Aug 27

Carburator from L650 Savage

I called my son, then held the phone close to a running motorcycle to let him hear the engine. He was thrilled when he figured out it was Thumper, the little 650 savage we’d been working on. We replaced the wiring harness the weekend before, but ran out of time before he had to leave and didn’t finish putting it back together. I promised him I’d get the gas tank back on it and see if the bike would run with the new wiring harness.
We thought we’d dodged a bullet because it had been setting up for a little more than 2 years with electrical problems. We both figured that once we got those sorted out, we had a trip into the carburetor ahead of us. The sewing machine regularity of the “putter putter” being transmitted to Fort Worth by cell phone seemed to belay that assumption. Alas, it was not to be.
A couple of days later Brandon had a Friday off and headed home for a three day weekend. I got a call midmorning while I was at work. “Dad, I can’t get it started, and there’s gas pouring out of the air box,” he explained over the phone.
“Sounds like a stuck float,” I told him. “Go get some carb cleaner and we’ll pull it tomorrow.”
An early morning ride with a side trip to the Pioneer Days festival in New Boston delayed our wrenching session until Saturday afternoon. By 1:00, it was too hot to ride, so we set up in the carport under a fan and got to work on Thumper.
Neither of us had pulled a carburetor before, so we carefully checked the Clymer manual before tearing into it. We also took pictures at each step so we’d have reference images as we put it back together. Even so, we occasionally found that a part wouldn’t come loose as easily as the manual suggested, or that our unit looks slightly different from the drawings.
We compared ideas and observations, each offering techniques until we eventually got the cleaned carburetor back in place.
This exercise had every opportunity to be frustrating, starting with the fact that we were tearing into the carb after we thought we had the bike fixed. Putting the bike back together we tried to remember, or figure out, where some of the hoses taken off 2 years earlier went.
Eventually we finished. Standing over the little machine, listening to the engine running smoothly and surely I realized that I had thoroughly enjoyed myself. My son’s satisfied grin told me he had also.
It was fun putting the little bike through its paces and making sure it would continue to run. We went looking for bumps to be sure the electrical short from two years before was really gone. We toped off the tank, then headed down the road, each mile bringing us more confidence in our repairs and a greater sense of accomplishment.
Fixing and riding the little bike was fun. Doing it with my son made it fantastic.

Guy Wheatley


Aug 11

Valkyrie tan k badge

With the Victory gone I’m truly a Valkyrie rider now. I still have my Magna and ride it to work most days, but the circle of folks I hang around with think of the Magna as the Valkyrie’s little sister. It is a high revving V-4 and, in spirit at least, still fits the Valkyrie family.
The long rides are on the Valkyrie now instead of the Victory. The model year of my Valkyrie is 4 years older than the Victory. Some may wonder that I’d get rid of a newer model bike for an older one. But I wanted a Valkyrie.
The Victory was a beautiful bike. The big 1500 V-twin followed the popular Harley-clone style most manufacturers produce today. A touring bike with more than two cylinders is becoming increasingly hard to find. If you do find one, it will be a Goldwing. The makers of touring bikes are almost exclusively producing push-rod V-twins. The last Valkyrie was made in 2003.
Valkyrie aficionados like myself find ourselves with an increasingly small reserve of bikes. And, ironically enough, a bike that was discontinued for lack of sales is now hot enough of an item that they usually sell for more than the “official’” value. A buyer can still find a used Valkyrie, but forget the blue-book price. And used Valkyries may soon be rare items. I’ve been watching them for about two years, and there are fewer available now than there were a year ago. The people who want Valkyries are starting to feel that it may be “now or never.”
The Valkyrie is an incredible machine, getting more bang per cc than any other cruiser I know. And it does it with a engine designed before 1997 that uses a carburetor. Honda is apparently sinking very little money or time in updating the flat-6 power plant. Its reading of the motorcycle-buying public is that everyone wants a V-twin. They’re just not spending any money on serious development of F-6s or V-4s. And that is sad. One can only wonder what technology would be in a modern Valkyrie. Probably an 1800 cc, flat-6, fuel-injected engine. Maybe even direct injection rather than port injection. I can see something like that producing 180 to 200 hp right out of the factory door.
Hopefully one day the tide will turn, and enough riders will appreciate substance over “style,” to see the end of the Harley-clone era. I can really see it happening. All those squids buzzing around town will eventually get older. At least the ones that don’t kill themselves. And when arthritis and softening bodies drive them to the cruiser market, they’ll go for a Valkyrie over an Ultra-classic every time.

— Guy Wheatley

Aug 1
Guy on Vic

Me on Vic

I sold the Victory. I’ve been wanting a Valkyrie and recently got the chance to get one at good price. That made three bikes in my garage, and that was just one too many. I’ll keep the Magna because it’s smaller, and a different type of ride. The Victory and the Valkyrie are both big touring bikes, and they were the redundant pair. Obviously I’m keeping the one I just bought, so that means Vic is the one headed for classifieds.
I listed it on a couple of internet sites and put a classified ad in the paper. I had quite a bit of interest in the first couple of weeks, but nobody actually closed the deal. Nobody had any money. A lot of people offered to trade for it, and some of the offers were interesting. But I wanted to sell Vic to pay off the Valkyrie. Eventually, the phone calls got further and further apart and I began to be afraid I might not be able to sell it quickly for what I thought was a reasonable price.
After about a month, I took out another classified ad in the paper. I also cleaned it up and set it in the driveway of a friend, who had a good location as far as traffic goes and had quickly moved a couple of vehicles for other people. Two days later I got a call from the classified ad. It turns out it had erroneously been listed under “boats for sell.”
I met the nice couple at my friends house one morning, and watched as the man took it on a test ride. My friend had shined the bike up in a way I never had. The chrome gleamed in the bright sunlight, and the paint looked better than I ever remember it. After showing me his mc license, the man mounted Vic and pulled out onto the road with a skill born of many miles in the saddle. He was a big man of about my size, and he looked good on the bike.
I watched Vic leap down the road under the potential buyer with a grace and eagerness I’d never witnessed. I wondered if I had ever fit him as well as this man did, and was surprised to find myself experiencing what I can only think of as jealousy.
When the guy came back, he pulled into the driveway with an ear to ear grin that told me he and Vic had gotten along famously. His wife asked him, “Well, what do yo think.” He just gave her a big thumbs up, and I knew the deal was done. I couldn’t quite figure how why I wasn’t happier about it. He and his wife talked for a minute, and the lady reminded her husband that they were obligated to go look at another motorcycle a friend of theirs was selling. They left to go look at the other bikes, but the man and I both knew he’d be back.
I came back home to finish some chores I’d started, but had every intention of heading back and taking Vic on one last ride before the deal was done. But shortly after getting home, my wife fell off a ladder and gashed her head. I was sitting in the emergency room with her when I got the call that the couple was on their way back to pick up Vic.
My friend had all of the paperwork and was able to complete the deal without me being there. By the time we got out of the ER, the deal was done, and Vic was gone. At that time, my mind was on my wife, and I didn’t think too much about the bike. But once we got home, it hit me that my Big Vic was really gone. We had a lot of good times on that bike. It was the one my wife and I took to San Antonio for a week. We made several overnight trips on it, and it never once let us down. I think it was worse because I didn’t get to see it that last time, and actually hand over the keys myself.
So, here I sit at 3:00 in the morning, unable to sleep with a lot of good memories and a good bike on my mind. He’s been gone less than 10 hours, and I know he’s got a good home. But I miss him.

— Guy Wheatley