Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Spring is On The Way!

Wow, it's been a while.

The days are getting longer, the temperatures are warmer, and for those of you who live in areas with a limited riding season it's just about time to start getting your bike in shape for the road.

Don't wait until the day you want to ride and hope all is well!  Get your bike in shape NOW and then it will be ready to go, in SAFE condition, on that very first rideable day!

Tires and Wheels
  • Inspect your wheels to ensure they are round (no flat spots), free from cracks and dents, and that there are no problems with the spokes.
  • Check your tires for wear-and-tear, as well as bulges, cracks or any objects that may have become embedded in the tread. Run your hand along the tread – they should feel uniform. Inconsistencies could indicate a problem with the tire.
  • With temperature changes, rubber and metal expand at different rates, causing tires to lose air and need to be topped up in the spring. Get out your owner’s manual and find the optimal air pressure, or check the sidewalls of the tires – it should be stamped into the rubber. Check to ensure each tire is properly inflated, and if not, adjust as necessary.
Oil & Fluids
  • Check the engine oil, gear oil, shaft drive, hydraulic fluid, coolant and fuel. Replace fluids that are degraded and top-up fluids that are running low. Fluids where the colour, consistency or smell is considerably different than the new fluid you have is considered degraded and should be purged and replaced.
  • Visually check to ensure there are no leaks, especially if you note fluid levels that are particularly low for no apparent reason – the liquid had to go somewhere!
  • If your battery was removed for the winter, reinstall it.
  • Check the connections on the terminals to ensure that the cables are connected tightly.
  • Ensure terminals are free of dust, debris and corrosion, as that can cause poor and inconsistent electrical performance.
  • Inspect the lenses on the lights for cracks, and check that they are attached securely.
  • Check the headlight and ensure it is aimed correctly. Make sure both the high and low beams work.
  • Check the turn signals and brake lights for operation, and ensure they are clean and securely attached.
  • Lubricate all levers and pedals. Ensure they are not broken or bent.
  • Inspect all cables for kinks, folds, or fraying. Test that your bike’s cables do not interfere with steering.
  • Check all hoses and look for problems indicated by cuts, cracks, bulges, or leaks. Make sure that the hoses do not get in the way of steering or suspension, and that there are no folds.
  • Check the throttle to ensure it moves freely.
  • Check the frame for any lifting paint, cracks, or dents, as this could indicate a structural concern.
  • The front forks and rear shocks should be properly adjusted.
  • Check the belt or chain for the proper tension. Add lubrication if required, and check that the teeth are mounted properly.
  • Tighten all fasteners and replace if needed.
  • Check that stand(s) are not cracked or bent and they have enough tension to hold the bike in position.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Here are a few common questions and answers about shifting:

Q: How do I know when to shift gears?
A: There is no mathematical equation for optimum shift points. Revving high is not required for most onroad riding conditions, and should generally be avoided, as should shifting so early that the engine can't produce enough power for adequate acceleration. Typically, the sweet spot of the engine's powerband-- ie, where it produces enough torque to provide the most efficient acceleration-- is the point at which most engines "want" to be shifted. Because engines deliver their most effective power at considerably different rpms, use your instinct to decide when it's time to shift.

Q: How do I find neutral?
Finding neutral is one of the most common difficulties faced by new riders. "Finding" neutral might take extra effort with some gearboxes, but a bit of patience and a gentle touch makes the task easier. Gently nudge the shifter downwards from second gear, while pulling the clutch all the way in. If you're not pulling the clutch all the way, it might be harder to get into neutral. Look to the instrument panel for a neutral indicator light, which is usually green in color. If you're overshooting neutral and going into first gear (which is a very common), use the edge of your boot so you don't apply too much pressure to the shifter... with enough practice, you'll get a feel for how to find neutral without even thinking about it!

Q: How can I shift more smoothly?
A: The most effective way to shift smoothly is to pay attention to your bike's behavior: if your motorcycle jerks while you're letting out the clutch, you're probably doing too abrupt with your left hand. If you're lurching ahead during shifts, you might be applying too much throttle. And if your motorcycle slows down during shifts, you might not be revving the engine enough between gear changes, which will allow the engine to actually slow down the bike. Smooth shifting is all about paying attention to the way the clutch, the throttle, and the gear selector interact, and orchestrating the three with each other.

Q: How do I slow down for a red light or a stop sign?
A: Because each gear operates within a certain range of speeds, you'll need to downshift if you end up going too slow for the gear you've selected. Let's say you're cruising along at 50 mph in 5th gear and need to come to a complete stop: the proper way to slow down is to downshift as you decelerate, selecting a lower gear and letting out the clutch while feathering the throttle to match revs. Doing so will not only allow you to use engine braking to help slow down, it will enable you to accelerate again if a light changes or if traffic conditions change and a stop is no longer necessary. If you come to a complete stop, it's best to shift into neutral, hold the brake, and only shift into 1st gear just before you're ready to go.

Q: What happens if I stall?
A: Don't worry if you stall out your motorcycle, but take immediate steps to start your bike up and get moving; staying stationary when traffic accelerates around you is dangerous, so you'll want to pull the clutch, start up the bike, shift into first, and get moving as soon as possible.

Q: Is it OK to skip gears?
A: If you wish to rev higher but skip a gear, doing so will result in roughly the same rate of acceleration (though each gear change will take longer.) Though this may not be the smoothest way to ride, doing so can sometimes save gas if it's done efficiently.

Q: Should I leave the motorcycle in gear when I park it?
A: It's OK to leave your motorcycle in neutral when you're parked on level ground, but if you're parking at an incline, leaving it in gear (preferably 1st) will keep it from rolling off its side stand or center stand.


Saturday, January 2, 2010

Lest We Forget

Never drink and ride. I repeat, NEVER DRINK AND RIDE.

Here is an effective reminder:

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Regular Yesterday

“It’s been 2 weeks” I said.
The Elder smiles a crescent moon, and says, “We can do that, if you want”
Donning the uniform, it’s warm/enveloping/comforting.

Stairs, rails, puddles, hallway, clearing, garage door.
The padlocks click easily, and give way to my anxious fingers.
(Heart beating)
Light flushes through, and the darkness gives way
Steel, paint, leather, chrome, Spirit.

Hi My Baby.

Fingers graze over the riser, linger at the clutch, and trace the Diamond longingly. Home.
Wet ground for sure. Doesn’t matter now, does it?
(Some days are good. Some are bad. Not enough Time has passed. I know.)
I’m out, burning, and waiting. For it to subside.
Shift, 60, shift 80, my eyes start to tear, 85. Please.
I see the puddle, and The Elder’s glance back at my loud laughter.
He meant to do that.
Slowing and breathing, the quick breaths become longer, more deliberate.
Deliberate. In.
Deliberate. Out.
35, and just feeling. Sun glints and the tremendous disappointing weight

Leaves me

A thanks, and a look forward.
The release is intense.
Wait for it.
Deliberate Out.
And all I can do…is cry.

-- Mercedes Martin-Raya, who is the best rider I know.

Friday, November 6, 2009

I Haven't Forgotten...

... really. I hate it when I start a new project and life conspires to ensure I ignore it! I'm rationalizing by telling myself that in most parts of the country it's already cold and even snowy!

Quick winter tip... start your bike every couple of weeks or so!! Let it run for a couple of minutes or even putt around the block if it's safe to do so. And continue to do periodic "preflights" so there won't be any surprises come Spring!!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Pick-Up Line

We've all done it. Hell, I've done it many times. If you're a new rider, trust me when I say that you will do it too.

One of these days, you'll find your beautiful motorcycle laying on its side. Maybe you were trying to get out of that tight spot and hit the front brake with the front wheel pushed over. Maybe you found that cleverly concealed patch of fine gravel in the turn. Maybe some oblivious cager knocked it over. Or maybe you just spaced out the side stand. Regardless of the reason... now what?

Obviously, you gotta get your machine off the ground and back on two wheels. The first thing to remember is: picking up a motorcycle is DANGEROUS. Work smarter, not harder. Just because you CAN pick it up by yourself doesn't mean you should, and if there are people around willing to help... LET THEM. Remind them that the exhaust pipe(s) are hot, and remind them that plastic parts and turn signals are NOT holding points. Remind them that the bike is heavy and the goal is to get it back up without injuries to anyone involved. Keep in mind that a back injury is a life-changing event!!

Now... what if you are alone? Let me assure you that a small woman can pick up an 800-lb bike. Yes. It's true. And with a couple of mats/towels, it's a skill you can practice with your own bike in the comfort of your own driveway or garage.

Step One: Self-Assessment. Your bike is not going anywhere without you. Take a few moments to run a self-diagnostic. Are you injured? Are you sure? Is it safe to pick up your motorcycle? Is the area in which your motorcycle is down conducive to righting it? Do you even WANT to pick up your bike? Is there help available? Asking yourself a series of questions allows you to calm down and assess yourself and the situation without the clouding influence of adrenaline. It's embarrassing to dump your machine, but the situation will quickly escalate from embarrassing to dangerous if you rush your decisions without properly assessing the whole picture. Give yourself the gift of time.

Step Two: Check it out. Are you in danger from traffic? If so, get away from your bike and wait for a law enforcement response. If not, take a good look at your surroundings. Is the bike on wet pavement? Is there sand, gravel, or loose dirt/mud? Is the ground sloped? Is there a ditch on either side of you? Again, picking up a motorcycle is dangerous, and should only be done solo in really good-to-optimum conditions. Check it out and be realistic.

Step Three: Your Bike. Shut off the engine with the cut-off switch or ignition switch. If you have a fuel supply valve, make sure it is shut off to avoid spills and leaks. It's really common to have spilled fuel and maybe even oil in these situations, so use caution. If your bike is on its right side, put the side stand down and put the bike in gear. If you bike is on its left side, make a mental note that you'll have to put the side stand down once you get it up and use caution - you don't want to get it up only to dump it over on the other side.

NOW... if you've decided you're gonna go for it, pick up your bike!!

1. Turn the handlebars to full-lock position with front of tire pointed downward.

2. Find the "balance point" of the two tires and the engine, engine guard, or footpeg. The motorcycle will be fairly easy to lift until it reaches this point because it's resting on its side. Once you start lifting from there, you are responsible for the most of the weight of the bike.

3. "Sit" down with your butt/lower back against the motorcycle seat. Be very careful to keep your back straight and your head up. Put your feet solidly on the ground about 12 inches apart, with your knees bent slightly.

4. With one hand, grasp the handgrip of the handlebar (underhand, preferably), keeping your wrist straight.

5. With your other hand, grip the motorcycle framework (or any solid part of the motorcycle), being careful to avoid the hot exhaust pipe, turn signals, etc. If you can get a good grip, the frame directly under your seat is a good spot.

6. Lift with your legs by taking small steps backwards, pressing against the seat with your butt and keeping your back straight. On slippery or gravelly surfaces this technique probably won't work. On inclined surfaces this can be very dangerous. Maintain control while lifting and never twist your body during the process.

7. Be careful not to lift the motorcycle up and then flip it onto its other side! If possible, put the sidestand down using your foot and put the bike in gear.

8. Set the motorcycle on its sidestand and park it safely. Thoroughly check your bike for damage before riding it. If you have any doubts about its rideability, don't take the chance.

Here are some sites with video and photos to help:



Monday, August 17, 2009

ALL RIDERS: Please READ before starting YOUR BIKES

With all the people going down this season, I thought I'd post a reminder to for the riders out there. This was taken from tristatesportbikes.com and gixxer.com. Have fun and keep the shiny side up. Smart riders ride on. Stupid hurts.

1. We crash on cold tires. Respect them by giving them a few miles to warm up, especially if they're brand new. After stopping to eat or something, remember you're not the only thing that has cooled down, allow your tires sufficient time to warm up again.

2. We crash on overloaded tires. If you are new to riding or rusty after a winter layoff, applying too much throttle or brake while leaned over could be very costly. Our tires can provide amazing levels of traction but they're not immune to "lead" hands. The instinct of grabbing a handful of front brake while leaned over will put you in the guardrail.

3. We crash trying to keep up. Ultimate speed on a back road has little to do with the bike and everything to do with the rider. Once you realize this, twisting the throttle WFO to keep your friends in sight on the straights while losing them in the corners becomes a non-option. Ride your own pace.

4. We crash because we want to go fast. Sometimes, even the posted speed limit is inappropriate. Coming over a blind crest at 45mph might be too fast if you can't stop the bike before hitting the hazard you only see when it's too late. Speed reduces time to react and adds distance to react in emergency situations.

5. We crash because we bail out. How many posts have there been about entering a corner too hot, standing the bike up and running out of road before getting the bike stopped? Too hot means your brain is probably freaked out but there is still plenty of tire traction available. LOOK through the corner, LEAN the bike until hard parts drag, BELIEVE in modern tire technology.

6. We crash because we lose our focus. The bike travels 88 feet per second at 60 mph. A moment's inattention puts you that much farther into a corner. Think about the next corner, not the one you just blew. That one is over, focus on getting the next one right.

7. We crash because we rush corner entrances. Slow in, fast out works for racers season after season. It works for road riders too. Slow down a bit on your corner entrances and see how much smoother you become.

8. We crash because we can't keep up with the motorcycle. Make sure your software is the equal of your bikes hardware. The bike has the ability to go 160mph, that doesn’t mean YOU do.

9. We crash trying to look cool. If it takes wheelies, stoppies and other stunts to impress your friends...you need new friends.

p.s. Alcohol dosen't help either. Use your head.