rd1 by Lee Meyer

Spring is HERE!!?

Could it be? Could it be true that this King-Hell-wicked-six-month-long-frigid-ice-storm is finally coming to a close? After last years “spring” I’m a bit skeptical but hopeful it will be here soon.

From the sound of things around the campfire our motorcycle community is jumping and ready to ride again. Let’s go over a few things to get the machine ready for the road.

Check out your battery. Make sure it is fully charged and has enough water. Get a new one if yours is iffy. Weak batteries can be hard on bike electrics.

Check your oil. If you didn’t change it last fall before storage, change it now. Even if it was changed it is not a bad idea to change it again. It’s been sitting around all winter sucking up moisture.

What’s the fuel situation? You should have added some stabilizer last fall, if not, give it a quick whiff. If it smells like those rotten old paint cans in the back of your garage it must be drained and filled with new gas. If it smells okay you may want to add some octane booster to rejuvenate it a bit.

Put a pressure gauge on the tires, and inflate ’em if needed.

Give the machine a thorough look over, and check for new oil or gas leaks. Adjust and lube the chain, sprockets and cables.

Now fire the beast up and run it up to full operating temperature. If it doesn’t do anything funny you are good to go. A bike will not run perfectly on old or stabilized gas, but the first tank of fresh gas should clear things up.

And now for something completely different.

I get a lot of people asking about what to do with their older bike with a tired or noisy engine. A complete rebuild is needed much of the time. Before you go ahead with the project, ask yourself some questions. What kind of shape is the rest of the bike in? What is it worth both on the open market “as is” and to you for some sentimental reason? How much would it cost to buy another of the same model in really nice shape? Are you capable of dealing with a project of this size on your own? Be realistic. If you get the willies mid-project what is your totally dismantled bike worth now? If it is 10, 15, or 20 years old, it’s worth pretty close to zippo, unless it is a very collectible model.

Over the winter I rebuilt an engine for a customer. It was a 25-year-old 2-stroke twin. The bike was in medium to fair shape for its age. The repair bill was just shy of $1000.00. Was it worth it? Apparently to this person it was. This model in good condition could be bought for $1000.00.

A four-stroke four cylinder rebuild could easily double this figure for parts and labor if a shop does all the work.

A less expensive alternative to consider is locating a good used engine. Depending on where you acquire the motor and what kind of bike you have the price can vary from $200-$500 for an old 750 Honda to $2000-$2500 for a newer Kawasaki ZX-11 motor like I have. This could get you back on the road for considerably less ching than having the old plant rebuilt.

An engine transplant requires little more than a bit of mechanical know-how and some fairly basic hand tools.

An overhaul in the home garage will still require fair amounts of expensive special-use tools, equipment and manuals.

So, here’s the deal. If you are more attached to the machine than you are to your spouse and you plan on keeping the beast for twelve forevers and only your untimely death will keep you and your prized possession apart, well then rebuild the thing. If you don’t you will just make your significant other miserable listening to you drivel on about your dead bike and how you should have done this or that and yatta, yatta, yatta…

Now, if you are a wee bit more in touch than that, think carefully about the next paragraph.


I am not kidding. It could be a seemingly unending river of cash from your wallet to nearly everyone else. The last thing you want to do is look out your window at your $2500.00 bike that is worth only $800.00 on the market. And it still needs tires, chain and sprockets…Bummer.

Speaking of money pits, my project Super Ninja is very near completion. Next month I’ll go over the cause of my emotional, physical and financial exhaustion. Was it worth it? I am not sure, but I haven’t ridden the thing yet. See you then.





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