Archive for the ‘Motorcycle’ Category

Note to an F&I guy

Monday, June 24th, 2013

I just got back from my third around-the-country trip on my 2001 FXST – Softail Standard. The odometer reads just over 144,444 (I hit that yesterday morning), with an actual mileage total closer to 150K. Not bad for a 12-year-old “bar-hopper.” 50,000 miles ago, I wouldn’t have thought she’d have two more 5,000+ mile trips in her, but she did. Although Hot01 has a few aches and pains, she runs amazingly well for a bike that’s 102 in people years.

But more important than the miles are the memories; the friends met, loves lost, storm fronts battled, ferry and border crossings, state lines welcomed and happy to have passed, national parks visited, campgrounds sleeping  with the front wheel an arms reach away, and the tender moments of motorcycle maintenance. So Mr. Finance Manager, when you’re dying to sell me a new bike and think a trade-in will make a better deal, telling me my bike isn’t much more than a liability waiting to happen is not going to get you on my good side.  But make no mistake, trying to downplay the value of a bike with that kind of mileage to the woman who put all the miles on it, is not helping her see your point of view. I didn’t ask you to put a price on the love of my life, because I knew you couldn’t come close.

If you work for a Harley dealership, you should understand the heart and soul behind 150,000 miles on a Harley-Davidson.

Vietnam Christmas – the first week

Friday, December 7th, 2012

I haven’t written since I got here. It’s been really hot, and I haven’t felt like sitting in front of the computer. It hasn’t been because I’ve been running around the country doing a lot of amazing things. I’ve been sick. Not “bad food” sick but a bad cold I’ve been fighting since my first day. The cold won. Aside from the typical bad cold stuff that sucks, I’ve been dealing with a really bad sore neck and shoulders. I’d love to take a hot shower, but the water only comes out in one temperature here: whatever it is in the cistern on the roof top.

But I have gotten out and seen some things. I’m also not too disappointed in my lack of activity since the main reason I came was to see my son, and we’ve had a lot of time together. I needed to see where he’s been living and what his life is like so I’ll worry less about him in the future. He’s had to work a few days too, so it’s been a good time for us to take it easy.

Dan’s birthday was December 3rd. We  got massages that day. A 90 minute massage translates to about $10 and includes the steam room and sauna. I started face down on the table, and when she began working on me, I realized she’d actually climbed up on the table. Soon I got the feeling that she was walking on me – mythbuster! They actually walk on your back. When I flipped over, I noticed the railing attached to the ceiling that she held on to for balance.

That night we met some friends for dinner at a restaurant in a different neighborhood. We sat outside at a table that was no taller than my knees. The chairs were plastic kids chairs. This is pretty standard, although often the seating is a small plastic or metal stool. Dan ordered one dish as soon as we got there, because it takes a long time to cook. A group of people showed up, some Vietnamese friends, his long-time friend Tom (the guy he came over here with), and a British guy Dan teaches with. We had eight adults and a small child packed around the kiddie table. We purchased some mangos and peanuts from a passing street vendor and ordered more food for dinner. Clams were on the menu as well as fried chicken wings. Eventually the main meal came out, which was a huge grilled fish totally intact. The bones of this particular fish are very thick, so it was easy to pull the meat off with chopsticks. Everyone just digs in and grabs some.

Dan told me before I came that Asian people age a lot better than Westerners, that a guy in Vietnam who looks 50 is probably 65. That being said, it’s been a great ego boost that everyone thinks I’m Dan’s wife or girlfriend rather than his mother. There are many conversations that I don’t understand, although I get the gist that someone is surprised about something. Several times Dan has told me that people can’t believe I’m his mother. Yay!

We’ve been to the zoo, which was OK. There was a huge white tiger. The crocodile garden was a little creepy. I had to keep checking to make sure there was adequate separation between us and them. This was one of my first lengthy rides on the scooter, and it was rush hour on the way back. I took a video of the crazy traffic and the alley way maze back to Dan’s house.

Scooters and small motorbikes are the typical transportation for everyone. You see entire families on a scooter. Women riding with women, guys riding with guys, women driving men and vice versa. Anything goes. Whatever needs to be done to get you there. And you just go. No right turn on red after stop; just a right turn without stopping regardless of the situation. If  you need to ride on the wrong side of the road to get to your destination, then you do it. If I can’t get the videos uploaded from Vietnam (poor connection speeds), then I’ll do it when I get home.

When Dan was first coming to Vietnam, I was very unsettled about it. I was alive in the sixties. I have close friends who were here back then and for whom Vietnam is a place where they lost friends and family and were forever scarred. This isn’t something I take lightly, and it’s been difficult for me to accept. Now that I’ve been here, I’ve found the people in Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City to be very friendly to Americans. At the coffee shop we visit every morning, another regular has an eagle blended with an American flag sticker on his scooter. The Vietnamese word for the United States means “beautiful country”. They aren’t so kind to the Chinese. I know that nothing can make up for the losses and horrors our country and soldiers suffered here, but the people of this city appreciate what the Americans tried to do for them. I will leave far more comfortable about my son being here.

Dan’s dragging me out for some crazy breakfast (they don’t have specific breakfast food here; it’s the same as lunch or dinner), so time to get moving. I’ll post more pictures and videos soon.



Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

I love riding with my brothers and friends. I love heading up Lookout Mountain late at night, navigating the extreme twisties in the dark, tire to tire with the bike ahead and the one behind. I love blasting off from the traffic light, side by side, exhausts screaming, letting everyone know we’re having fun. But when it comes to a ride that spans a few days, a couple of a weeks, or a month, I’d rather go solo.

People think I’m anti-social when I do that, but the truth is, I’m in my social butterfly element when I’m on the road by myself. Since you can’t talk to your buddies when you’re riding anyway, what’s the difference? When I stop for gas or water or a bathroom break, I make new friends. There’s always something to talk about and a chance to exchange business cards.

A few weeks ago I rode home from Sturgis by myself. It was a hot and windy day in Wyoming, and I decided to take a break at the rest area where I knew members of the Christian Motorcycle Association were handing out free bottles of water. I got some water  and sat down at a shaded picnic bench with my tunafish “Lunch to Go” kit for a quick meal. When I was done, I walked back to my bike and saw a man on a black Road Glide parked next to me, speaking on the phone. He hung up, and we started chatting.

He was on the road from Maryland. He was taking a solo trip around the country. He’d just been at Sturgis and was heading down to Colorado Springs to see his oldest son at the Air Force Academy. He had also gone to the Academy and was recently retired from the Air Force. We talked about our amazing country and how riding solo gave us the opportunity to meet people we’d never have spoken with if we’d been riding with a friend. He felt that if more Americans would get out of their houses and home towns and get to know this great country of ours, we’d all be in better shape. I totally agree, having taken a life-changing ride myself. I told him that I’d written a book about my first cross-country trip and gave him a business card with Shovelhead Redemption scribbled on the back. I then assured him there was gas up ahead in Lusk, which was about 50 miles away, and jumped on my bike and headed south.

The man had told me his name, but I quickly forgot it. I tried to find the page on Facebook he was updating about his trip, but had no luck. This morning I received an e-mail from him saying that he’d ordered my book from Amazon. While he didn’t give a lot of details about his service, I got the feeling from one of his comments that he was high up on the food chain in the Air Force. I Googled his name and discovered he is a retired Brigadier General. Wow! You may meet the nicest people on a Honda, but if you’re looking for guts and glory, stick with Harley-Davidson.

Colorado Walkabout

Saturday, May 19th, 2012

View of Mt. Princeton from the Buena Vista KOAI don’t do well toward the end of winter. It’s nice that we can ride at least once every month through winter on the High Plains of Colorado, but short cold days don’t allow for general multi-day wanderings and sleeping under the stars. It seems like the closer we get to full-blown summer riding, the more agitated I become. Call it “that time of the year” for me. One wrong word can, and did, send me over the edge.

After a week of agonizing over the error of my ways and worrying that I was going to make life-changing decisions that I’d regret, I was blessed with a three-day forecast of temps in the eighties. While I would have preferred a few weeks on the road, I was happy to take off with my sleeping bag and no real plan on a Tuesday morning.

Because it’s still a little cold in the mountains early in the morning, and I didn’t want to deal with Denver traffic, I decided to head south on the eastern side of the city and then turn west somewhere around Colorado Springs. Thinking of a friend’s home I’d be passing near, I made contact and plans to stop.

While eastern Colorado lacks curves, I enjoyed the three hour ride south. Traveling where I’ve never been, even if it is close to home, mimics a major road trip. I love the feeling of riding into small towns I’ve never visited, like a cowgirl roaming the Old West. I got to my first stop point just before noon and waited while my friend rode into town to meet me. Back out even further onto the plains, and the nice quiet evening with my friends helped get my head to a better place.

On Wednesday morning, it was time to head up into the mountains and to one of my favorite spots to camp. There’s nothing like twisting on the throttle through the canyons to put a big smile on my face and joy in my heart. There’s just something about the roar of the Big Shots and the steep lean angles, from one side to the other, that makes all my cares disappear.

After crossing South Park on Route 24, I arrived at the KOA in Buena Vista. I love this campground. There isn’t a bad Motorcycle at cabin at KOAspot in the place, and the views are incredible. Because it was still pretty cool in the mountains and there were rain showers, I sprung for one of their cabins. After unpacking my bike (actually just taking the sleeping bag off the handlebars and throwing it on the bunk), I rode into town to find the hot springs and get dinner.

Cottonwood Hot Springs is west of town, and they have several pools of varying temperatures. There were a few couples there, but because it was the off-season still, I had a pool to myself. It was amazing. When it got too hot in one pool, I changed to another to cool down a bit. Then back to a much warmer one. Any remaining troubles soaked out of my body and were gone.

Dinner was at Quincy’s, one of my favorite places. I love that they only have one thing on the menu: filet mignon. You get a filet, a baked potato, and a salad with their house dressing. Your only choices are size of the steak, butter and/or sour cream, and how you want the steak cooked. The trade-off for a lack of selection is an incredible price. If I can afford it, almost anyone can. And it’s good. After that it was back to the campground for a peaceful evening under the stars.

Thursday morning I stopped in town for gasoline and breakfast. I stumbled upon a new diner behind the gas station in Johnson Village that had opened up the day before: The Smoke Shack. A very energetic owner welcomed customers and sat down to talk with me. I had the smoked corned beef hash, which was made with local produce: beets, potatoes and onions. At first I wasn’t crazy about the beets in the mix, but the hash was excellent. They also have local trout on the menu, although smoked trout would only be available as a special from time to time. Pulled pork was on the board as a lunch special. I’ll definitely be back.

Scenic view near Climax, COThe road took me through Leadville, the highest incorporated city in the United States. The view of snow covered peaks from the center of town was incredible, but I had no reason to stop and kept riding on through. Climax was the next town, and just north of Climax is this small turn off that I always say I won’t stop at but I always do. I can’t tell you how many pictures I have of my motorcycle in front of the small lake with the jagged peaks in the background. I love that spot.

Although the trip was winding down, I still enjoyed the freedom of the road with a trip through the old mining and now gambling towns of Central City and Blackhawk. From there it was on up to Nederland, home of the Frozen Dead Guy, and across the Peak to Peak Highway into Estes Park. I meandered around Estes for a little while then dropped back down to the Front Range into the outskirts of Loveland, across to Masonville, Horsetooth, and finally down into Fort Collins.

And this is why I moved to Colorado. My little three-day jaunt cost me almost nothing and took me over some of the best roads in the country. With my mind cleared, I was able to come home, reconcile where needed, and get back to my awesome life. I’ll be back in Buena Vista soon. While there I reserved the best campsite in the campground for late June. I can’t wait!

One Bad Bitch

Monday, February 20th, 2012

A couple of months ago I was contacted by Jen Berryhill, the owner of One Bad Bitch. She had just started a new feature on her site called “Fueled by Passion” and was interested in featuring me. I think she originally came to me because of a project I’m no longer involved in, but after I checked out her website and saw lots of cool stuff, I sent her my book so she could check it out.

There are a lot of women who ride out there. Not minimizing it, but what was once really bold for a woman is no longer such a big deal. Just as there are many different kinds of men who ride, so it goes for women. I had a feeling Jen and I were of the same mind. We talked a bit, and I asked her if I could do a book signing at her booth at the swap meet. It worked out well since she is now setting up two booths, one under the “Fueled by Passion” banner. It was perfect!

I went down on Friday to get my armband for the weekend and help set up. Also helping was a fiery young Ducati rider/racer named MoJo. It was fun to see all of One Bad Bitch’s offerings. They aren’t a simple “oh, look at me, I ride a Harley” kind of thing, but more of a “I’ll race you up the canyon, asshole” message. How could I not love a shirt with a long-haired female skeleton gripping her ape hangers with the message, “‘Til Death Do Us Part”? And even though I tend to be a low-bling girl, the rhinestones on the skeleton’s finger and eye are pretty cool.

I had a great weekend hanging with the One Bad Bitch crew. Jen’s husband Brian is a strongly supportive partner in the business. MoJo had way too much fun, to the delight of all who wandered by the booth, and I enjoyed soaking up her overflowing energy. Jen finally got around to reading my book and loved it, and she’s featured it on her Fueled by Passion column. One Bad Bitch is not simply a clothing company that did the market research for badass women’s clothing; she’s living it. Please visit her site and take a look around.


Another ride

Monday, January 30th, 2012

A friend of mine gives me a hard time about how much preparation I did for my first cross-country trip. It really was too much. In 2010 I took a second cross-country trip, this time going from Colorado to Vermont, down to Georgia, across to Texas, and back to Colorado. I was going to meet my granddaughter in Vermont who was born while I was on the road there. I wasn’t even sure if I was going to ride until three days before I left.

I wrote on that trip as well, posting to my 50 First Dates blog. I’ve wanted to pull it out and make it more accessible. Maybe I just want to relive being on the road while it’s the middle of winter. Regardless, I’m linking the entries from that trip to this post. They’ll open in the same tab, so when you’re done reading, you can hit the back button and come back for the next installment – if you’re so inclined. It’s somewhat of a sequel to Shovelhead Redemption.

I really wish I could be on the road again.

Let the new year begin

Sunday, January 1st, 2012

Looking over the last year, I’ve moved, moved, and then moved again, eventually ending back up where I started – out on the farm on the High Plains of near-Eastern Colorado (still well within view and driving distance of the mountains, but smelling distinctly of farmland in the summer time).

There has been some great stuff that happened this year, like finishing my book. I went for some good rides – about 15,000 miles total for the year. It doesn’t feel like I rode that much, but that’s what the odometer is telling me. Of course I didn’t have a car for a good part of the year, so maybe that’s where all those miles came from.

I fell in and out of love quickly. I came to the conclusion I’m in love with the idea of being in love. I am. I won’t try and deny it. I also know that I won’t try and force love if it isn’t there. Better to go through the short-term angst of “loved and lost” than being miserable for life. Still, it made for some lonely holidays, which brings me to that which hurts so much.

Webb RivardWebb, my friend and tattooist, was injured in Deadwood last year (2010) during the rally. It wasn’t a motorcycle wreck; he fell through a landing at a hotel in Deadwood. It screwed up his back, and he struggled with a lot of pain for the next year. In the middle of 2011, he started wasting away. Several visits to the doctor showed nothing, then suddenly he had cancer everywhere. It was at a fundraiser for Webb and his wife Vicki on October 6 at NoCo Studio that most of us found out about Webb’s condition.

Webb didn’t respond well to treatment and was sent home with hospice care. We knew he didn’t have a lot of time left, but I don’t think anyone expected him to pass so quickly. Shortly after midnight, on December 23, he passed away. The morning before he died, Vicki was very sick with Pancreatitis and ended up in the hospital. She hadn’t left his side before this, and it’s heartbreaking that she was not with him. I’ve spent a lot of time with her since then. I wish I knew what to say to make it better, but there is nothing. All we can do is pray that Vicki is able to heal and see the beauty in life again.

Today, New Year’s Day, I took Vicki to the Vineyard Church in Fort Collins to discuss funeral arrangements with Pastor Mark. I learned how Webb got his name, and it’s not what you think. I fought back tears and watched them fall freely from Vicki’s face as we talked about how getting a tattoo from Webb was more than just ink. I’m grateful I was able to get some beautiful cherry blossoms as one of his last works of art. And since I’m getting all teary-eyed again, I’ll leave it at that. The service is on Wednesday, January 4th at 2PM.

Praying for love, health and many care-free miles for everyone in 2012.

As the Wrench Turns

Thursday, July 21st, 2011
Bike without front end


I’ve had this pair of replacement fork seals for a year. I’m not known for keeping my bike squeaky clean, but the black grunge that is always present on the left fork is really starting to irritate me. I’ve asked my ex-boyfriend a couple of times to help me with the seals, but he never felt it was enough nastiness to warrant the work. His level of tolerance for oily surfaces is without match. And since he’s a guy and I’m not, he obviously knows what’s better for my bike than I do.

Sturgis is right around the corner. I’m heading to Glacier National Park on the north side of Montana before arriving in South Dakota, and I’m not confident my front tire will make it. I know I need an oil change. I’ve been thinking about getting my bike detailed before the Biker Belles ride, but why do that if I’m going to ooze slime with every hole or bump in my path. Fortunately I just bought a bike lift from a friend, so I can pull the wheel to take to the shop for installation, saving myself some money. After mentioning that I’m planning on replacing my fork seals to a few different groups of people and not getting any responses along the lines of, “are you out of your mind?”, I figure I can do it myself.

I’ve read over the section in the service manual that pertains to front forks a few times. I’m convinced the person crafting the manual went through it and replaced every instance of “have fun with this” with “may cause death or serious injury”. But I’m not afraid – of dying. I’m terrified that I’m going to end up with a bunch of parts on the barn floor and I’ll have to take the parts somewhere or call someone and beg that they come help me.

The first thing I have to do is remove the front wheel so I can take it in for a tire. It makes sense to do the tire and fork seals at the same time, since I have to remove the wheel to do the seals. To begin with, I have to remove the brake caliper from the wheel. The manual suggests hanging it with a bungee cord, and I have to make sure I don’t touch the front brake lever while it’s off. I improvise with a cargo net, which I like because I can hook on to both sides of the caliper. This is when I discover that battery terminals are not the only metric fastener on a Harley, which further validates my angry outburst of 4 years ago when a Harley-Davidson parts guy snottily told me that Harleys don’t use metric (it was rainy and cold and I’d been on the road for three weeks and still a long way from home – and broken down, of course).

I’m lucky because my landlord Ed likes to work on tractors and stuff, and he has a bunch of tools. I also think he might like to help out a little if needed, which he does with the wheel. He donates a much-needed work light to the cause. With the wheel off, I’m on my way to the shop to get a new tire and pick up my oil change supplies.

When I leave the shop with a case of oil and my new front tire installed on my shiny chrome wheel, one of the owners tells me to give him a call on his cell phone if I run into any trouble. I don’t believe that he really means it, and I know I’ll have to be worrying about death or serious injury for that to happen. This is the part where being a woman comes in handy, as I doubt he makes this offer to many of his male customers.

On the way home, the sky is just plain funky. The clouds to the west are intense but not scary. It is clear that rain is

rain clouds

Crazy clouds

heading my way. At home, the clouds are intense AND scary. Just as I’m heading out the door toward the barn, a massive gust of wind starts tossing around dirt and blowing birds out of trees. I wait for a calm moment and make it to the barn.

Following the manual, I remove the right fork assembly from the bike. I have to borrow a large Crescent wrench of Ed’s, since I don’t have anything big enough to fit the top cap. His 5/8″ socket with the huge socket handle helps me loosen the bolt on the lower triple tree and allows the fork to slide out. Suddenly the rain is pounding on the metal roof. I stand in the door of the barn and watch the storm rage. After a few minutes I return to the bike, and after three pulses of the work light, I have no power. Although there’s still daylight, the barn is dark. I go to the door and see an amazing rainbow lighting up the sky. A very faint double is there as well. The lighting and colors are incredible, and I get the cell phone out and start snapping pictures to post on Facebook.


Fringe benefit of the storm

An hour later I’m back in the barn starting on the second fork assembly. Out it comes, and I take them both over to the work bench for better work conditions. I pull a t-shirt out of my hockey bag and line the jaws of the vise with it as I clamp down on one of the fork tubes. I start unscrewing the cap of the fork tube, just as it tells me to in the manual. I hear noises. It sounds like a spring under very high tension that’s being twisted with every turn of the Vise-Grips. Reeech! Reeeech! Now I’m a little nervous. I’m working with this thing like it’s a loaded shotgun. I’m not looking at the cap from the top. I’m pretty sure it’ll kill me if it comes off. In fact, I’m not quite sure how this whole scenario is going to play out, but I have a feeling that this is where death and serious injury comes in.

fork in vise



I make the executive decision to call the guy at the bike shop.

“I wouldn’t have called you if you didn’t tell me I could.”

“How’s it going?”

“I’ve got the fork in the vise, and I’m taking the top off the fork.”

“Really? That’s not how I’d do it.”

“How would you do it?”

“What you want to do is take an allen wrench, it’s a metric, maybe a six millimeter, and take out the screw from the bottom of the lower leg. Then you’ll pull the fork tube out with the seal. Don’t undo that top cap. It’ll end up embedded in the wall. You’ll be wondering why you did that.”

“Yeah, I had a feeling that wasn’t going to end well. Seemed like a good idea at the time.”

Seems like a piece of cake, but the bolt is stubborn, and I can’t get a good grip with the hex key I have. What would be perfect is a set of hex keys I can put on a ratchet or handle. I don’t see this going anywhere without it, so at about 10:00 pm, I head for Walmart. I find what I’m looking for in a Stanley set. I know this won’t be a collection of tools that I’ll have for life, but it’s a collection of tools that’s available when all other stores are closed. When I get home, I’m too tired to go on and vow to wake early and get this done before it’s too hot.

I do get up right at 6:00 and am out in the garage shortly after. I’m quickly able to get the bolt out of the bottom of the lower leg, remove the dust cap, and pop out the spring clip, but the fork tube still feels hooked. The manual tells me to keep pulling on it, and on the third try, it all breaks free with a stream of fork oil that didn’t find it’s way out the drain hole the night before.

fork disassembled

Removing the clip and seal

I pull the fork seal off and place the new one on, making sure it’s facing the correct way. I can tell it isn’t going to slide down on its own, so I place the old fork seal on top of it and use a screwdriver and a rubber mallet to press the new seal into the lower leg. I reinstall the spring clip and the dust cap, and one fork down. Yay! That was easy.

Too easy. The second leg is the one with the closed end, the one that the new hex key driver won’t fit in. I have it locked down in the vise and start working on it with the folding hex key set. It takes everything I have, but at some point the bolt gives and starts turning. I’ve managed to bruise the palm of my hand in the process, but I’m overjoyed that I finally got it free.

The joy is short-lived once I realize that the whole tube is turning with the bolt, and I’m once again hearing that high-tension squeaky spring sound. I’m trying to hold the tube in place, but the spring is still turning in there. I try this for quite a while, varying my attack with each attempt, but I’m totally ineffective and start dreading the thought that I’d have to take it in. This is when I realize that 7:30 here is 9:30 on the east coast, and I text an old friend in Georgia to see if he’s up and ready to provide tech support.

Crazy Dave responds to my text with a phone call a few minutes later, at about the time I hear Ed get in his truck. I walk over to the door, and Ed pulls up. I ask him if he’ll show me how to use his air wrench, since that’s what the manual suggested. Crazy hears my conversation with Ed and catches on quickly,

“I bet you’re removing the bottom bolt from the lower legs.”

“I’m trying.”

Crazy gives me some tips, we catch up a little on life, and the call is over. Ed has gone to do whatever it is he goes to do first thing every morning but promises he’ll be back to help. There isn’t much I can do at this point. In order to change the oil, I’ll need to warm the bike up a little, and there’s no way I’m starting it on the lift. I go back into the house and clean up a little. Ed finally calls, and we go out to the barn to get to work.

cut up hex key

Butchered tool

We end up cutting off the hex key from the folding set and inserting it into a big cordless drill. It keeps spinning. And spinning. And spinning. I get the brilliant idea to pull back on the fork tube with all my strength while Ed drills, and sure enough, I go flying back when the screw finally releases. Woohoo! It’s amazing how good it feels when something finally works.

I change out the fork seal and reinstall the forks and wheel without a hitch. But the work isn’t done yet. I got new risers last year with my new ape hangers, but the risers weren’t chrome originally, and even though I’d bought the new lower risers around a year ago, they still weren’t in. That job goes without incident, and then I’m on to the oil change. Again, piece of cake. So while I’m on a roll, I decide to fix my ghetto exhaust.

ragged exhaust wrap

Ghetto (before)

Last year I decided that as much as I’ve always loved my Vance and Hines Staggered Big Shots exhaust, I was ready for something new. This comes into the “if it ain’t broke” category. I love the sound, the performance is good, new exhaust is at least $600. I’m really just looking for a cosmetic change. After much deliberation, I decided to remove the heat shields and wrap the pipes with black heat tape. It looks pretty cool, but at some point in the last couple of months, one end had unwrapped and got tattered while dragging. It had been tie-wrapped back on, but there were a few inches of shiny pipe sticking out, and it looks ragged.

The exhaust came with slash cut tips that faced down. I’ve been thinking about putting them back on the end of the pipes and then wrapping the heat tape up to the edge. I also had the idea of facing the tips outward instead of down, so I check it out. I like it. I have no idea how I’ll make it work. The tips have three steps: the first goes into the end of the exhaust pipes, the second step, a little wider in diameter, has the hole that previously bolted onto the heat shields that are no longer with us, and the last step is the part I want to show. The second step with the hole is not in the pipe, so I’m not sure how to make the tips stay in.

drilled exhaust and tip

Work in progress

This is when I drag the fourth poor sucker into my little (now going on 24 hours) project. I call Rebel J, hot rod and chopper builder extraordinaire, and ask what I should do. I’m getting a little burned out at this point and would love to hear him say something like, “hot glue gun”, but no such luck. Drill a couple of holes dummy. No, he didn’t call me a dummy, but it really was an obvious solution. I just didn’t want to do it. But it’s now or never, and I pull out some good quality drill bits I purchased a long time ago and have never used. I find machine screws that matched the diameter of one of the bits, and I even stumble upon an old tap and die set with an appropriately sized tap.

I think I can do this with the pipes on the bike, but it quickly becomes apparent that my lazy ass needs to take the pipes off the bike. I do some unwrapping, some soaking, some drilling, some tapping and some screwing – and then rewrapping, strapping and painting with the heat paint – and then the pipes are ready to go back on. I wrestle with the reinstallation of the exhaust, because I’m really hot and tired at this point. But it’s finally done, and I like the way it looks. Kind of. The cuts are tilted up a little more than I had envisioned, but at least they’re even.

new tips

I love it when a plan comes together

Now I’m ready to get on my bike and go for a ride… and here comes the afternoon thunderstorm. Test ride tomorrow, probably to the salon to get my nails done. That black line of grease below the tip isn’t very attractive.