tech tips

Routine Maintenance

Contribution: Philip Small

With our Canadian Speedway season fast approaching, I thought it may be of help to some people if I were to run throughout the things we should all be doing to our bikes in between meetings. As stated in a previous article, our off season rebuilds are important, but perhaps more so is the work we must do to keep our machines reliable and safe throughout the season. This is how I approach my routine maintenance. I'm not saying this is how we all have to do it, some of us have our own regimes but this can be used as a guideline for those less familiar with maintaining and preparing a race bike.

1. Drain Oil.

For those with recirculating oil systems (most machines after about 1987) the engine oil must be drained. To do this the motor must be hot, so the best time to do this is immediately after your last race of the night. If, like me you're too tired or more interested in the after meeting socializing, then you'll have to warm the bike up at home and dump the oil there, much to the delight of the neighbours no doubt! Just as a side note, some people say always drain the tank and carburetor of methanol. During mid season, I never do this. Corrosion will only set in once the methanol has dried off. So I leave fuel in my tank and in the float bowl of the carb. If the bike has been running well, I leave the carburetor alone. If the carburetor requires cleaning, it will be because the bike has been running poorly. If it ain 't broke, don't fix it! I will assume the carb is clean in my example here as an article on cleaning the carburetor could easily take up a whole evening alone!

2. Hose Off Bike.

Firstly remove the excess dirt from the bike covers and then remove them. Then, remove the air filter and place a small plastic bag over the carburetor (a sandwich bag usually works) and seal it on in a watertight fashion with a rubber band. Continue to hose off the rest of the bike including chains. Agitate stubborn dirt with a hard brush if necessary. For those lucky enough to own a pressure washer, go for it!

3. Remove Chains and Soak.

Remove both chains from the machine and make sure they are clean. Wash in a container of gas if necessary. No Smoking! Then, I have a container full of used Castrol R engine oil and I dump the chains in there. Forget about them for an hour or so. After this time period, hang them from a nail in the wall over a container on the floor and allow them to drip. I just have to mention, no matter how well they drip dry and even if you wipe excess oil off before re-fitting, when the bike is fired up for the first time it will spit black Castrol R everywhere! Yes, my method is messy, but I have never broken a chain and each one lasts me a whole season. Please, do feel free to try something different if you get fed up of ruining white tee shirts whilst warming the bike up!

4. Strip Clutch.

The clutch is one of the most important things on a speedway bike and must be maintained in optimum condition. Remove the springs and pull out all the plates. Wipe the plates clean and dry with a shop towel, nothing else. If the fiber plates are blackened or glazed (shiny), then they will require scuffing. Lay a piece of 80 grit sandpaper face up on a piece of glass and with a circular motion, rub each plate lightly until all glazed areas are gone. This usually results in deglazed fingertips too! Never remove too much material from the plates and always be careful not to inhale the dust. Inspect the metal plates (aluminum or steel) and ensure they are flat and corrosion free. Pull the clutch actuation push rod (and bearing if applicable) from the clutch center and wipe off dry. LIGHTLY grease and re-insert through the center of the countershaft.

5.Clean Remainder of Machine and Inspect.

Continue with the cleaning process, paying special attention to the grunge that will be left around the sprocket teeth. If you've got time to polish and shine then do so. A super clean machine not only shows professionalism and care, but presents the image we wish to convey to our paying spectators. Use this cleaning as an opportunity to inspect the rolling chassis. Check the frame for any hairline cracks, check wheel bearing play, front forks for correct actuation and all nuts and bolts for tightness (in particular engine plates and motor mounts, seat brackets, exhaust system and rear frame loop bolts).

6.Check Cable Actuation.

I usually feel this as I'm riding the bike but if either the clutch or throttle cables feel sticky or gritty, then they should be cleaned and lightly oiled. A good tool to own is a cable oiler. It's like a small screw clamp with a rubber insert which clamps around both inner and outer cables on one end. It has an orifice where WD40 or similar lubricant can be squirted in under pressure from the aerosol can. These can be found at any good motorcycle store. This makes a huge difference in friction reduction.

7. Clean Air Filter.

Essential. Follow manufacturers instructions carefully here as some types differ from others. Use the recommended filter oil if specified, lightly applied to the filter before replacing.

8. Re-Fit.

Once all the above has been accomplished, re-fit everything back to the bike. Lightly grease any nuts and bolt you have removed as this always makes for easy removal at a later date. Ensure she's looking as good as you can get her in the time available and hopefully you'll enjoy a trouble-free night of racing the next time you visit the track.

As a guideline, the above tasks usually take between three to four hours.

I would strongly recommend following a maintenance and machine preparation schedule that fits with your lifestyle but does not cut too many corners. In other words, spend as much time working on the bike as possible.

More Great Articles
Engine Understanding
Canadian Speedway Track Gearing
Paris Speedway
Go Fast
The Melting Pot
Starting by the Referee's Rules
Routine Maintenance
Riders Tips
Thanks to our Contibutors ....
Phillip Small
Aaron Hesmer
Scott Collier
Ian March
Add Your Contribution - Click Here


canadian speedway history

This section of our site is forever growing. Despite its size, Canadian Speedway has been blessed to have some iconic names associated with it, and we are proud to bring this information to you.

Thanks is offered to many contributors including Duncan Luke, Tom Marriott, Roger Stevens and David Hensby for the the information used on this site.