Apr 19
Texarkana Bike Night Forum” width=

Home page of the Texarkana Bike Night Forum.

I started a little Biker Board for a local group I used to hang out with. At its high point we had about 20 active members, and there would be several posts every day. Sometimes, we’d get into good discussions, and threads would get long or branch off into other topics. But as of this writing the most recent post, not counting my own, is 30 days old. The next most recent post is more than 30 days before that one. I show 23 members, but with no posts, I’m not sure I’d classify any of them as active.
But mine is not the only board fading. The first board I joined more than 10 years ago has a member list of more than 500. I joined it for the camaraderie of enthusiasts of a particular motorcycle, but also for information and help with maintenance. I’ve since joined other forums, usually focusing on a particular model of bike. I found them to be wellsprings of information and support. The format lends itself to the exchange of information. I can post a question on a maintenance thread, and get several responses. And as the thread is a specific question, the responses are usually on topic. The advice is vetted with an erroneous suggestion usually pointed out very quickly by other knowledgeable members. Social interests are also handled with separate threads for each topic. Every meeting, ride or annual gathering will have its own thread. Posts are easy to read and understand as they are threaded by topic and presented sequentially by date. It’s an efficient way to share information.
And, of course, there are those who believe it their purpose in life it to inform the rest of us about what our political or religious opinions should be, but they are relegated to other areas so members can easily avoid if they choose to do so. Moderators will maintain a level of decorum and environment appropriate to the venue. Occasionally a member who will not follow the rules will be removed.
I would find more posts each day than I could keep up with when I first joined. I usually selected only those topics that seemed to hold some interest for me. Now, I can go days at a time without seeing a new post. All of the boards I belong to have seen a decline in activity. So where have all the members gone?
Facebook must certainly account for some of them. I know several people who say they don’t use the boards much any more because they are on Facebook. And that is sad. Facebook has its place, but it did not bring the same ease of use to topics. If you have a lot of friends, topics will quickly scroll off the bottom before you see them. And there seem to be more chronic posters on Facebook than I ever saw on the boards. It seems no matter the topic, there will always be somebody posting every few minutes with some irrelevant or off topic reply. Facebook doesn’t lend itself to long posts on very specific subjects such as jetting the carbs on a third generation Honda Magna with associated photos, video and links to parts. Facebook may be free to join, but if its success comes at the expense of those wonderful old boards, then we’re paying a very high price indeed.

- Guy Wheatley

Apr 13
A bad idea” width=

A bad idea

A lot of bikers are putting larger gas tanks or auxiliary tanks on their bikes. Others just plan to carry extra gas in a container. Having discovered years ago that my gas tank has a greater range than my bladder, I never gave the idea much thought. I’m usually pulling into a convenience store with gas pumps to discharge some liquid long before I need to take on fuel.
There was one occasion when I was traveling with my son on a bike with a small tank and limited range. We were making the trip in the wee hours of the morning, and I was certain that none of the small towns we were traveling through would have pumps open. Desperate times called for desperate measures, so we bought the smallest gas can we could find, filled it with 2 gallons of gas and strapped it to his luggage rack. Even though the weather was cool and heat wasn’t causing the gas to expand, the jostling ride did. The plastic container quickly ballooned up and gas began to fizz past the cap. We stopped every few miles to transfer as much of the volatile liquid from the plastic can to the gas tank as it would hold. We only got 30 miles out of that 2 gallons. On his little bike, 2 gallons will take you 60 miles, but at least half of the fuel fizzed out past the cap.
I’ve listened as some riders caution others about the dangers of carrying gasoline in containers. Most of them understand that it is dangerous, but the expense and effort of installing either a larger tank or auxiliary tank drive some to consider stuffing extra gas in a container carried in saddle bags or strapped externally. Then the discussion turns to what sort of container to use.
Several people I know recommend several types of small fuel containers. These are made of aluminum and have screw in tops. They feel it is safe to carry gas in these “fuel” containers. Unfortunately, it is not. The specific containers I’ve seen suggested are camp fuel containers. Camp fuel is usually some variant of kerosene. Camp fuels have a relatively high boiling point. (175 degrees c to 325 degrees c for kerosene) A high boiling point means a lower vapor pressure. Thus the fuel doesn’t push as hard against the container walls. Gasoline has a relatively low boiling point (40 degrees c to 220 degrees c) and a high vapor pressure. As I discovered on the run with my son, it puts a lot of stress on the container it is stored in. Underwriters Laboratories tests gasoline containers to a minimum of 25 psi. And even then, gasoline containers are supposed to be vented. These are containers intended to sit stationary out of direct sunlight in a well vented area. They are not to be jostled, exposed to heat, or stored in an enclosed space. I have yet to see a safe, or approved, container for carrying gasoline in a saddle bag or trunk. Those fuel bottles will get weaker and weaker as the gas continues it’s relentless push to escape. Eventually the aluminum will give way. With luck, the only problem will be having the clothing, tools, or food in your saddle bag or trunk soaked in gas. But there is potential for much worse problems. In my estimation, it’s just not worth it.

- Guy Wheatley

Apr 9
Leaking fork seal” width=

Leaking fork seal on my Valkyrie.

I finally got around to replacing the fork oil in my Magna. And while I was at it, I replaced the stock springs with progressives.
The bike sat in my carport for a week while I worked up the nerve to get started. I’ve only seen this done once before, and that required pulling the tubes out of the triple tree. Reading and researching, I discovered that I had lucked out on my model. On the Magna, there is an oil drain plug on the back of the tube. You don’t even have to remove the wheel. Just put the bike on a lift so that you can lift it, to decompress the tubes before opening the cap. Drain the old oil, reach right in and pull out the old springs, pour in the right amount of oil, put the new springs and spacers in, then replace the plugs and cap. Voila, you’re done.
You do have to cut the new spacers. The optimal length I need is 5.12 inches. The progressive kit included a single 10-inch piece of 1-inch schedule 40 pipe that you are supposed to cut to use as spacers. To keep each one from being a little more than a tenth of an inch short, I just popped down to the hardware store and bought another piece of pipe. Then, you have to add back the correct amount of oil. A little less (521 cc) for the progressive springs than the amount required for the stock springs. But last Sunday, I finally got it done. I was so happy to have both bikes running again.
I decided to ride the Magna for the next couple of weeks because it’s been setting up for a while. So I pulled the Valkyrie up on the sidewalk, inside the gate, where I keep it. I put the cover on it to keep off any dust, or rain that might fall. As I came out this morning, I noticed a spot on the front tire. I often let my little Yorkie out in the front yard to do his business, and my first thought was that he had marked the bike. No such luck. Closer examination revealed it to be fork oil, dripping from a busted seal.
If it’s not one thing, it’s another.

- Guy Wheatley