Modifications to my Scrambler

This video is a walkthrough of the modifications that I’ve made to my 2013 Triumph Scrambler.

  • British Customs Retro Blinkers (front and rear)
  • BC Front Signal Relocation
  • BC Rear Signal Relocation
  • BC Fender Eliminator
  • BC Retro Taillight
  • Biltwell Grips
  • Metzeler Lasertec Tires
  • BC O2 Sensor Removal
  • BC SAI Removal
  • Airbox Snorkel Removed
  • Airbox Baffle Removed
  • Airbox Cover Clearanced
  • VW Beetle Tailpipes (from Vee Village)
  • Tank Pad Removal
  • Standard Bonneville Shocks (1″ shorter)
  • Custom Tune with TuneECU

I’m pretty strapped for time so these have all been wonderfully quick and easy. Some of the pieces have been more costly than I would like (the O2 and AI removal kits), but the convenience of not having to track down the bolts and the finish of the pieces made the extra money worth it.

This bike makes me smile every time I get on it. It’s not as fast as my Speed Triple R was. It’s doesn’t have as much swagger as my Nightster did. It’s not nearly as versatile as the BMW G650GS was. But, I love this thing. These modifications have made the bike feel like mine, like an extension of me. I know that sounds silly, but it’s true.

If you have any questions about what I’ve done, please let me know in the comments!

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Some Love from British Customs

A while back I made a long, tedious video of installing the British Customs Fender Eliminator and Turn Signal Relocation kit. The clever people over there picked it up and posted on their blog!

Thanks to Scott for the tip!

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Fender Eliminator from British Customs

I always say I’m not modifying motorcycles … but guess what, I do. This one was kind of necessary as I accidentally broke my taillight lens by backing my Scrambler into the corner of my house. Whoops.

I looked at a few kits and stuck with this one as I liked the shape of the lights included. If you want to kill 25 minutes, here’s a YouTube video (scroll down for more text and pictures).

If you watched the video you’ll see that I was pretty frustrated by the lack of instructions. With all of the work that would go in to designing this and sourcing the parts, a few simple pages would have been easy to knock out. An especially bad part is the wiring. The colors didn’t match up to the Triumph colors (at all … not even kind of close). Luckily, some people on Triumph Rat had gone through the trouble of blowing fuses so I didn’t have to. This is made even worse when I look at how much this cost.

On the plus side, British Customs shipped the same day I ordered, everything was packed well, and the parts all feel like quality parts.

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This Is What My Ears Looks Like

This is what my ear looks like.
My ears ring. Actually, they’ve always had a ring to them. As early as I can remember I had a faint little whistle in my ears any time it got really quiet. As I got older all-ages shows and band practice took hold and my ears have taken a beating. Pretty much every hobby I have is bad on my ears. Motorcycles, music, guns, baby-making … those things are loud!

I’ve been buying the normal foam earplugs in bulk packages for years and they are always fine. But there’s a lot on nuance lost and they eventually get uncomfortable. Today, Engle Motors had their spring open house and had Mary and Gary Droege with Big Ear on site making custom molded ear plugs.

This is something that had been on my TODO list for a long time. These things sit ALL THE WAY in the ear and attenuate the frequencies in a more linear fashion. The foam plugs really dull the high frequencies. On the motorcycle this isn’t terrible, since it’s that high frequency wind noise that really gets your ears, but for other things … I like the balance.

Another advantage here is that these don’t require the awkward “roll up the ear plug, pull the ear up, repeat” action. They slide right in with a twisting motion and just sit there like they’re supposed to.

Red is RightI paid $5 extra to get them in different colors so I can easily tell which one goes in which ear. I picked red for right (just like RCA cables) and went with blue for the left.

Right now, I’ve worn them while driving my van and briefly while playing drums. They really attenuate the sound, much better than anything else I’ve used. I’ll be updating as I use these on and off of motorcycles, but the first impression is that these are stellar!

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The Hidden Costs of Motorcycling

“I bet that’s great on gas!”

No, it’s not and, no it’s not cheap in any other way either. Other than a low sticker price, motorcycling is expensive in a lot of ways people don’t prepare for.

Stuff

There’s just a lot of stuff you need. If you’re a safety junkie, you’re going to spend a ton on safety gear. Helmets, jackets, dedicated boots, pants, that nerdy-but-handy Aerostich suit, gloves.

Ooooh, I need an outlet to charge my phone!

That billet brake reservoir cover sure looks better than that plastic thing that came on it.

Surely a different seat will be more comfortable.

And on and on … there’s a reason there are hundreds of motorcycle accessories dealers, motorcyclists can’t leave shit alone. You’ll get the bug too.

Maintenance

No one goes in expecting to have no maintenance, but a lot of people aren’t prepared for the cost or work (which costs time) that these vehicles need. Some are easier than others, but the shop bill for yearly valve inspections on a high-strung motor isn’t cheap.

The drive line sucks a lot of cash too. Everyone knows chains wear out, but when a belt breaks (and they do, trust me) you’ve got to pull the swingarm off. Time or money on that one … your choice.

Brake pads seem to not last as long. Maybe that’s in the way I ride, but I can roast a set of pads in a year of regular street riding.

The big one is tires. All the tires. All the time. And they aren’t cheap. I had a shop put tires and brakes on my Nissan and that’s cheaper than just purchasing my preferred tires. The tires let you know too, they get squared off, or greasy feeling, or you cheaped out on tires and you HATE the ones you bought. Tires will put you into debt quick.

Events

Bike nights, trips with your buddies, bike shows, track days, MSF courses all add up. Sure it might be $10 or $20 bucks buying drinks at a bike night, but if you do that every week you’ll feel it. And you’ll start making up reason to take rides burning extra gas, rushing towards that next oil change. It’s fun, but be prepared.

It’s a real vehicle

This one really gets people. It seems like a fun toy, a diversion from daily life. It’s not, it’s a real, honest to goodness vehicle in the eyes of the state and county and they want their tax money. Property taxes, license plates, title fees, sales tax. Just like a car. I’m in the odd situation where my motorcycle is worth more and therefore costs more in taxes than either of my cars. I really felt it when I was writing “Jackson County Collector” on a check a few hours ago.

It’s for love

That’s the only reason I can really come up with to justify motorcycling. It’s impractical. It’s costly. It takes away time from other things in my life that may be more important. It’s hurt me. I’ve been in the back of an ambulance strapped to a back board thinking, “I hope I can ride soon.”

And that’s why it’s worth it.

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Footwear

Once a person decides to ride a motorcycle, they’ve already assumed some risk. It is more dangerous than a car or public transit. We try to mitigate that risk with safety equipment. Helmets, gloves, boots, leathers. All can help a little bit.

The talk of safety gear gets religious. On one side you have the people happy to ride hair in the wind. And on the other, the All The Gear All The Time (ATGATT) that won’t leave the house without head to toe coverage.

Having been at each extreme, and finding myself now firmly in the middle. I want to talk about footwear.

Vans Half CabsI’m no longer entrenched in the motorcycle boot camp. And here’s why. Vans. I skateboard and longboard quite a bit. I trust these shoes to grip my board, catch me when I call from ramps, and keep me covered when I fall off a longboard going 20-30 MPH. If I’m riding my motorcycle to skatespots, I’m not going to change my shoes going from one dangerous activity to another.

Chippewa LoggersThe next step is a regular work boot. Currently I’m wearing these Chippewa Loggers. These are much sturdier than Vans. Oiled leather, steel toe, more ankle coverage. These are serious boots. And they look excellent. They don’t look like a “motorcycle boot”.

Sidi Sport RainNow we’re to the purpose built motorcycle boot. These are Sidi Sport Rain boots. They are rigid, have no laces to catch on things, and one of the few items I’ve owned that are (really) waterproof. There’s a little pad for the shfter. Armor over the ankle bones. I’ve had two crashes in these boots and the only foot injury was a bruised toe.

I will always advocate boots as the best choice for a motorcycle. But sometimes you have to weigh the risk and make a choice that is more comfortable or more convenient.

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Review: Texavina Saddle

Motorcycle accessories are expensive. In a twist of irony, most motorcyclists I know are very thrifty. Purchases are often poured over for weeks and we expect perfection at Wal-Mart prices. The adage of “get what you pay for” holds true most of the time, but sometimes it gets flipped. The ease of moving goods and currency through the global economy has opened up opportunities for entrepreneurs, factories, and bargain seeking customizers.

Scott has contributed this review of the Texavina saddle he recently purchased to go with his Bailey and Watkins bag. — ed

I’ve been looking for custom saddles for my Triumph Bonneville T100 for some time. In fact, I found a pretty decent used Corbin Gunfighter and Lady saddle on eBay. It was comfortable but looked like a giant loaf of bread. I needed something more streamlined to show the lines of the bike but also something that can work for riding two up. I also wanted the option of a seat that is not just the typical black, but a chocolatey brown. That’s when I realized that aftermarket seats are not only limited in design and style but way too expensive.

I did what any one of us would do. I turned to the forums. I found a bunch of other guys in my same boat on TriumphRat looking for custom saddles. One site, Texavina, was mentioned. At first glance, the shop seems to be based out of Texas, which I later found out was not entirely accurate. The shop is operated by Tex; a really nice guy out of Vietnam.

Texavina makes saddles for many makes and models, but specializes in cafe racers and vintage import bikes. They claim that they can make any design as requested. The selection of seats for my motorcycle was great. There are many different styles, colors, and stitching. Any design can be modified. All I had to do was contact Tex.

Saddle with The Parallel
Saddle with The Parallel

I selected a seat and ordered it as it came. The price was great! Just $185 for the seat and $69 for shipping. It took about three weeks for the seat to arrive, but I was notified every step of the way via email. Tex even gave me his personal cell number to contact him if I had any questions or concerns.

Upon delivery of my new saddle I couldn’t help but notice the packaging. This seat came from across the world so it was essential that the package needed to be sturdy. It was! A solid layer of foam protected the bubble-wrapped saddle from the dangers of its transoceanic voyage. After I got the seat out of the package I was very impressed. The build quality is great for the amount I paid for it. Stitching is top-notch, the metal seat pan is solid, and the vinyl seems to be good quality. Tex included a matching grab strap as well.

On Bike
On Bike

When I began the installation I noticed the hooks were bolted on backwards. This was an easy fix but it was a little annoying to have to do that. It was just a matter of unbolting and switching the hooks. No biggie. The seat installs quickly and feels fairly solid on the bike. I do think the firmness will take a few rides to get used to. It’s significantly firmer than the stock ironing board and my old Corbin. It’s the same length as the stock saddle but it feels about an inch less wide and around an inch lower. This makes backing up much easier for me as I am a short guy.

All in all, I think this was a good purchase and I recommend Texavina to anyone looking for a cheaper alternative to the big-named custom saddle companies. It looks great and follows the lines of the bike very nicely.

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It looks like rain.

The rain never appeared. But I was ready. At least as ready as I could be.

I no longer believe claims of being waterproof. I see it as less wet. Despite the materials and construction, these pieces have let me down. Tent seam sealer has been used to sure up the weak areas, but I never expect to stay dry.

I do expect that when I take the time to put this on the clouds will hold onto their moisture. If I don’t they’ll release and I’ll ride home in wet jeans.

Not wet

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The Parallel by Bailey and Watkins

Motorcycles and leather. A pairing based in functionality but often embraced for style.

Being close friends with the wonderful people behind Bailey and Watkins, I get to see their work take shape. This piece, The Parallel, doubles as a day bag and saddle bag for a Triumph Bonneville.

The Triumph influence carries through the name and into the entire concept of these pieces. His and hers, in parallel, just like the motor powering them down the road.

The Bailey and Watkins website has the entire backstory for this, and all, of their amazing creations.

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