Wednesday, March 19, 2008

On tools for the beginner...

As threatened a little while ago, I've decided to take a stab at providing some of you with a list of tools that you'll need for carrying out basic maintenance and repair drills on your beloved bike. I'll provide a listing of basic handtools, followed by some "tools of interest" or special application tools.

The very first item on the list is the maintenance manual for your bike. These normally cost a few dollars but are well worth whatever you pay for them. Besides, you can't reasonably expect to work on your wheels without one. Every fastener on that machine has a specific torque value. You can't possibly guess these, so get the book...

- A good Socket set: This should contain 1/4", 3/8" and 1/2"-drive ratchets, sockets and extensions. Your sockets should be a mix of 6-point and 12-point, metric and standard, and should include some deep sockets as well as a set of metric and standard hex head drivers. You'll find many fittings on your bike are in fact hex heads. Make sure you also have the appropriate deep sockets for your particular spark plugs and sockets large enough to take care of your wheel nuts. As far as the ratchets go, you may want to spring for a small 3/8" drive palm ratchet as well. I find these indispensable for most work as they are lighter and much less work on your wrist to use. If your ride has some Torx fasteners on it, make sure you have the matching sockets in your arsenal.

- Torque wrenches: At the very least, you will require one 3/8"-drive and one 1/2"-drive torque wrench. The 3/8"-drive will take care of 90% of all your bike's fittings, as mentioned in a previous post. The 1/2"-drive torque wrench will take care of large fittings, such as those found in your primary drive system (engine, clutch, tranny...) and your wheels. Old-school wrenches still use beam-type or deflection type torque wrenches, but do yourself a favor and get a click-adjustable pair. This will save you the years of experience it takes to proficiently use one of the former.

- A good set of hand wrenches: These are invariably used in conjunction with your ratchet drive sets. A set of both metric and standard is a basic requirement. Canadian Tire often has their famous 50% off sales on these and you can get a professional-grade set for a steal of a price. Box wrenches are far better on a fitting than an open-end wrench. You will be much less prone to round off the shoulders of the nut you're tightening and will be less likely to leave tool marks on your fasteners. NOTE: Sockets and wrenches are the only tools that should ever come into contact with a nut-type fastener. Adjustable wrenches are handy to have, but should only be used as a last resort on any fastener. No doubt you have also seen people employ pliers to hold a nut (or worse, to loosen it...), but these folks should be flayed alive with the primary chain from an old Panhead. A monkey would not use a set of pliers on a nut...It is from the same school of illogic as those who would use a butter knife as a screwdriver... These are the people who should be kept as far away from your tools as is humanly possible. Again, ensure you have a wrench large enough for holding your axle fittings and invest in an oil filter wrench while you're at it.

- A good set of mechanic's screwdrivers: These are readily available in fairly inexpensive sets. (Try your local Princess Auto store...). The difference between a set of mechanic's screwdrivers and a standard set, is that you will notice at the base of the shaft, a hex-type shoulder, where you can apply a wrench to the screwdriver.

- A good collection of pliers: These should include various sizes and lengths of needlenose pliers (straight and bent...), side cutters, linesman pliers, vise-grips, a small and large set of channel-lock pliers and a variety of snap-ring pliers. I also keep a mini-set of spring-handled pliers on hand for doing more delicate, electrical or soldering work.

- A set of hammers: More than one hammer? Absolutely... You're not going to use that ol' claw hammer to drift home your front or rear axle are you? Or to tap another type of part or fitting into place? So... One ball-peen hammer (or two, one small, one large...), one rubber mallet, one dead-blow mallet (plastic, shot-filled) and one short-handled mass.

- Thread locker: I always keep one bottle of red and one bottle of blue thread locker on hand. The brand does not matter as they all work the same. Only a drop or two is required when using this stuff. You don't have to coat the entire fitting! Also when removing a screw or bolt that has thread lock on it, make sure you clean off the old thread lock before re-installing it.

- Funnels and containers: Your bike will require draining of and filling with many different types of fluids. It will seem that you can never find a funnel to suit a particular requirement. Notably when draining the oil from your bike. When replacing fluids, remember that you need somewhere to catch and store the old fluids, until you can pour them into the containers you just emptied into your bike. Always dispose of used fluids responsibly! Your local Canadian Tire store will take them off your hands for a nominal fee.

- Shop supplies: When working on any given part of your bike, you will always need various shop supplies to competently carry out your maintenance. These would include parts and brake cleaner, lithium grease, dielectric grease, axle grease and cable lubricants for your various moving parts, shop rags, polishes and waxes. Always have on hand as well, the various fluids that your motorcycle requires, such as engine oil, tranny oil, brake fluid, fork oil, radiator coolant, etc... You will get solvents, gasoline and oil on your hands and other parts of you, believe me. Many of these fluids contain known carcinogens. Keep a good hand cleaner on hand, as well as a skin moisturizer to use afterwards. Most good hand cleaners strip all the oils from your skin, causing them to dry and crack if left unattended.

Special Tools.

As you become more skilled and adventurous in your bike's maintenance, you will note that your maintenance manual advises: "certain jobs require specific tools". Changing out your fork seals for example, will require the use of a fork seal tool. The same applies for pulling or seating bearings and other types of seals. These are tools you can add to your chest over time, if you so desire. They all serve to render you independent of your local shop. A compressor is always a very handy addition to any shop or garage. It needn't be that big either. Compressed air is great for aiding in the cleaning of parts or even drying your bike after it's been washed. As far as using air tools on your bike, these should be used only for disassembly of parts. NEVER USE AN AIR TOOL TO TIGHTEN A FASTENER ON A MOTORCYCLE!

A lift in any shop or garage is a veritable gift from God. If you have the room for a hydraulic lift, you're pretty much spoiled rotten and I hate you...

At some point you'll probably want to try your hand at installing custom electrical parts. This will no doubt involve some minor soldering. So you'll want a decent soldering gun, some flux paste and some fine grade solder. Small packets of various diameter shrink-tube are also a requirement. Solder connections are an art in themselves. Like many other endeavors, it's all in the prep work. Get some old wiring and practise on cleaning it up, prepping it and doing soldered splices. You'll be surprised how quickly you can become adept at it. A good, strong solder joint should always be shiney (a dull finish indicates a cold solder joint... not reliable) and never be taped up. Electrical tape was acceptable in the days before shrink-tube, but not anymore. A good splicing job should be virtually invisible to the eye. Seamless...

Two final tools that you may find indispensable, are a basic multimeter and a voltage probe. The voltage probe simply clamps to your frame and when you touch a junction that's holding 12 volts DC, the handle lights up. It's a great little visual tool for faultfinding an electrical circuit, to say nothing of verifying that soldering job you just did. The multimeter will allow you to measure voltage, amperage of resistance values in your bikes circuits.

So that pretty much concludes your basic tool requirements for carrying out your basic maintenance on your baby. No, it's by no means an exhaustive list, just enough to get you started on the road of becoming self-sufficient.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

"I'm calling on behalf of my son..."

Among the many calls we field, we sometimes have the occasion to take a call from someone's mother, who is looking for information on how their son or daughter might gain employment with the federal government. Here's a little tidbit of advice for all you doting mothers out there.

I strongly suspect that there is no federal department or agency, that would even remotely consider employing a person, who has not yet matured enough to search for a job him/herself. I have no problem in believing that a mother calling a federal department in search of a job for her offspring, is the kiss of death for any potential employment opportunity. So... a word to the wise here. Moms, kick your son's/daughter's ass out of bed and point them towards the door. It will be the most constructive action you can take in helping them find a career.

On panhandlers...

So I'm coming into work this morning and as I'm waiting to cross the street in front of the Rideau Centre, I'm accosted by this young fellow who wants to know if I'd be interested in "financing a bit of breakfast for him", as he put it. I looked him up and down and stated, loud enough for those around me to hear as well: "I can see young fella, that you still have all four of your limbs... I suggest you go find yourself a fucking job if you want to eat!" He then proceded to try and bullshit me that he had recently broken his arm and he couldn't return to his dishwashing job because of that. His 'broken' arm was working just fine for all the gesticulating he was doing to explain his story, mind you...

I told him I simply didn't want to hear it and that he should save his weak-assed stories for those equally weak-minded people who might actually be conned by such an outrageous piece of fiction. I see these losers every single day, but today I just felt compelled to say something besides the almost-Pavlovian 'Fuck off...' response. This may have been due to me watching an installment of The Fifth Estate last night, which covered a week in the medical unit at the Kandahar Airbase. I watched a procession of our young lads,
coalition forces and Afghanis, injured and maimed by Taliban IEDs and small arms fire, cycle through the facility. Some made it, some didn't... All of them were made of far stronger and nobler stuff than this young waste of skin. And here was this young lad, hale and healthy, asking me for a handout... The gall...

Like many other major urban cities, Ottawa has seen a ridiculous growth in the number of beggars who harrass residents and tourists alike on our streets. There are some who are actually belligerent towards their prospective targets. I have not experienced this first-hand, mind you... you can only guess as to how that might turn out. "Honest, Officer... he was bleeding profusely when I found him sprawled on the sidewalk...". But negotiating the downtown and Market sectors, has now turned into walking a gauntlet.

By the way, I do make somewhat of a distinction between the homeless and the hordes of panhandlers out there. For the homeless, there are social programs on a municipal and provincial level which are there for the homeless to benefit from.

Many people have written editorials in local papers, asking for an explanation to this phenomenon. The answer of course is simplicity itself. The reason why we have so many beggars on the streets is because: PEOPLE KEEP GIVING THEM MONEY!!! Seriously... It's not rocket science. These clowns have discovered that if you have the balls to sit on a street corner and ask people who work to support you as well, there are a good percentage of these fucking morons who actually will. What's that? You think my calling them "fucking morons" is a little harsh? Perhaps a little judgemental on my part? Well, let's face it... they absolutely are! Their actions are negatively affecting all of us. To say nothing of their encouraging bad behaviour and thwarting the process of natural selection.

Nature says that if you're too lazy to get off your ass and provide for yourself, you're going to starve. But wait, these panhandlers are only doing what any good parasitic life form would do. They are surviving at the expense of their "host". Their hosts seem to believe that by giving money to these beggars, they are helping them "survive so they can make it off the streets". Yes, they really are so stupid as to believe this. They have absolutely no intention of "getting off the streets". They make better money than you do during the run of a week. Or maybe they think somehow that this will make them a better person. No... it just makes you a mark. I don't know about anyone else out there, but I work appreciably hard for my money. I put in my hours. I don't do so in order to give my money away to total strangers, who expect me to provide for their livelihood. Surely to God I can't be the only person to see the insanity in doing this? How detached are these people from reality, that they don't realize how much of an insult their request would be to even a semi-intelligent person? I suppose it's fortunate for them that such persons are becoming a scarecity in this town.

So there you have it. If you stop feeding the roaches, they will have to move on to greener pastures for their survival. It's the only way to reclaim our city, unless of course you really want to go the way of the Brazilian police and how they deal with the hundreds of homeless little street urchins in their major cities...

Thursday, March 6, 2008

On winter bike maintenance...

So what are some items that riders should look at over the winter? What type of maintenance should typically be carried out, in order to ensure a happy bike and owner come spring?

Well, you'll find that the answer to this will pretty much vary with the owners. I know that many folks store the bike and don't give 'er another thought until the first warm day rolls around. Then they get all in a huff when their bike won't start or run.

This list is not exhaustive by any means and I'm not telling anyone how to suck eggs here. This is a list of what I do during the winter months, as well as some type of explanation as to why I do it. Please bear in mind that this is on the whole, for bikes that are stored inside.

Initial prep for storage:

- The bike should be washed thoroughly and dried, before being stored.

- The gas tank is filled and fuel stabilizer added. ("Stabil" is available from Canadian Tire). The stabilizer will prevent the fuel from breaking down and forming sludge or varnish deposits in your fuel system. These would impede the flow of fuel and result in a bike that will neither start nor run. The reason for filling the tank is that it leaves less air in it. Less air means less chance of rust developing. The bike is then run to ensure the fuel/stabilizer mixture makes it's way into the carb/throttle bodies. If your bike has a carb, run the bike with the fuel shutoff lever switched to "off". This will ensure that most of the fuel in the float bowl will be used up. If your float bowl has a drain screw (and most of them will...), make sure you drain it before you store the bike.

- I then place my bike on a lift. I obtained mine on sale from Canadian Tire for the modest sum of $69.00 and it is well worth every cent of that price. Even if you were to buy these at full price (about $124.00...), they are still a deal. I place mine on the lift as it decompresses the shock springs (your shocks will last you longer...) and gets the bike off the tires (no flat spots come spring). It also makes it very easy to work on the bike, compared to sitting on an inverted milk crate. Your back will thank you... If you don't have a lift, simply placing a piece of carpeting under each tire will prevent the developing of flat spots.

- I remove the seat, the gas tank and the side covers. This will allow me access to all those normally hidden areas that we never seem to get to during the riding season. Next are the spark plugs. These are removed, inspected and cleaned. If deemed serviceable, I will gap them as per the bike's specs then wrap them in a shop cloth and bag them. I will then 'fog' the cylinders with oil, to ensure that they and the piston tops have a protective coat on them, preventing rust. Aerosol cans of 'storage oil' are widely available and do the job in seconds. I then plug each spark plug hole with a bit of shop rag.

- Some riders remove the battery altogether. If you are storing the bike outside, I would certainly recommend that you do so. I have a set of connectors hooked up to my battery, so I can recharge it simply by plugging in a cable. I normally leave the battery in place, but do check the connectors to ensure they're tight. I clean them off and apply a fresh coat of dielectric grease to ward off any corrosion. I charge the battery every two weeks, using a battery charger intended specifically for motorcycles. So... your bike is now pretty much ready to sit for a spell.

Routine maintenance over the winter.

So now that your bike is ready to be laid up, what are you going to do to ensure it's ready for another season? Just because you've got her ready for storage, doesn't mean your end of the bargain is done. Your ride provided you with many enjoyable miles last season, so it's time for you to reciprocate. Here is a short list or things to take care of, to keep your bike looking and running it's best:

- Air cleaner: Disassemble this and clean it out. Replace your air filter if required, or I recommend that you switch to a K&N air filter, which you can wash, re-oil and re-use for ages. Your bike won't work right if it can't breathe. In order for the carb to deliver the correct fuel/air mixture and not run overly rich, your filter needs to be clean and unobstructed by insect bodies, dirt, road grime, etc...

- Controls: Disconnect and remove your clutch and brake lever. Clean them out and add some fresh grease so their operation remains silent and effortless. By checking mine this year, I discovered that my clutch lever's brass bushings were worn down to a dangerous level. I was able to order replacement parts (and some spares...) and take care of this situation before the riding season started. Imagine being in the middle of a trip and having your brake or clutch lever go south on you... Your rear brake pedal and gear shifter linkage no doubt have a grease fitting on them. Ensure you clean out all the old crap and grit, before adding fresh grease to them.

- Frame, wiring harness, suspension: Get a bucket of warm, soapy water and spend some time washing those areas that the sun never sees. Those areas under the fuel tank and behind the side covers... now is the time to clean them up. Dig out all the dirt and crud that's found a home there. Dirt retains moisture and is the leading cause of rust for your frame and your electrics. While you're there, check all your electrical wiring and connections. Make sure they're cleaned up and give them a shot of dielectric grease as well. The same goes for those chassis grounds which are bolted directly to the frame. Check for tightness, rust or galling. Clean them up and dab them with grease as well. 90% of all electrical problems on a motorcycle are caused by faulty connections or bad grounds.

- Pop the back wheel off. You'll be surprised how much bad stuff you'll find there, between the wheel itself, the swingarm and your terminal drive link, whether it be a chain, a belt or a shaft drive. While I have the wheel off, I will clean it thoroughly, check the bearings and seals and refresh any grease that needs to be there. I will also clean up the rear brake rotor and disassemble the rear brake caliper. I will also do the very same thing with the front wheel. Check the tires themselves to determine if they might do you another season or if replacing them now, will save you from having to do so halfway through the season.

- Lights: Many fixtures are supposed to be water-resistant on a bike. The lights, to name but one of them. I make it a practise to take the front covers off the lights and have a look around in there. Invariably, some water finds it's way in there, along with dust and grime. So I clean it out, wipe down the inside of the lens as well and remove the bulb. I service the base of the bulb, check for burnt spots and coat the base with dielectric grease before re-installing it. Even the simple act of removing the lenses allows me to check the state of the mounting screws, as I won't wait until a screw rusts in place before replacing it. Ever had the head of a rusted screw snap off? Now there's some fun...

- The paint: Every painted surface is thoroughly cleaned, dried and waxed. I try to put on a minimum of 3 coats of wax during the storage period. It doesn't hurt, believe me.

- The chrome: Again, washed, dried and polished. Mother's makes a very good polish for chrome and metal. A metal sealant applied afterwards is a good way to protect all that work. This would also include pegs and/or floorboards, whichever you happen to have. Take them right off. Don't forget to add a coating of grease to the clevis pin before remounting them.

- Fluids: I will religiously change out the engine oil and filter (10W40), the final drive fluid (90W) and the brake/clutch fluid (DOT-4). I normally also inspect the rad coolant levels. There are different schools of thought when it comes to when to change the engine oil. Some will advise you to change it when you store the bike. These are the same people who will tell you to change it again in the spring, before you take the bike out. To me, that doesn't make sense. I might be able to see that if the bike stays outside (which I would never consider doing...), but certainly not if the bike remains inside. Change it out once, either before putting the bike away, halfway through the winter or just before spring. But do change it!

- Cables: This is an optimum time to check out your throttle, clutch and choke cables. It is also a good time to actually remove your throttle grip, so you can clean the inner sleeve and the handlebar itself. You pretty much have to in order to lubricate the cables, so why not while you're at it. I use a liquid teflon lubricant for this and it provides me with a butter-smooth throttle response. Also give a shot of cleaner/lubricant to the throttle body or carb return springs.

- Seats and backrests: For the leather parts of your bike (or pseudo-leather), it's also a good time to clean them up as well. This goes for your saddlebags too, if you run with a set of these. Armor All is a good protectant for the bags themselves, but always check with the manufacturer before using it. I know this should go without saying, but I'm gonna say it anyway: "Do NOT use Armor All on the seat of your bike!!" Not on the saddle OR the P-pad. The reason why should be self-evident. I have known individuals (newbies) who have actually gone and done this... once. If after cleaning them you really want to use a leather/pleather preservative, check with the manufacturer to see what they recommend.

The little extra bits.

- Add-ons: I'm not one to stick something on my bike, simply because I saw it on another bike or because they happen to make it for my type of bike. There are however the odd items which either catch my eye, or whose need manifests itself as a result of a specific road trip. These are the answers to the question: "Wouldn't it be nice if we had...?". Winter is the perfect time to source out, order and install these items. Whether it's an upgrade or a custom replacement part. Your bike is your canvas. You start with the base model and can take it anywhere you want from there. I have a master list of modifications I intended to make, even before I had purchased the bike. I complete one or two items a year, sometimes more, depending on cost and availability. Many of these changes have occurred during the winter period. Not too many people are rich enough to do everything at once, so accept that this will be a slow process. This is good as it gives you time to think about what you want to do and why.

So there you have it. As I said, not an exhaustive list but something to perhaps get you thinking. When spring rolls around, Baby will be ready to begin another season of fun and travel. I will thunder her up, secure in the knowledge not only that she looks great, but that I don't have to worry about how she'll perform out on the road, whether I'm heading off to work or to the Tail of the Dragon.

All the steps which I've mentioned here can be accomplished with a decent set of normal hand tools. We're not talking Snap-On, Gray's or Mac here. The one tool you will need and should already have by now, is the maintenance manual for your bike. I'm not talking about that lame little User's Manual you got with your bike... I'm talking about an honest-to-God, bona fide maintenance manual, that shows you how to maintain, disassemble and re-assemble your bike. If you don't have one, get one. Another "must-have" tool here, is a torque wrench. Actually, you will need two of them. One with a 3/8" drive (for 90% of your bike's fasteners) and one with a 1/2" drive (for the bigger fasteners, like wheel nuts, etc...). Both Canadian Tire and Sears have excellent quality, totally affordable, click-adjustable torque wrenches that no rider should be without. If you have some degree of patience and if you can read, you will soon be able to acomplish most routine maintenance tasks. Besides, you'll gain a deeper understanding and respect for your ride and save yourself thousands of dollars in shop fees. What greater incentive do you need...?

Maybe at some point, I'll get around to covering what would make a good "beginner's tool set", for someone who rides... Ya never know.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

On the month of March...

So here we are, 05 March and still up to our armpits in snow. To add insult to injury, our weather wizards are calling for plenty more before we're even close to being out of the woods. Why just within the next 24-48 hours, we have storm warnings as well as predicted periods of freezing rain, snow, winds, probably even vampiric frogs or goddamn locusts as well... But you know what, dear readers? I don't give a rat's ass. I have plenty on the home front to keep me occupied until the riding weather gets here.

The work is ongoing on Baby and today, I ordered the 21" Memphis Fats windshield for her, as well as the mounting gear. I re-mounted the last of the front brake calipers this morning, prior to coming into work. Time to put her up on the lift tonight, so I'll be ready to take off the back wheel tomorrow morning. Much can be done once it's been removed.

I have to admit that since I stopped smoking in October of last year, I don't really miss it. The only 'but' in that sentence, would be when I'm working around in the shop. After every stage of work I did on the bike before, I would stop and have a smoke. Kind of like a little reward for having completed a certain task. Or simply as a means of taking a break during a particularily long or hard job. These days, I have yet to find something to take the place of lighting up. I mean, I don't want to start ingesting candies or anything like that, but I'll be damned if I want to start smoking again... Hmmm... There has to be something. I'll find it.
It's now Wednesday as I finish writing this entry. Turns out the rear brake pads had less than half their original thickness left. Time for them to go bye-bye... The forecast calls for another 30cm of snow before we see then end of this round. Picked up 3 new sets of brake pads (EBC, sintered, HH rated) for both the front and back, on the way into work today. One more thing off the list. Roll on spring...

Monday, March 3, 2008

A productive weekend...

This past weekend was altogether quite productive. I normally make myself a checklist of chores to do over the winter, pertaining to the bike. It's a ritual of sorts, if you will. It allows me to revisit trips we shared over the riding season, catch up on my planned maintenance and generally ensure that she is in top condition. I also take this time to upgrade some of her parts, optimizing her abilities and creature comforts. So far this winter, I had winterized her and swapped out her rear shocks for a set of Progressive Suspension 412s. I had also removed the license plate and dismantled the license plate holder, so I could clean and wax underneath that area. The whole process takes about 20 minutes and is well worth the minimal effort required.

Saturday was actually warm enough to open the garage door a couple of feet, so I could start the bike and warm her up. She sprang to life with the first thumbing of the starter switch. After she had idled for 5 minutes or so, I shut her down and drained the old oil from her. I replaced the oil and filter. I discovered that I was missing 0.7 of a litre of oil, so off I went to the dealership for an extra litre. For as much as I love dropping by the dealer, I also hate it. There's always so many new and wonderful items to gawk at... all exorbitantly priced, I can assure you...

Once back home I finished topping her up and flashed her up to circulate the fresh oil through her. She sounded happy. I then washed her thoroughly, taking care to reach the areas which were normally overlooked during the riding season. Cleaning her radiator after removing the shroud, was the worst of it. This was followed by three fresh coats of wax for the tank, fenders and side covers. The chrome received some Mother's polish. I finished Saturday by removing and disassembling the KuryAkyn floorboards. It's amazing how much road dirt and grime insinuates itself into the least little crevices. Left unattended, this is what'll cause your bike (or car, or truck...) to rust and slowly disintegrate.

Sunday I was a slug. I musta slept in until 0730. But I had work to do. My honey and her little girl have been slugging it out with a cold for the last few days, so I had some errands to run for the household, before I could get back to Baby. With that minor runnin' around out of the way, I got back to the floorboards. I cleaned them out thoroughly, paying particular attention to the mounting pins and the detent spring and ball, that keep the boards in their upright position when not in use. They were rendered like new, with fresh grease being applied to the detent spring and ball, and Never-Seize applied to the mounting pins and their threads. The boards were then remounted to the bike and polished, to remove any prints or smudges.

It felt as though I was making progress and Baby was looking her best. Still, I knew that there were some parts of her that were in need of urgent attention. The front brakes, for example. Every winter, I disassemble the front and rear brake calipers. I remove the pads and the pins, the mounting bracket, the brake pad spring plate, as the amount of crud and brake dust which accumulates there over a season is horrendous. This morning before coming into work (I have the late show this week...) all these parts were meticulously cleaned. I normally expend a full can of brake cleaner on this endeavor. Old toothbrushes are ideal for this particular task. The caliper bodies appear as new. Fresh grease is applied to the pins and the pads are closely inspected for wear. If they are more than half-way gone I will replace them, as I would rather change them right then and there. Why be bothered having to replace them in the middle of a road trip somewhere?

The mounting bolts are dressed as well and retorqued. I completed the left-hand caliper, as well as the ancillary parts of the right-hand caliper this morning. The main caliper body remains to be cleaned, as do the pads. Once they are done, the caliper assembly will be remounted onto the front wheel. I will then remove the rear wheel (necessary to remove the rear caliper...) and tend to the after end. Once all calipers have been serviced and reinstalled, I can then bleed the front and rear brake systems. Fresh brake fluid before the start of each season is a must for me. I know far too many riders out there who will wait for their brake fluid to turn to nasty brown sludge, before they will acknowledge the need to change it. Believe me, riding can be exciting enough, without having a brake-fade incident liven up your day.

I still have plans to replace the rad coolant fluid, as it has been three seasons now (going on four...). Then there's the final drive fluid to replace (90 weight hypoid gear oil). Baby has a hydraulic clutch, so I verified the condition of her clutch fluid. I changed it last year and it still looks fine. There is no real need to change it out but then again, I may just change it while I'm bleeding the brakes, as they both use DOT-4 brake fluid. I'm hoping I will be able to make her tires last for this season. If not, I'll be making a trip stateside to get some new ones. Much better prices... I have ordered her Mustang tank bib (studded...), to help protect the paint on her tank and to match with the seat and the K-Drive saddlebags, which I will be studding myself within the next couple of weeks.

My honey shakes her head and smiles at me. She thinks I am somewhat obsessive. To her, yes I can see how she might think that. Then again, this bike has almost 43,000 kms. on her and looks better than the day she left the showroom floor. She doesn't notice how well Baby performs whenever we're out on the road, when other newer bikes are faltering. Perhaps that will change if and when she ever gets her M endorsement. Who knows. In the meantime, I enjoy protecting this investment for my sanity. I have always enjoyed working with my hands. I am confident of my skills, my abilities. I take pride and enjoyment in a job well done. And for a machine that provides me with so much enjoyment, so much joy... it is the very least I can do in return...