Thursday, March 23, 2017

Motorcycle maintenance, knowing when to stop

The Ice Road in Bay Port Minnesota.

Like riding, simple maintenance can be made more difficult by any  number of circumstances. While there's no excuse for spillt oil, oil changes are not always performed on a full stomach. ( after breakfast, and coffee, on a sunny day with no other obligations ) To avoid making a simple task into Homer’s tale of woe you have to know when to stop and regroup.

In addition to experience, the professional mechanic has an unfair advantage, time. Not necessarily endless time but quality time. They are not working in a dim garage, after a full day of work and wrangling the kids into their beds, or late into the night on the evening of a big ride, although some do god bless em.

I like to split jobs into chunks and see how I’m doing along the way. Take installing a new chain. There is cleaning up the work space, preparing the new part ( degreasing and applying chain wax ) and getting the tools together. This can all be done the night before, or whenever you get a few minutes. It's always better to start with a clean work shop. Next there is chain removal and sprocket removal if you’re doing that too. Then the installation, which may involve cutting the new chain to length, installing a master link and riveting or clipping it in place. Measure twice cut once! Finally adjust the chain and get everything road ready. 

In the case of adjusting the chain, this is a super simple task but it is made much more difficult by your full work week, sick kids, and the work you just put into the bike. It’s something that can be left until tomorrow. Do it as part of the prep for your next ride. You’ll be amazed by how much more clear your head is and you’ll be more confident that the job was done correctly. 

Like riding, there are any number of risk factors that increase your odds of making a mistake while performing a simple task. Pushing through them, or ignoring them completely is not going to lead to success. You don’t want to catch yourself thinking, “did I tighten that axle bolt?”

- Ride North


  1. Jason, you know of which you speak! Your evenings and "maintenance times" are not unique.

    thanks for the trip to Bayport. I know both sides of the river over there but have never seen or been on the Ice Road. Do remember a story a couple of years ago about the guy that keeps the road plowed all winter.

  2. This goes under the heading: things I learned the hard way. Maybe more than once.

    The ice road gets plowed all winter but you may need a truck to get down to it. The gravel road gets really beat up. The only reason I made it down there with the Triumph is because I couldn't turn around.

    A guy with a TW200 could really have some fun on the ice (but there would have to be just the right amount of snow on it), I made it about ten feet with the big Triumph just to say I did it but there's no way I was doing anything close to what you'd call "riding." (I'm a slow learner)