Sep 22
Good for what ails you” width=

Take two rides and call me in the morning. Sometimes
a good ride is just what the doctor ordered.

Riding the bike has always been soothing for me, and now the drone of the engine and the wind in my face helps calm the fear waiting in the wings for an unguarded moment to pounce. The roughly four hours I spend in transit on each trip gives me time to come to grips with what is happening. It’s an opportunity to build some perspective and start coming to grips with it emotionally.
Back on the Valkyrie headed for Texarkana, I have an almost two-hour ride to digest what I’ve just learned. I may have fudged the speed limit a time or two hitting 80 mph or better as I circled around Shreveport on I-220. The furnace hot blast from this 105 degree day washing over me somehow feels good. For the next two hours I am a biker again. The frailty I’d felt drops away with a twist of the wrist. The 1500cc flat 6 howls my defiance through the 6 into 6 cobra pipes, and it seems that surely not even the big C can catch me while mounted on my powerful phat lady. I know it’s only an illusion, but it is one I will come to cherish more with each subsequent trip.
I just found out I have bladder cancer. Bummer.
The news is not all bad. The type I have is very aggressive, but it is confined to the bladder. With the removal of my bladder, the cancer will be gone. But so will my bladder. I suspect that may be a bit of an inconvenience.
Reviewing my options with my surgeon I decided to go for a more complicated procedure where he will make a new bladder for me from part of my intestine. Things will never be exactly the same, but within a year, I should be able to ride again. My surgery is scheduled for Sept. 27.
It may be several weeks before I’m able to blog again, but I do plan to be back pontificating my fingers off as soon as possible. I want to thank you folks who routinely submit yourselves to my mental ramblings. Your thoughts and prayers are welcome. In the meantime, take a ride and enjoy the wind in your faces for me until I can be back and do it for myself.
Until I see you on the road again, keep the rubber side down.

- Guy Wheatley

Sep 16
Juke Trophy Video” width=

The Juke Trophy video has been removed from youtube, obstensively for
copyright reasons. Public reaction is a more likely factor.

Nissan used to make really good commercials. I remember the days when zipping through the commercial break of a recorded program, I’d go back to watch a Nissan ad. My two favorites were where G. I. Joe steals Barbie from Ken and the one where the flock of pigeons try to soil a freshly washed Nissan car. But that was many years ago. Their ads must be quite forgettable since that time as I can’t recall one. I’m sure I’ve seen them, but they just haven’t had any impact on me. Now however, they gone from forgettable to offensive. In the annals of all time, ill-conceived ad campaigns, the new ad for the Juke, airing in Canada, will surely go right up there with “New Coke.”
The CGI ad has a woman enter a parking garage, only to be accosted by predators on sport bikes. She is rescued as a Juke roars onto the scene and begins to chase down and run over the bikes. As the last bike is destroyed, we see that the Juke’s center console is modeled after a motorcycle gas tank and is supposedly a trophy.
Even getting past the ridiculous idea of the pathetic little car that couldn’t outrun a school bus is chasing down 200 mph sport bikes, we’re left wondering exactly what message Nissan is trying to convey. That it’s OK to run over motorcycles? That motorcycle riders are bad people? That Nissan doesn’t like motorcycles or motorcycle riders? It just makes me wonder if their cars are now as bad as their commercials. I owned a Nissan years ago, and was very pleased with it. Come to think of it, it was during the time of the good commercials.
My four-wheeled vehicles are all GM products now. My bikes are both from Honda. I don’t see a Nissan in my garage any time in the near future. Certainly not a Juke. And watching that commercial just reinforces that conviction.

- Guy Wheatley

Sep 9
Gremlin Bell” width=

The inner workings of a Harley engine.

Four California men have filed a class-action lawsuit against Harley-Davidson. They claim that the Twin Cam 88 and Twin Cam 96 motors run excessively hot, and they have suffered injuries including burns as a result. One of the men, Matt Weyuker, claims the bike set his pants on fire. Matt says Harley has told him there are several things he can do, including installing an oil cooler. Matt argues he shouldn’t have to pay for these changes; Harley should be doing these things to the bikes before they leave the factory. He claims selling the bikes without these cooling modifications is a design flaw. His lawyer, Bill Kershaw, says they think Harley doesn’t want to change the configuration and look of the bike.
I hardly know where to begin. The first clue to Matt’s cluelessness is in his statement, “Harley has always been on the cutting edge of technology, they can figure it out and make it work.” I’ve seen plenty of Harley advertisements hawking style, tradition, image and even attitude. I can’t recall an official Harley spokesman ever claiming they were on the cutting edge of technology. If they have, it’s a pretty good bet it was in reference to the V-rod, a bike using a different engine designed in collaboration with Porsche that is water cooled.
What Harley sells is a 1920s era style of air-cooled, push rod, over head valve, 45 degree V-twin engine that looks like is was chopped out of a WWI era biplane. Far from keeping this a secret, Harley goes to great pains to reach potential new customers with its style, image and tradition. Harley advertises its motorcycles to be exactly what they are. Exactly what Matt bought.
If Matt wants a American motorcycle with an oil cooler, then he should have bought from a plant in Spirit Lake, Iowa. They sell the Victory brand of motorcycles. These are all V-twin bikes with oil coolers. They also have other engineering differences such as overhead cams, dual valves and a 60-degree cylinder separation (EDIT – As pointed out in a comment below, the Freedom Engine actually uses a 50 degree cylinder separation.) that reduces noise and vibration. As a result of these differences they run cooler and quieter, but they don’t look or sound like Harleys. There’s no potato/potato from the pipes, the additional 15 degrees of cylinder separation is more noticeable than you might expect and, finally, that big old radiator -looking oil cooler blocking the front tire’s view of the engine.
I have no sympathy for Matt or the others who may jump into this. These folks had a choice about what to buy and, despite their claims, nobody mislead them. Most of the people who buy Harleys are buying and paying for the Harley experience. That experience includes those hot, noisy, vibration- prone, twin cam engines. If Matt didn’t want that, he should have bought something different.

- Guy Wheatley

Link to Sacramento CBS news video

Sep 1
Gremlin Bell” width=

The Gremlin bell on my Valkyrie has so far kept the dreaded hydro-lock
demon at bay.

I’ve owned five different motorcycles. Several of them seemed plagued by a model-specific gremlin. The two bikes I presently have are good examples of this. I would guess that 80 percent or more of the technical talk on the Magna boards revolve around the carburetors. There is a well-documented “flat” spot in the Magna power curve commonly remedied by shimming the main jets with a couple of washers. But the real problem with the Magna carbs seems to be a tendency for the slow jets to clog up if the bike sits for even a short period of time with gas in it. Most folks on the Magna board are big proponents of a specific gas additive that is supposed to help keep the carburetors clean. I’ve experienced problems with mine after having it sit up for a couple of weeks. So far, I’ve been able to rectify the issue with gas additives.
The Valkyrie is also a Honda product with carburetors. It doesn’t seem to be as bad about clogging up as the Magna, but the model does have its own gremlin. The dreaded hydro-lock. It hasn’t happened to me, but I’ve seen it twice in the last three years on other bikes in the small groups of local dragon riders. The reason this issue gets so much attention is because of the potential it holds for expensive damage. I’ve seen several reports on the national Valkyrie board of a hydro-locked bike having teeth knocked off the fly-wheel or starter gear. Something that can do that much expensive damage is bound to get a lot of attention.
But as one poster pointed out, we get a false idea of the danger. Because it is such a scary problem, there is a lot of talk about it. But in actuality, the percentage of Valkyries with this problem is less than 1 percent. But it takes up a much larger percentage of the posts on the board, causing members to get the impression it’s much more prevalent.
But if you find a bike, or bikes, that holds a special place in your heart, then you find yourself loving them in spite of their flaws. Those peculiarities become part of the bikes’ “character.” A friend of mine, when comparing products or services, frequently says, “all dogs have fleas.” Paraphrasing, “all bikes have gremlins.”

- Guy Wheatley