Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Heat is...Off?

I purchased the October 2008 issue of Road Runner magazine this last weekend which came complete with massive pull-out advertisement from Harley-Davidson. While the ad was impressive in itself--a pullout, fold open poster on one side and forthcoming improvements to the 2009 touring models on the reverse--I was most intrigued by some of the promised improvements. Most notably, HD has rerouted the exhaust system on the new tourers to better shield the rider from the heat produced by the exhaust during low speed or stand-still situations. Even more impressive, HD promises a rider activated control switch that temporarily deactivates the firing of the rear cylinder. Kudos to Harley-Davidson for response to rider needs that aren't necessarily centered around attitude and appearance.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Apocalypse Now

Things have not been going well in the world of machines this month. Shortly before what was left of hurricane Ike blew through this region and knocked the power out for a week, we had a lightning strike in the area that fried my modem and router despite surge protection. My desktop crashed shortly after power was returned. The blower motors on both cars have ceased to function. Considering I'm still using the bike as primary transportation to work, I wasn't all that concerned....

....Until the stator fried on the bike while I was heading into work just about a week ago and left me stranded under a bridge overpass during a thunderstorm. It was one of those moments where you mentally and spiritually step away from your life and take a good look at the state of affairs and then begin to chuckle. The chuckles stretched into guffaws of hysteria. I may have wept a little and cursed the gods. Even the homeless folks collecting stray bottles and cans steered clear of me.

When things dried out a little, I attempted to diagnose the problem. While knowing it was electrical in nature, I determined after checking connections, fuses, and saturation of controls that the problem was beyond my ability to repair on the side of the road. Fortunately, I own a pickup truck. I dropped the bike off at the local dealer who diagnosed the faulty stator. Unfortunately, the problem wasn't covered under extended warranty and cost a whopping $650 parts and labor. Stator repaired and computers returned to a functional state, I pass the joys of mechanical dysfunction on to you.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

What's That Smell?

Changed the oil in the bike the other day and did something really stupid immediately following. I'd swapped the Fram filter for a K&N which requires the lower cowling to be removed. Simply draining the oil and replacing the fluid can be done without pulling off any of the body work. I rarely do this. If I'm going to get greasy, then I might as well go the whole nine yards.

With the lower fairing removed, I fired the engine over, let it warm up a little, and then walked around the machine checking for leaks. Seeing none, I shut it down and (here's where stupid comes bopping along) was so excited to get out on the road, I decided to put the plastic back on right away. While wrestling it into place, I reached around the edge of the fairing to get a little leverage and planted my fingers directly across one the bends of the exhaust.

The pipes were so hot they felt cold. And then there's that brief whiff of cooking meat and I hopped around the driveway clutching my burned fingers and swearing. No major damage, however, just missing fingerprints, light blistering, and a slightly poached ego.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Labor Day Lounging

I did absolutely no riding this Labor Day. None whatsoever. I didn't even sit on the bike through the holiday. The thought crossed my mind sometime on Saturday morning, early while the air was cool. By the time I hauled my butt off the couch, I'd been up much of the night watching Predator and Predator II, I stepped out the kitchen door into a steamy afternoon. I turned around immediately and resumed my post in front of the television.

I did leave the house for most of Sunday, but I took the cage. My wife and I visited some friends in Elizabethtown, KY for some food and an evening playing games. Yes, that's the same Elizabethtown for which the movie was named.

I spent Labor Day again parked in front of the boob tube for a 15-hour Star Trek TNG marathon on the Sci-fi Channel, a viewer's choice marathon. Oh yes, 15 hours of Jean Luc Picard, Warf, Data, Q, Dr. Beverly Crusher, and, God forbid, even little Wesley. So while the bike occasionally called to me from the driveway, I spent the weekend indulging my inner goober.