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Wednesday, 21 May 2014 06:00

Maintenance

columnist David PocockI have been writing about some of the basics of maintenance for the last few articles, so here I’d like to round up some of the basic ideas in one place.

Know the basics of your machine even if you are not going to actually do the work on your bike you should know what is “right” and what isn’t.  Remember, you are the one riding your bike not the mechanic in the shop so even though the shop “might be” liable it is you who will be hurt.

 

Tires.

Have they been mounted correctly? 

Look for the information on the side of the tire, it will tell you such things as, tire rotation, is this a front tire or a rear tire, how much air pressure is the maximum, there is a “dot” painted, but many are now moulded in, this should line up with the stem, and don’t forget to check the date. 

Balance.

Many shops still use static balancing, while this is good, even better is speed balancing just the same as they do for car/truck tires.  There are several options out there too, whether you go for “balance beads” or spoke weights, or the stick on, or the ones that clip to the rim this is your choice just make sure that everything is secured.  Losing a weight while travelling can be more than just “inconvenient”, like on a car/truck, it will be dangerous as unbalanced tires on a bike cause instability.

Inflation.

Look in the manual or on your bike, there will be a guide to tell you what the pressures should be for the type of riding you will be doing.  Use this as a guide and you will preserve the tread from premature wear.  A side note here, if you have saddle bags that are always full you will get less distance out of your tires.  Also, if you tend to be a bit “heavy” on the throttle and or the rear brake you might also find you will get less distance out of a rear tire.  In short, how you ride as much as where you ride, will dictate the amount of wear on your tires, “your milage may vary”.  Improper inflation will also contribute to very poor handling if to little pressure and increased tire wear if too much pressure.

Brakes.

When was the last time the brakes were looked at, how much material is left are they operating smoothly and, on newer bikes is the proportioner system front to back doing its job and how do you know?  We’ve only two tires in contact with the ground to stop us so brakes on a bike are very important.  Remembering that the front brake is the one used the most not only the tire but the condition of the front brake are really important. Don’t skimp on the maintenance.  Another important consideration is the brake fluid, when was it last changed and is it topped up properly.  Most bike brake systems are designed to use DOT 3 or 4 make sure you use the proper fluid other wise harm to the components mainly the seals can occur.

Lights.

Bikes, need to be seen and lights are one of the main items to aid us here.  Are yours all working?  Changing light bulbs is not difficult as it usually only requires a screwdriver and, while learning, a little patience.  Changing out lights to all LED is not a bad idea but sometimes may require that a few changes to the base system is required, if in doubt ask your favourite service centre.  In any case do make sure all your lights work.

Oil.

What type you should be using, the “weight” and all the other specifications will be found in your owners manual.  Even if you are not going to be doing the maintenance yourself you should know what your bike uses, “just in case” you need to add some on the road, not too likely with a newer bike but.  Also when you get your bike back from being serviced it is not a bad idea to check the level.  I know of enough folk who have gotten their bike back from service and the oil got “forgotten” to be more than noteworthy.  Look on the invoice, did the shop note what type grade and amount of oil was used, did they change the filter? 

Fuel.

Seems to be another item that many folk do not think about.  Should your particular bike be running on Premium, mid-grade, or regular?  Again, ask your service technician and if you are still not sure, the answer is in the owners manual.  A bike designed to run on premium, will run on regular but will lack in performance and in fact some can be harmed by running on regular, the other way round is as bad, if not worse.  Another item of note, be aware of how much ethyl-alcohol is in the fuel 10% is the MAXIMUM and even less is better.  If you are in boating country “motorboat fuel” is great, it usually has less than 5%.

Whether you are the one doing your maintenance, or you have a mechanic, as a rider knowing the basics of your particular bike can make the difference between being safe and having a bad day.  If you are not going to do your own maintenance, for what ever reason, take the time to get to know your technician and for them to get to know you, the life you save may very well be your own.   This being said, knowing the contents of at least the basic owners manual, will save a you and keep you on the road because you will have a better understanding of what is “right” and “not right”.  Are all the parts on your bike properly attached, do all the lights work properly, does the horn work, does the clutch operate smoothly, do the brakes work properly and smoothly in both directions these are always questions for all vehicles but somewhat more so with bikes.

As always,

Ride safe, we would rather talk to you, than about you.

 

Last modified on Saturday, 28 June 2014 21:00

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