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...

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