Better highway cruising: which way to go? - Suzuki Volusia Forums : Intruder Volusia and Boulevard Forum
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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-07-2019, 10:15 PM Thread Starter
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Better highway cruising: which way to go?

So I realize there is a number of threads on this subject, yet I want to start a new one because I am trying to figure out one of several paths to take with what I want to do. I have taken to going on my VL800 on roughly hour long highway runs and would actually love to go on longer touring trips, but at any speed above 65-68 it requires the throttle to be open more than is comfortable both from the hand position and the amount of vibration it causes. As far as I can tell, my options are:

1. Get a DJ drive mod. Seems like a VR member by the name of Cory sells them currently for about $400 plus shipping and that they do help. If I understand correctly, the kinks have been worked out and it’s pretty much a bolt on except the fake swing arm piece, which would require serious modifications to add back. You lose 14% or so acceleration for 14% lower engine speed at highway cruising. Not a bad deal as the scoot has enough get up that I don’t think it will be too noticeable.

2. Get a different exhaust and jet kit, plus possibly a different air filter. I don’t know much about the specifics of this option for this bike. It seems a different new exhaust would run me about $500+, and then a jet kit for a bit on top of that. I don’t know if the OEM filter can be replaced with a freer flowing one or if I would need a whole new intake. If possible I would like to keep that and the PAIR valve as stock as possible.the upside of this mod would be all around more power. Seems like the rule of thumb is 20% is quite possible. Downside of course is it’s more work and could theoretically not be as good for the engine.

3. Get cushier motor mounts, saddle rubber feet, gel grips, and a throttle lock. Reduce vibration at higher engine speeds and not worry about it being higher RPM. Advantage here is that except motor mounts this is the easiest and cheapest mod.

4. Do both #1 and #2. Advantage here is that it’s the best of both worlds. On paper I would end up with roughly the same acceleration as well as a significantly higher top speed, and even more importantly better cruising speed.

Which way should I go? Is it worth it, or should I just start shopping for a Goldwing now?
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-07-2019, 11:06 PM
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The bike is buzzy at high speeds, but running it 80+ won't hurt it. A throttle rocker https://www.jpcycles.com/product/503...RoCGsIQAvD_BwE
helps a great deal. DJ Drive def helps & well proven.

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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-08-2019, 07:33 AM
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1: A DJ drive will not make the bike faster. It will reduce the engine RPM at a given speed and will make you hunt for the missing 6th gear a little less. It does not eliminate engine vibration and yes, it does rob the engine of some power. It was most noticeable when riding 2 up, climbing I40 in North Carolina. I could not maintain 5th gear going up the mountains past Hickory.

2: An intake, pipes and fuel processor (Or jet kit for a carb) with a professional tune will only net you about 4-5 additional HP. That's it. You will feel a little more zip in the butt dyno, but on the road, it is not a noticeable difference. If you do follow through with option 1 coupled with option 2, it almost restores the bike to stock performance.

3: There are no rubber motor mounts for the bike. The engine is a stressed member of the frame, so every stroke of the engine is going to show up as vibration through out. The faster you go, the worse it will get.

4: Options 1 and 2 will do nothing to increase your top speed but it will make the cruising speed more livable. Your price OTD to accomplish this will be somewhere in the neighborhood of $1000-$2000 depending on what you buy and who does the work. At the end of the day, it will not turn the bike into a competent highway cruiser. It will always be a mildly tuned, 800cc engine that is best suited to back-roads riding.

If you're already looking to $pend money on the VL800 to make it better, you really should consider an important fact - none of those bolt ons will add a dime to the price when it comes time to trade it in on your next bike.

Ride it, enjoy it for what it is and $ave what you would have invested in this project for your next bike...

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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-08-2019, 07:59 AM
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I did the DJ drive and don't mind using fourth gear way more than before the conversion. In fact any time I'm below 55mph and on curvy or hilly roads I'll stay in 4th. To my uncalibrated butt 4th feels very much like the stock 5th gear. The advantage is at highway speeds or shallow elevation changes and Interstates it is a far more comfortable ride in 5th gear. Other than wind management (lowers) the DJ drive is the only mod you need to gain that comfort level at speeds 60 and above.


In fact I just rode the Cabot Trail two up on Friday and I would say I was in 4th gear for 65 percent of the 180 mile loop. The bike performed just fine.
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Last edited by DeanS; 07-08-2019 at 08:03 AM. Reason: additional comment
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-08-2019, 09:00 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks guys!

Skrapiron, I am trying to square you saying that the VL800 isn't great for highway riding with so many people touring on them. You said you ride it 2up on I40 (I used to live in NC so I am very familiar with it, and the mountains going up to Asheville). Do people just always cruise at lower speeds?

My bike vibrates only above a certain RPM. Below that it is smooth as butter, which is why I'd love to lower the RPM at 75-80 which is how fast I have to cruise sometimes to keep up with traffic where I live. If the road is empty, I can comfortably keep it at 65 and all is hunky dory. But when I have to speed up to 75 or more I have to twist the throttle a lot more and get the RPM into that tooth-filling-loosening range.

I got a cramp buster and that definitely helps keep my hands from cramping after half an hour on the highway, but it's not quite enough when I have to pin the throttle at half open.
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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-08-2019, 09:13 AM
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The bike is a competent, light touring bike. Many people (myself included) have used them to ride coast to coast. But we did and do so acknowledging the bike's limitations. When I had to ride the interstate, I kept the bike in the right lane and kept as close to the speed limit as I could. There is nothing you can do that will give the bike more oomph, or perform better, or reduce the engine vibrations at 75-80 mph. You're right about having to wring the throttle to get there too. No bolt on is going to change that.

A DJ drive will make 65 feel like 60 and 70 feel like 65 now. The vibrations will still be there, they just won't show up as quickly as they do now.

When we took the bikes down I26 to Charleston, I found out first hand that the bike will hold 85 at WOT for 2 hours and will keep up with traffic - in the slow lane. I also found out that the fuel economy dipped into the upper 20s on that stretch of road.

So, yes. The bike CAN be ridden on the interstate. It is neither comfortable or a confidence inspiring experience. It is best suited for more laid back touring, not long distance interstate riding.

Current Bikes -->
-1969 Indian MX125 -10-2009 to Present
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Past Bikes ----->

-1973 Yamaha RD350
-1991 Harley Sportster 883 XL
-2000 Yamaha XV125
-2003 Piaggio Fly
-2004 Suzuki LS650 - 04-2005 to 07-2008
-2005 Boulevard C50 - 07-2008 to 5-2012
-2012 Vulcan 900 - 05-2012 to 05-2015
-2008 Yamaha FZ6 - 11-2008 to 04-2017
-2006 Star Virago - 05-2011 to 06-2017


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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-08-2019, 11:27 AM
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I know many riders who get psyched to buy a bike they think they can make into the bike they shoulda bought to begin with. You can throw $ into a bike but you can't make it what it ain't ever gonna be. Any good salesman will tell you that, but most of us don't hear it. Skrapiron is correct in his post. Harley's are a good example, not intending to start a Harley bash thread, but people immediately change exhaust, install screaming Eagle kits, etc etc, at big $$ and still may not have what they wanted to begin with. Same goes for BMW, on and on. A motor without rubber mounts is not going to stop vibrating the frame, hp is a design criteria of engines, you aren't going to install some thingamajig and gain 50hp.

Price point of the Boulevard is very reasonable, the bike is sharp looking, etc, BUT.....
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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-08-2019, 11:31 AM
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save your pennies for an upgrade...for now just enjoy what you got.

Whats the big hurry...slow down and enjoy the ride!

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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-08-2019, 11:33 AM
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I agree with everything Skrapiron has said and my experience with my bike confirms it. The VL800 is a great relaxed touring bike that can do interstate travel, but is not at home there and prolonged high speeds will increase oil consumption and shorten the life of the engine. I did a DJ Drive conversion and added a Mustang seat with a gel cover and it makes the ride more comfortable, but the bike does get buzzy at higher RPMs. I recently bought a house in the middle of Arizona and it became immediately obvious that the Volusia was not going to be happy with the increased speed limits and steep terrain. I ended up buying a Yamaha Road Star 1600 that is way happier on the highways out there. (Still will keep the Volusia for more local trips).



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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-08-2019, 11:50 AM
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The best thing you can possibly do is the DJ drive.
Beyond that, as was previously stated, there isn't a whole lot left to improve upon that will make any real difference, besides of course a racing stripe.
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