Aug 23
Giving back
icon1 Guy | icon2 Wrenching | icon4 08 23rd, 2011| icon3No Comments »
Honda_CBR550” width=

Helping friends figure out the wiring on this project bike.

When I first began working on my bikes, I had a lot of help. I wasn’t much of a mechanic and originally planned to simply haul my motorcycle back to the dealer for any maintenance or repairs. But hanging around other riders, I quickly saw that besides saving money on regular maintenance and necessary repairs, I would be able to afford changes and modifications if I did the work myself that would be beyond my reach if I relied soley on the dealership. But additionally, there is a peace of mind that comes from understanding your machine and having confidence in your ability to repair and maintain it. I now carry tools and enough experience to handle most problems I’m likely to encounter on the road. If a problem arises, I can start to fix it rather than feel helpless about it. I also know maintenance is performed routinely and correctly. I don’t have to simply trust that the dealer did it right. I know that I did. But all of that starts with taking a wrench to your bike. And in the early days, I needed the support, guidance and encouragement from other riders.
The earliest efforts involved more watching than wrenching. I’d haul my bike to somebody’s shop for a wrenching session. Often this would be an open session with many people and several planned projects. Occasionally, mine was the only bike in the shop. The folks with the most experience would take the lead, and the rest of us followed along as our skills allowed. In my case, that was mainly watching and learning. As I attended more wrenching sessions, I began to occasionally pick up a tool or two and tackle part of the project. Success with these ventures led me to buy a few tools and start to work on my own bike in my own garage. Each successful project gave me the confidence to tackle a harder one. But knowing that help was a phone call away also played a part in my willingness to try it on my own.
I now find that I rarely need to work on my bike at a wrench session. I’ve already taken care of most things that need to be done on my own. But I still go to those I can make. And I still pick up a tool when I think I can make a contribution. My tools and experience are always available to a fellow rider. And when I am able to help in some small way, I think back to those early days I was completely relied on others. Every time I’m able to help a beginning wrencher, it’s like I’m paying back a little of the debt I owe to them.

- Guy Wheatley

Aug 15
Rope on bike” width=

Correctly securing your bike can mean the difference between an
enjoyable trip and a costly repair.

Actually the title should be tying down a phat lady. I just thought the other way I’d get a few more clicks. This will be a blog about safely transporting my Valkyrie on a trailer, not the other subject that probably came to mind.
While my bike is certainly not a trailer queen, I’m not beyond loading her up on the trailer when circumstances dictate. There are times when I simply have to be in a larger vehicle. Having a trailer often means I can haul one or more of the bikes along when they would otherwise have simply stayed in the garage. A trailer can actually mean more time in the saddle, not less. It can mean riding after the other business is done, not simply sitting around, wishing I had the bike with me.
Now that the bike is on the trailer, I want to be sure it rides safely. I don’t want it to fall or bounce out or over. My trailer is 16 x 6 and I’ve installed two locking wheel chocks. It has rails all the way around that allow plenty of anchorage points to secure the straps. But now several questions arise. Kickstand up or down. Forks compressed or not. Where on the bike do I attach the straps?
Putting the Valkyrie on the trailer, the wheel chock stands the bike straight up, rendering the kickstand question moot. When I put the smaller Magna in the back of my pickup, I use the kickstand. Many bikers tell me this is a bad idea because hitting a large bump could break it. I disagree. If a bump breaks the kickstand, you didn’t have the bike properly tied down, and it is probable the bike would have been jarred loose from its tie-downs. The kickstand gives you an additional support point and will help keep the bike in position, and in its straps. A broken kickstand, in my opinion, means you had other more serious problems.
I used to ratchet the forks all the way down to prevent the bike from bouncing. Several people have suggested that this may not be good for the forks. Keeping the springs fully compressed for hours or days might weaken them. While I have no empirical data to either confirm or dispel this notion, it does make sense to me.
On the other hand, taking no compression out of the forks leaves a lot of bounce. Even with the wheel locked into the chock, the front end would be bouncing from every bump, just as it is designed to do. That would cause a lot of jerking on the straps, but also a lot of negative pressure on the forks as they fully rebounded, then were snatched tight by the wheel locked into the chock. They were not designed for that.
My compromise solution is to pull them down a little less than half way. This stops any negative pressure because the straps will stop the upward bounce before the forks reach their maximum distention. And the front end is less prone to bounce around because there is some tension already in the forks. I’m still compressing the spring some, but only in the upper end where it is less likely to become permanent.
For anchor points on the bike, I used the rubberized hooks through the luggage rack on the back. These are fine and are unlikely to cause trouble. For the other places, I run the straps through the engine guards and around the risers on the bars. This will eventually cause trouble if I trailer long enough. Those straps will eventually rub through the chrome and I’ll start to get rust. A simple solution might be pipe insulation to protect those pieces.
I use ratchet straps for the primary tie-downs, but also run safety rope as a backup. Always have at least two means for each direction of restraint. Ratchet straps are the best way to go, but there may be times when they are unavailable or unusable for some reason. For those times, you need to know how to tie at least three knots. One is the bowline, another is a truckers-hitch and the last is a half-hitch.
Learn these knots and practice them. You’ll find they can bring a lot of pleasure to binding your phat lady.

- Guy Wheatley

Aug 10

The MST from Motus on its American Sport Tour

After 20 days and 6000 miles of real world testing, the MST from Motus is heading back to the shop. The idea was to incorporate real world experience gained from the real world riding these prototypes experienced into the final production design. Watching the video, it’s hard to imagine what technical deficiencies need to be addressed. My only suggestions are different mufflers, open the faring up to show off the beautiful engine more, and a better paint scheme.
Listening to parts of the video, old scenes from the French Connection, or Bullet came to mind. I can’t wait until riders start customizing their bikes to see what sounds they can coax out of that power plant. Let’s hear what Cobra, or Vance & Hines can do with that sort of raw material.
I was glad to see that at least one of the prototypes had red valve covers. That is a beautiful power plant, and drag or no, it needs to be showcased. Give it a few years, and I’m sure there will be tons of third party bling available for it.
And finaly, this wouldn’t be a blog from me about Motus if I didn’t lament the fact that they’re not building a cruiser. Oh well, there’s always 2013.

- Guy Wheatley


The KMV4 powered MST from Motus.

Aug 3
Hot Riding
icon1 Guy | icon2 Small Talk | icon4 08 3rd, 2011| icon3No Comments »
Fire_Bike” width=

Photo illustration by Guy Wheatley
Trying to ride through July and August of 2011, it felt the bike was on fire.

I watched the meteorologists on TV predict a high of 105 degrees. I’m happy to say she was off by 3 degrees. Unfortunately she was on the low side. It hit 108 degrees. And I felt every degree of it riding to work. I usually ride to work, except in cases of extreme weather. Extreme weather usually means excessive precipitation or cold weather. Now I’m starting to consider adding heat to the list.
When the weather people tell you it was 108 degrees, they take the temperature from an official weather station. It’s gauges will be in a vented box, out of the sun, and away from large masses of concrete. So when the official temperature is 108 degrees, you can bet the air hovering over the strip of black asphalt in the middle of the concrete jungle we call a city will be at least 4 degrees higher. The air I’m riding through will be at least 112.
The human body tries to keep it’s core temperature at about 98.6. You can imagine the difficulty being engulfed in a constant stream of 112 air presents. Additionally, if the sun is shining on you, you are picking up additional radiant heat as well as the convective, atmospheric heat.
Somebody asked me if I had sweat pouring off of me while riding. The answer is no. While on the move, my clothes are usually dry and very little sweat drips into my eyes. But in the few minutes it takes to turn off the bike, grab my brief case and get to the door once I reach work, my shirt will be soaked. This tells me that I’ve been sweating during the ride, but that the hot air blowing over my body is evaporating it. That is a lot of water being sucked out of my body. And while I drink a plenty of water to stay hydrated, I’m losing salt and other electrolytes that water won’t replace.
The most direct evidence I have of the heat while riding is that my finger nails sting from the heat. It’s the same sensation I got when I ran a hair dryer over them, back in the days when I had enough hair to need a hair dryer. I may actually start wearing gloves to protect my hands. Maybe some welders gloves.
I’ll continue to ride the bike to and from work, and for short hops around town. But I won’t be making any long motorcycle rides until it cools down.

- Guy Wheatley