Saturday, December 21, 2013

21st Annual Outback Riders Toy Run 2013

Eighty degree weather with only a hint of dark clouds above brought forth yet another remarkable turnout for the Outback Riders toy run. With bikes as far as the eye can see, participants once again came together for the children in this community. This year marks the 21st annual ride that began with comparatively modest numbers. Since the first year, this annual event has grown into one of the largest such rides here in the state of Georgia. The Outback Riders in collaboration with the Salvation Army, and Empty Stocking Fund open their hearts this time of year in expressing the true gift of giving. The generosity of all those involved benefit less fortunate children that would otherwise sadly, do without. This mutual act of kindness brings forth men, and women, from all walks of life, for miles around with one goal in mind, a Merry Christmas. So, to all of the brothers and sisters of the Outback Riders, and every one else that made this possible once again, thank you, have a very Merry Christmas, and as always… ride safe.
First Bikes top the hill


The Vstar ( I just had to put one in of my bike)

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Apehangers, Mirrors, and Risers on the VStar

I took the time today to snap another picture with better visibility of the new bars, mirrors, and risers. It has been too rainy as of late to get much else done. I plan to tackle the headlight tint as soon as I can, and will most likely add a fresh coat of paint to the headlight. I doubt I will embark on any major new endeavours before the first of the year. I'd like to keep things simple to prevent any more down time. Hopefully, I will be able to attend the Annual Outback Riders Toy Ride again this year,and will post pics of it just as I did last year. Until my next update...ride safe.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

VStar with last!

Well, with a little bit of modifying, and a few choice words, I’m done… for now. After all of the recent tinkering, I finally had the chance today to take the bike for a quick ride around the block. I would say getting accustomed to the apes is going to take more than it did when I added the extra 6 degrees to the front end. I guess the added length increases leverage, making any response to turning the bike much more sensitive. Currently my VStar has a total of 16 inches of rise, in contrast to the seemingly miniscule 4.5 that I previously had. However, the throttle cable that created so much turmoil is almost too long. I ordered the length based on the stock set up offering about 8 inches of rise where as these bars have 13.5 with 2.5 inch risers. Therefore, adding 7 inches to the throttle cable seemed a logical choice. Though it is a tad longer than needed, I’m not going to complain so long as it works. The clutch cable, on the other hand, is a bit tight when turning. I did not order the clutch cable at the same time as the throttle because I have considered adding a jockey/suicide shifter. I’m still mulling it over though, and I don’t think I want anymore changes until I’ve grown accustomed to the new bar height. For appearance sake, the addition of the new bars seems to diminish the effect of the added rake. The bike looks to have resumed the stance more reminiscent that of a stock VStar. With that said, I still believe I will enjoy the change. One a side note, while rewiring the frame lights for a couple of new additions, I managed to break…more like pull apart, the strand of lights under the rear fender. In the future those will need to be replaced, and at the same time I plan to try and add some to shine on the front wheel. The addition I previously mentioned is in the form of a couple of small strands of blue, one behind the hyper charger, and one inside the HD horn cover. The idea here is to create more of an ominous eerie glow. The blue strands almost outshine the purple, but I’m satisfied with the overall results. Now, I just have to complete it on the front, and back wheel for the full effect. I also purchase a small piece of purple tint to add on the lense of the headlight, all in good time though. For now, I’m just happy to have my bike up, and running again. I will update with a few more pictures once I’ve added the headlight tint later. Until then…ride safe.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Barnett.... Never Again!!!

I will not endorse, or advocate the use of any Barnett products. What started out a very pleasant endeavor has become a nightmare. The first cable that was ordered was supposedly lost in transit. I fully understand that excuse as I too have had packages lost due to the postal service. After the duration of several weeks wait time, and my previous disappointments concerning this cable, my frustration however was hard to quell. Although, after being reassured a second cable would be made and expedited to me, I started to feel better. I was told to expect the cable the following Monday. That day came and went. I contacted them and was given a second apology, and another reassurance that the cable would be sent. Due to my schedule I was unable to call for another couple of weeks, but still had not received the cable. When I contacted them, I was told my order didn’t go through because of insufficient funds on my card. That was impossible as they had already been paid in full several weeks prior to this call. Turns out, there was an attempt to charge my card for a second cable. What????? I had not received the first cable, so when they attempted to charge my card again, the funds were already gone. Thankfully, I have a special card set up for all internet transactions that I only add enough money to for a particular purchase. Therefore, I was saved from being charged twice for a cable that I still did not have. I was told to call back the following week so that I could speak with someone about my situation. Fine! I contacted them once more, and asked for a refund. By this time I am fuming, knowing that I passed up an earlier opportunity on Ebay for full cable set that was roughly the cost of the single cable at Barnett. I was willing to hold out because I really wanted to have the Harley end on the cable that would work with the Harley throttle housing. Well after asking for a refund, I was once again assured that the cable was made, sitting on her desk, and would be sent at once. I was hopeful that this was finally going to be it. I was wrong. After another week the cable arrived, and it was not what I ordered, and had been waiting for. This was a VStar +7 cable but it did not have the HD elbow that I paid extra for. Another phone call to Barnett only provided more frustration. I was told there would be a shipping label emailed to me, and I could send that cable back for the alteration. The real kick in the teeth is when I realized that I was expected to pay the shipping charges. I currently have a call in to dispute this matter, but have not been called back as of yet. Here is where my frustrations boiled over in to madness. I decided I would try and make the best of it and work around their mistakes. I drilled out the Harley housing to accept a VStar cable, and have made a new retaining clip to hold the cable in. When I attempted to thread the barrel end into the throttle end of the grip I noticed the barrel on the end of the cable was misshapen. I tried anyway and was able to get barrel into the opening on the grip, however it will not spin freely allowing the cable to lie down inside the guide on the grip. Now, I know the grip is fine because I have already checked everything with the stock VStar cable and alls well. The barrel moves freely inside the end of the throttle sleeve allowing for proper operation. The Barnett barrel end will not move, and work the way it should. So now I’m left wondering, after the work I’ve done this afternoon, what is my next course of action. I think I’ll sleep on it, and make a decision in the morning. I will let you all know next week of the direction I plan to take at this point. Until then…ride safe.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween Vstar ?

Though I thought I would certainly have my VStar roadworthy by Halloween, I’m sad to report it’s not. After waiting patiently several months, I did receive the wrong cable earlier this week. I don’t even have words for my disappointment. So, I will present you with a few pictures of what I have thus far. The theme of the bike seemed appropriate for a Halloween reveal. I just don’t have the finality of completed bike pictures yet, or a ride. The mirrors actually had real spider webs that I thought I had wiped clean. I think I still see evidence of the previous occupant in the last picture.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Bad Omen?

I’m starting to think maybe this bar swap wasn’t such a good idea. It seems that a higher power is trying to send me a message. The cable that was made, and shipped has apparently been lost in transit. So, I’m left still waiting to get my bike on the road. I truly can’t say when that will be. At this point, I’m tempted to cancel the order,use that money to purchase some cheap bars, put things back like they were, and call this project done. As the old saying goes, hindsight is 20/20. If I would have only known then how this would turn out, I doubt I would have embarked on this little endeavor. I don’t know where I will go from here, but I’ll let you know soon what I decide. Until then…ride safe!

Monday, September 9, 2013

No cable yet!

I still have not received my cable, and therefore have no updates to share. I just wanted to add a short entry here for those of you that may be waiting to see the current changes. I have been assured the cable was in fact made, and has now shipped. To date, I have now been working on this project longer than anything else I’ve done with my VStar simply due to not having the appropriate cable. I have everything ready, just no cable. I did start the bike up to insure that the new starter switch worked well, and everything worked as planned. I promise I will update with pictures as soon as I can. Until then, ride safe…

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Mirror Deja vu

With all of the recent changes, I’ve decided it was about time to upgrade the mirrors as well. As you already know from reading through some of my first blog entries, the stock mirrors were one of the first items to go. The stockers were replaced with the teardrop style Arlen Ness Rad II mirrors. However, the new bars seemingly add a new aura to the bike, prompting this recent change. After mulling over several styles, and consulting with the wife and kids, presenting them with multiple choices, I was left to decide between the two top selections. Both mirrors resemble the Arlen Ness style tear drop, only with a little bit different twist. The choice I made reflects the overall “dark” theme of the bike, while complimenting the new bars. I’m so close to getting everything back together, I plan to post pictures of the mirrors along with the bars, risers, and some of the other odds and ends I’ve been working on, when it’s all complete. Until then, ride safe.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Just a few Pictures

I've been doing a lot of talking without posting any pictures for you lately. Here are a few of the items I have been toying with. The picture shows the stock right side wire bundle with the kill switch by passed. I also have the new starterbutton, grips, and Harley Davidson throttle housing. Originally it was chrome, but we can't have that now can we. I used a little bit of rattle can paint I picked up from our local Lowe's store. I want to compliment them on their line of Valspar spray primer/paint combinations. This product lays down real smooth, and gives a nice clean finished coat of paint. I used the satin black to paint the throttle housing, and have now painted the foot switch mount that I made to add a unique way for starting my Vstar. It is pictured separately. I have it mounted on the bike now, and will give more details about it later. I may actually attempt to improve on the design later on after I determine if the foot placement for the current one will suffice. I still haven't taken any pics with the bars yet. It's really hard to picture the final look without the tank on the bike. I still have everything removed for better access when the time comes to work on the throttle cable. Well that's it for now, more to come later. Until then, ride safe.

Customer Service?

I’ve hit a slight snag, so the bar swap will take a little bit longer. I’ve had the bars, and risers installed for weeks now, as well as all of the extras I’ve been working on have been completed. The problem lies in one of our local bike shops here in Valdosta, Red-line Cycle Center. This was the place I counted on to make the throttle cable. I’ve been in contact with them throughout the duration of the previous month about this issue. I was assured it could be made, and was quoted a price. To make a long story short, after multiple calls, and several visits, and numerous request to have this completed, I am still without the cable. I have literally begged this guy to take my money, and make the cable I requested. The very one I was told he could make. To make matters worse, the original quote has grown with every visit. On Friday, the final straw was when it was suggested that I trailer my bike up there for him to look at. He has already been given the old and new throttle, the old cable, and I’ve told him explicitly what I needed, as well as the measurements. What possibly could the bike offer that I have not already covered? Fortunately, my wife has been doing most of my leg work, as I simply have not had the time to do so. This guy has proven he is incompetent thus far, and lacks the capacity to handle customers appropriately. He has not called back when he said he would, and was not at his shop when he claimed he would be. Did I mention he sent the throttle housing back to me with scratches in the paint, adding more work for me to repaint it? So, I refuse to go any further with this ridiculous little man that does not deserve to have a business license. I have however found a beacon of hope among all of the bad customer service I’ve encountered lately. I spoke with Colleen Barnett-Taylor, from Barnett Clutches and Cables, and have painlessly ordered the exact cable I needed. Though my communication with her was brief, she was very pleasant, extremely helpful, and I feel confident that this order will go well. So, at this time, and until I receive the cable, I have no further updates to share. Ride safe……

Monday, July 22, 2013

Ape Hanger Update

Well, this project is slowly coming to fruition. I have the bars and risers on the bike, but have removed all controls, cables and wiring. So far, my ever growing list of ideas is culminating into one big melting pot of work. I’m not saying I mind the work, but I do miss riding my bike. Here is what I have so far. I’ve ordered, and received new grips to replace the ones that became a casualty of removing the old bars. Previously, when installing the left side grip on the old set of dragbars, I used a tad of cheap epoxy to keep it in place. As it turns out, cheap epoxy holds much better than expected, and will stand up against most solvents, resulting in the removal of the grip with a dremel, large flat blade screwdriver, and a hammer. As you probably guessed, I had to buy new grips. Since I was content with the look of those, I simply ordered another set to replace them. Along with replacing the grips, I ordered a Harley Davidson single throttle cable housing, and a momentary waterproof starter switch. The plan here is to reduce as much bulk as possible from the bars. The HD housing is not only smaller, but it likewise eliminates the use of the saftey/push throttle cable. In addition to that, relocating the starter switch to elsewhere on the VStar should prove to clean up that side of the bars. I will most likely leave the left side as is. Currently, I have received about half of what I need to get this project complete. I will keep working at it little by little, and continue to update when I can. Ride safe…

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

What Makes the VStar Great?

The VStar is such a versatile bike, and relatively inexpensive to modify, providing the option of having a “new” bike anytime you take the notion to get creative. If you haven’t guessed yet, I’ve decided on a few changes again. It just hit out of the blue one day while perusing through the treasure trove of parts on Ebay. I found a deal on a new set of bars that I just couldn’t pass up. I’ve always liked the looks of apehangers, but didn’t like the price for the ones that I found most appealing to my unusual taste. Call it fate, or accident, but I found a set of 13”apes that I feel will be perfect for my bike. For this change, I didn’t want to go overboard, or too high, so I decided to swap out the risers as well. I found a 2.5 inch round black riser that will work well with the new bars, while not being too outlandishly tall. I’ve mounted the bars, and risers, but still have a couple of loose ends, literally. I’m addressing cable, brake, and wiring issues, and will hopefully find a resolve this week. I’m contemplating moving the start switch away from the bars to another place on the bike. For the rest of the wiring, I’ve removed the neck covers and un-wrapped the bulk of it from around the neck, providing a little more length, and enough for the bar/riser combo. I’m currently speaking with a local guy to have the cables, and possibly the brake line made here in town. Hopefully this will alleviate some of the extra cost from online shipping charges. I normally like to plan my modifications a little better than this, giving me plenty of time in advance to buy all of the extras that are needed. This time I’m working a little backward. In the end however, I think everything should come together nicely. I will keep you posted with progress, and pictures later. Until then…ride safe.

Monday, April 15, 2013

How to Change the Dust/Wiper Seal on Your Vstar 650

As you know, I recently replaced the dust seals, also know as wiper seals, on my VStar. Here is a quick run down of what to do should you face this same problem. I was a tad rushed during the job due to the great riding weather I was missing, so I didn’t take the time to document each step with pictures as I should have. At any rate, here is how to remove and replace the dust/wiper seals….

1) Raise and secure the bike, ensuring you have enough space, and support to remove the front wheel.

2) Loosen the pinch bolt that holds the axle in place, you will find this on the lower slider next to the axle.

3) Loosen and remove the speedometer cable from the speedometer drive gear unit located on the wheel.

4) Remove the axle, and slide the wheel and brake rotor assembly out and away from the forks. At this point, the speedometer unit can be removed from the wheel and placed in such a way as to not let dirt or debris get in the unit.

5) Loosen and remove the two bolts holding the brake caliper in place, and remove the caliper. For this step you can simply place the caliper on a box or stool, keeping the brake line attached, preventing having to bleed the brakes when re-attaching the line.

6) Working with one fork at a time, loosen the pinch bolts found at the back of the triple trees, one for the top, and one for the bottom.

7) The tube should slide right out. If not, gently nudge it from the top, while applying a little pressure from under the triple trees. This should remove the fork tube completely from the bike.

8) Use a small flat blade screwdriver, held laterally, to gently persuade the rubber dust seal up. You will not need to apply a lot of pressure here, and should not press the screwdriver down into the fork, or else you could damage the fork seal.

9) With the old dust seal removed, simply slide the new seal down the tube until it rests on top of the fork slider. You can make a round sleeve to slide around the tube and drive the seal in evenly, or carefully tap it down making sure not to damage the seal as you guide it in.

10) Repeat this for both fork dust seals.

11) Reverse steps 1-6, reinstalling the fork tubes, wheel, rotor, and brake caliper. For each, there are recommended torque specifications. In most cases, I generally just tighten the bolts and make sure everything is secure. The first time or two doing this job, I did use a torque wrench. As of late however, I have found it a tad unnecessary.

There you have it. It’s a simple fix, and will keep your VStar’s fork seals protected from any dirt and dust, preventing any damage that may otherwise occur. As mentioned previously, I have a couple of ideas that I’m still mulling over. With a little luck, some more brainstorming, and hopefully some time off to work on my VStar, and I’ll be back with another update. Until then…ride safe!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A Few Slight Changes

Yes, you are at the same VStar 650 blog you've been visiting for the past few years. Recently however, I decided to give it a facelift. After all, I've significantly changed the looks on my bike, so I may as well do the same for my blog. I have retained the original colors, black and red like my Vstar, but have simply swapped around the format a tad. I have also added an EBay search bar for any related parts to my modifications that you may wish to look for. For now, that is it for the blog changes. The content will stay the same as it has in the past, and I will continue to update periodically with anything new I decide to embark on. Until then...ride safe!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Why Do I Ride?

   As a motorcycle enthusiast I’ve noticed there are certain times of the year when the mundane idiosyncrasies of life, and less than agreeable weather, culminate in an all encompassing, and overwhelming force seemingly driven by the sheer task of stagnating creativity, and attempting to diminish the strength of passion for the open road that can only be found in a bikers heart.

   The dull, drab, grey skies of winter, the torrents of cold, bitter downpours, and the harshest cutting winds slicing to the depths of ones soul, compounded with the wet, icy conditions found over the beloved country route I have grown familiar with encroach, and stifle the promising relief that I’ve found in riding. The all too familiar sting of winter seemingly freezes any attempts for reconciling thoughtful planning around the hopes of personalizing my motorcycle, mocking my future enjoyment for those far too distant springtime rides. My endurance, tested for months on end, is slowly growing weary of the repetitiously clouded skies, and ever looming silent highways. Then, from out of the darkest of days, the lackluster ambiance of winter is ripped through, shredded with the raw precision, and sharpness of a worn, dull, rusty razor. The unyielding first blast of warm springtime air thaws the slumbering life that old man winter held deep in a hypnotic trance. The shackles that once restrained an abundance of life have been broken, landing with a resounding crash, echoing with a loud ring of freedom. The arms of the open road are stretched forth wide, beckoning, and eager to embrace me as its long lost friend. Serenity, having waited patiently through out the long cold winter is now drawing aim with the stillness of a hunter, easily finding its mark as I appear an all too willing target. With the deathly blow of my winter’s memory, I am once again at peace, engulfed, and warmed by the essence of all that surrounds me.
    Dreaming and planning can once again percolate amid those dusty neurons, awakening and sending a renewed electricity charging through the artistic synapses that have hibernated far too long, birthing forth some grand new idea. My collective thoughts so far lead me down a road that is not, “one less traveled”, as Robert Frost would suggest, but that is unique to me, familiar and comforting, one wherein I simply strive to incorporate any idea that comes to mind, and I have yet to personally see. I am not an extremist, nor do I possess or exhibit television worthy talent with an incredulous bike build. I simply like to create something I can admire, seeing my individual ideas come to fruition, all while knowing that as simplistic as they may be, some dreams do come true. It’s this reassuring freedom of mind; a creation of what once was not that drives my overwhelming enjoyment of Motorcycling.
   I guess you can say I am a true example of the seemingly spiritualist nature a biker derives from their chosen life style. Regardless of back ground, I’ve yet to meet another rider that did not appreciate the same sense of calm found while enhancing their life through Motorcycling. Finding a oneness with nature, and an affirmation that we are a part of something that is of a far greater magnitude than our cognitive perceptions can stretch, are indubitably related as integral characteristics within the shared community of bikers. It is this camaraderie, and an exuberant understanding for what compels that innate and seemingly instinctual urge for freedom of mind, body, and soul surging within every biker I know that is truly the reason why I ride.


Friday, March 22, 2013

Unwelcome Discovery

The beginnings of my up, and coming bike modifications have certainly taken an unwelcome turn thus far. While surveying the bike, contemplating new ideas, and overall dreaming up a plan of attack for any future changes, I noticed the front fork dust seal was a little worse for wear. From the exterior of the seal, there was a visible hairline crack showing in the upper wiper rubber located on the outer side of the fork. Apparently, the rubber had deteriorated in such a state as to allow moisture contact with the metal ring within the seal. With a firm tug, the rusted metal ring within the left side of the seal crumbled in my hand, giving way, and pulling completely away from the tube. Fortunately, the fork seals themselves are still in viable condition, and do not warrant replacing. I have however ordered the new dust seals for both of the forks, and will hopefully find the time within the next few days to resolve this issue. I will post more later,until then …ride safe.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Spring is around the Corner!

Yes, it’s that time again. The chatter of squirrels, songs of birds, and the purr of finely tuned motorcycles will once again fill the air. The long awaited arrival of warmer weather is mere weeks away. Though we seldom have snow here in the south, we do suffer from the brutalizing cold winter winds that often prevent a peaceful ride on the bike. As of late however, temperatures are improving, and spring time weather will soon prevail. The increasingly improved weather conditions have certainly had my creative juices flowing. I have been planning to update a few of my previous modifications, but due to unforeseen circumstances, and in culmination with the winter weather, I’ve yet to do so. However, I’ve begun to iron out several of the bumps I’ve encountered while cruising down the road of life, and should soon be back to sharing with you some of my recent ideas. I currently have a few trains of thought, and haven’t quite decided which direction I will go. At times, I have so many ideas, I feel the best option would be to purchase another Vstar and start a new build. After all, it is such a great bike, and so easily modified, I could build a different bike for each day of the week. It’s a nice thought, but I’m afraid I simply couldn’t justify the need for 7 Vstars to the missus. For now, one will have to suffice. I will however keep you all informed with any new revelations for the Vstar. Until then, and provided the weather is agreeable…ride safeJ