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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sporty vs Winter - Part 2

I decided to go for a ride on Sunday because the temperature was in the 40s and the roads were mostly clear.  I headed downtown, stopped at Bob's for coffee, and rode around Lake Calhoun and Lake Harriet.

Then I went to Lakewood Cemetery to take some pics before heading home.  After entering the cemetery I could see up ahead that the roads weren't very good.  There was still some snow on them.  I should have turned around but didn't.

That was a huge mistake.

I hit a very slippery patch of icy snow and the bike fell right over.  I trying to be careful and was going very slow at the time but it fell to the right without warning.  I was fine but surprised as I have ridden in poor conditions before (rain, gravel, slush, mud, herd of buffalo, etc.) but have never dropped the Sporty.  I was glad to be so padded for the cold weather but my thigh hit the ground pretty hard.  The bike cut itself off.  I crawled out from under it, picked it up, and surveyed the damage.

Here's the bike after I stood it back up.  You can see my helmet and gloves off to the side in the snow.

Note how beautiful the cemetery looks and how great some photos of the bike against this backdrop would have been (this sentence should be read with heavy sarcasm).

I'll even give you a bonus color version.

Looking at the photos I really have to question my own judgment for riding ahead, however cautious I may have tried to be.  The snow was packed tight and turned out to be too slippery for two wheels.

Here's a summary of the damage...

Very bent brake pedal (one I spent a lot of time modifying to accept a shift peg, which only makes it hurt more):

Small tears in the exhaust wrap (these are minor and, so long as the wrap holds together, I think it gives character):

A little road rash on the underside of the front muffler (not too noticeable when bike is upright):

Deep scrapes on mirror stem, tip of mirror, end of brake lever, and minor damage to where the brake lever meets the housing:

Overall, I was pretty lucky.  There was no damage to the tank or anything else on the right side.  The bike rode home fine but I was careful to primarily use the front brake since the rear brake pedal was mangled.  The mirror and brake pedal definitely need to be replaced but I don't plan to worry about the exhaust.  I'm not sure whether I'll replace the hand lever or just try to grind it smooth and paint it.

Here are two additional pics taken in my garage.

What should have been a fun "bonus day" of riding in late November turned into a small disaster that left me with a scraped up Sporty and a sore thigh.  It could have been worse and I'm very thankful it wasn't.

Now it seems I have a longer winter to-do list for the bike than I previously thought.  It's not like I messed up a few stock parts and now have a great excuse to add cool new stuff.  Instead, I have to replace or re-do stuff I had replaced or customized in the past and was really happy with.  Dammit.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sporty vs Winter - Part 1

It hadn't snowed here in a while and what snow we did have had been melting a bit each day.  Today broke 40 degrees and, yes, I decided to go for a ride.  It had been 2 weeks since I thought I was done for the year.  I layered up and snapped the bubble shield to my helmet and headed downtown.

I went to Bob's and had a cup of coffee to warm up.  The guy behind the counter said I was the first bike of the day.  I was the only bike for the time I was there.

Here's a color version:

The roads seemed good and the sun was coming out so I decided to ride around the lakes a bit.  I stopped in front of Lake Calhoun for these pics.

Here's the first one in color:

After Lake Calhoun, I did a complete loop around Lake Harriet.  While the most of the main roads were dry, the roads around the lakes were wet with melting snow so the bike and I got pretty dirty.  I was glad I had the bubble shield.

After my spin around the lakes, I should have just headed home.  However, from the road around Lake Harriet, I could see Lakewood Cemetery, where I got a ton of great Halloween pics.  It looked great with the light snow cover so I decided to see about getting a few winter pics there.  That was a big mistake.

Learn why in part 2...

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Tank Sealer

Another brown box arrived today...

After doing quite a bit of research online, I went with POR-15 to seal my tank.  I got a quart of Metal Ready and 8 oz of Fuel Tank Sealer so I think I'm good to go.

A few other updates...

I think I will need a few additional parts for the speedo relocation beyond the clamp.  I need some sort of cushion and backing plate that is normally stock on other models of Sportsters but not on customs.

I won auctions on two different sets of risers to try.  The first is a set of 3" pullback risers that should be just slightly shorter than what I have now.  The second is a set of 1" stock risers from a different model of Sportster.  I like the idea of moving the bars closer to the trees but am not sure how comfortable it will be.  I also won an auction for a smooth top clamp that should work with either set of risers.  All the parts are black to match my bars.  I'll post pics when they arrive.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Speedo Strap

I am starting to collect parts for my winter mods.  I just received my speedometer relocation bracket (aka Auto Meter Shock Strap Kit #3209).  I have seen a lot of guys use this to hang their speedo near the front gas tank bolt.  Hopefully it's that easy.  I really have no idea what I'm getting into.

All I know is my current riser setup will not work with the 3.3 gallon tank because it's taller up front than the 4.5 gallon.  The speedo currently sits below the riser clamp and will hit the new tank so I need to move it somewhere.  I'm not sure what I'm going to do with my indicator lights yet.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

New Seat - Decision Made

Since I went with a 3.3 gallon tank instead of my current 4.5, my current seat won't look right.  I was leaning towards a Mustang Tripper Solo but ran across a deal on a new LePera Barebones that was way too good to pass up.  I know it won't be nearly as comfy as my current Mustang Vintage Wide Solo but hopefully it's not too bad.  Worst-case, you'll see the LePera on eBay in the spring and I'll probably make a few bucks on it.

I'll post some pics once it arrives.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


My new tank arrived today (3.3 gallon with pop-up gas cap).

Let the winter mods begin...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Under The Knife

With the riding season likely over, my focus turns to modifications.  The Sporty saw a lot of changes last winter including handlebars, fork springs, fork boots, and a homemade sissy bar.

This winter, I have new plans and the Sporty is going under the knife again.

This winter, at a minimum, I want to:
  • Change the tank to a 3.3 gallon, seal & paint it
  • Change the risers
  • Change the seat so it fits the smaller tank
  • Relocate the speedometer
  • Shave and possibly paint the forks
My long-term wishlist includes:
  • Hardtail the frame
  • Change the oil tank
  • Change the battery box
  • Change the sissy bar
  • Change the rear fender
  • Change seat (spring)
  • Change the headlight
  • Change to a mini speedometer
  • Change license plate holder / taillight combo
I've been shopping on eBay and I already have a brand new bare-metal 3.3 gallon tank and sealer kit (POR-15) on the way.  I am planning a rattlecan paint job but we'll see how that goes.  I have a few ideas but it will likely be a more traditional red & black design.  If I like the way it turns out, I'll probably try to get it cleared to protect it from gas.

I also have a clamp for the speedo on the way too.  I'm trying to figure out which size and type of risers I want to go with but I am leaning towards a set of black pullback risers to keep the handlebars pretty much where they are today.

Assuming I don't go all the way and hardtail the bike this winter (which would require a sprung seat), I will probably go with the Mustang Tripper Solo for the seat (I am a big fan of Mustang seats and have one on each bike) but I might try a LePera.  My current seat might work but I think it'll leave a big gap between it and the tank and look way too wide compared to the smaller tank.

Decisions, decisions...

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Last Rides Of The Season

After last weekend with unseasonably warm weather in the 60s, this weekend's forecast was full of snow and plummetting temperatures.


After work on Friday, I reluctantly made the call that it was time to winterize both the bikes.  Nothing like waiting until the last possible minute...

My process is to run them for about 15 minutes or so to get them warm, add fuel stabilizer, run them for another 5-10 minutes to get the stabilizer through the system, and change the oil.  I'll put the batteries on tenders, clean them up, ensure the tires are properly inflated, and throw a blanket over them later.

With my trusty Sta-Bil tucked into my jacket pocket...

... I suited up for a very chilly evening ride.

Yeah, yeah, I know... I wore clears, not sunglasses - it just made for a better pic.

After about half an hour riding around in the cold, I took care of the oil change on the Sporty.

Then I did it all again for the Road King.

I'm really glad I took care of both bikes last night.  This was the view out my window this morning and it's still snowing.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Fatboys and Deer Hunting

Last Sunday was a really nice day - close to 60 degrees.  I took a short ride north along MN-47 and then cut east on Viking Blvd.  I stopped at Fatboys in East Bethel for the first time in quite a while.  I just popped in for beverage and headed across the street to take some pictures.

I've been many times but I don't think I've posted anything about Fatboys.  It is a motorcycle-themed bar and grill.  All the barstools are solo motorcycle seats, which is kind of cool.  They have a number of motorcycles on display.  They occasionally host live music and events.  They have a decent amount of dedicated motorcycle parking and a burnout pit.  One important note is that the address on their website is very misleading.  Fatboys is actually at the corner of MN-65 and Sims Rd NE (Cty Rd 86) in East Bethel, MN.

Here's a pair of pics of Fatboys from across MN-65.

Next to where I took those photos was an old gas station.

On the way home, I could tell it was deer hunting season.  The firearms opener was this weekend.  The guys over at Church of Choppers should be thrilled.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Two-Up Again - Finally!

This past Saturday marks the first time my wife and I rode together since March (we became parents in August). The timing was perfect - we had family in town to watch our daughter and the weather was unseasonably warm for November in Minnesota (mid-to-upper 50s).

As a reminder to all the new dads & dads-to-be out there, just because your baby can fit in your saddlebag (like mine does below) doesn't mean you can go riding with him/her in there.

We took the Road King downtown to The Joint and to Bob's Java Hut. It was a beautiful day and we both felt very lucky to get a ride in together before the end of the season.

Here you can see the crowd in front of Bob's.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

More Gravel in Dayton

I managed to get out for a brief ride in the cool November air this past Friday.

Here's a shot in front of a cornfield on E French Lake Rd in Dayton, MN.

From there I turned onto 117th Ave N, and accelerated fast not realizing the road was about to turn to gravel.  I was doing about 40 mph when the road transitioned, which surprised me.  Something about the light and perspective made it look like pavement.  Anyway, I kept the bike upright while I slowed down.

I can't explain my recent fascination with gravel roads - I think it's a mix of the challenge and the scenery.

Anyway, here are few pics...

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Monday, November 8, 2010

Halloween in Lakewood Cemetery - Part 3

Here are the last of the black-and-whites from Halloween including a few action shots taken while riding...

I'll post a few color versions in Part 4...
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