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Discussion Starter · #21 ·
kje54,

Enjoy the 950. I love mine and she's a joy to drive around town and for short freeway rides. She corners on rails, has enough 'oomph' to get up and go when needed. I just (since I retired recently), wanted something larger for longer drives. My 950 (and your 950 may be different), struggles sometimes on the freeway when you have nut jobs coming up on your rear at 85Mph in a 70Mph zone and you have to take some action to prevent some scary moments.

Enjoy the heck out of her, once you get used to her she's as good or better than my old Honda 750 (and boy, that bike would haul hiney when needed)

Bob
 
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kje54,

Enjoy the 950. I love mine and she's a joy to drive around town and for short freeway rides. She corners on rails, has enough 'oomph' to get up and go when needed. I just (since I retired recently), wanted something larger for longer drives. My 950 (and your 950 may be different), struggles sometimes on the freeway when you have nut jobs coming up on your rear at 85Mph in a 70Mph zone and you have to take some action to prevent some scary moments.

Enjoy the heck out of her, once you get used to her she's as good or better than my old Honda 750 (and boy, that bike would haul hiney when needed)

Bob
I was considering a Honda VTX 1800 but that was just too big especially for around town and too heavy for me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #23 ·
To all,

This should be my almost final post in this thread and then on to lots of driving and upgrade questions. So, here we go:

I wanted the Stratoliner for a long time since my V-Star 950 lacks some power on the freeway and the speeds some idiots continue to drive (you do 85Mph in a 70Mph zone and you run the risk of being rear ended by some nuts and the 950 will do faster, but she struggles). So, looking around I found a used one for sale in Wauconda Il (about 40 miles up from Chicago). Talked to the dealer, liked what I saw and heard and planned for a "fly and buy" (stupid me, see below). Flew in last Wed,stayed in a hotel and was at the dealer when they opened at 10AM. Looked her over, had a discussion with the service department, and decided to buy her and one of the crew there did a check out for me on major things (nothing I didn't know, they didn't even know the bike came with GPS so they weren't that knowledgeable on the Deluxe). So, I was signed out out the door of the dealer in about 1.5 hours.

Note: When I say "she below, you can substitute "I" or "my inexperience".

The Google maps distance was 897 Miles and I planned to take it easy and stop in a hotel along the way and not be an idiot and try and drive her straight through. Started out ok, and learned very quickly that my ability to control her at low speed as not as smooth as I liked. So, I backed her down and if the exit said 25Mph, I took it at 20Mph and like a learner. About 10 miles in I hit Chicago stop and go traffic, and boy that sucked. She does NOT like that. Every time the car (mostly tractor trailers), would move forward I'd have to duck walk her, or let them get a car length away and then catch up. However, almost every time I'd let that car length open, some nut would veer into my lane and take away my space. After about an hour, I finally made it through the Chicago loop and onto the freeway into Indiana. Now, that's when it became fun.

She's an absolute beast on an open road. As someone mentioned above, at 60Mph she'd be loafing along and when we'd speed up I'd remember I have a whole gear left to shift into and in 5th gear, she'd do 70-75Mph at 2,700RPM and still be loafing with another 2K of RPM left on the Tachometer to play with if needed. Trust me, when you twist that throttle, she hesitates, then all of a sudden you hear the RPM climb and you're out of there (note: Fastest I ever went the whole way home was about 75Mph just to stay with traffic). However, here's where you pay (and I do mean pay at today's gas prices). Listening to all here, I didn't know how often I'd find a gas station, so I decided to try and fill up right about when she went below 1/2 tank.

Now, that's when I found out a major issue with the bike and the slow speed handling really came into play. I found that the rear brake was almost ineffective (I'd noticed it wasn't as strong as I liked earlier, but when slowing down from highway speeds it really became an issue). Now, I suck at smooth stops with mostly front brakes (I always wind up diving the front end and a jerky stop, I usually use both brakes and finish the stop on the rear only 90% of the time). So, I had to be very careful with exits/on-ramps and also slow speed maneuvers as I was learning the bike in the exact wrong real-world conditions (and here's where I admit I should have trailered the darn thing back home).

Other than that, it was a very smooth (but scary), ride home. Straight out on the freeway, I was in love. She ran like the wind, and I could have pushed her to the stupid point with power to spare. However, my inexperience with her low speed handling in exiting and entering the freeway or navigating side roads to and from the hotel was a wee bit scary. However, the scariest part (I have to admit), was Google maps took me on a 7 Mile side road which was marked 25Mph and had twists and turns, drop offs, gravel sides and curves and u-turns I would have been scared on a dirt bike. Behind me I had locals in their cars backing up and wondering why I was only going 20Mph (and I thought that was to fast), but I made it and just said "sorry people, but I'm not speeding up to make you happy".

It was 17 hours in total (and about 1K miles due to side trips for hotel and gas stops, but I made it safe with only a couple of close shaves (all low speed and worst I would have done is stopped and laid the bike down I was moving slow where I had to).

So, in summary:

Things I love about the bike:
  • She has all the power anyone could ever want in a motorcycle for the road
  • At speed, she drives like a dream. I was in West and just Virginia and we had some 70Mph roads with some beautiful sweeping turns and she leaned over and took them like she was on rails
  • She looks like a dream (to me). I hate the recent trend towards all blacked out bikes and the chrome and color are beautiful to me
  • I can still find aftermarket mods and things to do to her to bring her to current standards (the electronics/GPS that comes with it is a joke)
Things I don't like about the bike (some are inexperience)
  • The shift and brake lever are really far forward. Could be I'm more used to the upright riding position, but I learned to reach and use them like second nature by the time I got home
  • She wants to tip if you don't have the front break on when you turn on any slope. I turned her front wheel left on a slope at a light and the bike went immediately into wanting to tip to the left. One strong left leg (and a hernia), and I kept her upright
  • The GPS/Electronics are way out of date. Since I come from an electrical engineering/SW development background, I'm drooling what I can do with her
  • Getting to the key/fork lock is sometimes a struggle in a dark place.
  • Getting the kickstand down ought to be an Olympic sport. Difficulty level of 5 and you get extra points if you can get it down and forward in one movement
And finally, to all of you have given me all the help, encouragement and advice. Thank you. I would not recommend doing what I did, trailering her home would have been a much smarter idea and she's staying in the parking lots until I retake the MSF course and get my low speed handling of her down. She's too powerful (and too beautiful), to have some inexperienced idiot (AKA Me), wreck her or someone else. She's going for a short ride to the shop to get some things fixed and checked out and then back to the parking lot

Thanks all,
Bob
Tire Wheel Land vehicle Vehicle Fuel tank

At the Dealer

Tire Wheel Land vehicle Fuel tank Plant

Home Safely
 

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Nice write up and glad you got her home safely with both of you in one piece.

I can empathize with you about the kickstand......I am pretty sure they have one masochist in charge of all the kickstands on the entire Star line of motorcycles and he enjoyed making things difficult. Though a different design than is on yours I have nonetheless cussed, discussed and otherwise looked fairly foolish as I swipe away multiple times at mine, battling to get it down.....I eventually win, but sometimes the battle rages on longer than it should....LOL
 

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I've been enjoying your ride reports Bob and just to let you know, the slow speed handling will get better with time. I'm an ex road racer, and I feel that I can throw this beast around the road damn near like a super motard, so the bike can do it. Not sure how your rubber is, but the 06 Strat I bought two months ago still had the original tires on it! Check you tires for the year date (what they look like doesn't matter if they're over 10 years old) as the first thing before you go attempting any fancy maneuvers. I had a Road King last year and this Strat blows it away in every category. About the only thing I'm going to do is the Ivan kit this winter to open the bike up even more. I did just buy a shorter windscreen from Rifle but your bike is different so that wouldn't apply. Enjoy the ride!
 

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I agree on the kickstand,tough to get used to. What works for me , take your heel , put it against the clutch cover, follow that back toward the bike till you can't go any farther. Hook the kickstand by going straight down, the swing it out.
Glad you made it home, Strats are great.
 

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Discussion Starter · #27 ·
rd400racer,

Hope to get that confident on her (and sure I will). And agree on the tires, they look original and that's one of the things she's going into the shop for. With motorcycles, I use the "5 years or X wear" and they get changed out. Unlike 4 wheels, losing a tire at highway speeds will cause permanent constipation since it'll never "un-pucker" again :)

Jspree, I'll give that a try and see if I can get it down (from your sig, I'm US Marine 74-81). Thanks for the tip.

AlanRides, thanks for the kind words. I had a blast on the ride (minus the pucker moments), and so far I'm over the moon with just the joy of owning her. Looking forward to many more stories and modification updates
 

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I went with the Bridgestone G850/G851 Exedras from Cycle Gear; $314.94 shipped. If you do your own tire changes, be advised that removing the rear wheel off this beast was one of the hardest changes I've ever done, and I've done a lot. First time I needed my wifes help to install a tire!
 
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