April Fools’ Issue

TAKING AIM by Chris Maida, Editor

TAKING AIM by Chris Maida, Editor

TAKING AIM, by Chris Maida, Editor

As many of our readers know, we now publish 13 issues of American Iron a year, which is why we had to go to a numbering system instead of months to identify each issue. But though we no longer have an issue called April, our last issue, #309, hit the newsstands on April 1. That being the case, we couldn’t resist the opportunity to play a few jokes on you, our readers.

Did you catch all three fake entries in the last issue? Did we at least get a “What did that say? That can’t be right.” Our first April Fools’ joke was in Quoted & Noted. It was the Chris stamp, and the entry’s title was “American Iron Honored.” This was the result of a brainstorming session, if you can call meetings between Joe K, Tyler, Steven, and myself that.

Truth is, you actually can create your own run of stamps that can be used to mail letters, but we didn’t know that when we put this together. The USPS calls it Create Mail & Postage (www.USPS.com/Send/Create-Mail-And-Postage.htm). Want your smiling face to grace the upper right corner of your letters instead of birds, ferns, or some famous dead person? Of course, the guys couldn’t resist the chance to also throw in a small jab about my leg length, “And, just like American Iron Magazine, US Post Office stamps are printed in the United States, and that’s the long and short of it.”

Our second April Fools’ trick was a letter from Gregory Canterbury titled “Selling This Stuff.” It said, “My uncle was a big-time motorcycle collector and hoarder. He passed away recently, and I found this stuff in his old place. I thought it might be worth something to someone. I’d like to get at least $500 for it all. Contact me at April412014 @gmail.com.” This one was Buzz’s idea. It came about because Buzz has a friend that just bought a few truck trailers full of Indian parts. The photo shows a small section of the contents of one of the trailers. We tried to get Buzz to tell us who the guy is or where the trailers are but no luck!

Our third and last joke was a Widget titled “Bendable Pipes.” Here’s how this one began, “Can’t find a pipe that fits your bike the way you want? Why pay for custom-made pipes when the BendiPipe offers a simple and cheap solution? Just bend the BendiPipe into any shape you want. Once you have it set, place the BendiPipe in a preheated oven at 400 F on a cookie tray covered in aluminum foil.” Yeah, I wish this one was true, too, but no go. Did you notice that the optional, chemical-free BendiSpray solvent was offered in the same quantity, but in different size containers? Also, tap out the phone number and see what it spells. Hint: It’s Joe K’s favorite word.

See you on the road.

Chris

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This article originally appeared in issue #310 of American Iron Magazine

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My Facebook Page

TAKING AIM by Chris Maida, Editor

TAKING AIM by Chris Maida, Editor

TAKING AIM, by Chris Maida, Editor

Though I’ve had a Facebook page for a couple of years, I haven’t been there with any regularity. What I have been putting up, on those rare occasions, are photos from some of my motorcycle adventures that have also been featured as tours in American Iron. And while I’m still going to do that — I still have lots of trips that I haven’t posted yet — I’m going to make a concerted effort to visit the site once a week to stay in touch with our readers.

However, my e-mail address (ChrisM@AmericanIronMag.com) is still the place to send pics of your bikes, technical questions, etc. Please do not send them to my Facebook page.

Having said that, I want to again address a complaint I’ve been hearing from a few readers. The reason I’ll only be able to visit the site once a week is the same reason we cannot respond directly to your letters and e-mails: we get close to 100 contacts a day, not counting spam. With that much volume, which we are happy to get, the only way we can handle it is to reply through the magazine. This is especially true for tech questions. Of course, I will respond to you regarding bike feature submissions, but that can sometimes take weeks so please be patient.

I’m not complaining, however. I stay busy with the magazine’s production schedule, my travel schedule, and tech shoots. My first priority as editor of American Iron Magazine and editor-in-chief of Motorcycle Bagger is to determine what will go in every issue and then coordinate our staff and resources to make it happen on time and with accurate information. Tied to that is my second job for both magazines, which is tech editor, even though I’m not listed as such on the staff roster.

To that end, I determine what tech articles give you the best value, then arrange (with the help of Joe Knezevic) for the shop, bike, and parts. I also edit all the technical features while Joe K. takes care of the photos. Many times, I’m the one shooting the photos and doing the captions, even though my name may not appear in the byline. These responsibilities take up the bulk of my time.

Of course, this is not a one-man show. Dain Gingerelli and Tyler Greenblatt edit all the non-tech features with much needed support from Steven and our two copy editors, Keith and Jenn. My final job is to read everything that goes into both magazines at least once to ensure it’s technically accurate and conforms to our rules regarding style and content.

I write this not to pat myself and the staff on the back but because we don’t want you, our readers, to take our silence as a sign that your questions, bikes, or concerns are not important to us. Your messages tell us what you are riding, building, and need to see on the pages of our magazines. You are the reason we’re here.

See you on the road.

Chris

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This article originally appeared in issue #309 of American Iron Magazine.

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Arm & Numbered Issues

TAKING AIM by Chris Maida, Editor

TAKING AIM by Chris Maida, Editor

TAKING AIM, by Chris Maida, Editor

Okay, I guess I shouldn’t have opened my big mouth and said in my column in Issue #305, “Personally, I think I’ve had enough surgeries for one year!” Guess not, since I had to have another one the middle of December.

As I write this, I still have to wear a sling for most of the day and when I sleep, but by the time you read this I should be back in the shop spinning wrenches. And, yes, one of the projects I’ll be working on will hopefully be the flathead bobber project I’m doing with my daughters. (I’m almost afraid to write that and jinx it again! Does it help if you throw salt over your shoulder or is that for something else?)

I know that I said I’d have the project restarted in this issue, but my arm had other plans, this time a torn bicep. The doc said no more moving large pieces of furniture, and I’m not going to argue. I was going to put it off, but if I have to be out of the shop and unable to ride, I’d rather recover from surgery during a cold Northeast winter than any other time of the year. As for the bobber project, I do hope to have the article where I teach Chelsea how to rebuild a Panhead transmission using Andrews components in one of the late spring issues.

And that brings up a topic of concern for some of our readers. I’ve been getting letters expressing confusion with the numbering system we’re now using to identify our issues. Last year, we tried to stay with months and call the new issue Summer (we’re now putting out 13 regular issues of American Iron a year). Unfortunately, that didn’t work with the magazine distribution computers. Our best option, other than going back to 12 issues a year (only kidding!), was to adopt a number system. Our first issue of 2014 was #305, which is our 305th issue. Easy, right? Well, what’s not so easy, as I’m hearing from our readers, is how they can tell what time of the year the issue came out.

Thankfully, the answer is as easy as looking at the issue number. In the top right corner of the cover, by the issue number, is an On Sale Until date. This issue, which is #308, has an On Sale Until date of 4/1/14. That means this issue is on sale from 3/4/14, which is when Issue #307 was removed from the newsstands, until Issue #309 goes on sale on 4/1/14. Theoretically, an issue of American Iron should be on the newsstands for a full four weeks, starting on a Tuesday. Of course, sometimes they sell out before that time, so don’t complain to me if they’re all gone by the time you get there.

Of course, you can avoid all that and save some cash by subscribing, which would also automatically enter you in our 25th anniversary sweepstakes.

See you on the road.

Chris

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This column originally appeared in issue #308 of American Iron Magazine.

 

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#1 Reader Question

TAKING AIM by Chris Maida, Editor

TAKING AIM by Chris Maida, Editor

TAKING AIM, by Chris Maida, Editor

The one question i get most often from our readers is, “Do I have to use a fuel tuner if I install a new air cleaner or exhaust system?” If you have a pre- 2007 EFI machine, one that does not have oxygen (O2) sensors in the exhaust system, the answer is always yes: If the air cleaner or pipes increase air flow through the engine enough to increase its power output, you should install and tune a fuel adjuster of some sort.

The answer for 2007 and later EFI machines is more complicated. In most cases, you can get away with not installing a fuel tuner when you bolt on just a new air cleaner or exhaust system (not drag pipes). That’s what we’ve found on all our installs. In the low throttle settings that the O2 sensors control, the sensors can bring the fuel settings back to stock. Outside of those ranges, The Motor Company usually has enough fuel going in already to cover an air cleaner or exhaust upgrade.

If you do a second upgrade, be it the exhaust or air cleaner, sometimes, but not always, you can again get away with not installing a fuel tuner. However, sometimes doing both upgrades will make the engine run too lean outside of the throttle settings that the O2 sensors control, and you’ll need a fuel tuner. In the low throttle settings that the O2 sensors control, the sensors will probably still bring the fuel settings back to stock.

The easiest way to tell if the engine is running too lean is to bring the bike to a dyno guy you trust, one that has a dyno that can sample the exhaust gases. Have him take mixture readings from each pipe and check the mixtures at different throttle settings, not just wide open. If the mixtures are 14.5:1 or richer (the lower the number, the richer the mix) you can leave it alone. However, you can also install the part and then ride the bike. If it doesn’t spit, buck, or surge while you’re trying to hold a steady speed (try this at all throttle settings), or do anything that it didn’t do before you installed the parts (other than run stronger), you’re good to go.

If you plan on changing both the air cleaner and the pipes, do the air cleaner first. Then ride for a few minutes, varying the throttle settings and checking as just mentioned. This gives the ECM time to recalibrate the fuel settings. If all’s well, then do the pipes. Then ride the bike as you did before. Again, if you have any doubts, don’t risk hurting the engine. Go to a dyno guy you trust and have him check the mixture readings.

Two last points: you can only get by using the stock ECM if you do an air cleaner and/or pipe upgrade. Any other mods, you have to use a fuel tuner. And, only EPA-approved modifications (if there are any), or CARB-approved if you live in California, are legal to do on a street bike.

See you on the road,

Chris

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This article originally appeared in issue #307 of American Iron Magazine, published in March 2014.

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Time of the Season

TAKING AIM by Chris Maida, Editor

TAKING AIM by Chris Maida, Editor

TAKING AIM, by Chris Maida, editor

As I write this, it’s about two weeks before Thanksgiving, and, as per many of the suggestions and tips given in last’s issue’s Storage Strategies by John Frank, I’m preparing my bikes for a hopefully not-too-long winter’s nap.

Whether it’s due to global warming or just the constantly changing cycles of our planet’s weather systems (I’m not getting into that debate), this yearly ritual can take place during different months/weeks of the year. When I first moved to Connecticut from New York and started working at TAM, I was able to ride all year. In fact, I didn’t have a car, only bikes. Of course, my wife at the time had that bastion of modern family life — the minivan — to haul herself, the kids, and the paraphernalia required for them. (It’s always amazed me how much stuff is needed to take care of two toddlers, but I’m not getting into that now, either!) The winters were mild for this part of the country back then, which was in the late 1990s. Very rarely did it snow, though it was, of course, cold out. Other than watching out for patches of black ice at stoplights thanks to people throwing coffee out their car windows, riding one of my bikes to work was a safe, cheap, though chilly, way to commute.

Unfortunately, for the last 10 years, winter here in the northeast has been more what you would expect. We can get snow starting in November (our first was yesterday, November 12) until late March, hence the need to pack the machines safely away. Bummer! However, Joe and I have been known to ride down to Daytona Bike Week in early March with snow on and all along the side of the road. People in cars look at you like you’re crazy, but what the hell. As long as they look at us and don’t run us off the road I’m good with it.

No matter when nap time comes for your bike(s) where you live, if it comes at all, be sure to take the time to properly stow away your machines, this includes motorcycles, lawn mowers, or anything else that has a gasoline engine. The better you do this process, the easier it will be to fire them up when needed. This is especially true with ethanol gasoline in carbureted bikes. I’ve had to pull apart and clean many a friend’s carb to remove the varnish residue left by evaporated ethanol gas. But I’m not going to get into that now, either!

See you on the road.

Chris

 

Editor Chris Maida’s column “Taking AIM” appears monthly in American Iron Magazine.

This article originally appeared in issue #306, published in February, 2014.

Order back issues of this or any other American Iron Magazine at Greaserag.com.

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Family 45 Bobber Project

TAKING AIM by Chris Maida, Editor

TAKING AIM by Chris Maida, Editor

TAKING AIM by Chris Maida, Editor

A lot of you expressed interest in the 45 flathead bobber project I was building with my two daughters, Chelsea and Elayne. Judging by the letters I got, many readers liked the idea of doing a project like this with their kids. Some readers were also doing a similar build along with us and have been waiting for us to restart the project after my right shoulder surgery last January. Obviously, that has not happened yet, and though I had asked the staff here to keep it on the down low, I think you deserve to know why.

Though the rotator cuff surgery went well, I felt rundown for several months afterward. I just didn’t have the energy I had before the surgery and a number of possible reasons were considered. For most of the summer, instead of working in the shop on weekends as I usually do, I found myself totally exhausted. I spent many weekends in bed. Every month, I thought I would be able to get back in the shop, but I just didn’t have the juice to follow through. There were also other problems, but I’m not going to bore you with all that. Suffice to say, I could barely keep on deadline, never mind do additional work.

Well, on September 16, I found out what the problem was. That morning my gallbladder and I had a huge fight, and the following Wednesday I threw its rotten self out. And rotten is what it was. At least, that’s how the surgeon described its condition. Everything that could be wrong with a gallbladder was wrong with mine. In short, I used that organ up completely before giving it the boot. After five days in the hospital and another nine working from home, I felt a lot better.

So what does all this mean to you? I hope to be restarting the bobber project once I get caught up and back on deadline, which should be by the time we finish issue #307. That means I should be teaching Chelsea how to rebuild a Panhead transmission using Andrews components sometime in December and will have that article for you in issue #308, which is the one that’s on sale during Daytona Bike Week. My apologies to readers who were doing the build along with us and have been waiting so long for us to finish it. As for my daughters, they’re excited to get back in the shop and build a bitchin’ lil’ bobber with dad! And I feel the same.

See you on the road.

Chris

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This article originally appeared in issue #305, published in January, 2014. Order back issues of this or any other American Iron Magazine at Greaserag.com.

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Harley Magazine Editors At Local NY Motorcycle Events

TAKING AIM, by Chris Maida, Editor

TAKING AIM by Chris Maida, Editor

TAKING AIM by Chris Maida, Editor

A couple of Saturdays ago I rode down to Brooklyn to spend a few hours at the Indian Larry block party, run by Bobby and Elisa Seeger. I rarely get to local events, but when I do I really enjoy my time there. One reason is that I get to see old friends that are still in the area and the bike scene.

I’ve been riding for almost 45 years, and in all that time I’ve lived within a 50-mile radius of New York City. My custom bike shop was located just outside of NYC, and some of the people I see at local events I met through my shop. Of course, many of my friends I’ve met through my job at this magazine, and some of them are there, too. During a large event I’m usually running between appointments and covering the rally; I don’t have time to hang. That’s not an issue at a small local event. I can move at a much more relaxed pace and actually spend some time with friends, both in and out of the motorcycle industry. I also get to look at bikes simply because I want to, not because I’m judging them for a show.

local-motorcycle-events

Another reason I love local events is that I get to hang with new people I meet through mutual friends. Such is the case with the three men standing with me in the photo. To my immediate left is my good buddy Chris Callen, the editor-in-chief of Cycle Source magazine. Chris came up from Pennsylvania to spend a few days in NYC and attend the party. Through him I got to meet the other two guys, “Panhead Frank,” who is on Chris’ left and his buddy Max, who is on my right. Both rode up from West Virginia and were a blast to hang with. (Panhead Frank, of course, rode a Panhead!) We were laughing so much my face hurt.

Sometimes a local event brings me to a place or area I’ve wanted to visit but just never took the time to. In this case, it was the old 1964-65 World’s Fairgrounds at Flushing Meadows Corona Park. I passed the fairgrounds on my way to the block party, so I made a point of stopping on my way back home. I went to the fair with my family when I was 10, and it was pretty cool to see some of the sculptures and the Unisphere again. Most people remember this area by the two towers that were depicted in the first Men in Black movie. Unfortunately, the ones in the movie were in much better shape than the actual ones in the park.

When the riding season kicks back into gear in your area, definitely take the time to attend some local events. Though they don’t get the same exposure as the large ones, local bike nights, block parties, and such can be a lot of fun. They’re also a great way to meet local builders and see some of their work up close and personal.

See you on the road.

Chris

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For All You Gearheads, We’ve Put Together American Iron Garage

Whenever I meet our readers at events or out on the open road, a comment I often hear is how much they like the way we do our tech articles. Of course, what they want in tech varies, but that’s to be expected. Some readers want more Twin Cam stuff, such as air cleaner, exhaust, and cam installs with dyno numbers. Others want Shovel and Ironhead tech. These engines are classic but inexpensive (at least for the moment) motors that are great for building hot rod bobbers. And let’s not forget the ever-present Evo crowd, both Big Twin and Sportster.

As for chassis styles, it should be no surprise that bagger tech is also in big demand, but Softail, Dyna, and Sportster stuff is not far behind. Whatever it is they want, readers all agree that they love the way we do our tech because we take you through the entire installation process with easy-to-follow, step-by-step photos and captions.

Our goal in this is twofold. The first is to show you how to do the installation in your own garage. In these tight times, many readers can afford the parts but not the cost of labor to install them. The second is to show you how the shop we’re doing that project with  does the job. This way you know how they work and can feel confident that if you bring your bike there they will do the job right.

So, for all you gearheads, we’ve putting together an issue that’s stuffed with tech of all kinds! In fact, there are only 12 pages of bikes in the whole issue and those are machines someone has built in his garage. The rest of the articles are installs and how-tos, plus four How It Works and a short Widgets section featuring only tools and chemicals. American Iron Garage is a newsstand-only issue; it’ll be on sale September 4. Can’t find it? Contact Rosemary at 203/425-8777, ext. 114 or click up Greaserag.com.

Travel Tips
this month’s travel tip is compliments of reader Cliff Terry. Cliff writes, “I have a parking tip that could save someone’s bike. Never pull all the way into a parking space between two cars. Always keep the back wheel of your bike even with the back wheel of the adjacent cars. If you pull the bike all the way in, an inattentive driver may spot what appears to be an empty space in an otherwise full lot and pull into the space at speed only to find your bike in the way. This happened to me one day. A driver almost hit my bike right in front of me! Thankfully, no damage was done, but a lesson was learned — for both of us.”

See you on the road. Chris Maida Editor

Story as printed in the October issue of American Iron Magazine.

Summer Motorcycle Travel Tips

I often see three dangerous patterns when cars interact with a long line of bikes. One scenario is when a car driver wants to get onto a four-lane highway. Though the driver should wait until the bikes have passed, he rarely does. What usually happens is the driver tries to blend into a small gap in the bikes, which, most times, is the two-second safety gap the bike riders are leaving for themselves. And though this is annoying for bike riders, it’s in our best interest to make a large opening in our line so the car can enter safely. And since the driver doesn’t want to be in the middle of a pack of bikes any more than we want him there, the car will move into the next lane as soon as possible. The same goes for when a car wants to get off at an exit.

Another dangerous scenario occurs when a long line of bikes is traveling on a curvy two-lane back road. Though we’re cruising along at a nice pace and enjoying the scenery, cars usually want to go faster and pass us. However, since the road is curvy, the driver doesn’t always have a good place to do this. As riders, we figure he’s just going to have to wait, but that’s not the way some drivers see it. To him, we’re pains in the ass that are going too slow and blocking him. After waiting for awhile, the driver may make a dangerous move to get around us. Sure, he’s in the wrong, but if another car does come around the curve towards us before he has a chance to pass the entire line, do you think he’s going to hit the other car head-on? No way! He’s going to move into the line of bikes whether there’s room for him or not. The smarter way is to open up a large space for the cars to enter our ranks every few bikes or so. This way, cars can pass us easily and go away, leaving us to safely enjoy our cruise through the countryside.

I sometimes see bike riders clogging the passing lane on the highway by going the speed limit or slower. This also makes car drivers nuts and rightly so. The far left lane is the passing lane, and it’s just as aggravating for others as it is for you when you’re the one behind the guy in the left lane going 55.

I know I’m going to get a flood of mail telling me how I’m wrong, how car drivers have to do this or that, how you don’t care what the car drivers think, etc. Fine, send them in. I don’t expect to change everyone’s mind; I just hope to share some road wisdom with those who want to make their ride safer and more enjoyable.

See you on the road.

Chris Maida
Editor

Sturgis Ride-In Motorcycle Show Black Hills Party Plans

I have been to a lot of amazing motorcycle events  over the years — even before I got involved in the motorcycle magazine business back in 1989. When I get to ride, one of my favorite national events is the Black Hills Rally, otherwise known as Sturgis. The roads and vistas of the surrounding countryside are amazing, and I always enjoy exploring the Black Hills and the surrounding area.

For various reasons, I haven’t been to Sturgis in a few years, leaving the responsibility to Chris Maida and other members of our editorial team to cover the action for the magazine. This year, I am looking forward to a pretty full week in Sturgis for lots of reasons. One is that I am honored to be inducted into the Sturgis Hall of Fame at a special induction breakfast on Wednesday, August 8. This event, which still has tickets available as of press time, starts at 9 am at The Lodge in Deadwood. Call 605/347-2001 or SturgisMuseum.com for tickets and tell them I promised you a fun time with some pretty amazing people.

The Harley-Davidson Sturgis Ride-In Motorcycle Show is on August 10. I’m pleased to announce American Iron Magazine and Motorcycle Bagger are the presenters. I suspect this show will be at least as good as the amazing Harley-Davidson Daytona Ride-In Motorcycle Show in March, which we also presented.

If you weren’t at the Daytona show, you missed a great turnout of amazing machines and lots of great folks. The motorcycles ranged from mild to wild: choppers, bobbers, baggers, rats, racers, and classics. I expect we will get a similar turnout in Sturgis — a show you won’t want to miss. Mark your calendar for Friday, August 10, and ride over to meet us at the Harley display area at the intersection of Lazelle and Third streets in downtown Sturgis.

Want to see an example of the bikes that showed up at the Daytona Harley-Davidson Ride-In Show? Check out John Hazle’s clean 2006 custom Buell we found and photographed there. The feature starts on page 100 of this issue. John’s custom is one of three Editors’ Picks in Daytona, and we will be featuring others here soon. We sure hope to see you and your Harley in Sturgis. Who knows, you and your bike might also make it to our pages.

After Chris, Dain, myself, and the rest of the American Iron Magazine, Motorcycle Bagger, and RoadBike crew pack up after Sturgis, we’ll head east to Aberdeen, South Dakota, for something rather special. I am delighted to announce that Matt Olsen, a regular contributor to our magazine and longtime classic motorcycle enthusiast, is getting married and settling down with the wonderful Bettie Bicycle, aka Miss Brittney, on Monday, August 13. Please join me in congratulating Brittney and Matt on this wonderful occasion.

Digital Subscription & Team American Iron T-Shirts
To the many readers asking us when we will join the modern age and offer a digital version of American Iron Magazine, I mentioned last month that we now do. If you prefer to read our publication in digital format rather than paper, please visit us at AIMag.com to place your order. We are selling one year digital subscriptions at the same low price of $23.99 for delivery anywhere in the world with access to the Internet.

Call me nuts, but later this summer, I plan on riding a 1929 Harley-Davidson across the US on the Motorcycle Cannonball. If you’d like to support my efforts, please visit GreaseRag.com or call Rosemary at 203/425-8777 x114 to buy a cool Team American Iron Support Staff T-shirt featuring my 1929 Harley on the front and #15 — my competition number — on the back.

Ride safe, ride smart, have fun.

   
Buzz Kanter
Publisher/Editor-In-Chief