Finally, your hard work has paid off and you've got the title to a shiny new sportbike in hand. OK, maybe not so shiny and certainly not new-but it's new to you. The excitement is overwhelming. With the pedal nearly to the floor you're almost home. The bike in the back of the truck will soon be unloaded so you can saddle up and take it for a rip.
But try to get a grip and evaluate the situation. Whether your purchase came from a dealership or a private owner there are some important items to check before pounding the throttle. Some are less critical than others, but skipping a secondary inspection (assuming you went over the bike in detail before purchasing) could end in tragedy.
Our "first bike" was found after months (yes, it takes months to find a deal) of patiently trolling Craigslist: a clean 1999 Honda CBR600F4 with only 12,000 miles. It was definitely ridable, but had some issues...
Don't take the seller's word about anything, and regardless if he claims to have ridden it only yesterday, it's better to be safe than sorry.
These commonly overlooked components ironically are the most critical for a safe and comfortable ride. The performance gains (or hindrances) are very significant as well. Tires are the unsung heroes of the motorcycling world, and they'll take care of you if you take care of them. They don't ask for a lot either; proper inflation is about the extent of the required maintenance-so give 'em what they want.
The CBR had a "new looking" rear and a mismatched front that appeared to have a lot of tread. In actuality, the rear was beginning to dry rot and the front was so badly cupped that it caused the front end to undulate dangerously. Despite the owner's claims of "new tires," these rubbers were ruined and needed to be replaced.
CONSEQUENCE: The cupped front tire doesn't have a consistent contact patch and can lead to tank slappers, instability and poor grip overall. The rear has been through more heat cycles than your grandma's cat, and eight years of weather exposure have reduced it to rubbish. Do burnouts with it, but don't ride beyond the neighbor's driveway (where you've performed the aforementioned smokies).
Weather is a powerful force and can make dust out of even the harshest substances. Imagine what years of exposure to the elements can do to the organic material in a brake pad.
Upon inspection the pads were not only worn but also pretty crusty, so we replaced them with new ones.
CONSEQUENCE: Glazed over, hardened brake pads don't offer the stopping power needed once you get moving.
Oil is the lifeblood of any motor-we all know that. Changing the oil and filter is a quick and easy job, and should be routine maintenance. Although this bike's exterior looks clean from a distance, it has some telltale signs of neglect (chain, air filter, tires) and you can bet the oil and filter are in a similar state.
CONSEQUENCE: Dirty, broken down oil doesn't have the ability to properly lubricate a motor-that's common sense. What could go wrong? There are lots of ways a motor can "blow up." To learn your engine's preferred form of implosion simply run some grungy old oil and a funky filter. You'll soon have your answer.
Dirt can corrode combustion chambers and hinder the all-important air/fuel combustion process in the cylinders. Why decrease performance for the price of a simple air filter? Depending on how dusty your environment is the air filter could need replacing (or cleaning) on a regular basis. When we popped the lid on our CBR's airbox we were expecting a family of mice, but instead it was a horsepower-robbing petri dish of grime, dirt and filth.
CONSEQUENCE: A dirty air filter will decrease airflow, thus robbing power. Also, dirt (or worse) can be sucked into the motor and cause major damage.
Another hapless hero is one that your bike would be useless without. The chain and sprocket combo propels you forward, but if either are neglected the consequences can be severe.
Our CBR's chain looked like it had spent a few years on the bottom of the ocean, and the rear sprocket was missing more teeth than Cletus the local yokel.
CONSEQUENCE: A rusted and worn chain can snap, causing major injuries to your body while destroying the engine cases. Worn sprockets deteriorate a chain quickly, and also steal power from its ultimate destination-the rear wheel.
They can go bad, or "foul" for various reasons, but new plugs should be part of a general maintenance routine along with oil changes and tire pressure adjustments. Inferior spark plugs (use the suggested stock plugs or better) won't perform at peak potential for long, and once they deteriorate the motor will begin to struggle. Poor starts and general sluggishness are symptoms of old, worn out plugs.
The CBR was running on three of its four cylinders due to one spark plug's complete failure.
CONSEQUENCE: Worn out spark plugs only get worse, and one morning those "hard starts" will end up being a "no start."
Once you address the basics and get the bike running in top form you can start to save for some special parts such as a slip-on exhaust, brake lines or a fender eliminator. Not only will they make your ride unique, but with better looks and sound you'll be even more excited to get a quick ride in whenever possible.
CHAIN AND SPROX
A COLOR COORDINATED CHAIN FROM EK LOOKS THE BUSINESS ALONGSIDE A SUPERSPROX REAR SPROCKET. UNFORTUNATELY, MANY BIKE OWNERS DON'T CARE FOR THEIR DRIVETRAIN.REPLACE THE OLD CHAIN AND SPROCKETS AND YOUR BIKE WILL LOOK, SOUND AND RUN BETTER.
WHO DOESN'T LOVE AN AFTERMARKET EXHAUST? A TWO BROTHERS SLIP-ON PIPE SAVED OVER TEN POUNDS, SOUNDS KILLER AND LOOKS SUPER SLICK. PLUS, IT INSTALLED IN UNDER TEN MINUTES!
THE STOCK LISENSE PLATE HANGER ASSEMBLY LOOKS ABSURD. HOTBODIES RACING MAKES A TIGHT ALTERNATIVE THAT INCORPORATES THE TURN SIGNALS.
DRY ROT AND CUPPING ARE COMMON PROBLEMS WHEN BUYING A USED BIKE. ALSO, MANY OWNERS RUN INFERIOR MODELS SUCH AS SPORT TOURING RUBBER TO SAVE A FEW BUCKS. WE SCORED SOME QUALITY MEATS AT A GREAT PRICE FROM SHINKO.
STEEL BRAKE LINES
ACCORDING TO GALFER, STOCK BRAKE LINES SHOULD BE REPLACED EVERY 3-5YEARS BECAUSE THE RUBBER CAN EXPAND AND REDUCE LINE PRESSURE. STEEL BRAIDED LINES WON'T DO THAT AT ALL, AND THEY LOOK A LOT BETTER AS WELL.
The person you buy from will tell you a lot about the condition of the bike without saying a word.
He bought the bike to do wheelies and score with the ladies. The law caught up with him so he's selling. Probably has numerous burnout marks in his driveway.
Knows very little about any specific bike, but hypnotizes buyers with loan percentage points and perceived values.
A spotless bike with a service manual on the seat is parked next to his alphabetically arranged toolbox.