Firearms Friday: Resurrecting a $79 Rifle, Part II -- Range Report
August 21, 2014
"Learner" Licenses Coming to Your State? They Should.
July 29, 2014
Rules for Buying a Motorcycle on Craigslist, Part 1: The Hunt
September 1, 2014
Not Mechanically Inclined? Big Deal. Work On Your Bike.
August 11, 2014
Motorcyclsts split themselves into all kinds of groups according to how much gear they wear, and far they like to ride from home, whether they like to drag knees in the curves. But today I’m talking about the most fundamental group of them all.
After your first few thousand miles, you must make an important group choice: Will you do your own mechanical work on the bike, or pay someone to do it for you? I’m talking mainly to you first-bike folks out there, although it’s never too late to switch sides. Hell, you can do some things and farm out others – oil changes are one thing, but there are some complicated bikes out there I wouldn’t want to get too technical with. But you really should work on your bike. As you become more adept and more confident, you’ll discover doing your own work is fun. It’s also maddening, satisfying, exasperating and sometimes even relaxing.
First let’s talk maintenance. I am not excessively judgemental, but let me say this: If you are able bodied, have enough brains to ride a motorcycle and know what a wrench looks like, there is no reason to pay anyone to change your oil. Don’t tell me you don’t have time – you’ll spend a hell of a lot more time taking it to the dealer and back than you would just doing it in the driveway. This is dead easy, especially if you have a center stand. You want a tutorial? Remove the drain plug (loosen the filler plug to let air in), drain the old oil, remove the filter (can you unscrew a jar? You can remove the filter), pour new oil into the new filter, screw it on, put the drain plug back in, remove the filler plug, pour the new oil in, close the filler plug. There’s your damn tutorial.
Sure, you might need a filter wrench if the jackass who put the filter on did it too tight, but I’ve given you the essentials. You passed. Pretty easy, huh?
Start out small and build your skills. You can do this. I was surprised at what I could do, once I got off the ground. After I changed the oil and upgraded the headlight bulb on my Ninja 500, I bought the Haynes shop manual. Then I replaced the brake pads and fluid, modified the air box, got rid of the air injection system, rebuilt and calibrated the carbs, adjusted the valves and a few other things I’m forgetting. I saved a ton of money doing all that work myself, and yeah, it’s a cliché, but there’s nothing like that feeling after you’ve put it all back together, when you hit the starter and it’s running better than when you bought it.
All I’m saying is give it a try. Be concerned, be careful, but don’t be scared. If you screw something up you can learn more unscrewing it up than you would have otherwise. And no matter what, you’ll learn something about yourself as well. And that’s cool.