7 easy motorcycle projects to stave off cabin fever

Select one photo from your 2013 travels - one that makes you smile.  Print it, frame it, and hang it on a wall

Select one photo from your 2013 travels – one that makes you smile. Print it, frame it, and hang it on a wall

Is ‘winter’ driving you nuts yet?  Technically, Winter started on December 21st, but our last motorcycle ride in late October sure seems a long, long time ago.

That got me thinking, if it’s too cold and snowy to ride, what motorcycle-related projects could we start to keep us ‘involved’ in motorcycle stuff?

Here’s a list of small projects I came up with:

1.  Helmet maintenance.  Now’s a good time to clean your helmet.

Washing – remove the interior liner of your helmet if possible.  Wash it in a sink full of warm water and dish wash liquid.  Rinse thoroughly with clear water and let it air dry.  If your helmet liner is not removable, simply fill the helmet with warm water and a small squirt of dish detergent, scrub with a soft brush, and rinse with clear water.  Let the helmet air dry.

Clear air vents – inspect the air vents on your helmet and you’ll likely find dead bugs that block the air flow.  An old dental pick is a good tool to use, or use a fine, small gauge screwdriver to pick out debris.

Polish faceshield or order a replacement – remove the faceshield from your helmet, wash it in warm, sudsy water and dry it preferably with a soft, clean microfiber cloth.  I use Plexus plastic cleaner and polish for removing fine scratches.  If your faceshield or the internal sunshade is more than 3 years old like that of my Nolan N90, it may be time to order a replacement.

2.  Textile jacket and pants maintenance.  I hadn’t given washing my textile jacket and pants much thought until I switched from a black motorcycle jacket to a hi-viz yellow one.  A friend, Diane, who runs a tight ship when it comes to keeping her and her husband’s pricey BMW riding gear in tip top shape, gave me these simple instructions.  Remove any protective padding (back, shoulders, elbows, knees, hips.)  Spray a stain remover (such as Resolve) on the dirtiest spots and throw the clothing into a green garbage bag to let the stuff work overnight.  Then follow the washing instructions on the manufacturer’s label (usually wash in cold water with detergent on a ‘delicate’ cycle; then wash one more time with cold water only and NO detergent; and hang to dry.)  I did not use any waterproofing treatment in the washing process and my Olympia and Tourmaster ‘waterproof’ apparel has not leaked since washing.

3.  Have your riding gear tailored.  Not everybody fits off-the-rack motorcycle clothing.  Both of my Olympia jackets (one vented, one mesh, both in Men’s Large) have sleeves more than 2-inches too long, and my BMW Summer 3 pants (Men’s Large) were also too long.  I had a tailor shorten the jacket sleeves and the pants.  Now, these pieces of gear fit me properly.

4.  Charge your bike battery.  Even experienced motorcycle owners can let this job slip through the cracks.  Buy a computerized trickle charger such as the Battery Tender, hook it up to your battery then you can forget about it.  The Battery Tender senses when the battery is fully charged, then turns off.  And it’s smart enough to know when the battery has discharged and start charging again.  If you’ve ever seen a TV showcasing Jay Leno’s car collection, he’s got a Battery Tender hooked up to each of his stored vehicles.

5.  Wash and polish your windshield.  Many motorcycle windshields can’t be cleaned perfectly because body parts or attachment points block full access.  That’s certainly the case on my Moto Guzzi Stelvio NTX’s ‘shield, which is held by four allen bolts.  Wash the windscreen in a sink full of sudsy water (or the bathtub if you’ve got a large touring screen), dry with a clean microfiber cloth, and finish with Plexus plastic cleaner and polish.

6.  Leather motorcycle boot maintenance.  The non-riding season is a great time to clean and treat leather riding boots.  You can use a mild body bar soap like Dove in place of saddle soap.  Moisten a soft cloth and rub on the bar of soap until you build up some lather, then use that dab of soap to clean the boots.  Allow the leather to dry, then apply a coat of shoe polish if you want to cover scuff marks, and buff to a polish.  Then apply a leather treatment or waterproofing such as Nikiwax (which is water based) or a grease-based product like Dubin or Ko-Cho-Line.

7.  Select a photograph from your 2013 travels, print it, frame it, and hang it.  Remember all the photos you took on your travels this year? Winter is the perfect time to be viewing images from your summer tours.  Find one photo that makes you smile.  Load it onto a memory card or flash drive and take it to a photo shop – the staff will help you crop it and make any colour or exposure corrections if you don’t have the software to do that.  Buy a frame from Ikea or Wal-Mart and hang it on the wall. When the snow’s blowing and the wind’s howling, you’ll look at the photograph and feel warm all over.

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