2017-06-11 - odo: 97,500
This is part of an ongoing series. More of a blog than anything, but it will include rants about whatever, some short technical articles, and some generic information. The first two in the series were more of my adapting to a new bike, and adjusting the bike to suit me. Now that I have had this bike for a while, it is about technical information and, well, whatever.
I will continue to update this file, until it gets too big, then it will be time for part 4
When I first got this bike, I wrote about my difficulty adapting to a new style of bike. Every bike has quirks, and this one is no different. It is different from the Harley's that I had become accustomed to, and I had to do a bit of work on the bike early on, so it did not seem as reliable as Honda enthusiasts like to say it is.
Now, with the bike approaching 100,000 miles I can say I have pretty well adapted and feel the bike is incredibly reliable.
These bikes have a few known weaknesses. Many of these are made more likely due to the way Long Distance Riders tend to ride or if you ride in a lot of bad weather or ride in the winter. Winter riding really beats up a bike. I have encountered every one of these quirks.
Drifting to the left - This is a complaint many people have. Almost everyone. I fixed this by properly aligning the forks and fork stem. Since almost every bike does this, I suspect there is either an issue with the way they mount the forks at the factory or with the way it is shipped. Simple fix, but NOT the super simple fix that some people post. Yes, properly aligning the axle when you mount the tire is good, but the right way is to align the forks using the proper tool (or my home made one, see one of my other posts).
Thermostat - The stock thermostat in the cooling system tends to fail, often fairly early in the bikes life, at least miles wise. I bought the bike with 14,000 miles on it, and if failed a few thousand miles later. It fails open, so there is no overheating, and if you only drove in warm weather you might not even notice it. You certainly would not if you never looked at your temp gauge. This was a fairly easy fix with an aftermarket thermostat, although I don't know if that one is still available.
Windshield Motor - This tends to fail as you approach 100,000 miles, especially if you ride in the winter or in environments where you encounter a lot of sand. Mine went at 96,000 miles. This is an expensive fix if you get the parts for full price, or if you pay someone to do it. It is not difficult, but a lot of plastic has to be removed to complete the job. Best to wait until you have the plastic off for service. The parts were available on Bike Bandit for a lot less than Honda list price.
It is possible to cut the cables that drive the windshield, and then just manually pull the windshield up and down, but you need to remove just as much plastic to do that, and then you don't have the motor. It might be worth doing if you had to pay full price for the motor, or if the bike had so many miles on it that you did not want to spend the money, but I think replacing it is the way to go.
This is what the motor looks like (a few parts have been removed in the autopsy).
This is where the motor goes. You have to remove every bit of plastic you see here plus more that you cannot see here. A serious pain in the neck. Less so if you are doing a full service anyway. The plastic shown here is what would be removed in addition to what is removed for normal service.
Fuel Pump - This tends to fail as you approach 100,000 miles, especially if you tend to run your tank near dry frequently, as many Long Distance Riders do. This is an expensive fix if you get the parts for full price, but the parts can be gotten for a discount, and there is a cheaper fix if you want to do a little more work. You generally get a warning, where it fails when the tank is low and you are riding in very hot traffic. You can usually ride the bike, but with a lot of work, and has very little power. It will buck and stall and just generally make you look like you have don't know how to ride a bike. Once you fill up it usually fixes itself, temporarily, giving you time to order parts and schedule a replacement. It is not difficult to replace, especially if you get the Fuel Pump Assembly rather than just an aftermarket pump. There is an article for this on my site.
Seats - The stock seats on this bike suck. Really. They are even worse if you have a lot of miles on them. I never got around to getting new seats. Recently, my butt was really getting sore, as well as other parts due to seat shape. A friend loaned me a Sargent Seat, which even new are hard as a rock, but a good shape. This is certainly not an ideal solution, and with near 100k miles on the bike I am hesitant to fix the issue now.
The Sargent seat, the passenger seat is still stock.
Wheel Bearings - Well, not actually wheel bearings. There are small bearings in the drive hub of the rear wheel that tend to fail. It is really that they are being asked to do something they are not really designed to do. They are cheap and easy to fix. They also don't really need to be fixed until they get really bad. They don't do much. There is a different type of bearing that can be used, which is what I did. Of you can just replace them every couple of tire changes.
Tires - I have tried a number of tires on the bike. I currently use Michelin Pilot Road 4GT tires (PR4). They feel and handle great, but they don't last very long. I had used the PR2 which lasted far longer, but had a few weird handling characteristics that I did not like. The PR3 version handled well, but did not last as long as the PR2. The PR4 handle the best, but last the least. Still, this seems to be the longest lasting tire for most people on the ST1300. I am still looking.
I had tried to bleed the clutch fluid. The design does not really allow one to replace the fluid. The slave cylinder is way underneath the bike, and there is no bleed there. The bleed is on the side of the bike, which comes from a T that goes to the slave and the master cylinders. When you try to bleed the slave, only a little fluid goes back and forth. It is better than nothing, but it really needs a bleed at the bottom of the cylinder as well. Still, it gets all the air out. Well, eventually. I have read of this problem before: As you try to bleed the fluid, more and more air seems to get into the system. It comes from the master cylinder. I finally figured out a way to get the air out at the top by moving the lever slightly in and out, watch until the bubbles stop, then squeezing all the way to bleed. It worked well enough. No more air in the system. Wasn't any to begin with, some of the fluid is probably still the original from 2005. When I was having trouble, I thought a rebuild of the master cylinder would fix it. I put the kit in, but it did not fix anything. The seal that covers the plunger from the outside elements was bad, so a rebuild was a good idea anyway.
I noticed that the bushing that connects the plunger to the clutch lever was worn. I mean a LOT worn. I ordered that and finally replaced it. It is like a different bike. The lever is no longer floppy, it is more precise, tight and smooth. I had not realized just how notchy it had become until I replaced it. I have not tested it, but I suspect the air infiltration issue on bleeding will be gone. I suspect the plunger might have been moving too far out, and introducing air. It is just a guess, and it will be a while before I try bleeding the system again, but I like the clutch again.
I replaced the bushing on the clutch lever. Made a world of difference in the feel of the clutch. br>