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FF: Forks Modified Steering Stem

greg brillus

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
Hi there to all interested in this subject, just wanted say that I have just installed this kit, along with the change from the large lower link eye bushes to sealed bearings, to a friends Comet. In fact it is the bike belonging to Neal Lowe who lives not far from me here on the Gold Coast, and has a write up about his two bikes in the latest MPH. So he has had a taste of the difference between the Girdraulics on his Comet verses the Brampton's on his "B" Rapide. Well the conversion process went very well, only hold up was getting the link eye's honed out to suit the 32 mm OD bearings, but that was not too difficult, and I soon had all 4 bearings pressed into the link and installed on the new stem, which we had fitted the day before. I ordered one of the new Kawasaki type steering dampers to be installed in the next few days. I had a small batch of attachment brackets made as per Norman Walker's design from 6 mm 6061 alloy, and these bolt straight on with two 6 mm Allan headed cap screws. Ok the final part was what springs to use, and I had already had some 40 Lb springs made at two different lengths, but these were too long, and even the short ones when installed in the front of my Rapide, was topping out and I could not press the suspension down at all...!!!! In the end on my bike I used a pair of David's springs of the red version which are 75 Lb's each. These work quite ok, and still probably a bit heavy still, but not unacceptable. Ok .....Back to the 40 Lb springs.......We decided to use these and chop them down in increments and see what happens, first we cut 25 mm off and tried this, but it felt too heavy, so we chopped another 25 mm again, and this felt quite good. The right side spring box felt very harsh, so I removed it and thoroughly washed it out to remove any grit and old grease, reassembled, and refitted the front wheel. We hooked up the front brake cables, adjusted the brakes and tightened the front axle. The front end felt very good, and dived with the front brake held firm. It was time to go for a ride......It fired up first kick, and I took off up my drive way, and off down the hill and around the block. The bike felt absolutely fabulous, the font end rising on acceleration as I changed up through the gears, followed the bumps and divets in the road with a nice soft ride, no harshness at all, back off the throttle and touch the front brake, and the front dives nicely....Not too much, but just as it should. I returned up my street where Neal was waiting for the news......I handed him my helmet and sent him off for a test ride. When he returned he could not believe the transformation, and he agreed as I did, that it actually felt better than the Brampton's on his "B" Rapide. All in all I felt very happy with the spring choice, though I will try some of the ones Norman has made up in the front of my Rapide, as mine still feels a bit stiff. The springs really take some experimentation to get right dependent on the rider and the bike itself. But by todays efforts, I can honestly say that Neal's Comet feels better than any other I have ridden, and I think from Neal's reaction that he would totally agree. Now he has plans to upgrade the rear suspension as well, and as we know these things can be a work in progress. But given this is the first Comet I have carried out this modification to, I can say with absolute confidence that it is most definitely worth the while. Big Thanks to all who contributed to this outcome, especially Norman and David. Cheers for now...............Greg.
 

davidd

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
Oh dear here we go again..........Ok the big difference between the Brampton's and Girdraulics is actually nothing........yes nothing..........

I don't believe that George Brown would have agreed with this. The Bramptons can suffer from wobbles, but so can any Vincent using a new steering stem. You cannot rid a two-wheeled vehicle of the problem. However, you can rid the Girdraulic of the "seizing while braking problem", which does not occur with the Bramptons. All your other points are well-taken.

David
 

Martyn Goodwin

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
Martyn, I completely under stand why you would want to run your Hydraulic as stiff as that,
But I think you are making it act like a friction damper ?
Just my thoughts !.
It depends on the gearing of yours, But on mine I run 2 clicks from soft on my Twin and my Comet.
I find it does not have to "feel" like it's doing anything, It just calm's things down.
As does Taper rollers at the bottom.
Good Luck, Bill.
I also have tapered rollers top and bottom. At normal handle bar movement speeds - just riding about - I cannot detect any difference in freedom of movement for full soft to full hard on the hydraulic damper BUT if you try a quick side to side movement of the bars only then can I feel a difference soft to hard
 

greg brillus

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
So some things that can cause a wobble on the Girdraulic forks, or contribute more than Brampton's. They can be oversprung if the inner springs are in place, the friction......now this is a big one.......as Vic said, some friction might be desirable to settle the forks from being too active. Well i have never found this the case, look at the extra surface area from larger diameter spindles and bushes, especially the lower link rear ones that are huge. The other really big one is the actual spring cases themselves, these end up with age old grease and grit from the road, and if they suffer any mechanical damage the cases bind quite badly. Lastly the links are longer than those on the Brampton's so this is like a set of telescopics that have more offset on the yolks. This also explains why when you jack up the rear of the bike with much longer springs, the front end "Turns in" far more readily than if short springs on the rear are used. A Vincent set up like this will out turn a Featherbed framed bike no problem........There is more than meets the eye on this one.
 

timetraveller

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
PRICE INCREASE
I recently collected the latest batch of JE steering heads. Ever since I started getting these made the price as stayed at £290 + p&p. I was warned after the previous batch that the price would have to go up but the increase of £50 per kit was a lot more than I had expected. I have to pass this on to the customer as I work on a profit of £20 per kit and out of that has to come my fuel, phone calls etc, There was some recent discussion to the effect that there is nothing wrong with making a profit but my attitude to this item is that I did not invent it and JE, the originator of this design, chose to let me copy it free of charge. It improves comfort and safety and therefore I felt it was more important to make it available rather then to try to make money out of the project. So, sorry though I am, the price will go up to £340 +p&p for each unit:(
 

timetraveller

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
NO MORE JE STEERING STEMS!
I have now sold about 200 of these and orders have more or less dried up. My guess is that all those who are interested and have known about this mod for years have bought and fitted it. However, over the last two months I have had enquiries from people who are new to Vincents and want their bikes to be the safest and most comfortable they can be. I have now sold the last three and had not considered ordering any more. However, I have now received an order for another one and I know that Greg in Oz could use another one. As an aside Greg has bought about 50 of these so a significant fraction of all the bikes out there must now have the modified front end. It costs me £3,000 to get ten machined and I do not want too many of them lying on the shelf at my age (82). I am happy to have a few left over to help out those who are new to Vincents but not too many. So if there are six or seven people out there who would like to place an order then I will go ahead and organise the purchase of the new steering heads and all the ancillary parts.
OVER TO YOU
 

greg brillus

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
Norman, I could definitely sell a few more.........It is like trying to eat a giant bowl of spaghetti.........You think you are done and then the interest is still lingering on...........I can not help but feel that there must be a lot of people out there who have simply put the kit on the shelf for a rainy day.........i seriously don't feel the average Vincent owner really knows what the benefits are, its not shiny enough, or gives you more acceleration.........its that grey area we talked about regarding suspension years ago. It must be said, and I have seen it happening over recent times........A lot of what has been available is coming to an end........A lot of very good products that many Vincent owners have had are either now or soon will not be available any more........ The first sensible mod i ever did to my Rapide was to install a descent modern type side stand to the left side pillion plate..........The second was to upgrade the steering geometry, after my first one on the racer back in 2013......... You still hear of the odd owner who suffers a tank slapper on these bikes........And yet the number of bikes upgraded with such a good mod is very low......... I guess they'll never know.
 

Mark Fisher

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
NO MORE JE STEERING STEMS!
I have now sold about 200 of these and orders have more or less dried up. My guess is that all those who are interested and have known about this mod for years have bought and fitted it. However, over the last two months I have had enquiries from people who are new to Vincents and want their bikes to be the safest and most comfortable they can be. I have now sold the last three and had not considered ordering any more. However, I have now received an order for another one and I know that Greg in Oz could use another one. As an aside Greg has bought about 50 of these so a significant fraction of all the bikes out there must now have the modified front end. It costs me £3,000 to get ten machined and I do not want too many of them lying on the shelf at my age (82). I am happy to have a few left over to help out those who are new to Vincents but not too many. So if there are six or seven people out there who would like to place an order then I will go ahead and organise the purchase of the new steering heads and all the ancillary parts.
OVER TO YOU
Norman, I think I might be interested in a full kit...springs et al. Not in any rush but it's been 10 years and 30,000 miles since I worked on the front end so it's probably getting to that time for a strip down and inspection. If I'm going to do all that I might as well consider this upgrade. I'm in the USA if that has any bearing. Please let me know what the kit currently consist of and what the approximate cost will be.
thanks
mark
 

timetraveller

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
OK Chaps, that is all good to know and I will get all the parts made. Expect that to take at least a month or two. It will depend mostly on when the CNC guys can fit it in. I will list the cost of the various bits below.
1) The new steering head, assembled, plus stainless steel shim washers to allow fitting the bottom link to the new steering head £340.
2) Supplying four sealed ball races to fit into a machined lower link £16
3) Getting a lower link machined so that the rear eyes take the ball races, fitting the ball races and adjusting and fitting the lower link to the new steering head £100. That includes the four ball races.
4)Two new springs either 30, 33, 36 or 45 lbs/inch depending upon rider weight £30
5) AVO damper to fit the new system £168 (unless their prices change)
6) Hydraulic steering damper kit, designed to fit the new steering heads £125
7) If anyone wants I will supply a new coil over AVO rear damper with the kit. They are just over £200.

You can buy as much or as little of the kit as you wish. If you have the skills to machine the lower link yourselves I can just supply the bearings. I charge the same as AVO for their dampers so you can either buy direct from them or let me get them and supply them with the kit.

Things to note; if you do not want to send your existing lower link then you can arrange for the Spares Company to send me one and I will get that modified. If you do, that note that they are supplied with an ‘as cast’ finish and cost about £360. They need to be painted. I can do that if ‘rattle can’ paint will suffice. Alternatively, I have to pay someone to spray two-pot polyurethane paint. If you do supply a new lower link then note that you also need two FF6 bushes to fit to the front holes as they are used in the jig which is used to ensure that the two rear holes are in line.

If you are going to fit taper roller head races then I need to know as the steering stem has to be made to fit those.

I supply either WORD file or PDF instructions for fitting both the steering head kit and the hydraulic steering damper kit. If you send me your email addresses then I can send those quickly.
 
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greg brillus

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
There are a couple of very seasoned riders here in Australia, who until quite recently had only just got the chance to ride their bikes with this modification done.........Even so, it wasn't until they had covered a few good miles that they realized the benefits of this mod.........Their feedback was that the steering felt much lighter and responsive, but that somehow they were readily grinding their foot pegs on the ground whilst cornering, and also the braking felt much more effective and compliant over rough roads. To me this was good feedback, as these blokes have owned Vincent's for a long time and covered many miles.........One of them actually suffered a bad crash years ago, and realized after discussions, that it was almost certainly a tank slapper that threw him off. When I was running the racer in my pic to the left, it felt amazing to ride, especially with a simple coilover shock on the front and rear........the reduction in friction was massive and the changes altered the behavior a lot....... I don't ever remember the front end acting badly even over some rough stuff and I could easily out corner many of my opponents on the track..........The chap who owns it now is a far better rider than me..........I have seen him on this same bike racing against Beau Beaton on the Horner brothers "Goodwood" bike in Victoria.......He made the exact same observations as me.
 

Martyn Goodwin

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
There are a couple of very seasoned riders here in Australia, who until quite recently had only just got the chance to ride their bikes with this modification done.........Even so, it wasn't until they had covered a few good miles that they realized the benefits of this mod.........Their feedback was that the steering felt much lighter and responsive, but that somehow they were readily grinding their foot pegs on the ground whilst cornering, and also the braking felt much more effective and compliant over rough roads. To me this was good feedback, as these blokes have owned Vincent's for a long time and covered many miles.........One of them actually suffered a bad crash years ago, and realized after discussions, that it was almost certainly a tank slapper that threw him off. When I was running the racer in my pic to the left, it felt amazing to ride, especially with a simple coilover shock on the front and rear........the reduction in friction was massive and the changes altered the behavior a lot....... I don't ever remember the front end acting badly even over some rough stuff and I could easily out corner many of my opponents on the track..........The chap who owns it now is a far better rider than me..........I have seen him on this same bike racing against Beau Beaton on the Horner brothers "Goodwood" bike in Victoria.......He made the exact same observations as me.
With my Comet fitted with the 'new' steering head I run a 19" front and 18" rear and the new Michelin Sport Classic Tyres, 34 psi rear and 30 psi front. Thornton on the front with standard spring boxes and a thornton coil over but without the coil and standard spring boxes at the rear.

As Greg has commented, handling and braking under all conditions is a massive improvement over the standard setup and a bit like he commented - in the twisties when touring I can easily 'out ride' , aka leave behind, folk on modern so called sports bikes - they only go faster because of the power difference when there is a straight!

But having said that the major factor is vastly improved ride safety and a serious improvement in brake performance, especially when on uneven surfaces
 

timetraveller

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
Ok Chaps, in five days I have had orders for at least ten and possibly more. Some people are waiting for new lower link but at the moment the Spares Company, Maughans and Conways are all out of stock. These will be required for those who either do not want to risk sending theirs through any postal system or do not have originals. This means that I can certianly go ahead with a new batch and I will keep you all informed via this forum when anything applies to all orders. In the mean time could I ask you to communicate with me via email at enw07@btinternet.com This is just to make it easier for me to keep up to everyone as some orders come through this forum, some through private messages on the forum and some through emails. If email to me is the preferred method that should make it easier. Thank you.
 

erik

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
Some days ago I rode my Standard Comet and I felt a little bit unsafe because I had used my Twin and the other single with the mod. steer. stem. Now the original Comet will be converted when the part arrives. Erik
 

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highbury731

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
Taper roller head races have a reputation for reducing handling problems. Do they make a difference on a Vincent, and if so, does the modified steering head make them more or less desirable?
Paul
 

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