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Tips & Tricks


Problem:   No gas gauge or trip odometer to help you monitor gas level.

Solution:   Get a voice recorder key chain from Radio Shack for about $9-$15.  Each time you refill, dictate the odometer reading.  Use it to figure your mileage by filling the tank and dictating the mileage.  Later, refill the tank and note how many miles you went.  Divide the # of miles driven by the amount it takes to refill (in gallons).  That will give you your bikes mpg.  According to the Owner's Manual, the Savage has a 2.8 gal. fuel tank.  Do the math.  Now all you have to do is listen to your gas gauge instead of look at it.

Update:   this could be a pain in the butt on long trips when you can't listen to the mileage.  I might be looking into a bike odometer soon.


Problem:  Blue/Brown pipes.

Solution:   I guess this happens when you have a lean running bike.  The pipe was like this when I bought the bike with 1600 mi. on it.  I wasn't crazy about the coloring, so I tried this stuff, Blue-Job.  It took some scrubbin' and I gave up after a while.  (It was Thanksgiving Day 2001 and probably the last beautiful day to ride!)  They're not perfect, but if I'd a kept going who knows?   My odometer read 1,933 mi., so we'll see how long it takes to "blue" up again.

Update:  At 9,600 miles, they haven't blued up again.





Problem:   Saddle bag yoke won't fit under seat:  Wires and regulator in the way.

Solution:  I sold the saddlebags on eBay.  I never really liked the look and fit.  Bought a T-Bags "Switchback" and love it!   It goes on and off easy and looks kinda cool.  I also use a bungee net for easy hauling of stuff. It works well strapped to the sissy bar and setting on the rear seat.  Since I removed the sissy bar, I'm trying it on the front.  I'm not sure how it's going to work out up front.

Update:  I don't like the way it fits on the handlebars.  It pinches the clutch cable a bit. So I re-installed the sissy bar so I can strap the bag on the rear seat, since I don't have a luggage rack.




Problem:  Horn is not very effective.

Solution:  I bought a 125 decibel car horn at the Auto store.  I mounted it carefully in the same spot as the original.  I didn't have to splice any wires or anything.  The connectors were the same.  It is loud.  It is bigger than the original in size, but is less noticeable due to its black color. Other note:  this mounting angle collected water, but I really wanted it to project noise up and forward.  I simply drilled a small hole at the bottom of the "horn" shape and it worked perfectly.


Problem:  Uncomfortable seat/ riding position.

Solution:  I don't think it's due to the seat itself, but the way it's mounted. The front tends to "tip" the rider forward like a slide. It does get uncomfortable. A Savage forum guy (Rob) gave me a great seat mount modification that is simple, cheap, and effective. I've driven 1000+ miles (not all at once) on the "new" seat mod and really like it. It also "cleans up" the profile of the bike for a better look in my opinion. So here it is:

Take the seat off. The rear screws come out and there is a "tab" or "strap" behind the tank that holds down the front of the seat. This is where the problem is. It holds the front of the seat too low! Remove the screws holding down the tank (the tank will NOT move, don't worry). Remove the seat hold down metal "strap".


Go to the local hardware store and buy nylon spacer rings (rubber or foam will work as well) . I bought about an inch worth of spacers for each screw (2 thick and 1 thinner spacer per side). Then buy longer screws to replace the stock ones. They will not be long enough. I brought a stock screw to the store to make sure I got the correct thread size and bought several different lengths of screws and spacers. That way I could experiment a bit.


I used electrical tape to hide the white color of the spacers.  Here's the metal seat strap ready to put back on.  Notice the original rubber rings at the bottom added to my spacers.


The whole thing took about 10 minutes and $3.00. I heard of people adding 2" this way, but that seemed to be over-doing it for me in the looks department. 

I don't know much about the gel seats, but before buying one and spending all that money, try this. 

Once the taller strap is on, replace the seat as normal.

To the right are a few more installation photos. 





Problem (inconvenience really):   Checking Tire Pressure before each ride.

Solution:  I've been using this product ACCU-PRESSURE SAFETY CAPS to make sure my tires are at the right pressure.  All I need to do is take a quick look, and I'm off.  No messing with the valve cap and tire pressure gauge. 

Update:  I read a review that these things don't give perfect readings, but I keep them on there to signal to me major loss in pressure between actual checks .


Oil Change Tips:   I really haven't had a problem changing the oil on my bike.  I change it every 1,000-2,000 mi., filter too.  However, I do have the following advice to make this job faster and easier.

  • Buy the Clymer Manual.  It gives you step-by-step directions, which are handy to have around.
  • Wear a long sleeve shirt.  Last August I burned a nice oval on my under-forearm.  It looks like the spot on Jupiter!  After breaking the drain plug loose, my arm hit the hot exhaust (you're supposed to change the oil hot).  It's scarred and I'm putting scar cream on it.  Now I cover up my arms good.
  • Buy a Gator-Grip for loosening and tightening the fill cap.  The engine will be hot and getting a pair of pliers on it is impossible and frustrating. Update:  This worked great for a while but broke off an end of the "twister" top off the cap. I don't think it would have broken if I kept using while engine hot.  I beat it up and broke it when the engine was cold making the metal more brittle.  Now the Gator Grip fits perfectly!  I've gotten over the chipped look and I do have a spare cap handy in case the tab totally breaks off..
  • Check your funnel before using.  After filling the engine with oil once, I went to clean out the funnel and saw that there was crap in the funnel.  It was spider webs and grass clippings from the shed.  I don't know how the stuff got in there, but it did.  I'm not sure if anything actually got into the engine, but now I clean it  *before* using it too!
  • Double-check that you tightened the bolts.  Before packing things up, you should check all the bolts you loosened to make sure you tightened them.  These bolts don't require a lot of muscle, just get them snug.  You can always give them another little twist if oil leaks later.
  • Add oil slowly watching the max level mark.  I overfilled it once and I had to drain off some oil from the drain plug.  It's much, much easier adding oil little by little than to drain off overfill.  You should never run the oil over the max line, as you can cause mechanical problems and oil leak messes.


Problem:   Battery dead, or lights on but starter won't fire.

Solution:  Pop start it:  Pull out the choke, put the bike in 2nd gear, run fast beside the bike with clutch in, quickly release and re-squeeze the clutch, give it gas.   It took me 5 or 6 tries the only time I had to do it, but now that I've done it once I think I could do it first try.  This technique really saved me.  I had to be somewhere and it got me going fast.


Problem:   Need socket/wrench to remove seat.  It's a pain in the ass (sorry, had to do it).

Solution:  I bought 2 - 6mm allen bolts with ridges on the outer edge so I can thumb screw them.  Bought rubber washers (and lock washers, which I guess aren't necessary) to keep them on.  I first looked for thumb screws, but could only find standard sizes in them, not metric.  Now if I need to get my seat off quickly I can without looking around for a damn tool.

Update:   I  have to tighten these more frequently than I need to remove the seat.  I'm thinking about putting the originals back on.


Problem:  Can't check oil level by yourself easily.

Solution:  Based on a Savage Home Page user's idea, I bought for $2 one of those little round mirrors on a telescoping "antenna" at Auto Zone.Works okay.  I usually just hold the bike up vertically with my right hand on the front brake and crouch down.  Kickstand down, naturally in case I lose balance on the far side.  Most of the time I put it on my motorcycle jack and check that way.


Problem:  Spark plug access under damn gas tank.

Solution:  Removing and mounting the gas tank on the Savage requires extreme patience.  It can be done by removing the bolts and lifting the tank to the rear, up and left.  Caution: when you do remove the tank, make sure the speedo cable is screwed on tight to the speedometer and that you masking tape the bottom of the cable at the transmission.  I put the tank on for a test drive with my new plug and I forgot to re-install the speedo cable.  Damn thing fell off my bike!  I noticed when I got home and would you believe it fell off right in front of my house in the street!  Just be careful with the speedo cable, okay!?

Dave C. at the Bert's Savage Home Page forum (see links) provides this great access door to your plug.  Unfortunately, you need to remove the tank to make the door.  Here's what he says to do, so I did it and added some photos:

Dave's steps:

    1)unscrew the speedo cable and put a strip of duct tape at the speedo cable end so that stupid rubber seal doesn't end up lodged out of sight and out of reach...it WILL fall off that cable.
    2)properly remove the gas tank as instructed by others in this thread.
    3)pull off the left hand side chrome engine cover.
    4)put the back bolt on the shelf for safe keeping
    5)put back the chrome cover using only the front bolt and snug it up good and tight cause ya don't wanna loose that expensive cover on the road.
    6)next time you get ready to check the spark plug, leave the gas tank on the bike... just loosen that front bolt and slide open the chrome "Spark Plug Door"
    7)take the spark plug socket that came in your tool pouch...and CAREFULLY stick the wrong end up under the gas tank as far as it will go
    8)you now have just enough room to get the right end up over the spark plug
    9)screw the plug almost all the way out by 1st using a wrench on the socket and then your fingers...(maybe you will have room to screw the plug all the way out using only the spark plug socket..or shorten the socket and you will have room for sure)
    10)after you reverse order and you finish up, close the "Spark Plug Door" and tighten up snugly with that front bolt only.
    11) check your chrome "Spark Plug Door" often to see that it is not vibrating loose but so far, (for at least 30 days) mine has stayed put because the rubber mountings will help keep it in place.

Update:  I used the "door" to check my plug.  I had to totally remove the door because it didn't open wide enough.  And the plug is really hard to get your hands on it with the tank on.  I ended up using fingertips and the toolkit socket to hand thread the plug in & out and was able to get the wrench on the socket to tighten (seat) the plug back in.   Kind of awkward, but I was able to remove and check the plug with the tank still on, so it did it's job perfectly.  The door went back on like a charm.

My photos:

Here are the bolts that hold on the cover.  Remove the tank and remove the right bolt.  Save it somewhere.

Loosen the right nut...


Now you can loosen and tighten the right nut with the tank on, giving you this access door.

I got the door to work, but did not actually try to take a plug out with the tank on.  But I did change my plug while the tank was off...


And it was tan/gray...and according to the Clymer manual, it should be telling me that I have a good air/fuel mixture.  So no messing with the carb just yet for me!




Removal of chain guard:   Sooner or later, you'll be taking off the chain guard.  If you do, here's what to do.  I removed mine because I don't like the look of it and I don't carry passengers.  If you ride passengers, you probably should keep it on.

What to do:  Take off the front pulley cover with the 3 bolts holding it on.  Save all bolts, rubber washers etc, in their proper place while cover is off for proper re-installation.  Next, remove the screws/bolts holding the guard on.  If you plan on keeping it off, here are some issues you'll have to think about:

Washer:   The guard acts as a spacer for the left rear shock.  You'll have to loosen the lower shock bolt to get the guard off.  I added a washer about as thick as the guard to this bolt so it would tighten properly.  You will also see guard mounting brackets welded to the swing arm.  I'm leaving mine alone, but I did hear of a guy who grinded them off and painted his swing arm.  I'm leaving them in case I want to re-install later.  I plan on Armor-All-ing the belt, as I heard it looks very good.  I'm also planning on removing rear pegs, but you need the damn tire off to access the right side bolt on the inside of the swing arm.

Update:   I still have it off and like the look, but I had a problem with belt squealing.  For some reason, I had a hard time getting the belt tension correct after leaving off the guard.  I have no idea why.  Too tight lead to clicking of the transmission, too loose and it squealed.  I had a hard time finding the sweet spot.  I ended up "scuffing" the belt edges with sandpaper and that reduced most of the belt squealing. 


I like this look.



Want to listen to music on your bike safely?

Solution:  Buy the Koss Plug ($15.00).  This product allows you to hear outside noise to a certain degree, such as a little wind and your horn, but puts the music right into your ear. That keeps me concentrating on the road better.  With other ear phones I would have to turn up the music so loud to hear it that outside noises were muted.  These fix that problem.  I can't ride now without them!


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