Monday, February 2, 2009

Appreciating the Mechanics of a Motorcycle

Brian invited the whole club to his house for the Super Bowl, but said for folks to get there early so that we all could work on our bikes.

A while back, he had pointed out to me that it would be great for our riding club to not only practice our riding skills together, but to also help each other work on our bikes. He saw it as an extension of being in a riding club, that the club itself ought to be more than just riding together as a group, but also working on our bikes together as well.

And I've said all along that I want to learn more about that stuff so that I can save some money doing my own work. Of course, I was all for it.

But I find that I get a different feeling riding my bike having gained knowledge of the mechanics at work. Knowing how the brake pads fit into the calipers, how the calipers are secured into place, the proper level of brake fluid, and the theory of operation, it removes all the mystery of what I'm riding. I can feel the subtle feelings in the brake lever, and actually envision part-by-part what's taking place, and then diagnose it while I'm still moving down the highway. It adds another level of appreciation in riding a motorcycle.

There's also a sense of intelligence gained through it all. Us guys will sit around the table being able to carry on a more lively conversation having acquired the knowledge one can only gain from getting your hands dirty. There's a sort of "geekiness" about it that adds to the greater good of riding motorcycles.

And there's even a personal aspect to it, where two or three of us will examine one's motorcycle more closely, gain an intimate understanding of its mechanics, and then appreciate the challenges and advantages that person has when riding.

Then we'll work together as a team where three or more hands make things easier, helping someone get something done on their bike where it would have cost them hundreds of dollars elsewhere. And through it all the club comes out a little more closely knit than before.

As it turned out, we hardly watched the Super Bowl, spending most of our time in the garage with our bikes, or sitting in the patio eating burgers, drinking beer, and talking bikes.


  1. It sure makes the work go better when you have more than one mind and one set of hands in the muck.
    I've been wrenching what I can on mine for 38 years, between a Dad who wanted someone to sit with him while he worked on engines, to a husband who was a HD just reading the manual and getting int there to do it...
    I agree, a club becomes more "personal" and cohesive when the members not only ride together, but are actually there to help master a technical problem with your bike, his bike, their bike. Strengthens friendships better than anything else I know.

  2. Except sea daddies, and the guys & gals who have watched your back in the Military.

  3. Sounds like you and your friends have a great thing going, and it's the "next level" in being a biker that I hope to reach. Right now, I have few tools and no facilities to do my own work. Lucky for me, through another Chapter member, I hooked up with an independent bike shop owner who does excellent work at the very reasonable prices. Still, I think how you guys are doing it is the way to go. This spring, I'm actually ordering a dumpster to dropped in my driveway so my wife and I can do a mass "purge." We've got so much junk we need to get rid of, and a lot of it is crammed into my side of the garage, barely leaving room to park the bikes.

    I want to get a lift for the bike. I need a bunch of special tools I don't have yet. Then, I hope to do more things myself. I'm a plumber by trade, so I know how to use tools. I agree totally with you about how working on your ride must bring you closer to it. I'd love to know how that feels. Plenty of us in the Chapter talk about work we need done, want done. Tips are exchanged, referrals are made, etc. But what you've done, actually getting the gang together for a group wrenching session...I really like that idea.

    I hope someday soon we can follow your excellent example.

  4. My garage has way too much stuff in it also, though I've carved out a space where I can fit my jack under the bike, and do stuff on my own. But I'm not good at putting tools back where they belong, and I have trouble finding them again. Brian is way more organized, and it actually becomes more fun to work on a bike inside of a well organized, well stocked garaged.

  5. almost 20,000 mile on my glide in a year. I figured out how much I saved by doing all my own service and investing in a shop manual. It's around $2700.00. Wholly shit! (That's Harley for yah)

    It's almost a must and gives you something bike related to jab about when you can't ride. You start to really enjoy the whole bike experience even more. People get freaked but with a shop manual there really isn't a reason not to be able to do basic stuff yourself. Rebuilding a gearbox? errr...yeah, that's a different story.

  6. I have to agree completely. Not to mention the feeling of accomplishment when it's done and it works right.

    Btw, I love the blog. Been reading it for a few months now and I like all you have to say.



About Steve

A vagabond who hauls a motorcycle around the country in a toy hauler, earning a living as a website developer. Can often be found where there's free Wi-Fi, craft beer, and/or public nudity. (Read more...)