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Motorcycle Maintenance:


Securing your motorcycle

Lock the steering to one side with the ignition lock. Use a disk lock. Use a large lock with a chain around something solid. If you use a disk lock, also get a bright ribbon that says something clever like “Remove Before Takeoff” so you don’t forget to remove the lock before you break your brake disk. Keep the motorcycle out of sight … or in a brightly-lit area. Keep it under a cover, with a better lock than the other motorcycles nearby. Get a bike that is less popular with thieves. Despite all this advice and all your best efforts, your bike might still get stolen.

Changing the oil

Some say you should change your oil every 3000 miles; others say every 6000 miles is fine. In any case, you should change it every 3 months.

Chain tension

Every 600 miles or 1000 km. Your motorcycle’s Owner’s Manual will have directions.
With most motorcycles, you check the tension with the bike on its side stand. The key is to have the suspension at the correct sag. The tension should be set so that the loosest spot and the tightest spot are still within the slack tolerance specified in the owner’s manual. If the tightest spot is at the tightest allowed and the loosest is beyond the tolerance, then it’s time to get a new chain and sprocket set. It’s likely that the sprockets are also worn. Putting a new chain non a worn pair of sprockets will make the chain wear out faster—and replacing the sprockets without replacing the chain will sear out the sprockets. Do them as a set.

What does it mean to “re-jet” the carburetors?

Carburetors supply a mixture of gasoline and air to the engine. The gas comes out of little “jets” (usually a pilot jet, needle jet and main jet). “Rejetting” means replacing or modifying some of these jets so as to supply gasoline differently than stock, usually more gasoline than stock. If done correctly, this allows your engine to generate more power, run a little cooler, start and run smoother and get worse mileage.

How do I break-in my tires?

If you take aggressive turns on new tires, you may dump your bike. New tires may have sticky mold-release compounds or lubricant to let the tire slip more easily onto the rim. In any case, new tires are smooth and have limited traction. Take turns gently, slowly increasing your angle of lean. Slowly is the key.

Chicken strips

As you lean more on your tires, you wear-in more and more of the tire, and the road surface loses its fresh-from-the-mold sheen. Chicken strips are what’s left on either side.

Radial tires and bias-ply tires

The main difference between radials and bias-ply tires lies in their construction. Tires aren’t just toroidal balloons, they are reinforced with cords of steel or synthetic materials such as nylon or Aramid. In bias-ply tires, the fibres are wrapped in an X pattern between the beads; in radial tires, the fibres are wrapped perpendicular to the tread. Radial tires have more flexible sidewalls than bias-ply tires, and thus absorb road irregularities better and have a comparatively larger contact patch when leaned over. Because of the flexible nature of a radial, these offer higher mileage compared with a comparable bias-ply for a given rubber compound. Since they absorb small road irregularities better, they ride more comfortably and are less likely to be upset by groovy pavement.
While radial tires perform better than bias tires, some older motorcycles can’t be fitted with radial tires because of differences in rim profiles.

Why can’t I mix radials and bias tires?

The different ways in which radial and bias tires react to sideways loads can lead to unpredictable behaviour while cornering.

What do “Cartridge Emulators” do?

Old style forks used damper rods to control oil flow, and thus damping. The damper rods are simply calibrated holes through which the fork oil is forced during suspension travel. Cartridge emulators replace the damping rods with cartridge valves. It’s generally not as good as a true cartridge fork, but they’re much better than damping rods.

What do “Steering dampers” do?

A steering damper is a miniature shock absorber for your steering. It will attach on one end to the frame, and the other to some point which is steered, usually one of the triple clamps. They will slow down steering input, and their primary benefit is found on bikes which get their front wheels light or off the ground altogether under acceleration.

What will cartridge emulators and steering dampers do for me?
Let you ride faster and still be within the performance envelope of your bike.
Give you bragging rights about how technically advanced your motorcyle is.

Handlebars and clip-ons

Clip-ons are individual bar-lets that usually attach to the upper fork tubes, one on each side. Some sport/touring bikes have risers attached to the “clip-ons” which raise them well above the top triple clamp. Regular bars are cheaper, usually heavier, and easier to customise. Generally, you will find clip-ons on more sporty bikes with more aggressive riding positions.