Friday, August 03, 2007

The Eighty Percent Rule

In this day and age you find a lot of people concerned about their bikes and scooters breaking down on long rides. Day trips to extended tours. The reasons for asking how (or whether) the bikes will hold up comes from a great sea change in the attitude of what one needs to know to be a rider.

The early days of my riding experience still carried a measure of personal responsibility. It was expected that a rider knew a few things about his or her bike and carried a few essential tools to get out of a jam. The least you could get away with was a basic diagnostic understanding of what happened. Knowing that much, the average rider could keep derision at bay if another rider stopped to help at the side of the road.

But things have changed. The cell phone makes your favorite mechanic easily accessible. The bikes have changed. Even a good set of tools won't solve a problem in this age of computer controlled motorcycles. Your mechanic will simply plug his computer into another on your bike. A readout will explain just about everything he needs to know and the bike will more than likely be hauled off to a "repair center". You just can't fix em at the side of the road like they used to.

Granted the routine maintenance schedule is stretched so far that riders from thirty years ago would not believe it. Never mind the "walk around" most of us were taught to perform before we even kicked those old machines over.

At the heart of every motorcycle is an engine. It might be tuned with the aid of microprocessors but its still a spark, combustion and a mess of hard parts all working together which make these wonderfull steeds propel us in ways no other type of machine could.

But we must be mindfull how we ride. Failure of the rider or the bike spells disaster.

A greybeard passed his wisdom to me and its about time I did the same. Its kept me and several bikes alive for over twenty years.

"When you ride, don't ride at your limit. Whattayagonna do if you need a little extra an it ain't there? Keep it under 80% kid, and you'll live.

"When you ride that bike, you hear where it starts to sound different? It ain't meant to run at those rpm's for long, kid. Ride em too hard too long and you best have tools and spare parts with ya. Cause its gonna happen."

Advice from a sage. It applies now as it did then. Mechanical things which fail often give warning about being stressed. Knowing how a particular bike runs and listening to what its telling you, how its talking to you in its mechanical voice, can be a better conversation than the small talk at any social function.

The Eighty Percent Rule.



bryce said...

The 80% rule is sage advice. Your scooter and mine aren't all that computerized, just a CDI, which the P -series even had a form of.

Really, the lack of roadside repair capability is in large part due to the different way bikes are made these days. You can't access the spark plug on the LX150 or ET4 without unbolting the rear shock. That used to be considered a regular consumable. Something to be changed every oil change or so on a four stroke bike. Maybe more often on a 2 stroke. The need for special tools also complicates things.

Some of this is because of the trade off between ease of repair and the increased service/repair interval for any given item.

Conchscooter said...

The maintenance thing is weird. I asked that the shop check the valve clearances as I am two thirds through my one year warranty and I have over 10,000 miles on the clock. They said not to worry they are still good!
On my previous Suzuki I changed the spark plug after 10,000 miles (!) and it didn't show ANY signs of wear... I kept fussing with the valves and they were fine.
I like the 80 percent rule though, no amount of unobtanium valve guides will change that. I think!

Steve Williams said...

I agree about the 80 percent rule. It certainly applies to mechanical and physical performance.

I have to admit that even though that I feel sort of helpless mechanically in regard to my GTS. I can change the plug, test the fuel flow, change fluids, etc., but I don't have have much faith that if the thing quits along side the road I will be able to get it going. I carry enough tools to tear it apart but I'm not sure I would know what to look for. Hell, I couldn't even get my damn lawn mower going....

bryce: I could easily get my sparkplug out of the LX150 without dropping the engine and shock. When I was having trouble with it before I destroyed it I must have taken it in and out 30 times. Practice makes perfect and I was able to manage it nicely and fast-- less than five minutes.

Steve Williams
Scooter in the Sticks

CodyandMichelle said...

Hey Harv,
Just got back from riding the Dragon and also received the same question then to all of you seasoned riders is simple. How do you know what 80 percent is? Really, how can one gauge what one's capabilities are? While on this trip I crashed on the Blue Ridge Parkway. I felt I thought to much going into a turn and didn't trust myself for a moment"to much brake, turn harder, don't brake, too fast, too slow?" Was I riding above my ability? I don't know what I'm truly capable of or not capable of, much less to gauge "80%"
So my fellow bloggers, enlighten me, I mean it. I'm not being a smart ass. I don't know how one can gauge the percentage of their ability???

ANNETTE said...

Sorry for having been gone. Summer is really busy with the kids now being four. Life is family first as you know.

Bryce, those are good points but there are ways around it. I just haven't done it yet myself so I couldn't give you the particulars yet.

Conchscooter,I like your thinking. No matter what, the routine checks to see if maintenance is the only sure way to know.

Steve, does the GTS have the "front door" like the LX series? I bet that would make a difference.

Cody, this is an excellent question. I haven't been on but utterly briefly lately. WOuld you mind if I give my view as the next blog?

Thanks for all your summer patience with me. I had no idea this season This year would turn so hectic. I haven't even had time to ride. No joke. Just have more important things which need to get done. Not the boat either.

Thanks guys,


Vespa Motorcycle said...

I think this is getting worse with the advent of hybrid scooters. I do worry for the future