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One Man's Motorcycle…

…Is Another Rat's Condo?

Whether you store your bike for a few months each year, or have been storing it for sometime now, your motorcycle could quietly be hosting a family of vermin, while you're doing something - like enjoying some holiday turkey, wrapping presents, or roasting chestnuts on an open fire. Having foreign animal like objects in your bike can wreak havoc down the road.

Having recently bought a 15 year old motorcycle with only 600 miles on it makes you wonder what I was in store for. I knew it was a great deal. Only 600 miles, stored indoors and it looked great. The price was right too! But I suspected there might be some mechanical issues for a bike that had sat for that long. I called down to the dealer and scheduled the recommended 600 mile service – on a 15 year old bike. My dealer laughed.

The bikes previous owner had been savvy enough to purchase and keep a copy of the service manual. I went through the list of inspections across each recommended service and came up with a list of my own I wanted done the day of the 600 mile job. It included inspecting the air filter.

I waited in the lounge while the work was performed and was soon beckoned by the mechanic to 'come see the latest in air filter technology.' Pulling back the bikes exterior side cover revealed a large handful of furniture stuffing that some mouse had meticulously inserted between the side cover and the air box. "This explains why the bike took a powder in Snoqualmie Pass" I noted.

15 years, 15 weeks or 15 days, your bike is not immune to unlawful entry by mice, rats and otherwise. "I've seen this type of thing at least a dozen times" says Andy Moore, lead tech at Renton Motorcycles.

In fact, you could ride every day and not know you're playing host to a vermin condo, or how about a dead bird?

Probably the most common one I hear about is mice getting shot out of a tail pipe. Yes, they like to crawl into those aftermarket straight pipes with the big opening, make a nice bed, fornicate, reproduce – and then the sun comes out and you go for a ride – and boom, smack – bedding and/or mice come-a-flying out!

Your worst nightmare might be finding a live vermin in your bike. If you do you can contact your local Animal Control who will be happy to come and remove it for you.

The air box may be #2 on the list of most likely places for vermin to take up residence. It's best to check the box area a few times each year, particularly if your bike is parked outside or in the garage.

But the latest hot spot for animal objects to appear is in the modern day venting and ducting systems found on touring bikes and sportbikes!

Goldwings and other touring machines have an extensive ducting system that makes for some great nesting by vermin. It's also been a known place to find birds that have been swallowed up during poker runs, trips to the video store, or along the road to Sturgis.

Sportbikes like the RC51, TL1000 and ZX series have a ram air system. A number of models do not come with a screen entry which means you can take in a bird in about a half second. Other debris found in these places includes layers of dead flies and mosquitoes as well as large dragonflies, moths and McDonalds cheeseburger wrappers.

The point is to inspect these areas regularly. If the area isn't screened already, figure out an ingenious way to do so from both sides of the ducting to protect your bike.

Obviously a dead bird in a ram air duct can effect your motorcycle's performance. A mice condo in your air box will surely cause your fuel to run rich and your carb to choke at high RPM or high altitude.

If you buy a used bike, always have a service/inspection done on it immediately to insure that your bike is free of debris and is in safe running order overall. Buyer beware: Neither private parties or dealers are required by law to do this before they sell a bike.

'A bird in the air duct is worth two mice in the air box.' SR!

PT/Winter 04

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