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The ergonomic experiment

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by Mailman, Feb 21, 2020.

  1. Mailman

    Mailman Hardly a Guru Top Contributor

    Alternate title: I was bored and wanted to try to make my ‘77 D more comfortable, by making some simple changes , without spending a bunch of money, but I probably will wind up spending way more than I hoped, because nothing is ever as simple as it first seems. :D

    This is all Gary’s fault. Him and that darn Ywain :smoke: making an XS look all kicked back and comfortable.
    It got the wheels turning in my mind.

    My XS2 is the perfect around town ripper, it’s a blast to ride, but it’s low geared and buzzy and not really suited ( for me ) to take on longer rides.

    That leaves my ‘77,

    It’s a great bike and I really enjoy it, it’s motor is smoother and I have a small windshield and a luggage rack for it, so it lends itself better for longer rides, but there are still some comfort related issues that keep me from riding it too far. ( To be completely honest some of these issues are more of a creaky old guy issue :confused:)

    So, here are the things I wish to address,

    1. After about 45 minutes of riding , my knees start complaining. I want to be able to stretch out my legs.
    2. I also want a more relaxed riding position.
    3. To get anywhere very far, I have to travel on some fast moving highways for quite a distance. When I get
    up to 65mph the motor is starting to get very buzzy. I want taller gearing to drop the rpms at highway speed.
    4. I recovered my seat a while back and it looks nice, but the foam is stiff and my butt hurts after a while.

    Besides, Gary’s Ywain, I also drew inspiration from T Zimmermans super clean ‘77,

    I have already ordered most of the things I will need to get the ball rolling, they have already started arriving.
    As things come in and the bike goes together, I’ll post updates here.

    The plan:
    Highway pegs, higher rise handlebars with more pullback, new X Ring chain with new sprockets , a standard 17 tooth front and a 31 tooth rear, new softer handgrips. The seat is on hold for the time being, but I’ve got some ideas.

    I originally planned to get a set of engine guards like TZ’s, I found NOS ones on EBay, but I opted for a more minimal look.
    I found a pair of chrome , fold up pegs that mount to the front motor mounts. I got em on EBay. They were in fair condition, the chrome is presentable, if not perfect. All the bolts were rusted solid and were a lot of work to remove.
    FA9E2586-33F0-4B5E-B23C-0F7E3A2B49D3.jpeg 9F2F7830-0527-40FC-842D-8DF22B7169BD.jpeg F98BCE35-1DEE-4E51-BE87-F37986ED66B8.jpeg
    I was surprised when they arrived to see that one of the mounting plates was bent. Since there was no crash damage evident, I assumed the bike must’ve tipped over and landed square on the end of the peg.
    77278DF2-921C-447F-B77F-A0170561E4DA.jpeg 355422C7-034A-4181-BE99-7820439DE79C.jpeg
    I took it to a local car club garage and asked one of the guys there if they had a hydraulic press? He said
    “ Why sure! Be right back! “ He got the bend out of it and here they are cleaned up and ready to mount.
    2668B3E7-5DD0-487C-AEAC-3C0089FAD187.jpeg 04A691B2-A474-4599-B886-D582ABD5C4A9.jpeg
    These pegs originally came with o-rings in the grooves on the pegs. I have ordered a bag of o-rings from EBay and will restore that original look. I will also have to replace the front motor mounts with longer bolts. I did manage to find one long ass bolt on eBay. But I’m going to have to use a piece of all thread for one of them.
    Shoppers alert, if you like the look of these pegs, there are a pair for sale right here on our forums for less than I paid! :doh: http://www.xs650.com/threads/1979-xs650-special-parts.56489/

    Next up, I got a 31 tooth sprocket and X Ring chain from Amazon, I already had a new front sprocket.
    DD0C3DE2-8596-4767-B6F9-48DAE6386007.jpeg 3B5B425E-291E-4AC4-AA4F-3C4F64B10EA6.jpeg
    And lastly ( for now ) new handlebars and grips. I had at first considered a set of used bars off of a Special.
    What I wound up buying is a new set of Emgo bars that are early Goldwing replica bars. They have similar angles to the stock bars but have more rise and a little more pull back. Emgo 23-12544
    Here you can see how they look next to my stock bars.
    F177DF10-BDE2-41A9-B597-E1876D96401D.jpeg 0E9EB03F-80C6-4035-AFEE-F4BA764995E3.jpeg
    They look really wide in the photos but they are just one inch wider. Now don’t laugh.....but I also bought a set of foam handlebar grips. They’re not the most stylish grips you’ve ever seen, but I’m going for maximum comfort here.

    A lot of these things are very personal choices, handlebars are almost like starting an oil thread! I know a lot of guys like the low bars that let you lean into the wind. These handlebars are an experiment for me, I know from my cruiser days that sometimes when sit more upright, you shift problems to your lower back. Feel free to comment, but I’ve already bought everything. It’s just a matter of assembling.

    I’ll post updates here as I get things together and when I do some road testing.
    Stay tuned......

    keywords, highway pegs, handlebars, sprockets, gearing, chain, grips
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2020
    Boog, nhsteve, madmax-im and 13 others like this.
  2. willis

    willis xsive compulsive disorder XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

    Oh yeah, here we go again on another fun filled adventure with Bob! I really enjoy following your threads. Always so well written and documented. I’m along for this ride too, and bringing the popcorn this time! :popcorn:
    tzimmerm, gggGary, MrBultaco and 3 others like this.
  3. Mailman

    Mailman Hardly a Guru Top Contributor

    Ha! :laugh2: Thanks Willis, I’m hoping this works out like like I want it. I’m still not sure if I’m going to be able to use my stock cables and front brake line and such. I’m going to have to re route things for sure.
    tzimmerm, gggGary, MaxPete and 3 others like this.
  4. arcticXS

    arcticXS XS650 Guru Top Contributor

    Funny how different we all are. When I first got my XS (also a 77 D model) , in May 2010, I rode it from southeast of Oslo to home, about 1800 km or 1120 miles, over 3 days. And I pretty soon found out that the stock handlebars were way too high, and the pegs too far forward for comfort! Even at low norwegian speed limits (50 to 65 mph)
    I am soon 56, and a bit below average height for a Norwegian, at 5'9". And I still find the stock riding position way too "cruiser-ish" for good long distance comfort.
    (It is possible that what I need, is a BMW R100RS or a Guzzi Le Mans for long distance comfort)
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2020
    nhsteve, gggGary, lakeview and 4 others like this.
  5. 59Tebo

    59Tebo 59Tebo Top Contributor

    Holy cripes, Bob! THANK YOU!!! You make this stuff look easy as breathing! I've been look all over the place for bars with higher rise (NOT "Apes"!) than the stock '75's on "The Basketcase", and here you go, with part numbers and everything! My "forward controls" will be made out of TC Bros. forwards (cut down and welded to the downtubes), so with the higher bars, lower seat, and more-forward foot position, I should be able to achieve the "laid-back" seating position I'm looking for. I hope you find what you're looking for too. :thumbsup:
    Greyandridin, Jim and Mailman like this.
  6. Paul Sutton

    Paul Sutton Still Looking Good Top Contributor

    Mailman, regarding the potential to move things to the lower spine. For long rides I put a backpack on my bike sissy bar and fill it with a sleeping bag and pillow to bulk it out. This made a fabulous back support and gave me a comfortable ride. Do you have the adjustable sissy bar to go with your back carrier?

    Have you attempted to retard your timing a few degrees to see if this smooths out the engine a bit more? Also changing to higher octane can also take some vibration out, equivalent to retarding the timing.

    I like that O-Ring trick, smart way to make some DIY projects look better finished.

    I eagerly await the end result......
    nhsteve, tzimmerm, gggGary and 3 others like this.
  7. Mailman

    Mailman Hardly a Guru Top Contributor

    Thanks Tebo! You wouldn’t believe where I found the lowest price in those bars. On the Walmart website, sold through a second party, delivered two days after I ordered by FedEx.
    gggGary, MaxPete, Paul Sutton and 3 others like this.
  8. Mailman

    Mailman Hardly a Guru Top Contributor

    Thanks Paul, those are some good suggestions! I do not have a back rest. But I’m looking forward to seeing how these changes work out. By the way, I’m going to look into that timing suggestion. That was something WrenchJohn used to suggest, if I recall correctly.
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2020
  9. Rasputin

    Rasputin XS650 Addict XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

    Please don’t make it too comfy, don’t want you nodding off while riding.
    geedubya, lakeview, MaxPete and 4 others like this.
  10. Mailman

    Mailman Hardly a Guru Top Contributor

    Ha! As if.....:rolleyes:
    Boog, TwoManyXS1Bs, geedubya and 6 others like this.
  11. 5twins

    5twins XS650 Guru Top Contributor

    You make a very valid point about the higher pullback bars being harder on the lower back. It now is subjected to all the shocks from the bumps encountered. Believe it or not, this is one of the things that makes slightly lower than stock bars better and more comfortable. When you lean forward a bit more, your hips and legs now absorb the shocks from bumps. And don't assume lower bars are harder on your arms and shoulders either. That's another fallacy. As mentioned, at speed the force of the wind relieves the added pressure from leaning forward more. And often there is another benefit with lower bars - better seat comfort. Many seats are designed with the front driver section sloping downward towards the tank slightly. More upright bars force the back half of your butt down into the seat harder, and that gets uncomfortable after some time in the saddle. Lean forward more with slightly lower bars and your butt is supported evenly. I learned about all this first hand many years ago when I switched to the Euro bars on my old BMW. The BMWs sold all over the world got these bars. Only the US models came with higher one. The bikes were designed ergonomically around these lower bars and the most comfortable ride was had with them. So, if your high bar experiment fails, I would highly recommend trying Euro bars. I think you'll be surprised just how comfortable they are.

    I agree, a secondary position to move your feet to during long rides really helps. You don't need to or have to keep your feet there long, just a few minutes is enough. I think the big factor here is you're getting to move and stretch your legs a bit. This is what makes floorboards comfortable on the big touring rigs. Your feet aren't locked in exactly one position, you can shift them (and your legs) around some. Again, the old BMWs had this covered. They are the only bike I've ever ridden that had the passenger pegs aligned close and low enough to the driver pegs so that you could straddle the two. You could place your toe on the driver peg, heal on the passenger peg, sort of like an imaginary floorboard. This gave a second position to shift your feet and legs to when in the saddle for a long time. And it works much better than putting your whole foot back on the passenger peg. It allows you to quickly slide your feet back forward to get to the shift and brake controls if need be.

    Yes, a slight gearing change is helpful but a 31T may be a bit much. I think you'll find the bike a real slug off the line now. Don't know what gearing you had but just a one tooth drop from stock to a 33 is very nice. It drops cruising RPMs several hundred and doesn't kill the off the line "lunge" in the lower gears. Something else to keep in mind is that if the 31T allows you to cut your new chain down to 102 links, it won't work if you decide to go back to a bigger sprocket. It would be better to first cut it at the stock 104 link length until you decide for sure if you're going to keep that 31T sprocket. Honestly, I don't think you're going to like it. It's going to kill the bike's "fun factor".
  12. Team Junk

    Team Junk XS650 Guru XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

    I keep warning Y'all that there are bad influences running around here. We are the people our parents warned us about . For example the mini "2001 A space Odyssey" monolith sitting on table next to me that is unlocking the secrets of the TCI pickups.

    I think you have found yourself in a rabbit hole. Longer clutch and throttle cables. Brake lines and of course probably wiring to the switchgear.
  13. Mailman

    Mailman Hardly a Guru Top Contributor

    All valid points 5T, and I knew going in there would be trade offs. This is all an experiment for me to see what some changes would feel like. The current sprocket is a 33 tooth as per your recommendation when I first built this bike. It has worked really well around town with the occasional short freeway burst. What I’m attempting is to get is the bike to be more comfortable doing a steady highway speed. I have a windshield that removes wind pressure from my torso, so I don’t really need the lean into the wind position.
    Another thing I have not mentioned is that I have arthritis in my neck and shoulders and leaning forward with my arms reached out and my neck crinked back becomes very painful after a while.
    As I said earlier, a lot of the things I’m trying to remedy are more age related problems than bike issues. I haven’t got a lot of money tied up in these changes and nothing is irreversible. Just a fun little project to occupy my restless mind.
    madmax-im, tzimmerm, MaxPete and 5 others like this.
  14. Downeaster

    Downeaster Everything in XS Top Contributor

    Bob, I hope you are able to find the parts you need and get them set up just right for a two-wheeled Easy Chair.

    Just a couple of notes from my experience, which, with a fiver and a coupon will get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks:

    My daughter's Bolt has that cruiser riding position - low seat, forward pegs, lots of pullback on the bars. I can ride it for about a mile before my back lets me know that paybacks are going to be a bitch. As suggested, lower back support and a backrest would probably help.

    On my six-fiddy with the Euro bars the initial riding position was comfy for me, but (again as mentioned elsewhere) my thighs and hips would start complaining after a half-hour or so. I found that leaning even further forward and putting my feet on the passenger pegs helped. On longer rides, I'd switch back and forth.

    Of course, I'm a hair under 6 feet and an entire wig over 200 pounds, so YMMV...

    On my MUCH taller FJ with the Corbin sofa, I can go a lot longer before I start to stiffen up. Unfortunately, the passenger pegs are impossible to use from the driver's seat. In fact, I just took them off so as not to snag my pantleg on them when mounting/dismounting. I just take more breaks...

    Edit to add: Being damn near 70 might possibly have something to do with the situation as well...:confused::eek:
  15. Mailman

    Mailman Hardly a Guru Top Contributor

    Yeah yeah, it always starts with one little change, leads to another and another. I’m not stopping until I build me a MaxPete feather weight Goldwing! :D
    76F91451-6B5E-44EA-ACD2-B54873A195C5.jpeg EE297B81-7020-45D3-9325-D510EF714374.jpeg
    Boog, tzimmerm, lakeview and 7 others like this.
  16. Mailman

    Mailman Hardly a Guru Top Contributor

    Yeah, there really is no perfect set up. Everything is a compromise. The most comfortable bike I ever had was my late model Triumph Bonneville America with the big bucket seat and feet forward controls. That bucket seat gave some lower back support , up to a point. Then the lower back pain started. If this stuff doesn’t work out, keep an eye on the classifieds, Ha! :laugh2: You might see it pop up.
  17. 5twins

    5twins XS650 Guru Top Contributor

    Yes, even with the comfort "improvements" (lower bars, various seat pads) to my BMWs, the best and only thing to do was just to get off them and walk around a little every few hours, stretch the legs and get the circulation going again. Funny Arctic should mention the Guzzi Le Mans. I happen to have one and can truthfully tell you it's about the most uncomfortable bike on the planet for long distance riding, lol. It has real clip-on handlebars that are quite low but they're not the big issue. It's the rear set, higher pegs that get you, and the seat. The pegs fold your legs up tight and they cramp up after a long time in the saddle. And the sexy looking seat - not much better than a vinyl covered 2 x 6, lol.

  18. Mailman

    Mailman Hardly a Guru Top Contributor

    I am a huge fan of Guzzi’s , I look at them constantly. For me it’s all about that engine. I always said I’d own one someday, I rode a late model Guzzi at a dealership years ago and was hooked. I always thought an old 850 Eldorado would be a fun restoration project. Put a big old windshield on it and look like a highway patrol.
    Boog, jetmechmarty, tzimmerm and 5 others like this.
  19. Machine

    Machine Race the wind Top Contributor

    Don't go getting too comfortable Bob :cool:
    Fyi my back hurts today from "motorcycling" and I don't even have a rider :)
    Boog, tzimmerm, MaxPete and 5 others like this.
  20. Jim

    Jim Beyond the edge is the unknown. Here be Dragons XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

    Snooze ya loose... :rolleyes:
    Fwiw, I'm running a 31T rear and I really like it. Don't remember the exact revs... but at 65 I'm well below the point where that butt numbing buzz sets in. Yeah, she may have lost a step off the line, but my light to light days are well behind me. ;) Acceleration is still quiet respectable. And the way she reaches 85 tells me a ton will be easy enough. I'm about 150-160 soppin' wet, so the bike is far from overworked, and the 31T is perfect for my needs.

    I snagged those highway pegs Bob mentioned above 'cause my rebuilt knee will only take about 15 min. on the regular peg. So I'm experimentin' here too. Be interestin' to compare notes.

    And like Bob (and most of us here I suspect) I've some serious arthritis issues in the lower and upper back/shoulders. I think a back support would really help in that dept. Yeah... I'm buildin' an easy chair on wheels. :rolleyes:

    rest fwd.jpg
    Boog, madmax-im, jetmechmarty and 7 others like this.

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