Loading Big Bikes In Pick-Up Trucks
There should be an easy and safe way to load a big heavy
full-dress Harley Davidson or custom bike in a pick up truck all by yourself. There is, but.
It's the buts that cause the problem. You can buy the long and wide
ramps that will allow you to ride your bike into the truck bed, but you will
run into a major problem if you can't take the ramp with you. How will
you unload the bike once you get where you are going? Get the picture?
Word of Warning and Danger:
Did you know that those factory tailgate straps (cables) on your pickup
truck are not intended to bear a load? How many times have you see
people loading their motorcycles using that tailgate? Imagine what
would happen to you, and your friends helping you, if just one of those
cables failed? Somebody is going to be seriously hurt and the
motorcycle will be destroyed. For safety, put a three strong supports
under three sides of that tailgate: left, center and right side to hold up
that tailgate, as a safety net in case the cables let go and break free.
Better yet, buy a motorcycle loading system that does not rely on any weight
on that tailgate! How much is your life worth? It is dangerous
to use ramps! There is a safety product that by-passes the tailgate
cable system replacing them with a removable steel strap called the Tailgate
EX Support and cost only $54; contact,
The solution is to buy a ramp that breaks down
and folds up so it can be placed along both sides of the bike in the truck,
If you have a standard pick up truck an 8 foot
ramp will work, but if you have a truck that exceeds 38 inches from ground
to tailgate, then you need a 10 foot ramp. Will it fit into the truck
after it breaks down? Many of these ramps have curved geometry so they
don't fold up flat, leaving no room in the truck to bring the ramp with you.
You could purchase the 8 foot ramp, but to
lower the back end of the truck you can buy recreational vehicle type wheel
leveling chocks. You inch your truck's front wheel up a bit on the
chocks and that will lower the back end of the truck. It's better than
trying to find a embankment to back up against trying to find a good angle
to load and unload bikes. But...
The 8 foot ramp's curve may still be too steep
and the low-clearance bike, which may be your bike, will high-center (get
stuck) on the ramp's curvature. So, you are now back to the 10 foot
ramp, with all its storage problems, but...
The 10 foot ramp may not allow you to close the
tailgate in a 8 foot long bed pick up truck. This may or may not
be a problem for you.
So, what is the solution? Buy a USA Ramp
if you want to load your motorcycle or other vehicles into your truck all by
yourself. But what if you want to tow a trailer with this ramp?
No problem, they have a Safety Tow Ramp. This is a good route to go.
But what if you have a 5th wheel travel trailer?
You could buy a motorcycle rack to be welded on
to the rear I-beams, but the bike must be less than 450 pounds or the towing
geometry will be affected and that could cause you to lose control and
crash. It's not going to work with big heavy bike. A toy hauler
5th wheel is the only sane choice if you want to go with the 5th wheel, but...
you will give up a ton of living space in the RV. Not a problem if you
are using the RV for vacation, but living in it for extended periods would
be punishing. You could tow another trailer behind the 5th wheel, but
do not go beyond 50 feet total length or the Highway Patrol in some states
will pull you over and force you to abandon the RV and hire a tow truck to
get it off the roadway, also, some states require that you be licensed to
triple-tow trailers. It's not an option for most people. Better
to go the travel trailer route with a USA Ramp... problem solved. You
will live in more comfort and the bike will be with you where ever you go.
Another system I have used is to use the "Big
Boy" mfg., by Ramps Are Us. It is an aluminum ramp that folds up into
three pieces and so it can be stored along side the bike in the back of the
pick up truck, or stack them in the back seat area of an extra-cab pick up
truck. This also is a one man operation to load and unload big and low
custom bikes in the truck. You can find the company on the Internet.
I drive the bike up slowly with no problem. Backing down is a bit
scary, but you will get used to it. Just keep the bike in gear with
clutch in because the brakes will not work to stop you if you have to stop.
If you just go easy and keep the bike straight you will be down off the ramp
in two seconds. The Big Boy ramp allows you to load and unload the
bike yourself, take the ramps with you to your location and still allows you
to tow a huge travel trailer (not a fifth-wheel trailer).
Safety Notice: I have noticed some safety
precautions when using gravity ramps to load heavy motorcycles. The ramps may
come with a safety cable to attach to the truck bumper so the ramp can't be
pulled away from the truck when loading or unloading. Don't trust
these tiny cables! Weave a ratcheting tow or tie-down strap rated for
at least 3,000 lbs to the ramp and the truck's tow hitch or other secure
area, like the truck axle if need be. Do this to "each" ramp section
independently. Each ramp section gets tied down with its own strap!
If those tiny cables break without these straps you could die as the bike
falls and crushes you. You also need to strap together the ramps so
they will not separate horizontally. If the center ramp were to fail
the straps tied to the other two ramps will support the bike so it and you
will not fall down. Also, if you lose your
balance or have to stop part way up the ramp you can safely apply much
leg force to the ramp(s) to maintain balance without the risk of a ramp section
slipping away causing you and the bike to tumble to the ground. To
prevent ramp spreading I tie
the ramps one at the top to hold the top truck tail gate sections together and one at the
bottom near the pavement end to snug together the bottom sections with 3,000 lb tie down straps.
With all of these straps in place, I know for a fact I will be safe.
If you have a large motor home (a Class A type)
you can buy a loading ramp that will allow you to load the big heavy bike on
the back of the motor home. But, the RV must be designed to take this
load. Not all motor homes are designed to take on additional towing
loads, but many are. Check with the lift manufacture on how to select
a motor home that will accommodate their ramp system. Beware the cost of these Class A motor homes are
outrageous. The larger motor home can be ordered to store bikes in a
Danger: Loading or unloading a
motorcycle onto a gravity ramp is dangerous no matter how many safety
precautions you take. If the bike falls on you or the ramp breaks the
motorcycle and ramp will entangle and crush you, likely unto death.
The best system is to use the automatic loaders that will pull the
motorcycle into the bed of a pick up truck. Pak-Rak (their Web site
link is on our motorcycle links page) is one that I purchased and it works
well, but they went out of business in year 2016, you could get a used one. It will not work for custom bikes with long fork rakes and wide
back tires, but for most all production bikes it will work just fine if the
wheel base is no more than 67.5" long (but overall length of bike and
tire width size needs to be the final consideration if it is to fit on the
rack). All Harley Davidson's and
Honda's usually will work fine, but check wheelbase first. Automated ramps are expensive,
but a lot cheaper than paying a doctor thousands of dollars in medical fees
and dealing with a life-long physical disfiguring or back injury. It is better
to pay for a good automatic ramp.
Amerideck also makes an automatic
lift system (see our links page).
also makes a lift that lets you haul your bike behind your car, truck or RV
and it is supported by the vehicle tow hitch.
Also, there is another benefit to the automated
ramp system that is well worth the price of the ramp many times over.
Convenience and ease of operation. It laboring and time consuming
to set up ramps to unload and load a motorcycle and many times you will not
pull the bike off the truck to cruise around a city or town "because it is
too much work to load up the bike." With the automated ramp you push a
button and the bike is down and ready to go in about 3 minutes or less!
I have found using these automated ramps permit a higher quality of life
because now I can ride in areas of the country I would normally never would
have. How many times have you traveled and said, "Gee, it would be
nice to ride those mountains" but you could not because unloading the bike
would be too much trouble. You need to discover the weight load
limitations of the auto-loader motorcycle lifts and tire size limitations.
Today the bikes are heavier and have wider tires, so modifications need to
be made to some auto-loaders to beef them up in strength, even for some
heavy stock bikes.
So, there you have it. If you want to
load your big bike alone without assistance it can be done, but you need to
do your research. More motorcycle dealers should have demonstration
ramps so customers can try the product before purchasing.
There are new ramp designs always being made
that are not covered here. Search the Internet under "Motorcycle Ramp"
as a key word. Some use power to pull the bike into the truck, but
there is always a catch to watch out for. Can you close the tailgate
or if not can you stow it by the truck bed near the back cab? Can you
still tow another vehicle with the automatic loading ramp installed? Will the ramp work
with your truck? Is the truck bed size sufficient for the device to be
installed into your truck? How large a motorcycle will the ramp
accept? What is the ramp's size or other limitations? Can one person operate
the ramp or are two persons required? What is the weight limit the
ramp can handle? Most may not be able to accept motorcycles with large
size tires or extended forks.
If you need a lift to mount your motorcycle behind a
motor home click here:
Motorcycle lift for RV's. Another company that makes
a automatic ramp to load a motorcycles in a pick-up truck is called the
Sport Loader ($2,400) by
Blue Ox. Another product that allows
you to carry a motorcycle on the back of your car, truck or motor home mfg.,
by Joe Hauler. Another company
is BikeLoader.com and another is
Mountain Master. Also see
Rampage Power Lift Ramps and
Mountain Master and
PUBLISHING RIGHTS - the
article is copyrighted August 24, 2004 (updated May 2006), but you are granted the right to
publish the article herein titled "Loading Big Bikes In Pick Up Trucks" in perpetuity.
You must include the entire article as is, with no changes of wording.
That includes the commentary section by James Russell. We do request
you give full credits to James Russell Publishing and to post an active Website link to
James Russell Publishing Website. This publishing right may also be arbitrarily
rejected and withdrawn if the article is misused or employed into an obscene
or an offensive environment of which it was not intended to be portrayed.
Buying a New or Used Harley Davidson
1. If money is a problem, then stop
putting it off and buy what you can afford to buy. Buy new, if you
can, or at least a used low mileage bike (with a one-year warrantee if you
can). The bike you need to look at
is the Sportster if you can only afford what this bike will cost. Get
the largest cubic inch engine available. At this writing it is 1200
cc. The Sportster has problems; it vibrates badly, but the 2004 model
year and beyond will now have anti-vibration features and that is good news.
It also has a small gas tank so you will always be on the lookout for a gas
station, but the gas tank on the Sportster models are slowly increasing in size. It is a small bike, so it is easy to learn to ride it (though
just as dangerous as any bike can be and is a very fast accelerating
motorcycle). It is
quick due to its
power to weight ratio, but let's keep this in perspective. It is not
considered a fast bike, just that it is faster than the bigger heavier
Harley's. It will not stand a chance with other brands of bikes of
even lesser cubic inch engines nor will it match the brute power of the
V-Rod. The Sportster sounds great with aftermarket exhaust pipes.
The biggest problem? You will outgrow the bike and want a bigger
Harley that handles and reacts slower and rides smoother and has larger
tires for a smoother and safer ride and that has more compartment storage
2. Consider not buying a bike with
one of those skinny 21 inch front wheels. They look cool, but they
bite into every crack and groove in the road and often, the shocks on these
bikes are inferior and make for a terribly sloppy ride, and you better hang
on because deep or wide cracks in the road can rip the handlebars right out of your grip
creating loss of control and a crash to the pavement. This "fighting the road" will wear you down and taking a long ride
will be awfully tiring.
3. Don't buy a bike with spoke rims.
Yes, they look fine, but if you get a flat tire away from home you have a
big problem. Today, you just can't pull out your old set of tire
irons, peel back the tire to patch the tube because the rubber sidewalls are
very stiff. Tires must usually be mounted using tire mounting machines in a
shop environment or use at least three long reach tire-irons, rim protectors and compressed air
to get the job done. The problem is the tube in spoke wheels going flat
there is no practical way to fix a flat tire on the side of the road or a
freeway. Get a
bike with mag wheels. Now you have wheels with no tube involved. If you get a flat
tire? You can plug it yourself with a tubeless-tire plug kit and
inflate the tire with a portable CO2 canister designed to inflate tires.
Or, you can call a tow service and they can fix the flat right on the spot
for you with a plug, just as they would do to a car tire. Any service station can
fix your flat tire. At least you are not
waiting for a tow truck to get you to a dealer on Sunday with no dealer
open. With the mag wheel and the plug repair kit with at least two
compressed air or CO2 cartridges for each tire and you are on your way in
just a few minutes; but
get a new tire as soon as you can. It's not a good idea to ride with a
plug in your tire for any distance. Drive at lower speed and with
caution. Plugs do work, but if the plug fails the tire will go flat
again, and flats on a motorcycle are always risky business. A lot of
people ride bikes with spoke rims, until they get a flat tire and learn the
Will they fit your bike? How much will they cost? Don't assume
that all accessories will be available for your bike. Some bikes can't
even carry saddlebags due to the shock absorbers blocking the mounts, etc.
Now, you may never want saddlebags or a windshield, but if you do a lot of
distance riding, you will eventually be forced into getting saddlebags and a
windshield. Keep in mind, you want a bike you can't outgrow, so get a
bike that can handle the accessories when you want them. It's not fun
dishing out $17,000 (or much more) and find out you can't put the options on the bike, or
you got to spend a horrific amount of money to get them to fit.
buying add-on accessories from the dealer instead of aftermarket. I
could write an article on why. For starters, everything will fit right
the first time. If you buy aftermarket some parts don't fit with other
parts and when you try to return the ill-fitting products you will be
refused and be stuck with items you can't use and don't want. This can
easily set you back $1,000.00 not counting the anger you will feel how
business treats customers these days. Plus you will be out
shipping and handling costs and back to square one wondering why you are
being mistreated. Accessory shops that also install the products are
okay as they will guarantee compatibility. In that case you may save
money, but if you try the mail order route to save money you will likely not
like what you get in the mail and not be able to return it for a refund,
even if you use a credit card you are out of luck. Yes, you may pay a
premium for dealer installed options, but everything will fit, look and work
just fine and that alone can save you a bunch of grief, time and money.
5. Consider not buying a Softail Standard or
a Deuce or a Fat Boy (and I had a Fat Boy when riding this article). Here's why; these bikes look cool, but
look at the price tag. You can walk away with a nice Road King for
less than the price of a Fat Boy, likely equal to the price of a Deuce, and
only a couple thousand more than the Softail Standard. Save
yourself a bunch of money and grief and go look at the Road King model, it is
Harley's best value. I bought a new Softail Standard and found
it a bike that handled dangerously at times and the forks could not take
typical road bumps. I upgraded to the Fat Boy and this bike rides
nice, but vibrates at all speed, even though it is a balanced twin-cam
engine. It's tolerable, but annoying for long rides beyond one hour
duration on the freeway. The vibration gets worse above 60 m.p.h.
Your next Harley should be the Road King or Electra Glide. The engine is rubber mounted
and isolated from the frame = very little vibration felt and already is
outfitted with many options: windshield, saddle bags, light bar, etc.
6. Get a bike with large front and
rear fenders or you will forever be cleaning the bike more than you want to.
Those short-skinny fenders look cool, but they sling dirt and mud and water all
over the engine and frame and yourself. It is not fun. Remember,
it need not rain to ruin your day. Water in the road from a
construction or fire hydrant flush will dirty up the bike real nice.
If the fenders are too low the bike will need to be raised very high to
remove the wheels to replace tires, so this can be a factor for those who
wish to change their own tires, so you will need a motorcycle lift that
will raise the bike high enough to do the job. Also, consider a bike
that has too many accessories to be removed when installing tires and brake
saddlebags, luggage, wind deflectors, fairing, exhaust pipes. If these
items must be removed on tire change or on other maintenance work, your
dealer labor bill will be higher than other bikes.
7. The bike should have a throttle
stop or friction device to regulate the throttle at highway speeds, tour
trunks or saddle bags, a tall windshield. They say the top tip of the
windshield should level with the tip of your nose, but I find your head on
windy days will be vibrated badly as the air flow is no longer laminar.
Try to get a windshield that adjusts up or down and you can be seated behind
it like a shield looking through the windshield. This way the
rain and hail will not plaster your face creating serious pain. Of
course, wearing a helmet with a face shield will stop rain or hail on facial
8. Stay clear of the
Harley-Davidson Twin-Cam engine; Softail model, the
Deuce, the Night Train and other similar models.
These bikes are expensive and they have poor features and too many engine
defects. They really do look
good on the showroom floor due to their cool style, but for actual touring
use or long rides you will need to buy too many accessories to make the bike work,
and when all is said and done, they won't work well for you at all.
The Fat Boy is another poor choice. I bought a new one and it vibrates
badly at and above 60 miles per hour. The engine is counterbalanced,
but is solidly mounted to the steel frame without rubber isolation.
It's a nice bike for cruising the mountain roads near Sturgis, but forget
driving on fast freeways with it as it will vibrate you to death. It's
a strong, persistent and annoying buzzing of the handlebars and vibrating
foot rests that wears you down forcing you to cut back to 55 miles per hour
to ride in comfort. Harley offers a high performance Screaming Eagle
Fat Boy model. If the engine is not rubber mounted to isolate
vibration, this monster will likely vibrate so badly it will be of no practical
use for anyone who plans to do any interstate riding. Heritage Soft Tail models are okay, but you should just buy
the Road King instead.
9. The best Harley to buy? It
is the Road King model. For the money you spend you get the most
features and a high quality ride. Just about everything you need is
already on this bike and the price is usually dead on right. The
Electra Glide model has a full fairing and larger storage systems, but it is
not needed for most riders, unless you plan to do a lot of highway touring.
You simply can't go wrong with a Road King with mag wheels. The
Electra Glide is a step up from the Road King and well worth your
10. All said and done, you now know
the best Harley to buy. But if you look at the v-twin competition you
will find for the price you would pay for a Harley you will get a lot more
bike and a ton of extra power from the competition. If you attend a
motorcycle rally you will find eye candy "custom bikes" with "big cube"
v-twin engines at equal or less cost than a stock Harley in many cases. That is if
you want a custom bike which is never good for any highway usage. If you look at the competition v-twin
cruisers, you will pay a lot less and get much more of a machine. Of
course, they are not Harley's, but if you must have a Harley, at least now you
know which one to buy. Many Harley Davidson dealers are also
authorized dealers for Honda, Kawasaki, Yamaha or Suzuki cruisers.
Hey, not everybody can afford a new Harley.
11. You should, when buying a used
motorcycle, have a mechanic you know and trust test drive it before you buy
it. His expert opinion will save you a great deal of money.
12 You should read a lot of motorcycle
magazines including back issues so you will be aware of the strengths and
weaknesses of the motorcycle you plan to buy. Harley made a V-rod
motorcycle to capture the sport rider and create a bike that can keep pace
with environmental regulations, but it has failed in the USA as it does not
look like a typical Harley and does not sound like one and is difficult and
expensive to maintain.
Traditional Harley riders will not touch it, so many are switching over to
Honda VTX, Yamaha Road Star, Suzuki Boulevard, etc. I switched to a
Polaris/Victory motorcycle and I made a big mistake! Read all about
it: What You Need to Know Before You Buy a
Polaris Industries Victory Motorcycle Many are buying custom bikes with big inch motors like
TP Engineering, S&S, Patrick Racing, etc., and these custom bikes are highly
13. Here's a real handy item to
have and it is free Checklist To Buy a
Cruiser Motorcycle on the
JamesRussellPublishing.com Motorcycle Website. Just
print out this free guide and use it when shopping for your new or used
motorcycle. It will save you money, time and grief.
14. Read the Question & Answer section on this page
for more advice.
15. Click this link to locate more
PUBLISHING RIGHTS - the
article is copyrighted August 24, 2004, updated February 25, 2005 and May
2011 but you are granted the right to
publish the article herein titled "Buying A New Or Used Harley
Davidson" in perpetuity.
You must include the entire article as is, with no changes of wording.
That includes the commentary section by James Russell. We do request
you give full credits to James Russell Publishing.com and to post an active Website link to
James Russell Publishing Web site. This publishing right may also be arbitrarily
rejected and withdrawn if the article is misused or employed into an obscene
or an offensive environment of which it was not intended to be portrayed.
? QUESTIONS & ANSWERS ?
1. This is my
first bike. What bike should I buy to learn? Especially for a
can buy a small used dirt or trail bike, take it to the desert or woods and
learn how to ride. It's really a great way to learn when trail riding.
You learn how to keep the bike upright, how to drop it if you have to, and
how to negotiate rocks, sand, and other obstacles like trees and potholes.
Another option is take a rider safety course. They supply the
motorcycle and give you lessons. Then, after learning the basics you
can go out and buy the big bike. Make sure both your feet are flat on
the ground when in the sitting position so you can hold the bike up.
You can't be on tip toes on big bikes. A side wind at a traffic light
will blow you over sideways, easily. You can have the bike lowered or
buy a seat with less padding. The important factor is comfort.
Is the bike too heavy for you? At first, all big bikes feel heavy, but
if you can keep both feet on the ground and your leg can push the bike up
after tilting a few degrees when stopped, you should be able to handle the
bike. Big bikes do require some strength. Harleys easily get
into the 700 lbs area. That's why the Sportster still sells, it is a
small Harley and it sounds good.
We looked at Harley's but found them all to be too heavy and expensive.
Answer: Then you should look
into buying the Japanese, British or BMW bikes. Honda and Yamaha have
made big inroads into the V-twin market and with Bubs exhaust pipes
installed they do sound respectfully good.
I bought a new motorcycle but it is too quiet. I need loud exhaust,
but I was told by the dealer the bike requires expensive modifications.
Yes, first the cost of the new exhaust is a factor, often costing $450 or
more. Then the engine must be tuned to accept the pipe's increased
exhaust flow. Carburetor models need to be enriched with a jet kit,
which is cheap to do. Most new bikes are fuel injected and that
requires a computer module such as the Power Commander and some older models cost about
$250, plus the tune up labor. New commander-type devices cost less and
you can tune it yourself with trial and error, just pushing three buttons on
the device. It will cost just as much to do a Harley as it would a
Yamaha Road Star. See question #12 for more details on this
Any good advice to prevent a mechanical break down?
Torque the spark plugs to spec before going on a long trip. Snug them
a bit to insure they are snug tight when on the road. When stopped for
fuel, look at the plugs and see if they are leaking. For most riders,
this is not a problem, but it only has to happen once to you to see a major
disaster. The spark plug gets loose in a Harley and it will strip the
threads badly and the cylinder will fail. It won't be cheap or fast to
fix, especially on a week end far from home. Each morning, check for
oil stains on floor; a seal may be leaking. If you notice smudge spots
on your drive sprocket or rear wheel it is a sign an oil leak is developing.
Check your oil levels often if you see stains or oil drips developing.
Harleys are not as reliable as the Japanese bikes, not yet. They still
break down too much, but this won't stop the Harley rider from riding the
Harley. Once more thing; keep your gas tank above 1/2 full. This
way you won't run out of gas.
What about oil & gasoline additives. Should I use them?
Yes. The best oil additive I have used is Dura Lube. The moment
you put just a cup (8 ounces) in your oil you will notice engine noise
decreases, fuel mileage and power increases. I use Dura Lube in my
twin-cam Harley engine on each oil change (I have also used CD2 brand). These products reduce
friction and heat in the engine and you will learn to love this product due
to its engine protection. Just use it in the engine oil, not the
transmission and primary. If you have a bike that uses the same oil
for engine, transmission and clutch, Dura Lube will be okay to use. It
may be good for a Harley in the transmission and clutch, but I have not done
so and I have not checked with Dura Lube to see if it is okay. I would
assume some in the primary case will do no harm, but the transmission may be
a bit risky. Dura Lube does sell a manual transmission additive that
you could use in the transmission. It would be best to use Harley's
synthetic oil in the transmission and primary chain case. There are many gasoline additives
to clean the fuel lines, carburetor or injectors. Some of them can be
too harsh for the rubbers seals in the Harley fuel system. Check your
owner manual or Harley dealer for recommendations. I have used many
over the counter brands with no adverse affects when traveling, because I do
not pour the entire contents in the tank, I use only 1/3 or 1/2 of the
bottle. Then I ride
off and burn up that tank of gas. Then in a few days later I will
treat again with the second half of the bottle and ride off and burn off
that tank of gas. Do not leave these additives in with the gas overnight. That gives the additive time to attack rubber seals. Just
pour and go. Dura Lube also makes gas additives. It is a good
idea to keep your fuel filter, lines and injectors clean, so do use
additives at least once each month of riding. It is no fun being
broken down because of a clogged gas line. Lucas Oil Products, Inc. makes a nice additive
for gasoline engines and I find it makes the fuel burn with a louder
explosive sound. It cleans the fuel injectors, piston rings, piston and valve surfaces
and is economical as fuel economy increases to the point it way more than
pays for the product! The product also neutralizes poor fuel quality,
reduces pre-ignition, loss of compression, burned valves and broken piston
rings. Increases fuel economy, increases power, raises compression,
lowers tailpipe emissions, lubes cylinders and adds longevity to engine
life. What more could you want? I have had no trouble leaving this additive in
the tank overnight or for days as it is like an oil-base lubricant.
I believe you will find these products of good use.
Can I use synthetic oil in my Harley?
This has been a long debate, but now Harley has a synthetic oil, so the
answer is yes. Just go buy Harley Davidson's synthetic oil, or
equivalent if you want to use another brand. The benefit of synthetic
is the oil is superior and will not break down and now you can just buy one
oil to use in the engine, primary and transmission! Just using the
synthetic in your transmission will increase throttle response and
horsepower due to less drag (the synthetic oil is thin and the old
semi-synthetic is like molasses). Add it to your primary, too for even
more power increase and cooler running. The Harley Davidson
synthetic oil also protects engine seals better. You can use it in
your engine, but it can be expensive for some riders. You may want to
consider just using the old 20-50 oil in your engine with an additive as in
question #5 above. Other than this, don't mix oils into a blend.
Drain the old oil then add the synthetic oil. No preparation or engine
cleaning or flushing is required to switch to the Harley synthetic oil.
Advice: switch to it. It works real nice. PS: no
additives are required when using synthetic oil.
I want more advice on riding safer. Can you help?
Yes. At the bottom of this page click the link for motorcycle books
and movies. There are books that teach rider safety and you should
read it no matter how many years you have been riding! These books
will teach you things on what to avoid and how to avoid dangerous
situations. These books will save your life! You will agree the
moment you begin to read and see all the stupid things you have done.
Have you ever wondered when riding some days it seems everybody is out to
get you? That on these days there were a few close calls? Well,
the books will clearly show you there is something wrong and it is you
causing the problem. You are likely riding in a lane or behind a
vehicle or behind a pack of cars that are setting you up to be hit by
left-turning vehicles. You need to read these books! If you want
you can also take rider safety courses, but the books will still go deeper
in safe riding and can be read when the weather is not good, like in the
fall and winter.
Do you have instructions when riding with others?
Join the Harley Owners Group and they will teach you the proper way to ride
in a group. My advice is to never, ever, never break formation when
riding together. You must keep in formation and if a rider falls out
of formation everybody needs to readjust to a lane change to maintain a
staggered formation. Breaking the formation will create huge gaps in
the line causing many to get hung up at stop lights and create collisions
with other bikes. Keep the three wheel trikes out of the formation as
they are dangerous to riders behind them and can not maintain a correct
formation, especially on curves. Trikes are slower on acceleration and
break formation constantly. Trikes are to be leading the pack or last
with the gatekeeper. Another bit of advice is put the most sensible
riders who know how to keep a group of bikes together in the front.
That means riders who know how to ride slow so the pack can keep pace and
stay together. Hot-rodder in the front leave everybody behind in
disarray and the pack gets fragmented and creates a nasty bear of a ride.
Do not keep passing cars on streets or freeways. Lane changing
fragments the entire group and increases risk of collisions with cars and
bikes. Many times I have pulled away and left a group when dangerous
clowns are leading a bike run. Don't ride with them. How many
times have you heard or seen bikes being rammed from behind by other bikes?
This is because of the above and one more factor... speeding and stopping,
speeding up and stopping. The ride acts as an accordion bellows
expanding and contracting instead of flowing as a pack and will create
trouble for all riders. Usually severe accidents. If a group is
riding fast, faster than you normally would ride on such a road, beware.
These are "clowns" and are too dangerous to ride with. Groups don't
ride fast and reckless. Drop out of such groups and let them go on
without you. These guys crash. Do you want to go down with them?
I have seen this time and time again. Ride with professionals, not
Advice for poker runs?
Likely too much to list here. The promoters would get a higher
response if they would put a map on the advertisement showing the run.
There are many riders that will not bother to call or write e-mails to find
out where the run goes to and they do not like surprises. People are
busy and they need the information up front. Print a map so everybody
can see the run, because people need to know where they are going and how
they will return home afterward. No map = lower turn out! Make
sure you advertise healthy foods too on the advertisement flyer. Some
poker runs have too many bar stops and this can be dangerous to riders as at
each bar some riders feel they must buy a drink at each bar, and they do
(for some bikers it is a way of life). I have seen drunk bikers trying
to ride and having a tough time of it and endangering us other bikers at the
same time. A shameful way to maim and kill your own poker run riders!
The big successful poker runs cater to the general biker crowd and will have
an ice-cream stop, restaurant stop that can serve healthy food, a stop near
a shopping plaza, a motorcycle dealer stop, a custom bike stop, a scenic or
historic place or other place that caters to bikers. Five stops in
scenic or historic places. The poker run should be around 100 miles
long in good weather and a shorter route in bad weather, if feasible.
There are now so many poker runs the most successful will use intelligent
marketing, valuable prizes, good healthy food (not just unhealthy fat-filled
hot dogs, hamburger and ribs, but get some chicken and vegetables and salad in there
too. Things have changed! People are on mandatory diets today
and are more health conscience. I have turned down many rides because
the food served was full of dangerous cholesterol (hot dogs, pork,
hamburger, sausage) and other fats and grease, the food was just pure junk.
Also, don't let the music play so loud it drives the bikers away. This
is a very common problem that is so noisy bikers get irritable and leave way
too soon. If people can't talk due to loud music, you are intruding
into the social fabric of the meet. Keep the music volume down.
It is not a concert, even if a live band is playing, it is still not a
concert. It is "background entertainment" not a major concert tour, so
don't let the band steal your party.
advice do you have for tires?
I have found that the Dunlop tires are too hard and tend to slip on smooth
surfaces and I am not impressed with how fast the tires must be replaced.
They just don't last long at all (I got 6,000 miles on them). Things
could change. What I found is the Metzeler tire (made in Germany) is
superior and long lasting (I got 15,000 miles out of them on my Fat Boy with
the stock solid aluminum wheels which run cooler than spoke or other mag
wheels). Avon tires
(made in England) are also very good. The latter two are very
high-rounded which gives the bike a lively feel and quick on the corners and
they will not slip away from the road like many other tires do. Those
tire snakes (asphalt crack sealant) made the Dunlop tire slip and slide and
is "scary". The Metzeler and Avon tires stick like magic glue.
Make sure you buy tires described as "high mileage touring." The
better tires cost more, but they last longer, are much safer and look
good on the bike. Don't let a dealer talk you out of buying these
"quality" tires. They like to sell inferior tires so you will be back
sooner for a tire change bill.
11. I was
told not to buy solid wheels due to wind. Please advise.
Don't worry about it. The increased centrifugal force of the solid
wheel offsets the wind effect. I have ridden is dangerous winds with
my Fat Boy with solid wheels and have had no serious problems. I have
not been blown off the road like others would like to have you think.
In fact, you will obtain higher mileage out of your tires because the solid
wheel acts as a "heat sink" taking heat out of and off the tire.
Imagine that! Those wheels look cool and will save you money on tires
12. I want to
install louder exhaust pipes. Must I jet the carb or fuel injection?
you own a Honda or Yamaha V-twin you may not need to adjust the fuel mixture
as long as you leave the stock air cleaner on. Harley's must have the
fuel / air mixture set richer, even if the stock air cleaner is left on in
most all cases. This is how you can tell if you need to adjust fuel
mixture. When you put on the new pipes do you notice that when you
shut off the throttle the engine tends to keep running on? If you blip
the throttle does the engine seem to keep running then slowly begins to die
down? Do you hear loud popping noise from the exhaust? If you
experience this you must richen the fuel / air mixture. First, if you
put on louder exhaust pipes on any bike the engine will want to increase
horsepower, so you should buy a K&N or similar type air filter that permits
free breathing of the intake air to the engine. However, if you do
this you will need to jet or re-map the fuel injection. The payoff is
a smoother running engine, more power and a cooler running engine and a much
more fun bike to ride. You do not need to pay for an expensive
dynometer tune-up anymore (unless you are racing). The new add-on engine control computers on
the market today permit the typical rider to slide a lever or press a button
to richen the fuel mix for most riding conditions. This is good for
most all street riders. You only need a dyno tune if you are
drag racing for money and need every ounce of horsepower, or you are a very
finicky rider and just want everything super perfect. You don't even
need a computer to map the new engine computers because the maps are built
into the device. It is all now a simple bolt on job. Parts
needed: your new exhaust pipes, K&N air filter kit, engine control computer
module or interface unit. You will find all of these in motorcycle
parts catalogs. Advice: exhaust pipes all sound different, so find a
bike just like yours that has pipes on it that sound great then copy that
formula. If you don't you may end up with a "ratty sounding" bike.
Cobra makes a digital fuel processor. Terry Components makes one
called the Terminal Velocity. See Question #3. Check with the
latest issue of motorcycle magazines for new products on the market.
13. What can
I do to get more power from my touring bike without major engine work?
question #12 above about adding exhaust pipes and intake air filter.
That is the best way to gain power, about five to eight horsepower can be
expected, sometimes more depending on the bike and altitude it normally runs
at. You should consider using a synthetic oil as less friction
increases power and fuel mileage. Expect about three to five
horsepower gain. Switching to a better firing spark plug can give you
two horsepower increase like the NGK brand "U-groove" design. Using a
fuel additive can give more power, but this is too expensive to use all of
the time. Use low electrical resistance silicone or other new
development spark plug wires and you will gain two more horsepower.
Using all of the above may give you ten horsepower or more increase, give or
take a few horses, but you will get a gain in power and fuel economy.
Reducing the bike's weight and reducing drag will always regain lost horsepower, so travel
light. Also, just install a set of Sumac's Power Volt spark plug wires
and this alone you will feel a much more powerful and smoother running
engine. It delivers bright sparks to the spark plugs increasing
combustion efficiency and horsepower.
14. Why does
my back brake pad wear out faster than my front brake pad?
foot is much stronger than your hand and applies a lot of pressure even when
you seem to just be pressing the brake pedal lightly. This is the
primary reason the back pad wears faster. Secondary reason is many
riders still fear applying strong hand pressure to the front brake, fearing
a skit or flip. Consider using the front brake all of the time and
only use the back and front brakes together when needing to stop quickly.
This will allow both brakes to wear out at the same time. If you feel
this is unsafe, then just do what you feel is best for you. It is
always the best method to apply both brakes. ABS brakes are going to
be helpful once they are installed on all motorcycles as they just refuse to
lock up the wheels to cause a crash. Another reason a rear pad may be
wearing faster is the caliper is not returning after being loaded due to
dirty or low lubricant on the sliding shafts. Clean and lube the
15. Should I
rebuild or buy a new high performance engine?
Depends on how much money you want to spend and what sort of performance is
required. A good route to go is to stay clear of rebuilding because of
all the machining and parts that must be replaced. Things often keep
on breaking afterward. Nothing beats "new" so buy a new high
performance engine (if you can afford the price). Example: S&S
and other engine building firms has big cubic inch engines that bolt right
in place. You just add oil, turn the key and rip up the pavement.
These engines have all the goodies inside to create huge gobs of power.
Keep in mind that if you bought a Harley Davidson Softail Standard or Fat
Boy twin cam engine that bolts to the frame (not rubber mounted) you will
need to see what is available from the engine manufactures. They make
a lot of engines that are rubber mount compatible. If you buy a new
engine with big power you will need to invest in a belt drive primary system
or risk chain failure and case cracking. Generally the stock drive
belt will handle the load, but upgrading to high-capacity belt and drive
pulleys will match things up for reliability reasons. If you have a
engine that bolts direct to the frame? You may have to rebuild the
engine. If so, consider question #16 below.
16. Should I
get my heads ported or not when installing a big bore kit?
Technically for racing, yes. Realistically for street use, no.
Why? The cost factor is high and the power increase per dollar
invested is not worth the money. Porting (and larger valves) only
gives an effective power boost at high rpm. so even hot-rodding around on
the street will give you nothing to enjoy. The power is in bigger
pistons. Get the big pistons and just forget about the head porting.
The increased vacuum the pistons will create will not strangle the engine's
air flow as much as you may think. The air flow will increase to
compensate for the small port and valve size. This is the lowest
cost per dollar invested to get power with a major engine modification.
You don't need a longer duration or higher lift cam for street use.
But if you want more power than just the pistons alone? Go ahead, but
it will cost you more money. There are "major modifications" beyond
what we cover here and that is stroking the pistons, cylinder head porting
with combustion chamber reshaping and larger valves, port angle reshaping,
hot cam and stronger valve springs and push rods, compression ratio increase (piston shape and cylinder head deck
reduction), adding larger carb or injection, stronger clutch and faster timed
ignition, forged connecting rods and flywheel, fuel blending, adding a
blower to name most of the major items. A dragster bike will have all
out of everything. A street bike only needs big pistons to really go
fast and keep reliability intact. Once you start adding cams you are
near the point where power becomes too strong and wear and tear will
increase on all parts of the engine and drive chain. Power can be very
negative when reliability is concerned. If you go with the big pistons
you can ask the mechanic to bore the head port openings to match the intake
manifold and exhaust pipe diameters. This will give you a lot of air
to the engine along with your free-breathing air cleaner and exhaust pipes
(which is not a full porting job). You will need to jet the carb or
re-map the fuel injection to a richer setting. You will be very
impressed with those big pistons. How big should you go? It is
not wise to exceed 100 cubic inch in a twin cam 88 engine. Anything
bigger and you will need to start adding the professional things mentioned
herein and that will cause a big dent in your wallet. Let's be
realistic. How many road riders you know are racing their Harley's?
You can build a race engine, but what good is it if fuel mileage and
reliability go south? Everybody will be out riding their bike and
yours will always be in the shop or broken down on the side of the road.
Take your pick. Choose wisely, just get some nice big 100 cubic inch
pistons and have fun.
17. How should I get a tailgater off my back?
Slow down little by little over a couple blocks distance. Often the
tailgater will change lanes and pass you. If not, slow down and pull
over if you can. If you can't pull over then wave the driver to pass
you. If none of this works the driver is drunk or weird, so accelerate
away and make the next left turn you can. Most tailgaters take a right
turn after following a bike (but not all). It is always better to just
pull over and let the tailgater pass by if you can. Don't speed up and
allow the tailgater to stay on your tail at speed. That is why I say
gradually slow down. If you must have a tailgater it is better to have
a slow one than a fast one following too close. Sometimes just
flashing your stop light a bunch of times will frustrate a tailgater and
cause him / her to change lanes and pass you. Many tailgaters are
drunk, angry, upset, despondent, depressed, so it is best to let them pass
you sooner than later.
18. How can I tell a motorcycle repair shop is
fair and square?
The first thing I notice is the condition of the parking lot. If the
parking lot is full of loose sand, gravel, trash or pot holes I head to
another dealer or shop. This sort of shop or dealer has "no concern"
for the customer who has to ride an expensive motorcycle into a dangerous
parking lot and risk dumping the bike. That's the first thing I look
for; a clean parking lot and usually you find people who care for your
health and well being! Word of mouth is a good indicator the shop or
dealer is fair to work with. Another thing I look for is bike shops
that do not offer discounts on products I find are to be avoided.
Every business (even authorized Harley Davidson dealers) has sales and
ongoing discounts any day of the week, but the "stingy" dealer will not and
is out to take the biker for a ride. Personal dealing with the manager
and owner of the shop and how you are treated is a good indicator. Any
dealer that does not offer sales for customers needs to.
19. Do you manufacture a motorcycle good luck
The product we manufacture is called a Gospel Coin and it
is way better than a typical good luck charm (like a rabbit foot, bell or an
angel that bikers hang on their bikes) because the promises on the coin are made
by God and He must (and He will) deliver on His promises! You can
string or glue the coin to your bike as a reminder and / or carry one with
you at all times. Click
here for more information on how to obtain
your free sample. The coin looks good when glued on bike frame parts
or the engine. When using glue, use General Electric Silicone II
rubber sealant and the coin will come off easily without ruining aluminum,
chrome or paint. You can buy silicone at Wal-Mart in the hardware or
automotive dept. You may want to drill a hole in the coin and string
it to your bike so it can spin or dangle. Typical good luck charms are
only superstition, but God's promises are powerful assurances you can rely
on. Why not try riding with this beautiful gold-tone Gospel Coin?
This coin is better than a good luck charm and it is free.
20. I want to buy a new motorcycle. Are
there any books on the subject?
We have a free checklist you can use to evaluate multiple motorcycles of
your own choosing to help you make a well-informed decision on what bike you
should buy. You will like this checklist. Go ahead and make some
copies and give them to your friends. Click
the checklist. For books on motorcycles click
21. What is the best motorcycle cleaner you have
I have used Wizards for a couple years and it is an excellent product.
There are many great cleaners, waxes and polishing products on the market
and it keeps getting better every year. I was recently impressed
with a spray on wax product by Turtle Wax. It worked fast on chrome
22. I was
told not to buy gasoline from pumps with only one hose due to dilution.
Don't buy gasoline from any fuel dispensing pump with only one hose if
possible, but this is getting harder to do.
This is especially true for motorcycles because when you purchase high 91 octane fuel
the odds are the vehicle before you used low 87 octane fuel. That fuel
hose is now full of cheap fuel, but you are going to pay premium price.
You will get about one quart of this inferior fuel and that will dilute your
five-gallon tank from 91 octane to about 89 or less. As you can see,
the oil companies and station owners have found a way to rob people a quart
of fuel for each person that comes along who buys from them. This
deceptive sales practice should be outlawed. It can also cause your
motorcycle engine damage if the engine knocks and pings from this fuel
dilution. How come the local government and the weights and measures
authorities is not taking corrective action to stop this theft and harmful
practice? Remember, you are paying for premium fuel but you are
getting an inferior fuel diluting the premium fuel already in your gas tank.
What it did is ruin all five gallons of fuel in your gas tank that you paid
a premium price for. It is costing you more than you think. You
will now need to carry an expensive octane booster additive with you to make
up for the loss of octane (if knocking and pinging occurs) and that adds to your total cost
for fuel, especially if you gas up every 50 miles or so the dilution problem
increases at each fill up. These
single-hose pumps should be outlawed. If you have a small two or three
gallon gas tank like a Harley-Davidson Sportster the fuel dilution effect
can be more severe.
23. I want to
change the oil on my Harley Davidson Twin Cam engine. How can I learn
to do this?.
We have a book that is titled; "How to Change the Oil in Your Harley
Davidson Twin-Cam Motorcycle." The book is designed for the
novice; anyone who has never done it before. It has 70 photos
with very easy to do step-by-step instructions. Even a girl can do it!
Also covers how to change and clean the air cleaner, spark plugs and even
lists the tools and parts you will need. You will learn how to change
the engine oil, primary oil and transmission oil and the engine oil filter.
It will be straightforward to do and this book will save you time and money,
about $300 each and every year. Now
you can change your own oil and not have to wait for it to be done.
You also receive valuable advice on how to make your engine last thousands
of miles longer and gain more power and yet still obtain better fuel
mileage than stock. But that is not all, you will learn and actually
will get an increase of about 5 horsepower more from your bike just by
following the simple advice given. Total cost for you to buy tools will
be about $35. After that, your cost will only be what you pay for
gaskets, o-rings, oil and the oil filter. This book will make you
money by saving you money! And yes, your Harley Davidson dealer will
sell you the tools and parts so you can do it yourself. And, you can
change the oil for other guy's bikes and earn a lot of extra money for
yourself. You can even use this book to begin a motorcycle mechanic
career or just to earn part-time income. Many motorcycle dealers are
looking for oil change people during the busy riding season and at
motorcycle rallies. Get your copy today!
24. I was
told some bikes have outrageous maintenance schedules.
There are some bikes that require the entire engine to be removed from the
frame just to check or adjust the valve clearance. This is terrible
and just terrible for the consumer to bear these expensive inconveniences (a
major burden in my opinion). The cost can be as high as $400 in labor
each 10,000 miles. The Harley Davidson V-rod requires engine removal
from the frame. Other bikes you need to check or adjust the valves
every 7,000 miles and you must remove the gasoline tank to gain access.
That's not as bad, but it is a messy job and eventually an accident happens
to scratch the paint on the tank. What is worse, people have been
burned from exploding gasoline spills, etc. Look to buy a bike that
has hydraulic lifters, like a car engine has that never need to be adjusted.
Other things you need to look at is if the oil filter can be easily changed.
How about the engine, primary and transmission oil, is it easy or very time
consuming to change? Most Harley Davidson engines are harder to change
the oil. There is no way it can be done quickly as three oil
compartments must be drained and filled. Most modern bikes have one or
more drain plugs, yet still only drain one oil from all three compartments
and that makes oil changing a snap. Look for motorcycle where you can
easily change the brake pads without having to drive out the wheel axle.
Again, the Harley Davidson is weak here as the axle must be driven clear to
remove the rear brake caliper. These things add time to the hourly
labor fee you will be charged or it will take up your time if you do it
yourself. See our article on
How To Buy A Cruiser Motorcycle.
25. I would
like to buy the best tires for cruising. What do you recommend?
Consider Metzler Marathon ME880 tires. You will get a smooth ride, a lot more
tread depth, a very strong road grip with impressively long tread life.
I have put on 15,000 miles on these tires, even on a heavy Harley Davidson
Fat Boy. Avoid Bridgestone Battle-ax brand of tires, they ride rough
like a solid rubber tire and they wear terribly uneven making the bike
vibrate so bad you can break headlight bulbs. That has been my
experience with those tires. Avon's Viper brand of tire is just like the
Metzler in grip, but I only got 12,000 miles on them before I had
to change the tires, but that is still a real good tire with good tread life
too. I am trying a set of Dunlop tires at this time on a
Vulcan 2000 cruiser. They make the bike ride okay as the
rubber is very a bit soft like sticking your fingernail into bubblegum. The
tires grip the road very well indeed, but I am not happy with the mileage
as I only got about 8,000 miles on them. It is hard to beat the Metzler for long tire life
for a cruising motorcycle. If the Dunlop were to get high mileage it would be
a great tire, but the results are now in! After trying the tires
mentioned above on my heavy Vulcan 2000 I just had to go back to the Metzler
Marathon ME-880. These Metzler tires are superior in ride quality,
aggressive road grip and very high mileage over 12,000 miles. At many
motorcycle rallies you can get a real good deal with Metzler as they offer
to sell and install for a buy-one-get-one-free and that deal just can't be
beat. Now you know the best tires to buy for your cruiser motorcycle
and the best deal on how to get them.
26. I want to
change the antifreeze in my motorcycle but I was told there can be a problem. What
is the problem I should know about?
Basically the antifreeze container must say it is safe for aluminum engines.
If it says that, then it is okay to use. If it does not say it on the
label then the antifreeze has silicates or other chemicals that will attack
and corrode the metal. When in doubt, just buy the antifreeze your
dealer sells to be on the safe side, always. Sometimes it is not wise
to try to save a few dollars and ruin your engine or mfg. warranty.
27. I get confused
with Harley Davidson's cubic inches and cubic centimeters:
88 cubic inch = 1450cc. 96 cubic inch =1585cc. 110 cubic inch =
1800cc. The largest Harley Davidson classic V-twin engine can be had
at the 1800cc size yet it will cost you a small fortune to own one. If
you want big power at a low price you need to look at alternatives because
1800cc is still a small engine by today's cruiser motorcycle standards.
28. I need a cruise
control for my motorcycle but nobody makes one.
The cruise control on a motorcycle is simply a friction device on the
throttle hand grip. You can use a rubber band twisted a few times then
slipped over the grip so it applies friction between the twist grip and
throttle cable housing. You can also use a nitrile (stiff) 1"x3/16"
O-ring. The best O-ring to use is made of silicone because it is more
flexible (soft) and will last longer. Caterpillar Tractor Company
sells them in two sizes that fit most motorcycles. The part number for
the 24.77mm size silicone is 8M-5266 and the nitrile is 8B-4967.
The part number for the 24.94mm size silicone is 8M-4991 and the nitrile is
5H-7370. A hardware store may also have them. Just make sure
when you use this "makeshift" system that you can close the throttle.
If for any reason you can't shut the engine down remember to use the
kill-switch then find out why the rubber band or O-ring got stuck. It
likely broke with age. I've used rubber bands for thousands of miles
of riding with no trouble. The size I use is 1/4" wide by 3" long (not
29. I ride a Yamaha
V-Max and I want some pipes that sound like a V-twin.
The best I have heard is the HoleShot
brand of exhaust. I was in the Black Hills of South Dakota and heard
one coming down the street in Deadwood and I thought it was a huge 145 cubic
inch V-twin engine. It wasn't, it was a stock Yamaha V-Max with
HoleShot exhaust. I was very impressed how powerful they sounded.
It actually fooled me into thinking it was a huge twin-cylinder V-twin.
I know the sound, as I have a 125 cubic inch V-twin. I recommend you
get these pipes! I don't know the model number.
30. How can I stop
wind from buffeting my helmet? I have a windshield.
Try putting some weather strip along the top of the windshield. Also, if you
can tilt the windshield back, way back, so it resembles a fly-screen you
will be amazed how that shallow angle will stop all wind. I purchased
the small Windvest handlebar mounted windshield, tilt it way back (toward
you) not upright like a battering ram and it works fantastic. Gas
mileage also goes way up, too! Corbin also sells a similar
device that eliminates the need for a windshield, but I like the Windvest
due to some protection from flying objects is still somewhat available.
You will never have a windshield intruding into your vision, as the
windshield's top edge when tilted back, is at your chin level. You
will get less battering from the wind too and no wind from gas tank
reflection so air wings are no longer required. If the windshield gets
dirty, so what? You still have a perfect unobstructed view. I
never have to stop to clean my windshield! National Cycle also makes
small windshields. Try one! Once you go small well... I will
never go back to those huge full-size windshields.
30. My clutch hand
hurts. What can I do?
The angle of the handlebars can cause stress on the wrist and forearm and
the cure is to change the bars to a more comfortable set. Most of the
time a hurting clutch hand is caused by a clutch lever that has too much
resistance and tires and stresses the muscles in the hand and arm.
Harley-Davidson has a fix for models prior to 2007. Ask a service
repair shop about getting one installed as it is really not a job for the
novice as the transmission trap door must be removed and oil removed, etc.
Not a quick fix. Before you do that you could investigate
Barnett Performance Products
and ask them about their high-efficiency clutch cables that reduce the pull
of the clutch lever up to 40%. It will be cheaper to go this route
31. I need
professional tire repair products. Motorcycle dealers have limited
sources and even specialty motorcycle catalogs are lacking supplies.
Where can I find them?
The professional tire repair shops use
Tech International as their
supplier. You will find all you need by clicking the link.
32. What is the
best advice you can give me before I buy a new motorcycle?
Read every possible review you can get your hand on in magazines and on the
Internet. Also, print out our free,
Consumer Checklist to Buy a Cruiser Motorcycle. You should also
buy a book that specializes in how to buy a motorcycle,
33. Can carbon
buildup in the cylinder burn valves?
Absolutely yes. The carbon keeps building up inside the cylinder and
eventually prevents the valve from seating and that means the valve is now
blowing by hot gases and the valve and seat are not cooling down and the
burning begins. Suddenly compression pressure is lost and the valves
will need to be replaced along with the valve seats. In many engines
the entire cylinder head must be replaced, as they are a single component
system. I use Marvel Mystery oil on a regular basis. I just pour
in a couple shot glass doses at each fill up. It cleans and lubricates
the entire fuel system from the gas tank to the exhaust pipe. Chemtool
is a product that is very powerful and very strong and "decarbonizes" dirty
engines. Use it once in awhile, maybe each six months or six thousand
miles. Other over the counter aftermarket fuel injection cleaner
products can be used and should be used at least once every three months or
three-thousand miles. Fuel injection motorcycles often have a
difficult to clean fuel strainer inside the gas tank. All the more
reason to use a fuel conditioner treatment system to keep it clean.
Always read your owner manual to see what sort of products can and cannot be
34. My motorcycle
jacket zipper has broken. Can it be fixed and by whom?
Yes. Contact: Diane Boone by e-mail:
VerdiBoone@aol.com She shared some
advice with me about motorcycle jackets. When zipping the jacket be
gentle as the metal zipper will actually break or wear unevenly or the
zipper itself will warp and that will require the entire zipper to be
replaced. Bikers normally wear gloves and this can cause us to
unevenly apply proper pressure to the zipper, twist the teeth out of
alignment or jerk the zipper when it gets stuck. Amazingly, she told
me to lubricate the zipper (metal or plastic) with WD-40. Just apply a
little bit of lubricant with a cotton Q-tip to the zipper and this will
prevent a lot of problems and it will not ruin the cotton stitching.
It makes sense. She also said that plastic is the way to go as it is
self lubricating to a degree and the teeth will not bend or warp as easily
as metal zippers often do. Diane repairs a lot of motorcycle jackets
for Harley-Davidson riders (and other of course) and she actually performs
high quality embroidery right into the leather jacket not just applying a
patch as many others do. Well, there we have it. We have to
perform oil changes on our motorcycles and now on our zippers! Another
rider, Brad Berson, wrote me on this matter to use paraffin or graphite to
lube zippers as there is no odor. Good advice!
35. How can I check
my tire pressure quickly?
Buy a tire pressure indicator. Tire Minder is one company that makes
them and they are economical to buy, they operate on too wide a range of
pressure. Find a brand that is pressure specific that it triggers the
moment it drops 1psi below your set tire pressure like
TireWise. How it works?
You screw the device onto the valve stem then look at the indicator.
If it is the color green your tire pressure is okay. If it is the
color red your tire pressure is low and you need to add air. Don't
confuse this with those expensive tire monitoring systems that cost a lot
more money, yet do the same job. Here's how to select the right tire
pressure indicator. Let's say your tire pressure is supposed to be
35psi. Then buy a monitor that will notify you when the air is low
when it reaches 35psi. This means you need to buy a monitor rated at
36psi. Yes, you will have to ride with 1psi over your recommended tire
pressure which is negligible. This way, when the air pressure drops to
35 you know it is time to add air. Don't buy anything that requires a
battery to operate. Just get the brand that operates off the tire
pressure itself. There are many companies selling broad range high or
low pressure range caps, but keep looking to find specific pressure caps.
Motorcycle shops and catalogs usually sell them including auto parts stores.
36. Do deer alarms
I believe they certainly do. I have had encounters with deer and other
large animals and with the deer alarms they steer clear of the vehicle
(truck and motorcycle). Call it luck? I believe they work.
For less then $5 it is cheap insurance. I won't drive without them.
37. What are the
best motorcycle tires I can buy?
I used to say Metzeler tires, but not anymore. The new duel compound
tires on the market are way better than standard Metzeler tires in ride
quality, grip and longevity of tread life. Things have changed.
Also look for low roll resistant tires that will increase your miles per
gallon of fuel. Now cost is another matter. You have to shop
around to get the best tire prices. Don't just take your bike to a
dealership to get tires put on. You can save a lot of money by using
other motorcycle repair shops. The best time to shop for tires is when
you don't need them. Go around and talk to mechanics to get their best
prices. The best deal? Learn to change your own tires. You
save on labor and on tire costs. Tip: When you buy a motorcycle,
examine the cost of changing tires. The bikes with those wide rear
tires can cost you a big nickel to change and if you ride a lot you will
save even more to select a different bike with a smaller size tire.
I go through three sets of tires a year on my motorcycle due to high miles I
put on the bike, 35,000 miles a year. I change my own tires with a
tire changing device (go to Motorcycle Tips
page for details on a tire changer. Then you use the Internet to
get deep discounts on tires and put them on yourself.
here for Motorcycle Shopping Page
38. I need a loud
horn, but I don't want to spend a lot of money.
I have good news for you. How would you like to spend about $20 or
less for a horn that will produce 125 decibels? It will hurt your ears
standing within two feet of the motorcycle! Of course you would like
that. Well, go to a Napa auto parts store and get horn part #
730-1054. The horn is made by: FIAMM Technologies, Inc., 1550 Leeson
Ave., Cadillac, MI 49601. Phone: 231-775-1373. Installation is
easy. Remove your motorcycle's horn and just hook up the original two wires attached
to your existing horn to the new horn. The horn comes with blade-type
connectors already attached to the wires. If the horn does not work?
Just reverse the two wires. This loud horn comes with a nice long, thin offset chrome bracket so you can position
the horn in many different angles to fit your motorcycle. And that is
important. It does us no good to have a horn that can't
mount into confined areas. The horn is also surprisingly small in size
for the monstrous noise it makes. They even make a louder horn
that sounds like a big-rig truck for about $5 more. I didn't try that
one, yet. Believe me, you won't need expensive air horns and you won't
need to pay big money to get a powerfully loud horn. Try this horn and you'll
see. Every biker should get one of these horns. And yes, you can
even mount two or three of them to blast a powerful sound wave even a freight
locomotive engineer could hear it! And that's three horns for about $30. I paid
way more than that for motorcycle horn that produce a lot less sound.
Haven't you? You don't need three horns, but if you do want to
experiment with multiple horns or to use marine or heavy truck horns you
need to check the amperage draw of the horns and make sure your existing
horn wiring can handle the load. If you use just one horn as I listed
above, there will be no problem, just install and ride away.
39. What about
Gerbings is heavily advertised as the best you can buy and dealers claim
they are the "best", but don't be fooled.
Gerbings is far from the best in heated clothing. Why? They are
expensive and their heated jacket has no heated
elements in the inside portion of the arms and so when you are
riding your motorcycle in cold weather, even in mild cool weather, your arms
stay cold on the inside and hot on the outside making a very uncomfortable
riding experience. I had a First Gear brand heated jacket that kept
all portion of the body warm at much, much less cost. It was a mistake
when I bought a Gerbings heated jacket. I wrote to Gerbings about this
and there was no cure for the problem, as they do not put heating elements
on the inside portion of the arms. What are they thinking?
Motorcycle rider's arms are totally exposed to the wind especially the
inside portion of the arms. I did have some trouble with First Gear's
thermostat controller failing which caused me to switch brands to Gerbing,
but my next jacket will not be a Gerbings! I was taken for about $400
and it is the most uncomfortable riding experience I have had in cold
weather gear. Go with First Gear, save money and be warm!
40. I need a strong
degreaser to clean my motorcycle that will cut through the toughest grease
(even stubborn chain grease) but will not harm any paint. Do you have
Yes, go buy S-100. It is sold in
motorcycle shops or can be ordered by them from the major distributors.
This stuff is amazingly strong and it will even liquefy accumulated
solidified chain grease. Amazing! And it will not harm paint,
chrome, or even plastic or leather. Once you try S-100 you will be a
believer. Don't buy the aerosol spray can version as you will pay too
much. Get the large spay bottle. A little goes a long way so you
won't be using much to get the job done. Just wait until you spray it
on then wash it off and see how clean your bike is in half the time using
41. I have a rubber
insert on my front fender that holds the speedometer cable in place, but the
rubber keeps breaking over time and the dealer cost for the part is
expensive. What else can I use?
Calterm Company makes a Rubber Insulated Clamp that will fix this problem
because it has a metal strap along with the rubber. You will need a
small nut, bolt and lock washer to install it. Make sure the bolt is
not so long that it rubs against the tire. It will look good and
outlast the stock strap. You can get them at hardware stores.
Try the 1" to 1-1/2" diameter size.
42. The mirrors on
my motorcycle are small and the convex mirrors are too large that cars use.
Don't they make some small side-view mirrors for motorcycles?
Yes, they do. Bikemaster has what they call an "eyeball mirror" part
number 60-0209. They should be available in parts distributor catalogs
at a motorcycle store. They are small and will not take up much room
on your mirror. Consider buying larger mirrors as small stock mirrors
on a motorcycle are not safe.
43. Where can I
purchase OEM motorcycle parts?
Search the Internet or Original Equipment Manufactured parts, but beware of
BikeBandit.com as they charge a hefty 20%
restocking fee if you make a mistake ordering a part and you later must return
it. That, my friends is a bad deal for you. I try not to buy
anything from any company that charges restocking fees. You get burned
badly having to pay for shipping charges and then get robbed with a
restocking fee. The company profits at your expense! One company I like is
JC Motors as they have exceptional
consumer friendly policies.
was great, but now they are charging restocking fees and not even accepting
returns on electronic items even if defective and that is bad business!
44. I need a simple
to use fuel injection manager.
Fuel injection modules were once dumb and had to be programmed with a
computer and a dyno, not anymore. One product by
Accel offers easy tuning.
Just plug it in and the computer learns as you ride. No need for
computer maps to be downloaded and no need for a costly dynometer run.
It works with the factor ECU automatically tuning up your engine even
compensating for changing loads, weather, altitude. Eliminates banging
and popping from exhaust pipes. It will work on stock and mildly
modified engines with cams. Each year these computers are getting
better and better. There are other brands to consider that will meet
your type of motorcycle. CobraUSA
is another company.
45. Can I install a
five or six speed transmission on my motorcycle?
Yes, you can (if you ride a Harley or custom bike) but why would you want to
do that? To lower your cruising rpm's? If so, you can save
yourself many thousands of dollars by just installing a smaller size rear
wheel pulley (or sprocket if chain driven). You'll get impressive
results. Harley and custom bike rear pulleys are large in size so I am
not certain how many teeth size you need to reduce to get a good cruising
torque band. I do know they do sell such smaller sizes. On my
Triumph America I installed just a one tooth smaller rear sprocket and got
impressive results, but the rear sprocket stock size is only about 32 teeth
to begin with, much smaller than a Harley or custom bike. You'll need
to reduce more teeth than that. Do an internet search with the words
"Motorcycle Overdrive Pulley" or "Harley-Davidson Overdrive Pulley" If
you still do prefer to go the transmission route check out
Baker Drivetrain RevTech
and Milwaukee Twins.
Illusion Motorcycles makes a primary gear and chain set that reduces
engine rpm's 8% at less cost.
46. I have had my
belt and rear wheel pulley wear out. What can I do to make it last
Makes sure you use quality pulley and belt replacements. Some have
been known to wear out in under 30,000 miles. That's equal to a chain
drive system. You can have a wear liner installed on your pulley
by contacting Supermax Belt Drive you
can also convert back to a chain drive, but it too can be expensive to do on
Harley-Davidsons and custom bikes. Conversion is way easier on bikes
where the front sprocket can be removed without disassembling the entire
47. Should I buy a
bike with a chain drive?
Yes, yes, yes! I am disillusioned with motorcycles with belt drives.
I have seen the belt fall right off the rear pulley when riding over a bump
in the road and they can suddenly snap in two and they still must be
replaced over time. They must be adjusted tightly and that also means they
can make noise (you won't hear it with loud pipes) but sand pebbles can chew
the belt in half and believe me, those pebbles do get in there somehow and
poke holes right through the belt which then create wear tears and the belt
fails. I now prefer a chain drive. Yes, I bit messier to clean,
but not as bad as years ago. With the new anti-fling chain lubes like Dupont Teflon Chain Lube stays on the
chain. See product image below. To learn more about this no-mess
product go to our next page. But,
I do prefer a belt drive on a Harley-Davidson Twin-Cam driven engine.
Why? Because it is a major job to change a belt and renew a chain
sprocket or belt pulley for the entire primary drive and swing arm must be
taken apart to gain access to the transmission pulley/sprocket and belt.
Even a chain drive won't help. Sure, you can cut a chain and mend it, but
the transmission sprocket must also be replaced (with rear wheel sprocket as
a set) when installing a new chain. You won't have this trouble with a
Harley-Davidson Sportster as the belt is changed in 20 minutes!
The new superbike chains are so tough you only have to adjust
them once every 8,000 to 12,000 miles which is also very easy to do and
takes only 10 minutes. The chain and sprockets last 30,000 miles
or more and also are easily replaced on most bikes. A broken or worn belt will
require engine disassembly and swing arm removal which is a big job and
expensive. Just because you have a belt drive does not mean you are
trouble free. Those belts and pulley systems I believe is a regression
as they are expensive to replace (and they do need replacing) and changing
out pulleys and belts are troublesome compared to swapping chain and
sprockets. If the belts reliably lasted 100,000 miles I could
reconsider, but my experience and luck is not so good. I ride a
chain-driven bike which is better (for ease of replacement, reliability,
safety, anti-tamperproof and cost) and a shaft-driven bike is even better
yet eliminating all of the maintenance problems. There is a danger
with a belt drive I do not appreciate and it is being able to be cut by
vandalism by anyone with sharp edge pliers. Imagine that happening to
you one day a couple hundred miles from home. No dealer can replace
that belt in one day's time unless you are very lucky to find one who can
and be prepared for a $1,000 bill and your back to square one.
Read my article Problem With Motorcycle
48. A lot of people
are selling used motorcycle exhaust pipes. Why?
They are selling them because they are now illegal. All old
aftermarket pipes were made obsolete by the new standard by the Society of
Automotive Engineers J2825. If you get caught with loud pipes law
enforcement now has decibel meters and a distant standard to ticket you.
How quiet must your motorcycle now be? 80db and to give you an idea
how quiet that is your household vacuum cleaner puts out about 110 db.
The V-twin cruiser guys are going to get clobbered with fines and that is
why you now see so many exhaust systems for sale. The aftermarket pipe
companies are already selling the new quiet pipes. Some still have
removable baffles, but if you dare mess with them law enforcement will catch
up to you sooner or later. Many cities have complained that there was
no legally enforceable standard to determine what was loud and courts kept
siding with the biker with loud pipes to beat the tickets. This won't
be the case anymore.
49. What is
your opinion of KTM motorcycles. I am thinking of buying one.
Some people love them. I looked at their dirt bikes and they seem
fine, but the KTM 990 street bike seems to have some serviceability
problems. It seems it can cost you $300 for a routine oil change
because the oil filter is totally buried deep into the frame and many
components must be removed from the motorcycle just to get to the oil
filter. This is a serious design flaw, but good for the dealer.
Valve adjustments can cost your $550 just to check the valves with no parts.
This bike reminds me of the Harley-Davidson V-Rod which the engine must be
dropped out of the frame to gain access to the valve cover to check or
adjust the valves which is insanity in my opinion. Imagine if you
bought a car and they tell you they got to charge you $300 for an oil change
or $550 to check the valves. Nobody would buy it. Motorcycle
magazines tend to be very quiet about such defects in their bike reviews for
fear of losing advertising dollars. People are not being told that
Harley-Davidson dealers are charging up to $350 or more for a routine oil
change on all of their v-twin bikes. I wrote a
book to show you how to do it yourself for
less than $40. I am also writing a book on the new overhead cam
Triumph motorcycles showing you how to adjust the valves, change your own
tires, oil change, etc. Getting back to KTM I would not buy
their street bikes until routine maintenance issues are resolved. The
dirt bikes? Yes, go buy one!
50. Do you know of
a plastic repair product?
Yes, if you have deep or fine scratches in plastic fenders or other parts go
to: PCRacingUSA.com and get their
Plastic Renew product.
51. How can a
dealer say their pipes are 50 state legal, yet the pipes are loud?
If the pipes are loud producing more than 80 decibels they are straight out lying to you and showing you
false and misleading and ambiguous advertising brochures. Fact is if they
claim "50 state" legal but they don't tell you this is
only related to "air pollution emissions" not
"sound emissions" then that is false advertising and using the
federal government as a product endorsement which is unlawful. That is how they
some companies deceive the public. Fact is
loud pipes are illegal in all 50 states regarding sound emissions
and not having the EPA approved sound
emission label or stamp on the pipes is illegal.
Install New Tires on Your Motorcycle and Fix Flat Tires" click to
learn more. Even Harley-Davidson Tires Too... stop paying, do it
yourself... it's easy.
52. What is all the
fuss about on ethanol gasoline?
E10 will not harm your engine or fuel-related rubber components on
motorcycle made after 1990. E15 or higher concentrations will damage
all bike top end engine components such as valves, valve seats, valve guides
will suffer increased wear due to the lack of lubricating properties.
Use a fuel additive to protect your engine if you must use E15+ grade fuel.
You should be using a fuel additive anyway just to keep things clean.
What is really bad is storing the motorcycle over a couple months and the
ethanol creates allows water to create rust and a horrible destructive
encrustation builds up inside the intake manifolds and even on the valves
and pistons wrecking the engine. This encrustation can prevent the
valve from closing so when you start the bike it bends the valves. You
need to treat the ethanol fuel to prevent this from happening.
53. I want to
change my own tires on my motorcycle. How do I learn how to do it?
I am writing a book on how to install new tires on your motorcycle and fix
flat tires. This includes dirt bikes and all street bikes. Even
Harley-Davidson bikes. It is easy to do once you know the tricks and
you don't need a tire changing machine. The book should be available
summer of 2011. The book will be revealing all the inside secrets how
to do the job with simple tire irons. And don't you believe the hype
that it can't be done. Fact is, even the shops with tire changing
machines still have to use tire irons on the big fat tires for the machine
safety torque "pops" the mounting bar out of the tire's bead on resistance
to prevent damaging the wheel. So you need tire irons anyway!
Even the new run-flat thick side wall tires can be installed with tire
irons. The money you will save with this book will be worth its weight
in gold. You can request to be on our waiting list to be notified when
the book is published: E-mail us.
54. Do you know of
any good towing programs?
I was paying over $150 a year for towing coverage that will cover my
motorcycle, pick up truck and RV. Then I found out about the American
Motorcyclist Association has the same program but way better for only $40 a
year. I quit the other plan and joined the AMA right away. You
get the towing benefit when you automatically renew your AMA membership by
credit card. And you get 5 tows each year. A great deal. Check
it out on my Motorcycle Tips Web page.
Tell your friends about this too!
55. My mechanic
says I need a new expensive fuel pump. Any advice?
Many mechanics simply perform a pressure test at the pump discharge and if
the pressure is low they tell you your fuel pump has failed. In most
cases the pump inlet fuel filter is clogged and needs cleaning or
replacement. You should be using a fuel treatment to help keep the
fuel system clean. Once every two years you should clean or replace
the fuel filter. This is a lot cheaper than replacing a fuel pump.
56. How can I get
your new book on how to change motorcycle tires? And will this book be
for Harley's too?
The book, when published in the Summer of this year will be listed on our
books page. This book is specifically written
for big street cruiser motorcycles. And the book will also cover
fixing flat tires too when you are out cruising and pick up a nasty nail,
bolt or screw. Many riders can and should change their own tires.
You'll save a lot of money. Yes, even those big fat tires can be
changed with simple tire irons and this book shows you how to do it.
Don't be fooled. Even tire changing machines don't always work to
mount the tire due to thick sidewall casing and tire irons have to be used
anyway. Imagine that. Now you know why tire changing is always
performed in a back room with no windows so you won't see what is really
going on. And, balancing a tire is easy and you don't need a dynamic
balancer to do the job. I show you how to static balance your wheels,
which is just as good as dynamic for street use. Also, I show you all
the hidden tricks and secrets that makes changing your tires easy to do.
And there are a lot of secrets you need to know otherwise installing a new
tire is just too much trouble. I promise, it will be so easy you will
be bragging to other riders you do your own tire changes. You can also
start a side job or full time motorcycle tire changing business after
reading the book. It is also a great way for a young person to learn the
ropes and get a job changing tires at motorcycle shops. In any case,
you will appreciate the money you save doing it yourself. How much
will you save? About $150 or more each time you do it yourself.
You buy tires on the Internet at deep discount and there is no installation
parts or labor fees.
57. I am confused
which sort of brake pad I should buy. Please help.
The brake pad market for motorcycles can be a tid bit confusing but I can
boil it down easily for you. On any street bike no matter what kind of
street bike you have you can always install "sintered metal" brake pads or
"organic carbon fiber" brake pads. The sintered metal is good for all
performance and that is why most all stock bikes come with them. They
are also easy on the rotors (unless you buy a "racing formula sintered metal
pad" that is highly abrasive). Go to DP.com as they have a huge
selection of brake pads for all bikes and they carry both types of brake
formulations. The carbon fiber pads are really nice pads. A tiny
bit more abrasive, but not too bad. What is wonderful about them is
the hotter the pads get the more stronger the brake becomes. They just
will not fade. They do put a fine black dusting of worn pad material
on your wheels that wipes off easily, but overall these pads will dirty your
wheels more than the light bronze color sintered metal pads. Even if
you made a mistake putting on racing brake pads on your bike it is not the
end of the world. They will just stop better and wear down your brake
rotor quicker than normal. One set of racing brakes will not hurt.
58. I would like to
know if there is an alternative to stock radiator hoses that will last
There are better hoses. You can buy a silicone hose kit that come in
many colors, will not harden, crack, dry out and dissipates heat better too.
60. Must I change
the oil on my bike with the engine hot?
Everybody says yes, but it can be drained cold because you can get burned by
the hot oil and scalding exhaust pipes. Just allow a half-hour extra
time as thick oil takes longer to drain. Today's modern oil holds the
majority of the impurities in suspension in the oil. I still change my
oil when hot, but I have done it when cold.
61. Is it true some
mechanics have changed the oil on customer's bikes and started the engine?
Mistakes happen. It is easy to install the oil drain plug and oil
filter and forget to add the oil. What I do is always to flip the kill
switch on the handlebar to the off position. You can affix a "do
not start - no oil in engine" tag on the handlebar near the starter
button. If you want the job done right, do it yourself.
62. My brakes
squeal. What can I do to quiet them down?
Try spraying a very small amount of brake cleaner on the pads and rotor. This usually
works. If the brakes are glazed due to soft braking try doing some
hard braking on a mountain or hill to burn off the glaze. You can also
apply a bit of graphite to the rotor by rubbing a pencil across the disk
rotor. Sometimes a special anti-squeal paste must be applied to the
back of the brake pads. If all else fails install new pads. Put a micrometer on
the rotor and get a measurement. Find out if the disk is too thin.
A thin disk gets hot and can cause squealing and can be unsafe if worn beyond
the service limit stamped on the disk. Sometimes squealing occurs on new pads and the
noise goes away after they have bedded in.
mechanic stripped my oil drain plug and didn't bother to tell me about it.
How do I fix this?
A heli-coil will do the job. Often you can first try to salvage the
threads by just running a correct size tap into the drain hole. Coat
the tap with axle grease so the grease will capture metal chips. When
done you can apply a four wraps of Teflon pipe tape to the bolt, insert and
torque to spec. If the bolt will not tighten they you have to drill
and tap. Coat the drill and tap with a heavy coat of axle grease to
catch metal chips. When tapping remove the tap every four turns and
remove the contaminated grease and apply fresh grease and repeat the
process. Any leftover metal chips inside the case will be caught in
the oil filter. Aluminum chips are not too damaging for the metal is
soft whereas hard steel chips are devastating especially in gearboxes.
Your engine cases are soft aluminum. Search the Internet for more
solutions. There are rubber plugs that can be used in stripped oil
drain holes, but I have not seen them in many years.
64. Must I use
premium fuel in my motorcycle?
Not if you ride at and above 2,000 feet elevation, then you can use regular
89 octane gas. Why? Lean air requires less octane so save
yourself a lot of money on fuel! However, if your bike still knocks or
pings just go up to medium grade fuel and see if that works. Do not
run 85 octane at that is too low for most motorcycle engines unless you are
riding above 5,000 feet elevation. What if you live at lower
elevations? Even if the owner manual says to use premium 92 octane
fuel you may find you can run a lower grade of fuel with no problems
especially if you ride at partial throttle speeds most of the time.
Riding with a passenger may require you use premium fuel.
65. The skin on my
hands crack. What can I use to stop the cracking?
I have found a product that works better than this one:
Awakeningskincare.com and Nivea Express Hydration and Gold Bond Ultimate
Healing with Aloe also works very well.
66. How can I find
out the defects of my Harley-Davidson motorcycle?
The dealers won't tell you unless it is a safety recall. However,
there are plenty of Harley-Davidson defects that are dangerous and should be
recalled and fixed, but that is another story. Click
here for advice as I have compiled some of
67. Who makes the
best cruiser tires?
Mitchelin Commander II tires are simply awesome. Low price for even
those big fat 16" Harley-Davidson tires and they only cost about $130-$150.
They ride nice and soft like adding a shock absorber to your bike.
They wear like iron. I have 8,000 miles on my Harley-Davidson and both
tires are only 1/2 worn down. I have never seen any tire last that
long for it means the set will last 16,000 miles! The grip wet and dry
is wonderful. Handling is just fantastic and braking is strong.
Cornering is precise with firmness you will really appreciate due to super
strong sidewalls that actually flex. The tires run cooler than other
brands which is why they last so long. Compared to Metzeller and Avon
tires they do not compare at all with the superior Mitchelin Commander II
tires (and you know Avon and Metzeller are good tires too) but, you have to
experience and try these new high-technology tires for they will certainly
make a believer out of you. And with their "square bead" design they
install with tire irons so easy you could almost put them on your rims by
hand. These tires are the best I have ever put on my Harley's.
68. I was told
Diamond Cutting makes the engine run cool. How?
Frankly, it will not cool the engine to any degree where it will be
noticeable to the rider and it will not even show up as cooler oil in the
engine. It may theoretically aid heat shedding at the tips of the
fins, but total heat flow will not be accelerated from the engine to matter
at all. Diamond cutting cylinders and installing diamond cut cylinder
heads only look nice. If diamond cuts actually did practically cool
you would see them on electric motors, diesels engines and all sorts of
industrial machinery including automotive engines. Deep cooling fins work,
diamond cutting does not, so don't be fooled. A cool engine can be had
by buying and installing an engine oil cooler. Now you will see a real
drop in temperature. Buy an oil cooler. Buy components that have
deep heat-sink fins like a primary case derby cover as this will remove
heat, but the engine oil cooler is going to be the winning ticket.
Power plants use fins to reject heat on control valves systems... diamond
cuts are not found. If you are being led to believe diamond cutting
the edges of your engine cooling fins will actually and effectively cool
your engine I would question that person's ethics, wisdom and motives.
69. How do I
properly torque a tire valve stem?
Use a new valve core when changing your tires, but if you do not have a new
one it is not a rule violation to reuse your old one unless it is over 3
years old. The question is how
tight should you tighten that valve core?
Finger tight, snug, not too tight, but that is not precise.
You can't use your torque wrench for such a tiny measurement.
Slime® does make a valve core tool that
costs about $8 and it has a built in torque wrench.
70. My dealer wants
$500 for a new fuel pump. Is there an alternative?
Contact High Flow Performance.
They have fuel pumps as low as $70.
71. What is a
Most brake calipers have mounting bolts that pass through the caliper to the
fork from the outside to the inside. This axial mounting can create a
rattle of the brake caliper as it shakes forward and backwards from friction
in the bolt holes. If you were to mount the caliper so the mounting
bolts are facing front or rear then the bolts would be radial-mounted
preventing the caliper from moving forward or backward. There is now
no play and the caliper is strongly fixed to the fork tube. Racing
bikes use the radial system. There is really no real gain for general
speed-limit street bikes, especially cruisers, will not benefit from them
and that is why axial mount calipers are still popular.
72. What is a
Most Harley-Davidsons use traditional fork tubes which I totally prefer over
inverted forks. A traditional fork tube compresses downward over the
lower tube. Go look at some Harley's. They are easy to perform
oil change and a complete rebuild with standard tools and an inexpensive
seal driver tool. The inverted fork looks up-side-down as the upper
fork tube is stationary and the lower tube is reciprocating in and out of
the upper tube. Sport bikes and some Victory cruisers use the inverted
fork. I find the inverted forks are nice for handling, but the
maintenance of them are frequent and expensive. The fork seals on the
inverted fork are subject to early failure from road grime so you should
have fork shields installed, but even then, just to change the oil and
rebuild a fork tube requires expensive special tools... and I mean $300 or
more in tools! That's okay if you are a sport bike rider, but most
cruiser riders do not need such perfect handling and control as the inverted
fork will give. The cost is too high for most cruiser riders.
73. When balancing
my wheel should I rotate wheel in normal forward rotation only?
No, you rotate forward first and let wheel drop to the heavy spot and mark
the tire at the 6 o'clock position. Then rotate the tire backwards and
let the wheel drop to the heavy spot and mark the tire at the 6 o'clock
position. If the marks are dead even at six o'clock all is fine.
If the marks are spread apart just put a mark equal distance between them
and that's your heavy spot. Spoke wheels often will stop a slightly
random positions. Place your wheel weight at the 12 o-clock position.
It does not matter which direction the wheel is initially rotated. You
can keep on rotating the wheel in any direction. What we want is to
just find where the heavy spot is on the wheel. Make sure nothing is
binding the wheel bearings or something rubbing against the tire or wheel
otherwise the wheel will keep stopping at strange places and that will make
it impossible to get any accuracy to locate the heavy spot.
74. When I try to
remove Philip head screws on my Honda I often strip them. Why is this
Using an impact driver helps, but the Philip head screws can still strip
unless you have JIS bits or JIS screwdriver set. This will be a
surprise to many people, but all Japanese bikes use JIS size Philip head
screws. All Philip's are not the same size in their shaped contour.
The standard Philips has a star shape that is narrow and the JIS has a
fatter shape star pattern. This fills the Philips head fully and
prevents stripping. What you want are bits or screwdriver sets No. 00,
No. 0, No.1 and No.2 and No.3. Where to buy them?
www.ikaswebshop.com and Vessel
75. When I apply
front brakes I feel a vibration. What is causing this?
Odds are high you have a bent (warped) brake rotor that creates a pulse
effect that you can feel. Worn axle bearing, trashed forks, badly worn
tire (including alignment and balance) or an out of adjustment neck bearing
can do this too, but I would set a micrometer on the brake disk and look for
excessive warped run out on the rotor. Badly worn or broken brake pads
can do this too.
76. What is your
opinion of cylinders cast into the engine cases like BMW's and others?
It is good from an engineering point of view as embedded cylinders has many
benefits of strength and light weight along with good-wearing piston fitment
and increased efficiency. But it is not so good for you, the rider,
who has to pay the bill to replace engine cases to overhaul the top end of
the engine. That's right, you must purchase brand new engine cases.
Can you imagine the cost? If you had to pay a shop to do it, yikes!
I like the idea of having removable cylinders. It is practical,
reliable and easy to replace. I would avoid buying bikes with
unfriendly features like this. Then again, we are eventually going to
see "disposable" engines in the future.
77. I am concerned
of the ethanol alcohol problems from our gasoline. What can I do to
avoid trouble in my engine?
Star-Tron is a fuel treatment to counter the bad effects from ethanol, but
it is is not a cure all. Just the same, you can add a dose of Star-Tron
at each time you gas up. At each 3,000 miles use Chevron Techron fuel
treatment to clean up the crud Star-Tron can't fix. This is a formula
that will work for you, me and all of us. Also check out my new
product: Amazing Oil & Gas
Treatment - Get the Power & Hear the Sound!
78. The ECM on my
Harley-Davidson is shot. I don't want to buy a H-D unit as the cost is
too high. Is there an aftermarket product I can buy?
Yes, the Thundermax EFI System replaces the stock H-D EFI
computer. The cost is still high at $1,000 but you will never need to
buy another one or have it "flashed" as you now can do anything to your bike
and download fuel/air ratio maps so the flexibility is perfect. They
have different systems so you need the EFI System not the Autotune System
for the EFI System totally replaces the stock EFI computer. Go to
79. Is there anyone
who can clean fuel injectors?
Try some local automotive repair shops first. If you can't find any
80. Does anyone
make a device that can notify emergency personel if a rider were to leave
the roadway and crash when alone?
One company is
81. My Sportster
has a 65+ mph wobble even with new tires. Help!
This is not serious problem and is not a steering head fall-away
adjustment problem. If you shut throttle off and coast down at speed
and there is no wobble your steering head adjustment is fine, but if you
do get a wobble it can be a fall-away adjustment is needed or the neck
bearings are damaged and need replacement. It sounds to me you have
minor problems that are easy to fix, but a bit frustrating to locate the
1. Check the alignment on the rear wheel. I bet you will find this is
off. You have to measure axle distance from frame on both sides and
make both sides equal. If this is not the problem...
2. Check saddlebag loading. Some bags, even when empty, create air
turbulence due to their poor shape in the air and creates the wobble at
speed. If you have more weight in one bag this can cause instability.
Try removing the bags and test ride.
3. Windshields are often a problem. Take the shield off to test this
if the wobble goes away. If so, consider buying a wide Windvest
brand windshield and angle it backward in line with the front forks
(more or less) like a sport bike. It will look good and produce little
turbulence and more fuel mileage. Wind will create wobbles as it pushes
the front forks left and right.
4. Sportsters don't have wobble problems unless swing arm bushing or
front forks are failing. Check these items for wear.
5. Improper tire tread often creates wobbles, especially if the tire
has a center tread water groove in the middle of the tire. Don't use
those tread patters on any motorcycle as wobble at speed is just about
guaranteed. The center groove just keeps grabbing the road causing
annoying wobbling. If tires are out of balance you will get this wobble
at high speed, but I think this is not the problem as wobble usually
occurs above 80 mph if a tire is out of balance and is usually only
happens on sport bikes. Harley's are heavy bikes, even Sportsters and
are not prone to tire balancing issues. In fact, most cruiser rider's
bike wheels are way out of balance and they do not even realize it and
no wobble develops at any speed.
6. Next set of tires go with Michelin Commander II brand tires. They
run smooth and true and they last like iron. Or, find another rider
with the same model and year that you have and see which tires they use
and ask if they have any wobble problems.
7. Front wheel bearings may be failing. Lift bike off ground a bit,
grab the front wheel and push hard back and forth, left and right to see
if you can feel or hear movement wheel or fork, binding. Also check to
see if Triple Tree pinch bolts are snug. If they loosen, a wobble will
8. Check rear shocks. Make sure they are not coming loose or failing
to cushion. Motor mounts too can fail, but this usually does not create
a riding at-speed wobble on Sportster's as it will cause the engine to
shake like mad causing vibration and not cause the front wheel to
9. A bent frame will cause wobbles. If so, you will need to set the
rear wheel out of norm alignment to compensate or fix the bend in the
frame or swing arm.
10. Some bikes, maybe yours, is just one of those quirky bikes that
wobble naturally. I know this sounds dumb, but there are new bikes that
just do wobble. Heavy cruiser Harley's do have high-speed wobble
problems. Aftermarket products fix the problem, but there are no fixes
for the Sportster as they are not known to develop unusual wobbles.
Over time, keep checking things, even loose front or rear axle (mostly
front) can unload the wheel bearings and cause front wheel to drift
creating a wobble.
11. Going back to tires. I had problems with Bridgestone Battlax brand
tires. They would not wobble at first, but after 2,000 miles cupping
developed and made loud humming noise and wobbling as the cups kept
shifting the forks left and right and up and down. When I switched to
other brands, no problems. Avoid hard compound tires like the Battlax
and seek a softer tire.
12. Dunlop tires usually do not cause wobble problems, but they do wear
out faster than many other brands of tires. The compound if too soft,
or just the way the tire wears over time can create a high-speed wobble,
but I doubt Dunlop tire is the problem on your Sportster. Unless, it
has a linear tread pattern that is just grabbing the road surface too
I would really take great care to locate a wheel alignment problem as
mentioned in suggestion #1 above.
13. It is not always easy to find the wobble problem. You just have to
take it one step at a time and eventually you will find the problem.
Once you find it you'll say, "That was obvious, how did I miss it?"
14. You can take your bike to a shop who can check frame alignment, but
do this as a last resort, unless there are signs the bike has been
dropped. If the bike is used when you bought it, it could have been in
an accident or was dropped once or numerous times and has a bent frame,
fork tube, Triple Tree.
15. All of the above items should be checked to isolate the problem.
Sometimes it is a "combination" of things that create the wobble.
Example: rear wheel alignment off a bit along with non-aerodynamic
saddle bags or miss-matched loading and then a wheel balance problem
gets amplified causing the wobble.
82. My motorcycle
is too tall for me. What can I do to make it fit?
some tips: Look for replacement tires with a smaller aspect ratio.
This will lower the motorcycle closer to the ground as the tire sidewall
is not as tall as the stock tire you may be using. Get a seat or
modify the seat you already have to make it thinner by the thighs.
This will let your legs drop straight down instead of like sitting on a
horse saddle. That is the most common fix. You can install
shorter rear shocks. Most people do not exceed a reduction of
1-inch as you will lose shock performance and feel hard bumps. I
do not recommend you lower the front fork springs as it dramatically
alters handling, weight bias and geometry of the motorcycle which can be
nasty to control. It also creates metal-screeching cornering leans
which are dangerous. Scraping of the frame or other items when
cornering can actually flip the bike over and crash. To those guys
that lower their bikes for looks are actually ruining the handling
performance of the bike and increasing a risk to crash when cornering.
83. I think my
drive chain has stretched and worn out. How can I tell for sure?
The chain does not stretch, but the inner roller pins wear out and
become thinner creating the illusion the chain has "stretched".
First, adjust the chain then try to pull the chain away from the rear
sprocket. If the chain lifts away the chain is at or near its end.
Look at the sprocket and if you see deep "U" shape grooves and the tips
look like "shark-fins" the chain and sprocket are in need of
replacement. Look at a new motorcycle at a showroom and compare to
yours will give you the visual details you need to see to make a
determination. You must also replace the engine countershaft drive
sprocket, rear sprocket with a new chain as they all wear out together.
Look also for broken sprocket tooth or chips. Look for wear on the
side faces of the rear sprocket. If you see where the chain is
wearing a side, it means your wheel alignment is off from improper
adjustment, worn swingarm bearings or bend frame.
84. Can I switch
between full synthetic oil and mineral oil?
Answer: Yes, you
can even blend them together as a semi-synthetic oil which you can buy
already blended by the same name brand of oil. This advice
includes all Harley-Davidson motorcycle and V-Twin regarding "engine
oil", "primary chain case with wet clutch" and "transmissions".
Of course, full-synthetic is the best for engine protection.
85. What is your
opinion on LED headlights?
Answer: I have
them on my motorcycles. They light up the night like day to safely
see the road surface ahead, far ahead at that and to the sides too.
In daytime cars see you and you will have fewer close calls to be hit by
cars once you install them. Expensive? Yes, but so much less
cost to paying doctors for injuries. I highly recommend them as an
investment in your own safety. I used to hate riding at night but
with LED headlight I have ridden California mountain roads a hundred
miles with no eye fatigue as I can see the road ahead like daytime.
Also, can see deer hiding in the bushes a lot better too. Buy the
LED and pay the price and gain the benefits.
86. What about
those oil filters you disassemble to clean and never throw away?
Answer: I have not
used them for many years, but now that I have one on my Harley-Davidson
I am really impressed. It increases 3 to 5 horsepower by reducing
oil pumping resistance drag. Speeds Performance did a dyno check
and it proved true. Plus, they filter better than disposable
canister filters. And with the price of oil filters rising the
device pays for itself quicker. I do now recommend them. Try
it and you'll see for yourself. One more thing, they save on gas
too as you get better mileage. They also act as oil coolers
as they have fins and made of billet aluminum and shed heat like crazy
87. Do you like
stock brake pads?
Answer: They work
good, but I generally use EBC or DP brand sintered metal pads.
They have a bit more stopping power. I have used Ferodo brand too
which are used on Ferrari's, Lamborghini, Lotus, etc. Those pads
are very powerful and will wear down your rotors more, but if you want
braking power try Ferodo. Bagger riders should consider these to
stop heavy bikes. I have not yet tried Galfer brand brakes and
rotors. Strangely, I do like Harley-Davidson rotors as they are
not expensive to buy and they last a long time, but I use EBC and DP
88. What about
spark plugs are okay. But there are better plugs out there.
NGK Iridium are fabulous plugs. I found you get instant torque
increase and acceleration and fuel mileage. I just bought some E-3
brand spark plugs and I find they too are very good plugs, if not better
than Iridium. They resist fouling way better due to the multiple
89. I checked by
brake fluid level and found it was almost to the bottom line. I found
no leaks. Where did the oil go?
Answer: There is no
leak then take a look at the condition of your brake pads. As the
pads wear down the oil in the reservoir will drop. If the
hydraulic oil level is near the bottom line on the reservoir the brake
pads need replacing or the brake rotor disk is worn out or both.
In this case, do not add fluid to the oil reservoir replace the brake
pads, disk or both. If your bike is new odds are the brake pads
alone are worn down. If you have 50,000 miles or more on the bike
check the brake rotors for wear with a micrometer. The minimum
thickness is stamped on the brake rotor.
90. I have
the Polaris Indian Scout and having trouble changing the oil on this
thing. It overflows oil. Help.
Answer: There are two
oil plugs one next to the other serving two separate compartments with
the same grade of oil. Remove both plugs, sit on the bike so it is
level and let the oil drain into the oil pan you placed under the
engine. When the oil has drained it is important to now put the
bike on the side stand, then reinsert the oil drain plugs. Add
lube oil with the bike on its side-stand, the bike must not be level.
While on the side stand you you now add 3 quarts of oil. If you
try adding oil with the bike being level you can't get all the oil into
the engine. A strange procedure, but the Scout requires this.
To check the correct oil fluid level you now must sit on the bike and
get the bike level, then check the oil level when cold.
cut my drive chain and the master link won't install into the small hole
in the chain link. Do I have the wrong chain?
Answer: There is a
secret about drive chains most riders are unaware of is that the chain
appears to be equal in all the links by the visual eye, but in reality,
the outer links has small holes and the inner links have the large size
hole. You cut the chain in the wrong place. Break the chain
where the inner link will be fully exposed when the outer chain link is
removed. You may want to practice cutting chains on some used
ones. Just ask a repair shop for an old chain you can use to
practice on before you begin cutting a brand new (expensive) chain.
But you did not ruin your chain. You can splice in another riveted
master link. Just remove the next link so the inner link will be
exposed with the larger hole, insert another master link in that
location and then use a final master link to close up the chain after it
is installed on the two drive sprockets. Always replace your
sprockets with a new chain to get maximum life and performance from the
92. Should I buy a
Lithium battery for my motorcycle?
Answer: No and here's
why... if you are racing, yes by all means do so, but for street use
stay with the old glass mat lead/acid battery. Lithium batteries
are light in weight, won't sulfate, retain a charge for long periods of
time (6 months) and they have big power to crank over large modified
engines, but they don't have jump-starting or bump-starting ability so
when it runs low on juice it will strand you by the side of the road.
You need to use a special batter charger to recharge the lithium
battery, test and equalize the charge between cells. It must be
recharged if the resting voltage drops below 13.1 volts or the lithium
battery will be damaged. If your motorcycle has parasitic current
draw it will draw down the lithium battery in no time at all as they do
not have a large power reserve capacity like the lead/acid batteries do.
In other words, if you have a hard-starting engine you are limited to
only a few tries before the lithium battery runs out of juice.
This can strand you when out of town and only special lithium battery
charges can be used to recharge your lithium battery. For these
reasons I would not recommend you install a lithium battery in your
motorcycle or any vehicle for that matter when used for starting a gas
or diesel engine.
93: I brought my bike to a shop and when I got the bike
it was okay, but after about a week or so my front brakes shudder.
Answer: It is possible
oil or grease got on the front brake rotor(s) and as you braked the oil
carbonized (burned) its way into the rotor metal causing high and low spots.
Just use 80 grit sandpaper to polish both sides of the rotors and be
aggressive on the disks to get below the baked-on carbonized oil. To
clean the rotors use brake cleaner from a spray can in a well-ventilated
area with eye protection, of course. You could take the bike back to
the service shop, but I bet they will deny responsibility, but maybe they
won't and do the job for you at no cost.
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