You can also see the new rotors and I also put new pads and changed/bled the fluid. I went out to bed the pads Friday night. Casually ride the bike, with several progressively harder stops. From about 60 down to 10, I wanted to avoid stopping completely if I could help it.
Lever feel was good and firm, although after this few stops the absolute stopping force seemed less than I expected. Initial bite wasn't the greatest. But was getting better.
With the new steering head bearings and front brakes the ride was much improved. But I knew it could be better. The bike still felt "sloppy". For my weight I cranked the fork preload to where there were two reference lines left, and set compression and rebound to 3/4 from full hard.
At the back I increased preload to where there is about 10cm of thread left at the bottom, and went 25 clicks out from hard on compression (stock is 40 out), and 12 clicks out from full on rebound (stock is 20 out).
Sunday after getting the body work back on it was time for a real test ride. It sounds silly, but just pulling out of the driveway you could feel the bike felt more taut and responsive.
Have you ever done something really stupid and realized it as it was happening? That was me yesterday. Heading out to the closest twisty road, the bike felt great. Hit the gas hard a few times to feel how the power comes on (about 5k it comes alive and pulls well). Like many newer bikes, it hides its speed.
Cruising through the twisty bits, getting more comfortable, invariably the pace quickens a bit. Nice uphill with a marked 30 mph left-hander, in third gear. Wide open for a bit heading into the corner.
Brake. Brake a little harder. I'm still going a bit too fast.. BRAKE. I make the corner easily but it occurs to me this was not the smartest thing to do with new brakes that have a total of two heat cycles and 10 miles on them. Mental note: you are stupid but survived this one. The aprilia records your highest top speed, looking at it later I was heading into the corner with a speed that started with a "1". That's all I'll say.
So respect for the danger of overriding unfamiliar equipment renewed, I enjoy the rest of the ride at a more reasonable pace.
Brake pulse. Gone. Replaced with ever-improving brake feel.
Notchy steering. Gone. Replaced with smooth feel.
Sloppy suspenion. Gone. Replaced with well-damped wheels at both ends. The route I chose had one stretch of horrible pavement. Chewed up by tractors and semis and poorly maintained. The Ape handles it without any trouble (rode the same route when I first got the bike and it was pretty bad). So far so good.
Still many things to do, but the bike is very usable now. I need to bleed the clutch next, it doesn't feel like it fully disengages.
Here are a few more pictures along with its garage-mate.
My wife asked me which bike I like more. It is probably still the 851, but I will ride the Aprilia more.
1985 Honda VF1000R, 1990 Ducati 851, 2008 YZ450F