In search of the laid-back cruise

1989 Harley-Davidson FXSTC Softail Custom

For many years I rode a Harley Softail; you might say I was one of the Faithful. When I jumped to the Dark Side in 2002 with the purchase of a new Suzuki Bandit 1200, it was quite a shock to my riding buddies. With the move I begrudgingly admitted what many riders already knew: an import’s power, handling and braking was far superior to that of Milwaukee Iron. My only issue was the Bandit’s forward lean, not bad for a bike marketed as a sport-standard, but different than the relaxed posture of the FXSTC. A simple handlebar riser kit took care of the problem.

SW MOTECH bar risers in 25 and 30mm

That original Bandit was ultimately totaled- another story for another day. Its eventual replacement took the form of two more Suzuki’s, 2007 models also purchased new: a Bandit 1250 and a V-Strom 1000. Those bikes each took me to Alaska in pretty much stock trim. It’s funny, but with a combined 80,000 miles on the clock I recently decided it was time to raise the bars a bit.

25 mm risers installed on the Bandit 1250

Since I’ve had good luck with SW-MOTECH products, I ordered two sets of their risers from Twisted Throttle, one 25mm and the other 30mm. This modest height increase assured there would be no need for longer hoses or cables. This proved to be the case on the Bandit with the installation being a ten-minute deal. I stuck with the shorter version to be on the safe side, but the roughly one inch height increase still makes for a tremendous improvement in comfort.

The Strom’s stressed wiring harness, a breakdown in the making.

The V-Strom was a different story. I spent a couple of hours rerouting and adjusting cables and hoses, but in the end it was the clutch-side wiring harness that nixed the deal as it was pulled taught as bowstring at full lock. Not good. Since I’m heading for the plains of Kansas in a couple of weeks I put the stock parts back on.

The manufacturer claims 30mm or less of rise should not require anything more than minor cable/hose/wiring adjustments. But they also offer a caveat that individual machines can vary. The Strom is one of them. Thankfully, the bike was already pretty good comfort wise so I’ll just live with it.

My favorite view, now a bit easier on the wrists and back.

As the Bandit has plenty of cable/wire slack, I’ll eventually swap to the 30mm units when I replace the clutch and brake hoses with longer braided versions. There should be another incremental, but useful increase in comfort with the change. Still, even with all the power, brakes and handling it will never completely replace that Harley.



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