Friday, March 30, 2012

Vintage Bike Checklist

Written By: GearHead.com

So you’ve just purchased a motorcycle that is as old as you. There is nothing quite like the feeling of riding a vintage motorcycle, however not all those old machines run like they used to, especially if it’s been sitting in someone’s shed for several years. First follow the steps on the Spring Clean post and then follow these additional tips for owning an older bike:


  1. Manual: Buy a repair manual for your specific bike. It will pay for itself in the money you will save doing repairs and will be invaluable with diagrams, pictures, and information about your bike.
  2. Cables and Brakes: Brakes and cables can and will fail if they have not been properly maintained. Many older bikes use only mechanical brakes, while others use hydraulic brakes. If yours uses cables, pay particular attention to where the cable is exposed and has the most degree of movement such as where it’s attached to the lever and where it’s attached to the brake arm. If there are any frayed strands of wire coming off the cable anywhere, replace with an OEM motorcycle part. If the cable seems sticky at all, go ahead and replace it. You can also use some light oil (30 weight or less) and lube the cables. To do this tape a funnel to the top of the cable and then slide the cable up and down in the housing to work the oil down the inside of the cable. It’s a good idea to inspect the brakes hardware as well. Check caliper boots and seals for cracks and put a tiny dab of grease on the drum brake cam (don’t put too much on as you don’t want it to get anywhere else) for smooth operation.
  3. Fuses: Most older bikes use the glass style fuses and these can become corroded with time and weather and do not conduct as well. In some cases the metal caps separate from the glass body of the fuse. If they look at all in bad shape, replace them, especially since it will only cost you a few bucks to replace all of them. Always keep a couple spare fuses in your tool kit as well.
  4. Carburetor: If the bike has been sitting for a while, it doesn’t hurt to do a thorough cleaning of the carb. Using the manual you purchased in step one, disassemble the carb paying particular attention to the slide, main and secondary jets, all passages, float bowl (especially the bottom where the main jet pulls fuel), and the float valve. Be especially careful that everything is clean when reassembling as even a small piece of dirt can cause problems with the float valve. It’s always a good idea to put a clear plastic inline fuel filter on the gas line going to the carburetor. This will protect your carburetor from foreign contaminants and also tell you what condition your gas tank is in. When going through the carburetor, be sure to get a carb rebuild kit and replace all the gaskets and seals. Always use OEM parts when replacing carburetor parts such as gaskets and jets. Check the float valve for wear. If there is a noticeable wear line or you have problems with fuel coming out of the overflow tube, replace it with a float valve that has a rubberized tip. If your carb uses vacuum actuated slides, check the diaphragms for holes or cracking.
  5. Gas tank: Fuel tanks on older bikes are notorious for having cancerous rust. Remove the fuel cap and inspect the inside of the tank thoroughly for rust. If there is rust, there are treatments available such as Kreem, which treats the rust and then coats the inside of your tank with a plastic type coating. This type of treatment can be very effective even on pretty rusty tanks. If it’s really bad, you may want to look at finding a replacement tank from a salvage yard.
  6. Seat: While not always a critical issue, many seat pans on older bikes can be very rusty due to water getting trapped in the foam and sitting on metal for long periods of time. Check the seat for cracks in the vinyl and remove or lift up the seat and inspect the underside for rust. Aftermarket seat covers are readily available online but a new seat pan may be more difficult to track down. Your best bet for a pan would be a salvage yard.
  7. Spark plugs: Check the spark plug(s) for signs of engine problems and replace or clean if necessary. They will tell you a lot about the condition of the engine. Make sure the gap is set correctly according to your repair manual. Also check plug wires for cracks or wear and replace if necessary.
  8. Air filter: Check the air filter and clean/replace if necessary. Paper filters are generally not very serviceable other than blowing off with compressed air, so replace if you can’t see light coming through it.
  9. Hoses: Hoses tend to get brittle and crack after years of use. Inspect all fuel lines and breather tubes for cracks and replace if hose is stiff or brittle at room temperatures. Also check coolant hoses and oil lines for cracks, leaks, and signs of wear.
In conclusion, always use genuine OEM factory motorcycle parts for critical parts so you know they will be up to factory specs and fit perfectly. If you’re not sure where to get parts from, check out the post on buying motorcycle parts. Have fun and be safe!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

May the Parts Be With You

Written By: GearHead.com

So you noticed on your last ride, that your fairing was a little looser than normal, your tachometer stopped working, and that a blinker light was out. After a closer post ride inspection, you’ve found a couple bolts have rattled loose from the fairing, the tachometer cable finally bit the dust, and the drive sprockets and chain are due for replacement. So now that you know what you need to replace, where do you go from here? When it comes to purchasing a part for your ride, there are several things to consider:

Local vs. Online?
If you need to get and ride today and have a critical repair, then a local motorsports shop is probably your best ticket. If it’s something that can wait a few days to repair, then an online parts dealer may be a better option since you will most likely be able to find cheaper prices. Typically online motorcycle parts stores offer a larger selection of parts, a low priceguarantee on parts, and free shipping if you spend a certain amount.

New vs. Used?
Sometimes if you’re searching for a vintage bike, part, or a particular piece that isn’t manufactured anymore such as a gas tank or seat, you may be forced to look for other routes. One place to look is a motorcycle salvage yard if there is one in close proximity. These are a great place to pull parts for old bikes, unfortunately, they are not as common unless you live in a larger city. Many local dealers even have an online parts store to showcase inventory they are liquidating. If you can’t find the part you’re looking for, you can search motorcycle classifieds such as CycleTrader.com for a parts bike.

OEM vs. Aftermarket
You’ve seen OEM on parts websites before or in your dealership and you’ve bought aftermarket parts, but what exactly is the difference? OEM stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer and represents any product that is actually used or was used for a particular bike straight from the factory. So if you purchase a part that is a genuine OEM Honda motorcycle part, you can be rest assured that the part will fit your motorcycle exactly. Conversely, aftermarket parts are any non-factory parts that are made to fit that bike, but are not the designated as an official Honda (or other brand) replacement part. Aftermarket parts may not always be as durable or fit quite as well, but they are usually less expensive than OEM equivalent. Many times aftermarket parts are just as good, or better than OEM, so it’s important to do some research on that part or manufacturer before a purchase. Usually you’re safe with buying aftermarket parts for maintenance items and parts that wear out often such as chains, tires, sprockets, brake pads, etc., but the adage, “You get what you pay for”, usually rings true with regard to parts.

In summary, if you want to make sure you get the exact fit replacement part at the best price, always buy genuineOEM parts from an online parts store. If you’re okay sacrificing on quality and guaranteed fit in order to save some cash, then aftermarket might be the route for you. If you can’t find an OEM or aftermarket part, check out a salvage yard. Have fun and ride safe!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Spring Clean – Dusting Off Your Ride

Written By: GearHead.com

So while winter may not quite be over yet, most of us are getting pretty antsy to blow off the dust on our bikes and get out and ride. We’ve put together a list of some of the most important items to check before pulling your bike back onto the pavement. Whether you went through the efforts to winterizeyour motorcyle or not, we’ve got you covered in this short guide on getting your bike ready to hit the streets the minute that old man winter disappears.

Change the oil: Whether you changed the oil or not before you parked it for the winter, chances are the existing oil has been in there for close to 3 months or more, so a fresh oil change is always a good idea to make sure everything is in top condition. Stick with the recommended oil weight for your bike and change the filter along with the oil change. If you live in a particularly cold climate, you may consider getting winter grade oil depending on riding temperatures where you live.

Tube and lube check: First make a visual inspection of all your fuel, hydraulic, coolant, and oil lines on your bikes. Keep an eye out for cracked or frayed hoses, drips, bulges, or anything irregular looking about any of the lines. If there is anything leaking or that looks amiss, make sure to replace hoses and lines with only OEM motorcycle parts so you know they will fit exact and be up to specs. Check your brake and clutch fluid reservoirs (don’t forget about slave reservoirs) and make sure they are topped off and the fluid is not sludgy and dark.

Check your rubber: Some tires loose air over time and chances are, your tires may be a little low. Check to make sure you’re at the right amount of air pressure in each tire and also check the tire for signs of wear (flat spots, metal belts showing in tread, cracking, dry rot, etc.). If your tires are completely flat when you check your bike, look for any foreign objects in the tire such as nail or screw that may have caused the air leak.

Clean: There’s probably a bunch of dust, leaves, grime, families of mice, and who knows what else living in and around your bike. Give your bike a good wash with the hose if the weather is cooperative and avoid the tail pipe and electrical component with high water pressure. There are many enginecleaners and solvents to help you get everything sparkly. Give it a good wipe down afterwards and then a light coat of wax on the painted surfaces will not only help protect it, but give it a sparkling shine.

Battery: Hopefully you disconnected the battery before parking your bike for the winter or put it on a battery tender. If not, your battery may be dead or worse, frozen and kaput. If the latter is the case, you may need to cowboy up and order a new battery.

Coolant: If your coolant hasn’t been flushed for a couple years, now would be a good time to do a coolant flush and top it off. If you don’t want to change the coolant, it’s not a bad idea to check the coolant with a floating ball type antifreeze tester since spring temps can still dip below freezing in many areas.

Air filter: if you cleaned/changed it before you parked it for the winter, you should be good to go. If not, clean your filter with a good cleaner/degreaser and filter cleaner or if you have the paper type filter and it’s too dirty to see light through, blow it off with compressed air or replace it with an OEM filter.

Drive train: Check sprockets for excessive wear and drive chain/belt for wear/cracks. If your bike is shaft driven, inspect u-joints and lube drive shaft and zerks if possible and check rear gear case fluid. Check your motorcyclechain or belt for proper tension and adjust or replace if necessary.

Brake Check: Check brake pads/shoes for excessive wear and check disc/drum for scoring or irregularities. Inspect hardware and calipers for wear or irregularities (bent, broken, or missing parts). Replace brake pads with a good aftermarket brand and any hardware with OEM parts.

Ride: This is the most important step after you’ve gotten your bike out of hibernation and are ready to hit the road. So go for a ride. Have fun and ride safe!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Motorcycle Lubrication – A Difficult Task

Written By: Castrol Motor Oils

A modern four stroke motorcycle is one of the toughest applications for a lubricant. Today’s complex multi-cylinder engines are amazingly high revving, with some road going units now routinely approaching 16,000 rpm.  Just for the sake of comparison, your typical passenger car will operate at roughly 1,800 rpm.  The oil operating temperatures in a modern motorcycle engine are 20-30°C higher than in cars, with air cooled engines running as much as 50-60°C hotter.  On the other hand, a motorcycle sump is considerably smaller than what would be found in the average passenger car.   Most motorcycles have a common sump, which means the same fluid that lubricates the engine must also provide lubrication for the clutch and gearbox.

Join us on a journey through the critical zones of your engine and see how motorcycle oil is formulated to protect and ensure proper functioning of each vital component.

Oil first enters your engine through the sump, which is a chamber that holds the fluid.  Motorcycle oils must have a detergent, dispersant and antioxidant additive system designed to cope with very high sump temperatures.  It’s then splashed onto the cam and lifters where in provides a protective barrier between these two surfaces preventing metal to metal contact.  It then encounters the piston and rings, where it clings to the surfaces to lubricate yet maintain compression - despite the forces that are trying to tear it apart.  Oils with insufficient high temperature deposit control and antioxidant performance can rapidly lead to severe engine problems due to stuck piston rings and excessive thickening that makes oil flow through the engine difficult.  This will lead to deposit build up, increased wear, overheating and ultimately, engine failure.   

Lubrication of the wet clutch is a very critical.  The clutch systems of modern motorcycle engines are designed like the engines – very compact, high performance and highly stressed.  They consist of a series of individual clutch plates, separated by rings with springs squeezing them together.  When the clutch is activated, the rings are pulled apart allowing them to slip, breaking the power connection between the engine and gearbox and enable shifting.  Once released, the plates spring back together generating an enormous amount of heat.  The engine oil must have a balanced friction coefficient in order to guarantee the correct grip between clutch plates and avoid slippage – and also allow smooth engagement / disengagement of the clutch without “shudder” or “stick slip”.

The last critical zone encountered by your motorcycle oil is the gearbox – where high precision meets high stress.  Lubrication of the gearbox is based on different principles with respect to the engine. Extremely high loads between the gear teeth can shear the oil, reducing its viscosity, if it is not shear stable. The same oil that has been put to torture tests in the engine and clutch now must cling to the surface of the gear teeth, providing a protective barrier and preventing metal to metal contact of meshing gears.  Direct contact of gear teeth can lead to scuffing or scoring of the surfaces, while vibrations typical of high revving engines promote fatigue-induced damage like pitting.  All of these conditions will impact the performance of your bike and cause significant damage to your gear box.

Formulating motorcycle engine oils means finding optimum balance between conflicting requirements.

1 .From the engine zone, the high stresses of mechanical loading, high piston speeds and combustion temperature – as well as the need to maintain high oil flow under all conditions.

2. From the clutch zone, the need for cooling – as well as the ideal balance between slip and grip for smooth & reliable operation.

And 3, from the gearbox zone, the need to fortify the oil to combat shearing and sliding forces – and protect precision components against wear.

All engine oils have a difficult task.  But, motorcycle engines oils have by far the most difficult.

For more information about Castrol's premium line of high performance engine lubricants and bike care products, please visit Castrol.com.

Basic Dirt Bike Maintenance

Written By: Dennis Kirk

Taking proper care of your dirt bike is the best way to ensure that it continues to run smoothly so you can spend more time riding and less time in the repair shop.

One often overlooked aspect of maintaining your dirt bike is keeping it clean. Always make sure to clean your bike after a race or trail ride. If your bike is covered in dirt you can’t see loose screws or leaks. Leaving your bike covered in mud, dirt, and water can also lead to corrosion.

Once you are done cleaning your bike you should lubricate your chain to prevent rusting. Put your bike on a stand and spray the chain with lubricant while spinning the rear tire. While you are doing this check the tension of your chain to make sure it is not too loose or too tight.

Cleaning your air filter regularly is another important aspect of maintaining your dirt bike. Use a filter cleaner to clean the air filter between uses. If you don’t, your filter will become too dirty and allow dirt to get into your engine. It will also help your bike perform better. You might want to keep a spare air filter to use while the other is drying if you ride frequently.

Other important aspects you should check between uses:

Tires: Check the pressure and make sure there are no punctures. You can fix small punctures using a tire repair kit.

Fluids: Make sure oil and coolants are at the proper levels.

Brake pads: Check your brake pads for signs of wear. If they are getting thin you should change them.

Dennis Kirk offers all the products you need to keep your bike in perfect riding condition. Check out Dennis Kirk’s huge selection of dirt bike products ready to ship today.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Dominion Powersports Solutions Announces Online Marketing Webinar



Norfolk, VA -- March 20, 2012 -- Dominion Powersports Solutions is gearing up for a new webinar that will focus on innovative online marketing strategies for dealership events. This is the second of Dominion Powersports’ new Pulse Webinar Series, which provides dealerships with sales, marketing, and service best practices. The webinar is scheduled for Wednesday, March 21 at 2 pm EST. Guest speakers will include CycleTrader Social Media Specialist Fred Rose, PowerSports Network Marketing Manager Laura Reinders, and VoxBloc Social Rewards Director Patty Dao.

Dealership events are an essential part of a dealership’s marketing strategy. Pre-event marketing for poker runs, charity rides, and bike nights is vital to drive attendance. Dominion Powersports Solutions’ webinar will discuss a variety of innovative strategies to improve the quality of online marketing for dealer events. Participants will learn effective online practices for inviting current and future customers to their events. Using photos and videos more effectively to increase response to the dealership’s products and services will also be discussed.

CycleTrader Social Media Specialist Fred Rose said, “Dealers will gain insight into the best new ways to promote their dealership through email marketing and social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.”

The webinar is free; however, space is limited. Those interested in attending should register online.

About Dominion Powersports Solutions
Dominion Powersports Solutions, headquartered in Norfolk, VA, is a leading network of world-class business solutions for powersports dealers:
    ZiiOS – The industry’s leading cloud DMS lets dealerships manage all the moving parts of their dealership anytime, anywhere.
    PowerSports Network – Top OEMs and dealers trust PowerSports Network for web, e-commerce and mobile solutions.
    CycleTrader.com – Over 12.6 million unique visitors come to the nation’s leading marketplace every year for new and used motorcycles, ATVs, personal watercraft and snowmobiles.
    Traffic Log Pro – Traffic Log Pro’s web-based CRM and Dealership Call Center platforms help dealers drive sales productivity, improve closing ratios and create customers for life.
    Dominion Insights – Get real-time analytics and benchmarks with Dominion Insights.