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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm proud to announce a new alliance with Legendary Motorcycle Reviewer/Journalist, Fred Rau.

While I've known Fred for many years, he's been following what we're doing on this site and has agreed to allow us to publish his insightful motorcycle-related stories. These stories will appear in a newly created "Fred Rau" section in the Other Topics area of the Forums...so they'll be easy to find for future reference and, over time, this area should become populated with numerous stories on various motorcycle-related topics.

While we'll be adding more of his work shortly, Fred suggested that this might be a good one to launch his presence here on the site as it's one that many riders can identify with.

As always, comments are welcomed.

Zen, And The Art Of Screwing Up Your Motorcycle
By Fred Rau

I've often heard many of my contemporaries (read: "old farts") complain about the fact that today's motorcycles are virtually maintenance-free, or "turnkey" vehicles. They pine for the good old days, when they could adjust their own valves, set their points, synch their carbs, etc.

I think they're either crazy, or bald-faced liars.

I began maintaining my own bikes back in 1971-not to achieve some sense of inner peace or accomplishment, and certainly not because I liked the look of grease under my fingernails. I did it because I was too poor to pay someone else to do it. Thank heavens those days are over.

Not that I didn't learn anything from that experience - I came away with a wealth of hard-earned knowledge.

For example, I learned that there is no such thing as a job so simple that, with a little effort, can't be turned into a major catastrophe. I'll give you an example of that in a minute.

I also learned that fasteners (you know…nuts, bolts, screws and such) are possessed by tiny, internal demons. The smaller the fastener, the more evil and insidious the demon -- probably from being confined to such restricted quarters for an extended period of time.

Anyway, when you remove one of these fasteners, you loose the demon, who immediately makes a dash for freedom.

Don't believe it?

Didn't you ever notice how the moment you pull that little screw loose from its hole, it suddenly becomes almost impossible to hang onto? They become slippery, and if you pay really close attention, as I have, you'll notice they actually squirm around in your fingers. And the moment they break loose from your grip, they unerringly make a break for the darkest, most remote spot in the room, wherever that might be.

And heaven help you if you've got a drain in that garage floor. I learned early on to cover mine with a screen - but it didn't seem to help much. I swear, once, when I turned around really quickly and caught one of the little suckers off-guard, he was actually lifting the corner of the screen!

And then there are those fasteners that can't make a bid for freedom, because they're attached to the bike, like those little plastic tabs on the backs of body panels. These, I have no doubt, were created by agents of Satan who have infiltrated the design departments of the major OEMs.

Unlike the little demonized fasteners, which can at least be replaced if they make good their escape, the attached fasteners just break off inside their grommets when you're trying to remove or reattach them, rendering the entire body panel worthless.

Lately, I've noticed an even newer and more insidious generation of these, which lull you into a sense of false security by working perfectly when you remove and replace the panels, and then popping out while you're riding 70 mph down the freeway in heavy traffic, sending your body side panel or engine cover flying off into the slipstream.

I'm pretty sure the last time it happened to me, even over the sound of traffic and wind, I distinctly heard a tiny voice crying, "Wheeeeeee," as the panel briefly appeared in my rearview mirror before diving, kamikaze-like, under the front wheels of an oncoming semi.

Anyway, back to my original thesis:

Once upon a time, I decided to save $50 in labor charges by adjusting the valves on my Honda CX500 all by myself. I bought a shop manual, made sure I had the necessary tools, and set aside an entire Saturday for the job, despite being assured by knowledgeable wrenches that it was no more than a two-hour job.

Three hours into it, and I had actually, successfully, adjusted one whole valve. I was very pleased with myself, and attacked the second valve on the same head with great enthusiasm and confidence. Unfortunately, as I was tightening down the adjusting screw after quadruple-checking the clearance, the head of the little sucker twisted right off (this was to be one of my earliest experiences with the demons of the fasteners).

As I didn't seem to have a replacement of the right size and shape, I hurried on down to my local Honda dealer where, at the parts counter, I found that the adjusting screw was not an individual piece, but an integral part of the rocker arm assembly. Of course, the assembly would have to be ordered.

One week later, new rocker arm in hand, I went back to work. Removing the old assembly required loosening one of the head bolts, which would then have to be carefully torqued back into place. But, lacking an expensive torque wrench, I decided to guess, and -- you guessed it -- guessed wrong. The head bolt twisted sickeningly in its socket.From thence ensued the Nightmare of the Easy-Out, followed by the Dawn of the Heli-Coil.

The final installment of my personal Trilogy of Terror was, The Return of the Cracked Cylinder Head.

The CX500 was hauled into the dealership which I had so cunningly cheated out of $50 in labor charges, where it was summarily traded in (as a non-running motorcycle) for the down payment on a used GL1100.

Since then, there have been other, even uglier incidents, luckily separated by ever greater spans of time as I slowly learned my lesson. The bad news is that as I slowly learned to do less damage to my motorcycles, at the same time I escalated the damage I managed to inflict upon my body.Nowadays, if my wife even hears a drawer open on my tool chest, she goes to the phone and dials 9 and 1, so she'll only need to dial one more digit when I inevitably start bleeding a few minutes later.

Nowadays, I ride a motorcycle that I couldn't possibly hope to work on, even if I wanted to.

It requires a computer to diagnose, and all kinds of specialized tools and software just to change the idle setting. Thank goodness.

So, I've restricted myself of late to nothing more complex than putting in gas, or attaching the occasional aftermarket accessory. But only the ones that promise, "No tools required."
 

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Hold on - let me make a turkey sandwich & a tall, cold glass of egg nog. I'll get settled in & begin reading. So far - looks good Amigo!
 

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This sounds like a play by play of how things goin my garage. I cant wait for more articles.
 

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I noticed that when we were at your house Andy, that when we were putting the highway pegs on, that tool box you had was very very clean. (and not becaus you cleaned them)
And most looked like they had never even been out of there designated spot in the plastic case.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Clubford00 said:
I noticed that when we were at your house Andy, that when we were putting the highway pegs on, that tool box you had was very very clean. (and not becaus you cleaned them)
And most looked like they had never even been out of there designated spot in the plastic case.
And now you know the rest of the story...If it can be broken, I can break it even more!
 

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Great addition to the forum!
 
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