Sunday, March 12, 2017

The ever evolving ST-1300

Since purchasing this Honda ST, I've added a plethora of upgrades to enhance it's long-distance prowess.

                    En route to the Moonshine Lunch Run.

One of the first things I do on any motorcycle is upgrade the seat. Having experience with many seat brands and makers over the years, I've come to live with Sargent seats on my most recent bikes. For various reasons. They are not perfect - but good enough.

This post is a consolidation of random upgrades and maintenance performed over the last few years at various times; it is not in chronological order.

Quality suspension -


 Penske 8983 - Double adjustable shock; remote reservoir equipped with compression adjustment.
Rebound adjustment on the bottom of shock.
Ride height adjustable clevis.
Manual spring preload adjustment.
1400 In. Lb. Hyperco Spring

I have been saving my nickels to order one of these this winter, but this lightly used one popped up on the ST Owners Forum for half the price.

 It even had the exact spring I was going to order.

Penske is my preferred aftermarket shock.

 A big part of that is I often service my own shocks, and Penske is very accommodating in technical support and parts for do-it-your-selfers.

 Their quality and performance is second to none also.

The shock is all mounted up and ready to rock.

 Due to the lower shock bolt entering from the right side, I had to remove a lot of things that would not be necessary if the factory would have installed it from the left side.

 Needless to say, upon reassembly, it was installed from the left inboard side.

 Shock removal will be a breeze now.


Remote reservoir with compression adjustment on the left side of the bike.


      Going through my bikes in the winter, meticulously, is part of the whole motorcycle lifestyle for me. Anyway, I'm a gear head at heart. Plus it is a discipline every long distance rider should practice, in knowing his bike and making sure everything in his power is done to not kill a ride with a show stopper, but also not end the ride for whoever else is along.

While on the subject of bike maintenance, I have a funny little story that Gas Guzzler shared with me. This happened many, many years ago, maybe 30 years ago.

He used to hang out some, with a local outlaw bike club in Monroe, Michigan, and also frequented a Harley parts shop the club used.
One day while in the parts shop, the owner told him the club guys have been visiting the store like crazy for the last two weeks, buying up all the parts they can. Something to the effect of getting their bikes ready for a big ride coming up !!

A couple days later Gas Guzzler saw one of the club guys and asked him about the big ride, thinking they must be heading out cross country or something.

The biker was all jacked up and excitedly told him they got a big run down to Toledo.:rofl

That's all of 30 miles.

Anyway, back to the mighty ST. The forks were disassembled. I was really surprised at how clean the original fork fluid in them was after 60,000 miles. I was expecting it to stink and be black and broke down. This tells me Honda did a good job on the inside coating or treating of the Lower fork legs. The outside finish is flaking off though, from lack of cleaning over the years.


During disassembly, I needed a 17mm Allen socket to remove the top fork cap. Would you believe I didn't have one in my socket drawer and had to run out and buy one?


One of the fork legs is sanded down and painted. They didn't have aluminum colored paint so I just bought smoke gray and used that. I just want them clean and solid, if I was looking for perfection I would have farmed them out to Turbo Jim, as he is a real painter.

 The Race Tech fork springs have not yet arrived, so I still have some time to paint the other.


The final drive finish was flaking off also, so I took the wire brush to it.


Then brushed on multiple coats of silver Rusto-leum to seal it up.



Its that time of year for performing any necessary maintenance and upgrades.

The ST is stripped down and getting the going over. Cosmetics do not carry a lot of weight with me these days, but I can be very particular about the mechanical workings of the machine; in the riding season, dealing with issues is something I loathe.

So I do my best to use the down time to meticulously go over the bike mechanically. This is one of the times where being OCD actually comes in handy, not to mention keeping my sanity till spring.

I write out a list and work at it as time permits:

-Remove all plastics and bodywork.
-Check all fasteners.
-Check/Adjust valves
-Replace air cleaner.
-Lube throttle cables.
-Diagnose or remove aftermarket Audiovox cruise. I am perfectly happy with the combo of Throttle rocker and mechanical Omni-Cruise.
-Add voltmeter.
-Add Led driving lights. 2 sets !!!
-Hardwire GPS to hot all the time power.
-Replace stock 45/45 headlight bulbs to 55/60 watt.
-Clean up any wiring and grease connectors.
-Replace CB antenna mount with more solid MCL unit.
-Add a couple RAM balls.
-Replace tires front and rear.
-Check/grease or replace wheel bearings.
-Forks rebuild Seals/fluid and re spring.
-Replace coolant with Fleet guard lifetime blue.
-Replace all brake fluid inspect pads.
-Replace clutch fluid.
-Replace battery (AGM) Absorbed Glass Mat.


The lighting should be out of this world. A pair of Cyclops long range narrow 10°beam LED drivers are going under the mirrors on a set of MCL mounts. These lights reach out 1000 feet vs. a stock high beams 150 feet !!! Lifetime warranty also.

Something a little different is going to be attempted on wiring these up, suggested by Gas Guzzler. They are going to be wired on independent switches, and the light on the right is going to be aimed favoring the side of the road and ditch, well downrange - scanning for critters.

In this configuration, I'm thinking I'll be able to run the right light and not offend oncoming cars while on remote highways. Especially with the tightly focused 10° beam.

The left light will only be run in high beam situations obviously.

In addition to these lights, a set of smaller, LED lights will be mounted down low on the forks and aimed low to compliment the low beams and will remain on in traffic.

The lights were ordered from Justin P. of LEDRIDER in venders of ADVRIDER. He sells the Cyclops lights in addition to his own. He also offers a generous 15 % discount for inmates. Plus the stock headlight bulbs will be moderately improved. These fading eyes should relish in the new found illumination. Riding at night is something I do really enjoy, even considering the inherent risks. If I'm going to do it, may as well do it right.


The new antenna mount from Motorcycle Larry arrived so I mounted that up last night.

The MCL antenna is a quality piece. It is thick and rigid billet aluminum with a powder coated black finish. You can run just the main short mount if you do not have a top box. I do run a top box, so you can see the extension bolted to the mount to get the antenna out further. They also offer a double mast piece, for those needing two antennas. It extends outward on both sides.

The mount that came on the bike is a homemade job of thin steel, painted blue and it is not very rigid and bounces around a lot.

In the picture, I left both in place, to show the mounting location differences.


The antenna base mounting hardware has to be configured in a certain order. I'm no CB wizard, so I figured I better pull up the pdf diagram from J&M Audio's website and check the order of assembly - since I have never checked it since taking delivery of the motorcycle.

Sure enough, whoever originally assembled it had the nylon insulating washer on the bottom instead of the top. I assume the ground strap is intended to be touching the mount, which it was not with the washer on the bottom between the ground strap and mount. This is a ground plane system, by the way, versus a NON ground plane system.

Here is a picture of my original configuration before disassembly.

Note the nylon washer on the bottom.


Here is a diagram from J&M with the correct configuration.

Note the nylon bushing on top and ground strap against the bracket.


I also made a call to J&M and verified it was acceptable to use the aluminum mount versus steel. They said it was fine, but make sure the hardware is configured properly. Good thing I checked.:D


UPDATE - Since this writing, I've further upgraded the headlight bulbs to the new 7000 watt LED offerings from Cyclops. I've yet to get out on the road and test them, as it is still winter; after some night riding miles are knocked down, I'll report back.


Step one of the lighting upgrades is accomplished.

A set of Vision X 55/60 watt premium white xenon bulbs have replaced the 45/45 watt set.

Honda uses a proprietary bulb with an odd tab configuration, so a slight mod is necessary to use a standard H-4 bulb.

Some people simply bend the bottom two tabs back - and install the new bulb. This works but the bulb is not as tight.

I chose to order the lazer cut, stainless steel adapters from Motorcycle Larry for this application.

You still bend or remove the bottom two tabs, but then press fit the adapter onto the shoulder on the front of the bulb before installing.

With the adapters the bulb is rock solid.

Like many, I bent the tabs back instead of clipping them off, as I feel the bulb is even more secure with the bent tabs resting against the housing.

You can see the tab difference in the picture.


The ST is unrecognizable now.:lol3 Performing a balancing act also. Yanked the front wheel and forks off last night. The left fork seal was starting to leak and the fluid has never been changed in 60,000 miles, so it is time to rebuild them and while I am in there install some heavier Race Tech springs to balance out the suspension; now that the rear sports a Penske Shock with a heavy duty spring.

The paint on the outside of the forks is bubbling and flaking also, due to the old girl seeing some hard times in her life; exposed to some elements and not getting enough love, so I will clean up the outside surface and layer up a few coats of Rustoleum to keep her hard charging for years to come. We are bonding nicely and she loves her new home !!!


The Race Tech springs arrived the other day, so I promptly built the forks back up. The slider and fork pipe bushings showed no appreciable wear so I did not replace them this time around - only the oil and dust seals.

The Race Tech springs are an inch longer than stock, plus I added a 3 mm washer between the spacer and fork cap, so I had to cut down the spacer to maintain the proper preload on the spring.

Specification on desired preload is between 10 and 20 mm, so after cutting 30 mm off of the factory metal spacer (spring collar)I arrived at 14-15 mm of preload.

Race Tech's website makes note that the ST 1300 is under sprung and over damped, as delivered from the factory.

The spring I ordered is 1.0 Kg/mm vs. stock 0.86 Kg/mm , so they are stiffer by a few increments up.

Stock oil weight is 10w and stock oil level is 62 mm.

If you revalve and respring, Race Tech calls for 5w oil and 130 mm level.

I am only re-springing - so I called Race Tech.

They said I can stay with 10w oil - or close to it - but still use the lower oil level at 130mm.

He stated the stock spec seemed to be a very high level, likely to try and prevent bottoming.

The lower oil level will give a plusher ride at half to full stroke - but remain similar at the beginning of the stroke.

I would suspect a lesser likelihood of a seal leak with a lower level also.

I had a almost full bottle of 10 weight, and a partial bottle of 5 weight Bel Ray fork oil on the shelf from the last couple of fork jobs, so I divided up the 10 and used the 5 for the balance, to arrive at my proper oil level. So - I likely am running about an 8 weight fork oil.

That's a good split between 5 and 10, and I didn't have to run out to the store.:D

With the forks bolted up, I whipped up some aluminum L - brackets to mount up along with the reflectors on the boss of the fork.


The Super Mini LED ' S will reside on these brackets and complement my low beams, filling in some dark areas.

These were purchased from Justin P. The other night I lit one up in the driveway by jumper wiring it to the battery in the car and the tiny unit puts out some decent light.

I have read they are each comparable to a 55 watt halogen headlight, while only drawing 10 watts - and I would say that sounds like an accurate statement.

The quality is very good, even sporting a metal housing and a waterproof connector with a length of pigtail harness to wire them up.


The smoke gray paint on the fork lower housing came out pretty good also, hopefully it holds up.



Those 2 little bearings are piggybacked together and pressed on the distance collar that is sitting on the bench next to them.Then the bearings and distance collar are pressed into the Final Driven Flange, also sitting on the bench.

I could feel a little roughness in one of the bearings, so I replaced them both. They are a known thing to look for. I assume they are original, but am not sure. Was later informed by the prior owner that he had also changed them at some point.


The front and rear wheel bearings felt good, so I am not replacing them.

Something I do when possible, is take a pick and pop the little covers off the bearings, and pack more  fresh grease in them. Sure to get maximum longevity from them doing this.


Fresh rubber - ready to chew up some miles.

A great deal was to be had on this original Michelin Pilot Road 1, so I snatched it up. That is a wild looking tread pattern. It always reminds me of Tiger stripes.


While I had the upper tank off, I replaced the rubber elbow connecting the upper and lower tanks.

The ST has a 7.7 gallon fuel capacity by using 2 tanks.

The lower tank is below the seat.

The rubber elbow - that connects the upper and lower tank - was getting hard and loosing it's resiliency. When you tilt the upper tank to access the air box, the elbow has to flex some. I have heard of a few cases of it cracking and creating a fuel leak.

- And there was Light !!!


I should be able to freeze the deer in their tracks with that kind of lumen output !!:rofl

Now it's time to get busy wiring them all up.


Spent most of the day in the garage trying to put a wrap on it - I'm close. It would have been so much easier if I would have run the Cyclops long range lights wired traditionally with the harness as delivered, but no, I had to be different.

So I had to piggyback 2 relays - and cut and modify and build - a custom harness for the Cyclops Optimus long range lights; so I could control them independently.

I think it will work effectively - and be worth the effort.


On the left switch gear, I mounted the PIAA switch just above the high beam switch - so I can control both quickly and naturally from my left thumb.

This switch will control only the left side Cyclops long range light, which will be used only to supplement the high beam.


On the right side switch gear, the horizontal PIAA switch right next to the grip will control the right side Cyclops long range light, which will be aimed to light up the right side of the road and ditch, and aimed hopefully not to offend on coming traffic, so I can run it more often with low beams.

I think it will work well on those long dark two lane and divided highways where you come across enough cars that you can't run high beams very often. My thumb falls naturally on the switch.

The other vertical PIAA switch on the bracket will control both the super mini LED's that will be aimed and run with low beams and to aid in conspicuity during heavy traffic in daytime.

The voltmeter is from ADVMONSTER.

I know, I probably go too far with this stuff.:lol3

The cockpit is starting to resemble a space ship.



While I am at it, all the fluids are being replaced.

The coolant was drained and refilled with Fleet guard ES Compleat extended life coolant. It is concentrated, so I cut it 50/50 with distilled water, making 2 gallons for $21.00.

I have been running this in all my bikes for years now.
Gas Guzzler introduced it to me, as he was a Heavy Truck Mechanic and Field Service Technician for Cummins.

The big rigs have to go a million or a million and a half miles on an engine, so you know the fluids they put in them have to perform - it only makes sense.

Incidentally, I also run Rotella T6 full synthetic 5W40 in the engine -"Big Rig" oil.


To change out the Brake and Clutch fluid, which is DOT 4 for both, I use a Mity Vac hand vacuum pump with a reservoir apparatus.

In this manner you can draw the old fluid out of the bleeders while keeping the master full of fresh fluid and never introduce any air into the system. When you start getting fresh fluid, close the bleeder and your done. Same for the clutch master.

Before I start, I suck all the old fluid out of the master and wipe out any residue, then fill it with fresh fluid. The trick is to make sure the master never runs low on fluid. It helps if you have someone to keep topping off the master.

I was almost done with the front brakes, when I heard that dreadful sucking sound from the master, and knew my complacency had let it run dry, uncovering the fluid port on the bottom of the master - and introducing air into the brake lines. Needless to say - I had to start over.


After changing the hydraulic clutch fluid, I replaced the cover with a custom unit machined to accept 2 ram balls from MCL. Currently it is only sporting one, same as the cover on the brake master; if need be - I can add a second.


The plan was to incorporate a drink system onto the passenger floorboards, since I never ride two- up. They are easily removed with 2 bolts anyway, if need be.

I considered the small Coleman coolers with a food grade drink tube, as many in the IBA rig onto their floorboards, but I wanted something more versatile. Something that I could fill with coffee, water, Gatorade, or anything else, and easily wash out and clean. Plus with one on each side, I can run coffee in one and water in the other.


So I ordered up a couple of the BUTLER - "The Extreme Motorcycle Mug Holder" - conversion kits from the Glass Act; they are also made in the USA.

This is top quality stuff. I have seen them in magazines, but when I noticed drbuzzard had one on the handlebars of his Wing, it was closely inspected; after which I was thoroughly impressed with the design and build quality.

That got me to thinking of this setup, since I don't want a big mug on my handlebars.

Notice I said I ordered the conversion kits, which is just the mug and holder. It does not include all the mounting hardware and brackets, which brings the cost way down. This stuff is a little pricey, but you get what you pay for. Even the hard straw and vent on the lid has rubber caps that are tethered.

I can reach down and grab the cup while riding and the hard straw will slip up under my full face helmet. The cup also comes with a traditional travel lid. You could also run a flexible drink tube up from the hard straw if wanted.

So, I ordered a 20 ounce mug for the left side; that will be designated for coffee, and a 32 ounce mug for the right side; for whatever else.


I had a piece of old plate aluminum that used to be the tail rack extension on my last BMW GSA that I mangled up, in a low side - which quickly transitioned into high side - down a steep gravel right-hander during the Nutcracker 200 in Ohio, and then thrown in to the corner of my garage; it now has a purpose again - repurposed aluminum plate.:D So I cut and bent a few pieces of it and fabbed up a few mounts.


They will be good for camping also, and now I can leave my stainless cup at home. Another use will be the local coffee shop I frequent on the bike, coffee is half price if you bring your own mug.

Often while touring and stopping for coffee, I may not want to finish one, or am in a hurry to get rolling; now I can just finish it later. Or in the morning, when leaving the house on a big ride, I can drink some on the road. Cold coffee doesn't bother me.:lol3 You get the idea - versatility.


They seem to have come out satisfactory, and I think the system should work well whether on an Iron Butt ride, or touring and camping, or just running up to bike night at the local coffee shop - only time and miles will tell !!!


The final piece of the puzzle is finished on the ST - as far as setting it up for LD riding.


The fuel cell is rated at 3.5 gallons. Not sure if it will hold quite that much, but I have tested by filling 3 gallons, even on the side stand. I am guessing about 3.25 gallons actual without overflowing. The stock tank is rated at 7.7 gallons, so technically I have 11.2. The plan is to fill quickly on the side stand with 10 gallons - which still leaves plenty of extra room so as not to overflow.

UPDATE - 3 gallons fits perfectly. That is what I always fill it to when utilizing the cell.

 With 10 gallons I can easily obtain my goal of being able to achieve a 350 mile range - under any conditions - such as high speed, wind, cold, rain or any combination of. The IBA needs a receipt every 300 - 350 miles on documented rides.


Of course I opted for the welded in bung on top of the cell to accept the vent with built in roll over valve. From this vent I run the overflow hose down and to the back of the bike. Plus the cap is vented. You know, safety third !


It is all plumbed with 1/4" hardware and hose. There is a self sealing quick disconnect should I ever want to remove the cell , but leave the plumbing.

There is a clear fuel filter and a small quarter turn fuel valve to let the cell gravity feed the lower stock tank.

 The ST has 2 stock tanks - and now mine has 3.

 The ST may also be one of the easiest bikes to gravity feed a cell into the stock tank, since when you remove the seats, you are looking right at the sending unit for the lower tank and it just happens to have a 10mm x 1.25 inspection bolt that can be removed and replaced with a banjo bolt and fitting with a 1/4" barb to tie your fuel line into.

UPDATE - I've since learned that an even easier place to tap into with the fuel line is into the vent line right next to the banjo fitting on the same sending unit. Just cut the line and use a 3 way tee fitting.

Since my banjo fitting set-up is working fine for now, I'll leave it for the time being. Maybe in the future I'll switch it to the vent.


Then you just route the hose like in the picture and replace your seats - and you are good to go.


For the initial test I filled the tank with 3 gallons of fuel and when your fuel gauge is down to a couple bars the fuel cell valve gets opened; I've also timed how long it takes for the 3 gallons to flow into the main tanks - 30 minutes - not bad.

 If you do the math of fuel consumed at 70 - 80 mph, that rate is 3 times what is needed to feed the engine, not to mention you still have a gallon or two when you throw the valve open.

I added a ground wire from the cell mounting to the battery ground side to insure no static electricity issues develop. Safety third !


Then I went for a shake down ride, as the sky was looking menacing, and a storm was starting to brew. All went well and somehow even managed to make it home before the sky opened up and dumped rain.


Almost looks like the cell blew up.