Being the fourth installment of the Hack Diaries….

Mods and Rockers

With the SV 6.5 back on the road c/w a refurbished clutch it was time to see what difference our modest modding programme had made to our £1050 purchase. The aim of which had been twofold: making the bike more comfortable for longer legged riders without compromising clearance, and a sweeter handling front end. Refreshments to date:

    • Art end can (c/w the 02, 15k mile naked 650)
    • Delta screen from Skidmarx (£60)
    • Saddle mod by Saxon (£40);
    • Shortened rear suspension link, Ebay (£16)
    • Hel brake lines front and rear (prices vary: two line front set up = £46.81 ex VAT)
    • Michelin Pilot Road 3 Tyres (prices vary: around £220 per pair)
    • K-Tech fork springs (linear. 8.5N, £85)

The first thing that has to be said about that lot is that collectively, the mods represent the outer limits of hack expenditure – if you adopt the bg strategy of buy in the autumn, sell on late spring.  A more abstemious hackonteur would have made do with the near virgin  020 Bridgestones in situ at the time of purchase, while the vertically challenged would not have found the saddle build necessary. We reckon that on top of the £1050 purchase,  an extra £200 spend would still permit a break even scenario come the onset of summer. Put it another way: we’ve got a recoverable £1300 on our hands in bike form (leaving the optional rubber out of the equation).  That’s five months worth of free riding minus fuel and oil.

The second point is simple: the mods have transformed the bike in time honoured fashion. The screen attenuates the blast and compares well visually with the old style, inverted U cowl often seen atop single round headlamps.  The saddle build gives greater road prescence, comfortable leg position, and assists maneuverability . The shorter linkage lifts the arse (in this case by 25mm) without recourse to rear shock adjustment. We reckon that was the single mod that made the most difference, certainly in value terms. The whole machine feels more agile without compromising straight line stability – but wouldn’t want any more rear ride height: it’s hard to be totally objective about these things, but my gut feeling is that an extra hike could set things a-flutter, especially combined with forks raised through the yoke. Which is why the fork position remains standard: it feels like the combination of the raised rear and saddle is enough to have changed ride characteristics to an optimum point.  The K-techs put a stop to any wallowing on the brakes and generally tighten up the ride without harshness, accompanied by some fresh 7.5 weight oil. (Over the years linear spring replacemnet has proved to be far less problematic than progressive equivalents, hence the choice.)  The Hel lines and fresh brake fluid have made stopping the bike a more predictable experience:  prior to this mod, a given amount of pressure on the lever always seemed to result in an inconsistent force being applied to the discs.  All in all the bike feels a lot happier cornering and stopping – result.


The SV’s arrival provided another opportunity. I’d been keen to evaluate the Pilot Road 3s in winter, since the Michelin’s are the closest thing we have to a winter motorcycle tyre. In reality, that means they have been designed with wet weather performance very much in mind. The sipes bear witness to this incarnation. Ironically, we haven’t yet encountered enough poor weather to offer a comprehensive evaluation: what we can say so far is that the wet performance is so confidence inspiring that we suspect they’ll be a revelation for many.

In cool, dry conditions, the initial impression is that tyre performance compares favourably with Dunlop Roadsmarts (original version – Roadsmart 2s now available but not yet tested by us) – no mean feat, although of course the PR3s are a more recent design, and it has to be stressed that our experience of them is still limited. They feel much more responsive and agile than the original 020s in all conditions, but again, that is hardly comparing like with like.  What we have got is an SV on which rain riding is a pleasure.


Next time round we’ll look at the heart of the hack: that robust V2, and measure its performance on the dyno.  And meanwhile be keeping an eye on the modified bike’s straight line behaviour…

Previously on the Hack Diaries

Part One
Part Two
Part Three

Without whom…

Michelin, K-Tech and Hel  – many thanks.  Bg depends on support, and chooses to be totally transparent in declaring it.


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