Not just "Thinking About" Upgrading my Harley

Discussion in 'Hangar Talk' started by Ted DuPuis, May 6, 2020.

  1. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    #bandozer
    About a month ago I started my "Thinking about Turboing my Harley" thread:

    https://www.pilotsofamerica.com/community/threads/thinking-about-turboing-my-harley.125316/

    In which I tossed around the idea of throwing a cheap Chinese turbo on my Harley to increase the horsepower on it. Towards the end of the thread I'd gone more in the direction of doing a cam swap both for the simplicity as well as the fact that I'm not a fan of turbo lag and the packaging of a turbo on a motorcycle is not very ideal. If you think about where you sit on a motorcycle and where there's space to put a turbo, there's just not a very good place that doesn't get in the way of your legs to some degree, or your passenger's legs if you have a passenger (and I do from time to time). Then add in the fact that on these engines you really do want a charge air cooler of some sort and it gets big fast. Can it be done? Sure. Is it ideal? Probably not.

    Here's my wife's and my bikes before last weekend's ride. Mine is missing the windshield because it was warmer and sometimes I'll remove it for more airflow:

    [​IMG]

    My motorcycle is a 2009 Harley FLHTCUi, or Electra Glide Ultra Classic aka Geezer Glider as some call them. The stock ~65 HP output would be best described as "adequate", but the XKR has a better power to weight ratio and better acceleration, especially once you get up to speed. My with and I bought this (and her matching bike) as our "forever" bikes, and we really do love riding the things. However I have never been satisfied with the horsepower output on mine, and from day one wanted more power. For normal general acceleration and a more gentle roll-on, it's fine, but when you go from a gentle roll-on to full throttle, there just isn't much more power there (more noise than anything). Higher RPMs produce a bit more power, but not a ton. We bought my bike in 2011 with a hair over 3,000 miles on it, now it has a hair under 10,000 so it's still a relatively low mile bike, especially for one of these.

    As it so happens, one of our members here on PoA is an investor in DynoJet (I'll let him reveal himself if he wants to). For those not familiar, DynoJet produces upgrades for the powersports market, most notably tuning modules as well as custom dyno tunes. They were interested in helping out with my upgrade.

    We had some discussions and agreed that the best path to move towards what I wanted is a naturally aspirated upgrade path. Not just because of the packaging concerns, but also because what I like out of an engine is a snappy response and I'm not a fan of turbo lag. Really, the initial motivation of the turbo had more to do with idea of putting on a $100 turbo more than that being the ideal solution.

    So after some discussions, Dynojet helped put a package together for my motorcycle and a full on plan. I'll be installing some fun goodies from S&S:

    - 110 cubic inch big bore Power Package
    - El Dorado Mk45 muffler/header Package
    - Chrome Stealth Teardrop Air Cleaner Kit

    This will be a fun full package that will address all aspects of what it takes to make more power. Cams on their own can make a big difference on these engines, with the big bore kit adding to that further. The nice part is that this is a bolt-on with no machining required, although obviously tearing into the engine pretty significantly. I've started looking through the manuals and my intent is to do this with the engine left in the bike. Unlike the cylinders on our aircraft engines, the heads on the Harley will unbolt separately from the cylinders, so you don't need as much space to pull a full assembly off. The intake and exhaust will make sure that the extra air can flow through unrestricted, and I think the exhaust being a true dual setup will sound really good.

    I'm also going to bring the bike in for an initial dyno run to get the baseline output in its current configuration and then when it's done bring it for a proper dyno tune. I'm going to be really curious to see the results from this. A lot of you know I spent a few thousand hours running engines on dynos, and this will be the first time in a while I'll have gotten to do upgrades to an engine and see the true before and after numbers as well as the calibrated butt-o-meter performance. It'll be the first time that one of my personal vehicles has been on a dyno, to.

    This is extremely cool for me on a lot of levels. For one, this is the kind of project I live for, and the most real "Ted" kind of project I've done in a while. Getting to take a vehicle I own, do significant upgrades, and then enjoy the benefits is at the core of what I've always enjoyed doing. This also scratches the engineering side of my brain, getting to see the dyno runs to show just how much power is actually being gained rather than just guessing. Obviously the Cobra is something I'm immensely enjoying too, but it's a different level, being a complete vehicle. Really I'm an engine guy, and this is about engines.

    I'm also very grateful to Dynojet for wanting to help out on this project. Having a sponsor/partner in this is very cool, and I know is going to help produce a better end result that I'm going to be happier with.

    Parts started arriving yesterday. Like with the Cobra, I'll be making some YouTube videos to share too. Not directly related to the project, I will be putting new tires on the bike. The ones on it are getting flat spotted in the middle (especially the rear) so it was time for new ones, especially with the extra power output. I've been looking over the bike otherwise and really the rest of it is in good condition. I may find some other items as I get into it that need replacing, but right now it has no oil leaks, the rear belt is in good shape (and from what I've read they should hold up fine unless I'm doing burnouts - which I don't do on motorcycles). We'll see what I find as I get into it.

    [​IMG]

    Vroom vroom. :)
     
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  2. Kenny Phillips

    Kenny Phillips En-Route

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    The only problem with your plan is that you are starting with a Harley! (Former motorcycle drag racer here, Rice Rockets all the way. Unless Ducati, of course.)
     
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  3. Seanaldinho

    Seanaldinho Pattern Altitude

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    You mean to tell me that the Geezer Glider has chicken strips? Tsk tsk.
     
  4. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    #bandozer
    I'm certainly not one of those "Only Harley" people. I've owned something close to 10 motorcycles, and have been caretaker/extensive rider of others. Pretty much all of them Jap bikes.

    But, I do love this motorcycle. There's something to the old Harley adage of "If I have to explain, you wouldn't understand." Certainly I found that to be true. I was anti-Harley when I started riding (mostly due to my friend who got me into motorcycles). Then I rode a Road King for the first time, just around the block, and I got it. Like anything they're not for everyone, but they have a unique feel to them. If you like it, you love it. If you don't, you probably don't. In my 15+ years I've riding I've owned this one for 9 years, and none of the others for more than a year or two at the most.
     
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  5. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    It also has marks on the footboards from dragging them riding on the twisties in Pennsylvania. :)

    Not many twisties in Kansas. :(
     
  6. Rotorwash

    Rotorwash Filing Flight Plan

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    I have owned probably twenty or thirty different bikes to include: Ducati, Laverda, Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, Kawasaki, Triumph, Norton, BSA, and H. D. They all are very good at what they were designed to do.
    My daily bike is a 2013 FLHP 110 cu, and when I bought it five years ago I wanted more power. The size of the engine is plenty big enough, you really just need to changes cams, free flow K&N air filter in stock air box, free flowing exhaust, piggy back fuel controller to adjust mixture accordingly. I did all this my bike and it really helped, especially with my girl on the back, luggage, etc...
     
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  7. Seanaldinho

    Seanaldinho Pattern Altitude

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    Sounds like you get after it when you can, and that's what counts.

    My MSF instructor was a track guy and also a big cruiser guy. He told us about taking his Goldwing to Summit Point (race track in West Virginia) on the open days and passing people with his wife on the back of that yacht. I didn't really believe him until I went to one of those open days and saw it. Big bikes can be fast and corner when you know what you're doing.

    I am currently bikeless while abroad, but looking forward to getting back stateside so I can tinker and ride again - will follow this as a vicarious hobby!
     
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  8. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    Absolutely. I won't claim that I am anywhere close to an expert rider. In PA I was better at carving the corners since, well, we had a lot more of them so I was in better practice. One of my friends back there had been riding basically his entire life, and he can out-ride most riders on sport bikes with his '88 Tour Glide.

    I miss the twisties. There are some nice roads not too terribly far from here on the Missouri side, but you have to get to them. Not like PA where I just went out of my house and was already on a beautiful motorcycling road.
     
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  9. charheep

    charheep Line Up and Wait

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    How many man-hours are you guessing for this project? I know the final amount will be more, but whats your estimate?
     
  10. Sac Arrow

    Sac Arrow Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I've owned several bikes, and I've ridden Harleys. Hands down my least favorite bike I have ever ridden was, not a Harley, but my Kawasaki Concours C14. Harley's are heavy, but the weight is down low. The Connie is heavy, and top heavy. If you're riding it fast through the twisties, it's fine, but parking lot turns = dropped bike and it's an itchbay to get up right. I don't currently have a bike but if I were to get one, it would probably be the current generation BMW 12RT. I had an 08. Loved that bike.
     
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  11. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    The book estimate is 8-10 man hours for the big bore kit. Really the exhaust and intake you have to do as part of that anyway, so that's about what they figure.

    I'm planning on it taking a weekend, and potentially spill into a third day. That's for the work itself, and assumes I don't run into any problems or extra parts needed.

    Since I'm going to be doing tires as well, I'll pull the wheels off first thing when I get the bike on the lift and then take those to the shop to have the tires swapped on whenever I get a chance.

    Then figure the time for the initial dyno run and then the final dyno tune.

    That's a lot of what I like about the Harleys compared to the various higher performing Jap bikes. My least favorite bike I've ever ridden was a Goldwing 1200 - that thing was extremely top heavy. The VTX 1800, while a bike I enjoyed owning, was also significantly harder to handle than the big Harleys.

    Incidentally (slight thread drift), this is due in large part to the pushrod valvetrain arrangement as opposed to an overhead cam arrangement. The overhead cam arrangement requires bigger cylinder heads (which are heavier), adds the cams up top, etc. GM has been criticized by many for their continued use of pushrod V8s in the Corvette, but GM has cited the exact advantages of a low center of gravity. There's a lot to that, and that's also part of why I decided to stick with a pushrod engine in the Cobra instead of going the Coyote (DOHC) route like many do.
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2020
  12. Sac Arrow

    Sac Arrow Touchdown! Greaser!

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    There is also no real advantage of having overhead cams in an engine that isn't revving in the 6K+ rpm range, except perhaps form factor in an inline engine.

    It's also pointless to have an electronic ignition system.
     
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  13. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    I overall agree with that. Overhead cams really come into their realm above the redlines you see on Harleys. So for a sport bike or sport tourer where you're still pushing 9k+ redlines, obvious nod to a DOHC arrangement. For something like a Harley? Just adds weight up high where you don't want it.

    And that's also why overhead cams offer no benefit on piston aircraft engines, and actually hurt things since they add weight and size (i.e. drag).

    [​IMG]
     
  14. Sac Arrow

    Sac Arrow Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Got to hand it to you, Yoda man!
     
  15. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    Yesterday the box of exhaust showed up. This was, by far, the biggest box (not surprising):

    [​IMG]

    At this point I have all of the parts that I should need to start the project. I also got a new oil filter (I like the K&N oil filters on these) and oil (I'm going with Mobil 1 V-Twin 20W-50 - with the extra power and hotter temps this should be good). Tires are due to arrive today.

    The Dynojet guys have made arrangements for my initial dyno run to get the baseline of where my bike is. I need to get that scheduled, hopefully next week (assuming the weather cooperates - thunderstorms in the forecast when my wife is home). I'm going to be really curious to see what my bike is putting to the pavement right now with the minor bolt-ons that I did to it after buying it initially.
     
  16. Bill Jennings

    Bill Jennings Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    All that and a free shirt too!
     
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  17. flhrci

    flhrci Final Approach

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    I have seen viedos of races where the Milwaukee Iron beat the ricers. So the problem is not he Harley.
     
  18. flhrci

    flhrci Final Approach

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    That was some of the most boring riding I have ever done and I was only there for a month. But he BBQ is good, right @Matthew ?
     
  19. Matthew

    Matthew Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Sure, not many twisties, but boring is in the eye of the beholder.

    [​IMG]

    And you were at Joe's for BBQ, about the best in all of KC.

    As far as the rest of the state? There are pockets, but not like KC area itself.
     
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  20. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

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    Dumb move, not unsurprising for the Ted. Those kind of mods give incremental power increases at best, and rarely overcome their own inertia. Kinda like speed mods on airframes. I said it once and I'll day it again, you want a fast bike, get a fast bike. Even with all those mods Il Negrini will run circles around your Harley. If you HAVE to have Vtwin power (I'll never know why) get a KTM. They scream off a Vtwin, have power in every RPM band, are comfy and don't look like something your grandfather ought to be riding.
     
  21. Bill Jennings

    Bill Jennings Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    I suppose it’s always 5 o’clock somewhere...
     
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  22. jesse

    jesse Administrator Management Council Member

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    Sigh...Am I the only one that can't stop laughing thinking about Steingar in real life? I'd like to see him go up to a group of Harley guys and tell them how dumb they are. Of course, he wouldn't do that, only a tough guy on the internet or in a classroom...
     
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  23. bnt83

    bnt83 Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    All I see is a busy guy enjoying life!

    I just finished another month of MX/mods on a 182... Might fly it today.
     
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  24. MuseChaser

    MuseChaser Cleared for Takeoff

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    Just saw this thread title for the first time and though, "Hey, Ted's getting a Honda!"

    <ducking>
     
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  25. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    I've owned two - a VTX 1800 and a VFR 800i. I thoroughly enjoyed both of them.
     
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  26. MuseChaser

    MuseChaser Cleared for Takeoff

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    I was just being a jerk. I've owned a couple Hondas and enjoyed them... still have one. Always lusted after a Heritage Springer Softail, late 80s-90s vintage... still think they're about the prettiest bikes ever made. Never took the plunge. Thanks for being good-natured!
     
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  27. Kenny Phillips

    Kenny Phillips En-Route

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    I would simply race the Harley guys who thought they had quick bikes. (I had a 1460cc GS1100 Suzuki, essentially a pro-stock engine with overrunning transmission and hard tail, that I rode on the street. It ran 8.60s ... more than 35 years ago. And I rode it to work.)
     
  28. Bill Jennings

    Bill Jennings Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Those old Suzuki engines were the Chevy small block of the motorcycle world.
     
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  29. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    I love the look of the springer fork. I've never ridden one and have heard that they don't do as good a job as the standard forks for ride comfort or handling. But they look cool, and sometimes that's what you want.

    I'd enjoy an older Harley one day. One of my friends has a bunch of vintage Harleys, including some that he keeps in a "derelict/patina" look. Done right, they really do look cool. And like a lot of the other old machines I have, fun to operate in their own way.
     
  30. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    I mostly find it funny that someone who's so into origami is so not into zen.

    Which reminds me, I should read "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" again.
     
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  31. Bill Jennings

    Bill Jennings Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    I have the Uber Germanic R1200GS water boxer, and enjoy it greatly. That said, a buddy of mine just bought an ex police Harley Davidson, and it reminds me of the Street Glide I used to have.

    I can see myself perusing used bike ads for a used police FLH. Not to replace the BMW, but to augment.
     
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  32. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    More goodies arrived! Today it was the tires (or "tahrs" if you prefer):

    [​IMG]

    I went with Pirelli Night Dragon tires. Supposedly they don't last as long, but are the stickiest/best performing tires for the big touring bikes. I figure with the extra horsepower the extra stickiness is worthwhile. That said, I've never had a problem with traction with the stock Harley tires, but I also like playing around with different tire types.

    The Dynojet guys and I also spent some time talking about oil coolers. S&S recommends an oil cooler be added for warmer climates with the 110" Power Package. Given that Kansas summers tend to have highs of 90+F, I think we qualify here. They looked into the hot ticket for this (pun intended) and we're going to be adding a genuine Harley oil cooler:

    https://www.harley-davidson.com/store/premium-oil-cooler-kit-pa-04-2615509--1

    Given how much oil plays a part in cooling on air-cooled engines, I think this will be good for engine longevity as well as detonation margin. I do like how the cooler is mounted low so it won't obstruct cooling to the cylinders that need it the most.
     
  33. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    One of the things I love about motorcycles is that it's practical to have a number of them, all of which are very enjoyable in their own ways.

    I can't remember what year it was when you stopped by my house in PA on your motorcycle trip. It was before Laurie moved in so I'm guessing 2008-2010. In those days I tended to have a gaggle of bikes in the garage, all of which were fun. At one point I had 6 bikes living on premises (not all of which were mine) and would often ride a different one every day to work.

    You can enjoy having a fleet of cars similarly, but it's not quite the same as motorcycles.
     
  34. Bill Jennings

    Bill Jennings Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    October 2009, I was on the '03 R1150RT. Yes, I carried that wood block in my tank bag as the aftermarket Wilbers suspension I put on that bike was both stiffer sprung and 1" longer than stock. Gave the old girl LOTS of cornering clearance. ;)

    [​IMG]

    Nice thing about multiple bikes is you can usually keep them all inside out of the weather. Not so easy with cars.
     
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  35. Bill Jennings

    Bill Jennings Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    I'll be putting a new front tire on the BMW this weekend, a Michelin Anakee III this time. I have five brands that I like for the adventure category, and pretty much buy whatever brand is the best deal at the time as I've found that among these brands/models all of the tires are good performers and last a similar amount of miles.
     
  36. Bill Jennings

    Bill Jennings Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Pic of my present ride and a couple of pics one of my PAX took while on a ride:

    Capture4.JPG Capture3.JPG Capture2.JPG Capture.JPG
     
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  37. Fiveslide

    Fiveslide Line Up and Wait

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    Great call. I'd never, ever use expected life as a main reason to buy a tire. Even when I was buying eight drive tires for my Freightliner. Traction expectations always topped the list.
     
  38. GrummanBear

    GrummanBear Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Nothing like a GS! The night I met my wife, we took the ‘08 pictured on an adventure; we have been together ever since.

    Unfortunately, the frame was smashed and drive shaft snapped in half while riding cross country (seriously though, Atlanta drivers!)...broke three bones, took an Uber to the airport, and bought an outfit not bloodied up in the terminal to get an agent to sell me a ticket home :)

    Ride an ‘07 almost 800 miles/month these days.

    Adding Street Glide with dragger bags wouldn’t hurt my feelings...

    BF1223AC-1AA3-4D35-860D-ED46140D26E2.jpeg
     
  39. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    Very true. Our bikes are garaged, the cars all live outside. Obviously the Cobra will live inside, and once it's done I should be able to put the XKR in as well. But Laurie wants the hangar built so she can park her cars in the garage near the house. :)

    Have you run the Pirelli Night Dragons before? Curious what your thoughts are.

    That's how I've always been. Longevity is nice, but it doesn't do much good without traction. Whenever I've driven or owned vehicles with low traction tires it's driven me nuts since I drive in rain, snow, mud, hard acceleration, etc.
     
  40. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

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    steingar
    I mostly ride my bike on sunny days, so I don't worry about traction quite so much. The Ted needs to really worry about traction for all those twisty roads out there in Kansas.