Dream a Little Dream – Ironhead Nightmare

The ’83 Ironhead is fun project bike, but like all AMF Harley-Davidson bikes, it’s a finicky bitch. Everything else with the project is coming together smoothly, but I just couldn’t get the clutch properly adjusted. I didn’t have a shop manual handy, so I Googled how to adjust the clutch on a 1983 Ironhead, and while there where a few promising results, there were an equal number of depressing ones (like “FUCK: Fucking ironhead clutch!!!!!!!” over on Chop Cult).


I tried a couple of the techniques suggested in various forums and blogs, but I didn’t have much success: I kept either adjusting it out so far that it would never engage, or adjusting everything back in so the clutch was constantly engaged. In either case, it didn’t matter if the clutch releases lever was in or out: I simply couldn’t find the middle ground.

I finally gave up on the Interwebs and got my hands on a ratty old copy of the Harley-Davidson Service Manual for XL/XR Models 1000cc 4-Speed 1979 to 1985 (Part No. 99484·85), hoping my luck would be better than the other would-be Ironhead gurus out there banging their heads on the bikes’ pitted chrome battery boxes and rusty peanut tanks.

Form the manual, the procedure for “Adjusting the Adjusting Clutch Release Mechanism” is as follows (referencing Figure 6-5 from the manual):

  1. Loosen clutch cable adjuster locknut (13) and turn adjuster (15) inward until there Is a large amount of free play at hand lever on handlebar.

  2.  Remove access plug (1) from primary chain cover using ACCESS PLUG REMOVAL TOOL, Part No. HD-33186.

  3. Loosen adjusting screw locknut (3) using CLUTCH ADJUSTING NUT WRENCH, Part No. HD-94580-71, and turn screw (5) Inward until it becomes harder to turn (starts to release the clutch) and continue turning (2 more turns) to be sure clutch Is disengaged.

  4.  Adjust all free play out of clutch cable by turning adjuster (15) outward. Do not put any tension on cable. With all slack In cable eliminated (no play at hand lever) tighten the coll adjuster locknut (13). This Is the correct cable adjustment.

  5. The clutch release adjustment should then be made with the clutch adjusting screw as follows. Back off the adjusting screw (5) until the clutch Is engaged (screw turns easier), then, turn screw Inward until the point where free play of adjusting screw has just been eliminated. From this point, turn the adjusting screw outward 1/8 to 1 1/4 turn to establish correct free play, and tighten locknut (3) while holding screw (5) stationary.

  6. See Figure 6-6. Check free play at clutch handlever. There should be 1/16 In. free play between handle and bracket. If Incorrect, readjust sleeve (15, Figure 6·5) and tighten locknut (13).



NOTE: If the clutch continues to slip under load or drag in released position, clutch springs may need adjusting or release mechanism may not be operating. See subsequent sections.

The subsequent sections sounded scary enough that I really, really wanted to make this work.

Unfortunately, the procedure in the manual proved as useful as all of the guides I found by stumbling around Google. Tinkering around, I came up with my own procedure, modestly named:

Curtis’ Mega-Awesome Ironhead Clutch Adjustment Technique Extraordinare


  1. Drink at least three beers.
  2. Tighten the adjustment cable all the way down using whatever wrench fits.
  3. Loosen the lock nut with the right sized socket. Don’t waste your money  on CLUTCH ADJUSTING NUT WRENCH, Part No. HD-94580-71. You can even remove that damn lock nut, since it will just be in the way until you’re done.
  4. Loosen the adjusting screw using whatever low tech instrument you have on hand (such as a flat-head screwdriver or butter knife) until it ALMOST falls out. I don’t think you’re screwed if it does fall out, but it’s best not to find out.
  5. Pull the hand lever and notice how wrong that feels.
  6. Try rolling the bike with the hand lever pulled, and see how wrong that feels.
  7. Now put the bike in gear and try STEP 6 again, you moron.
  8. Drink three more beers.
  9. Loosen the cable adjustment all the way out (trying not to remove the damn thing).
  10. Tighten the adjusting screw all the way down. Tight. No, tighter.
  11. Pull the brake lever, and notice how bad that popping sound is. Don’t do that again.
  12. Drink another beer and hope you didn’t screw anything up.
  13. Tighten up that cable adjustment a little bit, so it doesn’t make that popping sound when you squeeze the clutch lever.
  14. Try rolling the bike, in gear, with the clutch lever pulled, noticing that you’re still all knackered up.
  15. Let go of the clutch lever and roll the bike around in gear, noticing you’re REALLY knackered now.
  16. Drink another beer and think about this.
  17. Unscrew the adjustment screw (not the cable adjustment, you drunk idiot!) until it is about to fall out.
  18. Now screw the adjustment screw back in until you feel it start to get tight.
  19. Put the lock nut back on, but don’t screw it down too tight.
  20. Get on the bike and roll it back in forth, pulling the clutch lever and then not pulling. Pay attention to how much play is in the lever, and how hard it is to roll the bike.
  21. Don’t drop the bike: you’ve had a lot of beer, and it will be a real bitch to pick it back up again while you’re drunk.
  22. If the bike is in gear, you aren’t pulling the clutch lever, and the bike rolls freely, you need to loosen the adjustment screw a few turns. Just do it a few turns at a time.
  23. If rolling the bike starts kicking the pistons over, GOOD!. Don’t mess with anything yet.
  24. Now, with the bike in gear, pull the clutch lever, and roll it. If the pistons start kicking over, you need to tighten the adjustment screw a few or several turns.
  25. If you’re starting to sober up, you may notice that, even if the pistons don’t roll over, the Ironhead still seems to resist rolling. When these bikes are cold, the clutch plates have a tendency to stick, so as long as you can roll it with a litter effort, but not turn the pistons, you’re in good shape.
  26. Don’t drink any more beer.
  27. Tighten the adjustment screw lock nut.
  28. Tighten the cable adjustment lock nut.
  29. Put the cover plug back on (we’re going to assume it fell off itself at some point, since I didn’t include a step to remove it). Use something with a eight inch edge. I used the fender struts from a 1983 Honda Shadow VT700C, which I cut off the frame when I was turning it into a bobber.
  30. Drink some coffee.
  31. Now go ride it, and see if that clutch is working.


Even after using my foolproof technique,  I still didn’t seem to be getting the torque I was expecting when I test rode the Sporty. I suspected the clutch was slipping because of worn friction plates, or springs, or wouldn’t engage properly because of a worn ramp or some other annoying problem. I ordered the parts to rebuild the clutch per the dreaded “Subsequent Sections” in the repair manual, but something was still nagging me: if the clutch were worn out, how could it turn the piston when rolled, and not turned them when the clutch was pulled? It didn’t feel like it was slipping when under human power?

Was it something wrong with the transmission.

And right as I began drifting off to sleep, dozing but still slightly coherent, I had a flash of memory, of taking my 1977 Ironhead (my dear Imperial Entanglement) for quick ride around the block one morning shortly after I bought it. I had just filled it up with gas, when suddenly I started loosing power. It could still pull me, but my rear end (with the rest of me included that’s about 400 lbs of awesome), but it had lost it’s pep. My Sporty was no longer it’s Sporty self.

I went to sleep with that thought on my mind, but I didn’t make any connections until this afternoon, after firing up the ’83 Ironhead again and wondering what I was doing wrong. I thought back on the ’77 Ironhead and realized the sluggishness I felt with it was very close to the “slipping” I was feeling on the ’83. The power just wasn’t there, like it was only half a Harley.

It was only half a Harley.

I was only getting 500cc instead of 1000cc.

Sure enough, when I fired up the ’83 Sporty and put my hand behind the front exhaust, cool air was pumping out. The rear exhaust was nice and hot. I pulled the plugs and cleaned them (the front was caked with carbon deposits) and popped them back in. The front still pumped out cool air. I swapped plugs, and the problem followed the plug, pumping cool air out of the rear exhaust.

So here’s the new STEP ZERO in “Curtis’ Mega-Awesome Ironhead Clutch Adjustment Technique Extraordinare”:


I swapped the old plugs for some older (but known-good) plugs, and fired her up. Immediately, I knew I had back 1000cc of Ironhead awesomeness, and that ’83 Sportster zipped my big butt around the block like I was some elfin fairy waif. But in a badass, cool, elfin fairy waif kind of way.

And the clutch is in perfect adjustment.

IronMick’s Complete Guide to Troubleshooting Ironhead Electrical Problems

This article was originally posted on HDforums.com by IronMick in response to one community member’s effort to discover why his Ironhead battery was draining. IronMick’s “guide” works great for the Ironhead, but it can also be used to troubleshoot other bikes’ electrical systems.

Follow this procedure carefully. Do not leave out any steps …

IronHead Charging System Checkout

You need a multimeter. The digital ones are best and can be had for less than $10.00. A voltmeter is a multimeter set to measure DC volts. An ammeter is a multimeter set to read DC current in amps. The ohmmeter section of the multimeter will test for continuity. Continuity means that current may flow between the two points.

I find alligator clip probes are much more convenient than pointer probes. Occasionally a pointer probe is better so i have a set of each.

When using a Multimeter, if the object fails a test, repeat the test ensuring that you have good connections with the meter probes, especially to a good ground.

1. Fully charge battery.

It is not good enough to put it on a charger overnight and assume it is fully charged. Some batteries will take 24 hours to fully charge. The way to know for sure is to do a specific gravity test [for liquid filled batteries], or to use an automatic battery charger.

I have heard that you should never use a battery charger greater than 2 amps for any motorcycle; that it is best to use between .75 and 1.5 amps. Best are the automatic chargers such as Battery Minder or Battery Tender.

2A. Cell test battery [not for maintenance-free batteries].

Remove caps from battery cells. Keep the red voltmeter lead on a terminal and insert the black lead progressively into each cell, far enough that it contacts the plates. You should get readings of 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 and 12 volts. If one cell does not contribute its proper 2 volts then that cell is dead and the battery is no good.

2B. Load test battery.

It is said that, with electronic ignition, you should never crank the engine without grounded plugs attached to the wires. For this test you should install an extra set of plugs into the wires and set them onto the top cylinder head fins.

Disconnect both spark plugs. Attach voltmeter leads to the battery terminals. Crank the engine for 10 seconds [no more!]. Observe the meter WHILE cranking. If it goes below 10 volts then the battery is no good. Alternatively you can buy an expensive battery load tester.

Bring the battery up to full charge again before proceeding.

3A. Current Drain Test #1

Disconnect the battery -ve cable from the battery. Connect the ammeter between battery -ve post and the battery cable. It should read .003 amps or less.

3B. Current Drain Test #2

Disconnect the +ve terminal from the battery. Connect an automotive test light between the battery and the cable. If light comes on there is a current draw.

Note: To determine which circuit is faulty disconnect the circuit breakers or remove the fuses one at a time. When the light goes out you know which circuit is the problem.

3C. Battery Cables Test

With voltmeter connected to battery terminals check voltage while cranking. Then with voltmeter on battery cables check voltage while cranking. If voltage drop due to cranking [should not go below 10 volts] is different cables may be bad or there may be corrosion.

Here is another very simple non complex test you can do if you suspect that something is draining your battery when the key is off. This applies to bikes that have no digital instrumentation (like ironheads). Unhook your negative battery terminal. Touch the wire back to the negative battery terminal, there should be no spark when you do. If it arks and sparks (like a downed hydro pole in a rain storm in a horror movie) then something is drawing power when it shouldn’t be.

4. Charging System Test

Measure the battery voltage with the bike not running. It should be at least 12.x; preferably it will be 13.x.

Measure the voltage with the bike idling at about 2000 to 3000 RPM. It should be at least 1.0 volts higher than the not-running reading, otherwise the charging system is not charging the battery. It should be at least 13.x, preferably 14.x.

5. Regulator Test

Disconnect the regulator. Connect your ohmmeter to the orange and tan wires. Note the reading. Reverse the connections. Note the reading. One reading should show continuity, the other should show no continuity. If the regulator does not pass this test it is no good. This is the circuit that prevents the reg from draining the batt when the bike sits overnight.

This test only tests one circuit in the regulator, so even if it passes this test it may still be no good. There are other tests of the regulator that require specialized equipment. These tests are in the factory and Clymer manuals. I recommend taking both the reg and the gen to an automotive electric repair shop for testing if needed. Note: these shops usually want to test both parts together.

6. Generator Test #1: Residual Magnetism

Disconnect both the A and F terminal wires. Connect the +ve voltmeter lead to the A and the -ve lead to ground. Run the engine at about 2000 RPM. The meter should read at least 2.0 volts. If the voltage is low polarize the generator and repeat the test. If the generator fails this test it must be disassembled for repair.

7. Generator Test #2: Maximum Output

Remove both the A and F terminal wires. Connect the +ve voltmeter lead to the A and the -ve lead to ground. Run the engine at about 2000 RPM. MOMENTARILY [not longer than 10 seconds] connect a jumper lead from ground to F and read the meter. The meter should read 25 to 30 volts DC. If the generator fails this test it must be disassembled for repair.

8. Here’s a good way to bench test your generator:

1. connect a jumper from the “+” battery post to the “A” armature terminal on the gen.
2. Connect a jumper from the “-” battery post to the “F” field terminal of the gen.
3. Now take a third jumper from the “-” battery post and touch it to the case of the gen.

If all is well the generator will run like an electric motor. With the gen gear pointing away from you the rotation is clockwise.

Don’t try this with the generator on the bike.

9. Polarizing the Generator

With the generator fully installed in the bike, all connections made, ignition off; connect one end of a jumper wire to the gen A, and momentarily touch the other end to the battery +ve terminal.

Usually [but not always they say], you will get a spark at the battery terminal and a light clunk sound from the gen.

10. Polarizing the Generator – The Complete Story

1. with the gen on the bench
[i] jumper the gen A to batt +ve
[ii] momentarily jumper from gen F to batt -ve

Note: This can be done the other way around,
[i] jumper gen F to the -ve batt
[ii] momentarily jumper gen A to batt +ve

2. with the gen on the bike, wires not connected
[i] jumper from gen F to a good ground
[ii] momentarily jumper from gen A to batt +ve

Note: This technique is preferred over #3 because the good ground is better than relying on grounding the F thru the reg.
Note: As with #1 this can be done the other way around.

3. with the gen on the bike, all wires connected
[i] momentarily jumper gen A to batt +ve

Note: This is technically the same as techniques #1 and #2 as the F is grounded thru the reg.

4. For bikes with a mechanical reg [1959 to 1977]

Momentarily jumper between BAT and GEN on the reg.

Note: this is technically the same as all of the other techniques as BAT is connected to batt +ve and GEN is connected to gen A.

5. For bikes with a Cycle Electric Generator/Regulator

On the Cycle Electric DGV-5000 generators you have to remove the brush cover and touch a wire from the positive terminal of the battery to the positive brush lead of the generator to polarize it. You can’t polarize the generator from the external terminals. (One of the terminals is the battery terminal, and the other has an internal diode.)
You have to try pretty hard to reverse the polarity on those generators and they rarely need to be polarized.

For clarification: Cycle Electric does have a voltage regulator (the CE-540) which looks very similar. It will bolt up to a standard Model 65A generator and has external leads which connect externally between the regulator and the generator.
The CE-500 bolts to a Cycle Electric DGV-5000 generator and the regulator is internally wired to the generator.
– With the CE-540 setup the generator can be polarized by running a lead from the battery + to the “A” terminal.
– With the CE-500 you need to polarize the generator at the positive brush lead.

11. Generator Brushes Assembly: Dismantle, Cleaning, Repair

1. The brushes holder and related parts can be dismantled without removing the gen from the bike. This is useful because, in my [limited] experience, if the gen light is coming on then one or both of the brushes is probably sticking. This can be easy to fix.

I am writing this from memory, not while doing it. I think i have the removal process right.

Remove gen end cap. Remove the bracket and brush cover strap. Remove the commutator end cover. There are 3 screws visible. Two just hold the brushes to the brush holder; these do not need to be removed. The third screw attaches a wire from inside the gen to the brush assembly. Remove this screw. Now the brush assembly can be removed.

Usually it is quite dirty in there so at this point i use a spray can of electrical contacts cleaner to clean up the mess.

The brushes will spring out of the brush holder. They must be each longer than 1/2 inch else replace both. Reinstall each temporarily and work them between thumb and finger to see if there is any binding.

To re-install brushes in holder use long twist ties from the kitchen. Pick out the twist ties after the holder is re-installed.

2. To remove the gen from the bike: Disconnect the wires from the A and F terminals; remove the two bolts from the gearcase side; raise the inner end toward the 11:00 o’clock position, lower the outer end toward the 5:00 o’clock position, and remove carefully.

For the rest you really need a manual. The FM is very good. It is usually not necessary to remove the gen drive gear – this requires a gear puller to remove. The rest of the gen dismantles quite easily.

Once opened up you can do more cleaning and inspection; again using the spray can electrical contacts cleaner.

The FM contains a number of tests that you can easily do once it is opened up: field coil test, shorted or open field test, grounded armature test, and open armature test.

The shorted armature test requires special equipment which a shop would have [a growler]. Doing actual repair may require special equipment such as a lathe, and perhaps experienced hands.


Technological Terror

After running the ’77 Ironhead (aka Imperial Entanglement) for the past few months with a “temporary” Plasti Dip paint job, I decided it was time to give it a more permanent paint job.

My plan is to show a lot of bare metal with black primer accents, and seal it under a nice layer of clear coat.

Shortly after I did the original Plasti Dip paint job, I managed to spill a few drops of gasoline on the tank. The result wasn’t pleasant.

I peaked off the ruined Plasti Dip and reapplied another layer over the original purple paint. Because a little gas spillage is inevitable, this time around finished the Plasti Dip paint job with an acrylic clear coat.

The result was beautiful, and it almost looked like a real paint job.

Unfortunately, that clear coat / Plasti Dip came back to haunt me when started the process of repainting the tank.

Apparently, clear-coated Plasti Dip is highly resistant to paint strippers, including Aircraft Stripper. Additionally, the process seems to create an ultra-hard shell (after a few minutes of goopy nastiness) that can only be removed with a lot of elbow grease and power tools.



VIDEO: Setting Points on the Ironhead Sportster

ShadowDog500 posted a great video on adjusting points on the Ironhead Sportster. Messing with ignition systems on older bikes (or news ones) always sounds a bit intimidating to me, but ShadowDog500’s tutorial clears up a lot of the mystery and provides a concise explanation of how to get the job done, including dozens of tips and tricks you won’t find spelled out in your shop manual.

Is Plasti Dip Gasoline Resistant?

No. Performix Plasti Dip is absolutely NOT gasoline resistant. At all.

The gas tank on my 1977 Ironhead Sportster can attest to this. Granted, my original Plasti Dip paint job wasn’t all that great, and it is definitely my fault for not screwing on the gas cap tight enough.



As you can see from the photo, the gasoline that spilled out of the tank ate up the Plasti Dip. It was an instantaneous chemical reaction: there was no time to clean off the tank before the gas turned the texture of the Plasti Dip into something reminiscent of a char grilled lizard.

I don’t want to repaint the whole tank, so I plan to follow one of the tutorials I’ve seen on YouTube showing how to repair Plasti Dip. I’ll post the results.

Trust Counts In Online Vehicle Sales

A few years ago, my wife was in the market for a new vehicle. Her 1997 Chevy Silvarado was in great shape, but with the recent addition of our daughter to our family, a pickup truck didn’t quite meet our changing transportation needs. When we took the vehicle to the dealer, we got a low-ball offer on a trade-in. We had paid off the truck the previous year, so any cash would work to bring down the note in the new car, but the dealer wasn’t offering half of what we felt the car was worth.

After researching the estimated value of the vehicle on Kelly Blue Book and Edmunds, we gave it good detailing, took dozens of photos, and posted our Chevy on Craigslist. We considered posting on eBay, but back then I wasn’t as avid a user as I am now, and I didn’t feel comfortable with their auction format or commissions. I avoided the auto classifieds altogether because of the upfront listing costs.

The most important thing about Craigslist is to know your geographical market. While many of the good folk up in Elmira, NY (where we lived at the time) drove pickups, four wheel drive was a necessity due to the long, snowy winters. Our pretty two wheel drive Silverado just didn’t meet the needs of the local drivers (another reason we were looking to sell).

Ultimately, selling high dollar items like cars and motorcycles comes down to trust. We ended up selling the truck to my brother in Tennessee for a fair price, a little above Blue Book value, and a lot more than the dealer trade-in.

Today, I probably would ave given eBay more of a chance and taken full advantage of the nation-wide market that comes with posting there.

Melting the Parts-cycle

I knew rebuilding a 1984 Honda VT700C was going to challenge my meager skills, but I didn’t expect to be stopped in my tracks by a bad stator that refused to separate from the clutch cover.

At first I thought it was just an issue of leverage: it’s hard to get a solid grip the stator in one hand and the clutch cover in the other. I did manage to get what I felt was a good grip, and proceeded to twist and tug and turn and tap (and maybe bang a little), but that stator didn’t budge.

I got online and surfed the forums for a clue as to where I was going wrong. Did Ibmiss a hidden bolt? Did it pull straight off or thread onto the case (the new stator seemed to be finely threaded). My usual go-to site for the VT700C, HondaShadow.net, was silent on the issue.

I was tired, frustrated, and seriously considering parting the rest of the bike out on eBay. Then I did what I should have done five minutes after figuring out the stator was stuck: I called Big Daddy for advice.

He took time out of his shop renovation project (new drywall, new shelves, and an actual ceiling instead of bare beams) to listen to my problem. I texted over a few photos of the stator and clutch case so he could see the fresh batch of heartache I’d managed to find.

But, of course, Big Daddy had the answer.

He told me to head down to Autozone and pick up a can of CRC Freeze-Off, which is designed to dissolve rust and other muck that can cause bolts, screws and parts to bind together.

I picked up a $5 can of CRC Freez-Off (and another $50 worth of tools I don’t really need but probably will some day).

Back in the garage, I used the Freeze-Off ti liberally soaked the rim of clutch cover where the stator attached. I could see the grime dissolving and rinsing away at the edge, but I was skeptical about it actually penetrating deep enough to unlock the part. I started tugging and twisting and pulling again, but nothing happened.

I read the back of the Freez-Off can again, but paid attention to the instructions to “wait two minutes’. So I sprayed again and waited.

After two minutes, I got my grip on the clutch cover and stator, and I started twisting and wiggling. After a few seconds, I felt the stator shift a quarter of an inch on the clutch cover. I started pulling and wiggling some more, and with surprisingly little muscle, the stator popped right off.

CRC Freez-Off delivered on its promise once, but I had another test for it to prove if this was just luck, or if it actually works.

The clutch bolt where it attaches to the clutch slave cylinder was so stuck I was worried bout stripping the bolt if I put any more muscle (or body weight) into it. So I used the CRC Freeze-Off again.

It took a couple of applications, several minutes of waiting, and a little more muscle than the stator, but I managed to loosen the bolt from the clutch slave cylinder without stripping it or hurting myself.

So, CRC’s Freeze-Off gets top accolades from Oden Motor Shop.

I Brake for Working Brake Lights

100_0114I was first alerted to a problem with the brakes on my bike when I started slowing down to make the left turn into my neighborhood and was suddenly assaulted by a blaring horn an obscenities from behind me. The guy driving the express delivery truck must have been pretty mad, because I could hear him clearly over the rumpling of my Screamin’ Eagle, and inside my half-face helmet. I made a quick check of my turn signals (I new I hadn’t forgotten to press the left turn button), and everything checked out.

A few minutes later, when I was back at home, I ran through a quick check:

  • Did something fall off my bike and hit the other car? — No. Everything was where it should be.
  • Did I have anything offensive written on my clothing?— Nothing that would elicit more than a disapproving glare from my grandmother (then again, she was very open minded and tolerant).
  • Were my tail lights out? No. When I pressed the footbrake, it all lit up.


I check the brake again, using only the handbrake, and tail brake light stayed dark.

When I took off the break lever, the pressure-pin on the brake switch (which the brake releases when depressed) was stuck in its housing. No amount of coaxing could get it out.

So I headed down to Patriot Harley-Davidson in Fairfax, VA, and picked up a replacement switch for about $30.00 USD.

I was a bit nervous about replacing the switch myself: I can turn a wrench and change oil, but electrical troubleshooting is a bit beyond me. But the replacement switch came with good instructions with lots of drawings, so I decided to go for it.

Removing the brake lever was a simple task, since I’d already done it to check out the problem. Removing the electical switch housing and getting in to the bad switch proved challenging because my wiring is run inside the handlebars, and there really was no slack.

The brake switch was completely burnt out and had melted itself in a locked position. I had to gently muscle it out of the housing.

When I go the new switch in, I found that the release button (the part the brake pushes in and lets out to trigger the brake signal) was jamming. I loosed the screw holding the switch in to give it a little play, and jamming ceased to be an issue. I suspect this is what cause the earlier brake switch to burn out.

After some close wiring work (at least it was close to me), I got the new switch in and screwed and bolted everything back together.

When I tested the brakes using the hand lever, the brake light lit up instantly.

Hopefully the express delivery guy appreciates my effort and won’t drop my packages in the mud.

Where to Park Your Bike In DC

If you’re planning to ride into Washington, DC this summer, whether for Rolling Thunder or just to see the monuments, you’re probable going to want to stretch your legs at some point, which means finding a place to park.

Most parking garages around the District don’t allow motorcycles, and while it’s perfectly legal to park your motorcycle in a car slot, the time is usually limited to an hour or two. The best option is to look for motorcycle parking. Some of these slots allow you to park for up to 12 hours, who’s is unheard of for cars.

The slots can be hard to find, but this DC Motorcycle Parking on Google Maps has a pretty good list of spots.

If you know of any others, let us know in the Comments below.


This Bolt’s Driving Me Nuts

I have an embarrassing problem. My bars just won’t stay erect. I can’t tell you how embarrassing it is when I have to come to a sudden stop, and my handlebars flop down onto my knees.

Oddly enough, the first person I go see whenever I have a mechanical problem is my Big Daddy (who in real life is my daddy, and still pretty big, but not nearly as big as me). Big Daddy also built my bike, so he already knows the peculiarities of this particular situation.

As it turns out, the original handle bars were not knurled, so Big Daddy set a screw in the bar so it would catch on the inside of the riser bracket before dropping all the way down.

On one hand, this was a brilliant idea: adjustable height handle bars. On the other hand, it didn’t work out so well for me. After the set screw mod, the bars would still clear Big Daddy’s short little legs, even at their lowest point, but my long, lean, muscular, sexy … OK … My big fat legs were tall enough that the bar would knock my knees when my feet were flat on the foot boards.

We just couldn’t figure out why the bar was still dropping. After some deep discussion and clearing of cobwebs, Big Daddy recalled that there was always something odd about the top bolt on the right hand riser. The bolts seemed to go in fine, but even after torquing them down, the bar could slip under pressure.

In a moment of genius (and because he was supposed to already be on the road to Daytona at the time), Big Daddy had inserted a zip tie into the bolt hole and torqued it down. The bars were tight as can be, and the temporary nature if the fix slipped Big Daddy’s mind (likely with the help of several gallons of beer and tequila during bike week).

Now, a few years later, when the bike is handed over to a gentleman of even greater stature (myself), that poor little nylon strip couldn’t handle it any more.

So, let’s get back to the real problem: factory bolts, after market bolts, bolts found in an oily bucket in the corner of my garage would not seat properly in the riser. The threads didn’t appear to be stripped in the riser, and the bolts (especially the chromied ones) are pristine. And since the bolts all fit fine in other riser bolt holes, the only conclusion we can come to is ….

Factory defect.

That’s our story, and we’re sticking to it.

So, I went to the local hardware store and purchased a nice course thread Grade 8 bolt and nylon lock nut. everything righted down beautifully, and my handlebars are stable.

It’s not particularly pretty with one odd nut hanging off the bottom of the riser mount, but if will do fine for the next week while I wait for my new risers to arrive.