Look after you motorcycle, so it can look after you!
Last weekend (04.02.2023) we ran a small information session about basic motorcycle safety and maintenance at the mono motorcycles workshop.
We covered the basics like checking tyre pressures, tyre tread/depth & legal requirements, greasing the chain, checking the chain/sprockets, checking brakes, how to check oil levels, coolant levels, checking fork seals for leaks/fork stanchions for marks or rust, how to charge the battery, checking headstock bearings for play/notching, MOT expectations, etc
The reason we chose to run the session was to encourage attendees to be more aware of their own motorcycle, its maintenance needs and to help them as motorcycle owners/riders to recognise if something was not quite right.
One of the attendees used the session wisely and was shocked when she returned home, checked her tyres and found that the front was at 8 psi and the bike had no coolant in it. What was more alarming was that the bike was still very new to the owner and had apparently been meticulously checked prior to sale.
It is these kinds of things we notice at the workshop.
For example, we have had some customers advise us that the front end feels odd on their bike. Upon checking we have found that their tyres are dangerously low on air. We’ve had some customers tell us that they don’t seem to have any brakes. Upon inspection their brake pads have been on the metal. Some customers have advised that their bike vibrates, and their hands go numb. Upon checking their chain is dry as a bone and in very rare cases we have had bikes arrive with no oil or coolant; a dangerous way to ride a bike for any length of time.
(Note: These are only examples and are not indicative of every reason for the front end of a motorcycle to feel odd or for a motorcycle to vibrate. If you feel changes in your motorcycles performance, please do consult an expert before attempting any repairs)
Regular maintenance of any kind of vehicle can keep it in good condition and safe for the roads. Furthermore, in the long run, keeping a vehicle regularly maintained can also help keep down running costs.
Throughout the years we have come across some alarming faults and often the bikes have been being ridden with the faults getting worse. Some faults have been completely unknown or unexpected, some due to lack of regular maintenance & some have been complete flukes!
Suzuki 800 Trike
At the beginning of 2020 we welcomed our first wiring project of the year in the form of a Suzuki VX800 trike. The trike came to us as a non-runner with the conversion & electric’s having been modified elsewhere. The customer purchased the trike as a running bike. However, upon receipt, the trike ran for a few moments, then cut out.
Daniel was tasked with getting the trike running & ensuring that the electrics were safe.
Upon investigation, the wiring was in need of some considerable attention! This included making certain areas safe, as there appeared to be some live feeds exposed against bare metal & were a potential fire hazard.
If the bike had managed to remain running, there is a good chance it may have burst into flames!
Daniel, using his many years of extensive wiring knowledge & using another wiring loom; managed to make the bike safe & convert the lights to UK standards.
The En6n which joined us in late 2019, was booked in for a Major Service. However, when Daniel started to dig underneath the very well kempt outer body, the inner issues started to materialise.
When Daniel attempted to remove the plugs, they were seized in place. When he did finally manage to remove them, they were showing severe signs of corrosion.
As part of the Major Service, we would strip & clean the calipers. However, as Daniel removed them the alarming state of the brake pads & calipers themselves became evident. Not only had the pistons in the calipers seized & were very rusty; but the brake pads had clearly been metal on metal for some time.
Another alarming find was what was underneath the cracked dust caps on the forks. Where they had not been tended to or had the dust caps replaced; water had got in & underneath & had left scoring on the fork legs. Further up the stanchions, the rust marks were more evidence of a lack of maintenance.
This was an example of a motorcycle not having had regular servicing for quite some time & in doing so not only were the repairs more costly, but if these issues had continued to not be addressed, the bike s performance could have been hampered & could have most certainly become unsafe for the road.
Honda CBR1100XX Thunderbird
The Thunderbird joined us for an overheating issue. The customer had advised that he wondered if the radiator might be leaking.
Upon inspection we not only found that the radiator was leaking & the header tank was empty; but the radiator had all but disintegrated!
We managed to source a new radiator & as can be seen in the photo, the old one had most definitely had its day!
Honda CBR 954 RR
In November 2020 we welcomed a CBR 954 RR to the workshop as a non-start. The customer advised that an alarm had been cut out of the wiring loom.
The first port of call was to remove the panels to check the wiring. The wiring was tidied up, but this was the least of the worries for the customer & turned out to not be the reason for the non-start.
Daniel checked the tank & the fuel inside smelt like vinegar. He then checked power to the fuel pump & although he found power there, the fuel pump was not running.
The fuel tank was drained & the pump removed. The damage to the pump, filters, seals hoses & rubbers was so severe, the entire assembly collapsed when it was taken apart.
Despite our customer having given us authorisation to replace the fuel pump, the damage to the inside of the tank & the amount of rust we kept on shaking out of it; meant we could not guarantee that the bike would ever run properly, even with a new pump. To add to this, we were unable to test ride he bike as the chain needed replacing, the LH fork seal was leaking, it needed new tyres & the MOT had expired in 2016.
This is just one example of what can happen to any part of the fuelling system in a motorcycle if the bike has been left for long periods of time (in this case nearly four years)
In this case, the customer continued the work we had started & eventually got the bike running & on the road.
In 2019 we welcomed a Ducati 848 to the mono motorcycles workshop. The 848 was booked in with us as the owner noted that the bike was overheating & would cut out regularly.
When the customer arrived at the workshop from his home in Gosport, the fan had been on since he left home & the temperature was in excess of 108°C!
Once the 848 had cooled down & was up on the ramp Daniel first noted with a simple finger plunge that the radiator was bone dry. As Daniel took the side fairing off, a visual indicator of where all the water had gone was evident.
The oil glass was full of a milky substance & once Daniel removed the oil cap, his theory was realised, as there was congealed creamy white inside the cap. This means that the water appears to have mixed with the oil & is inside engine.
Once the oil was drained, this was further proven when the oil was a similar colour to chocolate milk.
Upon further investigation, Daniel found that the original mechanical seal from the water pump was found to have sheared in half, which is what would have allowed the water & oil to mix.
Once the parts had arrived from Ducati & had been replaced in the bike, we began the process of undertaking a series of engine flushes to remove as much of the emulsified oil from the engine as is possible.
Even after three full flushes of oil, the sight glass had been contaminated so much that it remained milky. The oil finally ran clear, but this added a considerable cost to the overall invoice as the oil having been flushed through the bike, was then contaminated with water.
These stories show just how much of a financial & emotional investment owning a motorcycle can be & that you never know if something will go wrong.
Regular maintenance, keeping up with servicing, regular chain, tyre, battery & fluid checks all can help. However, if something big decides to break, an unforeseen bill can be difficult to swallow.
These are only a few examples whereby faults which have gone undiagnosed or in some cases ignored, have turned into expensive repairs.
Keeping tabs on service intervals, checking tyre pressures, oil levels, coolant levels, brake pads, etc should be part of any motorcyclist or bikers’ regular routine.
If you would like to book in for servicing or repair, please do contact us on 01243 576212 / 07899 654446, email us at email@example.com or contact us through our contact page.