Monday, May 25, 2009

VD's New Ride

For some time now Dave has been looking for a new ride. I know he’s been doing a ton of research trying to find just the right one. Mileage was his biggest concern. It has to get great MPG’s for those cross-country trips. Well, a while ago my phone rings (the private, unlisted disconnected one). It’s Dave. He sounds really excited. I asked him; “Dude, did you just get laid or something?” “No” he said. “I just found the perfect bike. You gotta come check it out!”

So I head down and check it out. When I get there he’s sitting, staring at it. I look at it and say; “Damn, that’s not even a bagger”. “Yea I know” Dave says. “But it gets 200 miles per gallon, has a 10 speed transmission and check out that custom chrome exhaust”. I got back on my bike and left. I just didn’t have the heart to tell him the truth. I have a suspicion that a few more of those fat cells just busted.

(Note: This is all BS. Dave would never get a new ride without a stereo!)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Tire Pressure - The Ups And Downs

The owner’s manual says 36 PSI. The tire says 41 PSI. Which is correct? Ask ten different people; you’ll get twelve different opinions. Ask me, I’ll give you a thirteenth opinion. Before we can answer this question we need to go back to the beginning. When Gork first invented the tire his only concern was moving Brontosaurs steaks around. He could easily lower the tire pressure with the use of a hammer and chisel. Increasing the pressure usually meant a new tire. In that respect, Gork was a lot like us, the tire pressure keeps going lower and lower without much attention. Many years later, one of his ancestors invented the air compressor, which is now the preferred method of adjusting tire pressure. But hey, if the hammer and chisel method works for you…

So, that still leaves the question of which is right. The book or the tire? In all honesty, I don’t know. This seems to be matter of personal preference and opinion. Ride and handling characteristics vary tire-to-tire, bike-to-bike and rider-to-rider. Weather, ambient air temperature and extreme changes in altitude can also affect tire pressure. Years ago most bike tires were pretty much the same, so you used whatever you could find cheap. Today, with the weight, horsepower and stopping ability of modern bikes, tires take on a life of their own, and quite possibly your life. When deciding on replacement tires you will always be safe going with the tires the bike manufacture recommends. Although that can be expensive, as there are many choices today. But you be the judge of what you spend your money on.

Over the past thirty some odd years, I’ve ran tires both ways; by the book and by the max pressure sidewall spec. I’ve noticed no difference in wear either way. I have noticed improvement in handling with the higher pressure. It might be all in my head, but then there’s some strange stuff floating around in there.

The reason I started to run higher pressures was a study I read a few years back. Yea, I know. Studies can be pretty darn skewed to suit your agenda. For every study I find for my side, you can find two studies for your side. I don’t recall the who, when and where the study was conducted, but I do remember the content. The study, and actual on road tests were conducted by a group of riders that I consider some of the best riders you’ll find on the road. Motor Officers. Guys that will weave in and out of 80 MPH traffic and make it look like second nature. I admire the job they do, and I would rather have them in front of me. Don't like them in my mirror.
All of the tests were done with street tires on dry roadway. No off-road or racing tires. Those are a whole different animal. They used several brands of tires, all of identical size, ply construction, speed and load ratings. There was no noticeable difference in stopping distance or control during normal riding. What made me try the higher pressure were the two following results: 1) There was a decrease in the occurrence of high-speed wobble, or “death-wobble” as I prefer to call it. 2) There was a “very noticeable” increase in control while executing high-speed turns and tight maneuvers. The reason given was the extra stiffness of the sidewalls, under the higher pressure, caused the sidewalls to resist rolling side to side. I’m not advocating one pressure setting over the other. I am saying that I run the higher pressure because I feel it gives me better control. Sometimes just the perception in your mind that you have a slight advantage is all it takes to avoid a very bad situation. But as with all things motorcycle, my final words are always “Let those who ride decide”.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Engine Temperature

I recently read an article in the May Thunder Press by Kip Woodring who writes the Motorhead Memos. This guy knows his shit and does his research. (Note: The last time I looked Thunder Press did not have the May archives posted yet. But I’m sure you can find a copy at your local bike shop.) The article was about spark plugs. The thing that intrigued me about the article was that it was mainly about the advantages of Iridium plugs. I’ve been looking for a set for about 6 months, but didn’t want to pay the $20-$25 a pop for them. The two main reasons I wanted to change the plugs are; 1) the low amount of voltage required to spark these things. Might come in handy with a close to dead battery, or if you still have a generator or kicker. 2) The life span. Some estimates are that Iridium plugs will outlast the engine. I’ll do a update in 20 years to answer that one. A month ago I found a source that got me some for $9 apiece so I got four.

The main part of Kip’s article was the way that a spark plug dissipates heat from your engine, a fact that totally escaped my old brain. I’d try to explain it, but I would recommend that you read his article if that sort of thing interest you. With the stock plugs my 96” in 90-degree heat would run about 250 on the oil and 350 on the rear head. That’s pretty normal for a 96”. Since I was going to Bakersfield where 90 degrees is a cold spell, it was a good time for a test. The Iridium plugs have been in for a month, but it hasn’t been hot enough here to notice a difference. BTW, here’s a good Cross-Reference for Harley spark plugs.

0:dark thirty. 53 degrees. Head south down 101,east over the pass and into the deserts of Bakersfield. 200 miles and the sun is just rising. Perfect, no traffic the whole way. It’s now about 70 degrees. Oil temp never broke 200. Normal op. temp is 230 by HD specs. Go to the business meeting. Blah, blah, blah… frigggin meeting's over, get the hell outta here. It’s now somewhere between 90 and 100 degrees. Perfect weather for my test. I go about 100 miles and stop to check temps. I also stopped so Dave and I could get a cold drink and check out the little restaurant in Cholame that has all the James Dean memorabilia. Yes, Dave made it down there as he mentioned in his last post. Ya know, it’s one thing to drop everything and ride 100 miles when a Brother is down or needs a hand. But 100 miles in the heat just for the company… it’s much appreciated. That’s something few would understand. Thanks. So I check temps: oil 235, a drop of 15-25 degrees from normal. Rear head, 285, a drop of 65 degrees. I should say that I run Lucas synthetic motorcycle oil also. It may be a combination of the two, but the Iridium spark plugs definitely made a difference I could measure. If you can drop a few degrees off you engine temp by swapping spark plugs, it might be worth looking into.

Even though these plugs should last for I have no damn idea how long, there is a reason I bought four for a two cylinder. For one, they’re hard to find and usually need to be ordered in. And reason number two, the important reason; the second set went to a Brother for his birthday.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Guess The Tool?

I was just getting ready to do a once over on the bike in preparation for a business trip on Thursday. 400 mile round trip. Wages plus mileage reimbursement. It’s a hard job, but someone has to do it. Anyway, pulling out a few tools I ran across this thing. Figured it would be a good item for some brain exercises. The sparkplug is for size scale. The cloth bag is the original packaging. Hint: If you’re under 40, go ask a old fart.

Monday, May 4, 2009

CA Smog Check Update

There seems to be a bit of confusion over the 4-27-09 votes on SB 435, CA’s motorcycle smog check Bill. On 4-28-09 I checked to see what the vote was. The States website listed the votes at 13 ayes, 0 nyes. My Rep., Senator Jeff Denham sits on the 13 member Appropriations Committee. Being one of the responsible parties for putting him in office (yes, I vote), I immediately started making plans for the mutiny and sent the Senator a hastily composed e-mail:

Senator Denham,
"Because of your yes vote on SB 435 I feel that you are all about grabbing money for the State and don’t care about the people your actions will impact. I will no longer support you and will oppose you for any office that you seek in the future."

Short and sweet. It made me feel a little better, but my bikes were still pissed. The Shovel was so scared of a motorcycle proctology exam it started pissing oil everywhere.

I’ve sent gripes to many politicians and have always received the same response – none, with the exception of a few stupid form letters. This correspondence should be no different. On 5-4-09 I checked my e-mail. There was a response from Senator Denham dated 4-29-09:

"Thank you for contacting me regarding Senate Bill 435. I appreciate the opportunity to respond to your concerns.

Senate Bill 435 would require all motorcycles model-year 2000 and newer to be included in the smog check program beginning January 1, 2012. This bill would make the violation of the mandatory smog checks for motorcycles a crime.

I ride a Harley, and like you, I believe that placing these restrictions on motorcycles would create an undue burden for taxpayers, especially in these tough economic times.

That’s why I voted “aye” on a procedural motion to send SB 435 to the “suspense file” in Senate Appropriations Committee. This action holds the bill in committee and does not let it advance.

Should there be any attempt to move SB 435 out of the Appropriations Committee, please do be assured I will oppose it. Again, thank you for giving me the opportunity to respond to your concerns."

Senator, 12th District

My take on this is that the vote put the Bill in limbo and keeps it from going forward. I will check and see what CA’s legal definition of “suspense file” is. But for right now it appears that SB 435 is going nowhere. So I guess the whole committee voted to stop it, for now, instead of sending it further up the food chain. And speaking of food, tonight I’m having a big helping of crow with a little humble pie for desert, and writing a amendment to my last e-mail to Jeff Denham, CA Senator and Motorcycle Enthusiast.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Where Will This End?

First we give women the right to vote.
Then we let them work outside the home.
Then we "pay" them for working outside the home.
Then we let them drive cars.

What’s next?
I’ll tell you what’ next.
Now they’ve taken our “secret wave”!
Is nothing sacred anymore?
How far will this go?