My Motorcycle - Suzuki M50
Graduating to the big leagues
One year of motorcycle riding and it was time for me to graduate to a bigger bike. I had a great year on my Buell Blast - it's a fabulous learning bike for non-aggressive and rather short types - and there are many reasons to want to keep it.
But, one thing we've learned in the year we've been riding is that we take a lot of long rides. From where we live in Dallas, it's an hour just to get out of town, so any ride out on the back roads is going to be at least three hours long. Add to that trips down to Austin and Midland and we need to be thinking more cruiser than street bike.
So enter a new bike in my life - a 2007 Suzuki M50. it met the criteria of being low enough for me to flat-foot it, bigger gas tank for longer trips and a nice wide seat. That doesn't mean it's totally perfect for our kind of riding, so I'm adding a few things and planning on others. Check out how I'm decking out my bike.
(Note: I typically buy my gear and accessories at Motorcycle Superstore. They have fabulous service, quick shipping and they price match. Nothing but wonderful experiences with them. CruiserCustomizing also has good prices on a wide range of items. Sometimes their selection is better than over at Motorcycle Superstore.)
This Bike is Sold!!
Changing to a newer bike with six speeds, so I sold this one back in 2012.
Mod One: Windscreen
Memphis Shades Pop Top
One of the biggest problems I had on the Blast was the ... well, blasting of the air whenever we got going on the highway. 70 miles per hour worth of wind coming right at you with nothing to stop it isn't as much fun as it sounds. Especially when it gets under your helmet just right and feels like it's going to rip your head off. Yikes!
So, I knew a windscreen was the first thing on my list. I wasn't going on another long trip without it. Since I'm not that tall, I needed a fairly short screen. I'm also not that wide - at least not in my motorcycle gear - so I didn't need a really big screen. I still want to feel the wind a little bit (you'll melt in the summer heat otherwise); I just didn't want it pushing me off the bike.
The Memphis Shades Pop Top got good reviews by other M50 owners, so I knew it would work well on the bike. It was short enough for me to see over, and the Memphis Shades windshields in general are a good value. And bonus - quick change hardware makes it easy to leave the screen at home when you don't want it. (Two options for mounting hardware. I went with the quick change, which does require an allen wrench to remove. You can also get trigger mount kit if you prefer.)
I debated forever on whether to get a colored version like you see in the picture here. But given my desire to eventually paint the silver a livelier color, I decided to go neutral on the accessories and got the solar shade. It's a slightly grayed overall shade, easy to see through.
I had the screen on in 30 minutes, would have been faster except that I put the clamps on the wrong direction the first time. Pay attention to that! The directions that come with the mounting hardware aren't the best ever, but you can follow them. Be careful with the clamps that you don't scratch the forks and that you get them the same height on each side.
I haven't had a chance to put the bike up to speed yet to see how I like it. I can tell a difference at 40, but don't know about 70. The shield does allow for adjusting up and down as well as the angle. So I have options if I don't care for it in its current position.
I know a lot of people dislike a windscreen on a motorcycle because of the way it looks. And some never find the right screen that keeps the wind from buffeting them around. Some complain that it makes it worse! And don't even get me started on the bugs splatting me. (Like the one in the center of my faceshield there?
What say you?
Windscreen or No?
Mod Two: Highway Bars
Cobra Freeway Bars
Falling over was never something I worried about on the Blast. As I built up my skills, I felt perfectly stable going through corners. And I had one slow (slow, slow) speed drop and it was so slow I had plenty of time to get away before the bike fell on me. (The time I fell over in the driveway because I forgot to put down the kickstand is another story.) But it's a light bike, easy to get up and not big enough to cause (much) damage to me when it does fall.
But the M50 - I'm still getting used to. It's like learning to ride all over again! And the added weight has me more uncertain in right turns. (I know this will get better as I get out there more.) And there's a whole lot more to this bike that can be damaged (including those huge chromed pipes) and it's heavier, making it more risky if it lands on me and harder to get back upright.
So, highway bars are the next thing on the list. Just ordered them this morning actually. I really wanted the Fatty ones, but they didn't have them for this bike. Boo. They just look cool. I ended up with the Cobra Freeway Bars in the picture here. They're a 1.25" pipe, plenty solid enough to protect me and the bike should we tip.
Freeway bars (or highway bars or crash bars or engine guards - take your pick) differ mostly in style, but also in width. (So you'd think that the width would be one of the dimensions they tell you, but no-o-o.) I wanted something wide enough that neither me nor the bike were going to hit the ground. Some guards are specifically called engine guards because that's all they protect on the bike. The bigger ones tend to be called freeway or highway bars because they're what you attach foot pegs to that allow you to stretch your legs on a long trip. And crash guards are just what people say, although none of them are actually sold to protect you in a crash.
I really, really, really liked the look of the Linbar highway bar, but couldn't justify paying almost twice as much for them. Sigh. You'll see the difference in the shape? That basically makes a place to rest your foot built into the bar rather than needing to add pegs. But I'm not sure my legs are even long enough to reach the bars, so I didn't think I'd be using them this way. If you do, the cost of the Linbar is probably getting close to the close of the Cobra bars plus pegs.
Highway bars run into the same issue for some people in putting them on their bikes. They just don't like the way it looks. If you have a sporty cruiser, it can be tough to add things to it that make it more cruiser than sporty. On the other hand, if you're actually cruising on the bike, there are some things you just shouldn't live without.
Highway Bars or Not?
Mod Three: Handlebars
Still up in the air
I'm short. That's part of why we picked this bike. However, the people at Suzuki either think only Neanderthals with long arms are riding this bike or that riders want to think they're riding a sportbike by leaning forward all the time. The handlebars are just too danged far away for almost everyone who rides this one.
So, handlebars are definitely next on the list. I figure once I get the highway bars on, I'll be less uncertain on the bike because I'll have my "training wheels" of sorts on there and I can better figure out just what I need. I have a list of like 20 options, but considering the cost, this isn't something you want to keep changing out.
Yes - I did try tilting the current handles forward. It put the mirrors in a horribly awkward location and was just getting too close to the tank. It made me more uncomfortable, not less.
I'm on the hunt for a handlebar with just a smidge more rise than the stock bars, and at least two inches more reach, preferably three. I can always add a riser afterward if they need more than I anticipated. But no apehangers, no drag bars, no superwide. I just want to be able to sit up straight and have bend in my arm that I can straighten for counter-steering.
Mod Four: Luggage Rack
Gaa. I found exactly what I want here and it's been discontinued. Which leaves me buying it from unknown and potentially unreputable places, second hand or just picking something else out.
I had a tail bag on the Blast and the guy I bought the M50 from threw in his saddlebags. Which have no frame and were catching on the back tire. Dangerous! My old tail bag has nowhere to attach to, so I'm left without anyway to bring home any shopping or carry tools with me. (Everyone rides with a patch kit, tire pump and allen wrenches, right?)
So I just need a small frame to go on the back of the bike. Will keep hunting.
Mod Five: Paint Job
Lavender with dandelion
One thing about my bike - it's bo-o-o-ring. Yeah, there's like a flame design on the silver, but it's subtle. Just totally not me.
And, since I've discovered there's already a few chips in the tank paint, repainting it has actually been added to the list. It's a necessary thing now rather than just a "pretty" deal. (Well, and I'm pretty sure this is a bike I'll be keeping for quite a while.)
I've had this dandelion image for a while and I always thought it would be really cool painted on the sides of the tank. On purple. Light purple. Lavender actually. Gotta figure out how to add some white to it, but I think it would be quite nice looking.
Mod ?: Other Possibilities
Have no clue what else I might want to do. As we ride more and I learn the bike better, I will probably come up with some other things. Replacing the stock seat could be on there. Blacking out the chrome. Who knows?