Tech Tips

Tech Tips

Tips for Purchasing and Installing a Windshield

October 31, 2007
Recently, the weather has decided to hover around the mid-50s here in the Midwest, and that tells me the 2007 riding season may soon be coming to a close; or is it? After all of the technical tips we've covered this year, and with the cooler temperatures, I thought this might be a good time to talk about a basic accessory that can extend your riding season and help keep the bugs and other debris out of your face. That's right, the windshield! Riding your motorcycle without a windshield may have both advantages and disadvantages. A lot of riders will…

Diagnosing Preliminary Engine Failure

September 30, 2007
In previous articles I have covered common maintenance items and discussed preventative measures we should take to make our motorcycles run at peak performance and save us dollars at the gas pump and repair shops. In this article I will discuss a few things to look for in order to diagnose preliminary engine failure. Trying to recognize the sounds an engine makes when parts are beginning to fail can be very difficult, and hard to diagnose if you have never been exposed to this area. Often times, common valve train noise can be interpreted as a suspected part failure when…

Servicing Your New Motorcycle

August 31, 2007
In last month's issue, I gave you the low down on information that may be slightly controversial but noteworthy regarding the break in procedure for your new piston rings. So what happens when you hit the 600 mile mark on your odometer? Referring back to the factory service manual will give you a periodic maintenance table that identifies the items that need to be serviced, and also lists specific items that need to be addressed, as well as torque value’s that need to be applied. When you get close to that magical number and you feel this service is something…

How to Break-In Your New Piston Rings

July 31, 2007
I recently purchased a new motorcycle, and before leaving the dealership the salesperson suggested I read the owner's manual for proper break-in procedures. When I got home, I pulled out my manual and started reading so I could get the skinny on this procedure. After reading the manual I my friend Larry James at Donnell's Motorcycles what he thought, and he said there is a lot of info on the web about this topic; however, one article in particular stood out to him, which he had read a web site called Mototune USA. After reading his theory I am convinced…

Servicing Your Rear Drum Brakes

June 30, 2007
If your motorcycle is equipped with drum-style rear or front brakes, and your braking is sluggish, it’s time to address the problem. In the past, I’ve covered hydraulic braking systems such as pad replacement and servicing the fluid, but this month we’re going to discuss drum style systems. Drum brakes are still used on many models, and they require periodic maintenance, just like hydraulic systems. When there is a problem with the rear brakes and they are not functioning like normal, the motorcycle must be raised off the ground either by jack or center stand, and the rear wheel removed.…

Servicing Your Steering Stem Bearings

May 31, 2007
If you want to know how to adjust the steering bearings on your motorcycle, this article will help you get a better grasp of the fundamentals. Most of us worry about many items when it comes to maintaining our motorcycles but we probably never give the steering a second thought! If you don’t have the appropriate tools or reference material on the torque values or the procedure described below, you should take your motorcycle to a dealer or reputable repair station. When you determine that your steering bearings require some attention, the procedure is not that difficult. It just takes…

Servicing Your 2-Stroke Dirt Bike

April 30, 2007
Each and every month I try to give our readers an informative and detailed tech column that everyone can read and understand, but I feel I have neglected one group of our readers as I have not yet addressed dirt bikes. In this month’s column, and occasionally in the future, I plan to address issues that interest dirt bike owners. Dirt bike motorcycles require more maintenance than street bikes, and they also require spoke maintenance that is often overlooked when it comes to the routine service table in your owner’s manual. Some of the key areas that need to be…

How To Prevent Hydraulic Lock

March 31, 2007
Everyone tells me they have been almost stir-crazy these last few months; the weather patterns have been so unpredictable. Last month’s article was getting your bike ready for the riding season, and it covered the basics on common maintenance items that will get you ready for that first ride after winter storage. This month, I am targeting riders who may have improperly winterized their motorcycle or those who did not have time to address any winterizing issues. The issue we are going to discuss will be a subject that not many people have even heard of. Hydraulic lock is a…

Caring for your Tools

January 31, 2007
During the busy, hectic riding season, we seldom take the time to properly clean our tools after we use them, but I try to condition myself to at least wipe my tools off with a shop towel before putting them back into my toolbox. When the weather is not perfect and you don’t have much going on, take some time to clean and inspect the tools that help you service your bike. For professional mechanics, the cost of a set of tools can really be a set-back, so it makes sense to keep those tools in good condition as long…

Chain Tensioner Wear on Your Twin Cam Engine

December 31, 2006
I have recently heard a lot of noise about a maintenance item you may be overlooking in your Twin Cam Harley-Davidson. I have read many different listings that refer back to a problem that has been identified in a few late model Twin Cam engines. This tip is not targeted for all Big Twin models; however, when I come across a subject such as this from our readers, I feel we need to spread the word as quickly as possible to help you prevent costly repairs. Since the cam chain is a one-piece chain that has no master link, the…

How to Service Your Air Filter

November 30, 2006
We have been doing such a good job keeping up with our service schedules we may have overlooked an item that could be a real fuel saver. The following step-by-step procedures and photos that accompany this article will walk you through the process of cleaning your air filter. NOTE: In the photos below, we are using a foam-type filter.Step 1: Locate your airbox. Most airboxes have a cover that must be removed to gain access to the filter. Step 2: Remove the cover and note the location of the filter. Step 3: Visually inspect the filter to see if there…

Spoke Wheels 101

October 31, 2006
Many of us have at one time or another looked at our spoke wheels and wondered how to check the spokes, make adjustment and properly test the trueness of our wheels. Did you know this is a serviceable item that must be addressed on the maintenance table in your service manual? We have covered many things in this column, and as we approach a new year I will be taking these helpful hints a step further. When I was asked to recently approached by a customer to upgrade his stock wheel to one that would be lighter, stronger and more…

Compression Testing

September 30, 2006
When your engine is not quite performing the way it did when you bought it and it just doesn’t seem to make any more power, it is time to test the cylinder for leakage. This is not a top secret type test; however, it is a test that will give you a window into the condition of the cylinder and piston rings, and it will give you an indication of whether you need to have a top-end service scheduled. Compression testing is a required item per your service manual. A lot of people do not have the time or the…

How to Fabricate & Install a Molded Taillight

August 31, 2006
For a truly unique, custom effect, tail light molding has been getting more and more popular with the “high end” customizing crowd. In the early days of “frenching,” a true “mold” job was difficult to achieve. Today, products are readily available at most bike shops and auto body suppliers. The process necessary for achieving professional results tends to require a fairly high skill level, so if you don’t have much fabrication and/or body working experience, this is one project best left to the pros. That’s why I turned to the expertise of Chris Cofield of CC Custom Graphics. I have…

Cooling Down Your Hot Exhaust Pipes

July 31, 2006
One of the most frequent complaints relayed to master Harley technician 'Dyno' Mike Wilson of Dynamic Chassis is in regard to the excessive heat emitted by the rear cylinder’s stock exhaust pipe on Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic and other touring models. When your motor is running at peak performance, it will be around 1075 degrees inside the exhaust pipe (ouch!). This can be extremely uncomfortable for the passenger and people want to know if there is anything they can do to cut down on the excessive heat. You can install a set of aftermarket dual exhausts that will put the exhaust…

Care and Maintenance Tips for Your Plastic Motorcycle Components

June 30, 2006
Now that summer is in full swing it seems like every time we ride we are faced with obstacles at every turn. It can be as easy as bugs hitting your helmet face-shield or that nasty debris that semi-trailers kick up in the fast lane next to the concrete divider. We spend tons of time cleaning, waxing and polishing our faithful companions, but we can be harmful to our friends! In the “cleaning your windshield” text our owners manuals advise us to avoid detergents or chemical cleaners on the windshield or plastic body panels. The manuals recommend that we use…

Cleaning and Re-Gapping Spark Plugs

May 31, 2006
We have all been exposed to that fouled out spark plug due to contaminated fuel or riding with the choke on too long. When this happens, usually we are not equipped to remove and replace the spark plug. This is not bike-specific to just dirt bikes and two-stroke applications; this can happen to all motorcycles. Harley owners may not realize this, but Harleys require a longer choke time than most metric bikes. They also will run richer just cruising around so they are more susceptible to fouling the plugs out quicker. If you have ever had this problem, you know…

Harley-Davidson Twin Cam Tensioner Q&A

April 30, 2006
We recently received a tech question from one of our readers, which I felt should be addressed by someone who is considered one of the best Harley-Davidson technicians in the Midwest, 'Dyno' Mike Wilson of Dyno Mike's Dynamic Chassis. Question: Lately there has been a lot of press about late model Twin Cam tensioner wear and failure. I ride a 2002 Dyna FXDX with 37K miles on her. Most of the mileage I have acquired is highway miles (85%). My friend Dave has a 2001 Road King with 30K miles on her and had a recent service done to his…

Motorcycle Exhaust Systems 101

March 31, 2006
When you hear that loud rumble coming up behind you, it is a sound that you recognize, and you immediately know it can only come from that Harley with Screamin’ Eagle or drag pipes. But you wonder, do those pipes help your engine or just max out the decibel gauge? I have seen many different applications from H-D to Ducati, and they all do one basic thing that gives them an advantage over stock systems—they do make the engine breathe better with minor carburetor adjustments or fuel injection remapping. Motorcycle exhaust pipes need to perform many different functions; however, I…

Waking Your Bike From Its Winter Nap

February 28, 2006
For the last three months here in the Midwest we have had so many moods of Old Man Winter, it is just bizarre! We have seen temperatures ranging from near zero to near 70 in just a matter of weeks. During the slow months after the holidays we have been watching and waiting patiently for the return of riding season. Back in November we briefly talked about the different items that we must focus on to get our bikes ready for the long winter’s nap. We discussed several maintenance items, and now, with spring just around the corner, we must…
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