The Shining 'Star Thoughts on the XV1600 This is a meandering journal and review of the past two months riding my XV1600, and what passes for a review around these parts. Some of it is simple daily accounts, other parts are more detailed. This also encompasses the great feeling of finally getting a new bike. Days when the big 'Star was in the shed and not being ridden, or basic commuting will (mostly) be omitted for brevity. Not that I am ever brief when there is a chance to go on for longer... Saturday 18th November 2005 Day -21 Bike showed up without warning on the back of the carrier truck, looking truly beautiful in the afternoon sun. I was kinda hoping for a black one when I was shopping around, but the rich olive/pearl duco has grown on me pretty quick. That said, I'll consider a repaint if I seriously customize it. Not long before the bike had arrived, my kit shed to house it in had arrived. Panic Stations!!! I'm hopeless with such things, and I needed help. Fortunately help was on hand in the form of Chairman, who dropped everything to come and give me a hand assembling it. OK, OK, I helped HIM assemble it - he had far more idea than I did about how it went together. Its still standing, which is a testament to his skill. Saturday 25th November 2005 Day -14 First bite... after giving it a short run in the backyard (to keep the motor in good shape dear, it might seize up otherwise...) I managed to burn myself on the exhaust pipe when putting it back in the shed. Damn, that hurt, those pipes get bloody hot! Guess thats my badge of honour and mark of entry into the REAL world of motorcycling, for 2 months later its still visible... it will probably never truly fade. Saturday 3rd December 2005 Day -7 Keeping the engine smooth in the yard again. Neighbour not happy, explains over the fence that its very loud and quite annoying. Explain to him back that its the fault of the government, and from now on I'll only start when I'm actually going to ride it. He seems content with that, and I make a note to rev it hard next time I get home at 4am... Friday 9th December 2005 Day -1 Home from work, check the petrol, tyres are inflated, etc. No delays in the morning - forecast is for showers and I want to get out and about without their interference. Prep all my gear so I'm ready to go in the morning. Saturday 10th December 2005 Day 1 Roll over at 2:30am in the morning, think gleefully to myself that my restrictions are gone, go back to sleep and continue dreaming of wide open roads, big sweepers and the roar of a big twin. Up with the budgies at 7am, kit up and roll the 'Star out of the shed and onto the driveway. Fire the 1602cc motor into life with a satisfying rumble, kick it into gear, and it stalls. OK, that wasn't so good. Back to neutral, fire her back up, into first, this time it holds. A gentle blip on the throttle and we're moving onto the road. A very wobbly and wide right turn and we're away, up into second WAAAY too early - still used to the Virago and changing at 10kph intervals. Note to self - 20kph is not the change point for third gear on the 'Star, its not even second. Out through the suburban streets, and once I figure out where the ideal rev ranges are, its smooth and feels safe. Cornering techniques need some work though, as I find myself slowing too far and steering through turns. Oh well, at least I'm not running wide anymore. Onto the more major roads, and run it up to about 70kph. Wind buffetting hits my helmet over the screen - doesn't seem like a problem though. Out to Williamstown via an unplanned jaunt on the freeway when a large B Double decides that a left hand turn from the right-hand lane is in order. Hit the anchors and get out of his way forces me onto the ramp. Not wanting to be near him, I open it up. Hmmm... 120 in 4th is a far cry from the little 250. Into Williamstown, take a slow cruise around the bay, and then over to Chairmans for a few small fixes to unjam a sticky throttle. Turns out it was just the throttle lock having a second nut that we didn't see initially. A quick twist of a spanner and its fixed. Chairman immediately accepts an offer for a testride, and is quickly little more than engine noise. He returns about 15min later with a big grin and a scrape on the edge of the running board - evidently it turned a little better than he expected. I get out of his hair and cruise up to Bacchus Marsh to give it a highway run. Wind buffet a bit of a problem, but put it down to lack of riding time in recent months. Lunch at Flanegans (recommended!) and home in time to pack my kit for the Muso's Night, looking forwards to the Toy Run in the morning. Sunday 11th December 2005 Day 2 Out of bed and prep for the 'run starts. Pack the saddlebags with toys, suncream and water, then its on with the helmet and away. The ride to the start point is disappointingly short, but that fades with everyone keen to jump on the big 'Star and see what a REAL bike is like. VTRElmarco, in keeping with tradition, takes everyone's bikes for a lap around the Civic Centre, and discovers that a Road Star has a rev limiter for a reason - first gear not being very much like his 'Storm. Time to go, and we're off down the freeway, collect Foxy at Todd Road and into Albert Park. For the first time in my motorcycling career - I'm not the one everyone is waiting for! Getting used to the engine drag now - take your hand off the throttle and she slows up pretty sharply. Off to Williamstown, and a prime parking spot ensures many people have a chance to admire the rich paint and gleaming chrome for a few hours. Head for home a touch sunburnt. Monday 12th December 2005 Day 3 Confirm my membership to Netrider by gearing up for a 2.5min ride to the cafe for Coffee Night and no other useful purpose. Would have been quicker to take the car... Tuesday 13th December 2005 Day 4 First ride to work. Annoy Security by wearing a smoked visor, sunglasses and a balaclava - they don't know who it is and make me produce ID. Ask me to stick a parking permit sticker to the screen, and are told that if I find ANYTHING stuck to the bike later then I'll break fingers. Attempt to use their sole motorcycle parking bay, and almost drop the bike (if you ever see this bastard of a thing, you'll understand - photo to follow). After much swearing and cursing, finally park neatly. An offsite meeting at 2pm requires me to get moving, only to find I'm boxed in by a bloody scooter!!! Force Security to come and move it so I can leave. Ride out along the Eastern to Mulgrave - that tunnel is pretty unpleasant - minor freak out down there due to the lights and the screen. Pull out of it, and have first REAL incident with a moronic cager. A blast from the very powerful horns sees him back off and cower in the drivers seat as I decide to put a few km between me and him, and leave him for dust, emphasizing the point by waving cheekily at the toll camera on my way through. The big bike is solid as a rock at 100kph, and pulls up fast enough to ensure I have all possible options covered for any more idiots. No further incidents, and I make the ride from Mulgrave to Werribee home without any stops - the longest distance I've ever covered on a bike in a single stretch. I get off feeling pretty much OK - even more unusual. The saddle shape prevents slippage, but does restrict motion a little, and puts pressure on places that don't like it much. Make a note to adjust gear a little for the next run. Got home with ringing ears and a massive headache too. Wednesday 14th December 2005 Day 5 Had to brave the Eastern in rush hour today. Not a great deal of fun, but taught me a lot about clutch and throttle control. Out to Hawthorn for an appointment, then back. Traffic back was lighter, and was able to sneak over the Bolte without any real hold-ups. Made sure to wave to the toll camera to say thank you. Otherwise a fairly uneventful day. Friday 16th December 2005 Day 7 Ride to work was uneventful - I've mostly adjusted to the bike for basic commuting now - still needs work for cornering before I'll say I've really gotten used to it though. Work XMas party leaves me with an unpleasant illness - must have been something dodgy in there. Nearly can't make coffee night, but in the end, over the Bolte and into coffee. Get passed in heavy traffic by a green shit-sounding Firestorm being ridden erratically by some maniac who pulls out in front of a truck. Expect to see the truck brake but it doesn't. A sign on the back of the vest of the rider leaves me in no doubt as to who it is, and after arriving at coffee, promptly give groberts a blast for not waiting up for me, the bastard! OK, so he didn't know who it was, but stil... Ride out to HQ for the Christmas thing, taking tail in the group. No troubles keeping up with this lot though - a couple of 250s meaning it was never going to be an issue. Unhappy with the ride - I was really not on my game and probably shouldn't have been riding. Was better on the way home, the midnight ride taking barely 50min to get home - an improvement on the 80min it takes in the car. Saturday 17th December 2005 Day 8 No time to ride today, bloody family committments. Drive out to Geek Night simply to ensure I got there on time. Sunday 18th December 2005 Day 9 The Learner Ride to Meredith - full report is here. A few showers but an AWESOME day. Pulled the screen off at Chairmans, and the ride was fantastic. Cornering improves dramatically now I can keep my head steady in the wind - and we had some WIND (and rain) that day. Monday 2nd January Day something (can't be smegged figuring it out) Did the route test of the coming Saturday's ride. Nice day out, I'm a bit rough through the corners but otherwise feeling pretty good. Again, pub meals and I don't gel nicely, and my lunch is a bit blacker and crunchier than it should have been. Oh well, it turned up this time, at least. Figure out the route needed to be cut short due to fatigue, but completed it all the same. Saturday 7th January 2006 Day ... ah, forget it. The Spa Country Cruise - full report is here. Damn but I'm rough in the first part, struggling with even the basics. That goes away after the first pit stop, and I'm soon swinging through the sweepers again. Much better. Sunday 8th January - Now Mostly commuting and other mundane duties. Headlight blew out recently - lost Low beam - but is now replaced by a xenon bulb. Shortly, she goes in for surgery for the driving lights, hypercharger and carbie rejet. Should pick up around 15% power and improved economy from that - definately worth the cost. Looking forwards to many an open road. Some may be wondering where the name "Selene" came from. Well, to keep a long story short, a friend of mine, having seen one or both of the "Underworld" films, describes the lead as "damn sexy with leather". He then promptly described the bike the same way. The name just kinda stuck after that. It -MAY- have been Netrider member "Falcon-Lord" but then again, I can't honestly recall. I didn't deem it important until it began to stick... OK, so my review of the bike is as follows. Please forgive non-technical terms. All options are out of 5. Handling - 4 Its a cruiser, so I don't expect sportsbike handling. That said, for a bike of its class it handles pretty damn well. Its willing to tip into a corner, is relatively easy to steer, takes a correction mid-corner comfortably, and has the power available to allow the corrections. Its main failing is the ability to trap your knee when twisting the bars to the extremes. It could just be that I'm a lot taller than the average tester would have been. Performance - 4 Again, its not a sportsbike, its set up for torque and bottom end. It cruises comfortably at the speed limits (and a touch more) but starts to run out of puff around the 130kph mark with me aboard and no deflection (screen). This is easily correctable with a sensible screen, a smaller rider, or some engine mods (ie: hypercharger). It takes off like a rocket and easily outruns any car to the limit. Some niggles here include a seemingly weak 2nd gear, and some roughness when using engine braking, although the latter may just be a carb. adjustment. It also tends to use a bit of oil, particularly on hot days, although I'm told thats "normal" for the 1600 and 1700. Braking is nothing short of superb for a bike of its class, with dual front and single rear discs backed up by strong pistons. Not hard to lock up the rear either, but I'm yet to do it to the front. Being a heavy bike you need to add some rear brake if you want to stop well - I'd say the stopping distances, comparatively to other bikes, with only the front brake would be significantly worse. Sound from the factory model is acceptable but uninspiring. The roar from the 2-in-1s is very pleasing to my ears, although I might drill out one of the baffles for a slight change in pitch. Style - 5 Its classic and clean lines, coupled with top-notch fittings and duco make it an attractive bike to look at. Its also comfortable in its stock configuration, with no real need to add custom seats or other modifications for this purpose. Mine is fitted with OEM fender rack and sissy bar, and these meld in perfectly, retaining the style of the original design. Even with the screen and custom fit pipes (V&H 2-in-1s), that look isn't lost. Yamaha did an excellent job here. The chroming is done to a very high standard, and buffs up a treat too! Value - 4 Factory issue, I think the bike is pretty decent value for money. The bike I got, for what I paid, was also very good - it was at the high end of my price range, but when you consider the extras it came with, I did pretty damn well! I estimate 3-4K of options on this one, all of them (bar the screen) I would have added myself anyway. To have them thrown in was just brilliant. Overall - 4 I'm very happy with it, only a few minor points away from taking a perfect score. I'm not suprised that when Yamaha first released these bikes, they cleaned up the cruiser ride-offs for several years. Its a top-notch bike, and I can recommend it very strongly to anyone seeking a cruiser. Photos can be found here, and I promise faithfully to update them when the mods are done.