Archive for the ‘Maintenance’ Category

Way back in June I purchased and installed the Harley Daymaker Reflector. Installation was, by my standards, quick and easy. The entire stock headlight and mounting ring had to be removed, and the new mounting ring installed (this is shown in the pictures). Once installed, the light plugs into the harness, and mounted onto the ring. The trim ring screws back in place, and voila, you have daytime at nighttime. Total install took less than an hour.

Verdict: I have ridden with these lights in direct sunlight, at sunset, at night, in fog, and in rain. And all I can say is, “What a difference a day(maker) makes!” These lights truly do create daylight at night. With the stock headlight, I often caught myself using the high beams when alone on the road, not because I wanted to, but because I needed to. With the Daymaker Reflector, there has been no need to use the highs. And on the topic of the high beams, if there is a weakness, it is in the high beam as it does not offer exponentially more light than the low. But I wonder, is it that the high beam is weak, or is the low beam that strong? I tend to side with the latter rather than the former. And the other drivers on the road tend to agree. Day and night I am constantly flashed to turn the high beam off… I would love to know what they are thinking when they realize they are my lows. This headlight provides an exponential increase in nighttime visibility and is well worth the money – especially if you can find it at a 20% discount from certain online retailers.

Couple this upgrade with the Custom Dynamics Dynamic Ringz and really let yourself be seen by the other drivers on the road.

Ride hard, ride safe, and enjoy every mile.

For those familiar with Harley touring models, you know that in 2010 Harley Davidson abandoned the large taillight in favor of two dual purpose brake lights and turn signals. Although it adds to the sleek look of the bike, it really allows for poor visibility to other motorists during daytime riding, especially on sunny days.  I have been told countless times by those I ride with that my bike is virtually invisible when I”m braking – especially in direct sunlight.

After doing numerous cosmetic and “performance” upgrades to my dearest Beatrice, I decided it was finally time to do something that could potentially save us both.

I ordered the Custom Dynamics Dynamic Ringz, LED brake lights, and load stabilizer online for $172 shipped. They arrived within eight days, and they took all of 30 minutes to install.

Installation in the front and rear is as easy as popping off the existing lens covers, unscrewing and removing the halogen unit, and inserting the LED unit. Pop the lens cover back on. Many choose, at this point, to run smoked lenses on all four lights. I chose to install clears in the front, and I kept my red lenses in the rear. I felt it was a better aesthetic fit for the bike. A flat head screwdriver is all you need to complete this task.

The load stabilizer was the longest and trickiest part of the install. The load stabilizer mounts underneath the bike’s side panel and connects into the main wiring harness. Positive and negative terminals also attach to the bike’s battery. Truthfully, this wasn’t an arduous process – once I located the main wiring harness. Connecting to the battery requires nothing more than a screwdriver, just do me a favor and make sure you properly feed your wires underneath the frame otherwise the seat will be resting on them. As you can surmise, I had to reroute my wires because I screwed it up the first time.  Syncing the lights and stabilizer are simple. A few left blinks followed by 10 or so right blinks, back to the left and done.

Front: The Dynamic Ringz convert the stock halogen turn signals to full time LED running lights and, when activated, amber turn signals. They have 48 LEDs on each insert. The outer ring of 24 are white, and the inner 24 are amber. The outer white ring is very noticeable to oncoming traffic (see pic below). At night, it does not light up the road too much more, as the LEDs are aimed straight out, but they do reflect brightly off of any reflective surface – for example stop signs, road paint, and the eyes of animals watching from the side of the road.

Rear: The improvement from my stock tail lights was remarkable. In direct sunlight daylight, the rear running lights are brighter than the stock brake lights. And the brake lights, when activated, are extremely hard to miss.  One of the first upgrades I made when I first bought the bike was the tri-bar upgrade, which converted the tri-bar on the bottom of the fender to running and brake lights. These new Custom Dynamics drown out the tri-bar brake light entirely. The photos below show the Custom Dynamics LEDs as running lights on the left, and as brake lights on the right.

Rear OneRear Two

The Verdict: This upgrade is a must for anyone concerned with increasing their likelihood of being seen by other drivers on the road in all riding conditions at all times of the day – the bike is highly visible from the front and the rear. It is a relatively low cost upgrade which requires minimal mechanical skills to complete.

Visit Custom Dynamics on the web.


Up Next: Harley Daymaker Reflector

Ride hard, ride safe, and enjoy every mile.

When does 43 MPG equal 0 MPG? When she can’t roll on her own. There is nothing fun about grabbing clutch to downshift and having no clutch. I case you’re counting, this is two flatbed trips in less than a year. Is it time to invest in my own Condor Loader?

Ride hard, ride safe, and enjoy every mile.

Make sure you make your proper safety checks before you ride. I luckily noticed this one this morning before heading out for an all day ride. Needless to say, the only ride Bea went on was to the dealer. She got a new tire today, and thankfully we were able to push our day ride until tomorrow. The crack went through the tread and 3/16 of an inch through the rubber. Who knows how long it’s been.

Ride hard, ride safe, and enjoy every mile.

Rain, rain, go away. Come again another… ah whatever. Rain all you want, we have rain gear.

Last night was definitely a late night. And by the nature of it being a late night, we had a feeling this morning would not be an early start. We finally made our way to the bikes around 11am. The forecast called for rain throughout the day; again, not a problem, we just had to prepare for it. The plan was to head west into New Hampshire and ride the Kancamagus Highway, then work ourselves further west into Vermont where we would spend the night in Waterbury to enjoy their fine craft beer scene and enjoy what we would hope to be remarkably good eats. But before we set out west, we had a stop to make… Big Moose Harley Davidson in Portland. We still needed to pick up one more set of rain gear, and in addition, who wouldn’t want a shirt that says Big Moose on it! [As an aside, if I were female I would probably ride my bike, albeit unsafely, in yoga pants all the time. Kim looked way too comfortable riding in them!] With our uber-sexy rain gear donned, the road called our name.

We navigated the city streets of Portland for a whopping 4.5 miles before it happened. My 2012 Street Glide, 3 months brand new with less than 2500 miles on it, decided to show the dreaded check engine light. With it, my battery light was also illuminated. Fortunately Big Moose was less than 2 miles away. The rain started to come down a little harder but we made it safely. We parked under a tent that was set up for a party the night before, but much to our dismay, the dealership was closed on Sundays. Who knew… [with hindsight I knew, but I didn’t remember at the time. It is illegal to sell vehicles on a Sunday in Maine, therefore very few dealerships bother to open.]

6 miles of riding on a rainy Sunday and there I was… stuck at a closed Harley dealer… in Maine… in the rain. After checking the forums and making a few phone calls (Laconia Harley and Seacoast Harley), it seemed apparent that my problem was the voltage regulator – a known problem on 2012’s, but the MoCo hadn’t issued a recall. Instead it was a “Program” that offered replacement on a need-to-replace basis. Both dealers were able to help me if I was able to get them my bike. Seacoast was a little closer and they were open later. That was my best bet.

We debated, and by we I mean the 4 of us, attempting to ride the bike to Portsmouth – I was still able to start her up and ride her (the bike sicko!), but it was only a matter of time before the voltage regulator would die completely and leave me stranded on the highway. It seemed worth the risk and if I needed a tow, we would be that much closer. But it didn’t hurt to call and inquire about a tow.

My first call was to HOG towing. A few weeks earlier I had upgraded my membership to the Ultra package to guarantee unlimited miles. I called HOG. Much to my dismay I was on hold for 26 minutes, yes, 26 minutes, before an operator picked up the phone. To make a long story short, HOG would only tow me to the closest dealer… a dealer they were saying was in Lewiston, ME. This pissed me off and baffled me at the same time. It pissed me off because I knew the dealer in Lewiston was closed. It baffled me because Lewiston wasn’t the closest dealership, in fact, Big Moose was the closest dealer to me… I was parked in their parking lot! I pushed as hard as possible to get a tow to New Hampshire but they insisted Lewiston was the closest dealer to me. I offered to pay for the extra mileage and I was told that needed to be approved first… the operator told me she would call back and hung up the phone. [Note: She did call back, more than two hours later to tell me she still hadn’t gotten hold of the towing company.]

Something occurred to me while waiting for the return call. I have AAA RV Plus for this very purpose! Within 5 minutes I was on and off the phone with AAA and a tow was scheduled. I was given a 45 minute window of time. An hour and fifteen minutes later the truck pulled into the Big Moose lot… the driver didn’t leave his vehicle and AAA called me back: “I’m sorry sir, I made a mistake. We can’t tow your bike off the lot without the dealership being open to verify the bike is yours.” But I could verify it was mine. But they didn’t care. The next hour was a battle back and forth between me and AAA. Although the driver was willing to help me, and he knew the bike was mine, his hands were tied. I called and requested a new tow from the same driver and claimed I had moved the bike to the parking lot next door… the call came through from dispatch and right as we were about to load the bike, they called back to cancel. My claim had already been denied so I couldn’t make a claim for the same vehicle on the same day. If worse came to worse, I would spend the night in Portland, get drunk again, and let Big Moose fix the voltage regulator in the morning.

More time passed. The driver’s hands were still tied. He understood my problem, but there was nothing he could do. I kept looking at my phone for the time. Seacoast closed at 5 and we were still more than an hour away. It seemed all hope was lost. And at the last moment, just as he was getting ready to drive away, the call came through from a supervisor that said “Just tow it.” We don’t know why, and we don’t know what changed their mind, but we were thrilled.

It took about 45 minutes to load the bike. There were ratchet straps holding ratchet straps. This bike was going nowhere. At 3:00 Melisa and I squeezed into the cab with our gear and Todd and Kim went their separate way. The plan was to meet them in Conway New Hampshire that night assuming of course everything would be fixed in time. Time was not on our side. We were an hour away without traffic in the rain… and of course, there was traffic! I had already come to grips with the fact that my bike wouldn’t be ready and we’d be spending the night in Portsmouth. Heck, I was already planning where I would eat dinner!

Much to my surprise we arrived at Seacoast at 4:15. Tim in service was aware of our location the whole time and they were waiting for us! With surgical precision their service team pulled my bike off the truck and brought it immediately into service where a tech was waiting to get to work. They were like a team of ER doctors waiting for an ambulance to arrive with the injured from a nasty crash site. I can’t say enough about Seacoast HD – they were phenomenal. The work was completed faster than I could buy a T Shirt (the same one I wanted the day before) and complete my paperwork in service. And not only did Tim remember me from our visit to Seacoast the day before, but so did the woman working in motor clothes; and she remembered I never came back to buy my shirt. Well, I was back now!

Officially the bike was ready at 4:50. We loaded our gear, debated dressing for the rain (the sun was trying to poke through), and set on our way. It was 5:05. Melisa and I were thrilled that we would be meeting up with Todd and Kim once again, without losing too much time on our trip. Route 16 toward Conway was a great ride… two lanes most of the way with very little traffic. About a half hour into our trip the mist started to fall, but we made no thought of stopping. Then a light rain. Eh, we can persevere. And a steadier rain. We were wet, but it wasn’t too bad. Then the deluge. Yup, that sucked. And we were soaked. So we did what any smart person would do. We stopped to put on the rain gear after we were already soaked. Of course, once dressed properly, we completed the jaunt to Conway, albeit very wet. Thank the Maker for the hotel pool and hot tub!!!

Lost in the woes of the day was the desire to eat… in fact, we ate nothing after breakfast. And it caught up to us. We decided on a local brew house called Moat Mountain Smokehouse and Brewing Company in North Conway. The last time I visited Conway my riding partner and I couldn’t decide on dinner at Moat or dinner at The Scarecrow Pub & Grill – we chose the latter and it was very good so I was happy to be checking out Moat this time around. Of course, that happiness lasted minutes at best once we walked through the door. The beer was average brew house quality at best, and the food was very disappointing. I ordered the blackened peppercorn burger cooked medium rare. It was overcooked. It wasn’t very blackened. And it wasn’t very peppercorny. How’s that for a review?  The bacon however, was a nice thick cut bacon. We stayed until about 11 to get our drink on and made our way back home.

Melisa wanted to go for a gondola ride outside Moat.


The trip to and from the restaurant required a cab (and a cab ride when Kim forgot her ID) as we expected to drink more than we actually did and didn’t want to bring the bikes. The highlight of dinner came on the way home when we decided to play reverse-cash cab with the driver. He answered our questions, but he didn’t make any money off us. We actually thought we would stump a Granite Boy (that’s the same as a New Hampshirite in case you were wondering) by asking him what the capital of Vermont was. Yeah, that didn’t go so well.

Lessons learned today:

1. AAA, although great when it works, is a total failure when it doesn’t.

2. Enterprise “We’ll pick you up.” Yeah, not on weekends.

3. HOG Towing = horrible!

4. Put on rain gear before it starts to rain!

5. French Canadians love to vacation in New Hampshire.

6. Seacoast Harley Davidson… sure it’s the equivalent of a big box store, but in name only. Personalized service at its best.

7. Dealerships don’t open in Maine on Sundays.

Ride hard, ride safe, and enjoy every mile.

All over I have read how great Harley Goodies Floorboard Extensions are; but truthfully, I didn’t need them, my ride is comfortable enough. After all, it’s a Harley, it can’t get any better, right?  Yup, I was wrong.

I started the search for the floorboard extensions after I bolted on my passenger floorboards – the position of the passenger floorboards sat my wife’s feet tighter on the bike, cramping us just a little more than the passenger pegs. My search brought me to the Harley Goodies review page.  It didn’t take long to realize no one has anything bad to say about these products.  I composed an email to Tom, and sure enough, he got back to me that day letting me know that my model year (2012) is in fact available.

Although Tom got back to me, I did nothing with the information. Besides, we didn’t have an overnight trip planned for at least another month. Fast forward three weeks.  It was a Tuesday, the trip was on the horizon and I still hadn’t solved my floorboard problem. Rather than emailing Tom again, I called him. We spoke for 15 minutes about the differences and advantages of the product, he gave me a small homework assignment – check the thread size of the shoulder bolt on the 2012 bracket – and upon completion, I ordered the passenger extensions (chrome).  With a 2 week return policy, I also ordered a set of the rider floorboard extenders (black).  I wasn’t sure if I needed them, but figured they would be worth the shot.

As mentioned, that was a Tuesday.  They arrived that Friday from California (free shipping and cross country travel in 3 days?!?). I spent some time with the bike on Saturday installing them.  Installation was a breeze, although I admit, the original bolts were a bit difficult to get off because of leverage.  Tom recommended a 6 inch socket extension which I didn’t have.  I am sure it is easier with the proper tools!

Installation took about an hour for both rider and passenger extensions – the majority of the time was spent on the rider rather than the passenger extensions.  Instructions specifically dictated that the bike be taken on a slow test ride to assimilate the rider to the new riding position.  What better way to test ride than to go out for a sandwich!

After my ten mile jaunt all I can say is, wow!!! I was skeptical at first, but I am thrilled with the results. Tom put it best on the phone when he said, “they offer you more real estate.” And he wasn’t kidding. As a taller fellow, my riding position seemed more natural to me and I had plenty of room to move around on the boards. I have since been out a few more times and my bike has never felt more comfortable. The passenger extensions seemingly provide more room as two-up riding is less cramped.

Below are some pics after installation was completed.


Thank you again Tom!!!  This is one product endorsement I will definitely be passing along to fellow riders.

Manufacturer: Harley Goodies

Products: Rider and Passenger Floorboard Extensions

Cost: $46.95 and $39.95 for rider and passenger (Note: there is a discount for members of HDForums


Ride hard, ride safe, and enjoy every mile!

Part of Phee’s transformation includes a luggage makeover.  Although in the past I have always been against dressing the bike for long distance travel, I recognize that things change.  It is necessary to have ample luggage space if serious about taking long distance motorcycle trips.  Usually I am not too worried about aesthetics, but when it comes to Phee, looks are, well, not everything, but they’re a lot.

In mid-June I ordered the matching OEM hard bags, mounting brackets, guards, and duffel inserts. I placed my order through accessories4bikes and by doing so I was able to save more than $500 by not going through my local dealer (these savings were calculated after I paid for shipping). Within 24 hours accessories4bikes emailed me to let me know the mouting brackets were on back order through Yamaha until August 5th… of course, this was unacceptable as it was the first part necessary to installation.  There was no use having the other pieces without the brackets. Of course, I also wasn’t about to pass up the savings. I canceled the mounting bracket order and quickly started calling bike shops nationwide until I found one that had the part in stock. A few credit card numbers and two days later the mounting brackets were sitting in my kitchen.

The only downfall to ordering online rather than through the local store is time.  If ordered locally I would have had the bags in 4 days time – 1 day to place the order and three to ship from Yamaha to the dealer.  My total wait time online was about 10 business days, as the parts were ordered, shipped to the web site, and then shipped my way.

The middle of June was extremely wet here in the Northeast. When everything arrived I could do nothing but stare at the boxes in my living room.  I was anxious to get them installed, but I was also trying to stay dry.  So they sat… and sat… and sat… and about 4 days later there was finally a break in the weather.

(Yes, my buddy Gus Man is as sad as I am about the rain)

The installation proved to be a rather smooth process, and I learned a few things about my bike during that time as well.  First, the previous owner had installed the passenger floorboards on the bike backwards.  Because of this, the floorboard on the pipe side would leave a mark on the top of my pipes.  A positive side note of the luggage installation is the fixing of the floorboard. Of course, after careful examination of the right passenger floorboard, I learned it had a fairly severe stress crack. The board broke completely with a little additional pressure.  I am very grateful this pressure was applied with my hands in a driveway rather than a passengers foot on the highway.  The pics below show the broken board.

The removal of the floor boards is the first step in the luggage installation process, as the mounting bracket shares a bolt hole with the floorboard. I left the right floorboard off the bike for the remainder of the install, which made sense considering it was broken anyway. In addition to sharing a hole with the floorboards, the mounting bracket also used the sissybar/side rail bolt holes as seen in the picture below.  Also visible in that picture are the luggage guards and the left passenger floorboard – after it had been placed in the proper position.  The only draw back I see to the floorboards in their proper position is that they cover the Yamaha logo on either side of the bike (but I’m over it already!)

(mounting brackets, guards, floor board left side)

(mounting bracket, guards right side – no floorboard)

After all the hardware was installed, the luggage needed to be mounted.  It was very easy to do, however extreme caution had to be taken as to not damage the bag – if feasible, I recommend using two people to mount the luggage, one to hold and one to attach them… they are too expensive to risk careless damage.

Rather than wait and order my floorboards online, I wanted (foolishly) chose to pay full price at the local dealer.  Unfortunately one board was fine but I still needed to buy them in pairs.  All of my old mounting hardware was still in good shape and I was able to reuse it. With new boards in hand it took no more than 45 seconds to snap each into place and complete the job. I had a smile on my face when I finished, but the smile had little to do with the extra $150 I had to shell out to fix the boards, and it had everything to do with the rain being gone and the sun finally shining.

Ride hard, ride safe, and enjoy every mile.

I learned a very valuable lesson the other day when I rolled Phee out of the garage – the value of a trickle charger.  I will admit, I have been a bit lazy.  My battery was very weak last year, and even with a charge it never seemed to recover.  Fast forward 48 hours, the battery has been replaced, and I’m itching to ride… needless to say waking up to dark gloomy skies wasn’t too promising.  And here I am on the couch thinking about a product I purchased at the store on Wednesday – Blue Away.

When I was picking up my battery, I asked the guy in the parts department what product he knew of that could get rid of pipe bluing.  Immediately he pulled the Blue Away out of the glass counter. “Personally, I haven’t used it, but everyone swears by it,” he said. I picked his brain a little further and decided I’d give it a go.  Of course, then I looked at the price.  $17.50 for a 2.5 oz bottle… although I thought about it for a brief moment, and joked about not showing my wife the receipt, I left the store with the Blue Away with hopes it would do the trick.

As visible in the picture below, the bluing of my pipes isn’t too severe, but if the product works, it will be well worth the money. [Note: it is not an easy task to photograph chrome in the daylight]

(Blued pipes before)

During a break in the rain, I pulled the bike out of the garage, cleaned up the pipes a bit to remove any dirt/grime that happened to accumulate on my last ride, crossed my fingers, and got to work on the bluing.

Armed with two soft rags I opened the bottle, put about a blot the size of a dime on the rag, and began rubbing it into the pipes in circular fashion as one would a normal polish (any directions on the bottle are covered by the store’s label so I followed the directions I found on the internet) and then buffed it out with my second rag.

The first buff produced negligible results at best, but I wasn’t prepared to call it quits.  A second and third application yielded much better results.  The problem area on the pipes has, for the most part, disappeared; there still remains a small area of bluing that was very difficult to remove.

Not visible in any photo were a few passenger boot marks on the pipes and two winged-creatures that met a painfully warm demise when they  flew into my pipes.  I have not been able to remove them with any traditional polish.  The Blue Away removed both boots and bugs  with very little effort – even less effort than it took to remove the bluing.

Although the results are primarily positive, the Blue Away did cause minor swirling on my pipes.  I have tried to buff out the swirls, but to no avail.  My rags were soft polishing rags, they were clean, and there was no dirt or grime on the bike when I started using the Blue Away.  A quick Google search shows I’m not alone. While I don’t like the swirls, they are not too much of an eye-sore, and they are covered by my passenger floor boards 90% of the time.

(Blued pipes after)

Blue Away works, but it is not the magic elixir it is hyped to be. Perhaps my mind will change if I choose to apply it again in a few days and see if it removes any more of the bluing. But please, I urge you to proceed with caution as to not cause further damage to your chrome… or your bank account.

Ride hard, ride safe, and enjoy every mile.