Friday, September 30, 2016

So much better!

Alright, real quick just to show you what I've changed on the bike to get rid of all the tacky details and make this a classier ride.

Some parts were sent off for bead blasting and I then gave them the rattle can treatment. They turned out ok, and as a whole the bike looks much better.

Here's the battery holder:

Below: indicators blacked out, front and rear (thank you Witold for wiring them back onto the bike for me!)
Above: much better grips, and a cool original handlebar clamp.
Below: the license plate holder is still tilted but this is a much more discreet original H-D part.

You like?

Friday, September 23, 2016

Getting the chopper back on the road.

My BSA, the Rising Star, is the reason I started this old-fashioned blog in the first place.

It is a wonderful little bike, light, nimble and with one of the all-time best frames I have ever tried... by a long shot.

It's had a troubled beginning but I managed to use it for a few outings and even as a daily driver for a couple of months: that was a bit of an epiphany!

I've had to faff around with the carburetter, but not because of the carburetter; that's a story to share over a couple of beers.

There is one thing though that was not well made from the start and that's how the gas tank is mounted to the frame, and it shows because the tank's rear mounting tab broke pretty quickly.

This is obviously because of vibration, and there's not much you can do about that other than try to manage it somehow. Initially we just placed a thick rubber spacer under the tab and just bolted the whole thing down, as was done on pre-OIF Triumphs.

Since this clearly didn't work, I thought that the attachment point to the frame needed to be improved.

As you can see above, it was originally just a piece of threaded bar stuck in the frame and simply welded; my initial idea for improving this is neither my own recipe nor a secret.

I don't know how to weld and I don't have the equipment, but I knew how this should be done so I turned to uncle Fester for help.

After we talked about it for a little bit however, he came up with an alternative solution that would have required working only on the tank, leaving the frame alone and not having to get the bike to his workshop.

This could either be a permanent fix, or at least a major step in the right direction: he fabricated a new tab from a piece of marine grade steel, shaped it and drilled a hole sized for a H-profile grommet. Then, using two metal top-hat bushes, he essentially made an internal bush and external supports for the whole assembly, so that a new sleeve nut can now be torqued down, metal on metal, while the grommet is free to better absorb vibration on all three axes.

Below you can see the old mounting tab compared to the new one, old and new rubbers, and the sleeve nut (unfinished, in the photo):

A beefy, clean set of TIG welds secures the new tab to the tank. Those suckers should be staying put.

Say what you will about uncle Fester, but this cat works just like he rides: hard, and very fast.

Lots of thanks and respect bro.

Friday, September 16, 2016

a Sportster interlude

"The mid-90s Sportster is the best kept secret in motorcycling. It is a remarkable motorcycle, solid, smooth and dependable." (unknown)

"Mark my words: today's pre-rubber-mount Evo Sportster will be tomorrow's knucklehead." (chopcult)

"We've said it before and we'll say it again: '86-'03 Evo Sportsters will be the shovelheads of 2025." (chopcult)

Friday, September 9, 2016

Let's not forget about this one...

This is probably the best looking OIF bike I've ever seen.

Witold is back to square one with the engine, it'll need a full rebuild, but at least the bike has been tested and everything else works as it should.

Once it's back with the refurbished engine it'll be really cool.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

So much chrome!

My new Sportster is in really great shape, and I should acknowledge that the dealership did a fairly good job getting the bike nice and clean just before I picked it up (there is a problem with the front brake and, more worryingly, with the gearbox but we'll get to all that in due time, whenever that may be).

That said, it suffers from an all too common ailment for these bikes: TCC, which stands for "tacky chrome contamination".

TCC is typical of the late 1990s and can be seen in a myriad "accessories" that were produced in those years, all things that add no value and in fact ruin both the aesthetics and the ergonomics of a bike.

Turn signals, footrests, mirrors, gas caps, handlebar grips, and "chrome trim" for every nook and cranny you can imagine.

Have a look at these details shots:
to begin with, those grips are just incomprehensibly ugly, they had to go:
There is a plastic chrome end cap on the throttle. See how we look at it in bemusement?

The handlebar clamp: it wants to remind you that you're riding a Harley-Davidson (as if the vibration wasn't enough to remind you, am I right?) and that chrome is just so flashy; this is not only very ugly, but it must have cost a fortune! Why?? Also, look at those two huge washers, surely we can do better than that.
And just in case you'd forgotten that you're riding a Harley-Davidson, on your way from the handlebar to the gas tank, here is another reminder, a tasteful gas cap trim:

I appreciate the quality of the piece, it's clearly not cheap... but I can't stand it. Goodbye.

The mirror. I mean... what the hell were they thinking:

*Sigh* The oil filter. This is a real pet peeve for me when it comes to these bikes.
Look, I understand the point of chrome plating when you need to protect metal from corrosion. It's a time-honored tradition that is by no means exclusive to H-D, and is sometimes an engineering necessity (on telescopic forks' stanchions for example). British bikes have chrome parts...
But a chromed oil filter?? Come on, not only is it tacky and serves no purpose, but it seems like a sinful waste of the stuff: chrome don't grow on trees, y'all! Anyway, I'll keep this for now, and swap it out for a black one next time I do an oil change.

The battery holder, there is a lid and a strap; I'll see if these can be stripped and re-painted. Black, of course.

The turn signals, front and rear. While they are ugly, I will be keeping these but will try to strip the chrome and paint them black. The ones at the front are actually quite neat and make for a much more uncluttered look than the standard ones.

The ones at the rear give the back of the bike a relatively slim appearance but they're not very visible and will interfere with the passenger backrest when fitted, so, these may need to go at some point.

Another triumphantly horrific piece: the license plate holder. Good god, BILLET! Baroque, hefty, intricate billet! On what is essentially a hot-rod motorcycle, that is a faux-pas.

And finally the footrests: these were so hideous and so uncomfortable that I had to ask the dealership to swap them for OEM parts before I collected the bike. They obliged and fitted a pair of brand new black rubber ones that are just perfect: comfortable, stylish and absolutely bulletproof.