Recently I was the lucky winner of a photo contest sponsored by SV Racing Parts. The prize was a SuperBrace for my DL1000. I was pretty happy about that because I had been curious about the brace, but not curious enough to spend the money on one. In the past I've installed other "must have" upgrades for bikes and been very disappointed. Progressive fork springs for my KLR 650 come to mind. I didn't feel any change and believe I wasted my money on that one. To be honest I was wondering if the SuperBrace would be the same situation. I'll admit to low expectations.
I've always been very happy with the handling of my stock Vee. Compared to my old DL650 it was just as flickable. I never felt it suffered any penalty from the extra weight. I could take it into the harshest of twisties with ease. I even think it handled better that my old FZ1. This satisfaction was the major contributor to my low expectations of the brace. The bike is so good now, how can it get better?
Blair at SV Racing Parts had asked me to write about my experience so I wanted to be fair and really try to give the brace every chance. To start my test I took my pre-brace bike out on a 10 mile loop. Reasonable twisty sections, but nothing too special. Also while riding I was doing some S turns from line to line in my lane. Anything to give me a fresh memory of the handling characteristics of my bike.
Upon returning home I put the bike on the centerstand and installed the brace. Installation is easy with just 4 screws. I did not find the install to be as effortless as I've seen some say. Getting the front piece between the fork and the fender did take some minor muscling to get into place, then the back of the brace slid into place very easily. Tightening the screws was also a very minor challenge. Mainly getting the allen wrench at the correct angle. Do not get the idea installation is difficult, it's not. It's easy to understand and once you get everything into place it's simple. It's just not completely effortless. Takes about 10 minutes.
Back on the bike. To the west and moving fast I see nasty rain clouds coming over the mountain. I'm pretty sure I can make the loop and beat them back to my house. I need to try this brace while I've got the old setup fresh in my brain. I grab the throttle and go. I instantly notice the front end seems tighter. Not sure how else to explain it, just tighter. Next I try my little S turns. The bike responds immediately with a very crips turn. Very interesting. Now rather that doing gentle S turns I start doing short burst left and right handlebar inputs. The new precision is unmistakable. The steering response is instant and exact. There is no "maybe I feel a difference" thought running through my head, it's a very significant change. Next I take my hands off the bars. I was never impressed with my Vee's tracking when hands free. The bike tracked perfectly straight now in hands free mode. Overall the bike seems tighter, is tracking better and more precise.
4 miles from home I realized my gamble failed. I'm now in heavy winds and an absolute downpour of sideways rain. I forgot about the test and concentrated on not getting blown off the road. Conditions became miserable in the distance of about a 1/2 mile As I was reaching home I thought to myself I am so glad I have this brace installed. The extra handling precision was greatly appreciated in those conditions.
Back when I had low expectations I thought I'd ride with it for a while then take it off to see if I could tell the difference. Forget it. There is no way I'm taking this thing off. I'm a believer now. The best way I can describe the difference is to think of a non braced bike as steering using bungee cords stretched to their max extended position. Response is good, but there is some lag time between input and response. A braced bike is like being welded from the handle bars to the front tire. Response is instant and precise. Tracking is straight and it feels like the bike is more solid, almost like riding on rails.
The question is always asked...would you buy it again? Well, I didn't buy it in the first place, so I can answer that one. I can say that if it were stolen I definitely would replace it. There's no guessing about this one. I can tell a significant change in the bike, and I feel more in control with it there.
A word about Blair at SV Racing Parts. Super nice guy. He sent me a DL1000 brace as soon as I won. Unfortunately the brace had been mistakenly miss packaged at the factory and it didn't fit my bike. Blair had me send it back to the factory so they could see their mistake and they were to send me another. Turns out the factory was out of stock and moving locations so it was going to be a while. Although none of this was Blair's fault he repeatedly apologized for the situation. Production took longer than anticipated and Blair was always reassuring me that I would not be forgotten. In the end he was good to his word and the brace arrived this week (and it was packaged right). In the end I'm certain I'll be checking his product line first for the next farkle I need to buy. I liked the way he handled the situation and would definitely trust him again. Plus he's a member here.
Blair's member profile
Couple of shots of the new brace.