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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Here’s some photos of my 650 Transalp before I made any serious changes to it. Bog Stock 2003 Australia model. 20010- 2012/transalpphotosfromphone014.jpg

I'm pretty tall, and I found the transalp riding position is too cramped, its made for someone 5'5" but I'm 6'5". I decided to make the seat higher in relation to the footpegs, in order to ease the bend at the knees. I also want the bars higher and further forward. I decided on a 100mm seat raise, and a 200mm bar raise.

Around this time I realized the fairing was getting quite badly battle-scarred. I'm a Brit living in Australia, there’s loads of offroading opportunities. I do take my bike off road, so I fall off a lot. To be honest the transalp is a lot more on road than off, but being 2 cylinders, 650cc, slim and still light enough to be picked up after dropping it, the bike suits my mix of on and off road riding. I decided to remove and sell the fairing before it was beyond repair. So the task was to threefold, remove fairing, raise seat, raise handlebars.

A good mate of mine is the manager of a machine shop. So I designed a one-off handlebar raiser to bolt to the stock handlebar clamps. He beefed up a couple of dimensions to give it a 500kg rated load, he had it machined from 6061 aluminium and anodized black. My only complaint was that after 2 years in the sun it faded the anodising to a bronze colour. It’s since been painted black. This raiser lifts the bars by approx 200mm, or 8 inches in old money. At the time I went for black renthals as they don’t pull back like the stock transalp bars, and acerbis handguards purely because they were the only black ones on the shelf at the time to have a full metal frame. 20010- 2012/transalpphotosfromphone040.jpg 20010- 2012/transalpphotosfromphone071.jpg

I grew up with old Brit bikes and once built a chopper with longer forks and 18” apehanger bars, so I have learned how to make my own control cables. I made new clutch and throttle cables, but since I never use the choke I didn’t make a cable for that, I just bought a new choke lever and located it closer to the centre of the bars. When I removed the fairing it revealed that the wires going to the switches are massively long. Once they were untangled they were long enough to reach the bars in the new position, making my job easier.

The problem with removing the fairing is that the dashboard, headlights and indicators go with it.

But the cops here will bust you for doing 3km/h over the speed limit, and I'm on 8 points, so I need my speedo. I decided to buy new lights, new indicators, and keep the dashboard until I was certain that the revised seat and bars was a good idea.

So off with the fairing, on with new lights and indicators, but I had to build a new cover for all the bits of the back of the dash which were previously protected inside a fairing. I’m used to working in steel, but that’s heavy, so I have tried to use plastics as much as could, all a new learning curve for me as I have never worked with plastics before. The first version was made from acrylic, or Perspex, but that was very brittle and it shattered. This box was made from poly carbonate, it bends under heat, cuts and files to shape easily, was vibration proof on the trails, and survived until I made a prettier setup. There’s a lesson, use polycarbonate. 20010- 2012/transalpphotosfromphone038.jpg

Yes I know its ugly. The nicest thing anybody said about it was "It looks like something Clive Sinclair would have made"

I'd say that's harsh but fair. But it always was a temporary measure and as you read on you’ll see it’s gone.

I couldn't find components to make cables in Australia, so got the lot from Venhill in Surrey in England, whose stuff arrives in Melbourne 5 days after being ordered online. They do Teflon lined cable, so reasonably smooth.

The lights are also from the UK, from “vehicle wiring products” and were cheaper to have shipped over from Derbyshire than to buy over the counter at an Auto electrics wholesaler 3kms from my house in North Melbourne.

They are rubber bodied, the whole headlamp shell is rubber, which is ideal for a bike which sees a lot of off roading as they are inherently vibration proof. They take standard H4 bulbs. I experimented with a pair which were 80 watt dipped bean, 100 watt main beam, they were super bright but flattened the battery. With standard car grade 55/60w bulbs the standard transalp alternator has been fine, so going from 1 bulb to 2 has needed nothing in terms of upgrading the charging system, they’ve been on for over 2 years now. The indicators were just generic cheap aftermarket mini indicators. I made a point of buying ones with the same bulb wattage as the stock ones so the relay still worked with them.

Next job was to raise the seat.

Any fool can just add lots of foam to raise the seat height. But that would be just too easy and too obvious. Besides, there's an opportunity to gain storage space.

In summary:

1. I got some radiused captive nuts made up from mild steel, in the same radius as the existing seat rails, got them tapped at M8 thread, and I welded them onto my frame, to the rear seat loop. Along with the captive nuts I also had some big fat alloy spacers made. Handy when your mate runs a machine shop…. 20010- 2012/transalpphotosfromphone043.jpg 20010- 2012/transalpphotosfromphone007.jpg

2. I bought some 100mm x 100mm x 6mm alloy right angle section from my local metal suppliers. I measured everything by eye as I had no other tools available, drilled the holes, filed them out where I got it wrong, and bolted the alloy to the captive nuts. 20010- 2012/transalpphotosfromphone052.jpg 20010- 2012/transalpphotosfromphone006.jpg

3. I’d had a design in my head which involved splitting the seat into 2, and hinging them separately. So I can have luggage on the pillion seat, but could still lift the driver seat to access the underseat storage area to get waterproofs when it rains. Time to learn more about plastics again, the seat bases are made from polyethylene board, which is the replacement for marine ply, its stiff and light weight and about 18mm deep. I bought stainless door hinges from a DIY warehouse. I scoured bike breakers looking at seat locks to re-use, and the simplest and easiest to use turned out to be fireblade pillion seat locks. They are a self contained unit, with no cables or unnecessary complications. I bought 2 of them and got them keyed alike at a locksmith, so one key opens both locks. Being from a fireblade, the locks are the fastest part of the bike. 20010- 2012/transalpphotosfromphone049.jpg

In the end the easiest method was to have the alloy run the full length of the rear sub frame. I made a flat plate of steel which bolted to the existing captive nuts for the original taillight. I bought 2 LED aftermarket brake and taillights, choosing LEDs for their modern high-tech bling look. 20010- 2012/2c30f5ea-cd59-4e6f-bab5-212faa77b44a-1.jpg

Fortunately I had just been made redundant, so I had plenty time, and this all took absolutely ages. Even then I was rushed to complete it because I finished the seat base on the night before I went on a weekend camping trip with some other bike friends to Phillip Island to watch the Aussie motorcycle grand prix. Incidentally the Aussie racer, Casey Stoner, won on his home soil, much to the pleasure of the local crowd.

The first seat was a rushed job, knocked together in 30 minutes from discarded foam and an old car seat cover, I did that on the morning of the day we set off to the GP. It was meant to be a temporary seat, but it was on for 10 months. I finally made a new seat from re-con foam (A very firm grade of foam, ideal for bike seats. I had the foam shipped from UK cos after 2 months of searching I couldn't find it in Aus). On top of the foam is a layer of gel. I bought a 19mm gel pad designed for wheelchair users so they don’t get pressure sores, this is a cheaper way of buying a large amount of gel than buying a proper bike gel insert, again this was shipped from UK as is cheaper than buying in Aus. You can cut the gel to the desired shape provided you tape over the cut to seal the gel in.

Over 2 years later and the raised seat design works still. Its not collapsed or shown signs of moving. I replaced the footpegs with pivotting ones which are f'kn brilliant on rough tracks, and got the newer seat on. Later you’ll see I’ve made a luggage rack, painted it but other than that, the high bars and the seat on the alloy angle are both still on the bike unchanged from this picture, taken in 2010, shortly after returning from the GP. 20010- 2012/transalpphotosfromphone057.jpg

It is wonderfully comfortable now. My knees are very grateful for not being as tightly bent, my arms are where they should be. I love the riding position now. I can justabout reach the ground, I get both balls of my feet down, but not the heels, so I reckon its about as high as I would want it.

I’ve done a fair bit of offroading on this setup and done lots of long distances. Its waaaaaay more comfortable because the distance between seat and footpeg is much greater. My hands are higher and slighty forward due to the renthals not curving inwards like the standard bars do. The seat has been totally fine, I think the number of captive nuts I welded on has spread the load sufficiently. Look at the underside of a stock transalp seat, the contact areas between seat and frame are just a small number of rubber plugs. I made sure I have more contact than the standard seat, and put plenty under the driver seat. The bars have been fine too. I kept a close eye on the aluminium riser, looking for hairline cracks and there have been none. I took it off to paint it and inspected it closely, it was fine. The one-piece top clamp is an aftermarket mod for some bikes, it adds stiffness and support to the bars, so there’s not been an issue there. The only thing I have noticed is the headstock bearings go out of adjustment more often, but that’s it. Its still on the Honda headstock bearings it left the factory with, so it hasn’t caused me to change my riding habits, I just adjust those bearings twice a year instead of once.

As you read my later writings you’ll see that I have removed the ugly box which housed the dashboard. I replaced it with a “Trailtech vapor” dashboard computer. That was an almighty pain in the arse to install, the rev-counter function on it is useless, the water temp reader is no better, and it also only has the option of 4 warning lights. I wanted more warning lights than that so I had to make a new housing to hold some LEDs. I ran the Vapor and the standard speedo alongside each other for about 4 months and I am confident that the Vapor speedo is accurate, the other failings I could live with. The Vapor has been the biggest disappointment of the whole job. I paid extra for a US made product thinking it would be better than something made in China, and it has caused more grief than all the rest of the job put together. If I was helping someone do all this again I’d really consider leaving on the fairing so you could keep the dashboard. My fairing was cracking on the inside, but I reckon if your is in good condition the fairing could stay on. I’d fit a longer screen so it came up higher. There’s a chance that the bars would foul the screen on full lock, but in that scenario I’d shave an inch off each side of the screen until it made space. Doing long road rides on faired bikes as a comparison to my transalp really shows just how much being exposed to the wind can tire you out. Also, if you leave on the fairing you leave on the lights and the dashboard so you don’t have the same hassle and expense which I had. In the next stage of my work on the bike that difficulty reared its ugly head again, I’ll write that separately so you’ll read about later. 20010- 2012/transalpphotosfromphone044.jpg 20010- 2012/transalpphotosfromphone048.jpg 20010- 2012/transalpphotosfromphone068.jpg 20010- 2012/transalpphotosfromphone058.jpg

There is more to come in the story of my Transalp and the modifications I have done to it, that will come another day. To get this far, to prepare this in word, find the photos and copy them in took ages. I can't figure out image tags either, so sorry about you having to click links for photos.

I heartily reccomend anyone my height does similar modifications, but consider keeping the screen and fairing though.

897 Posts
Man that's radical! Im'e six foot three and long legs but I got away with moving the footrests one inch down and three and a half inches back, also use a seat pad which takes me up about one and a quarter inches. I just needed to get my knees into the tank properly it makes a big difference.

Im'e willing to bet there are an endless amount of riders out there who are doing themselves no favour at all with a too cramped riding position

Although your bike has been altered beyond anything Iv'e seen before, you've got to think about comfort and Im'e sure your knees and your back will thank you for it.

6,063 Posts
Some great mods there Chris

The Angry Pasty Muncher
6,170 Posts
You mest be about 9ft tall to reach those bars, i've seen lower ones on a hog :D:D
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