Sunday, April 13, 2014

Signs of Spring – Part Deux

Some times it’s early, some times it’s late, but the coming of Spring is inevitable as the Northern Hemisphere tilts more and more towards old Sol. A week ago I was complaining about the depth of snow still on the ground, but a few days of mild temperatures later and the view from my office is distinctly encouraging as the pockets of snow continue to shrink. Still not riding though as there remain patches of ice on our driveway where the trees shade the sun, and the local roads are heavy with winter sand until the April rains wash them clean and make travel a bit safer for 2 wheels.

But there are other pleasures to be had as we wait. With those longer, sunny days and warmer temperatures comes the annual trip to the maple bush for a pancake breakfast - another sure sign of spring.


Fulton’s has been a local landmark for generations, popular with both locals and city (Ottawa) folk alike, so it was no surprise to see a long line-up at the restaurant this morning at 9 AM. Visiting the sugar bush is a multi-generational experience with all ages from toddlers to aging grandparents waiting patiently in line for a unique taste treat to be followed perhaps by a wagon ride through the woods or a visit to the business side where they’ll show you how they produce the maple syrup we all love so much.

But the line moved quickly and soon enough we were inside ordering our breakfasts. Then, with our bottomless cups of coffee and unlimited maple syrup for our pancakes we grabbed a couple of seats and dug in.


We have done the tours before so we decided not to dawdle and instead just picked up some supplies on the way out and headed home where there was lots of yard work waiting to be done.

And yes, it *was* a great day to be at Fulton’s.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

We are living in amazing times

I first got interested in old stuff back in the 70’s. A lot of the guys I rode with were into vintage motorcycles and so it didn’t take long before I had a couple of old bikes in my own cluttered garage. The first was a 1956 Norton Dominator that really had seen better days, but it was a cheap introduction to the vintage scene. Used and abused it needed everything from basic maintenance items to cosmetics such as a new seat pan and rust-free handlebars. I never did complete the restoration because I traded it up to a Dominator collector for a newer Norton Commando (the first of several). But what I did learn while I owned it were the arcane processes of the day involved in finding and acquiring parts for old motorcycles, whether OEM (Original Equipment Manufacture), NOS (New Old Stock), or after-market replacements.


The first step was to join the local CVMG (Canadian Vintage Motorcycle Group) chapter. This group treated each and every restoration as a team effort and would offer all sorts of advise on how to proceed, what substitute parts could be made to fit/work, and failing that, what businesses might sell the specific parts you needed. And if you were really lucky someone would have the original parts manual for your bike and let you borrow it for a while.

The next step was to embark on a letter-writing campaign to a number of those businesses (most often in the UK) asking if they had the part you needed and at what price. This step usually took about a month before you got a response. And sometimes you’d go through 2 or 3 iterations before you finally tracked down what you needed. Then you’d send off a money order and wait for the package to arrive, hoping they hadn’t in the meantime sold the last one in stock and were waiting for a backorder (which happened more than once).

If all went well (which it hardly ever did) you could have what you needed in your hands in about 2 months. Which was when you realized you also needed a frippen to hold the widget in place and so the process started again.

And that was for a 20-year-old motorcycle – not ancient by any means.

2014-04-01 15.48.49Contrast that to today. I now have a 63-year-old outboard motor that needs a variety of parts – seals, coils, condensers, points, gaskets, impeller, etc. At 9 AM this morning I discovered the coils needed replacing. Enter Google. By noon I had the original and replacement part numbers and several sources of supply (including eBay, of course). A quick phone call to the local NAPA Parts store and the parts were on order, to be delivered by the end of the week. For a 63-year-old motor.

Ain’t technology grand?

I think I’ll put one of my spare computers in the shop – but that’s another project for another day.


Sunday, March 30, 2014

63 years young

No, not me; I’ve passed that particular milestone already.

Pretty much anyone who lives on the North American continent knows what a miserable and seemingly endless winter it’s been. The bike has been ready to go with new goodies, an oil change, and needed repairs done for a month now, yet when I look out the window I still see this:

DSC_7460 (2)

So what to do? Well, another project of course.

Our little lake is only about a mile long and 1/2 mile across so my 12’ aluminum boat is just fine with a small electric motor. And the loons like it that way as well – nice and quiet. But I wanted to be able to go out on much bigger White Lake for some decent walleye fishing so I needed an outboard motor. Not willing to pay a king’s ransom for a new (or even relatively new) one, I had been keeping an eye on Kijiji for something older and, most important, cheap. Then a week ago I found this:

2014-03-25 11.04.37

A 1951/52 Evinrude Fleetwin 7.5 hp. It looked a bit rough but it’s the kind of motor I grew up with so the pull of nostalgia was strong. And while the current owner wasn’t giving it away I could live with the price, knowing full well it would also probably need a lot of work.

“Should just have to put gas in it and go” he said. “It was running fine when we put it away.” I didn’t believe a word, and even if it had been running fine, putting it away years ago with a full tank of gas was likely not the smartest thing he’d ever done. It’s a 2-stroke, 24:1 gas:oil mix, so that full tank of oil-mixed fuel eventually degraded and completely clogged the fuel line and carburetor with tar, which is slowly being dissolved as I write this.

I also don’t expect it saw too many professional motor mechanics in its time. Stripped slot screw heads abound (praise be for an impact driver), and there are not a few small parts (non too critical fortunately) that appear to be missing from previous dismantlings and reassemblies – you know, when you tighten everything up only find an extra piece or two on the bench, at which point you say screw it and toss it in the trash? That kind of stuff. 

But it’s mostly all there and not too badly beaten up from years of bouncing around in the back of a pickup. The compression is good and, surprisingly, many parts are still available. So now it’s time to try some serious CPR and see if I can bring the old girl back to life while I wait… and wait… and wait for the snow to finally leave us.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Why am I living where the air hurts my face?

The folks in central and north-eastern North America can, and often do, disagree on a lot of things: religion, politics, guns – it’s a long list. But one thing we can all agree on is this has been the winter from hell, although hell may not be the most appropriate term unless Hell itself has frozen over, which is a distinct possibility this year.


Tomorrow is officially the first day of spring. By now we should be seeing some warm, sunny days and patches of muddy earth emerging from under the blanket of snow. Possibly even the small spikes of a daffodil or two poking up through the still-frozen ground. The maple syrup businesses would be in full swing as we celebrate the coming of spring with a trip to the maple bush, a taste of maple candy, and a gallon (or two) of fresh syrup to take home. The last few maintenance items on the bike will have been done, possibly a pre-season wash if we’ve had a really nice day, our riding gear is all cleaned and ready to go, and we’d be waiting for the last of the ice and snow to clear the roads so we can get that first ride in.

Not this year.

airFour months of unrelenting cold has left us with a couple of feet of snow still on the ground (and more to come tomorrow according to the weather guessers), side roads coated with 6 inches of ice, and a frost so deep it will take until June for the earth to thaw.

I may be planting my tomatoes in July. That is, if I manage to survive the cabin fever until we see a real spring emerge.

I’ve had enough.

Drastic measures may be called for.


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

This year’s upgrade

A couple of months ago I posted (here) that I’d purchased (Thank you eBay!) a hard to find dash panel needed for my ignition switch position change project on the Dyna. Then I started the search for all the other bits and pieces needed to make the shift.

As it turns out all the existing components (except for the ignition switch itself) would plug into the new dash panel without modification. I needed a couple of small mounting clamps but that was all. The existing wiring could be re-routed, but had to be extended about 10 inches to reach the new switch position. Fortunately that was accomplished by simply making up 3 extension wires and did not require any mods to the existing harness. (I don’t expect to ever revert back to stock, but keeping my options open seemed the best way to go.)

Of course, when at the dealer poring over parts books trying to determine what components could be re-used and which ones not, I came across this nice combined speedo/tachometer unit.


A simple drop-in, it addressed the issue of losing my tach after I made the change. I hadn’t planned on purchasing a new speedo but then I thought, in for a penny… so I bought it. (And a big shout-out here to the parts people at Freedom Harley-Davidson for being so helpful. Thanks guys, I really would have been stumbling around without your assistance.)

Once I got the garage cleaned up a bit so I could work (here) it didn’t take long to make the change.

2014-02-23 14.51.07

2014-02-25 13.10.52

2014-03-11 13.30.33







Button it all up again and here’s what it looks like now – before and after.

Before and after

I really like the new look and the convenience of the new switch position.  Meanwhile I’m busy getting rid of all the removed parts (on eBay, of course) to recover a large part of my investment.

So now I have a clean garage and a motorcycle all ready to go. WHAT’S SPRING WAITING FOR? If it doesn’t get here soon I may just have to find another project.


snowman end is near

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Signs of spring

A couple of weeks ago Dar, over at Princess Scooterpie, issued a challenge to post any sign of spring in our respective necks of the woods. Looking out at snow everywhere and temperatures below zero (on both C and F scales!) all I could do was enjoy everyone else’s postings vicariously as it seemed spring was going to be a long time coming in this area.

But then I thought, “What is the real sign of spring for a motorcyclist?” It’s not the first sprig of green grass, or the flowering tulip beds. No, it’s even earlier than that, when you start getting your bike ready for the upcoming riding season. And even earlier than that, when you start getting your garage ready to start getting your bike ready for the upcoming riding season.

So here is my first sign of spring post from the (still) frozen north. (Click on image.)

Snapshot 2 Captioned

Let the fun begin!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

18 Things You Can Do On A Cruiser But Not On A Sportbike

For a variety of reasons I have not been able to dedicate much time to blogging lately. I’d like to say it was because I was off on some incredible motorcycle adventure to fantastic and awe-inspiring places, but it’s been much more mundane than that, although a trip to Las Vegas for a visit with my money was one of the distractions in there. At any rate it’s times like this I am happy to receive requests to do a guest post so On Two Wheels doesn’t go dark for too long.

This post was suggested and written by Stephen Warde of Extreme Motorcycle Fairings.

A cruiser is a classic model of motorcycle which is quite different from the conventional ones. With a lower seat and higher handle bars, a cruiser looks majestic. It can give the rider a completely different look and is sure to turn heads when it rolls down the road. Cruisers are not sportbikes and don’t belong on a race track. These bikes are purely meant for the joy of riding, and bikers need to stick to that instead of trying to make them satisfy their racing needs. For those who want to take the racetrack by storm, a cruiser is not the option. Over the last few years several improvements have been made in automotive technology which have in turn made cruisers a lot more efficient than before. Nowadays cruisers are used all over the world by avid bikers who want to have a different biking experience. This has led to an expansion in the market for cruisers and buyers nowadays can easily choose from quite a few options. However, there are a few things that you can do on a cruiser but not on a sportbike. These aspects put cruisers well ahead of sportbikes.

1. Go on a long ride.

how_to_be_i1You cannot imagine going on a long ride on a sportbike. In fact, sportbikes are not designed for long rides; they are designed for fast but short rides. If you want to take to the road for a few days on a two wheeler, a cruiser is your best choice. Cruisers are designed to give you optimum comfort throughout your entire ride, which makes it the best option for a long ride. Unlike a sportbike, with a cruiser you can easily recline back on your seat while you firmly hold the handle bars and cruise your way through the long stretches of your journey.

2. Have a majestic feel

Sportbikes are meant to be attractive and cool, but you can’t call them majestic. A cruiser on the other hand makes you feel royal, like you own the road. The high handle bars add to the classic regal look of the cruiser. A sportbike may overtake you, but no eye will leave your cruiser as it glides on majestically with a nonchalant aura. Sportbikes are good for races and cruisers are perfect for the road. 

3. Speed up if you want 

motorcycleEven if you feel that the blend of power and speed is what defines the true character of a bike, do not rule out a cruiser just yet.  While most of the sportbikes have an engine capacity between 600cc and 1000cc, some cruisers have a staggering engine capacity of 2000cc. If you think that that would be too powerful for you, choose one with a 1600cc or 1700cc engine. You will still get more power than any other sportbike on earth. When you are on a long ride and have a straight and empty road ahead speed up as much as you can to see what it feels like to ride a beast.

4. Pack your things

Your cruiser is your backpack. Provisions are made on the bike to allow you store your Harley-Davidson-Motorcycles-Ultra-Classic-Orange-1024x1280belongings safely while you ride from one part of the country to another. All cruiser manufacturers provide at least two boxes of considerable size on either side of the bike so you can take your things with you. Though aftermarket boxes are available for sportbikes, they often fail to serve the purpose of long range riders. On the other hand, the boxes on the cruisers are designed keeping in mind the need of long range riders. You can also make additional arrangements to carry extra load. 

5. Take it off-road

July_16,2009_Day_3_Gravel_Rd_Road_Trip_232Cruisers are perfectly designed as off-road vehicles, so you can take it anywhere you want. Sportbikes are meant for smooth roads and racing tracks and so they are obviously not the best choice to go with if you plan to make a trip to the mountains on a two wheeler. On the other hand, the enormous power of the engine gives you the confidence to push through any terrain. You can take sportbikes off-road, but you will have to make sure there are service centers regularly after a few kilometers. They just aren’t made for dirt roads. In a cruiser, you have nothing to worry about. 

6. Rest your legs

The cruisers are designed to give your body the maximum possible comfort, so you can easily place your feet forward in a comfortable position. As you do not have to fold your mini-bike-framelegs in, it gives you the ability to ride comfortably for a long time without discomfort and you can easily ride considerable distances without feeling the need to flex your legs. In sportbikes, you have to fold in your legs and that can get painful after a couple of hours; so if you decide to go on a long ride on a sportbike you will see cruisers passing by comfortably while you stand and stretch. 

7. Better handling

It is often opined that sportbikes are easier to handle than cruisers. It is true that this idea cannot be refuted as far as city roads are concerned, but since we are talking about long rides here, it needs to be looked at from a different perspective. When you are riding over long stretches, cruisers are easier to handle as you can recline back in your seat and steer the handle bar without making any extra effort. Even if you are exhausted after a long day’s ride, you will not have any difficulty in steering your bike. 

8. Riding far

ibalogo2On a cruiser, you can ride 400 kilometers in a day and sometimes even more without feeling exceptionally exhausted. Riding such a distance on a sportbike in a single day is close to a nightmare; your body will definitely come apart if you attempt such a thing. But with a cruiser, you can plan  a cross country road trip with your friends, covering long distances each day. 

9. Riding through mud and water

Take your cruiser wherever you want. Its powerful engine provides enough power to push even through mud and water. Sportbikes are not dirt bikes! So accumulation of mud and water in their engine can completely mess it up and leave you stranded in the middle of nowhere. With a cruiser, you can be rest assured that you can push through slushy mud and water if the situation demands so. 

10. Having a bigger fuel tank

Cruisers generally have a fuel tank bigger than sportbikes and so you can ride for a longer distances without refueling. When you are in the countryside, pushing your sports bike and you see a cruiser glide by, you will definitely appreciate why having a large fuel tank is essential. Fill the tank of the cruiser once and take to the road without any hassle. Just keep an eye on the fuel gauge to keep track of when to refuel. In spite of being larger in size the fuel efficiency of cruisers is at par with that of sportbikes.  

11. Riding safely

It has been reported that most bike accidents on the road crashstoppieinvolve sportbikes with rough drivers. This is largely because, as soon as a person rides on a sportbike he sees the road ahead as a racetrack and thrusts forward. On the other hand, cruisers are not meant for racing, they are meant for, as the name itself suggests, cruising. As a result, riding on a 1600 cc cruiser is a lot safer than a 1000cc sportbike. It is true that the driving habit largely depends on the driver himself, but on a sportbike you can hardly resist the temptation to push the gas pedal. With a cruiser, you can just enjoy the ride.

12. Carrying a load

sportsbikeCruisers are hardy machines, which means that you can carry as much load as you want on your vehicle. Sportbikes are not meant for carrying any load so if you force them to do that, they will definitely disappoint you, refusing to obey your order to load up when you need it most. Strap on your bags, sleeping tent, food stuff and anything else you need on your cruiser and take to the road. It will perform just fine. You can rely on your cruiser whether you just want to loiter in the city or take to the highway.   

13. Driving on the beach

The ability to drive your cruiser on the beach is another factor that keeps it well ahead of sportbikes. Sportbikes are meant for smooth roads and certainly not for sand. You can take a sportbike to the sand but you are going to have a tough time getting it to behave and stay steady on the sand. A cruiser is a perfect choice for this. You can as easily drive it on sand as on the road. So the next time you plan a vacation at a seaside resort, take a cruiser with you and enjoy the feel of riding by the sea. 

14. Spending the night

Sleeping-on-a-Motorcycle-06The sitting arrangement of a cruiser is so comfortable that you can easily spend your night on it. Just make a few adjustments to provide a proper support to your body and you will be absolutely fine. On a sportbike you can never imagine spending the whole night, even if you have no other option. A cruiser is your perfect friend if you are that kind of person who prefers to take a ride far away from home with the wind on your back. When it comes to a cross country trip, cruisers are always the best choice.

15. Take your bicycle with you

bicycle rackIf you have a cruiser, you can also take your bicycle with you when you are going for a cross country trip. Cruisers are known for their load bearing capacity and you can easily strap your bicycle with your cruiser and take to the road. This is something you can never do with a sportbike. No matter how powerful a sportbike is, it can never carry the load that a cruiser is capable of. So next time you plan a tour to the countryside or a hike in the hills, take a cruiser and your bicycle along with it. 

16. Make your presence felt

RickFairlessIt is true that you can grab the attention of onlookers even if you are on a modern sportbike, but that attention is more due to wonder than due to respect. A cruiser commands respect and awe. Cruising along the roads on a cruiser is enough to grab the attention of every onlooker; you will be the object of envy for sure.  Be rest assured that when you are on a cruiser and your buddy is on a sportbike, it will be you who will to steal the show. 

17. Ride in and out of city

Sportbikes are meant for city roads and race tracks, so taking them out of the city on long rides is useless. On the other hand, cruisers are meant both for long and short rides and so you can ride it inside the city as well as take to the freeway on it. This two wheeler is the ideal choice For all terrains, all occasions and all seasons.

18. Stay evergreen

Sportbikes change in style almost every year and you can change the style and look of your fairings with an aftermarket fairing kit from Extreme Motorcycle Fairings. So if you buy a sportbike, you will most likely feel outdated within a couple of years or so. A cruiser on the other hand has a classic style that is evergreen and ever classy. No danger of you feeling outdated no matter how old your cruiser is.

There are different types of cruisers available in the market, so make a careful choice taking into account your budget and need. If only speed matters to you, go for a sportbike by all means; but if you think that a bike is a lot more than speed, get a classy and cruisin’ cruiser.