That is the question you should ask yourself when deciding what lights to add to your motorcycle. We have been testing products for 15 years so when we come across not only a good product but a great company that backs their product as well, we get very excited! Both Custom Dynamics and XKGlow have reliable products to offer.
Custom Dynamics offers a wide variety of lighting. Our mechanics had the opportunity to personally test out a few of these items on their own rides and they are more than satisfied! These include, Windshield Trim Lights, Front Fairing Lights, Fender Fillerz Lights, Low Profile Saddlebag Lights, Saddlebag Latch Lights and Front Reflector Replacement Lights. You can also add a flashing or sequential module that will increase the visibility of your lights as well. If that doesn’t sell you on their product, Custom Dynamics LEDs also come with a lifetime warranty.
When referring to lighting that illuminates your accents we recommend the XKGlow Underglow Kit. This is a very user friendly kit with a fully expandable system that can be controlled directly from your phone. The XKGlow kit has many settings to help you accomplish the being seen factor which includes coinciding your brake and turn signals with the rest of your bike’s lighting. Another one of our favorite products of theirs to pair up with the kit is the XKChrome headlight and riding lights. Both feature colored Halo lights which are my personal favorite.
Anyone in the motorcycle world can tell you it is just as important, if not more to be seen as it is to see. With that being said, we have everything to bring your lighting dreams to life. Just to sweeten things up a bit more, lighting is 15% off for the month of September.
It is so important you just gotta do it! I’m talking about routine maintenance. As one of the owners of Chariots of Fire Customs LLC, I often perk my ears up and, yes, as much as I hate to admit it, I listen in on conversations at the parts counter. There are so many times I over hear someone complaining that they did not get very many miles on the tires they bought. Did you maintain the tire pressure? You gotta do it! Jan checks the tire pressure on our motorcycle EVERY time before we go riding. Your tires will last longer.
“My battery is dead. It did not last as long as it should have.” Did you put it on a battery tender? You gotta do it! Especially if you are unfortunate enough to only ride a couple times a month. Jan uses his battery tender year round. Not just during the off season (is there such a thing?). Your battery will last longer if properly charged up.
“The motor locked up.” Did you check your fluid levels? You gotta do it! Checking the color of your oil is just as important as checking to see if it is full. New motor oil is typically amber and transparent, similar to the color of honey. It doesn’t retain its original color for long though as each heat cycle darkens its color. Besides the natural darkening of oil every time you ride, there are other reasons that your oil can change color that may indicate issues with the engine. If the engine oil contains more than the usual trace amount of water, it will appear milky and diluted when you pull the dipstick. Water droplets clinging to the end of the dipstick are especially problematic. Besides the heat cycle, contaminants will also darken engine oil. Tiny metal particles from engine parts will break free and circulate in the oil. The dust and dirt kicked up from the road and not trapped by the oil filter is another contributor to the oil’s darkening process. Check your owner’s manual or check with your trusted mechanic on how often you should change your oil.
Remember TCLOCK? This acronym will help you keep your ride running in top condition. You should run through this list before EVERY ride. Get into the habit. You gotta do it! T- Tires and Wheels Tires- Check tread depth, wear and air pressure Wheels- See if any spokes are loose or if the rim is bent or cracked. See if it turns freely, but is not loose on the axle. C- Control Levers Inspect levers. Verify they are not bent or broken and move easily. Check cables for fraying and lubricate them. Check hoses for cracks, leaks, bulges and chaffed areas Make sure the throttle moves freely. Closes easily. Lube if needed. L- Lights & Battery Check that the battery terminals are clean and tight and that the electrolyte level is correct. Plus make sure the vent tube is hooked to the vent outlet and not kinked Check the turn signals and brake lights for proper operation. Make sure the lenses are not cracked or broken Headlight- Check for proper operation and alignment O- Oil Levels Check engine oil level plus transmission and primary drive fluid levels Observe the color of your oil as mentioned above C- Chassis Steering Head-Move handlebars back and forth to check for tight spots or binding. Hold the front brake and rock the bike front to back to check for any free play in the neck bearings. Suspension- Check the front forks and the rear shocks for smooth travel and right air pressure (If equipped) Belt- Check tension and visually inspect for any rocks or other objects stuck in it. Fasteners- Check for any loose nuts or bolts and tighten if needed K- Kickstand Side stand- Check for ease of operation and spring action.
Oh, and check the gas dummy! LOL you don’t want to get stuck on the side of the road because you ran out of gas. This month’s special just so happens to be oil changes. Be sure to make your appointment today. Those of you heading off to Sturgis should have already called. We will do our best to make sure your ride is ready for the long trip, but we book up fast this time of year! Don’t wait until the last minute. When you come back from Sturgis, or any long trip, be sure to get that engine oil changed. You just gotta do it! While you’re in here, we also have 20% off shirts, sunglasses and helmets in August.
For educated riders, this may seem like a silly question. After all, most of us know that the suspension system on a motorcycle is the shock absorber. But as I do my research, that is not quite right. The purpose is to control the suspension movement and not the spring. Depending on its type, a motorcycle’s suspension system can also enhance its stability and grip when riding around corners and in a straight line. Hard to grasp when in my experience I can attest to being on a long road trip and feeling every bump, sometimes jarring me all the way up my spine and into my neck. Ouch! Instant headache! Thankfully, Jan has found a really good product that we both highly recommend. After changing the rear suspension the jarring when we hit those big unavoidable bumps in the road is not quite as bad, but more on that later. First, let’s explore what’s out there.
Last month I wrote about the importance of maintenance on your fork legs which absorbs the shock from the road in the front of the motorcycle. This month I am focusing on the rear suspension. Let’s start with the different types of rear suspension. I’m told there is the “Piggy Back” style whose purpose is to increase performance, in this case speed. Called “Piggy Back” because of the reservoir on the side that holds additional oil. This additional oil provides the proper volume compensation. In addition it provides additional dampening valves therefore increases shock performance. It has a remote clamping system that allows you to adjust dampening according to your riding style. Next there is the air shock which has an air chamber that contains a valve coming off of it. The air chamber can be inflated or deflated to lower or lift your motorcycle for a comfortable and smooth ride depending on the situation/weight of rider(s) and gear. Many motorcycles have coil over shocks with only oil used for damping. Coil over shocks is fine for casual riding styles and tend to be the least expensive option. A disadvantage is that the oil can begin to foam if it is constantly moving and so the damping ability begins to fade. Probably not the best choice for cross country riding. There is a second coil over shock that uses nitrogen instead of oil which eliminates the foaming of the oil providing a more stable system. The advantage is that you can go on long rides and the shock will maintain optimum performance as there is not the fading seen in the oil based coil over shock.
My technicians wanted me to point out that they have found problems with the suspensions not leveling out properly causing instability issues. The fix is to do a one-inch lift on the rear with a better shock to increase stability. Jan said you can even do a one-inch lift kit and one-inch longer shock to fix the stability issue.
So what does Jan have on his motorcycle? Supershox is the brand that we have found to work the best for our riding style. Jan and I like to get on the bike and take 300 – 400 mile rides when we have day off or when riding cross country during vacation. As I mentioned above, as a passenger I can really tell the difference when riding a bike with Supershox shocks. Supershox is the nitrogen filled over coil system. Supershox is ordered per motorcycle based on owners riding style and weight making it one of the top shocks in our opinion. We just happen to have suspension parts on sale this month for 20% off. Feeling a bit stiff from hitting pot holes and getting jarred? Come on in and ask Jan which system would work best for your riding style.
Having been in business for 15 years most of you know by now that giving back to our community is important to Chariots of Fire Customs LLC. We have been listening to Steve Werkmeister for the past three to five years talk about his wife, Shiloh, and her project creating a safe place for the homeless youth of Lincoln County. Well they have made the dream come to fruition. Shiloh her partners, Cheri Winchester and Kristi Gregory, have created The Key Youth Center. This was an easy pick for this year’s fundraiser as we want The Key Youth Center to be successful moving forward.
The Key Youth Center is “community-driven, community-funded and community-managed project established to serve homeless youth in Lincoln County” which includes all four school districts. As their brochure points out, The Key Youth Center recognizes that homeless youth face numerous issues because of their age and lack of safe housing, including: too young to obtain rental house; without job experience or personal identification with a stable address, they struggle to gain or improve upon their employment; they have little to no access to health care, metal health services, legal support, or social services; often their education is interrupted or curtailed.
The Key Youth Center is designed to provide safe shelter and support services for all the above mentioned areas to help youth achieve their personal goals and make a positive transition into young adulthood. For more specifics on resident requirements, services provided and how you can contribute, please go to www.thekeyyouthinc.org. As mentioned above, they are a community funded organization and have several donation partnerships set up. You can also call 636-295-1974 for more information.
June 6th was beautiful this year! Social distancing was practiced since we were still in the first phase of opening up the economy following the COVID-19 shut-down. By social distance I mean we only let a specific number of folks into the shop at a time and encouraged everyone to wash their hands often! This year was one of our biggest years yet with close to 40 beautiful motorcycles entering the show. James McCloud created some extra fancy Best of Show and Best Engine trophies, Catfish Willie provided music, Taormina’s provided food and drink, Pawn Bucks provided the gun we raffled off and Bikers Against Bullies provided help with registration and raffles. We had additional vendors this year so we had them set up in the grass behind the shop. A special thanks to all those that entered the motorcycle show. I hope all those that attended this event had as much fun as we did!
This month’s special is 15% off fork oil changes and fuel injector cleaning. So I asked why is these particular maintenances are important? My mechanics explained to me that your riding style determines what weight oil you need in your forks and why fuel injector cleaning is important.
Off the factory floor most all Harley’s have type E fork oil (eight weight). Fork oil weight ranges from 5 to 50 weight. Why such a wide range and what is the difference? When you hit a bump in the road with lower rated weight fork oil you will feel more topping out which is when the shock recoils back to the original position. When compression dampens properly your forks will recoil back out to the starting position. The thicker the oil, the slower the recoil/rebound. Jan said is it the difference of riding in a Pinto vs. a Cadillac (showing his age). You can also compare it to bouncing a ball. Bounce a ball with air and notice how quick it bounces back. That is rebound (lighter weight fork oil). Next, fill half the ball with water and bounce it thicker weight fork oil). See how sluggishly it returns? That’s compression.
If you are an aggressive rider thicker viscosity is recommended. It will give you a European car type ride. Think BMW or Mercedes nice and tight. On the other hand if you are touring cross country or like to put lots of miles on during a weekend, thinner viscosity is recommended. The ride will be more loose and float like an American Lincoln or Cadillac. In general we recommend 30 weight fork oil for our Missouri riders because of all the pot holes. Our mechanics say you will feel the road more without feeling the suspension. They feel that 30 weight brings about a more controlled and responsive ride.
So when should you change your fork oil and why? A general rule of thumb is to change it every 20,000 miles or every 24 months. Why? Because the oil in your fork loses lubricity and gets dirty which can change the feel of the ride. When changing the fork oil our mechanics will replace the wear rings as well as the dust and oil seals if needed.
So on to fuel injector cleaning. Why? A clean injector provides properly atomized fuel allowing a proper burn which in turn optimizes the performance by keeping carbon levels down (want more technical info, ask my mechanic Sparky . . . I couldn’t write info down fast enough!). If you paid to have your bike dyno tuned and you would like to keep it performing where it is at, you want to be sure to maintain the injectors. Fuel that you put in your motorcycle has silicone and other additives (if you want more technical info, ask my mechanic Jan, I couldn’t keep up with what he was saying!). These additives can clog the injector holes over time decreasing performance on your motorcycle. When should you have injectors cleaned? Injector cleaning is recommended every 20,000 or five years. So there you have it. Now that you have the why and when Chariots of Fire Customs LLC can take of the how. How? By calling and making an appointment for fork oil change and/or an injector cleaning 636-775-1385. Look forward to hearing from you!
Stay tuned for next month’s blog when I will ask my mechanics to expand on the subject of how to accommodate your motorcycle for your riding style with suspension work in mind.
And I am not talking about the COVID-19 mess. What I am talking about is if you should leave baffles in your motorcycle exhaust or not. Hanging around Jan & friends in the early years (I’m talking decades ago LOL!) I always heard them talk about taking the baffles out of the exhaust to make the pipes louder (and Jan thought I was just a pretty face). Well, let me tell you, things have changed over the years and it is not that simple.
Baffles inside the exhaust are there to slow down the exhaust gases before they exit the exhaust and yes, it does quiet the motorcycle down. However, it also creates what is referred to as “back pressure” inside the system. The correct amount of back pressure will make a motorcycle run more efficiently, which in turn increases its power. Put simply, too much or too little back pressure in the exhaust can cause the engine to lose power. Put another way, removing the baffles will mess up the torque curve of the motor; usually losing power low and gaining a slight amount up top.
Making your exhaust flow correctly improves the performance of your motorcycle drastically. Removing the baffles disrupts this perfectly calculated flow. In other words, choosing specific exhaust systems that have the capability of improving your performance and sound of your ride is a much better option than simply removing the baffles from your current exhaust. We at Chariots not only have the specialized tools (Dynamometer) but years of experience from street usage to the drag strip to calculate a perfect flow in your bike’s exhaust. With that being said, we are offering 15% off anything that makes your bike rumble for the month of May (this includes exhaust, speakers and radios).
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