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.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Lions and Tigers and Scammers, On My

     Marie is selling her Sportster and this is the Craig's List advertisement we posted. It's a nice bike, Ok price, but apparently a scammer magnet.

2008 Sportster 1200 Low - $5400
ide this posting

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Cotati Speedway

     My little town has some interesting history. Cotati, the smallest city in Sonoma County, California, once had a board track speedway.
      Cotati Speedway was built in 1921. It was a 1-1/4 mile banked oval. The grand opening and first car race was August 14, 1921. The speedway had two grandstands that each held 5000 race fans and the infield was packed with an additional 10,000 spectators. Eddie Hearne, driving a Duesenberg won and set a record with an average speed of 110.85 mph for the 150 mile race.
     The first motorcycle race was held on September 4. Otto Walker won the 25 mile race on a Harley Davidson and set a record of 106 mph average speed. Walker set the first speed record of over 100 mph earlier that year at a board track in Fresno, California. Walker survived the tremendously dangerous sport of board track racing and retired from racing in 1922. He ran a sport fishing outfit on the Sacramento River and died in 1963 at 73 years old.
     The track was opened in 1921 and closed in 1922. There are many opinions on why the Cotati Speedway only lasted two years. The tracks builder Jack S. Prince had a paralyzing stroke, the weather in the Cotati area was too cool and damp, the transportation to the area was poor, the board tracks required too much expensive maintenance and the terrible injuries at board tracks are all listed as reasons that the Cotati track lasted such a short time. The truth is that all these things contributed to, not only the Cotati tracks demise but to the eventual end of all the motordromes.
      Today, there is no trace of the speedway with only one exception. After the close of the speedway the track was dismantled and the lumber was sold. 

     The floor of the Redwood Cafe in downtown Cotati was the racing surface of the Cotati Speedway.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Ryca Kit Bike

     I saw this bike in a parking lot the other day. I thought it was a sweet little chop.

     Later I got to thinking that I had seen a "kit chopper" that was similar, then I remembered the Ryca kits.  Ryca builds several kits, bobber, cafe racer, scrambler and street trackers, using the Suzuki (S40) Savage and Harley Sportster as the basic bike.
     It looks well engineered and it's a sweet looking little bike. I really like the way the Suzuki engine looks without the big chrome band at the top. The only down side is that because it's a kit they tend to all look the same, like a production bike. Over time the owner would probably change enough to make the bike different from the rest.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Muller Power Clutch

     The clutch on my 2002 Sportster has always been hard to pull and right now I'm just not up for it. A friend told me about the Muller Power Clutch.
     The Muller Power Clutch replaces the stock clutch release mechanism. Muller changed the angle of the inner and outer ramps on the clutch release in order to make the clutch lever easier to pull. Harley Davidson changed the stock setup to a similar configuration around 2006.

     The Muller Power Clutch was super easy to install and easy to adjust. It claims to make the clutch pull about 40% easier. I can attest that the clutch is much easier to pull. The only down side is that the Muller Power Clutch come at a price. Yep it's expensive.