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 137: A Fair Trade

ThePaceFINAL-300x116

Episode 137: A Fair Trade

January 27, 2013

Episode 112 – Introduction Interruptus!

Episode 112 - Introduction Interruptus May 13, 2012
We’ve got news... Lots and lots of... Ok, that’s just a flat out lie. There’s really not much news, but what we do have is exciting. First, gear for kids! Bilt, Cycle Gear’s house brand, has a full line of gear for kids. Everything from classic Fonzie leather to high-tech textile 4-season gear. Check it out. Also from the “hey, this is pretty cool” files, sales of the Japanese big-four are up. While the numbers we have reflect Japanese domestic sales, anecdotally, this trend seems to be strong here in the USA, too. Also, looking for tires? Avon has a nice rebate on a few popular models[1]. 1 - please note, this isn’t an advertisement or paid endorsement of Avon tires. We’re just reporting the news. Links: Feedback:
  • Mark (from the Blog)
  • Justin Varner
  • Stephen Lay
  • Allen Lessard
  • Rich Skartvedt
GearChic:
  • Heated gear - just do it!

Episode 107: It’s weather prooth.

Episode 107: It’s weather prooth. March 25, 2012
This week the guys bring you a plethora of... well, they talk a lot. Home modified iPhone mounts. GPS it with Navigon: redux. James’ Sena saga may finally be over. Here’s hoping. April is the AMA’s Get Out And Ride Month, which means The Pace’s loyal listeners are just doing what they do every day. Right? RIGHT? Get out and ride. Go on, get out of here, kid. Triumph is 110 years old. Bonnie doesn’t look a day over 60, and man oh man, does she wear it well. Want to get an idea of how you’ll sit on a couple of hundred bikes? Hit up Cycle-Ergo.com and check out the comparisons. Very nice feature. Armored underwear is awesome, and Knox has what you need. The guys follow up the news with some listener questions and feedback. News:
Listener questions:
  • Roland Cannon - Regarding tubeless tire changes: What’s necessary?
  • James from MA - What sport-tour(able) bike should replace the CBR?
Links: Feedback:
  • Roland Cannon on the Motus
  • James from MA on the Motus, the Sena and the Adirondacks
  • Doug Kneissl follows up on the Xena alarm system
  • Jason Santos on the “woopsie” moments we all have
  • Colin Magnusson comments on Audi buying Ducati
Theme music is No Way by Kunk

Episode 81: A showroom full of Little Monsters

Episode 81 July 31, 2011 - A showroom full of little monsters.
If it could go wrong getting this show out on time this week, it did. So... without preamble and grumbling on, we present to you, Episode 81. Enjoy!
This week the guys speculate on the future of Ducati's 2-engine line-up. Then they spend some time in the shade thanks to the new e-Tint electronic helmet visor inserts. Erik Buell teases us further with another of the EBR Nation videos. Erik seems to be moving full bore; exciting stuff ahead, to be sure. The CBR250R from Honda gains some major after market support. And continuing our trend of Feedback-a-palooza, we have emails and audio clips galore. This week's audio clip takes an excellent look at helmet laws from the pro- stance, and is certainly thought provoking. Jon also gives us some PDFs to read on the matter. Take a look!
Links!
Feedback:
  • From Roland Cannon - on Nitrogen in tires
  • From Brad Kaplan - on the NT700 Deauville
  • From Zack Skogsberg - on the venerable Ninja 250 touring mount
  • Excellent audio clip from Jon DelVecchio - on the helmet law debate from another perspective
See the show blog for Ep81 addendum with the PDFs from Jon!

Episode 77: It’s the Eastern Pennsylvania Way

Why, exactly would you put nitrogen in your tires? We don't know but we do know how to zip a zipper. J.D. Power tells us that Icon helmets are just as good as Arai. There may be a new VStrom, there may be a new sporting V4 from Honda and we definitely have a load of feedback.  

Episode 53: Daylight Target Acquired

Episode 53 - November 14, 2010
What happens when you’ve got 6 people in a mini van, a rider behind them and 10 miles of road on which to drive and ponder? Well, obviously, you discuss how best to take the rider out using a paintball gun. Poor James. If you’re reading our show ‘blog, you’ve no doubt seen some of Denise Dickenson’s ride reports. This week we invite Denise on the show to discuss her impressions after riding the VFR1200, and Denise’s history in riding in general. 180,000 miles on her FZ1. Let that sink in. After our discussions, we run through a few news items, including a big tire comparison article in Motorcycle USA, a Ninja 1000 review including pricing and some technical information, and the Tiger 800 gets priced (in Europe). If the pricing goes as expected, this will be a VERY competitively-priced product. Aerostich say Thank You to the vets with a 10% discount for active service members, and our “Genius or Madness” pick of the week falls a little on the “huh...?” side of things; The StreetRyder passenger grab handle. Just click and see. Inforoonies and linkydinks.

Episode 15: Don’t Ever Come Back

Episode 15 for January 31, 2010

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