I got to help a friend unwrap and look-over his new 2009 XM-3500 last week. There are a few differences from the 2008 bikes - in a good way!
The bike was delivered by Overnight – a contractor for UPS freight. This truck wasn’t equipped with a lift-gate - we used a saw horse and a counter top to make a ramp. One pushing, one pulling, and the package slid to ground level. (Note: lift-gate service should have been provided – it’s the primary reason for the $50 home delivery charge. When UPS calls to set-up a delivery appointment, remind them that you’ve paid for a lift-gate delivery. It’s easier on the hands and back, and is quicker than taking the top off the workbench…)
The wooden spacer under the metal frame (it’s not really a pallet, just a set of legs to make room for a fork lift or pallet jack) was damaged, and the steel frame was bent.
The wheels appear to have been deflated, pushed into the steel frame, and then inflated so that the tires wedged into the tubes provided on the frame. One could use a pair of channel-lock pliers to rip the tubes away from the frame like we did, but deflating the tires would be much easier. Too bad we didn’t think of that until the bike was freed from the frame…
There was absolutely no shipping damage on the bike. No scratches, no cracks, nothing injured at all. All fasteners were in place and appeared to be properly tightened. After four days and 22 KM on the road there is no need for a repair ticket.
Some details and observations
This bike was manufactured on Nov 15, 2008 and is a 2009 model per the VIN. The VIN is 5XWMLE0569Nxxxxxx The VIN is located on a plate on the right side swing arm for the rear wheel. It is also stamped into the frame under the seat on the right side (as riding). There is a small snap-in panel in the underseat bin to access the VIN.
The Thundersky cells in the pack are all properly badged, with the badge oriented correctly, and have proper serial number barcodes.
The tail/brake light unit has been replaced by a pair of lights with two dual-filament bulbs. Tail lights are bright – brake lights are blinding. The tail light sockets have properly crimped terminals.
The mechanical ‘ABS’ module is in place on the front brake caliper, but is not installed on the rear.
Both brake calipers are installed on brackets and appear to be installed as designed. The front caliper places the brake pads over the rotor. The rear brake is still rotated a bit so that the lower portion of the brake pads are out of position. (link to rear brake mod)
Wiring connections in the harness are made with waterproof, locking connectors. There are no signs of twisted wires or electrical tape on any connections or fixtures accessible on the body.
The circuit breaker is not mounted inside the storage bin – its attached to the side of the bin ‘inside’ the bike. It’s accessible thru a hole in the wall of the storage bin.
The headlight is not ‘always on’. There is a three-position switch near the right handgrip with off/parking/on for headlights. The left grip has the high/low beam switch. I would guess the headlights to be the 18W lamps others have seen on their 3500s. The headlights and center ‘parking’ light are excellent for visibility from the front. Headlight coverage and range is probably adequate for city/suburban areas with street lights.
The speedometer is lighted from the top. It does an adequate job of illuminating the upper ½ of the speed display, but the bottom ½ is fairly dark.
There are two horn buttons, one on each side. The unmarked rocker-switch under the right-side switch cluster is the ‘low-speed/high-speed’ switch.
The speedometer appears to be indicating faster than actual but is fairly accurate. GPS runs at three speeds gives the following:
Best speed so far was 80 KPH indicated. On different speed runs, I saw 39-43 MPH, but the radar-operated ‘school zone’ speed sign was after a curve and didn’t pick me up until I was fairly close to the sign, so there wasn’t a lot of time for the speed to stabilize. I didn’t feel comfortable riding someone else’s bike at full speed with a GPS in one hand…
This bike has the easiest center stand I’ve ever used. The 125, 250, and 650 road bikes I’ve owned had a small ‘stub’ to step on near the bottom of the center-stand’s foot. You basically ‘stand on’ the stub to keep the stand from moving while simultaneously lifting the bike upward and backward with one hand. This center stand has a long arm that curves up from the center-stand’s foot. Pressing down on the end of the arm lifts the bike up and onto the stand – no upper body strength required! The first time I put the 3500 on the stand I thought I was going to launch it into the garage ceiling…
The bike shipped with a 60V10A Thundersky charger that is “suitable for 20 cells.” The output of the charger feeds a pack positive and a pack negative connection. Charge voltage is good for 19 cells - the charger appears to be ‘tuned’ to not overcharge a slightly-out of balance pack. All 20 cells appear to be fairly close in voltage after a top-off charge. Voltages ranged between 3.335 and 3.354. There is no BMS on the bike. The charger socket is under the seat on the forward wall of the storage bin.
The tool kit included contains a 10mm nut driver, a 12mm/14mm open-end wrench, a small combination straight/Phillips screwdriver, two Allen wrenches. Also in the tool kit are the four screws that hold the rear swing-arm covers. The tool kit is in a small vinyl zip bag most commonly used by kids to hold pencils.
The manual is of decent quality and in English. It has a schematic and pictorial wiring diagram, but I can’t vouch for its accuracy. A couple of pictures appear to be from earlier models (as does some of the text). The photo of the battery pack shows lead-acid batteries. Overall, it’s certainly not from Honda or Suzuki, it’s much better than I expected.
It doesn’t take much time to access the battery pack. There’s a small door ahead of the seat that gives access to the most forward 4 cells. The under-seat storage bin comes out with four bolts and two screws. That gives access to the entire pack, the circuit breaker, the charging plug, and controller wiring. It’s also possible to replace the tail light bulbs from here, but it will take small hands.
The body panels fit well. Gaps were small and consistent. There was only one panel that didn’t seem to fit perfectly – one corner of a cover under the seat. There was one small sag in the paint on one left-rear body panel. It was just large enough to see in good light when looking closely, but too small to photograph.
The high/low switch really does make a difference in power and torque. In the low-speed position, one can twist the throttle gently until the motor starts to ‘grunt’ and begins to turn. It’s very easy to control the speed and it’s very smooth from a standstill to full throttle. Power and acceleration is strong! In the high-speed position, onset of power is more abrupt. Initial acceleration might be a bit lower than in the low-speed position, but the bike quickly accelerates to about 50 KPH indicated. The rate of acceleration slowly falls off, but the bike continues to accelerate to top speed.
I made a couple of runs using the switch as a ‘gear selector’ of sorts. Switch to low-speed, twist to take off, when moving comfortably along, close the ‘throttle’, switch to high-speed, and open the throttle and zoom! Ok, it’s not a transmission, but I can see the value in saying it has ‘two speeds’.
If it were my bike I would prefer a BMS, a bit brighter headlights, and more light on the speedo.
All in all, the bike felt solid, and is a comfortable, smooth, and quiet way to get around. I can see using this for most of my daily driving around – bank, store, post office, etc.