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My Honda VTR1000 Firestorm

My latest toy isn't a car, but a Honda VTR-1000 Firestorm motorbike. I got my bike licence in early 2005, but didn't get around to buying a bike until July 2006. Since I did a special course with the local transport authority that lets me ride any sized bike I like right from day one, I bought a 'big bike'. The course was called 'Q-Ride' and it's a performance-based course, so you have to get up to a certain standard before they'll give you your licence.
It's certainly not the best bike to have for the first one but I'm being very careful and haven't put a scratch on it so far. I've been riding bikes  on & off for the last 35 years but this is technically my first bike.

One of the first things I did to it was to get the mufflers gutted as the standard mufflers are too quiet and I feel much safer riding around in traffic when people can hear me - It's already saved me once, so far ....
Here's the muffler as it was being gutted. On the left of the photo you can see the end cap that's been removed and the small, restrictive internal pipe that the engine had to breath through. On the right you can see the series of three pipes that do the muffling, and that's the second set - there's another set just like them in the front half of the muffler. The set that you see there were removed so each of the two big mufflers has half the restriction (probably a lot less in fact) and half the noise reduction.
It's got quite a bark now, but that's the way I like it.

It's a half-reasonable looking bike I think. They come in a few different colours, but the black ones were literally $2,000 cheaper than the other colours, as the dealer reckoned he was having trouble shifting them. As I'd just bought a new black helmet, I have no problems riding a black bike so after the test ride I told them if they had a set of two-piece leathers that fitted me, I'd buy the bike on the spot.
And that's what happened.
Another handy gadget I got recently was a Nolan bluetooth-equipped helmet. It connects up to the mobile phone, so I can make calls when I'm riding. The sound cancelling works very well indeed, and the people that've called me don't know I'm on a bike.
My other reason for buying such a thing is that for the MME car race I do in Malaysia every year, it'll be an excellent way to talk to the pits when I need to. The phone can normally be just tucked away in your pocket for recieving calls, but to make a call I still need to use the handset, and after a bit of thought I came up with the idea of strapping it to my right arm. That way, I can keep riding/driving and hit the last-redial button to call home or the pits, as the case may be. No wires, so no fuss.
In early March 2007 I decided to do the inlet restrictor mod that the good people on OzFirestorm talked about, as the VTR's (as apparently many other bikes do as well) have a disc of metal in the inlet, between the throttle and head, to restrict the airflow into the engine. I'm not sure why it's there, but it reduces the top-end power of the engines quite a lot. So mine had to come out!
On the left is the VTR with the fuel tank removed and you can see the huge airbx that lives there. On the right the airbox is removed and  the carbies exposed. I've got large hands so it was pretty difficult for me to get into all the little spaces to undo the number of tiny pipes and so on, but with patience it all got done.
On the left is one of the inlet restrictors, and as you can see they block off something like 15% or so of the airflow into the engine - and make what goes in rather turbulent as well! Fortunately once they were out of the engine and on the table the restrictors were very easy to remove.
On the right you can see that now the airflow has a nice, clear path into the engine. I have to pull back the vacuum-actuated flat-slide with my fingers when the engine isn't running to see into the inlet. The carbies are 50mm Kheins I think.
The acid test was riding the bike, and before the mod the engine would start to really die up around 7,000rpm. After the mod I didn't notice much difference up to about 5,500rpm, but after that the engine really jumps noticeably in power and pulls very strongly past 8,000rpm+. It also gets slightly better fuel economy.
One thing that's really quite difficult to do is read a road map on a bike!
So at around the same time as the inlet mod I also bought a Garmin Zumo GPS navigator. I picked that one as they're specifically designed to work on a motorbike, being waterproof and have a special interface for use with thick fingers and bike gloves. It mounts on the two bolts that hold the front of the fuel tank down and it's an incredibly handy device.
In September  2008 I purchased a Sharkskinz lower fairing for the bike, to improve the appearance and cooling. To stop the extractors from making the pain bubble from the heat, I wrapped about 45cm of the pipes with heat-cloth. The fairing also has a silvery heat-shield to help overheating.
I also fabricated the small 6mm thick shim that goes between the top of the rear damper and the chassis, to lift the rear of the bike a little so it reduces the rake on the forks, which in turn makes the bike turn into corners a bit better. The downside is that it now wanders around a little more on the highway than it used to, but it's quite liveable. 

On the list of things to do is I might be doing is to pull the engine apart after the warranty runs out, to get some more power from it. A set of higher-compression pistons, bigger cams, clean up the porting, etc.  I bought a litre bike right from day one, as I wanted something that would scare me with the straight-line speed. This bike is fast and it's much better after the inlet mod but it's not that fast. I was half-tempted to look at getting something like a Kawasaki ZX-14 superbike as they're insanely fast, but my VTR is now pretty much the bike I wanted to buy so I'll be keeping it for a long time.

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