Who am I and why the hell should you care about reading my blog?

Avid motorcyclist & freelance writer, specializing in motorcycles & motorcycle related topics, with a healthy dose of good humor, good vibes & general advice on simply being a good person.
Showing posts with label Dyna. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dyna. Show all posts

Saturday, May 4, 2024

MotoReview- Viking Bag’s Dagr Sissy Bar Bag

MotoReview- Viking Bags’ Dagr Sissy Bar Bag

Well, MotoReaders, as promised, I humbly submit to you, my review of the Viking Bags 22L Dagr sissy bar bag! 

Okay, first off- in the interest of FULL disclosure- I did not buy this bag, I do not work for Viking Bags, I am not related to anyone (that I know of) that works for Viking Bags and I do not own any stock in Viking Bags, nor will I benefit from a positive review of, or suffer from a negative review of, this bag (or any other items I review on my site). That said, let’s get to it, shall we?

Initial impression

 When I arrived home from work today, I was excited to see a decent sized brown box, waiting for me at my driveway. I anxiously picked it up and noticed that it had a little heft to it… again, a wave of pleasant surprise and satisfaction washed over me. Once inside, I opened the box to find a nice sized bag wrapped in a clear plastic bag that was tied. Had it been raining, I’m confident that the cardboard box’s contents would have been safe and dry inside. After plucking the bag out of the box and unwrapping it like an impatient child at Christmas, I removed the hefty, well made and very sturdy bag from it’s plastic cocoon. 

I, gratuitously, decided that the best place to take some photos of the bag was on my work bench, where I’ve been working on resurrecting the MotoWriter Dyna, which, if you haven’t heard (or, read about here on the site, yet… click the link here —>>) I crashed a few months back. Yes, I must also admit that the MotoWriter wall sign, that my good friend Nick over at The Wood Shop made for me, makes for a nice background detail… again, I know it’s gratuitous, but hey, I’m grown and I do what I want! 

Digging in

Hearing a distinct rattle when handling the bag, I feverishly began unzipping the compartments to see what goodies the bag contained. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the two side pockets are big. Not, “hold a pair of jeans” big, but definitely “keep your phone, GPS, keys, wallet, Snicker bars, and maybe even some miscellaneous H-D poker chips or challenge coins” big. The best part is, that there are two of them and they are equally large, not like some of those bags that have the random sized compartments that make no real sense. The main compartment held the culprits of the rattling sound- a rain cover, a shoulder strap and two (2) smaller straps for tying the bag to your bike in, probably, any way that you might want. 

In this photo, I’ve got them propped open with a marker (on one side) and a roll of painter’s tape (on the other side). The main compartment is big and has plenty of room for a couple of pairs of socks, underwear and maybe a t-shirt or two if you pack them tight enough (disclaimer- I wear a size large t-shirt, so I can make it work… if you’re bigger than that, it might get tricky for you). Viking also claims that the bag will hold “31 cans”… but I’ve yet to try that, as I’m more of a bourbon man. The “flap” (if you can even call it that) opens up and it has two detachable straps on either side to keep it from flopping open and dumping it’s contents. They are adjustable, so if you only want it to open a little bit, you can. If you want it to open all the way, adjust them out or simply unclip them. I, very loosely, refer to the flap as a “flap” because it doesn’t “flap” at all. There isn’t anything on this bag that is “flappy”, actually. The “flap” is very well made and semi-rigid to keep the contents of the bag safe, while helping to maintain the bag’s shape. On the inside, it has a mesh, zipper close, compartment that could be used for any small items you don’t want falling out of, or getting mixed up in, the main compartment. Did I mention the security? No? Well, I will. The main compartment can be closed and secured with a small padlock- think, “TSA approved.” It won’t keep anyone from stealing your bag, but it will prevent anyone from rooting through your bag and gawking at your weird under britches that have the hearts printed on them. 

Inside the main compartment is another zipper that runs along the entire inner wall. Snooping around and unzipping it, reveals the inner plastic “wall” that gives rigidity to the outside of the bag and maintains the overall shape. The plastic is thick, maybe 3/16” or just a tiny bit thinner and its made of a nice flexible ABS plastic that really looks like it can take a beating without shattering or cracking. The top of the bag has a sewn-in, and riveted, nylon strap handle that has a plastic “comfort strap” (that’s what I’m calling it… maybe the folks at Viking Bags can use that). The handle is well made and will, no doubt, be able to easily hold up to all of the weight that can be crammed into this bag- be it 31 cans of your favorite beverage, or all of those “heart” boxers that your aunt Susie gave you for your birthday.

The intelligent design didn’t stop at the back of the bag either. The strap to attach it to the sissy bar is wide and thick and will easily fit over most sissy bars (or back rests for you folks that are offended by the word “sissy”). It comes with something that, if I’m being honest, I’ve never seen before- two vertical, and removable, metal rods. The rods are used to adjust for the width of your bike’s sissy bar- a very cool feature and one that was very well planned and, from what I can tell so far, very well executed. There are D rings on the rear of the bag that can be used with the straps provided, to secure the bag to your bike, or, convert the bag into a backpack! Very cool! 

Overall Thoughts

My overall first impression of the Dagr bag is that it is very well made. It has what I like to call “smart engineering and design” all throughout. It’s obvious that whoever designed this bag, did so intentionally. The name, Dagr, is an old Norse word meaning, basically, “day” and that’s exactly what this bag is perfect for (although, I can see myself using it on overnight trips, too). 

Quality is top notch- the stitching is sturdy and the materials are very nice- a mix of nylon rip-stop and a rugged, rubber composite that blends very well into the design, making this bag not only functional, but attractive. The size is perfect for holding a variety of necessities on a road trip- sunglasses (and reading glasses for those of us who are getting a little older these days), sunscreen, gloves, snacks, and whatever else you want, or need, to bring along to make your trip a little better. 

While the MotoWriter Road King has big, cavernous saddlebags and a detachable trunk for my longer trips, I plan on using this bag on the MotoWriter Street Bob, once it’s put back together and ready for road trippin’ again, that is.

Durability, longevity and affordability 

I can’t, personally, speak on affordability, as I didn’t actually buy this bag, but I can tell you that, for the msrp of $69.99, and a current promotion (as of today) of $59.41, I think it’s a steal. This is a bag that you will keep from bike to bike until your significant other or one of your kids (or grandkids) decide to “appropriate” it for their own use. It looks good and is well made. 

As for the durability or the longevity of the bag, I obviously won’t be able to speak on this yet, either, as I just got this thing today. I will honestly be surprised if it doesn’t outlast some of my other gear (and maybe even one of my bikes), but I’ll do a proper follow-up review in 6 months, and another one at a year, to give you some updates on it, in case you’re still not convinced. 

Final thoughts

I’ll leave you with this to ponder- how much do you spend at the coffee shop every month? How much do you spend on fast food? How much do you give to your co-workers’ kids that are always selling cookies or doing some other kind of fund raisers? If you’re an average person, I’d be willing to bet that you could buy two of these bags a month, every month, for what you spend in coffee and fast food alone. So, why not take a chance and get a bag that will, absolutely, last longer than all those McBurgers and Starspressos. Go check out Viking Bags (by clicking the link at the top right of this page) or by clicking here and check out what they have to offer. 

Instead of spending a hundred bucks a month for some overpriced drinks or some, potentially cold, fries that will only give you joy, happiness or satisfaction for a few moments, take a break from the drive-thru line for a few weeks and buy yourself a bag that, I suspect, will give you years of service. Hell, what’s the worst that could happen? If you only use it for one year’s worth of road trips, it will still have given you more use than those deep fried fart sticks and that chalky ass, coffee flavored, sugar water. Make your coffee at home and brown bag your lunch for a month and get something that will actually bring you some joy- the Viking Bags Dagr sissy bar bag. (<<— shameless plug, but click the link and check it out for yourself!)

Now, I better get back to working on the MotoWriter Street Bob, so I can put this bag to good use before the next review!

Until next time, MotoReaders… ride safe and make good choices!

Monday, September 25, 2023

Updates coming soon!

Hey MotoReaders!

I’m super busy at the moment, but I wanted to drop a quick post to let you know that I’ve been working (literally) and getting some fresh new content for the ole website while doing so. In the next few weeks, I’ll have some new ride reviews on the new 121ci vvt CVO Road Glide, the new Lowrider ST and the Pan America. I’ll also throw in an update on the status of the MotoWriter Dyna and I might even talk about some other cool stuff that I’ve been doing lately. 

Drop a comment and let me know which review you’d like to see first, then check back soon!

Till then- ride safe and make good choices!

Saturday, September 2, 2023

I Crashed


I don't think this will buff out.

I crashed the MotoWriter Street Bob

Well, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- if you ride motorcycles, it’s not a matter of if, but when, you will have a mishap. I’ve had my share over the years, but it’s been a long time since I’ve had anything serious happen… until a few nights ago. I was riding a road that I’ve ridden, probably a few dozen times, and I failed to heed the warnings. You see, there is one particular curve that, while it’s not crazy, it is dangerous enough that the county road department installed a sign warning “dangerous curve ahead” on the approach. If you’ve watched any of my earlier videos, you likely saw the one where I went into this exact curve in the least sexy way possible. It always has gravel in the apex… always. On this fateful night, there was no exception. 

An evening ride on a known road

I would venture to guess that, statistically, casually known roads are more dangerous to us than those that are brand new, or well known, to us. We tend to take it easier on roads that we're unfamiliar with, and get more relaxed on roads that we know (or think we know) well. It's the in-between roads though, that seem to be the ones that really get us in trouble. Those backroads that we know well enough to be comfortable on, but we don't ride on enough to be able to anticipate every curve. 

While taking an evening ride on one of those roads- one that I’ve ridden multiple times in the past, but is not one of my "regular" rides- I approached the aforementioned "dangerous curve." I was looking for the tell-tale signs of the ever-present gravel swath, but there was none… until suddenly, there was. I was over halfway through the curve, with a fair, but not too aggressive lean on the Dyna, when all of a sudden, a relatively thin (maybe 18” wide) swath of gravel appeared directly in front of me. It was laid out in the road, perfectly matching the exact line that I was in. I knew that going into the gravel would surely put me into the asphalt and high side me into the oncoming lane (I’ve seen enough crashes like this to know how that would play out- and the outcome of those were all bad), so I tried my best to apply enough brakes to get off the line I was on, which was heading toward my certain demise. 

I was able to successfully apply enough brake to stand the Dyna up and miss the majority of the gravel, but unfortunately for me, in doing so, it put me going across the center line and into the oncoming lane. By the grace of God, there was no one coming, so with everything I had, I tried to keep the Dyna off the shoulder, but the stock, single disc front brake on the 2011 FXDB simply wasn’t slowing me down enough and I inadvertently pushed a little too much on my rear pedal. Big mistake. The rear tire started to lock and before I could release and reapply the rear brake, I ran out of room on the road surface and the back of the bike started to slide sideways. The scoot first went down on the high side (that's the right side for those that don't know), sliding into the grass shoulder. Once in the grass, it slid a few feet before catching and high-siding, ejecting me off a few feet from my downed machine. I had enough wits about me to tuck my head in anticipation of the impact, and I landed hard on my back with my helmet barely tapping the hard, dry, grass covered, red clay ground. 

Body and bike

I stayed down for a second doing a mental assessment: wiggle my toes- check; move my fingers- check- breathing clear, in and out- check. I slowly stood up, checking myself for injuries and was feeling pretty good about my condition, until I got upright and could feel a warm wetness flushing down my back. I reached back and felt it- yep, it was wet. When I pulled my hand back, I could see it was covered in blood. Evidently, when I landed, I slid across something sharp that was embedded in the dirt and grass, because, as I would learn later, my back had a gash that was about 6-8 inches long running across at an angle with all of the other superficial scratches from the rocks in the dirt. 

The MotoWriter Dyna didn’t get out quite so lucky; the bars were bent, the fairing and clutch perch destroyed and there was fresh oil on the low side fork tube. Aside from that, the tank had some scratches on the low side and the H-D logo was ripped off. After manipulating the clutch lever back in place, I was able to start it, though. It fired up and ran fine. A Good Samaritan saw the aftermath of my self-induced mess and offered to help. Being a stubborn-ass man, I initially refused, but after he insisted that I wasn’t putting him out, I reluctantly agreed and he left to go get his truck.

I love the South

As I was waiting for him to come back, I was able to get the bike picked up and moved a little further down the ditch (I was trying to get it back on the road, but couldn’t). I called my wife, then the local sheriff’s department, to report the crash. A few other folks came by and checked on me, but I told them that I had some help coming, so they went on their way. A few minutes later, my new friend, who for the sake of his anonymity, I will call Mr. L, came back with a truck and trailer. 

South Mississippians are the best people I’ve ever met. This guy, who only knew me from the second that he saw my dumb self standing in the ditch with my busted motorcycle, generously offered to help me. Not only that, but once he got there with his truck and trailer, he offered to let me take the whole rig, so I could get the bike back home. Being that my back was as bloody as a horror film crime scene though, I respectfully declined and told him that I would ride with my wife in our car so I didn’t stain his seats with my ripped up back. Initially, Mr. L. offered to bring my bike back to his place until I could come get it because one of the tires on his trailer was in bad shape, but once my wife and the deputy got there, he could see that the pain was starting to set in, and offered to risk the tire and bring it all the way to my house, so I could rest and heal without having to worry about going out again to get the bike. To recap- this man was on his way home from work when he saw some random stranger, crashed into a ditch on his motorcycle. He offered… no, he insisted, to help the stranger, then he offered to let this complete stranger take his truck and trailer without knowing if it would ever be returned. Can you imagine what our world would be like, if everyone was as kind, generous and trusting as Mr. L.? 

No good deed

They say that no good deed goes unpunished, and about a mile away from my house, that rang true for Mr. L. The damn tire on his trailer blew out and completely came off the rim. Mr. L. was undeterred, though. I got out of my wife’s car to see what we needed to do, and he just waved me on and said he was going to run it on the rim until we got there; and run it on the rim, he did. We pulled the whole sad looking contraption, consisting of a busted up Harley-Davidson strapped to a trailer with one tire, into the driveway and Mr. L. helped me unload the MotoWriter Dyna off the trailer. I offered to replace the wheels on his trailer, but he adamantly refused, telling me that he had two new tires for the trailer at home, but he just had not put them on yet. I’m not sure if he was fibbing or not, but I told him that he could leave the trailer at my house and drop the tires off later, and I would get it all fixed back up for him. After all, it was, literally, the very least I could do. He reluctantly agreed, would only allow me to give him a sports drink for all his trouble, and then, after some polite conversation, he headed back home to his family and I went inside to let Mrs. MotoWriter get me fixed up.

Stubborn ass man

I mentioned before that I am stubborn. Well, as you can imagine, that means I opted not to go spend my evening at an emergency room. It turned out that, while it was pretty long, fairly deep, splayed open sort of wide and full of grass, dirt and debris, it was still just a cut across my back. While my wife was gathering up all of the necessary supplies, I checked my own vitals: breathing- still clear and full; blood pressure- understandably high; heart rate- a little elevated, but good; blood oxygen- 100%; and after going pee, I saw that I wasn’t passing any blood. For my limited medical knowledge gained from being a father of two rambunctious sons- I determined that the likelihood of my having any significant internal injuries was somewhat low. 

Mrs. MotoWriter did a great job, even if she did almost pass out twice. She got it cleaned up, closed up and bandaged, thanks to the advice and guidance from my youngest son, who just happens to be an EMT. I took some ibuprofen to help quell the pain, since it felt like Mike Tyson kidney punched me with all of his strength, and then I went to bed. I actually slept pretty decent, considering the circumstances. The next morning, however, my plans of getting up and going to work were dashed when I tried getting out of bed. I felt okay, but I was moving like Frankenstein’s monster. Everything hurt, so I messaged the boss and went back to bed. I had been trying to catch up on my writing, but alas, the bike wasn’t the only thing broken (I’m blaming everything on the Blue Super Moon)… my home internet also went out. We cancelled our satellite TV service when we got the fiber optic internet, so no internet meant no TV… which meant that I was given plenty of time to write, but I just couldn't upload it, so this story will be a few days old by the first time you get to read it.

Cuts heal and chicks dig scars

As I’ve learned so many times in the past, cuts heal and chicks dig scars; what is dented, can be fixed, what is broken, can be replaced. The most important takeaway here is the lesson learned. 

I was on a road that, from my own experience, has a dangerous curve and the most dangerous part of that curve for a motorcyclist is the ever present gravel that sits patiently on the blacktop, waiting for it’s next two-wheeled victim. I knew it was there… because it’s always there. Out of the dozens of times I’ve ridden this road, I can only remember once, maybe twice, where the surface was clear. That is on me. As a certified motorcycle operator and motorcycle instructor, I know that when the rear brake starts to lock, I’m supposed to release to rolling friction until I regain control. In this particular situation, mid curve with inadequate braking ability and very little real estate to operate in, I was unfortunately doomed to my fate, because I simply ran out of room. The best I could hope to accomplish, with what I had to work with, was to mitigate the damage as best as possible, which I did. This crash could have been much, much worse. But, this crash could have also been avoided altogether.

I’m not as young as I used to be, so I know that I’m going to be feeling this one for a while, even after the cut heals and Tyson’s bruising goes away. I’m just thankful that I was able to use the training that I have to minimize the overall damage… to the bike, but mostly to me. Mrs. MotoWriter would never forgive me if I went for a ride and didn’t come back. I’m also thankful for good, truly good, samaritans like Mr. L. I’m grateful for his help and generosity and I’m proud to say that I know him- he’s a good man. People like Mr. L. really help restore a person's faith in humanity.

My biggest regret in this whole situation is that I failed to use my own experience to avoid this whole damn situation. I knew the dangers and ignored them. The best I can hope for going forward is, that I learn from this hard lesson and, maybe you can learn something from my mistake, too. 

Until next time, MotoReaders, please ride safe.

It's not as bad as it could be, but it's going to be down for repairs for a little while.

The bars, forks and my newly installed (and recently painted to match) fairing are all shot.

I'm alive, I'm in one piece and I'm in good spirits.
Thanks to the awesome folks at Go Fast Don't Die for such a great shirt, and thanks to all of my loyal MotoReaders for reading my stories.

Want your own collection of cool, Go Fast Don't Die apparel? Check them out by clicking here. Tell 'em that The MotoWriter sent ya!  

Saturday, October 29, 2022

Video Blog

Hello MotoReaders!

I'm contemplating bringing back the video blog... at least every once in a while. Even though it's a lot of work (and no recompense), I actually sort of miss editing and creating videos and, it turns out that, I have a few different reviews that I think I'd like to do. Of course, with autumn in the South usually bringing a bit more rain and cooler temperatures, it's also a good time to sit in a warm, dry garage (or house), editing video content, too.

If I do break out the GoPros... I have a few cool things to show you guys. First, I've done a bit of work to the MotoWriter Street Bob that has changed the look a bit and, I've added some new lighting to the MotoWriter Road King that I'm pretty excited to talk about. I've also picked up a couple of new motorcycles that I'm eager to share my thoughts on. I'm sure I could add in a few product reviews and I've even thought about doing another long(er) term review of my Road King Special... as a follow-up to my previous video, since I've done a bit of work to it since making that video. 

When, and if, I do start shooting and posting new videos... look for the links to them here on theMotoWriter.com, since I'm adamantly opposed to getting back on social media (I might even talk about my reasoning for that in a video, too). 

Finally, if you are one of my loyal readers, and have wondered whatever happened to my plans for offering up some MotoWriter merchandise... the person I was working with to make my decals and t-shirts has shut down her operation indefinitely and I've just been too busy with my "real job" stuff to seek out another vendor for it. Maybe, if all works out, I'll be able to get that done in the next couple of months and will be able to add a link to the site, where y'all can order from. 

Whatever happens, stay tuned for more content here on the MotoWriter.com, because as the temps drop and the rain starts to come more often, I'll be doing less riding and doing more writing.

THANKS for being a part of this! Ride safe and make good choices!

Monday, December 27, 2021

Dyna Update!

Fork seals

Ugh. Hydraulic forks are the best... until they're not. Most people will ride their motorcycles for years without ever even servicing them. The maintenance is pretty straightforward, most of the routine services simply require draining the old fluid and replacing it with fresh stuff, which, in a lot of cases, can be done without even taking the forks off the bike. Most fork seals last for years, and for thousands of miles, as long as the fork tubes are kept clean and free of debris.

But if you're a project hunter, like me, who can't turn down a great deal on a bike that needs a little love, chances are, you're gonna be doing a helluva lot more than simply swapping fluid. I've got two such bikes sitting in my garage, right now. One, is an '06 Sportster that I picked up for less than $2k a few years ago, and the other is an '11 Dyna Street Bob that I added to the stable a couple years later. Both of them were complete, but in deplorable condition- rust and corrosion was rampant on both, neither was running and both of them had been neglected for several years. But... I got them cheap and trusted myself with being able to get them back on the road, which I did. 

Both bikes have been awesome, but both have had the common issue of fork seal leakage, in part because I half-assed the job the first time on both bikes. Let me explain.


When I first got the Sportster, the fork tubes were obviously roached. They were pitted with rust from top to bottom. The sliders were fine, but the tubes were simply beyond repair. Where I half-assed it, was I stupidly went on eBay in an attempt to save a few bucks and bought a set of used tubes that were significantly better than mine. With a new set of Genuine James Gasket seals and my new used tubes, I put her back together with some fresh 10w oil and she was good to go, for a few years anyway. After a few years of riding, one of the seals sprung a, very minor, leak. It was just minor enough to make me doubt if it was actually leaking, but after a few months, I realized that I was going to be doing a fork seal job again. 


When I first picked up the Dyna- a 2011 FXDB Street Bob- I already had some knowledge of the bike's history. I bought it from a friend who, several years earlier, had bought it from a local Harley-Davidson dealership. He was the second owner of the bike and I was actually with him when he bought it. As it turned out, he didn't ride the bike as much as he thought he would and it ended up sitting in his driveway under a bike cover... for years. I hadn't seen the bike since he bought it and had no idea how bad of condition it was in before I agreed to buy it. It really didn't matter to me though, because for the price he was asking, it was worth it. When I first saw the bike, I was in awe of how bad it was. For a bike that was only 7 years old with less than 10k miles, it looked as if it had been abandoned in a field for a decade. I guess that's a drawback of living in the south, near the Gulf of Mexico- the salty, humid air makes short work of corroding metal. The ethanol based gasoline did it's own damage to the inside of the fuel tank, but that's a story for another day. 

The fork tubes didn't look too bad at first glance- the uppers were a little spotty, but the lower sides looked fine, even though they were both leaking. I assumed that the seals were leaking due to being dry rotted, and I wasn't completely wrong, so in my eagerness to ride the bike, I bought a set of Genuine James fork seals for it, then tore it down and put it all back together in an afternoon. I was stoked to ride it... for a few hours anyway. I assumed that the problem was with the seals, since I had previously installed a set of the same brand on the Sporty and they were now leaking after only a couple of years of riding. In my frustration, I cussed the Genuine James Gasket Company for all they were worth, then went online to do some research.

The Sporty fork saga, continued

Having had my fill of frustrations with the James Gasket seals, all my research pointed me to ordering a set of All Balls Racing seals for my trusty little XL. Once I got it tore down, however, I quickly realized that the seals weren't the problem. Apparently, something (probably sand, since I live near, and often ride beside, a beach) had gotten under the dust seal and made a nice little scratch on one of the tubes. The eBay tubes, if I'm guessing by their appearance, were most likely show chrome which is pretty, but not the most durable for a machine that is ridden a lot, so I bit the bullet and ordered a set of new hard chrome tubes, made by Hard Drive. I put it all back together with some 15w, for a little better dampening. She rides better than a new bike now...with no leaks!

The daggum Dyna

I like this damn bike, a lot, but boy it sure makes me cuss sometimes. After getting the new seals, I tore the forks down and, after a quick inspection of the tubes, put it all back together with the new All Balls Racing seals. Success! No more leaking! I was ecstatic... such a simple fix... 

...or so I thought.

Within about a month of riding, that familiar old bead of oil showed up on the high side tube again. I put the bike back on the lift, pulled it apart for what felt like the hundredth time, and inspected it like a jeweler inspecting a diamond. All of a sudden, I saw it- a small, barely noticeable, chip in the chrome, just above where the seal sets when the bike is at rest. The chip was small, only about a millimeter in diameter and was barely discolored, making it hard to spot with a quick visual inspection. The location was such that, when the bike was rolling on relatively smooth roads, the seal didn't cross over the chip, but when the fork compressed under a harder bump, the seal crossed the chip and a tiny bit of oil would leak past. 

As I dragged my fingernail across the chip, I felt it catch the edge and at that moment, I knew that I had, now twice, cussed the Genuine James Gasket Company in error. Oops... sorry guys.

I did my best to try to smooth and polish out the chip, to no avail- it continued leaking, so I called my local indie shop, French & Son's, and ordered a new set of Hard Drive hard chrome tubes and a new set of All Balls fork seals. Once I had them back in the shop, I put the Street Bob back on the lift, tore it down for what felt like the millionth time, and went to work. Having pulled the forks apart so many times, it didn't take me long to install the new tubes and seals. I topped it all off with some fresh 15w fork oil, put it all back together and rolled it off the lift... again. This time it's (finally) fixed and now it rides better than a new bike, too. 

The lesson learned

My dad used to tell me that if you're going to do something, do it right the first time. Well, for the Sportster, the biggest mistake I made was trying to save a few bucks by buying a set of cheap, used fork tubes. In my defense, they lasted a few years before they got scratched. That could have happened to anyone, I suppose, but by buying the tubes used from an individual, I had no specs on them and ended up buying a set of nice looking, but not very durable, show chrome fork tubes that were susceptible to getting scratched. With the Dyna, however, I'll admit that I half-assed it from the jump. I should have taken the time to inspect the fork tubes before I ever put it back together the very first time, but I was trying to save time and money so that could get back to riding the bike as quickly as possible. In doing so, I ended up having to do the job, way more times than I should have. Besides the aggravation, I also wasted valuable time and money on seals and oil. 

Now that both of the bikes are back together, I can focus on actually riding them. Maybe, while I'm out riding, I'll stumble across another project bike that I can tinker with. One thing's for sure though, if I do get my hands on another crusty project, I won't be cutting any corners when dealing with hydraulic fork tubes... I might just go with a springer front end, instead!

Regardless of what you might find yourself working on next, remember this:

If you do it right the first time, you'll only have to do it one time

Saturday, February 6, 2021


January 2021

For the very first (and hopefully not last) Bike of the Month feature here on The MotoWriter.com, I present to you, the MotoWriter's January 2021, Bike of the Month... 

Lee's 2014 Indian Chief Vintage!
My good friend, Lee picked up his beautiful, Springfield Blue Indian Chief Vintage as soon as Polaris released the revived brand into dealerships in 2014, which just happened to be the same year that Lee retired from the United Stated Navy with over 20 years of service to our country. Lee and his family moved back to Mainland, USA from his last duty station in Rota, Spain in 2014 and dropped their gear in the great state of Texas. When Lee got back to the Lone Star State, he was bike-less, because he had to leave his beloved 2006 Harley-Davidson Dyna Street Bob, aptly nicknamed "El Fuego", behind in Spain when the Navy shipped him back home. While Lee loved his Dyna, he had been anticipating the release of the new Indians since he first heard that Polaris had bought the rights to the Indian name and was planning on resurrecting America's First Motorcycle CompanyIt's only fitting that Lee would buy an Indian Chief Vintage, after all, the name "Chief" was very special to him, you see- Lee honorably retired from the U.S. Navy, at the rank of Chief. 

When Lee picked up his new Indian, he immediately started racking up the miles. He was riding his Chief Vintage all over Texas and even made a trip to South Mississippi to visit his ole buddy- yours truly. As a matter of fact, the day that he rode over, we took our bikes up the highway to Hattiesburg, so that he could get his first service done. As it turned out, we would only ride together one more time before he got offered a job back in Spain. Shortly after getting back to Rota, Lee quickly unpacked the Chief and set out to racking up the miles, or rather- the kilometers. In the past 6 years, Lee's Indian Chief Vintage has taken him through 11 countries, 5 of which he knocked out in a single trip, earning him the Iron Butt Association's "Saddlesore 1000" certificate, for riding at least 1,000 miles in 24 hours.

During another summer abroad, Lee took advantage of his ability to ride through multiple countries, by riding into France, then taking the Chunnel into the United Kingdom, riding through England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Ireland. Most recently, before the country locked down again due to the resurgence of COVID-19, Lee was able to take his Chief on an 8 day trip, circumnavigating Spain. In all, Lee has racked up a whopping 100,000 kilometers (that's a little over 62k miles for the rest of us). That's an awful lot of riding, considering the fact that he works a full time job and lives in a country that is smaller than the state of Texas. 

Upgrades and Goodies

Lee's Chief Vintage remains mostly stock, with the most significant upgrades being a set of 16" ape hangers, a Stage 1 kit complete with hi-flow intake, those classic fishtail pipes and a Dynojet fuel controller, rear air shock, color-matched tank console, aftermarket windshield, a heated seat to keep him toasty on those cool Spanish nights, and a Kuryakyn Road Thunder soundbar to provide some toe-tapping tunes to help the miles pass by a little easier. Up next on Lee's list of upgrades is going to be a set of Cuztomkraft amber afterburner tail light lenses. Being in Spain, the availability and accessibility of aftermarket parts can be a little tricky as compared to living in the States, so a lot of the goodies he's added to the Chief have been ordered from all over the world, with the latest order coming in from Australia.

It's not what you ride

Lee and I share the common belief that, it's not what you ride, but rather, that you ride. You see, Lee and I both grew up in working class homes and we learned at a very young age that it doesn't matter what you have- as long as you're happy. Lee and I both started out riding old, ratty street bikes- I had an old Kawasaki EX500 and he had an old Honda Interceptor 500 and, at the time, we felt like the coolest kids on our respective blocks. Of course, as the years went by and we started enjoying some success in our individual careers, our bikes got much better. Lee has owned a variety of bikes to include a Suzuki, an Aprilia, a Harley-Davidson and now an Indian. He routinely organizes and leads group rides around the Navy base in Rota which often consist of every make and model of motorcycle available in the area. Following one of the most basic rules of motorcycle group riding, he and the rest of the group simply ride to the skill level and ability of the weakest rider on the smallest bike. Being an MSF instructor for the base in Rota, Lee understands the importance of teaching new riders the skills they need, so that one day they will be able to carve the corners of some random, mountain road and stay safe when doing it, just like Lee does, on his 2014 Indian Chief Vintage. 

Check out more pics of Lee's 2014 Indian Chief Vintage, here:

Chief 1

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Brand Loyalty- how far is too far?

Brand loyalty... how far is too far?

OK, I'll admit... I may not be the "best" brand ambassador for Harley-Davidson. But in my defense, I'm honest, hardworking and I don't make a lot of dough, so I need to actually get what I'm paying for. I would consider myself to be more of a spokesman of the working class for Harley-Davidson. I love my Harley-Davidson motorcycles but I'm not a blind follower of them, or of any brand for that matter. If they do something right, I'll sing their praises to everyone I meet, if they shit the bed on something, I'll do my best to try to point it out so they can improve. Think of it like getting constructive criticism from your best friend. 

Take my boots

A year ago, I picked up a pair of TCX riding boots from Union Garage in Brooklyn, NY. I paid $199 and got free shipping... so I got a sweet pair of boots and still had enough left over for a Snicker bar. I bought them without ever even trying them on. Why? Because I read a ton of honest reviews from fellow riders who, like me, refuse to blindly follow a brand name. I believe in the tried and true method of evaluation and review from people who understand that sometimes companies get it right, and sometimes they don't. I did a six month review of my boots back in May (and I'll be doing a one year review soon) so that anyone on a budget that is looking for a new pair of riding boots can read it and, hopefully, get a little insight on them. I got some good feedback on my review and even had some guy claiming to be a rep of the company reach out to me and ask if it was okay if he posted it to the company website (I told him yes, but I don't know if it ever got added). I look at it this way- there might be somebody out there who, like me, has just enough extra scratch at the end of the month to be able to ride motorcycles. Chances are, they probably don't have thousands of dollars a year that they can spend to experiment with gear, so just like reading Yelp reviews on the local greasy spoons- we can get a better idea of where to, or not to, spend our hard-earned money. I don't believe in being a rude, over-critical ass; I just believe in the effectiveness of constructive criticism. 

Die-hard loyalists

I get a kick out of these die-hard loyalists who take the brand loyalty thing way too far. I have a friend, who will remain nameless, that is that guy. His bike is the best- it is the fastest, makes the most horsepower, the most torque, has the best paint, the highest quality finishes and is the most nimble, as well as the most comfortable, motorcycle that has ever been built in the United States and abroad. Of course, that is strictly his, not-at-all humble, opinion. I also get a kick out of these Indian riders who claim that Harley-Davidson is now suddenly going to file for bankruptcy because Polaris has recently breathed life back into the long-dead Indian name. I seem to remember all those same comments being made by the Victory Motorcycle guys a few years back and we can all see how that turned out.

You might be saying, "now hold on just a dag-gummed minute Mr. MotoWriter... you can't compare Victory to Indian!" No? Why not? Because Indian has been around "Since 1901" or because it was "America's FIRST motorcycle company"? Well... I wrote a little nugget about that, too. You can read the brief history of Indian Motorcycles here if you'd like. Look, I like Indians and I think that they have a LOT of potential and if the executives over at Polaris want to give me a loaner bike for a year, and some of that sweet Indian swag to go with it, I'll do a fair, honest long-term review and evaluation of their bike and products. Hell, if I like their products enough, I might even buy 'em. 

Harley guys aren't the worst, but they're close

Harley-Davidson is an iconic brand. It has somehow survived over a century, through good and prosperous times and through countless recessions; not to mention, surviving the Great Depression which befell the country a mere 26 years after the company first rolled out their first production motorcycle. They've managed to keep a consistent customer base over the decades, have seen years of profits and years of losses, but yet they remain. The guys and gals that stand behind the Motor Company are, no doubt, a big part of the reason that the Milwaukee based company is still churning out new bikes after all these years. With that said, they can be a bit ridiculous. I've heard people say things like "I'd rather push my Harley than ride a Honda." Really? I'll call bullshit on that one. "Harley's don't leak oil, they mark their territory." Yep- bullshit. If I buy a brand new motorcycle (or any vehicle for that matter) and it leaks oil- somebody's gonna hear about it. I think that one of the reasons Harleys catch such a bad rap from other brand enthusiasts is because of those die-hard loyalists who defend the company even when it's failed or failing it's customers. 

Warning- this next part might offend you.

We may not all agree on this- but defending a company when it produces a crappy product is akin to giving out participation trophies. You're doing them a disservice. You're telling them that putting in a half-assed effort is good enough and that losing is still winning. By blindly defending Harley-Davidson, you are basically telling the MoCo that it's okay that they made a crappy product. In my long term review of my 2017 Road King Special, I beat the MoCo up a little. I wouldn't say that I picked the bike apart, but I did point out some deficiencies in the quality. Maybe, if we are all lucky enough, somebody over at H-D HQ will watch that video and say "damn, we need to correct those issues." If you go to a restaurant and the food is awful, are you going to tell your friends how great it was? I would certainly hope not.

Let's help them survive

Look, I don't know about you, but I want ALL of these companies to improve and survive and the best way to do that, is to hold them each accountable when they screw something up and not be so blindly loyal that we refuse to offer them any sort of criticism, or even recognize what their deficiencies are. I'm not saying let's boycott Harley-Davidson because they put a shitty finish on a few parts and I'm not suggesting that we force Polaris to kill off Indian because they have had some electrical issues. I am, however, suggesting that we, the customers, give them good, honest and constructive criticism so that they can improve their products for us. After all, we will all benefit from those improvements- we (the customers) will get a better product and the companies will make more money in return sales and be able to stay afloat going into the future. 

I truly love the diversity in the motorcycle market. I don't just love Harley-Davidson motorcycles- I love ALL motorcycles. I want Polaris-Indian to put pressure on Harley-Davidson and I want Harley-Davidson to continue making motorcycles that set the standard for overall style, comfort and performance (some people will roll their eyes at this, but history proves this statement to be true). I really hated to see Polaris shut the doors on Victory and it was such a disappointment to see Yamaha dump the Star line of cruisers. Honda is still going strong, introducing an all new Rebel 1100 for 2021 and Suzuki's Boulevard line and Kawasaki's Vulcan line both seem strong. BMW's new R-18 is an exciting addition to the cruiser world and Triumph's line of "Modern Classics" offer even more styles for us to choose from. To be completely honest, I'd love to see the resurrection and success of some of the old motorcycle companies that have fallen to the wayside. Can you imagine if BSA, Brough Superior, Vincent, Victory, Excelsior-Henderson, Pierce-Arrow, Ace, Crocker or Acme were still pushing out new products? Think of the innovation and the options that we might have! I get giddy just thinking about it! 

Competition is a good thing 

Competition drives advancement and each one of these companies should be in a head to head competition with each other, not to destroy the other guys, but to earn our money instead. If we do our part as the end-user and tell them what we want, what we don't want, what we like and yes, even what we don't like, we can give them a clear path to the future to build products for us that we can enjoy for years to come. They might even earn the business of our kids and grandkids and if things work out- maybe every motorcycle company can eventually brag about being in business for over a hundred years.

As for me- I'll just be down here in South Mississippi riding my Harley-Davidson along our beautiful coastline, and writing a few things to entertain you good folks, while I'm waiting patiently for one of these companies to reach out to me to do a long-term review of their products. 

Stay tuned for more reviews coming up, and in the meantime, ride safe and make good choices!

Sunday, November 22, 2020

An Open Letter To Harley-Davidson Executives

An Open Letter To Harley-Davidson CEO Jochen Zeitz And The Rest Of The Milwaukee, USA Executives

As a blue collar, working class customer that has spent well over $100,000 on your motorcycles and products... I humbly request your attention for a moment.

Dearest CEO Zeitz and all of your fellow purveyors of Milwaukee's finest Steel Horses,

I hope this letter finds you well- happy, healthy, stress and COVID free. I am writing this "open letter" to you on my blog because, well... simply put, I'm sure that you get more mail and letters than you can possibly keep up with and I have no doubt that you likely don't have enough time in your busy days to read any of them. I also have a few readers of this blog and I'd like to think that I can speak for them, when I say that we need to talk. I'm writing this letter "openly" so that I can share it with my readers, as well. 

Now, I don't honestly expect my simple little blog, being written down here in South Mississippi, to be read by any of the powerful executives in the ivory towers of the Motor Company of Milwaukee, but as I've said before- nothing will happen if nothing is done, or in this case- if nothing is said, so I have to at least try.

First of all, let me begin by saying that this is NOT a letter of dispute or animosity, but rather, an honest, working class evaluation of your products, marketing and business practices. 

Motorcycles are a major part of our lives. We ride them, some of us race them, many of us wrench on them and some of us even customize and build them. Some of us can afford to buy new ones, others can only afford to buy used ones, but we all find our own ways to get out on two wheels. For many of us, our ultimate goal in motorcycle ownership is becoming the proud owner of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. 

A little over ten years ago, I bought my first Harley-Davidson motorcycle- a brand new 2009 Road King Classic. I traded in my 2006 Yamaha Stratoliner "Midnight" in January of '09 and rode home on what seemed like one of the coldest nights of the year. The Stratoliner was the first brand-new motorcycle that I had ever bought- the Road King was the second. As the years went by, I began to have some minor electrical gremlins in my Road King- the speedometer and cruise control would sometimes stop working and the "check engine" light would randomly come on. I brought it to the dealer a couple of times, but they could never seem to find the issue. It didn't matter, not really. I racked up around 35k miles on it in over the next few years until I happened to walk into the dealership one day in 2013 and found myself ogling the new bikes. You can probably imagine where the story goes from there. I ended up trading in one bike for another over the next 4 years, starting with a brand new, 2013 Road Glide Custom. I moved on to a 2012 Wide Glide, then finally settled in on a 2011 Road King Classic. I truly believed that I would keep the '11 Road King until the wheels fell off. Unfortunately, I got on my trusty Road King one morning and noticed that the rear brake pedal was locked in place. As it turns out, the ABS system was failing, apparently due to moisture in the system. The year was 2017 and the month was July. I had already seen the new Milwaukee 8 and test ridden a new Road King Special, so when I got the brake diagnosis... it was a pretty easy decision to make- trade in the '11 and ride home on the '17. 

Needless to say, I've spent quite a lot of money on Harley-Davidson motorcycles, as well as parts, accessories, clothing and other products, in the past 11-ish years. Even though I've dealt with some mechanical issues, I've stayed loyal to the brand. Not because I have some unhealthy or unreasonable obsession, but because I like your motorcycles and I want to support an American company that has been able to stay afloat since the early 1900's. That being said, I think it's extremely important for you all to remember that, much like many of your customers, I am a blue collar, working class American. I don't make a lot of money, so I prioritize my spending on the things that I enjoy the most- one of those being riding my motorcycles.  

An honest review

When I bought my 2017 Road King Special, I had come to terms with my motorcycle addiction and settled in on the, very real, possibility that I could end up trading it in on another bike within a year or three. I came close a couple of times, but the sheer beauty of the bike (and power from the 107 M-8) has kept it safely parked in my garage for the past three years. If any of you are actually reading this, then I would encourage you to click here and check out the video review that I did on my beloved 2017 FLHRXS. I wont get into all the details in this post, but I will just tell you that I have some complaints about some of the quality and craftsmanship issues with this bike.

Make no mistake about it, I'm not about to run down to the Indian Dealership to trade it in (although those Dark Horse Springfields do look pretty badass and that new Challenger is quite intriguing), but I paid a premium price for, what I thought was supposed to be, a premium product and that's where you guys failed me. Harley-Davidson motorcycles have long been known for their quality fits and finishes (at least since the buyback) and every one that I've had before this one hasn't let me down. In my relatively short time riding this gorgeous scooter, I've seen trim parts fall off, painted parts rust through the finish and other parts oxidizing or rusting. I know what you're thinking- I keep it outside, right? Wrong. This bike (along with all of my other ones) rests safely in an enclosed garage every night. While I'm not a fair weather rider, I do try my best to avoid riding in the rain and I do a better than average job of keeping it clean. The bottom line is, somewhere along the way, someone in the MoCo started authorizing corners being cut and the people that suffer the consequences are blue-collar working folks like me. 

Seize the opportunity to improve

You have a unique opportunity at your feet right now. With the global pandemic threatening the very way Americans (as well as bikers from across the world) ride our motorcycles, you have a chance to set things right. Want to know what riders want? Just ask us, I promise we'll tell you and we won't hold back. Fly me to Wisconsin for a week and I'll give you some ideas that will increase sales, reach more customers and improve customer satisfaction... and I'll even let you take all the credit for them... more or less. 

One thing we'd like to see- better quality and more attainable bikes. I know what you're thinking- "we can offer 84 month financing to make the $25k motorcycle more attainable", but I'll stop you right there. You're not going to be able to sell too many people on the idea of financing a toy for the same amount of time it takes for their kid to go from kindergarten to junior high- it's just not reasonable. Why does a Road Glide Special cost nearly $30,000? Why does an 883 Sportster need to cost almost 10 grand? I know why... because somewhere along the line, somebody heard the term "diversify" and went nuts, making tons of T-shirts, jackets, pants, belts, wallets, watches, hats, etc, etc, etc... and that's just the apparel side of the house. The diversification of the company's products extended into motorcycles and motorcycle parts, too. I mean seriously... how much sense does it make to kill off the entire Dyna line, a line of bikes that had (and still has) a cult following, to save money... just to replace it with a whole new line of bikes that were an absolute failure (I'm looking squarely at the Street line of bikes). I would love to see a Milwaukee 8 powered Wide Glide or Super Glide, but no... someone in a corner office in Milwaukee made the failed assumption that H-D fans are too stupid to realize that the new Softail Standard and the Softail Street Bob are the same bike.

Let's look at this reasonably- Harley-Davidson motorcycles has the largest aftermarket of any brand... do you really need to have your hands in the pockets of the aftermarket companies? You sell the bikes, those companies make them better. If I want to replace the shitty stock grips on my Road King (and I do), I can spend around $60 for a nice set of premium Avon grips, or I can spend $150 for a set of similar grips that say "Harley-Davidson" on them. You guys spend more money trying to flood the market with your own parts, just trying to steal a few extra bucks away from companies like Kuryakyn, Avon, K&N, Vance & Hines, etc, when you could have spent that money maintaining the quality of your bikes, or even lowering the price a bit, instead. 

Instead of screen printing a half a million T-shirts every year that you are just going to stuff in your dealerships with $30 price tags, or re-branding $180 HJC helmets with the H-D logo and trying to sell them for $350 (yeah, we know you guys don't make your own helmets), why not save that dough, reinvest it back into the company and drop the prices on these bikes by a few thousand bucks, instead? I may be a simple nobody from South Mississippi here, but I can tell you that it makes a helluva lot more sense to sell 100 motorcycles for $20k each, than it does to sell 50 at $25k each. Not only would you make more money, but you'd also get your product out there to more people, thereby increasing (and improving) your brand recognition which would increase customer demand for your bikes. More bikes on the road means an increase in maintenance services and more sales of maintenance parts. Hell, you'd probably even sell significantly more motorcycles when folks realize that they can more easily justify the cost of them. If you think that keeping prices extra high to promote the "premium brand idea" is the wisest choice to make- let me remind you of how that worked out for the Stellican Ltd. Indians. They were beautiful, expensive failures because only the uber rich could afford to buy them. 

Look, I could go on and on, but then we might not have much to talk about in the Harley-Davidson Headquarters' board room after we negotiate the terms of my consulting fee (I'm more affordable than you might think). The bottom line is that I, along with millions of other avid motorcyclists, love the Milwaukee Motor Company and we love our bikes. We just want to see future generations be able to buy and ride them, too. 

It would be a damned shame to see the legacy of William Harley and Arthur, Walter and William Davidson, wither and die because of a few too many bad decisions made by those men and women who were entrusted to keep the company alive. 

I'll be waiting to hear back from you on when to expect my flight and hotel reservations to come through, but in the meantime- be safe, make good choices and enjoy the holidays.

J.D. aka, the MotoWriter