Last night I finally made it along to the Oval Motorcycle Centre’s (OMC) Basic Maintenance and Inspection Course. Something I’ve been meaning to do for some time, but never got round to it. The course covers all the basics of bike maintenance, starting with electrics (switches/lights), then blitz’s through, tyres, brakes, bearings (wheel, head race & swinging arm), chain, forks/shocks and finally control levers and cables.
Although the course is pitched at complete newbies, it covers an awful lot, such that even though I’ve done quite a few maintenance jobs (changing filters, downpipes, balancing carbs etc) I still came away having learnt much. From stuff as simple as a more efficient way to lube my chain, to stuff completely new to me, like the ins and outs of different head race bearing and spotting when they’re knackered. It was also a great chance to ask questions on simple stuff you’ve seen, but were never sure if it was OK or not, like the way you hear brakes pads catching slightly as you push a bike – are they supposed to do that or are they sticking?! (They’re supposed to)
Of course there was much plugging of the rent-a-bench facilities offered by OMC, where you can book time, pop in to work on your bike, have all the tools you could possibly require all on hand, along with any expert guidance needed. But that is the whole point, this course is a great stepping stone to tackling those general maintenance chores yourself. I left filled with confidence and empowered to have a go and give my bike a proper check over with my newly acquired know-how. Knowing I can pop back to tackle something tricky with the aid of the OMC experts not only feels comforting, but far more preferable to throwing large sums of cash at a garage you’re never 100% sure are doing a proper job or just taking short cuts.
My only regret, is that I never undertook this course long ago. It won’t make you an expert, but it will help you spot a whole raft of basic issues (if not necessarily fix them), but this is half the battle. Especially if you happen to be looking at purchasing a second hand bike, down at a dodgy garage spouting bullshit about your bike, or worse if your bike is developing some unsafe or downright dangerous fault that could see you in a ditch. I spent most of the evening recalling moments when I wish I had known what the host was explaining, I could have saved so much time and money.
So, if you’re local and have not done much fettling to your bike, definitely get yourself down to OMC. The course is £40, kicks off at 7pm on last Tuesday of the month, but does book up a few weeks earlier. It’s supposed to be 3 hours long, but with questions and an impromptu brake pad change on one attendees bike, we didn’t finish until about Midnight. Definitely money well spent. However, the hidden cost no mentioned is all the faults you discover on your bike, either on the night by the host, or with your new found knowledge… Ho-humm…
Seasoned London commuter, doing my best to stay rubber side down and never stop moving forward.