Every great and deep difficulty bears in itself its own solution. It forces us to change our thinking in order to find it.-Niels Bohr
Now that I’ve got the slightly over the top quote out of the way, let talk about trying to customize my bike as a “metric second class citizen.”
If you’re a metric rider/owner, I’m sure you’ve seen a part that you thought was awesome, only to find out that part is only made for Harley-Davidson bikes (and nowadays occasionally Indian bikes too). *sad face* I’ve been there too. Sometimes, with a little persistence, we can beat the manufactures at their own game… It also helps if your bike is almost a direct rip off of a H-D model.
My Vulcan 900 takes “inspiration” from the H-D Softail. So much “inspiration” that a lot of the fork sizing and geometry is close to identical. This info has come in handy a couple times, including my latest quest for a new accessory.
I decided that I wanted to replace my Memphis Shades Fats windshield. It just felt like it getting a little long in the tooth, as I had bought it used, but I now had to decide what to replace it with. At first, I was just thinking I’d go with another Fats or maybe even their Drop Top adjustable windshield… And then I saw the Road Warrior. I’m not even sure how I stumbled upon it, but it was love at first sight. There was just one small problem.
Memphis Shades only listed Road Warrior fitment charts for Harley-Davidson and Indian motorcycles. I figured it wouldn’t be that big of a deal. I’d just shoot an email to Memphis Shades to see what was compatible or close to compatible with my Vulcan. Nothing. According to customer service, they had never tried fitting a Road Warrior to a metric bike, and unfortunately, Memphis Shades doesn’t make all the dimensions of their fairings widely available (likely to avoid copycats).
This would pose a small, but not impossible, problem. Time to research. I had H-D listings for Dynas, Softails, and Road Kings to work with, and I knew one had to be close enough to work, even if I had to make custom mounting brackets. I first stumbled upon SS Custom Cycle’s listing of a Road Warrior for the Yamaha Bolt. This was a bit of encouragement because someone out there was fitting Road Warrior fairings to metric bikes. So I fired off an email to SS Custom Cycle, but no luck, they had never fitted a Road Warrior to a Vulcan. They were nice enough to offer their help if I could bring my bike to there shop, but their shop was ~8 hours away. Not a totally unreasonable option, but I figured I’d exhaust all other options first.
I then moved on to spec sheets. All the spec sheets. SO MANY SPEC SHEETS!
First, I dug up the Kawasaki specs for my ’13 Vulcan 900 Custom. Then, it was time to start churning through H-D spec sheets. I was trying to find a bike with a similar rake and fork diameter, but then, I realized that I should probably start by finding a bike with the correct headlight diameter. Great… H-D doesn’t seem to list that info with rest of the specs. Luckily, I stumbled upon Vision X USA, who does have headlight diameter info for Harley models.
I quickly discovered that there were no Dynas on Memphis Shades list with a 7 inch headlight, like what is on my Vulcan. The Softail options weren’t looking to great at first, but lucky for me the new Sport Glide has a 7 inch headlight. I say lucky because the only other H-D that was listed by Memphis that had a 7 inch headlight was the Road King., and the Road King Road Warrior fairing looked to be different from the other models of Road Warriors, due to the Road King headlight design. I decided that I would roll the dice on the Sport Glide version of the fairing, and I figured I’d probably modifying brackets at the very least. Possibly, fabricating custom brackets at worst.
After some speedy shipping, my Road Warrior arrived, and the moment of truth was upon us. I mounted the trigger lock plates to the fairing, and headed out to the garage to see where I would need to start bending the brackets to make it fit. To my relief, it was perfect. I wouldn’t need to modify any brackets. I’d just need to slide my fork mounts down a touch to ensure proper placement of the fairing. After a few minutes of shifting brackets around to ensure even spacing around the headlight, I was done, and it was time for a celebratory beer.
That was a relief. For once, something seems to have gone easier than expected, and I didn’t have to settle for some alternative because a manufacturer only made H-D versions of a part I wanted.