A collection of quick tips that might make riding even more enjoyable
- Vibration Absorber:
Even the super smooth Vulcan engine can produce vibrations that work their way into the soles of your feet. Banish them by putting some Dr. Scholls gel type pads in your riding boots. They'll also be a lot more comfortable for walking.
- Sun Blocker:
You just have a clear shield for your full face helmet or hate having to stop to change shields when the sun gets low. Get yourself a (small) sheet of automotive window tint. There are lots of colors from limo to silver. Make a pattern using a piece of paper to cover the upper 3/4" to 1" of your clear shield. Transfer the pattern to the window tint and apply the tint to your shield. Inside works best because the wind tends to try and remove it from the outside. Experiment with the width until it works for you. You'll end up with most of your shield clear but the top tinted for when the sun is sinking low. In a pinch the tint can just be peeled off the inside of your shield. About $5
- Need a tiny squeegee to apply the tint and squeeze out the water? Cut the end off an old windshield wiper.
- Bug Zapper:
Hate the smell of most insect repellents? Wipe on Avon's "Skin So Soft." Bugs hate going home smelling of it so they leave you alone.
- Hand Warmer:
Purchase glove liners from a ski shop to wear underneath your winter gloves. They have wicking in them which lets your skin breathe, takes the dampness when you sweat away from your skin which keeps you warmer.
- Body Warmer:
Carry/wear a pair of wind pants over your jeans (and under chaps if desired). Helps keep the wind out and you warm. Wind breaker pants/jackets can be found under $10 each. Another option is a simple old fashioned pocket warmer that hunters and fishermen have been using since the 50's. They're fueled with ordinary lighter fluid and can get 'very' warm keeping you toasty when in a jacket pocket for hours. You may find these at a tackle shop. Amazon and Dick's Sporting Goods have them online.
- Oil Checker: Checking oil level on the Vulcan (and many other bikes) can be tough without a helper. Unless you have a mirror. Purchase an extendable mechanics mirror from most any automotive supply store (couple of bucks). You'll be able to sit on your bike and, holding it level, easily check the oil by lowering the mirror and checking the level in the sight glass.
- Save Your Butt:
For a lot more comfort on long rides, slip on some biker shorts. The tight Spandex kind used by bicycle riders. They have extra padding where it really counts.
- Keep Your Feet Dry:
Carry a couple of small plastic bags (like bread bags or newspaper wrappers) with you. Just fold and wrap a rubber band around them. If you get caught in the rain put the bags over your boots to keep them dry or on your feet to keep socks dry and feet warm. Thanks to Gary Blasingame for this tip.
- Dent Removal:
This works on fuel tank and other dents that don't involve a "crease" in the metal. Purchase a piece of dry ice (frozen c02) at your local liquor store. It should be larger than your dent. Using thick gloves or a towel to hold the ice, apply it to the dented area. Hold the ice in place until frost forms at least an inch beyond the dent all the way around. Remove the ice and place the tank or metal part in the Sun if possible. If the trick works you'll be able to watch the dent vanish before your eyes. This also works to remove many parking lot dents in car doors.
- Stay Alert!
On warm days it's easy to become dehydrated so many of us carry water in our bags. To make that drink of H20 even more refreshing, add some lemon slices to the container. Tasty!
- Go Go Grommets?
If you've had problems with side cover grommets popping out of their holes and getting lost (left side cover of Vulcan is known for this) here's the fix. Remove side cover (or other part held on by rubber grommets). Remove grommets. Put a very small amount of Silicone glue in the slot that (supposedly) holds the grommet in place. Reposition grommet and allow glue to dry. Spray the hole in the grommet with silicone spray or other lubricant. The glue will hold the part in place from now on, the lubricant will make the side cover easier to slide on/off.
- Zipper Fixer:
If the zipper on your leather riding jacket decides it doesn't want to zip anymore you could spend $50 or more to have the entire zipper replaced. Or, take the jacket to a shoe repair shop. It may just be the thing that slides up and down (slider) and will take less than 10 dollars and 10 minutes to fix.
- Sticker Hider:
Many Vulcans have the manufacturers label on the right side of the frame (as your sitting on the bike) It is very unsightly, but must stay there if mister policeman or the inspection station wants to see it when they check over your bike! The quick and easy fix is to use a MAGNETIC Business Card that has not been used yet, or just paint one gloss black, (or whatever color the frame on your bike happens to be) and let it stick right over the label using it's magnetic properties! Quick, simple, and removeable so as to see the factory label should you or anyone need to look at it! It fits right over the label, and makes it virtually disappear! Thanks to Mark (Hoss) Lockwood for this one.
- Nomad Saddlebag Damper Replacement:
Those thin rubber gaskets that look like big washers, the ones that fit between the saddlebag support rack and the bag..yeh those, the ones that keep getting lost. Kawasaki lists them as part number 92160-1981 and they cost $6.00 each. Nomad owner Michael Conda found a less expensive solution.
It's a "flush valve seal" made to fit the Mansfield models 208 and 209 toilet valve. You'll find it at Home Depot or other hardware store for about $2.00. Thanks for the tip Michael!
- Crossover Cutter:
One battle Vulcan owners have to fight when swapping the stock intake system for an aftermarket one is removing the air tube that crosses between cylinders from one side of the engine to the other. You can use tin snips, you can use a Dremel cutting wheel but until now it's always been a fight. Paul Jenkins sends along this solution that makes it so simple. Paul says: Take a piece of wire, used for cutting out automotive windshields, a glass shop would likely just give you a foot of it for nothing. Take the wire and wrap it around a wrench or screwdriver on one end, and feed it down around the tube and back up. This is with the tank removed of course, then wrap the other end around another wrench or screwdriver. Using an alternating sawing motion, pulling upwards the wire will build up heat and blow throught the tube in no time, the left side will fall right out. All that remains is getting the right side tube past the bottom of the throttle body flange. Paul used a blow torch to heat the little hump (from inside) that was in the way, smushed (his own word) the hump down with a screwdriver and the tube comes right out the right side easily.
- Lord of the Rings:
If you have Kuryakyn grips on your bike you'll notice there is a chrome trim ring on the outside end (held in place by four little bolts which also hold the end cap on). Kuryakyn sells tinted rings which you can add to the collection. Over time the tinted rings fade but there's no reason to purchase new. Just get yourself a can of Testors 'Transparent" paint (any hobby shop or most stores where plastic models are sold) and spray the rings (including the O.E. chrome one) in your choice of color. It helps to run a piece of wire through the rings and spray them while supported by the wire rather than laying them flat.
- Flip Your Rocker:
Many riders with Kuryakyn grips have also installed the "Throttle Boss" which helps hold the throttle open allowing the rider to relax his/her hand on those lengthy highway rides. One small problem, the throttle boss uses up a bunch of grip real estate and can dig into the heel of your hand. Solution? Simple. Just flip it over. The photo was taken from 'above' the grip giving the appearance the Throttle Boss is pointed downward. It is actually (viewed from the end of the grip) about the 9:30 position.
- More Chrome on your engine? Terry Elmy came up with this inexpensive trick:
"I am always on the lookout for a way to add that little bit of extra chrome to my Vulcan Classic at a low price. I stumbled on this one in good ole Walmart. In the license plate aisle they have these little chrome plastic bolt covers to put over your license plate bolts (4 for $1.99). Now while they don't exactly fit the metric equivalent bolt size, a little adhesive and VOILA!
I use Shoe Goo, a tennis shoe sole fixer to make those old shoes keep going. It is a tough adhesive that will bond those little plastic wonders to stay. I put these on (8) locations on my scoot, 6 on the right side and 2 on the left side."
Mark Chiampi took this tip a step further using the caps on his engine side cover bolts (photo right) and even the single bolt on his instrument surround.
As mentioned above the chrome caps can be had at any auto supply aisle as license plate bolt covers but they're also available in sizes and various colors from J&P Cycles labeled "Decorative Show Caps"
- Knees In The Breeze
When it's time for cold weather riding many of us have our favorite solutions for keeping hands, faces, necks and even feet warm (up to and including plugging into the bike's electrical system). What about....your knees? Craig Wegmann has come up with a simple and inexpensive solution:
I have always found that even with my chaps on, my knees get really cold after riding in 45 degree weather or lower for anything longer than 30 mins. I've also found that after riding, the chaps do a really good job of keeping the cold in. I think I found a solution...
I went to Wally World and bought some black fleece and velcro (the sticky back kind). Cut the fleece to the shape of the chaps (opened up), stuck some pieces of velcro (hook side) to the fleece then sewed them on. Stuck the other side of the velcro (loop side) to the velcro on the fleece then stuck the back side of the loop side to the chaps. Voila! Fleece lined chaps.
So far they work great, we have had some temps as low as 37 degrees here lately and the fleece makes it much more tolerable.
- The perfect oil drain pan?
Who would have thought the perfect drain pan would be found in...the housewares department of Target. Check out this Rubbermaid (product # 5188) container. It is made of dishwasher safe plastic and measures (with lid on) just 3.56" high. About 3.5" with lid off so it slides under your bike easily, even when it is on the kickstand. The container is about 8.5 inches wide and just over 12" long and holds a bit over 4 quarts (4.0 liters actually). Since the Vulcan 1500/1600 holds 3.3 quarts you have plenty of room to drain the crankcase and rear gearcase without fear of overflow. Pop the lid on and take the container to your local auto store to recycle the oil, no mess, no fuss.
- Tank Bag Support
Jeff Yon sends this tip for keeping those tank bags supported even when empty. I didn't like the way all the contents settled to the lower part of the bag, or the appearance of the bag when not full enough to keep its shape. I found a " soft " lunch box type cooler and cut the top off. This keeps things in place and the bag looks " full " even when empty. Kind of like a large glove box now. Works great.
- Kickstand Spring Installation (Coin Trick)
Jax, a frequent contributor to the Gadget site has come up with this unique (and finger saving) trick for re-installing a kickstand spring.
Some folks ( I did ) have a problem stretching this spring to hook it from the stand to the bike's frame. Injuries have occurred, such as fingers pierced by the spring hook, fingers pinched by pliers, etc. Not to worry! Before installing the spring, while it is in your hands, bend it one way then the other and while you open up space between the coils, insert a penny between each turn. This will lengthen the spring so it can be hooked on to the bike and frame with the stand folded UP. To remove the pennies, simply lower the stand, which stretches the spring, and the pennies fall out. Cool!
- Paint Nozzle Cleaner
After partially using a can of spray paint and doing the upside down spray routine to clear the nozzle, pull the spray nozzle off and put it on a can of WD-40 and spray a little WD through it. Also add a little to the hole in the paint can before putting the nozzle back on the can. If it is not the same type of nozzle on both cans, you can just hold the paint nozzle tube against the outlet on the WD-40 and it will force some through. You may need to wipe off the outlet hole if there is paint built up there, making sure to spray WD through it after you wipe it. The WD-40 will make that used nozzle spray as good as new the next time you use it.
- Nut Holder/Retriever
How many times have you tried to thread a nut onto a bolt when the nut is in a nearly inaccessible spot? Maybe this trick will work next time.
Find a magnet laying around the garage (or get one from a stationery store/hobby shop etc) and tape it to the tip of your finger or (better) the fingertip of a glove which will add some protection in areas where there might be sharp things lurking. Place the nut (and washer if needed) on the magnet and reach into that tight spot knowing the chances you'll drop the nut are far far smaller now than they would have been before.
- Helmet Visor, Goggle, Windshield and Glasses Anti Fog
Baby Shampoo or Dawn dishwashing detergent.Spray or pour a 50/50 mix of the soap and water on plastic or glass and let it dry naturally to prevent fogging.
Carry a 50/50 mix of baby shampoo and water in a small spray bottle on the bike. If temperatures are changing so rapidly that your riding buddies are complaining about face or windshield fogging just spray a little of the mixture on the fogging side of the plastic.
Of course you could also use the scuba divers remedy, spit on the inside of your shield but you might find yourself with fewer riding buddies afterward.
- Wind and Bug Protection
Thanks to Blaine for this one. You've probably seen painters wearing white coveralls made of Tyvek, a Dupont material that's thin, very light (you could probably fold one up and mail it with a single stamp), very strong and... oh yeh.. really cheap! The really cool part is wind won't penetrate it, neither will water or bugs or... A one piece Tyvek coverall as shown at left costs about $10 in the paint department at Lowes. If you belong to a club you can find cases of 25 for as little as $25, yep, a buck each on E-Bay. There are sizes available that allow you to wear the coveralls either over or under your regular clothing, also 'one size fits all' that let you cut the sleeves and legs to suit.
- Ear Comfort
Jeff Yon sends this comfort tip: On long or multi day rides for those who use earplugs, I found that a couple of drops per ear of earwax removal liquid keeps the ears lubricated and really cuts down on irritation from inserting and removing the earplugs. Small comfort thing but they all seem to add up.
- Unstick Your Zippers
Here's an old trick we've been reminded of by James Ellis. You can make your zippers work more smoothly by rubbing both sides with simple hand soap then working the zipper up and down a couple of times. If you're afraid all your zippers will start foaming while riding in the rain, candle wax does pretty much the same thing. Just light a candle, allow a few drops of hot wax to drip onto a zipper then (while the wax is still warm) work the zipper.
- Pants Leg Holder Downer
Have you ever been ground pounding at highway speeds, your feet comfortably up on the pegs and noticed.... your cuffs were up around your knees? Ok, it's usually not quite that dorky looking but it can be uncomfortable riding with your shins in the wind so here's a solution.
Visit your local department store and find the area where ironing boards are sold. Somewhere near them will be ironing board covers and on a peg someplace near those will be ironing board cover holders. They're just elastic bands with alligator type clamps on the ends. Clip one of those gator jaws to each side of your pants leg and run the elastic under your boot. Voila, instant pants leg holder downer.
- Baffle Remover
You've decided it's time to replace the packing in your aftermarket mufflers but you can't get the baffles out? No problem. Get a 'pipe expander' as shown at left. They're available at most auto supply stores, Amazon, maybe Sears, definitely Harbor Freight. After spraying penetrating oil around the edge of the baffle (preferably left to soak overnight) insert the pipe expander and turn until the wedges are 'snug' but not so tight that you're trying to expand the baffle. You should be able to simply pull on the handle and the baffle will slide right out. When replacing the baffle be sure to use some anti-seize around the edges where the baffle contacts the muffler can so it won't stick next time.
- Clean Those Tight Spots
I'm a big fan of the small "California Duster" for removing dust from the bike before going for a ride or after parking in a place where bikes are on display. The only problem with the duster is it doesn't get into tight places easily. Enter the "Swiffer". The product so useful for dusting around the house does a dandy job on tanks, fenders and places neither the duster or your fingers can reach. Thanks to Jim Nicholl for this tip.
- Gas Tank Protection
Thanks to John C. Egan for this one: Stop your seat from wearing the paint of your gas tank with a piece of clear ipod, cell phone or computer display protector, available at WalMart, Radio Shack, or Best Buy. If you require a larger piece you can find it at a guitar shop (used to protect the finish from heavy strumming, or so that you don’t wear a hole through the instrument like Wille Nelson did).
- Hand Warmer Life Extender
Lots of riders carry these disposable hand warmers in saddlebags during the winter. If you aren't familiar with them they're modern chemistry in a little packet suitable for stuffing into your gloves or socks or whatever. Most work for roughly eight hours. But what if you don't need the warmer for a full eight hours? Tip contributor Dave Ziehm says just deprive them of oxygen. If you seal the warmer in a baggie it will 'cease to function' until exposed to air again. It might not seem like much but hey, these things typically cost a buck-a-pop x2 hands so even an extra hour or two not wasted is money in your pocket (and warmth for your hands).
- Lubing Throttle Cables
"1700 Rider" from the VRA forum says... I lubed my throttle cables today by slipping a short 5/16 tube over the cable. I filled with a small amount of oil and it took 3 times before I saw oil coming out the other end. Unless you over fill the tube there is no mess. Worked pretty slick on my Voyager. It should work on other models and with clutch cables too. Different size hoses may be needed. I used a paper rag to hold the cable to the brake lever.
- Checking Your Oil
Misty from Ontario, Canada points out: I use a mirror on a telescopic arm to check my oil level. No fussing with how to level the bike, just sit on it, get it level, extend the mirror at an angle and you have a perfect view of your oil level in seconds. The mirrors are available at auto parts stores and here in Canada at Princess Auto. I think the equivalent store in the US would be Pep Boys likely. (Gadget's note: Harbor Freight has a nice large mirror for a few dollars.)