April 2010 Vol 10 - No 3 Print
Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 08 April 2010 21:19


Editor’s letter: Tell me a story…

By Anton Popov,

Star Cruiser Co-Editor,

Star Riders Russia


‘Airplane is not just a machine, but also a perception tool’, said Antoine de Saint Exupery in his famous Terre des Hommes. I do not guarantee the accuracy of this quote, translated from French to Russian and then to English. But I am quite sure I feel the same way about my bike. Some say motorcycle riders remain children even as their beards get long and their hair gray. Well, I’d put it another way… We never get completely grown just because we never stop growing up. Why? Because of that powerful perception tool that we all here possess. As long as we reel miles up our wheels, we never stop seeing new places, meeting new people, learning things about the world and ourselves as well. So we might never get real grownups, but at least we will never run out of stories for our grandchildren. Our experiences are unique as our fingerprints. The bikes we choose, the mods we make, the lands we travel… That is the reason I like bike meetings so much. You meet people, vagabonds like yourself, you sit by the fire and share those marvelous stories. And that’s what I love about the Star Cruiser. Summer or winter, America or Russia, we can get together and learn some new stuff. So, tell me your story – and I’ll tell you mine. Deal?




Star of the Month: 116 bhp in Purple

Ben’s 2000 Road Star


By Ben Harper,

Star Cruizer Co-Editor,



image001This month’s Bike of the month belongs to one of the Co-Editors, Ben Harper. This is a 2000 Road Star with extensive, and expensive, modifications.


The engine boasts a 108” big bore kit, Orient Express cams, big valve heads, a 42mm Mikuni flat-slide carburetor, a exhaust air elimination kit, and Reinhardt exhaust pipes. The engine puts out 116 bhp on the dyno, and can outrun most other cruisers on the road.


In addition, Ben’s bike features a Harley-style solo seat, a one-of-a-kind from a Canadian firm that is no longer in business. The handlebars are 1-1/2” Carlini Custom 17” apehangers with matching 1-1/2” risers. A custom brake pedal bracket moves the brake pedal forward to clear Ben’s big feet, while the custom air cleaner clears his knee.


One unique feature are the hand-polished lower fork tubes. Ben spent several days at the polishing wheel to make the tubes look much like the chrome of the upper fork covers.


Suspension upgrades include a Progressive Suspension rear shock absorber, which lowers the rear suspension 1-1/2 inches, and a set of Progressive Suspension fork springs. Custom Ferodo brake pads front and rear help slow this fast Star down.


There are also many Yamaha accessories as well. Saddlebags, rear fender rack, chrome oil lines, single-arm shift lever, custom timing and alternator covers, custom license plate bracket, and custom turn signal round out this stunning machine.


Ben says this beauty is a blast to ride, both in town and out on the open road. Ben is a big guy, so the suspension is tailored to his bulk, and the seat fits him like a glove.


This is our first of many motorcycles to be featured as our Bike of the month, and we encourage our brothers and sisters to send in articles and pictures of your machines so that we can call your bike a “Bike of the Month”.



Motorcycle Diaries: Emerald & blue

Riding on Madeira and Porto Santo

By Anton Popov,

Star Cruiser Co-Editor,

Star Riders Russia

Travelling is a nasty bug, you know. You get bitten once – and you're lost forever. Be it on two wheels or two wings, my journalist work or leisure – travel has been one of the few things that can make my heart pump real harder. And it's not just the road itself, it's the places also. There's an area in the north part of China that is called 'Inner Mongolia'. And there's a joke among Russian youngsters which says: 'Everyone ought to have his/her own Inner Mongolia'. And that's the exact thing I'm talking about here. There are places on Earth that remain with you forever once you've seen them. It's like having a corner in your heart that will always keep its beauty and peace no matter what happens outside. With time, the hunt for such places becomes your second nature. Today I would like to offer you a sneak peek at one at one of such spots, a real treasure...


There is only one problem with this place. You cannot ride to get there. You have to cross about 800 km of the Atlantic Ocean heading southwest from Portugal's capital Lisboa. You can do it on a ferry with your own bike in the cargo hold and Captain Jack as your company. Or you could do a little cheating: take a plane from the continent and rent your two wheels at the destination. Limited in time and resources as I am, I chose the second option. And never regretted it.

When the plane makes its final wide turn before landing in Funchal airport, you see it all in one glance. From the air Madeira looks like a bunch of flowers cast to float out in the ocean. If you have grown up in a big city, like me, you get dazzled by those colors in an instant. Ocean with its entire range of blue, red tiled roofs and the utter green of carefully tilted earth. Where am I? Middle-Earth? Garden of Eden? Or simply another planet?


 Bike rentals are rather scarce here and the choice of bikes is very plain. My pick was a 125cc off-road Honda. To be honest, I wouldn't imagine riding a rice rocket or even my own V-Star here. The island's only highway is just 100 km long. All other roads are very decent, but they curve and wind like bride's ribbons on a windy day. So it's best to travel light and slow. Anyway, there's so much to see around. One of the best places to ride is the old coastal road in the northwest of the island. There is a new route carved deep into the rock, while the old one balances on the very edge above the ocean. "Enter at your own risk", the road sign says, and for a good reason. At times, rocks come falling from the mountains above; at times, waves come sweeping over. But the trip is worth it. Here you will find the best views on the whole island: vineyards climbing up the steep slopes, waterfalls pouring right into the whirling waves below – all in emerald and blue.


But what makes Madeira beautiful makes it also a hard place for a conventional beach holiday. Those cliffs are spectacular, but they are razor sharp and they are just everywhere. Not a stretch of clear beach on the main island. You really have to be a fish to survive at least a minute off those shores. So the locals invented a thing called piscinas naturales. They choose a more or less level spot and lay it with concrete so that the rocks are not that sharp, then they add a layer of tablets, some shower cabins and chaise longue. What they get as result is a saltwater pool, constantly being refreshed by the ocean waves. Of course, when the sea gets rough, using those pools becomes a tricky sport. But then there is a measure of last resort. And it is literally a resort: the second largest island of the archipelago, Porto Santo.



Boasting a golf course, an air force base and a perfect 9-km sand beach, Porto Santo is usually visited by the Madeirans. So, odd as it sounds, it is a resort for those who actually live on a resort. A two-hour trip by ferry, packed with the locals (especially on weekends) and you are there. The nature here is more ascetic here, than on Madeira. The reason is that, unlike Porto Santo, Madeira has an extensive, over 2,000-km network of levadas, irrigation channels and aqueducts constructed between the XVI century and the 1940s. But Porto Santo has its own charm: quiet and thoughtful, heated by cloudless days and chilled by constant winds from the heart of the Atlantic.



The old windmills are long retired and my 125cc Rocinante is keen on gasoline rather than oats... but still the whole place has some Don Quixote touch. Also, Porto Santo has another feature for daydreamers like me. The small island lies right where the transatlantic air routes link Europe with the Americas. For some reason most of them pass this place almost at the same time of the day. So if you walk out on the beach at about 10 o'clock in the morning, you will see the blue skies slashed by dozens of white inversion traces. They just keep passing and passing west right above the island. At some point you feel like you are under a giant pergola stretched far out into the blue between sea and heaven.

When the ferry took us back to Madeira, I saw the main island burning in the sunset and a thought struck me. I suddenly knew I want to get back here when I get old... or die trying to find a better place.







Tech Talk: Is a bigger engine for you?

Second in a series of articles

By Ben Harper,

Star Cruiser Co-Editor,


As you already know, choosing the right combination of performance modifications for your bike is a personal choice. Some riders prefer to add only a set of exhaust pipes for the sound, and leave it at that. Others like me become obsessed with power increases and are willing to spend the thousands of dollars, or the monetary equivalent, to get every bit of power they can. We have already discussed carburetors and exhaust pipes; now we move on to the next level; engine modifications.

I have modified virtually everything I could to my Road Star. While I don't expect most of you to follow in my rather big footsteps, some of the following information may be of use to you anyway.

In order to extract the most power from your engine, it is necessary to understand the principles behind a working engine. Your engine is basically an air pump; if you increase the amount of air moving through your engine, you increase the power coming from your engine. In order to do this, there are several things you can do to your engine.A good way to increase the power from your engine is to simply make your engine bigger, i.e., increase the displacement of your engine. There are many so-called "big bore" kits available today, ranging from a series of "swap out, swap in" 108 cu. Inch kits to large big-bore kits that involve engine boring and cutting of the cylinder skirt. Prices depend on the degree of work involved, but these modifications usually start at around $700.00 and go up rapidly.

Increasing the size of your intake valves is one step in the process of increasing the power in your engine. As with your choice of carburetors, a small increase in valve size will reap benefits suitable for street use. There are cylinder head modifications that go way beyond the increases I've suggested, but unless you plan to race your vehicle on a closed race course, this will make your bike almost unrideable in normal situations, and cost much more than you really need or want to spend. A head job with reasonable valve sizes will easily const $800.00 but with a good carburetor and exhaust, and will increase your power by better than 20%.

Another improvement is the addition of performance camshafts. These increase the valve lift when the valves open, giving you increase airflow and greater power. When combined with larger valves, you can pull 10- to 15% more power when compared to stock motors. Installation of cams usually requires milling the engine case to accommodate the larger cam lobes, which means this modification costs around $1000.00, but in this author's opinion, it is one of the most efficient performance increases you can make.

While you're at it, this is a good time to remove the exhaust gas recirculation tubes, if your bike came so equipped. This system is designed (poorly) to make the bike's exhaust cleaner, but it interferes with the performance modifications you will make. Yamaha dealers carry the plugs to remove this system, and it's a good investment for you under all conditions.

As you can see, power is extremely costly, and will only become more so in the near future. My engine was 130 cubic inches with 11:1 forged pistons, ported big valve heads, Orient Express cams, 45mm Mikuni flat-slide carburetor, high-flow oil pump, EGR removal kit, and more polished aluminum and chrome than I can explain.

But there are ways to economize, so please learn from my mistakes. Try to combine any projects that will save you money over the long term. In all I had 

my cylinder heads off four times, and that is a lot of labor for which I paid dearly. Also try to keep an eye out for sales from manufacturers, garage sales at dealerships, and other opportunities to save money on parts you intended to buy anyway.

I repeat, these modifications are costly, but the configuration I am discussing is for a moderate engine that is eminently usable on the street in all conditions. I have found that anything more radical tends to make the bike less enjoyable on the street, but if you're willing to sacrifice rideability for power, by all means go for it.

These modifications, in conjunction with the carburetor and exhaust system changes discussed last month, will substantially increase your engine performance without lessening your enjoyment, which is what this series of articles is all about. Next month we'll discuss suspension and brake improvements to help you control the increased performance you have built into your machine.

Till then, ride safe and keep your eyes open for other Stars. The owners just might want to talk to you about your improved Star.







Globalizer: When promotion is a good notion
Southern Alberta Star Riders at 2010 Calgary Motorcycle Show

By Sandy Alexander,
President of Southern Alberta Star Riders

Kudos to the Southern Alberta Star Riders for their participation in the 2010 Calgary Motorcycle Show, held in January. Ignoring the famous Canadian winter weather, these intrepid folks set up a booth to inform the attendees about our great association.


Tracy Alexander (Ironside) in their booth

The Constellation set up for business on Thursday night and stayed for three days, handing out Tri-fold information flyers and through this effort encouraged 35 people to join their Constellation. Special thanks to Rooster for the tri-folds; these were a great help in their efforts to let people know about the ISRA and the Southern Alberta Star Riders.

A special mention goes out to the members of the Constellation who helped make this show a success: Sandy Alexander (Drabhorse), President of Southern Alberta Star Riders; Sandy’s wife Tracy, who is also active in the Connie and a great supporter of Sandy and the Connie (his own words, honest); Rick Greenacre (Grasshopper), Vice President; member Wayne Dick (Lone Wolf); Jim Watt, member; Jim Baker, Recruiter (his day was made at this event); and Kim Smith (Chucky Bird), associate member.


Wayne and Tracy in a lull in the Show

I would like to add one final comment here, if I may. For those of you who belong to a Constellation like the Southern Alberta Star Riders and your Connie are looking for ways to attract new members, then a booth at a major motorcycle show is a great place to meet possible new members. This technique has proven successful in the past for both ISRA and other groups, and can work for your Connie, if new membership is your goal.


Sandy, Wayne, JC, Little Jim, and Kim in the booth

As you have read, the ISRA Council can supply you with practically everything you might need. Both David Pitchell, International President, and I have done the same thing with our Conies, and it works as well as the rewards that the 2010 Calgary Motorcycle Show produced.


Sandy, Belt Drive Betty, and Tracy (smiles, everyone!)

Let’s all thank the Southern Alberta Star Riders for their effort for their community and their Connie at the 2010 Calgary Motorcycle Show. And let’s thank them for submitting this article; it shows that the ISRA is alive and well and hoping to let all Star Riders know that there is an outstanding association out there for Star Riders.
One last word to the members and readers of this Star Cruiser. As we have said, this is your magazine as well as ours, and we want to hear from you. Send us any short story, with pictures if possible, and we will put you and your Connie in the upcoming issue. Let the entire ISRA family hear about your rides, your parties, your bikes, and anything else that is of interest to you.

Let’s make this e-zine a family effort, and you might even get ideas that you can take home with you to benefit your Connie and yourself.
So, once again, congratulations to Sandy and the Southern Alberta Star Riders for their wonderful effort at promoting both their Constellation and the ISRA, and their new ISRA members. Keep up the good work, brothers and sisters, and have another great year.

Tech Talk: Safety Equipment
Individual Choice or Social Responsibility?

By Ben Harper,
Star Cruiser Co-Editor,

One of the principle concerns for those of us who ride is the increasing dangers imposed by other drivers. Many riders experience dangerous situations in traffic, which often result in accidents. We all need to remain alert, but sometimes collisions and solo accidents are unavoidable.

One of the ways we can protect ourselves is through the use of safety equipment, primarily in the area of protective clothing. Whether you prefer traditional leather or modern synthetic clothing, such clothing will reduce the amount of bodily damage that you experience in an accident.

Leather jackets and leather chaps have been the standard in protective clothing, in America at least, for decades. Leather protects the wearer from most “road rash” in that it takes the majority of the damage from sliding on the pavement, while minimizing the damage to your skin. Leather also fits the “image” that many cruiser riders prefer, reminiscent of the “good ole’ days” in motorcycling history.

Modern materials such as Kevlar, Cordura, and others are the current alternative to leather, and have many advantages. Most synthetic riding gear has protective plates to protect elbows, shoulders, hips (in pants), and your spine. Many synthetic materials also are better at absorbing “road rash” than traditional leather garb. If you can live with the lack of the traditional look (and most Americans can’t), then you gain superior protections, adjustable temperature inside the clothing, and less weight than leather.

While most countries and U.S. states require the use of helmets, there are still some places where helmet use is optional. I live in Colorado, where the option still exists. Wearing a helmet in such areas is optional, but highly recommended.

Some advocates swear that helmets save lives; in some cases this is true. Some say that a helmet only makes the difference between an open casket and a closed casket; in many cases these people are also correct. Since in most cases this is a moot point, I address this only to those who live in those areas where helmet use is optional; if you ride, it is strongly recommended that you wear a helmet. Most urban accidents put you at risk of a head injury; striking the curb, hitting the other drivers vehicle with your head, and colliding with your motorcycle as you fall are only a few of the situations where a helmet might save your life.

It also amazes me when I see riders without gloves. Your hands are the most easily injured part of your body. It is instinctive to reach out when you fall, and that obviously means that your hands will be injured in a fall. The use of heavy, protective gloves is almost a no-brainer, in this writer’s opinion.

Most of this is common sense, and it makes sense to point out these facts to your friends and acquaintances as a gesture of concern. You may not change anyone’s habits, but as a friend and ISRA member, it is prudent to show concern for your fellow riders safety.

After all, we all want to get together some other time and ride, so we want to get home safely.

Pic of the Month: World’s liveliest Indian

In the backstreets of Buenos Aires

By Anton Popov,
Star Cruiser Co-Editor,
Star Riders Russia

This was the last thing I expected to see in San Telmo, Buenos Aires. The oldest neighborhood of Argentina’s capital federal is a charming mix of 200-year-old houses, bumpy cobblestone streets and dozens of antique stores. The real old City Portena – that’s what people usually see here. But riders have got a different twist, right? So I started stumbling upon interesting stuff right away. First there was a knife shop that had a perfect 1960-something Buck, then a vintage motorcycle clothing store. And then I saw Him. It was definitely a “He” – an Indian Chief, all original and in good condition. Even the paint seemed genuine. What’s the fuss, you might ask. Well, guess one can see quite a few of those in the US. But in Russia, where I come from, you have to search real hard to find one. And bumping into an old Chief in South America was a double surprise. So I was literally crawling around, looking and sniffing like a gun dog, when the bike’s owner came out to see what the heck was going on. The guy worked in an antique shop nearby selling some old furniture, lamps and other stuff. But his real passion was with the old motorcycles. He told me his Chief was manufactured back in 1943. There were many bikes like this one in Argentina, but few of them are still out on the road, he said. Also, it turned out the guy used this Indian as a daily ride. And that was probably the thing that I loved most about this Indian. Yup, it leaks oil, but we all know what that means: the oil is still there and it gets hot at times. Yup, it’s not a show bike, but it has more life in it than a dozen show machines. Old and wise, but still kicking – isn’t that an ideal way to be when you are 67?


Last Updated on Friday, 09 April 2010 05:27