Right after the 6,000 km service I bought a new rear tire for
my GSX1400. The guy at the the tire shop claimed that I could
still ride a few more miles with the old tire (see a picture
above) but I was planning a longer trip to Finland and I felt
safer with a fresh tires. The old rear tire was still great
when the tarmac was dry and the road straight. Actually it wasn't
an awful tire even when the weather was damp and colder but
when you are used to 100% grip, any tendencies of losing grip
I remember some guy telling on a discussion board that he had
bought a 180/55-17 rear tire to his GSX1400 instead of the stock
190/50-17. He thought the bike was steering quicker with improved
cornering as a result. I considered it a short while but then
somebody else notified that you should change the rear wheel
as well if you wanted to make the rear tire any narrower...
Sounds correct to me.
Anyway, I made the same choice the Suzuki engineers had made
and went for the original brand and dimension: Bridgestone BT020
190/50-17. The boss at the tire shop was an old friend of mine
and I got a great price as well. I took the wheel off myself,
took about five minutes, no problem. The balancing of the tire
went also really quick, there wasn't any need to take off the
old weights, the tire was 100% balanced without removing or
adding any weights!
About an half an hour later (putting the wheel back again took
a bit longer than taking it off) I had a new rear tire I remembered
the comments of the guy that bought a narrower rear tire
I had the same feeling, even with the standard dimension! I
had forgotten how easy it was to corner a bike when the tires.
were perfectly round! It was like I had a new bike!
This time I knew how fast the rear tire can be worn out if you
weren't easy on the throttle. I'm not made out of money so I
decided to try ride smoother and by that way adding the life
of the rear tire We'll see how long the second rear tire will
last. I'm writing this in the middle of September and the new
tire has already seen almost 5,000 kilometers of tarmac. The
old tire was almost totally worn out at 6,000 km. I'm not entirely
sure but I think I can ride additional 5,000 km with the tire
before I need to replace it. That's quite a difference! Now
the front tire has almost used up but that's another story...
A trip to Finland
I was hoping I could make a longer trip to Southern Europe this
summer with my bike but my poor economical situation didn't
get any better (unemployed since last summer) and I didn't have
the money. Instead of Europe, I chose a shorter tour in Finland.
I have relatives there and therefor I don't have to pay any
hotel of camping place bills. Together with my brother Risto
I own a summer place in Northern Finland where I could also
stay for free.
Between Sweden and Finland, meeting another
On the morning of the 16th of July I packed my bike with some
necessities like some clothes, a sleeping bag, toothbrush and
a road map I started the trip from Stocholm to Turku with a
ferry. I planned to overnight in Southern Finland, at my cousin's
house in Toijala. I don't like riding at dark and I wanted to
continue the trip the morning after to Northern Finland.
The weather was perfect, the sun was shining and the weather
cast promised similar weather for the whole week. I was planning
to stay a week or two in Finland, depending on the weather and
how I was enjoying myself.
It was really nice to visit my cousin's family in Toijala. It
was in the middle of the week and they were both working so
it suited fine to all of us me continuing my trip early in the
Ready to ride on. I had planned to buy a
set of saddle bags for my bike but it will have to wait, I haven't
had the money.
As I already mentioned, the weather was fine. Very fine. At
noon it was about hot as it can be in Finland, over 30 degrees
Celsius, in a shade. My Gore-Tex jacket wasn't too hot when
riding the bike but soon I was to find out that it wasn't that
great a jacket when pushing the bike uphill on a highway...
I had filled the gas tank just before leaving Sweden, in Södertälje,
about 40 kilometers south of Stockholm. I calculated that I
could ride to Jyväskylä before I ad to fill the tank
again. But I didn't. I run out of gas on the highway short before
I got to the gas station. I'd guess I have to push to
bike the last kilometer or two, I thought, feeling quite
silly. I had never ran out of gas with my GSX1400 before. The
meter showed 328 kilometers and I had rode 380 kilometers before
without running out of gas. But the evening before I had traveled
the distance between Turku and Toijala very fast, not wanting
to arrive too late in the night to my cousin's place. I'd guess
the bike had used a few extra liters on that distance.
Anyway, here I was, trying to avoid being run over by the cars
on the highway, walking my bike suddenly felt very heavy and
the sun was slowly cooking me brain up inside the helmet. I
knew that the gas station was not far way now, my brother Yrjö
and I had stopped there last summer. Although the GSX1400 is
quite heavy a bike, it wasn't any brother to push it until it
was uphill. Then it was almost impossible. After every ten meters
or so I had to sit down for a short brake. It was hotter than
in hell now and I was sweating all over and didn't have any
I'm very thankful for the kind fellow that stopped his car on
the side of the highway and helped me to push the bike the last
hundred meters of the last uphill between me and the gas station.
I ride bike myself so it's only natural that I stopped
to help, he said and showed me the easiest way to get
to the gas station, using the bicycle lane instead of the main
It should have been easy to take me to the gas station if I
had been all right. After a short downhill there was only a
couple of hundred meters to push the bike on a horizontal tarmac.
But I didn't make it. I wasn't even thinking straight anymore,
all I thought was that I needed to get out out my biking clothes,
helmet and I needed something to drink. I managed to get as
far as 50 meters from the gas station but I I couldn't take
a shortcut over the lawn. I was having problems with pushing
the bike on a hard surface. When I realized that I would have
to take a detour of additional 200 or 300 meters to get to the
gas station I gave up. I throw off my helmet and jacket and
just sat down on the ground.
There it was, the gas station. But how
could me and my bike get there without any gas? I decided that
After few minutes I left the bike, the luggage, my jacket and
my helmet and went to the gas station myself. I thought the
lady behind the counter that I had run out of gas a short
way from here and asked if I could borrow a gas canister
of some kind. She loaned me a canister and the problem was solved.
I got some gasoline in the tank and could ride the rest of the
way to the gas station.
I knew that I wasn't feeling all right. After putting the helmet
back on I almost passed out immediately. But I managed to ride
to the gas station where I rested a good while and drank cool
When I thought I was feeling quite all right., I walked in to
the car part shop next door to the gas station. The salesman
asked me if I wanted to use the personnel's rest room to wash
my face with cold water or something. Yes, please
I replied, wondering how he could knew I was feeling hot. After
seeing my face in the mirror I knew why he knew. My whole face
was red, like I was cooking inside. There was a shower in the
rest room as well so I put my head under the shower and poured
cold water over my head for a good while. It felt wonderful.
Never again, I thought. I didn't want to run out of gas ever
On a dirt road in Northern Finland, in the
neighborhood of Sukeva.
The rest of the trip was far less dramatic. After leaving Jyväskylä
(with full tank) I took a swim in one of the thousands lakes
to get rid of the sweat and continued my journey towards my
older sister's place nearby Kajaani in northern Finland.
This was the longest trip I had ever made with my bike. The
GSX1400 is a really pleasant motorcycle to travel with and if
it wasn't for the vibrations from the rear tire (it was ruined
when rehearsing panic breaking at the race track in Karlskoga)
I couldn't have anything to complain about the ride. The first
100 kilometers or so after every stop were really pleasant but
after that you could feel the vibrations and slowly but surely
they would feel in the hands making them numb.
After couple of hundred kilometers I took off the main road
at Sukeva. My sister had warned me by the phone that they were
renovating the road and there were placed with no tarmac on
it. I noticed that, a large stone flying from the front wheel
(I suppose) damaged one of the exhaust pipes making an ugly
scratch on it (damage number one). The day after I noticed another
damage on the bike: dirt underneath the tank bag had damaged
the paint on the fuel tank (damage number two). I was not glad
about it but what can you do? I didn't buy the bike in order
to keep it shiny and new, I bought it so I could use it and
sooner or later there will be some marks after use.
After couple of days at my sister's place I continued my trip.
My mother was still living in Puolanka, a small community in
Northern Finland I left in mid-eighties. The distance was only
about 150 kilometers.
I stopped for fuel in Paltamo, a small community between Kajaani
and Puolanka. I was glad to notice that cruising really slow
through Finland paid off when refueling. The GSX1400 had needed
only 5 liters per 100 kilometer after Jyväskylä. I
celebrated the new record by riding the rest of the way almost
at full speed (and using a much more fuel than earlier)...
My mother was glad to see me but I didn't stay there long. I
tried to find some of my school mates in Puolanka but didn't
find any. I'd guess they had all moved from Puolanka for years
ago. I decided I'd ride to Vaala instead. That's the place where
our summer place is located, by the lake Oulujärvi. I had
stopped there only for a quick look the summer before when traveling
with my older brother's GoldWing but it had been years and years
I had spent some time there. This time I was all alone and I
wanted to just take it easy and enjoy the summer.
I'd guess nobody had mowed the lawn
for a while. It was still nice to get to our summer cottage
For a couple of days I just sat on the porch, had a few Finnish
beers and red interesting articles from the old motor magazines
my father had left behind on our summer cottage. The oldest
magazines where from the 1950's and there were hundreds of them.
I realized that there were dozens of great articles of Suzuki
motorcycles I planned to scan for you some day.
I should probably have left the cottage after only couple of
days if my older brothers hadn't decided to come from Sweden
to the summer place as well. Yrjö, the GoldWing dude, called
me and asked me to stay put, he was coming and he had taken
my other brother with him. So I stayed.
My brother had had an accident earlier that year at the work
and broken his heel, making him unable to ride a bike for few
months. So my brothers arrived with a car instead. They took
the long road, not using the ferry shortcut. A 20 hour ride,
or something like that. But I had time to wait, good reading
and there were more beer in the shops.
Only minutes after my brothers arrived, I managed to cause another
damage to my bike. As you see on the picture above, the lawn
hadn't been mowed for a really long time and it wasn't easy
too see where you were going. I accidentally rode on a small
concrete block hidden in the grass that made ugly damage to
the alternator case on the left side of the engine (damage number
three). I was glad to notice that the damage wasn't visible
for anyone else unless you were lying on the ground and looking
upwards. Although a piece of the alternator case was missing,
there was no hole through and no water or dirt could find its
way inside the case. But to be absolutely sure, I put some silicone
to fill the hole.
Taking it easy. My brother Risto resting in the back of the
car, my brother Yrjö lying on my Suzuki.
After couple of weeks with my brothers at the summer place,
working most of the time (mending everything that needed to
be fixed, and there were many things that were worn down), it
was time to get back home. There's no much to tell about the
ride home. I stayed a couple of hours at my sister on my way
southwards and stayed the night at my neighbors' summer place
at Konnevesi (close to Jyväskylä) and the day after
I took the evening ferry from Turku to Kapellskär in Sweden.
Oh yes, I was close to making the same mistake again as I did
on my way to north. After leaving my neighbors' place in Konnevesi
I decided to take smaller roads instead of the boring main roads
on my way to Turku. It was raining all the time so the roads
weren't that fun to ride (I think nothing is fun at rain), but
that wasn't the problem. I had forgotten that when traveling
on the smallest roads, there are not that many gas stations
everywhere. Suddenly I realized that I had to get more fuel
really soon and the nearest village was 60 kilometers ahead.
I took it really slow to save some gas and I did make it to
the next gas station, but it was really close. The fuel tank
displacement is 21 liters and that was exactly the amount of
fuel I filled up...
What did I learn from all of this? I learned that the Suzuki
GSX1400 is a wonderful bike for any purpose except when riding
on a wet and soft dirt road. After visiting my sister for the
first time, it had been raining the day I left and the dirt
roads (30 kilometers) were not fun to ride on a heavy bike with
high speed road tires. I also learned that you can't count on
that your bike uses the same amount of fuel if you ride on different
speeds. When riding on legal speeds it rewards you with great
mileagebut it begins to drink much more fuel when you double
the speed. And believe me, you don't want to run out of fuel
and have to push a GSX1400...
What else? Riding more smooth gives you more tire mileage and
avoiding concrete blocks hidden in grass, dirt between the tank
bag and loose stones on the road help in keeping the bike looking
The trip was about 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles) long. The
rest of the summer has been great here in Sweden and I have
made several shorter trips after that (more of them later).
The odometer shows almost 11,000 kilometers today and as I mentioned
earlier, the rear tire is till in very good shape. The front
tire has less than 2 mm on it and should be replaced soon. I'm
still very satisfied with the bike and love it more and more
I bought the bike exactly a year ago (I got it on the 17th of
September 2001) and plan to have it for a long time. But this
winter I try to avoid using it on salty roads. It was so difficult
to wash the salt off the bike last winter.
Maybe I even keep it inside when the snow comes this year...