Thursday, August 30, 2007

Simple Tips on How to Clean Your Motorcycle

By Mike Webb

Cleaning your motorcycle can be a hassle, but with periodic care you can make it easy on yourself. Depending on where you ride and how often will determine how frequently you need to clean.
  1. Wash your motorcycle in a shaded area so as not to let the soap dry too quickly and leave a film.
  2. Make sure the engine has cooled down before washing with soap and water. When using a hose don't spray too hard around the engine so you won't short out the ignition system. If you have an air compressor use the air gun to blow out as much moister around the engine area as possible to dry it out.
  3. Regular car soap will work best along with a wash mitt that will allow you to get around the areas of the bike. When you want to get to the really small nooks and crannies use a soft bristle toothbrush.
  4. Wax all painted areas of the bike, there are many waxes available on the market to use, I just stick to the basic turtle wax, it's been around for years, but you might like to shop around.
  5. Using an SOS pad can clean up minor rust on chrome pieces. Make sure you put a coat of wax after clearing.
  6. Depending on your seat style you may want to use a leather treatment or possibly Armor All on the vinyl seat. Just remember it's going to be a little slick when you get done.
  7. If your bike has a chain make sure you lubricate it properly after washing and check for any other areas that might need to be re-lubricated.
  8. Lastly if you have a nice motorcycle cover then use it to save the hassle of cleaning so often.
Having a clean motorcycle makes it a lot more fun cruising.

Take care and drive safely.

Friday, August 17, 2007

New To Motorcycles? Learn The Basics

By Daniel Levy

Interested in motorcycles? Who can blame you! Motorcycles reek of coolness, but before you jump into the motorcycle riding scene, you need to learn the basics of the bike!

Stand Up Straight Please

It's mind boggling how they do it, but motorcycles stay upright while they are moving due to some pretty advanced physics. A still motorcycle will lean over without some sort of support. But a moving motorcycle will stay upright without much effort thanks to a couple of little things called angular momentum and torque.

To see these physics at work, imagine that you're holding a bat in your palm with the heavy end up. It's going to tip over, right? It's too unsteady. Now imagine that you're wiggling your palm in an effort to always keep it directly under the heavy end of the bat. Suddenly the bat is steady. That's how motorcycles stay upright.

Driving forward on a motorcycle thanks to the power and torque provided by the engine, the rider (or the palm in our example) is constantly moving the bike (the bat in our example) to keep it directly inline with the center of gravity (that is, the heavy end of the bat in our example).

Yes, I know I am over-simplifying with this example. But in fact, it's basically the forward momentum and the rider constantly adjusting the center of gravity that will keep the motorcycle upright.

Going, Going, Go

Regardless of the varying motorcycle designs produced over the years, most bikes include some pretty standard operating configurations.

One of those is the arrangement of elements in the steering mechanism (the handlebar). On the right handle is the throttle and twisting it backward will give the engine more gas so the machine will accelerate (as long as the brakes are off). On the left handle is the clutch lever. Pulling it in and then releasing it will enable you to change gears. Some motorcycles have automatic shifting, but they are far and few between.

The gearshift on a motorcycle is normally under the rider's left foot. Riders will squeeze the clutch lever (left hand), ease off the gas (right hand), and move the gear shift up or down (left foot). Releasing the clutch (left hand) and twisting the throttle backward (right hand) will make the motorcycle move forward.

As you can see, there's a lot of left-right hand and foot action going on here and it's going to take a bit of practice to get it right. It'll be difficult to grasp at first, but with some practice, it becomes second nature.

Stopping the Motorcycle

Now that you know how to "go," it's time to learn how to stop! Attached onto the right handle grip is the front brake lever. This lever gives the motorcycle most of the friction it needs to slow down (about 80%). The friction is caused by pads squeezing against a metal disc (or drum in older bikes) in the center of the wheel. Since this particular lever is so powerful, it can even flip a bike if it's pulled too fast especially on downward slopes.

The rear brake lever is next to the right footrest. When it's pressed, it engages the rear brake mechanism. Push it too hard and you will make your rear tire skid.

Both, the rear brake lever and the front brake lever, will eventually bring a bike to a complete (but not necessarily) controlled stop if used individually. It's the correct combination of front and rear break power that will bring a bike to a smooth stop. Constantly pumping either one however will unduly wear your brakes down and loosen their effect ahead of time.

Bikes that have linked braking systems work a little differently. With this kind of system, the rear brake works with the front break because it engages part of it. As with the more traditional types of brake systems on a motorcycle, it's the combination and simultaneous use of both brakes that creates smooth stops.

So now you know how to go and stop. But what about turning the motorcycle off in an emergency? Almost every motorcycle today has a kill switch you can use in case need to hurry up and turn the thing off for whatever reason (failing brakes, you fall off, etc.).

Is that all I need to know?

Of Course not! There's a lot more to motorcycle riding but the above should give you a good idea of the overview.

Not all motorcycles operate in the same manner so some of things will work differently -- especially if you're attempting to ride an older bike that uses a kick starter! Newer models may offer GPS systems, custom suspension, and electronic de-fogging mirrors -- things that I haven't even touched on.

Remember to always wear your protective gear and enjoy the ride!

Monday, August 6, 2007

2-Stroke Cycles

By Mary Long

The two-stroke cycle of and internal combustion engine iffers from the more common four stroke cycle by completing the same four processes (intake, compression, power, exhaust) in only two strokes of the piston rather than four. This is accomplished by using the space below the piston for air intake and compression, thus allowing the chamber above the piston to be used for just the power and exhaust strokes. This causes there to be a power stroke for every revolution of the crank, instead of every second revolution as in a four-stroke engine. For this reason, two-stroke engines provide high specific power, so they are valued for use in portable, lightweight applications. On the other hand, large two stroke diesels have been in use in industry (i.e., locomotive engines) since the early twentieth century.

Power/exhaust: This stroke occurs immediately after the ignition of the charge. The piston is forced down. After a certain point, the top of the piston passes the exhaust port, and most of the pressurized exhaust gases escape. As the piston continues down, it compresses the air/fuel/oil mixture in the crankcase. Once the top of the piston passes the transfer port, the compressed charge enters the cylinder from the crankcase and any remaining exhaust is forced out.
Compression/intake: The air-fuel-oil mixture has entered the cylinder, and the piston begins to move up. This compresses the charge in the cylinder and draws a vacuum in the crankcase, pulling in more air, fuel, and oil from the carburetor. The compressed charge is ignited by the spark plug, and the cycle begins again.

In engines like the one described above, where some of the exhaust and intake charge are in the cylinder simultaneously the gasses are kept separate by careful timing and aiming of the transfer ports such that the fresh gas has minimal contact with the exiting exhaust which it is pushing ahead of itself.