Hot Bike - - Speed’s Spotlight -

Spend enough time in a mo­tor­cy­cle shop and you’ll see it all. If you’re the guy hold­ing the wrenches, you’ve prob­a­bly been asked to fix it all too. That’s been true with the team at Speed’s Per­for­mance Plus. They’ve brought their mo­bile mo­tor­cy­cle shop to events big and small go­ing on two decades now, criss­cross­ing the coun­try coast to coast. They’ll hit the road in March and won’t call it quits un­til Novem­ber, and dur­ing those trav­els they’re called upon by thou­sands of rid­ers to make sour­run­ning Har­leys sweet and stronger.

Dur­ing those event-stops the SPP work­ta­bles will be filled with bikes get­ting the reg­u­lar per­for­mance treat­ments, cam swaps, and big-bore kits, and they’ll be prepped for ses­sions on the dyno. But along­side all that will be the rid­ers who have nursed their wheez­ing, sput­ter­ing bikes up to the shop look­ing for help. “And some­times,” SPP’S Jamie Han­son says, “it’ll be a quick fix, some­thing so sim­ple we get that guy back into the ac­tion fast. Other times we have to be the bearer of bad news, telling a rider he’s got se­ri­ous prob­lems.” Nat­u­rally, the first di­ag­no­sis is prefer­able to the sec­ond, and, thank­fully, it’s most of­ten the case.

What are those com­mon com­plaints? Ride­abil­ity, first and fore­most. “But it’s usu­ally caused by some­thing pretty ob­vi­ous,” Jamie says. “The kind of thing a rider might miss but a fresh set of eyes will pick up.” Fouled spark plugs or cracked, de­te­ri­o­rated plug wires, for in­stance. Too sim­ple? You’d be sur­prised how of­ten the SPP guys run into this. Clogged fil­ters too. But a ride­abil­ity prob­lem caused by a bat­tery or charg­ing sys­tem not quite up to snuff might be a lit­tle less ob­vi­ous. No less com­mon, though, and a weak bat­tery or al­ter­na­tor can lead to all sorts of grief, es­pe­cially with the com­plex­ity of a mod­ern Har­ley’s EFI sys­tem. Those com­puter-con­trolled sen­sors and switches need peak volt­age to op­er­ate as de­signed. Not get­ting it can re­sult in in­ter­mit­tent mis­fires, over­all rough run­ning, surg­ing, er­ratic idling, and a host of other mal­adies. The ad­di­tion of high-pow­ered au­dio sys­tems and am­pli­fiers and banks of ex­tra light­ing won’t help this sit­u­a­tion. Any poor-per­form­ing bike with an early 22- or even 32-amp charg­ing sys­tem might be a can­di­date for an al­ter­na­tor up­grade and a stronger bat­tery.

Leak­ing gas­kets and seals are an­other com­mon cause of per­for­mance woes. “We see worn, cracked, or mis­aligned throt­tle body and man­i­fold seals all the time,” Jamie says. The re­sult­ing air leak will throw any bike’s air/fuel mix­ture to­tally out of whack. More than just the source of lousy run­ning, that ex­tra-lean con­di­tion can lead to all sorts of big­ger prob­lems, a se­ri­ously over­heated en­gine be­ing one. And on the sub­ject of gas­kets and loose seals you’d be sur­prised at how of­ten the Speed’s team has to tighten up a bike’s ex­haust. “Some­times those pipes are just about fall­ing off,” they say. And some­times those pipes are just plain wrong, at least from a per­for­mance and ride­abil­ity stand­point.

Bikes with short, large-di­am­e­ter, wide-open pipes cho­sen for looks and sound don’t al­ways per­form so well on the street. Their happy range is up top, at wide-open throt­tle. Any­thing be­low that and it’s a safe bet there are con­cerns. Can any­thing be done to im­prove the street man­ners here, short of switch­ing to a 2-into-1? Maybe. “The first step,” Jamie says, “is to put the baf­fles back in if they’ve been re­moved.” The low- and midrange per­for­mance dif­fer­ence be­tween baf­fled and un-baf­fled drag pipes can be sig­nif­i­cant, as much as 15 pound­feet of torque or more right at the bot­tom end where it’s needed most. In cases where the pipe was sup­plied with­out a baf­fle, SPP can in­stall their own—a “Power Cone” to cre­ate that lit­tle bit of back­pres­sure needed to pro­duce torque and aid ride­abil­ity.

All of this is just a glimpse into some of what the Speed’s Per­for­mance Plus team sees on a daily ba­sis, the prob­lems de­scribed, and fixes pre­scribed. Have a par­tic­u­larly vex­ing sit­u­a­tion of your own? Maybe a fresh set of eyes and an ex­pe­ri­enced set of hands can help. Next time the SPP crew is in the area, per­haps roll your bike onto one of their first-aid lifts too.


SPEED’S PER­FOR­MANCE PLUS speedsper­for­man­ce­ (605) 695-1401 – MN (605) 695-2272 – SD

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