Friday, October 9, 2009

Version 0.1

Just wanted to put up a couple of quick pictures. Replaced the exhaust and fork tubes (scratching them up in the process - doh!), put in a new battery plus gas. Also got a sweet pleather chopper seat off of eBay. Rode it to work hoping the completely dry-rotted tire wouldn't let go. Handled like a dream.
By dream I mean nightmare. And yes, that's a yellow sponge helping to keep the battery in there.


I've ventured to the dark side. I saw a craigslist ad for a '77 Sportster XLH (aka 'Ironhead') and decided to take a look. Looking turned to owning.

I'd been seeing lots of builds lately where people are doing old-school bobber, cafe and other stripped-down Harleys and was intrigued.

I've always been turned off by Harleys because so many people who have them are douche bags. No other way to put it. I can remember when I started riding in Chicago. There was this place around the corner called the North Side and it was "Yuppie Lawyer on Bike" central. It seemed like every time I rode by some tool who'd put a total 50 miles a year on their bike (can't tarnish the chrome, dude) would yell something derogatory out. Showing his pals how he was true blooded. This shit even happened when I had my Norton. Either that or you'd bump into some fat ass wearing as much Harley-themed clothing as possible, riding some huge land-yacht who'd refer to anything else as "some jap crap" - didn't matter if it was Asian, British or Italian. Then for the last few years all you saw were lollipop-bikes that were trying to emulate those being "built" on some Discovery Channel show by guys who seemed to order everything new from a catalog (when they weren't yelling at each other and throwing tools).

Lately though there's been a sea change. Lots of guys looking back into the 50s and 60s for inspiration and coming up with the stripped-down essentials. Several overseas builders have cropped up lately with killer bikes that are bobber + street tracker + cafe + whatever = simple and clean. Mix and match components - whatever works. Form follows function.
I especially liked the looks of the builds made from pre-Evo sportsters; Harley's answer to the light fast British bikes that were taking over on the late 50s and 60s. Not much there but a big lump of cast iron and aluminum, a seat, 2 wheels and handlebars. Basic. Elemental bike. Even better is that they're not very desirable because 1) they're old, 2) they shake, 3) tend to leak oil, 4) they're mostly from the dreaded AMF days. Perfect - I could get one for cheap and not worry that screwing it up would make me feel like I'd ruined something expensive.

So I kept my eye out, but most people wanted 3 to 5 grand. Seems sellers aren't aware that the bottom has fallen out and people aren't paying a premium for anything anymore, never mind 25+ year old motorcycles. Then I found the ad - it ran, needed some work, was close by and cheap. I went and took a look. Guys was pretty straight-forward: he'd bought it 2 years ago and got it running (new generator and some other bits). And then let it sit in the back yard since. ?!? Rust is not your friend.

Overly loud 2" slash-cut drag pipes, rusty 4" over forks, rims spray-painted black (probably to hide rusty spokes), old gas in the tank making me ill. Just what I was looking for.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Black Rebel Motorcycle Exhaust

Saw a Craiglist ad for powder and ceramic coating of exhaust headers and other things. I had the pipes that came with the bike still around and had just gotten in some shorty megaphones, so I thought I'd give it a try.
The ceramic coating stuff has been around for a while and is supposed to help pull heat away from the heads - always good for air-cooled motors, but I don't know anyone who has tried it. I also liked the idea of not throwing away the original pipes; they looked bad but still worked fine. Plus black exhausts on red Guzzis always looks the business.
So I took the pipes and mufflers to Len at and had him coat them. I really like the result, especially how it brings out the imperfections (and the pipes had a lot of rust pitting). I like the aesthetic of "actually used" vs. "trailer queen". I think Len was kinda worried because the coating didn't fill in the pitting, and this shade of black kinda brought it out.
Another bonus is the sound of the shorties is pretty mean, especially when throttling down.