Whaaaap, whaaaap, whaaaaap…..bluuuuurrrrrrrr or even worse BANG!
It is good to get your hands dirty, it is good to know a little about what makes your bike purr and what will keep it purring all the time. It is good to have an idea of what a mechanic is talking about, or even better a bit more than an idea, that way you won’t get ripped off for an unnecessary bit of maintenance. It is however even more important to have enough knowledge to make sure that your pride and joy is not going to try and kill you and a little bit of tinkering can go a long way to doing that.
Everybody should fiddle with their bikes, you should, even if it is just cleaning it after you have ridden it, or before you ride it. Of course, there is loads more that you should do, at least every few weeks and preferably more often, we should check tire pressures, we should check oil levels, we should look at the condition of our brake pads, we should check chain tension and we should check that all the bulbs are working. I wonder how many of us honestly do that every time we go out or even once a week? I know I am sometimes guilty this sort of neglect, I just jump on and away I go, and I should and do know better, because in the past doing a bit of routine maintenance has saved me from a long walk home.
Checking the chain tension for instance has revealed a cracked link, I have discovered nails in tires when checking pressures, oil level checking has revealed a bit of loose wiring that was bound to become disconnected and in the past, when I have checked the bulbs I have found, well actually nothing, but I could have done and that is the point!
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You don’t need mechanical skill to do these things, you just need your eyes and a little effort. Not everyone can, or even wants, to rip an engine apart or rebuild a rusty old heap, but I personally think we all should know how to clean an air filter and check the fluid levels of the brakes, cooling system and lubrication. To me this is part of owning a bike, part of the responsibility of owning one.
In the past bikes were less reliable, they did break down on a long ride or in the wet, and so it was necessary that we had a bit more than just a passing knowledge. Now however they are super reliable, usually, and so that dimension of biking is being taken out of the equation and to me that is a shame.
This almost never happens
Most car drivers just get into their boxes and drive. We always say we are different from them because our form of transport is more than just that, it is a passion, a hobby and a way of life. To me part of that passion should include understanding a little about how our pride and joys work and taking ownership of their maintenance and condition. It also helps to have confidence that when you are leant over in a corner that the tire isn’t going to deflate, the chain isn’t going to jump off and the engine isn’t going to seize due to lack of oil. Bike boots and leathers are well adapted for a 10 mile walk, especially pushing a bike!