The Path Less Traveled

Welcome to my blog! I'm committing this space to my adventures with motorcycles and activities related with them. This will include all sorts of stories about repairing them, going on trips, learning different riding techniques, meeting other riders, etc. In other words, a general dumping ground for whatever strikes me. Hope you enjoy the read.

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Motorcycle Maintenance Meetup, Revisited

Posted 02-08-2010 at 10:20 PM by Gamuru
Updated 02-09-2010 at 11:44 AM by Gamuru (I mis-remembered)

First, let me start by saying, "Thank you!" to Travis and Dave. Travis did a great job organizing this event and getting everyone together. Dave for opening up his garage and letting us use his lift, tools, and supplies. Again, thank you both for your efforts. It was much appreciated. (And thanks to all the participants for putting up with me sticking my camera all up in your grill and hovering over your shoulder while you were trying to work. It was for a good cause. I swear! )

The day started out with Cyndy's Ninja on the rack. She was there to learn the finer points of changing her own oil. In talking to Cyndy, I discovered she was a fairly new rider. She was bitten by the riding bug back at the end of last summer. Having had the bike for about six months, she felt it was time to learn how to do some basic maintenance.

Travis and Dave hopped right in with Cyndy to get the lower faring removed so they could get to the oil drain plug and oil filter. Within minutes, Cyndy had the two screws in front and the two bolts underneath removed and the lower faring set aside.

Dave then explained to Cyndy how to remove the oil drain plug using the three-finger technique. This is important. Do it wrong and you'll be fishing the plug out of a drain pan full of oil. With Dave's instruction fresh in her mind, Cyndy successfully removed the drain plug.

It was about this time that Brian showed up. I'm not familiar with Brian, but he seemed to be pretty knowledgeable with the mechanics of motorcycles, both street and racing. He stepped in as lead on the oil change and showed the group how to "read" used engine oil. Bubbles means you've got water contamination, metal is a sign of metal fatigue, and a strong fuel smell is the tell for bad rings or a leaking petcock.

You know, it was probably a good thing Cyndy's first oil change was performed at Dave's shop. Whoever installed her previous oil filter spun that thing on so tight it was about all we could do to get it off. We damned near had to call out the jaws of life to get that thing to break loose. Way, way too frickin' tight! Remember, when installing a new spin-on filter, oil the o-ring, fill it if possible, check to make sure the old o-ring isn't stuck to the engine, then install it. Go to snug, then one-quarter turn... by hand. It doesn't need to be installed by Hercules for Christ's sakes. You there, Josť at Kawasaki, yeah, I'm talking to you. If we catch you installing one more oil filter that tight we're all kicking you square in the man-bags!

While the bike was up on the rack, Brian and Cyndy inspected her front brake pads for wear. Her front brake lever was slightly spongy and Brian explained that it may be because the brake fluid had become contaminated, it being hydroscopic. I'm not sure what was decided on this matter. When I came back around to their conversation, he was showing her how to use Dave's torque wrench to reinstall her caliper mounting bolts.

That was pretty much it for the service work on Cyndy's Ninja. Dave lowered the lift and backed her bike off. If I recall correctly, next on the rack was Rigger's Triumph Speed Triple. He was wanting a little bit of suspension tweaking done to it.

I must admit I got distracted by my own bike's maintenance needs and didn't catch but a few shots of the action going on inside the shop. You see, the clutch lever on my KLR650 was a real bugger to operate. It was the expert opinion of both Grant and Kevin that there was something seriously f'd up with the clutch cable. Just my luck, Grant brought this kickin' little tool along with him for lubing cables. Perfect, right?!?

We tore off the clutch cable at the lever so Grant could hook this little gem up. It clamps around the end of the cable and allows you to force lube down the length of the cable housing. Unfortunately, my cable was in such bad repair we had to attack it from both ends. We unhooked it from the clutch lever and shot fluid up from the bottom end up. After much working in and out--and a bit of swearing--we managed to free it up. The rust present at the lower end of the cable concerned both Grant and Kevin. It was decided that a new cable should be ordered and installed at my earliest convenience (Note to self: order cable).

Meanwhile, back in the shop...

I know Don's yellow VFR was having speedo troubles so they hoisted it up for a quick look-see. In talking with Don, he explained that he suspected it might be a stripped nylon drive gear where the cable enters the case. They removed the side cover and performed a quick inspection. No dice. Sounded like the cluster needed to come off for further investigation, but that was outside the scope of today's meet up. So, off the rack it went.

I think I saw another bike getting some sort of coolant service work done to it. I have a picture of the bike here, but I'm not absolutely positive of its owner or the work performed. Anyone want to claim this machine? It was about then that Kevin and I loaded up our gear and headed over to Grant's place for further turn signal repair on my KLR.

Well, boys and girls, I'm quickly running into my word count limit and it's getting way past my bedtime. I wish I could have spent more time getting to know each of you better, but there's always the next maintenance meetup, right? I had a great time and highly recommend everyone attend one of these. It's kind of like a bike night, but with the smell of grease and oil and sweat and tears mixed in. Pretty awesome!

By the way, there's a number of pictures that I couldn't fit into this post due to space constraints, etc. You can visit the photo album here to see the rest of them.

Travis, it was a lot of fun and I'll try like hell to make it to the next one. Dave, once again, thanks for opening up your shop to us. Awfully kind of you! And to all those that showed up, thanks for supporting your fellow riders and your sport.
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Total Comments 4


  1. Old Comment
    Cyndy's Avatar
    Yay! Thanks Don for the great write-up and photos! I'm glad someone there was taking photos. I never take the time to get my camera out; it's something I need to work on because memories fade and looking back via photos becomes essential!

    Thanks to you too for your help Saturday. It was nice to meet the guy behind all the great adventure blogs!!
    Posted 02-09-2010 at 08:35 AM by Cyndy Cyndy is offline
  2. Old Comment
    metricinch's Avatar
    i was not present for the tear down of cyndy's oil change. so unless there was another kevin, you have me confused with someone else. i was there for the lube of her throttle cable though.
    Posted 02-09-2010 at 09:46 AM by metricinch metricinch is offline
  3. Old Comment
    Gamuru's Avatar
    Originally Posted by metricinch View Comment
    i was not present for the tear down of cyndy's oil change. so unless there was another kevin, you have me confused with someone else. i was there for the lube of her throttle cable though.
    It was a bit of a blur, but you're correct. My mistake. I'll fix it.
    Posted 02-09-2010 at 11:39 AM by Gamuru Gamuru is offline
  4. Old Comment
    Cyndy's Avatar
    It's a blur to me as well... My brain was busy trying to keep up with everything! And, poor Jose... He really got picked on that day...
    Posted 02-09-2010 at 12:25 PM by Cyndy Cyndy is offline

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