So with sudden demise of my trusty zed I went in search of a suitable replacement. And after looking around there really wasn’t anything that grabs me like my zed. Except for the newer version of the ZX14R from 2013 which included a number of improvements and some nice restyling.
Enter one 2014 ZX14R, with only 14,000km (that’ll change quickly!) on the odometer.
THE ZX14 is a very underrated long distance touring bike and I’m hoping that the ZX14R will be the same and we will share many miles and adventures together. But before we disappear over the horizon there are a number of things that I need to do to transform this ultimate weapon of speed into a mile munching, touring machine capable of warp factor 2.
However before any further transformations occur the bike needs a quick shake down run … okay I just wanted to take it for a spin. So after work on Friday a friend and I went for a spin to grab a pizza in a little town 100km away and then another 100km for coffee and cake before getting home close to 11pm after around 300km.
Verdict. What an amazing bike! Intoxicating power! It is 80cc bigger than my old ZX14, it has more power and more torque and and feels more frantic, but gets better fuel economy. The lights have a great pattern and coverage they just need more light. The suspension feels pretty good but needs to be set up properly for me as it feels a bit soft.
So far I have only played with the ergonomics – given that I spend many hours on the bike it is important that it is comfortable. Not unlike all the adjustments you make when driving a car – it’s just a bit trickier on a bike.
- Lower foot pegs – its all well and good to be all tucked with your ankles under your arm pits when your young but as you get older stuff aches. So just dropping the pegs by 30mm makes a huge difference. For this bike I have found some nice lower pegs from Knight Design in the States.
- Handle bar position – with the simple addition of handle bar riser spacers can make a huge improvement and remove significant weight off your wrists. This also changes how you are sitting, the pressure on your back, and potentially the angle of you neck as your not looking up as much. Done. The bike already had a set of risers on it when I bought it.
- Screen – the right screen on the bike can make a huge difference. Smoothing the air over the helmet can reduce the turbulence and even the noise. This makes it a lot less fatiguing for long days in the saddle. You also need to consider any changes to airflow on the pillion as a positive change to the rider may have a negative impact on a pillion. I once had a screen with a defined kick at the edge – it was great for me but it created downward pressure on the top of the pillions helmet pushing their head down. I have found that double bubbles are a nice compromise. Done. Again the bike already had a double bubble installed.
- Seat – many seats are made to look good but not necessarily for sitting on for hours and hours. That soft squigy seat can start to get unbearable after a few hours as you sink lower and end up sitting on the base. Having a good seat shape and high quality memory foam makes a huge difference. I loved the seat I got made for my old bike so I purchased a seat from a bike wrecker so I could keep my seat as it will go straight on zed2. While the seat profiles between the standard and custom seat is similar the difference in comfort is really noticeable. After close to 200,000km this seat is still great.
So what’s next
Suspension – I am always surprised by the number of riders who never set up their bikes suspension and just assume that the factory settings are fine. I think in part it is because modern bikes have so many adjustments that it is all a bit daunting and getting them right is like black magic. We have a suspension guy here locally who for about $50 will set the suspension up for you. And it is worth every cent!
Lighting – I spend many hours riding in the dark so the more we can see the better and safer we are. As I said earlier the lighting pattern on this bike is excellent but it just needs more light.
Step one – upgrade the current lights. With projector beams they quite easily handle the higher light outputs of newer lighting technologies. On Zed I had HID low and high beam. I am looking at upgrading Zed2 with LED globes as LED technology has advanced to the point that it is a viable alternative providing similar light output with even less power usage.
Step two – supplementary light. On Zed I had a set of Hella FF50 to fill in the light gaps. Until I have the new globes installed I won’t know what I need. Again I will be looking at the new LED driving lights and specifically Rigid Industries has a nice range of LED driving lights with a range of light patterns (wide, driving, spot, hyper spot).
Luggage – Doing multiday rides it is essential to have the ability to carry luggage. For many the first question is hard or soft luggage and they both have their advantages and disadvantages. However as I already have the pannier setup from my old bike that is a no brainer. The only difference with my new setup will be a top box (using an Alu rack and Givi 47ltr top box) in place of the Ventura rack and soft bag.
Other stuff– then there are all the other things that make it easier or more comfortable on big days on the bike. Things like GPS, intercoms, chain oiler, heated grips, etc, etc. Some of this I salvaged from the old bike and will go straight on the new bike.
And then … it’s time to ride.
The only question is where!