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Thunderbird Cruiser Chat Cruiser chat for the the Thunderbird twin

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Old 12-17-2012, 06:48 PM   #1 (permalink)
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How to improve a big bike (Storm) for riding in a city?

I've got a Storm that, while great for the highway or longer country rides, is a real pain for me in the city (San Francisco). I am not a tall guy (5' 5") and the height and weight of the Storm make it very difficult to maneuver when hills and/or slow speeds are involved.

I've read some posts about lowering the Storm. I've wondered if there is a way to reduce the weight (I can't think of any).

Any thoughts on either of these ideas or on other options?

Do I need to fix up my broken down sportster to have a second, small bike for around town?

(Due to financial issues, I've put the bike up for sale. This thread assumes I will end up keeping the bike.)

Thanks in advance for any comments, advice, etc.
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Old 12-17-2012, 09:32 PM   #2 (permalink)
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heavy bike and hills-not a great combo

I can understand why you might not like the Storm for those hills out there. I can see pulling into some space front tire first and getting stuck because pushing a 800 lb bike is not fun. I have taken a job Fort Lauderdale, FL and it's very flat but even still I find that I often will tank my wife's Suzuki S50 (Sportster size) instead of the 1600. It's got a smaller wheelbase and is 300 lbs lighter and much more fun to zip around in traffic. I can see the logic of getting your Sporty up and running for those hills. If it ain't fun then why killyourselfpushingbikeup ahill. I'm just recovering from a hernia so have to be real careful. The new BMW F800Gt is tempting me. I even rode a Bonneville last week (it sucked compared to the Tbird). So my idea now is to learn to ride the great big heavy bike better. I'm looking into taking some riding lessons from the guy who makes the DVD- Ride Like a Pro-So perhaps that might work. Learn to handle the big bike. I admit I am spooked by tight u-turns and slow speed work. Hills are tough but in Michigan I get plenty of practice. Those Sanfran hills are steep. Yep, tempting to down size but I'm going to give it a try to learn to ride better in all situations. There is a book called "Maximum Control-Mastering your heavyweight bike"
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that's worth reading. The DVD is https://www.ridelikeapro.com.( I also have dresser bars front and rear but luckily have not dropped her yet. I make damn sure I don't ride with out my vibram soled riding boots with good ankle supports. )
I'm going to try to master the beast this winter and if not I'm moving on. I also have a Vulcan 900 and that is cake to ride but not as much fun for sure. Good luck and have fun riding.
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Old 12-17-2012, 11:40 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I have watched Jerry Pallidino in person and his crew are amazing. They even have a short girl who they have to flip the kickstand and put it in gear for her, but you should see her handle such a big bike. It's all technique.
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Old 12-18-2012, 01:00 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I'm sure you can do some suspension mods, and lower it a couple of inches. You might want to consider, and I'm not teasing here, I'm totally serious, some platform boots. Adding an inch to the bottom of your shoes might really help. Hitting the gym might help as well, and I don't mean to imply that you need to build crazy muscles. I recently started working out again a few months ago. I work a desk job, and I had gained some weight, and started feeling weak. I'm already feeling better, and it really makes a difference while riding.
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Old 12-18-2012, 01:20 AM   #5 (permalink)
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@Lantesh - My moto boots do add about an inch and make the bike rideable. It's as much about the bike's center of gravity as it is my height, I think. And, yes, I did think about building some muscle to be able t throw the bike's around better. (sedentary job with often insane hours doesn't help). Getting into better shape now with some upper body strength training beginning in January.

@capt_ted - going to pick up the book and/or DVD for Christmas. Thanks for pointing them out. I didn't know there were resources like that.
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Old 12-18-2012, 07:05 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I wouldn't be keen on riding any 2-wheeled vehicle in any big city. Too much stop and go, too many cars pulling in and out, pedestrians everywhere. It's too nerve-wracking big bike or small bike. However, small bikes are easier to keep from tipping over.
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Old 12-18-2012, 08:53 PM   #7 (permalink)
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The tbird don't have a very tight turn radius & if i dont swing wide on a 2 lane making a U turn I end up bumping the curb & feeling like a dope. I'm 5'7" & riding boots help with confidence at stop. Whenever I get a new bike I find an empty warehouse parking lot & practice low speed maneuvers. note the parking lot lines are 10' apart the same distance as the cones at the dmv.
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Old 12-18-2012, 09:26 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I'm pretty confident on my bikes, having ridden now off and on for three-plus decades, but I still don't think I'd feel particularly comfortable trying to navigate a TBird on the busy hills of SF. Bonneville, yes, TBird, probably not. There's no getting around it -- it's a big, heavy bike...one that handles well, yes, but trying to sling it around all that traffic, sharp hills, etc....sounds a bit unpleasant to me. I hope that type of terrain only makes up a small portion of your TBird riding.
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Old 12-20-2012, 11:06 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Hi Kafka, an easy way to make the TBird more manageable round town is ride with half a tank of fuel or less - if you're riding with 10 litres rather than 22, say, you can be about 9kg lighter, and it's weight that's high-up towards the front, in the worst place as far as balance etc is concerned. I tend to just putt round half empty in town, and the Tbird doesn't feel much less manageable to me than a Bonnie now.
Footboards also help with control I think (and ground clearance!), but they're not for everybody.
Where I live in Dunedin (and NZ in general) is pretty hilly, but I can appreciate your problems riding in a place like SF - those hills are phenomenal! - cheers, Pat
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Old 12-21-2012, 07:46 PM   #10 (permalink)
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1/2 tank-really works

Hey-that's a great idea. I always try to keep a full tank as here in Florida the humidity is so high that I think a half tank, especially in winter make any tank prone to rusting. But today half a tank and it was easier also pulled off the windscreen, sissybar/rack and Hardstreet Slimbags. I'm glad to see that others think the Bird is a big heavy beast. I have been practicing U turns and they are hard for me. Those big Harleys I see in the video can make short sharp turns so I know the Thunderbird can as well. I'm going to state again that front and rear dresser bars in any situation are well worth the insurance against a dented tank, snapped levers and crushed pride.
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