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Ask a Motorcycle Technician: Motorcycle Modifications Based on Your Experience Level

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!

Have more questions for our motorcycle technicians? Give us a call or come on by to talk bikes and schedule maintenance or modifications.

Consider This When Purchasing a Used Motorcycle

By Reine Knobbe

First of all, thank you for making Chariots of Fire Customs LLC one of your go-to places when looking for a used motorcycle.  We realize that we have a very limited inventory so you will need to look elsewhere when we don’t have what you want.  We offer advice and knowledge when you walk into our establishment. But what is a person to do when they are out on their own looking to buy a used motorcycle?

The top three things that Jan and our technicians suggest you look for in a used motorcycle are milage, maintenance records, and overall condition. 

Mileage & Maintenance Records

The average miles put on a motorcycle are 3,000 – 5,000 per year depending on the state you live in.  If the mileage is very low, great!  If the mileage is on the high side that is good also IF the motorcycle was well maintained. That’s when you want to look at maintenance records to see if basic maintenance was performed in a timely manner. If the mileage is low, how are the tires?  They might be dry rotting from sitting. Not everyone realizes that tires need to be changed because of dry rot, even if there are low miles on them.  

Overall Condition

Questions to ask when looking at the overall condition might include: 

  • Was the bike in a flooded area?
  • Was the bike ever in a wreck
  • Does the owner live down a long gravel road? If so, the frame may be chipped which could lead to rust in older motorcycles. 
  • Are the spokes and wheels clean?
  • How is the paint?  
  • Will they allow you to start the bike and run it through the gears?
  • Can you take a test ride? Know this question is best saved for serious offers only. 

A couple other things to consider is the location of the seller. If it is out of state, is it worth your time and money to travel? Once you meet up with the seller use your basic instincts. Ask questions about why they are selling their motorcycle, such as:

  • Not enough time to ride
  • In need of funds
  • Upcoming surgery
  • No longer able to ride.  

There are as many reasons as there are people! By asking these questions you can get a feel for how much they love the sport. That can help you determine if the motorcycle was well maintained or not so much. When looking at a potential bike, consider the environment the bike is kept in. If the area is cleaned up and well maintained and the seller is knowledgeable about recent maintenance, it is likely that the motorcycle has been well maintained. If they name their motorcycle and have a special place in a garage you can rest assured, they kept good care of her!

Be sure to check out our current selection of bikes available and reach out if you have questions – we’re always happy to help!

Top Restaurants For Your Next Ride

We asked our friends on Facebook for the best places to stop for a bite to eat when they’re on a ride and they didn’t disappoint. Check out these restaurants worth taking a break for some delicious food. For the full list of suggestions, take a look at the original post on Facebook.

Keep it Local – Less than 30 minute ride from Troy, MO

Cadillac Bills in Elsberry, MO

For car nostalgia and tasty burgers, you’ll want to head to Cadillac Bills. Customers rave about the burgers, variety of sides, and hand-dipped ice cream.

Main Street Bar & Grill in Old Monroe, MO

An Old Monroe community since the 1950’s, Main Street Bar & Grill serves a variety of sandwiches, burgers, surf and turf dinner entrees, and plenty of appetizers and sides. Check out their live music on Friday nights.

Dickey’s Smokehouse in Winfield, MO

Enjoy prime meat smoked to perfection at Dickey’s Smokehouse. Featuring daily specials and freshly made sides. Ribs, wraps, and wings keep customers coming back. 

Rookies in Wentzville, MO

With a laid-back and neighborhood vibe, Rookies serves a delicious mix of bar food and dinner entrees to satisfy any palate. Each burger has a sports-themed name like Zamboni, Pucker Up, and Penalty Shot.   

Taormina’s Family Restaurant in Troy, MO

Featuring homemade Italian favorites, Taromina’s is the plate to go for a hearty, filling meal. The extensive menu includes authentic Italian sandwiches, pasta, pizza, as well as chicken, beef, and seafood entrees.  

Casual Cruise – About an 1 hour ride from Troy, MO

King Louie’s Drive In in Wood River, IL

Family owned and operated for nearly three decades, King Louie’s is known for their classic diner feel and food. They’re infamous for their King of the Jungle Challenge, where customers are tested to eat a 2lb burger, loaded potato planks, a 32 ounce soda in 30 minutes.

Woody’s Pub & Grub in Ashland, MO

Casual and family friendly, Woody’s Pub & Grill is the perfect spot to stop for lunch or dinner. Catfish, fried pickles, and burgers are highly recommended by customers.

Shady Jack’s Saloon in St. Louis

Known as a motorcycle restaurant and bar, Shady Jack’s Saloon is a lively spot for a bite to eat for anyone craving a good burger, pizza, or sandwich. Get there early for breakfast served until noon and don’t miss their signature beer, brewed in partnership with Bastard Brothers Brewing Company. 

Jan and Reine’s Top Day Trip Picks

Patti’s 1880s Settlement in Grand Rivers, KY 

About a 4 hour ride

Famous for their 2 inch thick pork chops, fluffy meringue pies and flower pot bread, Patti’s 1880s Settlement is more than a restaurant. This destination features six gift shops in a  historical log cabin village, beautiful gardens, gazebos, mini golf, remote control boats. Dining reservations strongly recommended.  

Lambert’s Cafe in Sikeston, MO
About 2 hours 45 minutes

Known for their generous portions of comfort food and extra large “throwed rolls,” Lambert’s Cafe promises a full belly and family-friendly atmosphere. With 80 years in business, customers keep coming back for the variety of pork chops and steaks as well as chicken pot pie, dumplings and wings. Of course, not to mention the hearty sides to keep for yourself or share with the table.    

Don’t forget that we’re here to help you make the most of your ride. Swing by the shop while you’re out and about to say hi, shop our apparel and gear, join an event, or schedule maintenance. 

Customize Your Suspension for a Smoother Ride

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 dive into what you should consider when adjusting your motorcycle suspension for a smoother ride.

Suspension Basics

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 101

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. 

What You Need to Know About Fork Oil Changes

This month’s special is fork oil changes. Often overlooked, this regular maintenance task keeps your bike running smooth. Depending on the brand of your bike, your owners manual usually will recommend fork oil changes every 20,000 to 50,000 miles. For instance, Harley Davidson suggests changing fork oil every 20,000 miles. If you’re not sure about your bike, give us a call and we’ll let you know. 


If you’re not sure when the last time your fork oil was changed, how do you know it might be time? If the front end of your bike starts to feel too soft or you notice the nose diving when you apply pressure to the handlebars, it could be time for your fork oil to be changed. Another, more subtle, sign is when the forks come back up jerky or too fast, instead of smoothly and evenly like they’re supposed to. 


It’s also important to know that there are different weights of fork oil available. The difference is based on the amount of dampening you want in the front forks. If you use a lighter weight oil you will not dampen as much as if you use a heavier oil. In other words, the viscosity of the oil will affect the feel of the suspension.  


Harley puts an equivalent oil of 8 to 10 weight oil in the stock shocks. Jan and Sparky will recommend 30 weight oil due to the fact it dampens at a slower rate and your forks will not slam back up. Instead after a bump the forks will slowly return to the original position. This will give the motorcycle more of a European feel and make the bike respond with more control. 


Ultimately, the oil used is based on your personal preference. If you change the oil weight and do not like the ride it is as simple as try another weight until you find that sweet spot.


Give us a call to schedule an appointment to change your fork oil and notice the difference in how smooth your bike rides. The month of June, fork oil changes are 15% off!

Top 10 Songs for Your Summer Playlist

Last month we asked our friends on Facebook and Instagram to share their favorite songs for the road and they did not disappoint. A mix of upbeat tracks, songs you’ll want to sing along with, and chill tunes perfect for an easy cruise down an empty road, there’s a little something for everyone.

“Way Down We Go” by Kaleo 

You might know this one from the many TV shows it’s been included in. If not, it’s a steady beat to add to your playlist. With distinct vocals, it’s the kind of song that builds and will have you nodding along with the beat.  

“Highway to Hell” by AC/DC

This is a song that needs no introduction. Classic and rocking, we can’t think of another other song that defines a rumbling bike down a long, open road like this one.

“Mississippi Queen” by Mountain

If it’s not the cow bell or the striking guitar riffs that excite you, maybe it’s the catchy chorus that will have you belting out this hard-rock classic in no time. 

“Black Betty” by Ram Jam

Iconic and upbeat, this classic rock hit might have you itching to give the throttle a little more juice. The fast-paced tune was rose to the top of charts in 1977 and it’s still in our top list today. 

“Vultures” by Asking Alexandria

British rock band, Asking Alexandria, wrote this while on tour in 2015 but it wasn’t until 2017 that it was included in their album. With a steady beat, soulful lyrics, and captivating vocals, it’s the right song to add depth to your playlist. 

“Low Rider” by War 

Described as “American funk,” War release Low Rider in 1975 and it quickly rose to the top of the charts. With a laidback beat and smooth vocals, it’s an easy addition for a long, chill ride. 

“School’s Out” by Alice Cooper

When many people think of Alice Cooper, this iconic hit is often first to come to mind. According to Wikipedia, the song was inspired from the question, “What’s the greatest three minutes of your life?” Maybe your answer is riding your bike. 

“Born to Be Wild” by Steppenwolf

When you’re on the open road, the possibilities seem endless. Or maybe a little wild. This classic rock track has been associated with bikers for decades and we’re not mad about it.

“Take It Easy” by The Eagles

One of their signature songs, this tune is a classic: catchy with a winding melody that will have you singing along. “Take it easy” sounds like a perfect rule to live by this summer.  

“Hot Blooded” by Foreigner

High-energy and catchy, this ultimate rock anthem will make the miles fly by while you nod along to the beat. Really any Foreigner song could be on this list, but we’ll pick this one for summer.

If you want to hear your playlist clearer and/or louder be sure to stop by the shop to get the low down on our top stereo and speaker picks.  15% off this month! 

Light Up Your Ride

Chariots of Fire Customs LLC carries Custom Dynamics® lighting for a good reason. Directly quoted from their page “Custom Dynamics® is the leader in aftermarket LED lighting and accessories for motorcycles. Offering a variety of LED lighting upgrades and electrical modules for any vehicle to add safety and visibility including the premium ProBEAM® product line. After almost 20 years in business, the small-town, family-value mentality still serves as a guiding force of the company that prides itself on unmatched customer service and technical support.” Their small-town, family-values fit perfectly with Chariots of Fire Customs LLC!

As those of you who have visited our shop know, they provide us dealers with a great display so that you can see the lighting before purchasing. They have many new products for the 2021 riding season. We just happen to have 15% off lighting again for the month of April, so stop on in and let us light up your ride!

Tailend of motorcycle featuring Custom Dynamics lighting

Winter Preparations by: Jan Knobbe

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V-Twin Jan Engine Parts

It’s November and most riders are getting ready to put their motorcycles away until the spring when the warmer weather returns. Don’t forget about maintenance, even in the cold months.  The first thing to do if you’re going to store your bike for the winter is to wash it, then change the oil and fluids.  For the metric bikes, make sure the antifreeze is good. Finally, for all makes and models, install stabilizer. Stabilizer is very important because gas only has a 14 day life span. Why only 14 days? Because of the alcohol and other chemicals they put into gas to make it meet emissions. If you treat it with stabilizer it will last the winter. Also, don’t forget a battery tender, cover and park it on a piece of wood, not directly on a concrete floor to preserve the tires.

For those of you who were shamed or beaten by your buddies bike this past riding season, take this down time and upgrade your engine. What can we do for you to beat your buddy next year?  Chariots of Fire Customs LLC can help you decide if you need a simple cam job or move to a monster motor that is fast AND reliable to ride on the streets. We can help you decide if you need cams, big bore; cylinder heads, turbos, superchargers to name a few ways to make you go fast. An upgrade will definitely turn heads and it is a very exhilarating ride!

For the rest of you with twin cam motors there is a very important routine maintenance that is required at or around 35,000 miles. Yes, I’m talking about cam tensioners. A simple check or replacement can save you a breakdown or possible major repair down the road.

To those of you that want the sleek or slim down look, come talk to us for ideas. We can customize your ride to make it your own. Handlebars, wheels, audio and speakers packages, simple grips and dress up kits. Make your ride comfortable and unique. We can help you out!

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We Weren’t “Shocked”, Just Impressed

by Reine & Jan Knobbe

Just coming back from the Hot Bike Tour, I was reminded once again about the wide variety of motorcycles on the road.  From simple streamlined Bobbers to the cureent popular 30 to 32 inch front wheel baggers.  One thing  that we all experience on our rides are the many bumps, potholes, and other objects on the road that can’t always be avoided.  Many riders start out on the totally awesome hardtails that look cool but are often termed “bar hoppers” because they are not comfortable to drive across the country like the cruisers.

Not all rides are created equal and some rides can be bone jarring!  Factory shocks have come a long way and most rides now have air ride shocks.  Jan, always on the lookout for new porducts, recently came across Super Shox shocks.  So he called the company and told them about the Hot Bike Tour and that he wanted to try out their shocks to determine for himself if what they were advertising was true.  They agreed to send him a set to try out.

Unffortunately Jan’s bike is down (that’s another story), so we were unable to take it on the tour.  Lucky for us we have a terrific employee, Chad Hemmelgard, who loaned us his bike.  We transferred our Mustang seat (I must have my comfy seat!) and Jan put on the new set of shocks.  I must admit I was a little nervous about the cross country trip having had very little ride time this summer with all the rain and then a downed bike.  I road over, 2,000 miles from Troy, Missouri to Billings, Montana and enjoyed every minute!  We took the scenic route off the major highways as often as possible and the ride was smooth everywhere!  Even the highway abutments that were big were not bad at all.  No bone jarring bumps on this trip!

There are lots of shocks on the market.  Big DIFFERENCE in shocks is that factory shocks are air over hydraulic, SUPER SHOX shocks are coil over Nitrogen, similar to the shocks they put on most of the Screaming Eagle models but much better.  Check out these shocks on YouTube and call me if you like what you see.  They are worth every penny or dollar, remember what HD stands for.

Your Tech and Owner,

Jan Knobbe and Reine Knobbe