Monday, October 2, 2017

Gordon's 1965 XLCH

     This is my friend Gordon's 1967 Sportster XLCH.  It's set up in a '60's flat tracker style with a hard tail.  The bike is kick start with a magneto and is set up to be street legal.  After the '65 the '66 and '67 Sportsters had two different engine cases.  There was one set of cases for the XLH, for electric start and different cases for the kick start only XLCH.

     Unfortunately Gordon, who has been know to sell a bike now and then, has sold this Sporty and it's on its way to Australia. I've seen the bike that replaced this one, and it's a beauty. I'll have a build photos soon.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Farewell Little Suzuki

     A friend gave me this little Suzuki. I think it is 1971-75 Suzuki TS-125. It sat on the side of my house for years while I tried to decide what to do with it. Finally I decided to pass it on and I gave it to another friend. 
     But when it was on the looked so...right.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Born Free 9

     Saturday it was time to head to Oak Canyon Ranch in Silverado, California for Born Free. It's a fairly short ride from Riverside. There was plenty of parking in the dirt parking area. There is parking available on the grass inside the event, but you have to prepay for that parking and I am not good at planning more than three or four days out.
       For me being a newbee at Born Free it was a little hard to tell where the parking area ended and the "show bikes" started. Next year I plan on spending more time looking at the everyday bikes in the parking area.


     The heat, crowds, the volume of bikes and other distractions made it difficult to focus on anything specific. Still, I know what I like.

     Then there are the bikes that are a little more unusual.

     This was my first trip to Born Free. Despite the heat and the crowds I really enjoyed myself. This bike show is different than all the others. I'll be back next year.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Going to Born Free

     I got a message from Stampede racer, John Joseph Rogers, asking if I was interested in going to Born Free. Interested? Yea, I was interested. I met John at is shop, Suicidal Custom Cycles (510-706-0199), 2156 American Ave., in Hayward Ca. and we headed south.

      It's a little over 500 miles from the SF to Riverside. Bob Marshal, Stampede Veteran, had invited us to stay at his home. It was a long ride and a super hot ride, that seemed to take forever. We didn't get to Bob's until after dark.
     The next morning, Paul Corey, also a Stampeder, showed up. He and his family had been vacationing in California. Paul's from West Virginia. 
Paul Corey
Bob Marshal and John Joseph Rogers

Friday, April 7, 2017

Chuck Lawrence, Stampeder

Thursday, April 6, 2017

BSA Owners' Club of Northern California

Saturday the BSA Owners' Club of Northern California held their April Fools North Bay ride. I usually meet friends on Saturday mornings for a breakfast ride from Novato to Pt. Reyes Station, but this day called for a change of plans.

As would be expected there were a lot of British bikes ranging from oily and rough to some looking like they just rolled off the showroom floor. And there were two Harley's, my '02 Sporty and Rolly's knucklehead.

Gordon rode his '66 Triumph T120 and we stopped high above Tomales Bay  for a few photos.

When we got to the little town of Tomales, there was a battery smoking in the street. It was a lithium battery that had been in a pristine Trumph Trident. When the rider pulled into town he noticed smoke and drug the battery out of the bike. He was lucky the bike didn't burn up and I think that nearly every BSA Club member took a memo, "Note to self, NO LITHIUM BATTERIES."

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Stampede Feelin' 2 Years After

I miss The Stampede. At this time of year I would be focusing my energy on getting the bike ready, and that felt good. This year I've got a little trip in mind for May, so I pulled out all the old stuff I used on previous stampedes. I'm not going to be riding nonstop day and night, so the bike can be a little more raw. But I will want my personal stuff and need some extra gas.

I decided to leave off the roll bag. I had used it for the Stampede because I needed the extra bag space and to mount LED lights for night travel. It also acted to block the wind and kept the rain from blowing off the front tire onto me, but it also caused some handling problems because the weight is high and forward. 
I put on the saddle bags from Stampede 10 and the 2 1/2 gallon gas tank from Stampede 9. That will give me the packing space I need and nearly 5 gallons of gas too. I think it looks good.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Bob Smith, Tough Ol' Bird

I was happy to see Bob show up for the Saturday Breakfast Ride. He's not riding yet but says his doctor says there is no reason for him not to ride. The Doc also said there should be no problem kick starting a bike. 

Monday, January 9, 2017

Bob Smith on Black Ice

     Saturday mornings a bunch of friends ride to Pt. Reyes Station for breakfast. This year, Saturday was the day before Christmas and it dawned cold, 27 degrees when I left home. When we met up, there were only four of us. The cold probably had nothing to do with the low turnout.

     Bob Smith was riding his 62 Triumph. The road was wet but I didn't see any ice and Bob didn't see any either. Which brings us to the crash 
     Bob was ahead of me when we turned left onto Platform Bridge. I saw him lose traction and then high side. 
     Bob was unconscious when I got to him. A motorist stopped and then went to call 911 (there was no cell service) and another was an off duty Paramedic. Still others had a blanket. 
Bob was transported to the hospital. Gordon and Tom, the other two riders took care of Bob's motorcycle.
     Bob's Triumph had a broken headlight and dented headlight bucket. The seat was torn and some parts ground down a little. 
     I learned that Bob broke his hip, a couple of ribs and his collar bone. He had surgery at Stanford Hospital.

Update- Bob was transferred to a rehab hospital in Sebastopol, California. I visited him there and he is doing well and in good spirits. 

Sunday, October 23, 2016


     In the rush to publish most moto-journalists repeated what Harley Davidson Factory Reps fed them about the new 8 valve engine.  Fortunately the Ray’s Motorcycle Diary staff has no deadlines or need to be the first to get to print.  RMD is never invited to the roll out of any new factory models. Shame that, but it does allow me to think about what I am being told.
     I do think the new Harley Davidson 8 valve engine is a big step forward, giving riders what they have been asking for, a cooler running engine and more horsepower.  Harley showed that with good engineering an air cooled engine can make decent power and meet emission requirements.

     It seems that everything that was changed on the engine, was a change for the good and in some areas appear to be brilliant engineering.  So would I say that the 8 valve appears to be the best engine the Harley Davidson has made?  I think the answer lies in what was not changed.

     Probably the most problematic area of the Twin Cam engine was the chain driven cams.  In 2002 Harley Davidson dropped the double tapered-roller crank bearings in favor of the less expensive plain-roller crank bearings.  The plain-roller bearings allow excessive crank end play.  If there is excessive end play gear drive cams cannot be used.  Gear driven cams make for much more precise valve timing and the chain driven cams and tensioners on the Twin Cams motors caused problems throughout the Twin Cams life span.

     When asked why Harley Davidson did not use the more expensive but superior double tapered-roller bearings on the new Milwaukee 8, Harley’s Chief Engineer of New Products simply said, “We didn’t see a need to use double tapered-roller bearings.” Further Harley claims they kept the chain driven cams to lower engine noise, which allowed them to have louder pipes, now it's not a flaw it's a feature. 

     So is the new 8 valve the best engine Harley has ever made? I don't think so because Harley Davidson didn't build the best engine they could using the best available technology, and worse, they know they didn't. This engine is, well, just good enough.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Sportster Blow By Catch Can

     I hope this catch can will solve the annoying problem of what to do with venting the crankcase.
     The crankcase builds positive pressure that must be vented. When the engine is started, condensation from the crankcase is vented until rising temperatures eliminate any water vapor from the system. After that it's an oily mist that is vented.
     Harley Davidson simply vents the blow by into the air cleaner. The problem is that on long rides oil can drip out through the air cleaner element and cause a mess.
     When I first built this bike and changed the air box, I ran a hose from the crankcase breather bolts down below the frame to vent onto the ground. This didn't work well for me as the hot oily mist condensed on the cold frame rails and made the bike an oily mess underneath.
     Also in my garage, the bike would occasionally drip onto the floor. It was only a drop or two, but I cannot abide oil leaks where there should be none.
     I got a bright idea, put an old fuel filter on the vent hose. The theory was that the filter mesh would condense the oil mist and the oil would sit in the filter body. The only trouble was, it didn't work, all I did was move the oily mess from the bottom of the bike to the top.

     I wondered how much oil came out through the system, so I taped a paper towel around my (fuel) filter to catch the oil. The photo shows how much oil was in the paper towel after a little less than a hundred miles.
     It certainly shows that my engine is not experiencing excessive blow by. It's amazing how much mess a small amount of oil mist can cause.
     I decided to look on the internet to see what others had done with their crankcase breathers. I was hardly surprised to find dozens of different opinions all presented as though they were the most expert advise possible. It seems oil has that effect on motorcyclists.
     I decided that a proper catch can would be the best solution to keep the oil mist and water vapor out of the engine and off the ground and bike. Most of the catch cans I saw were automotive and quite large for a motorcycle. I found the one below, made by a company called Golan. It's well made in the USA and seems that it would hold about about an ounce of fluid.