I thought I would put pen to paper (electronically) about the faults and cures I have found with the two Dragstar XVS650’s we have. Both low mileage and supposed to be serviced…

Wobbly Twist Grip

When we got the bikes I noticed there was 1/4″ of lateral play in the throttle twist grip as we rode the home from the dealer it was very disconcerting as it meant you would try and over correct when turning, this meant you wobbled going around round-about and long bends.

My other bikes do not suffer from this problem, so the first item to look at was the twist grip.

On taking it to bits the first thing that was noticeable was the lack of grease anywhere, the twist grip is fixed on position by a locating pin on the body and a hole on the handlebar.

After slackening the adjuster and taking off the push/pull cables to the twist grip, I was able to take the body off the handle bar and surprise no grease there either, I was thinking these bikes are so good they do not have problems with friction.

I looked inside the twist grip to see if something was missing, there wasn’t, I calculated if there was 1/4″ of play, if I packed it out by the same amount the fault would be cured.

This is what I did using a combination of fibre and rubber washers, I then smeared grease around the handle bar and cables, after reassembling it all the play has gone and steering wobbles are a thing of the past, or at least this problem is sorted.

I have checked other Dragstars in the club and in dealers, they all have this laterally play, I suppose this is something riders have to get used too, but why?

Sticky Clutch

Following on from the Dragstar faults and cures, I noticed the clutch was sticking on one Dragstar and the other one was not very smooth in operation.

I had already purchased a Yamaha workshop manual, I wouldn’t even bother with Hynes manual if they did one for the Dragstar as I have noticed the information in them is far from accurate – sometimes completely wrong.

The workshop manual advises a free play at the lever of 15 mm, this is very important, it is because the normal hand is only efficient over a certain angle, if the free play is wrong and removed as I have seen in many dealers, you cannot gauge the bite of the clutch and more often than not will stall the bike or cause the clutch to slip needlessly.

Both of these problems will wear the clutch more than is necessary and you don’t want to do that.

I took the cables off the bikes, both were very dry and one had a bad kink in it that was causing it to stick, I gently clamped each cable in the vice in trickled gear oil down the cable, after 5 minutes I had an oily free moving cable, but how to stop the oil just flowing out again after fitting it to the bike?

Simple, I found a piece of tube big enough to push over the outer cable by the adjusting nuts about 3″, I then refitted the cable to the bike but before I refitted to the clutch actuating lever I fitted the plastic tube, I then refitted every thing, before I adjusted the cable I got a small strip of cotton cloth about 1/4″ X 3″, I wound this around the cable, it has to fit in the tube and has to be reasonably tight.

Once it is fitted pour some oil on it and push the tube over it, the idea behind this is it will stop the oil migrating to it lowest point and keep everything clean and oily.

It works on the same principle as a stuffing box on an old tap, the type with a small nut under the spindle, this has cotton waste and a lubricant in it, that is why they some times leak.

And don’t forget to adjust the free play to 15mm, maintenance of the cable will now be minimal just a few drops oil ate the clutch lever end and on the cotton waste in the plastic pipe.

Plus you do lubricate the pivot points on the levers don’t you, mine were dry and corroded, I use graphite grease on all the pivot points, including bolts into the casings, the cables exposed to the elements get waterproof grease (most grease will wash off).


The problem with the alloy panels on the Star range of bike and any vehicle that travels on our clean (salty) highways, is the water that is thrown up reacts very badly with them.

I find the best method of preserving them is to use “Waxoyl” thinned with a solvent, petrol is ideal for this as it evaporates very quickly.

I had to scrap a large amount of fuel, as the octane rating of petrol very quickly deteriorates any you have that is a month old can have “gone off” to cause noticeable loss of performance on a high compression engine.

This is ideal for thinning “Waxoyl” but use the same precautions as you would when handling fuel, the “Waxoyl” can be thinned as much as 50/50, the now thin substance is applied by paint brush to the offending item, it doesn’t even have to be cleaned just covered it will sink through the dirt and bond to the surface, then it covers the item in a protective layer, that wont be washed of by normal means.

It is ideal under mudguards, the parts of the diff hidden from view and all parts of the frame that are supposed to be corrosion resistant.

I was very surprised to see how much corrosion was on the inside off the diff it was a white powder, this is aluminium oxide and is not a good thing as it means salt or an alkali has got in there.

The best method of preventing corrosion on the stainless steel bolts to alloy is normal graphite grease and not “Copper Kote”, this substance is for exhaust and is high melting point, whereas graphite grease is graphite in a normal grease carrier, any heat will help to distribute the graphite, this wont happen with “Copper Kote”.

A particularly bad design is the headlight, as it appears to be (water cooled) there is nothing to stop the water getting in, so both the “Waxoyl” and graphite grease must be used, “Waxoyl” is particularly good on cables and connections.

Also it is worth looking at all the indictors housings as there signs of corrosion here as well, on the sealing ring on the indicator lenses another substance I have found ideal is obtained from a plumbers merchant and does not react with the rubber seals, this is used for lubricating push fit pipes used for waste pipes.
It is called “Silicone grease” and is available in a screw top jar, if you separate electrical connectors especially the voltage regulator on the Dragstar a smear of silicone grease will provide some protection.

I also use “Self amalgamating tape” this is a waterproof tape that bonds to its self when bound tightly, ideal as another barrier against water on those suspect connections.

Continuing about the amount of corrosion on the Dragstar range and this will also apply to all the star range, if you can’t see it probably needs to be proofed against corrosion.

A noticeable problem is the fuel tank especially under the instrument cluster, this seems to be a bad water trap, on both of my Dragstars had the same problem, this was easily cured using our old friend thinned down “Waxol” , it is also usefully applied under the tank as this is another hidden area.

I had need to remove the front wheel to fit a mud flap to keep the muck off the engine, I removed the mudguard and discovered the fittings were all dry and showing the signs of severe corrosion, likewise the metal stiffing plate under the mudguard was also heavily corroded, all easily fixed with liberal applications of “waxol” and graphite grease on the bolt.

I also inspected the front disk brake, the bikes had only done 1,000 miles and over the 5 years they have been on the road have spent a lot of time idle.

The brakes were unworn but showing signs of corrosion, taking the pads out and giving them a good wire brushing removed the glazing, returning the “as new” appearance to them.

The disk assembly’s were contaminated with brake dust this was easily removed using a mixture of traffic film remover and general purpose detergent, washed off with warm water and dried with a hot air blow lamp set to warm, using this method removes the danger of inhalation of asbestos dust and leaves a clean surface.

I reassembled the parts lubricating the moving parts with “copper slip” , this substance is ideal for use in brakes as it stays where it is put and doesn’t migrate, this would be a disadvantage especially if it got on the friction surface of the brakes, another tip if you have noise whilst braking is apply “copper slip” to the contact areas of the pad to calliper.

The reason you get a squeal whilst braking is the pad is vibrating at an audible frequency, this can be changed by making a saw cut across the friction material, doing this might be a permanent cure it might just last until the pad has worn down till the cut has been erased, more often than not it will be a permanent fix until the next set of pads are fitted.

Remember if water is not allowed to lay on a surface of a metal corrosion is unlikely to occur.

Forward Controls

Here is another observation and my modification:

I have noticed particularly on Dragstars that use a forward mounted gear change and brake pedal, the ones that have done a small mileage have excessive play in the gear change lever especially.

They are supposed to be packed with grease when they are assembled, on our 2 Dragstars neither had any sign of grease (unless it was the invisible the sort) on either brake or gear change.

The brake pedal is important but not as important as the gear change, knowing all the bikes I had looked at had excessive play, I assumed this was due to lack of initial lubrication and maintenance.

It would also seem there has been a modification to the circlip as the newer version uses the type of circlip that needs special pliers to remove and fit the clip, the earlier version is a large circlip that is fitted with a screwdriver, they fall off making gear changing difficult.

I removed the gear change assembly and discovered there was nothing to prevent me fitting a grease nipple, I obtained one from the local BSA dealers, this was an imperial thread, but I had a set of taps to fit the nipple, after drilling a clearance hole.

Prior to assembling the pedal on the shaft I found I could easily fit a fibre washer, this reduced the lateral play in the pedal and would stop any excess grease from leaking out by capillary action.

I had to fit a few packing washers to the grease nipple to stop it binding on the shaft, once done half a pump with a grease gun saw grease oozing from around shaft, meaning it now was full of grease and protected from wear.

I was able to put some grease on the linkages and placed some fibre washers behind the gear change arm on the gearbox, this made the shaft a lot firmer.

The gear change is now better, but it wasn’t worn before, I know it wont wear as bad as some bikes I have seen in dealers for sale.

The brake pedal received just a dismantling, cleaning, removing end float and regressing.

Something of great concern about the rear brake pedal, is how many are adjusted correctly, going back to dealers and the way my own bikes were received, the pedal appeared to have been adjusted for some body who was double jointed as I had to lift my foot off the foot board to operate it and it didn’t work to well either, that is another story I will cover later, suffice to say using the back brake is now a normal part of riding where as before it was a chore.

Work in Safety

As the Dragstar range and possibly the other cruiser style bikes don’t come with a main stand it make working on the bike precarious if not dangerous. After all even cleaning the bikes properly becomes a chore needing lots of space to manoeuvre the bike and taking off a wheel is impossible.

I obtained an ideal stand from the last Stafford rally, it was nearly 50% cheaper at the rally than they have advertised on their website. It is manually operated and doesn’t take up much space when not in use

The lift you need is the “Hog Lift” it is perfect for the job and you can easily remove the back wheel on a Dragstar after you have adjusted the lift. I have modified mine to protect the paint work on the frame, I used a small piece of armoured hose, I slit it with a hacksaw (be careful) and a couple of hose clips to keep it in place on the lift tube.

The easy way of using it is to push it under the bike to a position where you can just see the lift tube under the frame between the rear of the engine and the chrome cover on the exhaust side, be very care full not to go to far (this will come with experience).

The ideal position is with the lift handle nearly touching the exhaust, it is best to get an assistant to check the lift bar is in the right place as the sump gets in the way and you don’t want to lift on the sump, then just a gentle press down on the handle will bring the bike off the ground and the rear wheel into the air.

Make sure the lift bar is equidistant on the lower frame tubes and the back wheel is sufficiently high off the ground. It helps to do the lifting on level ground and have sufficient space around the bike to work comfortably.

To work on the front of the bike as well and have both wheels off the ground, I have a car scissor jack that was designed to fit under a sill so it has a slot cut into the top, if you position this on the front frame member (under the regulator) a few turns will bring the front wheel of the ground and the bike will be very stable allowing removal of the front wheel or any work on the front end.

Using this relatively cheap stand is far better than a hydraulic stand that you have to store when not in use and doesn’t easily allow draining of the sump or work on the engine.

Engine Health and Exhaust Life

Doing this will help your engine life to an old age and extend the life of the exhaust system.
You should on a regular basis remove the plugs from each cylinder and check the colour of the plug, ideally the tip of the plug should be a brown colour, you can only do this test after a run on an open throttle it is no use if you spend all your time running on the choke or the engine never is really used.

If the plug tip is white you have a serious problem and will need to find out what is causing it, using an engine in this condition will result in serious damage (holed piston) and it will be running very badly.

If the plug is black (sooty) it means the engine is running too rich and although will not cause as much damage as running too weak, it will wash fuel into the oil, wasting petrol and your money.

If there is a wide variation in plug colour this means a cylinder is out of adjustment (carburetion) or an ignition problem, these performance problems nearly always are slow to appear.

Whenever you take the plugs out just give the a light wire brushing (brass brush) then check the gap, blow out the debris from the plug body and a smear of “copper cote” before refitting, then tightening to the correct torque.

The correct torque is not swinging on the plug spanner, just nipping the plug up and no more.

A spray of “WD-40” is ideal on the insulator and plug caps this will help to refit it and keep any moisture from there, plus it will help next time you remove the caps.

Before you fit the plug squirt about 5ml of oil, 2 stroke oil is best down each bore, but don’t do this near any open windows as the smoke when you restart the engine will be quite dense, this will coat the inside of the exhaust with an oily vapour and it will stop the acid from combustion products from attacking the exhaust.

Using 2 stroke oil is best as it is designed to lubricate hot moving engine parts and not be burnt as normal engine oil is.

If you check your plugs on a regular basis and do the oil treatment to the exhaust, you will catch any trouble before it gets serious.

Handle Bars

I have noticed on our and other Dragstars that the clutch lever is always positioned close to the indicator switch and wondered why there was a centre punch mark on the handlebars.

I referred to the Yamaha workshop manual and it appears the punch mark is to locate the clutch lever, the clutch fastening should cover up the centre punch mark and be central under the cap, this moves the clutch over by 1″ 1/2.

Doing this now means your fingers are in the perfect position for controlling the clutch at its biting point and your hand falls to a natural position with out straining.

Because the mirror is now slightly out of adjustment, this is easily moved to give a clear view of the road behind you, but the difference it makes to the control of the clutch is immediately obvious.

The reason the centre punch marks are on the handle bars is to allow positioning of the controls to maximise the leverage and not for any cosmetic reasons, unfortunately the majority of bikes assembled in the UK are not built to maximise rider comfort or control and our bodies have a facility for compensating for the poor quality of workmanship of dealers.

Front Forks

To check the oil level in the front forks of the Dragstar is some what hazardous, as it involves jacking the front of the bike up, this is easily a safely achieved using our old friend the “Hog Lift” mentioned before.

Firstly put the bike on a secure and level area with a reasonable amount of working room, lift the bike using the hog lift, the rear tyre has to be minimum 2″ of the ground, then get a good socket to fit the fork top nuts, with a long extension and a tommy bar, slacken off the nuts but DON’T REMOVE THEM.

They will be quite tight so you will need to lock the steering over to get the leverage, you now have slack nuts and again don’t remove them as I will reveal the reason later.

Now get your scissor jack and place it under the front under the regulator, gently wind the screw in to take the weight of the front wheel, now this is the dangerous bit, as under the top nuts is a big spring under pressure, this is the reason for raising the front wheel off the ground.

Now get astride the bike and carefully unscrew the fork nuts using the socket and extension, when you get near the end of the thread change your grip to prevent the spring pressure forcing the socket out of your grip, use all safety equipment, goggles, gloves and cover the tank.

Put the nut to one side and do the same to the other, you will now have 2 springs sticking out of the fork tubes, remove these and mop up the oil on the ends as you withdraw them.

If there wasn’t any oil there, your handling will have been awful.

Now very gently lower the scissor jack, the forks will go to there lowest point, get a dip stick (thick welding wire or a wire coathanger), put a bend in the dipstick to avoid dropping it into the fork.

Hold the wire on the outside of the fork and mark where the top of the fork is and another point just above the top of the oilseal ( on the classic Dragstar this will be different).

Now dip the fork, and if everything is ok, the oil in the fork should be at the same level on both fork legs.

It won’t be, top it up with either specialist fork oil, or Automatic transmission / power steering fluid.

Then when the level has settled, dip it again and jack up the front end again, replace the springs making sure they are perfectly clean, put some grease on the fork nuts threads, get astride the bike again and gently compress the springs, fork nuts , using the socket and extension.

Loosely tighten the fork nuts and get the bike off the stands, bounce up and down on the forks then finally re-tighten the fork nuts.

If the oil level was low you will notice an immediate different in all aspects of handling and braking.

Don’t assume if you have a new bike or serviced bike this will have been done correctly or even been attempted.

Prop Stand Switch

This could be a source of trouble for the future or explain unusual stalling of the engine,

I had experienced this happening on one of the Dragstars. For no reason I could explain, the engine would stop momentarily and naturally I would de-clutch and change down, then let the clutch out again this would restart the engine and I would continue.

It did not always happen at a similar distance from starting the journey or at a similar speed, some times it was ok, I didn’t suspect fuel starvation because the symptoms would have been similar and over the same time period.

So the ignition was the next suspect, I had heard of the prop stand switch being at fault and after studying the service manual, I thought it was as good a place to start as any.


First get the bike on our old friend the Hog Lift, you will be working on the prop stand and don’t want the bike to fall on you.

All the prop stand switch does is pass no more than a few milliamps through it to switch a relay. When it is in the up position the switch is on and a relay is energised to enable the ignition circuit to work, of course if the bike is in gear and the stand is down the relay is open circuit and the engine will stop or cannot be started. It’s a good idea if it worked correctly… I took the switch off and fortunately it is easy to take apart. Iit is composed of a wiping spring loaded contact and a water proof case.

In fact, mine on the bike that was giving trouble was an intermittent contact in a dry (or damp) housing, you can possibly see where I am arriving at, the switch must have been made late on a Friday afternoon.

It was easy enough to fix, stretch the spring slightly, some grease (waterproof) in the mechanical side of the switch (plunger), then carefully re-assemble.

Because the brass plate (contact) that is on top of the spring is now under a bit more pressure, it is a bit more fiddly to assemble, but it will now make better contact and self clean, you will be able to feel the difference when you hand operate the prop stand.

This, as far as I know, has cured the fault. I did the same to the other Dragstar and guess what – exactly the same, except the switch was dryer. Conceivably the same fault could have occurred with this bike.

If you are having similar problems it might be just that the switch is at fault.

Update to the Propstand Switch

I had done the mods described before to the prop stand switch and there had not been a problem until a run out to Wales and the Dragstar my wife was riding was giving trouble.

This was showing as the switch not working at all, as I have explained before the prop stand in the up position is a short, and shouldn’t really give any problems but they do.

After a few minutes spend trying to get the bike into gear without the engine stopping, I decided to manually move the plunger, doing this enabled the bike to run as it should and we were able to return home without further problems.

On getting home I decided to investigate the switch, the other bike was not giving any problems at all.

I discovered one of the screws was now difficult to remove ( I always use an impact driver), the material is not stainless steel as most other screws are on the bike, I ended up having to chisel the screw loose, then using vice grips on what was left of the head.

On releasing the switch I found water droplets exuding from the switch, with this I removed the 4 off self tapping screws from the switch assembly and discovered what had been the problem, the water proof grease had not quite filled the plunger area and had let water from cleaning into the assembly, causing the grease to be used as an insulator because of the large amounts of water in there.

As the small amount of current being passed to switch the relay isn’t enough to clean the contacts, the relay wasn’t switched at all, the switch can easily be dismantled and the plunger examined.

This is done by carefully pulling the big spring out using long nosed pliers, then the nylon contact support can be pulled out, this release the plunger.

The fix is easy just drill some small holes either side of the case at the lowest point and any water will exit out of these holes and not mix with the grease.

Drilling will produce some swarf, this is easily removed and the whole assembly cleaned and re-grease, reassembled, and refitted.

The other bike has done very similar mileage and is cleaned in the same manner, the switch on this bike was completely dry.

The only difference is the bike that had the problems was used in heavy rain on the motorway for a journey of 30 miles.

My other idea was to disable the prop stand down switch and connect it to a sounder, but this might cause other problems as I would have to fit a timer as well, plus it might prove to be a bit anti-social first thing in the morning.

Water Spots After Cleaning?

After you have spent some time cleaning your bike and have leathered it off thinking there is no more moisture anywhere, the moment you move it pints of water appear from nowhere and if allowed to dry cause water spots or worse, corrosion.

The best method of removing it would be to blow it of with an airline, of course most people of do not have the luxury of having an air supply in their gardens, but perhaps you have?

A disadvantage of using an air line would be..

  1. the pressure is too high and it will cause damage.
  2. the dust that is created could make the bike dirtier than when you started cleaning.
  3. the air from an air compressor is generally cold and will not get rid of moisture, just move it around.
  4. an air compressor normally has a large reservoir and takes a lot of space and has to spend a long time producing the air to fill the reservoir.

The easy solution is obtain a cylinder vacuum cleaner (they normally have a blow function) and once they have been running for a few minutes produce a healthy output of warm air. This is ideal for blowing the water from the hidden parts of the engine and generally the parts of the bike you cannot dry.

The air pressure is very low and will not damage any components parts off the bike, most of all you wont see those annoying water spots any more.

Most attics will have an old cylinder vacuum cleaner that can be used, or the local car boot sale will have one.

You are not really interested in the sucking power just if it blows, I have a cleaner I use for cleaning the workshop (suck), but as I service home entertainment equipment it is very useful for blowing out the accumulated dust in the equipment, this can be several inches thick in some cases.

Rear Wheel In Detail

The problem with a bike that only has a prop stand is taking wheels off, it is a good idea to verify you can actually remove the wheels because if you can not, it is going to be very expensive.

I will start with the rear wheel, firstly jack the bike up using the “Hog Lift”, it needs to be as high as possible and you need to have a lot of elbow room around the back of the bike as the rear wheel is best taken out with the back diff assembly.

  1. slacken the axle bolt and remove the nut, pull the axle bolt out half way, this ensures it is loose.
  2. remove the brake lever adjusting nut and pull the rod out, remove the spring and put all the parts in a safe place.
  3. remove the anchor bolt and nut (bottom of brake plate) and move the reaction arm out of the way.
  4. take off the chromed cover at the back of the gearbox output shaft (4 x hex bolts).
  5. remove the 4 bolts holding the diff assembly into the swinging arm.
  6. you can now completely withdraw the long axle bolt, this is why the silencers are offset, to allow you to take the bolt out.
  7. gently pull the whole assembly backwards, watch the prop shaft as it comes out off the joint (there is a piece welded to the swinging arm to hold the prop shaft up).
  8. you will get to a point the wheel will go no further, you will be able to gently separate the diff from the wheel.
  9. remove the diff and put it to one side on some cloth, do not allow it to fall over as there is now nothing to stop the oil flooding out.
  10. remove the wheel and brake plate now, it is awkward as you will have to manoeuvre it out.

Now that you have everything exposed to the cold light of day, admire the large amounts of corrosion (white dust) on everything, and is the brake fulcrum pin greased?

If the brake shoes are glazed, give them a wire brushing and clean them with a solvent (petrol, thinners or white spirit), treat everything with “Waxoyl”, including the hidden parts of the prop shaft, and smear the fulcrum pin with waterproof grease.

You can now reassemble it all, it is just the reverse of dismantling, use graphite grease on all bolts and don’t forget the prop shaft goes on top of the welded wire clip on the swing arm.

Liberally coat the axle bolt with grease, this will help dismantling in the future.

And finally tighten everything up, especially the axle bolt, adjusting the brake last after spinning the wheel a few times, check the diff oil level.

Remember coat all hidden surfaces with “Waxoyl” and they won’t corrode.

I will leave the front wheel for another day.

Front Wheel

Let’s spend some time with the front wheel. The bike will still be supported on the “Hog Lift”.

With the front wheel on the ground slacken off and remove the pinch bolt, sometimes if the bolt has not been removed before, try tightening the bolt before slackening, this will break any hold corrosion has on the bolt. You must use good quality tools to do this, useful the bikes tool kit might be, when the bolts have never been removed or lubricated, they will be tight and the toolkits spanners might break damaging the bolts or, more importantly, you in the process.

Slacken off the spindle bolt and remove and tie out of the way of the Speedo cable (be careful with the cable as it is easily damaged).

You must now lift the front wheel clear of the ground using the scissor jack under the regulator bar, I find it best to put the scissor jack under the bar and turn the jacks bolt by hand or use a small Tommy bar, this will gently lift the front wheel off the ground it only needs to be a enough to take the weight of the wheel.
Now completely remove the axel bolt, if it has never been removed it will be corroded, you might have to drift it out from the other side, I have a sliding hammer with different attachments it is ideal for this type of job as it doesn’t damage the important thread.

Once the axle bolt has been removed you can jack the scissor jack a couple of inches, you will then be able to manoeuvre the wheel out of the forks, notice how much corrosion is on the various fittings this need attending to as it will stop it completely and will help future maintenance of the cycle parts.

Notice in particular how much corrosion is on the mudguard, it will help to remove the mudguard and clean the underneath, at this point it might be a good plan to fit a mud flap to the mudguard to keep water off the electrical items at the front of the engine.

Before you go an further place a piece of wood between the disk pads to stop inadvertent operation of the front brake, making more work for you, as trying to refit the pistons is not the ideal occupation, or clearing the spilled brake fluid.

Once you have cleaned and applied grease and Waxoyl to everything unseen, take a look at the Speedo drive, this should be well packed with “High Melting point grease”, it probably wont be, I use the grease intended for CV joints, this is a special semi waterproof very high melting point grease (ideal for wheel bearings and stressed components.

As all the wheel bearings are sealed, they should not give trouble for many thousand of miles, but there are some dust seals on the axel a smear of High melting point grease will be useful here and also smear some on the axel bolt.

Manoeuvre the wheel into position, there is a notch on the Speedo drive, this has to locate on the fork leg, don’t forget to remove the piece of wood from the brake calliper, use a large screwdriver to gently lever the pads apart, be careful as they are twin piston callipers.

You will be able to gently lower the scissor jack a few inches and insert the axle bolt making sure the Speedo drive is in the slot, nip it up but don’t fully tighten, likewise insert the axle pinch bolt, but don’t tighten, connect the Speedo cable and make sure there is a smear of grease on the end, this can be tightened.

Spin the wheel and make sure it spins freely, apply the front brake, you will have to pump it a few times to bring the pads out, this should stop the wheel spinning and upon realising the brake shouldn’t bind.

Lower the scissor jack, and take the bike off the “Hog Lift”, this bit is very important. Straddle the bike and pump the suspension up and down with the front brake on, this will realign the forks, put the bike on the side stand and now tighten the axle bolt, finally the pinch bolt.

You have now extended the life of the bike and enabled the wheels to be removed with out resorting to angle grinder’s and welding torches, saving a lot of money as well.

Bleeding Brakes

I have discovered a use for large plastic disposable syringes, I think they are used for dispensing liquids to babies, they don’t have a needle as such but an angled fine end.

I had heard people using a very large and expensive syringe for bleeding brakes, I had to change the brake fluid on my van and was doing it by myself, this is normally a 3 man job, one topping up, one pumping the pedal and one doing the bleeding.

I discovered if I connected a length of silicone hose (used for air pumps in aquariums) to the bleed nipple and placed it in a bottle, opened up the bleed nipple then pumped a significant amount through the system until it was a different colour, topping up as required.

Doing this changed the fluid but introduced air into the system, easily fixed.

I cut a small length of silicone tube and fitted this to the front nearside then pushed a dispensing syringe into the open end and pulled the plunger back creating a vacuum, I opened the bleed nipple at the same time, this action sucked a small amount of fluid and air out of the system.

I did this on opposite sides and after was left with a perfect brake pedal.

I have used this idea on both Dragstars when changing the brake fluid and it has made a normally messy job into an easy and clean job.

I have also used a syringe to remove most of the fork oil on other bikes, to save having to take of each fork leg to change the oil.

On one bike, the oil in one leg was contaminated with water, don’t ask me how.

I have even used the same sort of syringe when rebuilding 2-stroke engines, you have to flood the bearings with 2-stroke oil as normal mineral oil pools in the engine and isn’t burnt properly.

The many uses of a simple plastic syringe.

Fitting Indicator Buzzers

Although most bikes are fitted with an indicator buzzer, if you dont have one they are a life saver, when you turn into a side street and a pedestrian steps off the pavement without looking as they do, what happens next?

You have to brake violently and drop your pride and joy causing untold damage to you, your bike and the pedestrian?

Of course if you have a nice loud indicator buzzer, the situation is completely different, the daydreaming pedestrian will stop and wait.

You wont leave the indicators on and cause confusion to other road users and it will even be heard on motorways alerting you in the extended and needless use of them.

Fitting is relatively simple and the only piece of test equipment you need is a 12 volt test light or test meter set to volts.

First select a suitable buzzer, although I use the term buzzer I mean an electronic sounder with a red (positive) and black (negative) connection.

These are available from Maplin Electronics (a branch in every town) for about £2, they need to be single tone and at least 95 db output, as it will be mounted under the speedo (on a dragstar), it needs to be loud.

First test the sounder by connect to 12 volts (the right way round or it wont work) this should produce a reliable and loud tone, in use the voltage getting to the sounder will be less.

If it works and sounds ok, next remove the speedo assembly (dragstar), disconnect the cable from the front wheel first, undo the screws and lift up the whole speedo assembly, disconnect the speedo cable and lay the whole assembly on top of a mat on the tank.

This is were you get your test light out, clip one contact to a good earth and you are looking for a feed that is live when the ignition is on, I could give you the correct colour for the dragstar, but it varies with year of manufacture.

Once you have located the live switch a few switches and see if there is any change in the feed, it should disappear when the ignition is off.

This live is for the red (positive) of the sounder, the easiest and best method (waterproof) is to twist and tape the connections.

To do twist and tape, cut about an inch of insulation of the red wire, then get the wire strippers and do 2 cuts through the insulation on the bike live feed cable spaced at 1/4″, carefully remove the insulation using side cutters (once you have done this a few times it will be easier), wrap the bare twisted wire around the bare cable you have just exposed, then use insulation tape wound in opposite directions to give a waterproof joint (hence twist and tape).

Now find the indicator telltale light, turn the ignition on and set the indicators going, either way doesn’t matter, now probe the 2 wires going to the bulb one will cause the tester to flash the other side will be to the earth (negative).

You want to connect the black wire from the sounder to the wire on the tell-tale light that causes the tester light to flash using twist and tape.

You will now find when the ignition is on and you use the indicators the sounder will sound, now secure the sounder under the speedo and reassemble the bike and the job is now done, the sounder will be audible to pedestrians and all done for less than £5 including buying a test light.

This will help you and pedestrians.