Archive | Featured Article

A Happy Battery is a Reliable Battery!

There are many things that us riders take for granted. One of which is the state of the battery in our bike. When I think about how to keep my battery reliable I look at how I treat it. As in how much I stress the battery and how often I charge it.

When it comes to increasing the longevity of an automotive battery there are a few things you should be aware of. First, is it clean? If the battery has corrosion on the terminals it will start to cause connection issues due to the deterioration of the lead post. Second, is it charged? If the battery is not at its optimal level when not in use the plates on the inside of the battery will start to sulfate, causing the battery to die faster. Third, evaluate the age of the battery. Manufacturers use the rule that the warranty will last the life of the battery; i.e., 24 month battery free replacement. This is not always true. Batteries are commonly known to exceed their warranties when properly maintained.

How do you keep the battery happy so it will last longer and save you a headache later? Charge your battery when you are not riding the bike. There are many options available for charging your battery. From battery maintainers that plug in and float charge your battery to chargers that have the ability to jump start your motorcycle. Not all of these options are portable and need an electrical outlet to plug into. However, there are float chargers available that are solar powered and can fit in your saddle bag when you travel. The key point is, if it is charged it will survive.

There are some batteries that require electrolytes to be added as needed. These are wet style batteries and are older or cheaper versions. You will need to be aware of the fluid level and check it regularly to increase longevity of that battery. Unfortunately due to this type of maintenance they do not last as long as absorbent glass mats (AGM) or a gel cell battery. Can you understand why we recommend AGM batteries and battery tenders to all of our customers at Chariots of Fire Customs? It saves you time, money and stress!  We are offering everyone 15% off battery tenders for the month of November but if you mention this article, we’ll give you 20% off!

Helmet Law Gives You the Right to Choose.

By: Reine Knobbe

As most of you are aware, the new helmet law went into effect the end of August.  The law states that Missouri motorcyclists ages 26 and older can ride without a helmet, if they have both medical insurance and proof of financial responsibility.  A national highway safety organization urged the governor to veto the bill, saying the helmet law saves lives and prevents life-long brain trauma. The organization “Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety” also worries the new law will be difficult to enforce, saying it will be hard for police to know if a motorcyclist is 26 or older.  Supporters of repealing the helmet law say it’s an issue of freedom. They say Missourians 26 or older should be able to decide whether or not they want to wear a helmet.

No matter which side of the fence you are on, it is now a choice.  Now that we are given the choice, we have to be informed citizens.  We all know that riding motorcycles come with risks.  These risks include:  poor decisions by the operator; hazards created by other motorists; weather; wildlife, and helmet use.  According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety “Helmet use is about 37 percent effective in preventing motorcyclist deaths and about 67 percent effective in preventing brain injuries”.    

We do not have control over hazards created by other motorists, the weather or wildlife.  We do have control over operator “error” and helmets.  Operator errors include:  driving under the influence; driving tired; driving and texting (yes!  I’ve seen it); driving too hot; driving too cold; not being completely focused on other drivers; riding in blind spots; going through an intersection too quickly.  The list goes on.

Bottom line is to do what we can to stay safe. 

  • Don’t drink and ride
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Never operate your phone (calling or texting) while riding
  • Wear proper gear to prevent overheating or being too cold
  • Wear a helmet to prevent head injury
  • Focus on the task at hand to prevent riding in blind spots; going too quickly through intersections; watching out for other drivers

Chariots of Fire Customs LLC carries the following protective gear:  leather coats, chaps, gloves, and helmets.  We have vendors that sell jackets with Kevlar in them for extra protection in your jackets; heated gloves and jackets; pretty much anything you need.  Not boots though.  Even though I’m a big proponent of ALWAYS wearing boots, even in the hot summer.  I recommend going to Chucks Boots for protective foot wear.

As for me, I choose the following protective gear:  boots and long jeans and helmet ALWAYS no matter the weather.  I will continue to monitor my driver for his alertness (Jan did you sleep well?); his drinking habits (it’s hot out, drink water! Are you SURE you only had a couple of drinks?); and my driver has me help him when I can (Reine, which way do I turn? #$#*# “I thought you said left!”  Reine, wake up!  Help me keep an eye out for deer).  What am I lacking and choose to take a risk with?  My arms.  I like to get sun on them and choose to ride in t-shirts and tank tops in the summer.  There are some light-weight jackets out there and I have a summer one I will wear after dark as it is reflective, but not when the sun is out. 

Enjoy your freedom.  Enjoy the road.  We all take a risk stepping outside our front door, but we do it anyway!

To See Or To Be Seen? By: Rosie

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.

You Gotta Do It!

By: Reine Knobbe

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.

15 years and going strong! Peace Out, Reine

Why Your Type of Suspension is Important for a Comfortable Ride. by: Reine J. Knobbe

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.

15 Years and Going Strong!  Peace Out, Reine

Proper Fork Oil for Your Riding Style by: Reine Knobbe

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. 

Peace Out,  Reine

Are You Baffled? By: Reine Knobbe

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).

Our Community Our Family, by Reine Knobbe

Thought I’d take this opportunity to express how much our motorcycle community means to our Chariots of Fire family.  We went from a time change, full moon, Friday the 13th week the beginning of March to a full pandemic overnight!  It was with a heavy heart that we postponed our Customer Appreciation Day.  As the week of March 16th continued to unfold, it was the right decision.  The safety of our staff and customers is of utmost importance.   As of the writing of this I’m still not sure when to schedule a new customer appreciation day.  I am hoping the end of April, we shall see . . .

Yes, we remain open for business with the CDC recommendations in mind.  We are not ignoring or taking lightly this pandemic.  Nor are we panicking.  Social distancing, cleaning diligently multiple times during the day, and washing our hands are all precautions in place.  No hugs from Reine!  No hand shakes from Jan!  We ask that you also follow CDC recommendations.  Please respect our staff by staying six feet back from counters; please stay home if you have any symptoms; we can ship items directly to your home – call us for details for this option.       Staying open means that we can continue to work on your motorcycle and get you ready for the riding season.  After all, the seasons change; spring is here; the road is calling us!

The motorcycle world is by nature a social world.  Asking us to practice social distancing is difficult, but achievable.  Social distancing when you are riding is easy with only one to two riders.  It is also a mental health break which we all can use during these stressful times.  However, much of our socializing includes getting together for fundraisers and rides that stop for beverages or food.  That is on hold for now.  Let’s be smart and help “flatten the curve”!  This means difficult choices for our upcoming events.

I was just informed that the Annual Run for the Wall has been canceled.  You can go to their website for more information.  They had to make that very hard choice with such a huge event early as it involves reservations and much planning.  Having just read Lincoln County Health departments “Stay at Home Order” for March 29 – April 6 we decided that canceling April’s Lincoln County Bike Night as best practice to help flatten the curve.  We are also canceling the April Fun Run event which was scheduled for Sunday, April 26.

It seems business as usual for us.  We still get up and come in and run our business.  I am here all day with the first half of the day working from “home” for my occupational therapy school based job.  I miss my students!  We are blessed to be able to continue to have the shop open.  We pray daily that COVID-19 stays at bay.  It is affecting our family members as I am sure it is affecting yours.  I choose light and love and peace.  I am keeping fear and anxiety at bay.  Prayers for all of you and your families.  Thank you for coming in and supporting us!  Thank you for understanding decisions to hold off on some events.  This year’s Customer Appreciation Day will have extra special meaning behind it!  I already have some cool items to hand out!  I already had a cake ordered!  I can’t wait to see all your smiling faces!         Peace Out, Reine

Metzeler or Dunlop? By Amanda “Rosie” Lotter

There are many factors that come into play when choosing tires for your motorcycle. The most important include; compatibility, reliability and cost. Here at Chariots of Fire Customs, we recommend Metzeler tires to just about all of our customers and a lot of times they respond, “Why not Dunlop?”. So I am here to tell you what I have found and why I also stand behind our Metzeler recommendation.

  Which tires are compatible for your bike?  Metzeler’s ME888  focus on Harley-Davidson’s and their heavy weight. Dunlop’s D404 and D402 are not good for heavier motorcycles like Harley’s because of their lower load rating. The higher the load rating the less rolling resistance the tire will have leading to higher speed rating. Additionally, lower resistance leads to lower heat production and will make your tire last longer.  D402 and D404 are also bias-ply tires and a huge downfall of bias-ply tires is they’re not good when riding at a higher speed. This is because they have more rolling resistance which means when in higher speed, you may lose control of your bike and they are also retaining more heat, so even though your bike may be capable, the Dunlop tire is not and will limit your riding experience.

  Reliability is a very important factor in tires. Again Metzeler takes the cake over Dunlop in this department as well. The Marathon Ultra ME888 is shaped to have a larger contact patch with the road which helps with traction in all conditions. However, they are also made to give better traction in wet conditions by using silica silicone in the tire which helps reflect rain/water and creating a groove in the tread that movess water away to prevent hydroplaning.

  As I continued my research, nothing short of amazed by Metzeler’s technology, I also learned they have anywhere from 5% – 30% increased longevity verses leading brands. Being a dual compound tire it gives you the harder center which increases mileage and the softer sides which make taking corners a piece of cake.  Whereas Dunlop’s harder carcass tires are only beneficial to those who ride majority of their miles on a highway.

  Seems to be the only benefit from choosing a Dunlop over a Metzeler is lower pricing. Lucky for you Chariots of Fire Customs is offering 20% off all tires for the entire month of March and April to help all of our riders get back on the road this spring with the best quality tires at great prices.

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!