Get Your Motorcycle Service Manual

service manual

The most important tool in your garage might not be in your garage. The official factory authorized year and model specific service manual will prove invaluable if you plan on doing your own maintenace. In my case this is Harley-Davidson part number 99481-07 for 2007 Dyna Models. The parts catalog and electronic diagnostic manual are sold separately. This manual is far easier to read than I anticipated. It is actually very easy reading. At this time I have completed the first chapter which outlines the routine maintenance and have been reading the second chapter on the chasis bit by bit. Last night I read how to disassemble the front wheel. When I say bit by bit, I mean five to ten minutes of reading at most. The service manual includes all important specifications and torque values. Torque values? Yes, that’s the proper amount of force to tighten a bolt or screw using a special tool called a torque wrench. There was at least one maintenance procedure in the manual that did not have a helpful diagram and I had no idea what they were describing. It was the procedure to check the front end for proper tightness/looseness at the steering head. After I saw the procedure performed on the Fix My HOG DVD (see previous post) I completely understand it. This manual combined with the Fix My HOG DVD can have even a tooltarded individual such as myself changing their own fluids, brake pads and making adjustments where needed. Get the proper service manual for your motorcycle no matter what!

Dyna Saddlebag Project – Part 1 Signal Relocation

 Princess Diana’s Dyna

After designating 2011 as the year “First State is Going Places” and then packing for my first two overnighters of the year with Jay, I have come to the conclusion that I cannot fight it off any longer…adding saddlebags to my Dyna Super Glide is no longer optional.  I ride a cruiser because I want to ride a cruiser, not a bagger.  The stripped down, no frills, “pure machine” look was one of the things that attracted me to the Dyna Super Glide in the first place.  I like the sleek lines of my bike with the solo seat and fender rack that just blends perfectly into the layback license plate.  I did not want saddlebags anywhere near my bike.  Unfortunately I am forced to keep a tailbag on that fender rack 24-7-365 just to have a place to hold my wallet and sunscreen (not to mention rain gear, spare gloves, camera, ride paperwork & maps…and forget about toiletries and a change of clothing for overnight trips)!  Well, the hard decisions have been made, and Jay will no longer be my “pack mule.”

Pack Mule

Being a total novice in the area of saddlebags, I did a LOT of research on the topic.  I found that real leather will generally last longer than synthetic, though it is not typically waterproof.  I found that bags can be hard-mounted or throwover styles, and that you can also get brackets for quick-detaching of hard-mount bags.  I found that bags come in every shape, size, and style you can imagine…unless you are looking for something very specific (and then you have your work cut out for you, or you may have to compromise somewhere).  I found that there are no two ways about it, Dynas are required to relocate their rear turn signals off of the fender strut in order to be able to install any kind of rigid-mount bag.

The turn signal relocation was a major sticking point in this project.  I already have a layback license plate that I completely love and did not want to replace it with the layback plate kit for signal relocation.  Jay has this product on his bike, and although it looks fine the angles of it just would not match or blend with my luggage rack the way my current plate frame does.  There is supposedly an option to extend the turn signals farther back along the fender (basically by extending the strut longer), but I could not find any information that indicated just how far back it would push the signal and feared that it would still interfere with opening the lid on the saddlebag anyway.  Besides, despite the fact that the parts counter guy swears the part does exist to fit my 2008 Super Glide, I found no evidence that such a part had been made for Dyna models prior to 2009.  So I purchased the kit that mounts to a standard license plate bracket (part # 68732-02A), and made plans to finagle a way for it to work with my current set up.

Installation:

 Signal Bar

Mounting the light bar to my current license plate frame was a challenge because there is not a kit designed for such an attachment, so we had to do a little “customization”.  Actually Jay had a brilliant idea to drill two holes in the fender and stick the connecting bolts through – attaching it directly to the fender instead of the license plate frame.  (Thank goodness he did this while I was sleeping, or I might have had a heart attack!)  We also determined that with the really tight fit it would be a good idea to drill another hole on the right side of the license plate mount for the wires to run through.  This was very careful work – starting by drilling a small hole then making it larger and larger to the desired size.  We also inserted rubber grommets into the holes for a “professional” finished look (and to help keep the wires from cutting against the sharp edge of the holes).

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Once the removal and “fabrication” part of the work was done, we set to work actually moving the lights.  First the turn signals needed to be removed and disassembled.  The wires needed to be fed through the threaded hole in the signal, then through the signal bar, and out the small hole on the back of the bar.  The light bulbs & casings could then be reassembled and screwed loosely onto the ends of the light bar.  Shrink tubing was used on the wires before connecting the assembly to the bike and threading the wires through the fender.

Turn Signal Relocation

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Finally, with the turn signal wires pulled back through the brake light housing, we needed to splice the connectors back onto the ends.  This was a very difficult job for Jay when he did his signal relocation, but it turned out to be not so bad this time around.  (Maybe it just needed a woman’s softer touch to do the crimping.)  Of course there was the very stressful moment when we turned the key and checked to see if all of the lights worked.  Both of us held our breath for a moment, then…pay dirt!  WooHOO, I can breathe again!

splicing wires

The final stage of this process was to reassemble everything we had taken apart.  The signals needed to be aligned and tightened – no problem.  The license plate bracket and CB antenna needed to be remounted – no problem.  And the plate itself along with its decorative frame needed to be installed – problem!  The newly customized location of the light bar partially blocks the bottom two holes for the frame.  Perhaps a shorter bolt with a really thin nut might do the trick?  Or maybe we’ll be able to find some decorative “stick on” kind of fake bolts?  For now though, it ain’t going anywhere so it’ll do.

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Yay, stage 1 complete!  Next up: Installing the Saddlebags

Vintage American Motorcycle Quiz

Excelsior

I have a theory that male motorcyclists automatically develop an interest in vintage motorcycles the minute they get involved with motorcycling. I’m not sure why, but I think there is something genetic in our wiring that men inherit more than just the love of riding when they enter this sport. On the other hand there are parts of the sport that females inherit that we don’t such as empowerment. I have been a little more interested in vintage motorcycles of late. Especially American iron. This is a result of recent books and DVD’s coming my way for review that inspect the history of American motorcycling. The sport itself is rather young, only about a hundred years.

  1. Which company started producing motorcycles first: Harley-Davidson or Indian?
  2. Who were the founders of the Indian Motorcycle Company?
  3. What year was Indian founded?
  4. What was the original name of the Indian company?
  5. Where was Indian founded?
  6. What year did Harley-Davidson start making motorcycles?
  7. What wealthy Delaware family purchased the Indian motorcycle comapany?
  8. What engine configuration is Henderson known for?
  9. What company purchased Henderson and Excelsior?
  10. What Philadelphia motorcycle company did William Henderson help form after leaving Excelsior?
  11. How did William Henderson die?
  12. What company ceased production in 1947 after production of approximately 100 motorcycles?
  13. What brand of motorcycle was produced in Reading, Pennsylvania?
  14. What company made the first 100 mph motorcycle?
  15. What company made the De Luxe?
  16. What company made the Super X?
  17. What brand of motorcycles were imported and sold as Indians in the fifties?
  18. What brand of motorcycle is considered the holy grail by collectors and the first superbike?

red bike

Bonus questions regarding American motorcycle history:

  1. Who was the first man to cross the country on motorcycle?
  2. Who broke the land speed record in 1948 wearing a bathing suit?
  3. Who designed the first factory custom?
  4. What year made Hollister, CA famous for a so called riot?
  5. What 1953 movie was inspired by the events in Hollister?
  6. What organization coined the termed “1%er”?
  7. Who were the POBOBs?
  8. What club took their name from a Howard Hugh’s movie?
  9. Who founded the Boozfighters MC?
  10. Who founded the Oakland chapter of the Hells Angels?
  11. What four clubs are considered The Big Four?

1970 Harley davidson Super Glide the first factory custom

Midland CB Radio Install on Motorcycle

low rider ready for CB installment

In this third installment of this story I am going to show you how I installed the Midland 75-822 on my Harley-Davidson Low Rider using the Midland’s mobile adapter (part# 18-821). The mobile attachment has a cable with two leads coming off it. One ends in a 12 volt cigarette lighter plug and the other is a coaxial CB base antenna coupling.

Click here for Part 1 and here for Part 2

First I put my magnetic map holder on the gas tank and removed the seat. I attached my backrest with chrome luggage rack. I used the handheld CB’s belt clip to attach it to the map holder on the gas tank. I met someone at the DE/MD State HOG Rally who had a handlebar mount that holds the CB on the handlebar. She said the handlebar mount was sold by Radio Shack. I would like to try this out and see if it works better than the map holder set up.

mount midland cb to magnetic map holder

remove seat to place antenna cable under

I coiled up the twenty feet of coaxial cable coming off the magnetic mount antenna and put it under the motorcycle’s seat. I attached the coaxial couplings from the mobile adapter to the antenna cable. I put the seat back on and mounted the magnetic base antenna on the luggage rack. I plugged the 12 volt cigarette lighter plug into one of my 12 volt cigarette lighter adapters from www.Shop.RoadCaptainUSA.com and attached that to my battery tender quick connect cable (pigtail also available at our online store). I used a few black tie wraps to neaten up the wiring.

magnetic cb antenna with 20? of cable

20? of coiled cable under seat

magnetic mount antenna on luggage rack

seat and antenna installed

plug 12 volt cigarette lighter plug into battery tender

close up of 12 volt cigarette lighter plug for motorcycle

neaten up the wiring with tie wraps

complete installation of midland Cb on low rider

This set up didn’t work well and from the advertising propaganda of CB parts and conversations found at online forums I summized the following three problems:

1. Magnetic mount antennas do not provide a good ground. I needed to replace with a traditional CB whip antenna with a ground lead.

2. You should not coil up the excess coaxial cable. I replaced with a short 2′ cable which seems to be a rare item to find as most people need more lead to run through a truck or automobile.

3. The antenna should be held away from the vehicle by a few inches by using an antenna mount.

After picking up a new antenna and mounting it to the luggage rack using a CB antenna mount bracket and gounding it to the screw that holds the seat in place the system was working. I was able to communicate successfully with Diana who was using the J&B handlebar mounted CB. I didn’t take any pictures of this set up.

A problem I experienced several times after that was the cigarette lighter plug would vibrate inside the plug and the quality of the electric contact would worsen causing decreased radio performance. I never did adjust the second antenna’s SWR using an SWR meter. It is possible the 2′ coaxial cable was not of high quality. There is also the possibility the headset was also not the best quality. The ground connection I had to the seat screw may not have been affective. Those possibilites could all be part of the poor performance on the CB set up using the Midland’s mobile attachment to make it into a motorcycle compatable communication device.

I finally put 6 low quality AA batteries into the battery compartment, attached the short 7″ antenna and ditched the mobile set up. Surprisingly this worked better! I wasted about $75 trying to power the radio off the bike’s battery and using a base antenna.

Firestik makes CB antennas that have a great reputation. They make two kinds: GP and NGP. GP (Ground Plane) antennas have a ground lead and need to be grounded to the vehicle’s metal chasis. NGP (No-Ground-Plane) antennas are built for vehicles such as boats where the vehicle chasis is not conductive. I would have liked to keep trying different combinations of antennas including the no-ground-plane antenna to see if this resulted in better performance. However I can’t keep spending money on this project.

The Firestik website which is full of information indicates a poor quality radio with a great antenna will work better than a high quality radio with a poor antenna. In other words the antenna has more to do with the performance than the radio itself. I believed that until the antenna on Diana’s motorcycle came off during a ride. Her J&B CB radio still outperformed my Midland hand held CB with no antenna at all! It suffered very little in performance when the antenna was lost.

I am happy to get rid of the base antenna set up because I like my T-bag attached to my backrest on the luggage rack.

TruckChamp.com 2010 Motorcycle Sweepstakes

Motorcycle CB Radio Systems

J&M CB Radio from Cycle Accessory Store 

In February of 2010 I wrote Part 1of this story. Since then several members of our HOG chapter came to the same conclusion: that the ability to communicate would greatly improve the group riding experience. Four female members, including Diana, purchased the J&M handlebar mounted CB radio. Diana purchased hers used and was the third member of our chapter to own it (the two previous members were men who upgraded to CB equipped Ultra Classics). She got a good deal on it and it has worked fantastically. Some of our members purchased the J&M with the short antenna and found they had to replace it with a longer one. The only time Diana had a problem with her CB radio was when we stayed overnight in North Carolina and she didn’t put the cover on it. In the morning the condensation on it affected it’s performance for several hours before it dried out.

Midland CB 75-822

The J&M unit with all the attachments and antenna will cost in the area of $600. I was curious if I could find a more affordable system and purchased this handheld Midland 75-822 at $76.73 and a Cobra magnetic mount base antenna for $24.99 both from Amazon. I purchased a special motorcycle RiderComm-S1 headset that worked with the Midland at $89.95 from www.HiTechWireless.com

I spent a considerable amount of time and money trying to get the unit to work well as a mobile unit powered with the 12 volt cigarette lighter plug and utilizing a base antenna. In the end I found it worked best as a handheld unit powered by batteries with the short 7″ antenna. To say it works well in comparison to the J&B or the Harley CB’s would be a lie. It works just well enough for the absolute minimum of communications but not good enough for conversation. In the end I would have to say any amount of money spent to be able to communicate is well spent. However you will get what you pay for. I initially invested $200 and subsequently another $50 or so on antenna’s and antenna mounting brackets. The system does work and for $200 I would say it is worth it. If you can afford the $600 system I would recommend you go to www.CycleAccessoryStore.com and purchase the J&B.

TruckChamp.com 2010 Motorcycle Sweepstakes

American Custom Tone Flex System For Harley-Davidson Exhaust

This is an interesting product that appeals to me. First off it is a modification to the stock exhaust pipes so it is cost effective and it will appear to the authorities that your motorcycle is still equipped with the stock exhaust system that meets EPA standards. Secondly it is adjustable. You can change it from the full baffle system that is equivalent to stock sound, to a medium baffle system that adds a little rumble to completely removing the baffles for full thunder sound from stock pipes. Very convenient for switching back to stock sound before a DMV inspection. The company appears very customer friendly. You can order your tone flex system and send them your pipes for a core exchange/credit after you install your new ones leaving you with zero down time. If you prefer, you can send them your pipes and wait for them to come back with the tone flex modification. Full satisfaction guarantee. If you find this interesting check out their website at www.AmericanCustom.com