how to repair your
М Ш Ш Ш Ш Ш W O R K S H O P
How To Repair Your
• Understand how your motorcycle works
• Maintain your bike and save money
• Diagnose and repair problems
• Tips to keep your bike in top condition
• Tune and improve your machine's performance
Chapter 1 8
Basics & Troubleshooting_______
How to Use This Book
The Icons 8
Know Your M otorcycle 9
W hat You Need in a H om e S hop 10
R ecom m ended M aintenance Schedule 13
M aintenance Schedule C hart 14
Project 1: A d ju st C on trols to F it You 15
Project 2: Preride C heck 17
Project 3: General Lubrication 19
Project 4: Checking Vital Fluids 21
Project 5: Rolling Gear C heckup 23
P ro ject 6: Adjust Your Chain 25
Project 7: Checking and Tensioning Your Drive Belt 28
Project 8: A d just C lutch and Throttle Free Play 29
Project 9: Replacing T hrottle Cables 31
Project 10: W interize Your M otorcycle 33
Project 11: How to W ash Your H ands 36
C hapter 2 37
Fuel Syste m ___ ______
H ow It W orks
Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI) 39
Engine M anagem ent System 39
Taking Care o f th e Fuel System 40
P ro ject 12: Clean/R eplace Your A ir Filter 43
Chapter 3 45
How It W orks
M odern C om bustion Technology 46
Project 13: Change Your Fuel Petcock 50
P ro ject 14: Synchronizing C arburetors and EFI
Throttle Bodies 52
P ro ject 15: Install a Jet K it 55
• Setting Float Height 57
P ro ject 16: Install a Power Com m ander 58
P ro ject 17: Change Your Oil and Filter 60
• Shaft Drive Housing Oil C heck/C hange 62
Project 18: Change Transmission and Primary Fluids 63
P ro ject 19: A djust Intake and Exhaust Valves 66
C hapter 4 70
How it W orks
The Battery 70
Alternator and C harging System 71
Starting System 72
P ro ject 20: Headlight/Turn-Signal R eplacem ent
and Adjustm ent 75
Project 21: Service Your Battery 78
Pro ject 22: Spark Plug C heck and R eplacem ent 80
Chapter 5 82
How It W orks
Cooling System M aintenance 83
Pro ject 23: C heck Your C oolant 87
Pro ject 24: Flush and Refill Your Cooling System 88
Chapter 6 89
How It W orks
W hy a Transm ission? 89
Chain Final-Drive 90
Rear C ush-Drives 91
Belt Final-Drive 92
Shaft Final-Drive 92
P ro ject 25: Chain and Sprocket R eplacem ent 94
P ro ject 26: Drive Belt Replacem ent 98
C hapter 7 99
H ow It W orks
Springs & Dam pers 99
Shock A bsorbers & Rear Suspensions 102
Suspension Tuning 103
Project 27: Measure Sag and Adjust Preload: Front 106
Project 28: Measure Sag and Adjust Preload: Rear 109
P ro ject 29: A djust Dam ping Settings 111
• Suspension Troubleshooting Sym ptom s 113
Pro ject 30: A djust Ride Height 114
• Lowering C autions 116
Pro ject 31: C hange Your Fork Oil 117
Pro ject 32: C hange Fork Springs 120
Pro ject 33: Install A fterm arket Shocks 122
C hapter 8 124
H ow it W orks
Steel vs. Alum inum 124
Steel Tube Frames 124
Pressed Steel Frames 126
Alum inum Frames 126
P ro ject 34: C heck Steering Head Bearings 128
Project 35: Repack o r Replace Steering Head Bearings
P ro ject 36: Swingarm Pivot Bearing Replacem ent 133
Chapter 9 135
Tires and Wheels
How it W orks
Tire C onstruction 135
Bias-Ply C onstruction 135
Radial Construction 136
Tire Choices, and H ow to M ake Sm art Ones 136
Sidew all H ieroglyphics and How to D ecipher Them 137
Tires: Buy ’em Local o r From th e Web? 138
The G reat M ount & Balance Act: W hat to Expect 138
Tire Pressure 138
Afterm arket W heels: C arbon Fiber, M agnesium and
Alum inum ! Oh, My! 139
Caring fo r Bearings 139
Project 37: Check Tire Pressure 141
P ro ject 38: Flat Fix 142
P ro ject 39: Rem oving Wheels 145
P ro ject 40: Tire Change 148
P ro ject 41: Valve Stem Replacement 152
C hapter 10 153
H ow it W orks
Hydraulic Brakes 153
W hy Hydraulics? 153
M echanical Drum Brakes 154
How to D etect W orn Pads 154
Brake Pads: H ow to Pick Mr. Right 155
W arning Signs o f the Need to Bleed 156
Choosing th e Right Brake Fluid 156
Braided Brake Lines 157
A fterm arket Brakes’ Advantages 157
ABS and LBS 157
P ro ject 42: Caliper and Disc Service 159
P ro ject 43: Brake Pad Change 161
• Brake Pad Break-In 161
Project 44: Changing Hydraulic Fluid 163
Project 45: Drum Brake Maintenance 165
Pro ject 46: Installing Stainless-Steel Brake Lines 169
C hapter 11 172
How it W orks
O xygen Sensor 172
A fterm arket Exhausts 174
Pro ject 47: Installing a S lip-O n Exhaust 175
Pro ject 48: Installing a Full Exhaust System 178
C hapter 12 182
Keeping It Clean
How it W orks
Bike Wash 101 182
Polish and W ax 182
Polishing Your Bike 183
Beginners’ D etailing Tips 183
Project 49: How to Touch Up Paint Scratches and Chips
Pro ject 50: H ow to Clean Your Bike 189
hen it com es to learning how to repair o r maintain
yo u r m o to rcycle , e ve rybo dy has to s ta rt
som ew here. No on e is bo rn w ith a co m p le te w orking
■cnowledge o f a m o to rc yc le ’s see m in gly infin ite
com plexities and peculiarities, no more than they’re born
.■•rth a similar knowledge o f all algorithm s, the final digit of
pi, o r how cats purr.
For th e first quandary, H ow to R epair Your M otorcycle
■s a g o od place to sta rt. W hy? Largely because it was
(bitte n as a ground-level entry into how a m otorcycle’s
.a rio u s syste m s w o rk. S e lfishly, I also h o pe d th a t by
.-.'iting this book it m ight also fo ster a deeper connection
betw een you and y o u r m o to rcycle , w he the r it w as an
rte lle ctu a l one because o f your greater understanding of
how things work, or an em otional one because th e book
provided you w ith a measure o f self-sufficiency.
You’ll find fa r m ore technical, scholarly to m e s avail
able, and if after reading H ow to R epair Your M otorcycle
th e y piq u e y o u r in te rest, I h e artily reco m m en d them .
They’ll further your understanding of w hat is, to many of
js . a life’s w ork in progress. O f course, if there’s sim ply no
connection, intellectual o r em otional, betw een you and
.o u r m oto rcycle , th en by all m eans save you r money.
How ever you connect w ith your m achine, this book will
be o f value to you because it offers a m ultitude o f w ays to
keep your scoo t in absolute A-1 running order and condi
tion. Perhaps, in lieu o f em otional or intellectual rewards,
sim ply saving m oney w ill do.
W hatever your reasons fo r picking up th is book, it will
fu n c tio n b e st as a com p an io n to y o u r b ik e ’s service
manual. H ow to R epair Your M otorcycle covers the gen
era litie s o f pro ced ure; th e s ervice m anual cove rs th e
specifics. It’s no t th at all m otorcycles are so terribly dif
ferent. It’s just th at each m anufacturer has its own w ay of
d o in g th in g s (such as b u ild in g m o to rcycle s) and o f
w anting them done (such as m aintenance and repair).
As I m entioned earlier, m y fondest hope fo r this book
is th at it helps m ake your m otorcycle riding and ow ner
ship m ore com plete and m ore enjoyable through better
u n d e rstan din g. I also hope it he lps you see th a t your
m otorcycle is an incredible technological m arvel—com
pared to a fam ily sedan, your bike is pure Space Shuttle
tech. And, lastly, I hope this book m akes ow ning, riding,
and caring fo r your bike—essentially, th e journey of really
becom ing a m otorcyclist—as rich and rewarding as it has
been fo r me.
How to Use This Book
Know Your Motorcycle
What You Need in a Home Shop
Basics and Recommended Maintenance Schedule
Maintenance Schedule Chart
Project 1: Adjust Controls to Fit You
Project 2: Preride Check
Project 3: General Lubrication
Project 4: Checking Vital Fluids
Project 5: Rolling Gear Checkup
Project 6: Adjust Your Chain
Project 7: Checking and Tensioning Your
WARNING! KEY CONCEPT Drive Belt
Project 8: Adjust Clutch and Throttle
OLD SCHOOL TECH ,'J ^ ) MAINTENANCE TIP
TOMORROW’S TECH ^ 3 ^ M0NEY-SAVING Tlp
Project 9: Replacing Throttle Cables
Project 10: Winterize Your Motorcycle
Project 11: How to Wash Your Hands
o d e rn m o to rc y c le s ’ she er s o p h is tic a tio n has
given them near-telepathic handling, phenom enal
spe ed , an d m in d -b e n d in g a cce le ra tio n th a t en th ra lls
riders w ith the m erest w hiff o f throttle. Such sophistication
and capabilities can intim idate new riders when it com es
to the sim plest o f m aintenance procedures.
The fundam ental purpose o f this book is to assist such
riders, as well as those returning to m otorcycling, to learn
how to m aintain their bikes w ith a measure o f confidence,
rather than regard their tw o-w heeled rocket w ith the same
uncom prehending gaze o f a seagull staring at a Saturn V.
A s high-tech as today’s m otorcycles are, they still have
tw o w heels and tires, an engine and transm ission, plus
suspension, brake, and steering systems. If you can invest
roughly half as m uch tim e as your nephew spends playing
on his W ii, you’ll learn how each o f your bike’s system s
w ork, as well as how to diagnose and troubleshoot prob
lem s w ith each o f th ose system s. No, th is bo ok w o n 't
m ake you a m aster m echanic, bu t you’ll be able to com
m unicate w ith tw o-w heel professionals and not sound like
a rookie. P lus—should you choose to —you’ll be able to
m aintain, service, and repair many of these systems.
Each chapter deals w ith a m ajor system in depth, and
the troubleshooting guides help you identify and confirm
specific problem s. If your m otorcycle starts to behave d if
ferently, recognize th a t could be the sta rt o f som ething
big—as in expensive to repair. Use your eyes, ears, nose,
and ha nd s to id e n tify w h a t's happening, w he the r it’s
potentially serious, w hat m ight be the cause, how to con
firm th e diagnosis, how to fix the problem —and w hether
to fix it yourself o r take it to a pro.
Hopefully this book w ill take the question marks out of
m otorcycle ownership. By using this book as a dynam ic
reference, y o u 'll kno w ho w to id e n tify w h a t m ig h t be
w rong, w hat needs to be done to fix it, and how m uch it
It m ight help to view this book as you would a savings
acc o u n t: In vest yo u r tim e and energy to w a rd
understanding you r m otorcycle, and th e return on that
inve stm en t w ill n o t on ly be s ig n ific a n t savings, bu t
potentially far m ore fun.
And in to da y’s w orld, w e can certainly all use m ore
o f that.
This b o o k uses s ix d iffe re n t icon s to ca ll a tte n tio n to
im portant parts o f th e te xt and to m ake it easier fo r you
to fin d th e inform ation you need to ge t your m otorcycle
back on th e road.
The icons are as follow s:
A . This is to alert you to dangerous chem icals or
pra ctice s th a t you need to kno w ab ou t w hile
doing a procedure.
A Old School Tech
А р 1 л Technical inform ation th a t concerns older bikes
is flagged w ith th is icon. If you are a bo tto m -line person,
you can probably skip past this. If you are interested in
history o r have an o ld er m otorcycle, th is inform ation is
fo r you.
.7^, Tomorrow’s Tech
There is also inform ation on em erging technolo
gies. This probably w on’t apply to your bike today, bu t it
m ight dow n th e road.
° B ottom -line explanations o f how things w ork or
ho w to fix th in gs. If you w an t to q u ickly understand a
system o r process, tu rn to these.
! / ; / T ip s on m a in ta in in g y o u r b ik e ’s syste m s are
m arked w ith th is icon. B ut you probably already figured
th at out.
' Money-Saving Tip
These tip s deal w ith shiftin g you r m oney from
m otorcycle m aintenance to m ore w orthy causes.
This book contains 50 projects th a t m ost m echanically
m inded people can d o a t hom e. Som e are very sim ple
and can be done by m ost anyone, w hile others are a little
m ore com plex. You’ll fin d ste p-by-ste p photographs of
each, along w ith a chart th at tells you how hard th e task
is to perform (Talent), w hat to o ls and parts you’ll need,
th e benefit, and a relative cost rating, w ith one dollar sign
roughly equaling $100.
N ote th at a fe w o f th e projects are Harley-D avidson-
spe cific, as th ey ap ply p a rticularly w ell to th ose
The Troubleshooting Charts
These sim ple charts w ill give you som e basic guidelines
to follow if you have trouble w ith your m otorcycle. These
w ere p u t to g e th e r to g ive you enou gh in fo rm a tio n to
m aybe try som e sim ple fixes at hom e and, once you’ve
done w ha t m ost people can do at hom e, you can take it
to your m echanic and have an idea w hat’s going w rong.
KNOW YOUR MOTORCYCLE
Before you get to start tw irling wrenches around your bike,
you m ight want to expend a little tim e and energy to get to
know your bike—how it operates, what it needs in term s of
maintenance, and how to deal with any problem s that arise.
The easiest w ay to find all this inform ation is in the owner’s
manual that com es w ith every new bike.
i T ruth is, re a d in g th e o w n e r’s m an ua l is
q one o f th e m ost im p orta nt th in gs you can
bring to th e bike ow n ership experience. And it’s
one o f th e best w ays to th ro w a rope around th e
expenses associated w ith ow ning and m aintaining
a m otorcycle.
W hat’s m ore, th e g e ttin g-to -kn ow -you procedure is
w orth w h ile , w he the r it’s yo u r firs t m o to rc yc le o r you r
101st. A lm o st every m an ufa ctu re r has its ow n design
conventions—o r idiosyncratic qu irk s—such as H onda’s
insistence on using a d ip stick to check engine oil level
after other m akers had gone to th e arguably m ore con
venient sight glass.
Overall, though, fo r th e m ost basic inform ation—tire
pressures; m axim um w eight capacity; location o f im por
ta n t item s, such as flu id reservoirs, suspension ad just
m ents, th e to o lk it, etc.; ho w to fix a fla t—th e ow n er’s
manual provides you w ith alm ost every piece o f inform a
tion you’ll need to be a happy owner.
In addition to all th e useful operating tip s to help you
ge t th e m ost from you r m otorcycle, th is little bible also
covers all th e m aintenance requirem ents and intervals,
id e n tifie s o th e r o w n e r-a c ce s sib le co m p o n e n ts , and
explains th e m yriad w arning lights and w hat you should
do if they com e on w hile you’re riding.
W hat’s m ore, th e m anual can give you crucial detail
inform ation into many o f th e procedures presented here,
su ch as th e c o rre c t a m o u n t o f s la c k you w a n t w hen
adjusting th e chain. It can even provide you w ith insight
in to ho w exp en sive y o u r bike w ill be to m aintain and
ow n, based on th e required m aintenance schedule.
Lastly, you r sim ple ow ner’s m anual used to be th e
s o u rce o f s om e u n e x p e cte d lin g u is tic gem s. For
instance, a Spanish m oto rcycle’s ow n er’s m anual from
th e late 1960s contained a w arning th at w ent, roughly, “ If
you are a person o f unusual strength, do no t engage in a
te st o f w ill w ith the nuts and bolts on th is m otorcycle." In
o th e r w ords, d o n ’t go strip p in g th e fa sten ers le ft and
right, you dummy.
A 1962 H on da m anual a lle g e d ly co n ta in e d th ese
w ords o f w isdom : “G ive big space to the festive dog th at
m akes sport in roadway. Avoid entanglem ent o f dog with
w heel spo kes.” There w as also: “G o soo th in gly on the
grease m ud, as there lurks the skid dem on.”
Sadly, in these m odern, PC tim es, such gem s are all
bu t im possible to find. B ut if you do n't read the ow ner’s
m anual, you’ll never know.
WHAT YOU NEED IN A HOME SHOP
You’ve probably already figured out one o f the best w ays
to save m oney servicing your m otorcycle is th e DIY—do
it yourself— m ethod. Dealerships and independent shops
charge up to $100 per ho ur o r m ore fo r service labor.
Replace th at w ith your ow n labor and you’ll m ake a con
siderable saving. This book has 50 projects m ost people
can do at hom e, show ing you step-by-step w ays to save
tim e and m oney on your bike. A good portion o f them are
preventive m aintenance—no t a par
tic u la rly W estern co n ce p t, b u t one
th at's fa r cheaper than fixing things
after th ey've failed. In fa ct, preven
tiv e m ainten an ce w ill all b u t e lim i
nate such unexpected breakdowns,
and w ill give you a far better under
standing o f how you r m o to rc y c le -
all m otorcycles—w ork.
To start w ith, you’ll need to com e
up w ith a w orkspace o f som e sort. It
needs to be indoors, clean, and dry.
It ought to be at least big enough to
sw ing a cat, and have good light and
v e n tila tio n , a c o n c re te o r ta rm a c
floor, electricity, and a w ork bench.
It s h o u ld be su ffic ie n tly secu re so
you can s to p in th e m iddle o f a task
an d ta k e a bre ak, g e t som e m ore
parts o r advice (both inevitabilities),
o r— heaven fo rb id —retu rn to yo u r
d a y jo b . If a t a ll p o s s ib le , m ake it in v itin g . P u t in a
spa ce he ater fo r w inte r, ta c k up som e p o ste rs if you
like, tile th e flo o r if you 're particularly bucks-up. You’re
go ing to spe nd w ha t sho uld be en joya ble tim e there;
it’s you r w orkspace, and it shouldn’t resem ble a Turkish
• jj: Then you’ll w an t to ge t an officia l service
о m anual from you r bike’s manufacturer. Yes,
tim es have changed for the better. Third-party service
m anuals are no t th e tw o-w he el equivalent o f The
N ecronom icon they once were. S till, you’re better
o ff w ith th e m anufacturer’s version; th ey b u ilt the
bike, after all.
Every m otorcycle is slightly different, and th e service
manual w ill provide invaluable specifics, such as how to
a ctua lly g e t to parts on you r p a rticular bike th a t need
service, as well as tolerances, gaps, thicknesses, runouts,
and so on. Perhaps one o f th e m ost useful things it will
have, apart from specialized service procedures, is torque
values fo r alm ost every fastener on your m otorcycle. The
im portance o f this inform ation will becom e clearer as you
get further along w ith the projects herein.
Once you’ve got your space and your service manual,
you’re ready fo r a great rite o f passage fo r every m otorcy
clist; the acquisition o f tools. W hile other prim ates have
opposing thum bs and lower-order animals have learned to
use to o ls , surely one o f th e h ig he st exp ression s of
hum anity is the hand holding a Snap-on wrench.
W hile m any consider Snap-on Tools the gold standard,
seve ral re p u ta b le b ra n d s o ffe r eq u a l s e rv ic e , if n o t
equal status. One o f Snap-on’s greatest claim s to fam e
has been th a t its to o ls are g u a ra n te e d fo r life , and
rep la ced v irtu a lly w ith o u t qu estio n. H ow ever, several
o th e r m an ufa ctu re rs, in clu d in g C ornw e ll, C raftsm an,
K o b a lt, H usky, M ac, P itts b u rg h , an d N o rth e rn can
m ake th e sam e claim .
The sing le m o s t im p o rta n t pie ce o f to o l-
b v ^ f' buying advice you’ll ge t is to buy th e best
tools you can afford. Their fit, function, and feel will
be superior, and th ey’ll m ake ta sks fa r easier and
enjoyable than low -ball tools. This doesn’t mean you
sh o u ld even co n s id e r selling yo u r o ffs p rin g into
slave ry ju s t to bu y to o ls . B u t d e fin ite ly d o no t
Scrooge ou t on tools either. Purchasing a 100-piece
tool kit from the sam e place you buy your groceries
w ill alm ost certainly provide you w ith a crystal-clear
alternate definition o f the word cheesy.
R eco m m e nd ed to o ls are b ro ken d o w n he re in to
• First group should be considered th e absolute bare
m inim um , a.k.a. tie r one, fo r being able to perform
m ost o f th e projects in th is book. Also included will
be additional alternate to o ls th at w ould be benefi
cial bu t not crucial.
• You can consider th e alternates to be sem i-pro, or
Tier Two tools. If you’re flush o r dedicated, o r both,
you’ll acquire th ese to o ls as you com e to realize
how m uch th ey’ll aid your w ork.
• Lastly are th e pro, o r tier three to ols, w hich you’ll
see in shops o f m otorcycling friends o r dealership
service departm ents. They’re expensive, perhaps
o f lim ited o r overly specialized usefulness, bu t pure
gold when it com es to saving tim e and stress.
Tier One (The Absolute Minimum)
Yes, you can ge t by w ith fe w e r to o ls th an th ose listed
here. Many have. B ut doing so m eans alm ost every task
w ill take longer, and possibly becom e exponentially more
frustrating, m aybe even dangerous.
These have an open and a closed end on each wrench,
and com e in only one size. For m ost bikes y o u 'll w ant
them in 8-m m , 10-m m , 12-m m , 14-m m , 17-m m and 19-
mm sizes; fo r H arley-Davidsons, 1/4 -in ch through 13/16-
inch . S m alle r o r large r sizes s h o u ld be a cq u ire d as
needed o r as funds perm it. Do n o t—repeat, d o n o t—give
in to th e tem ptation to buy th e cheaper double-open-end
w re nch es w ith d iffe re n t sizes on ea ch en d; it’s fa lse
econom y. Proper com b in atio n w renches’ closed ends
are th e sam e shape as a 12-p oint socket, a boon when
w orking in tig h t con fine s. T ie r Two w re nch es inclu de
shorter versions o f the sam e item s, as w ell as ratcheting-
end c o m b in a tio n w re nch es. T he le tte r’s c lo se d ends
function sim ilarly to a ratchet wrench.
R atch et H andle a n d Sockets
A ratchet handle has a gear drive w ith a positive stop; you
can tighten or loosen a fastener, reverse th e handle how
ever m any degrees are available, then rotate it again to
tighten/loosen further. A 3/8-inch-drive handle is the m ost
useful, w ith sockets in the sam e range as the com bination
w renches, m etric- or inch-size. Similarly, sm aller- o r larger-
size sockets should be acquired as needed o r as funds
perm it. Tier Two ratchets w ill com e in 1/4-inch- and 1/2-
inch -d riv e s, fo r m ore d e lic a te - o r he avie r-d uty w ork
respectively. Pros have a full selection o f both 12-point
and 6-p o in t sockets (6-pointers are better fo r rem oving
recalcitrant fasteners because they pu t more force on their
flanks rather than th eir points, as w ith th e 12-pointers).
B reaker bars are spe cifica lly design ed to break loose
th ose sam e troublesom e nuts and bolts, thanks to their
sim plicity (no ratchet mechanism) and length.
To begin w ith, just ge t three flat-blade and three Phillips-
head screw drivers. The sm all, m edium , large flat-b lad e
drivers and th e N o. 1, No. 2, and No. 3 P h illips w ill fit
virtually everything on your bike. A s you ge t further into
th e pro je cts, y o u ’ll d o ub tless fin d a need fo r T ier Two
sp e cia lty drivers, such as extra -lo ng , extra -sh ort, and
right-angle versions. Likewise, flat-blade and Phillips-head
bits to fit on your ratchet handle will also becom e useful.
Again, to start, a sim ple, relatively inexpensive collection
o f Allen keys; alm ost every tool manufacturer sells them in
the necessary range of m etric and inch sizes. A s you step
up to Tier Two, you’ll find you’ll w ant Allen bits, just as with
th e screwdriver bits, or T-handles with Allens on the ends.
T-handles are longer tools, again useful in certain situa
tions, and always faster than their key or b it counterparts.
You can m ake do w ith th e crud e ba tte ry-style pliers in
your bike’s toolkit; you’d be better off, though, getting a
higher-quality item from a reputable manufacturer, plus a
pa ir o f needle-nose pliers fo r finer, tig h te r w ork. Pliers
com e in a dizzying variety o f shapes and types, spanning
T iers Two and Three: C hannellocks, V ise-G rips, d u ck
bills, diagonal cutters, wire cutters/strippers, and so on.
Im p act W rench/Ham m er
Som etim es, especially w ith older bikes th a t use Phillips
screw s in th e engine cases, th e only w ay to ge t th ose
fasteners to budge is w ith an im p act w rench. A dead-
blo w ham m er is a good partner to th e im pact wrench, as
all o f its fo rce goes in to th e target; th e blo w forces th e
Phillips b it in to th e screw head. Believe it o r not, there
are a c tu a lly T ie r T w o ha m m e rs: s o ft-fa c e (ru b b e r or
plastic), and hard-face (malleable brass, ball peen, etc.).
Invaluable for finer w ork, especially on the engine, suspen
sion p a rts, an d so on, a to rq u e w rench ind icate s th e
am ount o f force used to tighten a fastener. The cheapest
and sim plest is a beam -type with a pointer to indicate the
force (in inch-pounds, foot-pounds, Newton-m eters, etc.).
It is possible to do decent w ork w ith a beam -type torque
wrench. Better still, though, are the Tier Two click-stop (the
wrench makes an audible “click” when th e selected torque
setting is reached) and dial-gauge wrenches. If you’re rich
as M idas, you’ll have at least the latter tw o, one in inch-
pounds, th e other in foot-pounds.
O il F ilter W rench
This should be self-explanatory, and com es in either a uni
versal strap-type to go around the filter body, o r a specific
shallow sort o f socket that goes on the filter end.
Paddock S tand
Once upon a tim e, alm ost every m otorcycle had a center-
stand, an integral device which held the bike upright so the
chain could be lubed, wheels cleaned, and other sim ple
ta sks com p le te d. The race fo r sp o rtb ik e suprem acy,
though, led to the centerstand's dem ise in order to make
th e bike lighter. So, th ose pre vio usly sim p le ta sks are
exce ed ing ly d iffic u lt w ith o u t a pro pe r p a d d o ck stand,
w hich lifts th e rear o f th e bike via the swingarm . For Tier
Two you can add a similar stand for th e front end. Best of
b o th situ a tio n s is th e A b b a S u pe rb ike Stand fro m th e
U nited Kingdom , w hich hoists th e bike via a rod placed
through the (usually) hollow swingarm pivo t shaft, w hich
can then allow either wheel to be lifted off the ground.
A n o th e r to o l th a t s h o u ld be o b vio u s in its need and
its usa ge . P ro p e r tire p re ssu re s are c ru c ia l to yo u r
b ik e ’s perform ance.
M easuring Tools
A t th e very lea st y o u ’ll w a n t a m ete r-lon g ste el scale,
use fu l fo r s e ttin g su sp e n sio n sag; a ta p e m easure,
preferably m etric scaled, can also be used. Valve adjust
m en ts require th in m etal fe eler gauges, w h ile curren t
fine-w ire spark plug electrodes prefer w ire-type gauges.
T ier Tw o de vices inclu de a dia l-g au ge vern ie r c a lip e r
and/or a 0-2-centim eter m icrometer, either o f w hich can
be used to measure valve adjustm ent shim s.
Lastly, y o u 'll w an t a w id e variety o f ae rosol- spray
lu b rica n ts, clea ne rs, n o strum s, po tio n s, and lotio ns:
cha in lube fo r o b viou s reasons, grease fo r axle s and
suspension linkage bo lts, brake an d/or electrical parts
c le a n e rs , th re a d -lo c k in g co m p o u n d s, an d p o lis h e s .
A nd y o u ’ll need d u c t ta pe , w h ic h can rep air v irtu a lly
anything o r a t least disguise it. In ad ditio n, y o u ’ll need
a fe w funnels; latex gloves, o r an alternative fo r those
w ith an a lle rg y to late x; nylo n C o rd u ra w o rk glo ves;
and safety glasses. You d o n ’t w an t to p u t you r eye out,
now, d o you?
Tier Two (Semi-Pro)
Along w ith th e to ols m entioned in th e previous section,
M anom eters, a.k.a. Vacuum Gauges
Used to synchronize carburetors o r throttle bodies, these
take th e form o f dial gauges o r tubes o f m ercury, usually
a pair o r a group o f four. They measure vacuum , o r suc
tion , in th e intake m anifold o r throttle body, m aking each
cylinder read th e sam e results in sm oother running and
better throttle response.
Electrical Item s—Drill, M ultim eter, B attery C harger
D rills com e in handy fo r certain fabrication jobs, o r ju s t to
d rill o u t a ruine d b o lt; a m u ltim e te r w ill a s sis t you in
curing certain electrical m aladies; and a battery charger
is fo r those inevitable occasions when your m otorcycle’s
battery has gone dead.
Tire Irons, R im Protectors, Flat Kit
Another inevitability o f m otorcycling is th e fla t tire, and
these to ols w ill m ake th e repair process fa r less painful.
S im ilarly, yo u ’ll need to replace tires, w herein th e first
tw o item s com e into play.
C utting Tools, i.e. a Hacksaw, Knife, G asket Scraper
These w on’t see a great deal o f use, bu t when you need
them , nothing else w ill do.
Tier Three and Beyond
5 still haven’t h it th e to p end o f useful item s fo r your
;= ra g e —th e to o l p a rts ca ta lo g s are fu ll o f g o o d ie s
ranging from air com pressors and air-pow ered to o ls to
/.e ld e rs and lift sta n d s. T his s tu ff is exp e n sive , bu t
extrem ely useful if you d o extensive service w o rk—o r if
-■erhaps you’re starting to like w orking on m otorcycles
as m uch o r m ore than m erely riding them . You w ill find
Tigh-quality taps and dies or Easy-O ut invaluable kits for
repairing stripp ed th readed holes, p a rts w ashers, and
the like invaluable when you need them . There’s no real
point in describing each one, because by the tim e you’re
con te m p latin g buying som ething in th is tier, you know
.vhat it’s fo r and exactly w hy you w ant o r need it.
O f course, if you have this entire arm ada o f to o ls both
sim ple and sophisticated at your disposal, you need not
fear any procedure y o u ’ll fin d in th is b o o k —or
precious few others, fo r th at matter.
The m an ufa ctu re r w ho designed, engineered,
and b u ilt yo u r s o p h is tic a te d m o to rc y c le has
already provided a detailed schedule o f required
m aintenance to keep you r bike running strong
fo r q u ite som e tim e . It’s all o u tlin e d in you r
ow ner’s manual.
B u t how m uch o f th a t is really essential to
overall re liab ility and durab ility? H ow m uch o f
the w ork can you do versus how
m uch needs to be done by a pro
fessional? Can th e professional
s e rvic e be d o n e b y an in d e
pendent shop, or does it have to
be done by th e dealer?
Based on considerable expe
rience, th e fo llo w in g is a ba sic
m ainten an ce sche du le fo r th e
e sse n tia ls—th o se m aintenance
services th at really are necessary
fo r y o u r b ike to pro vid e a fu ll
service-life. W ill it break o r fail if
you d o n o t fo llo w th is schedule
a n d /o r perform th ese services?
Not necessarily. There are tens of
thousands o f very lucky ow ners
w ho live in blissful ignorance and
continue to ride their m otorcycles
fa r be yon d th e recom m ended
m aintenance intervals . . . at least
until som ething finally fails and leaves them stranded on
th e side o f the road, frustrated and very angry at the bike
fo r failing them .
Is th e reverse also tru e ? Yes, a t tim e s . Even w ith
th e m ost m eticu lo us m aintenance program , m o to rcy
cles fa il. Engines expire, gearboxes frag, and radiators
lose th e ir c o o la n t—th a t’s p a rt o f th e risk o f o w n ing a
m otorized vehicle.
But th ere is a b so lu te ly no d o u b t th a t if you do , o r
have done, th e basic m aintenance necessary fo r you r
m otorcycle’s survival, the percentages are well and truly
on your side. It w ill m ake th e difference betw een a bike
th a t de livers s u b sta ntia l m iles w ith o u t a m ajor failure,
and one th at leaves you standing by th e curb, stranded,
w ith a m assive repair bill. Like th e old saying goes, pay
your m oney and take your choice.
TASK INTERVAL SHOP COST DIY COST REASON TODO PROJECT NO. |
Lubricate and adjust final drive chain 500 miles $25-45 $5-12 Prolong chainlife
Change engine oil and filter 3,000 miles $35-50 $10-60
Remove spark plug(s); inspect
or replace with anti-seize
12,000 miles $15-150 $5-60
plug check and
Change air filter 8,000-10,000 miles $25-90 $10-40
Adjust valves Follow manufacturer's
$150-500 $5-90 Enginelongevity Project 19:
Adjust intake and
Change brake pads As needed $60-100
costly damage to
Change engine coolant 8,000-10,000 miles $50-75 $5-15
Project 23: Check
Change brake (or clutch) fluid 8,000-10,000 miles $45 (each
Change fork oil 8,000-10,000 miles $100-300 $10-50 Maintainproper
TIM E: 1 hour
TOOLS: Basic m echanical tools
and rear stand
TALEN T: 1
PARTS: ‘ Possibly afterm arket
replacem ents fo r the
TIP: W hen you alter the con
trols, make sure the new
position doesn't interfere
w ith the operation of the
BENEFIT: A more comfortable rider
and, therefore, better
control of the m otorcycle
ikers com e in a variety o f body types, w eights, and
sizes. B u ild ing m ass-prod uce d bikes to su it each
- c e r is no t possible. Instead, m anufacturers design for
an ^average” rider, w hose height, w eight, arm -, to rso -
and leg-length m ay vary from yours.
To fin d the m ost com fortable setup fo r your bike, put
т on a rear sta nd and g e t in to y o u r rid in g p o s itio n . If
s iftin g o r braking could be m ade easier o r m ore com -
*: -table by adjusting any hand o r fo o t control, let’s do it
*o w . (For d ra w in g s an d d e ta ils s p e c ific to y o u r bike,
acquire a repair m anual fo r you r m ake and m odel and
re fe r to it as ne cessa ry as w e im p ro v e y o u r bike
throughout this book.)
Put your right hand on th e brake lever. If your w rist is
tilte d ba ck aw kw ardly, y o u ’ll need to low e r th e lever.
Loosen th e tw o bolts on th e m aster cylinder clam p and
rota te th e lever do w nw a rd slightly. Find th e s p o t th at
feels best and snug up th e bolts. It w ill take a ride o r tw o
to feel w hether you have it ju st right.
S o m e o ld e r b ik e s and le s s -e x o tic s p o rty b ike s
(G S 500 and N inja 250, fo r exa m ple) d o n ’t have
adjustable brake levers. If you fin d your reach to th e lever
•Z'jr ability to brake and control thethrottle simultaneouslycan bedramaticallyaffected bythe brake lever position. If it's too high (left), yourwrist is bent
(*> an awkward position. If it’stoo low,the lever could make it difficult to fully closethethrottle while applyingthe brake. Notethe difference between
tie wrist positionswhen the brake leveris toohighversusthe properheight (right).
ADJUSTCONTROLSTOFITYOU is longer than you’d like, an adjustable lever from a later
year o r a differen t m odel m ay fit—enthusiast w ebsites
and sho ps spe cializing in you r bike m ay know a good
sw ap. Another approach is to buy afterm arket item s from
com panies such as Lockhart Phillips o r Flanders.
C lutch levers are a little b it easier to ad just. If your
bike do esn’t have an ad justa ble clu tc h lever, try loos
ening th e th um bscrew lockn ut w here th e cab le enters
th e lever housing. Then sim p ly screw th e ad ju ste r in,
increasing th e clutch lever’s free play. Be forew arned that
excessive free play can keep th e clutch plates from fully
disengaging and contribute to prem ature clutch w ear—
not to m ention clunky gear changes.
Another w ay to alter ride position on m any bikes is to
ro ta te th e ha nd leb ars. O n o ld e r bike s, you can ofte n
sim ply loosen th e pinch b o lts and sh ift th e bars to th e
new position. W hile m ost o f th e clip-on handlebars on
current spo rtbike s are affixed to both th e fo rk legs and
th e trip le c lam ps, som e clip -o n s can have th e ir angle
adjusted by sim ply loosening the pinch bolts and rotating
th e bar into its new position. If you fin d th at th e inward
angle o f the clip-ons m akes you uncom fortable or strains
your wrists, you m ay want to try altering th e clip-on orien
ta tio n ou tw ard to allo w stra ig h te r access to th e grips.
(This is not possible on som e bikes.) When changing the
bar location o r angle, be sure to con side r ta nk, fairing,
and instrum ent cluster clearance to ensure you do n't limit
m an eu verab ility o r p u t y o u r fin g e rs in a p la ce w here
th e y ’ll g e t p in c h e d . M ake sure you firm ly secu re th e
bars—and any control you adjust—before riding.
The brake pedal needs to be lo w enough th a t you
can co v e r it c o m fo rta b ly w h ile you rid e. If y o u r ankle
fe e ls kinked a fte r ju s t a fe w m in utes, try low ering th e
pedal. H ydrau lic brakes usually a llo w th e pedal to be
adjusted on th e m aster cylinder. Loosen th e locknut and
tu rn th e b o lt to low er th e pe d a l—try sm all increm ents
rather than a m ajor position change. If th e pedal is to o
low , you m ay fin d co n tro llin g brake pressure is easier
w ith the pedal raised slightly. On bikes w ith drum brakes
pedal height can be adjusted w ith a bolt, bu t do n’t forget
to reset th e pedal free play by turning th e nu t at th e end
o f th e brake rod and drum . C heck brake light operation
and adjust th e sw itch if necessary.
The adjustm ents listed here are ju s t th e beginning.
You can also find adjustable fo o t pegs, fairings to reduce
wind fatigue, different seats o r padding changes to alter
seating height, harder o r softer grips, different m irrors to
alter rearward visibility, etc.
You shouldbeableto shift up ordown withoutliftingyourfootoffthe peg.
Becareful when preparingto adjustthe rod length ofthe shifter. Look
closelyatthethreadsabovethelocknut One end ofthe rod is reverse
threaded.Why?Well,you'll seeonceboth locknutsareloosened. Raisingor
loweringtheshifteris aseasy as rotatingtherodwith awrench ora pair of
pliers.Thereversethreadsarewhatmakethis possible. Onceyou’rehappy
with theposition,checkto make surethat plentyofthreadsremain
engaged inthe balljoints, and be suretotighten the locknuts. Littleadjust
ments make big changes,sotry movingtheshifter a bit atatime,testingits
position inthe garage. Onceyouthink it’sright,gofor a ride and takenotes
on howthechanges improvedtheshifting. Or,betteryet,tossa couple of
wrenchesinyourtankbag and playwith theposition on a longer ride.
Notice howthe rider’s boot is in acomfortable position coveringthe
brake pedal. Now, imagine commutingfor 40 minuteswith the brake
covered.Would you rather haveyourfoot in this position or bent upward?
TIM E: 2 minutes
TOOLS: Tire pressure gauge
TIP: Make this part of your
routine, and you'll
m inim ize surprises
BENEFIT: A fully functional m otor
cycle ready fo r whatever
m odifications you have
otorcycles go fa s t am ong s olid , heavy, abrasive
objects, and th ey offer little pro tectio n. They also
js fa r from hom e. Taking ju s t a m om ent to look
2 er yo u r rid e b e fo re c lim b in g a b o a rd to fa ce cars,
tu c ks , trees, rocks, and endless m iles o f pavem ent is
::~ m o n sense. It’s b e tte r to d is co v e r th a t dam aged
tire on y o u r ow n, in y o u r drivew a y, th a n fo r a sha rp-
eyed cop o r EMT to sp o t it from th e po int w here your
bike left th e road.
S ta rt w ith th e sim p le s tu ff as yo u a p p ro a c h y o u r
m o to rc yc le . D o you see any flu id d rip s on th e pa ve
m ent? Does th e fo rk look free o f any leakage? Are there
- a * * visual checkofyourtires everytime you parkor get on your bike
r ii help you spotthat piece of metal in the tread before it has a chance
r roicture the carcass.
You'd be surprised how manybikes are outon the road with improper
tire pressure. Having the right amount of air in yourtires will improve
yourbike's handling and helpyou getthe maximum life out of yourtires.
Improper pressure can lead to excessive wearor,in the worst-case
Without brakes, you're dead.All it takes is a couple oftest squeezes
everytime you mountyour bike.
any gouges o r cracks in th e tires, o r any foreign object
lod ge d in th em ? D o th e y loo k p ro p e rly infla ted ?
M otorcycles ridden regularly only need to have tire pres
sure checked tw ice a week or s o —as long as they get a
visual inspection o f the tread condition before every ride.
Bikes that sit fo r several days should have their tire pres
sure che cked be fo re h ittin g th e streets. Finally, check
you r tires w ith a q u ick glance every tim e you park your
bike. N ot only do you get to see how fa r you cranked it
over on that canyon run, but you m ay also notice th e nail
you picked up riding past a construction site. Keep a tire
pressure gauge in your jacket pocket or w ith your bike.
L o ok a t yo u r ch a in . A re y ou lu b in g it regularly,
a cc o rd in g to th e m a n u fa c tu re r’s in stru ctio n s ? There
should be no rust on it, and it should not sag. C heck the
s pro cket te eth fo r w ear. W hen th e chain and spro cket
s ta rt to w ea r o u t, th e y w ill o fte n c lic k b rie fly on s lo w
acceleration from a s to p as they snug into place. If your
bike has belt drive, when is the last tim e your replaced it?
OK, now w hat is the replacem ent interval recomm ended
by the m anufacturer?
You sh o u ld c h e ck y o u r o il on ce a w eek. W hy?
Because your engine is to ast if it gets to o low o r to o dirty.
If your bike’s engine has a sight glass, stand your bike so
th at it is level—bu t do n’t pu t it on th e rear stand because
this added height can give an inaccurate reading.
Before starting th e engine, test any controls operated
b y c ab les. A c ab le w ill rarely fa il all a t on ce. Instead,
Rollthe throttle on and off beforestarting the engine. After thesecond
roll-on, release the grip to see if the throttle snaps closed. If not, don’t
ride until the problem is remedied.
c a b le s u su ally fra y p ro g re ssive ly u n til a c o m p le te I
bre aka ge o c cu rs . B y o p e ra tin g th e c o n tro ls w ith th e I
engine off, you w ill notice th e subtle bu t telltale grinding I
feel o f to rn strands. A nother sign is a m ore d ifficu lt-to - I
op era te th ro ttle o r on e th a t m ust be close d m anually I
instead o f by th e return spring. By slow ly rolling on th e I
throttle a couple o f tim es and squeezing the clutch lever, I
you can, in a m atter o f seconds, ascertain th at the cables I
are in good w orking condition.
A s you th ro w yo u r leg ove r th e seat, give th e fro n t I
brake lever a healthy squeeze. Is th e pressure th e same I
as yesterday? D oes th e lever com e dow n to th e grip ? I
Give th e rear brake pedal a press to see how it’s doing.
Now you’re ready to start th e engine. W hile it warm s
up, check all your lights. If you do this after dark, th e job
is easy. Ju st look in fro n t and behind you as you cycle
through the high beam , low beam , front running lights, left
and rig ht tu rn signals, rear running light, and th e brake
light. In daylight, hold a hand in fron t o f the various lights I
to see if they w ork. (Make sure the bike is in neutral when I
you ge t off and release the c lutch— people have done it I
otherwise!) C heck th e brake lever and pedal individually I
to see th at both trigger th e stop lamp.
T his process ta kes alm ost no tim e to com plete and I
th e latter portion can be done w hile th e bike is warm ing I
up . D o it reg ularly and y o u ’ll save y o u rs e lf tim e an d I
headaches—such as know ing you’re on reserve before I
heading out fo r a ride.
Assorted w renches, cable
lubrication tool, cable
lube, chain cleaner,
m olybdenum -based
grease, WD-40, small
TIP: Apply a thin coating of
grease to cables w here
they attach to the controls
BENEFIT: Silky-sm ooth control
ub ing you r bike th re e tim e s a season (the b e gin
ning, m id dle , and end) should su ffice . If you ride
th e w heels o ff you r m otorcycle, give it a q u ick lube jo b
every 7,500 m iles. B y pe rform in g th is sim p le m ainte
nance on a reg ular basis, you can pro lo n g th e life o f
th e b ik e ’s com p on en ts, ensure th a t everything w orks
th e w ay it should, and m aybe even catch a problem as
L u b in g y o u r m o to rc y c le ’s c a b le s sh o u ld ta k e no
m ore than 15 m inutes, and it pays dividends every tim e
you operate a control. For the throttle cables, unscrew the
throttle housing on th e grip and adjust the cables fo r m ax
imum slack. After you release one o f the cables, the other
w ill s lip rig h t o ff. F or th e c lu tc h ca b le , sc re w th e
ad juste r all th e w ay in fo r m axim um slack, b u t line up
th e slo t in th e adjuster w ith th e slo t o f th e lever holder.
You should be able to pull th e end o f th e cable free of
th e adjuster and release th e cable. Som e bikes require
th a t th e clutch lever be rem oved from th e m ount before
you can free th e c lutch cable. Z
ТЪеcable luberforcesthe lubricantthrough the cable, making sure the
entire length of the cable is protected. Donotusechain lube on cables.
Applya protective coat of grease to all exposed sections of cables. Don't
forgetto lube the fittings so they will move freelywithin their mounts.
Before lubing pivot points,wipethem clean of any dirt or grit. Keep the
threads clean and dry. Retorquethe fastenersto the proper specto keep
them from vibrating loose.
For q u ick w ork on th e cables, nothing beats a pres
sure ca b le lu b e r from a c ce ssory com p an ie s su ch as
M otio n Pro o r Lo ckha rt P hillips. Basically, you clam p a
rub be r sto pp er ove r one end o f th e cable, insert a tube
from a can o f silico n-ba sed cab le lub rica nt in to a little
hole, an d give th e nozzle a squeeze. The c a n ’s pre s
sure fo rce s th e lub rica nt th ro ug h th e cable. A p p ly th e
lu b ric a n t in s h o rt b u rsts u n til th e b o tto m en d o f th e
cab le begins to bu bb le o r drip. A w ell-p lace d rag can
catch th e d rip s before they m ake a m ess o f th e engine.
B efore you reassem ble each cable, ap ply a da b o f
grease to a ll th e pla ces th e ca b le m ig ht rub. T he fit
tin g s at th e cab le ends need grease, and any exposed
s e c tio n s o f th e c a b le s h o u ld re ce ive a p ro te c tiv e
co a tin g , to o . A sm all pa intb rush w ill help you grease
p a rts in tig h t places.
D on’t fo rg e t th e ch o ke and s p e e d o m e te r cab les.
L u b ric a te th e ch o k e ca b le like a ll th e o th e rs .
M e c h a n ica l s p e e d o m e te r c a b le s (a d yin g breed b u t
still around on m any bikes) should be unhooked from
th e speedom eter. Pull o u t th e inner cable and pack the
ca b le to p w ith m olybd en um grease. S lid e th e c ab le
ba ck in to place. A ny tim e th e fro n t w heel is rem oved,
pa ck som e m oly grease into th e drive m echanism .
N ow go over you r bike and lubricate every pa rt th a t
m oves. U nscrew th e handlebar lever pivo ts and brush
on som e grease. A pply a couple drops o f o il to th e side
sta nd pivot. G ive th e rid er and passenger pegs a qu ick
sq u irt o f W D -40 o r oil. D on’t fo rg et to sp ritz floo rbo ard
m ou n ts. R em ove th e s h ifte r p iv o t an d clea n an y g rit
o u t o f th e w orks. A p ply grease to th e pivo t, bu t be sure
to ke e p th e p iv o t’s th re a d s c le a n an d dry. S o m e
m a n u fa ctu re rs reco m m en d a d ro p o f n o n p erm an en t
th re a d -lo ckin g agent, such as L o ctite , on th e th re ad s
to m ake su re th e p iv o t b o lt d o e s n ’t b a c k o u t a fte r
All moving parts, such as peg pivots and side stands, will benefit from a
shotofWD-40 or a few drops of oil to keep themworking freely. If you’re
particularlyfastidious, you can disassemblethe parts and grease them.
reassem bly. Be sure to to rq u e it to th e p ro p e r spe c.
F ollow th e sam e precautions fo r th e brake pedal.
B efore you lube th e chain, spray a clea n rag w ith
W D -40 and w ipe it clean. If you r chain is really grungy,
M otorex m akes a chain cleaner th a t w ill strip th e gunk
w ith o u t ha rm in g th e О -rin g s . N ever to u c h th e cha in
w ith th e b ike ’s engine running. Clean it w ith th e engine
off, rotating th e w heel by hand.
O n ce y o u ’ve c le a n e d th e c h a in , a p p ly a c o a t o f
q u a lity ch a in lu b e to th e s p a ce b e tw e e n th e lin k s
w here th e О -rin gs reside, spraying from th e inside run
o f th e ch a in to a llo w c e n trifu g a l fo rc e to p u sh it
th ro u g h to th e o th e r side . If you spra y on to o m uch,
ta k e a n o th e r clea n rag d a m p e n e d w ith W D -4 0 an d
w ip e o ff th e e x ce s s lu b e b e fo re y o u r n e x t rid e .
Lubricate you r chain every 500 m iles o r so, o r pro m p tly
after exposure to rain o r other water.
Lubricatethe chain when it iswarm, butthen let it sit until it cools off
andthe lube sets. To help keepyourwheels clean, wipe offthe excess
lube before your next ride.
Eyes, a rag
None, unless replacem ent
Vital fluids, if needed
Make this part of your
weekly routine and you’ll
m inimize surprises
BENEFIT: A well-hydrated, fully
hen things usually w ork th e way they are supposed
to , w e d o n ’t w orry so m uch about checking fo r
signs o f impending failure. Still, if you consider the potential
consequences o f a m ajor mechanical failure, you'll see the
m portance o f spending a few minutes every w eek or so to
m ake sure that all your bike's precious bodily fluids are in
satisfactory condition and available in enough quantity to
do their job.
M o to r oil can give you im p orta nt inform ation about
y o u r e n gin e’s inte rna l co n d itio n . If you c h e c k it each
week, you are m ore likely to no tice sym pto m s o f little
problem s before they get bigger.
B efore ch e c kin g th e o il level, w arm th e en gin e to
operating tem perature. Shut off th e engine and allow the
oil to drain dow n from th e to p end fo r a few m inutes. If
you r b ike has a sig h t glass, hold th e bike leve l—either
fro m th e sa d d le o r b e sid e th e b ik e —and lo o k a t th e
w indow on th e bottom of the engine to m ake sure th e oil
evel is betw een th e tw o m arks on th e case. For engines
w ith a dipstick, check your ow ner’s manual to m ake cer
ta in h o w th e s tic k is to be in s e rte d fo r an a c cu ra te
reading. Usually, you w ill w ipe the stick and insert it into
th e ca se u n til it m akes c o n ta c t w ith th e fille r p lu g ’s
threads. Be sure th e plug is straight o r you m ay ge t an
inaccurate reading. Oil darkens w ith use, b u t it should
n o t be coa l b la c k an d g ritty . K eep tra c k o f m ileage
be tw ee n ch a n g e s an d sw a p o u t th e oil an d filte r
acco rding to you r bik e m an ufa ctu re r’s sug ge stion s. If
your bike has sat w itho ut running fo r m ore than a year,
change it regardless o f m iles. You m ay notice other prob
lem s—if th e oil is m ilky w hite, it’s polluted w ith coolant
(in a w ater-cooled bike); if it sm ells like gas, fuel is getting
pa st th e rings. Both o f th ese con ditio ns require im m e
C o o la n t is a lm o st as v ita l. Run y o u r w a te r-co o le d
engine w itho ut som e kind o f coolant and you risk exten
sive dam age. You w ant th e level in your coolant overflow
ta n k to lie betw een th e high and low m arks w hen th e
engine is cold. The color should be a lovely fluorescent
green. If oil or a rust-colored hue appears in th e coolant,
your engine o r radiator needs attention.
Sim ilarly, you r hydraulic flu id reservoirs need to be
checked periodically. W ith the bike sitting level, th e fluid
should fall between the factory markings. Brake and clutch
m aste r cy lind ers w ith inte gra ted reservoirs have sigh t
glasses allowing you to view the contents. W hile checking
th e fluid levels also note their colo r—usually clear w ith a
slight yellow ish tint. If you see any other color, flush the
system before contam inants dam age th e hydraulic inter
nals. The w hite pla stic rem ote reservoirs should no t be
opened to check the color o f the contents—hydraulic fluid
absorbs m oisture from the air. You can get a good idea of
th e brake fluid color through th e plastic. Don’t fo rg et to
check the rear brake system, which usually has th e reser
voir tucked away behind the bodywork.
Regular fluid checks w ill keep your m otorcycle func
tion ing properly and disclose any problem s before they
get costly o r dangerous.
Although it is hard to read in this photo, the coolant level in the
expansion tank is right where it should be. If you check your antifreeze
frequently, you will notice when it starts to drop, signaling a leak
somewhere in the system.
The oil level on this bike is pretty obvious. Looka little closerto check
the condition ofthe oil. Toread the sightglass correctly,the bike must be
held level on flat ground.
Readingthe fluid level onthe rearbrake of the R6is easy. It's hanging
out inthe open on the subframe. Some bikestuck the reservoir away
behind bodywork, requiring you to lookthrough a slot to view
Thesecretto gettinganaccurateviewofthefluid level from a master
cylinderwith an integrated reservoiristoturn the bar until thereservoiris
as level aspossible. Don’t beconcerned if the readingdrops overtime.The
brake padsarewearing, which requires more hydraulicfluid inthe calipers.
However,if the reading getsbelowtherecommended height,checkthe
brake padsbeforetopping offthe reservoirfrom afresh container.
TOO LS: Flashlight and optional
TIP : Make this part of yo ur
w eek ly routine and yo u’ll
m inim ize surprises
BENEFIT: Knowing the exact
condition of yo ur brakes
and tires can help keep
you from getting in over
our brakes, suspension, and tires keep you on the
road and deserve extra attention. You should make
a 'olling-gear inspection at least once a week.
Begin your brake check by looking at all the pads. To
.«ew the pads, try using a flashlight to sight along the disc.
Seme people resort to rem oving th e calipers o r covers.
•сj w ant to look at the pads on both sides of the caliper.
W hile you’re dow n on your hands and knees, give the
-_ober brake and clutch lines a quick flex to see if they’re
Deginning to crack. You can use th is low -angle view of
>our bike to m ake a couple o f other qu ick inspections.
uJe m anufacturers do a good job o f protecting th e del
a t e p a rts o f th e fo rk , th e s lid e rs o c c a s io n a lly ge t
dinged. O ver tim e, th e rough part on th e slide r w ill eat
aw ay at the fo rk’s seal, leading to fo rk oil seepage. In its
m ost m inor fo rm , a w eeping fo rk seal is n o th in g m ore
than a m essy nuisance, bu t it can quickly develop into a
ha zard ou s m e s s—p a rtic u la rly in th e tra d itio n a l fo rk
arrangem ent, w here th e o il can con ta m in ate th e brake
d is c su rfa c e and bra ke pa ds. T he s h o ck can also
develop its ow n leaks. A quick glance at th e shock shaft
w ith a flashlight w ill reveal w hether it’s tim e fo r a rebuild.
The final stop in th e to ur o f your bike's rolling gear is the
tires. You can m ake a com plete inspection by rolling the
bike forw ard a couple o f feet at a tim e. You’re looking for
any foreign objects th at m ay be lodged in the tire. If you
If you're going to get a glimpse of the brake pads,
don't be afraid to get personal with your tires. You
need a minimum pad material of 2to 3 mm. If you've
let the pads get down to 1 mm, you’re skating on
dangerously thin ice. Once they arrive at the bitter
end, brake pads have difficulty shedding heat and
may fade on you when you need them most. Have
the pads worn evenly? If not, you may have a
problem with the caliper. If you see anyfluid
seepage around the calipers, one of the pistons may
need its seals replaced. Don’t forget to check the
rear brake pads,too.
creativewith yourviewing angle.
Givethe rubber portions of the hydraulic lines a bend to see if they're still
flexible. If you notice any cracks, considerreplacing them with shiny new
braided stainless-steel ones.
fin d som ething, carefully pull it out. C heck to see if the
hole is leaking by rubbing a little saliva or soapy w ater
over th e opening. If it bubbles, repair o r replace th e tire.
If it doesn't bubble, check th e tire before each ride to see
if it ’s lo sin g air. You m ay a ls o fin d c u ts in th e trea d
caused by running over road debris. Closely inspect the
d e p th o f th e s lic e to m ake sure it d o e s n ’t go deep
enough to expose th e cords. Slices on th e sidew all are
particularly dangerous. If you have any, have a profes
sional look at th e tire.
Finally, look inside th e tread grooves, o r sipes, at the
“ w ear bars” crossing through them . The tread depth is
acceptable only when th e w ear bars lie below th e tread
surface. As soon as th e bars sta rt to wear, th e tread is
to o sha llow to pro vid e ad eq ua te tra c tio n and channel
w ater ou t from under th e bike to avoid hydroplaning.
A new,just-scuffed-in tire will look like this. Note howdeep intothe sipe
While you try to findthe wear bar, consider whythis tire was on an F3in
a salvageyard. The centerof thetread is worn down to the bottom ofthe
sipes, giving thetire a square profilethat could unsettlethe bike when
leaned over. Evena tire with adequate tread may have diminished grip if
thetire is many years old,suchthat the rubber has hardened. Dry rot—
small cracks—can alsoweaken a tire, particularly when combined with
underinflation. If you ridetwo-up, be even more critical of wear and
damage and err onthe side of caution. Extraweight means extra
stress—andthat's two lives thetires are supporting.
TIM E: 20 minutes
■ о fu nctio n properly w itho ut w earing ou t q u ickly or
falling o ff o r breaking, you r chain needs to have a
aS am ount o f slack. As it wears, you w ill need to make
red ffe link roughlycentered between the front and rear sprocket on
r e ewer run ofthe chain. Press down atthis point until the chain is at
e oirsst point. Holding a tape measurein front of and perpendicularto
r e cftain (“perpendicular” isn’t quite the rightterm here sincethe chain
s straight line asyou push on it), align yourtape with the tops of
re лпег and outer sides ofthis middle link. Now, pressthe chain up
*~ l it istight and sight this measurementthe sameway.Thedifference
asween the two points on yourtape is the amountof slack in your
авэп. if this figure is largerthan whatyourmanufacturerprescribes, you
re=d to movethe rearwheel backwith the adjusters until you hit the
socket fo r rear axle,
torque w rench, tape
measure, rubber mallet,
rags fo r cleanup, rear
stand (optional), string,
PARTS: N ew cotter pin
TIP: Make sure the chain is
properly aligned or you
can prem aturely w ea r out
both the chain and the
BENEFIT: Less driveline lash w hen
modulating the throttle
periodic adjustm ents (m oving th e w heel back) to m ain
tain th is setting.
A ss u m in g y o u r c h a in an d s p ro c k e ts c h e c k o u t,
p la ce th e b ike on th e ce n te rs ta n d o r a rear s ta n d to
m ake it level. W ith th e cha in co ld , m easure th e slack
ha lfw ay be tw ee n th e spro ckets. If th e s la ck is w ithin
spec, lube th e chain and you’re done. O therw ise, y o u ’ll
need to m ove th e re a r w h e e l b a ck s lig h tly w ith th e
adjusters to take up any excess slack.
F o r b ike s w ith lo c k n u ts on th e ir ch a in a d ju s te rs ,
hold th e adjuster in place w ith a wrench w hile loosening
th e locknut. Loosen the axle nut just enough to enable the
chain adjusters to m ove it—otherwise the rear wheel can
get ou t o f alignm ent. For now, assum e th at your wheel is
properly aligned, and make th e same adjustm ents to both
W hen th e cha in has th e p ro p e r a m o u n t o f sla c k,
to rq ue th e axle nut. N ext, tigh te n each ad juste r about
o n e-e ig hth tu rn against th e axle. H old th e a d ju ste r in
position and set th e locknuts.
The last step in any chain adjustm ent is m aking sure
th e rear w heel is properly aligned. The least expensive
w ay to do this is the “ string m ethod.” A simpler, b u t less
precise, m ethod fo r checking rear wheel alignm ent is to
sp in th e rear w he el a fe w tim e s an d w a tch th a t th e
sprocket stays aligned in th e center o f the chain. If it rubs
against one side o r th e other, th e wheel is o u t o f align
m ent—tim e fo r th e string m ethod.
Onceyou’ve adjusted yourchain a few
times,you’ll getthe feel for when it is loose,
butthe onlyway to be certain is to use a
Chainadjusters come in manyshapes and
sizes (above/below). Small adjustments of a
quarter-turn (or less if yourchain is only
slightly loose) arethe safest bet. Measurethe
slack after everychange.When the chain is
within factory specifications (usually around
1.2-1.5 inches),tighten the axle nutto keep it
from slipping. Ifyou gotoofar andthe chain
becomestootight, loosenthe chain adjusters
two full turns and use a rubbermallet ordead-
blow hammerto knockthe rearwheel forward
againstthe adjustersand begin again.
Theeccentric adjusterisfound on many bikes,
particularlythosewith a single-sided swingarm.
Beforeyou adjust the slack, look closelyat the sprockets.
Arethe sidesofthe teeth worn? If so, expectto find a
matching wear pattern onthe inside of the chain. Dothe
teeth look like cresting waves?When the sprockets show
obviouswear, it's time to replacethem andthe chain. Don't
replacejust one or the other because loosenesson either
sidewill create misalignmentand eat upthe new part.
Ifyou can pull the chain awayto expose half of the
sprocket’s tooth, it’s readyfor replacement.
With an assistant's help, take a piece of string a little
morethan twice the length of the bike, find the center,
and wrap it once around the forward edge ofthe front tire
just belowthe front discs.Take each end ofthe string
down opposite sides ofthe bike. Lie down on your
stomach, pulling the strings taut sothat they both lightly
touch the leading edgeofthe reartire. Sincethe rear
wheel is wider than the front, there will be a slight gap on
either side ofthe rear edge ofthe fronttire where the
string on each side goes past.Yourassistantshould
make surethat the front wheel is straight by making that
gap equal on both sides. Now, keeping yourhandssteady
with the string only lightly touching the reartire, compare
the gaps betweenthe strings and the rear edge of the
reartire. Ifthey are notequal,tighten the adjusterslightly
on the sidethat has the smaller gap. Finally, measurethe
slackone last time. Put a new cotter pinthrough the axle
nut if it requires one.
Belt tension tool (or fish
scale), possibly a pair of
needle-nose pliers or an
aw l— depending on
w hether or not there’s
debris in the belt
A shot of Arm or-All will
quiet a squeaky belt
BENEFIT: Longer belt life
f your bike suffers leakage in th e prim ary drive area, the
first thing to che ck is belt tension. W hat is proper ten
sion? Assum ing you have a Harley, use factory tool No.
H-D 35381, hook th e belt like a fish in betw een th e pul
leys an d c h e c k th a t 10 p o u n d s o f fo rc e re su lts in
5 /1 6 -3 /8 inch o f deflection in th e belt, as seen through
the little w indow in th e bo tto m belt guard.
A belt th a t’s to o tig h t can cause problem s far worse
than oil leaks, including pulley splines stripping out. Also,
be lts do n’t like being be nt in to a radius o f less th an 3
inches o r having th eir direction o f rotation reversed once
they’ve gotten used to it. If you can keep from cutting them
o r poking gaping holes in them w ith road debris, they will
last fo r years. But belts aren’t immortal. Checking the belt
regularly for damage and wear is a necessary part of get
ting th e best out o f them.
If you were to look at a cross-section o f th e belt’s tooth
pattern, relative to its counterpart in the pulley, you’d see
that, when new, th e belt tooth doesn’t bottom out. When
broken in, it m ight, slightly. When w orn out, it w ill—exces
sively! O nce this stage is reached, th e teeth on th e belt
begin to get pulled ou t by their roots, where they attach to
Sometim es you can spot this early on by looking fo r a
series of hairline cracks o r wrinkles on the tips of the teeth
running parallel to th e run o f th e belt. Belts with just a few
wrinkles can be considered sort of, well, middle-aged. But
if th e w rinkles extend from th e to p to th e bottom o f the
teeth clear to the outside edge of th e belt, it’s all over. Keep
riding on that one, and you’re gonna w ind up toothless.
Lookclosely now. Asidefrom the familiar belt damage, like punctures,
splits, cuts, and so on, there's this one, caused bya plastic lower belt
guard getting cockeyed and going unnoticed.This belt died in lessthan
4,000 miles. It looks 0K from the edges, but it has no teeth inthe load-
bearing middle. There’s more than one wayto wear outa belt!
If you don’t have the factory tool orjust can’t figure out howto use a fish
scaleto adjust your belt's tension, try this instead. Grasp the belt with
yourthumb and two forefingers at
about 1 1/2 inches backfrom
where it exits the bottom ofthe
primary case. Nowtwist the belt
back and forth on its axis. You
should feel serious resistance to
this twisting at abouta 45-degree
angle from flat. If you cantwist
your belt more like 90 degrees
with just a thumb and two fingers,
it’s too loose. If it feelstighterthan
a bowstring at only 25to 30
degrees oftwist, it’stoo tight. This may notbethe rocketscience method,
but it’s pretty accurate,just the same.
TIME: 30 minutes
TOOLS: Phillips screwdriver, open-
end wrenches, and (maybe)
TIP: If you run out of adjust
ment range up at the lever,
try adjusting the cables
down by the engine
BENEFIT. Precise throttle control
gives you maximum
flexibility in the on/off/on
throttle scenarios you
encounter when entering
a corner, or riding a
series of them.
ne hallmark of a skilled rider is the ability to deliver
the right amount of throttle at the right time. Smooth
transitions on and off the throttle play a vital role in
•eeping the chassis stable in a corner. Whether you’re
r> ng for a smooth launch from a stoplight or flawless
эо .vnshifts with a passenger on the back, you want your
nputs to be seamless.
If the free play needs adjustment, loosen the locking
^iit(s) near the throttle grip. Some bikes will only have
:oe adjuster. For two-adjuster models, loosen the nuts
there is plenty of slack in the system. Next, tighten
tne deceleration adjuster (the cable that pulls the grip
nto the throttle-closed position) so that there is no slack
*пел the throttle is held closed. Tighten the deceleration
locking nut. Now, adjust the acceleration cable’s adjuster
-гг the desired amount of free play is present in the grip,
and tighten its locking nut. Ensure that there are plenty of
—reads (at least three) engaged in the adjuster body.
if you can’t get the proper amount of free play with
■~e adjuster(s), set the adjuster(s) to the middle of
ts n e ir range and adjust the cables down by the carbure-
tars/lhrottle bodies. Begin by removing the tank and any
oodywork that will interfere with your access to cables. On
syne bikes you may need to remove or disassemble the
~ r эох to reach the bell crank.
A word of warning about using less free play than the
fectory specifies: If the throttle cables are too tight, they
Z2T cause the throttle to stick, close very slowly, or not
ro se completely, so check thoroughly by rolling the
throttle open and releasing it from a variety of settings.
Finally, run the engine at idle speed and turn the handlebar
to both the right and left to make sure that the engine
speed does not change. If it does, check the cable routing
and free play again.
Clutch Free Play
For bikes with hydraulic clutches, you can skip this
section, because hydraulic systems are self-adjusting.
Cable-actuated clutches should be checked regularly,
though. Also, the clutch-lever free play adjustment can
To ch e ck thro ttle free play, hold the grip b e tw e e n yo u r fin g e rs and
roll it back and forth until you begin to feel the pull o f the cable. Pick a
sp o t on the grip and w a tch it to m ea su re free play. If yo u ha ve trouble
visu alizing the m easu rem ent, hold a tape m easu re up to the grip. M ost
fa cto ry se rvice m anuals su g ge s t th a t 2 to 3 m m is the co rrect am o unt of
throttle free play.
accom m odate various rider preferences and hand sizes.
(If you have hand size problem s w ith a hydraulic clutch, try
buying an adjustable lever.) To measure th e free play, pull
in the clutch lever to take up th e slack in th e cable. Now
measure the gap between th e clutch lever holder and the
lever itself. Again, m ost manufacturers recomm end 2 to 3
m m o f free play.
Som etim es cable stretch m akes it im possible fo r you
to get th e proper clutch free play. If this happens, turn the
ad ju ste r on th e lever h o lde r so th a t 5 to 6 m m o f th e
thread is visible. Next, adjust the slack at the lower end of
th e cable. S lide th e cab le d u st cove r o u t o f th e way, if
there is one. Loosen th e nuts as far as they will go. Now,
pull the cable tight by sliding it inside the bracket. Tighten
the nuts firm ly enough so they will not vibrate loose, and
return the dust cover to its proper position. The free play
can now be adjusted by the screw at the lever. You’ve just
officially outsm arted your motorcycle.
Setthefree playwith the cable adjusters on the throttle cables. Ifthe
bike hastwo adjusters,set the deceleration cable first. Locate the
adjusternutsfor thethrottle cableswhere theyattachto the throttle
body. Loosen the locknut on the deceleration cable and adjustthe cable
until there is no slack with the grip in the closed position. Now, adjust the
free play ofthe acceleration cableto spec in the same manner.Anyfinal
fine-tuning to getthe free playto your personal preferences can be done
at the throttle grip end.Adjustingthe throttle free play usingthis method
is time consuming, but it pays off when you need to correct the free play
in the future. When you aresatisfied with the cable settings, tighten the
locknuts firmly to preventthem from vibrating loose.
Space is usually pretty tight, sotake yourtime asyou adjust the cables
on the bell crank. Food forthought:While 2 to 3 mm of free play may be
the factory spec, many riders prefer even less free play, giving them the
feeling of aseamless connectionto the carburetors or injector housings.
Experiment with different free-play amountsto findthe setting that suits
Take upthe slack in the clutch cableand measure the gap between the
lever holderandthe lever.
Left: Toadjust the free play, loosen the knurled lock screw on the
clutch-lever holder. If your bike doesn’t have one, lookfor an inline
adjuster like this somewhere in the middle of the cable. Now, unscrew
the adjuster for less slack or screw it in for more slack. Riders with
smaller hands will probably want to have a bit more slack than those
with larger hands.Also, depending on where the clutch engages in the
lever travel, you maywant to adjust it to engage at adifferent point. If
you give the lever extra free play, make sure that the clutch releases
fully when the lever is pulled all the way in. If it doesn’t, your ability to
shift smoothly will be compromised, and the transmission will undergo
unnecessary stress when you downshift. If the free play is less than
the recommended amount,the clutch may notfully engage, causing
clutch slip and premature clutch wear.
Phillips screw drivers,
open-end w renches, pick,
grease, rear stand
PARTS: Throttle cables
TIP: Replace the cables one at
a tim e, so you don’t have
to rem em ber the exact
path they take through the
fram e and other hardware
BENEFIT: Smooth throttle operation
sm ooth hand and sm ooth operation o f th e th ro ttle
cables them selves are vital. If you r th ro ttle show s
an y sig n s o f n o tc h in e s s o r if it be com e s d iffic u lt to
tw is t, you p ro b a b ly need new cab les. A lso, if y o u ’ve
c .vered yo u r c lip -o n s sig n ifica n tly, you m ay w an t to
n s ta ll s h o rte r c a b le s to kee p th e m fro m ru b b in g
against other com ponents.
Begin by placing your bike securely on a rear stand to
p re ven t a c c id e n ta lly k n o ck in g it o ff th e s id e sta nd .
R em ove th e ta nk and any b o dyw o rk th a t w ill interfere
■ :h y o u r ac ce ss to cab les. O n som e bike s you m ay
ree d to rem ove o r disassem ble th e air bo x to reach the
cell crank. O ther com ponents, such as th e rad ia to r on
th is R6, m ay need to be loosened to allo w th e cab les’
adjusters to fit through the tig h t space.
B efore disassem bling th e th ro ttle , loosen all o f th e
cab les’ adjusters to gain m axim um free play. U nscrew
th e th ro ttle’s plastic cover and fold it back ou t o f th e way,
being careful no t to pinch the w ires o r stress any o f the
con ne cto rs fo r th e kill sw itch and sta rter button. If you
don’t have enough free play, use a pick o r sm all screw
driver to lift th e cable into position to allow the fittin g to
slide o u t o f th e throttle grip body. Once one cable is free,
the second one w ill be sim ple.
Resist th e urge to rem ove both cables at once. W hile
you m ay have a photographic m em ory, som ething m ay
Space is tight, so exercisea little patience to getthe cablesfree of
with the cable adjusters loosened all the way, you may need to use
г zr&,to help getthe fitting free of the grip.
Sometimes you can use the idle speed
adjuster (right) to move the bell crank into a
position that makes removing the fitting a
pull you aw ay from this job , leaving you to decipher the
line draw ings in the service m anual. If you do not run the
cables in the proper path, they m ay bind when you turn
th e ba rs or, w orse, th e y m ay cau se th e b ik e to rev.
Rem oving the cables one at a tim e w ill leave a path for
you to follow w hile inserting th e new ones.
W hen slid in g th e fittin g s in to th e ir po sitio n s, lube
them as described in Project 3. Giving th e cables a quick
squ irt o f lubricant w ouldn’t be a bad idea. Rem ove the
th ro ttle grip and give th e clip-on a w ipe and a spritz of
W D -40 fo r lubricant. Once you have th e cables run in the
proper path, both ends secured, and th e th ro ttle body
reassem bled, set th e a d ju ste r near th e th ro ttle to th e
m id d le o f its range. N ow, ad ju s t th e free play to you r
liking w ith the locknuts dow n by th e carburetor. Any final
fine-tuning to get th e free play to you r personal prefer
ences can be done a t th e th ro ttle g rip end. U sing this
m ethod is tim e consum ing, bu t it pays dividends when
you need to correct th e free play in th e future. When you
are satisfied w ith the cable settings, tighten the locknuts
firm ly to prevent them from vibrating loose.
C heck th e cable routing one last tim e, and tu rn the
b a rs fro m lo c k to lo c k to m ake sure n o th in g b in d s.
O nce you have th e b ike ba ck to g e th e r, w arm up the
engine and set th e idle speed to th e fa cto ry spe cifica
tion. O ne last tim e, tu rn th e bars from lock to lo c k w ith
th e en gin e run ning to m ake sure th a t th e id le speed
do esn’t change.
Evenif you didn’t changethe idle speed while
swapping cables, you’ll need to set the idle to
TIM E: 2 hours
discharged sta te th a t can dra m a tically shorten its life.
A dd a co n sta nt dra in from an alarm system , and your
bike’s battery can be stone dead in only tw o weeks.
The only w ay to m aintain a m otorcycle battery is to
charge it periodically. Fortunately, “ sm art” charger te ch
nology has advanced to th e po in t th a t buying one can
pay fo r itse lf in a year o r tw o o f ow n ership . You d o n ’t
even need to rem ove th e ba tte ry from you r bike. Just
plug it in and forget about it. A fused cable tucked safely
ou t o f sigh t w ill w ork fine . However, if your bike w ill be
stored in a subfreezing environm ent, you should let the
battery spend th e w inte r in a less stressful locale.
If you’re going to park you r bike fo r m ore than a week,
com pletely fill th e ta nk. O therw ise, as th e tem perature
rises and falls, any m oisture in th e air w ill condense on
th e bare m etal inside the tank and can cause rust.
Once the engine stops running, com bustion by-products
settle ou t o f th e oil and can sink th eir te eth into unpro
te c te d m eta l. H ow ever, a q u ic k o il c ha ng e p rio r to
p a rkin g y o u r b ike fo r th e w in te r w ill rem ove m o st o f
them . A fte r th e change, rid e y o u r bike fo r a cou ple of
m iles to displace th e old oil w ith the fresh.
idin g a w e ll-m a in ta in e d m oto rcycle is a pleasure
enjoyed w orldw ide. But in those regions th at know
tnter a few m onths each year are less than am enable to
- >o-wheeled pleasures. Putting your bike away right will
ge l you back on the road sooner, save you money, and
extend th e life o f your favorite possession. This project is
:-ganized so th at th e longer you r bike w ill be stored, the
-_rther you should delve into th e preparation fo r it.
Is ix ire to rs have many sm all parts w ith tiny orifices that
ro g easily and resist cleaning. When gasoline sits a while
r .our carbs, its volatile com ponents evaporate, leaving
Dehind am o ng th e se sm all p a rts and passagew ays a
нэску substance called varnish. That blockage accounts
fa r th e m a jo rity o f cou gh ing and s p u tte rin g y o u r bike
e c a rn s when you start it in th e spring. If this stuff accu-
-u ia re s m uch, you’re looking at a thorough disassem bly
arsd cleaning to get your engine running properly. To pre-
.= r l varnish buildup, drain the float bow ls any tim e you let
OLг bike sit for m ore than a week or so w ithout running it.
_=fr unused, batteries w ill discharge. Both high and low
■ ^ c e ra tu re s acce lerate th is loss o f charge, and if it’s
l cA'ed to c o n tin u e , th e b a tte ry w ill reach a de ep ly
Front and rear stands, intel
ligent battery charger, plug
wrench, oil filter wrench,
sockets, torque wrench
PARTS: Fuel stabilizer, fogging oil
for cylinders, covers for
intakes and exhaust
openings, oil and filter,
corrosion protectant, bike
cover, coolant, fresh spark
plugs (for next season)
TIP:Winter is a great time to
undertake a bunch of the
other projects in this book,
BENEFIT: You’ll be riding w hile folks
w ho don’t w interize will
be waiting fo r their bikes
to get out of the shop
The best way to drain the float bowls is to attach a hose to the nipple
at the bottom of each float bowl. Then loosen the drain screw and let
the fuel pour into a clean container. Examinethe contents for water,
rust, or any other contaminants. The second-best way to drain the car
buretors is to close the petcock with the engine running. Once the
engine has run dry, the carbs are safe against fouling from evapora
tion. Remember, though, you haven’t cleared the float bowls of other
forms of contamination, and you should drain the carbs properly at
least once a year.
Although m any bikes’ cylinder w alls are now coated
w ith alloys rather than lined w ith iron, you 'll still w ant to
protect them from m oisture contained in the air trapped in
th e cham bers. Som e people prefer to rem ove th e spark
plugs and squirt som e 50W oil into th e spark plug holes.
C rank the engine over a fe w tim es to coa t things before
reinstalling the plugs. Another m ethod is to spray fogging
oil into th e throttle bodies w ith th e engine running, which
m ay give the cylinders a more thorough protective coating.
Fogging oil can be found at many auto parts stores.
If y o u r w a te r-c o o le d b ik e w ill be s to re d in an
u n he ated g a rag e th a t m ay see te m p e ra tu re s be low
Intelligent chargersconstantly monitorthe state of a battery, andwhen
thevoltage drops,the charging feature kicks in. Oncethe voltage rises
up to the properlevel,the chargerenters“ float” mode, where a neutral
charge keeps thevoltage from dropping. The difference betweenthese
chargers andthe trickle chargersthat can be boughtfor less than S10 is
the float mode.Trickle chargersjust keeptrickling away regardlessof the
battery’s condition, which can do as much damage as not charging the
Although a smart charger, such as a Battery Minderor Battery
Tender, orYuasacharger, costs considerablylessthan a new battery,
some folks still wantto use atrickle charger. If you’rethat typeof
person, plug it into a light timer that is setto run for about 15-20 min
utes a day.Also, any nonsealed batteryshould be topped off with distilled
water every month or so,if necessary.
freezing, yo u ’ll w an t to che ck to see th a t th e antifreeze
is up to snuff. C oo lan t is che ap er than a replacem ent
engine block. R iders w ho ta ke th eir bikes to tra ck days
sh o u ld keep in m in d th a t; if th e y sw ap pe d th e glycol
c o o la n t fo r W ate r W etter, th e ir c o o lin g sy ste m s w ill
freeze a t 32 degrees. C om pletely dra in ing th e system
w ill prevent th is . Ju st be sure to stic k a b ig note on the
trip le clam p o r speedom eter, w arning th at th e radiator
is em pty.
B ike and tire m a n u fa c tu re rs g e n e ra lly agree th a t it ’s
preferable to store a bike on stands, to prevent the tires
from sitting on th e sam e spot fo r several m onths. When
sto rin g on stands, reduce th e tire pressure by 20 per
cent. If you leave your bike sitting on its tires, fill them up
to their m axim um recom m ended pressure and check the
pressure every m onth.
_-s soft Roadgearcover will protect your bike from dust and will keep
те light from fadingyour paint. Elevating the tires off the ground keeps
tern from developing flat spots onthe tread.
Chassis and Finish
E-ake and clutch hydraulic fluid replacem ent and chassis
imbrication is highly recom m ended. Pay particular atten-
Son to the cables and th e chain. They will benefit from a
r'o te c tiv e layer o f grease o r o th e r lub rica nt. Sim ilarly,
cashing and w axing your bike prior to storage w ill help
z 'o te c t the finish. A pply a heavy coat o f w ax and do n’t
r -iff it o ff until spring . Som e people even go as fa r as
я axing th e inside o f the bodyw ork and th e fram e. Finally,
c o v e r th e b ik e (w ith an in d o o r o r o u td o o r cover, as
appropriate) to p ro te c t it from d u s t and g rit—and salt
from cars th at m ay share the space.
Fuel stored for long periods can stratify into its components unless a
fuel stabilizer is used. Besure the tank is completely full, or the
moisture in the air trapped in the tank can cause it to rust. If you’re
storing your bike for the winter, you have two choicesfor how to
prepare the tank. Both methods of tank winterization require that you
begin by draining the tank. This is a good maintenance procedure,
anyway, since any crud or moisture that has collected during the
riding season will be carried out with the fuel. The easiestoption is to
then pour a fuel stabilizer, like Sta-Bil, into the tank andthen fill it
completely with fresh gas.The alternative for people who can’t or
don’t want to store their bike with a full tank is to pour a few ounces
of heavy oil—50W at a minimum—into the empty tank. Close the tank
and spend a few minutes rotating it until the oil has coated the tank
internals and washed away any fuel remnants. Pour the remainder
into your oil-recycling container. Nextspring, empty out the oil that
collected in the bottom of the tank before filling it with fresh gas.
Always store your bike with the petcock turned off to prevent any
accidental leakage. Cylinder walls, like the inside of gas tanks, need to
be protected from moisture or they may rust. Spraying fogging oil into
the cylinders can preventthis.
How to Wash
Some people steer clearof auto repairsjust because of the dirt and
grease. Fortunately, new auto-specific hand cleaners remove all the
grease, grime, and oil. Applya good dollopof an auto-grade hand cleaner
in the palm of yourhand.
Work it in well, notjustto thefront and back butin the knuckles and
A stiff fingernail brush will getthat grease outso none of youroffice-
mates know you've been productive in the garage over the weekend.
Thesearethe same handsafterthe hand cleaner. Look near the wrists
where the cleanerwasn’t applied. Hands perfectlyclean and readyfor
paperwork or a nice restaurant.
OLD SCHOOL TECH
How It W orks
Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI)
Engine M anagem ent System
Taking Care of th e Fuel System
P ro je c t 12: C lean/Replace Your
A ir Filter
epending on w hose conversion form ula you prefer to
believe, a single gallon o f gasoline is roughly equal to
51 pounds o f TNT, alm ost five dozen Big M acs, o r tw o
irr/n osa urs, tw o triceratops, and tw o tyrannosaurs.
Admittedly, trying to get any o f those into your m otor-
ry d e ’s gas tank, let alone get them to burn evenly (if at all),
would be p ro blem a tic a t best. U nlike th o se fo ss il fuel
ralents, gasoline can be atomized, and then vaporized
and m ixed with air, so it can burned to produce power.
S o how is th e fu el processed so th a t it’s ready to
c u m in th e engine? T ha t’s th e definition o f you r b ike ’s
b e system . P erhaps th e s im p lest w ay to understand
fuel system in you r m otorcycle is to identify its three
in functions: storage, transportation, and delivery,
.’/hen you stop by th e self-service gas station, stick
‘ a u to m a tic d isp e n s in g nozzle in to th e fu e l fille r
opening o f your bike’s gas tank, and squeeze th e handle,
|Oli are starting th e fuel on the last leg of its long journey,
oil fie ld s som ewhere in th e w o rld —Saudi Arabia,
M exico, Venezuela—it takes a trip across one of
e tw o big ponds in a huge tanker, piped underground
= -efining plant, trucked to th e gas station, stored in an
iro un d ta n k , an d fin a lly pu m pe d in to y o u r fu el
—whew! And all this fo r a product th at still costs less
m ost designer bottled waters!
’/hen you fill your tank, you’re safely storing enough
to rid e you r m oto rcycle som e 100-2 50 m iles. The
ta n k itse lf is a ste el o r p la stic co n ta in er affixed to th e
chassis, and is som etim es fitte d w ith internal baffles to
p re v e n t slo s h in g and sp illa g e . It d e live rs fu e l to th e
e n g in e e ith e r via g ra v ity, o r (m ore co m m o n ly, th e s e
days) is plum bed to deliver th e fuel to th e engine via a
fuel pum p and fuel lines. The ta nk is effectively sealed
once th e fille r cap is properly tightened, no t ju st to pre
ven t spillage b u t to prevent fuel vapors from escaping
into th e atm osphere.
On C a lifo rn ia -on ly m oto rcycle s, th e v ap ors gener
ated by th e gasoline in th e ta nk are colle cted in a char
coal ca n iste r secured som ew here on th e m oto rcycle ,
w hich sto re s them until th e engine is started. A purge
va lv e o p e n s a n o th e r va lv e to a p p ly en g in e m a n ifo ld
vacuum to th e ca n is te r to draw th ese vap ors in to th e
induction system and burn them as th e engine gets up
to o p e ra tin g te m p e ra tu re . The idea is to co m p le te ly
c o n s u m e th e fu e l va p o rs to p re v e n t th e m fro m
escaping into th e atm osphere.
A ll right, th e ta n k ’s fu ll, th e fille r cap is secure, and
you’re ready to start th e engine. In th e decades before
fuel injection, m otorcycle fuel system s alm ost universally
used sim p le, reliable, and alw a ys a va ilab le g ra vity to
m ove fuel from th e tank to the engine.
M any m odern m otorcycles use ele ctric fuel pum ps
b u ilt in to th e gas ta n k (m ore on th o se pu m ps can be
found under th e heading Fuel Injection).
From th e ir prim itive , ea rlie st days (when
they w ere little m ore than glorified w icks)
c a rb u re to rs b e cam e re la tiv e ly s o p h is tic a te d
instrum ents th a t altered fu el’s physical sta te from
a liquid to a vapor, w hich m ixed w ith th e incom ing
air draw n into th e engine by th e dow nw ard m otion
o f th e pistons. It is th is vaporized air/fuel m ixture
th at th e engine then burns to m ake power.
C arburetors feature a num ber o f different circu its to
help them com plete th e job . As the fuel enters the carbu
retor from th e fuel line, it fills a floa t cham ber o r bo w l—a
sm all reservoir o f fuel in the carburetor body. The flow of
fuel into th is cham ber is m etered by a sim ple needle and
seat valve operated by a m echanical flo a t arm . A s th e
fu el level in th e cham ber rises o r fa lls, it progressively
closes o r opens th e valve, regulating th e level o f fuel in
th e cham ber and available to th e engine.
E arly in c a rb u re to r’s de ve lo p m e n t, th e y u tilize d a
m anually operated m echanical choke to aid cold starts.
T he cho ke is n o th in g m ore th an a rou nd p la te th a t
rota te s to re strict airflo w th ro ug h th e carb body, thus
increasing the percentage o f fuel th at m ixes w ith the air
and providing a richer air/fuel m ixture to help the engine
s ta rt an d w arm up. T he n e xt s te p w as a d e d ica te d
enrichener circu it. Less crude than th e hand-over-the-
m ou th a p p ro a c h o f th e ch o ke pla te , th e e n rich en er
c irc u it a c co m p lish e s th e sam e ta s k fo r m ore e a sily
starting a cold engine, and it rem ains m anually operated.
-=-/V* The m ost remarkable feature o f a carburetor
j is its ven tu ri, based on th e ae rod yna m ic
p rin c ip le o f th e ven tu ri effe ct. W hen
atm ospheric air is draw n through an opening into
a c h a m b e r o f in c re a s in g vo lu m e , its p re ssure
decreases. The th ro ttle valve—a cylindrical o r flat
s lid e , o r b u tte rfly -ty p e —w h ic h is c o n n e c te d to
and opened/closed by th e th ro ttle grip on th e right
end o f th e b ike ’s handlebar(s)—varies th e venturi
op en ing , w h ich co n tro ls th e volu m e o f air being
draw n into th e engine. A t idle th e throttle is alm ost
close d, re strictin g a irflow in to th e engine. A t full
th ro ttle , such as w hen you’re trying to safely enter
a freew ay before som e sem i cuts you o ff, airflow
into th e engine is m axim ized.
Remember th e fuel waiting in the float bowl/cham ber?
It is under norm al atm ospheric pressure. M ain je ts are
sm all tubes, o r orifices, th a t connect th e bo tto m o f the
float cham ber to the venturi. As the throttle is opened and
c lose d, th e pressure d iffe re n tia l betw een th e flo a t
cham ber and venturi m eters th e am ount o f fuel pushed
from th e cha m be r th ro ug h th e je ts in to th e a ir stream
draw n through th e venturi. By varying th e volum e o f air
and am ount o f fuel drawn into th e engine from th e carbu
retor, you regulate the pow er your m otorcycle produces.
M an y c a rb u re to rs a ls o fe a tu re an a c c e le ra to r
pum p, w hich m echanically squ irts a little extra fuel into
th e venturi as you open th e th ro ttle . T hrottle m ovem ent
activates th is little pum p, w hich helps th e engine begin
For th e first six decades o f th e m otorcycle, carbure
to rs w ere th e device o f choice to regulate and m ix fuel
w ith th e incom ing air. And carburetors d id a fine jo b in
m ost cases. They were relatively easy to tune by varying
th e size o f th e m ain jets, fo r exam ple, and w hen tuned
well, they provided good perform ance and fuel economy.
C arburetor Drawbacks
A s g o od and hig h ly d e ve lo p e d as ca rb u re to rs have
go tte n , even th e ir m ost a rd en t de votee s have had to
adm it, to paraphrase C lint Eastw ood, “ Every m an’s go t
to rea lize h is ca rb u re to r’s lim ita tio n s .” O ne o f th o se
lim ita tio n s is th e c a rb ’s in a b ility to reco gn ize and
accom m odate changes in atm ospheric air pressure. For
exam ple, a carb ureto r tuned properly fo r op era tion at
sea level along th e coast w o n 't perform very well in the
m ountains. The higher th e altitude, the low er th e am bient
air pressure, th e few er m olecules o f air per c u b ic foot.
But the carburetor only know s how m any cub ic feet o f air
flow s through it. Consequently, the sea-level-tuned carb
d e liv e rs to o m uch fu e l fo r th e a m o u n t o f a ir pu lled
through it in th e m ountains, m eaning the engine w ill run
to o rich.