The Winter season is a good time to catch up with preventative maintenance which will insure more trouble free time once the riding season is once again upon us. I know the Winter in Socal is a joke with some occasional sprinkles and brisk weather nothing like the real Winters of the rest of the country. Be that as it may, there are times when your bike will sit unused for a time and the way that it sits will determine how will perform in the months ahead.
Your bike is a device that consists of 100's of parts that are assembled into systems and subsystems. These in turn have a certain set of dependencies in order to perform the function for which they are designed. For example, the engine in order to run needs fuel from the carburetors or the fuel injection sub system. The engine also needs a spark to ignite the fuel from the carbs or injectors. The carbs are dependent on the fuel lines to deliver fuel from the petcock and the petcock needs fuel present in the tank in order to provide fuel for the downstream components. Any failure or degradation in a single part effects the performance of its dependents downstream from that part.
Fortunately for us we don't have to keep track of 100's of parts because the most elemental of those are the most stable and don't degrade as easily unless abused. The engine is made of Aluminum, steel and perhaps bronze very stable materials that if properly cared for will last for many years. Organic materials such as rubber, plastic,paper, grease and even fuel will degrade rapidly over time whether you use it or not. This is because these materials are relatively unstable and break down over time due to heat, chemicals, pollution, UV light and they are cheaply made. Rubber hoses and gaskets have a relatively short service life from 4-10 years depending on whether they are made of natural rubber or synthetic or a combination of the two. Natural rubber is the least stable and is used by many of the Chinese and Indian scooters and bikes. They can crack and start leaking in 2 years under use. When rubber and plastic breaks down it causes problems with the operation of the bike as it will leak air which can effect mixtures or the operation of valves that depend on pressures applied to them from the engine. This can lead to hard starts, fast or unstable idles and a host of other problems. Rubber and plastic is dealt with by inspecting your engine and looking for cracks on the parts and by squeezing the hoses to feel if they are hardening. If they are hardened and not supple then its just a matter of time before it cracks and leaks fuel or air and corrupts everything downstream and you are broken down on the side of the 101, 405 well you know what I mean. Being proactive in your maintenance instead of reactive (breakdown) make for more enjoyable riding experience because you have eliminated the weak links of the systems. In the class I will show you some simple ways to trouble shoot all the rubber spaghetti under your tank.
Fuel can also degrade over time and it can harden in your carburetors, blocking passages that are needed to keep your bike running. Its a good habit when letting your bike sit over an extended period of time to either burn off the gas in the carb by running the engine with the petcock in the off position or by draining the float bowls under each carb. This way you don't have gas evaporating in the bowls and leaving the sediment from the additives which will clog them.
Next I will discuss why it is important to keep your battery charged when you are not using the bike. Another chemical system that can plague you.