Does your Motorcycle Handle like a Shopping Trolley?

Let’s look at the science behind getting the it right. Of all motorcycle engineering’s dark arts, chassis tuning is the most transformational, the most useful, and the least understood. Power, they say, is nothing without control. Control is only gained when a motorcycle’s tires are firmly in contact with the ground, And the components that maintain this critical union of rubber and road are what’s known as a suspension system.

Now, although this will instantly conjure mental images of a fork, shock, swingarm and the related springs and things that let them compress and extend in a controlled manner, they’re not the only parts that affect bump absorption and road-holding.

The motorcycle in its entirely is a suspension system constantly yielding to impacts and rider inputs through flex in the frame- tires, wheels, triple-clamps and even the engine. The suspension components are just the last line of defense in the battle for wheel control and chassis stability and are, generally, the only element of ‘give’, which can be adjusted for resistance and rate of movement.

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Rating: 4.00/5 (3 votes cast)

Painting Plastic Use the Right Primer

Repairing the damaged plastics of a motorcycle is one thing; painting them to a satisfactory level is an altogether different matter. Unless you have the facilities to properly spray it’s arguably a job that is best left to the professionals.

However, should you wish to take the plunge and have a go there are almost limitless tutorials online that will take you through preparations, operating conditions, paint types and numerous other key areas. One thing to be aware of with plastics is getting the right primer; without this vital first step, paint is unlikely to adhere to the plastic properly.

The hardest plastic to cut in terms of paint adherences is anything regarded as a polyolefin. If the panels you’re working on look and feel like a washing up bowl then they’re almost certainly polyolefin in nature. Polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) are the most common and are typically found on step-through leg shields and mudguards.

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Rating: 2.80/5 (5 votes cast)

Motorcycle Plastic and Bodywork Repairs

A damaged panel can cost a fortune to replace. Therefore we decided to tell how to repair plastic panels as good as new with just a few tools and cable ties.

Small scrape, an embarrassing drop or an errant boot can all damage your motorcycle’s paintwork. Motorcycles can be much trickier than cars to repair – they have a variety of different materials, have intricate curves, often use transfers over paint, and even the paint codes to get the right color match can be tricky to find sometimes. And if your motorcycle is an older model, replacement parts can be elusive.

After checking a replacement part isn’t an economical solution, your next choice is to repair the damage. It’s easier than it sounds – so let’s have a look at how you can repair plastic for as little money as possible using heat, filler, cable ties and a little help from some friendly professionals.

Assess the Damage and Sort your workspace. Our panel had taken the brunt of an impact around the clutch area, with scrapes through the paint to the plastic, and two holes. We built a makeshift bench to hold the panel, with packing foam to prevent scratches. This gives us a nice height to work from.

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Rating: 3.00/5 (1 vote cast)

Lubricating Your Cables

Cables are fast disappearing on the larger modern motorcycles, but there are still plenty around and most riders ignore them until they break or cause a problem. This is partly because modern Teflon-coated cables have an amazing lifespan and need very little maintenance.

But there’s still a substantial gain in performance and durability available from steel-wound cables if they’ve lubed regularly, and there’s still plenty of steel-wound cables in use. You'll be amazed at how much lighter a throttle or clutch will feel if it’s given a good dose of lubrication, especially if it’s been allowed to gunk up.

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Wire Stripping Pliers and Ratchet Terminal Crimps - Simple Electrical Tools

If you have a older motorcycle that’s on the edge of 10 years old or that can be classed as a project motorcycle, you should arm yourself with a wire stripping pliers and ratchet terminal crimps, this simple electrical tools make repairs and modifications so much easier.

The wire strippers are satisfying to use – neat, with easy exposure of the copper strands for fitting connectors or splicing in joins every time. The jaws have a variety of sizes to suit common wire diameters on Japanese or European motorcycles. Then you bring the ratchet crimps in to play.

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Repair a Flat Tire While Touring

Have you ever had a flat tire while touring on your motorcycle? Should it happen, I’d prefer finding a tire flat when I came outside in the morning, as opposed to getting a flat while riding. That said, I have seen riders fall after simply jumping on their motorcycles in the morning and taking off. That first corner or stop sign is not where you want to find out that your front tire is flat, so it’s smart to check your motorcycle over each morning, and after each fuel or food stop. I pointed out a flat on a buddy’s motorcycle one morning, but he didn’t appreciate my humor when I informed him of the good news. ‘It’s only flat on the bottom,’ I said. He had the last laugh, though; he didn’t know where the air went in or how to keep it there, so I ended up fixing the flat.

If you’ve never experienced a flat tire while riding, it can feel like the wheels wants to wash out. If the tire’s low, steering will feel heavy, and if it’s flat, it will wobble and return a mushy response to steering inputs. Should you experience a flat on pavement, it’s best to slow down, carefully using the brake on the good tire, and stay on the pavement and continue decelerating carefully. Don’t move onto a soft shoulder at speed and then try to brake or you may end up with more than just a flat tire. Try to move as far off the road as possible so you can safely work on the motorcycle. Turn four-way flashers on if you have them, or leave the lights on if it’s dark.

I always carry the tools and parts I need to perform basic roadside repairs, but for more complicated repairs I always try to contact a repair shop in the nearest town or village.

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Rating: 2.00/5 (3 votes cast)

The Problem of Buying a Modified Motorcycle

As a rule, I tend to avoid modified motorcycle and scooters. Generally, this is because they are changed to one particular person’s idea of what they should be, do or look like. Another reason is because so many are bodge jobs and few people are capable of significantly improving a manufacturer’s product.

Yet another is that they increase your parts hassles, unless you know exactly what has been done.

Changing things like rear shocks and other service items is one thing. But say you buy a Suzuki Bandit 1200 (which is not officially available in Thailand) that’s had a Suzuki GSX-R1000 front end fitted after a serious accident. What model? K5? K7? And what are the brakes from??? And that master cylinder doesn’t match anything you’ve seen from Suzuki. And after some serious searching and asking around you find that the calipers are from a Yamaha…

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Rating: 3.00/5 (2 votes cast)

Maintenance for Points Ignition Systems

Older motorcycles that still run points ignition systems can sometimes be a pain the behind.

The slotted crosshead screws that locate points and/or back plates are often badly damaged and resist all attempts to loosen impact driver used without a hammer normally sorts the problem.

Lean on the impact driver had with the head perpendicular to the back plate and turn; amazingly this will almost always work.

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Rating: 2.33/5 (3 votes cast)

Check Radial Runout When Installing New Tires

When installing a new tire, it’s a good idea to put the rim on a truing stand to measure radial runout. Check lateral runout at the same to ensure it’s withing 0.80mm. Radial runout is up and down variance from concentric. If the rim has, say 0.80mm or less radial runout, proceed with tire mounting. If there’s more than 0.80mm, a wire spoke rum needs to be re-trued to bring the radial runout within specifications.

A aluminum-alloy cast rim may need replacing depending on how far above 0.80mm the radial runout actually is. Most motorcycle companies advise replacement if radial runout exceeds 0.85mm. It is easy to instruct this, but not everyone has deep pockets with fat wallets, so compromise may same some money.

I do not get worried when replacing a rim for less fortunate customers until hitting 1mm radial runout. I explain the pros and cons and let the customer decide. However, if it goes higher than 1mm, then it becomes a safety issue in my mind, and I will dig my heels and refuse to re-install the rim.

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Crankcase Pressure and Engine Performance

Nearly a month ago, we looked at the problems created by crankcase ventilation. These ventilation systems route the combination of gasses escaping past the piston rings, mixed with vaporized engine oil from the crankcase, to the intake tract, where they are supposed to be burned on a second trip through the combustion chambers.

Although Positive Crankcase Ventilation (PCV) systems have been required since 1961, they have serious drawbacks – mainly the accumulation of carbonized oil on the walls of the intake and exhaust passages, the backsides of the valves and in the combustion chambers, where it badly reduces airflow and can cause overheating. In addition, oil particles in the combustion chambers can initiate detonation, quickly creating major damage. Let’s look at what you can do to avoid such problems on your own motorcycle engines.

It has been reported that, at idle, typical blow-by composition is 67 percent oil, 22 percent fuel, 10 percent water and 1 percent solids by weight. An inevitable by-product of combustion, water is the greatest single cause of preventable engine wear, creating corrosion by oxidation and acid formation. Tests have shown 0.2 percent water in the engine oil is typical but levels of .4 to .5 percent are not uncommon, and at these higher concentrations, free water is likely to separate out as the engine cools. Plus, ironically, the situation is made worse by the water dispersal additives in modern engine oils, and the use of E10, E20 or E85 fuels (containing 10, 20 and 85% ethanol) that both attract water and are more electrically conductive than gasoline, creating galvanic corrosion.

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How many times have you crashed your motorcycle in the last three years?

  •  Never
  •  Once
  •  Twice
  •  Three times
  •  Four times
  •  Five times
  •  More than 6 times
  •  More than 10 times
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