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Sunday, April 1, 2012

Motorcycle Windshield Storage Rack...Cheap

Windshield? Hell no, I don't need one......

Every time I'm moving things around in the garage, trying to find a little more space, I seem to devote a little too much to the bike windshields I have sitting around. I figure they're just on borrowed time before some sharp-edged object falls onto one of them, or when I accidentally knock one over. 

Now and then I thought of hanging them up, but just didn't come across the right hook/hanger/whatever, and I didn't want to tie up shelf space with the damn things. So while I was hanging some other shelves last week, I thought maybe I had the stuff right there to make something that would keep these up and out of the way, where they won't get gouged up.

I sawed a couple 15" pieces of double-track hanger and screwed them to the wall. Then I used (4) 9" shelf support brackets, drilling 3/16" holes about 1.5 inches from the end in 2 and about 4" from the end in the other 2. These are thru-holes for a #6 wood screw.

Then I cut 2 pieces of 5/8 pine dowel rod about 15" long and fastened them to the shelf brackets. The top set with the dowel closer to the outer edge is mounted high...the other lower. My Switchblade windshield fit on the top dowel, leaning back against the wall. For that mount, I filed two flat spots on both ends of the dowel so the windshield popped on snugly, and I taped a piece of foam on the wall so the shield wasn't up against the block.

For the Harley shield, if you get the height between the two supports right, the shield slips onto the lower dowel, and the lower part of the bracket (it's upside down, so now it's higher) pivots out until it hits the top dowel and stops. It's very solid like that and both shields are secure. It works better than I expected! Heck, I wasn't sure it would work at all!

So for about 12 bucks and a few screws, my windshields are up out of the way and secure. Worked pretty good, so I figured I'd pass on the idea.

4/1/2012 (and no, it ain't an April Fool's Joke)

Road King Modifications

I'm partially through the painful task of republishing the graphics for all my blog posts, and figured I'd take a break from that and mention the odds and ends I've done to the new Road King, at least temporarily named Big Blue.

It's hard to figure out what could have been done to the 1999 Road King I just bought to improve it. Paul, the previous owner, took great care of it and had done just the right amount of customization. I mean, the bike was already "just right". Still, I think every Harley owner gets the urge to change a new bike just to make it "theirs". No refection on previous owners or the Harley factory; it's just a natural thing to do.

I bought the bike as much for practical reasons as anything else. I'm riding it to Sturgis, South Dakota, from Alexandria, Virginia, and want the bike set up for longer trips. My other two bikes have my bar-hopping and shorter runs well covered!

And so the changes began. My first long ride resulted in my left foot getting a sore spot from shifting. Off goes the fancy (and expensive) chrome shift peg and on goes a stock round rubber version. Check!

I also noticed that the saddlebags seemed like they were begging to get dinged up, and I saw other baggers with guards that looked a little chrome-y, but also looked like they'd be perfect for crowded parking lots and (gasp!) a rear end bump! So I ordered and installed a set of P/N 91216-97 Harley saddlebag guards.

First thing was getting it up in the air. As I took more and more stuff off the rear, it began getting a little front-heavy, and while it didn't tip forward, I didn't want to take any chances so I tied it down. When I first jacked it up, I wanted to move the jack forward, but the clutch cable and some wiring were close to the right frame rail, so I stayed back to safely keep from pinching anything. Not a big deal. Learning the ropes, but if I wanted to take off the back tire and wheel, I'd have to move that stuff and balance the bike better.

Installation was painless, and me and the bike became friends as I did this first project. I got a chance to see what was under all the stuff at the rear. As always, I used Blue Loctite on all fasteners at reassembly. It's a good habit to get into.

The Harley saddlebag guard kit was high-quality, complete, and nicely packed. No missing, scratched, or ill-fitting parts. Instructions included if you needed them. The instructions did say to remove a phillips screw to get my side covers off, but I found that mine just pulled screw that I could find.

I liked the way the guards look, and it's not junked up as I feared. Just enough shiny stuff to add some sparkle, not to mention a bit of protection back there just in case. I had to tug and pull a little to get the horizontal tube alignment parallel with the exhaust pipes. In the photo above, it isn't quite right, so I bumped the rear down just a little.

While I had the tools out, I dug around and found the GPS I bought for the Southern Comfort trip, and mounted that. I'm hoping that it won't send me back to the New Orleans ghetto again, but who knows. Rather than splice the power wire into the lights, I ordered a bare Deutsch 4-pin connector, and when it comes in I'll wire it up and use the ACC plug under the seat. Then the unused ACC switch on the left of the nacelle will turn it off/on. I bought a splitter, P/N 70264-94A, from HD that still enables me to have an empty ACC power source if I need it.

The HD Splitter

TomTom GPS power leads

None of this wiring is done yet....that's just the plan....but the GPS is mounted on the bars. Also up there is a damn cup, of course. It's a Kruzer Kaddy, and worth it's weight in gold on trips in spite of all the kidding I'll get. I still have a KK mount on the Softail. Nothing like having a swig of water available while heading down the road.

Riding it:

First impressions on the bike is that 1) this is one heavy motherfucker, and sitting higher makes slow running a whole new deal 2) having a windshield, fairing, and windbreakers on the crash bars turns cooler days into comfortable riding days, and 3) I don't have to tense up hitting a bump in the road. This bike turns kidney-jarring moments (riding the Joker) into non-events.

It's also cool that riding a bike that's engineered for a windshield and fairing takes the scariness out of passing a truck. No shimmy or shakes as I go by. Putting a detachable windshield on my Softail Custom and passing a truck is akin to having a Death Wish. Fucking scary. Plus I had to add some ugly-ass lower deflectors on it to minimize buffeting on my helmet. Looked like something out of Ben-Hur, so I painted those chrome lowers black to help hide 'em. Anyway, the shimmying and buffeting aren't issues with Big Blue.

All my Bros say that this is the bike I'll end up riding most of the time, and I can see why they say it. I can easily carry stuff, it's very comfortable to ride, and a chilly day isn't necessarily a big deal. And with the Stage 2 kit Paul had installed, the bike is FAST! Faster than you'd expect from a Bagger.

As Linda says, it certainly lacks the sex appeal of the Softail Custom or the Joker, and that's for sure. And I definitely like sitting IN the Softail instead of ON Big Blue. It's a different ride.

Aside from some possible pin-striping and/or a pin-up graphic, there's not much more, if anything, planned in the way of changes now. It was just right when I started, and the subtle changes I've done simply suits the riding I have planned. Running it down to OBX Bike Week for a shakedown cruise on April 21. I'll post some cole slaw wrestling pics, and maybe a few bike-wash closeups too!

Here's the whole bunch of bikes...First time I had 'em all in one place. The Joker looks tiny sitting next to Big Blue. And PS, it's the Joker's birthday. It's been a year since it showed up in the garage and I started the work.