Hi all from UK
As one of only three Vision owners in UK it's easy to feel a little isolated but thanks to the power of the internet, here I am, chatting like you're all just next door. I am now the proud owner of a new Vision Tour Premium, I have to admit to being a born-again-biker having recently returned to two wheels (with an 07 V-Rod) after a break of thirty years. Like everyone else here I was captivated by the thought of owning and riding a Vision so I just had to get me one.
I rode a dealer-loaned 5K mile Vision Street for a few weeks but I collected my own new Grey Tour Premium machine at the end of July after almost eight weeks wait (I was promised three to four maximum, but that's another story). At least I had the loaner to cut my teeth on, for which I'm grateful.
It's a fantastic machine and I love almost everything about it but, like many other owners, I recognise that the beast ain't perfect so I've made a few notes of my likes and niggles.
As you read my list please don't think that I'm unhappy or disappointed - cos I'm not. I did enough research to konw exactly what I was buying and I've found no nasty surprises to date.
I'm just sharing my observations - for what they're worth. Despite the few niggles, it lives up to expectations.
(Yup - I'm a sucker for radical design. If it's a timeless design and still squeezes my lemon after a few years, only time will tell. But for now the Vision certainly works for me)
(Floorboards are a good size allowing regular changes of position for knackered legs. Oh, and the seat - ahhhh.)
( I can ride with my visor up, I can hear the radio and have a conversation with the passenger, and I don't get beaten-up by the wind at speed. Am I alone in experiencing a strange sensation like - the faster I go, the more the wind seems to be pushing me from behind?)
(There's nothing much in it's construction that an old fart like me can't understand)
. (Very useful if the dodgy hips bail-out just when you need them)
(Good size, good positioningand good field of view)
(Comprehensive, easy to read. Oil temp would be nice. I believe a dip-stick gauge is available)
(The best I've ever ridden - big or small - no tram-lining except on the very biggest road ruts)
Component strength & ruggedness
('Flimsy' just isn't in the dictionary)
(After the V-Rod, it's a Van)
I Pod connectivity
(I usually prefer to hear only the sound of the engine and the traffic around me, especially around town, but I may, at times, succumb to some ZZ Top, Doobie Brothers or Dr. Feelgood on the freeway.)
. (I've made a simple adapter for regular cigarette lighter plugs - my company sells the parts)
(There's lots that can be done to personalise it, for instance, gear and rear brake adjustment beyond standard movement. Lowering rear suspension)
Street presence / pose factor
( Need I say anything more here?)
Uniqueness - in UK anyhow
(Mine is one of only three here - so I'm told)
Sculptured section and stylish shape of handlebar tubing
. ( A great feature. I can't imagine the machinery used to make this component. It's details like this that swing it for me when I'm deciding to buy or not to buy.)
Small storage compartment
(Great for phone, money, leatherman etc)
Luggage panniers and top box design
. (I love the way these form a coherent part of the whole shape and design of the bike instead of non-descript boxes bolted on as an afterthought)
Passenger seat comfort.
(This may even temp the missus on the back - my V-Rod is a passenger disaster area.)
Steel Grey colour option
(It matches my other toys very nicely)
ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT?
Almost agricultural design of some components
(Front forks. Control fluid reservoirs and lever housings. Swinging arm. Rear pulley. Italian minimalism wouldn't be appropriate on a heavy American bike but a tad more elegance would have been nice.)
Poor manufacturing tolerance on some components
. (Check out the left to right play in the pedal bushes, especially the rear brake.)
Curved lip at top of screen
(This is directly on my eye-line when the screen is in the 'up' position and gives a distorded view of the road and a distracting reflection. I'm gonna trim off the top 20mm)
Clunky and noisy gearbox
( - up to 5th & 6th anyway - clunkiest I've ever driven. Strange clonking-squeaky noise between throttle off and throttle on and serious gear whining under power. I think the clomking is primary drive backlash but the whining is definately gearbox.. Not quite so bad on the new bike though it is getting worse as the miles build up. I'm awaiting the service manual to find out if primary drive tension is adjustable. If it was that much of a worry I'd have bought a Jap bike)
Not always easy to find neutral.
( A little easier on my new O-mile bike)
Induction noise quite throaty when you wind it up.
(Just a personal thing - I like a quiet bike)
Heat on right leg in slow traffic.
(Well documented but not a major issue for me - especially in UK - summer was on a Wednesday three weeks ago and I was working anyhow)
Time delay in LCD gearchange display
( - threw me for a while until I sussed it)
Seat quite wide for a dodgy hip rider
. (I reckon I can shave the seat base sides down a tad and re-trim it neatly)
Ultra-tacky vac-moulded plastic cover over front of engine.
(This is by far the most inexcusable feature. What on earth is this doing on a £16K bike ?!!! - Yes, that's $32,000 !! It's not even fixed securely)
. (My bike will never see shitty weather but that's not the point. Has anyone else ever seen a vehicle with it's battery so exposed to rain and road filth?)
Tacky chrome plastic covers each side of the engine between the 'V'
( They look OK but I hate that sound when you flick 'em with your fingernail. I suppose it's a weight / cost thing but chromed aluminium would have been a much nicer material for such a prominent component.)
Cable clutch section
(I think it really should be all hydraulic as standard)
Cruise and radio switch housings
. (Mine work OK and they're fairly easy to use but they look a bit of a 'bolt-on' afterthought. It would be nice if they were incorporated in an extended version of the lever castings.)
Illuminated Victory badges.
(Just not my sort of thing - I'd take 'em off if it didn't leave a hole.)
Red Crimp Wiring Connectors
. (I've seen a worring number of these crude 'Squash-to-crimp' connectors in the wiring loom. These have their place but not on a production vehicle and certainly not on a Vision.
Poor fit of left luggage lid
. (Already well documented. I think the panel is actually moulded the wrong shape - it needs more curvature. The suggested fixes I've seen involve spacing the rear hinge with varying thicknesses of washers in an attempt to reshape the panel into alignment. This exerts a twisting force on the rear hinge - Not good for long term wear. I'm working on this one)
Rear stop light very low.
A truck behind you in traffic could easily miss it.
Almost forty years ago (in what sometimes feels like a different life) I embarked upon an Engineering apprenticeship with Marconi Avionics (now British Aerospace) where I learned to make things. Those skills have been a mixed blessing both as the foundations of a sucessful career and business but also as an unsatiable desire to take things apart and improve upon them. I'm fortunate to have full machine shop, welding and fabrication facilities so I just can't seem to leave anything alone. From the first sight of a new toy I'm mentally changing things to improve it or personalising it to suit me better. Although I've reined-in the compulsion in recent years I still can't resist a little fiddle. There will be no dramatic remodelling or engine tuning, just correcting things that squeeze my lemon. Bolt-on is, of course, easiest but I'll get into re-engineering if really necessary. Hence the list below
PLANNED MODIFICATIONS (Maybe)
Improve fit of LH luggage lid.
Lower rear suspension. I'm 5' 8" and if my hip is particularly painful I have to tippy toe when I pull up.
Replace as many acessible fixings as feasible with stainless.
Make a replacement cover for the exceedingly crappy plastic one over the front of engine components.
Fit amber rear indicators and high level stop light.
Reduce driver's seat width if possible to help ease hip pain problems.
Re-trim seat in leather.
Move foot controls further back.
Make a battery cover (stainless or aluminium)
Paint exhaust cross pipe black
Replace crimp connectors with better quality Crimp/Solder connectors as and when.
I like the idea of the chromed alloy panels and machine gun exhaust tips but I'm struggling to justify the cost.
Handlebar length. I probably won't get around to this mod, but I've seen some extended handlebars on one of the Victory sites. Having ridden a few hunderd miles, I think that grips positioned two inches further back would suit my short arms fine. Maybe Victory will offer longer bars as an option one day.
Fit a high level stop light and amber turn lights in the trunk. I still have red turn lamps on the rear. Strictly speaking, that's a no-no on a UK vehicle but I think there's some sort of UK / US mutual import / export agreement that allows it.
Two things I haven't mentioned anywhere on these lists are speed and power. To me, the most irellevant criteria. As long as I can keep up with my friends and I'm not holding up traffic on the roads - I'm happy. As a simple observation though, the Vision appears to have no where near the torque and power of my V-Rod - Acceleration and top speed are way slower in comparison but then the Vision is a far heavier machine so the power to weight ratio may well be similar. Whatever, the Vision's performance is adequate for my needs. Incidentally, the last real bike I owned (over 30 years ago) was a Bonneville Triton and I've never owned a Harley other than the V-Rod so I'm hargly the power and speed guru.
I'm not really into the biking culture thing but I do look forward to Wednesday evenings in the Summer. A small group of friends and neighbours ride out to local cafes / bike-meets for a meal and wander amongst hundreds of othe riders with the same idea. It's usually no more than a fifty mile round-trip and no longer than four hours but it's great fun with good company.
Here's a piccy from last week From left to right: Nicky neighbour with his Triumph Rocket 3, my Vision, my son Matthew with his Yamaha R6, friend Colin with his KTM RC8 and Nicky's son, Wayne with his Honda VFR 400 (he sometimes rides his 1800 Gold Wing.)
LOWERING REAR SUSPENSION
I tackled this one yesterday with great sucess. I modified the fixed link from the rear shock assembly with left and right hand threaded studs and a threaded sleeve so that it is now adjustable between stock length and one inch shorter. This gives a maximum two inches drop - and it can be adjusted in-situ. I set it at one inch drop and I'm now far more confident pulling up at junctions. I can now almost flat-foot when I stop.
The first job was to make two shaped wooden supports for my lift. I used a profile gauge to transfer the shape of the underside of the engine to the wood then machined the wood on my milling machine.
When the bike was lifted under the engine I used a small scissor jack to support the rear wheel and removed the bottom bolts from the shock absorber and the link where they join the swinging arm. With the seat removed acess to the top link bolt is easy and the main pivot pin slides out rearward once the retaining bolt is removed. I calculated that the link had to end up half an inch shorter than stock to lower the bile one inch but the total tube removed was more like three inches to allow for the adjuster components. I chose 1/2" UNF bolts for the adjuster because they fit nicely inside the cut ends of the tube (with a little shim to keep it all straight and parallel). I welded around the bolt and also made two plug welds half an inch from the ends. I figured the only stress on the link is compression so 1/2" bolts are more than adequate.
I'll try lowering the front to match later today.
UPDATE: Lowered the front today but discovered it'll only go down a maximum of 5/8" before the fork tubes make contact with the handlebars. The headlamp needed adjustment but otherwise all is fine. Went out shower-dodging this afternoon and managed to scrape a couple of times on hard cornering but not enough to change my riding style.
It was very gusty out there but I felt none of the side wind instability others have felt. My V-Rod is a sail boat by comparison.
Also, I completed the change-over of all the lower engine casing bolts to polished stainless - a vast improvement over the dull zinc plated factory ones.
MOVING THE GEAR LEVER
I've already moved the gear lever to it's most rearward adjustment hole but I still find it too far forward for comfortable use around town and on short journeys - that's most of 'em. I looked at the options and decided to extend the sliding block / lever pivot. I guessed two inches would be the maximum extension without creating too much extra leverage on the components so I rough-cut an aluminium block and bolted and dowelled it to the front side of the original. I then shaped the block on my milling machine and dressed the radii with a file to match the profile of the original. Tonight I'll finish it off and take some picture
Heres original pivot block with the lump of new material bolted and pinned to it.
I'm machining the same profile on the new material.
The finished, extended block - radiused and polished - a little more elegant.
And fitted to the bike. A lot more comfortable for me.
I'd like to move the brake pedal rearward also so I'll take a look at that soon.
On the last two rides I've noticed that the gear display will not display 5th. It displays either 4th or 6th when I'm actually in 5th depending on whether I'm changing up or down. Both times the problem has cleared after several miles. Hmmm. I'll keep an eye on this one.
FUTURE PROBLEM AVERTED
While I had the seat removed I noticed a potential problem and made an instant cure, A rubber hose was rubbing directly against the sharp edge of the bonded aluminium mounting bracket on the left hand rear aluminium cover panel under the seat. I believe it's only a breather pipe but an inch of 'U' channel trim pressed over the sharp edge averted a future leak. You can see the trim beneath the hose in this picture. The hose is well clear of the lower bracket edge so no protection required here..
LUGGAGE LID ALIGNMENT
The left lid alignment on the loaned bike wasn't too bad so I just left it - heck, it wasn't my bike anyhow, although I did touch up some serious gouges that a careless journalist had made in it. However, misalignment on my new bike was around 3/8" - probably as bad as it gets. I've read the 'easy-fix' posts about adding washers behind the rearward hinge but it seems that the factory had already tried that with two washers on the rearward hole and one on the forward hole in an attempt to 'twist' the hinge and thus the lid into alignment. It didn't work. So, I removed the lid and investigated a little deeper.
The rear luggage lid bracket has two threaded bushes at the bottom that accept the hinge bolts. Upon reassembling the bracket to the hinge (without the lid attached) is was obvious, on my bike at least, that the two bushes fouled the inner plastic moulding in the 'closed' position thus preventing full travel of the hinge. Adding spacing washers only made it worse. First job was to make the hinge and bracket work properly throughout the whole range of travel. Mods were required to both the bracket and the inner plastic moulding around the hinge.
There's plenty of 'meat' on the bottom of the bracket so I ground away 3mm from the bottom edge of the bracket, chamfered off the lower corner of the bushes and repainted it.
I also used my Dremel to grind away some of the plastic material on the inner panel to make even more clearance around the bottom of the bracket in it's closed (vertical) position with a couple of washers between it and the hinge.
The upshot of these mods ia that the lid is now closing in it's natural position with no distortion from the ill-fitting hinge and bracket except for the hinge distortion made by having uneven spacing washers behind it. There has been an improvement to the panel fit but it's still not perfect. I still maintain that the lid panel has been manufactured to a slightly different curvature than it's mating part so the rear of the lid must be made to 'pull' inward more.
I spent another couple of hours messing with the alignment today and finally got it to an acceptable fit. In addition to the spacing washers between the hinge and the bracket, I elongated the rear lower hinge holes by a millimeter or so to raise the rearward hinge slightly on it's mount and thus raise the cover slightly from it's original position. I also elongated the latch mounting holes by a similar amount to give a slightly further inboard closed position of the lid.
GPS MOUNT & POWER
I rarely travel far from home on two wheels (nowhere in UK is far from home anyhow) so a full-time GPS on the Vision seems pointless. However, I planned a three hour trip to visit a friend so I thought I'd try and mount my Garmin Nuvi from the car. I reckoned the suction mount wouldn't work well on the brushed aluminium switch panel so I cut a disc of 3M stonechip film and stuck that on first (you can just see it's outline in the picture below). Bingo, a strong and secure fixing.
The lead runs nicely under the small compartment lid and into the power adapter I made.
SIDE STAND ADJUSTMENT
Lowering the suspension but leaving the side stand unmodified would mean that the bike will not lean over quite so far when parked on the stand. It's still OK on flat and level ground but on rough ground of an adverse camber I found it resting dangerously near to vertical. The simplest solution was to grind away a little metal from the stand at the contact point with it's mounting bracket, allowing it to swing further forward. Another option is to take off the rubber foot. I'll see how I get on.
Warmed it up and drained the oil today at 205 miles. Three quarts of very metallic light oil came out and I put almost four litres of Harley 20w/50 back in. I didn't change the filter though - I've been waiting a month for my dealer to post me two. I'm glad I changed it early - I certainly wouldn't like to wait for 500 miles before the first change.
Most rides around here are short, on narrow roads and in traffic. I must admit that around town the transmission noise is becoming tiresome and I'm beginning to ponder a mechanical explaination as to why, the instant I change from 4th gear to 5th gear, my noisy, clunky, whining tractor transmission changes to a beautifully smooth, silky, purring, refined ride. OK, I know the bike is really a tourer but if Victory can make 5th and 6th gears so nice, why can't they do it with the rest? Is my bike worse than others or an I just being over fussy?
I drove over a large pot-hole a while ago and heard what sounded like a clunk from under the bike. Checked it out today and it seems the right side of the swinging arm can reach and bang on the underside of the inner luggage case. I've been running 19psi in the shock for a nice soft ride so I'll increase the pressure to prevent it happening again.