December 9 2010 by Jason Fogelson
The truly mechanically inclined motorcyclists relish the winter, because that's when they can attack major projects. Top-end rebuilds, carburetor jet swaps, transmission overhauls, or even engine blueprinting might be on the agenda for December through March.
Not at my house. My mechanical abilities have been generously described as "basic," but I still find time for simple bike projects over the winter.
This winter, I'm working on ergonomics. A while ago, my trusty Sportster, "Manny," took a spill at the Harley dealership while undergoing a tire swap. The service manager was suitably embarrassed, and the dealership repaired all of the damage. Most of the damage was on the front end of my bike, and the original buckhorn bars were replaced by a set of pullback handlebars. I just can't get comfortable with these new handlebars, because the grips are parallel to the direction of travel, like a wheelbarrow, and I prefer a sportier angle, closer to perpendicular to the bike. So, I'm going to swap handlebars.
This project will be relatively simple, but I'll have a lot of decisions to make. I'll select a new bar from the Harley-Davidson Parts Catalog. Then, of course, I'll need to replace my handgrips and controls. And I'll need to upgrade to stainless steel brake lines. My simple project will require plenty of planning, measuring, ordering and dreaming. Then I'll scale it back to meet my limited budget, and hopefully, I'll have my bike put back together in time to ride again in the spring.
Another project that I try to engage in every winter is a major detail of one area of the bike that has always bothered me. You know what I mean -- there's always some part of your bike that you notice has collected dirt, or is starting to corrode, or just doesn't look as good as it could, but you put off taking care of it because it's out of the way, nobody else will notice, or it's just too much of a pain to get to. This year, I'm working on my spoke wheels. Spokes look great when they're polished. They still look okay when they've dulled down a bit. Mine look quite weathered, as I haven't given them enough attention in several seasons. I'll start off with the Harley-Davidson Wheel Care Kit, and see how far that gets me. My spokes should be looking good as new before April showers bring May flowers.
What plans do you have for your bike over the winter?