Motorcycle Tires: Age Matters
by Christine Fernie,
ACMM Safety Officer
How old are your motorcycle tires? Tires can become dangerous when they get too old because they can become brittle from exposure to sun and oxidization. I had this experience in my second year of riding (crystalized and bald tires).
For people who ride little, the risk of their tires being old is higher. So, share this great knowledge with others and maybe get someone to buy you a coffee for eliminating a hazard they did not know they had.
This is your safety tip for the month. Check the dates on your tires and check out this article to see how to find and read the date.
Hot Weather Motorcycle Riding
From one of our Safety Officers, Christine Fernie
I was doing research to find out how hot is too hot for my bike (Texas in July) and was pleased to learn that a well maintained air-cooled bike is usually fine as long as you can keep moving.
In my research, I found this article that said there are 3 things you should carry in hot weather: a charged cell phone, a water bottle with a 1/2 day supply of water and an umbrella for shade should you break down. I think these are excellent tips to heed for all of us headed to Texas. Another option for shade might be to set up your tent for some cover. Don't underestimate the danger of overheating yourself as well. Happy travels everyone.
Getting them ready
Here are some tips for cleaning our bikes as we are getting them ready for a new riding season:
1. For break dust use Hot Wire - can be picked up at Janitor's Market located at 95 Ackerly Blvd in Burnside Ind. Park. Just spray on and hose off with water. This is quite potient stuff so DONT leave it on or it will stain. (from Cassie)
2. For bugs use fleecy dryer sheets. Just wet the sheet and wash off the bugs. They work better than anything I ever tried. (from Cassie)
3. Rub a dry dryer sheet over your windshield. This will help keep those bugs from sticking in the first place. (from Coleen).
Winter and Spring Bike Checks
These articles are from Peggy and Christine, our safety team.
With thanks to Pro Cycle for their excellent tips, here are some pointers for winter storage.
1. LOCATION. Chose a place that is dry and out of harms way. When possible, choose a location out of direct sunlight as the ultraviolet light can fade paint and plastic parts.. Cover the bike with a specially designed bike cover to avoid moisture trapping , rust and mildew.
2. CHANGE THE OIL. Byproducts of combustion produce acids in the oil that harm inner metal surfaces. Warm the engine to its normal operating temperature as the oil drains faster and more completely. Do a filter change at the same time. Pro Cycle, Canada Tire and probably most retailers of these products will dispose of your old oil.
3. ADD FUEL STABILIZER AND DRAIN CARBURETORS. Fill the tank with fresh fuel to the bottom of the filler neck. This provides enough room for expansion in warmer temperatures. Add stabilizer to prevent gumming up the fuel jets and run the engine to cycle through your lines. Shut off the fuel petcock and drain the carburetors and the fuel lines. Note- Some BMW models can’t use Stabilizer containing alcohol.
4. LUBRICATE THE CYLINDER. Remove the spark plug(s) and pour a tablespoon of clean engine oil into each cylinder. Be sure to switch off the fuel before cranking the engine as this may refill your drained carbs. Also ground the ignition leads to prevent sparking. Turn the engine over several times to spread the oil and then reinstall the plugs.
5. BATTERY STORAGE. If stored for a prolonged period in a cold environment, remove the battery. A convention battery may need its cells topped up with distilled water and to be charged. Charge the battery every 2 weeks using a charger that has an output of 10% of the battery ampere hourly rating. If a higher charge is applied the battery may overheat. Also many motorcycle retailers have battery tenders that provide charging as needed.
6. SERVICE ALL FLUIDS. If the brake or clutch fluids haven’t been changed in the last 2 years or 18000kms do it now. These fluids absorb moisture and can cause corrosion. If your motorcycle is liquid cooled, the coolant requires changing every 2 years or 24000 km.
7. FINAL PREPARATION. Give your bike a good cleaning and dry it thoroughly. If your bike is chain driven apply a quality chain lube. Spray a light oil, such as WD40 into the muffler ends and drain holes and give the painted surfaces and non-coated aluminum parts a good wax coat.
Check the air pressures of your tires. If the bike has a center stand, use it and put a block under the engine to raise the front wheel off the ground. If not maximize your load pressure to help prevent flat spotting.
Now you can cover your bike and happily look forward to an early spring.
SPRING BIKE CHECK
It doesn’t matter if you are a hardcore rider, or if you only ride when the price of gas gets too high to drive. No matter the reason, the riding season is here and your motorcycle needs some love if it has been in hibernation mode.
Here is a quick checklist of things to inspect (courtesy of cruisercustomizing.com):
Tires: Check to make sure tires are inflated to the correct air pressure and examine the tread wear. Also make sure that the rubber is plyable and that there are no signs ageing or cracking. Tires have a tendency to dry out and are sensitive to temperature changes. Examine your valve stems. If they are rubber, make sure there are no cracks or visible signs of wear. If you have any doubts about your tires, valve stems or inner tubes, replace them. They are all that stands between you and the road.
Battery: A trickle charger is worth its weight in lead. Hopefully you have maintained your battery’s charge through the winter. If not, you will probably need a new battery. If you have kept your battery on a charger and your bike starts right up after you disconnect the charger, your battery is probably OK. On maintenance style batteries, make sure the fluid level is correct. Have your battery tested if you have any doubts about its condition.
Engine Fluids: Check to make sure your coolant level is correct on water cooled motorcycles, and that your coolant is within the recommended service limits. Examine coolant hoses for signs of ageing and cracks. Make sure that your engine oil and oil filter are within recommended service limits and the oil is at the proper level. It is good idea to start with fresh engine oil and a fresh oil filter if your motorcycle has been sitting for 6 months or more even if the oil is within the recommend mileage and still looks clean.
Final Drive: Inspect your chain and sprockets. Make sure the chain and sprockets are within wear limitations. Make sure that your chain is properly adjusted, lubed and free from rust, kinks and any other visible signs of wear or damage. Make sure that the final drive oil is at the proper level and within service limitations on shaft driven motorcycles.
Air Filter: Inspect your air filter. Replace it if it is a paper type and dirty. If it is a gauze or foam type air filter, it’s always good to start the season with a clean and freshly oiled air filter.
Hydraulic Fluids and Control Cables: Check your brake fluid and hydraulic clutch fluid levels. If your bike has been sitting for 6 months or more, it is a good idea to replace both. Hydraulic fluids have a tendency to absorb moisture which will affect performance. When replacing hydraulic fluids, always use new brake and clutch fluid from a sealed container.
On cable operated brakes and clutches, engage the levers and inspect the exposed portions of the cables. Make sure that there are no signs of cable fraying or rust. The levers should engage and disengage smoothly.
Throttle: Check the throttle to make sure that it operates smoothly. With all control cables, it is best to replace them if there are any signs of possible damage.
Nuts and Bolts: Before riding a bike that has been sitting, it is always a good idea to visually inspect the motorcycle. Make sure that nothing looks incorrect or out of place. Check various nut and bolts for tightness. Make sure that spokes are properly tight if your bike has spoked wheels.
Let's hope it never happens to you. You are on your maiden voyage around the Cabot Trail on a bike, and you need a new tire. Yikes. Shops, not just motorcycle shops, are few and far between. However in Middle River, before Baddeck, there is a great motorcycle shop, MacKenzies Motorsports (exactly 11 KM in off the highway), and they have 2 mechanics on duty and aim to get you back on the road ASAP!
I know this from personal experience. 4 of us went riding through coastal NS and into Cape Breton on the July 1st long week-end. One of the riders (who was immediately behind me), noticed that my back tire (which was just replaced last September), had a bald spot in the center. I was a bit freaked out, we were basically in the middle of nowhere. Country Harbor residents might not like me saying that, as we were in their small town, but we were not close to any type of repair shop that could replace my tire. We decided to complete our ride for the day, to our cottage in Troy (on Cape Breton Island), and see what we could find in or near Port Hawkesbury in the morning.
We used our fabulous NS Motorcycle Tour Guide to find a couple of shops, one in Port Hawkesbury and MacKenzie's in Middle River. Friday morning, we called both. MacKenzies told me they had a tire and could replace it as soon as we could get there. Great. The only problem was, they were about an hour away. The shop in Port Hawkesbury couldn't even get my call through to the Parts Dept they were so busy. The lady on the phone told me, "oh they won't be able to replace your tire today". So we were off to Middle River. We had no problem finding MacKenzie Motorsports and were impressed with this shop in the middle (if your rode across instead of around) the Cabot Trail. They were friendly and replaced my tire right away.
We were really happy we found them and we able to continue on our wonderful ride of the spectacular Cabot Trail.
It's always good to have some type of guide with you when you ride, for accommodations, places to eat, interesting destinations, and should the need arise, a quick repair!
Jul 13, '10