Friday, October 30, 2009

Last Ride

O Michigan! Thou art strange!

Weather was very nice Thursday and so, I took the bike out for a ride. It started beautifully, even after sitting for nearly 3 weeks without being ridden. Idle'd nicely, then I jumped on and headed out on the highway. Excellent throttle response, handling and braking.

I'm going to miss riding my bike this winter. I am pulling the battery this weekend, will have to get it set up on a trickle charger, and set it in the basement.


Monday, October 05, 2009


It's definitely Fall, that time of year when leaf colors start changing, brisk winds make riding uncomfortable and the monthly heating bill begins to rise.

In all honesty, I haven't ridden the bike much for the past couple of weeks, mainly Michigan's cold wet weather. As I stated earlier, riding in the cold is not only uncomfortable, but dangerous as well. With temps in the 40's (too soon, in my humble opinion) the car is a much more comfy option.

However, tonight I am riding my bike to work. I miss the old boy, and, since winter is approaching, I really need to take advantage of the occasional warm day. Soon, I'll have to prepare the bike for winter.

I'm already looking forward to next spring...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Riding to the Motor City tomorrow

I'm attending a stroke conference tomorrow and am taking the bike. It's quite a ride, should take me about an hour and a half to get there. I'm looking forward to the trip, since I haven't taken the bike anywhere for any distance in quite some time.

It's supposed to be a fairly nice day. My only real concern is carrying the jacket around with me all day. It's a bit heavy, but I can't go without it. I wonder if maybe there is somewhere to keep it once I get there.

I'll be taking some pictures and will post them here.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

26 Motorcycle Crash

Terrible news. A group of 26 bikers were involved in a massive motorcycle crash on Friday, September 18. According to the news reporting agency, A group of 26 motorcycles collided with two cars about 2:45 p.m. Friday on northbound I-5 two miles south of Wilsonville, according to Oregon State Police. Read all about it here.

The club is called Brother Speed, although speed doesn't seem to be a factor in the crash. They do many different charity runs including those supporting toys for tots, and have created many bad ass choppers.

That ride must have been a site to behold. Multiple choppers cruising down the highway, the roar of the engines, wind whipping through their hair.

Strength and Honor, fellow bikers. Get well soon.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Chill in the Air

Summer is definitely, indubitably, without question, nearly over.

I hate those words. I want the riding season to last forever (although if I lived in Florida, I could ride all year) but even I have to accept that when you freeze nearly to death as the frigid wind whips by your helmet, works its way into and through your heavier riding gear, it's time to consider other modes of transportation.

That's not to say I won't be riding anymore this year, on the contrary, I plan to ride every nice day that's left. The real issue is, how do I feel during and after the ride? Shivering when riding is not very fun, neither is the warming up period after.

Recently, it got pretty cold here, early in the morning. Although the bike started right up, cold weather is a Maxim's nemesis. 49 degrees may not sound too cold but when you factor in the wind chill, your body temp can drop pretty quickly. I checked my body temp when I arrived to the hospital. 96.8. That's a pretty sugnificant drop, and could even be considered dangerous were it to continue. Luckily for me, the weather warmed up later on, but wearing scrubs under my riding jacket is definitely NOT layered clothing. I've considered heated gloves, grips, a vest and chaps (cutting down on wind resistance) but some of that stuff is pretty pricey, and it is dangerous to ride your bike on snow covered roads (though I have seen it done. Someone with a Yamaha last year, in fact. I didn't envy them at all, rather, more like pity).

The occasional sunny day will shine through, allowing me respite from the prison of my 4 wheeled mode of transport, and on those days I'll take advantage of my 2 wheeled friend.

I've made a plan to take a road trip next year, and have started plotting my course on a map. Next year... there's always next year.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Been a while...

I've been riding my bike out to HGB the last few days, enjoying the morning run. I've met some very cool people whom I never would have guessed rode motorcycles. There was a 70 year old lady who seemed pretty proud of her Harley Davidson Wideglide. I never would have guessed. There was another gentleman who rode a Honda goldwing and was wearing a Blessing of the Bikes tshirt. I plan to attend that next year. They have one in Hell, MI. Being able to discuss things like riding motorcycles with patients is very therapeutic. It puts them at ease, making what I have to do to them that much easier.

I only wish my gas tank were bigger. Having to fill up every hundred miles or so is a real pain. Then again, I suppose I could just run out of gas then push the thing to the gas station.

I think my plans for a road trip are out for this year. Money is a little tight, even though I am picking up extra... grr. Anyhow, nothing to be done about that.

I talked with VK today and he is still having trouble with his virago. I know he'll get it sorted out soon. I am going to help him out with tuning his bike in the next few days, using the color and carb tune.

Good times.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Eyes on the prize

I've been riding my bike pretty much everywhere, to work, running errands, you name it, I've probably been there on my bike. I ran out to MaxExplosion's home to return his socket I accidentally took home with me, and to check up on him. Although he's been slacking a bit on working on the bike, considering his situation, I suppose I can't blame him. The bike is covered under a tarp, so is at least out of the elements. He plans to get back to work on the bike soon.

I've been riding out old Lansing road rather than taking the highway to Charlotte, just because I'm not so interested in speed on the motorsickle, but rather enjoying the ride and the scenery. There are a few twisties to navigate, as well as 2 different motorcycle shops. I plan to stop in at them this coming week. I plan to ride my bike out to Charlotte as much as the weather will allow.

I took my bike to the movies recently and had to do some adept weaving to avoid people in cars (I refuse to use the word "cagers" in reference to those who drive cars.) to avoid winding up road kill. I am scared when I see the number of people eating, reading, texting and just generally not paying attention. I'm sorry to say it, ladies, but your gender is the most guilty. Stop messing about and pay attention to the road. As a motorcyclist, all of your attention has to be on the road, in front of you, behind, and both sides, as well as angles diagonally from you AT ALL TIMES. My head never stops moving as I look all around me, looking for possible dangers, calculating the angles of escape, the routes to travel if something were to go amiss. Why can't those in cars do the same?

Eyes on the prize, indeed.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Riding into Charlotte this
morning was a beautiful yet eerie experience. Fog rolled across the tarmac in gossamar strands, giving the illusion of rolling on through the clouds. I am still sitting in wonder at a local McD's reminiscing about that awesome experience. As the sun rises into the sky, the fog
Is slowly dissipating.

I imagine work today will be fraught with excitement and non-stop action as I do my part to save the world from it's own excesses. But a big part of me wishes to be back on the road, the brisk morning air whipping at my jacket, pushing it's way past protective barriers, sneaking in under my helmet. Giving the biker salute to other passing motorcyclists. It's a shame that those riding in square prisons don't give the occasional wave to other inmates, trapped behing glass and steel, moving ever onward to fulfill whatever destinies lie in wait.
Enogh waxing poetic, I suppose. Off to work I go...


Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Cold Weather starting and Viragoking

I can't tell you how ecstatic I was when my bike started right up these last few nights. The temperature has dropped significantly in the last couple days. With just the slightest nudge of the choke, the bike fires up with a blip of the throttle. It's important to have the setting correct because too much choke and it doesn't start well at all, likewise not enough. I find that setting it to just before the E on the word choke is just right. However, if I run the bike too long with the choke on, the bike will stall out, a frightening occurrence at 70mph. So, once the bike is warm, I make sure the choke is off.

I plan to clean the bike up today, polish the chrome and wax the parts that need waxin'. It's nice out, even if the weather is in the low 70's. Great riding weather (which will come either before the cleaning or after...)

I found a set of coils on ebay for 9.99 recently for my friend Viragoking. He had a bad run in with another so called "bike mechanic" who apparently didn't do all he said he did on VK's bike. Needless to say, the coils fixed the problem, and, according to VK, the bike fires right up. In fact, yesterday he called me from Dimondale on his bike, ecstatic about how his bike was running. I wish him safe running, and look forward to a ride with him soon.

It's nice to be able to help someone out and get their bike running properly. Of course, he did almost all of the work, and I can only imagine the restoration he is going to undertake on his bike. With some polishing and paint, that bike is going to rock.

I'm still wavering on the handlebar idea. I like the look of the one I picked out, but the re-wire has me a bit worried. I'm sure I'll work it out.

If all goes well, I'll have some pics of my trip. I was hoping VK would be able to join me, but alas, I believe he is working today. Speaking of that, I am working tomorrow, and if the weather holds, I'll be riding my bike out to Charlotte again. It only took me about 25 minutes to get out there last time. I need to remember to bring that socket with me so I can return it to MaxExplosion. I haven't heard anything out of him in a while, and even kidded him a bit about buying his bike.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Blame it on the rain...

I worked in Charlotte today at a Heart Station doing cardiac stress tests, knew rain was coming but took the bike out anyway.

The ride out was good, a little chilly, but since I wore the heavier of my 2 bike jackets (a rugged Teknic jacket, armored elbows, shoulders and back, plus a little butt plate.) which worked flawlessly. No cold at all. Of course, I remembered to close the vents... Leather riding gloves, helmet, and I was all set.

Anyhow, the ride out was great, no rain, roads were fairly clear but I could see storm clouds off in the distance and a reddish cast over the sky. You of course remember the old bike slogan: "Red sky at night, biker's delight, red sky in morning, biker's take warning." I made it out to Charlotte without any problems and stopped in at the local Big Boy restaurant for a quick breakfast. I decided on the buffet because I really didn't have a lot of time, and now in retrospect, I wish I hadn't. Then again, this isn't a food critique, but the food was terrible.

Anyhow... I worked my shift (great folks out there) and hopped on the bike. Overcast, but no rain, yet. Taking off, I jumped on the highway and felt what I thought was a raindrop on my chin. Soon thereafter, the rain starting coming down a little harder, then a little more hard, until finally it felt like tiny bullets hitting my legs (which were not, as you may have guessed, protected by any sort of armor coverage.) My helmet is a simple 3/4 job, face guard in place, chin strap attached, but it does offer adequate airflow, thereby avoiding the problems I had with my last helmet, constant fogging of the glass. However, with the rain coming down, and my hot, steamy breath, I was fogging up my faceplate pretty quickly. Rain covered the front, but by turning my head to either side, the speed I was traveling helped clear away some of the moisture.

The bike itself performed excellently, great throttle response and control, although a couple times it felt as if the bike were floating, which, I suppose, a lightweight bike might be more prone to hydroplaning than a car. The tires did their job, however, and I never lost control once.

Near the Waverly street exit, there was an accident that closed one lane, so as I sat on my bike, in the rain, I became very, very wet. The nice thing about traveling at speed is you still get wet, but I believe it's a bit like a blowdryer, keeping you drier than you would be walking. The bike got a good drenching, but those new coils did their job,the bike never sputtered once.

Yesterday, I repaired the screwed up side cover that I neglected mentioning due to my incompetence. Somehow, during one of my assists with my fellow bikers, a few drops of carb cleaner or carb dip landed on the side cover that covers the tool kit. As you can imagine, it ate through the paint in no time. My friend DW in Pinckney offered to help me repaint, but he's pretty busy getting his own bike up to speed, so I didn't want to be a bother. I applied 3 coats of primer, sanded, then a base coat of gloss black, allowing time in between for each coat to dry. It looked pretty good, until I applied the clear coat. For some reason, whether humidity or inexperience, the clear looked hazy. Applying more clear coat made the problem worse, so I removed all of it by using brake cleaner and wd40 and sand paper, starting over from scratch.

The second time looks much better, though not nearly as glossy as the tank, it looks much better than it did.

In the next week or so, I am going to replace my handlebars. I noticed that while riding, my arms feel cramped, and too close together. I am a bigger guy, so that could be part of the problem, but they also look dated, rust on certain areas that no matter how much attention I pay to it, it remains, scuffed and scratched from years of abuse from the PO. I went to CBS yesterday, and they have a few in stock that might work. My fear is in clearing the tank. Risers don't seem to be available, although I'm sure chacal might have an idea.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


I rode to Williamston yesterday and was surprised at the quaint little town loaded with motorcycles. Lots of parking and lots of things to see, this little burg will be a place to visit again in the near future.

I stopped for lunch in a place called Country Kitchen Restaurant (bringing to mind Country Kitchen Buffet) but the food was anything but mundane. I had to park my bike down the street because there literally was no place to park in front of this restaurant. There was, however, a

great looking Can-am Spider, as well as a few Goldwings and a Harley in attendance. Of course, the ear-splitting rumble made me fear for my hearing.

There are a number of sites to see in Williamston, small shops and restaurants, but a number of empty buildings too. Guess Williamston is like many other small towns, struggling to get along.
The roads were in good repair,and quite a bit of effort has been taken to get the buildings to look "small town/quaint urban". As I mentioned, there were a lot of bikes travelling back and forth, riders in groups of 2 or 3. Primarily Harley's, though I did see a Yamaha.

I really wish I could have taken a pic or two of my bike; I'll have to make that a priority in future posts. The bike ran really well, seeming to enjoy the highway a bit more than in town/25mph cruising. I've noticed that my gas cap leaked a bit of gas after the fill up. Luckily, no damage was done to the tank, but I can't help but wonder about replacing the gasket. I'll have to look into that.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Hittin' the Road

I took a road trip through Eaton Rapids to Jackson recently, hitting the backroads, (that is, rather than taking 127S.) I'm glad I did. The roads were in good shape, and I saw a few things that will require a repeat trip.

Outside the small burg of Tompkins Township, I found a interesting site. Suspended between 2 posts was an old motorcycle, possibly a Yamaha, just swaying in the breeze. Just beyond that, the motorcycle shop Flywheel. I so wanted to stop and take a picture, but I was past it before I could slow down, and I had no where to turn around, so I decided to take a snappie of it on my way back. It didn't work out that way, as I ended up taking 127N all the way back. I'll definitely make a return trip, however. While the town of Tompkins didn't really have much to offer, the roads were hilly enough to keep it interesting, and the scenery was pleasant. Lots of roadkill, especially raccoons, though deer crossing signs were liberally dotted along the road. There were a number of other bikers out on that same stretch of road so it must be a favorite.

Definitely will be taking another trip soon.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Engine Guards and coil covers

A while ago, I replaced the failing coils on my bike for brand new dyna coils. Unfortunately, it required removing the chrome covers, leaving a bright green coil that really stood out against the black frame. Using a bit of ingenuity, I finally figured out a way to attach the coil covers back on the bike. I trimmed the edge of the cover to fit around the posts on the coil, then attached them with Velcro! Easy fix! And, it looks great!

I also acquired some engine guards on eBay which I also installed today. They were originally chrome, but pretty rusty. A few coats of rust inhibiting engine paint, and viola! A place to install highway pegs! Oh, and of course they'll also protect my bike if it happens the fall over. :)

So, the bike is coming together. I checked all my plugs today as well, and they all look pretty good. Only one is a little rich, the others are the nice golden brown color, not unlike a well tended marshmallow over a fire.

I've been riding my bike to work, and have been very happy with the way it responds. It fires right up, even when I use too much choke (which I am using with increasing proficiency. Less is more). I plan to take a road trip here very soon, as the riding season is passing by alarmingly fast. The ride that was planned for Bill was canceled after his death, but there has been talk of a memorial ride for safety. If so, I am there.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Viragoking returns! And, gas is right out...

I stopped over to Viragoking's house today to check in with him about the purchase of the Maxim650. He wanted my opinion about what I thought.

The 650 was in pretty rough shape. It's a 1980 "daily runner" and looks the part. Exhaust will eventually have to be removed and replaced (rust, pitted corrosion and the posts look as if they have no thread, so getting them off is going to be a lot of work), the left rear shock is leaking oil. Carb boots loose (easy fix, but he runs it like that, sucking in dirt and debris, so who knows how the inner carbs look) manifold boots in poor shape, Suzuki headlight, aftermarket plastic mirrors, aftermarket exhaust... the list goes on.

I'm not one to say no to a good deal, but this guy wanted to trade VK for his 1985 xv700 which just had a lot of work done to it (new starter, jets, carbs rebuilt, new boots, plugs, speedo and more) plus he wanted VK to replace a poor coil. Come on! No way, dude.

He decided instead to keep the virago, and get it running. Good idea. I'll help! There is a set of coils on ebay that I've bid on... I hope I win and that they aren't too expensive...

In other news...

I was riding FauX yesterday, marveling at it's superb handling, it's agile maneuvering and snappy throttle response when suddenly, it started sounding really, really bad. NO matter how much throttle I applied, the bike refused to respond. I checked the odometer and noted 118 miles on the ticker (wow! nearly 47.2mpg!). I'd always wondered how far a full tank of gas would get me. Now I know. I rolled slowly off one side of the road, onto the shoulder.

Brothers, I'd run out of gas. And before you ask, no, for some reason my fuel indicator light did not come on, at least not that I noticed. I tried flipping to reserve, it fired once, then refused to run.

I was about 7 miles from home, no gas stations in sight. Sighing in resignation, I started pushing the bike in the direction I figured a gas station must be hiding. The temperature was in the high 80's, I had full riding gear on (what the heck was I supposed to do with my helmet? I ended up wearing it..) and I was trying to decide if I should park the bike and hoof it, or just keep rolling.

4 different individuals stopped to ask if I needed any help. 2 guys with a truck, and 2 cars. One of the guys with a truck were willing to help me lift it into the back of his pickup and give me a ride to a station (only 2 miles up the road). The other guy was willing to drive up to a station and get some gas for me. (he didn't have a gas can, and would have had to rent one/buy one... I couldn't do that to a kind stranger due to my inattentiveness.) I ended up using his cell phone to call for assistance. I didn't relish the idea of trying to lift the bike into the bed of the first guy's truck, but I was awfully impressed of his generosity.

I counted no less than 5 HD motorcycles that drove by me, 3 sports bikes and one Yammie of some sort. Sadly, none of them even gave me more than a passing glance. I ALWAYS stop and ask a biker if they need help. I think it's the law of the road. "Do unto others cause, brother, eventually it's gonna happen to you."

My assistance finally arrived. It took a fair bit of riding to get the crappy handling/throttle response issues ironed out. Before I got home, however, I was zipping along nicely.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Done and done!

Received my parts today! Bad news? I didn't take any pics of the oil pan gasket replacement! It wouldn't have been very exciting anyway, just very messy (which is one reason why I didn't take any pics... my hands were covered in oil.)

When we last left the bike, it was sitting with the exhaust on the worktable. I tried cleaning the pipes up a bit but they're pretty badly pitted. Let's just say they look better. I took off all the bolts holding the pan on, then had difficulty removing it from the bike due to a couple of what appear to be grounding connections. I also removed the oil sending unit which was bolted on with two bolts. Apparently you can remove this part without removing the oil pan, but of course I didn't know that at the time. Anyhow, it came off, with some coaxing, and I replaced the o ring.

There's a pretty good chance that the inside of my oil pan hadn't seen the light of day since it was installed. After I cleared away the sediment. it looked brand new. I got intimately familiar with the different parts of the oil motor, not that I'll ever pull the pan off again. Scraping the old gasket off was a bit of a job. Especially upside down, But, I got it done.

I put the new gasket on the pan, after oiling the edge, and slipped it into place. It took a bit of finagling, and through the whole time I kept thinking that the gasket was slipping out of place. However, all was well.

The tough part was getting that exhaust back in place. After prying out the old gaskets (and let me tell you, they were wedged in there tight) I put the new ones in place. Then, trying to line up the exhaust pipes to the header was difficult. They just didn't want to line up with the bolts. I finally had to loosen a few bolts lower down on the pipe, thereby adjusting the upper part of the pipe. I had my son help me put the pipes in place, and finally it was done.

I added oil to the bike, 3 quarts, and readied myself. I slipped some heavyweight paper under the bike, just in case of leaks, and started it up. It started right up, with a bit of choke, of course, and I warmed it up. I noticed a couple of drips, but hoped against hope it wasn't anything serious. It sounded pretty good (except for the squeak toy.. gotta pull those carbs off soon) and the oil continued to drip.

I took it for a quick run around the neighborhood and it ran pretty good, but when I got back, the oil continued to drip. I decided to pull the oil cover off and check to make sure there wasn't a break in the o-ring seal, and lo and behold, I noticed the oil filter was in backwards! Stupid rookie mistake.

It's now several hours later, and the bike still hasn't leaked. I am going to let it set overnight and check it in the morning. I psyched about having a bike again. Looking forward to riding it...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Viragoking is no more!

Spoke with my friend Viragoking yesterday. Seems like he found a great deal on a 1980 xj650 Maxim and will be trading straight up for his xv700 on Friday. It seemed he was having problem after problem with that virago, had a lot of work done on it, and still needed to do some more before he could get it on the road. We were going to use one of my old coils to replace one of his, but looks like we won't have to do that now. Those Maxim's are a dependable lot.

I keep thinking about my poor bike sitting out in the garage all alone, in pieces, and am eagerly awaiting the arrival of my new parts. I was reading up on chrome polishing and am going to try a few more things to remove some of the corrosion on the pipes before I reinstall. IT's not bad, and certainly not worn through, just not very visually appealing.

I also got an email from DW regarding his progress on his X. It looks even better than before! He's slowly putting it together, and I'm jealous. Beautiful work. I'm eagerly waiting to see the final product. He also offered up the use of his spray gun and the assistance to get my side cover painted (correctly, I might add). All I need to do is pick up some black paint and I'll be ready to rock.

It's hard to believe that Summer is nearly over. Although I often ride until November, it's strange how you can't wait for riding season to arrive, then lament it's passing far too soon.

If all goes well, I'll have my bike back on the road by Friday.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Tear down

Today's post is pretty pic heavy.

I did it. I pulled the exhaust off my bike, and accessed the oil pan. I was pretty surprised that the bolts came off as easily as they did. I've heard horror stories from other people who have had broken studs and all sorts of problems. Not so with this bike. In fact, the first set of bolts were loose, as in hand loose. Not sure why, but it made it easy to take off the first set. The rest required very little force to remove. Nonetheless, I will be applying a liberal amount of anti seize to those studs.

I ordered 4 replacement gaskets for the exhaust. There was literally no sign of the previous gasket on either the pipes or the manifold. I'm not sure what that means in terms of performance, but when the new set goes on, everything will be torqued to spec.

I hope the reinstall goes as easily.

I also replaced my oil filter bolt as it was pretty stripped. Oil change and filter change as well. Might as well do it all while that stuff is off. I'm going to be replacing pretty much everything that has the potential to leak, considering the stuff is 24 years old. It's held up pretty well.

As you can see from the exhaust collector, there is quite a lot of oil on top. None had dripped on the ground, but I still didn't like it being on there.
Hope this fixes the issue.

So, doing my daily inspection of my bike, I've noticed oil leaking from somewhere down below, ending up greasing up my chrome pipes. I'm not sure exactly where it's coming from, and there aren't any drips on the ground under the bike, plus my oil level hasn't changed much... But I'm still going to change out the oil sending unit, the gasket, the exhaust seals and shine up the chrome near the manifold. I've been told I can ride the bike as is and wait until winter, but I can't do that. I'm also going to pull off the carbs again and check my manifold boot seals (since I'll have the bike torn down anyway). That squeaking is still with me, like an old friend, once the bike warms up.

Hopefully the guards will arrive in the next few days. I am going to be spending about $25 to fix the oil issues (deargodletitbesimple) and maybe another $50 to get some hiway pegs and I'll be good to go. It sounds like a really involved process pulling everything off but heck if I can do carbs this should be a piece of cake.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Raining like... well, heavy rain.

Lots of rain the last couple of days, and since I don't like riding in wet weather (not only for safety concerns, but also those wet pants legs drive me nuts) I've kept the bike in the garage. Waiting for my engine guards to arrive, just a bit of repair, and I should be good to start looking for highway pegs. There are lots available, some really expensive, some not so bad. Guess which ones I'm going to get?

Hope to do some riding today, if the weather holds. Kids are here, so I won't be able to go far.

I do want to start up with my Americana rides again, exploring little villes. Lots of little towns around here, and I've found some great twisty roads to ride. Will post pics as soon as I'm back on the road.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Newest Acquisition

I'm back! King's Island was a hoot! I didnt really go on many rides; my youngest had recently broken his right arm and wasn't allowed to ride, thus, we hung out, did a lot of chatting, munching and got a cool caricature done of the both of us. Very cool moments like that don't come around very often.

Driving through OhiO was an experience. No helmet laws! I saw a lot of guys riding lidless, some without even eye protection, at 70mph. Insane. I can't imagine what it must feel like getting hit in the face by a june bug at 70, or even a rock thrown from a semi. Lots of HD bikes on the road, though I did see some old Yammies. Mostly decked out HD's with so much accoutrements and accessories you could barely see the bike. Lots of HD dealerships down there.

I bought a set of engine guards off eBay. They are a little dinged up, having come off a wrecked Maxim X. One side has a pretty serious dent in it, but I think I'll be able to pound it out or bend it back into shape. The chrome is pretty scuffed, but again, I think I'll paint it glossy black. These things are tough to find.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Off to King's Island!

I'm taking the kids and the SO to King's Island for the next 2 days, so won't be doing a lot of writing. I've always wanted to go (even though I am not a big roller coaster aficionado).

I did take the bike out for a nice ride last night, zipping down the highway (at posted speed limits) driving a bit around town. The squeak toy is still in the engine somewhere, and I fear a carb removal is in my near future. That's not a big issue, of course, now that I can get them off in a matter of 10 minutes or less. It's just that the bike is running very well... I hate to mess with anything.

I think when I get back I am going to buy those tank and side cover decals, of course, after I repair the damage I did to the one side cover. I've gotten a number of tips from DW, and plan to get that plastic shining like new again.

I do still plan a bike trip sometime this summer... perhaps after this trip. Even $20 in gas can get me places. I get nearly a 100 miles per tank, though whenever I get close to 90 on the odometer, I tend to look for the nearest gas station, and usually the low fuel light hasn't kicked in yet. One of these days, I am going to take it all the way to reserve and get an exact figure in terms of gas mileage. As it stands, I think I get about 42-45mpg.

Wish me well, and I will do the same to all of you. See you when I get back.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

A Sad Day

Though I never met the man in person, William "Bill" Schmitt will be missed. He was involved in a motorcycle crash where someone turned in front of him. Massive head trauma, even though he was wearing a helmet, and another life is snuffed out. This makes me very sad, and a little angry too.

Being an ER nurse, I knew things weren't looking good when he was only breathing 2 times a minute unassisted. That, coupled with other diagnostic signs (rising ICP, decorticate posturing) led me to believe the prognosis was not good. I was going to help out on a XJ relay for this man, riding the leg between Grand Rapids and Metro Detroit. Many people from the xjbikes site were going to do a cross country ride to deliver get well cards and mementos. Now, a memorial ride is being discussed.

I spoke with bill via email through the xj site, him offering information on how to get my bike running better, tips and tricks that helped me get my bike to where it is today. He was kind and compassionate, a friend to motorcyclists everywhere, always quick with a word of advice or just a simple hello to new members.

bill, you will be missed.

In other more positive news, the newsletter is nearly complete! I'll be publishing this September for sure. I plan to offer it through this blog as well as through xjbikes. A few more simple things to do, and it'll be ready to go. This is the front cover. I plan to have a 2 page, back to back news-zine. A couple people have offered their services for writing articles. I plan to have a few beginning to end restoration projects featured.

I love it when a plan comes together.

Friday, July 31, 2009

New Projects

I've decided to start a little newsletter called "Yama-zine" based on the XJ series of bikes. Here's my pitch to the xjbikes crowd:

Years ago, I wrote, edited, proofread and published a martial arts newsletter called FiST that ended up going to Scotland, Africa and Russia, as well as across the United States. I ended up getting articles from people all over the world. It was pretty successful for a made at home job with a type writer and an exacto knife. Very Happy

I've been working on a newsletter based on the XJ Series of bikes, specifically 1982-86, called The Yama-zine. Basically, I plan to put to paper all the things I've learned about motorcycles (should take about 3 seconds) as well as hit people up for articles or at least permission to re-print articles found on this site. There are lots of XJ's in my area, and I feel this is a way to reach out to some of them, gives me something to do (besides polish my bike) and maybe help someone who doesn't have access to a computer and are clueless about this website. It's free, will be mailed to whomever wants a copy, and is strictly non-profit. I plan to put it in any business that will have it, free to peruse, and hopefully won't be used to mop up coffee or to kill bugs.

Anyone interested in contributing, I am willing! Obviously, no copywritten material. I'm more interested in the back yard mechanic anyway, plan to have a section based on Mods/Bobbers, a Honored Fallen section, Rubber Side Up (a section focusing on crashes people walked "away" from) and much, much more. Plus riding tips, clinics, get togethers, riding buddies (a kind of personals section for people to get together and ride based on location).

It'll be a simple black and white job, no corporate sponsorship, but possibly cheap ads for interested businesses to cover the cost of paper, supplies, printing and copying. (Looking right at you, XJ4Ever, and you too, MiCarl) I'm fairly handy with Photoshop, so I can whip up something, unless you have something specific you'd like to use.

Again, this is based on my love of bikes in general, but specifically XJ's. Certainly Honda's Kawasaki's and even Harley's are welcome to read it.

Not much reaction from the crowd over there, but then again people are kind of reeling from a recent accident involving one of the members. I've already got the cover page done, and I'm guessing it'll be a 2 page double sided newsletter.

I also went on a short road trip with Nursepadawan, an interesting fellow with a Maxim750. We rode around town, but I had no plan on where to go. Of course, the ride was thrown together at the last minute, but we did manage to cover about 35 miles, I think. If you see a distinctive red Maxim750 with a rider wearing a white helmet with a stormtrooper on the back, that's the guy. We talked about setting up another ride soon, perhaps to Jackson. He seems like a good riding companion, didn't take any risks and stayed the speed limit. I didn't go over 75 myself, staying with the flow of traffic. Nice to know he's not a speed demon.

I'll be posting the newsletter in pdf format as well as paper. If anyone wants a copy, they're free for the taking.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I've been to Hell and back

Drove out to Pinckney today to check out DW's paint job up close and personal, and pick up my sunglasses I forgot the last time I was out there. Since I had some time to kill, I thought, why not go to hell?

I had lunch at a little place called the Dam Site Inn, more a pub than an Inn, but pretty decent fish and chips. They serve a mean buffalo burger too, I've heard. Apparently, this place is pretty popular with the Harley crowd that comes riding through as a lot of things seemed catered to our 2 wheeled comrades.

Hell doesn't appear to be very big. They did have a pretty cool place called Screams Ice Cream, a specialty shop that uses the town's peculair name in just about everything they say. "Welcome to Hell! Have a hell of a day! See you in Hell!" By the end of the visit, I had come up with a couple of my own interpretations for sayings based on the name, but I doubt they would be delivered with the same friendliness as that exhibited by the shopkeep. I bought a coffee mug there, and perused their t-shirt selection, but couldn't find one I really liked.

I enjoyed this little town. Bikers seemed welcome, and the people very friendly.

I made my way to Pinckney and got to see the excellent paint work done by Mr. DW. Unfortunately, a couple of fluffs/down from a tree had ended up on his tank, but he's pretty sure he can buff most of it out. I still think he did an awesome job. He gave me some ideas of things to do with my bike, as well as tips on how to go about getting it done.

I'm looking forward to seeing it put back together. I know it'll be stunning.

Bike has a new name: FauX

I decided to christen my bike FauX, after all, it resembles an X, and when I first went out to purchase it, I was told it was an X, but, it is not an X, a fact I will deal with. I considered, briefly, buying an X instrument cluster, a bolt on faux radiator, and 2 of those 5Valve chrome carb covers, but the fact remains, it's not an X.

Not to mention, changing out the cylinder head would be a LOT of work. :)

So, I'll stick with my little FauX, keep on shining, polishing, tinkering, until I can't do anymore.

Then, I'll do some more. There is one certainty in the universe, one constant that remains above all others: There is ALWAYS something to work on with a bike that is 24+ years old and counting. Cleaning dirt out of the creases. Touching up the minor rust that forms on the bad welds in all the corners, cleaning each indivdual wire from the harness until it gleams and screams new, cleaning all the contacts... you see where I'm going with this.

I plan on taking a ride out to Pinckney today and visit DW and his newly painted X. I plan to bring my camera and take some of my own photos because, frankly, I can't believe his bike parts can look that good. I'm also going to visit Hell, MI, if for no other reason to get one of those t-shirts that proudly proclaim, "I've Been To HELL."

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Random Thoughts

Rode the bike to work tonight, sunny weather, beautiful ride in. Bike fired right up (with minimal choke) and ran pretty well. I think I'll be doing a tune soon, since I know that those carbs could use a but more tweaking. Well I just heard there is the possibility of a severe thunderstorm tomorrow morning. I mentioned a couple of posts back that I was curious to see how the bike handled in the rain. I guess I'm going to find out.

A friend of mine ( the same fellow that helped me with my stuck pilot screws a couple of months back) just painted his tank and fenders. They look absolutely fantastic! I'm so jealous of the job he did. I wish I could have done that with my X so many years ago. His painting looks professionally done. Take a look. Absolutely amazing.

RT's bike is ready for some rehab. His link is here on my page. He's really taking off, though it might be a while before he's able to ride it. It does need new tires. The carb boot fix worked really well on his bike, a bit of tuning and some other tune up stuff and he'll be rolling.

I tried contacting Viragoking, but he's unavailable. I may take a ride out to his house to see what's up. He's the guy with the xv700. Hope everything is okay with him.

Wish me dry skies. I don't mind getting wet but I'm concerned about my tires and traction. I'll just drive slow.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Unrealistic Expectations

I often peruse the Craigslist ads in my area for motorcycles, not that I'm looking to buy one, but just to see what people have for sale. Of course, I found my current bike while searching the lists, but the fact remains there are a lot of motorcycles out there for sale... unrealistic prices.

Yesterday, I took a quick ride up to a local used/new motorcycle retail business that specializes in Kawasaki's and Honda's, but their used bikes include Yamaha's and Harley's as well. What I find shocking is the price being asked for a used bike.

Example: A Suzuki Intruder 1400 with 46,000 miles, seat is in pretty rough shape, pipes rusty, paint faded and who knows what mysteries await in the engine: $2495.00

Example: A 1987 Honda 250 Rebel, 7017 miles, $1800.00. Granted, there are very few miles on the bike, but still, it is only a 250.

Example: A 2002 Honda 1800 VTX in terrible shape, gas tank will need replacing, was obviously down and down hard (aftermarket accessories are toast) $5995.00

Craigslist isn't much better. There are literally dozens of motorcycles for sale everyday, many of them Harley's but used bikes should not be sold at new, retail prices. I often think that the asking price is a starting point. Now, no one can blame anyone for wanting to get the most money they can for their ride, but there has to be some room for bartering, especially in this economy.

There usually isn't.

People get sentimentally attached to their bikes, and foster unrealistic expectations when it comes time to sell it. Once in a great while you run into a deal, usually someone looking to unload their old bike because they just bought a new one and don't have room for both. It's usually these kinds of bikes that need the most work. Poor maintenance, rust on pipes, fading or scratched paint, dents in the tank. These are all things that can be repaired, but the bike usually ends up nickle and diming the new owner to the poorhouse.

Perfect example, my bike. While it is currently a paragon of what all bikes should aspire to be, it started out as a money pit. I paid 800.00 for it. $150.00 for new coils, throttle cable, screws to replace those that were stripped and accessories (including a YICS tool) 130.00. Pilot jet: $15.00 (that one hurt) spark plugs (6 sets) $66.00 Fuel line $19.00 (a rip off.. don't ever buy the blue inner core fuel line. It disintegrates). Paint and wax/bike cleaner: 45.00.

Total? 1210.00 plus I still need new tires (you should never buy those used.. :) that will run close to $300 when all is said and done. That puts me at 1510.00. Count in all the hours I have worked on this bike, alot has been invested, let me tell you, I wouldn't take less than 1800.00.

Unrealistic? Yes. That's why I never plan to sell this bike. I'll run it until it no longer runs, then part it out, passing on the parts to needy xj700 owners everywhere.

Be on the lookout for good deals.

Caveat emptor.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Questionable squeak

I posted a question on xjbikes about this squeak that's been plaguing my bike for the past week or so.

If you listen carefully, you can hear the squeak-squeak-squeak slow down as the engine slows down, which leads me to believe it's not the carbs, but then, that's just a guess.

The engine itself sounds terrible this close up... please excuse the grinding of gears. I'm more concerned about that damnable squeak! :)

I must admit, I am completely stumped. I've checked all my screws, they all seem to be tight.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

How much is too much?

Okay... I'm starting to wonder if maybe I'm overdoing it with the polishing. When will enough be enough? I guess when it's done, or I wear a hole in the plastic/aluminum. :) I admit that's not the best pic of me, but it does show, in detail how much work has gone into parts on this bike.

I wonder if I can clean up that hook on the helmet holder?

This side is coming along nicely, although it's not quite the mirror finish I'd like to have, it is much better than it was now that I've gotten the majority of the old clearcoat off.

It's weird, but in pictures, you can really see the spots that you missed. I guess that'll be a job for another time.

Weather is pretty wet today, which negates any riding. I don't like riding when it's wet, though I must admit, I'd like to see how the coils handle being wet. I suppose I could just throw some water on there while it's running...

Some interesting designs on that Yamaha cover...

All Right RT!

My friend RT got his Maxim running! He re-installed the carbs and fired it up. Other than a few oil issues, it sounds like he's on his way! Congrats!

I made another contact with yet another xj700 owner, this one out of Detroit. Nice fellow, beginner biker but it sounds like he's doing great!

Weird small world we live in. :)

I worked a bit on polishing up my side covers yesterday. Still have a long way to go before I get them mirror smooth, but it's getting there. I'd love for the both of them to match my tank. Also took it for a short ride. Plugs look pretty good! Still a bit lean, but I am supposed to do a color tune. Not sure why I keep putting it off. I'm sure part of it is I am leery of burning my hands again. You need the bike at it's normal operating temperature in order to tune it correctly, and the way the plugs are set up make it difficult to NOT get burned. But, I consider it a necessary sacrifice.

More later.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Is this fair?

Well, I finally decided to get proper insurance for the bike.

$387.00!!! For one year!

That is completely outrageous! I have a perfect driving record! No tickets in the past 7 years! No accidents in the past 15 years! Yet, because I had a "lapse" in coverage (I sold my Kawasaki Vulcan and was bike-less for a while) they are penalizing me for not being covered during the time I didn't have a bike. My previous insurance was about $230.00.

Does this even make sense? This is wrong, on so many levels.

Yet, what can I do? If I want to ride in MI, I have to pay the price. Believe me, I understand the need for insurance, but this seems a bit excessive to me. Why should I be penalized for not having coverage when I didn't even own a bike during that period?

..sigh.. Rant over. Guess I'll pick up 3 extra days at work to cover it.

The bike is looking better and better. I have to pull the plate behind the gearshift off and get that all buffed up, replace the ignition cover screws and possibly paint the carb hats. I have been considering this because the chrome on my bike isn't looking too good after 24 years.

A glossy black might look good.

Took it out for a ride last night, just around the neighborhood and stopped by a friends vacation house. They asked me if I got a new gas tank! That's a high compliment as far as I'm concerned. The tank is looking very shiny. I've been thinking about blinging it up though. There are lots of very cool graphics that you can apply easily. I was thinking something skull-like. Here are a couple of ideas:

I want to do something different than just flames, or some kitschy design. (tribal art is cool, but just doesn't look right for a bike). This design is from Weston Signs, Inc. right here in MI (Webberville, to be exact). Only $10 with free shipping. I'm also looking for some skull hand levers to match the theme. Something like this:

In other news... Hey Eric! You wrote a comment on my blog a couple of days ago and I sent you an email in response. I'm not sure if you got it or not, but I'd be happy to help you out with your bike (even cleaning and polishing!) or repair. I'm also looking for riding partners. If you're interested, just email me!

Lots of rain expected in the next couple of days. Might put a damper on my riding, but will give me a chance to paint those carb hats. I'll post some pics of the progress.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Talking 'bout bikes...

Joined another website dedicated to bikers last night, called, lots of members, lots of discussions there. Not that I need another distraction. :). It has all sorts of bikes, not just specifically the xj/xs series.

You never can tell what the weather is going to do here in MI. I swore it was going to rain the past few days, huge thunderheads forming but only a light drizzle of the stuff. Good for riding but tends to make it a little chilly first thing in the morning. I'm still planning a road trip of some sort just not sure where or when. Sometime this week I am going to start hitting small town America (in MI anyway) and snap some pics, maybe try out the local cuisine.

I'm kind of wondering what happened to viragoking. I haven't heard from him in quite a while. I wonder if he ever got that virago up and running right. I know he was having some issues with fouling of plugs, I hope he got it all worked out.

I may take a small ride today before work tonight, if the weather holds. It's easy to put rides off when you think the weather is going to turn bad, then kick yourself when you realize you missed out.

Amazing! I can now blog on the go from anywhere thanks to the power of the iPhone! Expect to see lots more from me! Soon pictures will be an option too!

Love that bike...

I love being able to come right out to the bike and hit the starter button and get a response from it. I rode the bike to work tonight and it had cooled off a bit when I was leaving, so I feared the worst (these bikes are known for being cold blooded.) Just to be on the safe side, I eased the choke up just a tad, hit the starter button and VRooooMMM!! The bike took off without me! I chased the sucker all over the garage, but it was sprightly and nimble, and I could hear it laughing as it easily outran me. Sometimes it would slow down and I would get close, but then it would speed right back up again!

I finally shouted MaTTE! (stop in Japanese) And the bike rolled to a stop.

The bike starts up great! Needs just a bit of choke (too much and it stalls out) and I am still learning where to put the lever. I'm still going to carbtune and colortune it here one of these days, but it seems a shame to do that when it is running so well. Why mess with perfection?

Perhaps that attention to detail is what makes the difference. I took the bike on a short ride before work tonight and get this rush of excitement when I roll the throttle and the bike takes off like a rocket. I've read that you should let the bike hit 6-7k rpms because that's where the power band lays. However, I'm not big into speed, but I do like to know if the bike can take off in a hurry if I need it.

I found the ignition decal. 7.95 (plus an exorbitant amount for shipping!) but at least I'll have a brand new sticker to fit on the bike. That guy chacal has everything you need to keep your bike in tip top shape. I'm thinking of buying one of those special screwdrivers too ($20!)

Making progress on the shining of parts. I have considered taking certain parts off the bike to shine them up (mainly the piece where the gear shift is, and both the ignition and oil pump cover) but so far it is looking pretty good. Eventually, I'll get it done.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Helping out a friend...

Headed back out to RT's today to help get the carbs cleaned and put back together. The clouds kept rearing their ugly heads, but we managed to put the last carb together, and the rain never did fall. His wife made a nice lunch for us.

The carbs were pretty dirty (as I think I mentioned) and we came to the realization that these can't be the original carbs based on the repairs and mistakes made on them by the previous owner. For a bike with only 3900 miles on it, it's hard to believe that someone would replace one jet (a wrong jet, at that) and one of the float posts was broken (but JB welded back together.) RT postulated that perhaps the bike had sat for a long time, and the PO sold the original carbs, then replaced them with this set. Needless to say, the carbs are looking pretty good now.

Next up is the reinstallation (I wish I had stayed a bit longer and at least installed them back on the bike). We'll reinstall the carbs, put the boots on, oil change, new plugs (check the plug caps for resistance) change the final drive oil and put a in-line fuel filter in. Then, fill it up with gas and ... oh yeah, recharge the battery.

Hopefully, with any luck, that wrong jet won't cause too much trouble.

Looks like some work with tin foil and diet coke is in order, RT. Lots of cleaning and polishing ahead, but it sounds like he know's what he's doing.

My bike, on the other hand, ran great all the way out there and back. Great acceleration, nimble and quick. Might be hard to take it on a long distance run though. My knees get cramped up and I think if I had highway pegs on, it might make a difference.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Little things mean a lot...

So I was doing some cleaning on my bike (surprise surprise) and noticed my ignition sticker is getting pretty beat up. In fact, it's downright rubbed clean, pretty much. So, I started searching for a replacement. Not as easy as it sounds. I looked through 1,347 selections on eBay, and found lots of cool stickers, but none that would work.

A friend from xjbikes said he would send me the link to a guy who makes them, though they sound like they'll be a bit pricey.

Shine on, you crazy diamond...

I got to work shinin' up the old bike today. Bought a little buffing and polishing kit from HF and used my drill to go to town. Looks pretty good, if I do say so myself. Of course, now that it's shiny, I can see which areas need more work.

I took a short ride today, but my mind was elsewhere, not really the best time to go riding. Someone from the XJ list recently died in a motorcycle crash, which brought home the fact that it can happen to anyone, and does. In this case, he had the right of way and was killed when he hit a car that wasn't paying attention and turned in front of him. The driver was fined $125.00 for failing to yield the right of way.

What's more distressing is that I met this guy at a carb clinic a few years ago. Nice enough fellow, and loved his bike. To see it laying on the ground brought reality crashing home for me.

That's not to say I'll never ride again, but I think of all the close calls I've had, the times people, talking on their cell phones or adjusting their radio's just drifted into my lane, or outright pulled into my lane. People slamming on their brake (luckily I follow the 2 car lengths rule, and not the 2 bike lengths rule.)

I feel bad for his family. Godspeed Thom Stagno.

In other news, RT started his own blog site (an excellent idea, if I do say so myself) and you can find it here: He pirated a few of my pics that I took, but no problem. It is his bike after all. ;-) I'm sure he'll be adding more of his own. I've been wanting to call him to see how it's going, but I don't want to disturb him.

I think I'll take a ride here soon...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

RT and his Maxim

Made it out to Charlotte on my bike, heavy side- bag thrown over one shoulder and didn't get rained on. It was a nice ride, and the bike performed really well.

Once I arrived, we got started right away. His bike is a burgundy/red 1985 Maxim. It was missing the carb boots, although the carbs were still on the bike. After wrenching a bit, off they came. (I've had lots of experience removing and replacing carbs...) Taking the wells off proved a little difficult, what with some of the screws pretty stripped. Nonetheless, they all came off, with all but one gasket intact. Those 25+ year old gaskets really stand up to the test of time. The other was a cheap aftermarket job that shredded. The inside of the bowls were pretty dirty, with most of the circuits pretty well fubar'ed. Carb #4 only had 2 screws holding it on.

The next 45 minutes consisted of wrenching screws, until all were finally exposed. Their insides were pretty dirty, and one of the float posts had been JB welded on, a clue that someone had gone before. (and broken something). The floats were pretty dirty, but overall, in decent shape.

What was not in decent shape was that air filter. Mice had made a home in the airbox, and the filter itself was in pretty rough shape.

A number of the pilot jets couldn't be removed without stripping them so we opted to leave those in. The main fuel jets were removed and the emulsion tubes extracted.

It was probably cruel of me to just leave a one armed man alone to clean those carbs all by himself, but I told him I consider it a rite of passage. He didn't see to mind, and has big plans for painting and cleaning getting the bike back up and running.

I opened up his crank case and peered inside. It looks as if it just rolled off the showroom floor, it's so clean.

In a couple of days, I'll go back and see the progress he's made.

Rain rain go away...

Well, I was all set to head out to Charlotte to help out RT this morning when I checked the weather report. Thanks Michigan. Heavy thunderstorms expected. The storm looks to be short-lived, but funny how the best laid plans go awry.

I did some painting last night, and I like the way it turned out. I painted my "chrome" hand levers a glossy black. I also painted the green coils a glossy black and entertained the idea of painting my entire engine black, but of course, that's a bit more than I want to get into right now.

Eventually, I plan on replacing the hand levers with chrome jobs, but for now, it makes the bike look more sleek.

The bike fired right up this morning... a taunt, perhaps? I don't know. My bike is behaving so well, I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop.

I don't have a whole lot of space in my garage, but everything is within easy reach. I have a lot of organizing to do, lots of boxes to move, stuff to get out of the way. Here's a pic of my workspace. Not the cleanest of environments, but it suits my needs for now.

As cheap as the stuff from Harbor freight is, it works for me. A lot of my tools came from HF, and there are still a few more I would like to get.

I've always wanted to try welding something...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

New Friends

So I was perusing Craigslist for motorcycles (not to buy, but you never know what you're going to find) and I came across a request for help. Here's what it said:

I have a 1985 Yamaha Maxim XJ700X with 3,900 actual miles. The person I got the bike from had the carbs rebuilt but when he put them back in he didn't have them hooked up right. I am hoping for someone who has a manual for this bike to PLEASE send me a diagram of the fuel and vacuum system. I dont have much money cause I am curently disabled and diability hasn't kicked in yet. If you can help me, great. If you can come hook them up for me would be even better. I have a few things I can give you for your time.

Being the nice guy that I am, and wanting play forward some of the help I've received, I wrote him an email and offered to help him out. Come to find out, it's not actually an X, but an xj700. The exact same bike I have, albeit different color and missing a few pieces. Here are some pics of the bike as it stands right now:

It's in excellent shape, although it's missing the carb boots (the fix for which is easy). With 3900 miles on it, she still has many years ahead of her.

The first thing, of course, will be to take the carbs off again and see what's going on in there. It's amazing the things PO's usually say they do to prepare their bikes for sale, but in reality, rarely is it true. The bike obviously hasn't been ridden much and appears to have an aftermarket paint job (the original xj700's only came in black and red... this almost appears orange, although that could be a trick of the light. Also, the Ignition cover appears to have come off an X (similar in style to that type of bike).

I'm looking forward to seeing what this bike can do. The guy sounds like a nice fellow.

He's in Charlotte... a bit of a ride, but I was just complaining not too long ago about not having any place to go. Now I do.

I'll post more pics once I get there and we start the tear down. With any luck, it'll be a difficult fix. :) I just hope not as difficult as mine turned out to be.

In other news, my bike is still running great! I noticed a bit of a drop in power, but I am sure it has to do with the tuning issue. My plan this week is to tune it 100%. I'm not sure why I always forget to use the YICS tool. It's running great without using it, I can't wait to see what happens when I actually employ it.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Not a lot new to report...

I've taken the bike to work every night so far, and I have to say I am very happy with the way it's performing. I still think I need to do one more carb tune, just to flush out any remaining gremlins, but overall, the bike fires up with nary a touch of the starter button, very little choke. I was showing my bike off to one of my fellow workers (who also happens to ride, I think a Kawi ninja) who was impressed with how the bike looked. He especially liked the shininess of the tank, asking me, "How many times did you wax that thing??" The bike started right up and he watched me ride away, giving me a thumbs up. Pretty cool.

I'm still considering a road trip here very soon. I haven't been to Canada since 2006, maybe I'll look up old Hap and see what he's up to.

Beautiful weather today. Sometimes, working nights is a pain because you miss out on great riding weather. Oh, I could ride all day, but then staying awake at night would be a trial.

I need to figure out a way to fashion some saddlebag brackets. I have a set of cloth saddlebags that fit under the back seat, but I fear they will rub against the tire. I know I've seen the directions for making your own. Maybe on Hap's site.

Yep, that's the ticket.

In other news, I've lost a bit of weight recently, which is only mention worthy because I've noticed riding the bike is more fun (and I don't have to stop as often for gas) and my jacket is a bit looser. I've lost almost 20#! Yay me!

I'll be riding more this week. If Michigan's weather holds up. :)

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Front forks DONE!

Well, I finally removed the 24+ years of accumulated grime/yellowed clear coat from the front forks. It was fairly easy and best of all, I didn't have to remove the front tire to do it. I've seen forks that shined like chrome, and I may do that at some point, but for now, it looks much better.

I need new tires. I keep saying that, but to slap down $200 for new tires is a bit hard right now.

So my next order of business will be the tires, and I might as well replace the wheel bearings too.

So much to do, so little time.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Where to go...

I was tooling around on my bike today and stopped into this little coffee shop called Coffee & Chocolate. Great coffee, but I've always wondered why coffee has to be so darned expensive. It can't be for the witty conversationalists behind the counter, although she was nice, she seemed more interested in flirting with this college frat boy than getting me my chocolate mocha espresso. However, good stuff.

I like just riding around, seeing the sights, but sometimes feel that I have nowhere to go. Jump on the bike and just ride. I really need to have a destination, someplace to go each time I ride so I don't feel like I am just riding around, going nowhere.

Well, as my requests for a riding partner have failed, I think I am going to start riding to different cities in Michigan. There are lots of little burgs, hamlets, villages, whatever you want to call them that deserve some attention. So, I'll have to come up with some witty by-line detailing this little pits of Americana.

Stay tuned...

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Took a little trip

I took the bike out for an extended ride today, to Portland, MI. Great looking little town with a real small town appeal. The streets had plenty of space for parking (no meters!) lots of interesting shops. I wanted to pull over and take some pics but there honestly was no place to do so. Of course, I was in the downtown area right at lunch time, so that may have had something to do with it.

I also found a cool little shop called 4 Seasons Yamaha that had several Yammies (1985 and newer) parked in the window. Lots of accessories, but alas, no engine guards for my bike. The shop owner was a nice fella (didn't get his name because he was busy) but he did say I have a nice looking bike. There were several Maxim's, a Seca or two and several others I didn't recognize. Ill be going back there at some point and will get some pics.

I also stopped into a little Chinese food place for lunch (so much for my diet) with a nice couple of owners who were very attentive. Lunch was cheap too!

The bike ran great! Nice acceleration, nice handling, but I do really need to get tires soon. I am picking up some extra shifts this week so I should be able to get them. The power boost (or Max Factor, as I like to call it) seemed more powerful at higher RPMs (over 6k) but pulled well through all gears and allowed accel up to 85 easily at one point to get around a truck that was kicking stones at me. Of course, the truck had to be doing at least 75 itself.

Saw several other bikes on the road, all very friendly. It's nice to wave and be waved at by complete strangers. I don't see many people in cars doing that.

More riding tomorrow!

Monday, July 06, 2009

Bike's running Great!

I know it's not nearly as exciting or dramatic, but the bike is running pretty well. I need to turn in the settings a bit since I am running a bit rich. The plugs aren't nearly as sooty as they once were, and one side of the plug isn't sooty at all. Not sure what that means, exactly, but as a wise man once said, "better rich than lean." The bike is looking pretty good, but I am eager to get started on the front forks to see if I can shine them up. I am wondering if I can do it without taking the wheel off. Might be risky, but with taping things off, it might be possible.

Beautiful weather today, but I am only going ot be able to ride my bike to work. Working nights definitely puts a crimp on the old riding plans, but I have the next 4 days off so I may take a road trip up north. I've been wanting to see Traverse City and Elk Rapids and I think with the stretch of nice weather over the next couple of days might make the trip worthwhile. I'll be sure to take lots of pics.

It's about a 2 hour ride, definitely a beautiful trip.

Hope my ass is up to it. It's been a while since I've ridden that far.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Happy Independence Day!

It's the 4th of July! Fireworks galore!

I'll tell you what really bugs me. I don't mind if people light off fireworks, if the make a constant nuisance of themselves for a couple days, but I do mind the piles of burned out fireworks husks left behind in the street when they are finished. Pick up your garbage, people!

I took the bike out for a run today. Very happy with the way it's running. I do still need to tweak the settings a bit because I am still running lean, even after turning them out a 1/2 turn. I'm out to 3 now, and think if I take it to 3.5 that should do it.

I've decided that tires will be my next big expenditure for this bike. The front tire is from 2002 (if the date is correct) and the back tire is from before that (possibly 1997). A 12 year old tire just will not do. The scary thing is, the treads are still good on them, and no sign of cracks, but somehow riding on tires that are that old is nerve-wracking.

I also plan to start putting the shine on the front forks. Viragoking has done his, and in keeping up with the Jones's, I must also shine mine to a mirror like finish. I've heard you can use aircraft stripper to start, then polish to finish them up.

I'll post pics as I go. Taking the tires off might be a good time to do it.

Friday, July 03, 2009

It's been a long time since I had a good running bike. I've worked for hours and hours tearing the carbs apart, checking valve clearances, oil changes, adjustments here, tweaks there. Finally, the bike is complete.

At least as far as the carbs are concerned. Roll Tape!

The pilot jet arrived today (pretty quick shipping if I do say so myself). and I quickly installed it. Due to previous injuries to my hands, it took me a little longer to get the boots installed, but I finally got everything hooked up and tank put back on.

It runs like a completely different bike. I took it out on the highway and quickly zipped to 70mph. Handles well, accelerates like it should, I did have to adjust the idle screw because after running for a bit, it was idling at about 3000rpms, but that was an easy fix. I have a little more tweaking to do, it seems I am running a bit lean. That, my friends, will be cake compared to what I've dealt with the last couple of weeks.

Now, new tires are in order, as well as possibly replacing the back brake. I am going to pull the tires off myself once I've saved enough cash.

Shouldn't take me too long.

I'm very happy with the way things turned out.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Sometimes, it's the little things.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Why, you ask?

Well, I stripped out one of my pilot fuel jets. Normally, doing such a thing would really send me over the edge. Do you know how hard (and expensive) finding a replacement is?

Let me start at the beginning.

After stripping said pilot jet, I jumped online, seeking a replacement. After getting a response from one of the fellows over at xjbikes, I found that the order of my mains and pilot fuel jets were all out of whack. The pilots were in place of the mains, and the mains were in place of the pilots. (The schnozzberries taste like schnozzberries, as my sons would say). THIS is the reason I could not, for the life of me, get my bike tuned, no matter how much I cranked out my pilot screws. Only one of the carbs were tuned, and wouldn't you know, it just happened to be the one who's spark plugs were the least fouled, and whose pilot to main configuration was correct.

I never, in a million years, would have thought to look at the little tiny numbers, so carefully etched, on top of these jets. I assumed the PO and all those who came before would never have touched these holy of holys.

Never assume anything when it comes to the mighty Maxim. That it ran at all was amazing.

Now, after spending nearly $15 on one tiny, little, insignificant, minuscule brass screw I am hopeful that this will be it. This will restore my bike to it's former glory, to it's mind numbingly fast state.

Waiting on the postman...

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Making Progress

It's been a rough couple of days for the old bike. I finally removed all the pilot screws and cleaned out the passages (some black gunk bubbled out... carbon?) and now only 2 of the 4 plugs are fouling, and even one of those 2 that are fouling don't look as bad as before.


Cylinder #4 is near perfect, if not a bit lean. Cylinder #3- worst of the 4. Heavy carbon build up Cylinder #2 cinnamon brown Cylinder #1 still a bit sooty, but not as bad as before.

I'm getting closer. I checked my fuel levels in the bowls (on the bike... not nearly as easy as it sounds) and they all appear within spec, but then my eye isn't nearly as skilled as someone who has done it before.

It's been a few days of frustration. The bike has poor throttle response, fouls quickly, and isn't much fun to ride. I know sooner or later I'll get everything set right, but it's a shame to miss out on this nice riding weather.

I've been pouring over the manuals, and I have a few more things I will need to do soon. Brake lines are original. I need to replace those soon. Rear brake probably needs to be changed soon, although the tang on the rear drum still has some room to move.

Oh yeah, also need to replace the tires soon. While I still have decent tread left, the tires are old... I know there is a way to tell how old. I'll have to look that up. I am going to remove the front and rear tires myself and take them in. It's cheaper than taking the whole bike in. The user manual shows you how to take them both off. While that's being done, I'm also going to change the wheel bearings.

I hope to have this bike done before the end of the riding season!

Saturday, June 27, 2009


So my friend Viragoking came over today, hauling his 1985 Yamaha Virago xv700. We knew there would be some carb work to do, since gasoline would pour out one of the carbs after shutting it off. Also, when the bike was running, fuel was shooting out the exhaust (never a good sign) He had "hired" someone to clean his carbs for him, but shortly after he got it back, it started developing problems again.

Cosmetically, the bike is in pretty good shape, a few dings in the tank, the fork seals need to be replaced, oil change, air filter, the basics... He's got a new seat on order, and is expecting it soon

Prepare yourself...

We pulled the carbs off the bike. Let me just say that I thought the xj700 carb set up was confusing at first, though with repeated removals, the job got easier. The xv700 has hoses and tubes running every which way.. but that wasn't the big issue.

Let me just say that the greenish looking diaphragm you see to your right was actually the better looking of the two. Yes, there are only 2 carbs on this bike. Viragoking thought the parts were supposed to be green ("I thought they were pretty green plastic"), but with a bit of 1000 grit sandpaper, some wd40, they cleaned right up.

This was supposedly after the bike had been cleaned for $100 by a professional. Not very professional if you ask me. The guy obviously didn't pull the diaphragms, nor anything else except the owner's leg telling him things were done. The crud in the bottom of the fuel well was years old, and it looked as if someone had taken a screwdriver and tried scraping the gunk out.

Now, the odd thing was, this bike was firing on only one cylinder, but ran pretty well, to hear Viragoking tell it.

The pilot jet was clogged with debris. (Actually, there wasn't anything that wasn't) Luckily, he had ordered a carb rebuild kit for 32.00 (total for both) that included absolutely everything we needed.

What amazed me most was that the bike was still running, even after we discovered a few surprises left by a previous someone. We don't know who, but there was a small cap bolt (the kind that usually is decorative that fits over the end of a bolt) left inside one of the vacuum tubes. It was obviously placed with malice because it took some doing to pry the little sucker out. If this was an attempt to toss the proverbial monkeywrench into the machinery by the same aforementioned loser who did such a great job cleaning the carbs the first time, I hope karma punches him in the nads.

Finally, this...

Friends, if this isn't a reason to always do the work yourself, I don't know what is. It's obvious by the condition of the emulsion tube that it has never seen the light of day outside the factory. That's a whole lot of crap on that tube. The emulsion tube had to be forced out of it's seating with a screwdriver.

The carbs were carb-dipped and lovingly attended to by Viragoking, using a toothbrush and sandpaper and carb cleaner to get every last bit of gunk. The looked spotless on the inside when he was done.

Rudely, I started working on the carb hat, showing a bit of shinyness with some sandpaper and WD40 and sweat to expose the aluminum underneath. I say rudely because I started the job... Now it's up to Viragoking to finish it. Knowing his attention to detail, I'm sure that won't be a problem.

While the carbs were taking a bath, we took a closer look at his spark plug boots. One of them was completely useless, no resistance noted with the multimeter (oddly, the same one that wasn't firing) so I pulled an extra boot out of my collection and hooked it up. The other cap and the new one read between 5.69-5.80. Primary coils and secondary coil checks were within spec (although I'll have to check with my online buddies... the readings seemed awfully high 26.9)

We finally got everything put back together (man, that was a lot of work to do in a small space!). The carbs were reattached to the bike, the boots held in place with new clamps, his intake boots... well, that's going to take a bit more work. Pouring over the schematics, I can't find the gaskets that should be between the manifold intake boots and the manifold. Perhaps there isn't one? From the looks of the boot, however, there was something there at one time that appeared to be a gasket, but I can't find it. Pilot screws were set to 2.5 turns out.

Viragoking had forgotten his key at home, so had to run and get it. While he was gone, I gapped his new plugs and changed them out, changed his gear shaft oil (it looked bad) and turned the bike around to ready it for it's first ride.

Not ten minutes later Viragoking was back with key in hand. Setting the petcock on prime, we waited a few moments before slipping the key in...

It started! A little rough at first, but that worked itself out. I jumped on my xj700 and away we went. We took a short run down the street and at the first corner, I asked him how it felt. With a gleam in his eye, he said something, but due to the decibel level of his pipes, I could barely hear a word. He had this crazy look on his face...

We took off around the corner and he kept up pretty well until the next light. Then, like a jerk, I took off while he stayed behind.

Not sure what was happening, I turned around to see what had happened. He was still at the corner so I pulled up and we pulled onto the motorcycle runway (the sidewalk) to find his bike was acting dodgy. Poor throttle response and needed choke to keep running. He pushed it back to my house (I wasn't going to push it!) and of course once we got there, it started up again. The next time we went out, his bike took off like a rocket. (kinda sounded like one too).

The bike has some tuning issues to figure out, and front fork seals to replace, possibly a new starter, but it's running really well, considering what it had just been through. Viragoking is a pretty cool guy whom I look forward to riding with in the future.