Thunder Roads La/MS November TRLAMS_NOVW - Page 30

The Weakest Link By: Nate T. The weather is starting to cool off a bit as of late. Bike nights are get- ting more crowded too on account of not having to worry about getting sweat (yours or theirs) in your frosty beverage of choice. I’ve even noticed that riders are starting to jaw about what winter bike projects during the coming cooler months. I won’t say it’s cold because I’m from well north of the Mason-Dixon where cold is…err…a bit colder. However, I will digress in saying that as we’re getting to the end of riding season here in South Louisiana, it’s probably a good time to take a look at the final drives in our scooters. The final drive is really just what it sounds to be. This includes whatever mechanisms, gizmos, and whahozits that connect the gear box of your motorcycle to the road. There are pretty much three systems out there to make that happen. You’re gonna have either a chain, belt, or shaft. Just like anything else, there are pros and cons to each one, so I don’t subscribe to one being better than another. You’re gonna find a belt on most of the modern cruisers out there. They’re quiet, easy to maintain, and have a pretty long life. The drawback is that on a bike like a Harley, you’re taking apart the whole world to replace it when it breaks. Being as that’s not very feasible for most on the side of the road, you have a better chance of walking or towing your ride. You don’t see shafts on a ton of bikes (Beemers and some metrics), but they’re also quiet and pretty maintenance free. The problem with them is that when something goes sideways, it ends up being pretty involved and expensive. Chains have been tried and true since before motorcycles existed. They take a bit more maintenance, are noisier, and don’t last quite as long. However, power transmission is excellent (if properly maintained), and if one has a high-speed come-a-part, you have the option of getting back on the road without taking much apart (if anything). There are also a whole lot of options with chains from colors to performance levels. It just all depends on what you’re trying to do or more simply what bike you chose to swing your leg over. Regardless, you can see just how important it can be to take care of your final drive. For those of us that have a scooter with a shaft drive, there really isn’t a whole lot to it. It’s mostly keeping it as clean as possible. This includes taking a look through your service manual to find out if any guards that might catch road grime can easily be taken off to really get everything off of those sensitive areas. Really, other than that all there is to it is follow- ing the manual and checking either the grease or oil level for the rear end gearbox. I suppose that maybe a shaft drive doesn’t look quite as sexy as a chain going down the road, but it sure doesn’t make many complaints as you’re tryin’ to put the miles on. The chain final drive happens to be my favorite. First, they look cool. Beyond that, if you carry a chain breaker, a chain press, and a couple chain links in your tool kit, there’s a pretty good chance that even if that chain decides to leave the building, you’ll still be able to keep most of your pride intact. While you’re waiting for that adventure to unfold, that chain is going to need some pretty regular TLC. You see, that paste that you find coating your chain is sort of this combination of assorted oils, street pizza juice, and dirt. Besides being a good way to permanently stain just about anything, it also makes pretty good grinding or lapping compound. That might be a good thing if we’re gonna lap some valves on the side of the highway. On the other hand, it is for sure not a good thing when it’s left to grind away at your final drive chain. To keep that stuff from sneaking dollars out of your wallet before its neces- sary, you’ve got to keep it clean and lubed. It’s really pretty simple. You can buy a fancy motorcycle chain brush or just use an old toothbrush…or some- one’s current toothbrush you don’t like so much. Either way, I like to use some dawn in hot water and go all the way around the chain. Just work around that chain to break everything loose that isn’t chain. Then, rinse it with clean, hot water. Don’t use compressed air to dry it ‘cause it can blow road grime into places you don’t want it. Just pat it dry and be done with it. Then, if your bike has a chain oiler, make sure it’s still oiling and you’re done. If you don’t have an oiler, get a chain lube that’s specific to motorcycles and whatever type of chain you have and apply it just how the instructions on the bottle say. Last, but not least, if you’ve got a final drive belt, you’re in about the same boat as the shaft driven bikes. There’s actually probably a bit less maintenance considering there’s no oil or grease to check. For the most part, the belt just needs cleaning and inspection. Clean a belt, you say? Well, they start out clean, so returning them to that state every once in a while can’t hurt. Just the same as a chain, take some Dawn in hot water and use that toothbrush to scrub ‘er down. Then, just rinse it off with some more hot water. Once you’re happy with it, either let it air dry or pat it dry…big choices, right? That’s it. While you’re down there though, take a good look at the belt and the pulleys. Cracks, big dents, chunks missing, or anything otherwise not as the engineers intended means it’s time to change it out. Just like anything else on a motorcycle, maintenance keeps your machine running at its best, keeps you from walking. It may not be as fun as actually riding, but we’ve got to keep making it happen. After all, beyond anything else, it helps to keep you between the lines and shiny side up. Shovel on. 28 Thunder Roads Magazine Louisiana/Mississippi | November 2017 | www.thunderroadslams.com