10dif­fi­cult jobs that aren’t as as they seem

Some tasks sound scary but aren’t. Here’s how to save your­self a for­tune on bike main­te­nance this year

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Garage -

1Change your fork oil

Most peo­ple never change fork oil un­less it’s drib­bling out of a leaky seal. But it’s usu­ally way past its best af­ter three years of even fairly light use. At five, it’s go­ing to re­ally de­tract from sus­pen­sion ac­tion. Drain­ing, flush­ing and re­fill­ing fork oil isn’t a com­plex task, es­pe­cially on ba­sic non-ad­justable forks. Fresh, qual­ity fluid will make your front sus­pen­sion feel like new.


Du­cati cam­belts

This is a job long touted by anti-du­cati types as a rea­son to avoid the Ital­ian ex­otics. But the truth is, it’s dead sim­ple. Ac­cess is a lit­tle fid­dly on some mod­els, but chang­ing the belts in the desmod­romic sys­tem is ac­tu­ally a straight­for­ward task – you need a tool to lock cam pul­leys in place, and a ten­sioner tool makes it eas­ier to ap­ply cor­rect ten­sion to the new belt. Buy­ing the tools and belts for just one change costs less than get­ting it done pro­fes­sion­ally – ev­ery fu­ture change is a sig­nif­i­cant sav­ing.


Valve clear­ances

Got most of your fin­gers and rea­son­able vi­sion? Read­ing and nu­mer­i­cal skills pass­able? Then you can check and ad­just your mo­tor­cy­cle’s valves with­out shelling out. Ac­cess­ing them is usu­ally the hard­est part – ra­di­a­tors, air­boxes and body­work usu­ally need re­mov­ing to get room to work – the process is sim­ple, and on screw/lock­nut ad­justers, so is ad­just­ment. Shimmed valves just need a set of Vernier gauges to mea­sure the shims, and a pen/pad to work out the change in thick­ness you need to cor­rect them.


Chain and sprock­ets

It’s a safety-crit­i­cal area and a snapped chain can do mas­sive dam­age as it ex­its the mo­tor­cy­cle, but too many bikes are pushed to the limit of us­able fi­nal drive con­di­tion be­cause it’s not a cheap job to re­place the chain and sprock­ets. If you’re go­ing to own bikes for the fore­see­able fu­ture, in­vest in a qual­ity chain tool – not a £30 ebay spe­cial – and have the abil­ity to cut and re­place chains, and know that the link is prop­erly se­cured too. If any­one tells you to use two ham­mers, use them on their skull in­stead.

5Brake over­haul

Con­sid­er­ing the im­mense force, heat and pres­sure a sim­ple stroke of a hy­draulic brake lever cre­ates, they’re re­mark­ably sim­ple mech­a­nisms. A few pis­tons, seals, o-rings, hose and fluid. That’s it. They’re another area of­ten left too long be­fore re­ceiv­ing care be­cause peo­ple worry about get­ting it wrong, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Largely, clean­ing and bleed­ing is all they need – pe­ri­odic hose and seal re­place­ment is barely more dif­fi­cult. The worst bit is deal­ing with dis­gust­ing fluid – just use gloves and pro­tect your bike from the cor­ro­sive ef­fects. Brake bleed­ing kits can make main­te­nance a far eas­ier task.

6Head bear­ings

Bad steer­ing bear­ings would make a Moto3 bike feel like a wonky shop­ping trol­ley. But the thought of dis­man­tling the en­tire front end makes some shy away. You shouldn’t. The key is hav­ing a se­cure means of sup­port­ing the bike by the frame or un­der the en­gine. It needs to be rock steady. But re­mov­ing wheels, brakes, forks and yokes isn’t hard. The top bear­ing just pulls out – the bot­tom bear­ing on the stem is in­ter­fer­ence fit, so takes more ef­fort. If you have other trans­port, it’s a quick job for an en­gi­neer to press the bear­ing off if you’re not con­fi­dent of re­mov­ing it with­out caus­ing dam­age, and you’ll still save cash over dealer costs.

8Sus­pen­sion link­ages

Many bikes don’t reach the check/grease in­ter­val while un­der war­ranty, and in later life they of­ten don’t see a main dealer and a full ser­vice sched­ule, so they de­te­ri­o­rate and fail. Again, sup­port­ing the bike is the main hur­dle – be­yond that, you just need the back wheel out and to re­move the bolts. Some cleaner and grease keeps most sweet, and knack­ered bear­ings only need sim­ple tools to re­move/re­place them.

7Elec­tri­cal re­pair

We’ll for­give you for not delv­ing into CAN-BUS di­ag­nos­tics, but any­thing with con­ven­tional electrics is just a mat­ter of logic. Think of it like a cen­tral heat­ing sys­tem: you have a power source and stor­age, with pe­riph­ery com­po­nents con­nected by pipe work (wires, in this case). Most gripes are merely a mat­ter of en­sur­ing power passes un­hin­dered and un­in­ter­rupted. A cheap mul­ti­me­ter, a wiring di­a­gram and de­vel­op­ing a ba­sic un­der­stand­ing of the com­po­nents and their re­la­tion­ships is all it takes. Ma­te­ri­als and con­nec­tors for proper, fac­tory-stan­dard re­pair are eas­ily avail­able – don’t set­tle for crappy car shop bul­let con­nec­tors.

9 Sin­gle-sided hub bear­ings/ wheel bear­ings

Cir­clip bear­ings, bear­ing drifts and pullers. That’s all it takes to over­haul these need­lessly feared com­po­nents. If you’re of the mind to work on your own bike, the cost of in­vest­ing in these tools will be spread across many tasks any­way. The parts still aren’t cheap in the case of sin­gle-sided hub bear­ings, but re­mov­ing the labour cost takes the st­ing out of this crit­i­cal safety job.

10Strip­ping an en­gine

This is at the more ad­ven­tur­ous end of this list, but once you’ve done one, you’ll re­alise it’s not that bad. It takes a while, and you must fol­low cer­tain pro­cesses as well as tak­ing care to re­move and store parts with care. They only come apart and go to­gether one way – get a good man­ual, per­haps have a knowl­edge­able mate look over your shoul­der, and give your bike the most in­ti­mate care it’ll ever need.

Fork oil will be past its best af­ter three years. Be brave and change it your­self

NEXT WEEK Take care of your kit and it will take care

of you

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