The ’08 riding season’s winding down about now and plenty of bikes are getting pushed to the corner of the garage for cold-weather hibernation. That seasonal layoff while we all wait for the sun to shine again, though, is the perfect opportunity to make some big changes to your bike. It gives you time to address those major engine or tranny upgrades you thought about but didn’t want to tackle while all the runs and rallies were still on the calendar. But with the bike “up on blocks” so to speak, nothing’s lost now—and next season everything’s to be gained. When old faithful makes her ’09 debut sporting all that new power and maybe even an extra gear packed into the transmission, life will be good. Make that great.

Coincidentally, this is the time of year when the guys at Speed’s Performance Plus come in off the road themselves. With the snow falling, they’re hunkered down in their winter shops, where they have plenty of time to dig into your engine and trans to make everything as good as it can be, and more.

Now, for a lot of riders bolt-on big-bore kits that convert 88-inch Harleys to 95-cubic-inches of fun, or boosting a 96-incher up to 103 is sufficient. No question, there’s real performance to be gained there. Yet some always want more, and that’s where a Speed’s “Specialty Engine” comes in. “Our ‘Specialty Engines,’” Speed’s Wayne Hanson explains, “are really appreciated by guys running big touring bikes and by the guys with those big, sticky rear tires who are always launching hard, even on the street. A ‘Specialty Engine’ not only puts out the kind of power needed for all of that, we build them to stand up to that kind of use, too.”

We’re talking a complete overhaul, an engine job starting right at the bottom and continuing through to the top-end. After removing the engine from the bike, the cases are split before everything goes back together with tons of TLC. This is time-consuming, meticulous work but now is the ideal time of year to schedule such a session. Speed’s has shops in Knoxville (Tennessee), Sturgis (South Dakota) and Elk River (Minnesota), so getting a bike to them shouldn’t be difficult. In some cases they’ll even pick-up and deliver.

The payoff? It’s like getting a whole new motorcycle for the new riding season, and one with lots more spunk and snap than anything off a dealer’s floor. Whether it’s a 114-incher that comes back a 117, 124 or 131, it’s going to be a quicker revving, torquier engine that’s not only responsive to the throttle, but more durable as well. “And my favorite (engine) of them all,” Wayne says, “is that 114. With its 4-inch stroke and 4 1/2-inch bore this engine combination revs as quickly as any hopped-up 95-incher, and with just a little bump in compression and a set of our 625 cams we’re making 130 horsepower and 135 pounds of torque. With a 114! It’s a sweet motor, as fast and powerful as most 124s.”

Wayne also says that this scheduled downtime presents a great opportunity to address the transmission. If it’s a 5-speed bike, imagine how much nicer that new-found horsepower and torque would be with 6-speeds at your toe-tips? Baker’s DD6 is a nice upgrade here. And if the bike’s already a factory 6-speed there’s room to grow there, too. Baker’s newest 7-speed conversion, the DD7, is available now and Wayne’s already installed a few of them. Both of those new gear sets, he says, offer big improvements in more ways than just adding one more gear. There are shorter 1st gears for even quicker off-the-line acceleration, and the shifting is smoother and more positive overall. The DD7 even uses a new linear roller ball detent as part of its billet top cover, technology first used in Baker’s TorqueBox transmissions. You don’t have to stop there; another nice addition would be Baker’s Plus-One Oil Pan. The benefit from increased oil capacity—by one quart obviously—is reduced oil temperature, always welcome, especially in a high-performance package.

A lot of work? Maybe, but winter is the optimum time to have your bike apart for upgrades and improvements. So rather than simply roll it into the corner where you’ll hook the Battery Tender lifeline to your battery, consider giving your favorite ride the full monty in terms of engine overhaul. And when the ’09 riding season gets underway, you’ll come to understand that Speed’s is more than just a name.