Colby Replacement Valve Stems

Colby Replacement Valve Stems

By David Sturgis, Shop Rag Editor

Have you ever broken a valve stem on a motor vehicle? It happened to me way back on a 1997 Kawasaki Concours. I rolled it off the centerstand at work and heard a “wiff” sound… thinking nothing of it, I was merging onto I-95 south at 70 mph when I realized I could not steer the motorcycle.

I was fortunate since I had on an Avon front tire (came on the bike) and it had special sidewalls to keep the tire centered and prevent it from coming off the rim. I was also fortunate that I was heading south from the Baymeadows Road exit, on the ¾ mile long merge lane.
I’ve heard other stories about broken valve stems at the most inopportune time. My brother Matt’s 50CC was threatened by a failed valve stem, and a $100 offer to a truck service center got it fixed at 3:30am.

Past-President Bill Botkin sent me information about Colby Valve Stems, which can be replaced with the wheel on the vehicle, and without dismounting the tire. They are made in the US and fit just about anything within the realm of the non-commercial driver or rider.

These are for tubeless wheels only, which probably explains why there is no Presta valve option.

Price is around $35 a pair and that’s cheap insurance for the inconvenience of trying to repair a failed valve stem while on the Blue Ridge Parkway or while crossing Death Valley, or even coming home from work on I-95.

Check out the Colby Valve website here:


By “Firebug”

Embarrassingly, I’m a (WAS A) Clan’s virgin. Having never made it to the rally in North Carolina, I was really looking forward to some much needed time off and a relaxing weekend.

The weather for the ride to the Gathering of the Clans this year looked pretty good. So far, North Florida and Georgia has had their share of rain, but this weekend looked like a good break in the tropical cycle.

Larry Meeker and I, both from the Jacksonville area of northeast Fla., were to meet 3 gents from Daytona in Folkston Georgia for breakfast and then travel as a group through Georgia, South and then North Carolina to the High Country Motorcycle Campground owned by Brent and Maggie Hollowell.

Larry had to cancel his trip due to a septic system failure at home. I thought that was a stinky reason not to go but all was not good on the home front. Larry did make it to the breakfast and then returned home to tend to business.

The other four of us took off about 8:30 for the 500 mile trip to the mountains. With John Blood leading, Mike Peppin, me and finally Van Singley trailing behind, off we went.

We made it to Lenoir, N. Carolina about 7:00 PM and headed out Rt. 18 towards the campground.

We nearly missed the left turn onto Beaver Creek Road and had to put on the binders pretty hard. I made my left turn and the bike shut down. As I coasted down the road I tried to bump it back to life but nothing doing. I pulled over in a rocky driveway to analyze the problem.

I put the bike in neutral, and with key on I had good dash lights. I went to mash the starter button and voilla, dash lights went out but no putt, putt, putt. RATS

I turned the key off then back on and dash lights came back but very dimly. Tried the starter again and still nothing.

By this time Van returned and we discussed the issue and could come up with nothing concrete so we decided to attempt repair when we got to the campground. I told him I would call AAA and get a tow. Should be easy right? NOT

Before I got AAA on the phone a man drove up in an old beat up Ford pick-up and asked if there was a problem. I explained to him the situation and said that I was trying to contact AAA and should be ok.

He gave me his business card and said if things didn’t work out, give him a call and he would get his trailer and get me where I wanted to go. What a great guy. I thanked him and said I would contact AAA and get to the campground.

AAA answered, gets my data, I hear some beep beep in the background and then this fellow on the other end of the line says, “I’m sorry Mr. Tetzel, but in N. Carolina you must have the RV Carrier on your account for us to tow a motorcycle”. I said” WHAT”. He proceeded to tell me that each State has their own AAA club with different rules. Again I said “WHAT”. Then he said “I’m sorry Mr. Tetzel but we can’t help you this evening, have a nice night”. Then click, he was gone. I didn’t have time to say ”WHAT” a third time.

I’m thinking, hmm, 8:30 at night, in the mountains, broke down bike, 500 miles from home, lions and tigers and bears. OH MY!!

And then…business card, truck, trailer. I gave him a call.

45 minutes later Jay shows up in his old beat up Ford truck with trailer and totes me and my wheels up to the High Country Motorcycle Campground.

We pull in about 10:00, find our way to the pavilion and unload. As we are unloading a small group surrounds the truck and trailer. Maggie and Kevin Reimer (Fla. Air marshal) are heading up the pack.

Jay hung around another 45 minutes BS-ing with everyone who showed up. The whole time I was trying to shove a handful of cash into his hand for saving me but he wouldn’t have any of that. Being a motorcyclist himself he explained the old adage “a brother in need is a brother indeed”.

He jumped back in his truck, fired up that big ole 460 Ford V-8 motor and headed back home.

Thanks to Brent, Kevin and other airheads too numerous to mention, the diagnosis for my bike was a bad battery AND starter relay, of which both were readily available locally. (Thanks for the relay Van).

I sent a letter to Jay, the airhead savior. I put a card in it loaded up with cash and told him it wasn’t for him. I told him it was for that big pig of a motor that toted me up through the mountains to the campground!!

Larry Meeker did make it to the campground Thursday night about 11:00. He got somebody to change out his septic pump early on Thursday and hit the slab up to the mountains in record time.

After the repair was done to my bike my fretting was over and it was time to party. About 120 folks showed up for the weekend. No rain for the whole time we were up in the mountains.

Kevin did carb adjustments on 4 or 5 bikes and used mine as a test bed for demonstrating the use of a timing light.

Many thanks to everyone who helped with my problem and also to all the volunteers who made the weekend a great time. I WILL BE BACK!


April President’s Letter

April President’s Letter

By BMWNEF Club President Jim Quinn

BMW Motorcycles of Jacksonville and the BMW Demo Truck put on a terrific show at the dealership with two days of demo rides on all of the latest BMW motorcycles. I was especially impressed with the new G310GS.

Special thanks to Dave Rogers and John Salisbury for helping the BMW staff during the demo days and to Bill Botkin who coordinated the demo day efforts with the club and its members.

Our April Member Meeting was packed with information on club events and we had two guests, Zack Gustafsson from Gustafsson Plastics, a St Augustine based custom motorcycle windscreen manufacturer and Cliff Neese, sales representative for Klim Technical Riding Gear.

Our big give away was a pair of Klim boots, retail value of $279.00 that went to Jim Wemberly. I do hope that Jim will write a review of these terrific riding boots.

On Saturday May 12th. BMWNEF will hold its annual ride in bike show and member meeting at BMW Motorcycles of Jacksonville beginning at 10:00 AM.

This is one of our best events and it will be full of surprises, awards, food, giveaways and technical instruction.

There will be prizes for best BMW and non BMW bikes. Make sure you put this on your calendar NOW.

Here are some other dates to remember:

  • May 19th – Riding Into History, World Golf Village
  • June 3rd – Member Meeting, Fleet Reserve Association
  • June 9th – Dinner on the Road, 2 Dudes Seafood

In other club business, the Winter Rally Committee is already at work updating the webpage and planning for a terrific rally.

Our nominating committee is working on the club leadership lineup for 2019 and we’ll also vote on a minor change to the club by-laws during the nominating process.

As usual, we’re very busy with activities, events and planning. With the rally season coming up, please be sure to check up with the events page on the club website for the latest information on club activities and events.

Hope to see you at the May12th member meeting and ride in bike show at BMW Motorcycles of Jacksonville.

BMWNEF Safety Minute – Keep Learning from the Unreasonable Man*

BMWNEF Safety Minute – Keep Learning from the Unreasonable Man*

By David Sturgis, Shop Rag Editor

I am blessed to own 4 motorcycles and blessed to have a wife who is OK with this. I enjoy them all, but I do enjoy some more than others. One is a sport touring model, another is a naked hooligan bike, and the other two are a large and medium-size pair of 90-degree twins (L-twins). The medium-size twin is the reason for my story.

Medium is a 2004 SV650S and is primarily a track bike, though it can be made street legal easily. I bought it used after a gent upgraded the front suspension to a high-quality Suzuki GSX-R 600 front end, including radial brakes and inverted forks. The rear has a custom-built Penske shock. They are awesome. The Previous Owner (PO) did all the work and spent all the money for these upgrades, then sold it to me for a great price after he was in a track-day accident.

I rode the 650 and it handled very well, on the street. After my first track day, I realized the suspension needed help. The previous owner weighed about 130 pounds in gear, and I was 215 pounds in gear. The suspension was great going straight at 70 mph, but banking into turn 1 at JGP at 90mph or turn 3 at 105mph brought out some unpleasant behavior.

I fiddled around with the shock and fork settings with the vast knowledge one can obtain from and other web sites for those seeking greater knowledge. The suspension worked a little better.

Realistically, it was “good enough” to have a safe and fairly rewarding track day. Then I remembered a quote from an old friend. He was a Weld Engineer and we met on a nuclear plant project. He examined welder’s performance and had the task of certifying welders to work on nuclear plants. In his view, “good enough” was not “good enough.”

He quoted George Bernard Shaw ““The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”*

Having this revelation, I contacted Penske Racing and was advised to change the shock spring to a certain weight, to match my weight. Once I finished this task, I contacted  Steven Breckenridge of Fluidology. We met at JGP and for a not-so-nominal fee, he adjusted my suspension. He used two sets of stands and adjusted the sag front and rear, and the rebound and compression damping front and rear. It took 20 minutes.

The 650’s performance improved significantly, and my riding experience was greatly improved. I was able to enter corners faster, brake harder and accelerate sooner when exiting corners. This is important, even for a bike with 75 horsepower and a top speed of 125 mph.

Later that day at JGP, I noticed a slight wiggle in the rear when crossing a pavement seam between turns 2 and 3. This section of track is where most riders accelerate the hardest and longest, and as I did this, the wiggle would occur. It was unsettling but I found I could still keep the gas on so no worries.

Remembering the quote, I asked Steve about it and he suggest a small change to the rear shock damping… problem solved.

Do you have unsolved problems on your motorcycle, or computer, or other area of interest? Consider the lesson from the quote and be that unreasonable man (or woman). Press in a little more and get it right, since your life may depend on it someday.


Annual St Augustine Tech Day Feb 24th

Annual St Augustine Tech Day Feb 24th

By Larry Meeker #7078

For some reason, Matt Swart invited us back to his acreage in the woods. Last year’s gathering was a big hit, and this year we had great weather and another (35+) big turnout.

Jeff “Firebug” Tetzel again served a huge chunk of smoked pork butt for lunch along with lots of side dishes and refreshments from Netty Meeker.  Nobody left hungry! Big Thanks to ‘Bug and Netty.

I brought over a R100 GS/PD to try to get running again. I was successful, but it still ran poorly.   Next step will be to order and install a complete carb rebuild kit. Guerre Schuler was next on the lift with his newly acquired 1972 (?) R75/5 with 900cc cylinders. Purchased down in Melbourne area after the Winter Rally, it looked great from a distance, but closer inspection revealed more concerns.   We got in running which only pointed out some new issues. A preliminary plan was hatched and on to the next project.

Outside various bits of work were going on around the circular drive and under the ez-ups.   Some carb tuning, taillight wiring and some wheel bearing inspections. AirMarshal Kevin Reimer was floating around doing his best to help and answer questions. I noticed a large crowd was gathered around a R1100R on a trailer down the driveway in the car parking area.

Twins Robert and Tom Gatanis spend most Saturday’s visiting garage sales sniffing around for m/c related stuff. Most of the time the sellers have no history or knowledge of said stuff. Robert found the R1100R at a garage sale.  The seller disclosed he had acquired it somehow and attempted to get it running. He replaced the fuel pump, but still would not run.   He was asking $1000 for this good looking, low mileage bike. Robert was able to negotiate a significantly lower price as he sat in his car with the motor running ready to leave. Progress was made at the tech day and the bike would run if fuel was delivered bypassing the fuel pump. (Post tech day Robert and Tom determined the fuel pump was plumbed backwards and now runs great.)

With so many people hanging around it was pretty hectic for myself and Matt, the hosts for the event. Special thanks to those who were paying attention and helped out. Special thanks to newer BMWNEF member and fellow St Augustine resident, Bruce Cockcroft. Bruce was everywhere and was an immense help in finding stuff, people, helping prepare food, serving and clean-up. He even took some of the pictures. Several others helped as well and made the day a success. Others, and you know who you are, ate donuts and socialized all day. Donations were generous and all were fully reimbursed for their out of pocket advance purchases.

With about 12 years of history, I can say this really is more of a social gathering of friends and fellow riders than a hard-core tech day. The hard-core tech will be going on this coming weekend (April 5-8) in Tallahassee at Kevin Reimer’s ranch.

Thanks to Matt, our host.