Sunday, March 3, 2019


It seems that I've been reminded of maintenance a lot lately, not to the point of nagging, but you know that feeling when it's mentioned often enough it no longer seems coincidental?

I suppose it is in my job title, description and my responsibility to maintain a considerably large fleet of motorcycles. All of the training bikes have gone through what we call "Winter Maintenance" whereas they are serviced during the short period of downtime when instructors are not training due to.... well, snow.

Difficult to teach motorcycle training in these conditions

I read Thistledown's blog post yesterday reminding us of maintaining our bikes.

Then this morning I came across Eric Trow's article "An Ounce of Prevention" in the latest edition of Rider Magazine that detailed not only motorcycle maintenance, but our own physical maintenance. That part rang true with me and was a little below the belt.... which has been slowly disappearing over the winter with changing jobs, all the food at work and lack of my own physical maintenance. There's that word again.

Spring is coming, the weather is warming, and I'm determined to take the bicycles down from the wall this year in an attempt to discover walking and riding paths in our new neighborhood. All of this peppered between home renovations, updating, and deferred maintenance.

We've been remodeling the kitchen with new cabinets, new hardware, a new fridge, updated electrical plugs and switches. This weekend's project, between selling the old fridge on Craigslist, we're installing a glass mosaic tile backsplash. Hoping to get the kitchen mostly done and functional before Spring riding season.

As I helped load the old fridge onto the buyer's trailer, my new neighbor came over to introduce himself and offer assistance. With my garage door open he spotted our mountain bikes.

"You ride? Have you been up to Black Rock? We're going tomorrow if you want to come along!"

Ummm, yeah. I didn't get any riding in last year and I'm in no shape to drag my ass up a mountain to ride down a black diamond trail full of mud and snow.

"Thanks, but I'm in the middle of a kitchen remodel. Maybe next time, have fun, nice to meet you!"

Back to work, then because we didn't go to coffee there was an expected and intentional visit from Polar Bear on his Tiger to slow down production as friends tend to do. Nice to see you Andy, thanks for stopping by.

I was elbow deep in tile mortar when my phone rang... now what?

My buddy Jeff also took advantage of the one nice day to pull his DRZ out of the shed and start it up. Although he had it running, he was struggling to keep it running when putting it in gear and went about fiddling with his clutch thinking it was out of adjustment, without success.

"Is your side stand down?" I asked.

You could hear the light come on over the phone.

Mental maintenance is as important, being out of routine Jeff hadn't been riding since his shoulder injury last June during the Black Dog Rally (he fell off his bike tearing his rotator cuff and required surgery). While on the phone he mentioned his brake light wasn't working. I asked him to pull the bulb and check the filament, all looked good and he reinstalled the bulb.

"Both filaments are lit" he exclaims.

"Then it's your brake switch" as I mosey out to the garage to use my DRZ a reference already knowing the next question, and the sequence of questions thereafter.

"Where's that?"

Hold on while I find something to put on the cold cement floor to lay down on. Damn, that's a long way down as I groan and moan from lack of maintenance. "You should be able to hear the switch click as you depress the brake pedal." Ah crap, my brake light is lit too. Back up off the floor to grab a couple of wrenches, and some WD-40 all the while talking Jeff through the process.

"See the bolt and nut attached to your brake pedal down underneath bike? There's a switch activated by the head of the bolt, loosen the nut and adjust the bolt."


We finally got it, both our bikes needing the same adjustment. I told him it was a good thing he sold his KLR and bought a DRZ or I may not have been able to help him over the phone. He said he's going for a ride now. I cautioned him to check his tire pressure first as his bike's been sitting awhile. That started a whole new discussion about tire pressure and tires, specifically the OEM tires he's running on his bike, Bridgestone DeathWings. The tires I suspect aided in his crash last June.

Needless to say we didn't get as far on the backsplash as intended, but I did manage to help Jeff with his bike maintenance, and set a reminder for mine.

Back to work tomorrow to maintain maintenance.


  1. I could go all Thoreau and Walden on you say that maintenance of our stuff is a sign of how possessions possess us. But I won't. Having four motorcycles in the, two of which break just thinking about them sometimes; I do empathize with you.

    Note: when Oregon decides to sell off those lovely TW200s you recently shared a pic of, do give us advance notice would you? ;)

  2. Great write-up Brad. I understand Dom's comments about possessions owning us but maintenance (along with washing bikes) can be therepeutic! I've really valued the bike-specific forums that I've been a member of for the little tricks and tips that make life and fault-finding that little bit easier. Incidentally, one reason that I'm selling my GSX-S now rather than waiting until spring is that it has a major service (read expensive) coming up. Call buying a new one "deferred maintenance"!

    1. Agreed Geoff, working on one's motorcycle is good mental therapy....even when things go wrong (broken bolts, stuck nuts, stripped screws.....) overcoming said "chances to excel" is quite satisfactory and usually results in more tools.... :)

    2. Excellent Dom! If my wife can spend money on clothes (and a small fortune on genealogical research), guys should be free to acquire more tools; even if we do have to exaggerate their usefulness to household maintenance on the odd occasion :-)

    3. What! Tools can be used for household maintenance? (Don’t let that info get out…)

    4. Richard, motorcycle tools are bought under the pretext of being useful round the house, most often for obscure plumbing jobs :-) .

    5. A friend wants me to buy his Ducati, talk about high maintenance. And yes, motorcycle maintenance can be therapeutic if you can put off the household maintenance temporarily. Although that's how I've accumulated most of my tools, wife wants a new kitchen, bathroom, etc. that's going to take a new drill, table saw, wrenches, grinder, etc.

  3. New kitchen, counters, appliances! That is an ambitious project. From Ikea?

    1. Yes sir, all the cupboards, countertop, and sink are from Ikea. It's starting to look awfully familiar to our old house.

  4. Hmmm, house maintenance or bike maintenance? That's a real tough decision right there...

    You made the correct decision....

    1. It's bike maintenance all week at work and home maintenance all weekend. Now I'm neglecting my personal bikes. How did I get stuck in that trap?

  5. Geez, you just reminded me we have back splash waiting to be applied. And a ton of other stuff to do. At least bicycles are relatively low maintenance.

    1. You've been maintaining your health by riding your bikes, and that's a good thing. The house projects can wait.

  6. It started with Robert Pirsig.

  7. I'm doing less and less of it, hopefully it will only catch up to me about the time that last door closes.

    1. You can't fool me, you've been maintaining to keep your driveway free from snow.


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