Archive for May, 2011

Make a Mechanic of You Yet

Monday, May 30th, 2011

Shift shaft seal indicated by arrow

I know they were just letting me nibble at the bait, considering taking a big bite, when they’ll set the hook.

They, in this case, are the guys at the DOHC Customs forum, a web forum for owners–like me–of old Honda CBs, primarily of the Custom variety. That is, my bike is a CB750 Custom and there are also CB900 Customs, CB1000 Customs, as well as CB750K models and others.

A big part of the focus of this forum is helping owners keep their aging beasts alive. I had joined the forum in 2008 but had not been active.

I noticed recently that there was a good bit of oil collecting on the lower extremities of the bike, right around the centerstand area. Thinking I might be low on oil due to the leak, I checked it. Dang! It was way overfull! Did I top it off recently? Or did the shop overfill it the last time I had it in for work? I have no idea.

But the question I now had was, is all this leakage an indication of a blown seal? So I went to the forum to ask that question, and I also asked if it was something I could easily fix on my own. I’m not much of a mechanic but as broke as I am these days I wanted to avoid taking it to the shop if I could.

The answers from the forum were yes and yes. I was told it was most likely to be the shift shaft seal, which I have indicated in that photo above. That rod coming out right there is what the gear shift lever is attached to, which I had removed before the picture was taken. The seal is slipped over the shaft and pressed into place there in the engine body.

I plunged right in but quickly started catching all kinds of crap. It turns out I had not sufficiently boned up on forum etiquette and proceeded to annoy several of the guys, who didn’t hesitate to express their displeasure. The discussion was a little tense for awhile but I was properly contrite and we got past that.

The repair job was indeed pretty simple, although there were a few things I had to figure out on my own. And I did. I’ve worked as a tech writer and I know how people who know their subject really well can often skip over steps they take for granted, not realizing the uninitiated just don’t know these things, and therefore find a disconnect between steps.

So for the $6.43 the seal cost me I fixed my bike. And I learned a bunch, too. I wouldn’t object to learning how to work on my bike. I sure hate what I’ve had to pay over the years to keep this bike running. I know the guys on the forum are just waiting for me to take a bigger bite on this bait.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
Allstate will install caution signs for motorists to look for motorcycles

Biker Quote for Today

It ain’t broke ’til you can’t fix it anymore.

Independence Pass Now Open; Trail Ridge Road Remains Closed

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

Bikers on top of Independence Pass

We’re at that time of year now here in Colorado when you may or may not be able to ride some of the best roads in the state. May can be a little early to be coming here to ride but I know people are already doing so. Just this past weekend, when I was down at EagleRider in downtown Denver there were about eight Harleys lined up at the curb waiting for a group of European (German?) riders, who showed up while I was there.

I hope those guys didn’t have their heart set on riding Trail Ride Road because that ain’t gonna happen. The latest word from the Department of Transportation is that the hope to have that road open in early June.

On the other hand, DOT announced today that Independence Pass will open today. I’m guessing that if you ride that pass in the next couple days you’d better dress warmly. Right after it opens that road is likely to have high walls of snow on one or both sides of the road and temperatures at altitude are not balmy.

As for the other seasonal roads, here’s what DOT now says on their website.

Pikes Peak road: Currently the road is open 13 of the 19 miles. Weather permitting it will be open all the way later today.

Mount Evans road: “Due to recent heavy snowfall, the Mt. Evans Highway is not expected to open for another one to two weeks. Crews have been diligently working each day to get the road cleared of snow and ice. However, snow is cleared one day and then more snow falls overnight, requiring crews to retrace their plowing operation from the previous day. Crews are currently re-clearing the area between Echo Lake and Summit Lake and will then clear the last four miles to the summit.”

Cottonwood Pass and Kebler Pass are still closed as of this date, May 26, 2011.

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Book review: The Harley-Davidson Motor Co. Archive Collection

Biker Quote for Today

Harleys: Making men into boys since 1918.

So What The Heck Goes On At An ABATE Meeting?

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

The weather was beautiful on Sunday but I overslept so my decision was made for me: I went to my ABATE meeting, not the Old Bike Ride. Had I gone on the OBR I’d be here telling you about it. It occurred to me I might do the same with the ABATE meeting. I suspect most people who don’t belong to ABATE don’t have much idea what the group is about. Let me enlighten you.

ABATE D-10 patch

My ABATE D-10 patch.

I’m in ABATE of Colorado District 10, which meets the fourth Sunday of the month at the Frontier Club out at 18881 E. Colfax in Aurora. The meeting is set for 10 a.m., but in this case I rolled in about 10:15 and they just got underway a couple minutes later. As with so many organizations’ meetings, it began with a pledge to the flag and then the minutes from the previous meeting were read, discussed, amended, and approved. Then came the treasurer’s report.

Local and national legislative reports followed, keeping the members abreast of possible legislation that could affect motorcyclists. Then we finally got into what is really the meat of these meetings.

While the main focus with ABATE is on rider training and protecting motorcyclists’ rights, it’s also a group that promotes riding and the social aspects of riding. Both the state group and the local districts plan and organize runs and rallies and other events and if you ever wondered how those things are pulled together, a lot of it happens right here at the monthly meetings. There’s work to be done and there are no pixies to wave magic wands and make it happen. Each event has a committee that handles the serious work but the whole group is called upon for its support.

In this case, planning was underway for a Motorcycle Expo out at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on August 13, the Randy Run that raises money to help riders who have gone down and been injured, and there was even some discussion of events as far in the future as Christmas and Halloween.

One of the districts has acquired a trailer and the intent is to use it in parades to help broaden awareness of ABATE’s purposes. The state organization has asked the districts for their ideas on the type of display to use on the trailer, so we brainstormed a bit.

There was also discussion and planning for the free brisket meal that ABATE will be serving to racers out at High Plains Raceway on June 11. While ABATEs in other states are not generally on good terms with sportbikers, in Colorado it is different. ABATE of Colorado is sponsoring three racers this year, as well as the corner crews, and for the second year will be offering this free feed to everyone at the track. It’s all a part of continuing to nurture the favorable relationship that State Coordinator Terry Howard has helped create.

And then it was all over, that is, unless you were a member of one of the planning committees. Then it was time for that committee to meet. Nope, no pixies with magic wands here. Just a bunch of people donating their time to support their two-wheeled passion.

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Run for the Wall rolls eastward

Biker Quote for Today

SGSOTT = Some Gear Some of The Time.

The Best Laid Plans and All That

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

Old Bike Ride 8 in 2010I’m not a procrastinator, but sometimes it looks that way. It’s just that I learned a long time ago that it frequently pays to put off making decisions because so often there will be a turn of events that makes the decision for you. In this case, I was saying just a week ago here that I definitely planned to go on the Old Bike Ride 9 this coming Sunday. Now I’m not so sure.

I have a conflict. If I want to go on the OBR I need to be in Golden at 9 a.m. or so. But I’m also an ABATE member and our district meeting is at 10 a.m. in Aurora. This might not be an issue except that I’ve missed this meeting every month for the last six months at least. Several times I was out of town, a couple times I just plain forgot it, and once or twice I got screwed up with meetings rescheduled due to holidays. I’m not the kind of guy who joins an organization with no intention of participating. If I’m not going to participate why bother joining? I was really determined to make it to this month’s meeting, but I hadn’t looked at the calendar.

This is where postponing decisions comes in. We’ve had a lot of rain and cold weather lately. If it’s raining on Sunday morning I’m going to go to ABATE. If it’s a beautiful day I’ll make my decision then.

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Biker Quote for Today

Motorcycles are better than women because your parents don’t remain in touch with your old motorcycle after you dump it.

The Progress of Electric Motorcycles

Monday, May 16th, 2011

Stunt rider circles Hooters girls

It was cold, and later it got wet, but I went over to the Fay Myers spring Open House Saturday as planned, to enjoy the show and ride some Zero motorcycles. It was worth it.

The stunt riders did the sort of stunts that by now I’ve seen many times, so even though I can’t come close to doing what they do it’s just not that big a thrill. However, there was a guy doing trials demos and he was definitely impressive. I want to see more of that.

My main reason for going was to demo ride some Zero electric motorcycles. I rode a few about a year ago and the improvements in that year are amazing. Last year we stayed in a parking lot and considering the capabilities of the machines, that was adequate. This year we got out on the street and that just had to be. There’s no way you can experience the power of the new S (street) and DS (dual sport) Zeros in a parking lot. They go fast!

And the Zero guys tell me they also go farther. I can’t wait to see what electrics can do in five years.

So I chatted with a couple of the Zero guys a bit and they filled me in on where things are headed. I asked first if Zero is planning to offer bikes with gears, as Brammo is now doing. There are issues with that, I was told. Adding gears would add weight, which is something they definitely don’t want to do until battery power is better. And I haven’t checked this out so it’s just hearsay, but they guy told me they recently had a race where the new Zeros outran the new geared Brammo. So why add gears?

The Zero SHe also told me that in this race they were competing against gas-powered bikes and the electrics just smoked the gas bikes. Even giving them a head start–I can’t remember how much, three minutes?–he said the electrics all overtook the gassers by the third lap.

One of the bikes I rode was the Zero XU, which in truth seems to be pretty much a scooter. It doesn’t have the power or range of the S and DS and is only intended for running around town. So I asked if Zero was considering selling a scooter. The issue there, I was told, is that it costs in terms of design, production lines, and warehouse space every time you add a new model. There’s a lot the company would like to do but until they can ramp up sales significantly those things are just not going to happen.

One aspect of doing this demoing at Fay Myers is that Zero is looking to sign up dealers to carry their bikes. They’re especially interested in the Colorado market because of the terrific tax credits this state offers for electric vehicles. The highest price Zero is the DS, which has an MSRP of $10,495. With state and federal tax credits, we can buy them here for $5,395. With that bike’s improvements, that’s something worth considering, especially since operating the thing costs about a penny a mile in electricity. How does that measure up to your $3.67 a gallon gas?

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
Demo riding 2011 Zero electric motorcycles shows huge advancement

Biker Quote for Today

If loud pipes save lives imagine what learning to ride that thing would do!!!

My Riding Plans: Old Bike Ride 9, Vendor Events

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

Motorcycles on the highway

It’s just huge the number of rides and events for motorcyclists coming up in the near future, as demonstrated by the long list on my Rides and Rallies page, which is nowhere near complete. No one can do it all, but here’s what I have in mind for keeping myself busy.

Zero Motorcycles demo riding, May 14 — This is going on at Fay Myers Motorcycle World, at 9700 E. Arapahoe Road in Greenwood Village, as part of their annual spring Open House. Also featured are appearances by Jason Britton and Jeremy McGrath. Free food, entertainment, and prizes, too. For me, the real interest is in demo riding the Zeros. I’ve done so before but I always itch for more.

EagleRider Open House, May 21 — I’m going to have to make some choices this weekend. This event at EagleRider is something I’m interested in just because of my experience with the EagleRider crew in October. The manager here in Denver, Matt Weddle, says they’ll be “offering food, door prizes like free rentals and apparel, discounted Fulmer apparel, hosting a ride in bike show, etc…”

National Vintage Trials Series, May 21 and 22 — This is not for sure, but I’ve been interested for some time in seeing a trials competition. This is where riders do seemingly impossible things on their bikes, like going straight up boulders and such. To add a little extra interest, this is a vintage motorcycle event, so it’s going to be old bikes doing amazing things. It will be at Howard, which is in the Arkansas River Canyon, a little west of Cotopaxi, between Canon City and Salida. If I don’t make it to this event I’m going to try really hard to make it to another one later this summer.

Old Bike Ride 9, May 22 — I went on this ride last year and definitely plan to go again this year. Basically, it’s a bunch of guys with old bikes who get out and ride them. My 1980 CB750 Custom definitely qualifies as old and that’s what I’ll be on. The ride starts at 9:30 a.m. promptly at the Golden Hotel, 800 11th St. in Golden.

Of course, the main thing I’m going to be doing in the next few weeks is just simply riding. It’s the time of year when my car gets used less and less. Who could ask for more?

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
Demo riding the Yamaha FZ8

Biker Quote for Today

Will Ride for FOOD

And the Race Is On

Monday, May 9th, 2011

Racers at High Plains RacewayI headed out to High Plains Raceway Saturday for the opening day of the Motorcycle Roadracing Association’s (MRA) 2011 season, and to do my first piece following racer Jon Kuo through the season. The weather was perfect and everyone was definitely jazzed for the season to start. The story and photos are available on Examiner.com.

I became acquainted with Jon because he is sponsored by ABATE of Colorado, of which I am a member. This year now, ABATE is sponsoring three racers, as well as the corner crews. To say that this is unusual is an understatement. In many states there is outright hostility between the sportbike crowd and the ABATE organizations. Terry Howard, Colorado’s State Coordinator, was there Saturday and she told me they caused quite a stir at last year’s Meeting of the Minds, the Motorcycle Rider’s Foundation conference, when they showed up with representatives from the MRA and the Colorado Sportbike Club as members of their delegation. Everyone was in awe and eager to hear how this came about. I’ll be doing a follow-up article that really digs into the story.

I was pleased to have the opportunity to meet Ricky Orlando, a local fellow who is an AMA racing champion and who now runs a riding school up by Frederick. If you’re into the racing scene I’m sure you are familiar with Ricky. I had spoken with him for the first time just a couple weeks ago when I was working on a story for RumBum.com about how kids can come up through the ranks of American Motorcyclist Association-sanctioned racing and become world champions. Ricky was very helpful and gave me some good quotes for the story, so it was an unexpected pleasure to actually meet him. Of course, he was there to race.

And lest we forget, there was the racing Saturday. When I had spoken with Jon a couple weeks ago he was sounding extremely optimistic about placing very well, maybe even winning a championship. Speaking with him before the race he had toned things down a bit, which I suspect was a result of getting out on the track in practice sessions and seeing other guys out-running him. At that point he said he just hoped to stay up with the fast guys and learn from them.

Jon placed 7th in his first race, the only one I was there for, and he was very disappointed. And this is where I start learning about racing. Jon told me his problem was that he doesn’t have the corner speed the top guys have, and it’s something he needs to learn. Riding on a 250cc Ninja, he said the bikes don’t have enough power to go really fast, plus they’re light, so you can–and need to–carry a lot of speed deep into the corner. The best riders hardly even brake in the corners, he said. And because you can’t make up much time in the straights, races are won and lost in the corners.

As I say, my education begins. It’s going to be an interesting season. It will be very interesting especially to see how well Jon does learning to corner faster. Stay tuned.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
Kicking off motorcycle roadracing season

Biker Quote for Today

Motorcycle racing is 90 percent mental and the other half is physical.

BMW Motorcycle Rentals Now Available in Colorado

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

House of Motorrad logoJust a heads-up about a new motorcycle rental outfit here in Colorado. House of Motorrad has opened in Boulder and at this time rents three BMW models, the R1200GS Adventure, the F800GS, and the F650GS.

And let me interject right here the note that Ben Kriederman and his wife Lisa have taken ads on the MotorcycleColorado.com website, which is how I learned about them. So yes, I have financial interest here but it’s still the sort of news this blog has always presented.

Once they get it up and running, the company’s website will be www.HouseOfMotorrad.com, but for now if you click on the listing on the Rentals and Tours page of the site, or on any of the ads, you’ll be taken to their FaceBook page.

Note as of 5-11-11: The website is now up and running.

Here’s what Ben has to say about their business.

We started the business in the hopes of bringing motorcycle rentals to a broader audience. We are a small company trying to keep the overhead costs down so that we can offer top-of-the-line rentals at an affordable cost to the “average joe.” We offer discounts for tour companies and people who have completed a motorcycle safety training class as well as repeat customers. The more you rent, the cheaper things get. We also anticipate adding guided tours to the lineup if the business takes off. Triumph motorcycles might also be on the horizon, depending on how things go with the business.

Ben and Lisa will deliver bikes at no charge within the Denver metro area, including to DIA. The bikes come with luggage and you can rent gear, including GPS. Each motorcycle also comes with a SPOT satellite locater for roadside assistance when you are out of cell phone range as well as the ability for loved ones and friends to track your trip in realtime online.

So there you go. I have to say that it looks to me like the economy is coming back, judging from the news I’m seeing about the motorcycle business. The manufacturers are selling more, Rider magazine just put out a huge issue that is loaded with ads, and new businesses are starting up here in Colorado. Just recently I also added two new motorcycle tour outfits on the Rentals and Tours page. Good-bye recession, good riddance.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
Bipartisan sponsors oppose safety agency lobbying on motorcycle helmets

Biker Quote for Today,

BMW makes motorcycles now?

Getting Up Close with Motorcycle Racing

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

Jon Kuo ready to race

This seems to be pretty typical of what I do. I’ve arranged with Jon Kuo, a motorcycle racer, to follow him through the season that begins this weekend. The idea is to see and present the day-to-day human side of what racing involves. And at this moment I don’t have a clue how I’ll go about doing that.

But that’s how I work. Make the decision to do it and just jump in. Learn to swim in the process.

I first met Jon two seasons ago when I learned that ABATE of Colorado had signed on as one of his sponsors. This struck me as surprising because I was aware that there was some animosity, at least in some places, between sportbike riders and ABATE organizations. In fact I did a whole series of articles about that animosity.

Fortunately, that animosity is not the norm here in Colorado. Here, ABATE and the Motorcycle Roadracing Association work together on issues that are of concern to all motorcyclists. United we stand, divided we fall, you know?

So I know I’ll be learning a lot about racing this summer about. Should be interesting. I’ll make sure to pass a lot of it along to you. Stay tuned.

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Motorcycle thieves shown in action on video

Biker Quote for Today

If you can read this you must have a V-Max, too.