Picked up a basically new 2019 ISB a few months ago. Have done a couple 500 mile rides on it (one in the rain) and Another 1k miles on a bunch of around town rides. Some observations that might be useful for others:
- Front Suspension: Not really that bad, just soft. Stock springs are progressively wound and will bottom out even at my 175# weight. I installed Ractech straight rate springs for my weight along with their recommended preload, oil and air gap. Cheap upgrade that makes the stock suspension plenty good enough. You do need a spring compressor of some kind, i picked up RaceTech and would consider lending it out if anyone needs to borrow.
- Rear Suspension: Limited travel and a very heavy stock spring (430#/in) make the rear very uncomfortable, especially at speed. I would be launched well off the seat hitting the shadows of tar snakes at highway speeds regardless of preload setting and there was zero sag. If i had to do it again, I think I’d put proper springs on the stock shocks first to see if that was a viable/cheap option, especially b/c manual says stock shock is “serviceable”. Instead, I splurged and got Ractech shocks with a much lighter spring mostly b/c i wanted to add some length to the shocks to get some better travel. Expensive (1k), but they are amazing shocks. I had a Penske on my monster that was outstanding- these feel as good.
NB: If you swap shocks, see if they use extended pivot on the mounts unlike the flat pivots on the stock shocks. The Ractech shocks did. Advantage is that you can drop the stock washer at top mount. Disadvantage is that I think you need longer bolts at the bottom mounts as there is not enough thread engagement even with stock shocks. I’m using partially threaded, Grade 10, zinc coated M12x1.75x55mm at top and x50mm at the bottom. That’s 5mm shorter than OEM at the top (b/c no washer) and 10mm longer at the bottom. 50MM are hard to find, so I just bought 4 55s and cut two down.
- Tires: I didn’t hate the Kendras until i ran in the rain for 5.5 hours. Even at annoying slow speeds, they were slippery as hell. I installed Mich Commander 3 Cruisers a week later. A weird vibration I felt at speed is gone and the bike handles exactly like I had hoped it would. Steering is lighter, smoother and grip is amazing. 11/10, would recommend. I have not had any rain yet, but that is supposed to be their strong suit, so I have high expectations.
- Mid-controls: My last bike was a Ducati monster with DIY rearsets. Rode it for 18 years. If i had to do it again, i would have taken more time to adjust to the forward controls on ISB. But not being able to put weight on the forward controls just felt too strange to me even after 1k miles. I went with the Roland Sands mids, which are excellent, but silly expensive. Only strange thing about them is that the right side peg is maybe an inch outboard of the midline more than the left due to the clutch. Feels odd at first, but you get used to it quickly. I have shorter legs (28” inseam), and the mids are perfect for me. Thinking of how to add highway pegs where the old front controls were though as its nice to stretch out on highway.
- Seats: Bike had both stock and comfort seats. Stock seat is unridable on stock suspension for me. Comfort is fine except at highway speeds. It was just too mushy and ramp shaped such that I felt like was going to slide right off the back. I ended up taking apart stock (non comfort) seat, digging out nearly all the foam and reshaping to have more of a “wall” at the back side and then installing the gel and 1/4” dry foam over it. The gel is amazing -not jelly-like at all as I’ve had with other seats. Another cheap DIY fix. Seat is incredible. Motorcycle Seat Insert | ShockTec Impact Gel Products | ShockTec.com
- Brakes: My monster had a similar single rotor front although bike weighed a bunch less. I swapped out to EBC pads on it successfully, so i did the same here. I used the FA pads on the rear and the EPFA pads on the front. Once bedded in, I think they are amazing. I will switch to a floating rotor at next pad change, but even with stock rotor, the EPFAs are great pads that don’t seem to fade at all. And i don’t notice any noise or other issues
- Touring: with stock suspension, I would not have dared to take a passenger anywhere. With new shock, I could, but have not yet. For one up touring, I think its a blast. I’ve done two 9 hour rides and really enjoyed them (with new seat...). Tank size prevents you from going 300 miles at a block, but I’d rather grab a coffee and stretch every couple hours anyway. The stock right hand saddlebag stays good and dry and is kind of big enough for a couple days of stuff, otherwise lashing a duffel over the passenger seat works.