For many, wintertime is when bikes are garaged away and in storage until the warmer spring weather. Even many who would normally ride year-round are facing the no riding blues from various lockdowns in place to tackle the covid pandemic. I’m personally in this category as I’m now working from home permanently. So, what can a die-hard biker do to while away the dark and miserable winter months? Read on for some suggestions on winter motorcycle entertainment.
→ Additionally, there’s a lot of stuff mentioned here that would make great biker gifts and motorcycle Christmas presents or stocking fillers. So, take note if you know a biker and are stuck for gift ideas.
Looking for Motorcycle tyres in London? A new garage has just opened up which should definitely be on your list of places to check out. Two Tyres recently opened in August 2020 selling motorcycle tyres online or fitted at their bricks’n’mortar shop near Oval in South London. Formed by Ben Cope (original founder of the VisorDown website) along with Chris (one of the founders of FWR – another reputable shop for motorcycle tyres London) and Deano (another ex FWR mechanic). Between them, they have plenty of experience of the real world mechanical, customer service and shop running side, in conjunction with the online and marketing side.
I visited Two Tyres a couple of weeks after it opened to fit a fresh pair of Metzeler RoadTec 01 SE tyres on my Yamaha FZ6, check out their new facilities and grab a quick interview with Ben Cope.
Read on to find out more and blag yourself a discount code for Two Tyres.
If you have a motorcycle or scooter over three years old, you will need to submit it for an annual motorbike MOT test to ensure it is still safe and road legal. No one wants an MOT failure and the prospect of a large repair bill. However, a large majority of test failures are simple things that can easily be identified and fixed yourself before you take your bike to the garage.
Historic Motorcycle MOT Exemption
As of May 2018 historic motorcycles over 40 years old are exempt from MOT tests and vehicle tax. You will however need to apply for the ‘historic tax class’ – more details on the Gov.uk site. But note you can still be fined and get 3 points if your motorbike is not in a road worthy condition.
Covid19 Lockdown MOT Extension
Note there were MOT test date extensions brought in due to the Covid19 lockdown, don’t get caught out now this extension period is over:
MOT’s expiring on or after 30th March and before 1st August, get a six-month extension
MOT’s expiring on or after 1st August are due as normal
MOT Failure Statistics
Recently the Dept. for Transport (DfT) released MOT data for 2019, which provides for some interesting stats:
83% of motorcycles & scooters pass first time, compared to 67% of cars and light vehicles (up to 3,000 Kg)
Across all vehicles types, 7% ‘Pass with Rectification’ – that is, after minor fixes at the test station within 1 hour
10% of motorcycles fail their MOT test, verses 25% of cars & light vehicles
Clearly, motorcycles are less likely to encounter an MOT test failure compared to other vehicles. In this article we will look at what the most common failure reasons are and if they could have been spotted before hand, thus compiling a motorcycle MOT checklist you can follow.
When we first picked up Mary’s Honda CBF500 it was clear it hadn’t always stayed rubber side down. It had various bits of cosmetic damage, which I have progressively fixed up as parts crop up cheap. One of the last items to address was the speedo tachometer case which had a few cracks and was taped up. Genuine Honda parts are expensive (£300+), second hand clocks aren’t cheap (£100-150 odd) and are often missing mounting lugs too. So, when I spotted a cheap Chinese replicate instrument case for £25, I was of course intrigued and figured it had to be worth a punt.
My Yamaha FZ6 S2 has been a great weekday commuter workhorse, yet with enough beans for some weekend fun. However, it’s not without issue, in particular the clutch. Firstly, it’s very heavy on the hand, to the extent I was getting hand ache in the first few weeks of ownership and was convinced it needed a new clutch cable (which changed little!) Secondly, the clutch bite point is way out on the lever, with little distance before fully released, even when all correctly adjusted with free play to spec. This all adds up to clunky gear shifts that you can never quite smooth out, you just can’t get throttle blips timed nicely with the point of clutch engage.
Recently I stumbled across a simple mod that promised to improve the heavy FZ6 clutch, which entails swapping on the lower clutch push lever from an MT07. This is the lever at the lower end of the clutch cable protruding from the clutch case cover. The MT07 push lever is slightly longer and so affords greater leverage, and thus lightens the clutch action.
This weekends chore was brake maintenance on the FZ6. Having only acquired the bike in the Autumn, it was unclear when the brake fluid was last changed, and being 13 years old, the original rubber brake hose, although visually OK, were likely past their best. The rubber hoses can degrade over many years exposure to the elements, which can lead to slight bulging when pumping the brake lever and thus reducing the final pressure applied to the brake pistons and pads onto the discs. Whereas braided hoses being built around a stainless steel mesh braid are more study, will not bulge or degrade in the same way and have a longer lifespan.
Totally gutted. Less than a month old pair of Michelin Pilot Road 5’s with a bloody screw stuck in the rear tyre. Very annoying, but it need not screw up your whole day, if you know how to temporary plug a tyre, you can be one the move again with minimal delay. This howto will step by step show you how to repair a tyre with a temporary plug that will get you home or to a garage for a permanent repair.
A common job on any bike with a cable clutch that’s done a few thousand miles, or worse has had a snapped cable. As time progresses cutch cables will stretch, requiring adjustment to bring in the slack, but eventually they will need replacing. Similarly, if they have frayed or kinked preventing easy movement a replacement is the best course of action. Here I’ll walk you through step by step how to replace a clutch cable on a Yamaha Fazer FZS 600 (1999-2003), but other bikes will be fairly similar, tending to vary only on how the bottom end of the cable connects to the clutch.
Standard service time and one of the key items to sort out is the air filter. The Haynes manual recommends this is replaced every 12000 miles or every 18 months. This is a really simply and quick item to change on the Honda CBF500, anyone can do it. Here I’ll give you a quick step by step guide on this task.
First, you need to remove the pillion and main seats. The main seat has a pair of 10mm bolts at its rear which can be accessed once the pillion seat has been removed. You then need to prise off the left hand side panel, this has two push fittings (highlighted in red below) in rubber gaskets and pops off with a firm pull.
Before you jump on your bike it’s highly recommended you run through a pre ride motorcycle check to ensure your bike is in good condition and won’t leave you in trouble. It can be crucial to catch anything unsafe or possibly even illegal (e.g. bald tyres), but also to keep tabs on general wear, tear and items due for servicing.
When to do Pre Ride Motorcycle Checks
It’s advisable to go through these before each ride or at least every few days if you ride daily. If your bike has been parked unused for several days or you’re planning a longer trip away, then definitely run through these checks. If you’re commuting daily on your motorbike you can probably go through this pre-ride motorcycle inspection every few days as you get more in tune with your bike’s condition and how often items need attention.
The POWDERS Motorcycle Check
Yep, it’s a funny acronym, but it will help you remember how to do motorcycle pre ride inspection, so you do not forget anything. This how to is one I was taught as part of my IAM training and can be found in the RoadCraft book.