Silly Handlebars Sport Glide

I PUT my bike in for service at Fraser Motorcycles and the Sales Manager suggested I should take a new Softail home for a day. The bike they gave me is a new Sport Glide Milwaukee-Eight with a S&S 475 cam fitted. The cam certainly adds a lot of personality to the engine. The new cam… does it encourage me to race it a bit more… tempt me to give it a little squirt every now and then? Of course I wouldn’t do that… it’s a loan bike… obviously I’ve been riding it very carefully…

This is my first time on the new Softail frame and I’m completely surprised at how well it handles; it is quite amazing. It should be given to anyone who says Harleys don’t handle. I mean, it is the Sport Glide with inverted front forks and fancy mono-shock on the back but the ride is truely spectacular.

The West Glide T-bars do make a bit of a sock of you at freeway speeds, and at low speed it’s a little cumbersome, but you know what, it’s such an amazing handling bike they don’t really take that much away from it.

If people want to put high handlebars on their bikes, that’s fine. Whatever floats your boat. But I really wish it had the pull-back bars and screen that comes with it standard because that would have been excellent.

These T-bars are a bit high for me… or maybe I’m just a bit short… but they do make you feel bar-arse; no doubt about it.

by Paul Angus

Skin by Finn

I’VE been in Coffs Harbour since about 1992; started Skin by Finn in 1999 when the kids were born and I wanted to be a bit more flexible; and I’ve been airbrushing from about 2002. Originally, I had a good mate, Ray Tolhurst, who did all the airbrush work and I was just doing the painting and the clear coat for him. Unfortunately, he died of an aneurysm and I sort of took over his work. Basically, I just learnt from trial and error.

I also do a lot of smash repair work and any sort of restoration work; and stickers and stuff, but airbrushing and custom work is what I’m known for.

words by Ken from Skin by Finn; 1/26 Lawson Crescent, Coffs Harbour NSW 2450.

Harley-Davidson Sportster S Road Test 2

AS I walked up the driveway to Harley-Davidson’s Sydney HQ, it was a beautiful sunny day; the magpies were warbling. Through the open roller-door, the scent of hot eucalypts gave way to the smell of petrol, oil and motorcycles. It was like entering Aladdin’s cave. There are shiny new motorcycles and there are shiny old motorcycles; there are motorcycles that never get ridden but spend their days being taken apart and reassembled. I was there to collect one of the shiny new motorcycles—the Harley-Davidson Sportster S. It would be mine for two whole weeks. 

I had already ridden the new Sportster S at the Australian launch several months ago but it was a very short, very wet ride. I wrote a short piece for Ozbike on the launch in which I spouted forth my impressions of the new Sportster S. I really liked the motorcycle. The one thing I didn’t like was that the handsome bobbed rear-end combined with the wide rear tyre sprayed water and grime up my back during the wet launch. I made the silly, sarcastic comment, “and anyway, why would you ride in the rain?” These words would come back to haunt me…

I left Harley-Davidson HQ on the new Sportster S and set off for a short ride home. As I rode over the Gladesville Bridge, with its epic view of Sydney as you crest the summit 45 metres above the Parramatta River, I thought, ‘Bugger it! Work can wait. Might as well go for a ride down to Coogee Beach.’ 

Far out to sea I noticed a thin black line but paid it no heed. 

I put the Sportster S in ‘Road’ mode which seemed to suit city riding better than ‘Sport’ mode. I love ‘Sport’ mode, but for a gentle cruise through the city, ‘Road’ is just a whole lot more relaxed. 

In any mode the new Revolution Max 1250 engine has bucket loads of easily accessible torque. The engine is the same one used in the Pan America but with a new top-end. This lowers the number of horses available, down from 150 to 120, but increases bottom-end and midrange torque. At least that is what Harley says and I have no reason to disbelieve them.

The new engine mixes brilliant ride-ability with supercar acceleration. 

The Revolution Max 1250 engine is night-and-day different from the old push-rod Evolution engine. In fact, it is a bang up-to-date modern engine complete with variable valve timing and a 9500 rpm redline. Harley-Davidson was never going to get the old Evolution motor up to compliance with ever tightening emissions regulations. There has been a lot of discussion on the interweb about the new engine’s lack of character compared to the old engine and this may well be true. However, the old Evolution Sportster could be humbled at the traffic lights by modern hot hatchbacks. 

The Sportster S is mated to a new six-speed gearbox which has some lovely usable ratios—second gear is perfect for town work; third will take you from suburban cut-and-thrust to well over the national speed limit. There is so much torque available low down that you can basically leave the bike in second gear around town. 

I have a little ride I like through the city on my way to the Eastern Suburbs. Once I get over the Anzac Bridge, I drop down into Pyrmont and follow the waterfront. This takes me through Barangaroo and Millers Point, under the Harbour Bridge, and then around the edge of the city to Oxford Street. Along the way are some really sweet corners including a particular roundabout where on my old Sportster Roadster would grind away at the exhaust pipes all day long. After two attempts, I did manage to get the footpeg on the new Sportster S to just kiss the road so I think it’s safe to say the the new model has a bit more ground clearance than the older models. 

It does require a little effort to get the Sportster S over, probably thanks to the really wide (160 section) front tyre. The same front tyre is also probably also responsible for some resistance to changing lines mid-corner, especially when the corner tightens up on you. I only mention these small details because the overall handling package is so good. You really can throw the new Sportster S around knowing it will go where you point it and keep itself pretty tidy doing so. 

The suspension is fully adjustable—the handy remote preload adjuster has about a million clicks of adjustment but there is only 37 mm of travel to play with at the rear. The fact Harley-Davidson can get it to work so well with so little travel is an engineering miracle. However, large bumps can upset the rear and various parts of the rider’s anatomy… or you can use the lovely handling to ride around them…

Cruising along New South Head Road in the afternoon sun, the Sportster S felt just right—you can move with the traffic; you can stay ahead of the traffic; you can be the chilled dude on the cruiser enjoying the view or you can be the angry man teaching the AMG drivers of the east a lesson. The thing is, the Sportster S is equally happy in both rolls, and all the ones in between. 

The fancy electronics package works its magic to make everything easy.

There is cornering ABS and lean sensitive traction control so if you do fall off it really is your fault. If you want a little more movement as you take off from the lights, just push the button to ‘Sport’ mode. Now the traction control waits just a little bit longer before bringing everything back under control, and the throttle is a bit more angry. That is probably another difference between the new Sportster S and the old Sportster. On the old model you had to learn to be a little less rushed, a little bit more laid back, a little bit Zen. On the new motorcycle there are no excuses.

The new Sportster S is an incredibly easy motorcycle to ride. 

Sometimes on a new motorcycle you need a whole day riding to get used to it but not this one. I am sure the low seat height (753 mm) and the low weight (228 kg) help, not to mention that beautiful smooth power delivery. Whatever it was, I was enjoying swinging through the bends of the road leading to South Head where the road runs along the top of the sea cliff before dropping down into Watsons Bay. On top of the cliff sits the old lighthouse looking out over the vast Pacific Ocean. On the other side of the road are the houses of the very rich, and beyond them, the blue waters of Sydney Harbour and the city itself. As I rode along this road I realised the thin black line I had seen from the Gladesville Bridge was, in fact, a huge storm-front charging towards Sydney and me. It still looked a way off and I was really enjoying the ride so I figured I would carry on to Coogee then haul arse back home.

The brakes seemed to be very unobtrusively doing their job. It was only as I came down into Glamarama that I really appreciated them. Peregrine (I do not know if that was his real name but I think it is a good bet) reversed out into the road totally blocking my path with two tonnes of shiny black Range Rover. I would like to say it was my cat-like reflexes, but really, I just grabbed the front brake lever and stood on the rear pedal as hard as I could. Luckily for me, the Harley-Davidson engineers have done a great job with the brakes. I lived to be able to explain to Peregrine that in order to see one needs to open one’s eyes. I mention this because there have been a few comments about why the Sportster S does not have a second front disc. I didn’t think at any time I needed more braking, but hey, if it had one, I wouldn’t take it off.

The rain started as I entered Coogee. Not gentle warm summer rain. Big fat tropical rain. Rain that filled the gutters and ran in torrents across the road. Within a couple of minutes I was soaked to the skin. Particularly annoying was the way the rear tyre threw the water up my back and injected it into the base of my helmet. I thought about waiting out the storm in the nearest pub but I was already drenched so I decided to head for home. Visibility was terrible and the tin-tops were doing their usual sheep impersonations. The Sportster S battled on valiantly. I was very pleased to have the ABS and traction control. The rear kept spinning in the appalling conditions and, in my focus to get home, I forgot to put the bike in ‘Rain’ mode. It didn’t matter as the Sportster S dealt with everything nature could throw at it. Strangely, the ride became totally absorbing as I literally battled nature to get home. 

Obviously I made it home. I am still annoyed at the bobbed rear fender, although it does look good. After my ride though the storm across Sydney, I had a whole lot more respect for the Sportster S. It is a brilliant fair weather cruiser. It will also get you home safely in a storm. 

Over the next two weeks I had the Sportster S, it basically just rained. Pretty much everyday. Pretty much all day. I managed a quick midweek run up the old Pacific Highway when it was dry which was sensational. The way the Sportster S comes out of corners is truly addictive. The series of uphill corners just south of the Brooklyn turn off were sensational on the new Sportster S—it is seriously suited for roads like this. 

Before heading back to Sydney I stopped for petrol. Which you will do quite often if you ride a lot in ‘Sport’ mode. The tank holds just under 12 litres but the four-inch round TFT screen gives you plenty of warning before you run out. I really liked the TFT display. It is easy to read and very informative. It can even tell you your tyre pressures.

Despite the biblical amounts of rain I really enjoyed my time with the Harley-Davidson Sportster S. As usual I showed it to as many people as possible and sought their opinions. Pretty much everyone liked the look of the motorcycle, both riders and non-riders. In the flesh the Sportster S really does have a strong sense of purpose and a real presence. 

Harley-Davidson is obviously going to use the new Revolution Max engine in a whole series of new motorcycles. This engine is going to open up many new markets as it has already done with the Pan America. They have even designed the engine so that it becomes an integral part of the frame. All they need to do is change the small front and rear subframes and voila, new model. 

Some will mourn the passing of the old air-cooled engine that can trace its lineage all the way back to the 1957 Ironhead. The old Evolution engine did hold a lot of charm for many people myself included. You can still buy an air/oil cooled engined Harley-Davidson—and both the Softail Standard and the Street Bob cost less than the Sportster S. However, if it’s performance you are after, neither will keep up with the new Sportster S (unless you spend a lot of money on them).

As usual, the only way to truly find out what the new Sportster S is really like is to take one for a spin. All the Harley-Dealers dealers have a demo model they will be more than happy for you to take for a test ride. Just be warned, it may well lead to ownership…

article by Paul Angus

Mobility Marvel Trike

BACK IN November of 2009, Tim O’Loughlin was happily doing his thing as a reputable property maintenance man when the unthinkable happened—while surveying a customer’s roofing needs to prepare a quote, he slipped and fell from the roof and suffered some debilitating injuries in the process.

“I fell off the roof while working with my franchise, a gutter cleaning business (it was the then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s house). I suffered a complete T10 vertebrae injury and completely crushed my spinal cord at this level. This left me paralysed from the waist down.

“A couple of years later I saw an advert for a ‘wheelchair accessible trike’ in a spinal injuries magazine. I already had a licence to drive a car with hand controls, but this sounded like an interesting idea, so my brother and I went to see it… and after the first ride I was sold. I purchased the trike and it changed my life. Freedom and independence are the two words that describe it best. It is a lot of fun to get around on besides being extremely practical.”

Tim had never ridden a motorcycle of any description before the accident but found that the trike offered him a new-found feeling of freedom.

“After riding it around for a while, I was amazed at the amount of interest the trike generated. People had never seen anything like it, and so many of them had relatives or friends who they believed would love to own one.

“So I did some research on the internet and found out that the company that made mine did not make them anymore, and I could only find one other site that made larger trikes down in Sydney, and I found out that he was selling his business. He wasn’t selling because of lack of demand, it was the very opposite, he couldn’t keep up with demand from not only Australia but overseas as well.”

“So what started out as just a mission to find someone I could refer all these interested people to, became a decision on whether we should take this issue on ourselves and buy the business.

“My brother Peter, our brother-in-law Eric, and I, decided we would buy it! We knew how important these trikes were and if we didn’t do it, the whole idea might never take off. We also purchased a 650 cc trike that was available at the time.”

The new trike was somewhat of a prototype, and Tim, his brothers Peter and Mick, and Eric, have been fine tuning and adding many mods to make the trike more user-friendly for future customers. Not only that, but it looks so cool, it would give Batman a twinge in the nether regions.

“When the first units hit the road, it will be a truly inspirational moment to we see the faces of these people as they ride off knowing, as we do, how much their lives will immediately be changed for the better.”

A very honourable concept to not only kick off a fledgling Aussie owned business but to provide a wicked alternative to the usual style of mobility scooter, etc. You can contact the man at the helm: Tim O’Loughlin:

Report by Chuck U Farley

Harley-Davidson University in Australia

NOW I’ve been to Sydney University, a vast, sprawling centre of knowledge. Old, worldly, sandstone statues, etc. However, I’ve heard of the Harley-Davidson University (HDU) and thought, well, that’s obviously in the USA. A bit of research tells me HDU occupies the old distribution centre at H-D HQ in Milwaukee and has been in existence since 1917, almost as long as the company itself.

William S Harley graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. Willie G Davidson also graduated from the University of Wisconsin. Erik Buell attained his degree in Engineering in Pittsburgh. So it’s only fair that technicians should also graduate from Harley-Davidson’s own university.

In 1917 the military placed an order for 20,000 motorcycles, and in order for servicemen to service and maintain the vehicles in the field, they would need to be trained on the technical aspects. A smaller group of nine corporals were selected to go through what was the Quartermasters course. Various other organisations, mostly police forces who took delivery of their vehicles, were also enrolled for courses on servicing and advanced riding techniques and parade riding. The technical and mechanical side of the university was doing well in training. The sales and marketing people were to follow, learning how to sell vehicles to customers and keep them coming back. Early days of corporatisation.

Fast forward to today and HDU has 25 full-time staff and 20 contractors, partner schools teaching 8000 students annually in six locations across the USA. As well as 300,000 courses conducted online in various languages since 2001.

So here we are at Ground Zero. 

Now I find myself in Sydney’s leafy Lane Cove, home to more IT companies than motorcycles. H-D Australia’s headquarters is striking in its appearance and location, surrounded by bushland as well as being close to the city. I enter through a side door and into a state-of-the-art workshop with words boldly displaying ‘Harley-Davidson University’.

For a while I felt like a Harley technician myself. It reminded me of TAFE and apprenticeships. Back in my memory, teachers of grey coats with pens, pencils and French chalk and steel rulers in their top pockets, going from bench to bench, checking your work. But this is today, not the 70’s and 80’s. Today’s class was not making car stands.

This class was delving into the complete workings of the advanced audio systems of the Harmon Kardon radio, Bluetooth, GPS, infotainment, satellite, iPod, iPhone, audio microphone from a Harley’s main wiring harness. 

This was followed by a theory and practical exam of 40 minutes allowing for only four questions wrong. If you failed, you would sit the whole class again. If you were from interstate, that would mean a big headache. So pay attention. 

The syllabus is worldwide and going up the ladder to achieve rock star status in your own workshop is what it’s all about. Not only are you revered by your peers, you deliver faultless customer service. It also allows the humble mechanic to become part of a worldwide family. Travelling the world with these skills is a great way to meet people and broaden your career and the cultural exchange is an added bonus.

Next time you’re getting your bike serviced at a Harley-Davidson dealership, you know these guys take their profession seriously enough to go to university. Congratulations to all who completed the course.

Article submitted by Dale Wahren

Taverner Motorsports in Brisbane

TAVERNER MOTORSPORTS really started back in 1970 when Paul Taverner began his apprenticeship in a little town in country NSW that most motoring enthusiasts have heard of, that notorious hub of motor racing, Bathurst. His first bike was a BSA, but in 1973, he bought a brand new 750 fastback Norton and fell in love with them forever. During this time, he began to do repairs on friends’ bikes. It wasn’t long before these odd jobs turned into rebuilding engines and making modifications, and the work began to extend beyond his acquaintances’ machines to include many of the motorcycles in town. One day, his mother came into his bedroom and was greeted with the sight of no less than six Nortons, so that was the end of that.

In 1977 Paul Taverner and his friend Paul Braywhite opened a workshop in Bathurst named Streetbike which quickly carved a niche for themselves in the market. Unfortunately, Paul Braywhite died due to a motorcycle accident in 1979 which led to the demise of Streetbike and Paul moving north to Queensland.

In 1988 Paul was involved in an industrial accident (courtesy of a finger-hungry drill-press) which left him unable to work for two years and still gives him problems to this day.

In 1990 he was employed by Brett Stephens at American Bikes in Brisbane as the first Crew Chief for the Nitro Harley then sponsored by Jack Daniels.

Meanwhile, Paul had begun taking his own street bike to Brisbane’s Lakeside track and Willowbank Raceway. This was a Genny Shovel, the first incarnation of the motorcycle he presently races. At that time he ran it as a standard 1969 Shovelhead and achieved a best end time (BET) of 13.1 on the ¼ mile.

Paul’s accident in 1988 prevented him being able to keep up with the workload at American Bikes, so he left his employment in the mid ’90s, but soon found himself doing repairs, rebuilds and modifications on motorcycles from home. His clientele was varied, from wicked street Harleys and choppers to fully restored British motorcycles. During this time, he became involved in classic racing, namely a 1959 500 twin Norton which in its best year came away with 18 trophies from 22 starts, including a 1st at Phillip Island.

Paul’s sons, Joseph, born in 1981, and Mark, born in 1984, were both keen from the time they could walk to ride motorbikes and pull engines apart. By 2001, both Mark and Joseph had finished school and, with the backyard being full of motorcycles their father was in various stages of fixing, the three of them decided they should open a shop together and Taverner Motorcycles was born.

The shop has slowly but steadily been gathering a solid client base. The varieties of the jobs they handle include not only repairs and modifications but also concourse restorations, wide-arse choppers, sleepers, and performance engine builds. Of course, classic British motorcycles have always been part of their repertoire.

The Taverner Motorsports drag racing team was created due to a shared love of racing among family and friends. Presently, the line up consists of Paul Taverner on his 1954 Pan-Shovel which races in both Nostalgic and Screamin’ Eagle classes with a BET of 11.7; Joseph Taverner on his JIMS 120 cube 1991 FXR whose BET is 11.1 (this bike is currently having the engine re-built in order to participate in ANDRA’s new Supertwin Class); Mark Taverner on his 2005 V-Rod with a BET 11.4 (at present the bike is on a diet and runs with slicks, wheelie bars and NOS in preparation for its debut in the Modified Bike this year); and Chris Feriouru on his custom V-Rod with a BET of 11.5 in the Screamin’ Eagle class.

Taverner Motorsports offers a wide range of services and, put simply, they can turn your ideas into fact. Anything from fixing your brakes to modifying stock motors, to building you your dream bike from scratch, they can handle the job. They are happy to help you plan your modifications and total rebuilds to suit your budget. For them, it is about making their customers’ bikes more user-friendly while increasing the performance of the machine to ensure total riding satisfaction. To find out how Taverner Motorsports visit the website:

words by Sarah Taverner; pics by Jo

Airbrushing Made Easy: Part Two

WE WERE all given a silver V-Rod tank cover when we arrived at Stuart’s studio for our second lesson. We placed stencils made of masking vinyl on our tanks in the positions of our choice, then we painted skull scenes on the lower half of the tanks. This looked good enough already but we weren’t finished yet. 

We painted the tops black, then took all the tanks into the spray booth and sprayed candy over the skulls. Now they looked amazing but we weren’t finished yet.

The tanks took about 15 minutes to dry then Stuart showed us how to airbrush realistic fire on top. This is achieved by spraying red, then candy, then orange and candy, then yellow, and finally candy again, into a flame pattern. Now our tanks looked fat as we cleared them in the spray booth. The V-Rod tanks were finished and they looked totally awesome.

Lesson 2 was fantastic, and the look on our faces says it all — we were amazed how good our tanks looked.

Stuart gives you a achievement award at the end of each completed lesson but the best part is obviously the fact that I can now airbrush. Stuart’s courses are great for the learner to advanced and I bet he can teach anybody to airbrush. I would totally recommend this course and Stuart’s airbrushing services to anyone. Thanks Stuart.

Stay cool — Skafty.

What you’ll learn at the Airbrush School

Airbrush Control: Learn the basics of controlling your airbrush and you will be on your way to mastering freehand work. Discover simple techniques that are the basic fundamentals of every artwork you will create. 

Using Shields and Templates: Learn how to create a quick and easy airbrushed scene from scratch in a matter of minutes. With this info your buddies will be envious and wonder how you became so talented in such a short period of time.

Masking: Discover how to use masking to your advantage. Tips and tricks to make your job easier and much quicker.

Learning about your tools: What’s available and where to get it. I explain different types of airbrushes and their uses. 

Cleaning and Maintenance of your Equipment: I show you how to take good care of your equipment to ensure long life and smooth performance. Poor maintenance is the number one reason most people fail and give up.

Materials and their uses: What paints are used for each surface and where to find them. Masking materials and their uses. Surfaces and their preparation. 

My Advanced Killer Custom Painting & Airbrushing Techniques Course includes all of my secrets on how to create a multi layered paint job using ONLY one set of masking. I will take you through a step by step process on how to apply a two tone paint job, divided by an intricate beveled tribal graphic that weaves through itself. 

You will also learn how to paint some of the hottest flames around: realistic fire. 

Then to top it all off, I will show you all my secrets on how to paint those wicked looking skulls finished off with a cool candy overlay. 

All this will be applied to a Harley-Davidson V-Rod tank cover. Finished off with a clear coat it will be all yours to take home. You will have all of your friends in disbelief!

Make sure you check out Part One of Airbrushing Made Easy.

Harley-Davidson Pinion Gear Replacements

THE PINION gear is the small gear on the right-hand end of the crankshaft which drives the camshaft. It has exactly half the number of teeth as the camshaft drive gear so that the camshaft turns at half crankshaft speed.

As the pinion gear drives the camshaft, it needs to be indexed to the crankshaft so that the cam timing can be accurately set. Earlier pinion gears were fitted to splines on the pinion shaft with a master spline used to determine correct location. Later gears were fitted to a taper and indexing was achieved with a woodruff key.

Although it is not common knowledge, pinion gears are available in different diameters so that engine builders can fine tune the lash between the gears. This is not generally necessary with engines that are rebuilt using all the original timing gears as these parts were well matched at the factory.

The most common time to check for the precise meshing of the timing gears is when a new camshaft is installed. Most high performance cams come with a cam drive gear already installed which may vary slightly in diameter from the original H-D gear. If there is excessive gear lash with the new cam installed, it may require a slightly larger pinion gear to take up the clearance. In the unlikely event that the new cam is too tight, and there is no detectable lash, it may require a smaller pinion gear.

Alternatively, reputable cam grinders such as Andrews Products offer both oversize and undersize cam drive gears for all their camshafts to overcome various fitting problems.

Andrews Products also sell gauge pins for accurately comparing diameters of gears. These pins sit in-between the teeth of the gear and can be held in place with a rubber band, the diameter can then be determined with a measurement taken across these pins. This measurement is used to select either a larger or smaller pinion gear by comparison. In other words, it isn’t the actual diameter of the gear that matters but rather whether it is larger or smaller than the troublesome gear.

Measuring the pinion gear diameter.

Removing a pinion gear.

The three different styles of pinion gears offered by S&S for the Big Twin single cam engines. Most of these gears are now obsolete from Harley. Fortunately, all these gears in their colour coded sizes are available through Redgrave Motorcycles for engine builders setting perfect gear lash, or restorers of older engines looking to replace a badly damaged gear or one that might be missing altogether. The pinion gear on the left is to suit engines from late 1977 through to 1989; the gear in the centre covers 1954 through to early 1977; and the splined gear on the right will fit all Knuckleheads and pre 1954 Panheads. Note, some very early Knuckleheads may require a pinion shaft upgrade to accommodate the separate pinion shaft.

Pinion Gear on 1916 Harley-Davidson. The pinion gear setup in its most basic form, driving the camshaft on this early single cylinder engine.

Pinion gear installed in an early generator Shovelhead. In this case a Brown 33-4127 1954-1977 gear was required to give correct meshing.

Unfortunately, good pinion gears for early engines are scarce, but occasionally some little gem comes to the surface such as this brand new (still in the original wrapping) pinion gear to suit 1937 and up WL series engines.

The replacement pinion gears featured in this article are produced by S&S Cycle and are available in all the oversizes and undersizes that were offered by Harley. They also carry the same colour coding used by Harley-Davidson. Engines covered by this range of gears include Knuckleheads, Panheads, Shovelheads and the early Evolutions.

Redgrave Motorcycles stocks the full lineup of these gears and are happy to help with any related problems. Call for more info: 02-9484-9955.

Article compiled by Richard Nicholls at Redgrave Motorcycles.

Skull Art

HELLO to all at Ozbike — I noticed you guys and your readers seem to like images of skulls so I have sent in some from the series I’m doing as fan art.

The skull on the scroll is a work-in-progress; the skull and crossed muskets is a finished work; both are freehand drawings.

I’m a self-taught artist just trying to make my way in the world, not trying to muscle in on anyone’s artistic turf, just saying hi.

I love the features on the different bikes and all that goes into making them. I’m a fan of choppers and one day hope to own one of my own; still working on that at the moment.

Anyway, hope you like the images.


Harley-Davidson Timed Breathing Explained

HARLEY engines (excluding early engines with total loss oil systems) manufactured up until 1999 used some form of timed breathing to scavenge oil from the crankcase and deliver it to the vicinity of the return oil pump so that it could be sent back to the oil tank.

Timed breathing was introduced on the first Knuckleheads in 1936 and remained fundamentally unchanged on OHV Big Twins through to the end of production of the Evolution engines in 1999. Sidevalve engines and Sportsters used a similar system in as much as a breather opened and closed in relation to the position of the pistons in the cylinders.

With timed breathing, as the pistons travel down the bore, a rotary breather valve starts to open and the pressure created under the pistons pushes the oil-air through the open breather valve window into the cam chest and pickup area for the scavenge pump. When the pistons commence their trip back up the cylinders, the breather valve closes and a vacuum is created which sucks oil from the crankcase into the breather cavity. As the engine continues to rotate, the suck and blow cycle continues.

The vacuum created in the breather valve by the up-stroke of the pistons has also been used for other scavenging operations. Knuckleheads use this vacuum to return top-end oil and early Electra Glides relied on vacuum to retrieve engine oil from the primary chaincase where it was used to lubricate the primary chain.

At the left side of this crankcase you can see the window leading into the timing chest.

When the opening in the rotary breather valve lines up with the window, a passage is formed and oil-air is forced out of the crankcase cavity by the pressure under the pistons travelling down their bores. In this photo the breather valve is just starting to open. The rotary breather valve makes one full revolution for every revolution of the engine.

When building engines for racing and high performance applications, the breather window in the crankcase can be opened up somewhat with a resulting increase in horsepower and scavenging efficiency. This is a very exacting job and the precise opening and closing times of the breather valve needs to be calculated in crankshaft degrees.

Traditionally, the breather valves were machined from steel with a ground finish on the outside diameter. These gave very little trouble, and unless foreign material from an engine failure tried to get through, they would last forever.

In late 1977 Harley replaced these steel breather valves with a moulded plastic or nylon version. These were not as durable and premature wear in the breather valve bore was common. A steel breather valve in these engines is a very worthwhile update.

A period repair. This breather valve bore had been damaged and repaired with a bronze sleeve. This same repair can now be accomplished with an oversized breather valve produced by S&S. The S&S breather valves are available in standard and oversize diameter for all models 1936 through to 1999. Although this crankcase has been glass-bead blasted and is very dusty, the various passages that line up with their respective holes in the rotary breather valve can be easily seen.

Sidevalve breather valve

Sportster breather valve

Knucklehead breather valve

Evolution breather valve

Picture Page 67-69 lower left hand corner S&S catalogue

For 1993 through to 1999 Big Twin engines, S&S has devised an alternative to the gear-driven breather valve in the form of a reed valve. This clever gadget fits in the existing breather valve bore and does not rotate although it still uses the same window. The end result is much the same but is achieved in a slightly different manner.

As with the timed breather, the pistons travel downward in the cylinders and the pressure in the crankcases increases. This pressure causes the reeds to open, allowing the air and oil mist in the crankcase to escape into the cam chest. When the pistons change direction and begin travelling back up the cylinders, a vacuum is created in the crankcase which causes the reeds to close, preventing air from entering the crankcase. The effect is that a slight vacuum is maintained in the crankcase and oil scavenging is greatly improved. These reed valves are also available in oversize for damaged crankcases.

A full range of S&S breather valves and related parts are available from Redgrave Motorcycles at all times. Call for more details. Redgrave Motorcycles: 02-9484-9955.

Harley-Davidson Carburetor Overhaul Kits

JAMES GASKETS manufacture all the gaskets and seals required to service the Linkert, Bendix and Keihin carburetors fitted as original equipment to Harley-Davidson motorcycles from 1936 through to 2006 when the carburetors were finally phased out.

We have chosen a carburetor from either end of this 60-plus year spectrum which we will completely overhaul using the James gasket kit for the specific carb selected. Any hardware required to bring this carb back to as-new condition will be selected from the Colony inventory held at Redgrave Motorcycles.

A Linkert was chosen as a good all-round example of the early carburetors. Linkerts were fitted to all H-D 80”, 74”, 61” and 45” engines up until 1965. The earliest application for these carburetors appears to around 1930; up until then Harley was using Schebler carburetors which were very similar to the early Linkerts. We will concentrate on the Linkerts produced from 1936 onwards and in particular the M74B fitted to FLs and FLHs from late 1951 until 1965.

The carburetor is the plain tube type with a venturi and a discharge nozzle which draws fuel from the float bowl. This is metered by two jets, one for low speed and one for high speed.

The extreme simplicity of the Linkert is obvious in this exploded view of a typical Linkert.

These are all the pieces supplied in the various James Gaskets carburetor kits. The gaskets and seals are of the very best quality and are suitable for today’s fuel.

New needle and seat with correct washer ready to be installed. The thickness of the washer used to seal the seat against the floatbowl is very critical as it affects the height of the seat in relation to the rim of the float bowl.

The fuel filter will have a new Colony strainer added to complete this section of the carb.

If necessary complete fuel filters are available from Colony and stocked by Redgrave Motorcycles in three versions for accurate restorations of the various year groups.

The new float bowl gasket in place. At this stage the carb is going back together after being completely dismantled and cleaned. Throttle shaft bushings have been replaced and sized.

With the venturi, main nozzle and retaining spring back in place, and float correctly adjusted, the float bowl can be installed with the new copper washer furnished with the James kit and a new Colony float bowl nut.

If the venturi is damaged or there is some doubt as to whether it is the correct venturi for your project carburetor, Redgrave Motorcycles has a full range of new venturis for all popular Linkerts.

Generally the float bowls will need to be left slightly loose to gain optimum alignment with the fuel line after the carb is tightened up to the inlet manifold, The float bowl nut can then be snugged up. This particular model has two small dowels that locate the needle and seat section of the bowl in the centre of the carb body. The fuel filter will need to lined up with the rigid fuel pipe before it can be tightened for keeps.

The completed carby ready to be installed with some Colony hardware.

Starting in 1948 Harley-Davidson furnished an insulator block with the Linkert carbs. This is the reason for the second four-bolt manifold gasket supplied in the kit, one either side of the block. The inclusion of the insulator block and the second gasket meant longer screws were required. These hex-headed screws come with a slot as well and can be run up with a screwdriver then tightened with a 7/16” socket. These special screws are available from Colony.

Correct air cleaner screws and a fresh set of lock-plates are another Colony specialty and will be used to hold the original air cleaner in place.

First fitted in 1990, the CV carbs are the last style of carburetor to be fitted to Harley-Davidson motorcycles. These are a particularly good carburetor and are much sort after by owners of earlier models.

The CV carburetor is a constant velocity style with gravity feed and a float operated inlet valve and features a variable venturi. Rather than a choke like the Linkert, the CV has a fuel enrichment circuit for starting

After washing and inspecting, the carburetor can be reassembled with the components from the James Gaskets #27006-88 carburetor kit.

The new needle, which comes in the kit, can be dropped into position and the float can be slipped into place and accurately adjusted.

Adjusting the float level. With the carburetor body held at an angle between 15 and 20 degrees to a horizontal surface, the setting should be 0.413”—0.453” from the float top the float bowl surface.

Diagram : Page 4-17 ‘91 and ’92 Softail service manual.

Exploded view of the CV carby.

The float bowl can now be installed as soon as the new moulded seal is pressed into its retaining groove.

A new diaphragm, spring and boot for the activating rod, as well as two small O-rings, are required for the accelerator pump.

The diaphragm for the vacuum piston is not included with the overhaul kit and if damaged must be bought Genuine. This one was in perfect condition and was simply cleaned and reinstalled with the piston/slide spring and needle assembly.

This completes the service of the Keihin CV carburetor, a very straight forward procedure with no machining required, just a thorough cleaning, some minor adjustments and careful assembly using the quality components from the James Gaskets kit.

If you’d like more info on James or Colony products, call Richard at Redgrave Motorcycles: 02-9484-9900.

Royal Enfield Continental GT Road Test

IN THE INTERESTS of good journalism, I should declare my personal bias. There is a special place in my heart for single cylinder motorcycles. I love twins. I don’t even mind triples and fours. In fact, if it’s got two wheels and an engine, I’m usually pretty happy. I don’t know what it is about single cylinder motorcycles, though, whether it’s the pop-pop-pop soundtrack or the inherent simplicity that I find so endearing; maybe it’s both. Singles are also usually light, torquey and a whole lot of fun to ride down a twisty road.

I told Skol (Ozbike Publisher) I’d pick up the Royal Enfield Continental GT and be at the office by mid-morning. It’s already mid-morning and I’m just arriving at Royal Enfield’s Sydney store on Parramatta Road. Never mind, I’ll just grab the bike and haul arse.

“Morning,” says Will Keith who runs the place. “Do you fancy having a go on a couple of other Enfields before you take the Conti?” 

What could I do? Skol’s waiting for me and I’m already late.

“Sure, I’d love to take them for a spin.”

After all, I’m supposed to be a professional motorcycle journalist!

Finally, I rock up at the Ozbike office and by now it’s well after midday.

“You’re buying lunch,” grunts Skol, and with that we’re heading east, Skol and his dog in his Harley outfit and me on the Royal Enfield Continental GT (still liking that name). As we rip through the Cross City Tunnel with the bike’s exhausts reverberating off the concrete walls, it’s hard not to smile at one of life’s small pleasures.

As we emerge from the Tunnel into the bright sunlight of a Sydney spring day, a dark thought crosses my mind. We’re heading into Sydney’s wealthy Eastern Suburbs, an area not famous for its cheap lunches and I’m supposed to be paying! While I’m worrying about opening my wallet, Skol turns off the road and heads off across what appears to be a grass paddock. We pull up outside an old timber shed, on the side of the Harbour, where people are sitting around drinking while someone cooks very tasty looking snags on a big old BBQ. The view across the sparkling waters of Sydney Harbour to the city is sensational. Unbelievably, when it comes to paying for lunch for both of us, I get change from $10—no wonder it’s called the lucky country.

Before we leave, we take a few shots of the Royal Enfield Continental GT against a back-drop of yachts. The bike looks pretty good; all that polished alloy glinting in the Sydney sun.

Looking over the bike you notice there are no fancy fasteners; it’s all good old-fashioned nuts and bolts with ample clearance around them. You could probably service this thing with its own tool kit. A kit that contains a pair of tyre levers (when did you last see those in a new bike’s tool kit?)

Skol decides his dog needs a swim so we head around to Watsons Bay where there happens to be a pub conveniently located next to the beach.

Riding through the tight winding backstreets past the big houses of Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs, the Royal Enfield Continental GT is a bit of a revelation—the suspension deals with the pot-holes and ripples of the road without a worry; the 18-inch Excel-rimmed wheels shod in sticky Pirelli rubber and the Harris-designed chassis keep everything stable and going where it’s pointed.

Despite being a café racer, it’s a pretty comfortable ride. The clip-ons are mounted above the top triple clamp and the rear-sets aren’t too rear-set.

I should mention at this point that the front Brembo brake works really well—thanks very much to the tool driving the black Range Rover (who would have thought you’d see one of those in the Eastern Suburbs?) for testing my emergency braking technique.

There’s a lot of fuss at the moment in Sydney about dogs in hotels. Apparently they’re unhygienic and dangerous. If that’s the reason they should probably ban beer too. I’ve seen people do some pretty unhygienic and dangerous things after drinking that stuff. I only mention this because we’d been rehydrating at the Watson’s Bay Hotel for a while before I realised Skol’s dog was sitting under the table. Skol didn’t seem to care and neither did any of the people around us so I didn’t bother notifying the relevant authorities.

The dog had a swim in the crystal clear water and then it was time to cut through the Sydney afternoon traffic to pick up my youngest from school.

The Royal Enfield Continental GT has no drama slipping through the banked-up inner city traffic. There’s not much heat coming off the EFI 535 cc motor and it’s narrow enough to slip through most gaps. In fact, the only drama I experienced on my first day with the Royal Enfield was when I pulled up at the school. No pillion seat. You can buy one as a genuine accessory from Royal Enfield for the sum of $290 including pillion foot pegs, which seems very reasonable. The test bike didn’t come with this optional extra so the youngest had to walk home.

Next day Skol decided we should go for a run up the Bells Line of Road to the Jenolan Caves. I knew it was going to be a ‘spirited’ run when I arrived at the office and he was sitting on the 1200 cc Sportster; looks like the dog would be staying at home.

We rode past all the outlets offering massive savings, then further out of town past all the churches offering saving of a very different kind. We rode past the RAAF base with its seemingly ever-circling Hercules, through Richmond, and on up into the Blue Mountains. I know the surface has deteriorated and they’ve sign-posted the road at 80 km/h, but the Bells Line of Road is still a very special piece of tarmac. All those corners, the views, the corners, the fresh air, the corners, and finally… the corners.

You can cruise along in top gear on the Royal Enfield Continental GT making use of the low down torque, throwing it around the corners knowing the ground clearance and Brembo brakes will get you out of trouble. It isn’t a fast motorcycle, it doesn’t make masses of horsepower, but it is relatively light, stable and comfortable. The joy in riding bikes like the Royal Enfield Continental GT is that you don’t need to be seriously breaking the speed limit to have a good time. It’s engaging in a whole different way—you have to enter the corner with plenty of speed and trust the chassis and the tyres to get you out the other side.

Out in the fresh air and sunshine of the Blue Mountains, chasing Skol who was riding a bike making three times the power of the Royal Enfield Continental GT, I had a ball.

We didn’t make it to the Jenolan Caves. I’m going to blame the Sporty’s fuel-tank range; it had nothing to do with the fact we found a pub on the way.

On the way back, I rode the wheels off the Royal Enfield Continental GT managing to keep ahead of Skol until the road straightened out and the Sportster’s horsepower advantage couldn’t be overcome. That night I slept well.

The next day I needed to slip up to the Central Coast to do a favour for a mate. I thought I’d take the motorway to see how the Royal Enfield Continental GT coped with it. Start pushing the speed limit and the vibrations get a little annoying but never terminal. Ease it back a little and you could cruise all day. Sure, you get wind blast but the riding position is pretty comfortable. 

Off the freeway and onto the back roads heading up the Central Coast and the Royal Enfield Continental GT is in its element. I realise café racers were born in 1950s Britain with rationing still in place and some truly shocking weather, but this is where I’d prefer to ride a café racer—with dappled sunlight shining through the gum trees, the smell of spring in the air and a twisting, turning road with views of the wide, blue Pacific Ocean.

Back in the city, I decided I’d been doing far too much ‘sports-touring’ and not enough ‘café racing’. As I understand it, the original café racers would meet at cafes, put a song on the juke box, then tear off up the road on a prearranged course, trying to return before the song finished. Pretty easy, right? Well you try finding a café in Sydney with a juke box.

My plan was to listen to a song on my phone through the earpiece and try to make it from one famous café to another before the song ended. I started at Café Sydney in Circular Quay (this isn’t really a café, more of a fancy restaurant, but it is famous) and headed to Harry’s Café de Wheels in Woolloomooloo (which is more of a food van, but again, it’s famous). I checked out the distance on Google Maps—1.5 km and listed at four minutes travel time. Thanks to the trusted Royal Enfield Continental GT, I made it with the music from Bat Out of Hell still playing in my ear.

Encouraged by my café racing success, I decided to go a little further to Deus Café in Camperdown and while there check out a few of their custom built café racers. Harry’s Café de Wheels to Deus café—5.7 km and 15 minutes travel time. No dramas, I pulled up at Deus with Stevie Wright still belting out Evie in my ear.

As I was getting back on the bike outside Deus, two guys pulled up next to me, and as often happens with motorcyclists, we struck up a conversation.

“Not a bad little retro,” said one of them.

I explained that the Royal Enfield Continental GT is not a really a retro motorcycle; it is the most modern motorcycle Royal Enfield have ever produced.

“What sort of power does it make?” asked the other.

“29.1 horsepower, according to Royal Enfield,” I answered.

“Wouldn’t be much fun then?” the man said. “I reckon you need at least 70.”

I pointed out that I’d had a ball on the Royal Enfield Continental GT for the last week but it seemed to fall on deaf ears.

It’s easy to dismiss the Royal Enfield Continental GT just looking at the stats but I reckon that’s missing the point—this is a pretty funky motorcycle to get around on and fiddle with. For me, the week was a bit of a Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance moment; a reconnection with the simple pleasure of riding motorbikes.

After a couple of days riding around Sydney I was really starting to bond with the Enfield. It’s not a complicated motorcycle which adds to its charm. It’s a motorcycle you want to modify and fiddle with. I kept catching myself thinking, “I could just move that, or alter that bit, or get rid of that part completely.” Not that the Royal Enfield Continental GT isn’t pretty good straight out of the box but it’s amazing how a little tinkering can bond you with your bike. If you’re new to motorcycles, it would be an easy bike to learn to work on; and if you’ve been around bikes for a while, it has a charming simplicity that is both refreshing and appealing.

The price is appealing too: the recommended retail price is $10k with on-road costs in NSW.

When I dropped the bike back at Royal Enfield Sydney, I was told about some young guy, here on holiday, who had hired a Royal Enfield Continental GT from them and ridden all the way around Oz. So it’s fair to say its touring range is only limited by the age of your joints.

But don’t take my word for it. You can hire a Royal Enfield Continental GT for yourself from Royal Enfield Sydney, 366A Parramatta Road, Burwood NSW 2134; 02-8011-3463.

article submitted by Paul Angus

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