Thursday, March 29, 2007

Broke Down Suzuki Rider

Went with Basil, aka; Broke Down Suzuki Rider, to check out the work he was doing on his bike.

At the end of the riding season last year the old Suzuki had a little leak down in one of the outer cylinders and filled his crankcase with extra fluids.

Suspecting a malfunctioning float BDSR pulled the bank of carbs off and checked the faulty float.

Nothing major seemed to be wrong with the floater other than it and the other three carbs needed a good cleaning.

With the assistance of a Harley rider, whose repair kit contains a hammer and chisel, the cleaning project swung into full gear.

As can happen during minor repairs one of the float posts decided to break under light hammering which initiated a barrage of cuss words.

With the Handyman's Other Secret weapon, J-B Weld, a quick and tardy repair was needed.

I assisted the best I could considering I had to offer sage advice whilst drinking a beer.

But in due time and a couple of beers later the repair was completed and BDSR had the parts back on by the next morning and reports were that It actually sounded and ran better.

Good motorcycle mechanics are not born, they are trained while drinking beer.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Not Looking Good

I may be taking the truck to the upcoming swap meet this weekend as it looks like Mom Nature is still not done with dumping on us.
I got to the friendly neighbourhood Wal-Mart on the week-end and picked up a new battery for the bike and installed it. The little Wing was reluctant to start and only wanted to chug on one lung until I drained the carbs down and tried again. And then with a little more persuading it roared to life with a whimper.
I still haven't changed the oil, topped up the fluids or changed gear oil as one look at the weather makes me wonder what the heck is the point when the weather is going to turn extra crappy.
Will the spring weather ever come?

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Upcoming Swap Meet

I look forward to this every year, usually lots of bikers and lots of bikers with tables selling biker stuff. How could you not love going to a motorcycle swap meet and browsing for hours.
I just hope the weather is decent so I can ride the motorcycle and not have to take the truck. On the other hand if I took the truck I could haul more biker stuff home.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Grinding My Gears

One thing that grinds my gears is motorcycle batteries.

No matter what kind of tender loving care you give them over the winter they always seem to let you down. You can tend them monthly over the winter months keeping them in a cool dry place and sending a small trickle charge into them to keep them topped up and fresh. But in the spring when you need them they are dead as a doorknob.

On the other hand friends who put their bike away for for the winter with nary a thought to their battery, dig them out in the spring and after a quick charge are on their way.

Seems like the meaner and nastier that you treat them the better they work.

Batteries!, you can't live with them and you can't ride without them.

Looks like I am going shopping.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Twiddling My Thumbs

Dragged the bike out of its winter storage last Saturday and started doing some of the prep work for the upcoming riding season.
Removed the seat and gas tank to access the radiator cap and topped off the coolant. Bike need a new battery this year so didn't get it started yet to warm up the oil and do an oil change.
One of the features of the old Silverwing is that I can have a passenger seat in place or the trunk. The past year I had the seat in place and used the trunk relocation kit but this year have changed the bike back into its solo seat configuration. I don't need the rear seat for extra storage space when I am pulling my cargo trailer but without the trailer it is a great place to put a duffel bag which can substitute as a back rest.
Saturday was a warm day and it felt good to get out and fiddle around with the bike but as it turned out the weather turned colder the next day and then snowed again.
The next few days are supposed to be warm enough to melt the remaining snow pack and my riding may resume by the end of the month.
The roads are clear enough to ride on but the alley behind the house is still full of ice and snow and the driveway is a mess of mud and ice. So my motorcycle and myself are still being held hostage by the elements.
No use being in a hurry can't do much till the snow and mud clears but at least I can go out to the shop and check things over and make sure everything is in order for the upcoming riding year.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

My Motorcyle History

Looking back at all the bikes I have owned there appears to be a common theme.
They have all been Honda's of early 80's vintage. And after owning nothing but Honda's I am a firm believer in Honda technology. The early bikes had crude engineering but in the early 80's they improved their technology to the point that many of these bikes are still on the road and running strong.

1975 Honda CB500T
First bike which I paid about $700 dollars for and it did not run very well as it strained to achieve a high speed of 60 MPH.

1981 Honda CB400T
Second bike I owned more up-to-date technology and a snappy little runner, more reliable, that banana seat was a butt buster.

1981 Honda CX500 Custom
I took a bare bones bike and made a small tourer out of it, adding fairing, radio, trunk and floorboards.

1980 Honda GL1100 Goldwing
The best of the bunch, added over $2,000. worth of chrome and extras and even pulled a small cargo trailer behind.

1982 Honda CB 900 Custom
What I bought after thinking the Goldwing was too big just to ride around town on.

1981 Honda GL500 Silverwing
My current ride after being out of biking for 12 years.

Not a very impressive list of bikes to be sure but all except the first were good reliable transportation. I put the most miles on the CX500 taking it cross country a couple of times without any major problems.
When I decided to get back into motorcycling a few years ago I was dismayed to find that I could not replace any of the old bikes for the same price I had disposed of them. They all had appreciated in value.
I may not be on the latest marvel of technology but at least I am out there on the road enjoying everything about the lifestyle of motorcycling.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Green Rider, Not Beer

Beer and biking don't seem to mix well as I found out when I was a green rider.

Before I became a motorcycle owner I had the opportunity to ride a friends bike as we had made a temporary trade as he needed four wheels for a bit and I got the chance to ride his bike.

The bike was a 500cc Suzuki, mid sixties vintage and was my first time up and solo on a motorcycle.

No electric starter just a kick starter to bring the Suzuki to life but one had to remember to first turn the ignition key to the on position before attempting to kick start it.
On one occasion of meeting some friends in the saloon and downing a few quarts, we all departed together and they lingered as I donned my helmet astride the big Suzuki. In a vain attempt of trying to show my worldliness of all things motorcycle, I started to kick the beast over.
I kicked and kicked and kicked some more to no avail, the bike would not roar to life. Burning, swearing and sweating out the beer as I kicked my friends looked slightly bemused and wondered if I knew what I was doing.
When I did figure out to turn the ignition key to the on position the warming glow of the beer had worn off to be replaced by deep feelings of stupidity. Bikes and beer do not mix.
Not having learned my lesson yet, on a later occasion I consumed large volumes of lager and with my intelligence level on overdrive I reasoned since it was only a few blocks home I could make it safely.
Being extra cautious and alert to the consequences that I would pay if stopped by the police I proceeded with caution, obeyed every rule of the road and made it back to my apartment parking spot safely.
As I pulled into the parking spot I was congratulating myself on a job well done and as I slowly came to a stop I only missed one small step in the proper operation of a two wheeled vehicle.
When I came to the stop I had forgotten to put my feet on the ground and over I went.
As I lay on the ground with the bike laying on my leg thoughts of stupidity once again entered my thoughts. I crawled out from under the bike, set it upright on its side stand and retired for the evening.
In the cold light of day the damage was not as bad as I thought and only had to replace the signal light and the handlebars, my attitude and intelligence on the other hand needed a major overhaul.
When I am out biking now I still stop on occasion for a beer, but just one, bikes and beer really do not mix that well.
Happy St Patricks Day.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Can-Am Spyder-Roadster

The old joke goes that if Harley Davidson built a airplane, would you fly in it, well how about if Bombardier, who builds airplanes, built a bike would you ride it?

Bombardier under their Can-Am name is getting set to unleash their version of a street legal motorcycle which does not look like anything that is on the road at the moment.

My first impression of the hybrid motorcycle/trike/ATV is that it looked like a snowmobile on wheels, a backward trike, or some kind of fancy garden tractor, but it is quite striking in appearance and upon closer examination it does contain some high tech engineering

Rotax 990 V-Twin Liquid-Cooled with Double Overhead Cams. Providing life under the hood is a Rotax 998cc, V-twin liquid cooled engine. It delivers a strong push and responsive acceleration throughout the power band, with 106 peak horsepower and a peak torque of 77 foot-pounds. Advanced features include double overhead cams and a state-of-the-art electronic fuel management system which provides precise throttle response, crisp acceleration, and reliable engine starting while complying with stringent environmental regulations Technology

The MSRP will start at $ US 14,999 in the United States and $CA 18,499 in Canada. European prices will be communicated at a later date.

It is probably going to be a classic case of a face [style] that only an owner could love. You can find more information, technical data and a slick little video about the Spyder-Roadster at the Bombardier website.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

March Motorcycle Madness

The picture above shows how close I am to the riding season. It will be another two weeks of melting before it will be safe enough to go out on the roads here in Alberta. While others in warmer climes are already out and riding all I can do is move some snow in the hopes of moving my bike out of storage and into the shop for its spring tune-up and oil change.
This is the part of the year I dislike the most and envy the riders who keep their bike in their living rooms. I could have had all the spring work and cleaning done on the bike and be raring to go when the streets were safe but I have to wait.
I hate the month of March.
It comes along every year showing promise of the spring to come and tempts us northern riders with some sunny warm days and the start of the snow melt. But it just don't melt fast enough.
Sure the days get longer and the melting begins but just when our hopes are lifted into thinking of an early spring, winter will come roaring back to kick us in the pants.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Don't Twist My Throttle

It sure seems funny to me that owners, of Harley Davidson motorcycles who seem to suffer at the hands of their mechanics the most, are the first to taunt the riders of Asian made motorcycles with "Jap Crap".

Every year I take a glance at the tires, check the fluid levels, charge the battery and I am off and riding. No parts shimmy and shake off, no puddles of icky black fluids appear under the machine, just smooth rides with quick throttle response and a trouble free ride.
Often times when I take off on a road trip with my 26 year old Honda I will pass unfortunate Harley riders who are stopped beside the road peering vainly into the bowels of their V-twin engine.
Don't get me wrong, I think Harley Davidson makes wonderful machines, they just haven't got it down to a science yet like the Asians. Harleys make a wonderful bike with a wonderfull throaty sound, until they poke the guts out of their mufflers with a crow bar, the chrome, leather and finish look good until they start adding oodles of tassels and studs, the riders dress in everything branded with the HD logo including their underwear, but for the love of mechanics could they please get that thing to stop trying to shake itself to bits.
Apparently the V-twin configuration of their engines that makes that distinctive and lovely sound is what sets up the un-godly vibrations that rattle teeth, bone and sends parts scurrying off to the road below.
Another thing that chaffs me in a literal way is that when I buy a bike I am not trying to buy a lifestyle. Being perceived as a non-conforming bad-ass biker while dressing like I belong to an exclusive club of boomers is silly. I already have a conformist lifestyle and like to travel with reliable transportation under my butt.
All bikes have some faults or shortcomings but while Harley riders are waiting at the dealerships for their repairs, us Jap crappers will be putting on the miles and doing some trouble free riding.
Feel free to pile on or defend your ride in the comments below, but please no profanity.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Korean Motorcycle Invasion

The Koreans more than the Chinese are making faster inroads to the American market with the Hyosung 650cc models that rival or try to duplicate existing models. Like they did in the auto market they are bringing in bikes way under the market value.

The GT650R is comparable in looks and performance to other sport bikes in its class yet comes with a price tag that may entice more entry level riders by its price.
The GV650 resembles Harley's V-Rod but can be had for 1/3 the price.
The GT650 is the cheapest of the lot.

To see some of these bikes in action you can go to;
Hyosung Videos

to read some reviews of riders who have bought these bikes go to;

Hyosung Reviews

By my way of thinking the introduction of new models by the Koreans and later by the Chinese should open up the market and inject a little more competition into the motorcycle market. More bikes means more choice and better pricing for first time buyers. Of course with all new entrants into the motorcycle markets the reliability of the bikes and the ability to get replacement parts and service may be dubious for awhile.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Chinese Motorcycle Invasion

You might not be able to see the stampede of imported bikes heading for the shores of North America yet, but you can certainly hear the rumble as they get closer.
China is now producing 40 per cent of the worlds supply of motorcycles at a gargantuan rate of close to 15 million motorcycles a year.

And their sights are firmly set on the North American market. So far their invasion of the Americas has been limited to ATV's, pocket bikes, mini choppers and smallish dirt bikes but they have been gearing up with cruising and touring models.
Their main focus of manufacture has been up to the 250cc level but have plans to expand into the higher levels with a 1000cc model.
The early models have some concerns about reliability and acquisition of parts but the main selling feature of them is their low price in comparison to domestic or Japanese models some selling for $2,000 less than a comparable established model.
The Chinese have no qualms about cloning or borrowing existing technology and making copies of established bikes such as Harley Davidson and Honda.

The Chinese invasion of motorcycles should glut the market even further thereby lowering the market value for the used motorcycle market where used bikes are commanding almost new price.