Before the ride.

Even that brand new motorcycle that you’ve decided to purchase sometimes needs a little help. To set that great new bike up exactly the way you want it will occasionally take a few hours at the outset but it’s worth it down the road. Here’s a list of the things that I am currently doing to, and planning for, my spanky new machine while it snows here in the north.

The patient is a new-leftover 2017 Suzuki SV650. This is a repurchase for me–I had a 2002 version, the round-framed carburetted first generation with a full Muzzy exhaust. I loved that bike, sold it in a fit of too-many-motorcycles and had regrets. This is one of the world’s most perfect motorcycles, and even better with ABS: not too big, not too small, great mileage, competent on dirt, highway capable; it’s a Goldilocks bike.

Top Box Rack

Since I’ll be commuting on the bike, it definitely needs some kind of storage capacity. And since my other bikes are Givi-compatible it makes sense not to buy bike-specific luggage. A Givi monokey top case rack was an easy decision and an equally easy install. An unexpected side benefit of the top case rack, is that the 2017 now has some semblance of the rear grab-handle the 2002 did so that I can pick it up off the side stand from the back to put it up on a rear stand with…

Swingarm Sliders

Swingarm sliders that double as rear stand spools! When a bike with a chain drive doesn’t have a center stand, a rear stand makes chain maintenance a snap. Not having to chase the bike around your driveway to oil the chain is huge.

Along with the swingarm sliders I’m installing frame sliders up front. My last SV had them and they totally saved the expensive parts in a getoff. Replacing frame slider pucks is way, way cheaper than replacing engine case parts or repairing gas tanks.

Next on the list is a horn upgrade. Stock motorcycle horns are notoriously wimpy and small. Wiring up a relay for the new horn(s) so that the extra electrical draw does not melt your stock horn wiring is the easy part. Figuring out where and how to mount the horns is the hard part. When I stuffed a pair of Fiamm El Grande horns up under the nose of my KLR, it took three trips to the hardware store and a minor reposition after they started to gurgle in a rain storm. A horn upgrade is always worth it, though, especially if you can find room to hang a Stebel Nautilus or equivalent off your bike. Those things literally scare the poop out of stray animals and really shake a green-light snoozer out of their morning reverie.

What’s next? An aftermarket seat perhaps, depending on how the stock seat treats me. I might swap out the stock exhaust if I find a note I prefer. I stuffed cartridge emulators into the forks of my last SV and it made a huge difference, so I’ll see how this suspension treats me.

Reader, what is the first thing you do to a new bike, other than ride it?