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.
Every 600 miles or 1000 km. Your motorcycle’s Owner’s Manual will have
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
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
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