Old man bikes

It’s time for my entry into the world of old man bikes. The sport bike kid has grown old. Still riding, just differently.

I commute by motorcycle/maxi to San Francisco about 4 days per week these days. About 20 minutes on the highway and 25 minutes in real traffic. Highway in the afternoons is all lane splitting. I’ve been looking to move up to another commute machine for the past few years. The Majesty 400 was just feeling a little too skiddery to me. It’s just getting worn and my interests and needs are changing. I wanted to feel more planted and comfortable. I wanted to take a corner without the fear of bouncing chassis flex. I wanted wheels with traction again.

I knew the bike that I wanted but the prices were still a bit too high. I kept checking Craigslist looking for a bargain. That went on for about a year. aver few weeks checking again. This past weekend, it finally appeared. The deal.

2014 Honda CTX700DE DCT.

This is a pretty cool bike. A nice comfortable riding position, reasonably small engine size, and a modern automatic transmission. 

For just $3,300, I got:

  • The motorcycle itself in immaculate condition (even with 11k miles), with new tires, chain, and brake pads on the bike
  • 12 months left on the registration (!!!) 
  • All receipts and service records
  • OEM Service manual
  • Front and rear track stands
  • Giant aftermarket windscreen
  • A new transmission filter, oil plug rings, and headlamp bulbs.

What was wrong with the bike?:

  • The two rotors are showing a bit of wear.
  • A little rust on the upper fork tubes.

The bike had really been taken care of and only needed a few minor tuning details for me to get it into service. Essentially, bar position and some slop in the throttle cables. I would have preferred a black color but this was too good of a deal to pass up.

What do I need to do to bring it up to my standards?:

  • PVD Race Throttle – I’ve been using very aggressive race throttles on my motor bikes for the last 20 years. I’ve even developed one of the most advanced units that I know of back about 10 years ago. Test riding this bike with the slow throttle just felt silly. The issue, the stock housing wont fit a large cam. I need to do some engineering.
  • Rack & Trunk – After commuting on two different maxi-scooters in the last 10 years, I need a trunk. I love a trunk. Certainly, this is a lacking feature on motorcycles compared to what is offered in the maxi. A longer term solution here.
  • Forward controls – The foot forward position on this bike is so nice but it’s just a little short. I need another inch or so at least. Looking into options here.
  • Suspension – The bike is sitting with it’s suspension essentially untouched. It needs some more preload in the fork, probably in the rear. I’ll be doing this over the weekend. Damper improvements may be looked into. I may see if I have some springs that fit into the forks and shock.
  • Gearing – I’m thinking that dropping a counter-shaft tooth could help the bike even with the automatic shifting. I may have a smaller cog on hand somewhere to test. 16/39 is stock on this model while 16/43 is stock on the non-DCT version.

I cut the large aftermarket windscreen down to a size and shape that is more optimized for city driving and lane splitting with a little protection for fast speeds. It was unusable in it’s large form.

Centerstand? Maybe. #08M70-MGS-J10 (from NC700S) with aftermarket centerstand stop from Over Racing (#35-21-01)

Riding the bike is just great. I’m still learning the ins and outs of working all of the transmission buttons. When to go manual? When to go sport? I’ll get this all figured out over time. Certainly, the dual clutch transmission isn’t a joke and works very very well.

The bike is very comfortable and feels far more planted than the Majesty 400. Cornering feels far safer. I do wish that the CTX was a 600cc triple. That would feel a lot better.

The bike is definitely heavier and longer than the Majesty. I need to learn how to manipulate the bike in a different way when moving through traffic. Hopefully, it will be easy and nice once I figure it out.

One very cool feature on the bike is the anti-lock brakes. This is a first for me and it would be nice if it kept me out of trouble.

The work begins. Hopefully, this bike will provide me with a nice long, comfortable, and safe service life.

Friday Flogging:

2018-09-07 – I was getting restless with this bike as I’d only ridden it in traffic. I needed to get my motocycle cobwebs dusted and see what the bike would really do. Suspension un-sorted, I left work with the ultimate commute home, Highway 1 North from SF to BoFax Road. Anyone in the NorCal area will know this as a serious test of a bike and rider. I was rusty at the start. More me than the bike. Too much time on the little scooter. As the ride progressed, I got some of my groove back. By the time I was coming down off BoFax, I was flogging the bike and throttle.

How did it go? Awesome. It’s not a sport bike but it is a nice bike. Interestingly, the automatic transmission that works reasonably well in traffic works amazingly well when fully sporting the bike. It only really missed optimum a couple of times. I’d love to program the system for very aggressive shifting but it did pretty well in sport mode.

I can’t wait for another test with suspension gone through and a little lower final drive gearing.

Sag and Preload:

2018-09-08 – Got to set up the sag on the bike using stock springs. The travel on each end is 107F/110R. @30%, I should see 32F/33R sag. As the bike hasn’t been touched and is in it’s lowest ride height, I saw 61F/58R sag. Crazy low. After adding 25mm to the 200mm front spacers and about 10mm (all I could manage inside the bike)  to the rear collars, I got to 31F/37R sag. Still a little much in the rear but a lot better than it was. Bike sag is now 20F/8R, thus the front spring is certainly too soft. This was just to get me going and will be reviewed at a later date.

Setting the spring preload in the rear is absolutely horrible experience. I had to remove the rear wheel. In the future, I’ll remove the side covers, linkage, and shock. Fucking nightmare as it could really use a bit more preload.

I’m ordering some parts to fit a new spring and spacer to the rear end of the bike. Hope to improve the feel and get the ride height in the correct range. This will take a couple of weeks due to ebay shipping…ugh.

After adjusting the prelead I tested the bike on a 40 mile, double black twisty route (BoFax/Ridgecrest) next to my house proved that this work was a great improvement to the bikes handling and feel. It turns well and soaks up much more of the road. The front is pretty good. The rear needs some work for sure but it’s better. This route thoroughly tests a bike so it finds flaws that might not show up in a normal test. It’s interesting how the throttle is the weakest link at this point while the suspension is decent enough.

Supposed rear shock data is: 296mm length, 10mm bolts, 28.2mm top eye, 39mm bottom eye, 40mm travel, 26mm before bumper, 1.25mm thread pitch, spring pocket 208-221mm.

Spring data is approximately: 218mm free length, 76mm od, 22 kgf/mm (1232? lb/in)

Link: 2.68mm wheel per shock mm. Linear rate.


While doing all this work, I took the throttle apart to appraise the situation. It’s going to be a more complex solution than earlier thought to get a race throttle in place. For now, the tube and bar were cleaned and greased. The tube was also shimmed with a 0.031″ delrin shim to give it a super solid but slippery feel.