Sunday, August 30, 2015

Filthy Disgusting Pigs

 A couple weeks ago I talked about the fuel tank I made for the Rat Turd. Earlier this year I also showed you the homemade header I welded together. When I took the Rat for a test ride after these mods I was disappointed with the performance of the bike. It was jetted lean from day one and always had to be choked for many minutes before it would idle on its own. Now with the free flowing exhaust and no restrictions, it wouldn't even accelerate to 55 mph.

  The plan was to drill out the jets to compensate for the air filter pods and header. The problem was I didn't know how big to drill them and I didn't want to pull the carbs, test run and repeat a bunch of times.

I decided the best thing to do was ask Greg, our 4 stroke tech at work, what his opinion was. He has a lot of experience working on these disgusting pigs that swim in their own filth and I respect his opinion even if he is a young whippersnapper. I described the way the bike was running from startup through hi gear complete with sound effects. Bwawp burp chug. He asked a few questions and I filled in the blanks with more vroom vroom noises. As he handed me a set of tiny drill bits he told me to find the size of the jets and go up two bit sizes.

 I did as told and put the bank of carbs back on the Rat. Upon first start with a stone cold engine the bike fired right up. I immediately noticed the bike didn't need as much choke I and was able to let it idle on its own in less than a minute. Once on the road I could tell the bike had more power than ever. The problem was that all this new power revealed another problem I didn't even know I had. The clutch now slips when I crank the throttle open. It's always something. I have enough bikes in the garage that I'll probably save the clutch for a winter project. It will be good enough to get me to the one bike show I plan to attend with the bike.

 In other news...I whined last week about the customer service from J&P Cycles.

 It turns out someone in the marketing department over there found my blog and wanted to correct the situation. They said I would receive that gift card soon and in fact I had it in days. They went out of their way to make it right and I respect that. We all make mistakes or run into problems but the bottom line is to make it right. I'll give them another chance.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

J&P Cycles

 Well this is not how I planned to start the day.

 Little things are bothering me this morning. My work boots don't feel right and are suddenly hurting my feet. Also I think there may be a dryer sheet wadded up under my sweatshirt but I have no desire to explore the situation.
 To add to my pissy mood I've been thinking about the back rest on my bike. You know I like making my own parts. Obviously that aint gonna fly on a new bike if I'm looking to replace the seat. I've ordered from J&P Cycles in the past and have enjoyed some good pricing and speedy service so I ordered a new Mustang heated seat from them. The seat was delivered on time but when I ordered the back rest I had a very different experience.
 After two weeks I still hadn't seen the back rest. I got online and did a live chat with one of their associates. I was told two more weeks and I'd see my back rest. I expressed concern that I needed the part before I left on vacation and was told I'd be notified if the part went on back order.
 Two more weeks passed and still no package sitting by my door. I did a live chat again and this time after pleading my case I was told they would investigate the delay. The next day I received a generic email stating the part wasn't in and I could cancel my order if I wanted. This didn't settle well with me. I called Mustang and found out J&P wasn't gonna get the back rest till after I left for vacation. I replied to J&P with a nastygram explaining the whole situation and questioned why I could find out on my own when the part was coming but they couldn't bother to tell me when, or figure out when, the part was coming.
 I was facing a 2900 mile week on the new bike and really wanted that back rest. Ya, I've done the trip on a cast iron tractor seat with no back rest but I'm cruising in comfort this year. I only had a weekish left before I was to leave.
 The response to my nastygram was handled in a very professional manner. I got the customer service I expected the first time. Kind of like the customer service I got on my fourth attempt with the cable company to handle an issue. I guess it all depends who you get when you call them. In the first live chat I got someone that really didn't go that extra mile. The second live chat gave me someone that wanted to help but for whatever reason also didn't go that extra mile. The rep that got my nastygram wanted to fix the problem. She hooked me up with a competitor that had the part in stock and then offered me a $50 gift card for my troubles.
 That was good customer service. They apologized for the mistake and fixed the problem in time for my trip. The backrest worked well and I'm glad I made a big stink to get it in time. I had every intention to order from them again but the problem is that they never sent me the gift card. The $50 isn't gonna make or break me but why make that promise and not follow through? I don't care to be lied to so I'm done with J&P Cycles. They do not get the Greasy Shop Rag stamp of approval.
 So there, I've got that off my chest and now my boots aren't hurting my feet as much anymore. Have a wonderful day.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Ride Home

 When I awoke this morning I was greeted by fog. Once on the interstate I was lucky enough that the visibility was just a bit further than my braking distance at speed. The best part of the fog was that I didn't have to bore myself looking at the Illinois landscape. Really, it's almost torture droning along that stretch of road counting the miles tick off the odometer. When the fog lifted I was greeted by dark clouds and later rain. I was reminded of this same return trip a few years back on my Aprilia Futura. It rained so hard and for so long on that ride and I was completely miserable. I associated that misery with the Aprilia and really never rode the bike much after that. In fact, I sold the bike. I was hoping the rain today wouldn't get that intense. I didn't want some mental issue I have about Illinois rain to tarnish my feelings about my new Ultra Limited. The fact is I've ridden this bike in heavy rain and it does all right. In the nine days I was on vacation I put 2900 miles on the big hog. That's not iron butt pace, its vacation pace. I enjoyed a mix of 200-500 mile days in 65-90 degree weather. I had the rain gear on a lot but didn't get rained on much. I guess I prefer to have it on before I get wet and a couple times I put it on just to stay warm.

 How did the bike perform? I did just fine. It's a bit of a pig in the twisties but no worse than other full size bikes I've been on. It's heavy at stop signs but I haven't dumped it yet. I have no complaints about the radio and gps. They worked flawlessly and I like the way the electronics package is presented in a clean way with minimal switches. The lighting is good too. I was comparing features of this bike to others I saw this week. If it's lacking anything as a touring rig I'd say that might be an adjustable windshield and an on board compressor for the shocks.
 I enjoyed the week on the Harley and I'm looking forward to the next time I can get out on a big ride with it. I need to go through the bike and clean it up and make sure everything is tight, but first I need to catch up around the house starting with a burnt belt on the washing machine. That's the only bad part of some point it has to end.

Friday, August 21, 2015


Yesterday our group left the Wheels Through Time museum but I stayed behind. It's one thing to look at stuff with friends but what I needed was to explore a few things on my own. Things that may not seem interesting to everyone else. For example I asked myself the question "what is hi tech?" Every motorcycle in that museum was the latest and greatest of its day when they were purchased new. A battery powered headlight was a huge improvement over kerosene 

powered lamps but those headlights aren't hi tech anymore. My bike has a LED headlight that seems great now till something else comes along. So when the next generation of lighting is introduced will that make my Ultra Limited  low tech?
I think I have it good now with my hi tech gadgets but you know even the guys that bought a new AMF Harley back in the day felt good about their purchases.
A lot of things we use every day are just refined versions of an option offered decades ago. Maybe that's all hi tech really is. Just the latest version of an old idea. What about new ideas?  Are they hi tech if they just perform a simple function?
I'm not writing this to provide any answers. It's just stuff I like thinking about and I had a good time at the museum imagining what the designers of those old bikes might have been thinking.
I put about 600 miles behind me today. I'm shacked up in Illinois for the night and I'll continue toward home in the morning. If tomorrows ride is as uneventful as today, it will turn out to be a good trip. I needed a pic and hadn't taken any today. This guy was in my picture album so I'll give his 15 minutes of fame.

Last Day in Maggie Valley

Today we decided to hang around the area and visit some local "attractions". We had a wonderful lunch at the newest restaurant in town, Cataloochee Cafe. Our travels also included a visit to the Indian/Victory dealer where we over analyzed the new victory slingshot. A fun looking machine but I think a test ride would be enough. I don't think these could satisfy like two wheels do. Besides, if I'm too frail to hold up a bike I surely would not be able to bend all the ways needed to climb in and out of one of these.
Another stop we made was to Crazy Bobs Biker Stuff. It's just a small shop but I like to buy something just because I would hate to see it go away. Bob always has a joke or something witty to say.
The next stop was the Wheels Through Time museum. I've been here a dozen times or more and always find something new and interesting. Today's find was a silly looking little lawn mower. It's a Swish-err but I'm not sure from when. I'm writing this from a bench at the front of the museum. Dale, the owner, has been entertaining guests and firing up old bikes all afternoon. It really is a neat place to visit if you ever get the chance.
The last few nights we have been trying to get in to a local Italian restaurant called Frankies or something like that. The wait is always more than a half hour and when this group is ready to eat, there's no waiting. We made an online reservation for tonight. We'll see how that plays out.
Tomorrow I head home. The days really fly by when you're doing stuff you like. I enjoy this time in Maggie Valley a little more each year I visit.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Dragon Loop

I woke up early this morning to threatening looking clouds. The motel here has a pavilion on one end that is set up pretty nice as a gathering spot. For the first time I noticed there was a TV and a cable box. My plan was to find the weather channel but I was surprised to find my favorite detective on the tube. I enjoyed an episode of Columbo while the others woke for the day. By the time we decided to head out the sun was shining.
As we climbed up the parkway I was wondering if I would need my rain gear. I kept rolling and continued through the smokey mountain national park. Traffic wasn't an issue and we had a nice ride all the way to sugarlands visitor center.
We still didn't get wet despite dark skies and radar reports that only a farmer would want. In fact it pretty much rained everytime we got off the bikes. It's becoming a theme for the week and we find ourselves laughing whenever the clouds weep on us.
The next run was the Foothills parkway where we were chased by a swarm of Smart Cars. There's a club for everything I guess.
We got on US129 a twisted our way up to the tail of the dragon store where we took up a seat and watched the bikes come and go. Believe it or not this is a lot of fun. The bullshitting continued till we realized we had a long ride home and still had to find dinner.
We got on 28 or, as they people trying to commercialize the area even more call it, Hellbender 28 and enjoyed more twisty scenery.
As I post this we are in Waynesville at a place called "nick and nates". Frank and I just sampled a bunch a local specialty brews to wash down our pizza. Relaxing with friends after a day of riding really is nice.

I wonder if Frank knows there's a dragon behind him?

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Pisgah for Lunch

Today we decided to ride the Blue Ridge parkway to the Pisgah Inn. The sun was shining when we left Maggie Valley but we quickly climbed into a cloud. I was leading and decided to pull over and get the gear on. The rain gear was really more about keeping warm. I don't think we got much more than a brief sprinkle the entire time we were up there but we did have to negotiate a lot of fog. Lunch was good as always and the view was spectacular.
On the ride back Dan and I decided to stop at Waterrock Knob. What we found there was a couple from Michigan on a Kawasaki Vulcan towing a trailer. They were having problems getting the bike running and sadly they were still broke down when we left despite our efforts to help. I regret not bringing more tools than what Harley provided with my bike. When we left they were on the phone with their insurance company arranging a tow and in a place where they weren't  stranded alone. I spent the rest of the afternoon thinking about what might have been wrong with their bike.
As I write this from the motel it is starting to rain. These little bursts of rain have been going on for a few days and we have been lucky enough not to be on the bikes when they hit.
Gotta run. It's time to decide where we'll ride to for dinner.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Highlands, NC

What to do, what to do. The radar looks pretty bad but that's not gonna stop us from going for a ride. Today's first stop was our annual visit to Waynesville Cycle. We didn't buy anything, just drooled on bikes.
Where to go? Well lunch of course. We followed highway 28 to Highlands, NC and had sandwiches at some little touristy place. Our return trip took us through some nice twisties with very light traffic. We continued on to Cherokee where we visited shops as we waited out some rain.
We struggled with rain gear all day but never really rode through more than drizzle. It wasn't a big mileage day but it was enjoyable.
We still have to plan a dinner ride for tonight. I hear there's a new restaurant in town that serves up some tasty viddles.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Maggie Valley

All I had to do today was ride from Murphy to Maggie Valley.  I don't have a map in front of me but I'd guess it's about 50 or 60 miles. Of course I didn't take that route. What I did today was cover some of the popular touristy roads while I had good weather. I headed north and hopped on the Cherohala Skyway. Seriously, except for a black bear that crossed my path I was the only one up there. I then made my way to deals gap resort and had lunch. The next road was "the dragon". If you're not familiar it's 318 curves in 11 miles. Nobody was in my way and I used this opportunity to familiarize myself with the handling of the big Ultra Limited in the twisties. I was having problems making the bike do what I wanted.
With my other bikes I approach a corner hot while analyzing the turn. Then I scrub off excess speed and negotiate the turn. Roll on some throttle at the apex and hustle down to the next turn. Lather, rinse, repeat.
This bike is different. Not because of the weight. I've slayed the dragon on full size touring rigs before. It's different because of the linked brakes. Feeding in a little rear brake and getting some front brake was totally fouling me up. I finally gave up on my old method and tried something more like "the pace". Brakes? Forgetaboutem. I dropped into a lower gear, turned up some angry rock on the radio and ran the hog a little closer to red line the rest of the way. I wasn't breaking any speed records but I was able to better enjoy the ride. Engine braking was all I used and the throttle by wire wasn't glitchy at all.
I exited US129 onto the Foothills parkway.  Again it was very quiet and relaxing up there. A quick stop for fuel and then I made the 30 mile run through the Smoky mountain national park. Things did move a little slower here and that's fine. Just before hitting Cherokee nc I hung a left and took the blue ridge parkway to Maggie Valley where I'm sitting in a wooden rocking chair writing this.
It was another good day on the bike. At one popular rest stop I found a place for a GSR sticker!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Murphy, NC

Today's ride was better than 100 miles less in mileage than yesterday but it took much longer. Not because it was dinkin around. No, I was on the bike all day. Gas and bathroom breaks were it. It was longer because I stayed off the interstate.
Leaving paducah I headed southeast to the "land between the lakes". It was early and I was about the only one on the road. I saw a heard of bison, some deer, turkeys and what quite possibly was a squirrel wearing a red bandana. There were a lot of hawks and other big birds cleaning up the evenings road kill.
My route took me through a lot of rural kentucky and tennesee. It's kinda funny. Back home our twisty back roads are just called "roads" here. Living on the side of a hill seems like a real pain in the ass but round these parts I reckon they have no choice. I'll tell you what. Yall talk funny down here.
I stopped at a light today and thought the bike was on fire. Turns out the bike was fine. It's just effin hot here. Then, ten miles later I was putting my rain gear on. It rained hard. I mean like pussy cagers pulling over cuz they couldn't see. I admit for a minute I was concerned about hydro planing but that's never actually happened to me on a bike. The cycle of hot sun and hard rain continued all afternoon. I arrived at the hotel dry.
It's time to find me some viddles.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Step One...

...remove head from ass.

This morning I headed out for what should be a nine day motorcycle vacation. I wasn't completely packed but totally forgot that fact when I left. About twenty miles down the road I had this nagging feeling I was forgetting something.
Sure enough it soon came to me. I was gonna bring my laptop to more easily write this blog. Oh well, I'll do it from this phone. Still I couldnt shake the feeling I was forgetting something. An hour later I stopped to take off a sweatshirt cuz it was heating up outside. When I got back on the bike I soon realized I wasn't wearing my mesh jacket. I'm sure it's hanging on the sissy bar of the sportster in my garage.
Now I'm not a safety nazi. In fact I put safety in third place behind showing off and looking good. Still, there are some times when you just can't ignore good common sense. As I was blasting down the interstate I just couldn't help but feel naked without some protection so I hauled the big bike down from speed and manuverd into the first harley dealer I could find.  They had a nice mesh jacket with armor that actually cost less than the one keeping my sporty warm. I'm starting to look like the poster child for a HD commercial.

 It got up to 91 degrees today. Hot, but not too humid. Traffic was light and construction was minimal. All the idiots must be on other roads cuz I never cussed the whole ride. I'd say it was a good day.

Lunch on the road...

Wednesday, August 12, 2015


 On saturday I leave for a 9 day bike trip. I'll be going to the same place I went last year and the previous 10 or 15 years. That place is Maggie Valley North Carolina in the Smoky Mountains. Maggie Valley is in the heart of some of the nicest motorcycling roads in the country.
 I didn't discover this place on my own. Years ago a group of us were all on the same motorcycle forum. After chatting for a long time from behind screens, we decided to all meet in person. The place we met wasn't Maggie Valley but we had such a good time that first year that we decided to do it again. The organizer of the rally chose Maggie Valley that second year and it has just stuck. The group isn't nearly as big as it used to be but the ones that do show up all get along great. Riding, dining, bullshitting and relaxing is the agenda for the week.
 I've wondered if no one else was going to attend if I would still vacation down there. Not sure. There's a lot of places in the country I wouldn't mind seeing. If I want to see them, sooner or later I'm gonna have to spend my one week of the year to visit them. I guess the other option is to just take another week off. Ya, that sounds good.
 When I first started doing this trip I would eat up the whole 800+ mile journey down there in one day. My back isn't what it was then and I now take time to smell the roses. I'll take a lazy route that is actually a lot longer than 800 miles but I'll do it in two or three days.
 I'll try to post each day of the trip starting saturday night.  See you then!

Sunday, August 9, 2015


 I showed you the Rats new fuel cell after it was coated in bedliner and wrapped in barbed wire. I did a little messing around on the front of the tank frame to outline the rat.

 I just took some rat colored paint and sprayed the front of the mount. I did a little drawing with a sharpie to detail the rat. It doesn't pay to redo it because that's about as skilled as I get when it comes to drawing rat faces.

 So the front tank drains to the rear tank through the hoses on each side of the tanks. I figure when  I can no longer see fuel in that hose I'm on "reserve". The hoses on top of the rear tank run up to the filler neck and also show fuel just before the tank is full. Pretty handy at the pump. This pic doesn't show the vent in the cap or the plumbing from the sediment bowl to the bank of carbs.

 I really didn't like the hoses. I changed them to clear ones.

 So here is the bike as it sits now. You'll notice I also wrapped the muffler with barbed wire. It wasn't as bad as wrapping the fuel tank but still a pain. I scratched the shit out of the paint on the muffler. I think once all the scratches rust it will look ok. About the flows way better than the stock carb jetting will handle. I'm gonna have to rejet.
 As I look at this pic I realize I have made a lot of changes to this 31 year old bike. Tank, seat, fenders, rear frame, hand made header and crossover handlebars. I still have a few plans for it including a different front end. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Rat Tank

 I've been posting a lot about being on the road with the new bike. That's true but I've also been finding time to work on the Rat Turd fuel tank.

 Here I'm slapping a fresh coat of bedliner on the tank. It actually welded up pretty decent and could have looked respectable with standard paint but I wanted to keep the same feel I have on the rest of the bike with the Herculiner coating. The one and only time I'm outside working with my slippers on and the wife snaps a pic. Oh well.

 Any pussy can add a barbed wire pin stripe. Try adding the real thing! What a pain in the ass. I want to say "never again" with the barbed wire but I still have a piece of the exhaust I want to wrap.

 I'm not gonna wrap the smaller tank. It's way too close to the family jewels and I don't want to tear every pair of pants I happen to be wearing when I ride this bike.

 So far I'm happy with the tank. It certainly is a one of a kind piece. Ya I know it's a little goofy but that's the whole point. It's nice to just do whatever I feel on this bike and not give a shit about what it looks like.
 Btw, I upgraded this HP laptop from windows 8.1 to windows 10. So far it has been the worst computing experience of my life. I've thrown away laptops that ran better than this. I had to finish this post on a trusty old relic running xubuntu. Later.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

On the Road

I find myself on the road again. It turns out I like being on the road. It's Saturday night and I find myself sitting in my underwear in a hotel room with a drink in one hand and my phone in the other. We just left the hotel bar and I've got my groove on. I can see my bike in the lot if I gaze out the window. I also have an alarm pager sitting on the night stand that will warn me of any monkey business near the bike. It's not like I'd be able to race down from my 4th floor room and thwart any shenanigans, but at least I feel like the bike is more secure.
Earlier today we stopped at a "western" clothing store. My wife found some boots that agree with her feet. I couldn't find anything I liked. Cowboy boots look cool but so do crotch rockets. I need something practical. Put a work boot lug sole on a cowboy boot and maybe you'll get my attention.
My drink is empty and I gotta take a leak. Catch ya later.