Posts Tagged ‘motorcycle maintenance’

I ordered spark plugs, a gap tool, and 12-point 18mm socket. It came in just now and I went out to swap out my old, roached plugs for shiny new ones. Well, while the MotionPro socket I ordered is really well made, it isn’t made to fit in the left-front or right-rear plug recess. So I pulled to two plugs I could reach, gapped two new ones, and made the swap. Weirdly, the throttle does feel a little sharper, but it could all be in my head.

The two plugs I pulled were clearly old, given the faded appearance of the middle part of the¬†plug. They were blackened, indicating a slightly rich fuel mix or maybe some failure of the insulator, but not so sooty as to indicate oil burn. I probably could have gotten away with brushing them off and checking their gap, but since they appear to be the originals, I feel better about new plugs. It’s cheap insurance. I will attach pics as soon as I find my USB cable. In the mean time, enjoy this link on how to “read” your spark plugs.

Note: I have ordered a Honda OEM plug wrench that is supposed to be in your tool kit, but was absent from mine. I will include a link to it.

The part number of the MotionPro socket that does not fit is: 57-8175

Updated: Wear was normal, and they still were close to spec when measured with my gap tool. New plug on right for comparison.

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.