|The before picture. Note the open Haynes manual on the ground.|
Let me just say right off the bat that I don’t begrudge anyone earning a good wage. Life is hard and if you can earn enough money to make it just a little bit easier on yourself and your family, then more power to you. Especially when the thing you do has intrinsic value, like teaching or curing illness or fixing cars/motorcycles. Often when we see discussions of motorcycle maintenance and repair we fall into the trope of portraying mechanics as Shylocks.
|Replacing the air filter.|
In researching what, exactly, I would need to do for for the 12,000-mile service I came across a handy list of all the work my local Honda dealership, Thunder Road, undertakes:
- Replace oil
- Replace oil filter
- Check fuel lines
- Check throttle operation
- Check idle speed
- Check cooling system
- Check secondary air system
- Check chain wear and adjustment
- Check brake fluid
- Check clutch fluid
- Check brake pad wear
- Check brake system
- Check light operation
- Check tire depth and condition
- Check wheel bearings
- Check suspension
- Check bodywork condition
- Road test
- Lube locks
- Lube pivots
- Replaced the air filter
- Lubricated the clutch cable
- Adjusted the headlight alignment
- Replaced the switch on my heated grips
“Just throw in a new switch is what I’d do,” he said.
|With the seats and side fairing removed.|
The fact he said this without suggesting I take it to his shop to get the work done made it sound really easy. And, I suppose, all things considered, it was. A kind of “really easy” that took me several hours to accomplish, but that’s probably more to do with the fact that I am an idiot.
All told, the work took me three hours from start to finish, and that included roughly half an hour of experimenting with adjusting the seat’s height.
It’s a fair bet it would have only taken a professional mechanic one hour to do all of the above work. It’s an equally fair bet he or she would have charged me for at least two. Total up the cost of parts and service, and I suspect I would have been looking at a bill of somewhere around £250 (US $420). By doing the work myself, it cost only £80.
Though, I will admit it was stressful. Taking apart the fairing and lifting the gas tank was causing me to suffer little panics as I thought to myself: “There is no going back from this. You will have to put everything back together. And you will have to put it all back together before you run out of daylight.” (I have a very tiny covered area to store my bike but I have to work on it outside.)
It was a time-consuming and surprisingly delicate process that involved gently nudging free dozens of little things that you wouldn’t expect to be so fragile on an object capable of going 150 mph. It is certainly something to store in my brain for the next time I’m hurtling down the motorway: “Hey, remember how this thing is held together by super-easy-to-break trim clips and pegs? Stuff you could break with your fingers? And now it’s being hit by 90-mph wind. Contemplate on that, motherhugger. Wheeeee!”
I mean, good lord, are planes held together like this? Next time I go back to the States I may choose to swim.
|Replacing the switch for the heated grips.|
But, I suppose, because things are so fiddly it is comforting to know that I am the person who dealt with these things. It being my motorcycle, upon which I ride, I inherently took great care in every little thing. An example of this came when replacing the switch for the heated grips.
When I had paid someone to install them, he had simply stuffed the excess wiring up under the tank. Re-doing the work, I now took the time to neatly zip tie things and meticulously wrap it all in gaffer tape. If the switch shorts out again I will know it is because that version of grips is crap and not because putting wiring in a rat’s nest just above the carburetors somehow led to a fault.
I will know when I ride that each of the bolts and screws and clips and pegs on the bike were checked and rechecked to make sure they are secure. I will know that the person who did the work didn’t cut any corners, didn’t say: “Yeah, well, that’s good enough.”
And the feeling of accomplishment from having done all this work myself is immense. I am not by nature very mechanically inclined. There is some fault in my brain that I very quickly get confused and upset by stuff that is childlike in simplicity to people like my brother. When I’m able to overcome that, though –– when I’m able to strip away bits on my bike, rewire things, and put it all together again –– I feel so incredibly proud.
Jenn came home just as I was clicking the final bit into place. I pointed with glee and said:
“Look, babe. I just spent three hours working on the bike.”
“It looks the same as it always does,” she said.
“Exactly,” I said. “I did it right.”