The wisdom of maintenance

Motorcycles are something of a modern miracle wrapped in a thin layer of insanity. Take a lump of metal with some holes in it, add fuel and oxygen and light it on fire, creating a series of rapid, controlled explosions, and somehow deliver all that energy to a rotating assembly bolted on to the back of this crazy contraption, spinning on a metal rod held in place with tiny little fasteners. This is all happening on something that can’t stand up on its own, mystifies riders and physics experts alike in how it does stay upright, and provides a rush of excitement and joy that relatively few people have ever felt.

The motorcycle. A visceral, crazy, fun, enjoyable, dangerous, beautiful piece of mechanical art made of metal, plastic and dreams. And at the center of all this exists a machine. Like all machines, motorcycles require certain maintenance and attention to keep performing safely and at their peak.

ID08L1HG27If you do all your own maintenance, there’s a good chance you’re very much in tune with your bike. When you put wrench to machine, you create a kind of intimacy and knowledge of that machine that no one else likely has. You’ll know if something has loosened up. You’ll feel if a wheel bearing you replaced three years ago feels a little odd. You’ll understand that vibration you’re feeling might indicate a tire has gone out of balance, or the chain has developed a tight spot. You know your bike better than anyone else ever could. Sure, mechanics get paid to know a lot about repairing and maintaining bikes… but only YOU know your bike like you do.

If you don’t do your own maintenance, consider getting involved in at least some of it. Even as a rider, you know your bike better than anyone, and doing even a small bit of the ongoing maintenance gives you opportunities to see things, to catch problems or to deepen your understanding of the machine that you might be missing if you take your bike to a shop for all of its maintenance. There are a number of tasks you can do on the maintenance list even without possessing a lot of mechanical aptitude or specialized tools.

Kette_einsprühen_u._einwirken_lassenIf your bike is chain drive, you’re probably already familiar with cleaning and lubricating your chain. If you’re not, get your owner’s manual out and get to work. A decent chain cleaning and oiling should only take you a few minutes once you’re familiar with the task, and can be invaluable in prolonging the life of the chain (and the bike!), and increasing safety. It also gives you a chance to visually inspect the chain, the sprockets, the wheels and tires, and while you’re at it, if your bike has rear disc brakes, you’re probably only one head tilt away from looking at the thickness of your brake pads. You could potentially identify trouble spots on 3 or 4 different systems on the bike just by oiling your chain!

If you’re able to make yourself a cup of coffee in a modern coffee maker, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say you’ve got all the mechanical knowledge you need to at least attempt to do a basic oil change. Let’s look at the steps necessary to do a full oil change on most motorcycles. Step 1 – warm up the engine. Step 2 – stop the engine, position the bike properly for the oil change (see your manual). Step 3 – slide a drain pan under the bike and take out the drain plug(s). Step 4 – remove the oil filter. Step 5 – replace the drain plug and install new filter. Step 6 – refill with oil. Step 7 – start bike, warm it up, shut it off, and check the oil level.

Motorcycle-Oil-changeSure, I’m simplifying things, but your owner’s manual – or better, buy a service manual – will have all the detail on those steps that you need to do the job. Some bikes will drain better on the side stand, also known as the kick stand. Others will drain better on the center stand, so do pay attention to your manual and do the work according to those guidelines. But all in all, it’s a pretty simple job that will save you money, will allow you to really get hands on with the bike, and isn’t that easy to get wrong. Once you’ve done it, you’ll wonder why you never did before. You’ll also be happy with the money you saved.

Other maintenance tasks that might be worth doing include changing your air filter, replacing brake pads, or cleaning, lubricating and adjusting brake levers, and clutch levers and cables. Doing a lot of the little tasks can add up to huge savings over time, not only in keeping your bike out of the shop more ($), but in catching potential problems early and turning a costly repair into preventative maintenance.

With any job you’re doing for the first time, it’s a good idea to have a little guidance. Always consult your owner’s manual. As mentioned, getting hold of a service manual for your bike will not only give you detailed information particular to your model of bike, but may also list specific tools and equipment you’ll need, and will walk you through the whole job, step by step.

DSCF4183If you’re a member of any online forums or local riders’ groups, you might be able to find and attend a local tech day. A tech day is a great opportunity to meet other enthusiasts, and work with people who may be considerably more experienced in repair and maintenance, and can lend you all the guidance you need. If you can’t find or host a tech day, you should still be able to make an online request for help and find someone local (enough) to lend a hand, or at least walk you through any trouble spots you may have.

It’s important to note that some maintenance is best left to those with more mechanical ability and experience if you’re not comfortable with engine design, etc. For instance, throttle synchronizations or engine valve clearance checks can be very involved, and if done incorrectly, could render your bike unable to run, running poorly, or perhaps even damaged. What this article is discussing are the smaller, more pedestrian tasks.

NickLabCoat2005Look for follow-up articles discussing the details of these and other home-based motorcycle maintenance tasks in the coming weeks. Who knows… we may even shoot some video! Keeping your bike running at its best doesn’t need to include trips to the dealer for mundane things, spending a whole day waiting around, or writing a big check.

Chris & James both have older bikes that require the occasional bit of attention, and the guys are hoping to start capturing more of that at-home maintenance with pictures and video… stay tuned.

Episode 186: If We Can Go Off on a Tangent

Episode 186: If We Can Go Off on a Tangent

Recorded on October 8, 2014

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Links:

Feedback:

Theme music composed and performed by Raoul Lowe

Episode 185: Harbinger of Doom

Episode 185: Harbinger of Doom

Recorded October 5th, 2014

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Review:

  • (update) Aeromoto Road Pro jacket

News:

Quick hits:

Feedback

  • Mike Roell

Theme music composed and performed by Raoul Lowe

Contest time again: Aeromoto RoadPro waterproof textile jacket

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Ok, folks… another contest for you.

1622219_10152661906995586_891714012818753043_nThe prize this time is an Aeromoto Road Pro waterproof textile jacket, size large, in eye-bleeding yellow, and of course a Pace Podcast sticker for your bike, car or toolbox. Please see episode 184 for review. This jacket was worn and reviewed by Chris, in temps from low-60s to upper-80s, both clear, sunny days and cool rainy days (since the review), and has performed admirably.

How can you win this? Reply to this post on http://thepacepodcast.com with a link to your current jacket (either a picture of yours, or the MFG’s website for the same model), and give us a few words on why you chose it, how well it’s lived up to your expectations, and if you would recommend it to others. We’ll compile this data and come up with a “Listener’s recommendation list”, and post it. (extra credit for pictures of older, rattier but beloved jackets!)

10534196_10152661907260586_4518725234066858704_nWinner will be chosen at random from those submitting a response. Contest will run through the month of October, drawing held on the last day of the month. Get your friends involved, help spread the word about the ‘cast, and of course, about our contests and show. Please enter anyway if you decide you don’t want or need the jacket, and simply state in your reply you’re just playing along for fun.

Details on the jacket can be found at the Competition Accessories website ( http://www.compacc.com/p/aeromoto-road-pro-jacket ), and please be sure to check the sizing chart for fit. We have one of these, and we’re asking that if you enter the contest to win, please be able to use the jacket, or pass it on to someone who can.

Thanks!

Merch and some other stuff!

Next month The Pace Motorcycle Podcast will celebrate its 5th anniversary. Chris and I have been doing the same thing in the same way since the beginning. That’s to say, on a shoestring and out of pocket. That’s fine. We do the show for the love of motorcycling and the community that lives around it. It’s a hobby that we are happy to drop some cash on.

Now, 5 years in we’d like to do more. More costs money. We’re still not looking at this as a potential profit center. We would just like to expand our capabilities beyond what we would be able to do on our own. To that end, we are exploring several avenues to generate a little cash flow. Those avenues include:

  • Stickers (Available now)
  • A Patreon campaign
  • T-Shirts, sweatshirts, hats, etc. Tell us what you want.
  • Merchandise associated with future rally events
  • Selling off reviewed gear that we have purchased (not gear that vendors have sent us)
  • Advertising on the web page (not in the podcast)

You may be wondering what you can expect if we’re successful.

  • Better hosting for our media files. We are currently storing our media files, that’s the actual podcast, on shared storage with our web host. That storage is not optimized for keeping and moving large files. We’d like to move to a solution that will provide better throughput. Especially for those of you who stream the show rather than download it.
  • Better hosting for the web site. Right now we’re on one of those super cheap, shared hosting platforms. It’s slow. We would like to move to either a dedicated or scalable platform.
  • More reviews. We get some gear from vendors or manufacturers for review. That doesn’t happen all that often. We generally cover the stuff that we buy for our own use. That leaves us with little choice in what we review. We would like to be able to review more gear suggested by listeners.
  • More event coverage. Travel. ‘Nuff said.

If we are not successful, the show will continue as it has. The content will always be free.

Thanks for listening!

Episode 184: Geometry and refinements

Episode 184
September 21, 2014

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Review:

Discussion:

News:

Links:

Feedback:

  • Kevin McKinney (from Facebook)
  • Joseph Schmitt (from Facebook)
  • David Maas

And the winner is… (tank bag contest)

We had some great feedback and before we announce the name of the winner, I’d like to take a few minutes to do some analysis on the data (links to full spreadsheet below).

1451438_10152572800990586_4318535944745007321_nIn the spreadsheet, under the column for how you use the bike, we listed the primary use as we understood it, or the first listed u10561680_10152572800980586_6375634596334134982_nse of the bike in your text. For the mileage per year, we converted some to miles from Km, so that’s why your numbers might not be what you remember. In addition, for some of yo  u who listed multiple bikes in detail, the spreadsheet may show multiple entries for the bikes, but only one entry for your name. Where you gave us a range of miles, or a range of miles across multiple uses, we tried to do a reasonable estimation of the miles-per-use, or in some cases we just divided it evenly. We also selected the higher number of your range, generally, where it seemed to make the most sense. In some cases, where information was light, multiple bikes were listed in the notes rather than on line items.

10561771_10152572800985586_8851380805290577451_nPlease note: the contest is a random drawing of respondents’ names, and the data provided has absolutely no bearing on the selection process. You could have ridden a 50cc dirt bike 8 miles this year and still won. We just wanted to see what everyone rides and how they’re using it. The winner was selected by a random number drawing made at http://random.org.

Of the data provided, where all the elements were provided:

Manufacturers: 10
Most represented MFG: BMW & Suzuki
Lease represented MFG: Buell, Moto Guzzi, Ural
Models: 43
Most represented model: VStrom
Total miles reported: >412,000
Average miles per year: >8000
Highest reported yearly mileage: 38000
Lowest reported yearly mileage: 1000
Full spreadsheet can be viewed at this link.

And so, without any further ado… The winner of the magnetic tank bag, as chosen by random using the random number generator at http://random.org, is…  Sean Winters. Sean, we will reach out to you to get shipping information. Again, thank you everyone, and I hope this information is as interesting to you as it is to us.

Thanks!

Episode 183: That Sounds Like a Terrible Idea

Episode 183: That Sounds Like a Terrible Idea

Recorded on September 10, 2014

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mm-1967

Yep. That’s the one.

mm-1971

Another view. Because once just isn’t enough.

Episode 182: It’s not entry level

Episode 182 – It’s not entry level
September 9, 2014

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It’s supercharged and it revs. It’s the Kawasaki Ninja H2. This ain’t your daddy’s Widowmaker. KTM gives us a real, honest to goodness small displacement sport bike, and it is good. CSC is bringing us a ~$3500 adventure bike, and on paper it looks like a solid package. DMG out, Krave in: AMA gets fresh blood, and gosh-n-golly, a racer is at the helm. This should be very good news for American motorcycle racing going forward. Ever want a Brammo electric bike, but the price scared you away? Well, lucky you… the scary parts got a lot less scary!

News

Quick Hits

Update

Pace Podcast meet-n-greet – Sept 17th, Augustine Inn, 7pm

Hey all. It’s that time again; the almost-sorta-monthly Pace Podcast meet-n-greet, now with more monthly!

We’re looking at starting a regular-enough meetup and for the time being we’ve chosen the third Wednesday of the month at the Augustine Inn at Augustine Beach, Delaware.

September 17th is the date.
7pm is the time.
1919 Augustine Beach Rd, Middletown, Delaware is the location.

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Be there!