5 NEXT WEEK
Are the chain adjusters set the same?
Have a careful look at the chain adjusters. Not everyone manages to get them on exactly the same setting on each side after tightening a chain, but if a bike has a slightly twisted frame and a tendency to steer to one side or the other, a way of concealing this is to set the back wheel skewwhiff to compensate. Quite apart from anything else, it’ll knacker a chain and rear sprocket in no time at all. If the adjusters are wound right out it suggests the chain has come to the end of its life and needs replacing along with the front and rear sprockets.
6 What’s the oil telling you?
Have a good look at the colour of the oil, not just the oil level. Don’t worry if it’s dirty – that’s what you want to see, unless it’s jet black and has the consistency of tar. You see, one sure-fire way of quietening a slightly rattly engine is to change the oil for nice fresh stuff of a heavier viscosity. Cor, doesn’t it sound nice and quiet? Yeah, but wait until it’s nice and hot. Clean, fresh oil when the service record says it isn’t needed is a danger sign. Or, if you’re lucky, the sign of a painstaking owner – but that will be backed up by the pristine condition of the rest of the bike anyway.
Old-school steel exhausts rot from the bottom. Exhaust balance pipes decay where they come out of the header pipe. Collector boxes rot. All can be patched with paste and you won’t see it unless you grovel. And (a favourite one, this), sump plugs get bodged back after someone’s over-tightened them and stripped the thread in the cases or sump.
Pop the side panels off and have a look at the electrics. You absolutely do not want to see Scotchlocks, loads of those horrible cheap blue or red connectors, extra fuses placed inline, or a few feet of wiring in a funny colour. It may be working now, it might have been working for some time, but the chances are it’s been cobbled together for sale, and it will fail soon.
9Is the ABS working?
Older ABS systems can fail and the MOT test now mandates a fail if the ABS warning light doesn’t go out when it should. It only takes a moment to remove the bulb. The same goes for things like alternator/ generator warning lights, as a means of covering up a duff alternator. Also check the idiot lights to see if any have a small piece of tape placed over as a mask.
Sort your bike’s stoppers like a pro