American Iron Garage: Quiz

Garage-winter-14Back Page

Class In Session

intro by Steven Wyman-Blackburn
questions by Staff

After reading this mag and obtaining a wealth of information on how to get your hands dirty with oil and grime, what’s the next logical step in the learning process? That’s right. Answer the DIY questions shown below. We created this quiz  as multiple choice questions whose answers will define you as a mechanic and, in turn, determine whether or not you possess the exclusively innate ability of capably wrenching your bike. Each question you see below is the result of hours, even days, of relentless study sessions, crafted from a vast array of ideas that have been consolidated into what is now a cluster of loaded, multifaceted questions of accumulated knowledge that we feel properly exemplify the art of the do-it-yourself project.
This completely legit grading system is based on a numerical scale of 10 possible points:

0-3 points: Put down the tools and step away from the bike!
4-6 points: Take this issue, flip back to page one and start reading. Heck, read through the first issue for good measure. Once you reach this page, take the test again. If you get a better score, great. Now get back in that garage and wrench!
7-9 points: Pat yourself on the back and go back in the garage. But you were already there anyway, right?
10 points: You scored better than our assistant editor. But that’s not saying much.

1. Your toolbox consists of

A. A 200-peice Craftsman mechanic’s toolset.
B. A couple of screwdrivers, wrenches, and a handful of leftover nuts and bolts from motorcycle projects.
C. What toolbox? I keep the hammer in a kitchen drawer.

2. The nickname “batwing” refers to

A. A popular fairing style, known for its use on the Street Glide.
B. My least favorite option. Long live the shark!
C. A DC comic book hero.

3. If your bike breaks down, you

A. Unwrap the toolkit from your saddlebag and start diagnosing the issue.
B. Start pushing to the nearest gas station.
C. Call roadside assistance.

4. Where is the motorcycle oil filter located?

A. On the engine somewhere.
B. On my workbench because I bought the wrong one.
C. On the shelf at the dealership because I’ve never changed the oil on my bike.

5. What is a “bored” engine?

A. An engine with larger than stock pistons.
B. An inattentive, listless engine that has no ambition.
C. An engine with longer-than-stock connecting rods.

6. A “snap ring” is

A. A wedding band that emasculates you when you wear it.
B. A small fastener that flies across the shop and disappears when you try to install it.
C. A metal ring that slips into a groove on a circular surface.

7. A “nut driver” is

A. What I encounter on my morning commute every day.
B. A hand tool that tightens or loosens hex fasteners.
C. A machine that harvests acorns.

8. Where is the kickstarter located?

A. On the right handlebar switch.
B. On the transmission.
C. On the Motorcycle Cannonball Endurance Run Coast to Coast ride.

9. Your garage is

A. Clean and organized with tools hanging on a pegboard: everything is in a specific place.
B. A “collection” of sorts. Rags, scraps of metal, wood blocks, screws, nails, and anything that might one day be useful.
C. The dealership across town. I have the phone number on speed dial #3.

10. A “magneto” is

A. A fancy word for engine; an alternative to power plant or powertrain.
B. An electrical generator that uses permanent magnets to produce periodic pulses of alternating current.
C. One of the most powerful and deadliest mutants from the Marvel universe.

For the answers, click here.


Taken from American Iron Garage Winter issue, purchase by clicking here.

The current issue of American Iron Garage is available on newsstands and digital delivery via Zinio.

Back Page Answers

Answer key

1 point per correct answer

1. A
2. A
3. A
4. A
5. A
6. C
7. B
8. B
9. A
10. B

AI Garage Install: Daymakers (Intro)

01 Opener_7633

The washers that come with the Daymaker headlight are only used with the Road Glide installation.

The washers that come with the Daymaker headlight are only used with the Road Glide installation.

Night And Day

Harley-Davidson Daymaker LEDs

text and photos by Tricia Szulewski

Dave Buerk isn’t just a fan of motorcycle safety; he’s actually a chief instructor for the Connecticut Rider Education Program (CONREP). To say that he does everything possible to make his ride a safe one is a monumental understatement. So when Harley came out with its vastly improved LED lighting for its Project RUSHMORE 2014 baggers, Daymaker, Dave read the reviews and promptly ordered a replacement headlight and fog lights for his 2009 Harley-Davidson FLHTCU Ultra Classic Electra Glide. Specifically, he purchased the Daymaker Reflector LED headlight (#67700173/$424.95) and Daymaker Reflector LED auxiliary lights (#68000075/$359.95).

Step 1: Dave removes the accessory chrome headlight trim ring with a Phillips screwdriver and puts it aside for reuse.

Step 1: Dave removes the accessory chrome headlight trim ring with a Phillips screwdriver and puts it aside for reuse.

Dave is an exceptional rider, admirable coach, and all-around good guy. But a handy wrench, he is not. That said, he tackled the installation of the Daymakers like a pro. Armed with only the few tools needed and a well-lit garage, Dave had the new plug-n-play lighting installed and running in about an hour and a half. And that includes time spent cleaning all the exposed nasty dirt when taking parts off the bike, pausing for pictures, and documenting each step.

The Daymaker LEDs imitate natural daylight by producing a bright-white color. Comparing them to the stock halogens, it’s a no brainer how much cleaner the light is. The headlight works by distributing two separate rays of light through two D-shaped lenses. The low beam shines light directly in front of the bike while the other projects a super-bright, focused high beam.

01 before-after

Before (left) with Daymakers (right)


To read the full 21 steps on how Dave Buerk installs Harley-Davidson Daymaker LEDs, the issue is on newsstands NOW!


For a digital delivery, click here.


AI Garage 1930s Harley VL and Sidecar Sneak peak (Video)

AI-Garage logo 1The crew at American Iron Magazine recently rescued this 1930s Harley VL and sidecar, which had been sitting in a basement for 10 years, and brought it over to Retrocycle to get her all back up to snuff for a story in a future issue of American Iron Garage, the all-tech, all-DIY Harley magazine special.

“It’s over painted, over chromed, and has wrong year parts,” says American Iron Magazine/Motorcycle Editor-in-Chief Buzz Kanter about the VL. “It hasn’t been started in years. We do know the motor is a 1930, but there are questions about what the other parts are.”

The bike will be featured in the Summer issue of Garage. The article will show readers how to get an old bike back on the road by noting what the crew at Retrocycle do to make this classic motorcycle ridable again. The Summer issue, the second of three Garage installments for 2015, hits newsstands 6/15.

The Spring issue is currently on newsstands and is also available via digital delivery on

Watch the video below as Buzz shows us the current state of the bike.

Retrocycle is located at 1 Mars Ct. Unit 3, Boonton, NJ 07005.

American Iron Garage: RSD Turbine Black Ops Air Cleaner Install

Air Assault

RSD Turbine Black Ops air cleaner


The Roland Sands Design Turbine air cleaner in Black Ops finish comes with a washable, rechargeable air filter.

The Roland Sands Design Turbine air cleaner in Black Ops finish comes with a washable, rechargeable air filter.

Before ...

Before …

intro by Tyler Greenblatt
photos and captions by Tricia Szulewski

The Motor Company gets a lot right. But it has more than a few limitations placed on it by various governmental bodies. One of the most detrimental (and easiest to fix) areas affected by regulation is your Harley’s air cleaner. As part of our Roland Sands Design (RSD) bolt-on performance upgrade project, we’ll be installing the Turbine Black Ops air cleaner (#1010-0964/$429.95) onto our 2011 Sportster Forty-Eight.

... After!

… After!

Like the Slant 2-into-1 exhaust system we install next (page 74), the Turbine is all about flowing air as efficiently as possible and looking great while doing it. RSD’s unique two-tone Black Ops finish mates up perfectly with the blacked-out Forty-Eight’s powertrain and general sinister attitude. But more power and a more efficient engine are what’s important here. The Turbine carries a K&N air filter within its jet engine-shaped body for the ultimate in air filtration technology. RSD includes a new, smoother-flowing backing plate with its air cleaner kits as well as hidden, internal crankcase breathers. Even though we went with the Black Ops finish on our Forty-Eight, the Turbine is available in a variety of finishes for Sportsters and Big Twins.

Glen Helsley at Woodstock Harley-Davidson in Kingston, New York, handled this project for us. We find ourselves doing performance and custom work at Woodstock H-D quite a bit and have always been impressed with the quality of work found there. To see the complete gains and the installation of the final piece, a Power Commander with Auto Tune, turn to page 84.


Read the 10 step-by-step photos by getting the issue on newsstands NOW!


Also available via digital delivery via Zinio by clicking here!


Check past AIG issues at!



Roland Sands Design

Woodstock Harley-Davidson

American Iron Garage: Install

What Goes ‘Round

Installing wheels on a Softail

intro by Steven Wyman-Blackburn
captions and photos by Tricia Szulewski

The new wheels are complemented by the matching rotors, pulley, and chrome hardware. Bearings not included.

The new wheels are complemented by the matching rotors, pulley, and chrome hardware. Bearings not included.

Before .......

Before …….

When installing anything new on your bike, you’re going to have to decide whether or not to follow the latest trend. As you’ve probably noticed by now, when it comes to wheels, a lot of guys are dropping loads of dollars on those giant, custom 30″ front wheels. Not only is this hard on your wallet, it’s just hard in general, since it requires extra mods, such as altering the rake on your bike. This is difficult to do on a Road Glide, let’s say. But popping a 30-incher on a bagged motorcycle outside Harley’s Touring family is even worse for obvious reasons. Rather than taking the high road, the owner of this 2003 Heritage Softail Classic decided to keep the wheels close to stock size, choosing 16″ front and rear wheels. In the next few pages, we’ll show you how mechanic Dan Michaud of Sound Motor Sports installed Harley’s ThunderStar custom front wheel (#43609-07/$649.95) and rear wheel (#44544-08/$649.95) using the correct installation kits for this year and model bike. He then provided step-by-step photos of how he wrapped them in new Dunlop rubber, D402F MT90-B-16″ front (#43022-91A/$174.95) and D401 150/80-B-16″ rear (#43264-02/$203.95).

... After!!

… After!!

The original spokes on the stock wheels had loosened over time and wore out the pockets in the rim. This caused a high-speed wobble. Since new rims were ordered, we decided to go with matching rotors and pulley. We went with Harley-Davidon’s Thunder-Star style, and ordered a matching billet sprocket (#40126-00/$399.95), ThunderStar custom floating front brake rotor (#44365-00A/$159.95), and ThunderStar custom floating rear brake rotor (#44366-00A/$159.95). If you plan on installing these extra parts in addition to the wheels, you’re going to need the proper tools. We decided to stay with Harley-Davidson and bought its chrome front brake disc hardware kit (#46646-05/$13.95), chrome hex head hardware kit for the rear belt sprocket (#94773-00A/$29.95), and chrome rear brake disc hardware kit (#46647-05/$13.95).

Read the step-by-step pictures on how to install these wheels on a Heritage Softail Classic by getting the issue exclusively on!

To purchase the issue, click here!



American Iron Garage: Garage Built

DSC09300Lemonade Vodka Build

Steve changes his ’74 XLCH chopper into a Knuckle lookalike

text by Steven Wyman-Blackburn photos by Steve Lita

Why or how lemonade became the accepted platform to describe how people make the best of otherwise unpleasant dilemmas is beyond me. While I understand that the metaphor is contingent upon the originating sour situation, I’ve always felt that lemonade was tantamount to a failed mixed drink. For starters, I prefer iced tea. Luckily for me, when talking about Steven Peters’ 1974 XLCH, my particular stance on the popular saying actually works quite well. Steve basically skipped the lemons altogether and began with the “improved” beverage.

DSC09441While the bike wasn’t a lemon to begin with, it wasn’t perfect, either (hence the lemonade). It was riddled with dents and scratches, which signified a motorcycle that was well-worn and far from show-floor ready. And that’s not even taking into account the failed attempt of whomever drilled holes in the rear fender to accommodate the two-up seat it originally came with. (I say failed since the holes weren’t lined up properly.) It didn’t help that the Sporty had a slight chopper look with the small rear wheel and large front wheel. However, when all is said and done, the bike could start and perform well, and, duh, it’s an Ironhead. The fact that it came with the original frame, powerplant (save for the ’86 carb which Steve installed years later), rear swingarm, fork, and wheels made it the perfect canvas.

It all started when Steve bought a Harley 350 Sprint in 1985. Over the six years he rode it, he became friends with a salesmen from the local House of Harley-Davidson dealer. Well, when the kickstart XLCH you see here appeared at the shop, being a smart guy who could connect the dots, the salesman thought Steve might like it. So he pulled Steve aside and said, “Steve, we’ve got a bike with your name written all over it.” No joke. Steve was etched on the price tag and the letters from P to R could be found in every nook and cranny. The fact that it was a vintage bike was another plus for Steve. In April of 1992, the chopped bike was his.





Okay, so you know that Steve didn’t (and still doesn’t) want a XLCH chopper. So what did he fancy? If the Knucklehead style nuts on the stock rocker boxes weren’t a dead giveaway, Steve tried to emulate the look of a Knucklehead or, to be more precise, something from the 1930s-40s era, and it makes sense, too, since Steve’s dream bike is a 1936 EL. That said, the fact that a Knuckle has always remained in dreamland and never actually pushed its way into reality (i.e. Steve’s world) is essential when defining the bike for it ultimately shapes the Sportster’s overall theme. It’s part Ironhead, part Knuck wannabe. For starters, the fenders are aftermarket parts for Sportys and, probably the most conspicuous one of all, Steve kept the peanut tank. “I originally thought of changing it to a Fat Bob tank, but then I decided not to,” says Steve. “It’s still a Sportster.” When you pair that with a few of the illusions on the bike, you’ll see what I mean.


Now I’m not using the word “illusions” sparingly. Upon first glance, you might think that a particular area on the bike seems legit. But when you get a little closer, you’ll realize that, in actuality, the look or style is a façade. Don’t feel bad if you were fooled. I thought Steve replaced the original suspension and bolted on a hardtail frame. However, the Sporty suspension is just blacked-out. It doesn’t help that the leather saddlebags are also covering that particular area. I also falsely assumed that the front forks was a springer since the lower legs are blacked-out. It’s what Steve calls “black camouflage.” Those springs up top are what fooled me. In fact, the springs are the only, in Steve’s words, “real” vintage DSC09439parts and needed to be cut shorter to fit onto the bike properly. And bring your attention to the “springer seat.” It’s in quotes for a reason. The side flange is covering the fact that it’s actually solidly mounted. “It looks
like it’s floating on a pogo stick,” says Steve.

Interestingly enough, this dichotomy between Ironhead and Knucklehead wasn’t the original look Steve initially tried to tackle. When the bike first made it into his garage, the only mission on Steve’s mind was to unchop it, if you can even call it that. That move is apparent through the first mod Steve made to his Sporty. “It originally came with an aftermarket chrome headlight,” says Steve. “It was installed lower than it is now and was pretty small.” The unchopping began when he replaced it with a much larger, teardrop headlight from the 1935-48 era and embellished it by reinstalling the original bracket upside down to push it up higher on the forks.





The XLCH also came to him with differently sized wheels, a 21″ front and 16″ rear, which contributed to the original builder’s quest for increasing rake. Steve leveled out the playing field by adding the correct size 1974 wheels: the rear wheel is now 2″ bigger and the front wheel is now 2″ smaller. Steve adds, “It levels out the bike perfectly.” Chopped culture also reared its (subjectively ugly) head in two other areas. While the rear fender was fine (besides the mismatching holes mentioned earlier), Steve had to reinstall the front and rear turn signals since the original owner had chopped them off, but the tombstone taillight was already on the bike, so Steve painted it black.  And in the front, Steve made the bike complete by replacing the small chrome front fender. “I’ve heard some people say that my new fender looks like a Model K,” says Steve.

Steve’s artistic trajectory began to head toward vintage styling when he saw a Sportster that had been converted into a Knucklehead lookalike. “I was at the 90th anniversary celebration for Harley-Davidson in Milwaukee,” Steve recalls. “I thought, ’Yeah! I can do that. I already have the headlight and taillight anyway.’” With this new direction in mind, Steve quickly went to his local Harley dealership and chose the pair of used handlebars you see here from a selection of three. “It’s 3′ wide, which is similar to the period. It was from that point when I took off the buckhorns that the project really started to change.”

DSC09382And that change soon led to the gas deflecting, shark fin muffler, a 1935-40 reproduction aftermarket part. The mufflers received the black satin treatment only after Steve tried to rub off some spots on the flat black paint, an action which smudged the coloring, making it resemble a black satin finish. Speaking of color, the bike originally came in burgundy. Steve almost altered it when he realized it was commonly used in 1949. Win-win! For something more substantial, the “springer” saddle illusion mentioned earlier was not intentional, either.

A few other mods that convey the movement toward a Knuckle include his slow but steady change from chrome to blacked-out parts, the 1947-50 chrome and red Speedball tank emblem, and the 1935-57 art deco horn (which is actually paired with and located in front of another usable horn since the retro one isn’t loud enough). Then there’s the stripes on the rear fender, which Steve calls Art Deco speed lines even though people now refer to them as Sergeant Stripes. His reasoning? That’s what they have been called since the late ’40s. The speedometer was also moved and the tach removed. “It’s kind of like the dashbars from the early ’30s,” says Steve. “It doesn’t look like a dash, but it has the same feel.”

1974 XLCH 1




As we all know, customizing comes with its fair share of trials and tribulations. The pipes you see here were actually a nuisance. The rear pipe would have originally gone through where the kickstart lever is currently located, so Steve had to cut and twist them before installing it back on. However, that only pushed the front pipe 3″ forward, forcing Steve to cut 3″ from the bottom. Some of the brackets he created also came at a price, especially the left- and right-side streamlined half moon footboard brackets (which were bent inward with a slight upward tip bent into the front and took an entire day each to create). Another troublesome story involves what I like to summarize as the goodbye-shifter-peg-during-ride scenario, but that’s a whole different ball game.

Oh, and see the picture of a trailer to the left? I called it the Medieval tour pack during the interview, but Steve clarified by saying that it’s modeled after the Mullins auto trailer built only in 1936-37. For those of you who are curious, the trailer attaches to the bike’s swingarm with a carabineer-type clip rather than a trailer hitch. Like the XLH’s gas tank, the trailer also features the speed lines. “I built the trailer myself,” says Steve. “It has a steel frame from a bicycle trailer. Save for the hinges, latch, and handle, everything else is made from hardboard, pine, and oak wood, and hardboard like Masonite. Even the fenders are made from wood.”

DSC09460With so many mods already lined up — some planned, some not so much — it’s safe to say that Steve still has his work cut out for him. When asked whether or not buying his 1936 EL dream bike would affect the look of his Sportster, Steve had to think about it for a moment. “I never thought of that,” begins Steve slowly. “I don’t know. This one is just so fun and unique the way it is.” Fair enough. After consulting my wife, Jenn, on a closer for the story, she said, “Life gave him lemonade, so he made an Arnold Palmer … with a splash of vodka.”

New Trike Expansion Ramp Available

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(877) 241-4330

Editor’s Choice Bike Show At Daytona

editorschoiceAre you going to Daytona Bike Week this year? Well, if you are, you can meet the editors of American Iron Magazine and even win Editor’s Choice at the 2015 Editor’s Choice Bike Show brought to you by J&P Cycles.

The Editor’s Choice will take place at the Broken Spoke Saloon on Tuesday, March 10, with sign ups beginning at 10 am. The awards will be given out at 5 pm.

Find out all of the latest info by going to the official Facebook page by clicking here.

2015 Victory New Bike Specs

2015-Victory-Motorcycles-preview-featureSweet 16: 2015 Victory Motorcycles

Victory marches, not stumbles, in the wake of its after-party

Story by Steven Wyman-Blackburn Photos Courtesy of Victory Motorcycles

Published in issue #316 of American Iron Magazine

To view the full specs, pick up a copy now on newsstands!

The fact that Polaris Industries’ first venture into the motorcycle world turned 15 years old last year is a pretty big deal. Victory’s base of operations is rooted in a country that prides itself for developing some of motorcycle’s firsts (some argue best), putting them on the shelf among the oldest brands in the industry. Having to roll out against such competition, Victory had to shout loudly in order to be heard. Victory’s 3/20-of-a-century celebration in 2014 was spearheaded by an anniversary edition of its Cross Country Tour model (which, as Victory made sure to proclaim, sported the largest ever storage space, 41.1 gallons). This was soon followed by the continuation of the Ness series with Arlen Ness checking off the Cross Country bagger from his Ness/Victory bucket list. However, this bike received extra attention from all three Ness generations — another industry first.

In retrospect, the fact that Victory chose the grand marshal of its 2015 Victory sweet sixteen parade to be an all-new cruiser, the ’15 Victory Gunner, made its venture all the more attention grabbing since it’s a bike that exemplifies a line that diverges from the avant-garde appeal of its bagger and touring families. The Gunner, stripped of the Victory-specific nacelle, is now the most (aesthetically) nonmodern bike in Victory’s entire offering. By implementing the High-Ball’s shorty front fender and low 25″ seat height, the Jackpot’s slim frame, and even finding influence (to some degree) from the Boardwalk and Judge, the Gunner, in turn, allowed Victory to consolidate most of its cruiser section, coming up with a grand total of four models to make up the 2015 cruiser family. Each cruiser now highlights something unique to its line … and all in black. Yes, we hear you again, Victory.


On one end, we have two cruisers flourishing the Victory-styled nacelles, bikes that have been stripped of their own colors and thrown into Victory’s blacked-out category, the 8-Ball. One of these two, the Hammer 8-Ball, is the more compact but heavier version of the other, the Vegas 8-Ball, the latter of which is the only one to feature a fullsized fender in the entire grouping. Meanwhile, on the more traditional side of the cruiser spectrum (read, partly, as Victory nacelle-free), we have the High-Ball, a bobber-styled bike with whitewalls and, most notably, apes. Following this all-out Goth approach for 2015, the High-Ball is now available only in Suede Black for next year, ditching the “with flames” option. To cap it all off, you then have the more old-timey bike, the new Gunner, touting a low starting price ($12,999, the second lowest overall). The fact that both 8-Balls are still being offered for the same base price and that the High- Ball’s MSRP dropped by 100 buckaroos ($13,349) makes the 2015 cruiser line not only well-rounded, but affordable. As for the discontinued models, we’ll see if they resurface somewhere down the line. But for now, the Gunner fills that void nicely.

Following the throwback introductory model, Victory unveiled yet another completely new bike, the Victory Magnum a few months later. Victory showed it off to the world by yelling at the top of its lungs in hopes of rising above the cacophony of the moto realm, claiming that the Magnum comes stock with a 21″ front wheel, an industry first for the touring market (as it boasted about the anniversary edition’s 41.1-gallon spacing in 2014, as noted above). When you put the Magnum up against 2014’s lead bagger, the Ness Cross Country, you’ll note a significant price drop (a whopping one grand). Even though this brand-spankin’-new 2015 bagger didn’t get the whole Ness treatment, it still received some love from Arlen Ness in the paint department, but rather than garnishing Havasu Red with Ness Legacy Paint, the Magnum features a Ness Midnight Cherry option, all for $21,999.

BCoupled with the Magnum is the Victory Cross Country. When it comes to this model, Victory is continuing the Cross Country Factory Custom Paint program that was introduced in 2014. Along with the Factory Custom Paint Edition version, the Cross Country also comes in the 8-Ball color scheme as well as a regular option, both of whose base price tags are identical with last year’s. The regular Cross Country bagger hosts a plethora of new color schemes, replacing all of the 2014 model’s combos and solids except Suede Titanium Metallic, which finds its place in the roster among the newcomers. Concluding the bagger category, the only complaint concerns the missing Cross Roads models, which leaves a gaping hole in the line.

As for Victory’s touring models, they’re now sitting comfortably with no new additions or updates (save for the all-new color schemes) … for now. The Victory Cross Country Tour is now available for $500 less than last year’s model (starting at $21,999 and $22,499 respectively) while its more out-there brother, the Vision, is following close behind for the same MSRP, $20,999. AIM