Showing posts with label custom. Show all posts
Showing posts with label custom. Show all posts

Sunday, 5 May 2019

The Corbin Experience

The big five-oh is coming up so I got myself a present.  I've always wanted a custom saddle and after seeing buddy Jeff's new Sargent seat, I started looking into what's available for the Tiger.  Sargent doesn't do anything for Tigers as old as mine, but Corbin does.  Their site lets you customize your seat with material and stitching.  The Tiger isn't a shy and retiring sort of motorbike, so I wasn't very conservative in my seat design.

Corbin lets you play with variations on their online customizing tool.  I started off with basic black but quickly moved on from there.  You can go full disco oligarch if you want, but I looked at the Tiger and worked out a design that pulls the colours already on the bike together on the seat.  I took the most shocking part of the Tiger, the Lucifer Orange paint, and did the stitching in orange.  Most of the mechanical bits are black, so I stayed with a black set but went with a gripper material rather than leather.  The side panels I matched in navy blue with the blue on the swing arm.  The goal was to design a seat that looks like it belongs on the bike, and I think it does that while not being dull.

It's a pretty thing.
The customization options offered by Corbin are exceptional.  Less so was communication.  I sent in the request online and got an email asking me to confirm the order.  When I questioned the $120US delivery fee added on, I got no reply.  The initial email also promised a follow up when the seat was going into production, but that didn't happen either.  What did happen was one day I got a bill for $94CAD on my front door when I got home from work.  After driving over to the post office I got told there was a bill for taxes on the shipment, so that puts getting my Corbin to me at two hundred and fifty-five bucks (I could fly back from San Francisco where Corbin's factory is for about the same price)... and I had to go pick it up.

The seat itself is very nice on top.  The underside looks a bit rough with loose bits and rough holes , but I guess no one will ever see it but me.  It's heavy duty leather so it'll take a while to break in and will look better and better as it does.

Comfort wise, it feels very different from the curved stock saddle.  The Corbin is much wider, making the ground further away.  I can flat foot the Tiger on the stock saddle even when it's in its highest position.  The Corbin doesn't adjust for height, but its width makes it feel much taller.  The width was such a concern that I tried standing on the pegs to see if the seat interfered with my legs.  I can feel the seat (not so with the curved and narrower stock seat), but it's not pushing my knees away, so I can still stand on the pegs if necessary.

The seat's back is so steep that it feels like a small backrest, which does wonders for support and comfort.  My son is too big now to pillion with me (we exceed the bike's carrying capacity), but if my wife ever comes for a ride, I think she'll have a better view from a higher back seat.

The seat feels firm, but Corbin mention that as it breaks in it will conform to your butt specifically and soften.  The width of it handles weight so well that I really don't notice the hardness, and it's supposed to fade away over time anyway.  They suggest a 2000 mile break in period, which seems like a long one, but it is what it is.

It isn't cheap, but the lifetime warranty takes care of any quality worries, and it seems a well put together thing, once I got it to attach to the bike.
Installation wasn't as easy as I'd have hoped.  The Corbin is a single seat unit replacing a separate rider and passenger stock seat set.  The stock rider seat has a couple of hoops on the frame that locate the front and a pin locking mechanism in the rear.  The passenger seat has hooks on the front another pin locking mechanism at the back.  The all-in-one Corbin seat doesn't use the middle pin at all and wouldn't locate and lock in the rear pin.  Putting it on and off the big over and over trying to figure out why it wouldn't lock ended up scratching the triangular side panels under the seat a bit, which was annoying.

I ended up removing the fuse box and taking out the middle locking pin as I was afraid it was preventing the seat from sitting down on the frame properly, but it ended up being the front metal bars that hook on the frame loops.  They weren't bent down enough to allow the seat to sit flat.  After a bit of bending, I was finally able to get the seat to click into place.

I'm sitting higher on this new, firm Corbin seat, but it's supposed to soften over time, so I think the height will ease a bit too.  The 'gripper' fabric feels quality and tough and isn't particularly grippy.  I'm able to move around on it quite easily and I'm hoping it breathes a bit better than leather would.  Hot seat in the summer is one of the things I'm hoping this solves.

I'd be happier with Corbin communicating (at all) and I'd have been a lot happier with the stratospheric shipping charge if it took care of border costs too.  Paying the equivalent of airfare from San Francisco seems a bit excessive, especially when I get to deliver it to myself anyway.  If you're ever on holiday in northern California, pre-order your seat and then pick it up from the factory near San Jose and save yourself a pile of cash.

Overall?  I'm happy with the seat.  The upside is a quality seat that you can make uniquely yours for what I consider a reasonable amount of money for a bespoke item like this.  When people are dropping twice this on slip on exhausts and helmets, the Corbin starts to look like good farkling value.  It certainly makes a statement and as one of the key connection pieces between rider and motorbike, it's a customization option that does a lot to make a bike feel special.

I just got back from a 232km romp across the Niagara Escarpment.  Never once did I have to stop due to numb bum.  That's never happened before.

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Installing LED lighting on the ZG1K Rat Bike

The mighty ZG1K modified Concours is just about done.  I've been plumbing the depths of the wiring loom working out how to integrate LED headlights and indicators into a 1994 electrical harness based on much less efficient bulbs.  Jumping into the future like that freaked out the existing flasher relay that manages how quickly they blink.  

If you're running big, old, inefficient bulbs, you get a nice steady indicator and hazard flash because those bulbs are heavy loads on the circuit.  The LEDs barely use anything at all by comparison, so suddenly the indicator relay is flashing so quickly it looks like a strobe light.

There are various ways to address this, but I think the easiest is to get an adjustable flasher relay (ten bucks on Amazon).  It plugs directly into the harness and can be adjusted for an indicator as quick or slow as you like.

I've still got to wire up the horn and headlights, but the bike is close to finished wiring wise.  I hope to be out later in the week checking off the other details and making sure everything is ready to go.  It has always been a quick bike, but now it's a ninety pound lighter quick bike.  I'm looking forward to seeing what it can do when it's finally road ready.

The ZG1K started out as a café racer conversion, but the muscular feel of the big-4 Kawasaki engine and the heavy duty frame made it look like more of a drag racer than a café racer.  Once I'd stripped it down I went with what I had.  If it had been a light weight single or twin engined machine then the café racer angle would have worked.  Had that been the case I would have gone with a finished, painted look, but once I started down the muscle bike route I started thinking it'd look better as a Mad Max themed post apocalypse rat bike.  Seeing Fury Road was how it got renamed the ZG1K Fury.

Mad Max: Fury Road isn't short on motorcycle inspiration.  The art direction in that film is amazing.

The paint on the bike wasn't too bad (it was rattle can but nicely finished and badged), but I ended up taking a sander to the tank one day and liked the result with the Kawasaki decal half sanded off; it felt much more radioactive that way.

With the old style round headlight but running LEDS and the stainless steel, drilled mounts I made for it, the bike looks old fashioned and rough but with weirdly futuristic details.  The rear lights look like they come out of Battlestar Galactica, but then the rest of the body panels (only where they are needed to cover up plumbing or electronics) are finished in some cut aluminum from the heat-shield that fell off my Mazda a couple of years ago.  Once committed to the rough look, I went looking for ways to stay consistent to it.  Ironically, the least ratty thing about the bike are the refinished and painted rims I had done before these whole thing started with a carb failure.  They never went on the original bike while it was on the road and they are by far the most perfect feature on this one that aims for imperfection.

Technical and aesthetic ideas for the custom bike were collected on a Pinterest board:

Once I've got everything together it'll be a review of all the main systems to make sure everything it tight and works well.  I'll bleed the brakes, make sure the engine is tight and dependable and then see how often I can get out on the thing.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Dangerously Close to Hipster Cool

The Concours customization continues slowly.  The (too short) Canadian riding season is staggering to a close, so I'm out on the Tiger whenever possible (3°C this morning).  Soon enough the snow will fall, the roads will become salty nightmares and I'll have lots of mechanical time on my hands.  Today it's a cold front coming through with high winds and torrential rain that has me in the garage instead of out on the road.

The front light is now prepared to go into the wiring loom, as is the rear one.  Both front and rear are LED units so I'm having to make a few changes to get them happily connected to the twenty three year old loom.  I'm going to mount the rear lights higher up under a rear cover that'll also wrap up the back of the seat.

I've got basic framework in place - I'll eventually paint it all flat black so it fades into the background, but for now I'm just leaving it metal coloured.  I was originally going to get the body panels done in thin metal so it looks Mad Max-ish, but that doesn't look likely to happen any time soon.  I was watching Out of Nothing the other night and they said they'd taught themselves fibreglass body panel building, so I intend to do the same.  I'll work out the panels in bucks and then make fibre glass finished product; it'll be a good project.

I'd originally tried a smaller coolant tank in the back, but it couldn't handle the needs of the bike, so I've relocated the stock one under the back seat.  With panels in place it'll be all but invisible.

As much as possible I'm hoping to keep the bike looking mechanical and simple, but with some carefully sized fibreglass I should also be able to keep the ugly bits out of sight.

Up next is wiring in the lights and finishing the back end.  After that it's just making fibreglass.  Two side panels for the back and the rear cowling for sure.  The stock front fender is way too heavy looking, so I'll be looking at options for that.  I might do something strange to frame the radiator - that top rad hose is a natty looking thing.

The only mechanical part I'm looking for is a very basic instrument gauge.  I've been collecting ideas on Pinterest, so eventually I'll come across the ideal piece and grab it.

I heard once that Axl Rose bought a new Harley and had it customized so it looked old by adding patina to it.  Only a rich person would do something so asinine.  The Concours has had a long, hard life; it comes by its patina honestly.  What I love about the bike is that it's mechanically very sound (now).  Rebuilt carb, rear hub, bearings, brakes - it's new in all the right places, but you couldn't tell from looking at it.

It's getting to the point where this thing is starting to look dangerously hipster cool; I might have to grow a beard.