Is Your Bike Ready For Touring?
A few weeks ago I wrote about Getting Out Of Dodge.
In a few days, The Pillion and I will be hitting the road. We know where we’re going, but not the route. Maybe we’ll play it by ear, sometimes the unplanned adventures are the best.
In preparing for our trip, I serviced the bike 700 km (435 mi) before it was due. It’s not way early when you think about it, and probably wont make a great deal of difference. Besides, I figured if I do it now, I won’t have to do it when we’re on the road.
Bluey was due for her minor service, so she only really needed an oil and filter change, but because I ride every day I tend to go over everything fairly thoroughly:
- Check and lube all cables.
- Check all fluids.
- Check tension on all nuts and bolts.
- Inspect the brake pads (these were replaced last service, but its good to check anyway).
- Clean the air filter (I run a K&N filter).
- Check tyre wear (Front OK/ new, rear was nearing end of life).
- Check tyre pressures (I do mine once a week as a matter of course).
- Lights and other electrics all work.
- Clean, adjusted and lube the chain and sprockets (I don’t need no stinkin’ belt or shaft drive!).
These are all pretty easy to do, and don’t take a lot of time. If you don’t have a service manual for your bike, I highly recommend getting one. Even if you only refer to it, to do the simple stuff and leave the major servicing to your trusted mechanic, its well worth the outlay.
There are a couple of things I’d like to touch on here:
- Visual checks on electrics, fluids, tyre wear and pressures should be done at least once a week. Or each time you get on the bike, if you ride less often.
- I moved away from the OEM paper air filters and went to a K&N filters because it was costing me AU$45 every 2nd service, even though the service interval was supposed to be every 3rd service. The K&N filter is an oil impregnated foam filter and is washable. The initial outlay is around AU$80 and about AU$25 for the cleaning kit. If I look after the K&N, it should last the life of the bike. Or at least for as long as I own it.
- I do a lot of k’s, so I tend to clean my chain & sprockets at least once a month.
This last point is important because if you ride in dusty or otherwise harsh environments, it allows you to check your chain for wear and extend the life of your chain by removing grit that can get into the ‘O’ rings and shorten chain life.
It’ll take about 1/2 hour to clean, adjust and re-lube your chain, and don’t just do the bits you can see. Take the front sprocket cover off and inspect the sprocket for wear. Remember it rotates 2 to 3 times more than the rear sprocket and will wear much quicker.
Cleaning out behind that cover will also prevent excess grease and chain lube from building up and dripping onto rubber hoses etc… (accelerating deterioration) and into the path of your back wheel… which can make cornering interesting.
There’s a lot of debate on what you should use to clean your chain and sprockets. The salesman will push you towards a commercial chain cleaner, and that’s fine, but at AU$20 a 375ml (12-1/2 ounce) spray can, I’ll give it a miss.
Instead I use what the shop manual says; Kerosene. Yep good old Kero.
I bought a 4 litre (1 gallon) bottle and a medium bristle cleaning brush for less than a can of commercial spray cleaner, and I reckon it will last me a year or more, easy.
A word on the brush. Don’t use a hard bristled brush, or get to vigorous when cleaning between the plates on the chain. You can damage the ‘O’ rings, and this will shorten the life of the chain.
Also, be sure to dry the chain thoroughly before applying the lube. Don’t use KY, it’s a water base lube and not suitable for motorcycle chains.
Clutch and throttle cables need to be lubed and inspected regularly as well, especially if you ride in a wet part of the neighborhood.
Not doing this will mean that cables will rust, wear, and become difficult to operate prematurely. This is an easy job to do. Look for any frayed strands, kinks or rust.
If in doubt, chuck it out.
An AU$10 cable oiler tool makes cable lubrication a snap. Well worth the investment.
Last Saturday I finally changed out the rear tyre, replacing the Michelin Pilot Road 3 (PR3) with a PR4.
At the time of writing the PR4 has done less than 50 km (30 mi), by the time we leave on Saturday it will have around 500 km (300 mi) on it, so should be well and truly scrubbed in.
I managed to pull 25,000 km (15,500 mi) out of the PR3, a little more than the front which had 21,500 km (13, 350 mi). I probably could have gone a bit more if I were just riding local, but decided to change it up for our trip.
Looking at the tyre on the left, you can see a slight flat spot starting to appear down the centre, and the right side looks a little more worn that the left. The flat spot is probably from too much city/ freeway riding (normal), the uneven wear on the right side could be because I like right handers more than left handers… or because of road camber (We drive on the left over here).
Personally, I like the right hander excuse 😉
All that remains now is to start getting the top box, soft panniers and tank bag packed and ready for the trip. There’s a few things that I will need to take as a must.
Tools wise, I’m going to make do with the OEM tool kit that came with the bike. I figure if anything is so serious that I need more tools than what’s in the OEM kit, then it will be beyond a road-side fix.
If I were crossing the Nullarbor Plain though, I’d be taking more tools… and spare parts; That’s a given.
Dan over at Daily Bikers gave a great review on some simple tools you can carry with you (if you have the room). You can check it out here if you have time
Outside of that I’ll be taking:
- His and hers wet weather gear.
- Puncture repair kit and compressor (You can read about them here).
- Tyre pressure gauge.
- Chain lube. I do this every two tanks of fuel, unless its raining, in which case I do it every tank. Chain lube is cheap compared to a new chain and sprockets
- Spare fuses and globes.
- Lens/ visor cleaner and soft cloth
- Toilet paper. Don’t laugh, not all long drop dunnies have toilet paper in ’em
- First aid kit.
- Sunscreen and Chap Stick.
- Charge cables for phones, MP3 players, helmet cam etc
- Notepad and pen
There’s probably a coupe of other bits and pieces, but I can’t think of anything at the moment. I’ll leave the toiletries and clothing for the Pillion to sort out.
So where are we going?
- Dunny: Slang term for a toilet or out house