Front Fender Delete

The front fender does have a purpose in it’s life, it protects the bike and you from debris and water.  After talking to many that have removed the front fender however, I find (and now know) the only real complaint is that of water if it’s raining hard.  Which is true. Keep this in mind when removing it!  If you don’t care about the water issue, then in my opinion removing the front fender looks aesthetically better.

The process is very simple and quick.

Get your 6mm allen wrench out.
We need to remove the fork bracket with the 4 bolts first.  These bolts are pretty tight, but they will ‘pop’ loose.  Careful not to scratch your ride!

Once the bracket is removed, turn it over and you will see 4 smaller T-25 bolts.
Remove these bolts.

That was easy. Now just put the lower fork bracket back on.  Some where asking about just leaving it off, but the answers they get are it will make your steering pretty miserable.

Tighten them down good.  I’m told it’s a 18-25lb torque. I just guessed and it’s fine.

There, the fat tire on the 48 screams “check me out”!


Belt Guard Delete

Removing the lower plastic belt guard on the sportsters not only looks better, but will make you superman (ok, not really. I made that up – just looks better).

Grab your 3/8 wrench, there are 3 bots we need to loosen to slid it off.
Once they are loose, you can slide it –> forward and it will be detached.
At first it seems as if you will not be able to pull it out from the bike due to the exhaust and belt, however if you pull it under and bend the belt just slightly, she will come out.

Now just remove the 3 bolts entirely.

Much cleaner look.
Now your superman.

Lower marker lights

I don’t know how many times during compliments I hear, “Nice bobber”. The Forty Eight was designed to resemble the 1948 Harley and most people I run into either have never heard of it or have no clue what it is and it’s assumed I ‘bobbed’ a bike.

We can do some some basic mods that will bring it closer to that illusion.

Dropping the maker lights down lower on the fork is one of them and an easy one. Let’s get started!

Here is what the default looks like.

What we want to do is bring them down to under the head lamp on the fork tree.
(when doing this, only do 1 side at a time!)

Grab your Torx T45 bit and unbolt the marker light.  You will notice a metal notch that keeps the light “centered”.  This notch needs to come off because the lower fork mount doesn’t have the space for it.  I used a hacksaw.

Then use a file to file the cut smoother.

Be sure to bring the washer down with the assembly as well, and put the bolts back where they where (they are not the same bolts).  ((ie, the one with the weird groove goes on the lower fork))

Bolt them back up and center the light how you like it.
Now repeat for the other side.

Done. Looks much better to me.
The wires will be long enough, but I did ziptie the left side due to it being too long after the move.

Replacing marker light bulbs

It’s riding season here again!  This is just a basic quicky on replacing your turn signal marker bulbs on the new sportsters.

Noticed one of my driving lights was out, however it DID work with hazards or with the turn signal.  Since these are duel element bulbs, one of it’s elements was burned out.

Just buy a 2-pack of these bulbs (about $5.00).

Next, just put a small flat head screw driver in the little notch on the amber lens.

Then just tap with a mallet (or hammer) and she will pop right off.

Twist the old bulb out, push and turn the new one in.  Turn the key and test.  Once good, pop the lens back on.

You done!
Should be the same method for the rear bulbs as well.

Better Lighting

I love my sportster.  The fact that she is one hot sexy machine does not mean things cannot be improved on her.  I did most of my practice riding in the daylight hours for the first few months.  Although once I ventured out into the night with her, in the state she came fresh off the factory floor – it was a scary thing.  My light would stop dead about 30ft in front of my bike leaving complete darkness beyond that point – if your going 40mph or faster.. that’s not much reaction time.

Maybe it’s a “48” thing.  Or maybe no one checks the angle of the bright torch before handing off sportsters to customers.  Either way, something had to change.  Sure, high-beams work great but cadgers and other bikers wont appreciate you coming head on.

There seem to be lots of options out there for bikes and lights.  Some get really expensive and involved.  I decided to find the cheaper alternatives to lighting sportster bliss.

Free:  ‘aim the light’ 

This is quite simple.  Take your bike to a level spot, where it’s dark.  I then used a 2×4 size piece of wood to sit under the kick-stand and pointed my handle bars straight.  Turn on the key and sit in the seat.  Pick a spot where you can see the light stop on the ground.  Get out a wrench and a socket wrench.  Loosen the bolt on the right while holding the nut with the wrench.  Loosen just enough that you can pull the lamp up a few degrees.  Sit on the bike and check.  Do this a couple of times until the light just disappears and gets rid of that abrupt edge of light that you had before.

Then of course tighten the bolt and your good to go.  Just this alone makes it all ok.  No need to do anything els, although of course I have too. 🙂

$17.00: H4 Sylvania bulb  

After talking with the guys at the HDforums, it seems a great alternative bulb really hits the spot.  It’s not expensive and fairly easy to install.  So on with it.

The h4 sylvania bulb is a wonderful alternative to the stock bulb as it puts out more light.

When opening the package, but sure NOT to touch the bulb itself with your fingers.  Your human grease will make the bulb die a premature death.  Also, keep the package to put the stock bulb back into for a spare incase you need one again.

Fist we unscrew the bolt found at the bottom of the assembly.

This chrome ring will pop off when you pull it from it’s sides – careful not to let things drop!

Unplug the wire harness from the bulb.

Then peel the rubber from the assembly – it’s tight so just work on it. It’s just a sealer for dirt and to keep the inside of the light assembly clean.

Next, just unlatch the holding clamp out.

Swap with the new bulb and re-attach your retaining  (no touching the bulb!! )  clamp to secure the bulb.

Push down your rubber sealer and be sure to align the two arrows.

Plug the wire harness back into the new bulb.

Now just align your tabs and put things back into place and screw in your clamp.

Once I installed the bulb, I noticed the light emitting was much more “white”.
So with under $20 and a little bit of your time, you can have a great headlamp that will make night riding the wonderful bliss it should be.


1000 miles of services

Well we just passed the 1K mile marker on the sportster.  It was a fun and happy 1000 miles of pure bliss.  By now, i can feel the clutch needing an adjustment and since we have to change the oil, it’s time to go all synthetic. After doing the oil change, it’s time to do the others on the list.  Most of these other things are just making sure bolts are tight, lights are working and nothing is leaking.

I know the dealership will charge anywhere from $200-$350 to do this 1K mile service. With a few basic tools and know-how, you can do it yourself.  Also, doing it yourself will make you more comfortable around your bike and allow you do save money.   So, let’s do that.

Oil changes:
I don’t have a bike lift or bike stand as of yet and there isn’t much clearance under the bike for an oil catcher.  So I bought  an oil catcher locally and we hope it fits under the bike, if not I’ll  have to order one that will fit.

Here is the important parts needed:

After doing much research and learning I choose to go with full synthetic.  It cost more up front, but realistically is better for your bike in hot weather and you don’t “have” to change your oil for 5K miles with synthetics  (even though I probably will change before that anyways 😉  )
A lot of guys like the Amsoil oil.  I could not find it locally and went with Mobile1 all around.  Highly recommended from other bikers and it’s rated way up at the top.  Also going with Mobile 1 primary gear oil for the gear box.   You will need 3qt for the oil change (2.5qt really) and 1qt for the gear oil.  We also went with the K&N oil filter (or the chrome version).  This oil filter is just as good as the official Harley filter, but also has an extra feature that caps the oil to keep oil up in the top of the head when the bike isn’t running.  Plus, the K&N filter comes with a socket “nut” that allows easy installation and removal later.  It’s only about $5 more than the HD filter. Worth it in my opinion.

If you haven’t yet, you should really consider buying the official Service Manual for sportsters (this one is for all sportsters and will work, only difference through the years is carb vs EFI).  But if your running an 09 or newer, this is for your sportster).  If you want to get exact search here. The service manual is a step-by-step guide for pretty much any repair/check/fix on your ride and if you want to do things on your own to save cash, you need this.  ALSO a great addition to the service manual is the FixMyHog DVD.  It’s just like an expert walking you through each step!

Other things needed or recommended for the 1K service include:
replace engine oil and filter (see above)
inspect oil lines and brake system
inspect air cleaner (I have a K&N, we are good)
inspect tires (get a cheap tire gauge – 30psi front/36psi rear for solo riding)
check wheel spokes (video how too)
replace trans(primary) fluid (drain and pour 1qt into the inspection hole)
check clutch adjustment (video walk-though)
check primary chain adjustment (video walk-through)
inspect and adjust rear belt and sprockets (info)
inspect and lubricate jiffy stand (kick stand is good)
inspect fuel lines and fittings
check brake fluid level (look in the little reservoir window- throttle side grip)
inspect brakes
inspect spark plugs (discuss)
check operation of electrical equipment and switches
check engine idle speed
adjust steering head bearings (video how to test starts at 1:07 )
inspect shocks
check critical fasteners
inspect exhaust system (tighten)

Main items I actually focus on:
– change oil/filter and primary oil
– adjust the clutch – mine was starting to not shift smooth sometimes
– adjust throttle cable – mine is a bit loose with too much play (video how to)
– of course check tires
– wash her

After doing my service with full synthetic, I noticed she ran smoother, cooler and quieter. I had lots of metal shavings on the primary plug, this is normal on a newer bike.   Ended up at harbor freight and bought a torque wrench for $17.00 and a 5/8 deep socket for spark plugs.  I didn’t have an oil filter removal tool, so my arm hurts today but luckily the new K&N filter has a “nut” on it for next time.   I need a bike lift.  I did end up using a 2×4 size piece of wood to set the kick-stand on so the bike was more level – this really helped and gave me more room to work on her this time.


Intake on the cheap

My goal is to do mods that are cheap and also look stock for my 48. I was looking the at the screaming eagle intake but they want close to $300 for a K&N without an airbox. No thanks.

I just ordered a K&N filter for about $45 on amazon. Then removed the stock airbox. It breaths SO much better. And really, your not going to gain much with spending an extra $200. sorry.  The screaming eagle breather will have more surface area and I’m sure that would help if your sportster had some major upgrades to it where it really needed more air to compensate for a beefier CAM or head work, but not for basic mods.

Noticing that the airbox on the sportsters is what secures your filter to the bike, I did have to make one modification.  Without using some sort of plate that sits between using the stock gaskets (otherwise the whole air cleaner vibrates way too much – which I tried).

So lets get started.  Not much as far as taking things apart.   Once you get the airbox out, the back large plastic piece and rubber ring are the main things we are going to remove.
Watch and remember where to two gaskets go.

We take the plastic box and make our bracket we need from the scrap.  As you can see here, the initial cut using a dremel doesn’t have to be pretty.

Next we take our new braket and smooth her out (for cosmetic reasons).  I used a table grinder but you can use a file too.  Place your two gaskets where they go.


Start putting things back together.


If you like that hard/basic look you can stop here and just have this hanging out in the air.  Again, I like the stock look of the black cover so I put it back on.


You will be able to hear the intake – this is normal.  Not a big deal, but when you listen for it, it is there.

*Total invested for a free-flowing K&N $45.00
*Should work on any recent Harley Sportsters 

If you don’t like the look of this setup and still want something on the cheap, have a look at Mreeds mod!



Opened Exhaust for – $25

When it comes to opening up your exhaust or having a better sounding Harley there are a lot of options.  It seems most people go for the Vanc & Hines pipes which look good and sound great.  But for me, I like the stock looking exhaust and don’t want to be just like everyone els.  (If you want black exhaust, consider the wrap kit with stock pipes.)

So I took the stock exhaust and just opened them up by removing the baffles (or I should say drilling out the baffle caps).
If you take a flashlight and look up inside the stock exhaust you will see what seems to be a sealed off exhaust.  About 8″ in are plates that are really screaming to be opened up.

There are a lot of opinions out there about doing this mod.  Most of what you will hear is “you will lose back pressure”.   Which could be true.   However once I did this mod, I didn’t notice anything except pure happiness.  She sounded WAY better (like a Harley) and seemed to have more power – like she finally woke up.  In fact, if you do the other mods I’m posting on here, it will make up the difference if you really think you lost any back pressure.

Let’s get started.  Firs, you’re going to need a drill, 1ft drill extension, a 1in hole bit and about 1min of your time.

Just put the drill up inside the exhaust and start drilling.  I found that slow speed with more pressure is faster.  You will be drilling through 3mm metal, so it’s not much.   Once both pipes are drilled, turn on the bike and hear your new baby sing.  The pieces you drilled will fly out.

Here is a 3-part video in case you wanted a visual.  You don’t have to remove the pipes as he did, but this is basically what the end result is.

Now she sounds and runs great!  Also, having cars hear you is safer as far as I’m concerned.

If for whatever reason you don’t like the fact that you “lost pressure” or you’d like a different sound, consider the Cycle Shack exhaust.  Best bang for the buck for aftermarket exhaust on the sportster.

So you have nothing to lose by trying the baffle trick first.  Especially if you already have the extension and hole bit. I for one don’t see myself upgrading past these stock/drilled pipes.