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How To Keep Cool While Riding This Summer

We’re all adjusting back to the warm weather after the damp cold winter we’ve just had. There are many ways to keep cool on your long rides in the heat. But remember “riding cool” doesn’t mean stripping down! 

Here are some tips on how to keep cool this summer on your bikes: 

  1. Hydration: The first tip would be the most obvious, KEEP HYDRATED! Always be sure to travel with water and drink as regularly as you can. You can simply pack a few water bottles or you can always buy a Hydration Pack to bring along with you.
  1. Wear The RIght Gear: You would think that removing your layers of clothing would cool you off but this actually isn’t fully true. You want to be protected and comfortable. Wearing the right ventilated “cooling” outer gear can keep you protected from the sun and can help you stay cool by allowing heat to escape through the ventilation. Stop by the shop and check out our summer gear or ask us any questions! 
  1. Ride At Cooler TImes Of Day: The temperature usually peaks at 12 and 5 each day in the Summer. Try to avoid riding around these times and try riding in the morning or in the evening to stay as cool and comfortable as possible. However if you are going to ride at these hot times of day, be sure to stay hydrated and take necessary breaks to avoid heat issues. 
  1. Open Up Your Vents: Your helmets have vents for a reason, open them up! This allows air to flow through to keep the temp regulated. All helmets are different so if you’re not sure how to open your vents, or if you don’t have any, you can ask us for help! We can help you find the perfect ventilated helmet. 

We hope these tips are able to help you keep cool and enjoy your rides this summer. 

Great Missouri Motorcycle Rides According to the Locals

by Reine Knobbe

Jan and I as well as all our employees are passionate about riding.  We work hard serving our customers during the week and look forward to riding on our days off.  I thought it might be fun to share with you a few of our favorite local rides.

Trent’s Top Ride: Portland, Missouri

Trent’s top ride is to Portland, Missouri.  Trent hops on Hwy Z in Wentzville and picks up Hwy F in New Melle (there a little jog on D to F).  Trent may or may not stop for a bite to eat in Defiance depending on the time of day.  Trent then heads southwest on Hwy 94.  When you get to Dutzow go right on Hwy 47 then pick up 94 again on the left.  Take 94 all the way to Portland.  Trent then turns around and “hauls ass” back the way he came.  I looked online and it looks like there are a few eating establishments in the area.  From Troy, Missouri it is just under 100 miles to Portland and around two hours drive time.  Hwy 94 is always a good route to travel.  I’ve never been disappointed!

Jan’s Favorite Journey: Linn, Missouri

Jan said his top ride this year is to Linn, Missouri.  Jan takes Hwy 70 to Jonesburg exit.  Go left straight through town.  When you get to the T go right and then make a left onto Hwy Y.  Hwy Y drops you off at Hwy 19.  Go left to Hermann.  Depending on the day of the week, Jan will stop by Lionheart Whiskey Co. for a cocktail and a visit with the owner (aka his son-in-law).  Lionheart is at the corner of 3rd and Schiller.  Continue south on 19.  Just past Swiss start looking for Hwy F and make a right.  Then left on Hwy W and right onto US 50 to Linn.  Dave’s Pizza & Wings is a good lunch spot.  Instead of going back the way he came.  Jan will take Hwy 50 through Union and then head north on Hwy 47 back home.  To Linn from Troy is around 90 miles and approximately two hours.  I’m looking forward to going with Jan down there this spring.  Last time I was with him we were in the truck back in February.

Reine’s Roadmap: Elephant Rock State Park

My turn!  Hmmm, so hard to choose!  My favorite local-local ride is W to Clarksville and then 79 to Hannibal.  But most of you can take that route easily.  Think I’ll take you southeast to Elephant Rock State Park!  Head south on Hwy 47 all the way to Washington.  Go right on Hwy 100 and then look for Hwy A on your left.  South on Hwy A to right on Hwy BB.  Then right onto Hwy 50.  In Beaufort take 185 south (left).  Take 185 to Springtown and pick up Hwy 21 on your right.  Hwy 21 to Elephant Rock State Park.  Home is usually quicker by taking Hwy 32 to Hwy 67 to Hwy 55.  I recommend packing a picnic lunch!  From Troy it is approximately 140 miles and just under 3 hours just to Elephant Rock State Park.  So much to do in that area.  If you have the time, I recommend camping or finding a hotel.  You can go to Johnson’s Shut-Ins or hike Taum Sauk Mountain.  Taum Sauk Mountain is the highest natural point in Missouri.  I believe there is a beautiful waterfall on the trail to the highest point.  It’s been a bit since I hiked it so you’ll have to explore that for yourself.  

Keep in mind the mileage and drive time is one way without any stops.  Build time into your day for your riding style.  All of us usually ride gas tank to gas tank and only stop for water, bathrooms and food!  Let us know if you try any of these out.  Happy riding and remember your sunscreen! 

Blessings, Peace Out Reine

Four Things You Should Know Before Installing Motorcycle LED Underglow Lighting

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. 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.

Motorcycle Tire Safety Tips

Ahh, the smell of fresh rubber tires…

To me this means a safe ride.  We’re stocking up on the best motorcycle tires for riding season at Chariots of Fire Customs, LLC.

Tires play a big role in the safety department of your motorcycle. As you ride, those new tires begin to break down.  The way you ride and your bike’s set-up will determine the wear on them as you rack up the miles.  Some riders just naturally have a longer life on their tires than others.

In terms of handling and performance, motorcycle tires set the tone for your journey. When your tires exhibit substantial indications of deterioration, your bike may feel very different, increasing the risk of losing control. Here’s what you should know about taking care of your motorcycle’s tires, whether you do it yourself or have a reputable professional do it for you.

Check the Pressure 

It’s critical to double-check that both tires are adequately inflated. Pressure is affected by a number of things, including how long you’ve been riding on the tires and the current weather.

If the pressure is low, you’ll need to use compressed air to inflate both tires to the necessary PSI. If the tires are over-inflated due to warmer weather or the load you’re hauling, use the Schrader valve to bleed them and recheck with a tire gauge.  Don’t just kick them and say “that should do”.

You should also thoroughly inspect both tires for nails or glass shards embedded in the rubber, broken material, tread separation, bubbling, or bulging. These factors affect tire pressure as well as your likelihood of an unsafe tire which could potentially cause a blowout.

Look at the Tread

Worn tread is a warning sign that your tires are nearing the end of their useful life and will no longer be able to withstand slick or harsh conditions. Make it a practice to inspect your tire tread each time you go for a ride.

Check to see if the rubber has begun to create a smooth appearance. Too much material has worn away if the rubber and wear bars look the same. If the cord on the tire is visible, there isn’t enough material left to ride safely. A gauge or penny can also be used to show how many millimeters are left.

Since there are only two tires, tread plays a vital role in safety as you ride. Direct touch with the road and how quickly a tread pattern deflects water can reduce your chance of hydroplaning.

Check the DOT number on the sidewall.  The last four digits are the only ones you need to concern yourself with.  How do you decipher these numbers?  For example, 0218 means that the tire was manufactured in the 2nd week of 2018.  Tires older than five years need to be replaced no matter how good they may look.  Reasons:  tire deterioration starts from the inside out because of moisture from compressed air and temperature variation.  Also, tire rubber gets harder with age and does not have the same traction as when new.  This means wet riding is compromised when taking off and stopping power is not as good.  Look at the tire tread closely as it will show you whether cracks have begun forming because of aging.

When to Seek Help

Not all rubber compounds are the same. Having a professional help you decipher the best decision to make for your bike’s tires is the best solution. Need new tires, or help checking your old tires? Stop by our shop during the month of March and April for special deals on tires.  20% off all Dunlop and Metzler tires while supplies last!

Four Ways To Improve Your Motorcycle’s Horsepower: By Amanda “Rosie” Lotter

 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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).
  4. 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!

Zombie Named MPN’s Ride of the Week

Motorcycle & Powersport News Ride of the Week

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!

Engine Upgrades Then & Now

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.

Industry Blessings by Reine Knobbe

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

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!

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.

Riding The Milwaukee Mile On My Harley

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.  

I ride hard so I’ll see ya at the next stop.