Archive | Featured Article

It Takes a Village. By Reine Knobbe

I don’t know about the rest of the world, but 2018 absolutely flew by for those of us working at Chariots of Fire Customs LLC.  Jan and I could not have built our beautiful new building without the help and support of our staff.  We did our best to keep everything even-keeled on a daily basis and kept the shop open and “business as usual”.  Quite frankly, I’m amazed that I was able to keep up with all of our events.  Working with our great team made this challenge feasible.  

 

Sparky kept the work flow on the shop end going when Jan was called away to the job site.  Rosie, always with a smile, managed customers, social media, and followed up with all the scheduled events.  Tommy, our newest addition, was thrown into the parts and service position in the middle of the build with little to no official training. Doing an excellent job I might ad.  Jan and I are so very blessed!

 

We are also very fortunate to have built up a wonderful customer base.  Jan and I work very hard at having a place that you can feel comfortable coming to, knowing that our staff is knowledgeable, honest, and easy to talk to.  Jan and I wanted to make sure our new facility would reflect that comfort.  The color palate, cabinets, wall textures, and lighting are all meant to be inviting and calming.  A place you can come to for reliable service in a relaxed, unpressured atmosphere.  How fortunate we are to have you as our customer!

There were some fun times preparing for the building:  going antiquing last winter; picking out lighting and cabinets; endless hours at hardware stores choosing paint and brick; Jan choosing those great front doors!  Then came the actual building itself.  Our contractors were all great to work with getting the bones of the building up.  Then it came our turn to finish the interior.  Thank God for all our volunteers!  I’m afraid I might inadvertently leave someone out, so I’m not naming any names, but know how much we appreciate every paint brush stroke, screws, nails, plumbing, brick, stone, cleaning etc. that went into our building.  Blood (a couple spots can still be seen), sweat and tears (mostly Reine . . .) went into this facility.  I figured it took us 15 weeks of working evenings and weekends from the time we got started on the inside until the weekend we moved in.  

 

They say it takes a village to raise a child.  Well our baby is no different!  It takes a village to help a small business grow.  Thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom our hearts!  Here’s wishing you a blessed holiday season.  Time to celebrate the blessings and, yes, the heart aches of 2018 (for we learn from them).  God bless us, everyone!

Peace Out,  Reine

To Bore or Not to Bore? by Amanda “Rosie” Lotter

   More than likely you know there are many ways to improve the “get up and go” factor on your bike. But, did you know how inexpensive and efficient a Big Bore Kit could be for you? Before doing this research I really wasn’t sure what this process entailed and now I have to admit, I am impressed with S&S Performance. Not only have they made Big Bore Kits easily accessible to us, but they have damn near perfected the procedure. Supplying us with everything we need including great tech support and amazing prices, there is no better option on the market.

   The S&S Bore Kit is the ideal combination of performance and savings, designed to transform your motorcycle without breaking the bank. Now, will this kit fit your bike? S&S offers two different kits for both Harley’s Twin Cam and M8. The 100”/110” kit will fit 1999-2017 Harley-Davidson big twins (except 2006 Dyna models and 2017 touring models). The 124″ kit will fit 2017-2019 Harley-Davidson M8 Models.

   For a limited time these kits are available at an even lower price. If knowing you’re getting the best on the market doesn’t sell you on this then maybe saving up to $400 during the month of November will do the trick. You know you’re going to park your baby for the winter anyway. Why not use this time to give that motor an ultimate facelift? You won’t regret it.

Where to Start. by: Reine Knobbe

   

   Heading into winter so are you putting your baby to bed, giving her a facelift, or toning her up so she is ready to ride come spring?  Although many of you ride year round, the vast majority of Missouri riders take the winter months off.  So how do you go about making changes?  Face lifts aren’t cheap.  Toning can take time.  How can you be prepared when you come into your favorite motorcycle shop with a specific design or upgrade in mind?

   

   The process of any new build is to have your end vision in mind.  Jan suggests going through magazines and picking out what you like.  It could easily be a front end from one picture, back end from another, and wheels off a completely different model bike.  Are you into the latest trends?  Then Hot Bike or Baggers are good magazines to look at.  If you attend bike shows take pictures of what draws you to a specific bike.  Handle bars can change the whole look of a bike as can bags.  The more information you have of what you want to achieve the better we can help you.  While your bike is on the table, do you want to upgrade your sound?  New audio system?  How’s that budget?  Try to think of everything you are wanting and what works for your style.  Once you have the end vision in mind, then we can help you pick out the parts that work together on your frame and within your budget.  Having all the changes you want to make ahead of time can help with the budgeting also.  Making changes midway through a build will increase the expense as well as increase the time frame to complete a build. 

 

   Updating your engine is a completely different animal.  Again, what is your end game?  Do you want your engine to go the distance for cruising America?  Are you more interested in fuel economy for your daily driver to and from work?  Or is being the fastest in your group of riders important to you?  Make sure you talk to a professional before rebuilding an engine.  In Jan’s own words “don’t try to mix match a bunch of shit that doesn’t work together”.  It becomes a nightmare and more expensive to make it right.  One brand or part of an engine may advertise that they will make your ride go fast and another brand/part may help with fuel economy, but that doesn’t mean they work together and the end result can be a sluggish bike with great fuel economy or just not working at all.

 

   I learned the following about engine upgrades while writing this article:

            Stage I – upgrade air cleaner, exhaust and tune

            Stage II – upgrade internal cams and small changes to the pistons

            Stage III – upgrade to a more aggressive cam and larger pistons

            Stage IV – upgrade cams, cylinders, pistons and head work

 

   So what are you doing this winter season?  Putting your baby to bed with a nice drink of fuel additive; giving her a facelift with new curves; or toning her up with a fresh engine rebuild?  Whatever you choose, know we are here to help!  Peace Out,  Reine

 

The Last Move. By: Reine Knobbe

 

  This better be the last move!  LOL  What a journey it has been.  We went from 800 square feet to close to 12,000 square feet in 13 years (by the way, 13 is Jan’s lucky number).  Just 15 years ago, owning our own business wasn’t even on our minds.  Jan and I are certainly not on this journey alone.  Family, friends and loyal customers have all been along for the ride.  There are no words to express our deepest gratitude all along the way!

 

  This whole project parallels some of the bike builds we have completed over the years.  A customer comes in with a dream and then we make that dream a reality.  With some bumps and road blocks along the way.  Big projects never seem to go smoothly.  So many things that are out of our control.  Like weather conditions which can put a damper (pun intended) on any ride and completely halt the pouring of concrete.  Relying on outside labor to complete a part of the build we send out can be frustrating as they have their own deadlines.  We don’t always have control on how quick, or slow outside labor works.  Then there are the parts.  Our nemesis!  You take the time to find just the right piece of chrome; pipes; handlebars; engine parts and they are on backorder; ordered correct part/wrong part comes in; driver left it back at the warehouse.  Same scenario goes with a big building project just different parts such as lighting; bathroom fixtures; doorway hardware etc.

 

  So what goes right?  The biggest thing and yet hardest to measure is the support along the way.  When you dream big those around you help to make that dream a reality.  In the case of a big build, whether from a mishap such as an insurance job turned into the dream build you’ve been putting off or just finally coming up with the funds to make your dream bike become a reality your family and friends encourage you and enjoy hearing about the process.  The builder, in this case, Chariots of Fire Customs LLC, will guide; make suggestions; and help keep you on budget.  In the case of our building, Girod Builders did the guiding and lead us in the right direction for what was possible. 

  Making a dream come true is always worth the wait to see the end product.  Getting on your new build and riding it in the wind for the first time is just feel good happiness!  Having family, friends and strangers marvel at your creation is just icing on the cake!  For me personally, I am just tickled pink to have the back deck with the overhang.  That has been my big dream!  The interior show room was very much a collaborative project.  Thank goodness Jan and I have the same taste which helped with the process.  This part of our build I have kept guard over as I want that “wow” factor when you walk through the doors.  I believe Jan is most proud of the front entrance.  It took him months to find those doors and the barn wood front is simply amazing!  And, of course, Jan can’t wait to have the back completed and operating at full capacity.

  Jan and I cannot express in words our deepest gratitude for all the support and help along this journey.  Many individuals have volunteered their time and expertise, too many to name but know we are thankful for each and every one of you.  The Chariots of Fire Family cannot wait to show off our new home.   Please, take this as a formal invitation to join us on September 22 for our Grand Reopening at 2113 Alexandria Crossing.  See you then!

 

The Next Big Thing by: Reine Knobbe

 

In thirteen years of business I have seen different styles of motorcycles come and go in popularity.  Thirteen years ago choppers were all the rage.  Possibly because at the time the motorcycle reality shows American Chopper (Teutuls of Orange County Choppers) and West Coast Choppers (Jesse James) were popular television shows.  Biker Build off was also fun to watch.  The bobber was popular for a while too.  That was around the time our son Jake built his bobber as some of you may remember.  Jan also built “No Grey Area” when the bobbers were popular.  Then came the baggers and these babies are holding on!  Many changes have gone on with them over the years from the big wheels to long low bags.  Now the same size tire seems to be the thing.

 

So, out of curiosity I asked our new parts/service employee, Tommy, what he thought the next trend in motorcycling would be.  I thought I would do my own research to see what the industry gurus were saying.  Just to compare.  In my spare time (ten minutes) I looked up what the most popular motorcycles in 2018 were and to my surprise, the bobbers are back!  Several others on the top ten include the Suziki GSX250R and Zero SZF7.2 sport bikes (according to Popular Mechanics).  Hmm, no baggers made the top ten (again only ten minutes looking).

 

One article I ran into stated that motorcyclists tend to be “tribal” with sport bike riders hating cruiser riders who hate dirt bike riders who hate adventure riders with “a lot of playful animosity between brand-loyal riders” (article about Hipsters by Mark Hinchliffe 2017).  I did not like that line of thinking.  Say it ain’t so!  It definitely isn’t true here at Chariots of Fire Customs LLC.  I guess you could call us Switzerland.  We love everyone no matter what you ride! 

 

Oops, a little side tracked there.   Back to the original question, what does Tommy think?  Tommy believes that Cholo style bikes will become all the rage.  After all, the rival gang on Sons of Anarchy (apparently making a comeback this fall) will be riding them.  Not to mention that Tommy’s last bike was Cholo style!  Bottom line is that we here at Chariots love ALL our customers’ bikes.  We treat each as if it were our own.  Keep the shiny side up! 

 

Peace out, Reine

 

Summer Road Hazards by: Reine Knobbe

Image result for motorcycle construction zones pictures 

So I’m going to state the obvious.  We all run into road hazards practically every time we get into our vehicles whether it is in our car, truck or on our motorcycle.  When we only have two wheels under us these hazards tend to be worse.  During the summer it seems that there are more hazards out there:  work zones – which can have edge breaks, narrow lanes, cones, no shoulders; distracted drivers – which can include phones, texting, minds on vacation; folks tired and/or dehydrated from a weekend of fun down at the lake or river; and of course animals – deer, dogs, skunks, and armadillos have made it up this far north!

So what’s a person supposed to do?  Stay home where it is safe.  Hell no!  I’m all about enjoying life.  Let’s just go out there prepared.  Make sure your machine is in top running condition with good tires and a tank full of gas.  Make sure your tank is full also with a good breakfast and plenty of water.  Be alert and drive defensively (be aware of your surroundings, have an escape route, cut out your own distractions).  Think safety first so when entering those work zones pay attention to the decrease in speed and other warning signs.  When riding at dawn and dusk make sure you are alert and scan ahead for any movement on the shoulder that could be a deer or other animal.  Being prepared helps keep the life you enjoy remain a joy!  Peace Out,  Reine

Why is it Important?

When it comes to routine maintenance, most people don’t think about fuel injectors and fork oil.  Dirty or clogged fuel injectors and fuel filters can greatly degrade your motorcycle’s performance and economy.  A plugged fuel filter can lower your fuel pressure leading to poor performance and possible engine damage.  Plugged injectors can do the same.  When it comes to the fork oil, it is just as important to change.  Why?  Think about this:  forks move at a very high rate, sometimes up to 2 meters per second as the fork springs compress and relax.  That movement can work dirt and metal debris into the fork oil.  Heat, shearing and contamination can take place with all that movement over the course of the bike’s life.

The damping characteristics of old fork oil are very interesting in cooler weather. At first it will resemble cold Maple syrup, not easily stirred. Fork action will be minimal, abrupt and quite harsh. After a few miles the fork oil will begin to warm and change its flow characteristics, providing a little more suppleness to fork travel. That will improve considerably the longer you ride, but only to a point. If you ride for longer periods of time and/or for more miles on your average bumpy roads the fork oil will get thinner and thinner, and then you have little damping to go with your springing.

So, you can see why it is important to change ALL fluids in your motorcycle.  We just happen to have 15% off fork oil changes and fuel injector cleaning this month.  Stop by or call for your appointment today 636-775-1385.

 

The Windshield We Prefer and Why. By: Reine Knobbe

                                                                                                                                                                                   

 

      As I mentioned last month, Rosie and I sat in on several very good seminars this
winter at the Drag Specialties expo. Last month I went over lighting. This month I
want to share with you what we learned from Brian Klock in his own words:

     “Not 3 weeks after winning the Discovery Channel’s Biker Build Off in 2006,
Klock Werks found themselves at the Bonneville Salt Flats with the winning
Bagger and Laura Klock as the pilot. In the first 2 passes she rode to a National
Land Speed Record. Reporting a lift in the front end as she increased speed with a
stock windshield, Klock Werks set out to design a windshield that would make the
bike more stable at high speeds.

     Starting simply, Brian held his arm out the window while driving, testing airflow
with his hand held in different positions to figure out how to add down force.
From there a prototype was designed, and the Flare™ Windshield was born. After
extensive planning and testing, including an incredible opportunity to test the
design at the A2 Wind Tunnel in Mooresville, NC, the Flare™ Windshield is now
available to you! “ Want more info on the Flare™

The Flare

     What Brian really emphasized at the mini seminar is the down force. I looked over
some of the reviews and most folks stated that it reduces wind and buffeting and
some mentioned being able to hear their stereos better.

     Brian makes a great product and we use his windshield on all our bikes. But don’t
just take our word for it. We have a “try it before you buy it” program. This is
how it works. Bring in your bike, trade out your windshield for one of the Flare™
models we have on display (we will also need a copy of your drivers license).
Ride for several days with the Flare™ and make an informed decision if it’s the
one for you. If not, then we can direct you to other models such as the Memphis
Shade. No matter what you choose, we have 15% off any windshield of your
choice for the month of May.

Light Up Your World by: Reine Knobbe

    As many of you know by now, Chariots of Fire Customs LLC prides itself in keeping up with the latest on motorcycle technology. We understand the importance of a well tuned, comfortable, beautiful and safe ride. Several times a year, staff members go to events that showcase the latest innovations. This year is no different as Rosie and I picked up some valuable information on lighting that we would like to share with you.

    Custom Dynamics® has everything to “light up your ride”. Rosie and I were most impressed with their new, low-profile LED taillight, which is included with other great lighting in the new ProBeam line-up. The way this taillight was designed lets the light be seen from the sides as well as the rear as it wraps around to increase side visibility and maximizes safety. Attending the mini seminar was interesting and gave us a chance to learn about the process in creating this specific light. The creator had to go back to the drawing board multiple times and almost gave on up this concept. Thankfully, he persevered and created a great product! There are five light pipes that illuminate across the taillight as the running light and 25 separate LED’s provide a full contrast brake light.

   The ProBeam headlamps are also very impressive. According to Custom Dynamics®, the low beam consists of three high-power LED lights and a DRL (daytime running light). High beam keeps the low beam illuminated and adds two additional LED lights with three projector lenses for an incredibly wide optical pattern. This brightly shines along the sides of you just as well as ahead of you down the road. Rosie and I were sitting on the opposite end of a large room when they turned the sample headlight on and we had to turn away. The guys sitting closer to the front had to ask the presenter to please turn it off because it was so bright! 

   The ProBeam lineup includes dynamic ringz, passing lamps, fillerz, head lamp trim rings and saddlebag lights. These products feature the highest quality automotive LEDs and modern light pipe design. We were able to see several of these products taken apart so we can vouch for their high quality. Custom Dynamics® is based in Youngsville, NC and was founded in 2002. Their products are proudly made in U.S.A. and are available for a wide variety of motorcycle makes and models. Custom Dynamics® also offers the best warranty program in the industry with a Lifetime Warranty against LED failure and a five year warranty on electrical modules followed with the best customer support to back it up.

   With this brief introduction to Custom Dynamics® you can see why Chariots of Fire Customs LLC is proud to carry their products. Be sure to call the shop or stop on by to find out how we can light up your world! We just happen to have all lighting on sale this month for 10% off, but if you mention this article we’ll make it 20%!

 

 

 

                       

 

A Brief History of Motorcycle Tires. By: Amanda “Rosie” Lotter

     Robert Thomson, a Scottish engineer, invented a hollow circular belt made of rubber which was then inflated with air. This is called a pneumatic tire and was patented in the U.S. in 1847. Shortly after, Thomson lost interest in his invention and about four decades later, John Boyd Dunlop reinvented the pneumatic tire for his bicycle and some early motorcycle prototypes by 1895. It was until then that solid rubber tires were mainly used.

     Many changes have led to the modern motorcycle tires we have available today. One being the radial tire, patented in 1915 by Arthur Savage. His patent expired in 1949 but Michelin had furthered and made commercial success of it in 1946. These tires enhanced road grip and traction which made them great for motorcycles.

     Early tires were made of cross-ply structure, which were threads woven across each other. These were great for accelerating yet, had solid sidewalls which made turning corners difficult. Michelin improved the cross-ply with rubber threads and were used roughly from 1920 until 1972, when Dunlop patented a tubeless tire. This was a revolutionary invention, though tubes are still manufactured and used. As the early motorcycle industry progressed, larger tire sizes accompanied larger engine displacements. Engine size, racing, riding in rain, cornering and being able to stop quickly all contributed to the progression of tires for both safety as well as a comfortable ride.  

     Tires are the most important part of your motorcycle.  Not only are they needed to move, but critical in safety for both you and your two wheeled baby. Happy and safe riding friends!