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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

 

First mod, first drop

They say you're almost certain to drop your first bike. Well, I got that first drop over and done with. Made a mistake trying to hoist the CX onto its centerstand in the garage, and it fell over. Luckily nothing broke except for a huge crack in the windshield on the Windjammer, and that windshield was in pretty bad shape to start with. I've tried to put the crack back together with Krazy Glue and hope it'll last long enough for me to find the parts I need to put a new stock front end on there.

The reason I was putting it onto the centerstand was that I was getting ready to do its first mod. Yep, I've only been riding it a month and I want to mod it. Well, actually I wanted to fix a horribly sagging and bouncy suspension, but I figured instead of going with stock components, I would go with 15-weight fork oil and Progressive springs. I first heard about this combo from Chopper Charles when asking about the best suspension setup for a Honda CX500. When I walked into the local used bike shop and asked about front suspension parts for a CX500, the clerk (who has owned a couple of them himself) immediately recommended the same thing before I could ask for specific parts.

So, after a few false starts, I had the bike supported on the centerstand and my Craftsman aluminum jack. I removed the front wheel and drained the fork oil - there's a drain screw at the bottom of each fork, accessable when the wheel is off. The Clymer manual neglects to mention this. It appears that someone had filled the forks with gear oil, judging by its bluish tint and the odor.

I got a real shock when I took the springs out. I took the cap off the fork and pulled out a spring about 6" long. Checked the Progressive springs - they're more than twice as long. Puzzled, I reached into the fork with a hook and fished out a second spring, significantly longer than the first. These two springs reached a little past the top of the fork. Apparently at some point a previous owner had tried to rebuild this bike from a stockpile of parts, and finding no springs the right length, he settled on a combination of springs that seemed about the right length. Unfortunately, the stiffness was way off.

The bike now sits a good bit higher, and it rides much, much better. Now, I just need to do something about that Windjammer, now more than ever.

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