What’s going on? Rob Fish here, bikebandit.com. We get lots of questions here in the BikeBandit Garage. One of the most common questions is on the topic of safety wire. Who needs to do it? What parts need to be wired, and why it even needs to be done? And how those pliers even work. Those are just a few of ’em. In this segment of the BikeBandit Garage, we’re gonna take a look at all of the aspects on safety wiring a motorcycle, be it for track preparation or just for the casual rider, be it for street or dirt, so let’s take a closer look at the basics of safety wire.
What exactly is safety wire? Well it’s just that, it’s wire. Motorcycles vibrate and shake, and bolts and fasteners can loosen up and potentially back unfolds [SP] totally out. If that happens, parts fall off and can create situations of potential injury to riders and damage to machines. So in order to minimize the risk, an easy way to ensure a fastener stays type is to safety wire it. Safety wire is offered in different thicknesses, usually between twenty-five one hundredths and thirty-two one hundredths of an inch, with the former being more pliable and easy to work with and the latter being stronger and a bit stiffer. It’s usually sold in increments of 25 feet quarter pound or 1 pound spools.
Who needs to safety wire their bikes? It’s not just for racers complying with the mandatory rules of their organization. Even the casual rider can benefit from using safety wire on their bikes. How about the off-roader just trying to keep the grips from twisting on their handlebars? Now here’s where things get fun. What exactly needs to be safety wired? Most race guidebooks will specify that any bolt that has either oil or water behind them, like your oil and coolant drain bolts as well as their respective [inaudible 00:01:34] ports, need to be wired. Brake and wheel components need to be wired as well. Axle bolts, pinch bolts on the fork legs, and all bolts involved with the braking system, like the caliper bolts and the banjo bolts too. Those are the usual suspects, but some folks take it one step further and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. The steering head bolt is often done, the bolt or bolts that attach the muffler and even the exhaust manifold bolts, and the handlebar grips. You get the idea, if it can loosen up and potentially fall off, wire it up.
How does one attach the wire to the bolts? Each bolt needs to be drilled and the wires then simply pass through the hole and attach to either a solid mount or another drilled bolt. There is an actual method to drilling the bolts out too. Using a drilling jig makes the job much easier and more precise. They also make pre-drilled bolts, but replacing all the necessary bolts can be pretty expensive. When drilling, take your time. Use one-sixteenth inch bits and buy a few as they can dull out or even break. And please, where eye protection.
Remember that the reason we safety wire items is to ensure that they remain tight. So we need to start with the bolts tighten to their proper torque specs, then mark the location to be drilled. The old saying of “righty tighty, lefty loosey” is what needs to be applied to the location of the holes. Take a look at this example. Notice how the holes are drilled in a way that if a bolt got loose, it would actually be held in place under tension against the rotation of the other bolt. That is the key to proper safety wiring. Often times, safety wire is simply attached to a solid mount on one side and then do a cotter pin on the other. Sometimes it’s two cotter pins done together. This is especially common where safety wire is removed and reapplied often, such as axle pinch bolts, and brake caliper bolts, and oil fill caps.
So exactly what is the process? Let’s do a spin-on type oil filter. Now, some filters have a pre-drilled nut welded on the top, like the K & N already installed on this bike. But we’re going the no frills route here. Visit your local hardware store and buy a hose clamp, usually a three to a three and a half inch clamp will work. Install the clamp around the filter as close to the base as possible and find a bolt in the direction of tension. Remember that, that’s key, the direction of tension. Loop the wire through the clamp and then over to your mounting point, twist up the wire, snip off the excess, dispose of it properly, and bend the wire out of the way.
Here’s another example of a solid mount to a cotter pin this time. Measure the length of wire you need then twist away. I know that with each install I mentioned to snip off the excess wire and then dispose of the tab properly, bend the tab out of the way after that. Now, you drop that tab that you just snip onto the ground and there’s the risk of rolling over it with a tire, and frankly, that just sucks.
Now here is how safety wire pliers actually work. Watch closely and you’ll see that there are actually a few simple steps to operate them. Really, it’s such a handy tool. Once you figure it out, you’ll be looking for things to wire. As with everything, practice makes perfect.
So there you have it, just a quick little lesson on the wonder that is safety wire. Thanks for joining us here in the BikeBandit Garage. We hope that you learned something and enjoyed your visit. Remember, subscribe to our YouTube channel to get videos like this sent to you upon each installment. See you soon, and ride safe. [music]