Thunder Roads LA/MS AUG 2018 - Page 24

Keep an Ear to the Ground By: Nate T. E ach and every one of us that gets out on two wheels knows that putting some miles on with our face in the breeze is a very personal thing. They call it “wind therapy” for a reason, after all. For some, it gets us a bit back in tune with ourselves. For others, it helps cope with the everyday grind. Sometimes, it’s just a way to feel like we’ve got a bit of control in all of the chaos around us. All of the time, it has a lot to do with the thrill of carving out some twisties on our pride and joy. So why is it that when we’re in the middle of getting in touch with our inner child, outer hippie, or other such excuse to stay out of a therapist’s office do we forget to stay in touch with our machines? Putting it blunt, as motorcycle owners, we can be pretty selfish. We’re sometimes so concerned with twistin’ the wick to get that grin going that we forget to keep an ear to the ground and be good listeners. I don’t mean to our better halves…although listening in that department tends to be a pretty good plan too. Obviously when I tell y’all that you need to be better listeners to your sickle, I don’t mean that you need to fluff its ego or listen to its woes about being bullied by the other bikes at the rally last weekend. What I’m getting at here is that we need to pay closer attention to what our bikes are telling us all the while tarmac is passing under us. We all take a certain pride in knowing our machines like no one else can, right? We know just how she (or he) has to be stroked to get the fires lit on a cold day. We know just exactly what type of fuel it likes to eat. We know what tire pressure gets us around our favorite curves in the shortest time. We know just how much grunt we have left going light to light. We (hopefully) know just how many miles we have after going to reserve. So it wouldn’t be that much of a stretch to notice little changes in how your bike runs before it turns into a bad day. Consistency is the name of the game here. If your ride starts heading towards inconsistent, you might just find yourself getting some unscheduled walking experience. First off, the easiest thing to keep track of is how your bike starts. If its cold blooded normally, it should be that way all the time assuming you don’t change something. This goes the same if the bike starts up if you just shoot it a sideways glance. When you’ve put some miles on and she’s warmed up a bit, this might be a little different, but it should be consistent. You see, once a bike is set up with timing, air/fuel ratios, ignition mapping, and the like, it should consistently start the same way. If all of a sudden something changes, even if it seems like an improvement, there might be a problem Next thing you want to pay attention to is how the brakes are working. Same as with how the bike starts, it goes without saying that your ability to stop should be something that happens the same way every time. If your brakes act different when the bike is hot and cold, you probably have a problem. If every once in a while, you get a “mushy” feel to one of the brake controls, this is something to take a look at. If you have to put brake fluid it pretty regular, you’ve got an issue. Again, the name of the game is consistency. If something in your brake system changes…even if it goes away, don’t ignore it! Third, your clutch is really important to getting power to the ground and smiles on your face. More importantly though, the clutch is a safety device as well. It lets you unass your engine from your rear tire so that you can stop. In between balls out and unassing, it also lets you control the amount of torque to the rear tire so that you can really control the bike at slow speeds. If it changes how it acts and has tantrums from time to time, that’s something screaming for attention. It very well could decide to try and drag you into a busy intersection, should that tickle its fancy. Annoyingly enough, fending this off isn’t as simple as the others. Clutch components wear in and out over time, making adjustments and part replacement necessary every so often. Still, making sure it performs the same way every time makes sense to me, so I guess you’re gonna have to make this happen by paying attention to it and looking in your manual for what you’re supposed to do for regular maintenance. Now, its time to talk about listening to your sickle’s heartbeat. I went over the others first, because paying attention to those can keep you on this earth a bit longer. Engine and trans issues can definitely put a dent in your safety record, but for the most part those issues just end up putting a dent in your wallet. So, if your engine runs smooth all except for “that one time”, or “sometimes”, don’t ignore it. If it’s normally a dog and it starts running like a raped ape, this might not be a good sign. Clogged jets (air and fuel), electrical shorts, intake air leaks, fuel filters, and fuel quality can cause these little symptoms that lead up to something requiring a broom to clean up later. Think about shoulder pain and heart attacks. So, while you’re out watching those lines run by you, getting in touch with your inner child or outer hippie, try being a better listener. That machine betwixt your legs brings you a whole lot of grins per mile. Make sure it keeps doing that by keeping your ear to the ground. Listen and feel for changes to how she goes, turns, and stops…and for cripe’s sake, if the bike tells you there’s something wrong, man (or woman) up and take care of it! Until next time. Keep it between the lines and shiny side up. Shovel on! 22 Thunder Roads Magazine Louisiana/Mississippi | August 2018 | Photo Credits: ing-is-more-than-good-listening/ Katie Welsh; show?id=2182797%3APhoto%3A398519 | August 2018 | Thunder Roads Magazine Louisiana/Mississippi 23