You may have been riding since Pontius was a pilot or you may be quite new to this whole biking lark. Whichever it is, unless you're blessed with levels of self assurance that even I would struggle to attain, you'll recognise that there are, perhaps, still some nuggets of wisdom yet to come your way.
Perhaps one of them is here.
1 - The easy way to lube a chain
Do you still lube a section of chain, move the bike forward, lube another section, move the bike forward etc? Here is the easy way. With the bike on its sidestand, stand on the left, hold the front brake on tightly and pull the bike forward and toward you, balancing it on the front wheel and sidestand. (See the picture below). Now with the back wheel in the air you can get a mate to spin it and lube the chain in seconds with minimal effort!
1a - Always lube a chain after a ride
The best time to lube a chain is after a ride as the chain will be slightly warm due to the friction of it moving. This heat helps the lube penetrate into the chain’s links, making its performance far more effective. Once you have lubed the chain, leave it to cool down and then wipe off any excess using a rag so that your wheel doesn’t become covered in sticky lube. Or you could use a dry lube, of course.
2 - Flapping fobs
A lot of bikes come with alarm fobs attached to their ignition keys. These fobs flap around in the wind and after a while the bit of fairly cheap rubber that holds them onto your key-ring will snap and the fob will disappar off into the bush. At ths point you're in a bit of a pickle. (Ask me how I know). Pop to your local DIY store and buy some Velcro. By sticking some Velcro to the top yoke and the other side to the fob you can keep the fob in place and stop it flapping in the wind. Always put the soft Velcro on the fob as it will be in your pocket and the hooked side will catch on your clothing. If you are tempted to remove the alarm completely, check with your insurer first in case it affects your premium.
By the way, if you happen to have extra keys (like your disclock or chain key, for example) attached to your ignition key, a loop of velcro around them stops them scratching your top yoke to pieces.
3 - Starting tricks
It’s amazing the number of people who don’t know how to bump-start a bike – so here’s how. If your battery is flat, ensure the ignition is turned on and the alarm deactivated then put the bike in second gear and pull the clutch in. If you can, get a friend to push you up to a reasonable speed or roll down a hill and when you’re going fast enough, stand up on the pegs and then drop yourself onto the seat while at the same time letting the clutch out in one go. Don’t slip the lever, just drop it.
By dropping your weight onto the seat you reduce the chances of the rear skipping when the engine’s compression kicks in (which is also why you bump start in second gear) and hopefully the bike will fire into life. Bump starting any small capacity machine is easy, and inline fours are generally simple, but V-twins are very tricky due to their engine’s high compression.
One thing to note. If the battery is properly flat, the first thing that will happen when you dump the clutch is the alarm will go off because it will think the battery was disconnected. It will also immobilise the bike. You need three hands so you'll struggle to this without a mate. Your mate needs to push the disarm battery on the fob as soon as you dump the clutch - a couple of goes will get the timing right and you'll be sorted.
If you are on your own...
CAVEAT - There's potential to hurt yourself and/or break your bike. If you aren't completely confident then don't do this. And if it all goes wrong...don't blame us.
Right, having got that out of the way, here goes.
You are going to run alongside your bike having put it into second and turned the ignition on, jump onto the seat and dump the clutch. So to avoid any embarassing moments, take off any luggage you have strapped to the back of the bike. If there's a top-box and you can remove it, do so. Likewise panniers, racks or anything else that you might catch your foot on when you swing it over the saddle. Now put the bike into second and turn the ignition on. Put the sidestand up. Make sure you have space, then pull in the clutch and start running. Get up to the best speed you can, jump onto the bike and dump the clutch as you land on the seat. Time it right and the bike will fire. If you have an alarm then hold the fob in your left hand with your thumb over the button and press it as soon as the alarm goes off, hopefully disarming the alarm at the same time. Then you'll probably have to go through the starting process again.
If you aren't happy with going all the way over the seat I know some people who sit sidesaddle instead. It looks cool if you get it right...
4 - Rucksack disasters avoided
Does your rucksack have two zips? If so, always do it up with both the zips down one side of the rucksack and not at the top. While it seems logical, and easy, to do up the zips so they meet at the top of the rucksack, this is a terrible idea. No, really, it is. If the rucksack is loaded, the wind pressure will force the two zips to part, something that simply can’t happen if they are down the same side of the bag. It’s a simple trick, but one that is guaranteed to stop your underpants getting strewn around a dual carriageway. I lost a shoe, a favourite shirt and a suit jacket exactly like this. I still use the same rucksack, but I never, eve, zip it up at the top...
5 - Stop hair plucking
You know that feeling when you get all hot and sweaty on a summer’s day and your leathers start to pluck your leg hairs out? It’s horrible isn’t it? This is easily avoided by wearing a thin under suit (also called a base layer). These undersuits make getting in and out of your leathers far quicker and easier and also stop the leather getting all sweaty and smelly. On the other hand… you could just shave your legs. Whatever tickles your fancy really.(Though it still won't stop your leathers getting manky)
6 - Heated clothing rules
If you commute or ride a bike in winter, buy some heated clothing. While your mates may call you soft for using it, heated clothing will transform your ride because on cold mornings it keeps you blissfully warm. Heated kit is one of those things that once you buy your first set, you will wonder how on earth you ever survived without it. The same goes for heated grips, though make sure you get some with an automatic cut-off so that you have a chance to avoid practicing item 3 on a regular basis...
7 - Armour up
We all love the freedom of wearing just a jacket and jeans for summer riding, but do you worry about the lack of leg armour in jeans? Even jeans with armour inbuilt can be pretty useless because if they’re baggy, the armour can shift around in an accident. The solution is simple. Pop to a motocross shop and buy some m/x knee armour (hard or soft) that attaches directly to your legs as this ensures it is always in place. Now you just have to pull your jeans on over the armour and you are nice and protected. And if your legs are shaved, they’ll slip on nicely!
8- A cheap alarm system
Not everyone likes to fit their bike with an alarm, however if you are parked away from home (or even in your garage) and you are worried about your bike’s safety here is a cheap DIY alarm. Using a bit of gaffa tape, tape your bike’s horn button down in the ‘on’ position. Should anyone force your bike’s ignition when they try and steal the bike, the horn will sound. A thief is very unlikely to notice the button is taped down (especially if you use black tape) and the din from a blaring horn should alert you something is amiss and hopefully scare off the potential thief. Thieves are. after all, opportunists and will rarely have planned ahead very well. If they have, of course, it's most likely that you're going to lose your bike unless you've fitted a tracker...
9 - Clean bugs the warm and gentle way
If you arrive home with a multitude of dead flies on your visor, don’t instantly reach for a cloth. Rubbing the dead critters off vigorously can result in a scratched visor, so instead take your time. Soak some kitchen roll in warm water and lay it over the visor for a few minutes. This will soften up the dead bodies and allow you to wipe them off with minimal effort, vastly reducing the chances of smearing with guts and gore or scratching the visor. Never do this with a hotel towel. It's really bad manners. There's another option here, of course.
10 - Turn around in a tight spot
**DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS WITH A DUCATI SUPERSPORTS BIKE AS THE STAND WILL FOLD UP!**
Actually, be really wary about doing this with anything that isn't Japanese or weighs more than a couple of hundred kilos. And if you're not completely happy...don't try it.
A bit like the chain lubing trick, this. Start off standing close to the bike on the stand side.
Make sure the ground is reasonably level and hard.
Pull on the front brake and lever the bike up so it's on the sidestand and back wheel. You want to be standing close enough to it that the bike is partly resting on your leg.
Now move it back slightly so the front wheel is off the ground and it's just balanced on your thigh and the sidestand.
You can now pivot the bike around the stand to help get turned around in tight spaces (or even to avoid a 96 point turn on the garden path).
There will be more nuggets to come at some point, but why not leave your own ideas on our Facebook page?