Have you ever had one of those months when everything seems to get just a bit scrambled in your head? Yeah, that’s about how I’ve been in May of 2012. Of course, I think leaving my job of seven years, an impending move to another state, and having a daughter on the way kind of sounds like a good combination of excuses for being a wee bit forgetful
These are a few pics that I had all set to post but which managed to get lost in the shuffle. It’s getting a bit late right now, so I’ll be fairly quick with the descriptions and all, but I wanted to get ‘em all posted for everyone to see
Have you ever heard of a Honda CBX 1000? I hadn’t until I saw one at Sam’s Cycle Supply. These bikes have an in-line six cylinder engine with 1,000 CCs worth of displacement Yes, that’s a whole lot of power – especially for a bike made that long ago. I do think it’s a great looking bike and that six into one exhaust is a work of art
Sam’s has been the only shop to work on my bike since I got it last year. They rebuilt the carbs, adjusted the valves, changed the tires, and did a whole bunch of other stuff for me that I didn’t either have the time, the tools, the location, or the skills to do myself. Their prices are very reasonable and the work is always done well. I can say I recommend them with confidence. Oh yeah – Sam is the owner and this is one of his CBX 1000s and that’s just one of the types of bikes he owns. He’s a great guy who runs a very good shop
Fast forward to the next day and I managed to get a few pics of this custom chopper at Guns and Ammo Garage Ape hanger bars aren’t my thing and I’d probably choose a different color scheme, but it’s great to see a truly custom bike like this where you can tell the owner has put a lot of time, thought, and effort into the way it looks
My next stop after Guns and Ammo Garage was BMW Motorcycles of Las Vegas to see about getting a few minor items. This bike dealer always seems to have some of the best accessories anywhere. They’re always friendly, they don’t care what kind of bike you ride, and I also know they have free filtered water
Well, if you’ve always thought of Husqvarna as making chainsaws you might not know they also make motorcycles. Actually, they’ve been making motorcycles for decades and they’ve always been good bikes. BMW recently purchased Husqvarna and now BMW Motorcycles of Las Vegas is a dealer for that brand as well! I’ll get some pics of the new bikes soon, but I wanted to show off these two vintage machines now as they’re on loan to the dealership for display and I don’t know how long they’ll be there
After the BMW dealer, I figured I’d go have some fun in Red Rock Canyon and see who was around. I didn’t see any of the people I normally chat with and was thinking about leaving when a rather rare bike pulled off the main road and parked at the overlook.
The Honda Rune is a rather striking and unique motorcycle. I’d never seen one in person before this and it was a real treat to get a close look at it. The only things the owner changed from factory stock were the seat and that lovely custom paint job
The Rune is powered by the same six cylinder boxer engine that powered the Valkyrie when it was in production and which is still used in the Gold Wing today. The final drive is a shaft drive and the forks are a trailing link design reminiscent in their engineering of a Vincent Black Shadow or a Harley Davidson springer which has been flipped 180°. It’s a big bike, not many were made to begin with, they were pretty expensive when they were new, and it’s already become collectible so don’t think you’ll pick one up for cheap. The owner and his wife were great people and while I wish I could remember their names, I’m thankful to them for allowing me to get these pics to share with everyone. I really wouldn’t mind having one to ride if I could afford it
Last, but certainly not least, I figured I’d post this pic again. Yeah, I know I used it in another post, but it’s my blog so I can do this if I want to The weather is getting warmer but it’s not blast furnace hot these days, so I thought I’d have some fun and get a bit more airflow.
I put the windshield on after about two weeks of riding on the road primarily because the wind blast over about 50 MPH was rather surprisingly strong and a bit unnerving for a totally new rider. The grip deflectors came in around Christmas time and they were very helpful during cold weather riding. The saddle bags were there from day one because they’re just so convenient when I need to stash something.
I wanted to see just what would happen and how much of a change it would be if I yanked all that stuff off the bike and got (mostly) back to basics. It was quite a wake-up call and in a very good way I’ll put the wind screen and hand deflectors back on before any long trips as they’re great for reducing fatigue. Leaving the saddle bags off dropped quite a bit of weight and lowered the drag so the bike felt like it had just gotten a turbo and a nitrous oxide kit
I’ve been riding long enough now that the wind blast without the shield is more fun than unnerving, so I figure I’ll leave it off for the time being. I wear a riding jacket and a full face helmet, so protection from small stones and bugs isn’t a big deal. I’ve already put the saddle bags back on as they are just too convenient to leave off, but I might have a different solution for small storage in the future
Like I said, it’s getting to be a bit late so I’m going to wrap this up. Have a great night and I’ll see everyone back here tomorrow
So, I said in an earlier post that I’d tell everyone about what enhancements have been made to the clutch on my bike to make it more user friendly. Well, I’m finally getting around to it now
There are two modifications to my V-Star when it comes to the clutch. Both have made a positive difference in separate ways, but together the effect is more than you’d think. The first of the two modifications I’ll explain is the replacement clutch lever I recently fitted called The Clevver.
You might be wondering just how much difference a clutch lever can make and I don’t blame you. The Clevver is basically two changes that actually makes a huge difference. What they’ve done is modified a new factory clutch lever by drilling a new seat for the end of the clutch cable to change the point where it connects to the lever in relation to the pivot point. They also milled out the channel the cable passes through to the adjuster so it doesn’t kink or wear excessively. By moving the cable attachment closer to the pivot point, they’ve increased the size of the “friction zone” and reduced the force necessary to pull the clutch lever toward the grip.
If you’ve never heard about the “friction zone” you’re probably wondering what it is and why making it bigger is better. Well, that zone is where the clutch is between full engagement and full disengagement. If you’ve ever driven a manual transmission car, you know all about this. It’s that range of clutch pedal movement that you use to start off from a stop without stalling, hopping the tires, or doing a smoky burnout
Motorcycle riders slip the clutch much more than car drivers do and for good reason. At slow speeds, modulating the clutch engagement allows for much more precise changes in power delivery to the rear wheel than moving the throttle does. This is how motorcycles can be so nimble at slow parking lot speeds. If you ever see someone on a bike making a well executed U-turn on the street or nicely done parking lot maneuvers, look closely at their left hand and you’ll see them working the clutch somewhere in that friction zone. The guys duck walking and waddling their bikes around the gas station and through U-turns are probably either in neutral or trying to fake it in first gear and they won’t be doing nearly as much with that left lever Motorcycle clutches are usually made to endure this extra duty and most (mine included) actually run in an oil bath to help keep them cool
The factory stock V-Star clutch system is very similar to my experience with old Alfa Romeo Spyder sports cars. The friction zone is nearly non-existent and slipping the clutch is done more with pressure than movement. Sure, the same maneuvers can be done correctly and they can be done well, but it’s extremely difficult to do them that way. Adding some extra travel to the friction zone makes all those slow maneuvers easier to do
How The Clevver accomplishes this is really very simple. Moving the end of the cable closer to the lever’s pivot point is just like moving a weight on a lever closer to the fulcrum or pivot point. Think of a teeter totter on a playground. If you have a kid on one end it takes a certain amount of force to push the other end down toward the ground and move that kid up. If you move them closer to the center pivot point, it takes less force on the far end to move that kid, but they’ll also move a shorter distance.
Both of these things happen with The Clevver. The same amount of clutch lever movement now produces less movement from the clutch cable and less effect on the degree of clutch engagement which in turn means that there is more lever movement available for that friction zone The other effect is to reduce the amount of force required to move that clutch lever which leads to reduced fatigue when a rider has to work his or her way through slow traffic for example. It really is a win/win product.
The Clevver website is here, the FAQ is here, and their explanation of the theory is here Pricing is currently $39 + shipping and handling which comes to $44 in the U.S. right now and it’s not much more overseas.
I’ve had The Clevver installed on my bike for a few weeks now and I think it’s well worth the price. It does exactly what the manufacturer says it does, it doesn’t cost much, and it only takes a few minutes to install. One little hint for anyone installing a Clevver on their bike – You’ve got the cable end free anyway so it’s the perfect time to break out a cable lube kit and lubricate that clutch cable I highly recommend this product to anyone who rides a V-Star
There’s one last thing I want to say in case anyone thinks there might be some deeper reason for me writing this post. I found out about this product somewhere on the Internet that I can’t remember right now, I paid for it myself, and the manufacturers of The Clevver had no idea I was going to write it. I was not asked to write this by anyone and I haven’t received any compensation for writing it. The only thing I did before pressing publish was to email the post to the product manufacturer to have them re-check the facts and to get their approval to use their photo and graphics. I’d like to say thanks to Roger for his approval
That’s it for now, but I’ll be back soon Have a great day everyone
So, I found out Red Rock Harley Davidson was having a free lunch yesterday. Who am I to turn something like that down? Free food and good looking motorcycles? Yeah, I figured I could spend the $1.50 or so in gas
The ride over to the dealer was surprisingly chilly (we were 108° just a few days ago and now we’re in the 70′s ), but it was actually quite refreshing. I got there and found out that they had free hot dogs (which were darn good!) and were accepting donations for Make A Wish. Yes, a couple of dollars found their way from my wallet into the donation pitcher Now, about those motorcycles…
I’ve always liked the Harley Davidson Softail line of bikes. They just have a classic look to them. The term “Softail” refers to the rear suspension setup. A “rigid” bike has no rear suspension and either relies on suspension attached to the seat or just the seat of the rider’s pants to absorb bumps. The Softail has the look of a rigid or hard tail bike, but has a rear suspension with the springs and shocks hidden under the frame. It’s actually pretty similar to my V-Star in concept and not much different in execution. I found a diagram of the rear part of the Softail frame with the suspension and swing arm here, but I couldn’t find anything quite like that for the V-Star. Instead, there’s a diagram of the V-Star frame here and another one of the shock and swing arm here.
Both of the bikes above are almost mechanically identical. They have the same frame, suspension, forks, engine, transmission, and nearly the same wheels. The fenders, seats, and handlebars are the biggest differences. The Softail Slim really speaks to me. It’s a “bobber” straight from the factory and it’s almost exactly the way I’ve been thinking of making my V-Star look for quite some time now. The only changes I’d make would be to swap out the current seat for a distressed tan leather spring seat, swap the chrome mufflers for black while keeping the chrome pipes, and add a tan leather swing arm bag. MSRP with that setup is $17,071.05 and that’s without the saddle bags, rack, and windshield I’d want for longer trips.
The Softail Deluxe, on the other hand, is nearly what I have now and I really like the old school deep fenders and chrome. I admit the white walls are a nice touch and I’d need to add saddle bags and a windshield for the longer trips, but it’s pretty cool the way it is from the factory. OK, I’d also want to add the two tone paint for $705 which would bring the MSRP to $17,854.
The Softails are about 200 pounds heavier than my V-Star, but they also have somewhere between two and three times the power coming from a 103 cubic inch engine. They also have a six speed transmission. My V-Star has a 40 cubic inch V-Twin and five speed transmission for comparison. Oh, there are other things the Softail has over my V-Star – things like fuel injection, drive by wire computer controlled throttle, a fuel gauge, and that distinctive Harley Davidson sound. Of course, the Softails cost a bit over ten times what I paid for my bike and they also come with several years of payments
In the end, I still drool over the Harleys and I probably always will. Maybe one of these days I’ll even buy one. For now, I’ll still go out to my V-Star, turn the key, turn on the fuel at the petcock, pull the “choke,” and push the start button. I’ll let it warm up a bit as carburetors are funny and need things like that to run right. And when the engine’s warmed up (which usually only takes about 60 seconds), I’ll push in the “choke,” climb aboard, pull the clutch, drop the transmission into first gear, switch feet to support the bike with my left so I can apply the rear brake with my right, twist the throttle, slip the clutch, ease off the rear brake, and ride off with a silly grin on my face
Red Rock Harley isn’t just a place to drool over new and used Harleys or even other bikes for sale. As I’ve posted before, they do have a nice collection of bikes on display This one is from Moto Guzzi in Italy. That is a V-Twin you’re looking at sitting in the frame, but it’s turned 90° from most. You might also note a distinct lack of lights and mirrors. This is a track bike that was never meant for the street. I believe Moto Guzzi made a version that was street legal, but I do like to see purpose built track machines sometimes.
If the name Bimota is new to you, you’re not the only one. If you’ve never seen anything quite like the front suspension on this motorcycle, you’re not alone in that either
Bimota is a very small manufacturer based in Italy. All of their bikes are hand built by one person from start to finish. They might make 1,000 bikes a year. Total. They are very well regarded and superbly made machines and they carry a price tag to match. I seem to recall hearing that some of their motorcycles sell for $40,000+ new.
This bike is a Tesi 2D. “Tesi” is Italian for “Thesis” and the front suspension is the end result of the designer’s college thesis. This system separates the suspension duties of the front end from its steering duties. Bimota made a total of 40 Tesi 2D motorcycles and this one is valued at about $60,000.
A bike like the Guzzi and Bimota is like a Ferrari to me. It’s beautiful, advanced, and fast. It’s also impractical, expensive to buy and to maintain. I can’t ever see having the time and money to throw at one, but I do like to look
Now this, on the other hand, is something I could happily own This motorcycle is a 1951 Vincent Black Shadow. Yes, it’s a British bike. It has dual drum brakes up front. It’s fast, probably doesn’t handle as well as my V-Star, and likely doesn’t stop as well, either. That may be the case, but it also has style to spare It might be a bit more maintenance than my current ride, but it’s made to be worked on. The carburetors are on the side of the bike where they can be reached without taking anything else apart. The valve adjusters are also easily accessed, but from the right side of the bike. The front suspension trailing link like on a Honda Rune, and it doesn’t have a single bit of computer “magic” anywhere on it. Yeah, I could totally have a blast on this
In the end, I had a great time looking at bikes, eating good food, and enjoying the good company of friendly riders and staff. I sat on a few of the Harleys I’ve only seen online and I liked them quite a lot. Then something happened that seems to happen quite frequently. I went out into the parking lot, fired up my bike, and rode off with a silly grin on my face I really do love the bike I’ve already got
Have a great day, everyone
I still need to do quite a bit of packing, but I figured I’d do a bit of writing here and there to take my mind off everything that’s going on right now. I don’t like going through all my stuff for a number of reasons and while I’m looking forward to having everything done, I’m not looking forward to the process of moving. I’d much rather pay someone else to make it all magically happen if I could. Ah well, why not write up a report on what’s happened with the bike recently? Yes, I just turned the odometer over the 18,000 mark as I’ve already written, but there actually has been quite a bit of work done and it’s much better because of it
You might have noticed a few things missing above. Things like a windshield, wind deflectors for the grips, and saddle bags. I just wanted to see how different it would be and it did make a huge difference – the bike felt much quicker That said, I’ve reinstalled the saddle bags because they’re so unbelievably handy. The grip deflectors and windshield will go back before I head up to Utah as well just to make the move easier and you can expect to see them during cold weather and for longer trips to reduce fatigue. For now, though, I’m enjoying the breeze in the nice weather
There has, however, been actual maintenance done on the machine lately. One of the first things I wanted to address ahead of the move was the front brake. I could see that the pads were about 50% worn, but that’s not really a bad thing. The really bad thing was the color of the brake fluid in the master cylinder that I could see through the little window. I don’t know how long it had been since it had been serviced, but I’d never done it and I’d had the bike for a year. The recommendation is to flush the system every year at minimum which doesn’t cost much and is pretty easy to do at home.
Now, I was trying to be somewhat logical and intelligent and I figured that if I was going to flush the old brake fluid, I might as well yank the caliper, clean it out, replace the pads, and lube everything up with caliper slide lube. Getting the caliper loose was ridiculously easy, but cleaning was a bit more difficult. Actually, it just took some Simple Green, Scotchbrite pads, and time. There was a whole bunch of brake gunk in there and I think I’ll actually do the clean and lube bit a couple of times a year After the pads were replaced, it was time to tackle flushing the hydraulics…
No, that really doesn’t look right
Brake fluid should be clear with a slightly golden hue. What came out of the brake system on my bike resembled a mixture of orange juice and apple sauce. Now, I happen to have been riding this bike everywhere for the past year like this
Once the brake system was flushed, bled, and everything was reinstalled, I took the bike out for a ride and was in for a couple of pretty big surprises. The first surprise was how much better the brake lever felt. There was much less sponginess and slop. It was a huge improvement!
The other surprise was just how much less effective the front brake pads can be before they’ve had a chance to bed in on the rotors! I swore I’d “upgraded” to anti-STOP brakes Well, it wasn’t all that bad if I’m honest – I just had to factor in another 1/3 of the braking distance and brake early The front brake is now much better overall
I could’ve had the shop do this, but I’m thinking it would’ve been a bit expensive based on shop time alone. I figure somewhere around 1.5 hours which would’ve been a bit over $100. I spent about $40 on a tool with a built-in wrench and check valve so the flushing would be much easier, $8 on brake fluid, $2.50 on caliper lube, and $30 on pads. I came out a bit ahead on this one, but the next time will be much less expensive and much easier as I’ll already have the experience on what I need to do
A couple days later I figured it would be a good idea to take care of the oil change. Now, I’ve had the shop do this before (about $70 total), but saving money is a big concern these days and the videos I’d seen on YouTube made it look pretty easy (click here to see how it’s done), so I figured I’d give it a go. I got three quarts of Motul 20W-50 motorcycle oil for about $8 per quart (yes, I’ll probably get something cheaper next time, but this stuff’s been good to me) and I can’t remember how much I paid for the K&N oil filter but it wasn’t too much.
The oil catch pan I’d bought didn’t quite fit, so I got a baking pan from Wal-Mart for about $1.00. The whole thing took somewhere around an hour because I was taking my time. It was a piece of cake and gave me piece of mind I didn’t take pics, but I also replaced the air filter. It only took about five minutes, but the part was about $20 which was more than I’d like to have spent, but it was the cheapest I could find it.
I don’t actually have any pictures from another event either, but my bike finally had into the shop a couple of weeks ago. The manual specifies valve clearance checks and adjustments every 4,000 miles. Those checks cost about $250 – $400 depending on the shop because they have to take the seats off (easy), remove the gas tank (pretty simple), and then removing the air intake system and carburetors Once that’s done, the timing covers have to be removed and all the normal valve checks can be completed. Once that’s been done and everything’s put back in its place, it’s time to synchronize the carbs which is fairly easy.
Well, I know these valves (the kind with overhead cams) are supposed to be a bit noisy and that I’d feel a loss of power if they started to get tight. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that valves always get tighter over time. If they get too tight, bad things happen. Anyway, I’d kept an ear on the motor and hadn’t noticed any significant loss of power, so I let it go for a while longer than normal. OK, it was about 9,500 miles since the last time I had them checked which was when I first got the bike
Aside from figuring it was time for the valves to be checked, I thought I might want to lube the cables. This is normally a piece of cake and easily done at home. I’ll have more on that in a future post, but the thing I noticed was that the pull cable on the throttle (the one that gets pulled to go faster) had developed a bit of an issue up by the adjuster near the handlebars. It had a weird kink and I figured it might be better to replace it sooner rather than later and I should probably go ahead and do the other cable (the one that’s pulled when the throttle is closed) while I was at it. While figuring out what I’d have to do to replace the cables, I noticed that the pull cable was starting to fray near the carburetor I also noticed that I’d have to remove the tank to change out the cable. Well, the shop was going to do that as part of the valve adjustment, so I decided to let them do it.
Last, but not least, there was the matter of an oil seepage on the left side of the bike. It wasn’t much and never even dripped, but I’d feel better with that taken care of as well. We (the shop and I) thought it was coming from the shift shaft. That oil seal is a $15 part and it’s easy to replace, so I told ‘em to have at it.
So, I got the bike back from the shop and was given some very good and unexpected news. Remember how valves always tighten up over time and the manual says to check my bike’s valves at no small expense every 4,000 miles? Yeah, I’m throwing that valve check interval right out the window. The mechanic who did the valve adjustment said they were still a bit on the loose side of specifications after 9,500 miles Then there was that oil leak… It turns out the shift shaft wasn’t leaking, but rather the timing inspection covers. The shop didn’t figure this out until after they’d pulled the linkage. As a result of the shift linkage being essentially rebuilt, the feel of the shifter is like brand new! Oh yeah – They also fixed the leak from the inspection covers while they were at it
I knew the throttle cables would feel different after being replaced, but I didn’t expect them to be that different! I swear it feels like someone removed a friction brake from the throttle that had kept it from moving freely! The shop also adjusted the rear brake (which I was planning on doing myself, but I’m happy to have them do it) and synchronized the carburetors so the bike is now running smoother and stronger
One of my good friends out in Florida had said he’d chip in $250 toward this service as a Christmas present (I’ve been putting it off for a while due to the expense) and that he’d just call the shop and do it with his credit card over the phone. Well, he called the shop, but he didn’t put up $250. He paid for the entire thing!!! JR is a great guy and I’m very thankful for this gift It was sorely needed and truly appreciated, especially with everything going on
This post is running long, so I’ll wait and do the write-up on the clutch lever replacement and all in a separate post in the near future. To sum this all up though, the front brake is much better feeling and stronger, the rear brake feels better after its adjustment, the throttle is smoother and not about to break unexpectedly, the shifter feels like it’s brand new, the oil has been changed, the air filter replaced, and the carbs have been synched.
I have to say I’m pretty happy with the way my V-Star is running and riding and I can’t wait to put some Utah miles on it
Have a great day, everyone
So, it’s been a bit busy and that doesn’t appear likely to change anytime soon.
My last day at work was supposed to be June 1, 2012. Was. My now former employer made me an offer I really couldn’t refuse last Thursday. They said I could make that my last day and they’d pay me for my last two weeks anyway. I knew I’d take a bit of a hit due to missing out on some overtime and working a week from today which is a holiday. I took it anyway because time is much more valuable than money and I needed that time to pack and do all the other things that need to be done between now and when I move to Utah in three weeks.
Three weeks? That’s all
It’s all been a bit of a shock to my system. I’ve had the same job for over seven years and now I don’t have one. Add the fact that I moved to Las Vegas in October of 2004 and I only lived in San Diego before that and it’s quite a lot to take in.
Yes, I’m freaking out all over again. How will I afford it all? How will I pull it off in the end?
I just don’t know.
Aside from Cindy doing as well as can be expected and her new job working out beautifully, I’ve been reassured by the recent reports from the doctors when she’s gone in for prenatal exams. Our daughter cannot be doing any better If everything else goes downhill, at least I know our daughter is OK and that’s all that really matters
I also happened to roll my V-Star’s odometer past the 18,000 mile mark yesterday Yeah, I know it’s not that big of a deal, but I thought it was a cool milestone Another 430 miles and I’ll have added 10,000 to it in the year or so that I’ve had it
I’ll have more about the motorcycle soon as there’s been a decent bit of action on that front, but until then have a great day, everyone
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