OLDIE'S YAMAHA V-STAR 1100
Oldie found my web-site when he went searching for articles about the Yamaha V-Star 1100. He was getting back into motorcycling after a long break. He looked at what was available and chose a Yamaha XVS1100. It was some time after this, when looking for articles about the bike he’d bought (as you do!) that he found the web-site here and wrote to me. Then he sent in this story of his purchase of the bike and also of his return to riding. I've been out of the bike scene for many years and have finally reached the point in life where I'm empty-nesting with no wifey to try and manipulate me. Happy times indeed! The last bike went when I was told in all seriousness by the pregnant wifey that I had responsibilities now, etc. And soon after I was pensioned off due to old injuries from my maniac riding days of last century. So no bike, no bike magazines, etc, as other things had $$ priority once the wifey left me. She got all the stuff, I got our child. I got the best end of that deal! So this offering is about my re-learning phase to safely get out in the wind again. After six months of seeing what you could buy for your money these days I settled on an older (2001) V-Star 1100 classic. This fit my small budget of $6,500 and was advertised privately for that amount with no RWC or Rego. So I rang the owner and we gently haggled it down to $5,500 cash since he needed some urgently for his bank account; and I had to sort RWC, rego and transfer fees with what I had left after purchase. Next day I left the car in the shed and bussed it up to Gympie to test the bike. I found the owner to be a genuinely nice guy, pretty honest, and desperate for dollars in the bank to keep paying his new HD off with. On my test ride I met an older Vietnam Veterans MC rider who told me the bike was well loved by the owner so I had better take care of it, etc. That was the confirmation I needed after finding it rode well, didn't seem to have any issues and needed nothing more than a headlight bulb for RWC. I spent some time over coffee looking through the service booklet to see it was all in order and made a mental note of the new tyres and always garaged condition, etc. And I was impressed with the low 52,200 km on the clock in those 11 years of its life. I became the new owner of a Cruiser that day, after 18 years with no bike. And I was excited, thrilled to bits to have the chance to enjoy riding out again! To be honest I struggled a bit with some elation making it harder to focus clearly... some called it the start of a honeymoon phase. But a decent sized rock thrown up by rednecks in a 4x4 soon brought me back to reality as it hit squarely on my chest.. OUCH!! Day one I had about 400 or so k's to get her home after paying for the insurance and paperwork to ride it. The first thing I noticed was how content I was to sit around 80 to 90km/h on the country roads. But I also found 100km/h on the highway was a bit uncomfortable due to not having the same neck or upper body strength as I had in my youth. Something I could remedy though. The second thing was my tailbone started to get a bit sore after an hour, so I changed my plans and had a few stops at friends and family to let me walk it out a bit before continuing... and suck down a ciggie or two with coffee. Ahh, addictions! The last stint was at night… an open face lid and lots of bugs. Dark sunnies didn't really help matters at all and going up the Range made me remember about the cold air going through the wrong sort of clothing. Next morning I dropped the new baby into the local bike mechanics for a service and RWC while I started looking around for jacket, gloves, night riding glasses, etc. All of those came from Ebay at bloody good prices. Now I had the bike, the gear, and was ready to ride. But I knew I had to get my bike-legs back before tackling anything long distance or interstate. So I began taking regular small rides, under 200km, and a lot of around town stuff to get a feel for being in traffic again. I made sure I did a couple of test stops so I knew how the bike would react to emergency braking, I made sure to get some wet weather riding in so I could feel how the tyres worked in various conditions, and did some dirt roads while I was at it since they were the things I hated most on a road bike. Something I noted was that with more time in the saddle I could ride further before needing to walk out the sore tailbone. A little handlebar adjustment and some leg stretching to the end of the running boards made a difference. In the first month that passed since I bought the bike home, I had two instances where car drivers forced me to take evasive action, both times I kept her upright and stayed calm. Not like when I was in my youth at all. With 2,200 k's under the belt I was again very aware that my survival depends completely on my approach to riding. I was a little surprised with being able to see car drivers “radiate” their intentions with small clues like head positioning, small steering wheels direction changes… all the things I didn't really notice in my younger man days. Which is probably why I had a few prangs in those days. I was very happy to find I hadn't turned into a sunshine rider in my older age, so rain still doesn't bother me. But, the cold does .. maybe that's just a sign of age. Now 12 months have passed since the day I became a proud owner of a beautiful Cruiser. We have enjoyed over 16,000 kilometres of riding in all sorts of weather, sub-zero morning starts to Brisvegas, lots of rain, some storms and a fair bit of sunny skies and warm day rides. Very slowly I’m taking my time to modify the bike to make her mine, all mine. It began with needing to bring the handlebars closer to me as I suffer from short arms and legs syndrome. So a set of Barons pullback risers from the States did the trick.
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This is interesting! We read these stories of our readers and their bikes, but – with a few notable exceptions – we mostly don’t hear what happens after that. Especially if it is a new bike that a reader has bought, it is interesting to read how it’s going some distance down the track. Oldie thought we might be interested in what has happened since buying his Yammie cruiser, so he wrote in with a follow-up. Since my story was published, a lot of water and road has gone under the tyres, as this week we hit 50,000km travelled since purchase in March, 2012. It's been fun. I named the bike “Pearl”, for her pearl paint-job and as a nod to older names that suited the styling era. Bling came slowly. Wish I could say the same for the stone-chips. She had 4 when I bought her and now has 24; two I did stupidly with bungy-cords in the rain and another with the same cause that created a dent in the tank. Yep, in the tank. The first rear tyre lasted 7,500km. I was stupid, having fun using the bike's torque everywhere I went, and did two small burnouts to see if she would do them. She does, easily. Second rear tyre lasted 24,000km due to using the torque more wisely and not doing two burnouts. Third rear tyre is slowly getting closer to changing with around 19,000km on it so far. At $300 to $330 fitted they get a bit expensive on a pension, so burnouts are only done when the tyre is about to be replaced. The car got sold off (to my great joy), leaving the bike as my sole form of transport; just like the good old days. I have been going through all sorts of clothing to try and stay warm in Winter. It's cost a bit now with three obsolete sets of gloves, two jackets, two rain suits, a pair of boots and two kinds of riding glasses to get to where I now have gear that works in any conditions. A sensible person would have just bought known quality items first and save the being wet and / or cold in the last two years. A mate and I did Bathurst last year the old school way. We loaded the bikes up with our camping gear and headed south, stopping at nice spots to set up camp, get a small fire or camp stove going, cook up dinner and break out the cold beers. Did the same in the middle of Bathurst town with the blessings of local Police and a very helpful Council worker. That was a great week long trip with every season thrown in for good measure as we rode around to see mates, do Bathurst, and take the longer way home to see more mates. I have survived many attempts upon my life on the road so far, and only put that down to having modern brakes that are wonderful, and being able to throw the bike where I need it to go despite the weight. Recently I discovered something interesting about that old saying, “Loud pipes save lives.” For the record, I dislike overtly loud pipes on bikes. But, one weekend on the Sunshine Coast highways saw me being run off the road on two occasions while overtaking a short line of slow moving vehicles, by the first car in front of me in the line. Each time I noted they had their windows up (a/c on), didn't check their mirrors and only indicated once they had begun to merge into the overtaking lane. Compulsory headlights on does not and can not work if people don't check their mirrors first. Also, if they have music playing in their car they will not be able to hear you. So here is the dilemma I found myself in: how to become noticed by car drivers despite riding a very shiny, very chromey, half-loud bike with headlight on? The answer was obvious, and yet I fought against the logic it presented for another two weeks until giving in to it and buying some very nice looking but LOUD pipes from the States. Even with freight they were half the price of buying the same item here in Melbourne. One hour later they were on and my old neighbor was staring at the bike as if it had suddenly become Satan's own transport. Not off to a good start at all it seemed. So I took a ride for an hour only to have the beginnings of a stress headache within half an hour rise up every time I so much as wound a millimetre of throttle on. It was almost painful to hear. I had to make it quieter somehow, and that's where the old brain snapped into gear and came up with the suggestion of putting chicken wire down the pipes. It worked. Was still a bit louder than the old pipes but not rattling the neighbour's windows. And that's how she stayed for the next fortnight until another close encounter made me go home and pull the wire out. Somehow it didn't sound so absurdly loud anymore. I figured I must have gotten used to the note and began to learn how to coast around without making a massive noise nuisance out of it. Seems to do the trick, so now when I go to overtake a car, the driver always checks their mirrors for where the sound is coming from. Saved by loud pipes, who woulda thunk it? Bling? Not a lot really. Just the air filter cover decal, old style tombstone tail light and some little LED indicators to rid the rear end of it's ugly moustache-shaped indicator bar. I added a front whitewall tyre when the time came and hand-painted the also ugly front brake cylinder black and then added a small chrome cover on the top, had a proper set of highway bars made up and installed, and bought Iridium spark plugs to go with the K&N Hi-Flo air filter. Will be doing carby jetting in the next couple of weeks. Lastly, the seat got modified locally for $300 and is about to go back in for some more alterations to suit. It has stopped the tailbone pains and only needs to give a little more lower back support, changing the materials used and doing some major shape changes to stop it looking like it was done in a backyard somewhere. In wider reading I have found that this bike should go 200 - 300,000km before needing rings and possibly bearings done, which I will be able to do myself when the time comes after ensuring I do all my own servicing and maintenance in the hope of keeping her going well into my old age, on my own. So, two years and two months down the road of ownership of this cruiser and I are still riding every day as well as Sunday rides with mates. Also planning a full around Oz ride at my leisure for late this year to early next year. And.. still loving it! Thanks Oldie! Great to hear you are still loving the bike! Some worthwhile improvements there too – including the seat. If you can cure whatever makes you uncomfortable that is a very worthwhile improvement! I could probably benefit from doing something with mine – even though, by comparison with others, it is actually pretty comfortable. Although I do use a sheepskin cover with a piece of foam (or alternatively a gel pad) under it, and also have an AirHawk. Anyway, thanks for telling us about your travels with the bike! Keep safe and keep on enjoying the ride!