MKL’s ’98 1200C – Winter Project 1999 Part I- Brakes & Vibes
GMA Polished 4-Piston Front Brake Caliper 12/99
–As originally posted to the XL List—
This winter’s project involved reducing some vibration, to make the scoot more comfortable on long trips. I also added a new front brake caliper, as the OEM unit felt weak when the bike was loaded up with the SO and luggage. Now that I’ve had a chance to test the mods out, here are my impressions-
Suntech Fluid Balancemasters: I read about these devices in the the “101 Performance Harley-Davidson Projects for Evolution Big Twins and Sportsters” book by Kenna Love & Kip Woodring. My Sportster now has the full set of Balance Masters – that is, both the unit for the Engine Sprocket and the unit for the Clutch. (Of course, there is also a set for the flywheels, but installation requires a complete engine teardown, so I didn’t get this). Riding impressions indicate that bar vibration during normal riding is reduced by about 5%, seat of the pants. Vibration from the engine itself (felt through the footpegs) seems to have actually increased, but it very well could be that the bars used to vibrate so much, that I never paid attention to my feet. Overall, these Balancemasters have led to a marginally reduced level of vibration – a mediocre performance.
**UPDATE 7/9/02 30,680 MILES: Balancemasters removed**
Hayden M6 Primary Chain Tensioner: I added this device to supplement the Balance Masters, as per the recommendation of the aforementioned “101” book. Aside from the slightly quieter shifting, I detected virtually no difference from before. For all the hype about smoother shifting, reduced vibes, better feel during decceleration, etc., I was disappointed. This product is absolutely not worth any money or effort to install, based on my impressions thus far. YMMV – some listers rave about their M6s!
Silicone & Nickels in the Handlebars: This is another mod I made to supplement the Balance Masters. To add some weight to the bars, I decided to pull both grips off of the handlebars, fill the bars with silicone, and then shove in $4.00 worth of nickels per each side. To do this, I needed 1 caulking gun, 1.5 tubes of GE clear silicone, the aforementioned nickels (packaged in standard bank rolls), and some WD-40 to remove the clutch-side grip. The job was pretty messy, but at the end, all went smoothly. The nickels fit just perfectly in my stock bars, without a millimeter to spare in length or width. This mod made a HUGE difference in low & mid rpm (<3,500rpm) feel. Those bars are now rock solid! Relatively no vibration AT ALL – About a 75-80% reduction in vibes, seat of the pants! The feel of the handlebars is now on par with the various TC88 rubber mount bikes I’ve ridden. The downside is, the bars still vibrate at high-rpms, and with more force behind their movement than before. But this was expected, and is not really that much of a factor for my style of riding. Realistically, I would venture to estimate that this inexpensive, easy to perform mod was actually more effective than the Balance Masters!
GMA Polished 4-Piston Front Brake Calipers: What, no chrome? I decided to get polished brakes due to price considerations (an additional $150 to chrome the caliper) and functional considerations (chrome traps heat). These brakes are unbelievable compared to stock! Even when gently breaking in the new Vesrah pads and caliper, I could still tell how much more powerful these brakes are than stock. You can literally make the nose dive with a moderate 1 finger pull, and feel is relatively outstanding! This is a fantastic addition, and one that will make me feel much safer (especially with luggage and the SO on the back). This is easily one of the best investments I’ve made in overall performance.
Side View of the GMA Polished 4-Piston Front Brake Caliper 12/99