Our Liberties We Prize, Our Bikes We Will Maintain

Posted: April 21, 2012 in little Honda
Tags: ,

My bike was in really good condition when I bought it, but it needed an oil change and was about four or five ounces low on coolant. I’ve since remedied both. I also put on a new K&N air filter just for grins. Given that the bike is five years old and under 5k miles, even if it was serviced at a dealership, the spark plugs are probably the originals and probably about roached at this point. So I just ordered an 18mm thin-wall socket, a gap tool, and four new NGK plugs (OEM part #DPR6EA-9).

Maintenance is crucial on bikes. If you have an engine failure in your car, you can probably limp it to the shoulder and wait for help in safety and comfort. If your engine fails on a bike, you are at risk of locking up the driveline and being thrown like a rag doll. Before I set off, even just on a nightly cruise to the nearest state park, I check the oil, coolant, tire pressure, lights, and brake fluid. It has been super cold out, so I check the oil first, then start the bike and check the rest while it warms up. It doesn’t take me any longer to get rolling whether I did my pre-flight checks or not, so there’s no excuse not to. Additionally, with the wild swings in Iowa temperatures, I have had to inflate and deflate my tires a few times to keep them at the manual-recommended 29psi each (30lbs at the back with passenger). Tire pressure directly translates to grip, which directly translates to whether you go around the corner or off it. Tire gauges are about a dollar at gas stations, Wal-Mart, and every auto parts store ever, so buy one and put it in your riding jacket, or a saddlebag, or somewhere that it’s always within reach. Talk about cheap insurance.

My bike came with a Honda maintenance manual–the kind bike shops keep on hand. They’re about $100 to buy, but if you plan on doing basic maintenance your self (and you should, unless you’re independently wealthy), it’s a good idea to pick one up. There are some things I won’t do on my own, at least not yet, and because they aren’t cost-effective. I can have my carb cleaned for $50. I would bet that the tools necessary to clean a carb total more than $50. I’m going to pay to have a new front tire put on next year. I’m also going to pay to have a Honda mechanic do the 10k mile valve adjustment. I’m just mechanical enough to be able to change plugs, oil, filters, and that sort of thing. All of the procedures that require me to take the bike apart I will leave to a professional. If you have the skill to do it, good for you. You’ll save a ton of money. If you don’t have the skill, be realistic and save some money for scheduled maintenance.

Maintenance can be tedious (I enjoy working on my little Honda), but it will pay big dividends down the line. Take care of your bike, and your bike will take care of you. Besides, there’s nothing better than a bike that starts every time.

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