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Paul Olesen

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  1. I thought this week it would be a good idea to share with you an example of what can happen when dirt gets passed an engine's air filter. This will be a short post, but a picture is worth a thousand words. In my next post I’ll go into detail on how to properly care for your air filter to help ensure that this never happens to you. The series of photos below shows a sad case where dirt has found its way into the engine and wreaked havoc. The photos are all from the KX250F I bought on the cheap with the sole intention of rebuilding the engine and documenting the process for my book, The Four Stroke Dirt Bike Engine Building Handbook. Honestly, I couldn’t have bought a better bike for the project, nearly everything on the bike was worn out or screwed up from the previous owner. Here is how the air filter and airbox looked prior to disassembly. Here is the back side of the air filter. The filter was completely dry. There was no grease on the sealing face of the filter or the airbox flange. In this particular case, dirt could have got into the engine through the filter or between the filter and sealing flange. The amount of dried mud in the airbox and on the bike also makes me suspicious that muddy water got into the engine instead of just dirt. I honestly can’t say for certain. The airbox itself was also extremely dirty. Once the engine was disassembled I carefully examined the piston assembly and cylinder bore. At first, I could not get any of the rings to move freely. Only after I had pounded a pick between the ring ends of the compression ring was I able to get the compression ring off. As I removed the compression ring, a load of sand came with it. This photo of the compression ring doesn’t do the situation justice. Some of the dirt was actually removed from the ring as I handled it. Here is a close up of the compression ring. Note all the grit! The oil rings didn’t fair any better, were just as stuck, and had a lot of dirt on them. Here you can see dirt inside the ring grooves and at the edges. Here is dirt I rubbed off the oil rings. Miraculously (and fortunately for me) whether the engine sucked in dirty air or water, it happened quickly and stuck the rings to the piston so they could no longer seal correctly, and the engine subsequently lost compression and power in a hurry. This speculation is based on the fact that the cylinder bore showed no signs of excessive wear or damage and it measured well within the service limits. This is an outcome I never though possible and is hard to believe. I hope you enjoyed this brief write up on the damage that can result from ingesting dirt, whether from abnormal circumstances such as dropping a running engine into a mud hole or simply neglecting to take care of the air filter when running the engine in dusty conditions. In my next post I’ll show you how to care for and install your filters so these problems don’t happen to you! Questions or comments are always welcome and I enjoy hearing from you all! -Paul https://www.diymotofix.com/ If you like my blog, click the "Follow this blog" button in the upper right. You must be registered to do this.
  2. Paul Olesen

    Are Project Bikes Even Worth It?

    Whenever purchasing a used dirt bike, no matter how well inspected, there is always an element of chance involved. The possibility of an engine failure is what worries everyone the most and is a costly disaster to deal with. For those mechanically inclined, seeking a blown up bike can be alluring because it allows the new owner a fresh start. While this may seem like an ideal situation how often does it financially make sense and how do you decide to make the purchase? At DIY Moto Fix we just picked up a 2006 Honda CRF250R “Project” over the weekend, and I want to share the financial reasoning that went into the purchase as well as discuss the critical inspections we made which led me to pull the trigger. Over the next several months we’ll see if I made a good decision! The criteria I intend on using to determine if my purchase was justified or not will depend on a couple things. First, if I sell the bike will I net more money than I have into it, or at the least, break even? Second, could I have spent an equivalent amount of money elsewhere and gotten a bike that has a freshly rebuilt engine, which to me, equates to a machine that will provide countless hours of trouble-free riding? The bike will also be the subject of several blog posts and perhaps videos. However, these uses will not be factored into the valuation of the decision. No corners will be cut throughout the rebuild, and the end result will be a robust bike that I would be proud to keep, should I choose to. That said, let’s take a look at what I picked up! The Bike I found the bike listed on Craigslist for $1000. There wasn’t much detail behind the ad, and it consisted of a couple of sentences. In summary, the ad basically said everything was there, a new crankshaft and main bearings were included as well as a new top end. A half dozen pictures were presented and the engine was neatly laid out. I contacted the seller and inquired if any engine components were missing or needed replacement. I was reassured the only things missing were the valve keepers! While it would be great to think the engine could easily be reassembled, I had my doubts. I needed to investigate in person. Preparation If you’re ever in a situation where you need to collect an engine in pieces, don’t rush and forget to come prepared. Some engine components shouldn’t get mixed around or interchanged and it’s incredibly helpful to keep the hardware separated by subsystems. Here’s a list of the storage aids I brought with: Sharpie marker Ziplock bags Boxes Plastic part bins The Real Story When I arrived, I was greeted by an avid rider who was friendly and had four seemingly well-kept bikes in his garage plus a bunch of moto-related parts, not a bad start. He showed me the 250R he was selling and I began my inspections. Inspections In most cases the engine internals aren’t accessible when looking at used bikes for sale, so as funny as it may sound, it can be really easy to get caught up in the excitement of the potential sale and forget to look at a lot of critical parts. Each major engine component that gets overlooked can be a several hundred dollar mistake and make or break the profitability of the purchase. I want to cover the engine internals I carefully inspect to estimate the cost of the rebuild. VIN Number I’m a practical person and highly recommend ensuring the VIN number is unmolested and the seller’s “sale story” remains consistent throughout the sale. Don’t bother inspecting anything else if the VIN number has been tampered with. On some bikes, such as this one, cable chafing wore through part of the VIN number. This type of wear is easily discernible from intentional tampering. Crankcases Crankcases are one of the most expensive parts on an engine to replace, so look carefully for cracks and other damage. Scrutinize bearing bores, seal bores, threaded holes, cam chain guide slots, gearbox features, and mating surfaces. In this particular case, both the left and right case halves were damaged. I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me to try and bring these back. We’ll discuss welding crankcases in an upcoming post! Crankshaft Check the crankshaft to ensure it is at the very least serviceable. Look for surface damage, worn or broken gear teeth, and pitting. I recommend always assuming the crankshaft will require a rebuild even if it feels okay. Fortunately for me, this bike came with a new Wiseco crank assembly. Bearings All the engine bearings should be checked for notchiness. Any bearings that are gritty or bind when rotated should be replaced. For this particular engine, I’m planning on replacing them all. Conrod I recommend installing a new rod in conjunction with servicing the crankshaft. However, if you’re considering using the crank assembly, inspect the rod small end and feel how the big end rotates. Look for pitting and signs of distress in the small end. Notchiness in the big end warrants further investigation. Cylinder Inspect the cylinder walls for damage. Any defects you can catch your fingernail in should be cause for concern. The cylinder that came with this engine will either be replated or replaced. Piston/Rings The condition of the piston and rings can help determine what may have led the engine to be sold in pieces, however, reusing it isn’t something I’d recommend. Get in the habit of automatically budgeting for a new piston assembly anytime you come across a project bike. Cylinder Head The cylinder head is an expensive assembly to replace. While you always want it to be okay, I’ve found that by the time the bike reaches “project” status many of the internals, including the cylinder head, are in need of major TLC. Occasionally the valve seats can provide insight, however, I prefer to look at the valves themselves. Inspect the combustion chamber, head gasket sealing surface, and threaded holes in the cylinder head. Stripped fastener holes in the cylinder head can be very challenging to fix. On this engine, the valve seats will need to be recut or replaced, at a minimum. Valves Take a look at the valve faces for signs of recession and damage. Severely worn valves will be visible to the naked eye. This is the case with my new acquisition. Camshaft Inspect the cam lobes and any associated bearings for damage. Any pitting present on the cam lobes will warrant replacement. I’ll be installing a new cam in this engine. Transmission The gearbox shafts and gears should be inspected carefully for damage. On machines that don’t shift well and pop out of gear, damage to at least two mating gears will preside. Look at the gear dogs for excessive rounding as well as the mating slot. On this 250R the gearbox is in great shape. Clutch The clutch is an easy component to inspect visually. Look for basket and hub grooving which signifies a worn out clutch. In my case, this was easy to spot. Bike Inspections I’m not going to deep dive into the bike inspections since we’ve discussed this in a previous post and put together a comprehensive guide on the subject, which you can find here. In this particular situation, based on the amount of distress the radiators displayed I have to assume they will need to be replaced. The rest of the bike was in okay shape and luckily for me, the seller had some spare plastics, spare seat, and new tank plastics, which helped sweeten the pot. Rebuild Estimate Replacement parts for different makes and models vary, but I tend to make rough estimates based on the table shown below. The table is presented in a la carte style so cost estimates can be determined depending on what components must be replaced. The next table details the components I’m expecting to replace on the Honda. In this particular case, I’m estimating I’ll have $1630 into the resurrection of the bike and engine. I bought the bike for $800, so I’ll have a total of $2430 into the machine if my estimate is correct. Keep in mind this excludes monetary consideration for my labor. Since I’m going to use the bike for multiple projects, accurately tracking my labor will be challenging. If you’re looking to turn a profit fixing project bikes though, it’s essential to have a handle on the labor associated with each project. Resale Value I did a quick search on Craigslist to see what 2004-2007 Honda CRF250R’s were going for. I found a smattering of list prices and reasoned that I could sell this bike for at least $2000. Now, going by the numbers that put me out $430, again excluding labor. Was it worth it? As you can see from a financial standpoint this project probably wasn’t worth taking on, or was it? Apart from picking up a broken low-value machine and then completely rebuilding it, is there any other way to pick up a used bike that undergoes transformation and starts its life in your hands with a completely rebuilt engine? I highly value understanding the condition of my machines before I entrust them to carry me at high speeds past trees or over jumps so assessing the heart of the machine whenever practical is valuable to me. I also get incredible satisfaction from working in my shop and resurrecting a machine that may have otherwise been slated for the parts section of eBay. What about you? What is your take on project bikes? If you’re looking to expand your arsenal of skills when it comes to wrenching so you can take on more challenging projects, take a look at our two and four-stroke dirt bike engine building handbooks! The dirt bike engine building handbooks are nearly 300 pages apiece and share a wealth of knowledge you won’t find in your service manual when it comes time to rebuild your engine. Check them out on our website or on Amazon . Thanks for reading and have a great week! -Paul
  3. Paul Olesen

    Checking and Setting Cam Timing

    Today I'm going to cover how to check and set cam timing, which is something you can do if you have adjustable cam gears in your engine. This is a procedure often performed by race engine builders to ensure the valvetrain performs just as they intend, and ultimately so that they extract the desired performance out of the engine. Adjustable cam gears typically aren't a stock option but are abundantly available in the aftermarket. The following text is exerted from my book, The Four Stroke Dirt Bike Engine Building Handbook, so if you find this info valuable please take a look at the entire book. Degreeing the camshafts is the process of checking, and if necessary altering, the cam timing so that the timing is set perfectly to specified timing values. On stock and performance engines, cam timing can be off slightly due to manufacturing variations in parts such as the camshafts, cam gears, cam chain, cylinder, cylinder head, crankshaft, crankcase, and gaskets. With so many parts having an influence on cam timing, it is necessary to adjust and correct the timing so it coincides precisely with the desired timing values. The biggest factor determining how the camshafts must be timed is whether the cam lobes are symmetrical or asymmetrical. Camshaft lobes that are symmetrical have opening and closing ramps that share the same profile. Asymmetrical cam lobes have opening and closing ramps with different profiles. Symmetric and asymmetric camshafts are timed differently. First we will focus on the timing of symmetrical camshafts. Symmetric camshafts are timed most accurately by determining the position of the camshaft’s lobe center in relation to crankshaft position. A camshaft’s lobe center is where peak lift occurs, which is the most important timing event of the camshaft. Since the tip of the camshaft is rounded, it would be difficult to determine the lobe center by taking a direct measurement of peak valve lift. The opening and closing points of the camshaft are also of little use because the cam opens and closes gradually. This makes it difficult to determine the precise position in which the camshaft opens or closes the valves. The lobe center position is a calculated value based on the position of the camshaft at two specific points of valve lift, typically with valve clearances set to zero. Normally the position of the camshaft is recorded at 0.050” (1.27mm) of lift as the valve opens and 0.050” (1.27mm) of lift when the valve closes. By recording the position of the camshaft at a specific valve lifts, the cam lobe is on a predictable portion of the opening and closing ramps. The center of the cam lobe is exactly in the middle of these two measurements. To calculate the lobe center of a symmetrical cam lobe you will need to do the following: 1. Add the measured opening and closing timings together 2. Add 180 degrees to the sum 3. Divide the answer by 2 4. Subtract the smaller value of the two opening and closing numbers from the answer to reach the lobe center value. Once the actual lobe center value has been determined on the engine, it can be compared to the specified lobe center timing presented by the manufacturer, aftermarket cam supplier, or the engine tuner. If the measured lobe center position coincides with the targeted position, all the work is done. If not, the cam gear will need to be adjusted so the timing is corrected. If you are checking the timing on stock cams and lobe center information isn't presented, you will need to determine the lobe centers the manufacturer recommends. To do this, the opening and closing timing information supplied in the service manual can be used. Aftermarket camshafts should come with a timing card full of useful information to set the cams correctly if they are adjustable, otherwise the lobe centerline can be calculated if the opening and closing timings are known. If you don’t like math, there are plenty of lobe center calculators available on the internet you can use. For the Kawasaki KX250F engine with the stock camshafts, the timing information is as follows: Intake Opens 40° BTDC (Before Top Dead Center) Intake Closes 72° ATDC (After Top Dead Center) Intake Lobe Center = ((40 + 72 + 180) ÷ 2) - 40 = 106° My calculated lobe center timing is 106°. When I check the cam timing, this will be the value the real engine hopefully yields. The lobe center for the exhaust cam can be found the same way. For the KX250F exhaust cam: Exhaust Opens 69° BBDC (Before Bottom Dead Center) Exhaust Closes 49° ATDC (After Top Dead Center) Exhaust Lobe Center = ((69 + 49 + 180) ÷ 2) - 49 = 100° Something not obvious I want to touch on is that if the intake opens after top dead center, a negative value for the opening should be used. If the exhaust closes before top dead center, a negative value should be used here as well. To start the process of checking the timing the valve clearances should be set to zero. Thicker shims can be used and zero clearance can be confirmed with a lash gauge. A degree wheel and pointer will need to be installed on the engine. There are many ways of attaching these items and each engine will provide its own challenges. Here I’ve left the flywheel on and installed a couple washers behind the degree wheel to space the degree wheel from the flywheel. Then the flywheel nut is used to secure the degree wheel. The pointer can be made from welding rod, a coat hanger, or anything else you can find. I’ll be finding TDC with the cylinder head installed, so I used one of the exterior head bolts to secure the pointer. If you will be finding TDC with the head off, choose another location. Before the cams can be timed, TDC must be found. This can be done with the cylinder head on or off depending on the process you use. The piston dwells a few degrees at TDC so more accuracy than zeroing the degree wheel to the piston’s highest position is necessary. Similar to finding the cam lobe center, TDC can be found by measuring equal distances on the piston’s up and down stroke and then confirming that the degree wheel timing is equal on both sides at the measured distances. Dial indicators or piston stoppers are commonly used to do this. HOT TIP: Piston stoppers can easily be made by removing the center section of a spark plug and then tapping a suitably sized threaded hole in the remaining part of the plug so a bolt and lock nut can be installed. The stopper can then be easily threaded into the spark plug hole. Whichever method of finding TDC you decide to use, start by moving the crankshaft to the approximate TDC position. Then without rotating the crankshaft move the degree wheel so that TDC on the wheel coincides with the pointer. Next, set up your piston stops or measure piston travel on both sides of TDC. In this example I’m using a dial indicator which extends through the spark plug hole down into the cylinder. I’ve decided to take measurements at 0.050” (1.27mm) of piston travel before and after TDC. At each measurement point the number of degrees indicated on the degree wheel before and after TDC should be the same if I have found true TDC. If the degree wheel values don’t read the same before and after TDC determine which way the wheel must be rotated so that the values become equal. Then carefully rotate the degree wheel without rotating the crankshaft to alter the degree wheel’s position. Once altered, recheck and confirm that true TDC has been found. This can be a tedious process but is extremely important for checking cam timing accurately. Repeat the procedure for checking TDC 3 - 5 times to ensure repeatability and accuracy. After true TDC has been found, be extremely careful not to inadvertently move the degree wheel or pointer. Do not rotate the crankshaft using the nut securing the degree wheel to the crankshaft. Instead, use the primary drive gear nut or bolt to rotate the engine over. Next, set up a dial indicator on the intake or exhaust lifter bucket, depending on which camshaft you are checking. You’ll have to use some ingenuity here in determining the best way to secure the dial indicator to the engine. I’ve used a flat piece of steel and secured it to the cam cap using the cylinder head cover holes. Make sure the indicator travels as parallel to the path of valve travel as possible for accurate readings. Also makes sure at least 0.060” (1.52mm) of travel from the indicator’s resting position is possible so adequate valve lift can be measured. Once the indicator has been set up, the cam timing can be checked. Whenever checking timing only rotate the engine over in the direction of engine rotation. Reversing engine rotation will result in inaccurate measurements due to the reversal of gear meshes and chain slack. If you miss a measurement point, rotate the engine over until you get back to the previous position. Slowly rotate the engine over until 0.050” (1.27mm) of valve lift has occurred. Then record the position of the degree wheel. Next, rotate the engine until the cam begins to close the valve. Once only 0.050” of indicated valve lift remains record the position of the degree wheel. Repeat this process of checking opening and closing positions 3 - 5 times to check for repeatability before calculating the cam lobe center. Once you are confident in your measurements proceed to calculate the cam lobe center. On the KX250F engine my intake lobe center is as follows: Measured Intake Open (0.050” Lift) 39 ° BTDC Measured Intake Closure (0.050” Lift) 74 ° ABDC Intake Lobe Center = (( 39 + 74 + 180 ) ÷ 2 ) - 39 = 107.5° On my stock KX250F engine the actual lobe center is 107.5°. At this point if I had adjustable cam gears, I could rotate the gear slightly so that the lobe center corresponded to the specified lobe center value. The same procedure is followed for checking and adjusting the exhaust cam timing. Remember if mistakes are made when setting cam timing big problems can result, so it is best to be very patient and focused when performing this task. Always check your work 3 - 5 times to make sure the timing is repeatable and making sense. When tightening adjustable cam sprockets, use a locking agent and be sure to torque the bolts to their specified values. When working with single camshafts that have both the intake and exhaust lobes ground on them, focus your efforts on achieving correct intake timing. Correctly setting intake timing is more important since it has a larger effect on power. The intake valves also have higher lift than the exhaust valves, potentially creating clearance troubles between the piston and valve if the intake valves are mistimed. With your new fangled ability to adjust cam timing, you may be wondering what happens if you advance or retard the intake and exhaust cams from their standard positions? The lobe separation angle refers to the number of degrees which separate the lobe center of the intake lobe from the lobe center of the exhaust camshaft. The lobe separation angle can be calculated using the following formula: LSA = (Intake Centerline + Exhaust Centerline) ÷ 2 As a rule of thumb, reducing the lobe separation angle by advancing the intake and retarding the exhaust camshaft will increase valve overlap, move power further up the power curve, increase cylinder pressure, increase the chance of detonation, and reduce the piston to valve clearances. On the contrary, increasing the lobe separation angle by retarding the intake cam and advancing the exhaust cam will have somewhat of the opposite effect. There will be less valve overlap, power will move to a lower RPM, chances of detonation will be reduced, and the valve to piston clearances will increase. The likelihood of finding more or better power by advancing or retarding the camshafts is not all that likely because manufacturers, tuners, and aftermarket companies already test specific combinations of cam timings to death. In addition, if the lobe separation angle is reduced, the piston to valve clearances should be checked to ensure they are adequate. My advice is to run the prescribed cam timings to reduce the chance of problems occurring. Asymmetric camshaft timing can be set in a similar fashion to symmetric camshafts, however instead of focusing on the lobe center position, the specific opening and closing points will need to be measured. Timing cards supplied with asymmetric cams should have specific instructions for setting timing, but normally valve clearance is set to zero and cam positions are recorded at specific lift heights. Based on the measured opening and closing positions, adjustments are made to the timing until the timing matches the specified values. I hope you enjoyed this exert on checking and adjusting cam timing. As always feedback is appreciated so please leave comments below. If you're interested in more engine building info check out my book The Four Stroke Dirt Bike Engine Building Handbook. Right now we are having a 4th of July Sale where everything on our site is 20% off with the discount code fourthofjuly2017. Just be sure to enter the code upon checkout so you receive your 20% off! So if you've had your eye on our Four Stroke Dirt Bike Engine Building Handbook or even our Value Pack, but haven't pulled the trigger yet - go for it! Availabe at: DIYMotoFix.com - Paul
  4. Today I want to shift gears, open the floor for discussion, and talk about the state of dirt biking as it relates to the bikes we buy, ride, and maintain. In my relatively short existence, a number of things have happened in the industry which has been interesting to see. A few examples, which are not by any means exhaustive of all that has gone on, include the emergence of the four-stroke power plant, electronic fuel injection, improved tire technology, electric bikes, and the development of air forks. On a more micro-level we’ve seen improvements to materials, new manufacturing processes, and coating processes which have allowed ever increasing performance. As a fellow rider and someone who has no bias or stake when it comes to manufacturers and product offerings, I’d like to hear your thoughts as they relate to today’s machines. My question to you is a simple one, are your needs as a consumer being met by today’s manufacturers and bikes? What aspects of today’s machines do you love and what are pain points for you? If you could do things your way, what would you change? Are there machine variants that aren’t being offered? Leave a comment below that addresses these questions or share your historical perspective! I look forward to your responses. Thanks and have a great week! - Paul https://www.diymotofix.com/
  5. Paul Olesen

    Tips on Buying a Used Motorcycle

    TIPS ON BUYING THE PERFECT USED BIKE How many of you have bought your fair share of used bikes only to discover the moment you get it home that something is wrong with it? I have bought and sold a hefty amount of different types of vehicles over the years and recently started reflecting on some of my experiences. I have bought bikes that have run well, did not run at all, were partly assembled, or were complete basket cases. Sometimes there have been great deals and sometimes there have been total lemons. Occasionally I have even purchased bikes sight unseen and put my good faith in others to collect them for me. Has some of my behavior been risky when buying a used bike? Absolutely, but because of those experiences a lot of hard earned knowledge has come my way. With all the variables that get thrown into purchasing a used bike wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to increase your chances of avoiding a lemon? Over a month ago I started compiling all my used motorcycle buying advice to share with you. Now I know most of you are experts at buying used bikes, but these guides are great because it puts everything conveniently in one place, not to mention a printable checklist you can take with in your back pocket to reference in case you forget a few things. I began by writing down everything I considered vital when purchasing a used bike. Beginning with the research phase, I gave pointers on what to look into - prior to even browsing through any ads. Next I organized all the different things that are worthwhile to look over on the bike itself. In conjunction with that, I wrote down all the questions I think are important to ask the seller. Being allowed to test ride the bike is a huge thing for me also, so I went over all the different test procedures I use when test riding a potential bike. Last, but certainly not least, I included my tactics and tips when negotiating with the seller. These tips aim at the end result of hopefully heading home with a fantastic used bike in tow. After all this writing I ended up with two 30+ page buyer’s guides - one for dirt bikes and one for street motorcycles. These guides are the most thorough and detailed when it comes to purchasing a used bike I have found. I want to share eight of what I consider the top tips with all of you in my blog and ask that you download whichever free guide you need to learn the rest as there is just way too much information to post here. KNOW WHAT YOU WANT - RESEARCH MAKES & MODELS Thoroughly researching different makes and models will go a long way to ensure you get the bike you want. Familiarize yourself with the bikes you are interested in by researching and reading reviews on the particular makes and models you're interested in. By reading the reviews you will be able to gain a better understanding of what sort of performance you can expect from particular models, their shortcomings, and some things you can do to improve these bikes. CHECK THE VIN NUMBER Look on the frame of the bike for the VIN number to ensure that the bike is not stolen. If the VIN number is scratched off or the sticker has been removed, this is an indication that somewhere within the history of the bike it may have been stolen. If you have any suspicion that the bike is not clean, contact your local authorities and have them run a VIN number check. Refrain from exchanging any money until the the history of the bike is cleared. FEEL THE MOTOR Carefully feel near the engine for heat radiating off the engine to determine if the engine has been started prior to your visit. If the motor is warm it could indicate that the bike does not start easily when it is cold and the seller is trying to mask an issue with the carburetor or fuel injection system. If it is an older bike, a potential fix would be to clean and inspect the carburetor. If it is a fuel injected bike, there could be issues with the injectors, the fuel pump, the ECU, or the ignition system. CHECK HOW CLEAN THE MOTORCYCLE AND THE ENGINE ARE Often times if there is a problem or the motor is leaking, the seller will power wash the motor to hide the leak. If the motor or bike is suspiciously clean, when the seller runs the motor for you, double check around the engine for leaks that may appear. ASK THE SELLER WHY THEY ARE SELLING? This is a great ice breaker. This questions gives perspective into the seller’s motivation and reasons for selling. It also may give a glimpse into potential issues the bike may be having. HOW MANY MILES ARE ON THE BIKE AND WHAT HAS BEEN SERVICED? The mileage on a bike can be used as a very rough gauge to determine where it is at in its life however nowadays motorcycles are designed to perform well and not require a great deal of service work even with high mileage. How well the owner has taken care of the bike, the type of riding they did, and the conditions in which it was stored are all better factors for assessing where it is at in its life cycle. Street bikes typically require service after predetermined mileage intervals established by the motorcycle manufacturer. These services may include valve clearance checks, oil and filter changes, and clutch maintenance. This question will help you gauge when and how much upcoming service work may be required. In most cases street bike engines will last a long time and not require much internal engine work if the engine is routinely serviced and basic maintenance is performed. By familiarizing yourself with some of the routine maintenance tasks for the make and model you are interested in you can gauge the frequency and scope of work which is considered routine maintenance and compare this to what the seller tells you. Keep in mind if you are looking at bikes that have been raced or are of the single cylinder variety more maintenance may be required to keep them in top shape. LET THE ENGINE WARM UP & LISTEN TO IT IDLE Allow the engine to come up to operating temperature, this usually takes a few minutes of idling. Most bike are equipped with a coolant temperature gauge which you can reference to see how warm the engine is. Listen as the engine runs for how well the bike idles. The bike should have a nice consistent idle and the motor shouldn’t be hunting or surging. Assuming the bike is carbureted and does not idle, it is likely that the carburetor needs servicing or something is out of adjustment. If the bike is fuel injected and does not idle, there could be an issue with the fuel map, pump, or injector. SHIFT THROUGH ALL THE GEARS Feel with your foot how easily the bike shifts into the next gear. You should be able to feel if the gears kick back out or do not engage easily. If the bike jumps out of gear or does not shift well, there could be problems with the gearbox. Pay special attention to the shift from 1st to 2nd gear since this is the shift that requires the biggest stroke to engage (since neutral is between them) and usually wears out first. Typical problems may include rounded gear dogs, bent shift forks, or worn shift forks. Remember if any of these problems exist you will have to split the crankcases to remedy the problem (unless the engine utilizes a cassette style gearbox or has a separate transmission). Be sure to shift through all the gears at least a few times to make sure any problems that arise are repeatable and predictable. This will help rule out any user error where the rider did not shift fully. If you like the tips shared thus far and want to learn more about navigating the slippery slopes of buying a used bike, I would encourage you to download the free guide you need, whether it is dirt or pavement. The guides come in the form of a downloadable PDF, ready to be printed and kept forever. The Buyer’s Guides also include a checklist that you can bring along and reference as you proceed through all the steps of buying a used bike. The checklist is incredibly useful when it comes to looking over the bike and inspecting individual components. I know my adrenaline goes wild when picking up a new bike and I run the risk of skipping over one or two important things, so the checklist will ensure you do a thorough job. Just click the link below to go to the downloads! Grab Your Free Used Dirt Bike or Motorcycle Buying Guide Do you have any tips that I left out of the guides? If so, post them in the comments section so everyone can benefit from your experiences! Moto Mind - Empowering and Educating Riders from Garage to Trail P.S. If you haven't subscribed to my blog yet be sure to click the "Follow this Blog" button at the right of the page!
  6. Paul Olesen

    Are Project Bikes Even Worth It?

    You bring up a good point, the $2400 has not been spent and is what has been budgeted. If I can acquire parts cheaper than what I've budgeted I'm in better shape, if I have to spend more, I'm worse off. Based on my initial inspection my cost estimates include what I think needs to be serviced to make the bike operable. The additional items you've laid out would fall into maintenance costs, in my opinion, which every bike will have on an annual basis. Thank you for the lead on a cheaper cylinder option! For those looking at buying used bikes, we also put together a comprehensive buying guide: https://www.diymotofix.com/freebies.html
  7. Paul Olesen

    Are Project Bikes Even Worth It?

    You can look at it that way, however, in this case, upon inspection of the suspension, there were no signs that immediate servicing is required. Since I've made that call, I view it as a maintenance cost that should be allocated to bike ownership whether pre-existing or newly acquired which would occur in the off-season. The cost estimates I've shared address issues that keep the bike from being operable. If you were inclined to do the suspension work right away it would add 100-200 dollars depending on who is doing the work and what, if any, issues are found.
  8. Paul Olesen

    Are Project Bikes Even Worth It?

    Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed the article! Your engine doesn't have to seem complicated, I wrote the two and four stroke engine building handbooks to take the complication away. Please check them out here: https://www.diymotofix.com/books.html
  9. Paul Olesen

    How to Separate Your Crankcases The Right Way

    You're welcome. Tusk and Pit Posse offer splitters in the $50-60 range which I would recommend. If you want a really nice one you might consider the Motion Pro, however, you'll be spending about 3X more.
  10. Paul Olesen

    How to Separate Your Crankcases The Right Way

    “Splitting the cases” is often referred to as a daunting or undesirable task, but if you are well prepared and properly equipped then it can be a straightforward job. To alleviate any concerns you may have with the task, I want to discuss best practices and share some tips that you may find useful when dealing with crank bearings that utilize an interference fit with the crankshaft. We’ll get started by discussing preparatory items and work through to completing the job. Preparation I always recommend prepping for crankcase separation by thoroughly reviewing the service manual. This is important in case any special instructions are present, such as guidance on how the crankcases should be positioned. Typically, it is advantageous to lift one half off the other in a certain orientation due to the way the gearbox or other components are installed. Secondly, a review of the manual may highlight any specific hardware that must be removed prior to attempting to split the cases. From a tools standpoint, a crankcase splitter tool is a worthy investment because it will help ensure the job goes smoothly. Case splitters are relatively inexpensive and widely available. Alternatively, for the budget conscious or lesser prepared, a case splitter is something that could be fabricated. Whether buying or making, ensure you pick up a model with a protective end cap for the crankshaft or fabricate one. We’ll discuss the end cap later. The other tools required are all fairly standard and include your typical sockets, wrenches, and soft mallets. Wooden blocks or other soft semi-malleable spacers should be selected which level and raise the crankcases off the tabletop. This allows the cases to be positioned so that the split line between the cases lies horizontally and subsequent splitting can be done vertically. This will help ensure evenness of separation as well as reduce the likelihood of components falling out of the cases unexpectedly. As much as shortcuts are desirable, just about everything external to the cases must be removed in order to successfully split the cases. Clutch, stator, crank gear, etc. must be removed prior to case splitting. Your service manual will provide further clarity as to what needs to come off. Technique & Tips Once you’re ready to separate the cases, the first thing we’ll need to do is remove all the crankcase bolts. The crankcase bolts should be removed via any prescribed patterns outlined in the service manual. Since the crankcase bolts are typically several different lengths, ensuring the location of each bolt is well documented is extremely important. As I discussed in my post on keeping track of bolts, the cardboard gasket method or any other you find suitable should be utilized so that the reassembly process is straightforward later on. After the crankcase bolts have been removed, the crankcases should be inspected one final time to ensure no hardware that should have been removed prior is hitchhiking. Trust me, trying to separate cases only to find there is one last forgotten bolt is quite frustrating! Once you’re confident all the necessary hardware has been removed, position the cases on the blocks with the correct half facing up. Next, install the protective cap over the crankshaft. I advise using the cap whether you own a two or four-stroke simply because in both cases it helps preserve the end of the crankshaft. This is of particular importance on four-stroke engines that utilize an oil feed that passes through the crank. Once the crank end is protected, proceed to install the crankcase splitter. Select threaded holes that are as close to equispaced from one another as possible to promote uniform loading of the case splitter. When threading the case splitter studs into the crankcase, make sure you engage at least 1.5 times the diameter of the stud diameter. For example, if the stud is 6mm in diameter make sure at least 9mm of thread engagement length is achieved. This will help ensure the threads are not stripped when you attempt to separate the crankcases. With the crankcase splitter installed begin tensioning the main bolt against the end of the protective cap. Proceed to tighten the bolt until the crankcases begin to separate about a 1/16” (1.5mm). Once separation has occurred, make sure that separation is even all the way around the cases. Due to the way the case splitter loads the cases, the area near the output sprocket tends to lag. Case separation needs to be even so that the dowel pins used to pair the cases together don’t bind. If the output sprocket end of the cases hasn’t separated, use a soft rubber or plastic mallet to gently tap in that area. Tap carefully and only on case areas that appear sturdy. Once you’ve created an even gap, proceed to tension the splitter bolt, tap when necessary, and fully remove the crankcase. Upon separation, make sure that no gearbox components, such as washers, have stuck to the case. What I’ve described is the ideal sequence of events for a successful case separation, however, occasionally the cases won’t be as cooperative. In the past, I’ve had to deal with crankcases where moisture has found its way into the dowel pin bores and corroded the dowel pins. This effectively seizes the dowel pins in their bores and makes the separation job more challenging. If the crankcases are being resilient to separation, stuck dowel pins may be a potential problem. Most dowel pins are located opposite one another and their exact position can often be referenced in the service manual or in the crankcase section of part microfiches. Once the location of the dowel pins has been confirmed, a torch can be used to lightly heat the dowel pin areas. Heat will expand the metal surrounding the dowel pin and aid in freeing up the stuck pin bore. Usually, a few careful rounds of heat, tension on the splitter, and well-placed tapping is enough to free up the pesky cases and get them separated. Alternatively, if the heat does not help, applying a penetrant to the pin bore areas is another option that may help free things up. If you find yourself dealing with stuck cases, the key is to be patient and think through all your options. In these types of situations, most mistakes are avoidable and are usually the result of rushed decisions. Once the cases have been separated, the remaining tasks of removing the gearbox and pushing the crank out of the remaining case half can commence. I hope you’ve enjoyed this write up on crankcase separation and that it makes you more prepared for the job. If you’ve got additional crankcase separation tips that you want to share, please leave a comment below. For additional engine building information, whether two or four-stroke, check out my engine building handbooks. Each handbook is offered in print or digital form, contains over 250 color pictures, detailed instruction from start to finish on full rebuilds, and contains a wealth of information pertaining to diagnostic testing and precision measuring. Thanks and have a great week! -Paul
  11. In today's post, I'm very excited to share details about my new book,The Two Stroke Dirt Bike Engine Building Handbook. As with all of my blogs and technical resources, my goal has been to bring riders clear and concise technical information. My two-stroke book exemplifies this and puts nearly 300 pages of engine building knowledge at your fingertips. I wroteThe Two Stroke Dirt Bike Engine Building Handbook to be an all-encompassing guide on engine building. From the moment there is doubt about the engine's overall condition to the time the rebuilt engine is broken in, I give you a step-by-step guide to help you work towards a successful build. My aim was to create a definitive resource that hit on all the relevant topics you'll encounter as you proceed through an engine build and take any guesswork out of the equation. Throughout the book, engineering knowledge and practical experience are fused together to detail the how and why behind the way procedures are performed, parts are designed, and engine performance is affected. This is the most important and valuable aspect of the book, and it's something you won't find in a service manual. The book doesn't just tell you to bolt part A to part B, it teaches and explains the correct way assembly procedures should be performed and why it is necessary to do so. It also explains the intricate relationship between parts, where to look for wear patterns, and shows examples of worn and damaged components. If you're interested in making modifications to your engine or if you're curious about how certain modifications affect performance, I wrote an entire chapter dedicated to the subject. Within this chapter a discussion on how performance parts such as expansion chambers, port timing modifications, and cylinder heads alter overall engine performance is included and helpful suggestions are provided to aid you in choosing the correct components for your build, depending on your specific riding needs. If you have a thirst to learn more about how your engine works and a desire to correctly disassemble or assemble an engine to professional standards, you will benefit greatly from this book. Whether a complete beginner or a seasoned builder, with nearly 300 pages and 250 images worth of information, there is fresh and useful knowledge for everyone. There is also valuable material packed into this handbook that doesn't just pertain to the act of building the engine. I include instruction on diagnosing engine problems, sourcing and determining which parts to replace, using precision measuring tools, setting up your workshop, and additional tests and inspections that should be performed when preparing racing engines. If you just want to build your engine back up to stock spec, you are covered. If you want to go the extra mile and prepare a racing engine, you are also covered. In a way, this book allows you to choose your own ending by giving you all the tools and knowledge you need to complete your build at whatever level you decide. As a way to thank you for your support, we're offering TT members 15% off during a special TT pre-sale which runs from now until December 5th (when the book officially launches). Simply follow this link to learn more and order: ThumperTalk Pre-Sale Thanks again for all your support as we've grown DIY Moto Fix from an idea to a thriving community of riders who are passionate about making their machines perform better through their own hard work. Thanks for reading and have a great week. -Paul
  12. Paul Olesen

    The Two Stroke Dirt Bike Engine Building Handbook is Here!

    Thanks for your support, I hope you enjoy the book! Thanks for your support!
  13. I hope all of you have been getting out on your bikes and riding as much as possible now that spring is in full effect. For those of you in warmer climates, please don't remind me you have been riding year round without any additional layers, this only makes me jealous and forces me to seriously consider the thought of moving. I've been very busy the past month, but have tried to get a couple hours in on the bike every Saturday. There truly is no better therapy than going out and spanking the bike around after a long week of work! I'm very excited to announce that the eBook I have been working on these last four months, The Four Stroke Dirt Bike Engine Building Handbook, is officially released. I want to spend a little time talking about what the book has to offer you as a dirt bike engine building enthusiast; I don't think you will be disappointed. Below is a snapshot of the table of contents as well as a few interior pages, just to give you an overall look at what this book covers for you. What could this book possibly be about that other reference materials, like service manuals, don't already cover? I wrote The Four Stroke Dirt Bike Engine Building Handbook to be an all encompassing guide on engine building. Whether you are building a stock or performance engine, this book provides a specific framework for you to understand and use throughout the entire process. From the moment there is doubt about the engine's condition to the time the rebuilt engine is broken in, I give you a step-by-step guide to help you work towards a successful build. My aim was to create a definitive resource that hit on all the topics you may question as you proceed through an engine build, and teach you the how and why behind the way things are done. I've been very fortunate to work with talented engineers and builders over the years. This book is a way to share the knowledge I have learned from them with you, a way to bridge that gap for at-home engine builders to enable you to be better equipped with the proper insight and information when it comes time to rebuild. Today's modern four-stroke dirt bike engines are fine pieces of engineering, are designed to exacting tolerances, and require a great deal of care and precision in order to keep them operating at their finest. If you don't work with engines on a regular basis or haven't been taught by a great mentor, there are a lot of subtleties which can be overlooked that I've written extensively about for you. Throughout the book, engineering knowledge and practical experience are fused together to detail the how and why behind the way procedures are performed, parts are designed, and engine performance is affected. This is the most important and valuable aspect of the book, and it's something you won't find in any service manual. The book doesn't just tell you to bolt part A to part B, it teaches and explains the correct way assembly procedures should be performed and why it is necessary to do so. It also explains the intricate relationship between parts. For example, the interaction between the valve guides, seats, and valves must be understood in order to understand why valve seat cutting shouldn't be left to just anyone. Along with the practical building how and why, an entire chapter has been dedicated to detailing how performance parts affect engine performance. Within this chapter helpful suggestions are provided to aid you in choosing the correct components for your build, depending on your specific riding needs. If you don't work directly with engines on a regular basis, it is hard to acquire practical experience when it comes to diagnosing problems and detecting abnormally worn parts. Not knowing what to look for when inspecting engine components can lead to improper diagnosis and assembly of an engine, which could still have bad parts in it. I have filled the book with as many photos and written examples of worn or damaged parts as I could so that you will know exactly what to look for when inspecting engine components as you proceed through the build process. This is invaluable practical knowledge, which only comes with experience, and is not something you will find in your service manual. Now that you have a general feel for what the book is about you may have more questions. One I've been asked a few times now by friends and fans is how can you write a book applicable to all makes and models? Believe it or not, the variations of dirt bike engine designs between manufacturers are in truth very minimal. Sure, there are physical and locational differences. One brand may use two camshafts while another uses a single cam, or one may put an oil pump on the left side of the engine while the other puts it on the right, but the overall layout of the engines and function of the parts are all similar. I did not write this book with the focus being on the little differences between brand X and brand Y. I wrote this book outlining specific techniques and inspection points applicable to every type of engine you will encounter. The function and the way components interact does not change just because they are physically different or located in different places. This is imperative to understand in order to get the most out of the book. To ensure I've covered the various ways parts interact and can be assembled, I've used two different engines throughout the book as examples and have provided specific instruction on how to deal with assembly differences that will be encountered across the Japanese and European brands. If you have a thirst to learn more about how your engine works and a desire to correctly disassemble or assemble an engine to professional standards, you will benefit greatly from this book. Whether a complete beginner or a seasoned builder, with over 300 pages and 250 images worth of information, there is fresh and useful knowledge for everyone. There is also valuable material packed into this handbook that doesn't just pertain to the act of building the engine. I include instruction on diagnosing engine problems, sourcing and determining which parts to replace, using precision measuring tools, setting up your workshop, and additional tests and inspections that should be performed when preparing racing engines. If you just want to build your engine back up to stock spec, you are covered. If you want to go the extra mile and prepare a racing engine, you are also covered. In a way this book allows you to choose your own ending by giving you all the tools and knowledge you need to complete your build at whatever level you decide. The book is available in both print and eBook format. We ship worldwide and offer door to door tracking for overseas shipments. I also created a discount code just for the ThumperTalk community that gives you another 20% off the list price. Be sure to enter the code thumpertalk2015 before purchasing. Order the print book directly from our website or on Amazon. You can order the eBook directly from our website and it will immediately be sent to your email inbox. From there you can download it to your electronic device of choice to read or print. You also have the option to just view it online. This is one tool you can add to your toolbox that won't wear out and break on you and can be used universally. Thank you for your support of DIY Moto Fix these last few months, and enjoy the heck out of the book! Thanks for reading guys and have a great week. -Paul Olesen DIY Moto Fix - Empowering And Educating Riders From Garage To Trail
  14. Paul Olesen

    The Four Stroke Dirt Bike Engine Building Handbook

    Hi Scott, thanks for picking up a copy of my book! It's great to hear the booking is helping you out.
  15. Paul Olesen

    How The Two-Stroke Exhaust System Works

    In my last post, I shared details about how the two-stroke cylinder works, in today's post I want to provide an overview of how a performance two-stroke engine's exhaust system works. Adding a performance exhaust system can be a great way to increase power and/or alter the power delivery of an engine. I would also argue that optimizing a two-stroke engine’s exhaust system is equally as important as ensuring the cylinder’s ports are correctly designed for the given application. Not all exhaust systems are designed to do the same things, and much like cylinder port design, exhaust designs are intended to alter power in specific ways. Having a basic understanding of how an exhaust system works can go a long way when it comes to selecting the right exhaust pipe for your engine. Two-stroke exhaust design is complicated and there are many different variables that must be considered when designing a pipe. I don’t intend to go into all of them, but I will share a few of the most critical. Each time the exhaust port opens to release spent combustion gases, pressure pulses are created. Modern pipe designs harness this pulse energy and use it to help scavenge and fill the cylinder. The process starts when a positive pressure pulse is created once the exhaust port opens and combustion gases leave the cylinder. The positive pulse travels down the pipe until it reaches the diffuser, at which point part of the pulse is inverted and reflected back towards the cylinder as a negative wave. This negative wave is very beneficial in pulling spent exhaust gases out of the cylinder and fresh mixture up through the transfer ports. The remaining positive pulse continues on its journey towards the end of the pipe where it encounters the reflector. The reflector acts as the name implies and forces the positive pulse back towards the exhaust port. Once reflected back, the pulse remains positive and, if the pipe is designed correctly, will reach the exhaust port just as the piston is about to close off the port on the compression stroke at the desired RPM for maximum power. Any fresh mixture which has escaped out the cylinder will be forced back in by the positive pressure pulse. The tuned length of the pipe is dictated by the exhaust port timing, RPM of max power, and the speed of sound. Pulse length and amplitude are governed by the angles of the diffuser and reflector. Generally, steeper cone angles create pulses with more amplitude but shorter duration. Shallower angles generate pulses with less amplitude but longer duration. Given these variables, it is easy to see how a pipe could be tailored for specific applications. An engine converted for road racing may utilize a pipe designed for peak power which incorporates steep diffuser and reflector cone angles so that pulse amplitude is not sacrificed. This peak power would likely come at the expense of a narrowed range of power. An engine tailored for woods riding may feature a pipe with shallower cone angles, resulting in less pulse amplitude, but a broader spread of power. The last parameter I want to touch on is how the tailpipe, which is sometimes referred to as the stinger, influences the pipe. The tailpipe creates a flow restriction in the pipe which allows the pipe to have a certain amount of back pressure. Enlarge the tailpipe and the back pressure decreases, make it smaller and the back pressure increases. As back pressure increases or decreases, so does temperature and ultimately the speed of sound. As the speed of sound changes, so does the resonance RPM of the pipe. If the tailpipe is sized too small, cylinder scavenging will be inhibited. When this happens, the cylinder, fresh mixture, and piston will all be overheated. While engineers and tuners can estimate starting pipe dimensions and tuned lengths, a great deal of trial and error testing is usually still necessary to fine tune the exhaust pipe and optimize the design. Unless you intend on building your own exhausts, this work will have already been done for you. When selecting an exhaust system, you need to focus on how the exhaust alters the power curve. Exhaust systems are tailored to deliver more bottom end performance, top-end performance, or performance throughout the power curve. Selecting which system is right for you will depend on how you want your engine to perform. If you’ve chosen to modify your cylinder ports, installing an exhaust system that compliments the porting can be very beneficial. You might be wondering about slip-on mufflers. If you’ve followed along with my explanation of how exhaust pipes work, you’ll notice I made no mention of the muffler. While the muffler can have a small effect on performance, it is not the primary factor. Upgrading a muffler is a good way to reduce weight, but there won’t be a slip-on out there which significantly increases power, in the same way, a properly designed expansion chamber can. I hope you enjoyed this write-up on key features affecting the performance of two-stroke cylinders. As for Two Stroke Handbook news, we received our first printed proof of the book this week! Needless to say, we are inching closer and closer to an official release date. To stay updated on The Two Stroke Dirt Bike Engine Building Handbook we created an email sign up for our readers. Click this link to sign up, see the new cover, the Table of Contents, and some sneak peek pages right from the book. Thanks for reading and have a great rest of your week! -Paul
  16. Paul Olesen

    The Four Stroke Dirt Bike Engine Building Handbook

    Hi Jakob, Our book is not distributed to any physical stores, however, it is available through our website and we ship internationally. Paul
  17. This week I want to talk about two-strokes. To kick off this post I have some awesome news. The Two Stroke Dirt Bike Engine Building Handbook is off to the printers and will be available for pre-sale very soon! Getting the book off the ground has been no cake walk. It's been two years coming and we are so thankful our riders and fans have been patient with us! At the end of this post I'll give you instructions on how you can stay updated on the launch. With that said, let's get started. Today's post aims to provide an overview of the important aspects of the two-stroke cylinder and answers a couple commonly asked questions relating to cylinder modifications. The ports found within a two-stroke cylinder in combination with the exhaust system have the greatest influence on power, torque, and the RPM at which maximum power is created out of the various engine subsystems found within a two-stroke engine. Typically when a new engine is designed the port characteristics are one of the first parameters to optimize. With this being the case they are also one of the first things anyone planning on altering an existing engine should consider improving or tailoring to their specific application. A two-stroke cylinder consists of exhaust, transfer, and occasionally inlet ports (true inlet ports are only found on piston or rotary valve controlled engines). The port heights, widths, areas, directions they flow, and relationships to one another all have a significant influence on how the engine will behave. The cutaway of the cylinder shown details the port arrangement and common nomenclature. The inlet port/passage delivers air into the engine’s crankcase, most commonly through a reed valve, on a dirt bike engine. On older engines, a rotary valve or the piston may also be used to control the opening and closing of the inlet port. On modern machinery, the inlet simply connects the reed valve to the cylinder or crankcase. In this case, the primary restriction in the inlet port is the reed valve and as such the valve’s geometry and flow capabilities often dictate the inlet port's performance. The transfer ports are responsible for moving fresh air and fuel up from the crankcase into the cylinder. This occurs as the piston travels downward after the cylinder has fired. Once the piston uncovers the tops of the transfer ports the blowdown phase is complete, at which point much of the exhaust gas has been expelled from the cylinder. As the transfer ports begin to open, the exhaust pipe sucks fresh mixture up through the transfer ports into the cylinder. To a lesser extent, the downward motion of the piston also aids in creating a pressure differential between the crankcase and cylinder. The shapes and flow capabilities of the transfer ports play a big part in how effectively the cylinder can be scavenged of exhaust gases and filled with fresh air and fuel. The transfer ports also help cool the piston. The exhaust ports dictate how much and how well exhaust gases depart the cylinder. Similar to the transfer ports, the duct shape, angle, length and volume have a large influence on how well gases can flow through the port. Typically, dirt bike engines commonly feature bridge port or triple port designs. General insights into a cylinder’s performance can be made by characterizing attributes such as the timing of the exhaust and transfer ports, the port widths, and the directional flow angles, but a deeper analysis is required to truly optimize a cylinder. Today, tuners and designers rely on computer software which computes a port’s specific time area (STA). As defined in the EngMod 2T software suite, “STA provides an indication of the effective port window area that has to be open for a certain length of time to allow enough gas to flow through the port to achieve the target power at the target RPM for the given engine capacity”. STA values are used to quantify the exhaust, transfer, and inlet port geometry as well as the blowdown phase of the two-stroke cycle. The blowdown phase occurs between exhaust port opening and transfer port opening and is one of the most important parameters in predicting engine performance. By manipulating STA values and subsequently the height, shape, and size of the exhaust, transfer, and intake ports, an engine’s power characteristics can drastically be altered. Port modifications can be made which allow more air to move through the cylinder, ultimately increasing the power of the engine. Conversely, ports can be filled or welded and reshaped which tame the engine and provide less peak power but a broader spread of power. Simple modifications to the ports can also be carried out which improves the air or exhaust gas flow through the port yielding better cylinder scavenging. Can I modify my own cylinders? Unless you have a deep passion for two-stroke tuning, are willing to spend money on software and porting equipment, and are comfortable throwing away botched cylinders, I would recommend having a reputable professional carry out any desired port modifications. Experienced tuners have developed a number of porting combinations that will work well for various makes/models and riding applications which will take the guesswork out of the situation and provide you with a good performing cylinder. Who should consider two-stroke porting modifications? For the sake of simplicity, I will lump porting modifications into two categories: major and minor. Major port modifications would include tasks such as significantly changing the port timings (by either removing or adding material), altering the shapes of the ports, or changing the directions the ports flow. Anyone drastically altering their engine, such as turning an MX engine into a road racing engine, should consider major porting modifications. Other examples of applications that may require or benefit from major port modifications include drag racing, hare scrambles, ice racing, or desert racing. Minor port modifications would include basic tasks such as removing casting flash, slightly altering the ports to achieve the stock port timing, and correcting areas that result in minor flow deficiencies. Just about everyone could benefit from these types of corrective actions; however, if the engine is already performing or producing adequate power, they often aren't considered. I hope you enjoyed this writeup on key features affecting the performance of two-stroke cylinders. To stay officially updated on The Two Stroke Dirt Bike Engine Building Handbook we created an email sign up for our readers. Click this link to see the new cover, the Table of Contents, and some sneak peek pages right from the book. Thanks for reading and have a great rest of your week! -Paul
  18. Paul Olesen

    Everything You Need To Know About The Two-Stroke Cylinder

    You're welcome, I'm glad you enjoyed the article.
  19. Paul Olesen

    Everything You Need To Know About The Two-Stroke Cylinder

    Bell's book is insightful, however, there are many other developers and contributors that should be reviewed as well when discussing modern two-stroke tech. Here are a few: Neels Van Niekerk Frits Overmars Jan Thiel Wayne "Wobbly" Wright
  20. Paul Olesen

    Everything You Need To Know About The Two-Stroke Cylinder

    I wrote a book about four stroke engine building titled: The Four Stroke Dirt Bike Engine Building Handbook, which may interest you. If you follow the link you'll you can read more about the book. I appreciate the suggestion and will consider doing a post on the four stroke cylinder head.
  21. Paul Olesen

    DIY Piston Ring Compressor

    Today I want to share a quick tip with those of you who are working on your own engines but just can’t justify buying a set of piston ring compressors. It’s entirely possible to make a perfectly good ring compressor from materials you can get at the hardware store. All you need is some plumber’s pipe hanging tape and a hose clamp that is sized according to your cylinder bore. To construct a DIY ring compressor from plumber's pipe hanger tape you will need to determine the length of tape required. This is easily done using the following equation for calculating the circumference of a circle. Length of Tape Required = Piston Diameter x π (Pi) When the tape is wrapped around the piston tightly, the final length may need to be reduced slightly so that the ends don’t butt together. Once the tape has been cut to length, make sure whichever side of the tape will be contacting the rings is smooth and free of little plastic burrs that could catch the rings. Simply lube up the tape, tighten down the hose clamp, and you are in business. Do you have a tip that makes compressing rings easier or cheaper? If so, leave a comment below! - Paul If you enjoyed this tip and want access to more like it, check out my book, The Four Stroke Dirt Bike Engine Building Handbook. On the fence about the book? Check out what other riders are saying: Thumper Talk Review Available at: Amazon.com DIYMotoFix.com
  22. 2 reviews

    The SmartCarb is the culmination of more than 45 years of development of the single-circuit, flat-slide carburetor by renowned carburetor expert and inventor William H. Edmonston. Its pedigree comes from the long line of Edmonston-designed carburetors, including the Lake Injector, Pos-a-Fuel, Ei Blue Magnum, Quicksilver, and Lectron. The SmartCarb combines the best features from earlier flat-slide, variable-venturi carburetor designs and incorporates design features developed by Technology Elevated, making it a real world solution to satisfying emissions regulations and OEM performance requirements in small engine applications worldwide. Technology Elevated is currently focused on the off-road 2-stroke and 4-stroke powersports market, offering 25, 28, 36, 38, and 40mm SmartCarb sizes. Application driven development is underway, most recently involving testing for integration in UAVs, mini-motocross bikes, alcohol junior dragsters, micro-sprint carts, snowmobiles, paragliders, and outboard marine engines. The SmartCarb has proven itself to be viable in leisure and competitive applications and is capable of competing directly with electronic fuel injection for both passing emissions regulations and meeting performance requirements.
  23. Paul Olesen

    Neutec Tubliss Motorcycle Tire System

    What is it? The Nuetech Tubliss tire system is a dual pressure chamber system that replaces conventional inner tubes and rim locks. Nuetech claims their Tubliss system allows a rider to run lower pressures, improves traction, is lighter than HD tubes, makes pinch flats a thing of the past, protects the rim better, and lasts longer than conventional tubes. First Impressions The front and rear Tubliss tire systems came neatly packaged and ready for installation. Each system included a high pressure bladder, tire liner, integral rim lock, rim plugs, rim tape, installation tool, and instructions - everything necessary for mounting. Overall, the Tubliss system felt and looked like a robust product. The Setup The Nuetech team advised that I would need new tires in order for the Tubliss system to work properly. The reason for this is because conventional rim locks leave indentations in the tire’s bead that make it impossible for the Tubliss system to function correctly. I leveraged the Nuetech team’s experience with their product and put traction’s fate in their hands. I shared with them that hare scramble racing in Southeastern Wisconsin brings a wide variety of terrain including sand, mud, rocks, roots, and occasionally nice tractable dirt. They set me up accordingly with the following tires. Front: Shinko 546 90/100 - 21 Rear: Shinko 505 Cheater 110/100 - 18 I was informed that tire selection is critical for successful implementation of the Tubliss system. When running lower tire pressures the stiffness of the sidewall plays a huge role in how the tire behaves, which makes or breaks the riding experience and, in some cases, the durability of the Tubliss system. Using a tire sealant, such as Slime, is optional but I did opt to do so when I mounted my tires. Installation Installation of the Tubliss system is significantly different than that of a regular tube, rim lock, and tire. Fortunately, a comprehensive set of instructions are supplied which include detailed pictures and references to online videos. The installation process consists of approximately 7 well outlined steps which are not overly difficult to execute. Viewing the online videos was incredibly helpful and made the supplied printed instructions feel more supplemental than essential. A handful of tools/lubricants were required to mount the tires which included: 7/16 drill bit (used to make a hole in the rim for the additional valve stem) Armor-All tire shine Dish soap and/or tire sealant tire irons 120 psi capable air source Overall, I did not find mounting the tires with the Tubliss system installed any more challenging than a conventional setup. In terms of time, I spent a short afternoon removing my old tires, inspecting the condition of my rims, and implementing the Tubliss system. In Action Prior to installing the Tubliss system I had three races under my belt in this year’s hare scramble season which allowed me to have a sort of benchmark using a conventional setup. With the Tubliss system installed I participated in six races and numerous practice sessions, logging a total of over 20 hours with the system installed. Due to Nuetech’s claims about the many advantages of the Tubliss system I wanted to put ample time on the Tubliss system and new tires prior to reporting so that I could feel confident in assessing both performance and durability. Traction and Tire Pressures Soil types and conditions varied throughout the race season. Many of this year’s events were either partly or completely wet and soils ranged from dry sand to muddy clay. One could not ask for a more broad spectrum of conditions to test a new set of tires in. With conventional tubes I normally ran around 10 - 12 psi tire pressure. Right from the start I halved those values and experimented in the 4 - 7 psi range for both the front and rear tires. In general, I felt the tires responded well to reductions in pressure. While traction is difficult to quantify, one of the most memorable parts of the racing season this year were the starts of all the races, and in particular, my first race with the Shinkos and Tubliss system installed. To put things in perspective I’m a mid-pack finishing B-class racer, however, I consistently was in the top five when it came to position after the start of the race. While there are many factors that dictate how good of a start a rider gets, I do believe the Shinkos and having the ability to run them at low pressures had an effect on how well I started. In my first outing with the Tubliss system installed I noted more grip going in and out of corners and had a lot more confidence on the bike than previously with my old setup. On more than one occasion I gained significant ground on other riders while climbing hills and navigating muddy terrain. In general, I felt this combination of tires and pressures responded very well to all the different conditions I encountered. Pinch Flats and Rim Protection I used to suffer pinch flats quite regularly with other setups, however to date, with the Tubliss system I have had no issues. I have run my Tubliss equipped tires into square cornered cement slabs at speed with no ill effects, blasted into logs, and slammed into countless rocks. One of the interesting things that happen when striking a sharp-cornered object with Tubliss equipped tires is that you can literally feel the tire deform and the high pressure bladder absorbing the blow. Maintenance Once installed the only maintenance that Nuetech suggested was to regularly check the tire pressures prior to going out for a ride. I did this religiously but never noted any pressure drops in the high and low pressure chambers. Pros Excellent customer support Significantly improved traction Great pinch flat protection Easy to install Easy to maintain Pressure adjustment down to 0 psi Expensive tires are not necessary Cons Honestly, I've got nothing to complain about. Conclusion I don’t typically rave about products but after my experience with the Tubliss tire system this is one I wholeheartedly endorse. The impact the Tubliss system, equipped with the right set of tires, had on the level of traction I experienced was phenomenal. The fact that the Tubliss system appears impervious to pinch flats is icing on the cake. Adding the Tubliss system is a recommendation I will be making to anyone who will listen and ranks right up there with setting up the bike’s suspension for the rider’s weight, skill level, and discipline. Since the Tubliss system is sensitive to the type of tires used I would highly recommend that anyone considering installing the system do their homework or work with Nuetech on selecting the best tires for their application.
  24. Paul Olesen

    Technology Elevated 38mm Cast SmartCarb

    What is it? The Technology Elevated SmartCarb is a carburetor capable of self-compensating for changes in ambient air density. Put another way, the carburetor automatically alters the mixture when there are changes in temperature and altitude. This functionality eliminates the need to continuously adjust jetting throughout the riding season or when riding at locations with varying elevation. Technology Elevated also boasts that the carburetor improves fuel atomization which leads to increased power, better fuel economy, and reduced emissions. First Impressions The SmartCarb arrived in an elegantly constructed box which ensured it would not get banged around in transit. The SmartCarb itself consisted of cast and billet machined components and came with everything required for installation. Also included was a nice instruction booklet with nearly 60 pages of installation and tuning detail, an extra float bowl gasket, and Technology Elevated stickers. Lastly, on the back of the instruction booklet, all the factory settings were recorded so the customer can revert back to the baseline settings at any time. Applications Anyone with a two or four-stroke carbureted engine could have a reason for considering the Smartcarb. The carburetor could be especially useful for riders who routinely transition through varying elevations or ride in places with large temperature swings since the carburetor automatically adjusts for changes in ambient air density. The Setup I installed the 38mm SmartCarb on the bike I race hare scrambles with, which is a 2007 Yamaha YZ250. The engine is equipped with an FMF Fatty pipe, Rekluse clutch, and weighted flywheel. Apart from these items the engine is stock. The engine was recently rebuilt this past winter and at the time of installation it had 14 hours on it. Installation Installation was easy and the necessary instructions were clearly outlined in the instruction booklet. Anyone capable of performing basic maintenance on their vehicle will be able to tackle this project. During the installation process there were no noteworthy issues or challenges and in total, installation took around an hour. Initial Tuning The design of the SmartCarb and provided installation booklet attempt to make tuning the carburetor as easy as possible. The SmartCarb is designed so that the user only has to tune the idle and low speed fuel/air mixture. The rest of the tuning parameters are set up at the factory and are tailored to the user’s specific make and model of engine. Two easily adjustable features on the SmartCarb can be utilized to make alterations. The idle set screw is used to raise or lower the slide and allows more or less airflow through the carburetor. The clicker adjuster raises or lowers the fuel metering rod which increases or decreases the amount of fuel that flows into the venturi. The idle set screw is simply turned clockwise or counterclockwise to make adjustments. In order to adjust the fuel metering rod with the clicker adjuster, the engine must be off and the throttle must be held wide open. The clicker adjuster can then be depressed and turned until it engages with the metering rod, at which point, the metering rod height can be raised or lowered depending on the direction the clicker is turned. The tuning instructions and recommendations presented in the instruction booklet are thorough, detailed, and laid out in a way that makes them easy to follow. For the sake of the review, I attempted to set aside my personal tuning experience and perform the process as a relative newbie, relying primarily on the provided instructions to make tuning decisions. I spent an afternoon carefully studying the tuning instructions and test riding the bike before I was satisfied with the state of tune of my Yamaha. While my overall impression of the tuning instructions is favorable, I did feel in some instances the instructions were too literal. Once I got the low-speed mixture dialed in the engine ran excellent. Power delivery was smooth, the engine sounded good, and there were no signs of rich or lean conditions anywhere throughout the throttle range. After accumulating enough runtime to feel comfortable that a spark plug reading would result in an accurate assessment I pulled the plug and took a look.The spark plug confirmed what my senses and past experiences have told me was a properly jetted two-stroke engine. In Action I have spent around 15 hours of riding and racing my bike with the SmartCarb installed. Initially, I set the carburetor up on an 80°F day and have ridden in temperatures as high as 93°F and as low as 45°F. I participated in five races, each of which had different types of soil conditions, which subsequently loaded the engine differently. Most notably, in the last two races I participated in, the courses were littered with deep sand which caused the engine to run hotter than normal. After my first tuning session I anticipated some adjustment may be necessary once I really put the bike through its paces. The first race was a good test for it and led me to make further clicker and idle adjustments. I found that when tuning it is very important to tune in race like conditions and keep the engine up at operating temperature. The biggest challenge I faced with the SmartCarb was maintaining a consistent idle. This may sound alarming, however, there is a caveat to this. The Rekluse clutch I have installed puts more load on the engine and has an impact on how the engine runs at idle and low speed. I have been working with Corey Dyess, the founder of Technology Elevated, throughout this review to work through this tuning anomaly. Taking his advice I have been able to significantly improve the situation by making small changes to the SmartCarb settings and am now operating in a much better place. We believe we may be able to improve the tune further by installing a fuel metering rod with a different profile, however, at the time of writing, this change has not been implemented. Throughout the race season, apart from the noted idle issue, performance has been spot on. The engine has run great and I never experienced any abnormal mixture conditions. Due to the heavy load deep sand puts on engines I did have to slightly richen my mixture in the last race of the season to compensate, which wasn’t necessarily unexpected. All-in-all I was extremely pleased with the low/mid/top end performance of this carburetor and loved having near perfect jetting in all atmospheric conditions. Pros Excellent state of tune through RPM range Compensates for changes in ambient air density Clicker adjuster makes it easy to qualify how much adjustment is occurring Factory settings are recorded on the back of the instruction booklet Customer support is great Can be tuned with no tools Can be tuned in place on the bike even with an oversized fuel tank installed Minimal adjustments required after installation Cons Tuning instructions cannot be taken too literally Conclusion The Technology Elevated SmartCarb is a good option for anyone looking for a carburetor that auto compensates for changing ambient air density. While I was unable to work all the small tuning details out pertaining to my specific setup prior to concluding this review I am still impressed by the SmartCarb. The fact that jets no longer need to be swapped out whenever conditions change and that the carburetor is extremely easy to adjust is great. Factory support is excellent, Corey is very knowledgeable about his carburetor, and he is willing to help optimize specific engine setups. I am a fan of this carburetor and believe that it could be beneficial to a lot of riders, assuming they are willing to take the time to dial it in.
  25. Paul Olesen

    Who the Heck is Paul Olesen?

    Who the Heck is Paul Olesen and Why is he Writing for Thumper Talk? I’m really excited at the opportunity to start blogging because I’m finally going to have an outlet to express my passion for picking flowers, going for walks, and singing songs. I can’t imagine anything more exciting than doing these three things except... maybe, just maybe, riding motorcycles. On second thought, riding motorcycles and figuring out how engines work is definitely much more thought provoking and certainly what I came here to discuss... so lets get started! Most of you are probably wondering who the heck I am and what am I going to talk about. By day I’m a powertrain engineer at an American sportbike manufacturer where I work on and oversee multiple facets of engine development and production. At night I focus on my personal projects, hobbies, family, and whatever else might interest me. Since the age of 18 I’ve lived and breathed motorcycles. I’ve raced multiple disciplines (everything from road, ice, trials, salt flats, and hare scrambles), built my own racing bike, designed my own engines, modified a handful of bikes, and most importantly- made a whole lot of mistakes. These experiences, failures included, have put me in a position to teach you a few new things or at least give you an interesting read. My powersports story started at a young age, however thanks to parental restrictions I was never able to own a bike until I was 18. Once 18 hit, I promptly bought a 1984 Honda Nighthawk 700 from my high school. The bike had been donated by a member of the local community and I had my eye on it for years as I watched students try unsuccessfully to make it run right. Thanks to my never-ending curiosity, that bike very quickly got rebuilt, and to the dismay of my parents, it got ridden a hell of a lot. Shortly thereafter I graduated high school and then attended the University of Minnesota, where I was slated to follow in my father’s footsteps and become a dentist. I don’t recall too many times where I had actually thought that this career path was going to become a reality, so naturally my interest in higher education dwindled at an alarming rate. Simultaneously my interest in motorcycles was at an all time high. I was fascinated by the old Kawasaki two-stroke triples. I had never before seen a two-stroke in a motorcycle and their simplicity, light weight, and abundance of power drew me to them. In a twist of Craigslist-fate a deal for a pair of 1975 Kawasaki H2s popped up in Dallas. Before I could fully rationalize the consequences of skipping an exam, I was on my way with a friend to pick these basket cases up. On my way down to Dallas it hit me that without knowing what I wanted to do with my life, continuing going to school was pointless. I promptly quit two years into my college education, yet again much to my parents’ dismay. I had always made money running a painting business in the summer, so I did that for awhile to make ends meet. While painting has never been a glamorous business it was quite profitable and an important part of my life as it taught me the basics of running a business, allowed me the freedom to set my own schedule, and I learned how to deal with and manage people. Restored 1984 Honda Nighthawk 700 and Restored 1975 Kawasaki H2 The following year my parents ordered me back to school, this time to give engineering a try. I felt like a fish out of water. The idea of being stuck in Minneapolis for another four years brought upon visions of offing myself once and for all. A week in- I quit. I knew I needed a plan if I was going to break the news to my parents. Over the weekend I put on my big-boy pants and started searching for something that I might actually want to do with my life. Low and behold- if you Google “motorcycle engineering” a couple programs pop up in the United Kingdom. That was it, suddenly I was staring my future right in the face, a future that I actually wanted to pursue. Somehow I convinced my parents that going to Wales and attending Swansea Metropolitan University was a good idea, I applied, and got accepted shortly after. Finally I was going to go learn about something I actually wanted to, travel the world, and get a degree in motorcycle engineering. The move to Wales was exhilarating and things really started to take off for me once I began my studies. The structure of the program, the way in which the coursework was carried out, and class sizes were all a lot different than I had expected- but in a good way. The first year was a cakewalk, but it allowed me ample time to learn CAD programs, design a couple fictitious bikes, make friends, and enjoy the Welsh countryside. Towards the end of the year I decided I would design and build my own motorcycle, which I would then intend on racing in the Central Road Racing Association’s club racing events at Brainerd International Raceway in Minnesota. To keep costs down and the project manageable, I decided to build a super mono powered by a Kawasaki KX500 two stroke engine. Initial Chassis Layout My first summer back home I promptly ordered materials for the project and got back to work running my painting business to fund it. The only problem was that I had no mill, no lathe, no pipe bender, and no TIG welder- nor did I know a lot about using any of these aforementioned tools. Suddenly it hit me, there was going to be a steep learning curve. After befriending some locals who were enthused about my ambitious project as I was, in one fell swoop I procured the rights to use all the equipment I required at the odd hours I was intending on working on this bike. It was as if the universe had aligned for the things I had wanted all along as soon as I started asking for them. Quickly I got the jigs made for the frame and swingarm, enlisted the help of my father to work on the fiberglass components, and devised a plan to try and extract more power out of the engine. The biggest hold up that summer was having to teach myself how to weld. That exercise took roughly a month of practice on thin walled tubing and a hefty sized chunk of my own melted skin before I felt proficient to proceed to tackle a real frame. Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on how you look at it, I cocked up the frame design by trusting a friend’s engine model. My first go around at a frame didn’t end up fitting anything, but I got plenty of extra welding practice! By the end of summer the bike was 85 percent complete and I was able to finish the rest of it up over the Christmas and Easter breaks. Super Mono Construction My second year of school was much more engaging academically and focused a lot more on the powertrain side of things which was great. I learned all sorts of useful things to help me along with my race bike build and it was great to be so close to people that could answer some of my questions from a professional standpoint. My first test ride over Easter break came late one evening and to my dismay, it was a disappointing affair. I came back from the ride and my hands and butt were numb from all the engine vibration. Half the bike had rattled loose and the other half the hardware was completely missing! My first real world encounter with engine balancing was about to take place. Much to my dismay, simply changing the balance of the crankshaft did not in fact move the vibration to a more tolerable direction. I needed another solution. After much problem solving, I decided to try and graft on a counter balance assembly I designed to cancel out some of the forces that lead to engine vibration. This proved to be a difficult task with my amateur machining skills, but through much trial and error I managed and the balancer worked! Finishing up the balancer assembly After my second year of school I was offered a job at S & S Cycle for the summer as an engineer. This was great since I got to hang out/pester a lot of smart folks to help me with my race bike project. I learned a lot about machining, manufacturing, and engineering processes at S & S, plus the people there were awesome. My proudest moment while working at S & S was designing and building the land speed fairing for their Bonneville Salt Flats racing bike. This was a time consuming and messy affair, but it paid off when we took the bike out to Bonneville and set four land speed records! Once work was finished for the day, more often than not I went over to my bosses house. He had a decent size shop with a dyno, a hefty amount of tools, and the usual machining equipment- all the things I was requiring to make my world go round. Towards the end of my second year of school I had designed a fuel injection system which I was adamant about implementing onto my bike. That whole summer I spent my time incorporating the system into the engine and learned how to tune the engine on the dyno. By the end of summer my bike was ridable, and I was spending more and more time out on the road test riding. I had hoped to take it to the track for the final race of the year, but other engine problems cropped up and I, along with the bike, ended up staying home. My third and final year proved to be the most time consuming, educational, and one of the most exciting. As part of my degree, I was required to come up with a major project to work on and complete throughout the year. Seeing as my race bike needed a new engine, I began figuring out how to design a new single cylinder two-stroke which would incorporate all the beneficial things that I had learned over the past summer testing the KX500 engine. I settled on designing a 400cc single cylinder counter balanced engine that would use as many common parts as possible with a current production dirt bike transmission. Due to the fact that we actually had a couple Honda CRF450 bikes in the school’s workshop, and parts were cheap and cheerful, I decided to use the gearbox along with a few other parts from that engine. The rest of the engine I designed from the ground up. By the end of my third year I was calling my friends at S & S to help me out with some 3D printing so I could test fit the engine into my frame and the CRF frame. As most almost graduated grads, I was nearing the time where I needed a job, and I didn’t have any spare money to spend on having parts made so the 400cc single project had to be put on hold. 400cc prototype test fitment Job hunting proved to be an interesting time in my life, and even though I didn’t necessarily want all the jobs I applied to, I learned an awful lot through the interview process. I was able to see how companies were run, what real world engineers did, and how engineering roles were divided. Very quickly I began to determine what I did or didn’t want in a workplace and I began to wonder what my future might have in store for me. What also fascinated me was touring all of these companies’ facilities and seeing how the machine shops, engine build areas, dynos, and engineering departments were set up. One of the places I toured that piqued my curiosity the most was Mercedes AMG in the United Kingdom where the Mercedes Formula I engines are designed. I ended up going there twice for interviews and getting a job offer to work there, but thanks to work visa restrictions I was never able to secure the offer since the regulations tightened up after 2012. At that point there was really only one company in America where I thought my skill set and personality would be a good match, and that was at an American sportbike company. I had applied at the sportbike company which I was interested in in the fall of my final year and finally after four months of patiently waiting, I had heard something. An interview was arranged so I came home, loaded up my bike and prototype engine in the back of my van, and set out to East Troy. At the end of the day, after all their questions were answered, it was quite satisfying rolling out my hand built race bike in the sportbike company’s parking lot to show all the interviewing staff what I had done. The interview staff had never had another candidate who built and brought a rolling resume before and they were thoroughly impressed. Right then I realized my persistence at building my own bike had paid off and was largely responsible for landing me two jobs a lot of people dream of. I was brought on as a powertrain engineer in the fall and this is where I currently reside. Throughout my career I have continued to meet wonderful people, learn new things, and further my knowledge of two wheeled vehicles. I hope in a small way my exploits, triumphs, and failures will all be valuable lessons. Paul If you'd like to follow my blog, click the "follow this blog" button in the upper right. I'd love to have you.