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.