Motorcycle riding blues upside

Yes, there will be an upside: plenty of low-mileage motorcycles with a for sale sign on them.

However, don’t rush out with an eye to buy immediately. Wait until all those people that bought their motorcycles as an investment – and there are plenty – start to realize that a motorcycle isn’t actually an investment. Used prices will tumble faster than Ashley Dupré.

Motorcycle riding blues downside

Harley dealerships are starting to drop like flies. Santa Cruz. Wilwert in Debuque. And in Cranbrook, the authorized dealer there refused to finance a multi-million dollar hole-in-the-ground boutique to sell dog leashes, suspenders, doo-rags and t-shirts, thus the mother company declined to renew their franchise. That was a smart move on the part of the now-former franchise owners, given present economic times.

I’d say the more pressing problem is a lack of short term funding available for these dealerships to maintain access to cash flow. With sales down 60 to 70 per cent, cash flow is a dominating factor in a dealer’s viability. No cash flow, no business. Oh, and did you finance one of those fancy new boutiques to sell trinkets? You know, the ones the mother company forced you to build beside a major access point on a freeway or lose your franchise? Kiss that idea good-bye.

Second, I suspect that over the past ten to twelve years Harley’s aging market share took a lot of cash out of their homes to purchase those expensive toys and branded clothes because they wanted to look like a bunch of bad-ass boys. Well, it’s crunch time, folks, and with the housing market in the dumpster courtesy of the BushCo fools and their deregulation, you can kiss your motorcycle on the fender and wave goodbye when it’s repo’d.

I’m hoping the management at H-D still has a faint memory of their takeover of the troubled AMF brand in the early ’80s and has some idea of how to survive the current economic downturn. I’m not holding my breath, given that a new authorized dealership in Cranbrook has appeared in an appropriately shiny and new edifice, and is fully stocked with suspenders, doo-rags and dog leashes.

Good luck with that.

Motorcycle boutiques

I almost forgot about this.

In an earlier post I proclaimed how great it was that H-D dealerships would take a long-distance rider in and do things like oil and tire changes without appointments. And yes, it still is a great accomplishment for most dealerships.

Well, subsequent to the oil change that I received at that dealership in Winchester, Virginia, I happened to have run another 5,000 miles, thus a requirement to change the oil and filter back in August. Lo and behold, the dumbass responsible for doing that oil and filter swap in Winchester managed to completely screw it up.

No, there was plenty of oil in the bag. I checked that out in their parking lot before I pulled out.

Lets make a list.

  • After removing the magnetic plug on the oil pan to drain the engine oil, the maintenance tech proceeds to wrap Teflon tape around the threads and re-insert.

The stupidity in this is that there’s an o-ring on the plug to prevent leaks, thus negating the need for any kind of sealant on the threads. Additionally, Teflon tape isn’t a friend of oil, and it will dissolve due to the heat and composition, thereby causing possible blockage of an oil passage. There are proper compounds available to seal such plugs, but obviously the individual wasn’t aware of them, and whether they were needed or not.

  • When installing the new oil filter, the filter was torqued on so tight that on removal, the filter was attached to the adapter plug and it came off with the filter. Red Loctite is used from the factory to hold the filter adapter in place, so you can imagine the torque that the tech used to hold the oil filter in place.

I had to use a power bar to remove the oil filter, and as noted, the adapter nut came off with the oil filter. Now, attaching an oil filter is not rocket science. Whether it be car or motorcycle, you screw the new filter on hand tight, then apply a quarter-turn past that. Can someone show me where it says to torque down an oil filter so hard that you need two men and a boy to get it off?

Nope, didn’t think so.

So, while happy with the Winchester dealership’s ability to get me in and out quickly for a basic oil and filter change, I must take exception to the competence – or lack thereof – of their service department’s capabilities. Obviously, competent professional motorcycle technicians aren’t something Winchester H-D is capable of employing.

I thought of sending an email or making a phone call, but do I really care if they screw up their local customers’ motorcycles in their shop? They’re a boutique, after all, and what should one expect from a boutique other than doo-rags, dog leashes, suspenders and fingerless gloves?

Tired tires

Last fall I replaced my rear Dunlop 402 motorcycle tire on my ’95 bagger because of wear. The bike shop owner where I was getting the work done told me that the Metzler would last at least as long as the D402. A bonus for me was that the Metz was a bit cheaper than the Dunlop 402, so I told him to throw on the Metz.

Well, I should have known better when he also told me that mine was one of very few motorcycles he’d seen with so many miles on it. In fact, I absolutely do know the following:

  • not many riders put any miles on a motorcycle these days, and that is especially true of American-made motorcycles;
  • many riders don’t maintain their tires at the correct pressure, thus negating their self-inflated (if you’ll pardon the pun) tire mileage statements;
  • consequently, anything most riders tell you about motorcycle tires and their experience with said tires is bullshit, and not worth the time spent listening.

Why I didn’t listen to my own voice of experience, I’ll never know, but I do know this: I rode 5,000 miles less on the Metzler 880 than on my previous Dunlop 402.

Yes, that’s right.

Based on the 15,616 miles I put on my last Dunlop, I got 1/3 less on the Metzler 880 – a measly 10,432 miles.

I’m anticipating another 15,000 trouble-free miles with my new Dunlop 402 rear tire.

Here’s a link to a previous post about motorcycle tires.

Looking for a Metzler tire inflation chart? Go here.

Bearings can skate, apparently

On the road, I never stop at any of the H-D boutiques I fly by, unless I need an oil change or a part. I’m an oil-change fanatic in the sense that at every 5,000 miles (8,000 km), the old oil and filter gets dumped, no matter where I am. I use synthetic oil – anything but the H-D brand when I do it myself. After all, the engine in my bagger is air cooled, and the proven high temperature protection against oil breakdown provided by synthetic oil versus dino oil gives my engine all the heat protection that it needs.

Volumes have been written about the differences between synthetic versus dino oil. Early on in the motorcycle synthetic oil debate, mechanics would declare synthetic oil to be “too slippery” for the H-D evo and twinkie engines and their bearings, and thus “bearing skate” would occur. That statement was, and still is, a complete crock of shit, of course. Synthetic oil works just fine, and in fact, H-D now sells its own brand of synthetic oil which comes installed from the factory in many of their newest engines. How times change.

I must give the H-D dealerships their due. In most instances, their service departments will take a traveler just riding through and give him priority for things like tire changes in the event of a flat, or an oil and a filter change. My last flat tire was down south in New Mexico a couple of years ago. I got priority then in Santa Fe.

I was in and out of Winchester’s H-D boutique dealership in an hour, which gave me time for a sandwich in their deli. Not bad, since the deli was completely unexpected.

To make it all easy, I use H-D’s atlas for an annual up to date listing of dealers in all of the western hemisphere. Handy as hell.

My only wish is that indy’s would provide some kind of a listing of their locations, but of course that’s an impossibility. I would prefer to use and support an indy and his business if I could.

Switched fuse block install

To read about my installation, go here.

The switched harness from

I should have done this years ago, but I only just recently discovered Jim’s wiring harness site. The quality of his work is amazing. Had I the ability I couldn’t have built a harness of this quality – and all for approximately U$37.00 which includes shipping.

Here’s the finished easternbeaver Power Center 8 fuse block product that fits under the left side cover. Centech also makes a nice little fuse block. easternbeaver’s wiring harness is, of course, unseen, but it appears in the illustration at the top of this page.

The installed fuse block

easternbeaver's Power Center 8 fuse block

easternbeaver's Power Center 8 fuse block

Keeping electrical gremlins at bay

Please note: If you’re reading this on any site other than, the content has been scraped and stolen in its entirety, without appropriate attribution.

Over the years I’ve added a few electrical accessories to my ride. I dumped the terrible stock horn for an air horn that fits inside the stock horn cover. I’ve added gps and heated jacket relays. There’s a Powerlet outlet for my cheap and very portable air pump for tires. A digital voltmeter is the crowning touch for a check on the highly inaccurate stock meter.

Blue Sea Systems marine-grade fuse blockAfter all that, I’ve decided that I need a switched fuse block harness from to make sense of the wiring nightmare I’ve created. The fuse block harness comes with a relay and socket that allows it to be powered on and off with the ignition switch when wired into the bike’s electrical system.

I already have a marine-grade ST blade fuse block from Blue Sea Systems that I’ll hook into the electrical system using the harness. Centech also makes a nice little fuse block.

More to come when the harness arrives and I install it.