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Photo by Genghis

AT SIXTH STREET SPECIALS: Why was Mabel running rough?.

I’m a fairly smart guy. Hey, I don’t belong to MENSA, but I’m no moron either. That’s why it surprises me when I do something stupid with the bike.

The day began innocently enough. It’s a glorious day for riding, one of those days that bespeaks of sunshine not of the orange sort—but euphoria-inducing enough if yer a biker, man.

I went to Mabel’s (my ’71 Stroker Shovelhead) outdoor parking lot, and removed her brand new bike cover. It’s amazing how quickly NYC’s unforgiving winters can destroy a motorcycle cover. Between the harsh whipping winds ( I live near the East River) and the sub-freezing temps, the weather in New York City is a bike cover killer. Mabel’s previous cover was only two years old, yet it was in tatters as I threw it way.

Mabel started right up, and settled down to that hypnotic “RUMPITY-RUMP…RUMPITY-RUMP…RUMPITY-RUMP” Harley cadence that we all know and love. Let’s go, baby!

My plan was to ride around to find a nice, scenic place to take some photos of The Mabes, without a lot of traffic around. I settled on Sixth Street Specials, on Sixth Street between Avenue C and Avenue D in the Lower Beast Side of NYC. But first, I wanted to fill up Mabel’s 3 1/2 gallon Super Glide banana tank.

After gettin’ gas, I started Mabel up. Curiously, she was running rough. Hey, she was running fine when I pulled into the gas station off of the FDR Drive. Fouled plugs? I took off and got back on the highway, to blow off any fouling on the plugs. By the time I got to Sixth Street Specials, Mabel was still running rough, threatening to stall if I didn’t blip the throttle at red lights. When I got to Sixth Street Specials, I shut ‘er down to take a look at what might be wrong.

I pulled the plugs. They didn’t look bad, but I changed to new plugs anyway. After I changed to the new plugs, Mabel kept on running rough. Then I pulled each plug, grounded each against the cylinder to check for spark. No problem there, each was producing a spark.

Could it be fuel starvation? I pulled the fuel line off of the carb, and gas was flowing freely–so the problem wasn’t fuel related. Hmm..what was it?

Then I spotted it. Mabel’s S & S Super B’s enrichener was pulled up! I was in effect, riding around trying to clear the plugs, as if running on choke! It occurred to me that I had inadvertently pulled the enrichener up (muscle memory?) in the gas station, without realizing it—before I turned Mabel over! Ha! Man, did I feel foolish. I missed the forest for the trees! This was one time that I should have heeded Occaam’s Razor: check the simple things first.

Goes to show ya man, that Harleys like Mabel are far more reliable than their human operators. Later.


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