All posts by Hell8iker

About Hell8iker

Greetings all, I was born in 1976 in Lisbon, Portugal and I am living in London U.K. since 2005. I discovered the world of motorbikes when I was 16, and since then I was never able to quit riding. I am currently a motorcycle instructor working for a motorcycle school in London, teaching and helping out new riders to become safer on the road. I have done a few motorbike trips and I had the idea of a blog a while ago but never got round to do it. This is my first blog and I am not an expert in the art of blogging so there is a possibility that you might find a few mistakes. I will try to do it the best I can covering other aspects about the world of motorcycling and travelling rather than write a simple road diary. Let this be the book about my biker stories and trips and be a source of inspiration for all out there reading my blog!!!!

Riding the West (U.K) Jul 2019

 

Introduction

 

July 2019

Summer is here (kind of) and It´s been a while since I last pitched the tent or did a road trip. I had two weeks off work ahead and the idea of  doing a road trip around Europe would not get out of my mind. At the same time I realized that U.K. still has loads of places unknown to me. I always heard that the Southwestern side of the U.K. is beautiful and it is the British home for surfers (not that I am one, although I like the ocean), so it could be a potential  great destination for my holidays.

Decision is taken!!! I´d ride west this time! Devon and Cornwall here I go!!!

I did not plan or did my usual research about which routes to take or thought about where I would be staying.  One stop in Clevedon (Bristol) to visit my brother for a couple days, then I would ride west without a particular route or destination. While visiting my brother, I simply bought a map and marked scenic routes on it before going. I was lucky, the weather was on my side, and hopefully I would find what I was after. Roads and scenery able to put a grin in my face, beach, picturesque towns and great people!!!

I just had one task to do before leaving Clevedon, “Sophia” (my bike´s name) was due for an oil change. So after that was done and with the luggage on the bike I was time to depart!!

Riding the West!!!                                                              The Journey begins!!!

 

 

 

P.S. There´s more to come within the next couple weeks but now you have to be patient! Work in progress!!! 

 

 

Training

If you want to get a CBT (Compulsory basic training) license (up to 125cc), or to take the full motorcycle license then this post is for you. 

   Visit us at:

 https://www.universalmct.co.uk

We are a motorcycle training school based in North London and our aim is to teach you how to ride a motorcycle safely. We are client centered and we have a great training area, facilities and classrooms suitable for all. We are authorised and regulated by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) and fully accredited by the Motorcycle Industry Association (MCIA).

In between other courses we offer different courses tailored to our client needs, such as:

 

 

If you are not confident, or you don´t feel safe on the road we can help you to build a better biker in you with a  FREE 1-2-1 course in conjunction with Transport For London (TFL) in order to get you safer on the road. In other words, it means practicing on the road for free with an instructor.

1-2-1-Motorcycle Skills
We are pleased to offer you extra training for free in conjunction with Transport For London.

 

training area
Our training area is great and large enough for you to practice and learn.

 

classroom
Our classrooms are suitable and we have all the aids to help you go through your license.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

full license
DAS Mod1 students and bikes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Students
Full class, look at their smiles, they all got their CBT.
instructor
One of us doing what we do best. To teach!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And here is how we do it!!!!!

(Footage about a CBT done last year and recorded by a Vlogger “The Don in London”)

 

Do you still have doubts?

Book your ITM, CBT or DAS course with us at https://www.universalmct.co.uk

… Or if you just did your training with us feel free to leave your feedback in the “Leave a reply” area at the bottom of the post!!!

 

Thanks!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is Belém (Lisbon)

Note: For a better display of this post use a laptop or desktop instead of a phone. Thanks!!!

 

 

LISBON                                                 LISBOA

 Lisbon, beautiful Lisbon

 

Lisbon
Tagus river (Rio Tejo)  and bridge , the Christ statue (Cristo Rei) and “Sophia”.

Time to write about Lisbon, the Portuguese capital, my hometown.

Lisbon is located next to the “Rio Tejo” (Tagus River) with the sun almost always shining in a blue sky. Lisbon attracts millions of tourists from all over the world every year. The native language is Portuguese however in the capital everyone has a strong gasp of the English language. 

Rio Tejo
The 25th of April bridge, or Salazar bridge as it was once named over the Tagus River.
Rio Tejo
View from the same place at night.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lisbon is a very rich city in monuments together with old traditional picturesque neighborhoods such as, Mouraria and Baixa (Downtown), or the pretty riverside area of Terreiro do Paço together with parks and attractions all around, make Lisbon is a city of a unique beauty where the old styles mix with the contemporary days. 

Lisbon is also known as the city of light and offers a great night life with plenty of options for the most varied tastes. It is common to find Bairro Alto or Cais do Sodre packed with people from all ages, drinking and having fun until early morning on a regular basis, especially during the summer time. 

Lisbon is an unforgettable destination for all  who want to have a unique experience of hospitality, gastronomy, tradition, history, modernity, culture and leisure.

A little tour in…

…BELÉM

 

Belém is on the western side of Lisbon by the riverside and it is one of Lisbon boroughs. In Belém  you can find parks and gardens, monuments and museums and an attractive riverside environment with cafes and a public walk. It is one of the most touristic areas of Portugal.

 

Torre de Belém

Torre de Belem
Belém Tower
Torre de Belem
Belém Tower

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Torre de Belem
A caravel on the “Tejo” and Belém Tower

 

Torre de Belem
At night illuminated and surrounded by the “Tejo” waters
Torre de Belem
Belém Tower by night under the moon. Picturesque!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Torre de Belém is located in the borough of Belém , on the right bank of the “Tejo River” (Tagus River). It was built between 1514 and 1520 and it was originally surrounded by water around its perimeter. Its main purpose was to defend the Tagus river from any potential attack by sea and was part of a composition with other two fortresses and towers strategically built on the Tagus basin.

Over time, the tower was losing its defense function of the Tagus and, the old warehouses gave way to dungeons. In the four floors of the tower, remain the governor room, the Hall of Kings , the courtroom  and finally, the Chapel.

The Torre de Belém is classified as a world heritage site by UNESCO and was elected as one of the seven wonders of Portugal in 2007.

 

 

Padrão dos Descobrimentos

 

Padrao dos Descobrimentos
Discoveries Monument- In honor to Infant D. Henrique, the Navigator and to all the Portuguese who discovered the seas.
Padrao dos Descobrimentos
Discoveries Monument- Infant D. Henrique, the Navigator 500 years anniversary.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Padrao dos Descobrimentos
Discoveries monument front view

 

Padrao dos Descobrimentos
Discoveries Monument- A beautiful place worth to visit in Belém, as usual, this area attracts thousands of tourists every day.

The Discoveries Monument ( Padrão dos Descobrimentos) is located just a couple hundred meters from the Belém Tower (Torre de Belém) on the North side of “Rio Tejo” (Tagus river). It is another Lisbon icon. The Discoveries Monument was officially inaugurated  in 1960 as a tribute of the 5th centenary of the death of Infant D. Henrique ( the most important figure from the beginning of the era of discoveries, popularly known as Infant of Sagres or The Navigator).

Padrao dos Descobrimentos          
Discoveries Monument- On both sides there are sculptures of important personalities in the discoveries history.

 

Aligned from the top to the bottom there are 16 figures of the Portuguese history, being Infant D. Henrique placed on the top holding a caravel in his hands, followed by other navigators and explorers including D. Luiz Vaz de Camões (Poet/author of “Os Lusiadas”). Note the shape of the monument as a caravel. 

 

 

 

 

Padrao dos Descobrimentos
Discoveries monument- Left side of the monument and another 16 figures from the Portuguese discoveries history.

 

32 figures in total are sculptured in Padrão dos Descobrimentos. Infant D. Henrique is on the top again, together with other worldwide known navigators such as Vasco da Gama (Discoverer of the sea way to India), Pedro Alvares Cabral ( Discoverer of Brazil) and Fernao de Magalhaes (the first navigator to sail around the globe) just to name a few figures.

 

 

There are other attractions along the river´s massive walking path such as the Electricity museum, the fighter´s museum (which I visited inside and is very well presented), a couple marinas. There are also plenty of coffee shops and restaurants around in case you want to have a drink or a snack. If you feel like exercising whilst exploring there are a couple bicycle and scooter rental tents. The area is quite green as well as there is a big park where you can relax and some playground areas for children. If you don´t drive it is very easy to get there, as Belém train station is less than a mile away (The train line goes from Cais do Sodre to Cascais always along the river and coast line, it is a quite pretty and picturesque route and well recommended). Over all it is a very pleasant place, busy with tourists all over the place, but not overcrowded. I took a couple more pictures but as usual, they don´t make justice about this spot.

 

Belem
Next to the Belém Tower, there is the Fighter´s museum. Always with the park going along the river.

 

 

 

 

Belem Tower
A mini Torre de Belém and the surroundings.

 

 

 

 

Tagus River
People sailing on the Tejo river.

 

 

 

Padrao dos Descobrimentos

 

 

 

 

 

Belem
One of  Belém Marina´s.

 

 

 

The fighter´s museum
Outdoors exposition at the fighter´s museum.

 

fighter´s museum
A BMW in exposition from the 90´s at the service of the Military Police ( from the unit where I served in the army actually).

Jeronimos Monastery

 

Jeronimos
The colossal Jerónimos Monastery, a Portuguese icon.

 

Jeronimos monastery is one of the most iconic symbols of Portugal and considered a national symbol from its early days. It was built in the 16th Century using a Manueline style mixed with Gothic and Renaissance architectural elements. It is one of the most visited monuments in Portugal attracting over one million tourists per year. Jeronimos Monastery is recognized as a world heritage monument by UNESCO and also one of the 7 wonders of Portugal along the Torre de Belem. ( A must see if you happen to visit Lisbon)

 

Jeronimos
Belém would not be the same without Jerónimos.

 

 

 

 

Jeronimos
Jerónimos Monastery from a different angle.

 

 

 

Belém
Jeronimos Monastery and park in Belém.

 

 

 

 

Jerónimos
The great Jerónimos Monastery in Belém.

 

 

 

 

Belém
Vasco da Gama tomb in Jeronimos Monastery. One of the few tombs.

 

 

 

Belém
Jeronimos Monastery church

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I was wandering around, and as it is the Christmas season I came across a motorbike meeting in front of Jerónimos. Happens that it was an event gathering over 100 bikers where most were dressed as Santa Klaus in a mission to deliver Christmas presents to the poor, as I was told by one of the bikers. I was lucky enough to record them shooting off. 

 

In Belém you can´t forget to pass by the original “Pasteis de Belémcafé (coffee shop) where the original and the traditional specialty delicatessen of Portugal is made for over a century. In Belém you must have a “pastel de Nata“… or 10!!! Although you can find the these egg pastries in every Portuguese “café” (and even in some coffee shops in the U.K.), only the Pasteis de Belém café have the exclusive secret recipe, where they serve them still hot, and with a choice of cinnamon or sugar on top.

Pasteis de Belém
The Pasteis de Belém café is the most popular café in Lisbon and maybe in whole Portugal.
Pasteis de Belém
Good luck trying to get a “Nata”. Everyone wants to eat a “Nata”, The original “Nata”!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pasteis de Belém
I introduce you, the original PASTEL DE NATA!
Belém
Inside Pasteis de Belém café
Belém
There are plenty of space and rooms and space, so pick at table and sit down.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are a few more pictures of Belém and other interesting places and museums. This post is getting long so I had to resume it a little bit with a few more pictures and a video of me riding around Belém instead of detailing it all, however I covered the main touristic areas of Belém.

 

In Belém
If you like planets and star constellations you can visit the Planetarium which is next to the monastery.

 

 

Belém
You can also visit the Portuguese Navy Museum in Belém.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Belém
An area with some Restaurants, snack bars where you can have the most varied Portuguese traditional food. One of the many places.

 

 

 

 

Belém
 “Quentes e boas”- “Hot and tasty”; typical slogan from who sells roasted chestnuts. 

 

 

 

 

Belém
President´s palace although I am not sure the Portuguese President lives there.

 

 

 

Belém
President´s palace residence guard!!

 

 

 

 

 

Belém
Detail of the president´s palace. I found it pretty.

 

 

 

 

Belém
Garden in Belém in front of the President´s palace. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Belém
Panorama of a Park in Belém… one of many around.

 

Belém
HO HO HO Just because it´s the Xmas season… Merry Xmas to all!!! P.S It´s not me on the bike.

Did you enjoy the little tour in Belém?

Merry Christmas from Lisbon!!!

More to come soon… 

 

 

 

 

The way down

Salamanca (Sp) to Lisbon (Pt) (01/12/18)

 

 

 

I woke up late, slightly hangover, dry and with a headache, silly me!!!!… Thinking I had a 350 mile journey ahead almost turned that headache into a migraine. After a shower and a good reinforced breakfast at the hotel I was ready to get back on the road. Today I would arrive in Lisbon!!!

I left Ibis around 11 am, as usual, the weather was good in South Europe despite the season of the year… nice, warm and sunny.  I did not ride much as I wanted to see a bit of Salamanca before leaving. I parked the bike and walked for a while to the historic side of the city. Sunday morning, the streets where crowded with people, coffee shops were busy and there was even some street animations going on. Salamanca is a lively city day and night for sure.

Salamanca
Walking to the historical center

 

 

 

 

 

 

Salamanca
Salamanca on a Sunday morning.
Salamanca
Historical Salamanca

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Salamanca
New Cathedral at the back , I had to have a look.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The New Cathedral is together with the Old Cathedral of Salamanca one of the two in the city. It was constructed between the 16th and 18th centuries in a Gothic and and baroque styles. 

Salamanca
The Impressive New Cathedral
Salamanca
The Old Cathedral. I believe at the time I was passing people were exiting after the religious service.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Salamanca
The New Cathedral
Salamanca
One of the towers of the New Cathedral.

 

Salamanca
Salamanca old Salamanca
Salamanca
These pictures don´t make justice at all of how impressive the Cathedral is.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ornamental sculptures are carved along the facades of the Cathedral. In particular the figure of a modern astronaut and a gargoyle eating an ice cream on the facade of the north entrance of the Cathedral, unlike any other, attract dozens of tourists to the door just to photograph these unusual carvings.

 

New Cathedral of Salamanca
The North entrance of the Cathedral
New Cathedral of Salamanca
Note the amazing sculptures carved on the wall all along the entrance.
New Cathedral of Salamanca
Challenge 1: Find the astronaut. Challenge 2: Find the dinosaur eating ice cream.
New Cathedral of Salamanca
The famous intriguing Astronaut.
New Cathedral of Salamanca
The dinosaur or Gargoyle eating ice cream.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How could anyone have carved such a clear picture of a modern astronaut in a cathedral built hundreds of years ago and long before such a character existed? 

Apparently this would have happened, in fact, very recently, when, in 1992, the cathedral was restored. The fact would have obeyed an old tradition, in which the restorers usually include some modern element.

Of course this is just a hypothesis, and many claim that the figure has been there since the original construction of the cathedral.

 

There is a lot more to see but I had to start making my way to Lisbon. It was getting late and I had to make a move. I was only 50 miles away from the Portuguese border and could have entered Portugal via Vilar Formoso (North Portugal), however you have to pay tolls on motorways and they are quite expensive together with high petrol prices. It was better to head South and enter Portugal in Badajoz (Spain)/ Elvas (Portugal) meaning that I would be still riding in Spain for another 200 miles or so, and then another 200 miles until I arrive in Lisbon.

The Map
My route from Santander. As usual, I am anti GPS so the route marked on the map together with notes works wonders.

The Spanish autovia A66 (E803) was quite pleasant to ride, nearly empty, in very good condition, and the best of it all, no tolls to pay. I stopped after Bejar to have a quick snack and to refill the petrol tank. Quite curvy and scenic this section and a great sigh seeing of the Autovia I was in. Had to stop for a couple pictures.

The A66
The motorway after Bejar, empty and going downhill towards…
A66 motorway
... towards this great curvy section and amazing scenery. Loved it all the way!!!
The Spanish soil
The places, the scenery, the odors, the bike, the road and the exhaust growling on my ears. All the problems, all the noise in my mind, gone!!! Nothing else matters besides what lies ahead!! That´s why I love long rides!

 

I passed Plasencia, then Caceres and then Badajoz. By 6pm I was about to enter Portugal, so I stopped again to refill my tank right before crossing the border as prices are insanely high.

I entered Portugal on the A6 in Elvas towards Pegoes and then the A2 motorway to Lisbon, in 200 miles I would be at my Portuguese home in family. I did not take any other pictures as I wanted to get home. By 8 Pm I was safe and sound in Lisbon,  although I did not feel safe at all on the Portuguese roads. 

Here is a warning:  If you are planning to ride a motorbike in Portugal, I advise you to do so only if you are an experienced biker, otherwise chances are that you might end up having a serious accident. Portuguese drivers are mad and bad, speed limits are there but nobody respects them at all, most drive dangerously, unconsciously and very aggressively. Also tolls are very expensive, I paid 16.60 Eur for some miserable 120 miles on the motorway,  please be aware of these facts.

 My holidays were just starting…                    

  … Keep an eye for future posts, more to come!!!

 

 

The Crossing

Portsmouth to Santander by Ferry (30/11/18)

 

CBR600f4
My F4 all ready and loaded about to depart to the Ferry in Portsmouth!

 

24 Hours with Brittany Ferries. What a great experience!!!

The Cap Finistère
Riding on the sea!!!

I was due to sail on the 30 st of November by 5 pm from Portsmouth port, however there was a delay of an hour and a half due to someone passing away during the previous trip, unknown to my person the facts of how it happened.

 

Finally around 6.15 pm I was directed to the boarding area. It was a slow process, first the lorries and trailers were allocated  in the ferry garages,  then cars and motorbikes (only 3 counting with mine) and at the end,  caravans and vans. I parked the bike in the designated area and the staff secured it with straps so it would not fall during the trip. Then I was sent to the 7th floor to find my cabin. It was a 4 person berth but the ferry was quite empty so I ended up having it all only for myself, lucky me!!

The ferry garages
Level one garage for cars and motorbikes at the lower deck.
The ferry garages
“Sophia” strapped and secured for a 24 hour sailing on the Atlantic ocean!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The “Cap Finistere” is a 10 year old  ferry cruise ship serving on “Brittany Ferries” sailing from Portsmouth to Santander or Bilbao in Spain and vice-versa with a capacity for 700 cars and 1600 passengers. It features 2 bars, 2 restaurants, a spa, a mini market, cinema, a swimming pool and a heliport on the top deck in between other facilities. The decoration is good and modern, and there´s Wi-Fi available for free as well (although it´s not the fastest) . Quite impressive  once I was inside I must say!

Cap finistere
Indoor Atrium. One of many.     
Cap Finistere
Floor 7, staircase and lifts.

 

 

 

 

 

Cap Finistere
Simple, modern and warm decoration all round.

 

It was a pleasant trip, as we were leaving Portsmouth I decided to present myself with a  nice dinner and a bottle of wine in order to celebrate my solo journey, followed by a visit to the main bar where there was live music.  I wanted to start writing this post but ended up talking with other passengers and crew as everyone was friendly and warm, great atmosphere.  After a couple pints the ferry was wobbling badly and I was afraid to feel seasick, I supposed we were on high seas already. Around 1 am there was no one around so I went to my cabin and tried to get some sleep. It was a good feeling to be out of the U.K.

 

 

 

I found out the next morning that the crossing was delayed by two hours as someone had an heart attack and an helicopter had to come to pick up the patient. It was a tough landing as the ocean was quite rough. Unfortunately I did not record that event as I was sleeping while it happened. I ended up meeting L. (a very nice lady who told me all about it). She was traveling to Santander to do a car road trip to the Pyrenees and then across France. We exchanged a couple smiles the previous day, ended up meeting and talking a lot. L. was my companion for most of the day as she was a lovely, fun and chatty person. At a point we were told to stay inside due to weather conditions,  and stabilizers had to be deployed as the ocean was quite rough, slowing us down a bit more and balancing the ferry hard.

In open seas.
View from the 6th Deck, Saturday morning around 7.30 am
on the open sea
Later on, same day, being caught in bad weather.
Rough sea
Caught in bad weather!

We docked in Santander by 7.30pm on the 1 st of December, two hours later than predicted (26 hours in total), it was time to wish L. safe travels and to part ways.  Unfortunately it was dark already and I could not see much beside the road, I headed straight towards Torrelavega on the A67 motorway, going up the Cantabrian mountain.   I stopped at a service area next to Reinosa to fill up my tank, also to have dinner as it was nearly  9 pm and I was getting hungry. I was around 1500 meters above the sea level and I could feel the cold, so it was time to swap my summer gloves for my winter ones. From there it was non stop until Salamanca where I booked a night at an Ibis hotel. The Spanish motorway was quite nice, empty and in good condition. I passed the cities of Palencia, Valadolid and finally arrived in Salamanca by midnight, 250 miles later and 4 hours after I left Santander Port. It was time to park the bike and call it a day.

Hotel Ibis
One night in Salamanca

Instead of going to sleep as I should I decided to go for a beer. I ended up staying out until late night. I found out that people from Salamanca are true party animals, I went from bar to bar, from beer to beer trying to find a spot where I could sit down, enjoy some music and a drink but it was nearly impossible, it was crowded everywhere and the streets packed with locals enjoying themselves. The Spanish are loud and talkative, so I met a few people along the way sharing a few laughs. 

 

I went back to the hotel around 4.30 am, tipsy, exhausted and nearly forgetting I had 350 miles waiting for me next day… 

U.K/ Portugal Dec 2018

 

This road trip came up quite unplanned and unexpected… Personal reasons led me to embrace on this adventure. I was supposed to fly home and get back in early January, however my traveling bug on two wheels was stronger. After a brief chat with a friend I decided to book a ferry from Portsmouth to Santander in Spain and from there ride to Lisbon in Portugal.
This is a solo trip, time for myself, the road, the bike and I. My plan is to ride straight from Santander to Lisbon depending of weather conditions, or maybe I will book a night at an hotel half way so I can enjoy the scenery (which I am not expecting to be that amazing). The way back will be by the 10th of January 2019 via Bilbao to Portsmouth.
I will sail for the first time on the 30st of November from Portsmouth at 5pm being the arrival time in Spain next day around 5.30pm. It is going to be a tough and a lone trip, but I will try to update with pictures and posts in real time as I progress instead of writing it down later like the previous trips.
As usual, I did my usual research and prepared all the essentials in order to avoid surprises whilst on the road. While routing the trip I didn´t look at any scenic routes as I usually do, this time I will be mainly doing the boring motorway until I arrive at my Portuguese home.
I might end up taking you on a discovery trip about Portugal and its beauty on my future posts. It will also be my first time in Portugal by motorbike since I left to the U.K making this trip more exciting. 

 

CBR600f4Honda CBR600 F4  2001, A.K.A. “Sophia”

 

Stage 1: From Portsmouth, 30 of November 2018 at 5pm. 24 hours by Ferry to Santander. ETA 1st of December 2018 by 5.30pm

 

Stage 2:   Santander to Lisbon, 1st of December 2018 being the ETA in Lisbon unknown… I guess I will play it by ear.

 

                                                                                                                               To be continued…

Motorbike maintenance

 

IMAG0796

Nobody is born with mechanical knowledge.  I remember when  I purchased my first bike, I had no clue about motorcycles at all. It was a friend who had a bike already who came to my house and got my bike to start as I kept on flooding it. He removed the spark plug, cleaned it, dried up the piston head and started up my little two stroke 50cc. That was all new and unknown to me, since then I have learnt a lot and I am still learning.

Motorbikes do  ‘speak’ to us and it’s vital that we listen!!!

Noises, vibrations, grinding, rattling, rubbing, whistling, odd smells, exhaust smokes, sudden loss of power, is the language of the motorcycle telling you to pull over, get off and take a look before it is too late. It is imperative to constantly check for faults and to understand what the bike is asking us.

Reading the owners manual (if you have it) will help developing the ability to identify components,  possible faults and to know when to do a routine service. Or if you don´t have the owners manual the internet is a powerful tool to find out more about your motorbike. You won´t only be safer as you will reduce costs greatly and it will prevent you from being stranded on the road.

B.E.S.T. C.O.P.S.

 

BRAKES:

Brake pads are like a soap bar. They get used every time you apply the brakes and eventually will wear out. You have to replace them periodically in order to be safer on the road and to avoid unwanted extra cost.

From time to time inspect the front and rear brake pads. If they show to be close to the end or if they are gone you will listen a squealing noise meaning that the pad is nearly to the end of their life (probably it´s the wear indicator rubbing against the disk). A grinding noise on braking is usually caused by a lack of brake pad material; the pads and disk brakes are now metal to metal, with no braking material left and damaging your disc.

Also check that brake calipers, disc brakes and brake lines are all in good working order and brake fluid is at the level (see note at the end).

brake pads.jpg

 

ELECTRICS:

 Check if all lights are working properly  (indicators, headlight, back and brake lights, number plate light, horn and dashboard lights). If something isn´t working, check the bulbs, the connections, fuses or if the switch has some bad contact. In case the battery is low maybe it is better to replace it; if it is discharging quickly maybe you should check if it is charging properly ( A faulty rectifier is a common issue on bikes). In addition if you are just the occasional biker and your bike is not ridden regularly it is always a good idea to buy a battery optimizer and put the battery on charge the night before you ride.

 

 

 

 

SUSPENSION:

Inspect the fork seals or dust seals from time to time as you have oil inside the fork. Also check if the inner forks have any dents or chips as they can also increase the chance of premature leaks and fork seal early damage.

That oil residue or a dirty greasy ring around the fork is a sign that you have a problem. Oil is getting past the fork seals and attracting dirt. You should replace the fork seals sooner rather than later as once they start, things will quickly get worse and oil will flow down to your brakes or font tyre.   You really don’t want to let that happen or you will be exposed to unnecessary risks.

In modern bikes you should be able to adjust settings such as the pre-load, compression and rebound damping but if you are unknown to these don´t worry, normally motorbikes are sold already optimized for the road with a standard set up so let´s leave that discussion for a different day!

 

TYRES:

             Condition:  have a daily visual check on your tyres and side walls. Look out for nails, bulges, cracks and cuts. If you have a nail stuck in it, don´t remove it and take your bike to the nearest garage to repair it. As an alternative you can buy a puncture repair kit and repair it yourself in case you know how to, otherwise leave the job for a professional. Bulges, cracks or deep cuts should  can indicate internal damage and should be checked immediately by a specialist.

Tyre condition

              Tread: The legal limit for minimum depth of the tread on your motorbike tyres  is 1mm across 3/4 of the tread. The tread is designed to give a good grip on the wet and to prevent aquaplaning by dissipating water out of the tyre. You can either measure the tread by buying a little gauge specific for tyres or by looking at the tyre. Normally there are some bumps in the grooves indicating the wear. If your rubber starts to be close to these marks, it´s time to get a new tyre or your safety is seriously compromised, just not to mention that if you get pulled over with a bald tyre you will get a heavy fine and possibly points on your license.

Tread

 

            Tyre pressure: Once a week check and re adjust your tyre air pressure when the tyres are still cold as riding under or over the ideal pressure not only affects handling drastically as it will damage and wear out your tyres, and may increase fuel consumption. Go to a petrol station or buy an air pump with a gauge to check this.  The air pressure units can be measured in P.S.I or BAR. Be aware that air pressure varies according to your bike type, if you ride with a passenger or heavy luggage . Check your owners manual for an accurate ideal pressure for your bike or check on your bike. (Ignore the pressure indicated on the tyre wall as that valor is the max pressure for heavy loads on the bike.)

tyre_pressure

Note: When you fit brand new tyres they will need a running-in period around 100/150 miles. Pay extra care on bends, avoid excessive acceleration or abusive braking during this early stage.  This should be done in order to scuff in the tyre surface and remove the superficial gum as it is extremely slippery. After that period you can start riding your bike normally.

CHAIN:

chain and sprockets

The first sign that your chain might not be in its best state is that your gearshifts start to feel a lot less fluid than they once did. You should look at the tension of the chain. A new chain will need a slight adjustment between 300 to 600 miles as it needs to adjust to the new sprockets and after that you should check it and adjust it every 500 to 700 miles depending of how you ride. A loose chain wears out the sprockets and reduces its lifetime, or if it is too tight it can damage the sprockets teeth or the rear wheel bearings. More severe consequences include the chain breaking up increasing the risk of injury or fall. Your chain should have around half inch to one inch of slack for optimal adjustment.

loose chain

 

Every time you adjust the chain you have also to align the rear wheel. Normally there are marks on the swing arm for a fine alignment and a nut to align, stretch or lose the chain tension as you need. If you are adjusting the chain too often perhaps your chain needs replacement or you just bought a bad one.

chain

The chain should also be always lubricated. Inspect it and if it shows that it is dry, it should be re-greased, especially after an extended journey in the rain.  Over time, oil, dust and worn materials clog together and form a kind of a paste.  These will shorten the service life of the entire chain kit through increased wear.  A dry and clean chain is more desirable for quality effectiveness of the chain spray. You can clean it using a brush (non metal one), a chain cleaner and a cloth. Spin the wheel while spraying the chain with the cleaner and let it actuate for a couple mins, then wipe it out with a cloth. Once this is done you can now apply the lube on the chain and lubricate it again. Don´t ride immediately and leave it to rest for at least 30 minutes so the lube will penetrate in the chain components. 

products

If you just need to lubricate the chain, apply the chain lube after riding as the chain will be hot and the lube will adhere better and leave the bike to rest. Ideally you can do this at the end of the day when you get home.

Note: The chain and sprockets (Can be a belt or shaft but that´s different) are the final drive of a motorbike and should be checked periodically. There´s no economy at all when you buy a cheap chain as they will wear out 3 or 4 times quicker than a good one. My piece of advice is, buy a decent chain and always replace it together with the sprockets to avoid these to damage the new chain.  A good chain and sprockets should last around 20/25 thousand miles easily and without much hassle depending of how you ride. Of course, maintenance is mandatory in order to get it to last.

 

OIL:

Maybe one of the most significant motorbike maintenance points. Engine oil!!!! The oil is the lifeblood of the motorbike. It lubricates the engine protecting moving parts from wear and tear caused by friction and thereby prolongs the engine´s life. Oil also helps to cool down the engine, collects debris and prevents oxidation inside the engine internal components.

 An engine running with a very low oil level will have a poor lubrication and therefore will generate more heat risking wear and tear rapidly or even a massive breakdown by seizing the engine it if runs dry. An engine with excessive oil level may affect the bike performance, it might burn together with fuel and give a sluggish feeling just not to mention that it will blow up the gaskets and consequently oil leaks will come due to too much pressure in the engine.

Due to all these reasons it is extremely important to check regularly the oil level. Some motorbikes have a glass window in the engine others have a deep stick so we can check the oil level. You should do it when the engine is cold so the oil is all in the engine pan and the bike on a flat surface  or you won´t have a accurate reading.

 

 

Oil changes and the oil type are vital in order to prolong your engine´s life, keeping it running smoothly and without faults. There are different types of oils, so you need to check your bike manual in order to find which one is appropriate ( there are mineral oils, semi-synthetic oils and fully synthetic oils. Four stroke oils and two stroke oils). A good quality oil also helps prolonging the engine life.

Your motorbike manual will indicate the oil change intervals and I do really recommend any biker to stick to that. Or, if you want some peace of mind, change your oil a bit earlier, keeping it always fresh in the engine. Every bike from the little 125cc to the big 1400cc has a specific time to change the oil, again, check your owner´s manual. For example, for my bike I should change the oil every 5000 miles, however I do it every 3000/3500 miles. A broken down oil has little lubrication properties, creates more friction in the engine components which generates more heat, increases risk of damage, reduces performance and potentially the life time of the engine. ( One of my bikes has 95000 miles. The engine runs smoothly thanks to oil changes before the recommended).

Old and New OIL

Note: Worth to mention that you should change your air filter and oil filter every second oil change to keep your engine always at an optimal performance and to extend durability. If you have an aftermarket air filter element then you don´t need to replace it, perhaps just to clean it. 

Apart from the oil you should check other fluids such as the coolant level and the radiator water level ( don´t do this last one after riding or you risk burning yourself.)

 

PETROL:

This is more for those who don´t ride daily and only take the bike out once in a blue moon. Nothing wrong about old petrol in a bike tank, however be aware that if you leave it for a long period of time it might deteriorate and leave some residue. That residue can go to the fuel filter so, maybe better replace the petrol filter (if the bike isn´t ridden for years). Also don´t ride with your bike near the reserve constantly as normally tanks may have some particles of dirt, rust that can go to your fuel system. If you are the occasional rider, make sure you leave enough petrol in your tank at least to ride to the nearest petrol station to then fill up with fresh petrol.

 

STEERING:

The steering has a major effect on handling and requires regular maintenance. The steering has head bearing and connects the front wheel to the rest of the motorcycle. On big bikes the brutal acceleration and slow down pressure,  sometimes up to 1G forces have a direct impact on the steering bearings.  If you feel and hear a knock coming from the steering or you feel weird vibrations as you ride perhaps the steering bearings need adjustment. ( It is an easy job but I do recommend a professional to do so). Now if the steering is stiff as you move it from side to side that could mean two things. The steering bearings are now gone and need replacement, or, maybe there´s a cable, wire or pipe obstructing your steering preventing its natural course.

steering head bearings

 

OTHER:

Bolts and nuts, check mainly the joint points of the bike, fairing bolts and wheel nuts as you don’t want your wheel to come off or to lose fairing panels as you ride. Check cables such as the clutch cable as sometimes they tend to snap. Check if the throttle is working freely and optimally. Look for any visual damage such as cracks, dents, or scratches on the motorbike´s body, mirrors etc. Don´t forget to wash your motorbike from time to time, especially during the winter time (in countries like the U.K) as roads might be gritted to help de-icing. Grit is very acidic and penetrates in everything that is metal corroding it, so a regular wash will slow down that process.

On a non regular basis, every two years and for optimal performance you should replace the brake fluid and the suspension oil as both are mineral oils and therefore they deteriorate. A brake caliper rebuild is also advisable as the washers will eventually wear out, especially if you live in a country where the winters are severe. Keep an eye on the cam chain, if you listen a rattle coming from the engine could be the cam chain tensioner or the cam chain at the end of its life. If that the case replace cam chain, cam guides and the tensioner.

Note: I only mentioned aspects about basic maintenance of a motorbike, for more detailed information check your owners manual or seek advice with a professional in case you have some kind of anomaly. However, if you regularly check these points I mentioned, your motorbike should not give you much hassle!!!

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