This chapter is really a set of guidelines that I’ve learned to apply in just about any project, whether it be working on a bike, repairing lawn equipment, writing software, re-engineering a product for a company, handling handyman jobs around the house…you name it.
These are here as a framework to refer to when working through my King Moon Racer. Thinking about these rules when tearing down keeps me from being overwhelmed by a project. They keep me in controlled stages with my budget. They allow me to enjoy myself in the shortest amount of time.
If my son shows as much interest in the garage as he does in riding, I’m sure this will have to become a laminated poster on the shop wall one day.
- Follow the “software order of operations”
Make it work…Make it fast…Make it pretty
- Do NOT be afraid to disassemble and inspect
This fear makes as much sense as not going to the doctor when you have symptoms of a heart condition or cancer. You’re avoiding dismantling a clutch pack because you’ve never done it before and you’re afraid? Overcome that fear by doing it. Don’t’ want to do it because you’re afraid of what you’ll find? If so, why are you even doing this? Many times, an actual problem found is less expensive than the damage done by not looking.
- Ride and test in an operable state before committing to big changes.
The bike may not be what some online opinions/flames suggest. What is bad for a track racer may be fine for a semi-aggressive off-road fun-rider. What is “too soft” for a 200+ pound guy may be just fine for the 150-pound dude.
- If a component needs eventual replacement, don’t make tightly-related upgrades there
If you’re considering conversion to an 18” rear, don’t put Tubliss on the existing 19” rim.
- Weight loss on the bike is not important until there is weight loss on you
Four-ounce difference from titanium bolts? A 10% lighter set of foot pegs? Wow…oh, did you remember to drop a deuce before riding? No? You just blew all that expensive “weight savings.” The exception here is comparing weight when a change MUST be made. Is a Tubliss install lighter option than a Rim Saddle with heavy-duty tubes on a front-rim that you’re keeping?
- Plan your changes around what cannot change
Does your bike have a close-ratio transmission, with a tall first-gear and no replacement options? Time to plan on ensuring the best low-rpm control and stall avoidance…or gear it knowing you’ll never go over 45mph on top.
Only add “bling” if…
- Guessing is done. Don’t go buy twin-ring/Z-wave sprockets or the most expensive chain until you’ve settled on your gearing for 90% of your riding.
- Price hurdle is justified. Is the aftermarket billet chain guide really $35 better than replacing the nylon blocks in the straight, undamaged stocker?
- Significant upgrade in protection or performance. Cool new glide-plate with a linkage slider? Sure…but how does a billet oil-filler cap improve your bike if the stock hard-rubber cap is not broken?
- Cheapest option to provide a solution. Let’s say I’m worried about overheating here in Central Texas. Do I go with a trick, high-flow, anti-cavitation water pump, or do I go with the heavier-duty, double-row radiator that cools better…and won’t need impact braces…for the same price? The better radiator should win. However, remember that both may be needed in “phase two” mods based on results.
- Separate “simple” from “easy,” and both from “correct”
Bad fork performance that you can’t pin down? “Easy” would be to tweak clickers until it is not horrible. “Simple” would be to replace the fork oil and maybe the springs…though it is not “easy” for the mechanically fearful. “Correct” would be to replace the bushings/guides/seals with the oil and springs, and consider proper re-valving for your riding style, since you are already that far along in the process.
- Go after “good” before going after “popular”
Need to replace a shifter? That forged or carved-billet shifter sure looks sexy and will get cred in the pits. However, do you expect to be slamming the bike into rocks and tree stumps? Then perhaps a softer steel, bendable shift lever is better, as it won’t snap mid-ride, 30 miles from the truck…and it also won’t transfer the impact load into expensive internals like a shift-shaft.
- Be willing to try generic or “store brand” when available
Function over fashion. The same suppliers make components for many brands. Do you think there is a functional difference between a generic hour-meter and the one boxed and labeled for your favorite/familiar brand name? This mindset also allows for consolidation of suppliers to reduce logistic/shipping/timing issues. Because of this, I have become a big fan of Rocky Mountain ATV and their “house brands” like Tusk and Primary Drive. They stake their reputation on the quality of their house brands, the prices are lower, and I can get most of my components from a single source.