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Not-so Heavy Hauling
My wife and I are looking to accessorize our Honda shadow 750 Aero, 2006 version. Someone had mentioned we could pull a trailer. Is this possible? And if so, what capacity?
Jeff Simmons
Via email

Let me keep this short and sweet Jeff-neither Honda nor I recommend pulling a trailer with your Aero, so if you want to accessorize, buy yourself a windshield and some saddlebags and forget about trailers.

Going Tubeless
You are my last hope: I have tried every source of information from dealers to the internet, and cannot find tubeless rims for my '2000 Drifter 1500! If there truly are no such things, then is sealing my rims a possibility? Love the retro looks of the bike, but really want the latest tech on tires.
Bill in AZ.

I'm not aware of any over-the-counter sealed wire spoke rims made for the Drifters, though mags are available and I really don't think anyone is still sealing OEM rims; there were just too many issues. That being said tube tires will work just fine on your Drifter, so no need to worry.

SM Isn't What You Think
I was recently at Advanced Auto to pick up my favorite oil, and could only find oil designated SM. I thought it must be for the newer turbo engines. Wrong. I checked every jug and found the same thing, 'SM'. I asked the counter guy about it and he had no idea, but informed me that they had Four-cycle Motorcycle Oil in its own aisle. Sure enough, same 10w40, same everything except this had the Sg, Sf, Sc, ratings. Oh yeah-and at twice the price

I tried Auto Zone and Pep Boys and it was the same-old, same-old. I caved and went to the cycle shop and paid $4.97 a quart for regular 10w40 oil. So, Oh Wizard, tell the Unworthy One; what does SM indicate?
Phil (Other info withheld due to shame)
Via email

Actually, by the time I got around to answering this letter in print the SM designation had been superseded by the new SN-designated oil, which is purported to work somewhat better with ethanol laced fuels and turbocharged engines than the previous SM grade oils. But no matter, the SM oil is backwards-compatible, as is SN, and should work just fine in your motorcycle, although I'd feel more comfortable if I knew what kind of bike you were riding!

Anecdotally, I have heard of some tappet and cam shaft problems that were reportedly caused because both SM and SN rated oils have lowered levels of the anti-scuff additive ZDDP (Zinc Dialkyl Dithio Phosphate), but those concerned older muscle cars using flat tappet cams, not motorcycles.

Should've read the How to
I have been riding for four years and finally decided to begin doing basic maintenance on my bike. I own a 2000 Yamaha V-Star 650 and recently did a valve adjustment. I went exactly by the service manual but ran into some trouble. When I was putting my tappet covers back on two of the bolts stripped the threads in the head. What really confuses me is that I torqued them to the exact spec the manual calls for. What's worse is that all other bolts did just fine when I did that. So am I doing something wrong? Is there a magic mechanic's trick to making this work? Now I have to remove the engine to put a Helicoil kit in the two stripped holes.
Justin Gray
Camarillo, CA

_Why your threads stripped, I can't tell you, at least not without examining the threads or knowing what procedure you used when you torqued. If I had to guess, I'd say that the two bolts were most likely overtightened by the last person that worked on the bike. This damaged the threads in the head, so when you tightened the bolts to their specified torque, they literally pulled the threads out of their hole. _

_Since you managed to get six of the bolts in without problem, I doubt you're doing anything fundamentally wrong, however, I would suggest-and I don't mean this to be insulting-that your inexperience and whatever other contributing factors were present conspired against you. _

_I'd also suggest that few experienced mechanics would have used a torque wrench to tighten those bolts. I'm not saying using one was bad, but most guys that twist bolts for a living have had similar experiences, and over the years have learned that when you're working with a non-critical fastener, especially a small one that's prone to stripping, it's often better to use feel and a short wrench to tighten the little bugger than it is to use a torque wrench. _

_The problem is that torque wrenches can be cumbersome, especially the click types, and you really can't feel how tight the bolt's getting until it's stripped. Obviously, it takes some practice to develop that feel, which most of us have acquired by stripping a fair number of bolts. In any event, when I torque small fasteners I only use a beam or dial type torque wrench, which provides somewhat more feel. _

Lastly, before pulling the engine, try one of the plastic thread repair kits. I've had good luck with Loc-Tite Form-A-Thread kits to repair exactly the kind of damage you're dealing with. If doesn't work you're no worse off than before.

Tech Questions & Answers | Shop Talk - Motorcycle Cruiser Magazine