Dave Sonsky: Triumph Speed Triple
Miles Ridden: 2999
Modifications This Month: Barracuda exhaust, Pazzo levers
There is a certain way that some bikes should sound. Streetfighters should be throaty and burly, while racebikes ought to scream like a trumpet on full Dizzy Gillespie blow. The Speed Triple stands in a unique spot somewhere between the streetfighter and a retro, and my ears want each of its three cylinders to bark like a rabid pit bull. This of course is a nuisance to anybody but the rider, but to be honest I don't give a shit what other people think about my ride-the same peeps that were squawking about my blue wheels eventually came around, and I'm sure the same will hold true with my ridiculously evil-sounding Barracuda MotoGP-style slip-on.
It must be mentioned that it wasn't a slip-on in the traditional sense, though, because I had to drill a different hole in the mounting bracket for it to line up properly. I'm told by U.S. importer SMF Cycles that this is simply due to the fact that this bike is a California model and has an extra bit of pipe in the header, and that prevents the aftermarket pipe from slipping all the way in. Under normal circumstances I probably would'nt have bothered trying to hook up a pipe that didn't fit right up, but this exhaust looks and sounds so tight that getting a little dirty wasn't a big deal to make it work.
The tooth-rattling howl that bellows through the rev range is thick and creamy, but with almost straight exhausts comes a lean and potentially detrimental air/fuel mixture. As per SMF's recommendation I had a local Triumph dealer download Triumph's "Off-road 2" fuel map to richen the mixture, and on the dyno everything looked OK. It made exactly the same horsepower as the much quieter Micron pipes that it replaced, and though the extra 2 horses up from stock don't make much of a difference in the riding experience the new engine tone certainly does. I simply can't get enough of it. And when a car gets in the way, just pull in the clutch and blip the gas...they'll move every time.
Up front, the CRG levers were replaced by a pair of Pazzo Racing's shorty units, and though they both function pretty much the same, the Pazzos offer color coordination. They bolted on in a matter of seconds and work perfectly while confirming that I'm not completely colorblind (the old levers had red buttons, the new ones have blue).
We're almost at the end of the road, but coming in next month's final installment will be a few more goodies to finish off the Speed Triple. Surprisingly it's been a pretty smooth path en route to my goal of creating a retro rebel racer with simple bolt-ons, but I shouldn't count my chickies before they've hatched.
john zamora: kawasaki zx-14
Miles Ridden: 3756
Modifications This Month: Jardine exhaust, Pazzo Racing levers, Progrip Superbike grips
The biggest modification made to the ZX-14 this month was a nice, thick layer of dust. Holiday schedules, bike tests and the new fleet of 2008 models circulating into the office made my 2007 lose some of its new-puppy-like appeal. After several months it's still a great bike to ride to the store or across the state; I think I'm just running out of places to bolt on chrome though.
A set of Jardine pipes that arrived too late for our exhaust test (February 2008) was perfect for my personal goal to see how many different systems I could fit to one bike. After installing over a dozen exhausts on the ZX-14, swapping pipes has now become a NASCAR pit-stop-style competition to see how quickly I can change cans. Hooking up the Jardine RT-05 slip-ons was very straightforward and the bike was ready and running in under 15 minutes. The sound is deeper than the Staintune pipes they replaced and has a simple and clean look thanks to carbon-fiber tips.
I have a love/hate relationship with billet grips. I love the custom look, but living with them day-to-day is a chore. For that reason, I decided to re-install the stock rubber grips. Unbeknown to me, the grips are not the same size. The stock throttle side is slightly larger than the clutch-side grip. After making the throttle side fit with lots of lube and pressure, I ended up with an oversized grip on the clutch side that was too big for the bar. Woops! I swapped the stretched-out stock ones with Progrip Superbike grips, which also added a bit of color.
During the lever test in the October 2007 issue, I was impressed by the build quality and functionality of Pazzo Racing's levers. I immediately ordered a set once they were finally made available for the ZX-14. The machined silver finish with blue adjusters look trick and have a custom race-bike feel. I like short levers on the brake side for two-fingered pulls, but prefer the extra leverage that long levers provide on clutches. Rather than compromise on one side or the other, Pazzo sent a short brake and long clutch for the best of both worlds-and at no extra cost. Pazzo levers are also available in a wide variety of colors and combinations to make the perfect match for any bike.
The wide-tire conversion is still in the plans and I keep hounding the delivery driver every day in eager anticipation. Timing of the installation should be perfect to keep the dust from accumulating on the bike as the winter weather sets in. Until next time, just remember...the one with the most chrome wins.