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Thursday, December 31, 2009

End of the decade

I'll close out the decade with one of my favorite rants. Paddy Donnelly echos my thoughts about the poor state of spelling and grammer on the web. Not just the "C U LTR" texting crap but things like the ugly to/too/two misuse you see all the time on craigslist and all over the web. He certainly does it more eloquently and graphically than I could. And it comes with a nice, bright chart you can print out for your Luddite acquaintances. Check it out here

On a positive note for people who spend a lot of time on the web, arc90 laboratory has come up with a program called readability.  It's a free program that strips away everything on  a web page except for the text and the ads. No more ads, popups, dancing fat girls, or single mothers trying to get you to refinance! My experience is that it gets it right 98% of the time and you just hit your browser refresh button to restore the original view if you don't like the results. Best of all, you get to choose the font, font-size, and layout style which makes it great for "mature" readers who don't like to stare at tiny typefaces.

Tomorrow, New Year's Resolutions. Leave your resolutions in the comments section.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Make it personal

Instead of motorcycles I'll tell you about a cool design item today. With FontCapture you can create your own font to use in OpenOffice Write, MS Word, and whatever Mac people use.

Here is the font I created from my handwriting with FontCapture in just a few minutes.
You do need a scanner to convert the template to a file but there are no other special requirements.

And did I mention that it's FREE!?

I used a thin ball point pen for the sample above. For BOLD I could do it again with a Sharpie pen. For an italic font I could lean the paper at an angle as I wrote. How about a secret code by mixing up the letters at random. I could write my message with a regular font and then convert it to my "secret code" font and print it out. Very cool if I was 6 years old!

If you were serious about Typography (and who isn't?) FontCapture could be your own type foundry. Have fun and post a comment with your suggestions.

Monday, December 28, 2009

2 guys, 6 wheels, 8 cylinders

They are calling it The Dumb Way Round. Two guys riding around the world on 1937 Nimbus motorcycles with sidecars. With an obvious poke in the eye for those wussie riders they state, "any fool could ride from Norway to Singapore on a new bike, but doing it on a 70 year old name would take A Real Man."

They will arrive in NYC soon and gatherings are being organized. I'll post more info as I know it. Until then you can follow the boys' web site here and their blog here.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Motorcycle Origami

Although the days are getting longer there are still many long cold nights to go before the snow is gone. Sure, you could go sit in the work shop with a beer and dream about warm summer days but you probably want to do something more active. But not as involved as tearing the head off the engine and finding out why the intake valves are stuck in the guides.

How about the ancient Oriental art of origami? Better still, how about some motorcycle origami? And I don't mean taking your bike out and wadding it up into a ball against the nearest tree.

Yamaha Japan has a paper craft site filled with templates for recreating motorcycles out of paper. Download the files, print them out on your computer printer, and get busy with the scissors and glue. There are street bikes, dirt bikes, race bikes, vintage bikes, and scooters.

There is an ultra-realistic model of the new V-Max that looks like it would fill your nights until the solstice. The only details it seems to be missing are little paper pistons and cam shafts!

If you want to sharpen your paper folding skills before starting check out this traditional site. It has instructions for every level including animations of just how to do each one. And if you forgot how to fold a cootie catcher you'll find it here.

Send me pictures of your projects and I'll post them here.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Found under the tree

On Any Sunday - The greatest motorcycle movie ever made! (YMMV). Sure you've watched it before but I, for one, have never tired of watching it again and again.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

I'll simply say Merry Christmas before I start the ritual of last minute wrapping, and friends and family visiting. I've had fun writing this blog, it's been a great exercise to get my brain in gear each morning and share some of the things I've found.

If your tradition is for something other than Christmas feel free to wish me whatever is appropriate for you. I hate that watered down, one size fits all, "Holiday Wishes" pablum. Wishing me a Happy Hanukkah or Joyous Kwanzaa tells me it comes from your heart and not your lawyer or public relations firm.

Right now I'm hoping that I've been good enough that Santa will leave that retro Interceptor under the tree. I'll be back in a couple of days with New Year's lists.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Faithful Restorations

Blatantly ripped off from Tony Foale on the USCRA list. If you don't know Tony Foale you don't know one of the premier minds in motorcycle frame and suspension design. You also don't know a genuinely nice guy who is happy to share thoughts and insights about his work. Check out these books. Warning: They are not cheap, but they are worth every cent if you are serious about this sort of thing!

Those of you into faithful restorations may find the following guidance inspirational. Although written by one more interested in cars than bikes, the methods outlined are equally applicable and set the standard for others to follow. Tony

Boy, it really galls my threads when these ignoramuses go off about how the Corvette crowd is 'over-restoring' cars! I say, restored means "exactly* as the factory did it, no matter what. I spent 95 weeks last year doing an accurate and complete ground-up restoration on my '67. And, let me tell you, some of those rubber and glass pieces are *really* hard to restore after grinding them up!

For some folks, simply applying a bit of overspray while painting is 'good enough.' I scoff at this. I meticulously copied onto the mufflers, droplet by droplet, the exact overspray pattern that was there originally. Even the runs and sags at the bottom of the door panels were duplicated. Your average 'restorer' will just slap some new paint on, calling it 'original' if it is the same color. Jeeez. I chemically removed every vestige of *the original paint*, then broke it down, reformulated it, and re-applied it. Sure, I had to use substitute volatile carrier (thinner), but since it evaporates anyway, I claim that it was not originally 'on the car' when it left the factory gates.

Some folks think using the 'correct' fasteners is good enough. Ha! I made sure to cross-thread the left rear upper transmission crossmember bolt, just as the (sometimes inebriated) factory worker was known to. I removed the third from the right lower grille attachment screw, which a previous owner had erroneously installed, in spite of the well-documented fact that none of these were installed at the factory until after 3:43 pm on October 17th, 1966. I made sure to scratch the frame in the appropriate places, just as the handling mechanisms at the factory did. Some previous owner had removed the scratches, in an effort to make the car 'perfect.' What was he thinking? I even installed the #3 cylinder's exhaust lifter upside down, which was a rare (1 of 3 such built), but documented occurrence. Sure, it runs like hell, but hey, it's _original_!

Some folks get a new set of tires that LOOK like the originals, and call that good enough. Not me. I got THE ORIGINAL tires out of a landfill, ground them up, and restored them. I was able to find about 91.7% of the rubber which had worn off, by vacuuming the roadside dust over the roads the car had travelled, and separating out the correct molecules from the other debris with a mass-spectrographic double-diathermic isopropadiaphanometer molecular identifier. NOT cheap, let me tell you. But, correct is correct. Some folks put on new valve stems and caps, and away they go. We purists know that it IS important to align the seam line on the valve cap to the correct angle, just as it left the factory ('indexed' valve caps, Section T-26-B.5 of the Official Sniveler's Guide to CORRECT Corvette Assembly).

Changing the oil is considered routine by some 'restorers'. They throw out the old, slap in some new, maybe even 'improved' oil, and a new filter. Not a real purist. I have the original oil broken down and re-refined. The old additives are removed, restructured, and re-added. I even recover as many molecules of the burned or dripped oil as possible, and add them back in. This means the filter must be dismantled, which ruins the case, so it has to be remelted and reformed into a filter. Re-using the original paint, of course.

Some bozos throw in a Sears Die-Hard, and off they go. Some so- called restorers buy a reproduction 'tar-top' battery, and call THAT good enough (*scoff*). I found my original battery and remanufactured it. No wimpy replacing the innards with new, either. I melted down the original plates, then recast them in the correct factory molds. Saving the original electrolyte, of course. Now, you might think, gee, that seems pretty far-fetched, this guy is extreme. Well, you ain't seen nothing yet. I also was able to procure the original ELECTRONS which had come with the car, and reinstall them. It seems that over the years, the car had given and recieved a few jump starts, and some of the original electrons had thus transferred to other vehicles, and some from other cars had contaminated my car. Thankfully, there is an electron sorting and ID accessory for the molecular identifier, which allowed me to correct this blatant slap to true originality.

One thing holds me back from being 100% correct. Some fool of a previous owner had changed the tires, and did not retain the original air. I know, hard to believe, but it happened- some folks just don't 'get it.' Now, I have located about 24.6% of the original air molecules with the Mass-Spectragraphic double diathermic isopropa diaphanometer, but many of them have been sucked into other engines, combusted, and turned into CO, CO2, NOx, etc. If anyone is aware of a device to spot the correct air molecules after they have been broken up and combined in other chemicals, please let me know. I guess I COULD settle for some air molecules from the Bowling Green tire-mounting area vicinity, captured about 9:47 am on September 5th, 1966. Ah, well, it's only a few points off at showtime...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Wish List #12

Winding up the 12 days of Christmas Wish Lists I'm going to list what I think every motorcyclist wishes she or he will find under the tree. A track day or track school. Who doesn't want to ride faster and better?!

Warning from the Surgeon General: Track Days are highly addictive and have been known to cause such side effects as distended smile muscles and safer street riding.

The nice thing is that you can send a buddy (or buddette?) a gift certificate for part of the cost to thank them for coming out in the dead of night to rescue you from a flat tire on the side of the road. Buy one for yourself and the two of you can have a great time together.

A common misapprehension about track days and track schools is that you have to be fast to attend one. Or that you have to be a racer, or have a race bike. WRONG! You only have to want to improve your speed and handling skills to attend. Every school has different groups on the same day that separates the newbies from the intermediates from the fast riders. They put you in with other riders of a similar skill level so that you learn in a comfortable environment. Challenging in an exciting way, but not terrifying.

As far as bikes are concerned I've seen Gold Wings, BMW GS's, and vintage Triumphs on the track. Ben rides his Sprint ST with the bags off while Dave has been seen on the track with his R1200RT and the bags still on. Beth has ridden her 175cc class racer in with the bigger bikes. I'll admit that choppers would probably be a little out of place. If you don't want to risk your own machine all the schools have bikes and leathers for rent at reasonable prices.

Here are a couple of ones that I know. Leave a comment if you have another favorite.

Penguin has been in New England for as long as I can remember. Several friends recommend them highly for professionalism, quality of instruction and amount of track time.

My friend Ben is a great fan of Tony's Track Days. Great people and plenty of track time are his comments. A nice feature is that they run at both Loundon, NH (NHMS) and NJ Motorsports Park (Thunderbolt)

On the west coast the California Superbike School has always gotten rave reviews. Keith Code has literally written the book(s) about fast riding so what more is there to be said?

Tell them I sent you if you want to feel cornered.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Wish List #11

If you only have new, modern motorcycles I suppose you could stop reading now. Especially if you live in San Diego where the weather's warm and you can ride all year. For those of us who like vintage bikes life is filled with carburetors to clean and batteries to charge. I told you about Yamaha Carb Cleaner some time ago. 

Battery Tender is the only way to go in the charging department as far as I'm concerned. They make a variety of models to fit all needs and budgets but the Junior has always worked good enough for me. The benefit of a BT is that they charge the battery without excess current which will quickly kill a battery. I don't know why or how but a car charger will knock off a good motorcycle battery faster than a cruiser pilot can down a 6-pack.

I used to recommend getting the cheapest, lamest battery charger you could find at the Dollar Store because it would only charge at .5 amps or less. Battery Tender is better because once it attains full charge it somehow throttles back to maintain that charge and no more. You can leave the charger on the battery all winter and it won't boil off the electrolyte. 

Cycle Gear had them for $19.95 Thanksgiving weekend but they're $29.95 now. Amazon has both the 6v and 12v Juniors for $24.99 and $21.68. Free shipping on anything over $25 so you save if you order one of each (or order one of Kevin Cameron's books). Every moto outlet has them so you may be able to find even better deals. Post a reply if you find one.

Tell them I sent you, their response will be shocking!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas Wish List #10

I'm looking out my window at 13" of snow that has fallen since I went to bed last night. Time to sit by the fireplace and curl up with a good book.

The easy choice for a present to a motorcyclist is one of Peter Egan's books, Leanings or Leanings 2. Although I own both of them I have to say that Peter leaves me a little cold. After reading the first dozen stories I felt that I had read them all. He and Barb take a trip, he sits in the garage with a beer and reminisces about old bikes, he wipes up oil spills from Vincents or Triumphs. Like a few bands that come to mind, after hearing the first three chords you know all the rest and wish they'd move on.

Kevin Cameron is quite the oposite, Top Dead Center and TDC2 are books that are fascinating and highly readable. Moreover they, gasp, actually teach you a lot about how motorcycles work. Kevin has such a wonderful way of writing that you feel that he is having a conversation with you. Suddenly the limits of maximum piston acceleration is not such a mystery and a carburetor makes sense (sort of). Check out his new book The Grand Prix Motorcycle and whoever has my copy of Sportbike Performance Handbook would they please bring it back.

This probably won't arrive in time for Christmas but Monkey Butt is a great read. Rick "Super Hunky" Sieman will never be accused of doubting how wonderful he is but the fact remains, he was there and he did most of it. Flogging twin shock MX bikes when they were new and cruising around in his El Camino makes for some very entertaining stories. 640 pages will give you something read all year long.

God's Middle Finger is not about motorcycles but is a tale of traversing Mexico's Sierra Madre which is one of the world's largest drug producing regions. Think of driving through Afghanistan and you get the idea. However, this is not some Gonzo story of yet another drug-fueled Norte Americano but rather a tale of a British writer who wanted to see if all the tales were true and what it was really like. He found out and the tale is captivating. There is a real insight into the culture of the region that I won't spoil by trying to describe it. Just let me say that it was my favorite non-motorcycle book of 2009!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas Wish List #9

David in AZ suggested that I take the list to #12 to emulate the twelve days of Christmas. Wow! Feedback! So here goes.

I've been a fan of Roadgear equipment for a long time. I have jackets, pants, bags, and accessories from them that have all stood the test of time. There are lots of people who will sell you a jacket but Roadgear does it at a price you can afford. And they stand behind all their products 100%. The reason is that the owner, Mansoor Shafi, is a motorcyclist of the first order. A past Wall Street wizard, he gave it all up to move to Colorado and start a motorcycle business. It shows in the products and customer service.

I think this Hi-Tek Bandanna would make a great stocking stuffer. Mine has a permanent place in my tank bag for times when it gets cold and I want a little extra protection against the wind.

This map holder is perfect for the next Giro or Tiddler ride when you don't want to lug an entire tank bag along.

A tool kit is so much better than a paper bag for keeping your tools organized. You can see in an instant the wrench you need when you're on the side of the road in the dark. It's also obvious which tool you're about to leave in the weeds as you wrap it up to get going again.

All these items are under $36 which is perfect for that last minute, how could I forget, gifts. But wait! There's more! Purchase before December 22nd and take 15% off your entire purchase with coupon code NRCD!

This makes it an even better deal. Ask for Jody and tell her I sent you. That will mess up their whole marketing campaign!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas Wish List #8

I had meant to end this list yesterday but then I realized I had missed one important category. DVDs.

First on the list is Riding Solo To The Top Of The World from Dirt Track Productions. This is about one man's trek through the Himalayas on a Royal Enfield 350 Bullet. It is truly a wonder to watch his struggle to visit a nomadic tribe at altitudes so high that his bike won't even carry him. Watch the trailer and then order the movie!

Gaurav Jani's second film One Crazy Ride is another movie that will be watched over and over again. There is just too much to see in one viewing. A group of riders decide to cross an uncharted area of India on their motorcycles by going to each village in turn and asking for advice about where to go next. The challenges and adventures are truly inspiring.

Dirt Track Productions is very quick about shipping so your order just might make it in time to slip under the tree. Don't delay, order both of them here.

Mondo Enduro is what the Long Way Round would have been if Ewan and Charley had the balls to leave their latte machine at home. Six guys with little money and no support go around the world on used dirt bikes. I think they set the world's record for number of flat tires and number of patches applied to a single inner tube. No support crew and vehicle to do the work for them while they sipped espresso. Aerostich has it here.

I've heard Ewan and Charley called "girlie riders" - I personally think that's an insult to all the women riders I know!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas Wish List #7

Today I'm wrapping up the Christmas Lists to tell you what I want. More readers!

If you like this blog tell your friends, link to it on your blog or website, spread the word in yellow snow letters 8' high so that passing airplanes can see it.

I have a lot of fun writing this but sometimes it's like the episode in WKRP where Dr Johnny Fever is sentenced to do the all night show. Somewhere in the hours after midnight he asks the question, "all midnight disk jockeys ask, Is Anybody Out There?"

Leave a comment from time to time so I know you're there. Thanks.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas Wish List #6

This one is a bit big for a stocking stuffer but it's such a deal I couldn't pass it up. Honda seems to have quite a few left over 2007 Interceptors that they are willing to sell at deep discount. Without ABS these were $10,599. Now they are only $7,995 for the special edition retro color scheme. ABS is more if you want it.
Everyone knows about the Interceptor, it's won so many best in class awards that it seemed like nobody was ever going to unseat it. If you want to be reminded of the specs TotalMotorcycle has it all here.

Hey, who should Santa be nice to more than you? Call your dealer now, tell them I sent you for that special reindeer in the headlight look.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Away in the Maine woods

All the motorcycles in Maine are parked for the winter but the tobogganing is great. Back to the Christmas list tomorrow.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Christmas Wish List #5

Is there a motorcyclist with heart so dead that they have not longed to ride in Baja? The mountains of Italy are nice and the sands of Morocco are fun, but Baja beckons as a friendly neighbor with tales of excitement and adventure that are surpassed by none. The legends run deep through the very soul of the American spirit.

As if you needed any persuasion to do Baja the movie Dust To Glory will definitely get you to start making plans. You can watch the trailers here and here. And buy it here.

To make your plans you need a map and this is the best map I've seen yet. It has just been released a couple of months ago and has a very high degree of detail. It's so new that the gas stations might even be where they're supposed to be! (Insider Baja joke)

Click here to see a sample page. The thin red lines are dirt roads, the dashed red lines are 4-wheel drive, and the dotted red lines are where it gets really interesting. Bring your knobbies! At $27.95 delivered it's a steal. Order it here. Tell them I sent you. ¡En espaƱol!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Christmas Wish List #4

If you ride a dirt bike you fall down. Some less occasionally than others but everyone falls eventually. And, of course, you fall down in the least convenient, hardest to stand up place around. That's what dirt bikes are all about. Going places you couldn't walk.

Falling down necessitates getting up. For every get off there is an equal and opposite pick up. You would think that motorcycle manufacturers, knowing this, would include an array of handles conveniently placed about the bike to help get the bike upright. Maybe they like to think that if you were smart enough to buy their product you must be a magically awesome rider who never crashes. More likely there is some bean counter in the background mumbling, "Screw them, we got their money."

 The Tugger - Rear

What they forgot to include is the Tugger. This is a strap that connects to the rear subframe and gives you a handy point to pickup the bike. Obviously it is bi-directional and works equally well for both right and left side inclinations. When your bike's laying on its side in a pond of mud you don't have to feel around underneath it for something to grap, the Tugger is right there waiting to be, well, tugged!

 The Tugger - Front

But wait there's more! The front Tugger gives you a place to pull up the front which is handy on a hill. Or your buddy can pull on it to help you out of that mud bog. Two pulls are better than one when you're stuck. Besides, what are you going to grab? The fender?

You can get it monogrammed with your name, bike model, email address so they know where to notify the next of kin, or any other epithet you can think of. Stealth mode (no embroidery) is also available for those who prefer the incognito look.

$24 for the rear Tugger and $14 for the front is cheap money when you're stuck. Plus it will impress all your friends and the groupies will swoon when they see that you're so obviously a pro rider.

Want an even better deal? When Highline makes a mistake with the embroidery they sell them at a big discount. If you don't mind being "NICK #628" you can get your tugger for short money. Best of all, should you be having too much fun Nick will get the blame, not you!

See it all here. Tell them Nick sent you.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Christmas Wish List #3

This one is for those days when you can't get out on two wheels. It's snowing, the relatives are visiting, you broke your collar bone, .... You want to watch something good but don't want to go to the video store and you don't want to pay late fees. You wish you had ordered something from NetFlix but you're waiting for the next disk to be delivered.

Roku to the rescue! Don't ask me where they got the name but it streams video from NetFlix to your television by way of the internet. FREE! As many as you like, as often as you like, whenever you like. And did I mention that it's FREE!?

Best of all, this is one of those things that actually work as well as they say it will. Set up is 5 minutes or under and is entirely painless. Plug it into the wall, plug it into the tv, plug it into your home theater system if you have one, run the easy setup and you're done! If you have WiFi in the house Roku will find it and attach itself. If you don't have WiFi you'll have to run a network cable to the Roku but maybe this is the time to upgrade to wireless. You also have to make a trip to your computer to copy a code. As I'm writing this I'm thinking that it sounds a lot more complicated than it is.

Once the Roku is set up you add movies, TV shows, documentaries to your Instant queue just as you add disks to the normal NetFlix queue. Then it's just a matter of picking one out from the on screen display with the Roku remote. There are thousands of instant movies but few of them are "just released" features. For that you need to use the Amazon channel instead of the NetFlix channel. Amazon charges about the same as Blockbuster for a rental. Or you can "buy" it and watch it as often as you like. Still, I've never lacked for NetFlix movies to watch. There are plenty of motorcycle movies as well as things like 30 Rock and The Office.

So print this out for Santa. Just make sure you ask for the cable kit when you do. It's cheaper than Radio Shack and you don't have to go out to get them. Don't forget the milk and cookies.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Christmas Wish List #2

Everyone knows about Dennis Kirk and Chaparral for online motorcycle parts but Rocky Mountain seems to be on few people's radar. Too bad as they have a lot of very good stuff under their Tusk and ARC house brands at very good prices.

When I went to Baja last time I carried an entire toolbox full of tools. Way too much. Marty was much smarter and carried a simple T-handle tool with socket ends that provided all the versatility required. I carried 20 pounds that were at the bottom of my hard cases, he carried 6 ounces in his tank bag. Guess which got used?! RM has these for only $8.99. I have used mine for a year and a half with no problems. I enhanced mine by going to Sears and getting additional sockets and screwdriver tips to cover all the possibilities for my particular bike. Now I'm up to 8 ounces.

If you do your own engine work this is a tool you really need at least once a year. We all make do with substitutes but when I damaged the clutch basket on my XR I went right out and bought one. RM has theirs here for only $15.99. $150 for a broken part or $16 for a new tool, you do the math.

One more "Why have I been suffering so long?" tool is this gear jammer. $18.99 might seem to be a lot of money to pay for a tiny bit of aluminum but you will think it cheap the first time you use it. It cleverly has a magnet built into it to hold it in place and the fingers always find their way into the valley between the teeth to prevent damage. No more sticking in a screwdriver or wedging a shop rag when you need to remove a clutch or transmission nut. Worth it's weight in gold!

Here is the link to a full page of Rocky Mountain tools. Print it out with circles and arrows and leave it where your significant other can find it. Stocking Stuffers R Us.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Christmas Wish List #1

Over the next few days I'll present some great stocking stuffers that I've found in my travels around the web. Today I'm off to the airport so I'll start with this (dare I say fabulous?) passport cover. Show your pride in vintage motorcycles and distance yourself from those dreary HD trinkets.

You'll find it at Flight 001 with a lot other fun stuff. Tell them I sent you to really confuse the crap out of them.

Tootle-Loo, I've got to rush off to jump on a Super Connie to Rio.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Motorcycle Electrics - Everything you ever wanted to know about it

Following the success of the Carburetor Manual posting a couple of weeks ago, I've scanned in the Honda Electrical Systems manual. You will find it here:

It contains everything about motorcycle charging systems, ignition systems, and trouble shooting. Using this you should be able to understand and diagnose any problem with any system.

Warning: This is a HUGE file and may take some time to download if you have a slow system. If everyone hits it immediately it may drag my server down to a snail's pace so be patient. Starting the download before going to bed may be a plan.

Next I'll go look for the Vincent Owners Group discussion of Lucas Electrics, the Prince of Darkness.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Buell Blast Spy Photos

I told you about the demise of Buell here. You can see the last ad for the Buell Blast here. Rather ironic that Erik ends the ad by saying, ... and my work here is done.

Now, however, we have secret spy photos of Buell Blasts being produced in quantity and being prepared for shipment.

Buell Blast inventory ready for shipment

Loaded for shipment to dealers

Our secret spy cam has even caught a glimpse of the small off-road bike that Buell was preparing for an assault on the MX championship.

Of course it has twice the displacement of other bikes in its class but that's only fair. Right!?

Is Buell and the Blast dead? It certainly seems unlikely since they have been stockpiling supplies for building more. It would appear that the new financing is in place and production has resumed.

Good going Erik, Best of Luck from MondayMotoMadness!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

From little acorns to mighty oaks

The first LSR engine has arrived! I figure that we will take 2 and probably 3 engines with us to Utah. I don't want to be standing out on the salt with a blown engine and no spare.

Looking very unpretentious it is the first step in the long journey to Bonneville. First thing is to tear it down and make sure everything is as it should be. Of course, there are a couple of bikes that need to be finished first. Priorities and reality need to be balanced. Dang!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Cheap books

As a web designer and programmer I have a bookshelf that is weighty and a bank account that is inversely light. All books are expensive and technical books are quadruply so. Yesterday I bought a book that listed at $55 and was happy to get it with a discount coupon for $35. I was really just happy  that they had it in stock!
I used to be a big fan of but they seem to have gone belly up for some reason. Their prices were competitive and their service was excellent. That's probably what killed them, they did it all from a base on Cape Cod and didn't outsource to Whackistan.
But now I have a new source.

Type in the ISBN and they come back with several sources of both new and used books. Instead of the book I bought yesterday I could have bought a nice used copy for $8! I know that Amazon has a similar service but I've never been comfortable with some of their practices. Give me an independent source every time.
This works for any kind of book, not just technical. Another great feature is that they list discount coupons that you can print out like a 30% off code at Borders Books.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Carburetors revisited

A few days ago I posted the Honda Carburetor Manual that fully and completely explained everything you wanted to know about carburetors in infinite detail. You can see it here.

If that was just a little too much for you here is the simplified version thanks to the International Norton Owners Association. Leave it to the Brits to demystify the unknowable. Sometime soon I'll feature their excellent treatise "What to do about oil leaks, a connoisseur's guide to Speedi-Dry"
by Paul Bryant, Viking Exhaust

The basic secret of carb function is that inside each carb are thousands of tiny gnomes; each with a small bucket. As you open the throttle, more of these gnomes are allowed out of their house and into the float bowl, where they fill the buckets and climb up the carb's passages to the intake, where they empty their buckets into the air stream. But, if you don't ride the bike for a while, bad things can happen.

Tiny bats take up residence in the chambers of the carb, and before long the passages are plugged up with guano. This creates a gnome traffic jam, and so not enough bucketfuls of fuel can get to the engine. If it gets bad enough, the gnomes simply give up and go take a nap. The engine won't run at all at this point. Sometimes you'll have a single dedicated gnome still on the job, which is why the bike will occasionally fire as the gnome tosses his lone bucket load down the intake.

There has been some research into using tiny dwarves in modern carbs. The advantage is that unlike gnomes, dwarves are miners and can often re-open a clogged passage. Unfortunately, dwarves have a natural fear of earthquakes, as any miner should. In recent tests, the engine vibrations caused the dwarves to evacuate the Harley Davidson test vehicle and make a beeline for the nearest BMW dealership. Sadly, BMW's are fuel injected and so the poor dwarves met an unfortunate end in the rollers of a Bosch fuel pump.

Other carb problems can also occur. If the level of fuel in the float bowl rises too high, it will wipe out the poorer gnome housing in the lower parts of the carb. The more affluent gnomes build their homes in the diaphragm chamber, and so are unaffected. This is why the bike is said to be "running rich".

If the fuel bowl level drops, then the gnomes have to walk farther to get a bucketful of fuel. This means less fuel gets to the engine. Because the gnomes get quite a workout from this additional distance, this condition is known as "running lean".

The use of the device known only as the 'choke' has finally been banned by PETG (People for the Ethical Treatment of Gnomes) and replaced by a new carb circuit that simply allows more gnomes to carry fuel at once when the engine needs to start or warm up. In the interests of decorum, I prefer not to explain how the 'choke' operated. You would rather not know anyway.

So, that's how a carburetor works. You may wish to join us here next week for basics of electricity or, "How your bike creates cold fusion inside the stator, and why the government doesn't want you to know about it."
-From "Setting Up Amal Carburetors", Norton News (Spring, 2005).
International Norton Owners Association (

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Shop Equipment Deals

This month's (Jan 2010) Cycle World magazine has a Harbor Freight ad on page 91 with some great deals. You can find an abbreviated version online here.

I run hot and cold on some of their stuff. Anything with ball bearings needs to be inspected carefully. However, the lift table I bought a couple of years ago has been performing marvelously and is now on sale (with coupon) for $279.99. Normally $400 this is a great deal. A lift table is one of those things that you don't appreciate until you have one and then you wonder why you were working on your hands and knees for so long. There are 2 in the shop now and I'm thinking that a 3rd would be a good idea for long term projects. It's so nice to put a part down on the table and have it there when you need it rather than kicked around on the floor.

The magazine ad also lists safety wire twist pliers for $5.99 and a roll-on/roll-off stand at $39.99. Last but not least is a 20% coupon for anything else in the store and a FREE 9-led flash light just for walking in the front door. These are missing or more expensive ($6.99 & $49.99) in the online ad. I would beware of the Motocross Dirt Bike Stand, I've had bad experiences with single post stands like this for anything heavier than a 125 bike.

BTW, if you mention my name when you check out, they will have absolutely no idea what you're talking about but will smile politely and take your money.

Harbor Freight store finder here.