The Joys of Learning to Ride - The first step to working on your ride

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Joys of Learning to Ride - The first step to working on your ride

BAM! I just bought my first bike. After months of Craigslist, eBay and Cycle Trader ads, I've got a pretty little 1980 Honda CM400E sitting in my garage. But you don't buy a bike older than you are without knowing that you'll be twisting a wrench and wielding a screwdriver, or two, more often than not. Heck, I was buying new parts the day after I got her home. And here they are... sitting at my desk just waiting to get put on my new ride.

Wait... what? I'm a first time bike owner. Actually, it hasn't even been a year since I wrote this little bit on my new urge to cut four wheels down to two and try something new: The Joys of Learning to Ride � Part 1. And back then, I had no clue what I was getting myself into. I was more worried about trivial and useless things such as the proper Motorcycle Wave or whether or not I would fall over. And now I'm staring at a pile of parts with the full intention of getting my hands dirty and getting to know my new ride better than most girls would even after a couple of drinks on a first date? Talk about some serious growth.

But I found that buying a motorcycle for the first time costs a whole lot more than just the bike itself. In fact, buying the right stuff to go with your new love can be even more expensive than the machine itself. Veteran riders may scoff at this fact, but they've probably collected enough gear and tools to clothe an entire army of new riders without batting an eye. These days, however, starting out means gear, tools, parts, chemicals and a whole bunch of other stuff you never thought about.


So I touched a bit on the little bit of the entry level gear knowledge that I have and how to completely gear up for under $500. But what about tools? These parts aren't just going to put themselves on. And the Manuals and Tools section of can be a bit daunting at first. First thing I did? Found the right motorcycle manual for my bike. Sure, there are plenty of places you can find tips and such for your machine, but there really is no replacement for the good ol' paperback manual for your bike and Clymer does a pretty good job. If you have any intention of doing absolutely anything with your bike, you'll be happy to have that manual more often than you'll realize.

Still, you can't do all the work with your bare hands. But there are two options for stocking up your garage with the right tools. The easy way is to simply pick up a tool kit that has a variety of the tools you'll need for the most common of motorcycle maintenance and repair tasks. My favorite is the CruzTools RoadTech M3 Tool Kit. It has everything from interchangeable screwdriver heads to a tire pressure gauge and flashlight all in a nice compact case so it won't get cluttered. And it's small enough to throw in your motorcycle luggage when you go for a ride.

Of course, some people prefer to build their own motorcycle tool kit. Taking the time to pick out each individual hand tool you think you'll need may be tedious but it lets you customize your tools. The main things you should make sure to include are a set of wrenches, both ratchet and fixed, as well as an adjustable wrench and a metric socket set, a Hex or Allen wrench set, and a screwdriver set. Some other small things such as a cable luber or a tire pressure gauge. Of course, if you've got a touch of OCD like I do, having a place to put your tools and keeping them organized is also high on the priority list. Grab a tool box or pouch to keep everything where it should be.

There are also a few chemicals that you should throw in your arsenal of primary motorcycle care. contact cleaner will come in handy when doing anything from a carb clean to replacing your grips while cable lube is an easy way to keep your controls working smoothly. And of course don't forget your cleaning and polishing solutions to keep your bike looking pristine.

There are tons of tools you'll eventually want to invest in. When it's time to change your tires, you'll probably need tire irons, a bike stand and even rim protectors. But waiting to pick up those necessities until you do the actual job can help break up those costs over time. Soon, you'll have that collection of tools to do everything you could imagine with your motorcycle and you won't have had to take out a second mortgage just to afford it all. Now please excuse me, I've got some new parts to put on my bike.

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