Ive never really thought much about bad handling of this bike. Its a radically different machine from my other bike and i expected from the start that it would take some adjusting to. But as it turns out this period of adjustment didn't last long and now, 5 months later, riding it is as natural as my other bike which I have been riding for 22 years. If i approach bends and so on in a different way then its already unconscious, not something I have to spend any time thinking about. And that is in stark contrast to another bike I owned for a period, A K1200GT a bike that demanded full time concentration and very particular road positioning to get round a tight bend. It was hard work riding that bike on anything but the fastest roads. Not so this Honda.
Exactly that's also why it always makes me wonder, I like you feel the Honda just takes fantastic trajectories without even placing it or second guessing,
it's so good when I tour with it I can concentrate on enjoying the views, so I'm skeptical about changing size !
I have 2 motorcycles and I can say even the not so difficult Fazer 8 from Yamaha, takes some placing and throwing the handlebars in turns, for it to handle
like the AT and I don't know that I feel the front more, or that it's just a perception thing because it's so much harder to counter steer and throw in turns.
My reasoning having read on rake and trail, is that this is what you mostly feel when changing to 19/17, because it roughly tilts the front suspension reducing
the rake angle and trail as well. Your story about the K1200GT goes in the same direction, it's rake angle is 29.4°, while the stock AT is 27.5°, for comparison
in the segment the KTM 1290 is 24.9°, the BMW R1200GS is 24.5°, the Ducati Multistrada is 25° and the Suzuki V-strom is 25°, now lower the AT by 2" font
and 1" back I'm sure you're much closer to 25° now (btw Fazer 8 is 25°).
Not saying the lighter and smaller rims don't impact gyroscopic force, but I'm not so sure the 10% radius change against the tube weight removal is what
influences most the handling.
It would be interesting, if someone tried putting the front forks about 3cm higher in the clamps, or lower preload to rougly simulate the rake angle difference
analog to the rim swap, my guess is it would feel pretty close if not the same feel with 21".
There were a number of reasons I went the Rally Raid 19/17 route.
I prefer the much improved handling when getting it on. Roadside repairs are possible, the Bartubeless sealing system was fitted after the wheels were completed.
More and stronger stainless spokes, the originals had been swapped and they began discolouring again soon after.
Conti Trail Attac 2's fitted and after 1500+mls of use, there's been no loss of pressure and I haven't had to tighten any spokes so far.
Pretty much 100% road use so not worried about the offroad capability that may or may not have been lost.
I can't help but modify bikes as long as there is improvement to be had and this is a keeper for me, so I don't mind blowing the dough as I don't feel any need to be saving for a new bike.
The bike is far more predictable and confidence inspiring with this set up so I feel it's money well spent.
Tubeless on rims suited to that end was the aim the rest is a bonus that was expected from past experience so I'm a happy camper for now.
One regret, I didn't buy the Ohlins forks that were on sale here a while back, I bought the shock from him but at that time I was thinking about a KTM 200exc and was holding back pending a possible purchase.
More fool me, I've since put my old TY 250 R back in use to appease getting dirty again.
I will definitely go Bartubless, because hearing so many horror stories on the fast tube deflation... and I travel so much on it would be more conveniant !
Also the state being what it is in Switzerland changing rims I think is impossible, because I would have to hire a lab to test and "homologate" the rims to
assure that handling and braking is not negatively impacted, so imagine the costs of doing this... otherwhise if you have an accident the insurance company
will take the modified wheels as a reason not pay and you're ******.