer middle and really soft edges. Also supposed to be fantastic in wet weather too.

 

Looking forward to your long term review of your new shoes too.

 

Sent from my SM-N920V using Tapatalk

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Not much to add there. I put the same tires on it that I've been running for the last four seasons. I mean I got the damn is that like new feel but no real change other than wow I got tread again. My choice wasn't as varied as yours unless I went totally away from a tire not really designed for the bike. It was Dunlop American Elite or Michelin Commander IIs and I went with damn the cost rather have the extra grip for this upcoming trip. Next set, on a fixed income, it'll probably be the Commander IIs unless someone else comes out with a specific model tire, which is a possibility. Like I posted, the Rushmores have a lot more lean than the older Harley Tour bikes which the older bikes would have a larger tire selection while I would probably have to give up some of that lean, which is not good for someone who rides 90% of the time in Mountain Twisties. I'm literally at the Dragon 2-3 times a week.

 

Not surprised at all at your discovery. Seeing the 5s were specifically designed for sports touring bikes, I would anticipate that difference. Its back to that how much time in the lean thing. Good news is if you really like them for the type riding you do, then you should get more miles out of this set than the last. A pure sports tire would be softer for the grip and designed for more lean.

 

What you just told me in that post though was you really know your bike.

 

Tj

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