Answering Your Tire, Air Filter And CVT Questions

A Shiftless Bunch
Q What do you think has led to the odd situation where CVT transmissions seem to dominate world scooter sales, yet very few, if any, automatic transmissions are offered on motorcycles? To my knowledge there is only one new manually shifted scooter sold in the USA today, the Genuine Stella. All the rest are automatics. Car manufacturers seem to be able to drop a CVT into anything they like. Are we motorcycle riders that opposed to shiftless rides? I remember well the Honda Hawk and 750 automatics. Technology doesn't seem to be the problem. Perhaps there are bikes I'm not aware of.
Via e-mail

A _Interesting question. Since you asked for an opinion, here it is: I've ridden nearly every bike ever built with an automatic or CVT (continuously variable transmission), from a Rokon 340 off-road bike to a Moto Guzzi Convert, and with the exception of the Rokon, which was an absolute blast to ride in the woods, every one of them was as boring as watching paint dry. I can't help but think that the majority of motorcyclists also feel that way and for that simple reason they (automatics) have remained unpopular.

However, I do know that Aprilia is poised to release its Mana 850, a standard-type motorcycle that employs a very sophisticated CVT. By all accounts the Mana is an awesome ride, and I can only imagine how nicely it might work when outfitted with a windshield and bags as a light touring bike. I don't know if it will change people's perceptions of an automatic motorcycle, but it'll be interesting to find out._

Filter foul-up
Q I have an '05 Honda VTX 1300C. I had a set of Vance & Hines pipes installed awhile back, and the shop stripped a bolt in the process. They also had to change the carb jet and put a K&N; air filter on it. Today I decided to check the filter, as I think you can clean and replace it. In any event I found that two of the small bolts that hold the air-cleaner cover on were stripped. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised. I have tried pulling on the cover while attempting to unscrew the bolts, and no luck. Any suggestions on how to get the cover off without ruining it or the poly piece underneath? !
Dick DeArmond
Via e-mail

A _By stripped I'm assuming you mean that when you turn the screws that hold the outer cover in place they just spin without releasing their grip, yes?

The outer cover is fastened to the air-cleaner housing by screws that grip threaded inserts embedded in the housing's plastic. Chances are those inserts (sometimes called "nutserts") have broken loose from the plastic and are now just spinning freely. Unfortunately they still have enough tension on them to prevent the cover from pulling off.

I've run into this several times, and in truth it's not always the mechanic's fault. Sometimes the screws just seize in their threads, and when you try to remove them the torque breaks the insert before the screw loosens.

Sometimes a small, 3/8-inch-drive air-driven impact gun can snap the fasteners loose, and sometimes putting a bit of pressure on the outer cover will work to preload the inserts so the screws can be removed. In your case you may have to drill the screw heads off, remove the cover and then repair or replace the housing, which isn't terribly expensive. Coating the screws with antiseize before you install them will prevent a reoccurrence of the problem._

Tire Turmoil
Q I just read your response about not putting radial tires on the Royal Star Tour Deluxe, and it sparked me to ask you this: I recently bought a new '06 RSTD and like the bike well enough, but it is a true pig at parking-lot speeds. I have ridden on the street for 40 years and owned lots of motorcycles, but none of them have been this clumsy at slow speeds. My previous bike was an '02 Road Glide, and I easily outmaneuvered everyone the last time I took the MSF Advanced Rider Course (that really surprised the fellas who think Harleys take a whole parking lot to turn around in). Would putting a smaller tire on the front of my bike help out? At my age this is becoming a real problem. But before I run out and buy some new Metzelers (my tire of choice for the past 20 years), I wanted to check with an expert.
John Almy
Via e-mail

A _At low speed things like frame geometry and weight displacement play an enormous role in the way the bike feels and handles, so it's going to be impossible to make your Royal Star feel anything like your Road Glide, which had its frame and fork specifically designed to enhance low-speed maneuvering and is in my opinion probably the best all-around-handling heavy cruiser on the market.

But that doesn't mean you can't improve the handling of your Star to some degree.

I wouldn't recommend reducing the size of the front tire per se. That might have some very unpleasant repercussions. However, every manufacturer's tire has its own distinct profile, so by swapping the OEMs for something else you may effect a change for the better. Regrettably I'm not familiar enough with the Star to make anything more than broad suggestions as far as replacement tires go, but I've no doubt the Royal Star forums have addressed the subject to some degree, so you can probably glean some useful information there._