Motorcycle Preparation

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Winter Projects

10 Ideas To Keep You Busy During The Colder Months

For most riders in Washington State, winter is typically a time to let the bike rest in the garage until the next riding season. During that time dealers and service providers are typically slower than the other seasons. That means it's a great time to do some of the things you've been dreaming about doing to your bike.

Take for instance a motor rebuild. If you take your bike in for a job like this in the spring or summer, you can plan to have your bike tied up anywhere from 2-6 weeks. That's 2-6 weeks you could be out riding and enjoying the better weather of those seasons. In the winter the job may only take 1-3 weeks. That's 1-3 weeks you weren't planning to ride anyway.

Paint jobs are similar. A bike can be tied up 2-4 weeks to allow time for tear down, painting, drying and reassembly. There's often a wait time of up to 8 weeks just for the paint shop to get the bike into their schedule.

The idea here is to use winter as a time to get your bike, and yourself, ready for the next riding season. While others will wait in line to schedule and get their jobs done next spring, you can be on your way riding by the time the first beautiful day breaks through.

Here's 10 winter projects to consider undertaking during the cold season:

Exhaust Tuning/Carburetor Jetting

Nowadays there are a number of dealers and service shops in the state who have dynometers in house. Also called a "Dyno" these devices provide pinpoint accuracy to getting the most horsepower and performance out of your motor. A trained expert can put your bike on the system and dial in your bikes best output by tuning your exhaust system and carburetion in just an hour or two.

Shops in Washington that have dynos on hand include I-90 Motorsports in Issaquah, Cycle Barn in Lynnwood, George Dean's Seattle Cycle Service in Seattle and MaxRPM in Bremerton. Use our Dealers and Service directory to contact others and find out if they have such a unit in house.

Motor Rebuild

Whether your looking for a little more horsepower by boring out your heads, or just trying to solve a few leaky gasket problems, a motor rebuild is something every service shop would rather deal with in the off season. Tearing down motors is time consuming and gets in the way of smaller jobs which service providers ultimately profit on more. Bring your project in in June and you may not ride all summer, so now is the time to get your bike in for this major project. Most of the larger franchise dealers may not work with a bike 12 years or older so it's best to call ahead before you take your bike in for an estimate. Smaller dealers and independent service shops are more likely to take on an older bike.

For a list of dealers and service shops use our handy directory and type your brand of bike into the search field.

Suspension Overhaul

New suspension can make all the difference in how your bike handles in the coming year. New or old, there are numerous choices for upgrading stock suspension on any type of bike, albeit a street machine or off-roader. Specifically concerning older bikes, the folks at Works suspension have many alternatives for upgrading stock suspension on older models. This may be as simple as changing out the rear springs right at home, or can get as elaborate as redesigning the entire tree of your current model.

Nowadays there is so much interchangeability amongst brands, the possibilities are endless. One of the most adventuresome redos I saw this last year was watching someone toss the suspension off a Honda Hawk 650 and configure CBR600 suspension to the front and VFR suspension to the rear of the bike. Let your imagination roll.

Such a project requires you to do as much homework as you can, a lot of info is available online, then find a tech you're comfortable with and tell him what you're thinking about. Tech's we know who understand suspension will include , Walter at Seattle Cycle Service in Seattle, Andy Moore at RMC Motorsports in Renton, and the staff at Renton Cycle Works in Renton. Look for shops that support racers, have seasoned racers on their tech staffs, or have staff who know how to tune bikes for racing.

Paint Job

Now here is a project you definitely want to get to sooner than later. This is going to tie your bike up for at least a few weeks, and when Spring rolls around the waiting list is going to grow. Begin by determining your budget and talking to a variety of painters. Prices vary greatly, but so can quality. Hopefully you've been asking those with custom paint jobs where they had their work done. Also take some time to learn about the various types of painting techniques that are available now. A pearl essence red is done differently than a pearl essence yellow. The more you know ahead of time the better you'll be able to converse with the various painters you'll be talking to.

Shops we like include Custom Paint Works in Lynnwood and the Motorsports Restoration Center , also in Lynnwood. Consult the MC Services directory for a complete listing of painters in Washington State.

Custom Seat Fitting

Reupholstering a seat isn't just about putting a new piece of leather over the top. You can take longer rides with less fatigue by having a specialist shape your seat to contour the shape of your body and provide more support by evenly distributing your weight over more of the seat.

Seat fittings take 1-3 days total time including a few hours where you should be on hand to work with the specialist and confirm the shaping by sitting on the seat while it's being fitted to you. By spring the appointment schedules are filling up, but getting a custom seat isn't something the masses think about in the winter, so most shops can get you in and out quickly right now.

Rich's Custom Seats and Mac's Upholstery , both in Seattle, are two of the more prominent shops in the area for this type of work.

Luggage/Backrest Additions

Don't wait until the day before your next long trip to outfit your bike with accessories like a backrest and luggage. Getting the right luggage for your bike is critical, but by spring and summer the selections on the shelves of most shops are spotty at best. It's a better bet to take some time to research what's available and place a special order for the accessories that are right for you.

When it comes to luggage, Givi, Tour Master and Ventura make some decent systems. Hard bags, like those made by Givi will run you a bit more, but if you plan on doing a lot of traveling and want to insure your gear stays dry during a rainstorm, they're worth the extra money.

Replace Your Tires

This isn't a job that takes too long, but you may have to wait a few days for the right tires to come in so the sooner you get to this one the better, if needed. Have you checked out all the various tires that are now available for your bike? Now more then ever before there are numerous tires available on the market and there may be lots of options for your bike that didn't exist even a year ago. Take a little time to research the makes and models that fit your bike so you choose the one that's best suited to your style of riding. Seattle Cycle Center and Renton Motorcycle Works have some of the best selection of tires overall.

Fix A Rusty Tank

A bike that sits in for a long time without a full tank of fuel is a candidate for rust in the tank chamber. This can be eliminated by utilizing a three part system called Tank Kreem. The product removes the rust, preps the metal and then utilizes a synthetic coating to seal the metal and fend off any future reoccurrences of rust. You can buy the kit yourself at most dealers and do the work on your own, or have a dealer do it for you. This process does require that the tank be removed from the motorcycle, so plan accordingly.

Ceramic, Metallic and Powder Coating

Ceramic, Metallic and Powder Coating processes provide long lasting durability to various parts of a motorcycle and also a new look. The process is relatively inexpensive and can increase the life of parts such as header pipes, mufflers, cylinder heads, rings and pistons. Valve Parts are typically turned around in a few days.

Got a blue pipe, or you're ready for a new look on your frame or rims? We like the work Brad Gua does at Performance Coatings .

Brush Up On Safety

Winter and early spring are also a great time to snuggle up with a good book on riding skills. David Hough has two excellent books, Proficient Motorcycling and Street Strategies. This year he will release his latest book, More Proficient Motorcycling. All three can be purchased from the Sound RIDER! Store .

This is also a good time to sign up for a motorcycle safety course provided by one of the state contractors. First timers should sign up for the beginners class, while seasoned riders can sign up for the Advanced Riders Class. For more information visit our services directory for the contractor nearest you.

Be Seen

Modulating headlights and taillights have been proven to increase visability 200%. For an average cost of about $200 (this varies from bike to bike) you can outfit your motorcycle with a set of Kisan light systems. Most install in 15 minutes or less and require only a screwdriver to remove and reattach your light assemblies. Others require a little more work.

Waterproofing Your Gear

Remember, that living in Washington State means you can get dumped on at any time. There's a lot the motorcycle community can learn from the skiing industry and one thing we've learned in the last few years is about Nikwax waterproofing products, which are invaluable to keeping your boots, pants, jacket and gloves dry year around. Getting all your riding gear dry only takes about an hour. 

Motorcycle Detailing

A routine cleaning of your motorcycle can take just a few minutes, but a full detailing can take up to a day. Some of us are crazy enough to think that cleaning our bike is actually a lot of fun. Well, it beats the hell out of running laundry and cleaning the toilet. Detailing your bike during the winter months is also a fantastic way to keep your body warm during the winter months, so grab a bucket, some rags and brushes and have at it.

For more information check out David Jacobs book, " Motorcycle Detailing " and keep your eyes peeled for a line of cleaning products from Griot's Garage which we've selected just especially for cleaning your motorcycle.

PT/Fall 01

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