Friday, February 15, 2013

Wrenching it yourself...

Some of us remember trying to kick start our bikes of yester-year only to realize too late that we had forgotten to open the choke or turn on the key or forgotten to shut the fuel petcock, leaving ourselves with unattractive options like pulling spark plugs, draining fuel, or waiting long periods for evaporation to aid us in dealing with a 'flooded' cylinder and wet spark plugs.  Electronic fuel injection in our modern bikes saves us from that unpleasant experience.  In addition to the benefits of electronics, superior metals, advanced engineering, and modern lubricants have made it so that bike engines last longer and run better than older models. Ironically, today's more sophistacted bikes are just plain easier and more user friendly when it comes to diagnosis of problems and maintenance.

While the modern engine is still based on the old and simple fundamental structure of the internal combustion engine with cylinders, pistons, camshaft, etc., it is far more advanced than the relics of yesterday that required constant adjustment and maintenance.  But, despite their modern look and performance, these bikes are still quite easy to maintain.

An oil change can be accomplished with two hand tools, a wrench to fit the oil pan plug and a filter wrench tool to remove the oil filter.  Unscrew the plug; let the oil drain into a suitable drain pan, replace the o-gring on the plug and reinstall into the oil pan, being careful to not strip it; unscrew the oil filter with the filter wrench, replace it with a new filter tightened to hand tight only; fill the oil tank to the proper level with the specified amount and type of oil; run the engine for a minute, recheck the oil fluid level; and clean up your mess.  20-30  minutes at the  most.  You just saved lots of money and YOU know it's been done correctly.  Changing the transmission fluid is even easier for most bikes, and changing the fluid in the primary case is not much more difficult, all accomplished with a few tools and little time.

Performing maintenance on your own bike gives one a sense of accomplishment, but just as importantly it keeps you in touch with the condition of your bike, making you aware of problems before they become big problems.  And, not without importance, self wrenching will save you a lot of money.  Nothing wrong with that.  Get yourself a maintenance manual for your bike, or find a friend who maintains his bike and learn from him.  With some experience you'll look forward to keeping your bike well maintained.  For me it's not only fun, but it makes me feel more of a biker to know that I am responsible for keeping my bike in good shape.

What kind of maintenance do you do on your bike?