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Tuesday, 19 May 2015 00:00

Season Start

columnist David PocockYou’re out riding already, right? Just some thoughts you might want to consider.

 

 

 

How are your tires, are the brakes in good shape for the season, how good is the battery, is the oil good, how about the air-filter, are all the lights working, how about the chain/belt/drive shaft? If you haven’t asked these questions and been able to either, have your friendly mechanic give you an answer, or answer it yourself, now might be a good time to get those answers, before the season is well underway and one of these brings it to a sudden halt.

Let’s go through each of these points.

Rear oldRear oldTires, if your tires are more than a season old, and you do a fair amount of riding, you may want to seriously consider replacing them. Look at the tires for tread depth, uneven wear, cuts and or gouges.

 

 

 

Rear newRear newLook in your owners manual and see what tire pressure “should” be in the tires, for the kind of riding you do. Go with the factory “recommendation” at least to start you may want to add a little or loose a little. Remember the tires are what actually do the braking and accelerating, because they are what are in contact with the road.

 

 

While you are looking at your tires is a GREAT time to be giving your wheels a good look too. Look for anything that is out of place like; bent or loose spokes, gouges, dents, bends or cracks, in rims. Any of these is cause for concern, if you are in doubt ask your mechanic or the dealer.

Brakes, you can get going but you gotta be able to stop too! Remember that the front brakes are doing the most work, so making sure you have lots of brake pad left at the start of the season will help ensure you get through the season. Hint, if you’ve got less than 40% of pad left in either the front or back brakes ... change them. Your Mechanic can “usually” do a brake pad change out in a very short amount of time. I will add a caveat here, if your mechanic says you need to replace the rotor, do that , it may add to the time and bill but, it is cheap compared to having an accident. Also make sure you have enough brake fluid in the reservoirs and that it is clean and clear, any colour other than clear or just slightly “straw” coloured is NOT GOOD, change or get it changed. There are three kinds of brake fluid, DOT 3 and 4 and then there is silicone do NOT mix these up, find out which your bike uses.

Having a good battery in your bike, especially these days, is more than a matter of convenience, most of the modern bike systems rely on having a good amount of electrical power, not to mention having lights working so you can be seen. Have a look at your battery, is it clean, does it have any damage, are all the cells filled with fluid, are the connections clean and tight. Small note here: If the cells are not all filled with fluid make sure you charge the battery fully before adding distilled water (if a cell is showing plates above the water add JUST enough to cover the plate before charging).

Having your engine run low on oil is just a bad idea, in most motorcycle engines the oil is also a coolant so low oil means higher temperatures for your engine which can cause excessive wear. Even if you have a regular mechanic, you should know what type, grade and weight of oil your bike uses, just in case you need to top it up. Find out where and how to check your oil, and where to add oil, if it is required.

In the modern world of motorcycle oil there are, fully synthetic or ester oil, there are semi-synthetic oil or a mix of ester and mineral oils and then the old standard, regular or mineral oil. BIG CAUTION HERE, you should not add mineral or semi-synthetic to straight synthetic oil, if you must in the case of an emergency, as soon as practicable you will need to do a full oil change, including filter.

To many times the air-filter gets overlooked. The air-filter removes all the dust and other “stuff” that are in the air, that will cause excessive wear in the engine without the filter. An air-filter that is clogged will rob your engine of power and you of gas mileage. Typically, there are two kinds of air-filter the disposable and the permanent. The disposable are just like most automotive filters made of pleated filter paper and can be replaced in 10 minutes or less. The permanent can be like the K&N © filters, or be a foam pad, in either case these need to be cleaned out and then treated with an oil or oil like fluid to be effective this process takes a little longer but over the longer period of useful life of this type of filter, works out to be less expensive than the disposable, and maybe just a little bit better, environmentally speaking.

Lights, not only light up the road for us at night, but let us be seen and show what we are doing, think brake lights and signal lights. That being said, are all of yours working and are they clean and bright enough to be seen? It is, generally, a simple thing to take the lenses of your brake, signal and running lights and give the bulb and reflector a quick wipe to remove the accumulated dust. You may want to switch over to LED lights, IF you do be aware that some of the older bike turn signal systems will either flash VERY fast ot not at all with the LED signal lights. This is because the system is looking to use the resistence of the bulb to regulate the speed at which they flash, LED bulbs have little to no resistance. There are LED bulbs out there with an extra built in resistor to compensate.

The drive system from the transmission to the back wheel can be either chain, belt or a drive shaft and each of these requires some basic maintenance.

Chain drive is the oldest and still most widely used. Check what type of chain you have, this will determine the best method of maintenance. However there are some basics, Clean the chain fairly often and if you live in a very dusty environment you may want to decrease the amount of time between cleaning. After you have cleaned the chain comes the lubrication some chains need only a coat of chain wax, these are a sealed chain that the pivot points for the chains are sealed, other chains require chain oil. Find out from your user manual or go to the dealer and ask. A dirty chain will wear out the sprockets quickly and that can cause an accident or just be expensive to replace. NOTE: you also need to make sure that your chain is properly tensioned and, when you do, that the rear wheel is properly aligned, this can be learned by following the manual, however if you are in doubt, do go see a mechanic for this, as a miss aligned wheel and/or improperly tensioned chain, can be dangerous.

Belt Drive bikes are becoming more popular. Belts tend to be less finicky, in many ways, as they do not need constant cleaning and lubrication, but well, yes they should be kept clean as that will help in keeping them usable longer. NOTE: you also need to make sure that your belt is properly tensioned and, when you do, that the rear wheel is properly aligned, this can be learned by following the manual, however if you are in doubt, do go see a mechanic for this, as a miss aligned wheel and/or improperly tensioned belt, can be dangerous.

Shaft Drive bikes are usually “cruiser style” bikes. For the most part these require the least maintenance, but they do require maintenance. The maintenance required is to change the hypoid gear oil in the transmission and at the hub of the wheel. Check your manual on the recommended interval and grade of oil and where and how to check the levels. Or you can see your trusted mechanic for this.

A final note.

Keep track of when any maintenance is done whether you are the one who did it or you got it done by a mechanic. You are the user of your bike and you are, ultimately, the one responsible for all the maintenance.

Most of these functions you can do on your own, with the help of your owners manual or a good shop manual, however IF YOU ARE IN THE LEAST BIT OF DOUBT please do check with a trusted mechanic. It is NOT worth getting injured, or even dead, to save few dollars.

As always, Please ride safe, we would much rather hear from you, than about you.

Last modified on Thursday, 21 May 2015 04:10

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