Answers to Your Motorcycle Mechanical Questions


Mechanic Matt has set aside his wrench for a keyboard and has chosen 5 questions to answer. As per our promise to give away a Free pair of Fingerless Leather Gloves, If you see your question answered below, please email service@bikersden.com with subject “Motorcycle Question Free Fingerless Gloves Winner” along with your full name and address.

1. I have a 2002 Fatboy with a custom front rim and at times when I let off of the gas and the handle bars the front end kind of shakes a little.

We had a scenario like this a while back with a Kawasaki. We swapped out the wheel and it stopped. Most often it’s the wheel, which should be warrantied by the manufacturer, unfortunately Kawasaki wouldn’t warranty it even though it was obviously a problem from their factory. Their solution: don’t let go of the handlebars! Sometimes it can be the bearings as well though. It’s probably your wheel though.

2. Is it always necessary to change the air filter/induction system, when the exhaust is updated? Is the engine management update also required?

No, it’s not always necessary. Usually the pipe manufacturer will have recommendations for this, they’ll tell you if there are modifications to the EFI chip or different settings that are required for their pipes. Check with the specific pipe manufacturers for more details.

3. I’ve just purchased an old motorcycle. What are the first steps to getting it running well again?

I’m not sure which exact bike this is, but there are some general things that will apply to all bikes. I would start with your carburetor. Carburetor work will do lot in the way of getting it running well, it’s a great place to start for any bike.

4. I have a 06 H-D Ultra. I have replaced the front tire once and am in need to do it again. The problem is that the right side of the tire is almost skin bald. The left side has good tread left. It changes right at the center line of th tire. What would cause this. It was the reason that I replaced the first tire. They are being replaced at 35K on the tire.

Take a look at your forks. When there’s consistent wearing like that, it can be because there are different air pressures in one side than the other. There could also be different oil levels in each fork that is causing it to ride to one side.

5. How do I adjust my clutch cable on my 2009 Hertiage Softail?

This is a little too specific to answer without actually seeing the bike, however, after some research online, we found the following very specific answer by a HD motorcycle mechanic.

  • 1. Remove five TORX screws with captive washers to detach clutch inspection cover from primary chain case cover.
  • 2. Remove and discard seal.
  • 3. Add free play to cable.
    • a. Slide rubber boot (1) off cable adjuster.
    • b. Holding cable adjuster (2) with 1/2 in. wrench, loosen jam nut (3) using a 9/16 in. wrench.
    • c. Turn cable adjuster (2) until there is a large amount of free play at clutch hand lever.
  • 4. Loosen jam nut on clutch adjuster screw to take up all free play, turn screw inward (clockwise) until lightly seated. Activate the clutch lever to verify the balls are seated in the ramps.
  • 5. Back out adjusting screw (counterclockwise) 1/2 to 1 full turn.Tighten jam nut to 72-120 in-lbs (8.1-13.6 Nm), while holding adjusting screw with an Allen wrench.
  • 6. Squeeze clutch lever to maximum limit three times, to set ball and ramp release mechanism.
  • 7. Check free play.
    • a. Turn cable adjuster away from jam nut until slack is eliminated at hand lever.
    • b. Pull clutch cable ferrule away from clutch lever bracket to check free play. Turn cable adjuster as necessary to obtain 1/16-1/8 in. (1.6-3.2 mm) free play between end of cable ferrule and clutch lever bracket.
  • 8. Hold adjuster with 1/2 in. wrench. Using 9/16 in. wrench, tighten jam nut against cable adjuster to 120 in-lbs (13.6 Nm). Cover cable adjuster mechanism with rubber boot
Thank you for everyone that took the time to submit their motorcycle related questions.

And thanks again to Mechanic Matt at Jones Motorsports for taking time out of his busy schedule to put down his tools and answer your questions regarding any mechanical issues about your bike, trike or quad. We will choose a few questions each week from the ones submitted.  To add your question, enter a comment here on our blog.  A  good way to get your question chosen is to submit a video comment showing your mechanical issues.


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27 thoughts on “Answers to Your Motorcycle Mechanical Questions

  • William Artigue

    I have a 2002 Fatboy with a custom front rim and at times when I let off of the gas and the handle bars the front end kind of shakes a little.

  • William Artigue

    Same bike and I kind of hear a little rattle sometimes when I get down on it.Rpm not low,lets say 3rd gear about 40mph and if I hit the gas hard is when I hear the rattle in the engine I quess,I checked everything out that could be loose.

  • Dave K,

    09 fatboy….just quit running at a low speed..like all electrical went out..sat for ten minutes or so and all was well again..

  • Mary

    On a Spyder Can-Am RT is it necessary to remove all left side panels to change the oil? I’m ready to save myself some money and do it myself, but I’ve never had the opportunity to go inside of a shop when it was done in the past.

  • knochen

    Putting in a fork seal on a VTX 1800, there is a thin circular spring on one side and a solid ring clip on the other where there are markings on the rubber. It is confusing when the instructions say to put the side with the markings up….seems to me they should face down toward the direction of where the axle bolt goes through the fork stem when installed. Is this correct?

  • Ron Nicklas

    Is it always necessary to change the air filter/induction system, when the exhaust is updated? Is the engine management update also required?

  • Mark Ziegelmeyer

    I have heard alot about the cold air induction systems being offered. I’m thinking about adding one (Screaming Eagle heavy breather) to my 2005 Wide Glide. Are there drawbacks to installing one? If you intall one do you need to make other changes to make it work properly?

  • Earl Zonn

    I have a 06 H-D Ultra. I have replaced the front tire once and am in need to do it again. The problem is that the right side of the tire is almost skin bald. The left side has good tread left. It changes right at the center line of th tire. What would cause this. It was the reason that I replaced the first tire. They are being replaced at 35K on the tire.

  • Jay Cross

    I found a 2002 Honda VTX 1800C with only 2500 original miles in mint condition. After riding it for about 2000 miles I noticed that the top of the cyclider heads made a noticeable but intermittent clicking sound. Almost like a sloppy lifter or rocker arm, but not consistent. The dealer said some of the same bikes make that noise out of the factory box. The bike rides and performs perfectly. Should I be concerned?

  • Bob O'Fee

    I have a 1998 FLSTS, had it since it was new. For some time now, every time when I back off the gas I can hear a chirping sound. The bike runs great otherwise. I have a S&S carb, but it did this before I changed it out.

  • Piere Loranger

    I have a 2005 triumph speed master, and I just installed a oil pressure gouge, my questions is what should my oil pressure be at idle?

  • Chris Rooney

    2008 xl1200c. How do I check my front end for looseness? I had it adjusted last year and now it feels a little sketchy at times and different road surfaces.

  • Al Porter

    Read multiple recommendations regarding adding HD Road King air shocks to sportsters. Definitely sounds like the way to go – but know nothing about WHICH RK shocks to look for. Sportster shocks are 11.5″ so assume 12″ RK are appropriate… but which models ??

  • mal brooker

    i have a 2004 kawasaki vulcan 2000cc bike,the belt squeals and chirps mostly when i give it some gas.it squeals more when going up hills, with 2 people on and hitting bumps or quick dips .now i weigh 360 i believe part of this may be due to the bike flexing and soft suspension.so when possible i will get the mono shock tightened up.Kawasaki dealer adjusted guide and alinement thinks it may always squeal or try a knew belt.your help would be so kind thank you

  • Matthew

    I have a 99 Wide Glide and really like it. Being an older bike with almost 60K miles on it, I am not confident that I am watching it closely enough during my pre-ride check out process. I do not want to be one of those people who just goes to the dealer every 5K miles and hopes that all is good in between… Please give a guide for looking the bike over before hitting the road for daily rides and a more thorough one for longer trips.
    Thanks!

  • hudgensj

    I just had a new tire put on my 2008 FLSTC after about 100 miles the bike broke the final drive belt. The break was a jagged cut and other than that belt looked good. Belt had about 10,000 miles on it. Could the changing of the rear tire have caused the belt to fail by improperly reinstalling the tire/wheel?

  • John

    I have a 2004 Honda vtx1300c and lately have had a problem when starting the bike. Am wondering if the plugs are the problem? It started now twice and within a minute, shuts off and will not restart for about 2 hours unless I sprayed starter fluid in it. Solution?

  • Tim Lutes

    building softtail bike, i would like to know if i can hook up a previous year 5 speed transmission to a harley davidson, 2011, 96cu. twin cam B engine? If so what year? Thanks

  • shady

    i have a kawasaki vulcan mean streak 2003 .. i got some problems with my rear suspension so what can be checked to be sure that it works well ?? and is it filled with oil or air or what ??

  • Kim

    I am lacing a 1977 KE 175 rear wheel. I have 4 different spokes for this rear wheel; (9) outer 6″, (9) inner 6″, (9) outer 6 5/8″, and (9) inner 6 5/8″. I was looking at online at a parts diagram to figure out where the spokes went. It implied that the 6″ spokes all go on the left side which is the sprocket side. It also implied that all the 6 5/8″ spokes go on the right side, which is the drum side. Is this correct? On the parts diagram in the remarks, next to each spoke name and part number it listed a size. For example on one spoke it listed ” 106 x 171M/M”. I’m guessing the 171 is the length of the spoke in millimeters. What is the 106?