Your little neighborhhood motorcycle shop had the privilege of a visit from long time comedian, celebrity, and motorcycle enthusiast Andy Bumatai, whose tv show Toolin' Around features Andy toolin' around O'ahu on his Victory Cross Country Motorcycle, interviewing local shops/businesses. Needless to say, we were extremely excited, especially Trish, who as a little girl used to sit next to her parents' old wooden-stereo-in-a-credenza, listening to Andy's albums and memorizing all of his jokes.
We are upon the summer season, when no doubt you will put many hours of glorious riding into your much-loved motorcycle. Even if you and your motorcycle are daily riders, summer is a time for those extended rides around the island with your loved one, family, friends, motorcycle club: Hawai’i sun on your face, ocean wind whipping your hair, stops here and there to admire nature or to get some shave ice or a plate of garlic shrimp.
In anticipation of all of this GOOD FUN, KICK ONLY Motorcycles and your motorcycle mechanic Nikola would like to offer a few tips. Generally, you should do a check on your bike every time you set out to ride. Things you should check on include the tires, fluids, headlight and taillight, turn signals, clutch and throttle, mirrors, brakes, horn, and nuts and bolts.
In addition to checking your bike before each ride, you want to be aware of the condition of the major components on your bike—this is part of your responsibilities and safety as a good rider.
On the photo above of Stephen’s solid 1957 Panhead, which Nikola rebuilt for Stephen a few years ago, we’ve pointed out some important things to check on:
Check the tire air pressure, and general wear and tread. For the most part, the lifespan of a tire is around 10,000 miles for a Harley. It’s important to check the tread on your tires. Are they nice and full or are they wearing down? If the wearindicator is flush with your thread, you should look into getting new tires ASAP.
Check your brakes and brake pads. Try the front brake lever and rear brake pedal one at a time and make sure each one feels firm and holds the motorcycle when the brake is fully applied.
Oil is the lifeblood of a motorcycle. Without enough [clean] oil, you could do some serious damage to the engine. Make sure you have enough oil so the engine can be properly lubricated, and that it is clean and not dirty. If it is black, you should look into doing an oil change ASAP. It’s a good habit to change your engine oil every 2,500 miles; if you don’t ride that many miles in one year, change the engine oil at least once a year. Also running synthetic oil will benefit your engine especially on those hot summer days. It takes longer for synthetic oil to break down compared to conventional motor oil, which in turn reduces engine temperature and helps increase the lifespan of the engine.
Check both the headlight and taillight. Test the switch to make sure that both high and low beams are working. Make sure your lights work. Lights are important safety feature during the day and night.
Being a happy rider means being a good and safe rider. Being a good and safe rider involves getting to know your bike in the ways described above, and much more. The more familiar you get with the ins and outs of your bike, the more likely you are to notice if something is out of the ordinary. Remember, motorcycle safety [which ultimately translates to the safety, health, and well being of you and those around you] starts with your motorcycle being in proper and optimal running condition. Get to know your bike, and take good care of it. Your motorcycle will love you for it!
If you come across a good mechanic, especially one who works out of a small business or one-man shop, chances are, he is just that–one man running his shop. This means he lives, breathes, eats, and dreams motorcycles, and there are eternal black grease stains under and around his fingernail beds. This means that when he is not wrenching, he is most likely doing something else related to his business, like looking up parts, ordering parts, answering the phones or email, throwing out the trash, bookkeeping, and other everyday tasks that a one-man shop owner does. This means then, that his hourly labor rate, when divided up according to all the hours that he spends doing these tasks, ends up being much lower than what he actually charges you.
With this in mind, here is a list of things that you should avoid when dealing with your one-man shop mechanic, lest you annoy him. And you wouldn’t wanna do that. Because he takes good care of your motorcycle.
1. Don’t ask your mechanic all kinds of questions about parts, ask him to look up parts and parts costs, how to do the job, and then buy the parts for cheap online, take the job to another shop up the road, AND THEN visit the one-man shop to show off the parts you bought and the work you got done at another shop. Why?!
2. Don’t ask your mechanic to change a gasket on your engine, then when you pick up your bike you blame him for your turn signals not working. Um, gasket and turn signals = totally unrelated!
3. Don’t call your mechanic at 5:30am in the morning. It is likely his cell phone number you are calling, and he and his wife are fast asleep; what’s more, your question can probably wait until 8:00am, a decent hour for making phone calls to businesses or non-friends, in case you didn’t know.
4. If you drop off your bike for a job, don’t call your mechanic 12 times in a span of 1 minute, unless you want to be blackballed from the shop for life. Can you say psycho?
5. Don’t haggle with your mechanic about his hourly labor rate. It is not negotiable. And it is actually an insult. If your motorcycle could talk, it would tell you to shut the #$&% up! It loves being in the shop, where it gets the attention and care it needs!