Easy Rider and Chopperguy

Thoughts on Easy Rider, biker cinema, and riding and working on a vintage chopper.

Sunday, May 26, 2002

What a wild weekend of events I have had. On Friday I finally got a temporary fix to the lighting issues that have plagued my chopper since we finished building it. It seems that the alternator conversion kit wants a battery, and I keep trying to come up with ways to circumvent it. At idle, the lights get full power. Crank the rpm's up to 1500 and the voltage drops to 8 volts. At 3000 rpm's output drops to 6 volts. Without a battery, the regulator notices no significant draw on the system, thinking it has a fully charged battery. So the lights dim considerably. We still have to try a battery eliminator to rectify the problem, but right now we can't get the part with it on back order. So we tried another little trick. We attached a condensor to trick the regulator into thinking the bike needs more juice. This has brought total output up to about 10 volts. Wile not quite the 12 volts the system requires, we have made a definite improvement. So I rode the bike home Friday evening and will stop back by the shop when they get the part in.

On Saturday I had plans with a photographer to get some shots of my friend's chopper and my own for an upcoming project. He couldn't get his '73 Ironhead chopper working so he brought his '75 Shovelhead bagger instead. We then followed the truck with the photographer in it to a shoot location by some big cement grain silos, hitting almost every manhole cover along the way. We took a few stills of just the bikes and some with my friend and I with the bikes. As we went to leave that location to check out an abandoned gas station, my front tire hit some railroad rails at an angle. One moment I felt the front tire start to slip on one of the rails. The next I found myself on the ground with my chopper on top of my leg. I killed the engine and crawled out from under the bike. My friend helped me put the old girl upright again and we started to assess the damage. I seemed fine so I looked over the bike. The chopper suffered very little damage. I bent the hell out of the forward control on the left side, rendering the rear brake useless (as though it had much use when set up properly as those of you with old style rear drum brakes no doubt know) and my mirror broke off. Ironically, the one part that seems to break off under normal riding conditions, suffered no damage despite supporting the weight of the back half of the bike. My side mount license bracket and light survived. Go figure. So with the bent forward control, the mirror, and the license bracket supporting the bike when it fell (at a speed of about 5 mph) no other damage occured to the bike. OK, my leg helped protect the bike, too. Bruises heal

I probably could have ridden the bike home, but decided to load it into the truck since we had it with. I then got to ride bitch for the frist time ever. I hopped onto the back of my friend's bagger and we headed home. If I can avoid it, I never want to ride as the passenger again. I had to constantly remind myself to keep my feet on the pegs when we stopped. My head raced with all of those things I always tell my passengers. Sit upright. Look into the turn. Assist the pilot by acting as his turn signals so he can keep his hands on the bars. (He may have a bagger, but he still doesn't have turn signals on it.)

We got the bike home, stored it in the garage, and now I have replacement parts on the way. I needed to spend an extra $4 to get a major break on shipping, so I added another Easy Rider poster into the deal. I should have parts on Tuesday. So I fixed the bike, put about ten miles on it, and now I get to do it again. My body may ache a little with my back taking some of the fall, but over all I feel pretty good. Sooner or later I figured I would take a fall. I got my first bike in 1993. I have managed to keep things upright until now. This fall occured at very slow speed. All things considered, I feel more enriched for having experienced this.

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