The New Wheels

I’ve been enjoying road trips, but increased hours at work have reduced my available time to take them. I’ve wanted to do more ucommuting on the bike, just to get more ride time in, so I added the larger trunk. But ever since the Vermont trip, the engine’s been making some new noises when cold. I’ve put hundreds of incident free miles on since, but I’ve been losing confidence in this 30 year old bike for anything more than day trips. Last week, at MotoMarket the day before closing (they will be greatly missed – but I scored a great deal on some nice boots), it wouldn’t crank when I tried to restart it. I got a push to the top of the hill in the parking lot, then bump started the engine and rode off. I haven’t had that issue again, but what if it happened on flat gravel with no one around near the Canadian border?

So I’ve been thinking about replacing the Silverwing for a little while. The natural progression would be to a Goldwing. After all, I’d like a little more power, more space for stuff, and room for my girlfriend to comfortably ride on the back. But I don’t want a two wheeled car, either, and that’s what I’d be getting for one significantly newer than the Silverwing. An older Goldwing is still an older bike, and wouldn’t solve my long distance reliability concerns, no matter how well it was put together or maintained.

When I asked for opinions, I got a few different suggestions – the Goldwing, VFR, V-Strom… Ironically a neighbor picked up a V-Strom while I was researching. I didn’t ride it, but looking at it I saw it was more sporty and less toury than I wanted. Same with the VFR, and other options mentioned. I even looked at the new Honda NC700X. Cool bike, but it’s a basic bike. I’d have to add the windshield, hard bags, and all that, and by the time I’m done I’ve dropped twice as much money on a new bike as my used car cost me.

But one suggestion stood out – the Honda Pacific Coast 800. It seems like the redheaded stepchild of the Honda line from the 1990s. It’s a mid-size bike with extensive plastic bodywork. This is more normal in sport tourers today, but it was radical when the PC800 came out in 1989. Some deride it as an oversized scooter. It has an 800cc version of the Shadow’s 750cc V-twin, shaft drive, and hydraulic lifters, automatic cam chain tensioner… It was made to be as maintenance free as possible. The most unique feature was the built-in trunk. The top rear half of the bike opens up like a car trunk, revealing two large saddlebag shaped storage compartments on either side of the back wheel. Laptop bags fit in there easily, as do cases of beer. Add a top trunk, and it has as much, or more, cargo space as a Goldwing, but is smaller, lighter, and cheaper. It seemed to meet all of my desires.

So I researched them extensively. The more I learned, the more I liked. There were a few available locally, including one with a matching Givi trunk, a nice seat, a Clearview windshield with adlustable vent, and a maintenance history. It was $3500, more than I’d hoped to spend, but it seemed worth it with the extra doodads and history. My girlfriend, resigned to my new obsession, said that if she was going to get one of the several I’d shown her, she’d go for this one. Really? Ok. So I made a phone call and arranged to see it.

It was all I’d hoped for, and more. It wasn’t perfect, but in great shape for being 14 years old. I was surprised how low the seat was. I can flat foot this bike. My girlfriend fit on the back quite comfortably, and liked that the Givi top trunk doubled as a seat back (with a pad for that purpose). I took a short test ride, and though the bike weighs about 600lbs. it felt lighter than my 500lb. Silverwing. It seemed smaller than it is, from a riding perspective. The seller, who followed me on this ride, said I rode it quite well. I think that’s because it fit me well.

I did notice the clutch slipping a bit. He said he’d meant to tell me about that and forgot. He’d priced out a clutch job at a dealer at $500, and said he’d knock $500 off the purchase price for it. I considered, and, well, if you read my last post, you know I bought it and rode it home.

Interestingly, the clutch has been slipping a bit less as I’ve kept riding it. It’ll still slip, but not as easily. Full throttle while in gear won’t get it to slip, but a fast, not well matched shift will. I’m looking into what I can do about this short of a full clutch job for the moment – other the obvious step of being careful with my shifting. It could be as simple as changing out the clutch fluid if that hasn’t been done lately. Yes, it has a hydraulic clutch that doesn’t need adjustment – yet another step toward the bike being relatively maintenance free. Even a Civic of similar vintage has a cable operated clutch – trust me, I’ve worked on them.

One undocumented feature is what appears to be a Powerlet outlet. This can run heated gear or any number of other things. I can get an adapter to power my GPS (which I still need to figure out how to mount), but the price of almost $50 is absolutely ridiculous. I could almost get a new GPS for that. I may end up removing the Powerlet and installing a basic cigarette lighter outlet in its place.

There’s nowhere to mount my ham radio antenna with my existing equipment. I’m not too worried about that, since APRS has become a low priority. I could put an NMO mount through the trunk lid, but I don’t really want to put holes in the bike. It’s in such good shape.

I’ve run into some minor title issues, where the seller checked off the wrong box on the back when filling it out. He’s been great about working with me on it, though. He was prepared to get a new title at his expense to fix it. That wasn’t necessary – a notarized letter explaining the mistake and what he meant to do is sufficient. He says that’ll be in the mail to me today. So I can’t legally ride it right now, but I’m busy this weekend anyway. I have this coming Monday off, so if the stars align and I have his letter by then, I might be able to put it on the road then.

Meanwhile, I’ve been putting the Silverwing back to stock form in preparation of selling it. At this point it just needs a good wash, and for me to find the stereo system I got with it and never installed to include with the sale. Anyone reading this want an 82 Silverwing?

I need to post more pictures of the PC800. The days are shorter, my work longer, and the opportunity hasn’t happened. Maybe Monday, when I hope to get pictures of the Silverwing as well to try and sell it.

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Categories: anecdotes, commuting, day trip, mechanical, planning, weekend trip | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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