If you have been thinking about adding some horsepower to your bike there are many different routes you can take. Here are four of your best options.
Exhaust/ Air Intake. After-market exhaust will reduce back pressure. This makes it easier for the engine to receive oxygen, which leads to more power at the wheels and even improves fuel economy.
Cams. Cams increase the cylinder pressure as the engine’s RPM’s rise. This is done by the scavenging effect from the valve timing and overlap in the cam, which raises the cylinder pressure and increases horsepower with RPM.
Increase Motors Cubic Inches. There are only two ways to increase an engine’s cubic inches. You can bore it (engine boring increases the cylinder diameters) or you can stroke it (engine stroking increases the crankshaft stroke).
Dyno Tune. A proper tune will help ensure maximum performance, durability and reliability. We can also tell from the graph if your motorcycle is running properly, wasting fuel, or is not up to its full potential. In addition, the graph will also show potential problems in the drivetrain which helps us better diagnose any issues you may be having or would be having in the future.
We understand that every rider wants complete performance from their motorcycle. We also know that it is a top priority to ensure that any changes you make suit your bike and won’t harm anything along the way. Keep Chariots of Fire Customs, LLC in mind when it comes time for these upgrades. Custom is in our name, quality is in our product and service is our reputation. Happy and safe riding!
MPN found themselves in the St. Louis area recently and stopped at our place to check out our “new” location. They were treated to nearly 100 motorcycles currently being worked on, and got the full details of one custom in particular – our Zombie-themed Harley-Davidson Road Glide!
Check out the video for details from our very-own Sparky!
by Jan Knobbe Going into the new year, we thought it would be interesting to look at how far technology as come over the years we have been upgrading engines. We opened in 2005, and a lot has changed over the past 18 years!
Fifteen years ago we were working on twin cam and evo engines. Engine upgrades often included valve jobs and hand porting. We took 88 cubic inch motors to 96 cubic inches or 96 cubic inches to 103 cubic inches. Big builds then produced 110 cubic inches to 117 cubic inches.
Now we are working with twin cams and M8s. Engine upgrades often include CNC porting of heads; air research benches to see what the air flow is; big valves and four valve heads. Technology in cam shafts have progressed. Cam shafts now allow more air in and out of cylinders causing much better cooling of exhaust chambers which then increase horsepower with less octane detonation.
M8s have come a long way in five years with two over and four over valves along with CNC porting heads. This allows almost doubling what the air flow is in the factory head. With the M8 cam configuration of a single cam there is less drag on the cam chest which allows freeing up of horsepower very different from the factory twin cam. M8 standard upgrades are 107 cubic inches to 124 cubic inches and 114/117 cubic inches to 128 cubic inches. These upgrades are dependable daily drivers. We know this because we have modified our personal bikes. Major engine upgrades can exceed 155 cubic inches.
Years ago 88 cubic inch motors were built up to 96 making maybe 95 horsepower. Now factory motors are 107 cubic inches and 114 cubic inches making 100 horsepower. When built up to 155 cubic inches they make 200 horsepower at the ground. There are also pro chargers and turbo chargers available for you gear heads.
The evolution of motors is never ending. There are always better and smarter ways of gaining horsepower. We are proud of our efforts to stay current and knowledgeable about what is out on the market so that we can continue to provide the best possible service to our customers. We work with each individual customer to fit their needs.
If you’re interested in making some changes, come talk to Jan to see what modifications will work for you and your machine. Call us at 636-775-1385 and ask about our January engine upgrade specials.
The end of the busy season in the motorcycle industry means vendors and dealers can take time to reconnect. The networking and bonds we establish during this time transfers into better customer service for you, our customers. Jan and I are blessed to be a part of the Drag Specialties family. We bought in as new shop owners in 2005 and have benefited from this business relationship ever since.
The ”Drag Ride” takes place every fall. The first day is spent on vendor row learning about new products coming out. Jan often connects with vendors to talk research and development. Jan can also be very direct in asking why/what is happening to the supply chain! Jan goes to bat for our customers taking concerns directly to the vendor/manufacturer. I net work with our vendors to secure product for our many fundraisers and Lincoln County Bike Night.
The next couple of days are spent doing what we all love, RIDING! We enjoy net working with other dealers throughout the weekend. It was a blast to have Sparky and Trent along for the ride this year. They too were able to connect and learn from the vendors. This and other vendor/dealer events during the year are important for us to attend. These events help us stay current as the industry continues to become more and more technologically advanced.
Enjoy the GoPro footage from this event, compliments of Sparky. Peace Out, Reine
There’s nothing quite like being on a bike, so it’s no wonder why people get into motorcycles. It’s exciting to find a great bike and make it your own through upgrades and custom work. But after years of fixing all kinds of bikes for riders of all experience levels, our technicians have some recommendations for what you should be focusing on based on your riding experience.
New Riders – Build Your Foundation
When you’re new to anything, building a strong foundation of knowledge and skill is what takes you from novice towards expert. Especially with motorcycles. Practice builds experience. So, new riders should focus on these foundations before making big adjustments to their bike:
Safety – There’s nothing more important than safety on a motorcycle. Having the right gear, road knowledge, and well-maintained bike is crucial to a safe ride.
Regular Maintenance – How many miles until you need to change your oil? Your fork oil? When should you buy new tires or have a general tune up done? Knowing the basics about keeping your bike well-maintained will keep you riding longer and make it more enjoyable.
Pre-Ride TCLOCK – Always, always, always before you ride, TCLOCK. It’s so important we wrote a whole blog about it. Get the full pre-ride checklist here.
Riders Courses – Think of riders courses like having a coach. Someone to show you best practices and offer suggestions to make you a better rider. The ability to practice, screw up, and try again, safely on a closed course. All that practice and coaching is what turns a novice into a more experienced rider. You can find classes at the Missouri Motorcycle Safety Program.
Moderate Experienced Rider – Refine Your Preferences
You have the basics down, you know your riding style and what you enjoy best about your bike and it’s time to build on those preferences. Riders with moderate experience should be thinking about these things:
Check Tire Pressure* – One of the basic pre-ride checks is tire pressure. Even though you’re not a novice anymore, don’t forget about those foundations that got you here.
Comfort – Once you have the basics of riding down, you can turn your attention to making your motorcycle match your preferences. Swapping out the seat, handlebars, and forward controls are relatively minor adjustments that can make a difference for your comfort while riding.
Aesthetics – Ready to customize the look of your bike? When you’ve been riding for a while and are ready to invest in making your bike your own, adding chrome or getting new paint job can make your bike look brand new.
Sounds – Who doesn’t love the roar of an engine revving? Changing out your pipes for a little more rumble or upgrading your stereo system to jam out on a ride are ways to enhance the sound experience on your motorcycle.
Experienced Rider – Create Your Ultimate Ride
By now, you know the nuances of riding and have your favorite routes. You know if you prefer taking the highway versus touring or winding back roads. You know if you get a thrill with going fast to beat your buddy or just enjoy the relaxation of a leisurely ride. You’ve done it all so you know what you like…and what you don’t. For the seasoned rider, fine tune your bike for the ultimate riding experience:
Check Tire Pressure* – Hate to start with this basic pre-ride task, but it’s an important one. Even an experienced tech can’t look at a tire and know it’s low. You have to put a gauge to it and physically check to save problems down the road.
High Performance Upgrades – Since you know your preferred riding style, you can have fun with upgrading different aspects of your motor to enhance your ride. Different styles of riding have different modifications that can boost your ride. That’s when we get into the Stage I to Stage V performance kits. As you tweak your riding style, you will get the most enjoyment by also tweaking your motorcycle to match.
* Why do our technicians keep repeating “check your tire pressure?” It turns out that 90% of problems with suspension, wobbles, cupping tires, tires not lasting as long as manufacturer suggests, etc. can all be traced to…you guessed it, incorrect tire pressure. Here at our shop, we have had motorcycles come in with only 18-20 psi when most should have 42 psi or higher, recommended by tire manufacturers. You can find the tire pressure recommendations on the side walls, don’t forget to check and save yourself more hassle down the road!
Personal Protective Equipment
Whether you’re an experienced motorcyclist, learning, or thinking about returning to motorcycling, it’s imperative that you stay safe. That means you must wear the correct personal protective equipment (PPE), including proper weather gear in bad weather. This will ensure that you have many enjoyable and safe years of riding ahead of you!
These PPE items are essential for your safety as a motorcyclist:
Helmet – be a snug fit and properly fastened
Leather Jacket & Chaps – give you proper protection from impact, abrasion, cold or adverse weather conditions
Gloves – offer protection against extreme weather to avoid your hands becoming cold and affecting your bike handling and concentration
Boots/Footwear – fit above the ankle to protect feet, calves and ankles
If you have any questions about PPE gear or you’re wanting to get your own, we have plenty of options at the shop that are not only safe but stylish! Come in and let us help you pick out your gear!
Have more questions for our motorcycle technicians? Give us a call or come on by to talk bikes and schedule maintenance or modifications.
Here’s a little story about my first visit to a motorcycle road course in the home of Harley Davidson at the Milwaukee Mile Race track. This, among many others, was a first for me. First I’d like to say thanks to Jan and Reine and our Drag rep for taking care of us on this venture in our life.
This is going to be a long article, so grab a beer, whiskey or twist a green one and get comfy. I like to start from the beginning, and that’s checking the weather, oil level, tire pressure, overall condition of your machine, and don’t be scared to check your bros bike too. Never hurts to triple check, packing appropriately for the weather and day’s you’re going to be gone. Once everything is good to go with us, we roll out from the shop about 7:30 am. Everyone loaded up and excited about what the next few day’s hold in store for all ten people on this trip. A chilly and slightly damp 480…ish mile trip to the hotel that included some beautiful scenery and the chance to get lost in those thoughts and enjoy the ride. There was a brunch stop in Monticello for lunch at a nice restaurant and a stop for gas, we all had the opportunity to rag on and get to know each other a little better.
After arriving at our hotel we got some food maybe a whiskey and coke or two a short time in the hot tub and a good night’s sleep…kinda… I was super excited about this. Not sure what or how to compare it for others to relate to, but I fell asleep late and woke up early, had a double breakfast early one by myself and one with my beautiful better half and Jan and Reine. We headed for the race track which was about 20 minutes away and I got to lead everyone to the track, and let me tell you it was hard not to go 80 mph, I behaved and kept it within about 10 mph of the speed limit.
Doing my best to contain the inner child, we wind thru the small town that is built up around this race track to the center of the race track thru the pits to the motorcycle parking area. As I was parking Kayla was telling me something about you have to pay to park here, we’ll F that I don’t pay for parking, normally, so I get ready to move. I’m approached by a friendly gentleman asking me about paying the fee and he said the magic word’s “pay 10 dollars to ride your motorcycle around the race track”. I couldn’t get my money out or get signed up fast enough, so saying I was excited would be an under statement. Money paid, waivers signed, time line’s provided, we set out to see what the BRL pits have to offer. I saw some people that I met from the Drag specialties NVP event in Madison Wisconsin in August. We decided to get some souvenirs from the BRL swag trailer.
It’s finally getting to be that time to go ride the Milwaukee Mile on my Harley. Just a quick fun fact, before the BRL came here to race, motorcycles hadn’t been on this track since 1993…ish, while waiting for the track ride to start I had the opportunity to talk with some of the other riders and BRL fans. It’s finally time to go ride the track. I was kindly reminded by my better half that they said 40 mph is the speed limit. We had a fun lap, I’m thinking to myself that motorcycles haven’t raced here since 93 and I just got to ride my bike on the same track the pro’s get to!
Once the ride over was over it was time for some lunch and to find some good seats. We found them above the start/finish line just below the press box. Even with us being that high in the stands I could still feel that rumble when the bike’s went by. Once all 7 classes ran, we start our return trip to the bike’s, with one last look around the pits, I see a bike laying on its crash guards helmet placed like a crown, pit crew’s and riders having a laugh some having a cry, some working on a better strategy, the guy that drove 5 hour’s by himself with his self built race bike strapped in the bed of his small pickup just because he enjoys racing Harleys. I could feel and see the passion and love that everyone in the pits has for this sport. I hope that I have helped inspire some of you to get a bunch of your riding buddies together to take a trip to watch the race’s but also to have the experience of all of it.
Last month I walked into the living room and Jan was watching “The Best and Worst CVO Line-up” on YouTube. The narrator was Matt Laidlaw out of Laidlaw Harley Davidson in CA. I was curious if Jan agreed with Matt as this is purely one person’s opinion. Well, of course, Jan had his own opinion, not quite agreeing with all of Matt’s picks.
CVO stands for Customer Vehicle Operations for those of you that didn’t know. They are basically Harley’s “custom” motorcycles/limited editions, special paint and many extra features above other models. Some of these are older and were called Screamin’ Eagle models, not CVO. I learned that the change in name for Harley’s limited bikes started in 2009.
In this little piece I will list Matt’s picks and if Jan agreed or not, but to get a better feel for why Matt made his choices, I recommend checking out his video on YouTube.
Here we go:
10. 2010 Ultra Classic CVO
Ahead of it’s time; nicknamed “the dark side” because of all the blacked-out pieces that were typically chrome. Jan totally agrees that this should be in the top ten. Jan really likes the black over chrome. Just check out his personal bikes!
9. 2000 Screamin’ Eagle Road Glide
Jan agrees, top ten.
8. 2007 Screamin’ Eagle Softail Springer
Jan agrees, top ten. Jan believes that this bike runs great for the power to weight ratio.
7. 2013 CVO Road King
Yes, top ten. Jan likes the tank emblem and is especially fond of the blue/black paint scheme.
6. 2005 V-Rod Screamin’ Eagle
Jan is not a fan! Jan thinks this one should be on the worst list. No offence to the V-Rod fans. Remember this is one man’s opinion. Jan is just not a fan of water-cooled bikes. He also does not like the overall look of the bike.
5. 2015 CVO Street Glide
Jan is especially fond of the paint schemes from this year. It definitely should be in the top ten.
4. 2013 CVO Breakout
Super cool bike according to Jan. The power to rate ratio is far superior to other bikes and the colors are spectacular in Jan’s opinion.
3. 2009 Screamin’ Eagle Road Glide
Definitely in top ten as it was a new direction for Harley Davidson. They followed the after-market world and added the stretch bags. This bike is still sought after today.
2. CVO FXR3
Matt believes it is more popular in 2022 than when it first came out. Jan is not a fan! “Total waist of time. Should be on the worst ten list.”
1. 2018 CVO Road glide
This bike “raised the bar” according to Matt. Jan loves the accents Harley is putting on the motors now. Jan is especially fond of the gun ship grey, very classy.
4. 2009 CVO Fat Bob
Jan agrees and is not a fan of the “two headlight thing. “Makes it look like a metric bike.” -Jan
3. 2016 CVO Road Glide Ultra
Nothing special about this bike. Agrees that is should be on the bottom of the list. Jan believes it is a nice bike, just nothing new to claim its fame.
2. 2010 CVO Softail Convertible
Definitely one of the worst. You could take the bags on and off as well as the windshield. Just didn’t work.
1. 2014 CVO Deluxe
Yes indeed! One of the worst “uglier than sin”; terrible design; leather bags looked out of place. Not sure who had more negative to say about this bike, Jan or Matt. Again, no offense if you like this bike or own one. These are opinions only. Pictured with this article is Jan’s most recent bike. A 2021 CVO. It is pictured here stock. Not for long! Jan will be customizing it out this fall as time permits.
How do you feel about this list? Any that you think should be on the top ten that were missed? Are they dead on or way off? What’s your opinion?
As the warm weather motorcycle riding season continues and you have been on a few long distance trips, it’s time to make sure your motorcycle remains in the best condition. Exterior maintenance is an important job to make sure the surface paint isn’t experiencing damage and bugs don’t become a permanent addition to your bike. But, there is something more important to check!
Your motorcycle’s oil.
Just like your exterior cleaning prevents future damage, regularly checking and changing your oil will make sure your motorcycle will perform well for years to come.
Most riders know how important oil changes are for the overall health of their bike, but many forget how often you need to perform this maintenance. Some also wonder, “Should I change my filter at the same time?” Let’s clarify more on these maintenance tips.
How Often Does Motorcycle Oil Need to Be Changed?
How often you need to change your oil will depend on the type of oil it uses, miles and the frequency it’s driven. Your user manual will provide the recommended services for your specific bike, but as a general rule:
Synthetic oil should be replaces every 5,000 miles or at least once a year
Conventional oil every 2,500 – 5,000 miles or at least once a year
Should I Change My Oil Filter Too?
Many people wonder if they need to change the filter every time they change their oil. As a basic rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to perform this maintenance service. While it may seem like a small and unimportant task, the oil filter is as important as the oil itself in the aspect of making sure the motorcycle runs properly.
These small components together make sure that your motorcycle oil remains clean by trapping debris, sludge and other impurities from entering the various mechanisms of your bike. If these items weren’t caught by the filter, multiple areas of your engine would become dirty more frequently and potentially harm your motorcycle’s performance.
Make sure the oil you are using is designed for your engine i.e. air cooled vs water cooled bikes;
a motor off the showroom floor vs high performance motors.
When you purchase a new or used motorcycle, the suspension on your bike should be customized to you and your riding needs. The biggest mistake people make with their motorcycle suspension is using universal weight ratings. These are based on the average sized rider and the maximum amount of weight the bike can hold. But what do you need for your bike? Is it a comfortable ride? If not, let’s talk more about what you should consider when adjusting your motorcycle suspension for a smoother ride.
The problem with stock motorcycle suspension is it’s either too rigid or too soft, ultimately because it’s not adjusted to you and your riding style. When you want a more comfortable ride that is smoother over bumps in the road, you should start with a set of shocks that are made for your weight. What is your weight? It’s the total weight of you and your passenger, if you ride with two people most of the time. It’s also important to think about the dampening of the shock. Can it be adjusted? How hard is it to adjust? Additionally, is this shock a brand you have heard of? These are questions you should consider to ensure you’re taking all factors into account.
Shocks control the action of the spring. When you combine the spring and the shocks, they enable the suspension to move so the energy from bumps in the road are absorbed by the shock instead of your bike.
If you are looking for a recommendation for shocks, Jan and I will tell you Super Shox are what we have found to be the best. The reason we like these shocks is because they easily adjust by hand allowing for precise customization for every bike. They are ordered for the weight of the rider(s) and their gear. Also, these shocks have a 50/50 split where they travel the same distance both up and down. Finally, all Super Shox are manufactured, assembled and tested in Grayslake, Illinois.
No matter what shock you look at, if you keep these questions in mind you will find a pair that will match your riding style and fitment. Give us a call at (636) 775-1385 to take advantage of our July special for 20% off front and rear suspension components, including air rides.
When it comes to customizing your motorcycle, the sky’s the limit! You can add all sorts of accessories to make it stand out and look unique. One popular accessory is underglow lighting. This adds a cool effect under your bike that makes it stand out when you’re riding. There are a few things you should know before adding underglow lighting to your motorcycle.
Know Your State’s LED Rules for Motorcycles
First, underglow lighting can be illegal in some states. Before you add underglow lighting to your motorcycle, be sure to check the laws in your state to make sure it is legal. Depending on where you live, you may be required to have a certain type of underglow lighting, or you may not be allowed to have underglow lighting at all. For the state of Missouri, it is legal to have underglow lighting for your motorcycle.
Cheap vs Quality Lighting: Know the Difference
Second, not all underglow lighting is created equal. Motorcycle LED lights come in a variety of shapes and sizes, including pod lights, strip lights, and lights that can change color and even have lighting effects. There are many types of underglow lights on the market, but they are not all the same quality. Some underglow lights are very cheaply made and will not last long. Others are quite expensive but are made with high-quality materials that will last for years. It’s important to do your research and find underglow lighting that is right for you and your motorcycle. Our shop will guide you through the decision making process, and inform you on all of the best underlighting options for you and your bike.
Brightness and Safety
Third, underglow lighting can be very bright! If you are not careful, you can end up with a blinding light show under your bike that is more annoying than anything else. Be sure to consult with an expert or do your research to find underglow lighting that will provide the right amount of light for your needs. At Chariots of Fire Customs, we help you determine the proper brightness and saturation for your lights so that your bike can look just the way you want it and ride safely on the roads also. Be sure to educate yourself on how to utilize the controls to change the colors and patterns as needed.
Underlighting and Motorcycle Battery Life
Fourth, underglow lighting can drain your battery. If you are planning on using underglow lighting for long periods of time, be sure to have a backup plan in case your battery dies. If you are not driving the motorcycle or if you are away from it, you should turn off the LED lights. If done frequently, leaving the LED lights on while the motorcycle is turned off will drain the battery and eventually cause it to fail. We recommend only using the LEDs in small time frames and start the bike periodically to ensure battery voltage is adequate.
April’s Lighting Specials at Chariots of Fire Customs
Adding underglow lighting to your motorcycle can be a great way to make it stand out and look unique. If you are considering adding underglow LEDs to your motorcycle soon, this is a great time to do so! Now through the end of April, our shop is running specials on all lighting projects. Our team is equipped and ready to help you install your lighting safely and legally, so that your bike can get that killer glow just in time for summer and all the competition shows! Come by the shop today to talk about what you’re looking for.
SEARCH OUR SITE
E-Newsletter Sign Up
Sign up to receive our newsletter. We send two a month and promise not to share your information. You may unsubscribe at any time!
Register Now >