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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Nightster, Part IV - Joker Machine 10-200S Air Cleaner Installation

I debated on whether or not to post this simple "curbside" upgrade, but it's a pretty cool chunk of hardware, and to my surprise, it actually made a difference I could feel in performance. All that said, here's a pictorial view of my installation of a Joker Machine 10-200S Air Cleaner on my Joker bike, a 2008 Nightster.

I really like the Made-in-USA Joker Machine components, and this air cleaner exceeded my expectations. It ain't cheap, but it's machined from billet 6061-T6 aluminum, clear anodized, and includes aircraft-quality hardware and a lifetime 4" K&N air filter element. It's really a quality item and would add class to any bike you really care about. I don't buy junk, and this ain't junk by a long shot.

Check out all the Joker goodies by clicking here on Joker Machine. I bought the air cleaner from the folks at Phat Performance. Click on the name for pricing, which was 10% below list. I paid $225 a few weeks ago, but the price might be different when you look.

Installation was sorta brainless, but I'll mention a couple things:

1) The stock air cleaner was a far cry from my old Harleys. There were lots of fasteners to get that dog off the scoot. I saved everything in a big baggie in case I need to put it back on someday. Or sell it on eBay.

2) First time around, during the install, I tightened the 3 backing plate mounting screws, and was then unable to get the crankcase breather bolt spacers and washers in, and especially not in the front. 

So don't fuck up like I did. Instead, leave the 3 mounting screws very loose...let the backing plate flop a little... until after you fit the crankcase breather washers, spacers, and bolts together. Snug everything finger-tight. 

Then tighten those 3 screws, followed by torquing the 2 crankcase breather bolts. I torqued 'em to 2 grunts, but I'm sure there's a spec somewhere that's more precise.

3) Use blue Loctite on all threaded hardware, including the long center screw that holds the cap exceptions. Don't want this baby bouncing down the highway, do ya?


Takes about an hour from the time you open the first beer until you fire it up for a test ride. It actually made a difference in performance, and without having to do any remapping of the Vance & Hines Fuel Pack. It's a little bit better behaved at lower RPMs now, and pulls noticeably stronger. I ain't talking tire-smoking turbo performance, but there's an improvement on the Joker that I could actually feel when I took the first ride.

When I say a little bit better at low RPMs, I refer to the low-RPM lugging and vibration the bike has as a result of the Shortshots installation. With the mild adjustments to the suggested V&H Fuel Pack map, and now this air cleaner, it's halfway civilized, but without losing my trademark "blue-flame" spitting and popping when I let off the throttle. My Bro Charlie thinks that's totally cool...... Come to think of it, me too.

I'll also add that with the $1,300 I've put in the Joker, which includes pin striping, the bike has become a real attention-getter wherever I stop. Everyone notices that it's different, looking old-school and tricked out, but the changes are subtle, so a conversation starts up about all the little bits and pieces that, together, have made a lot of difference. I've spent a lot more on other bike projects and got less in the results department, that's for sure. The $1,300 does not include the pipes or Fuel Pack, by the way.

Next up for installation is a set of Roland Sands Vintage handlebars, plus the requisite extended cable and brake line set for a 12" rise. John has been lobbying hard for me to make this change, which he thinks will set the Joker apart from the crowd even more. I agree. I'll add forward controls at the same time.