What Horrors are hiding beneath my Bike?

Have you ever stopped to wonder what is going on in the underbelly of your bike? If the answer is no…then read no further. However if this question has sparked some interest, then read on.

Just like most people, I give my bike and truck an occasional wash over with soap and suds until it looks clean. I may even push the boat out and dig out some old polish I had almost forgot I had and which bought some ten years previous but never used. I may even try to apply said polish just to get a shine but only if it doesn’t require too much hassle.

Now many of you might be thinking that I’m being neglectful of my mechanical rides…and you’re probably correct. So if I’m haphazard with my cleaning regimes, I’m hardly going to be methodical about what the eye cannot see?

So herein lies the rub. What you can’t see is actually what requires the most attention and scrutiny if you’re looking to keep you’re bike or car in any kind of working order for the long haul without the need for early welding repairs.

When I had a sports bike with fairing, I would usually just wash over the plastics, wheels, tanks and seat but never think to clean the engine or beneath the bike.

The same was when I had my ADV bike. Yes I would get a pressure washer on it to get rid of the muck and filth I would routinely subject it to…yes I know I should be crucified for using a pressure washer, but it’s just quicker so there! But I knew there was always going to be baked on mud, oils and whatever else would stick to the bike, hidden away in the places I could not see or did not want to know about either.

Now riding my Harley, for a fear that it would require more of a kids gloves care package, I would occasionally look on the underside to see what’s there, try to clean it off, pressure wash the bulky crud and liberally apply any anti corrosive cocktail I could find in my larder.

You will be amazed and what things stick to the underside of your bike or get wedged in around the battery area, starter motor or behind the radiator.

However cleanliness is not really the point of this article. But what you will find to add to your confusion are threaded holes that really should have a bolt in it…perhaps. Random holes that serve no purpose or bolts that are screwed into the frame but not supporting anything.

Now I must warn you that the more you start looking, the more you will find which will bug the hell out of you over time.

Nothing is found in a workshop manual to explain what you’ve found, if it should be there or whether something is missing. You just start bashing your head against the wall wondering what you’ll do next.

So of course I’m going to tell you to regularly clean the underside of your bike, apply some anti corrosive spray or paint and check for abnormalities, but unless you want to end up a gibbering wreck, I wouldn’t look too hard. As long as nothing obvious is hanging off or broken then you’re probably ok. If the bike is still riding ok then whatever has broken off, was likely surplus to requirements anyway?

So you’ve unwittingly started to convert your bike into a bobber and you didn’t even know it!

If ever in doubt get it checked out or just ignore it. That’s probably the worst advice anyone can give you but at least you’ll be living in ignorant bliss as opposed to fretting about the benefit of installing or removing footrest feeler tips you never even knew were on the bike or did you even need them on a cruiser in the first place?

Let’s face it you ride a cruiser to gently and eventually go around corners so leaning the bike over that far isn’t a priority. If you ride a sports bike then scraping those tips is just an annoying reminder you’re approaching the lean angle limit and you should think more about leaning off the bike, whilst keeping the bike upright more to preserve greater tyre contact area. Hark listen to me!

Anyway…if in doubt, pay someone else to detail your bike for you and give it a good going over. You’ll thank yourself later and your knees and back will be better for it too.

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