Thoughts on Easy Rider, biker cinema, and riding and working on a vintage chopper.
What a crazy year with the bike thus far. I can't seem to take the girl out of the garage without having to wrench her. On the bright side, I spent about 3 hours on the road Saturday.
I had to run some tools out to the father of a friend this weekend. This seemed like the perfect excuse to get the bike out of the city for a while and get some real air pumping through my nostrils. When she first got out on the highway, I had her humming. The throttle responded beautifully and there seemed almost no limit to what she would do for me. Since I hadn't had an opportunity to really open her up yet this year, I decided to lay on the throttle pretty hard. I started passing everything in sight. This amazes most people. Harleys, especially choppers, have a bit of a reputation as lazy cruisers. While people may make fun of Sportsters as "Half a Harley" they forget that the Sportster represents the FAST half. Tom Gordon, the man primarily responsible for the original building of the bike, takes his Ironhead dragster to the track and obliterates the competition with his 1200cc super-machines. So I've got the old 1000cc engine. It still provides plenty of torque. Last year I wrapped some rubber around the rear end that can handle the supply. Put it all together in a stripped down, lightweight package and this thing can really move. For more about this, read about the principles of chopping in the Choppers
So I had just passed up a group of 4 guys on big twins when I feel something hit my ass followed by the feeling of hot liquid. I pull over to the center median (the closest one) and had my fears confirmed. Nothing too tragic, but the oil tank had shot the dipstick. While it doesn't happen often, it can happen. I killed the engine, put down the kick stand, and got off the bike. Standing there staring at the bike for a while, I wondered what the hell I should do. Traffic roared past me, drowning out most other sound. I had to vent some frustration and decided to let loose with a long string of explicatives, repeating some of them several times. The tension cleared from my mind and I knew what I had to do. In this way I found my self walking down the center median of a busy highway, four lanes of traffic to one side, a concrete barrier on the other. In order to get the bike anywhere, the bike needed that dipstick. My eyes started to scan the pavement, expecting to at most find crumpled remnants.
About a half a mile back from my bike, I met Bill. He pulled up on his Harley Road King on the other side of the concrete barrier and asked if I needed help. I explained the situation to him and he agreed to go ahead and turn around at the next exit to help me out. Just before he got back to me, I found the gasket to the dipstick. The rest of it seemed to have disappeared. The gasket would provide enough coverage to get me home. Bill came up behind me and offered to stick around to make certain I got things going. On the trek back to my chopper (Bill hadn't packed his passenger pad that day, but thanks for offering and looking) he told me a little about his old 1976 XLCH. For those of you who have checked out this site often, you know how much I love Ironhead Sportsters. Hearing about someone else having good times on these machines definitely brightens my day. Between that and finding the gasket, I felt pretty damn good. To Bill, thanks for sticking around and thanks for mentioning your old Ironhead to me.
Pulling back out on the highway, I figured I would take the next exit and head back home. Fortunately I had a bit of time until the next exit. During that part of the ride, I remembered that I had no vehicle at home to take me to a shop to get a replacement dipstick. On the other hand, if I continued on my intended journey, I would pass by a Harley dealership that I thought would probably carry what I needed. Off I went for further adventures. The dealership didn't have an exact replacement, but it had one with a temperature gauge on it. It cost 3 times as much as I would have paid for it at an aftermarket shop, but what can you do in a situation like that?
In conclusion, my bike has it's first ever gauge! No speedo, tach, odometer, oil pressure or anything like that, but I can tell you how hot my oil gets. Of course with the oil tank under the seat, I have to get off of the bike to read it. If I happened to have the bike running while sitting still, I could track my temperature and turn her off before she explodes.