Spit and polish
Now that the track season is over we have a great opportunity to maintain our toys.
I see a lot of bikes when i do tech inspection and i'm proud to say that the Ridesmart family are very good at keeping their bikes in good shape.
Its very rare for me to see things like bodywork thats been crashed so many times its hanging by a thread (zip tie), or an exhaust system that looks about to drop right off (although it has happened), or a fuel tank missing a cap (i know, hard to believe, but it happened).
Get the zipties out...And the rarity of these incidents speaks to the respect our riders have for their bikes and themselves.
But thats not so hard to believe. Who wants to be riding a bike with a tail section about to fall off when they're travelling at over 160mph along the back straight at COTA? Who wants to have a fairing panel come loose and drag on the ground while going through Big Bend at Cresson?
But when i do see maintenance issues the quickest and easiest tip i can give the rider is this;
"Get busy with some wd-40 and a clean rag."
Time for some elbow greaseThe vast majority of issues i see are the culmination of a small issue left untended over many track days.
Like a bolt thats fallen out of a fairing panel, or a bracket that cracked during a minor tipover. Little things like this cause a fairing panel to start cracking, or a bracket to break in half over time.
In all these and similar cases, if the rider had cleaned his or her bike regularly, the broken bracket or missing bolt would have been seen and the problem fixed before it became a safety issue.
There are of course more comprehensive maintenance solutions available. Some riders drop their bike off after every race/track day and have a professional take care of all maintenance and repair issues. This is of course the ideal solution for people who either cant or dont want to maintain their own bikes.
And lets face it, some people dont have the confidence to take care of it, but we were all in this position at one point, some just have the time to spend learning while others dont or would prefer to spend money and save the time.
But heres where we can continue learning after the season is over.
If you have no tools at all, go to your local hardware store and get an automotive tool kit - in METRIC. For basic maintenance and cleaning all you need is a simple set of wrenches, including allen wrenches. Theres no need to spend very much at all. You should be able to get everything you need in a single kit.
With your bike in a well-lit area, start simple. Start with a side panel or a tail piece, and take a look at how the screws and bolts hold it on. Once all the bolts you can see are off, keep them together in a dish or baggie and label it.
Make sure that you dont force anything. If it doesnt come off, look for pegs or tabs or grommets that require a press fit. Dont force anything.
But once you have the piece removed, spray everything down with WD-40 and wipe it down. Clean off any dirt or Eagles Canyon left in the belly pan. Check all the connections and wires, even the battery connectors and/or indicator wires.
If anything comes loose while you're checking, better now than later while you're on the track.
You should also consider your battery at this point. If you dont plan on starting your bike for a few months, why not pull the battery out and connect it to a tender while you clean.
This will be a great opportunity to check the connections and make sure the battery isnt leaking anything.
This battery is leaking something nasty.For the more advanced track riders, take a look at your oil filter and drain plug. Are they safety wired? If not, why not? If you do a lot of track riding it might be worth considering this mod to make sure you never become 'that guy'.
Do you use your bike for both track and street? If you only use it on the track, are there some expensive parts you dont need anymore? Do you really need to leave the headlights in place? Or the indicators and mirrors? Maybe someone who uses their bike on the street has some damaged mirrors/indicators and wouldnt mind buying yours?
Spend a few days, get to know what parts go where and give the machine a good cleaning.
Check the chain and sprockets, make sure the chain has enough slack - the tension changes when you sit on your bike, and changes again under acceleration. Its important to have at least an inch of free play when you push up and down on the chain.
The chain needs plenty of free play.
Check the fork seals, look for signs of moisture on the fork legs.
Check your fork seals for this oily residue
Check the oil level. Even better, go to a parts store and get a new filter and gallon of oil (for motorcycles of course).
The oil shouldnt be black
If you do follow this route and change your own oil, make sure you know the correct procedure. Keep everything clean, fill the filter with oil before you install it, and never put too much oil into the motor.
Be sure to smear oil on the gasket before installing - hand tight only.
If you do notice anything out of place, like a weepy fork seal, or weird shaped teeth on the sprockets, be sure to get it checked out. Like I said, better to find these problems in your garage than while in line at Tech Inspection.