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Chains 'n' Sprockets ... Getting Started



April 28, 2015

By Bob Gregor

Los Angeles motorcyclists are blessed with the best riding in the country. What more can a biker ask for than year-round, perfect riding weather, and a sprawling metropolis loaded with fascinating scenery. Throw in a weekend selection of nearby coastal, desert or mountain countryside and it is obvious why SoCal bikers stack up more miles on their motos than riders in the rest of the country. The downside to living in biker's paradise is more miles = more maintenance.

As a repair shop operator, I see both expensive damage and dangerous issues caused by poor or minimal maintenance way too often. For most of us taking a bike into a shop for minor routine maintenance is too pricey and inconvenient, which leaves us with the option of doing it ourselves (or just not doing it). Keeping your bike maintained will not only give you longer equipment life but will lessen your chances of developing a very intimate relationship with the asphalt on the 405 freeway.

Before you get started doing any basic maintenance you are going to need to get your hands on an owners manual. If you don't already have one, score one on EBay or find an online download. In addition, a shop manual is a plus, but not a necessity. The manual will not only give you a complete maintenance schedule but will also cover model specifications and instructions on each operation.

Next, you got to get tooled up. If you have the factory tool kit, dump out the contents and take an inventory. The wrenches and screwdrivers in most kits are too junky to be of any use. However, some to the specialty tools will be more than adequate ... spark plug sockets, shock adjusters, etc.

While you can always roll down to Sears or Home Depot and pick up some Craftsman or Husky tools, there is a better alternative. Every month we hit the Long Beach Swap meet looking for parts and tools. There are always several vendors specializing in used, high-quality American tools at a fraction of the cost for new ones. I especially like buying obsolete brands at least 30 years old when the quality of steel was so much better.

And to make sure you get the job done right, we are going to be coming out with a series of articles covering all aspects of what it takes to keep your classic or modern machine working at its best. Be sure to let us know if you have any ideas for additonal articles or improvement. Note: as articles become available they will become live links below.

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DISCLAIMER: The methods in this article are guidelines, provided and performed by a trained mechanic. If you are not comfortable performing routine maintenance on your bike, it is recommended you get a trained mechanic to complete these and more difficult tasks on your bike.

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