– Ben Martens

Lost My Marbles

If you want to feel out of place, walk into a craft store in your motorcycle gear and ask where the glass marbles are. I did that this afternoon to prepare for my first motorcycle modification.

I'm not really into modifying my vehicles. Upgrades to my motorcycle consist of a new seat and a little stick-on clock so I know what time it is. So what's the first real change I made to my Vulcan? I shoved a marble in the engine. Let me explain…

My bike has always popped/backfired when I decelerate hard. The exhaust pipes were also really blue when I bought the bike. After searching around on the web the other night, I learned that this is a common occurrence with Vulcans. It's caused by an EPA addition to the bike that allows extra air into the exhaust system upon deceleration to burn any unused fuel and reduce emissions. Side effects are an overheated exhaust (blue pipes) and loud popping.

The solution is to remove the gas tank, change some air hoses, and remove that valve. The easy solution is to remove the air filter, find that the vacuum hose that controls the valve, and shove a marble in the end. This seems to be a pretty common solution. As one forum poster put it, "You don't need to buy marbles. Just go find any other Vulcan owner. They probably have a bag of 99 marbles laying around."

I was more than a little nervous about the change. After studying some websites and reading the maintenance manual, I was about 90% sure I had the right hose. So I shoved a marble in the end and reassembled the bike. As I turned the key, I had visions of a marble bouncing around in the cylinder, but it all sounded ok. The engine purred as I flew down the road spewing gas droplets into the environment and killing wildlife for 100 miles in all directions.

After a 15 minute test ride, I think I'm going to declare this a tentative success. I was unable to get the bike to backfire and it ran well. The real test will be coming down off of Mt. St. Helens on the big Sunday ride. When I rode down Mt. Rainier last year it was backfiring like crazy.