Determining the extent of engine work on a used bike

Discussion in 'Engine, Fuel and Exhaust' started by JFitzDela, Apr 19, 2009.

  1. JFitzDela

    JFitzDela Member

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    Hello, all, and please forgive my ignorance -- I'm new to both Harleys and to anything to do with how a motorcycle works.

    I've read through the excellent tip on engine "staging" for HDs, and it's got me wondering about the '04 Softail I bought. I'm fairly certain that the previous owner went at least as far as "Stage 1," but I can't be sure. The dealer said that the intake and the pipes are all they knew of.

    I'm wondering how just how much extra torque a Stage 1 upgrade can give. I rode a stock Softail a few days before this bike, and it felt like it had ridiculously less "go."

    My question, then, is how can I tell what's been upgraded/changed, bearing in mind that I barely know where the air filter is located.... :) Alternatively, can a new air filter and pipes boost the power as substantially as it seems?

    I realize this is a hopelessly huge topic to try and cover, but if I can get some idea, I'll be much better off -- I just want to know how much extra stress my engine is going to be under.

    Thanks a million for the help!

    - John
     
  2. TQuentin1

    TQuentin1 Well-Known Member Staff Member Moderator

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    Hello John, and welcome to the Forum. Lots of great info here and in the heads of your fellow members.

    One option, is to go to the dealership where you bought the bike and ask them to pull up the maintenance history on it. If any of the upgrades were done by the dealership, you should see that in the records they provide to you.

    Stage 1 will not give you massive improvements in torque and horsepower. The benefits to Stage 1 are freeing up the engine to breath better. More air in and exhaust out. Doing that will mean that more fuel will have to be added. HDs are very lean to begin with, and freeing up the air flow will worsen that. So if Stage 1 was done, then a map download from Harley or an aftermarket fueler or tuner must be on the bike.

    The rest of the upgrades (cams, head work, jugs, etc.) are difficult to determine without finding paper records or actually dissassembling and inspecting. Of course, if any of these components are clearly marked as after market components, you have your answer.

    TQ
     
  3. JFitzDela

    JFitzDela Member

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    Ingles, por favor? :)

    I kid, but only kind of. First of all, thanks for your help! I'm due to take 'er in for a gasket to be replaced on the tank, and I'll see if I can talk the service guys into looking up what, if anything, was done at the dealership and what the can readily tell me otherwise.

    As well, I'm going to find a good book/resource for absolute neophytes to bike maintenance -- I'm pretty sure I know where the throttle, clutch, shifter, and two brakes are, but beyond that I'm fairly lost.

    Thanks again!

    Edit: It does seem like my salesman said he thought the cams had been worked on. If this is the case (or in any case of more extensive upgrading), is there any concern for accelerated wear on the engine, considering that I ride pretty conservatively? Thanks!
     
  4. JFitzDela

    JFitzDela Member

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    Thanks for the info!

    Another question, possibly related -- the bike seems to have a great deal of trouble running at idle, particularly when it's cold. Part of this, I suspect, is that I'm not leaving the choke out long enough or I'm pushing it back in too quickly, but even after 10-15 minutes on the road, I felt like I had to goose the throttle to keep it running. Is the bike possibly just set to idle at too low an RPM (and is that even possible to adjust)? What else could the problem be?
     
  5. glider

    glider Veteran Member

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  6. Caper

    Caper Active Member

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    That would be the best way to find out what was done to it.

    If you want to get an understanding of how your bike works, maintenance schedules, and such, the Factory Service manual will be a great help to you.

    You can order it through your local dealer

    99482-04
    Service Manual
    '04 Softail® Models
     
  7. bfmitch

    bfmitch Active Member

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    I'm assuming (yeah, I know) that this is a carbed bike. Because of where you live (I think it's about 3300 feet above sea level) there might just be an issue with the carb jetting. If it was set up for sea level operation, that could be an issue. If the dealer didn't do the work, or if there is no record, you don't really know how it was set up. Someone might have to open up the carbs and check the jets.

    Down here in the Salt Lake City area some guys with carbed bikes play with the enrichener to try to get them to run better when they climb the mountains. Sort of like you're doing.

    Just a thought.
     
  8. glider

    glider Veteran Member

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    I think you have that backwards. They need less fuel at altitudes.
     
  9. JFitzDela

    JFitzDela Member

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    I appreciate the advice.

    I tried letting it run for a minute with the enricher out and then easing it in/throttling it a bit, and it definitely helped (I didn't give it long enough to REALLY warm up, as it's very loud and there are a lot of neighbors). The biggest problem right now is that I can't ride until I've gotten the MSF course done (I live on an Air Force base).

    I'll also try looking for that intake leak you mentioned. If she's still giving me trouble, I'll ask the service fella when I take it in.

    Thanks a million!
     
  10. bfmitch

    bfmitch Active Member

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    Smitty and Glider,

    It bothered me too. I'm just saying what some folks are doing.

    I like my fuel injection. Don't need to care about the altitude.

    Still might not hurt to check out the jets given the altitude.