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How to properly winterize your motorbike is an ongoing question for first time riders. I know for me, the first winter I put my bike away for the year, I didn’t even think there were things I had to do. I just stopped riding it and parked it on the front porch. Boy was I surprised when I went to ride it a few weeks later on an unseasonably warm day and it wouldn’t start.

As a bachelor, I have a very convenient and dry place to store my motorcycle for the winter – my foyer!

So when I got the offer of a guest blog post from Bobby Cleveland, the Gold Eagle Engine Answerman and spokesman for the STA-BIL® folks, I jumped at the opportunity to publish it as a service to my readers.

After getting my bike running again that first year when I didn’t winterize, my mechanic suggested I use STA-BIL® in my fuel tank during the winter to preserve the gasoline and make sure the bike started in the spring. I’ve been using it ever since; it’s good stuff that works. I’ve seen some debate whether it’s really necessary but for a couple of bucks, it’s well worth the investment.

And here are Bobby’s suggestions for proper winter storage.

Five Steps to Proper Winter Storage of Your Motorcycle

 By Bobby Cleveland, Gold Eagle Engine Answerman

With winter rapidly approaching, most of us are bidding farewell to our joyous motorcycle rides in the warm summer breeze and getting them ready to store for the colder months ahead.

But, what most aren’t looking forward to is the process of getting this completed. In fact, a national survey conducted by Gold Eagle® Co., an industry pioneer of aftermarket fluids and additives, found that 97 percent of consumers know that properly storing their motorcycles in the offseason will actually help them run at optimal performance come springtime. However, almost 75 percent of people encounter issues when taking their motorcycles out of storage—which means they likely missed some important steps when storing them in the first place.

To help prepare for winter storage, Gold Eagle Engine Answerman®, Bobby Cleveland, has some helpful time-and money-saving tips to help ensure you properly prep your motorcycles for storage, so they are ready to rev up come springtime.

 Step One: Block off a few hours in your schedule to ensure you have time to complete the process. It can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours, and it’s well worth the time, as you’ll be helping protect your motorcycle from corrosion, rust and other damaging elements and avoid repair costs in the spring.

 Step Two: Clean your bike thoroughly to remove all residue and dirt from surfaces, so it doesn’t sit all winter long. Using a cleaner like 303® Fabric & Vinyl Cleaner to remove residue that could cause stains if it sat through the cold winter months. Also, using a protectant like 303® Aerospace Protectant will help keep vinyl and leather from cracking in lower temperatures.

 Step Three: Clean beyond the surface, taking care to clean the INSIDES of your bike too. Fuel problems are a top issue that motorcycle owners run into during storage and it’s important that you complete this step properly, or you’ll face consequences come spring. With this in mind, when winterizing your bike, leave your gas tank full of fuel and add STA-BIL®Fuel Stabilizer. If you’re fuel is fresh, you do not need to drain it, but if you’ve had it more than a month, you should drain it completely and refill with fresh fuel.

Once you’ve filled your tank and added a stabilizer (use 2 oz to every 5 gallons of gasoline for storage), you should run your engine for a few minutes to make sure the fuel stabilizer gets into the carburetor and injectors. By filling the tank with fuel and stabilizer, you clean the carburetors and fuel injectors and ensure there is less air in the tank to prevent corrosion. If you leave air in the tank, it creates condensation, which can cause corrosion, so the more you eliminate water in your tank the better.

Here’s a video explaining why this is an important step in the winterizing process:

It is also a good idea to use a fogger to coat the inside of the engine when it is stored. You can use STA-BIL® Fogging Oil that you spray into your carburetor to coat the inner lining and prevent corrosion.

Step Four: Make sure your battery is properly charged, so you don’t end up with a dead battery come spring. You’ll want to make sure it has at least a trickle charge. Check your engine manual to make sure you are doing this correctly.

Step Five: Cover the bike properly and store it in a cool, dry place. This will help to keep any eroding elements away from the surface and keep it in the best shape until you are ready to take it out next spring.

Written by Bobby Cleveland – Bobby Cleveland shares his engine knowledge as Gold Eagle’s Engine Answerman. As a former technician, he shares his experience and advice with consumers on how they can obtain greater performance out of all things motor—from power sport vehicles and classic cars to household power equipment such as string trimmers and lawnmowers. Learn more from Bobby at his blog – On the Road with the Engine Answerman.

Well my year-long love/hate relationship with the Triumph Rocket III Touring is officially over. I had posted it for sale back in February on Craigslist and had exactly one person come look for it about a month ago. He lowballed me and I declined. I never heard back from him (or anyone else) and had pretty much decided to just ride the bike for another year and give it another chance.

Then out of the blue on Wednesday the guy called me and told me he was ready to buy and would pay my asking price. He and a buddy came last night with a cashiers check, put it on a trailer, and its gone.

Better times.

So ends this saga. I was enraptured last spring by the notion that bigger is better. I tested the R3T at a demo day and decided I had to have one. A few twists and turns later I had the big, powerful, head-turning bike I wanted. I hated it almost from the beginning:

  • It was hot. And not in a good way. The 2300 cc engine generates a crap-ton of heat, and made the bike wickedly uncomfortable to ride in the summer months. I’d arrive at work after my morning commute drenched in sweat. If I got stopped at a red light I would literally have to turn the motor off. I’m convinced that Triumph de-tuned the demo bikes at its demo events or richened up the fuel mixture to make this less noticeable because the demo bike I rode (and I took 2-3 turns on it) didn’t run hot.
  • It sucked gas. Ask any Rocket III owner or Triumph dealer what the MPGs are on this bike and they’ll say, “Oh, about 40 miles per gallon.” It’s bullshit. This thing drinks gas like a drunken college fratboy drinks beer.
  • It was expensive to own. My premium doubled the day I bought the bike. My gasoline bill went up by at least 40%. Tires and maintenance were expensive. It goes on and on.
  • It was heavy. Backing out of my parking space at home became part of my workout routine.

I should have known all these things. I lost sight of it though after getting drunk on the notion that bigger is better when it comes to motorcycles. My very expensive lesson learned: it isn’t.

The Rocket added insult to injury when the shifting mechanism failed in August, leaving me stuck in third gear permanently. The repair cost me three weeks of ride time during the nicest time of the year. To Triumph’s credit, they covered the repair under warranty even though the manufacturers warranty had officially expired a month earlier (big assist to Steve, the service manager at Manayunk Triumph, who facilitated this and who tolerated my daily calls for a status update.)

There were good times too. My trip through West Virginia and North Carolina in October was an absolute blast on the Rocket. The bike was just flat-out built for rolling up miles on the open road. There were times when I would twist the throttle and that 2300 cc beast would spring to life and I would feel nothing  but…joy. Ultimately when the dude called and told me he would take the bike, I decided it was an opportunity to reset and pick something else.

Tomorrow I’m going to pick up its replacement. It’s already paid for. Stay tuned…

As I’ve mentioned previously, one of the primary objectives of this blog is to help expand motorcycling to new riders, and to help motorcycle dealerships better serve the first-time rider. It strikes me that winterizing is one of these areas where some basic motorcycle dealership best practices to be applied to the first time rider market. After publishing my post on winterizing on Wednesday, I had some additional thoughts on how motorcycle dealerships can use winterizing as an opportunity to do more business with their customers who are first time riders, while helping them to take better care of their bikes.

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It’s the last day of November and it’s getting cold in Philly. I had a fantastic ride on Sunday with a group of guys I meet up with a couple times a year, came home, and stowed the bike for the winter.I know some die hard riders who never put their bikes away and ride year long, but I’m not one of them. For one thing, I’m a ski patroller at a local mountain and so that’s my focus during the winter months. For another thing, I’m getting shoulder surgery on Friday which will put me out of commission for a month anyway.

I was going to write a blog post on how to winterize a bike – something I had to learn by trial and error the first season I owned my bike – but then yesterday I found a great article on the subject. So no need to duplicate the effort.

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