Mikey: Speedy, it could also be that your amazing riding abilities and extraordinary level of skill is just more than the V-Force can handle. You should enter a GNCC or WORCS race to see if this is the case. Before entering, though, you should service your clutch. There should be play/deflection in the belt but not too much. The lag you're experiencing is likely due to an excessive amount of belt deflection. This is typical during break-in as the belt stretches. Measuring belt deflection and making adjustments will require a few specialty tools but isn't too difficult for the mechanically inclined. To tighten the belt a shim must be removed from underneath the secondary clutch pulley. Buy a service manual for detailed instructions and don't screw it up! I wouldn't want the clutch to be an excuse at the end of the race.
ASk: I recently broke a piston ring, and in my adventure to replace it I discovered all my gaskets were shot. Now, does anyone know if the 1989 Suzuki LT230ES' cylinder head (not valve cover head) is supposed to have a gasket, or do you use the silicone stuff? All of the gasket sets on eBay do not have the gasket that would fit the cylinder head.
Mikey: Of course someone knows if the head uses a gasket! All it takes is a little research and couple of phone calls to the right people to find out, so sit back and relax while I do it for you. I took a look at the Suzuki microfiche online and didn't see gasket or a part number for a head gasket, but I didn't give up. A five-minute phone call to the gasket experts at Cometic Gasket (800/752-9850) provided the answer you need. The gasket kit from Cometic comes with both the head and base gaskets. The part number for a stock bore (67mm) is C7074 and a 71mm is C7329. Both kits are in the $30 range. I'm sure a high-quality gasket maker would also work, but I personally prefer to use gaskets when they're available. Now get off of eBay and get on the horn to order a Cometic top end gasket kit.
Ask: I have a Yamaha Big Bear 350 4x4. I've had it for years, bought it in Louisiana at Fort Polk while my son was stationed there (Louisiana didn't have titles for ATVs). I live in Texas and now I'm looking to sell it, and I want to make sure I have the year model correct. How/where do I look for this info, and where is the VIN?
Mikey: Your VIN was located where you now see the file marks on the front of your frame. Didn't you receive any paperwork with this purchase? I have Officer Crowder on the phone, what's your name and address? Just kidding! You should be able to find the VIN somewhere on the frame in the front of the machine or on the lower frame rail beneath the engine. Your machine was produced between 1989 and 1999. The 10th digit in the VIN will match one of these letters to determine the year of your Big Bear: K=1989, L=1990, M=1991, N=1992, P=1993, R=1994, S=1995, T=1996, V=1997, W=1998, X=1999.
Ask: I'm trying to replace the rear axle bearings in my 2001 Honda 400EX. I can't seem to remove the brake hub.
Mikey: If you can't even remove the hub, I highly suggest calling in reinforcements. Axle bearings can be a nightmare, and your only friend is a Dremel tool. Begin by breaking apart the two axle locknuts and loosening the nuts. This will expose a clip beneath the axle nut that must be removed. At this point the axle nut and brake hub should slide off the axle with some persuasion. The bearings, on the other hand, are a different story. If you're in the Atlanta area, I could come over and hold your hand to get you through this project.