If you like bikes, then enjoying maintenance is par for the course. This is even more true if you’re riding on a somewhat limited budget. Take that up a notch and start doing trackdays, racing or long distance trips and you will become rather familiar with your bike whether you wanted to or not!
I actually enjoy working on my bikes. It lets me know how they are doing, if there’s any weirdness they are prone to, and helps me catch issues before they become major problems. Right now, I’m in the middle of my “winter” maintenance work, which involves oil changes, suspension refreshes, valve adjustments, replacing parts like chains and sprockets, and fixing anything else that comes along! This can lead to my bike looking rather naked, as my race bike does at the moment as I await the arrival of some suspension parts, chain and sprockets and anticipate the valve adjustment scheduled for this weekend.
As a new rider, I had no idea the routine maintenance a bike required. Of course I knew about oil changes and keeping an eye on all the other fluids (I took care of the routine stuff on my cars and other motorized equipment), cleaning and lubing chains, stuff like that. I made the mistake, however, of believing a bike was like a car and if you took care of those things, it was happy until something else was going. Not so much. My poor first bike went over 40K miles before its first valve adjustment! Thankfully Kawasaki engines can take a beating as that thing went another 40K+miles before it no longer existed.
The other thing I’ve come to realize (the hard way) over the years is that bikes are prone to weird little failures. Keeping a particularly keen eye out, and knowing your bike intimately, are huge in keeping you safe. Some of the strange things that have happened to me over the years (through no fault of my own doing) include having a rim break; having a frame break; having a subframe lose nearly all its bolts; case covers rattling out bolts; countershaft nuts coming loose….chances are, if it’s on your bike, SOMETHING can happen to it!
Knowing your bike and keeping up with regular maintenance can help prevent many of these things from turning into very bad situations. Take the time to get to know your bike, give it a good, in-depth look at regularly, keep it clean, and learn how to do minor repairs. Keeping yourself familiar with your machine can often provide you the opportunity to avoid a tow when something breaks on a ride. Random things happen regularly – your ability to fix them can keep the situation low key and get you back on the road in a minimum amount of time.
If you haven’t started already, now is a great time to give your bikes a really good tear down and once over! Be sure they are ready for spring: fresh and secure, ready to roll on your summer adventures!