Friday, August 24, 2012

CycleTrader.com Announces Request a Quote Feature for Motorcycle Shipping

Motorcycle shipping is certainly an option worth considering when a bike has to be moved long distances. Visit the resource section of CycleTrader.com to understand what you need to know about motorcycle shipping services.  Also, be sure to test drive the brand new request a quote feature, powered by UShip.com.



Request a Quote for Motorcycle Shipping

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Chain and Sprocket Service

Written by: RoadRUNNER Motorcycle Touring & Travel

Chains are simple and effective, but need regular maintenance. A neglected chain may severely damage the engine case, or wrap up in the wheel and sprocket, locking the rear wheel. The two major types of chain designs are O-ring chains and non-O-ring chains. O-ring chains employ rubber O-rings between their side plates to retain lubricants. These usually last much longer, but although internally lubricated, O-rings need to be kept clean and side plates require lubrication and rust protection.

Lube it or Lose It!
Good guidelines for O-ring chains suggest that street riders should lube about every 500 miles. If you ride in heavy dust, rain, or other extreme conditions, or have a non-O-ring chain, the interval should be even shorter. Also, be sure to lube the chain after washing the bike to prevent rust.

If the chain is dirty, avoid harsh or flammable solvents such as gasoline, which can ruin the O-rings or cause a fire. Instead, spray the chain with a cleaner like PJ1 Super Cleaner or WD-40. A Simple Solutions Grunge Brush cleans well, or an old toothbrush and rag will do.

There are many lubes available, and you may need to experiment to find a favorite. I’ve found waxes work best for me. Lube the chain while it’s still warm after riding, but never with the engine running. Engage neutral and use the centerstand (if equipped) turning the wheel by hand, or roll the bike. Apply the lube evenly. Automatic chain oilers are also available, which make it easier to keep chains lubed.

Chain Adjustment
Owner’s and shop manuals provide slack measurements and adjusting procedures. If you don’t have a manual, gauge about 1 to 1.5 inches of vertical slack, measured midway between sprockets. Too loose and the chain may grind at the swingarm and even jump the sprockets. Too tight and the chain may damage the countershaft and bearings, and even snap. Generally to adjust the chain, you remove the cotter pin and loosen the axle nut, then turn the adjusting bolts until the proper slack is achieved. Worn chains develop loose and tight portions, and slack varies, so it’s critical to check slack as you rotate the wheel and set it when the chain is at its tightest point. Recheck slack after tightening because it may change.

Most double-sided swingarms have alignment marks, but besides using markings, there are several ways to measure axle alignment. Motion Pro makes a chain alignment tool. Or you can also use a tape measure and measure from the centerline of the axle to the centerline of the swingarm pivot bolt on each side. Another method is to wrap a long piece of string around the front tire (set straight) and pull the string back on both sides toward the rear wheel, near and parallel to the floor. If the wheel is crooked, it will be quite obvious.

Time for Replacement?
As sprockets wear, the teeth develop sharper points and eventually become hook shaped. Pull straight back on the chain in the middle of the rear sprocket. If the chain pulls out so much that you can see the sprocket teeth, you’ll know it’s worn. If the chain resists pulling away from the sprocket, it isn’t worn out yet. Changing the rear sprocket requires rear-wheel removal, while changing a front sprocket usually involves removing the sprocket cover. Once the rear wheel is off you can change the rear sprocket. It may pull off with the damper hub, but you’ll have to unbolt the sprocket from its mounting. Install the new sprocket and tighten securely. Put the sprocket assembly back on the wheel and put the rear axle in. Follow the procedures in a shop manual if needed.

Many motorcycles come with continuous chains that are riveted together, whereas replacement chains are available with or without master links. Generally, because they’re stronger, high-horsepower bikes only come with riveted links, which may make it necessary to remove the swingarm for replacement. If you work on chains a lot, consider purchasing a chain breaking/riveting tool from a motorcycle shop or online; Emgo, Motion Pro, and RK Chain all make them. Otherwise, have a shop do the work.

To replace a master-link chain, remove the old link and connect the end of the new chain with the old one, using a new link. Loosen the rear axle to allow slack. Then pull the new chain past the countershaft sprocket. Pull and guide the new chain using the old one until both ends meet each other on the upper rear portion of the rear sprocket. Insert the master link through both new ends, and install the clip, or carefully rivet the new chain together. Follow the instructions that come with the tool. Or find a description online at www.canyonchasers.net/shop/generic/chain-rplc.php.

Chain Oilers
Hawke Oiler: www.hawkeoiler.com
Scottoiler & Acumen CL10 Electronic Chain Oiler: www.riderstation.com

Chains and Sprockets
Bike Bandit (888) 339-3888, www.bikebandit.com
Motorcycle Superstore (877) 668-6872, www.motorcycle-superstore.com

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Digital Camera Accessories for the Digital Rider: SteadePod


Written by: RoadRUNNER Motorcycle Touring & Travel

Here’s an old DIY trick turned into a product. In the Do-It-Yourself, version, a piece of string with a washer on the end is attached to your camera. Drop the washer to the ground, step on it, and pull the camera until the string is taught. The tension in the string helps hold the camera steady…not as good as a tripod but it may be just enough to stabilize the camera to get that low light shot. Here’s the “productized” version of the idea.


The SteadePod is for…
…people that can’t be bothered with a tripod
…ultralight travelers
…certain (but not all) low light situations

The SteadePod is not for…
…very long exposure photography

Monday, August 13, 2012

Touring Tip: Exercising Good Riding Judgement

Written by: RoadRUNNER Motorcycle Touring & Travel



Becoming a proficient, safe rider involves the accomplishment of many skills and a reservoir of experience in applying them. But even expert riders can be involved in serious accidents. In my experience, the primary preventable reason these accidents occur is because there was a lapse in the rider’s judgement. Here’s an example of one such incident with fatal consequences:

A young man on a sportbike was following a heavily laden dump truck on a four-lane city street in front of my place of employment. The rider apparently became frustrated with the truck’s slow rate of progress in the left lane and, in a split second, swerved into the right lane to pass. What the rider didn’t realize was that the truck was slowing to make a wide cross-lane turn into a construction site on the right. It took first responders quite a while to dislodge the motorcycle and its rider from beneath the truck’s rear wheels.

There are several factors, all of them mental, which can compromise a rider’s otherwise good judgement:

·         Being in A Hurry: Busy urban streets are a high-risk environment for motorcyclists, because there are so many potential risks that must be identified and mitigated. Trying to do this at warp speed is dangerous. The laws of probability suggest that sooner or later an imprudent rider will miss identifying a risk and fall victim to it. The same, also, is true on country roads.
·         Rationalizing Known Risks: Experienced motorcyclists usually are well aware of the risks posed to them in various riding situations. But how many times have you done something and later said to yourself, “I knew better than to do that!” I know I’ve done it – like the time I thought I needed to outrun an approaching thunderstorm, but didn’t. I well knew that driving rain and lightening posed a dangerous riding environment, but chanced it anyway because I didn’t want to take time out of my trip schedule to immediately find shelter. I knew better than that.
·         Over Confidence: In my estimation this is a major source of accidents for the most proficient motorcyclists. It’s a wonderful feeling when a rider gets to a point where he or she feels in complete command of their mount in virtually any situation. They often ride on the ragged edge of traction and safety. By leaving no margin of safety for a misjudged corner or an unexpected hazard suddenly appearing over the next hilltop, these riders are playing their own version of motorcycle roulette. Sooner or later they will need to rely on a margin for riding error that won’t be there when they need it.
·         Peer Pressure: How many times have you heard a highly proficient ride leader say, “Don’t try to keep up with me, ride your own ride”? The problem that often develops, though, is that less adept riders, especially if they’re on a powerful motorcycle that well exceeds their skill level (but not their ego), feel that they do have to keep up. Riding over your head is asking for trouble. And if you’re the cocky ride leader, be aware of the potential peer pressure you may be placing on the less capable riders in your jet stream.

Here are my five recommendations for exercising good riding judgement:
1. Take Your Time: If you’re late for a meeting or some other important appointment across town, it would be better to park your bike and take a cab, rather than pushing your limits through traffic. Whether you’re riding in the country or in an urban environment, motorcycling is supposed to be fun. Always ride at a safe speed.
2. Look Before You Leap: Don’t rationalize known riding risks and always be observant and thoughtful about identifying those that aren’t immediately obvious. I think there is a little voice in the back of our minds that tells us when we’re doing this—listen to it and ride accordingly!
3. Leave Your Ego in the Garage: Just like in a lot of other life situations, if you have an overly active ego, you can find yourself in a predicament. Because a motorcycle provides little, if any, crash protection, a rider has to be on top of his or her safe riding game at all times. Don’t take your ego along on a ride, it really is excess baggage that can cloud your riding judgment.
4. Stay Within Your Comfort Zone: If you’re ever feeling a little unsafe on a ride, that’s because you are unsafe. Exercise an “iron will” by always staying within your riding comfort zone. Your subconscious mind let’s you know when you’re outside your own personal safe riding envelope. Don’t ignore it! Really do “ride your own ride!”
5. Learn from Your Mistakes and those of Others: It’s important during and after a ride to reflect on any errors in judgement that you might have made and resolve not to repeat them. There is also much to be gained by learning from the mistakes of others so you can avoid those also.

Of course, not every random act of nature or acts of other humans can be anticipated and avoided, but riding with good judgment can go a long way in reducing your risk of an accident.


Thursday, August 09, 2012

Getting the Most Out of Your Battery

Written by: RoadRUNNER Motorcycle Touring & Travel


All too often, motorcycle batteries die young, murdered by neglect. Dehydration, improper charging, and a slow discharge during storage all shorten a battery’s life. But it doesn’t have to be that way; how long your battery lasts is mainly up to you.

Motorcycle radios, clocks, alarms, computers, etc., draw a small current even when the ignition switch is off, which can drain batteries within a few days. To prevent these draws from killing your battery, you could disconnect the battery, but even if there is no load on them, batteries self-discharge. When batteries are left discharged they quickly become sulfated and may permanently lose the ability to be charged, so always recharge a discharged battery as soon as possible.
Three Battery Types
There are three major types of motorcycle batteries: conventional “wet cells” with liquid electrolyte, gelled electrolyte (gel cells), and absorbed glass mat (AGM) or “dry cells.” Wet-cell batteries with removable caps contain lead-antimony and are the least expensive, but require periodic refilling. Wet batteries marked “maintenance-free” with semi-removable caps usually contain lead-calcium plates that use less water, although in some cases, they can still run dry. Gel batteries contain a jellied electrolyte that doesn’t splash easily. Gel cells are more tolerant of being left partially discharged and they don’t self-discharge fast, but they cost more than conventional batteries. The most expensive type is absorbed glass mat, which uses silica-glass matting that makes them maintenance-free. While AGM batteries typically cost more, they have higher efficiency and power than other types, are the most resistant to vibration, and usually last considerably longer.
Storage and Charging
If a motorcycle is stored for several weeks or longer, keep it on a “smart” multi-stage maintenance charger with separate bulk, absorption, and float modes. During extended storage, remove the battery and place it indoors, where it can be connected to a maintenance charger and the electrolyte level monitored. If that’s not possible, or if it’s maintenance free, the battery can be left in the bike and on a maintenance charger. (A fully charged battery will not freeze until the temperature dips to -92 degrees F, but when discharged, they can freeze at just a few degrees below the freezing point of water.) Often, we don’t expect to leave the bike as long as we do, so make it a habit to connect it when parking at home. Many chargers come with external quick-connect plugs that only take seconds to use.

Regular and trickle chargers are OK for recharging discharged batteries to put them back in service, but they don’t have the circuitry needed to maintain a battery’s charge properly during storage. When trickle chargers are left on for long periods they overcharge and damage batteries.

New batteries must be fully charged before placing them in service. Batteries should be recharged at a rate not exceeding 20% of their ampere-hour (A-H) rating, for example a 2-ampere maximum charge rate for a 10 A-H battery. Frequently discharging a battery below 50% of its capacity also shortens its life substantially. Regular charging voltages should be 14.2-14.6 for wet cell, 13.8-14.0 for gel cell, and 14.1-14.4 for AGM. Recommended float-charge voltages are 13.2-13.7 for wet cell, 13.2 for gel cell, and 13.2 -13.4 for AGM.
Maintenance and Safety
Batteries contain sulfuric acid so follow all safety warnings. Always wear eye protection, rubber gloves, and old clothing when working near them, and keep baking soda and water handy to neutralize any spilled acid.

Batteries vent hydrogen and oxygen that can explode if sparks or smoking occur nearby. Shut the ignition switch off before disconnecting battery terminals, and detach the ground side first so tools can’t spark if they touch metal. Always connect the negative jumper cable for the dead battery last, attaching it to a clean metal portion of the frame, rather than to the negative battery terminal, so no sparks occur near the battery. Only plug in a battery charger after it’s connected.

Be sure to clean and inspect terminals regularly. Electrolyte levels of non-maintenance-free batteries need to be checked monthly, especially in hot weather or when frequently used. If electrolyte levels drop below the top of the internal plates, the battery may be damaged. Use only distilled water to refill, which prevents mineral buildup.
Voltage and Specific Gravity
All batteries can be tested with a resistive load test, either electronically with a special tester that measures internal resistance, or with a digital voltmeter. Batteries with removable caps can also be tested for specific gravity (SG) with a hydrometer. A fully charged battery at rest should read about 12.66 volts, with an SG of 1.265. A 75% charge yields 12.4 volts or 1.225 SG. A 50% charge yields 12.2 volts or 1.155 SG. And 11.7 volts or 1.120 SG indicates that the battery is fully discharged. Differences in SG greater than 0.050 between cells mean that the battery is worn-out.