Get Adobe Flash player

Road Dog Introduction

This being the first blog entry for Road Dog Publications I thought I would tell you a bit about myself and the new line of books. I also own Lost Classics Book Company, a line of 40 plus children's educational books from the late 1800s and early 1900s republished for a new audience of students—homeschooled, distance education learners, and those attending brick-and-mortar classrooms. I've been involved with this company since 1996, about midway being made managing editor. I became owner in January 2010. Not long before I took over, my love of motorcycles was rekindled. I thought I would put my experience to work publishing books in a new subsidiary imprint that jived with my biking enthusiasm and Road Dog Publications was born.


My love of motorcycles goes back to the late '60s, when I was a teenager. (Without going into the numbers, I'll just let you know that when I was born Eisenhower was president.) Then, with limited means, my hopefully cost-effective dream was to buy different used bike components and build a bike from the ground up for myself. Engines and all sorts of parts were available in the want ads and in various local bike shops in the South Bend area, where I grew up. I thought I would just buy a used motor, find wheels off something else, find a frame or weld up one up myself to hold it all together—big dreams for someone who had never welded before or even ridden anything bigger than my boyhood friend's Honda Trail 70. Heck, I might have pulled it off anyway; I have always been pretty resourceful; if it hadn't been for the two things I lacked—a job and money. Lack of funds and unsympathetic parents sunk that dream before I had finished high school. I moved on to other things, many other things it turns out over the years, but that dream stayed alive somewhere in the remote convolutions of my brain.

Over the years, other than a couple times I got the chance to ride bikes belonging to friends, my dream of riding lay dormant until I spied something in the back of my father-in-law Ronnie's, shop peaking out of a cover of stored junk. It was a 1968 Honda CB350, dusty but complete and wearing a 1986 tag.

I asked my father-in-law the story of the bike and whether he cared if I tried to see if I could get it running. He told me a neighbor had the bike before him. The neighbor had bought it for his family and various members had ridden it until one of them dropped it. The incident scared the neighbor and he sold it to Ronnie—for $100. Ronnie rode it for a short while the whole quarter mile from his house to his shop until my mother-in-law put a stop to him riding "that dangerous thing," and there it sat, until I saw it sometime in 2004.

I did get it running—fitfully—but before I could put some serious effort into it we were slammed by Hurricane Charlie, requiring years of repair work on our home followed by, as a result of a growing family, the need to build an addition. The CB sat forlorn and waiting until early 2009 when work began again. All the gory details I'll go into another time, but by August the bike was running reasonably well and was fit for the road and I had gained an inordinate amount of knowledge of old-bike mechanics. By then I had taken the motorcycle safety course, required by the State of Florida, and was ready for the road as well. So started my riding career, forty years after my love affair had begun.

Since then, the little CB has covered the roads between central Florida and Michigan (the trip that earned me the moniker "Road Dog" from a fellow motorcycle forum member and friend, BadInfluence). It has followed the winding paths of the Smokies, made the pilgrimage from Florida to the Barber Vintage Festival in Birmingham, and criss-crossed most of the backroads of Florida, in temps from below freezing to the 100s, in the rain and in the sun. She had 5,700 miles on her when I drug her out from under the junk in the shop and as of this writing, in May of 2011, has passed the 20,000 mark on the odometer. The CB, aka "Old Faithful," would have had more except for an addition to the garage earlier last year of a '86 Suzuki Savage, bought as a "kit" of numerous disconnected and largely unworking parts. That's the problem with the love of bikes, or perhaps the joy, they often multiply as if by magic.

I ride now whenever I can and especially like long road trips. I'm about to head to the Smokies once more in fact in a few days. When not riding I am thinking about bikes and reading about bikes. There really is not a lot written about riding, and much of it is, well, let's say, not very complete, not very "wholistic," for lack of a better word. There's much on technical aspects of riding or mechanics, and books on the so-called lifestyle, but what I like to read is stuff that combines all that together, the way actually riding does. Riding contains the sublime and the down-to-earth; hilarity and tears, success and failure, dirty fingernails and mountain views, stuck case-screws and purring engines. Which has brought me here, to the creation of Road Dog Publications, and I'll try my best to bring you books "for the thoughtful rider."

"Ride your own ride."

Road Dog





Mike, I believe I have emailed you about the savage you worked on. I just bought my first bile and it is a 1986 savage. Haha. It ran it did everything. Only problem was that it was hemoraging oil out the top cover. Took everything off, took engine out l, resealed the cover and then there was no leak. Put everything back together and click the starter button. nothing. Bench tested the starter. Starter was burnt out...ok? Worked before but now it doesnt? Haha so got a new starter and put a new battery in(old batt needed replacing anyway. However...I clicked thw starter after soing all that yesterday(aug 8, 2014) and the starter motor turns. But the engine doesnt even sound like it is catching. I dont umderstand as we didnt even touch any of the bottom of the engine. Did I install the starter wrong? Please let me know asap. Its my first bike and I havent even been able toride it since I bought it 4 months ago. Thanks for the help Mike. Mike Epke

Starter Clutch

Hi Mike,

I hate to tell you this but I had that very same problem. If the starter motor spins up but doesn't turn over your motor, the starter clutch is probalby bad. I had to fix mine. Be careful, though, if you get a new one make sure you put it together properly. I somehow got mine on backwards and reinstalled it only to find the gears spinning but the motor not turning over. I had to remove again and reinstal, then all was fine. I hope the bit below will help you. The section concering this problem from my upcoming book (Thoughts on the Road: Wrenching, Riding, and Reflecting ©2014):

"…I hit the start button and whirrrr!—the starter turned over. I left the bike for the rest of the day planning to try a real engine start after work, with fresh fuel in the tank. Unfortunately, the whirr was only the starter. The engine was not turning over. I pulled the starter, one the rare easy tasks of working on this bike, and could turn the gear it meshed with inside the engine easily in either direction through the hole with my finger. I drained the oil and started the arduous task of pulling off the left side engine cover as described above.

"The starter clutch is a gear which engages the gears driven by the starter. The starter clutch is made so if turned one way it will turn the motor over and start the bike; if turned the opposite direction it will spin freely so that once the motor is running the gear doesn't keep spinning and turning the starter. Being able to spin the starter clutch gear freely in either direction was a sure sign it was shot. The clutch is hidden underneath the rotor, which requires a special Suzuki tool—of course. I took out the allen headed screws holding the rotor to the clutch. Then I tried just loosening the middle nut that holds the rotor to the shaft, but to no avail. I was afraid I was going to damage something doing that. Grrrrrrrr! I cursed the devils who think they have to put every nut and bolt on a motor as tight as they possibly can! I used a 3/4" pipe on my ratchet in an attempt to break that rotor bolt loose but only succeede in breaking the extension in two. I sprayed it with PB Blaster and thought I'd give it another go tomorrow.

"The next day dawned and I tried my hand at the bolt again. This time I had my 1/2" breaker bar and a 17mm 1/2" drive socket instead of a wimpy 3/8" drive. No luck again. I went to my local bike shop and talked to the owner, hoping he might be willing to get it off with his impact tools if I loaded the bike on the trailer and brought it to him on the weekend. Instead, he was kind enough to offer to lend me his air powered impact wrench along with a 17mm impact socket. I brought it home, wheeled the bike out to my woodshop, where my big compressor lives, made sure it was on 125 psi, and used the impact wrench on the bolt—it did not budge.

"I loaded the Savage onto the trailer. I couldn't hold that hex shaft of the rotor securely with my big adjustable wrench while I tried to turn the rotor bolt, so it was going nowhere. The manual called for an offset 36mm wrench to hold the shaft, which of course, I did not have and the cheapest one I found was over $50. Even once that bolt was out I would need to pull the rotor, which calls for another special Suzuki tool costing above $70. I chatted with my bike mechanic cousin, Johnnie, and he gave me an idea for making a special puller, but finding what I need to do that and then welding it up is not going to be real cheap or easy either.—finding a really big metric nut that will fit the shaft, welding a tube to it, and then welding a center nut in which to thread the puller bolt would not be easy—I admire the ingenuity, but a lot of work for one time use. I called the dealer here and for between $20 and $40 they would pull my rotor for me. So off the bike went to the shop. For $42.27 and an hour wait I got the bike back with the rotor pulled. That was less than the cost of a 36mm offset wrench alone required to do the job.

"With the clutch off, now I could address the problem of fixing or replacing it. Unfortunately, Suzuki, in their great wisdom did not offer a clutch by itself or parts to repair one; they only sold the entire assembly which included the clutch and large driven gear. So, I started the search for a used one. I thought with this bike being made virtually unchanged since 1986 to that day I could find parts easily, and actually I could, with the one exception of the starter clutch. After many days checking eBay, I had no alternative but to spend the $155 on an assembly from Suzuki, which entailed another wait of a week. Upon arrival of the clutch, I installed it and closed up the motor again, and refilled the bike with oil.

"I hit the starter—nothing. The starter would spin and whir, but the engine just sat there motionless. Then I had a terrible thought—when I installed the new clutch, it came together as an assembly, the driven gear already inside the clutch. I installed it as it came to me, but halfway on the drive gear parted from the clutch. I had to take the parts off and put them together again before putting them on the shaft. I wondered if the clutch was reversible. If so, when the starter turned everything it would turn the clutch the direction that turns free in relation to the driven gear. Taking this thing apart was a bear and now I had the realization that I would have to do it all over again, including paying to have the rotor removed, which was now affixed to the crankshaft with the bolt and red, permanent threadlocker.

"I paid the dealer to once again pull the rotor and then reinstalled it the correct way. Finally, I hit the starter button, and lo and behold, the engine turned over. It took a while, some battery recharging, and some little blips on the throttle with the choke all the way out, but eventually the beast roared to life!"

Road Trip

Wild Road Dog Hawgs hitting the streets again. Bro Ozzie leaving Florida tomorrow to meet me here in SC. From there, who knows...Follow our journey along the way on AND on facebook page.....Welcome all comments. Cheers! 

Reply to comment | Road Dog Publications

Hi, і reaԁ your blog oсcaѕionally and i оwn a similar one and i was just wonԁeгing if you get a lοt of spam feeԁback? If so how ԁo you гeducе it, any ρlugin or anything you сan suggest? I get so much latelу it's driving me insane so any support is very much appreciated.


Yes, 98% of replies are spam. I have to go online daily and delete all. It is bad enough that I am considering requiring posters to register before they can comment. I hate to make it harder for legitimate users to comment but shifting out all the spammers is a continual headache.




Good read. Keep 'em coming.

Good read. Keep 'em coming.