Archive for Road King Classic

Happy New year 2013!

Posted in 110th Anniversary, Harley-Davidson, HOG, Road King with tags , , on December 31, 2012 by bleiglass

Always a safe ride, may our path cross…



The sound of your pipes

Posted in Harley-Davidson with tags , on September 8, 2012 by bleiglass

Loud pipes save lives! I believe this strongly, and have written a couple of times on the subject, and I went as far as sewing a patch with these words on my cut. Like zillion other bikers I guess.

But loud pipes can also kill all fun we have, and I do not mean extremly loud pipes that give you a headache after some hours. No, the fun is killed by eager law enforcement officers, who – for whatever reason motivates them-, do what they are allowed to do, enforce a law some politicians drew up on their desk to please their electors in hope of reelection.

With european harmonisation, a concerted effort by Brussels to remove all elements of fun and risk from our lives, the laws harmonise to the smallest denominator, that is never a compromise, but goes right down to the strictest values of limits. And to remain “important” politicians, they periodically review these limits, and adjust them to even stricter values. Its a vicious circle.

Enough ranting, lets look at some facts…

There is no legal noise limit for motorcycles (plural), there are individual noise limits for each bike, which are different from bike to bike, from car to car, and they are written in the individual registartion documents. They are even glued as a stickler on to the frame of our Harleys for everybody (and the police) to see.

Check this out: my 2011 Sportser 883R can be as loud as 96dB(A) at 2,985rpm, while, my 2010 Road King Classic may only produce 86 dB(A). Knowing that a increase of 10dB is a doubling of volume, it remains a mistery to me why Harley registered my Road King with 86dB, while the Sportser can pass with 96. More worrying, the bikes of Chapter friends on other 96ci V2s show usually 93-94 dB, not my meager 86.

The 2011 Sportster 883R:


The 2010 Road King Classic:

I would appreciate if Harley-Davidson does us all a favour and homologises our bikes to the highest value possible, as this will make it much easier in our individual “negotiations” with law enforcement around. And it just does not make any sense that some 96ci engines are limited to 86 dB(A), while other can go up to 93-94 dB(A).

But the hard fact remains: if you create a noise louder then these levels printed on your bike or your papers, your bike does not comply with its registration document and has to be removed from the road.

There are 2 factors that can influence your future on the road:  a) can the actual noise your pipes make be accurately measured, and b): is the cop in front of you a nice cop.

Unfortunately, most often these 2 questions must be answered with NO. Noise measurement is more complex then speed measurement, and is therefore not exactly accurate. Some police in my home countries therefor take the average of 3 measurements, half a meter behind the bike at a 45 degree angle, and give you a allowance of 5dB(A). Then comes the nice cop bonus, though nice cops are rare cops. Remember, they stopped you for no good reason, just because they didn’t like your freedom. So you will most likely be considered too loud, your bike is not road legal anymore and has to be modified. Its all about the money…

Now be careful: if you disagree with the measurement, the friendly policeman will most likely agree with you, and remove your pipes as evidence for scientific testing in a laboratory with lots of white coat scientists. Remember, you just committed mass murder, bombed parliament and stole half the gold reserves of his country. Now you have no bike and no pipes and it all starts to be really expensive. My advise is trying to be a very nice biker to a hopefully nice cop, and agree on some compromise. Maybe you were in a group and others are louder, and he is happy with a couple of scalps for his belt only. In any case, try to keep your calm and agree of getting your bike towed to the next dealership for correction of the problem, best with its pipes still attached so they can be modified.

Be creative, but never run. Remember, you are most likely in a foreign country…

In a sea of yellow and orange, black will be the new Hi-Vis colour

Posted in Harley-Davidson with tags , , , , on September 14, 2011 by bleiglass

This evening, I rode past a serious accident on Nine Elms Lane/Ponton Road, when a motorcycle crashed head on into a ambulance. The ambulance had its blue lights flashing and was using the wrong lane in the expectation oncoming traffic would use the bus lane. I guess it was on its way to the nearby A&E of Guy’s and St. Thomas.

Maybe a bus blocked the view of the motorcycle, so he did not see the ambulance coming, but this whole tragic accident made me think about the value and benefit of hi-vis vests and day-glow colours.

Nothing is more highly visible then a big ambulance van painted in bright yellow, with flashing blue lights, and still this poor biker managed to crash into it.

Hi-Vis colours are clearly not a guarantee for accident free travel, but they can attract attention and increase visibility. However only if applied in moderation.

Let me speculate: maybe it was not a bus that blocked the view of the biker, but half a dozen bikers and cyclist wearing Hi-Vis vests, resulting the oncoming ambulance to fade into a blur of hi-vis yellow.

Yes, I am speculating, but I feel strongly that hi-vis colours should be used in special occasions only, and not by the general public. We are not allowed to ride with flashing blue or red lights, and we should reserve by law the Hi-Vis vest and colours for those traffic participants who are a obstacle to the normal vehicle movement, like road workers, rescue and security services and yes, the lollipop man.

Imagine in this picture dozens of biker and cyclist all wearing a high-vis vest, the lollipop man would suddenly become invisible.

Should all bikers be forced by law to wear hi-vis vests, I predict the number of accidents and death will increase, as traffic participants in special needs will not be recognised anymore. Health and Safety officials are wrong in assuming: more is better, as the real attention comes from measures that are “special”.

Hi-Vis vests have their advantages, but to neutralise their visibility by mass usage can be fatal. Let me summarise 3 simple rules I would recommend:

  1. bikers may choose to wear orange Hi-Vis vests, but only in special occasions like bad weather conditions (rain, fog) and outside large cities.
  2. cyclist shall only wear a optional green Hi-Vis vests to distinguish them from other road obstacles, like rescue service, road workers and the lollipop man.
  3. using a yellow Hi-Vis colours should be mandatory and reserved for rescue service and road workers, and other special obstacles, like the stationary car drivers after a defect on the hard shoulder.

Only by limiting the free usage of Hi-Vis vests will we be able to keep its benefits: alert traffic users to unexpected obstacles and dangers. And by assigned colours, you can easily recognise the potential speed at which they are moving. Orange for fast bikes, green for slow cyclists and yellow for immobile participants or special services “above the law”.

But in a sea of yellow and orange, black will soon become the new Hi-Vis colour.

Waiting for the 2013 CVO Road King Screaming Eagle Custom

Posted in Harley-Davidson with tags , , on September 12, 2011 by bleiglass

Sometimes local Harley-Davidson dealerships offer great ideas, and this weekend during their 2012 new bike launch, mine in Guildford offered me the opportunity to test ride a 2011 CVO Road Glide Ultra. More and more of my fellow Chapter Members call a “CVO” their own, and I was curious to better understand these 3 letters.

In a nutshell CVO means 2 things: a impressive high end 110 cubic inch Screaming Eagle engine, coupled with lots of chrome and accessories. This all does not come for free, but adding all shiny parts together, it’s a bargain, though a bargain at a very high level.

If you like fairings on a Harley-Davidson, the Road Glide is a Marmite option, you like it or hate the “Shark Nose” fairing bolted to the motorcycle frame, while the Electra Glide “Bat Wing” fairing is moving with the handlebar, bolted to the front fork.

As some of my readers may recall, I called a Honda Goldwing GL 1800 my own for 10 years before moving to the Harley-Davidson 2010 Road King Classic, and sitting on this Road Glide, I felt somewhat beamed back into a well known time. A time I tried to escape with the much more naked Road King.

A windscreen is not a fairing, and I must admit, as nice as they look, the 6 diamond cut gauges are useless to me, as I can not read them while riding. I wear prescription glasses that do not focus on such short distances. All I can see is the odometers big handle pointing to 10 or 1 o’clock, knowing that it means I am riding at 50 mph or too fast. Diamond cut sparkles are in this world of blurred recognition a further distraction, and if the Volt Meter shows 11 or 11.5 V becomes a very irrelevant information. No, fairings overloaded with gauges and switches, as nice as they may look to enthusiasts, are not yet my cup of tea again. Maybe in a couple of years, maybe decades, when the slightest of wind disturbances around the more simple windscreen become a physical challenge. Road King 1: Road Glide 0.

The Road King offers little protection for the legs, but on the Road Glide ride I for the first time realised the heat generated by the exhaust pipes many riders complain about. The reason must lie in the front crash bar mounted leg protectors, who dutifully channel away wind and rain from your legs, but they allow a hot furnace to slowly burn your right tight. Road King 2 : Road Glide 0.

The silky smooth 110 Screaming Eagle engine is a dream. Tough the demo bike just had done 130 miles in its short life, and I did not want to push it, this not yet run in engine easily showed its muscle, and it did not even have open pipes yet. Road King 2 : Road Glide 1.

And then there is the music system, able to transform every Glide into a bass thumping disco machine. Nice, sometimes, but not a must, as all these modern gadgets of mobile phones, BlackBerry’s and intercom, bike to bike CB and iPod connections are the modern tools and toys I just try to escape when riding my bike for pleasure, and I am happy to leave them at home or in the office, or, as we can not free us fully from the digital links to the world, keep them switched off during the ride in my saddlebags. Hand signs and light signals with my fellow riders did just fine during the last 20.000 miles. Road King 3 : Road Glide 1.

Thankful and with a smile I returned the fob of the 2011 CVO Road Glide, and after a few words Michael the salesman noted in his book: call Axel once they launch the 2013 CVO Road King – which last happened 5 yeras ago, in the 2008 line-up. This said, the 2012 CVO Road Glide Custom, without the “ultra” top box, really looks stunning…

The riding season starts – Goodwood we come

Posted in Harley-Davidson, HOG with tags , , , on March 24, 2011 by bleiglass

Time flies by, and I realised that I wrote until now just 2 blog entries in March. And next week its already April, a quarter of the year already gone by.

Horrible things happened in Japan, and as some of you may know, my wife is Japanese, and I lived in total 7 years in Japan, that’s nearly 15% of my life, and I enjoyed nearly every day.

Thank you all for your kind inquiries, parents and brother in law and their family are all fine, they live in the western part of Tokyo. Life did not yet return to normal, but how could it after such a devastating natural event. And the radioactive scare is not yet under control. All the best to my friends and family in Japan.

But these thoughts are for another forum, lets get back to the title this blog: our Harley-Davidson, my Road King Classic and the activities at Hogsback Chapter UK and beyond.

In the last 3 weeks, I participated in 4 rides, and reported to you none of them yet. Shame on me, specially as I like to show off my photo’s to a wide audience. So here we go, the season opener was a ride to Goodwood.

Here some selected pictures, at the end of this post you find as usual a link to the whole album to be viewed via Flickriver.

The Empress waiting for her first outing with new chrome and exhaust

Police checking out the bikers at Rykas

AMF, American Machinery and Foundry, lots of Harley history behind that name

Mike Hawthorn (1929-1959) and Lofty England (1922-1995)
Mike Hawthorn was the first British World champion in 1958

Guess who that is… 🙂

A italian car with beautiful eyes…

A italian car with ugly eyes…

A last look at Goodwood…

View the whole collection of 100 photos in high definition at Flickriver

Art Bleiglass - View my 'Goodwood March 2011' set on Flickriver

Vance & Hines performance exhaust on the Road King

Posted in Harley-Davidson with tags , , , , on February 20, 2011 by bleiglass

It is done, a decision was finally made, and the result can be seen as new header of this blog. Thank you all for your valuable advise, but ask 10 people about exhausts, and you get 12 answers. Still each comment was very helpful, as it focused on particular characteristics of exhaust options, which I then had to balance and prioritise for my final call.

In this post I want to address the points that made me make my choice, a choice not all of you may agree with, and I myself am still not sure it is the ultimate wisdom and right one. Only time and many more fumes through the mufflers will tell.

Wanting to save some money, and leaving some options open, I planed only to exchange the slip-on mufflers, and leave the stock header in place for the time being. But after last weekends video, during which I found out that the exhaust valve squeaks like a pig when it opens, I had enough of stock stuff and decided to replace the head pipes too.

It all boiled down to 3 choices: Stock or Dresser duals or Power duals:

And the Power duals won with a clear margin. MacDuff, before you unilaterally terminate without notice our friendship, let me explain the key factors:

Yes, the sound from true duals is more genuine, less distorted, but it is also more aggressive and loud. While true duals are closer to a strong sharp slap in the face, the Power duals with their cross over have a less aggressive pitch attack, and more mellow thump due to the mixing. These Pro and Cons are why they both got 4 out of 5 points in the sound field. I should have given to the stock mufflers with its castrating valve ZERO points.

Whoever I asked, whatever I read, there is a reduced low rev torque with true duals as compared to cross overs. The performance hierarchy is quite simple: 2:1, then 2:1:2 and then only 2:2. As our Harleys have from birth a oversized engines with undersized performances, I had to give the Power duals, and even the stock header, more points then the true duals. And this actually tipped the balance in favour for the Power Duals.

Looks – they all look good, but since I now have the Power Duals in combination with the Turn-Dow Slip-ons, the cross over X shield actually looks very nice, as it replicates the turn-down curve from the tip of the mufflers.

The choice of slip-on mufflers was much easier, although the mathematical results are closer. Its all in the looks. My head would have bought the Monster Ovals, they even come with a official EC emboss, they have a good deep legal thump, as compared to the Turn-downs. Writing this I must admit that I could not listen to the Turn-downs before the final decision, but what I got was what I expected, something very deep, but quiet loud, so I also ordered the optional quiet baffles, who are said to reduce the volume by 3-5db. I will only get them in a couple of weeks time, and by then I will have pushed enough fumes through the new muffles to be able to make up my mind, if I really need them or not.

No sound test yet on these, but here some more pictures, and a comparison of the old head pipes and the new Power Duals

And some more

My Road King squeaks like a pig

Posted in DIY, Harley-Davidson with tags , , , on February 13, 2011 by bleiglass

On my Road King, the “Active Exhaust” includes an actuator valve which closes during higher engine loads. The exhaust is closed during acceleration or going up a hill or any other time of “higher engine loads. The only reason I can think for this factory installed castration is to “meet noise regulations.”

It works, it kills the Harley sound. But worse, it squeaks like a pig when the valve opens again.

Check out this 44sec video, you can clearly hear how the deep rumble is put on mute and see the actuator valve working.

Time to change some parts and get rid of this actuator valve.

Do you know of any reason (except to please the law) why not to get a sawzall and cut off the stock exhaust system and to toss it in the closest dumpster?