Tech Questions & Answers

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Squeal deal
Q **I have a '06 H-D Dyna Wide Glide and need to replace the rear (only) brake pads. Actually, they don't even look too worn, but they are squeaking right at the end of my stops, so if I am going to take them apart, I thought I might as well replace them. I have looked all over the Internet, but can't find an answer to this question: If I buy the pads to install them myself, can this task be done while the rear wheel & rotor are on the bike? I don't want to loosen the two small star bolts without knowing for sure that I will be able to push the new ones into place and replace the bolts). In addition, what is your recommendation for the best replacement pads to install & where you suggest is the best (least expensive) place to buy them. Any help you can provide will be greatly appreciated.
**Marshall Maher
Via e-mail

**A **_My first suggestion would be to try cleaning the pads with a shot or two of brake wash before you replace them, you may be pleasantly surprised at the results. I'd also suggest you purchase a shop manual and read through the section on rear brake replacement before diving in too deep. While replacing the rear pads is a straightforward enough job there are some nuances to it that can trip up the unwary and the consequences of even a small mistake can have some nasty repercussions.

That aside, the short answer is yes, the pads can be replaced without removing the caliper, rotor or wheel from the bike. As far as replacement pads, I'd suggest going with OEM, or one of the top shelf aftermarket suppliers like EBC or DP, they're relatively inexpensive and meet or exceed OEM standards._

Q **I have a stripped oil drain plug on my Road Star. People have recommended using a Heli-Coil to repair it. What are your thoughts? In addition, what is the flow of oil through the engine? Does oil flow from the bottom of the case up through the oil filter? Will the filter catch anything that might be in the case?
Via e-mail

**A **_My first thought is bummer Paul. My next thought may do you some good. I'd use either a Helicoil or better yet, a similar type of thread repair device called a Time-Sert,

To prevent chips from entering the engine coat the tap with stiff grease, wheel-bearing grease works really well, and withdraw the tap every few threads so you can clean it and apply fresh grease. It sounds tedious but it's a lot less tedious than filling your crankcase with aluminum chips. Flush the area with brake wash or contact cleaner before and after you've installed the thread repair device, and you should be good to go. Any leftover debris will be too small to cause any damage, and should be picked up and trapped by the oil filter._

Bonneville Blues
Q I have a tech question for you. I have a '06 Bonneville with 7500 miles on it. Here's the problem; I went for a ride yesterday. The bike started right up and ran perfectly. I parked in the garage, took the key out and hung it on its nail. When I went out this morning I turned the key and nothing, no lights, the bike wouldn't turn over.

So far, I've done the following;
* Checked the kill-switch: It's on.
* Checked the battery: cables tight.
* Checked the fuses: all good.

I tried to bump start it three times. The engine started to run for a few seconds, maybe three, then quit. I tried to jump-start it, which brought the lights on, but the starter button was still dead. I moved the key around in the ignition while trying to jump-start it with no results. Any ideas?
James Collins
Via e-mail

A _It sounds like you have a bad battery, perhaps compounded by a charging system problem. First, fully charge the battery and test it, using a voltmeter, ideally with the battery fully-charged you should have a reading of between 12.8 and 13.5 volts across the terminals. If the battery is much below that have it load tested and replace it if need be. With a fully charged battery, my guess is the bike will start right up, and you can check the charging system output.

With the bike running at a fast idle you should be reading somewhere around 14.0 volts (DC) at the terminals although anything from about 13.5 on up is fine, at higher speeds you might see 15 volts. If the charging system is at fault you'll have to take the necessary steps to trouble shoot it.

As a last thought, it occurs to me that you may have inadvertently removed the key with the switch in the PARK position, which would have left the tail and headlight parking lights on and drained the battery overnight. In that case recharging the battery should have you back on the road in short order._

Chopped Liver?
Q It has always puzzled me why most (Japanese anyway) middleweight cruisers only have one front disc brake. Last time I checked, at under $10k only the Star 1100 trio had dual front disc brakes. For a while, the Suzuki M90 was $9999 and so it slipped in and the Harley 1200 Sportster Roadster also had duals in the front but I believe both of those bikes are over $10k now.

Even some larger cruisers have only one disc brake in front. Why is this? No serious sport bike would be without duals and not only that they would have more pots and pads, sometimes as many as 4 per disc.

My experience with dual front discs on a Suzuki 750 convinced me they are easily worth whatever extra cost they may create. What are we cruiser riders: chopped liver?
Via e-mail

A I don't mean to seem like a smart ass here but the simple reason the bikes you mention don't come with dual front discs is because (A) they don't need them, and (B) those bikes are built to a price point, adding the second disc would increase the bikes price and add very little in "perceived value." Bottom line; while a second disc would be of undisputed benefit, all of the bikes you mention stop perfectly well as they are.