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Sort of goodbye

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jchesshyre
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Sort of goodbye

Post by jchesshyre on Fri 26 Aug 2016, 10:55 pm

I haven't been on here for a while as back in May I purchased a 1998 VTR1000 Firestorm which I'm a little sad to say I've completely fallen in love with and have decided to sell my CB as I really can't keep both. 

A little about the Firestorm for those who don't know them and are interested. I had been thinking of upgrading for some time but always decided that I'd be too silly on a more powerful bike. But after one too many long journeys to see friends and relatives down South I decided that (a) I realy did want a bit more 60+mph grunt and (b) I wanted to do long journeys at high-ish speeds with less revs going on. 

I knew two things. A replacement 1. Had to be a twin and 2. Probably had to be a Honda. I've known about the Firestorm for a while but really wanted a naked bike. However I had a look at one advertised on ebay nearby and was hooked as soon as I sat on it. It is faired but only partially: the rather nice frame is visible and some of the engine as there aren't really side-fairings. And in every other way it ticks every single f***ing box: it's a twin (a 996cc 90-degree V with a 270-degree firing order, and an awesome engine at that), it has twin exhausts which I LOVE, it's basically as simple to work on as the CB500, with two gigantic 48mm carburettors with the only thing making it any more complex being the hydraulic clutch (arguably lower maintenance than the cable actually) and the twin four-pot front brake calipers vs the CB's single twin-pot. Other than that it's almost identical in simplicity to the CB. I've fitted manual camchain tensioners to mine as the stock ones have a now famous tendency to fail which because of the firing order of this engine causes the cam chain on the affected cylinder to jump teeth on the camshaft sprocket resulting in bent valves... I've done a few other things like fitted Fuel exhaust silencers, Hagon fork springs, and other normal maintenance. 

A little bit about riding it. The engine is literally the new love of my life. Everything about the experience of it is superb. You can short-shift keeping the revs below 6k and using minimal throttle and still be faster than all other traffic. You can also unleash angry hell by ragging it to 10k rpm like a CB5, but seeing as doing this gets you to 100mph in under 7 seconds I save this for very special occasions. Second gear has the same revs-to-speed ratio as the CB500's fourth gear (where each 1k rpm = about 10mph) and first gear wheelies if you give it more than about half throttle. 

I have to say I've noticed a big difference in how I'm treated by pathetic car drivers who think that because the CB looks like a quite small bike they will be faster than it - far fewer drivers try and compete with me on the Firestorm when I filter up to lights etc. I'm really appreciating this aspect and now that I'm used to the bike it's just as nimble as the CB in traffic, maybe even more so as it's slightly narrower overall because of the mirrors and how they're mounted. 

Now that I've got over the initial 'treat' of having so much grunt from the engine, I'm actually riding far more sensibly than I used to on the CB - I wasn't a total lunatic and am actually fastidious about all of the Highway Code except national speed limits, but nevertheless I am much calmer on the VTR as overtaking is so easy and I kind of feel at the top of the accelerative pecking order on the road and don't feel like I have something to prove like I rather did with the CB (I'm sure at least some of you know what I mean). Perhaps the other reason is the fuel consumption...this warrants another paragraph.

The tank on the Firestorm is 16 litres. The best I've had out of that is 120 miles and the worst so far is 88. Normal is around 100-110. This equates to...much less good economy than the CB500! 35mpg is average for shorter urban journeys, below 30 is what you'd get if you ragged the balls off it, and it might just get 45mpg if you really really tried. Apparently it has the biggest carbs and the biggest valves that Honda fitted to any road bike which partly explains this. I can forgive it though and stopping for petrol every hundred miles on a long journey is actually a welcome enforced break. I don't plan any journeys through huge deserts any time soon so the short range doesn't bother me. NB later models had a larger tank. 

I could go on and on...I haven't mentioned the handling which is great, or the sound which is everything I could want from any motor vehicle. 

Let's see if I can take it past 100,000 miles like I did with my first CB.

So this is largely over-and-out from me around these here parts, but I'll certainly look in every so often. All the best to everyone  Smile
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Tricky.
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Re: Sort of goodbye

Post by Tricky. on Sat 27 Aug 2016, 8:26 am

great write up. sorry youre losing the cb, but i can totally understand why now having the vtr, ive had one, and it was often used in anger on the track. a great and underestimated bike for the money. have fun.

muttley1
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Re: Sort of goodbye

Post by muttley1 on Sat 27 Aug 2016, 9:37 pm

Onwards and upwards ! Nice write up. Always fancied a vtr but the fuel economy put me off a bit.

That v twin thing is pretty addictive, I had an sv650s for a while, lovely engine, neat little bike and 60mpg with care. Damn uncomfortable though so it had to go.

atb

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steady Eddy
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Re: Sort of goodbye

Post by steady Eddy on Sun 28 Aug 2016, 8:14 am

Enjoyed your write up m8, sounds like a nice bike!

Got to admit ive been thinking of trading up for ages but just cant seem to let mine go, even put it up for sale a few months ago but quickly removed it and have since spruced it up a bit.

Whats the comfort like compared to the CB? I have a glass back so dont generally like dropped handlebars, but reviews say its a bit of an inbetweener.
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Beresford
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Re: Sort of goodbye

Post by Beresford on Sun 28 Aug 2016, 10:50 am

I wondered why the economy was so poor until I saw the word 'carbs'. The Triumph Sprint (either RS or ST) from the same era, had better economy and range, was faster more powerful and torquier, but had fuel injection. Apparently the Honda carbs are HUGE!
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Jameshambleton
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Re: Sort of goodbye

Post by Jameshambleton on Sun 28 Aug 2016, 2:03 pm

I think they'rethe biggest size carbs ever used on a road bike iirc
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wornsprokets
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Re: Sort of goodbye

Post by wornsprokets on Sun 28 Aug 2016, 3:22 pm

U see a few vtr 1000's in ireland but they were not that popular, i like a tl 1000s with a fixed suspenson... yes i hear the vtr was quite thirsty bike and james is right about the carbs.  Was there not a vtr 250 greyjap import version
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trevor machine
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Re: Sort of goodbye

Post by trevor machine on Sun 28 Aug 2016, 7:00 pm

Thanks for that jchesshyre - very interesting.

What follows is way too long and mostly irrelevant but I had to wait around this morning - thus found myself killing time.

I saw a really lovely orange Firestorm at Seaways yesterday - two into two, no baffles. Sounded so ace. I wanted one all over again. But last night I had a short "blast" (inverted commas because I didn't rev over 9k) on a RVF400. Now, I know that in some key ways that's at the other end of the spectrum to a VTR - but ergos-wise it's not too dissimilar.

Anyway, as soon as I set off across the BP garage forecourt I got a pretty strong twinge of cramp in my right hip. I had to kick out and foot waggle as I prepared to pull into the road. Having had this a few times before - after long days on the CB, and when riding a CBF600 school bike that'd been lowered - I knew that relaxing is crucial. I think I was a bit tense because the RVF wasn't mine - but I did think I mightn't be very well-suited to a more prone kind of ergonomics.

That said, the VTR is definitely in the top 5 - maybe even top 3 - of bikes that I regularly check out when window shopping eBay.

Just picking up on this for a sec - "...and don't feel like I have something to prove like I rather did with the CB (I'm sure at least some of you know what I mean)." Yeah I think I do know what you mean. Part of the reason I love the CB500 is because it's very much an 'underdog' bike on UK roads. You rarely come across a bike of smaller capacity (or dimensions, for that matter), once you've taken scooters and 125s out of the picture. Maybe the odd Enfield or something. But generally a CB500 is at the bottom of the food chain, and the smallest bike on the bike cafe carpark. It's also the least conspicuous and attracts the least attention.

When other vehicles approach, your spidey senses often seem to feel the driver appraising the rear tyre's cross section, thinking oh okay, what's this piece of shit wimp machine in front. Come on mate get a fucking move on blah blah blah. So you have crap like that to contend with, it's true.

But on the other hand, the bike's underdog status - and its comparatively modest power - mean that others underestimate it, and sometimes the riders of far more expensive, "better" bikes have to work quite hard to avoid being bested. Their pride's at stake in a way that it isn't for those of us on cheaper smaller bikes like the CB500. And some of 'em get pretty miffed at times.

Case in point - a fortnight ago I was several cars in front of what I think was either a street or speed triple. I could just feel from my mirrors that the guy was keen to pick these cars off and then come by me too. But I kept managing to find an overtake just as he'd finished one. I'm pretty sure he could tell the bike was small and inconsequential - plus my by-now very grimy and tattered hi-viz council bin man's single thickness over-jacket looks like shit, giving me the look of a down-at-heel courier who's on the last delivery of the day. So I look like easy pickings. And in a way I am. But I'm also always hunting determinedly for the next overtake, filtering at any and every opportunity, and generally enjoying the cb500's work-rate.

So for one reason or another this guy was "after me". Now, on the slightly elongated straight, up out of Gate Helmsley, I knew he'd be winding it on. But I also knew there was a junction to the right, with a solid double white line stacker box for vehicles turning into it. So when I was a few hundred yards away from this, the guy decided to come by me - and also pass the two cars in front, ploughing along and through the stacker lane. Both cars had decided to turn right!! It was the most monumentally stupid, suicidal piece of riding I've probably ever witnessed - and I thought holy fucking shite he's not gonna pass me here is he omg he really is he's actually doing this, i.e. overtaking when there's a junction on the right and two cars that might want to enter the stacker box. Shot passed me at about 90 he did. Thank god the two drivers were either aware of him or else were entirely oblivious and had created space by luck. The latter seemed more likely to be honest. 

I think he must've soiled his Daineses slightly though because I caught him up three miles later at Grimston Bar roundabout and filtered passed him at a walking pace and that was the last I saw of him. Bizarre. He definitely didn't want to play any more.

But I'd had a similar scenario play out the week before following an Africa Twin down from Fridaythorpe to Merton - we poddled off Seaways's carpark at the same time so he knew I was on a dirty old 500. He seemed like a fairly good rider all the way down into Stamford Bridge (I'd made equivalent progress), but then heading towards York he suddenly decided to try passing the car in front whilst approaching a left hander. Rubbish idea. It was plain to a fool the overtake wasn't on - not even close. Why the hell was he even trying?? The answer I'm almost certain was that he was fed up with a £500 commuter keep turning up in his mirrors every couple of minutes. Anyway, he created three rows of traffic and there was peeping and flashing and god knows what shenanigans going off. Bloody awful riding, it was.

So yeah - I think some of us on the 500 do feel like we've got something to prove, in a way. And this is that the bike is more capable than those on sports 600s - and bigger - tend to assume. Secondly, and working on the assumption that it's usually 20% bike / 80% rider, we try to prove that 60bhp is more than enough on 90% of roads. Which can actually be pretty tough because it means there's no point and squirt option - it's far more about trying to carry some speed through corners, also cueing up overtakes more carefully, and generally attempting to always make the most out of a modest amount of power. I think - or at least hope - that the more miles I put on the 500, the better rider I'll be if/when I trade up to more power. I wish in some ways I was coming down to the 500 - say, after putting in loads of miles on a blackbird or something. It would be sweet to be able to feel like the 500 is a small, light bike that's nimble and accurate. I mean, it does feel like that anyway - but if you're only used to a big hyper tourer the 500 must surely feel rinky dink.
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Tricky.
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Re: Sort of goodbye

Post by Tricky. on Sun 28 Aug 2016, 7:32 pm

i am loving your writings, but this white on black forum is shit. i have just stuck pins in my eyes for some relief.
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trevor machine
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Re: Sort of goodbye

Post by trevor machine on Sun 28 Aug 2016, 9:54 pm

Laughing
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ceejay
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Re: Sort of goodbye

Post by ceejay on Mon 29 Aug 2016, 8:33 am

Good luck with the Firestorm, sounds great, in fact I think i'd be out looking for one myself after that write up if it wasn't for the 35mpg thing!

I think anyone that has owned a bike for longer than the 'honeymoon period' is constantly re-evaluating and wondering whether it's the best bike for their needs. For me the key thing is to try think beyond the honeymoon period and then compare whatever machine it is you have in your head to your current one and that's probably why I have so far decided to stick with the CB500. That said variety is the spice of life and can totally understand why others with different requirements would find something else more suitable as it appears jchesshyre has done.

As for other road users (perhaps sub-consciously) thinking they need to be going faster than the CB I agree there is an element of that out there. From the rear the bike looks pretty old fashioned and weedy with it's twin shocks and 'skinny' rear tyre. From that angle at least (which personally I think is it's best angle) it is definitely a wolf in sheep's clothing.
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jchesshyre
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Re: Sort of goodbye

Post by jchesshyre on Wed 31 Aug 2016, 9:41 am

Thanks all.

Comfort. I can't yet decide whether overall I find the VTR more comfortable than the CB. It's a bit of swings and roundabouts. I have already done about eight long (150+ miles) journeys on it and I would say on a long journey it's marginally better for me than the CB. I'm 5'8" by the way. I'd say that for some reason I can vary my position a bit more on the VTR, but I have to remember to keep the weight off my wrists otherwise they can get quite sore, mainly to do with the angle they end up at rather than the weight itself. It's an interesting setup as, although it's obviously more lean-forward than the CB, you can sit really quite upright or slide back to the rear of the driver's seat and crouch right down, which, combined with putting a good bit of one's weight on the footpegs and gripping the tank with one's knees, makes for a very nice high-ish speed long-distance position.

If I was spending lots of time in town the CB would definitely (and probably obviously) be more comfortable, and not just because of the riding position...but this is stating the obvious as the VTR is not meant for this work.

Even though the footpegs are higher on the VTR I actually find the angle my legs end up at is better and less annoying on long journeys.

Re. fuel economy: I actually think the VTR's apparent high consumption is exacerbated, psychologically, by the small fuel tank. A relatively revvy big-twin is always going to be less efficient than a four-cylinder of the same size and (although I don't know) surely an equivalent-vintage sports-but-not-supersports c. 1000cc four-cylinder wouldn't be a huge amount better than 35-40mpg? It's really not bothering me and on a long run 100 miles is costing me under £15 which is absolutely fine by me for something with such superb real-world performance and all the other good facets.

Now I'm having a bit of a change of mind and desperately trying to think of a way of keeping the CB, especially after the above comments...although I was chatting to a local Deliveroo rider who's interested in it...I could do with the money...aaaahhhgg I don't know. Someone try and talk me out of selling it!


Last edited by jchesshyre on Wed 31 Aug 2016, 10:28 am; edited 1 time in total
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jchesshyre
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Re: Sort of goodbye

Post by jchesshyre on Wed 31 Aug 2016, 9:47 am

Oh and by the way...having read up a lot on the VTR before buying it I was preparing myself for TERRIBLE tyre life, like 3,000 miles or less from a rear. Well I've just put new Bridgestone T30s on it, and when I bought the bike in May I immediately put a new rear on (Bridgestone BT023)...well that did 7,000 miles and I haven't been hanging around, and I don't really have much in the way of chicken strips either. That's at least 1,000 more than I ever got out of a rear tyre on the CB.

And yes I have done 10,000 miles in two months  affraid
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Tricky.
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Re: Sort of goodbye

Post by Tricky. on Wed 31 Aug 2016, 10:18 pm

you probably know this already, and im not sure what model vtr you have, but the later ones had a larger capacity fuel tank, not much larger mind.
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eternally_troubled
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Re: Sort of goodbye

Post by eternally_troubled on Fri 02 Sep 2016, 6:08 pm

jchesshyre wrote:
Now I'm having a bit of a change of mind and desperately trying to think of a way of keeping the CB, especially after the above comments...although I was chatting to a local Deliveroo rider who's interested in it...I could do with the money...aaaahhhgg I don't know. Someone try and talk me out of selling it!

It certainly would be good 'alternative' to the VTR... I guess it all depends how much you need the money. If you can't think of anything that you would really spend the money on you might as well keep the CB :) You can always sell it later on if you are feeling even more skint (CB500s seem to hold their value - no more depreciation to happen!)
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jchesshyre
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Re: Sort of goodbye

Post by jchesshyre on Tue 18 Apr 2017, 2:28 pm

Hello all, just checking in here again, with my tail between my legs as my CB's been sitting in my back yard for ten months looking sad while I hoon around on my Firestorm.

However, I have made the overdue decision to keep it and have just brought it back to life. I'll quickly describe what this has entailed. Over the time it's been hibernating I've started it up and run it for quarter of an hour with some revs once it was warm, but have only done this three times in the ten months it's been off the road. With the same old petrol in the tank, and (obviously) charging the battery off the bike each time.

A week ago I made the decision to get it MoTed. I pumped the tyres up, lubed the chain, cleaned the switchgear...and it passed with no advisories. I've since changed the oil and brake fluid, put some new petrol in and a bit of Redex, and have been giving it a good spanking and it's back to how it always was. 

It was GREAT getting back on it after being used to the Firestorm and it's so much fun to ride, in a completely different way. It's weird how alien it felt at first even though I rode this CB and my previous one almost every day between 2008 and last year. I'm now back in love with the bike and will be using it to go to work each day (12 miles each way) and saving the Firestorm for some long journeys and for fun.

Actually, I'll confess something: the thing which prompted me to finally get it back on the road was the fact that I finally persuaded my fiancée to have a ride on the Firestorm and she HATED it. She got back and was in tears because her wrists, shoulder, hips and knees all hurt! My brother and sister have both had a ride on it (in the case of my brother, we went to Bruges and back from London last year) and had no complaints, and because my fiancée is quite a lot shorter than both of them I'd assumed she'd be fine on it, but no. So I can't have her never able to ride pillion, so this realisation confirmed my decision that the CB is here to stay Laughing

muttley1
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Re: Sort of goodbye

Post by muttley1 on Tue 18 Apr 2017, 4:30 pm

And a sort of welcome back then (what with the ol cb5 never really having gone away).

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wornsprokets
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Re: Sort of goodbye

Post by wornsprokets on Tue 18 Apr 2017, 6:32 pm

Alway good to have cb in shed or two of them Laughing
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tt fan
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Re: Sort of goodbye

Post by tt fan on Wed 19 Apr 2017, 5:05 pm

Great writing on this thread!
Better to keep the CB as a second bike than sell it for beans (that's my story and i'm sticking to it) i know whatever else comes along i would miss the humble CB at some point.
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eternally_troubled
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Re: Sort of goodbye

Post by eternally_troubled on Tue 25 Apr 2017, 10:05 pm

Just shows why keeping your CB was the right decision! Glad to hear you've got it going again.

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