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Avoid Weak Links

By Jan Knobbe 

Considering upgrading your motorcycle’s performance? Winter is a great time to do it since the weather here in the Midwest is cold and hazardous enough to keep most of us off the roads. It’s when we traditionally do a lot of motor builds. There’s more to it than just the motor though.

Other Components to Upgrade

When you add performance to your motor you need to consider upgrading other components to avoid leaving a weak link. Compensators, clutch baskets, clutch, transmission and drive belt are all components that are replaceable with high performance parts. How much horse power/torque (hp/tq) the motor is making will determine if these components need to be upgraded to avoid them becoming a weak link. Weak links can lead to the components breaking and that’s never good. If you are spending money to create more hp/tq, you want to make sure all necessary components are also upgraded as needed.

Factory vs. Aftermarket

For example, factory stock cast compensators are only good for up to about 90 horsepower.  Aftermarket compensators are available that can handle up to 160 horsepower or better. Your next component that could become a weak link is the cast aluminum clutch basket. There are billet clutch baskets available that can handle higher hp/tq. You should also be aware of factory clutch plates. These can be upgraded to aftermarket clutch plates that have extra plates to apply more friction. There are also clutch lock up devices that take up to double factory hp/tq without slippage.

Worth the Upgrade

Transmission breakage is happening on most M8s that have upgrades to the powertrain demonstrating this weak link. Typically 3rd and 4th gear breakage under severe torque applications. The fix for this is the Baker six speed Grudge Box.  It is a costly upgrade that is worth it as it will make your bike more dependable. 

Riding or Racing

The last weak link to address is the final drive belt. This only needs to be replaced with a chain drive under severe street riding/drag racing, when the motor is running a turbo, or a supercharger. The chain drive will make sure the bike is a dependable touring street bike with a lot of giddy up and go!

Ask for Advice

Here at Chariots of Fire Customs LLC we like educated consumers. Upgrading your motor is a big deal and you should make your decision to do so knowing the facts. Come see us this winter and we will help you decide on the best performance upgrades and determine what weak links to avoid. 

Avoid Costly Repairs by Winterizing Your Bike Properly Now

Every spring, we have a stream of dozens of riders needing service before they can ever take that first spring ride. While we’re happy to help, we’d really love if everyone could avoid costly repairs that could have easily been prevented come spring time.

Here in the Midwest, transitioning from autumn riding to winter storage is the best way to keep your bike in riding condition. We’ve all experienced those random sunny days in December, January or February when you want to have the wind in your face. Follow these simple steps to be ready and prevent problems that would delay riding coming spring 2022.

How to Winterize Your Motorcycle

Prevent Rust & Corrosion with Lube

Protect any and all parts prone to rust or corrosion by applying lubrication. This includes your chain, bolts, cables and switches.

*See associate for complete details. Price may vary by make and model.

Change the Oil

There’s a reason we have an oil change special in November! Changing your bike’s oil before storing for winter is vital since used oil has contaminants (from doing its job). Contaminants that are suspended in the oil may gunk up and leave dirt in small cavities of the engine and hydraulic passages. Yes, you’ll want to start your bike once in a while to lubricate the engine again, but avoid running it for too long and causing contamination of the oil again.

Top Her Off

Fill up and top-off your gas tank before you roll into the garage. An empty gas tank tends to form condensation. We also recommend gas conditioner. Gas conditioner can protect your fuel for up to two full years. We recommend Helix 5 in 1. Today’s fuel turns bad after eleven days because of the alcohal content in the fuel.

Tickle with a Trickle

Keep your battery happy by putting it on a tender with a trickle charge over the winter months to keep it from draining. This extends the life of your battery since every time a battery dies, it loses some of its lifespan. Tenders also switch to float automatically to maintain the charge without overdoing it.

Shake the Shimmy

If your tires sit in one spot for a longer period of time, they may get flat spots causing a shimmy come spring that wasn’t present when you put it away. The easiest way to avoid this is to put your bike up on stands or a lift. If you don’t have a stand or want to spend money on a lift, here are a couple of things to do to save your tires:

  • Move your bike around a couple of times a month to keep the tires from resting on the same spots.
  • Add about 5PSI to each tire, as they naturally lose air over time. 
  • Park on plywood to help your tires avoid obtaining moisture from concrete floors.

By winterizing your bike using this checklist, you can avoid a number of preventable problems like batteries that don’t hold charge, dirty carburetors, clogged fuel injectors, and no-start issues from tarnished gasoline and tires that are out of balance or without the proper inflation. 

Schedule your oil change today and get your bike ready for winter!

If you do find yourself out and about this winter, rest assured we’ve got your back with free towing within 60 miles November through February.

Consider This When Purchasing a Used Motorcycle

By Reine Knobbe

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

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

Mileage & Maintenance Records

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

Overall Condition

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top Restaurants For Your Next Ride

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

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

Cadillac Bills in Elsberry, MO

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

Main Street Bar & Grill in Old Monroe, MO

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

Dickey’s Smokehouse in Winfield, MO

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

Rookies in Wentzville, MO

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

Taormina’s Family Restaurant in Troy, MO

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

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

King Louie’s Drive In in Wood River, IL

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

Woody’s Pub & Grub in Ashland, MO

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

Shady Jack’s Saloon in St. Louis

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

Jan and Reine’s Top Day Trip Picks

Patti’s 1880s Settlement in Grand Rivers, KY 

About a 4 hour ride

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

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

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

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

Customize Your Suspension for a Smoother Ride

When you purchase a new or used motorcycle, the suspension on your bike should be customized to you and your riding needs. The biggest mistake people make with their motorcycle suspension is using universal weight ratings. These are based on the average sized rider and the maximum amount of weight the bike can hold. But what do you need for your bike?  Is it a comfortable ride?  If not, let’s dive into what you should consider when adjusting your motorcycle suspension for a smoother ride.

Suspension Basics

The problem with stock motorcycle suspension is it’s either too rigid or too soft, ultimately because it’s not adjusted to you and your riding style.  When you want a more comfortable ride that is smoother over bumps in the road, you should start with a set of shocks that are made for your weight.  What is your weight? It’s the total weight of you and your passenger, if you ride with two people most of the time. It’s also important to think about the dampening of the shock. Can it be adjusted? How hard is it to adjust? Additionally, is this shock a brand you have heard of? These are questions you should consider to ensure you’re taking all factors into account. 

Shocks 101

Shocks control the action of the spring. When you combine the spring and the shocks, they enable the suspension to move so the energy from bumps in the road are absorbed by the shock instead of your bike. 


If you are looking for a recommendation for shocks, Jan and I will tell you Super Shox are what we have found to be the best. The reason we like these shocks is because they easily adjust by hand allowing for precise customization for every bike. They are ordered for the weight of the rider(s) and their gear.  Also, these shocks have a 50/50 split where they travel the same distance both up and down. Finally, all Super Shox are manufactured, assembled and tested in Grayslake, Illinois.


No matter what shock you look at, if you keep these questions in mind you will find a pair that will match your riding style and fitment. Give us a call at (636) 775-1385 to take advantage of our July special for 20% off front and rear suspension components, including air rides. 

What You Need to Know About Fork Oil Changes

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


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


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


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


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


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

Tire Maintenance 101

By Sparky

When it comes to tires there are several things to look at. First thing you need to check is your air pressure. Second thing is to check your tread life. Third item to monitor is the age of your tire. Proper maintenance of tires is the key to having them last longer and keep you safe.

Tires have a weight rating associated with the amount of air in the tire. Michelin tire company did a study that the air pressure in the tire in association with the weight applied changes the temperature of the tire surface. The lower the air pressure the higher the temperature. High
temperature of tire surface causes the tire to permanently change shape over time.

To maintain proper traction you are relying on proper tread depth. The minimum safe tread depth is 2/32”. This can easily be measured with a tread depth gauge. If you don’t have a gauge you can use a penny. By turning the penny upside down and inserting it in the tread of the tire.
If the tread is above Lincoln’s head, the tire is good. If below Lincoln’s head your tire requires replacement.

Additionally the age of the tire plays a major role. If a tire is over five years old the department of transportation states that it is not safe for use. You can identify the age of a tire by looking at the DOT number. The last four digits of the number are the week and year the tire was manufactured. When tires get old the rubber gets hard and slick.

To recap, check your tire pressure regularly; check the tread wear prior to riding; keep an eye on the tire age. I challenge everyone to stop by the shop and pick up your free tire tread depth gauge. If you have any questions, ask one of our technicians and we will assist you.


Note from Reine: Please be careful purchasing tire “deals” off the internet. We have had customers come in after purchasing on line and tires are over five years old. They may have never been used, but the rubber is hard and slick. Light Love Peace Out

Where to Start.

We have officially made it through 2020! Maybe you spent some time in quarantine and had a chance to think about what you would like to accomplish this year; or how you would spend your stimulus check. Most of you think motorcycle, and that’s ok. Now come all the questions. Do you want to go faster, further, louder or just tweak some cosmetics? How do you go about making these changes?  Face lifts aren’t cheap and toning can take time but that’s what we are here for. Knowing what you want to accomplish in the end is the first step. So 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 saddlebags.  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 with a new audio system?  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 how will your baby celebrate the New Year?  In hibernation on a battery tender; getting 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

Mad Dog 2020 by Reine Knobbe

I’m sure many of you have seen the post going around that Mad Dog has been telling us for years “2020 was going to be a bad year”.  I know it only took one night of drinking it to know that for sure! I have to agree with it in many aspects, but not all.  Let me tell you about our journey here at Chariots of Fire Customs LLC.

There’s a PANDEMIC and no one has an option.  You MUST get on this roller coaster.  For us it started with canceling our customer appreciation day that we always had in March.  Next we canceled the first bike night in April.  Those decisions were not hard to make because of the statewide shutdown.  So the ride began.

Next was May’s bike night.  The state was just beginning to open up.  I personally had been doing distance learning with my occupational therapy students (ages 3-5 that in and of itself was a roller coaster) therefore I was really feeling the need to distance.  The media was hard to follow with so many different reports saying different things.  So many different camps from “hoax nothing out there” to “extremely serious we will all suffer greatly” and everything in between.  Lord knows how much I prayed for the correct decision.  I wanted to be a responsible shop owner, but also not to panic.  I’m sure I drove Jan nuts with this part of the roller coaster, so many ups and downs!  Lucky for Chariots they were smaller hills.  Jan made the call by looking to the community.  “If the churches open up, we will have bike night”.  So we went to the top of the next hill with a loop thrown in as May was by far our biggest Lincoln County Bike Night to date!  Everyone was soooo tired of being isolated.  No one wore masks and everyone was hugging and kissing one another.  I had fun wearing my bubble wrap making a public display of my unease!

Those of you that follow us closely know that we went on with all of our scheduled events after that with small changes.  We kept the number of people coming into the shop to 25 or less; wiped down all door knobs and tables and chairs after events; and dropped the chili competition at our fall festival.  We have been so very blessed as all of you continued to come and support us not only at events and fundraisers, but also bringing us work.  Chariots hired another mechanic this year and are looking for another as we continue to grow.  Thank you for that.  That part of the roller coaster ride has been a blast!

We have all made sacrifices this year.  Not all of you have been experiencing great fortune.  Many have lost jobs, income, beloved friends and family have died or gotten ill from this pandemic, mental health, stress, depression.  Our personal sacrifice is not being able to see our elderly parents.  Had I not had all the events this year I would have been able to see mom and dad as their health conditions made them hunker down to stay safe.  Jan’s mom is in a long term care facility so no one can visit. The sad, scary, low part of this roller coaster ride.  So, yes, Mad Dog 2020 has been a “bad” year in that sense.

As 2020 comes to a close it will certainly be one for the books I’m ready to get off this roller coaster. . . however, let the new ride begin!  What adventures await us?  What have we taken away from 2020?  A new appreciation of the little things in life?  Did you slow down a bit?  Spend more quality time with family?  Realize what is really important in life?  Were you one of the lucky ones and had time to clean out closets, add a deck to the house, paint rooms?  Did you come up with a new hobby?  With all the motorcycles coming in to our shop we know many of you were able to enjoy your current hobby and got out in the wind putting more miles on your ride.  SWEET!  Life is good.  So blessed are we!

CHEERS!  Bring on 2021!

Light, Love, Peace Out Reine

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!