Annual Electrical Inspection

This is something that should be done more than once a year, but at minimum it should be done at least annually. That is the electrical inspection of your motorcycle. This is to ensure that everything is functioning the way it should as far as lights, kick stand switch, kill switch and more. Please make sure to check these things at least once a year:

  1. Proper dash lights illuminate when ignition on, but motorcycle isn’t running.
  2. Day lights (if equipped) – ensure they come on when the motorcycle ignition is on but motorcycle is not running.
  3. Headlight low beam
  4. Headlight high beam
  5. Left turn signal front
  6. Left turn signal rear
  7. Right turn signal front
  8. Right turn signal rear
  9. Taillight
  10. Brake light when applying front brake
  11. Brake light when applying rear brake
  12. When in neutral and kick stand down – bike starts
  13. When in neutral and kick stand up – bike starts
  14. When in gear and kick stand down – bike doesn’t start
  15. When in gear and kick stand up – clutch released – bike doesn’t start
  16. When in gear and kick stand up – clutch engaged – bike starts
  17. When in gear and kick stand goes down – bike stops
  18. When in neutral and kick stand goes down – bike continues running
  19. Kill switch turns off motorcycle

I did a brief run down in this video for my 1000sx

Change your Brake Fluid

I find that one of the most neglected maintenance items on a motorcycle is the brake fluid. The worst part about it is the fluid change procedure only takes ten minutes – it’s faster than an oil change! Most motorcycles state to do it every two or three years. The reason for the frequency is due to the limited amount of fluid in a motorcycle and the critical nature of the brakes on a motorcycle.

Brake fluid absorbs moisture rapidly. Moisture comes from multiple sources in a brake system, even if it is closed. Condensation from environmental factors. It could be a cold garage and you pull it out on a hot day. Winter time causes condensation on motor oil and brake fluid. The super low temperatures at night then warmer temperatures during the day. Or if you ride in the cold and heat up the brake fluid by using your brakes a lot. Condensation gets in from other ways too, but the bottom line is it does get in there.

Why is this a big problem? Compression. Water is far more compressible than brake fluid. So as moisture builds up, your brakes become squishy and do not have the stopping power that they should.

Another problem with water in the brake fluid – corrosion. Parts start deteriorating and even rusting. Holes start forming in the brake lines from the inside out.

Air can also work its way into the system over time. This doesn’t happen much if the system is well maintained and there are no leaks, but it can occur. A lot of people just bleed their brakes (remove air) on occasion and not do a full change. You’re already half way there with bleeding, do the full change!

“But the bottle says good for 50,000 miles!”

Yea, sure – but it doesn’t have how long it is good for time wise. That bottle is also going with the larger market, passenger vehicles (cars, trucks, suvs, vans).

Follow the factory recommendation for your motorcycle, but most common is two or three years to do a full change. I personally do it every year since it is such an easy process.

Motorcycles with ABS may not get a full change unless you have the systems to actuate the ABS modules. That’s okay though, as the other 95% gets changed and then if you trigger the ABS the fluid will work its way through. My Kawasaki motorcycle is supposedly an open system when off, making it a full 100% change.

So get out there and change your brake fluid before the riding season comes up. Brake fluid is cheap, just make sure you get the right stuff. DOT 4 is reverse compatible with DOT 3. Do not put DOT 3 in a DOT 4 motorcycle though. Make sure your motorcycle isn’t DOT 5, in which case you will need DOT 5. Check your owners manual, or most times the fluid type is printed on the reservoir cap.

Below is a video I did for the brake fluid change on my 2021 Ninja 1000SX. The procedure will be very similar across all motorcycles.

The following products may be helfpul:

Situational Awareness – Road Debris

Road debris can be just as unpredictable as cars, but the best thing you can do is be situationally aware and plan for exit paths. In the below video I go through a video posted on YouTube where somebody faces the “flying plastic” paradox – does it go left, right, oh wait – it moved completely different because of that other car. Always be prepared.

Ten Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas for the Motorcycle Rider you Love

Valentine’s day is right around the corner, and so many couples use this time to share their love for one another. The motorcycle community can be a bit different for showing love. While flowers, chocolates and lingerie are still very welcome, diamonds and other expressions of love tend to favor toward gear, modifications and accessories for motorcycles. So if you’re struggling to find that perfect gift for the two-wheeled loving man or woman who stole your heart, here are some suggestions for 2023 that may help you out.

Alpinestars SMX-1R Vented Boots
I love these boots. They are so easy to put on and take off, they’re durable and most importantly, they do help keep your feet cool. These boots come with a soft but durable heel that allows the freedom of ankle movement but still has protection. A shift pad protects the boot and from wearing out from the upshifts while also adding some padding for comfort. The easy to use zipper and velcro straps make this boot a breeze to put on and take off. The ventilation during summer rides keeps your feet comfortable on those hot days. The sole is texturized and prevents slipping, whether on oil splattered pavement or walking through the mall. They have the standard version for men and the stella version for women.

360 Degree Camera
Standard GoPros are nice when you want to see just one direction, but the ability to make video content from a 360 degree perspective from wherever the camera is mounted not only allows you to create some amazing content, but it also works as a great “witness” camera for any unfortunate situations such as an accident. There are a few different models on the market, but the most common ones are the GoPro Max and the Insta360. Both are great cameras with high resolution. The resolution is comparable though the Insta360 has more format options. The GoPro has more microphones if you are looking for sound quality. For number of features, the Insta360 takes the cake. The main advantage of the GoPro is it has better splicing where the two cameras join together to create the 360 image and the shape provides for some better mounting options.
GoPro Max:

Battery Maintainer or Trickle Charger
Every motorcycle should be placed on a trickle charger. This keeps the battery topped off and fully charged which not only makes sure your bike will start when you want to ride it, but it can extend the batteries life by two to three times. I’ve had batteries last ten years when placed on a trickle charger. What makes some trickle chargers better than others is the functionality they have. The CTEK models not only keep the battery charged but it can recondition and recover them if they have failed or been drained all the way. In the winter it keeps the battery healthy, and lead acid batteries suffer if not fully charged in extreme cold – so keep them topped up and healthy by getting your loved one a trickle charger.

Cell Phone Mount
A lot of motorcyclists have started using their phones as GPS systems instead of getting a dedicated GPS for the motorcycle. This works well for sport bike riders who aren’t touring all over the country and want to be able to just load up their maps, or Waze for its obvious features, and maybe make it easier to change their music. There are two widely accepted phone mounts out there, the RAM and the Quad Lock. You do need to know your loved ones motorcycle though to determine the best mount. Stabilizers and different designs may make stem mounts unusable, but there are handle bar mounts and other options. Both models come with wireless charging systems for those with wireless charging capable phones. If you have an iPhone, I highly recommend a Quad Lock with the vibration dampener – without it the camera will get destroyed from the vibrations. For Kawasaki sport bikes if you wish to go with the stem mount, I recommend getting the pro mount as it supposedly works better with the hex shaped opening.
Quad Lock Stem Mount:
Quad Lock Stem Mount Pro:
Quad Lock Vibration Dampener:
Quad Lock Wireless Charger:
Quad Lock Handlebar Mount:
RAM Stem Mount Ball Base:
RAM Double Socket Arm:
RAM Tough Charge:

Communication System
Do you ride with your loved one? Doesn’t matter if it is as a passenger or on your own bike, a communication system can really make for a great ride. Not only do these communication systems allow for two way communication, they can connect to your phone so you can listen to music or take phone calls. You can connect them to GPS systems at the same time as your phone and have two way communication, allowing you to be fully connected with all of your accessories. Unfortunately all comm systems are not created equal. The top contenders are Cardo and Sena and they have a great many models with different options to choose from. It all comes down to price and preference.
Cardo Packtalk Edge (2 Pack):
Cardo Packtalk Edge:
Sena 50s:
Sena 50s (2 Pack):

Dedicated GPS
A dedicated GPS system has its advantages for those who go out for longer rides and especially for those who go to new areas. Unlike a cell phone, a dedicated GPS has maps available all of the time. This means you don’t have to worry about losing service, which can happen all to often in the mountains. A GPS designed for motorcycles has advantages such as being water proof and working with riding gloves. I always recommend Garmin because it is free lifetime map updates, and you can make custom routes for your rides. The one I highly recommend at the moment is the Garmin zumo XT. Now this GPS is large, it has a 5.5″ display, so if this isn’t practical for your loved ones motorcycle you can go with the zumo 396 which has a 4.3 inch display. The XT is an all terrain model which gives topographic maps, where the 396 does not. Both support live traffic and weather and have many other features.
Garmin zumo XT:
Garmin zumo 396:

Not many of us have a lot of money lying around, and the motorcycle community knows there is poor and then there is motorcycle poor. So for those looking for cheaper gift options, here are a few that may help.

Ear Plugs
Ear plugs are pretty much a requirement when motorcycle riding. The wind noise can be deafening, but at the very least, damaging to your hearing over time. The issue is, a lot of ear plugs may be uncomfortable or block out too much sound. Ear plugs designed for motorcycle riding drop the decibels of the wind to a safe level while allowing you to still hear emergency vehicles, communicate with others, hear GPS instructions or listen to your music. There are a few variations, but the two I have used are below.

There is a wide assortment of keychains available on the market, but the ones trending lately – especially in the sport bike community, are KeyTails. These are fabric key chain tags that have a fun sayings or designs on them such as Turn Me On or Rear Women Ride Their Own. They are a great accessory that adds a personal touch to a motorcycle.
One Down, Five Up:
Fast as F–k:–k
Loud Pipes Saves Lives:
Panty Dropper:
Real Men Like Curves:
Real Women Ride Their Own:
Sportbike Heartbeat:
Turn Me On:
Two Wheels Moves the Soul:

Grunge Brush
A maintained motorcycle is a happy motorcycle, and part of that maintenance is on the chain. Cleaning the chain can be a cumbersome task, but thanks to the grunge brush it is a lot easier. This brush can clean three sides at once, cleaning all that grungy build up off three times faster. The cleaning bristle blocks are adjustable so it can be used on any chain driven motorcycle. The brush also comes with a long bristle side which allows your loved one to clean other components such as sprockets or wheels.
Grunge Brush:

Guardian Bell
Last on the list is a guardian bell. For those of you who don’t know what a guardian bell is, it is a little bell that is placed at the lowest point on the frame of the motorcycle. Also known as spirit bells or gremlin bells, they are a good luck charm for motorcycle riders. The legend behind them is that there are mischievous spirits lurking on the roads that hunt for motorcycles that they can cling onto and cause problems. These spirits cause the infamous electrical gremlins that are hard to diagnose and seem to be random, but they can also cause other issues which can be devastating such as an oil leak that causes a rider to go down and so on. The guardian bell captures these spirits inside the bell. The ringing of the bell drives them mad and eventually they want to run away, leaving your bike from their menacing desires and searching for another unwitting victim. There are rules to these bells. The legend says that the bell is given it’s magical abilities through the gesture of good will, especially by another rider, and even more so if a loved one. The rider cannot buy their own. Another rule is, as I previously mentioned, it must be hung on the lowest part of the frame so that it is the first thing a gremlin catches on to. This can be done with zip ties. If the bike is sold, the bell must be removed, but can be placed on another bike. The bell must be well intentioned with good will – so it cannot be stolen and then gifted.
I Love You Bell:
A Handful:
Ass Man:
Biker Cat:

Five Motorcycle Projects for the Off Season

As a motorcycle enthusiast, the off season can be a great time to work on projects to improve your bike or get it ready for the next riding season. Here are a few ideas for motorcycle projects you can tackle in the off season:

  1. Clean and Wax: The off season is a great time for a good full detailing. Clean your motorcycle with detailing spray, since it is too cold for a hose. Polish out any blemishes and put on a few nice coats of ceramic wax. Remember to wait 24 hours in between coats of ceramic wax. This is also a good time to give your gear a good cleaning. Most gear can not go in a washing machine, but you can use leather conditioners and cleaners to clean off bug splats, etc. Give your helmet a good cleaning to make it look like new. You may choose to wax your helmet, but be careful as it makes it slippery so a lot easier to drop, and a dropped helmet becomes a display piece and should no longer be used for riding.
  2. Maintenance: Winter is a great time to give your motorcycle a thorough tune-up. Check the spark plugs, fluid levels and, if equipped, external fuel filter. You can also take this time to take the tank off and give it a good cleaning. Make any necessary repairs, get tires changed if they are due, change the brakes, chain and sprockets (remember, they must be changed together), change the coolant and, if equipped, external fuel filter, if it is due. When the weather starts warming up is a good time to do your annual oil change and change the brake fluid. You don’t want to change the oil and brake fluid in the heart of the winter unless your garage or area is environmentally controlled as condensation will be absorbed. Doing these things will help ensure your bike is in top condition when the warm weather rolls around.
  3. Customization: If you’re looking to put your own personal touch on your motorcycle, the off season is the perfect time to make modifications. Whether you want to add some gadgets, upgrade your exhaust, or paint your bike a new color, the off season is the perfect time to get creative.
  4. Restoration: If you have an older motorcycle that you want to restore, the off season is a great time to get started. You can take the bike apart, clean and repair each component, and put it back together again, giving it a new lease on life without losing any riding time.
  5. Safety upgrades: Winter is also a good time to consider adding any safety upgrades to your motorcycle. This could include installing new lights, adding reflective tape, upgrading your brakes, adding a better horn and more.

No matter what project you choose to work on, the off season is a great time to get your hands dirty and make your motorcycle even better. Just be sure to follow all safety guidelines and take necessary precautions when working on your bike. Happy wrenching and keep the rubber side down!

Motorcycle Riding Tips for the Winter/Cold Season

Hi Everyone! Riding a motorcycle in the winter can be a thrilling and enjoyable experience, but it’s important to take extra precautions to ensure your safety. So these are five tips to help you safely enjoy cold season riding.

  1. Dress Appropriately. Now this may seem like an obvious one, and I know you aren’t going to go out in a t-shirt, shorts and flip flops. Even squids aren’t that crazy in the cold season… or are they?  You want to wear warm, waterproof gear to protect yourself from the elements. Layering is key, as you’ll want to be able to remove or add layers as needed to regulate your body temperature especially as the temperature changes throughout the day. Make sure you have a base layer that has the armor and protection you should always have while riding. Of course you wear a helmet normally, right? For winter riding a lot of helmets come with a air dam that will help keep your face warm. You can also wear a thin face mask underneath to help keep everything much warmer. Your gloves should be non ventilated and thicker. Heated grips are nice, but the outside of your hands can get cold, so heated gloves would be a nice investment. You can also wear glove liners to help keep your fingers toasty on those cold weather days. You want good boots, possibly even heated boots, with thick socks. The important thing here is if your feet sweat your socks will get wet and your feet can get really cold, so make sure to keep extra pairs of dry socks. The most important thing is to do what you can to keep your extremities warm and protected.
  2. Check your motorcycle. This is another one which should go without saying and should be done before every ride, but you need things to be in the best condition possible. Being stranded on the side of the road because you forgot to check the chain and sprockets and a failure happened is bad enough, but when it is freezing temperatures outside it can be brutal. Make sure your bike is in optimal condition including the tires, tire pressure, chain, sprockets, brakes, fluids and full tank of gas. Ensure everything is in proper working order.
  3. Take it slow. I know one of the big thrills for riding any type of sport bike is to go fast, but when it comes to the cold season you want to take it much slower. Road conditions can be slippery and unpredictable in the winter. You have sand, salt, cinders, ice, snow and much more things to look out for than normal. You want to be sure to give yourself plenty of time to react to any hazards and avoid making sudden moves or sharp turns. Take extra caution when braking and accelerating. It is also important to note your tires take much longer to warm up in the cold, and they don’t stay warm as well, which means they will be less sticky and have less traction. If you need to warm them up for some extra twisty roads, remember braking and accelerating are what cause motorcycle tires to heat up, so do so on a safe, dry and debris free surface and take things slow.
  4. Stay visible. While this is something that we strive for all year long, visibility is a bit more complicated in the colder season. You have fog and snow which greatly impacts the ability for other drivers to see you. Cloudy, murky days where things have less contrast and appear more gray and flat can make it much harder to be seen. Wear reflective gear, even if you have to get one of those bright green or yellow vests. Always ensure your headlights, taillight and signals are all properly functioning and clean any dirt off the lenses to help their intensity. Keep in mind it will be harder to see others out there as well, so keep a keen eye on everything. A lot of people drive in bad weather without headlights on, this time of year is definitely no exception.
  5. Watch for ice. Ice can be a major hazard when riding a motorcycle in the winter. Keep an extra special eye out for black ice – as it can definitely catch you off guard and put you in a risky predicament. Even if the weather turned nice and it is fifty degrees out, black ice can be hidden in shady spots that don’t get sun. Always avoid riding on frozen bodies of water, you never know how thick the ice is and if your tire suddenly breaks through it can flip you over the handle bars or cause you to lose control. If you do come across ice, take it slow and try to maintain as much control as possible. It is always best to hit ice head on and in a straight line, so try to avoid turning on the ice.

Those are the big ones. They may seem obvious, but I feel it is a good idea to have a gentle reminder every year when full-time riders hit the cold weather season. Just remember to always use caution and be aware of your surroundings, and you’ll be able to enjoy the beauty of winter on two wheels.

Stay safe and keep the rubber side down.

DTC Code? Read it with an ODB2 Reader

All of us hate to see the gut wrenching, heart stopping SES light on our dash. Millions of things jump right through our head, but in the end the ultimate question is, “What could be wrong?”

Sometimes we create the error when working on the motorcycle. Maybe we forget to hook something up. Or maybe while working on it we somehow crimped a wire. Other times it could just be normal wear and tear on the motorcycle. In the end we don’t know what is wrong.

Well don’t fret too much. You probably do not need to buy an expensive reader or have a shop charge an arm and a leg to hook up their reader to it to see what the error is. You more than likely can hook up to your motorcycle directly and read the code.

But how? There is no ODB2 connection!

True, but there are adapters! A lot of modern bikes use the red euro style connectors, others use proprietary connectors but you can probably find them with a simple Google or Amazon search.

For example, you can find the euro style adapter that works on 2020+ Kawasaki Ninja 1000SXs here on Amazon:

You can find the connector for 2019 and earlier models here on Amazon:

On my YouTube channel I go over how to hook up and read codes on my 2021 Ninja 1000SX – and it is similar across other models such as Honda, Yamaha and Suzuki.


Get Your Bike Ready, It’s Time To Ride

The fresh scent of Spring in the air, birds chirping, trees and plants blooming and riding weather will be quickly upon us, though some it has already come. You may have already started your riding season, but for some of us it hasn’t yet; however, it is quickly approaching. With the beginning of riding season, you need to get your bike ready. If you ride year round, or live in an area where the weather is nice year round this post may not really apply to you. For the rest, read on.

If your bike has been sitting, there are a couple things you need to do to ensure it is ready to ride. Some of these things are part of standard pre-ride checks, but others don’t occur as often.


Hopefully you did one of two things during the off-season. You either removed the battery and brought it inside or put it in a warmer climate area or you had a tender hooked up to it. If you did neither of these, your battery is going to need a charge. Hook up a charger and get your battery ready to go. Nothing is worse than hitting nice weather and you go to start your bike and it does nothing or you get that awful starter sound where it just doesn’t have enough juice to engage. There is a possibility where you may even get the bike started, but it may not have enough juice to start again unless you ride long enough. If your battery is completely dead, it is best to just replace it, as it will never be as reliable. In either case, get a charged battery ready for you to ride.


I am hoping everyone put stabilizer in their fuel before the off-season. Gas goes back quickly, especially gas with ethanol. Without stabilizer, the gas breaks down and gets gunky. You may go and start your bike and it starts fine, but that gunk is going to clog your filters, injectors or carbs and maybe even your fuel pump. If you didn’t put stabilizer in your gas, it is time to find a can and drain the tank and put fresh gas in. If you did stabilize, hopefully you stabilized with a full tank. If not, there may be some rust in your tank now if it is metal. Be careful about this, that rust will continue eating through the tank until you spring a leak. If you did have stabilizer, your gas should be good to go. If it seems to run rough, go ahead and drain it and use it in your lawn mower, pressure washer or some other machine and put fresh gas in.


Your tire pressure is more than likely low. My tire pressures are 36 PSI up front and 42 PSI in the rear. When I checked the other day, they were 20 and 24. Check your pressures and make sure they are correct. Most times you should go with the motorcycle recommended settings (can be found on swing arm or some other sticker on the bike, or in your manual). If you drastically change tires or other things, you may have custom pressures you use, just make sure they are right before you begin riding.


There tends to be this misconception that if you just changed the oil before the end of the season that you don’t need to change it in the Spring. This may be true in your case, but it most likely isn’t. If your bike is stored in an area that cools down and heats up, condensation forms on the inside of the motor. Oil loves to absorb this moisture and it gets ruined. This doesn’t matter if you are using conventional or full synthetic – it still absorbs the moisture. Sometimes you may go to check your oil before the riding season to make sure the level is good – something you should do before every ride, and it looks cloudy or milky. You may even see condensation on the site glass (if you have one) because the warmer weather has heated up on the outside and caused little water droplets inside your engine to form. In any of these circumstances, you need to change your oil. Don’t run your bike with water logged oil, it isn’t good for it. If you had a climate controlled garage, brought it in your house or a few other rare situations, you may be okay, in which case you just need to make sure you have the proper oil level. Check for any oil leaks, especially around the drain plug and filter. Make sure no hoses are leaking, etc.

Brake Fluid

Brake fluid is like oil in the way it absorbs moisture; however, it doesn’t need replaced every year. Most manufacturers recommend every two years. The reason is that brake fluid breaks down over time, but it also absorbs moisture for the same reasons your oil does – condensation. Some think it is a closed system, so moisture cannot get in – but this isn’t the case. The same thing happens as the engine, if the brake lines, reservoir, calipers and such warm up, and the insides are really cold, moisture forms. If you are at the two year mark, this is the time to change out your brake fluid. If not, just check the levels and make sure all is good. The last thing you want is to not be able to stop. Check

Engine Coolant

If your bike is liquid cooled, this applies to you. Engine coolant is not affected by moisture like oil and brake fluid, but the lubricative elements of the coolant break down over time and with use. These keep your water pump functioning and not bind up. Other elements in the coolant keep corrosion from happening inside your radiator and lines. Replace your coolant at manufacturer recommended intervals. A lot of bikes this is two years, and the best time is at the beginning of a riding season. If you are not due for a replacement, check the level and for any leaks around the radiator, hoses and engine.


Hopefully you cleaned and lubed your chain before the end of last season, but in either case, it is a good idea to clean and lubricate it before the season. The reason is if it is sitting, well, anywhere – dust and other debris can accumulate on the chain. A good cleaning never hurt it, but at the very least lubricate it. Check the tension and make sure everything looks good as well as the sprockets.


Checking the brakes on a motorcycle can be a chore, but if you are not sure of the wear levels it is worth checking to make sure your pads are good. Braking is very important for any vehicle, as you need to be able to stop. Sometimes you can get a flashlight and the right angle to look down in the calipers and see the pads, maybe even see the wear notch. If not, go ahead and pull the calipers off and check the wear level of the pads. The fronts will tend to wear down quicker than the rear, but always good to check both. If they need replacement, go ahead and do that so you can stop when you need to.

Standard Pre-Ride Checks

Make sure to perform your standard pre-ride checks that you do (you are doing them right?) before every ride. Walk around the bike and look for any leaks. Check your lights to make sure they are working, as well as your horn. Make sure your steering works as expected. Check your brakes and throttle response to make sure everything is as it should be. Make sure you have your latest insurance and registration for the bike.

The responsibilities that come with owning a motorcycle may seem like a lot, but they are to keep you safe and your machine running in good working order where it will last a long time. Be sure to do all your service maintenance at the proper intervals. Some are every year, two years, five years. Some are just by mileage. Go through your manual or look up the service schedule online. Keep your bike healthy and happy and it will return the favor.

Once you are all set, head on out and enjoy! Keep your eyes up and two wheels on the ground. Be sure to watch for all of the cars (cagers) out there – they aren’t used to seeing bikes from the off-season, so they will be even less likely to be looking. Stay safe and hope to see you out there!

The Importance of Chain Maintenance

I decided to write this post after coming across a post on a facebook group I am a part of where the OP was asking for recommendations for new chain and sprockets because their chain snapped. Naturally, I asked to myself, “How did the chain snap?” To the comments!

Someone else asked the same question, and the OP’s response was that it was an old chain and they had it serviced at the dealer at the beginning of the year and was hoping to get another year out of it.

Queue the red flags, the sirens, the red alert, everything! They had it serviced at the beginning of the year! Why is this bad? Well, unless they only rode a couple hundred miles and never in the rain then there needed to be more maintenance done. Don’t get me wrong, it is possible that they only rode a couple hundred miles during the year, but by the way the comments were going from the OP this was not the case.

You should always lube your chain after riding in wet weather or washing the bike – this is critical. I will get into more on that in a minute. You should clean and lube your chain about every six hundred miles or so. If you are on a long trip you can get away with just lubing it rather than cleaning it all the time as you do need a water source to rinse the cleaner off.

Why? Well, the chain is metal for one. We aren’t talking stainless steel or aluminum, just regular steel. What happens when regular steel gets wet? It rusts. What also happens? The water seeps into the pins (unless they are sealed, but even then it can still get in there) and rust forms which then causes friction which causes wear. By not lubing your chain after it gets wet, you are going to shorten it’s life quite a bit and it won’t be as safe to ride. Water can also remove the lubrication, which then wears your sprockets.

As for cleaning – think about where that chain is. What it is going through and picking up. Dust, dirt, tar, little gravel, grass and more. This stuff just accumulates which then causes premature wear on the chain and your sprockets. So cleaning it off every so often is just a good idea, but you need to wash the cleaner off before lubricating otherwise the cleaner will actually render most of the lubricant useless.

You might be thinking, okay – so I’ll just replace the chain and sprockets (remember to always change both, never just one or the other) as the wear. Well, that’s like saying you’ll just change the oil in your car when it gets low rather than at it’s scheduled maintenance thereby leading to wear on the engine. When your chain starts wearing prematurely, it isn’t a natural wear. It cuts grooves and weakens links in the chain. Now think about this – if you’re going 70mph and the chain snaps it’s going to fling up, rip the plastic chain cover to shreds, then smack your engine typically ripping a chunk right off thereby destroying your motor. Is it really worth it then?

Another benefit to regular maintenance on a chain is it gives you a chance to inspect it. Notice any bad wear patterns, or bad looking links. Things that may be an indication of an impending failure so you can take care of it before you end up totaling your motor.

A well maintained chain and sprocket set should be able to last 20k – 30k miles. Neglect can shorten that drastically.

Do yourself a favor, take the time to maintain your chain. If you’re going on a long trip, make sure to carry chain lube with you for if it rains.

Stay safe out there and keep the rubber side down.

Chain Maintenance

Five Things for Storing Your Motorcycle for Winter

$*#@ $*@!# @$$ AHHHHHHH!

It’s that time of year… The time when a lot of riders put away their babies for the cold, icy and snowy months. There could be many reasons for this. Perhaps you just don’t like riding in the cold. Hey, 50 MPH in 30 degrees has a wind chill of 12 degrees Fahrenheit. Burrrrr. I’m cold just thinking about it. That being said, there is a ton of gear out there to keep you warm including heated gear, but it just isn’t for everyone – not to mention the expense for the gear.

Then you have those who don’t want to risk the ice. I’ve hit my fair share of black ice. It will scare the living crap out of you I will tell you. It will completely catch you off guard. Then of course there is the snow and ice that comes with winter in general – not fun to ride in. Some do, some have the tires for it, but it isn’t for the faint of heart. Along with it of course comes the salt, which will make you cry to just think about it on your baby. Or worse, that pre-treatment stuff that eats everything it touches. Here in PA, they use cinders too. I could go on a whole rant about what a waste cinders are – they chip everything up, they really don’t give you any more traction than a good salted road, and when the snow is gone, they are everywhere and you are dodging them like crazy – just a lot more random gravel patches to watch out for.

You may live an in area that just gets way too much snow to even try riding – you need four wheel drive, not one wheel drive and just two wheels on the ground. I hear you, and I do not look down on any rider who decides to winterize their bike and hang up their helmet until the beautiful Spring weather hits. Heck, I stop riding around October around here because of deer! Yes, you heard me, I stop riding even though there are seventy degree days if there is any chance I would get stuck in the evening hours. Any time after evening is bad too. Let me tell you, the deer are crazy. I’ve hit sixteen deer! Not with the bike, thank goodness, but that is not a good track record, and in the country – they are in abundance. I will get out for a few afternoon rides, just be back by five.

In any case, when you decide to pack your bike away for the winter, there are several things you need to do in order to ensure it’s wellbeing and that she will be happy to see you in the Spring and run perfectly for you.

Wash your Motorcycle

Number 1: Clean your bike! Yes, clean it. You may be one of those who cleans her every day before you ride, or you may be one where your bike has never seen the gentle soothing soap bubbles that leave her gleaming in her glory. No matter which one you are, give your bike a bath. Get all the bugs, tar, paint and any other road grime off that has accumulated. If you don’t want to give her a full bath, at least clean the chain and lube it. That chain goes through a lot, and you need to take care of it.

Fuel Stabilizer

Number 2: Put fuel stabilizer in the tank, fill her up and run it for five minutes. This is very important, especially if you cannot find gas without ethanol. Gas gums up, pulls in moisture and can break down into some very nasty stuff in a couple months. There are a bunch of fuel stabilizers out there. I used to use Sta-Bil. It did the job, until my Camaro. It would run like absolute garbage in the Spring. Popping, surging, you name it. Now my Camaro is built, it needs the best fuel it can get, and even with Sta-Bil, it was not happy. That’s when I started using Seafoam and it has never been happier. Not only does Seafoam put Sta-Bil to shame in terms of longevity (ahem – 2 years) – it cleans your fuel system too! It helps with the moisture and ensuring the gas is ready to go in the Spring so you have a very happy lady. It comes in 16oz bottles which is more than enough for your motorcycle. 1oz per gallon as a stabilizer. Did I mention it cleans your fuel system? That’s right! Your injectors, carbs, pump, filter and all will be so happy you added that come Spring. If you don’t want to use Seafoam, that’s fine, but make sure to get a quality stabilizer. Do not skimp on this! If you do, you will eventually have a very angry lady and a very expensive bill.

Battery Tender

Number 3: Battery tender! That’s right, you need to get a battery tender on your bike. Some people just unhook the battery, pull it and put it on a shelf. Lead acid doesn’t do well with just sitting. If you have a lithium battery, DO NOT let it freeze. Those of you with normal led acid, agm, etc – just hook up a battery tender – just make sure it is made for your battery. A lot of them support all types of batteries now, just make sure to set it right so you don’t overcharge an AGM, etc. I use a CTEK 40-206 and it works great – plus it will recondition your battery. You can hook a connection right up to the battery and run it to a convenient spot. My Ninja 1000SX I have run up under my rear seat. Plug it in and forget it – well, until you go to take the bike out, you don’t want to start riding off still hooked up!

Number 4: Paddock Stands/Motorcycle Lift. This really depends on your bike. Sport and sport touring bikes will want to be on paddock stands. Cruisers, tourers, etc may have center stands, but may also require a different kind of stand. Do your research, pick what works for your bike, and get those tires off the ground. This avoids flat spots in the Spring. Good quality tires will eventually have those flat spots smoothed out, but with the sticky compound used on sport bikes and such – you don’t want them sitting in one spot too long. If you don’t want to have it on stands, make sure to move it around into different positions every couple weeks.

Motorcycle Cover

Number 5: Cover her up. Get yourself a cover, a sheet, anything. Keep the dust and other bugs off of it and avoid any scratches while you are searching for your long lost 10mm socket one day. If you have kids, a cover is a must, at least with my kids lol.

Stay safe, stay warm and see you in the Spring!