Probably from a very early age, many of us have dreamed of straddling a thrumming V-twin engine, feeling the wind on our leather jackets and zipping around the countryside on nothing but two wheels and human ingenuity. The open road, the sun on our backs, and the feeling of power at our fingertips have made motorcycle riding a cultural icon. Enthusiasts range from Jay Leno and his rocket-powered hog to musicians like James Blunt to actors like Hugh Laurie (Yes, he has his own motorcycle when he’s not being House.) Every summer roughly ten million motorcyclists take to the streets of America, whether kicking back in yacht-like cruisers or tearing up the road in the latest race-inspired super bikes. Yet one thing plagues rookies and veterans alike when it comes to the king of road sports- what happens when you hear that sickening clunk shifting from fourth to fifth? What do you do when you’ve just slid into the shoulder and your tailpipes look like they had an arm wrestle with the Incredible Hulk?
What is Motorcycle Repair?
Motorcycle repair is and always has been an enormous part of riding. Not only are these precarious machines notorious for accidents, their components are relatively exposed and their frames are substantially lighter and thinner when compared to an automobile or truck. A collision with another vehicle or a fixed object is devastating for a machine designed to be light, fast, and shielded with thin fiberglass fairings. Assuming the rider, frame and engine survive intact the rider is stuck on the road without his primary means of transport, often having to push the remains of his beloved steed out of harm’s way. Completely separate from accident-related repairs is the regular upkeep of a machine. While many of these repairs and maintenances can be done at home, the stands, jacks and lifts needed to keep the bike in place are expensive and unnecessary for the casual motorcyclist. Older carburetor machines have timing belts and other delicate components that require special tools to replace. Depending on the individual machine, a motorcycle has an extensive array of parts that need to be looked after.
Does My Motorcycle Need Repair?
Repairs done on a motorcycle are as varied as the many parts of the machine. Obviously, if you’ve just been in an accident, the bike needs to be looked at immediately. Many factors could also indicate some kind of problem with the machine, such as an unresponsive throttle or a difference in the feel of a clutch. Since motor sport is such a physical activity, any difference in the sound, performance, or feel of a machine is potential cause for alarm. The best thing to do is to perform regular checks, maintenance and become familiar with your particular bike, especially with the brakes, tires, and steering. Purchasing the repair manual for your bike is a good idea, since a motorcycle’s components are easily accessible and can give you some idea of the health of your machine. You can also avoid unfamiliar mechanics on the road if you maintain the bike regularly. If you are a beginning motorcyclist, however, chances are that you will not be as attentive to these nuances. Speaking to your mechanic will get you up to speed fairly quickly and give you an idea of when to go for maintenance, repairs, and when to replace parts.
What Are The Benefits of Motorcycle Repair?
The biggest benefit of regular motorcycle maintenance and repair is safety. Being familiar with your motorcycle and replacing any worn parts lets you ride confidently and reduces the chances of tire blowouts and other catastrophic accidents. In addition, a mechanic will let you know about any adjustments or additions to your bike that can improve its performance, responsiveness, or aesthetic. An important part of motorcycling is camaraderie, and visiting a mechanic regularly will expose you to other motorists and their wealth of knowledge.
What Are The Risks And How Do I Avoid Them?
The risks of repair and maintenance rest on which mechanic you choose to service your bike. Always ask to see a mechanic’s workspace, since a well-organized space means a mechanic will be less likely to forget screws and bolts. The cost of the repairs is also a factor; a local tow company can charge around $125 to move your motorcycle to the mechanic’s shop, so always check out the garage before taking your bike to them. Highway towing can also run between $400 to $500. Garages can be few and far between depending on where you are, but bike dealers often offer all the services you will need. Labor costs will depend on where you are located, and parts for your machine depend largely on what kind of bike you have. Japanese bikes like Suzuki and Honda have more common, less expensive parts, while European brands like Ducati and Aprilia will require costly imported parts. Third-party manufacturers can cut down on these costs, but they change the specifications of a machine and can sometimes be unreliable. Be sure to familiarize yourself with these costs and the parts you are using to avoid scams; dealers and mechanics will have catalogs available with prices clearly listed.
Having a motorcycle, however, means an absolute necessity for regular repairs. The risks of injury and death outweigh the relatively low costs of upkeep, and your bike will look and sound much more impressive, not to mention zip around much more quickly.