Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The "R1100-Less"

So Beast chewed-up and spit out an alternator belt a couple of weeks ago (seriously--there was a little black rubber bird's-nest under the front cover when I took it apart). I rode fifteen or so miles on battery power, and knew it likely wouldn't make it to any shop under its own power. So I figured I would try my hand at fixing it myself—how hard could it be, right?

Once I had a replacement belt in hand, it was time to make my first incursion into the mysteries beneath the swoopy skin in nearly ten years of ownership. In order to do things right, the body panels had to come off; and after gently removing countless little fasteners, the inner Beast was revealed.

Pretty neat. The bulbous asymmetrical aluminum tank, studded with various mounting bosses, sits on the backbone like a lustrous face-hugger. The black snorkel swoops out around the left side of the tank from the airbox, and various and sundry components and assemblies hang out in the breeze.

With the exception of the ludicrously purposeful hardcases still hanging off Beast's hips, and the tiny little red mask around the headlamps, it's kind of 'streetfighter' looking. Not beautiful, not exactly ugly, but different. And what I discovered on my ride home yesterday afternoon was that the same fairing that protects you from the icy blast in the winter also keeps the cooling airflow off you when it's 86 degrees and 65% humidity.

Not a gigantic difference, for sure. But I definitely felt more breeze on my upper body without the windshield, and generally more airflow all over. That's really a bonus in commuting traffic; it's pretty much like having a standard motorcycle again, and not much of a burden for the brief stints I spend at highway speeds. The biggest difference is how the wind feels: unfaired, 65 mph feels pretty much like 85 mph with a fairing; anything above about 70 mph feels like re-entry.

The question now is how long will I live with the 'streetfighter' look, or how soon will I chicken out and put Beast's clothes back on. Barring any unforeseen ill effects of riding naked, I could see this lasting until the first frost, for sure. And when Beast does get dressed again, I think it's time for the carbon-fiber livery. The 'little black dress,' so to speak.

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