Thursday, April 30, 2009

Should we have liquid cooling on Harley Davidsons?

I witnessed recently two Harley Davidsons with the Twin Cam 96 engine overheating in traffic on a hot day. One rider was off his Fatboy, pushing it along on the freeway as the traffic inched forward. The other pushed his Ultra Classic off to the shoulder because it had gotten so hot it shut down.

The Harley dealer can install a software download that shuts off fuel to the real cylinder at idle when the bike is stationary. They also will sell you an auxiliary fan to cool the engine. Richening the fuel mixture will reduce heat as well.

These are beautiful and exciting motorcycles. What a shame we can't have new Harleys that require no aftermarket remedies for heat. I think these bikes would be just as beautiful and exciting with a radiator. There are many rumors on the web that Harleys will be liquid cooled in 2010, mandated by government emission standards. Please comment on what you think about liquid cooling on Harleys. Would it make a Harley less exciting? Would you welcome the increased reliability? Do you think radiators on Harleys would ruin their appearance?

More information on reasons and remedies for the Twin Cam 96 heat problem can be found at

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Poker Run to Benefit Special Olympics - May 30, 2009

This run starts at South Richmond Harley Davidson, 10011 Hull Street Road in Richmond. Registration begins at 9:00 AM. For details call (804) 751-4416.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Riding the BMW K1200LT

The BMW K1200LT is always a desirable luxury touring bike. My wife and I got the chance to ride one on our recent trip to Arizona. We rented it from the good folks at MC Tours, LLC in Scottsdale (

The bike is so smooth. It is really a sport bike disguised as a touring bike. The 4 cylinder engine revs very quick. As with all in-line fours, you have to use the transmission to keep the engine revved up. It makes its best power above 4,000 rpm. The ride is very cushy. My wife says it is the most comfortable bike she has ever ridden. However, I found the drivers seat too hard. My butt hurt after an hour in the saddle.

The bike has single shock suspension on both front and rear. It is very stable in sweeping turns, even if you hit a pothole or ripples in the road while fully loaded with two people.

Amenities include high tech luxury features you would expect of a BMW. Heated seats were a favorite of my wife, as it got a little chilly when we took it to Sedona. It also has heated grips. I really liked the electrical adjustable windscreen. In the full up position at high speed on a windy day the windscreen functions as a sail. More than once I was startled by the wind blowing the bike almost into the next lane. So on windy days it is best to lower the windscreen to its lowest setting, and use a full face helmet to protect you from the elements.

The interlinked power abs brakes took some getting used to. I am from the old school where one applies both the front and rear brake at the same time. On the K1200, one only needs to apply the front brake lever to operate both front and rear braking. The brakes are very touchy when the bike is running, but soft and mushy when the engine is off -- just like power brakes on a car.

The bike accelerates slick as a ribbon. Cruising at 60 mpg turns about 3,000 rpm, but you need to downshift to pass a car on a two lane road. No fear winding the bike up -- the redline is well above 8,000 rpm. The engine really comes alive at 4,000 rpm. The Beemer gets an excellent 46 mpg combined mileage with rider and passenger.

It is a touring bike that can get you cross country quickly and in comfort. Even with a price tag over $21,000, you truly do get what you pay for.

Cool features:
- power center stand
- illuminating lights under the bike for dismounting in the dark
- power adjustable windshield
- electronic cruise control
-interlocked abs brakes

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Riding US 19 from Beckley, WV to Princeton WV

If you find yourself on a ride that takes you through Southern WV, US 19 is a road that is one of my all time favorites. If you like curvy roads that are sparsely traveled you will love this road. Total length of this route is 41 miles. The first 11 miles are not the greatest, but the last 30 miles are awesome riding.

Starting in Beckley the journey is a bit congested, but be patient -- traffic thins out after a few miles. You will pass through the little towns of Beaver and then Daniels then Shady Spring. When passing through Sandy Spring, be sure to obey the speed limit. Right after Shady Spring you will come to a long stretch of straight road that goes down a steep hill and then back up another long steep slope. At this point the fun really begins.

The next 8 miles or so are just a warm up for what is ahead. Gently sweeping turns lead you to the top of Flat Top Mountain (elevation ~3200). At Flat Top you can stop and look around at Winterplace Ski resort, or have a home cooked meal at Lakefront Restaurant. Lakefront Restraurant is just opposite the access road for I-77, and Winterplace is just 3 miles south. If you need a bathroom break it is best to stop here, because there are almost no ameneties for the rest of the way.

Don't even think of getting on I-77 at this point. US 19 is the road to ride for fun, while I-77 is a nightmare of trucks and vacationers in motorhomes headed from the mid-west to the southeast and back again.

The last 30 miles into Princeton will rival ANY road in the US. I've been to the motorcycling mecca known as Deales Gap in Tenessee, but it pales in comparison to the scenery, varied contours of curves, and the long fast straights on US 19 in Southern WV.

One of the most interesting things along this road is the old Lake Shawnee Amusement Park.

Ferris wheel

The park is abandoned now. In its heydey it was a popular place among locals. Legend has it that the park is haunted now.

From Lake Shawnee it is only about 5 miles to Princeton, including one hard knee dragging left hander in Kegley, WV. In Princeton, you can pick up I-77, US 460 or continue on US 19 toward Tenessee.

View Larger Map

The Used Bike Emporium is worth a look

If you are near BWI airport and in the market for a used bike, you should stop in at the Used Bike Emporium ( The owner's name is John. He has a showroom that is larger than many new bike dealers. Inventory includes all the major manufacturers. He sells, buys and services all types of street bikes and dirt bikes. My wife and I had a good experience there when we bought a Harley 883 Sportster last year. Over the winter, John serviced my Kawasaki 1500 Nomad, and he told me about several things the dealer has not been servicing properly. What you will get at UBE is personal service. In the motorcycle industry, customer-focused service like that is hard to find.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

maryland charity motorcycle rides coming up

Here are a few charity rides coming up in maryland soon.

April 25 - Juvenile Diabetes Poker Run - Prince Frederick, MD - Renegade Classics (301) 855-1999

April 25 - Spring Pig Run - Benefits developmentally disbaled adults - meet at 10 AM, Daniels Restaurant, Elkridge MD

May 2 - Freedom Ride for Dystonia - Laurel, MD - meet at Old Glory Harley Davidson at 9:30 AM (301) 725-1335

May 16 - Lucy Hopkins Memorial Cancer Ride - Laurel, MD - meet at Old Glory Harley Davidson at 10:30 AM

May 23 - Biking in the Boro - Lineboro Volunteer Fire Department - 4224 Main Street, Lineboro, MD - meet at 9:00 AM - (410) 239-4670

Monday, April 13, 2009

Safety Tip: Avoiding Being Hit from Behind

On motorcycles we are vulnerable to being hit from behind while stopped in traffic. Last year, in a car I was hit from behind. The accident caused only minor damage to the car, and no injury to me, but I thought about what it would have been like if I had been on my bike. A simple collision from behind could be very serious on a motorcycle. As a rider you can take precautionary steps to help the driver behind you see you and reduce your risk of being hit from behind.

1) Watch your mirrors. Know if there is a vehicle following you too closely.
2) Brake early to let the driver behind you know that you will be slowing down.
3) Flash your brakelight to get the driver's attention.
4) When stopping in traffic, leave room to manuver out of the way if someone comes up behind you fast and can't stop.
5) Keep pace with traffic when road and weather conditions permit. Don't ride 40 mph on the freeway when all the other traffic is going 70 mph.
6) Get rid of tailgaters. Slow down and let them pass.
7) Keep your following distance safe so you don't have to stop suddenly.
8) Be aware of what is happening far in front of you. Anticipate when traffic might suddenly grind to a halt to avoid sudden braking.