I’ve had the bike for just over a year now and it was the first and only bike I’ve had since receiving my full (A) licence. I’ve put roughly 2500 miles on and have ridden in a variety of places, everything from small gravel tracks to motorways. I’m quite fond of the thing and it was certainly a bit rough around the edges to say the least when I bought it. However, over the past 13 months I’ve done quite a lot of work on it. Work includes:
- Fixed idle engine speed adjuster
- Replace broken number plate light
- Oil and filter change
- Adjust clutch and brake levers
- Coolant change
- Front brake pads (both sets)
- Brake fluid flush (front and rear)
- Spark plug change
- Air filter change
- Horn was not working – cable severed due to wear and tear.
- Replace chain and sprockets
- Rear brake pads
- Front and Rear caliper rebuilds
- Diagnose FI issue and made custom tool to read logs (false positive from oxygen sensor)
- Chain adjustment
- Tyres (These were done by a mechanic as I don’t have the tyre replacement tools nor the inclination)
- Added rear stand pins
- General lubrication
These were not jobs that were done for the sake of it, the bike genuinely needed them done. The combination of Youtube and the bike’s manual have been invaluable. Some particularly useful channels are:
Overall its gone really well and there were no major mishaps when doing the jobs which surprised me as I haven’t worked on bikes or cars before and I’ve also learnt so much in the process. I have reflected somewhat on this and think that as a novice amateur, there are a few things that can help when working on motorcycles.
Taking your time
Just taking your time and thinking about things, checking and rechecking videos and the manual is always helpful and also consulting forums can help ensure the job goes well. This is easier said than done when the bike is your main form of transportation (I mainly use the car for work) but try to give yourself at least a weekend for a job.
Read the manual
The manual for your bike will be immensely helpful, and getting this will provide the key steps for a servicing task and schematics.
See if there are videos
This is useful to supplement the manual. Often the manual will give you just the key steps, no tips or at all. This is where youtube comes in and having a video of someone going through the task is invaluable, particularly for more involved tasks (for a novice like me) such as spark plug changes and replacing the chain and sprocket.
Check your cognitive state
If something is not going well, you’ve lost something or are starting to lose your patience, take a break and do something else, have a cup of tea and come back to it either in a few hours or even in a few days.
Sometimes you also just have to jump in. Despite having watched the spark plug change video multiple times and having a good step by step idea of what to do, I was concerned I would do something wrong and damage the bike and held off on it for weeks despite having the time and parts. But one weekend I just became resolute and dived in and it went fine. The issue with the spark plug change is that it looks more challenging than it is because the bike basically looks like it’s been chopped in half and there is a lot of cabling.
Try to prevent distractions
I find that the missus will come into the garage and talk about something randomly, and if I talk and work it can mean things go a little wrong. So stopping work completely and chatting is was better than half concentrating on either talking or the task.
Document and organize
Take plenty of pictures with your phone, you can’t take too many. It helps immensely when dealing with things like screws and cabling. If you need to check what things are supposed to look like, you can check the images.
Also, have a small container to put things like screws in. I’m terrible for putting parts in random places and not having to search for them. Keeping your workspace as organized as possible also helps and the same goes for keeping things clean.
Also have a tidy work area.
Check and recheck
Your safety is paramount and checking the bike before riding is extremely important much in the same way as the POWDERS check. After any amend, I go on a short ride and gauge how the bike is and if I can feel anything is off I’ll return and make any amends.
Have the right tools
Sometimes it can be frustrating to find out you need a tool mid way through a job but it’s better to just stop and buy the tool rather than make a mess of it using something that’s inappropriate. It can increase costs but you have the tool for next time, the job will be much smoother and it’s still probably cheaper or the same cost than taking it to a garage or fixing the issue if it’s bodged with using improvised tools.
If you have not worked on bikes or are just getting started, I hope the above points help. It’s by no means exhaustive but I personally found that bearing these points in mind helped immensely. If you have any tips, disagree or think anything else needs adding, drop it in the comments. Thanks for reading and best wishes for your motorcycle maintenance!