Category Archives: Psyco Product Reviews!

Riding the Honda Rebel 1100 DCT!

Honda Rebel 1100 cover
Honda Rebel 1100

It was a cool Friday morning, I was giving our 2001 Honda Helix a major tune up and oil change and needed to pick up a new spark plug plus order a few other parts so I ran over to my local dealer Generation 3 Powersports in Florence S.C. and that’s when I first saw the new Honda Rebel 1100 in real space.

Late last year Honda announced that they were going to be selling an 1100cc Rebel cruiser and I’ve started watching it with interest and immediately decided that if I got the chance to I was going to ride one. It turns out that my friends over at G3 had one in stock, better yet it was the DCT model. So I took a seat on it and the senior owner Don came over and held it up for me to put my feet up on the pegs and see how I fit on it. For me the fit was very good, with my 29†inseam my knees were right at a 90 degree angle and nestled up to the tank in a good location. When I mentioned that I have been wanting to ride one he informed me that he had this one set up for demo rides and I immediately jumped at the chance to take it out.

Honda Rebel 1100 DCT test ride

I’ve ridden several of the old Hondamatic motorcycles of the late 70’s and early 80’s and enjoyed them a lot, of course on that day, when I went to the dealer, I was getting parts for my 250cc scooter that has a CVT transmission so unlike a lot of people I have no problem with the thought of riding a motorcycle with an automatic transmission. Honda’s dual clutch transmission has been out for a while now and has proven to be a reliable system that works well in the NCT700, Goldwing and Africa Twin motorcycles. Unlike a CVT which uses a belt sliding between variable pulleys to infinitely adjust speed the DCT is an actual gearbox with the shifting controlled by an ECU that actually learns your riding style and adapts to it.

Honda Rebel 1100 dark

Let’s talk about the motorcycle and the riding experience for a bit. For a cruiser the styling of the current Rebels is unconventional, Honda chose to plot their own path with parallel twin engines and modern industrial styling. The 1100cc parallel twin engine is much better than any v-twin powerplant in terms of power per cc and smoothness. Plus it’s different, some might not like it but I prefer my Japanese cruisers to be distinctly Japanese and all of the newer Rebels fit the bill. The blacked out styling is distinctively different from the typical shiny cruiser style, but is definitely modern and contemporary.

Like every modern fuel injected motorcycle the engine fires right up and settles into a nice muted idle. The rhythm of the exhaust note is not a lumpy idle like a v-twin but a steady staccato beat. It’s a little quiet but not too quiet. The engine revs quickly and eagerly in a way no old school v-twin like my Shadow ACE 1100 can match. There are selectable ride modes but for my test I just left it in standard, my goal was to experience the motorcycle not the electronics. I do like the factory cruise control a feature normally found only on 900 pound luxury touring motorcycles. With a total weight of 505 U.S. pounds fully fueled for the DCT model, (slightly less for the manual transmission version), the Rebel 1100 is a pleasantly light weight motorcycle to have such features.

Honda Rebel 1100 headlight

Lifting it up off the kickstand the first impression is that Rebel 1100 feels much lighter than 500 pounds. The handlebars are just like the old superbike bars we all used to put on our bikes back in the eighties, you lean forward just a little bit to reach them, which is a super comfy position for me. I thumbed the button to put it in drive and made a couple of laps of the parking lot to see how the initial acceleration and braking felt before heading out on the road. It’s a bit of a weird sensation sitting on a motorcycle and not having a clutch handle. You can manually shift using push buttons on the left handlebar but I deliberately did not do that. The buttons are there if you want to play with them but much like the paddle shifters in my wife’s car I suspect most people will play with them a time or two and then never touch them again.

Honda Rebel 1100 foot controls
Styling foot controls

Pulling out onto the road and cruising felt great, kind of like riding an old CB400F but with a lower seat and triple the horsepower. Some test riders may not have liked it but under acceleration the DCT always picked the right shift points for me. While I didn’t do any performance testing once I got clear of town I did whack the throttle hard for a quick run from 35 to 70 mph and the gearbox responded exactly like it should have. The front end felt light and it accelerated hard. Now I understand why it has electronic wheelie control, the Rebel 1100 engine is that good. Many have criticized the fact that it lost a few horses compared to the Africa Twin that this engine was derived from, but in the real world you’ll never notice the difference.

I didn’t get to any real twisty roads just a few city street corners and a couple of nice two lane sweepers but that was enough to tell me that the Rebel 1100 handled much better than any other cruiser that I’ve ridden including the 2017 Guzzi V9 that I recently sold. A really good rider on a Rebel will spank an average rider on a sport-bike with no problem. I love my vintage motorcycles but I have to admit these modern machines are truly marvelous and I may have to give buying another new one some serious thought.

You might think that a bike with such a low seat height of 27 and ½ inches would be a rough ride but in this case you would be wrong. The Rebel 1100 and I rode through a few intersections with some seriously rippled pavement and horrible patchwork and the ride felt just fine. One of the things that has turned me off of new bikes is that the new ones I have purchased always seemed to need either a replacement seat and/or shocks to be comfortable. This one has nice suspension including Showa rear shocks with piggyback reservoirs that work very well just as they are.

Braking is good, the ABS system works unobtrusively and provides great stopping ability. Which will be reassuring for those times when the DCT system doesn’t downshift when you think it should, on up-shifts I always felt that the DCT shifted at the right time and held the right gear for the right length of time to match what I was trying to do. Once or twice the downshift didn’t occur when I wanted it to but after we got used to each other, things smoothed out. You should be aware of this little quirk but do not let it stop you from buying a Honda with a dual clutch transmission if you want one, once you get used to it, everything becomes seamless.

Badass Honda Rebel 1100

When you think of a Honda Rebel you probably think of the cute little 250 beginner bikes that were a staple of riding schools everywhere for decades. These were finally superseded by the current generation of 300 and 500 Rebels that the Rebel 1100 is descended from. Yet the Rebel 1100 is not really a beginners bike. With it’s light weight and low seat height it could be, but the power and handling it has are more than enough to keep an experienced rider happy. This is the maximum Rebel for the rider whose skill has outgrown the smaller Rebels but not their inseam. It’s a serious motorcycle for serious riders who just happen to have outgrown the smaller Rebels or who want a cruiser style ride but not another big, heavy and slow chrome plated v-twin motorcycle.

If I bought a Rebel 1100, which is a distinct possibility, it would get the touring accessories and passenger accommodations before it left the dealer. The first thing I’d do is take it out for a nice 2-300 mile ride just to get used to it. The next thing I’d do would be to strap it to my work table, take a few measurements and then fire up the Solidworks CAD software and design some cool one of a kind custom parts for it.

The Honda Rebel 1100 is one of those rare motorcycles that I can unconditionally recommend to everyone who is comfortable sitting on it, at my 5’-10†height, it is a great fit for me, rides well, handles great, has plenty of power and best of all is available with Honda’s dual clutch transmission if you want it.

Whether you opt for the 6 speed manual or the DCT automatic the Honda Rebel 1100 is a great real world motorcycle for real motorcyclists.

Honda Rebel 1100 rear

Moto Guzzi V9 Roamer

The three thousand mile good, bad & ugly review

Moto Guzzi V9 Roamer
Just got home from the very first ride!

In March of 2019 I took delivery of my Moto Guzzi V9 Roamer a leftover 2017 model in the color dubbed “Giallo Solare†(solar yellow) for years now I’ve wanted a Guzzi but have never bought one. Truth be told I really wanted an old Eldorado, Ambassador or even one of the old 850T models, but for some reasons the stars never aligned correctly for that to happen.

It started with a Honda CTX1300

That is correct, my path to owning a Moto Guzzi V9 Roamer began with me drooling over a used Honda CTX1300. To be honest with you there are times when I wish I had the Honda but this is not due to quality or reliability issues. For some reason my wife who is usually an agreeable soul put her foot down and insisted that I was not going to spend that much money on a used motorcycle, especially one she had never heard me mention before. Her words were, “if you’re going to do this why don’t you get something you’ve always wanted.â€

Triumph Street Twin vs Moto Guzzi V9 Roamer

These were the two bikes that I was considering and in all honesty the choice really came down which one was the most unusual. Both the Triumph Street Twin and the Guzzi V9 were well regarded by most reviewers. The engine sizes are similar, both are considered retro standards and both of them are “tuned for torque.†I’ve always regarded the tuned for torque statement as bullshit marketing doublespeak for we cut the horsepower and we hope you don’t notice, but now that I’ve ridden the Guzzi  I really like it. Peak torque comes in way down low in the rpm range and it literally pulls like a freight train up to the redline. It’s really not fast like the screaming Japanese fours that I was used to, but it feels a lot more powerful than it is. Why would I pick the Roamer over the V9 Bobber? Because I like the bright colors and chrome look. It screams 1970’s whereas the Bobber with its fat tires on both ends and matte paint say modern day hipster. Nothing wrong with that if you like it but I’m an eccentric old fart and this is an eccentric gentleman’s motorcycle. Lots of people think it’s a restoration and are shocked to find out that it is nearly new.

Pitfalls of purchasing online from out of state

There were no dealers in my home state of South Carolina at the time when I purchased this one on Ebay, from a dealer in Wisconsin. Shipping was handled by Haulbikes.com and rates were reasonable. One thing I will mention is that shipping companies like this cannot come down to the cul de sac in your neighborhood you’ll need to make arrangements to meet them somewhere with a large enough parking lot to get the tractor trailer parked off the road so that your bike can be unloaded safely.

What turned out to be the biggest problem is the fact that I decided, instead of paying cash for it, that I’d let the dealer do financing for me. Unfortunately their home state of Wisconsin requires the dealerships to send all titles directly to the bank. Unfortunately the bank turned out to be incredibly incompetent and would not help me to get the bike registered for the road in S.C. Finally after 2 months of not being able to register my new bike I went ahead & paid off the loan, even then it took a complaint to the BBB to finally get my title sent to me. If you decide to go online to purchase a vehicle I suggest paying cash up front, or if you really need financing that you obtain it in your home state to avoid registration problems.

Let us praise the good (looks &handling)

Among  Guzzista the looks of the V9 series are polarizing with the vast majority preferring the sportier looks of the V7 lineup. The general public on the other hand thinks this bike is gorgeous, especially the non-riding people or even those who have ridden motorcycle but have never heard of Moto Guzzi. The styling is what I would call cruising standard. The shape of the tank sort of resembles the old 850 T3 of the 70s but is smaller in proportion to the rest of the motorcycle than the T3 tank is. The quality of the fit and finish of the visible parts is stunning. The yellow paint has a heavy orange tint to it that appears golden in dim light.

The size and weight of this bike are perfect to me with a wet weight of approximately 440 lbs (200 kg) the Moto Guzzi V9 Roamer is very easy to handle at low speeds in parking lots and garages. Despite its relatively light weight for a midsize modern motorcycle the Roamer is very resistant to the effects of crosswinds and rainstorms. My experience with new bikes is extremely limited but compared to all the old stuff I’ve ridden the V9 is very confidence inspiring when the rain starts. It is a very mild mannered motorcycle this combined with traction control and Brembo anti-lock brakes provide you with a stable planted feel when the road gets a little wet.

Dream and Guzzi
The Guzzi with my 64 Honda Dream

All the Ricky racer boys who write for the magazines were not enamored with the handling and I understand, if I were riding around on all the latest crotch rockets I would probably feel the same way. I was using a modified 1980 Honda CB650 as my main daily rider and the handling and braking of the Roamer are much better than any vintage bike or cruiser that I’ve ever ridden. That being said the little Japanese 650cc 4 banger will smoke the 850cc V-twin easily in both acceleration and top speed, it’s not even close. Speed is not what this bike is about though, it’s about having a vintage motorcycle experience without the vintage motorcycle headaches. A lot of people on the various Guzzi forums recommended dropping the triple clamps down on the forks by 20mm to quicken up the steering so I tried it at it did seem to help once I put some decent shocks on the rear & lifted the rear back up. One very impressive specification of the Moto Guzzi V9 Roamer is that in the owner’s manual, maximum carrying load is listed at 925.94 lbs (420 kg) for rider passenger & luggage. This was partially responsible for me choosing this motorcycle and for my delusion that I could at least modify it into a usable middleweight touring machine. Don’t laugh my wife & I routinely ride 2-300 miles a day on our Honda Helix CN250 scooter, so surely it should be possible on an 850cc motorcycle right?

Let’s get down to the bad

The handling was really good to me even with the 100% stock suspension as long as you were on smooth pavement that is. The front end seemed okay with decent travel & rebound but the rear suspension was incredibly harsh. I finally set the preload at the lowest setting possible but all this did was to lower the rear of the bike enough to negate the benefits of lowering the front end for quicker steering. It would still beat the living shit out of you even over mild bumps. I do not know about the latest models but if you buy an earlier model like I did you should go ahead & budget for a new set of shocks immediately. I purchased a set of Ikon shock absorbers and I am very happy with them. This smoothed out the ride over bumps and actually improved the handling and allowed me to set the preload back to its maximum setting, raising the rear of the bike back up to where I like it. Before I changed the shocks my wife actually refused to ride on the Roamer at all due to the intense pain she felt even over seemingly small bumps and potholes.

Moto Guzzi V9 Roamer Ikon
Ikon shocks work really well.

If you need dealer support for basic maintenance this might not be the bike for you unless you happen to live near a dealer. I’d have to drive 3 or 4 hours to reach a dealer, but I can do all of my own oil changes, valve adjustments and repairs myself. Other than needing some software & a set of cables to connect your laptop to diagnose the fuel injection this is an extremely easy motorcycle to work on. The fuel injection isn’t that complicated either just join the Wild Goose Chase forum and search for Guzzidiag software, it’s simple enough an old fart like me can use it. If worst comes to worst custom builder Craig Rodsmith has proven that you can make it run with carburetors.

I wish the fuel tank were a little bigger but that’s a minor niggle, the low fuel light comes on when you’ve used 2.5 gallons out of the 4 gallon tank. This is roughly 150 miles and you’ll probably be ready for a break by then.

The effin ugly

Moto Guzzi V9 Roamer

The original factory seats on these motorcycles are instruments of torture. It’s almost like when they were finalizing the design someone plopped a cheap old plastic 1980s skateboard deck on top of the frame and said that looks cool, we’ll just add 6mm worth of padding and cover it with Naugahyde and we have us a seat. It really does look cool but it’s an awful place to sit for more than 10 minutes and it’s way too short for two up riding even if your passenger is a tiny 108 lb. wisp of a person like mine is. My pre-purchase research had warned me about the seat before I bought the bike but I was still caught off guard by how bad it was in real life. I’m now running the Moto Guzzi two piece, two up comfort seat which is much more comfortable. Too bad that is not really good enough, even the accessory seat is only a 150 mile seat at best as our last 300 mile in one day trip proved to us. If I keep this bike much longer I’ll try a Corbin seat. Corbin doesn’t really list a seat for the Roamer but they do have one for the V9 Bobber and the factory seats are interchangeable so I don’t see why an aftermarket seat for one wouldn’t work on the other.

I love / hate this motorcycle

It looks good, it sounds good too, and even with the stock pipes I could sit in the garage and listen to it idle for hours. The small gas tank that so many complain about, allows the engine to take its place as the rightful star of the show. A guy at a gas station once commented, “it looks like its all motor!â€Â  I agree it does have a very muscular look and sound for a 55 hp v-twin. Now that I’ve got the suspension sorted out to my liking nothing beats riding around on the back roads with it. The engine really is the greatest thing about this motorcycle. The six speed gear box is very smooth also and well matched to the engine. If you’re putting around in town between 30-45 mph just put it in fourth and leave it there, bombing around out in the country between 45 and 60 fifth gear is the one to be in. I won’t even put it in sixth gear at less than 60 mph. You don’t gain anything but a little more vibration on the handlebars, fuel mileage stays the same and you’re not in the meat of the engines torque curve if you need sudden acceleration for some reason. Torque is massive and acceleration is much better than the spec sheets would indicate.

Unfortunately I bought the wrong motorcycle. As far as I can tell this will never be a comfortable 2 -300 miles a day motorcycle without some major modifications. We just ride the Helix if our destination is more than an hour away. I guess I should have bought a touring bike but I really hate big heavy motorcycles and would give up riding if that was all that was available. Plus I know from experience that you can do very long rides on smaller motorcycles.

Moto Guzzi V9 Roamer
A fantastic commuter!

So what do I do with it now? With the previously mentioned seat & shock mods the Moto Guzzi V9 Roamer is a top notch commuter bike. You want a bike night attention getter that handles decently on the back roads, a bar hopper or just something to ride around locally? This is the bike for you and I’m enjoying it in all of these roles except for bar hopping because I don’t go to bars.

ready to tour?
Going out for a long ride on the Moto Guzzi V9 Roamer

Back in March of 2020 Mrs. Psyco & I took the Roamer on a 300 mile one day trip. The first half wasn’t too bad but even though we had a break for a couple of hours the ride home took its toll on us. Around the 225 mile mark my lower extremities were numb and I knew that neither one of us would be able to move when we got home. At this point I decided that this pile of shit was going on Ebay the minute I got home but then it saved our life.

We were buzzing down S.C.  Highway 34 between Newberry and Camden S.C.  at 6o mph or so, following behind a big black bro-dozer Chevy pickup, when suddenly the driver made a sudden right turn into a driveway and then without warning threw it into reverse and backed out in front of me without looking. There was no time to stop before hitting the huge four door mall terrain vehicle that had suddenly blocked both lanes of the 2 lane road we were on. Fortunately there was no oncoming traffic, road signs or mail boxes in the area so I twisted the throttle some more, banked hard to the left and was able to safely pass the rear bumper of this truck on the shoulder on the opposite side of the road from where I started. Thankfully no nasty surprises were lurking in the grass on the shoulder & I was able to slow down and safely merge back onto the road. When we stopped to steady our nerves my wife swore that she could feel the trailer hitch brush her pants leg as we went by. Thanks be to God that we didn’t get hurt that day. That was also when I decided to keep the Guzzi a little while longer. If we had been on any other bike in my collection, especially the scooter we would have been hamburger stuck to the side of that bro-dozer.

muddyMoto Guzzi
Filthy motorcycle at the end of a long day.

Even so it was about 2 weeks before I got back on it or even washed it (we ran through a few miles of red clay mud in the rain). It took a while after that for the sensitivity to the vibration through the seat to go away but eventually it did.

Where do we go from here?

Once the nation and my finances recover from the coronavirus pandemic and the stupid senseless outbreak of violence that is occurring, I’ll throw a few more dollars at it and try to make it more comfortable so that I can do with it what I bought it for which is to be able to ride 3-6 hours a day. If that fails I’ll get some loud pipes, an upgraded fuel injection map and customize the hell out of it. If it can’t be a road bike I’ll turn it into a show bike.

Would I sell it? Maybe but cash is not really what I want, barter is more of my style there are 2 very specific trades that I’d make for it and both would need to be straight up barter with no cash changing hands;

1: a 1995-1996 Jaguar XJS 2+2 convertible in good driving condition. 4.0 6 cylinder engine.  Color is unimportant and needing some cosmetic work is okay as long as all electrical and top components are functional and I can drive it home from wherever you are.

2: I’d definitely be willing to trade for a nice looking ready to ride Honda CTX1300 preferably with a passenger backrest or top trunk installed.

Hope you all have a great day!

Auxiliary Fuel Tank by Pit Posse

While I was in the process of moving I managed to break the end off of my old auxiliary fuel tank that had served me well for over 20 years. When I went looking for a replacement most of the top name brands were rather expensive starting at $45.99 and going up. At the other extreme were a bunch of smaller unknown brand ones from China or India with decent prices but some long shipping times & unknown quality. As a compromise I settled on this one sold by Pit Posse for 39.99  It came with a decent length of hose & a good quality brass shutoff valve. Let’s be honest here, all of these plastic auxiliary tanks cost more than what they are really worth but comparatively speaking this one is a good deal coming from a U.S. based company. The actual product is still made in China though. I’ve been using this one since June 8th 2018 and am very happy with it.

Auxiliary fuel tank & carburetor synchronization guages on an I.V. Pole
My setup for adjusting carburetors.

You might notice that in the picture above that I have my vacuum gauges and auxiliary fuel tank hanging from an I.V. pole.  If you’re serious about doing carb work on motorcycles & four wheelers you need to get yourself an I.V. pole. It turns out that you can get one pretty dang cheap too, click here to see them starting as low as $23 with free shipping. Well worth every penny.

My sychronizer gauges actually come from Honda and were purchased from the inventory of a shop that went out of business. If you don’t have a set and are thinking of buying some do yourself a favor and get a set vacuum gauges, not the mercury sticks. Of course if you have the money you could go for a Carbtune Pro setup. If my gauges ever quit that’s the one I plan to get.

That’s all for today just thought I’d post a quickie product review and share a couple of tips that you might find useful. Until next time,

Peace Y’all

G MAX MODULAR HELMET

G MAX MODULAR HELMET

It really was getting to be time to replace my beloved old HJC CL Max modular helmet as it was 7 years old anyway, but it was so comfortable and quiet plus I’m so cheap that it was hard to let go of it.

Yes I know you should replace your helmet every 5 years or so but I went a little beyond that with the HJC simply because it seemed to be holding up so well. So what made me purchase my new G MAX Modular helmet? To be perfectly honest it had nothing to do with motorcycling and everything to do with alcohol, hunting, kayaking and general fun with friends out here in the middle of nowhere. Confused? So was I at first, so let me tell you a little tale before diving into this review.

It all started with me coming back from a ride and setting my helmet on either the trailer or the back of the truck and going to eat supper & drink a bottle of Guinness. Thanks to the generosity of good friends I have temporary use of a little bitty two story shack down by the Little Pee Dee River while I’m awaiting the purchase of my new home to be completed. It’s such a terrible life here as there’s nothing to do other than hunting, fishing, shooting, bothering my wife for affection and sitting on the back porch drinking beer while taking in all of the natural beauty of the river which is less than 30 feet from where I’m sitting as I write this. It’s pure misery and I’m really suffering, can’t you tell? Oh yeah, back to the story.

<g max modular helmet>

’s both too dark to navigate the river by flashlight, and the current is so swift here it would take a while to get back upstream anyway, I gave him a ride back to where the other guy is waiting at the hunting club. So I take off like the damn fool redneck that I am rolling through the woods and the two lane oiled gravel roads on the outskirts of Little Rock, S.C. Instead of dropping him off at his truck I bounced my way down the two track trail to pick up the hunter, and then carried both of them back to the truck before hauling ass back to the house. I’m a little fuzzy as to what point the fact that my old helmet had been sitting on the floor of the trailer earlier in the evening hit me. After a brief search in the hopes that it had fallen off in the yard we went to bed. The next morning the old HJC was sitting on the porch, battered beyond usability but still in one piece. The guys had found it and brought it to me and left it on the porch. Apparently it had bounced off of the truck and landed in the middle of the road, scratch one very nice mid- priced modular motorcycle helmet..

So within a day or two we made the pilgrimage to Florence S.C. to visit my old friends at Generation 3 Powersports to pick up a new lid for me to wear on my 40 mile commute to work. Unfortunately no HJC modulars were available from stock, so I actually tried on the G Max and in the 2X size it fit perfectly well but quite frankly I was somewhat reluctant to trust my very valuable head to a lower priced modular helmet so I also tried on a couple of normal full face helmets trying to find something comfortable, but kept coming back to the silver gray G Max Modular helmet so I bought it. After purchasing it the sales person pointed out the built in tail light and showed me how to replace the batteries in it. Up until this point I hadn’t even realized it had a tail light on it, as my helmet shopping is done based strictly on protection and fit. Paint schemes and gimmicks are secondary characteristics to safety and comfort.

So how is it? Not bad, the plan was to take it back and order a “brand name†modular helmet if I didn’t like it, but after a couple hundred miles the G Max modular helmet has been found eminently acceptable. It’s not love at first ride like my old lid was but it ain’t bad either. Since I have a very square jawed face it was almost too snug on my lower jaw, but the more I wear it the less noticeable it becomes.

g max modular helmet

One of the nifty gimmicks is a small net in the chin area presumably to keep bugs & debris from entering the helmet from the bottom side. The problem with it is that the attachment points of the net to the front of the face shield are not 100% secure and the edges of the net will roll over and poke me in the chin if I’m not careful closing the helmet.

Another gimmick that’s actually very good on this helmet is the slide down sun shield. It works very well and is a boon to a person like myself who wears prescription glasses and can’t wear traditional sunglasses when riding. Plus when the sun goes down you just push it back up into the helmet and ride on, no stopping to change glasses or face shields.

g max modular helmet sun shade

Now let’s talk about this built in tail light. It’s powered by a couple of AAA batteries buried in the back of the helmet under a cover easily removed with a screwdriver. To activate it press the button in the center of the light before you put the lid on your head. Press the button once for a steady light, twice and it will flash slowly, a third press of the button gives you a rapidly pulsing light. Press a forth time to turn it off again. As an extra cost option you can get a kit that will give you a wireless attachment to your motorcycle’s brake light, this is definitely worth considering if you have a bike with a small hard to see tail light. This gimmick will definitely help reduce your risk of being rear ended, my main concern with any helmet is crash protection and the G-Max seems as good as any other helmet in this regard, I hope to never crash test it.

G Max modular helmet light

The air vents on the G Max modular helmet are fantastic, the air flow and noise level are really good for a sub $200 helmet. One of my main concerns that most likely is not a problem for anyone else is making sure that my helmet is compatible with my hearing aids. The ear cup area is open and roomy and the wind noise is well dampened so I can leave my ears on while I ride.

Let me conclude by saying that although the G Max modular helmet is not perfect, it is very good especially for a $169 modular helmet and if it fits you correctly and you need a good commuter helmet on a budget, I highly recommend it. Plus the tail light is a great additional safety feature.

Rock or Bust ACDC World Tour Review

Two weeks ago I went to see the Rock or Bust ACDC World Tour live in Greensboro, N.C. Like a lot of other long time fans I must confess to some initial trepidation about the new lead singer, but quickly decided that I had 2 choices; one was to go see ACDC with Axl Rose as the lead singer or to possibly never get to ACDC live at all. I spent a little extra and got me and Mrs. Psyco some decent seats on the club level and sat back and watched one hell of a fine rock and roll show.

<Rock or Bust ACDC World Tour stage>

Confession time, I really liked Guns and Roses almost as much as ACDC but when the sad news of Brian Johnson’s hearing problems surfaced it was kind of a blow and I figured that this was the end of ACDC, but they soon announced that Axl was to be his replacement and it made me a little skeptical. The early videos coming out of Europe weren’t too promising, Axl was sitting in a wheelchair due to a broken leg, and was still carrying some of the extra weight he had put on during his time away from the spotlight, plus he was still learning the band and it’s style.

Axl Rose on the big screen

Fast forward to the start of the U.S. tour and an entirely different man stepped out on the stage with the mic in his hand. The flab is gone and he was dancing around on stage and kicking it up in those ostrich skin boots like he never left the stage. All those girls who loved him so much back when he was the prettiest face in his music videos, when they see him now a lot of them will feel the same way again. My old lady has told me and all her friends at least a dozen times how good he looked. Now I realize most of you could care less about that part and think his singing sucks compared to Brian’s and I used to be one of you. Some of the songs sound different, on some of them he is able to pull off an almost exact duplicate of the original sound. Axl tends to perform the older Bon Scott tunes very well but his voice is not as gravelly and naturally capable of higher notes than Johnson’s so those songs tend to sound a little different but still very damn good. There are two song in particular that I feel he does better than any other vocalist the band has had. Axl belts out “Giving the Dog a Bone” just like it was written for him and my personal favorite by him is “Whole Lotta Rosie.” If you disagree, I don’t really care we can debate all day long whether or not Axl Rose is good for ACDC, one thing is certain, ACDC has been very good for Axl Rose.

Angus Young guitar solo

Now let’s talk about the front man Angus Young, after losing his brother Malcom, from the band due to health issues, Angus is the last of the original cast still in the show. And make no mistake about it he is the star. ACDC has had 4 lead singers, 3 drummers etc. but without Angus this band cannot exist. He is the front man, the audience knows this. Watching his long guitar solo, I realized that he feeds off the adoration of the audience, that it sustains him. But it’s not a one way relationship, you can tell that it is his mission to entertain you. Some have written (especially after he hired Axl) that he is only keeping this band going for the money, and while it is very lucrative, I can tell you right now, that he loves having the audience hanging on his every note, and that’s the real reason he puts on that schoolboy outfit, drags his old bones out on that stage and performs like a man possessed.

Of course Stevie Young and Cliff Williams put forth very dynamic performances in the background stepping forward occasionally for vocal duties but playing competently & professionally. Both are very impressive musicians and it would be great to see them getting into the spotlight a bit more because they really do their part to make the music special.

ACDC has had 3 different drummers but my favorite will always be Chris Slade. In addition to his time with the worlds best hard rock band, he has played an amazing variety of rock and pop music throughout his career playing with a number of amazingly diverse acts such as Tom Jones, Uriah Heep, Asia, etc. Chris is a true master of his craft and you can tell it listening to and watching him play.

Look regardless of how you think you may feel about the bands current line up if you love rock & roll there’s still no better band than ACDC, so cast your doubts aside and if you are still able to obtain tickets get your ass to the next Rock or Bust ACDC World Tour show, you wont regret it.

Rock or Bust ACDC World Tour

In Rock We Trust, It’s Rock Or Bust!

 

 

 

Install a Trailer Hitch

Almost Anyone Can Install a Trailer Hitch

I have a confession to make; at one time the very thought of putting a perfectly good running motorcycle on a truck or trailer was horrifying to me. But as I’ve gotten older my once hard core has become a soft chewy center. Crash damage, arthritis, and a growing disdain for any kind of suffering will do that to you. The missus & I will still do a bit of long riding from time to time, and I still scratch my head when I see a full dresser riding solo on the back of a tow vehicle. If said Goldwing or ‘Glide is surrounded on the trailer by some fine vintage machinery, choppers or hardcore sportbikes I can understand. Having discovered the joy of vintage motorcycle shows & swap meets it’s not unusual for me to take multiple motorcycles plus miscellaneous trade items, making a tow vehicle necessary. If I’m only taking one motorcycle or scooter capable of making the trip, to the show with no plans to buy or sell anything I usually just ride the darn thing because without riding what’s the point of owning a motorcycle?

<1982 C70 Passport>
One of my trailer queens.

Now let me make an apology to all of you old geezers that I used to pick on about your trailer queens. I am well on my way to becoming one of you and own a couple of motorcycles that I would never even attempt to travel on.

<Westin Trailer Hitch>
Westin trailer hitch

Let’s get on to the meat of this how to, my previous tow vehicle was a Chevy van that served me okay for a while but last year I sold it and acquired a nice low mileage 2010 Toyota Tacoma that was the plain Jane work truck of my dreams that I thought did not exist anymore. So I ordered up a Westin Receiver Hitch
hitch to fit it, along with a Reese T-connector kit for the trailer lights. Now let’s see how it was installed.

<Reese Trailer Hitch Connector>
Open up the package, and read the instructions. Then count all of the hardware supplied to make sure it matches what you are supposed to have. Next gather up all of the tools you need to match the bolts in the kit & on your truck, van, or SUV. While what is shown here is specific to my truck & hitch the vast majority of installations will be very similar to this. Buy your trailer hitch from a reputable manufacturer and read the instructions.

<hitch receiver hardware>
Don’t forget, read the instructions first!

Like most of them this Westin hitch receiver uses the bumper brackets to attach it to the truck. The instructions called for me to remove 2 of them on each side and leave one attached loosely. Work carefully and don’t allow your bumper to drop down suddenly as this could cause damage to your vehicle and or injury to you.

<bumper bolts>

 

<bumper bolts loosened>

Please make sure you take reasonable safety precautions when you are doing this. You will be handling large heavy awkward items over your head in a cramped space. It’s possible to install a hitch alone but it’s better if you have help. At the very least you need someone nearby in case it falls and beans you in the head.

<install a trailer hitch>
My truck also had the above tapped holes in the frame that were put there for the location of a trailer hitch, make sure that if your vehicle has additional holes like this that your hitch will use, that the holes are clean and the threads are good before putting the hitch in place.

<a good floor jack>
Since I was working alone a floor jack was called into action to support the receiver as it was lifted into place. For most of us a good floor jack is a necessity to install one of these alone.

install a trailer hitch
Line up the bolt holes and start all of the bolts. Do not tighten any of them until you have them all started securely. Once you have every bolt started in its own hole, then you may need to install some shims if supplied and realign your bumper so that it looks right.

use shims as needed
use shims as instructed

After the shims are in place and the bolts are all snug, check your bumper alignment again and adjust if needed.

torque wrench install a trailer hitch
Now it’s time for the final tightening of the bolts, grab your trusty torque wrench and tighten all of the bolts to the specified torque for your application.

<reese t connector toyota tacoma>
Now it’s time to move on to the wiring connections, Old timers will remember the bad old days when hooking up a trailer lighting harness meant cutting and splicing wires. Then came the Scotchlock connectors that made the job quicker but weakened any wire they were attached to and made it more likely that the wire would fail a few years down the road. Now everything is plug and play for most vehicles.

<reese t connector toyota tacoma>
The instructions called for me to remove the right rear tail light so I did.

tee connector install a trailer hitch
Then plug the Reese T-connector wiring harness in between the trucks harness and the tail light.

trailer lighting control box
The only part of the installation that required any drilling was to mount the control box. Be sure to paint the metal inside the hole and let it dry mounting the box with screws & lock nuts. Please note on some applications these boxes can be mounted directly to the receiver hitch without any modifications. One other thing to note, many modern trucks have composite plastic beds that do not conduct electricity well, so make sure that you attach the ground wire to a metal component that is attached to the chassis. Using outdoor rated UV resistant cable ties secure the wiring neatly allowing just enough slack at the end to work with all of your trailers but without dragging the ground.

Toyota Install a trailer hitch Westin
Now slide in your hitch and hook up your trailer & test everything. I have been using this Westin Receiver Hitch
for a year now dragging trailers all over the eastern United State and have absolutely no complaints about it. It was easy to install to. Even if you still don’t feel up to doing it yourself at least now you know what it takes to install a trailer hitch. See you on the road!
Peace Y’all

Install a Vista-Cruise Throttle Lock

For the last 3 or 4 months a shoulder injury has severely curtailed my riding and blogging. In addition to this I’ve had problems with numbness & tingling in my hands seemingly forever but simply wrote it off as the cost of working on a computer all day every day for a living. Using a Cramp Buster on the throttle helped, but once I hurt my shoulder it just wasn’t enough anymore.
Although sitting at a desk drawing pictures and filling out spreadsheets on a computer all day often leaves my hands & fingers sore whether I ride or not, some of the things about my main daily driver motorcycle greatly exacerbate the problem. To start with as part of the whole vintage/rat/survivor look it still had the original 35 year old factory rubber grips on it. While they really looked the part, these grips were rock hard and slick, to the point that I might as well have been gripping the steel handlebar directly. The bar itself was robbed from a 71 Honda CL450 and is one of the most rigid & indestructible off road handlebars ever made, this combined with the fact that it is clamped directly to the top of the triple tree with no insulation of any kind, sent the high frequency vibration of the engine straight up into my arms. In all honesty it was nothing that I couldn’t live with until becoming afflicted with bursitis in my right shoulder. Faced with the reality of not being able to ride more than a few minutes at the time, I decide that it was time to do something about it.

<vista-cruise motorcycle cruise control>

So I decided to replace the grips and install a Vista-Cruise Throttle Lock. This universal motorcycle “cruise control” is a product that I have used before on 2 other motorcycles not for pain relief but mainly for long distance riding and for riding no handed and other fun stupid stuff. This like most universal products may or may not work with your particular motorcycle, and it’s highly unlikely that it will fit any motorcycle without some modification. These throttle locks were designed around a typical late ’60s through mid ’80s universal Japanese motorcycle with dual throttle cables. Even then the instructions warn that some cutting or filing may be necessary to make it work. As you see in the picture below it would not fit up against the switch housing as delivered.

<vista-cruise motorcycle throttle lock>

So I had to file it to fit.

<universal motorcycle throttle lock>

Remove the least amount of material possible, & check the fit often. This is how I had to modify it to fit my 1980 Honda CB650, your bike may require something totally different. If you’re not comfortable with cutting & modifying a brand new part to make it work then you probably should not install a Vista-Cruise throttle lock. I recommend that you use a Brakeaway custom fit cruise control instead.

<universal motorcycle cruise control>

It is not really necessary to remove the grip to install the throttle lock but since I was replacing the grips anyway it is much easier. If you are not changing the grips you can just pry it back from the switch housing a little bit and fit it around the throttle tube as directed in the Vista-Cuise instructions.

<motorcycle throttle lock>

Once you have it fitted properly here’s the adjustment key that is supplied. Use it or a flat screwdriver to adjust the tension screw so that it holds the throttle in place when locked but allows it to return to idle as soon as you flip the switch up to unlock it.

<motorcycle cruise control>

Don’t forget the clear washer shown below that goes between the grip and the throttle lock to prevent the grip flange from hanging up on the side of the Vista-Cruise.

<vista-cruise installation>

I decided to use new Oury grips for the vintage look and proven vibration dampening abilities. Oury Grip has been in business for decades and have always provided a good product at a decent price. Just be sure to clean your handlebar and throttle tube well, then use a good handlebar grip glue to make sure everything stays in place.

<Oury vintage motorcycle grips>

The new grips are nice and soft so the handlebar buzz is greatly reduced, plus I don’t have to squeeze the throttle so tight to move it. Once up to speed in a place where I don’t need to accelerate or slow down too often just push down on the lever & lock the throttle. Even with the throttle locked you should still be able to move the throttle to adjust your speed as needed. One caveat that is worth mentioning is that you will not get true seamless “cruise control” action. This is a throttle lock if you start downhill the bike will speed up, going uphill it may slow down. On bikes like mine with four old mechanical carburetors and / or strong throttle return springs,  your adjustment to the lock may end up being a compromise. At low speed the leverage of the carb internals and return spring will gradually close the throttle. Once the throttle is opened far enough to negate this problem it will stay locked in place for miles of smiles.  It could be adjusted tight enough to hold at all speeds but then it would not return to idle immediately upon released. This is the single most important thing to remember, for the sake of safety it must always be adjusted so that when the lock is released the engine will return to idle just the same as if you simply let go of the throttle.

After a nice 100 mile test ride I am very pleased to say that my arms & hands felt great & I can’t wait for the next road trip!

<new grips on the assault scrambler>

It’s still the same old road running rat but with cruise control & nice new grips!

Products used in this post;

Dry Coat Rust Preventative Review

All of us who work with metal have a common enemy, rust insidious and seemingly unstoppable it creeps into all the places we don’t want it to be, destroying our hard work, valuable treasures & expensive raw materials. About a month ago I did a review of Metal Rescue rust remover from Workshop Hero. The product worked very well & I have been  pleased with it.

One thing we all know by now is that once you get the rust off of a piece of steel is that afterwards you have to keep it off. If you have ever removed rust from steel using any chemical method you may be familiar with a phenomena known as flash rusting. This occurs when you remove your rust free part from the solution (or the electrolysis bath), rinse it off and then leave it to air dry, only to find out that in a very short period of time, often well less than a day, the entire surface is covered in rust again. While there are a few finishes that actually  require a flash rust coating to work such as POR-15 semi gloss black chassis paint  & some gun finishing techniques, most of the time this is not desirable. Freshly machined parts are prone to flash rusting as well. In the past I have always just tried to coat all such surfaces with oil or grease to preserve them, and while this works it is messy, expensive & makes handling a pain. So when the fine people at Workshop Hero offered me a sample to test and to write about in this Dry Coat rust preventative review I jumped at the chance.

<rusty metal by motopsyco>

Just to keep thing honest & interesting let’s start by going out to the scrap pile and grab a rusty strip of 1/8″ thick x 1″ wide and cut six strips from it approximately 2 inches long. And then throw the strips into our bucket of Metal Rescue for an overnight soak. Yes this is the same solution that I used for the previous review, it has not been changed but it sure has removed a good bit of rust from various motorcycle parts.

<clean the rust off>

Compare this to the before picture the rust is gone, I rinsed the parts with water and patted them dry with a paper towel

<6 clean strips of steel Metal Rescue>

The plan for this little experiment is very simple to coat 3 of the strips with Dry Coat and allow to dry according to the instructions. Then I placed one coated test strip and one un-coated control strip paired together in 3 different locations around my property. This was on March 14th, 2015.

<metal recue dry coat rust prevenative review>

According to the company website it should give up to 2 years of protection from rust for steel parts stored indoors. The first two steel strips I left here in my office, literally indoors. The next two strips I placed on a ledge in the uninsulated, drafty humidity plagued old horse barn that I have converted into my workshop. Now this is definitely indoors out of the sun and the rain, but temperature swings cause enormous condensation problems that leave all of my bare steel tubing, rods, flat bar etc. coated in surface rust if they are not fabricated into useful items & painted quickly. If it can work here it should work at any other indoor location.

<out in a real workshop hero's workshop>

The final two pieces I stuck in a semi-exposed outdoors location. Let me be perfectly clear about one thing, this product is rated for indoor use by the manufacturer, if the coated strip rusts this is not a failure of the product, it’s just that an extremely curious cat wanted to push the limits. When I say semi-exposed, the two strips in the picture below are lying on the control enclosure of the solar panels that provide the lighting for my workshop. The solar panels are about 18 inches above them but they are exposed to the weather from 3 sides.

<dry coat test strips outside>

Just over 4 weeks later on April the 6th, 2015, I gathered all of the test strips together & photographed them. The parts that were coated with Dry Coat are on the right.

<workshop hero dry coat test>

I decided to flip the pieces over so you could see both sides.

<dry coat rust prevenative review>

Now lets look at some close up pictures. Here’s the samples that I left in my office. The part on the left is well on its’ way back to the original rusty appearance, but the part on the right is not. You can clearly see the pitting from the original rust before treatment, but not any new iron oxide formation.

<dry coat test sample 1 indoors>

This next sample is the one that I really wanted to check after a month in the old barn with a typical South Carolina late winter/early spring weather pattern. It is not unusual at this time of the year to have temperatures swing from 15-20 degrees Fahrenheit up to nearly 80 and then back down again in the space of a day or two. Of course when the frost melts in the morning it will sometimes look like rain inside of an uninsulated metal building. You can see the difference that this made when looking at the untreated part on the left, it’s a lot rustier than the control strip that was left in the house. Once again you can see that the coated strip is still rust free, even in the pits left behind by the previous rust that was removed at the beginning of this test.

<dry coat test sample 2 shop>

The outdoor test strips are next, the control strip on the left is quite rusty. The test strip on the right has developed a tiny bit of rust down in the existing pits in the metal. It still looks a lot better than the un-coated strip. Just remember Workshop Hero’s Dry coat is sold for indoor use and these last two test strips were just me satisfying my curiosity. The two pieces of steel shown here, have been rained on several times, and subjected to near daily freeze/thaw cycles. I am still pleased with the results and wouldn’t have problem recommending this product to anyone.

<dry coat test sample 3 outdoors>

I did download a copy of the Material Safety Data Sheet for this product so that I could see if there was anything in it that required any special protective equipment beyond the usual safety glasses and gloves. It is non toxic, non-flammable, and does not require any special disposal precautions. I didn’t see anything about welding two pieces of coated steel together so I contacted the manufacturer’s representative, and was told that they suggest washing any parts that are to be welded with soap and water first. The coating is 3 microns thick and probably wouldn’t interfere with most welding or cutting processes, but it would be wise to follow their guidelines.

So who needs this stuff? Obviously those of us who restore or repair old motorcycles, atvs, tractors & automobiles. Also machine shops, especially those of you who are storing & shipping items like re-bored steel cylinders, crankshafts, and other bare steel parts. Steel fabrication shops & o.e.m. manufactures of steel plant equipment, platforms, vehicle parts, or anyone else who stores bare steel either as a raw material or a finished product and needs an inexpensive solution for temporary prevention of rust, without having to deal with a hazardous material.

Both Metal Rescue and Dry Coat are available in a wide variety of sizes ranging from small bottles, 5 gallon buckets, 55 gallon drums and even 330 gallon totes for industrial users. As I said this is not permanent rust protection but it beats using expensive, messy, and hard to remove paints, oils and greases just to keep rust off of steel for a short period of time until you can use it.

Product recommended. I am going to place all of the test strips back in the places where I had them and will check on them over time. If anything changes I’ll be sure to let you know.

Metal Rescue Reviewed!

Mission Main Street Grants

<Workshop Hero's Metal Rescue>
Workshop Hero’s Metal Rescue

For this ‘Psyco product review let’s checkout Workshop Hero’s Metal Rescue
rust remover. In the past I have always used good old phosphoric acid for removing rust. In fact I have a 15 gallon tank of the stuff carefully stored away for cleaning old gas tanks & stuff like that. It really removes the rust quite well but it is also toxic, smelly and will corrode the base metal while removing the rust. To use it requires rubber gloves and eye protection.
Last year at the VMA swap meet in Eustis Florida, I bought a gallon of Metal Rescue from a vendor and brought it home, then I poured some out in a small container & dropped a couple of extremely rusty parts in it and left them overnight. The next day they were a little better but not as good as I hoped so threw them into the acid tank and stuck the Metal Rescue on a shelf under the workbench until last month (January 2015).
I’m in the very beginning stages of ruining a wonderful dirtbike by restoring it, so I decided to try the Metal Rescue on some of the chrome bits that really needed cleaning up. First I got a good bucket large enough to hold the parts with a good fitting lid to seal it up and poured the entire jug of rust remover into it.

<RUSTY TS185 HEAT SHIELD>
After waiting a day I opened it up and this is what I found, meh give it another day.

<METAL RESCUE  1 COLD DAY>
This is a picture of the same after 3 days, I am not a happy camper at this point.

<is this stuff gonna work?>
So I pick up the jug to look for a way to file a complaint and read the part of the instructions that says; “For best results, use at room temperature (68°F or 20°C) or above. Metal Rescue™ works optimally at room temperature (68°F or 20°C) and above, so it may require heating in cold temperatures.†Looks like using it in an unheated shop in January is out of the question unless you live closer to the Equator than I do or on the opposite side of it.
Determined to get my money’s worth out of this product I carried the bucket into the house and put it in the laundry room to warm up. When I checked on it the next day 90% of the rust was gone and on the fifth day of soaking the heat shield looked like this!

<Metal Rescue heat shield>

<Metal Rescue heat shield>
The rust was completely removed from both sides and I was very impressed. It probably would have helped a lot if I had read the instructions first. Since then I just keep this bucket of Metal Rescue in a safe place in the house. It is chemically safe with no hazardous ingredients and if you take care to ensure that no hazardous substances get into it, Metal Rescue can be safely disposed of in most sewer systems but check your local laws first.

<rusty ts185 headlight ring>
To give you an idea of how much I like this product, I bought some more and put it into the bucket with what I already have. With the solution at room temperature it took less than 24 hours to clean up this headlight ring to the condition that you see here. Plus I was able to leave it assembled with all of the plastic parts & springs while it soaked something you would not dare do with acid.

<Metal Rescue headlight ring >
The instructions do warn that if you leave plain steel parts in the Metal Rescue
too long that it will turn them dark after removing the rust. Plated parts don’t seem to be affected by this. The screws in the picture below illustrate this. Since I am going to be re-coating these screws it’s not an issue for me, but if you are restoring something that calls for a natural metal finish you should be aware of this.

<metal rescue screws>
What’s the bottom line, is it worth 25 -30 bucks a gallon? Yes, especially when you consider that if properly stored it can be used over & over combined with the fact that it is biodegradable and contains no VOCs, solvents, acids, bases or hazardous ingredients. Just be sure you read the dadgum instructions on the jug first. It really does work much better when it is warm.
Peace Y’all

A Tale Of 2 Valve Spring Compressors

I love cheap tools sometimes. My own personal collection is a mixture of top name brands and some of the cheapest shit you can find that actually works. Surprisingly sometimes the cheap stuff is better than the expensive stuff in some applications. It doesn’t happen often but occasionally it does. Most of the time you get what you pay for though and here in a tale of 2 valve spring compressors I’m going to show you a great example of this principle in action. As I started to tear down the head for the CM400 I am overhauling I realized that none of the valve spring compressors that I already own would work, 2 or 3 of them were for side valve engines, one was your typical auto parts store V8 compressor & the last one is a homemade thing especially made to work on old Honda 50-200cc dirtbike engines. Of course none of them would work, what I needed was one of the large C-clamp style tools with multiple adapters like all the shops that I used to work at had. So I came inside, fired up the computer and went shopping.

<cheap chinese spring compressor>

Of course I did not start out looking for the cheap stuff, my first search was for a genuine Motion Pro Valve Spring Compressor
but it is a bit pricey at around 100 bucks or so not including the Motion Pro Adapter and Bore Protector Set That being said if you got the money to throw around or if you are running a full time professional shop it is the best one to get.

Being in an experimental state of mind (okay that’s bullshit I am just a cheap bastard sometimes) I decided to try out this one that is all over ebay & Amazon for around $30 dollars shipped. It came in a nice molded plastic box with plenty of adapters for different size valve springs.

<valve spring compressor cheap junk>

<cheap tool bent>

Unfortunately the cheap thin wall tubing that it was made of almost immediately began to flex and fail without budging the valve spring in the slightest. All of the compressors of this style & price range had very mixed reviews on the various merchant websites where they are sold apparently they work on some engines with weaker springs but on this head it did not work at all and was in fact a complete & total failure.

<Have your balls ever fallen out?>
Have your balls ever fallen out?

To add insult to injury one of the balls that retains the adapters to the tools popped out of its socket

<valve spring compressor failure>

As you can see here this Stark valve spring compressor is now permanently bent and no longer fits back into it’s slot in the case. Back for a refund it went!

Enter the $46 OTC 4572 Large Valve Spring Compressor in it’s no frills cardboard box. Fancy blow molded plastic cases are nice, but really don’t make much difference if the tools inside don’t work. In this case the manufacturer decided to save money on the packaging and not the tool.

<good tool in a plain wrapper>

When I opened up the box there was a surprisingly heavy well made tool inside. It was very similar in style, metal thickness, and finish to the more expensive tools I have used in the past at various shops where I have worked. There were two other cost cutting measures one being that it only comes with two adapters for different size springs and that it only had a cup style tip for the clamping screw instead of including an interchangeable ball style tip, which actually works for better in most valve spring removal applications Below it is laid out with the rest of the tools that I normally use when it’s time to lap a set of valves.

<valve lapping tools>

Here is a shot of it in place ready to compress a valve spring. At this time I’d like to point out that you do NOT compress the valve springs by pushing on the large handle with the rubber hand grip. To get your initial setup pull the handle open to get the tool in place around the head and then push it closed. Then you adjust the adapter and the clamping screw until the tool is in the correct place. Then you turn the t-handle on the clamping screw to compress and release the springs. To move on to the next valve spring, first release the tension on the spring by retracting the clamping screw, and next you release the handle, move the tool to the next valve, close the handle, and once again use the clamping screw to compress the spring.

<OTC valve spring tool in action>

Repeat as needed until you have removed & reinstalled all of the valves as needed.

<OTC valve spring compressor>

Below you can see a fully compressed valve spring with the valve keepers removed.

<inexpensive valve spring compresser that works>

The bottom line? The OTC 4572 Large Valve Spring Compressor is worth the money. It may lack a full range of spring adapters and accessories, but if you don’t need all of those things this is a solid well made tool that will get the job done.

A Quick look at Harley’s Street 750

<HD Street 750>

I took a quick trip to Charleston S.C. this past weekend, mainly so could spend the gift certificate from Low Country Harley Davidson that I won at the Rockabillaque bike show, and so the Mrs. & I could have a nice romantic lunch at Gilligan’s restaurant in Monck’s Corner on the way. Low Country is a very well set up dealership with a large bike showroom that actually takes precedence over the boutique gift & t-shirt portion of the store. Yes the other merchandise is housed in an impressively sized store with a very upscale appearance, but it is clear that the bikes come first when you walk in.

There was one bike in particular that I wanted to check out, Harley’s Street 750 & 500 models. They had one of each with the 500 sitting at the front of the showroom and the 750 off to one side on display in front of a Christmas tree, at the entrance of the boutique.

<750cc of liquid cooled power>

Unfortunately, it was pretty well being ignored as most customers seemed to head straight to the baggers. Yet even with the improvements that created the liquid cooled “Rushmore” line of motorcycles the fact remains that this is the most advanced engine that HD has released since the V-Rod or the short lived Buell 1125. With liquid cooling and overhead cams it steps firmly into the modern age of motorcycling. I do realize that all of my fellow Japanese iron riders will yawn with boredom at the thought of a mere 57 rear wheel hp (as measured by Cycle World here), but when compared to other mid size machines with a similar design focus, based on unique or classic styling, beginner friendliness, and character it compares very well. Bikes such as the Triumph Bonneville, Moto Guzzi V7, and Honda’s new series of 700cc machines such as the NC700 have similarly modest horsepower. The folks that buy these machines are not after barn burning power, but unique styling combined with ease of use is the name of the game.

If these bikes were available through the rental program, I would rent one and try it out, perhaps I can snag a demo ride on one somewhere. After throwing a leg across it and sitting on it I really liked my first impression. Even though it seems small compared to all of the big bikes in the showroom, for a genuine vintage rider like me it seems perfect.

<the Motopsyco on Harley's Street 750>
the Motopsyco on Harley’s Street 750

Let me be totally 100% honest with you, I really do not like to ride cruiser or touring style motorcycles. Chrome don’t thrill me & I thoroughly despise floorboards, forward controls, and infotainment systems on motorcycles, after all when I ride a motorcycle I expect it to entertain me without any outside help. The street 750 &500 models will probably be available in other colors soon enough but the murdered out appearance of the current model really turns me on, as do the mid controls and the bikini fairing reminiscent of the 77 XLCR.

<Harley's Street 750>
Harley’s Street 750

I have the feeling that I could live with one of these in bone stock form at least through the first summer. But as soon as the wrenching season hit it would wind up with my laptop plugged into the first aftermarket injection controller I could find. Then I would have to dig up a wrecked CBR/GSXR something or another and con one of my machinist friends into helping me swap the forks & wheels onto it, along with some taller shocks & lower handlebars.

Yes I know the target market is beginners who are planning to move up to a big twin from Milwaukee, not nutcase rat/brat/cafe racer fanatics like me. This little twin is really cool, and I think it’d be fun to cut it up and make it into something KUSTOM! The only thing I wouldn’t change is the color scheme.
Peace Y’all

 

 

 

 

 

The GTC Torque Converter for Minibikes & Go Karts Installation and Review

Here’s what came in the box. I ordered it from GoKarts USA mainly because it was listed as being a direct bolt on fit to directly replace the cheesy jackshaft plate & tensioner that this minibike came with. Despite what is said on some of the forums around the internet, this is a good quality unit that is made right here in the good old U.S.A. Yeah sure it’s got a couple of imported components in it, but suck it up sunshine that’s just the way the world is, we’re all on one rapidly shrinking planet and the market place is making it smaller everyday despite the best attempts by idiot politicians and knuckle dragging nationalists to stop it. Still it’s nice to see something made here that is of good quality and is price competitive. The backing plate is especially well machined & finished to the point that it is almost a shame to cover it up with a belt guard.

<contents of the GTC kit box>

Now this is not going to be a full complete step by step set of installation instructions, just an overview with a few tips. If have lost your kit instructions or have purchased a second hand unit without instructions please click here to get a set from the GTC website.  As always you may click on any picture here for a larger view.

First you have to remove the original plate with the factory clutch & intermediate sprocket.

<Baja MB165 jackshaft chain tensioner>

Make sure you remove all of the spacers from the end of the crankshaft, if you are doing this to an older engine oxidation may cause the spacer to look like an integral part of the crankshaft. If you don’t remove it the drive pulley won’t line up and you’ll be scratching your head for a few minutes like I was.

<baja minibike crankshaft spacer>

This tab is no longer used and will have to be flattened or removed for the torque converter to fit.

<remove this tab>

The kit comes with longer bolts to mount the plate if needed.

<GTC kit bolt>

This particular installation just reused the stock bolts

<GTC mounting plate on Baja minibike>

A picture of the driven shaft with the snap ring and washer installed.

<driven pulley shaft GTC torque converter>

Here it has been started through back of the mounting plate.

<installing the driven shaft>

Next get the chain sprocket, key & spacer,

<sprocket,spacer,key>
sprocket,spacer, & key

and slide them onto the driven shaft as shown here.

<This is what drives the rear wheel>

The next shot shows the driven pulley with it’s associated hardware, slide it all into place and install the nut finger tight at this time.

<GTC driven pulley>

Here is the driving pulley & the belt. When you cut the tie wrap to install it take not of how the various parts & pieces fit together so you can re-install them correctly.

<torque converter drive pulley & belt>

I should have cleaned up the screw threads in this hole before I got this far, be sure to learn from my mistakes. BTW your engine must have an existing tapped hole in he end of the crankshaft or you cannot install a torque convertor. Be sure to check this before you spend your money as a few of the Honda clone engines are missing this feature.

<baja minibike tapped crankshaft>

The other drive pulley parts

<gtc drive pulley parts>

Stick the belt into place & begin assembling the drive pulley onto the end of the crankshaft.

 

<drive pulley parts on crankshaft>

Now that you’ve gotten everything assembled it is time to tighten it all down.

<GTC torque converter Baja minibike>

You really need to use a torque wrench and tighten the bolts & nuts to the torque specified in the instructions. Even a cheap one is more than good enough for everything the average home mechanic will ever do. If you over tighten the nut on the driven shaft it will pop the snap ring loose from the other side. Sure GTC could redesign the shaft to eliminate the snap ring but are you prepared to pay an additional 20 or 30 dollars for the kit to cover the cost of the additional machining and wasted material? Just use a torque wrench and you won’t have to worry about it.

<use a torque wrench dammit>

I did this install several months ago and have been driving this thing around the farm at least two or three times a week. While it did not transform my otherwise nearly stock MB165 into a 50 mph speed demon it did bump the top speed up enough to be much faster than a stock Baja minibike. Perhaps on a smooth surface with the governor removed it would but it is already able to outrun it’s own steering and stability out here in the deep soft sand & mud where I live.

<Baja heat warrior torque converter>

Four months ago when I installed this it was purely out of curiosity to see if it would really be an improvement, and it really is. The initial low speed engagement is much smoother than with a factory clutch allowing it to be driven at a lower speed than was possible with the clutch, while still increasing the top speed. The belt has proven durable and still looks fine after four months of hauling my big 200+ pound ass around the farm, down the dirt road, through the woods.  And when it does eventually wear out the belt is a little over half the price of a factory clutch. So is this worth spending the extra $200 buck on? If you are serious about actually riding your minibike, the answer is yes especially since the GTC TC2 is a direct bolt on that does not require engine mounting spacers to fit a stock Baja frame. Granted at this price it should come with the plastic belt guard but that really is my only complaint. At this time I’m running mine without the guard for a cool but possibly dangerous open primary look, but I don’t let kids ride it either.

Here’s a little video of the completed minibike so you can see how it works.

Peace Y’all

 

If you really enjoyed The GTC Torque Converter for Minibikes & Go Karts Installation and Review please visit our sponsor by clicking an ad below.

Ultimate Addons Mounting System for Phones

Who is looking for a way to safely mount their smartphone to the handlebars of their motorcycle, bicycle or atv? Initially when I first decided to add navigation to my motorcycle, the first thought was to find a mount for the Garmin Nuvi that I use in the old van, but quickly realized that my smartphone has some seriously good navigation apps installed on it and has the added advantage of always being with me. Keeping in mind the price of my phone and the importance of the data that it contains, any mount purchase would need to be secure, strong, & waterproof, with excellent vibration & impact resistance. After a quick bit of internet research I decided to try one of the Buybits Ultimate Addons mounts, and placed an order with Amazon. At $69.99 plus shipping from the U.K. this is not a cheap product (although it is not the most expensive either, price as of 8-9-14).

As usual my order arrived quickly and was well packaged with no transit damage!

<happy little fedex box>

Opening it up and viewing the contents I found the protective case, handlebar mount & power cord. Please note that if your motorcycle or atv is not equipped with a DIN (Hella) style power outlet you will need to install one in order to use the charger, here’s a link to the item I used.

<ultimate addons cellphone mount>

The protective case is a very impressive design, thick plastic with a generous amount of rubber inside both to cushion the phone & seal out the water. Please note this case is not for weight weenies, but if you don’t mind carrying around a few extra ounces in order to keep your device safe & dry it is worth it. A great and pleasant surprise to me was to find out that there was a viewport for the camera, the touch screen worked well, and the case is engineered well enough that all operation functions of the phone could be controlled just as if the phone were not in the case at all.

The handlebar mount itself had me worried a little bit after seeing the relatively bombproof looking case that attaches to it, the mount looked small and while not flimsy looking it seemed like it should be larger and heavier looking to hold up this big case & my oversize $500 phone. In engineering we all know that well designed products can be much stronger than they look, but the barbarian living in my head doesn’t always see that, so for my initial testing I strapped it to the rattliest, roughest riding pile of junk in the shed, a Baja MB165 minibike. My minibike is a frightening concoction, of assorted used parts loosely assembled together and then blessed (cursed?) with a couple of speed enhancing modifications including a CVT drive.

<cell phone mount on minibike>
If this don’t kill it nothing else will.

After bouncing around a little while around the field, up & down the dirt road a time or two, and at least 50 laps around the house it didn’t fall off, or even come loose. I even shot a short video that I didn’t post any where but if enough of you want to see it I can add it to this page later. An S4 in this mount actually  makes a decent video if you can get the orientation right. This was more than enough of a test to convince me the mount was going to hold up just fine. So now it was time to check the water resistance of the case so I fastened it to the front rack of this ATV and took it out to play in the rain, at night.

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"}" data-image-title=">" data-image-description="

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After all of this I opened up the case and found that my phone was completely dry and safe, and while I still would not actually submerge it in pond or anything like that I am now convinced that this case properly installed and closed will keep your phone dry and safe during any rain storm you are going to encounter out on the road or trail. After all the Brits who sell this product obviously know all about riding in the rain.

It is a large bulky case, and yes in bright sunlight the screen can be hard to see, but if any of you have a touch screen phone that is easy to see in direct sunlight, I want to see it, because at this time such a phone does not exist. The charger is easy to install, but if you are cutting off the plug and hard-wiring it to your vehicle be sure to connect it to a switched circuit or install a separate power switch as the charger has an LED that is always on whenever power is present. I just installed a DIN outlet so that I could unplug it. It would have been nice if the mount were taller and had more adjustment for position. They do make one one but I admit to being a cheapskate especially when dealing with products that I am not familiar with.

Here’s a shot of it attached to the bars of my main ride with navigation open, ready for me to go get lost & then find my way back home. Having used this mounting and charging set up for a few hundred miles on four different vehicles I am happy with it.

","created_timestamp":"1246615535","copyright":"COPYRIGHT, 2009","focal_length":"6.3","iso":"100","shutter_speed":"0.022222222222222","title":"????????????????????????"}" data-image-title="" data-image-description="

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Ultimate Addons Mount on the Suburban Assault Scrambler

Bottom Line: The Ultimate Addons Mounting System for Phones is well worth the cost, I’d recommend this product to anyone.

Peace Y’all

 

 

 

 

 

Rock Oil’s Rockeze Maintenance Spray, a Psyco Product Review

Have you ever been caught off guard by a product?  It does not happen often, and most of the time it is a bad experience. There is however the rare occasion when you try something new and it works much better than you expected. Today, I am going to tell you about one of those times when I was pleasantly surprised by how well something worked.

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Rock Oil Rockeze 400ml maintenance spray

 

About a month ago I was granted the privilege of becoming a stocking dealer for Rock Oil products, and placed an order for various products to have on hand for sale & use. When I received my shipment there was a free sample of something labeled Rockeze maintenance spray. Reading the directions on the back it said to be used a penetrating oil & water displacer.

Now as an old motorcycle / metalworking hobbyist I use a lot of this type of product and tend to buy it in large quantities. I’ve used Kano Kroil, PB Blaster, Liquid Wrench, & of course WD40. By and large my personal experience is that all of these products work, and they all work about the same. Kroil might have a slight performance advantage due to its industrial strength formulation, but it is expensive and not as readily available as the other three.

With that in mind, my initial reaction to seeing this product was “meh,†but decided what the heck I will give it a try. A couple of weeks ago I bought an old minibike that the chain was completely seized up on, so to move it around the shop I had to pick up the back wheel. I just walked out there and soaked the chain down with this stuff and left it to soak overnight. While spraying the Rockeze I noticed that it was a darker color and a little bit thicker than the normal spray penetrants that I have used in the past. The next afternoon I rocked the minibike back & forth a couple of times and the chain broke free and has stayed that way.

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Over the next week I used and misused the product in the same way that I do with all penetrating lubes. I used it to remove water from metal parts, as a drilling & cutting oil to help keep my drill bits and bandsaw blade cool while cutting metal, and to provide lubrication for stuck fasteners and parts. One particular use that impressed me was removing the float pin from a severely corroded carburetor. Normally this is a job that calls for a pin punch, a small hammer, and a great deal of patience. After letting it soak for an hour this one was easily removed with a pair of needle nose pliers.

 

<rockeze spray & cb360 carburetor>
Believe it or not I got all of the jets out without mangling them.

<cb360t float pin in bad shape>
Look Ma no hammer! & no broken post either.

At first it took me aback that such a product came without the long flexible straw that one normally finds on American brand products of this kind. Being British the people at Rock Oil do things their own way. The spray nozzle has a short straw made into it, which actually gives you very good control of the spray direction.

 

As I mentioned earlier, Rockeze is a darker color, and it is thicker than the other stuff I have on hand, and stays in place better, but this does not seem to affect its ability to soak into corroded nuts and bolts. For the ultimate test this past Saturday, my wife and I completely disassembled two complete motorcycles to sell the used parts, and I was very happy with the job that it performed, and for once I can say that there is a better penetrating lubricant on the market.

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This is what the spray nozzle looks like. It works very well.

At the time I received my can of Rockeze, it was not on sale in my store and quite frankly if it had not done so well it would not be there now. So click here to go check it out, and it will be on my table at various events that I will be attending this year.

 

Peace Y’all

 

Joe Rocket Ballistic Revolution Jacket & Ballistic Pants (7.0) A ‘Psyco Product Review!

Hello again everyone,

A couple of weeks ago I tried on a Joe Rocket one piece suit but it just did not fit, so I decided to try one of the two piece outfits and quickly settled on the Ballistic Revolution jacket & the Ballistic pants, for three reasons, one if not getting a one piece suit I wanted to get a 3/4 length coat to prevent unintended exposure of my midriff section to freezing cold & fast moving asphalt, two the pants were the only ones I could find in the lower end of the price range with a true short inseam of 30″, and three the price was right. Yes unfortunately the price does matter, but the general consensus found in my research is that the Joe Rocket stuff will save your skin as well as anything else if you are comfortable wearing it. I am comfortable in this outfit, but quite frankly I hope to never test it’s protective abilities.

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I like Hi-Viz colors!

Since the vendor that I bought the Survivor suit from was out of stock on the pants, I went over to good old reliable denniskirk.com and ordered this set. I placed my order on a Wednesday or Thursday (CRS* kicking in sorry) and the following Monday it was delivered, plus it was a dollar cheaper too.

Some folks might be put off by the high visibility colors shown here but this jacket is available in other color schemes & solid black. As for me I want the drivers of the cages that attempt to kill me to admit that they were deliberately trying to murder me without being able to soothe their consciences by saying, “I didn’t see him.”

I bought this outfit with my own funds and paid full retail price & plan to keep it as long as it works. What this means for you is that I don’t owe anybody any favors so if it screws up, I will tell you the whole truth about my experiences. So far I have worn this outfit while riding in temperatures ranging from 28°F (-2°C) to 72°F (22°C) and I am happy to report that once I got in and get everything zipped up & buttoned down it was actually reasonably warm & comfy for my 30 mile commute in the wee hours of the morning. Yesterday was unseasonably warm for December and as I was leaving the office I was worried that it would be too hot with the liners in place but it was okay once I got moving. Leaving the front zipper 1/3 the way down resulted in the wind entering the front of the coat with a sort of parachute effect that separated the fabric from my torso, greatly aiding my comfort. Whether this was by design or just a result of my particular riding style/body shape combination I do not know. As a package so far it works well, but getting into it and out of it is a little more involved than a one piece or plain leather jacket & pants or chaps combo.

This outfit is supposed to be water resistant but I have no plans to put that to the test. When I get caught out in the rain I’ll come back & let you know how it does.

Now lets talk about the individual pieces, the Ballistic Revolution jacket is a really good example of bang for the buck. It has CE approved armor for  your elbows & shoulders. There is a foam spine pad but it is just that a dense foam pad. It can be easily removed & replaced with an approved spine protector if you so desire. Joe Rocket calls their exterior shell fabric RockTex which is similar to most other heavy duty abrasion resistant synthetics. It has five outside pockets. With the liner in you have four interior pockets including a nice vertical zippered pocket on the left side, that is just the right size to hold something small like a Walther PPK in it. Anything the least bit larger has to go somewhere else. Once you take the liner out there is only one pocket inside, and I wouldn’t put much in it.

The 2xl size fit my large frame well and the sleeves were the right length and large enough in diameter so that my arms fit inside and I could still bend them. Being a 3/4 length means that it is adaptable to a variety of motorcycle riding positions and it is easy enough to get in an out of. It is not perfect and I have a couple of quibbles, first the velcro style closure for the neck leaves something to be desired. I guess this comes from being built to a price point, but the neck closure needs to be redesigned with either a larger tab to give the hook and loop fabric they currently use a larger gripping surface or to switch to a stronger grade of material for this one spot since it is the only one where the velcro actually has to hold something in place as opposed to keeping a flap closed. It would also be nice to have the good inside pockets without the liner installed. It’s too early for me say anything about the long term quality or durability but right out of the box I am impressed.

These pants that I ordered are the Ballistic 7.0 size 2xl short. Joe Rocket list the short inseam as being 30″ which means that with my boots on they are just barely off the floor when I am standing straight up. When the liner is in you have to be very careful zipping the leg closures down or the zipper will catch the fabric of the liner & jam. When the weather warms up & I remove the liner this problem will be resolved but for now I am just being very careful not to jam the zippers. Walking around the house it feels as if the knee pads are way to low but once I sit on the bike they cradle my knee & shins perfectly. There was no problem putting these pants on over my triple e wide work boots. As with the jacket there are a couple of relatively minor complaints, the biggest complaint is the fact that you really have to be careful of the liner & storm flaps when zipping up the pants as the zippers will grab them and jam pretty easily if you are not careful. If you know you are going to be needing your wallet or house keys etc. you need to transfer them to the pockets of these pants or your coat. They could have put in a zipper to reach into your street clothes but that would have been one more potential entry point for cold air or rain so it’s no big deal, until you get to the gas station and have to unzip your coat and pants to get your money out.

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So far my impressions are great and I would feel comfortable recommending that you try the jacket, the pants, or both if you are in the market for protective gear. Just purchase from a reputable vendor with an easy return or exchange program just in case it really doesn’t fit you well.  If by some chance either piece falls down on the job I will be sure to come back here & let you know all about it.

Peace Y’all

(*Can’t Remember Shit)

It Just Wasn’t Meant to Be. Joe Rocket Survivor Suit

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Survivor Suit in a box.

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almost like early Christmas present

Ordered November 22nd & delivered on December 9th.  I had ordered it from this vendor & paid a little more because they were the only ones listing a black and high visibility yellow on their website. It turns out that was a typo 🙠the hi-viz color scheme is not available in the size I ordered a 2XL short. It would turn out that the inseam was the only part of the suit that fit me properly, I was able to get into it but could not zip it up over my chest, nor could I bend my arms more than about 30 degrees. Had to get Mrs. ‘Psyco to help me out of  it so that I could re-package it for return.

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This is the front view of the 2xl short Survivor suit from Joe Rocket. It’s too bad about the fit as this is the only company in the lower half of the price range that offers a true short inseam of 30″. The suit looked good and appeared to be of decent quality construction, but it was just too small for me to do anything but send it back since it is not available in a 3x. My build is very difficult to fit as I have short legs, a 52″ chest, broad shoulders & fairly stout arms & legs. Most normal off the rack clothing that fits my upper body is usually way to big in the waistline area. This suit zipped right up past my stomach but that’s as far as it got. The kind folks at bikebandit.com are good to work with and promptly sent me a return shipping label to send the suit back. No hassle returns are just one of the many things I enjoy about doing business with them.

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The reflective stripes on the back only look like this when the light hits them, my camera flash really made them pop out.

I am going to try a two piece outfit from Joe Rocket next, but I have already warned the guardian of the bank account, that if it doesn’t work out the next step will be to get a custom made Aerostich Roadcrafter! 🙂