If You Don’t Ride Your Bike . . .

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One of the things I learned after getting divorced has nothing to do with women. My small herd of bikes sat for a long time as my marriage unravelled. I either didn’t have time to ride – or wasn’t in the mood. On the other end of the tunnel – and single again – I once again had time as well interest.

The problem was the bikes had suffered almost as much as I did during those two years of marital death spasms. While I went to therapy – and lawyers’ offices – the bikes sat. Which is not good – for me or for them.

Herewith some things that can happen when a bike sits unattended for too long – and how to prevent these things from happening:

Leaking fork seals –

Even if you  aren’t able to ride, or just don’t feel like it, make the effort to push the front end of your bike up and down a few times every couple of weeks. Once a week, if you can remember to do it. Because if you don’t do it, there’s an increased chance you’ll have to deal with leaky fork seals once you’re back in the mood to ride – or have the time to ride again.

Cycling the forks circulates the oil in the forks, which helps keep the seals pliable and that keeps them from leaking. It’s also good policy to wipe down the fork tubes to prevent them from developing cankerous rust spots, which they will if you leave them like that long enough. These will abrade the seals as the tubes go up and down and lead to  . . leaks.

Use chrome polish to keep the surface smooth and rust-free.

Flat-spotted tires – 

Just like a car, if you park a bike in the same spot and leave it parked there long enough, the weight bearing down on the part of the tire that’s in contact with the garage floor will eventually deform that part of the tire – commonly referred to as a flat spot. It happens sooner – and is worse – when the tire(s) are low on air, another problem that sneaks up on you when a bike isn’t being used much. One day, you notice the tire’s flat – and if you’re unlucky, even after you fill it up you’ll notice the bike rides funny now. Because of the flat spot. Which can’t be fixed. Except by replacing the ruined tire.

So, try to walk the bike around the garage every couple of weeks if you’re not going to ride it.  This will keep the bike’s weight from sitting on just one part of the tire for weeks and months on end

And check the air pressure once a month or so – before the tire looks noticeably low. By which time, it may already be too late.

Loose (and dirty) chain – 

The chain is a bike’s weakest link. Literally. If that master link should come loose – or one of the links kinks or slips off the sprocket – it will not be a good day. If it happens at speed, it could be your last day.

Just like pilots walk around their airplane before flying the thing, it’s sound policy to walk around the bike and check critical items like the chain before riding the thing. It gets looser over time and if you lose track of time, it’s easy for it to get too loose.

Too dirty is another thing to be avoided. Another thing to overlook and loose track of.

Always check chain tension before any ride after you haven’t ridden for awhile. And if the chain is dirty, clean it (and grease it) before you ride. If the bike’s shaft-drive, it can’t hurt to check the lube level before heading out – less for reasons of possible body-shattering consequences but because of wallet-emptying ones. Replacing a burnt shaft drive can cost more the bike’s worth – over an $8 bottle of lube.

You’ll feel really stupid if you let it happen.

Out of date plates – 

This one’s not mechanical, but it matters – in terms of avoiding a fleecing by the state in addition to your ex.

Marital problems weirdly juxtapose the never-ending with the quickly-passing. While in the middle of it, you feel as though it’s been going on without remit – that there was never a time when you weren’t bickering with the now-ex or enduring therapy or dealing with the inevitable lawyers. Then one day it’s over – and you look at the calendar and wonder what happened to the last two years.

You can tell that to the cop who pulls you over for having plates two years past their past-due date. Be aware this might be more than just a matter of a fine. Some cops are not nice people and if you get one of those, he may (because he can) impound your bike. Now you will pay heavy fines plus impound fees – and your bike will be roughly handled by unsympathetic geeks who don’t mind and may actually on purpose scratch it as they load it up onto the flatbed and cinch it down with come-alongs.

So, glance at your tags before you leave for that first ride as a newly re-minted single who’s maybe getting ready to mingle.

. . .

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  1. Most of my relationships with women last no more than two to three years; one went six. None of them ever kept me from riding any of my bikes, but then I never married any of them either.

    What I’ve noticed is that the older bikes required more attention as well as the American made bikes. I can’t help also note that this is the same case for women. The last bike I sold, leaving me without a bike; was a 2001 Suzuki Bandit. I had just swapped out the sprockets and chain about 10 years earlier for better mileage because the loss of power was negligible on a bike that fast. The new chain was quite tight and I never ever had to tighten it again.

    However, I eventually began to spend longer and longer amounts of time away from home and my bikes. The American made bikes seemed to literally start just falling apart and rusting away, while this Japanese bike seemed fixed in time. No rust, no problems of any kind whatsoever. It had a center stand which protected the rear tire from a flat spot. The front tire didn’t seem to have that much weight on it, and I kept it topped off with air.

    I also recently read a statistic showing that the people who bought a Harley Davidson in their 20’s over fifty years ago, are the same ones buying a new one today. Harley wanted to change that due to the fact that their primary customers were slowly dying off. They needed to get younger blood into their market so they figured out that the younger crowd isn’t really all that into polishing chrome and maintaining their bikes.

    The next thing you know they’ve got all these bikes with no chrome, belt drives, etc.

    I don’t miss working on my American made bikes or women, but I miss that Suzuki and might take a trip overseas to check out the models over there.

  2. Never oil a dirty chain. It lubricates the dirt and lets it get between the plates and will ruin the pins. This causes the chain to “stretch.” If you ride on a stretched chain for any time you’ll need to replace the sprockets too since the valleys between the teeth will get wider and the teeth will narrow. So now that new chain won’t ride in the old sprockets correctly.

    Bigger issue for bicycles than motorcycles due to the size of the driveline but then again the stakes are higher if there’s a problem too.

      • Morning, Ross!

        There are bike-specific chain degreasers; see the stuff I showed in the video. That plus an old toothbrush is how I do it. Then dry and grease.

        • Pulling the chain and a complete solvent wash. I mean complete. Then you check the stretch by measuring the mildly compressed distance versus the full stretch.
          Then with the impeccably cleaned chain you soak it in hot oil Never substitute industrial chain for cycle grade. I did that once and it was embarrassing. Renold used to make good chain but what the heck do I know now?
          It is bad if it is overluburicated as it always ends up on the rear tire, but y’all know this. I need to shut up.

  3. It’s 2:45 AM, and, by God, I have invented a new way to kill yourself in your own home! It’s called the “Cherry Slide of Death”
    Step 1: Stay up just late enough to get a bit drowsy and want a snack, a bag of cherries, namely.
    Step 2: Retrieve said bag of cherries from the fridge in the next room: (be sure the next room is only 1 step up from the sitting room where you intend to die horribly)
    Step 3: As you return to the sitting (dying) room, begin fumbling with the ziploc bag that won’t open properly.
    Step 4: Concentrate on rebellious ziploc bag as you attempt to anticipate that one step down into the next room.
    Step 5: With unparalleled clumsiness, simultaneously stumble over the one and only step in front of you and fumble the bag of cherries onto the floor directly beneath your still airborne foot.
    Step 6: Land your right foot firmly on the (still unopened) bag of cold, wet, slippery cherries, and attempt to maintain a firm footing as you swing your left leg around behind your right shoulder in a wildly hilarious, but futile, balancing maneuver. (coughing violently during this step will assist in its successful completion, and you can proceed to step 7)
    Step 7: As you get up off the floor, twist the upper half of your body 180 degrees back in proper alignment with the lower half, and resume normal breathing. Retrieve the still unopened bag of half-smashed cherries from the floor, allowing yourself ample time to experience complete bewilderment at what just transpired, and marvel at how you are not only still alive, but actually standing upright.
    Step 8: Immediately return the the other room, open bag, dump cherries into a bowl, and count casualties.
    Step 9: Vow to have video cameras watching and recording yourself henceforth, because you know you will ultimately die in a manner so insanely ridiculous, that it would have to be seen to be appreciated!
    Step 10: Put cherries in a new clean bag and back the the fridge, as you are now too exhausted to do any more than go to bed.

    • Oh jesus christ hahahah probably some angry female ghost messing with you after earlier comments!

      It’s not about women being women as much as it is so many women being entitled clovers (thanks to society) with untreated personality disorders, no work ethic and no respect for personal boundaries. It’s too easy for ’em to decide someone else can take care of them. I lived with a goober mooching off me for years til I decided to stop having the life sapped from me.

      I’m not a fan of womens either but I am one and do get routinely singled out as one when it’s got next to nothin to do with who I am or what I bring to the table. Not a gold digger, not an incubator, not a priss, just tryin to get by and keep it real. Unlike piggies..some of us are ok hahah

      • Trust me, I am quite adept at creating my own folly, without the assistance of any offended spirits, female or otherwise, lol! I find that immediately accepting blame for my own clumsiness or stupidity makes me feel rather amused. I wonder when, exactly, this society stopped taking personal responsibility for the actions of an individual, and began using medical and sociological conditions as excuses for willful bad behavior? Now every selfish psycho who commits murder becomes the “victim” in some sort of sick “collective guilt” that society must bear the responsibility for. This is just as wrong as cops letting the “department” take all the heat for their acts of individual terrorism.

        • If you’ve ever seen the Final Destination movies, that’s my life in recent years, just one close call after another, necklaces randomly getting hooked to stuff that could choke me or other objects falling into position just-so that could cause serious harm. I’ve actually gotten better at spotting it before it happens lately which has to be some kind of sixth sense I developed cuz
          I swear sometimes I see it when I didn’t even suspect the possibility of a hazard.

          And yeah it’s fucked up that they see that stuff as an excuse for when the shit hits the fan, rather than just recognizing that they’re being assholes and re-learning how to function socially. The collective is equally crazy/mentally unstable, that’s why they’re terrified little clovers who worship authority and get pressured into marriage and reproduction and divorce and become complacent with their dead end jobs. They’re asleep at the wheel and too lazy to read books or think for themselves. I know plenty of men who share just as many of the worst qualities attributed to women. They often get married to one another and then actively complain about each other lol.

  4. If You Don’t Ride Your Bike . . .it won’t sit on the couch and max out your credit cards on the Home Shopping Network!

  5. “if Ya Don’t Ride Your Bike”……..it won’t have a headache when you are ready to ride!

    !C’mon Everybody now…….!

  6. Eric says “One of the things I learned after getting divorced has nothing to do with women.” Graves says ” Most everything I have learned has nothing to do with a woman.” In fact most forays into “that jungle”, make it painfully clear that we will never lean anything regarding women. This why I make it a point to be well educated in regards to the intricacies of my motor vehicles, instead. When I look back at the last 20 years of my life fiddle-farting with women, I know where the time went. Now I only grieve for all the unfinished bike and building projects that got eternally sidetracked in the process. I find women, even if pleasurable, to be an unwise hobby. And if this doesn’t get me some backlash, I’ll be surprised, lol!

  7. You’re lucky you got to keep your bikes after the split. Usually she demands “her” share of his property when she nukes the marriage. I hope you didn’t lose too much, Eric.

    A few years ago the late rock artist Chris Cornell went through a four-year court battle to get back his guitars—which were what enabled him to earn a living—after his wife divorced him and tried to keep them. Luckily, he won. But you see what I mean. I’ve wondered if going through that played a role in his suicide last year. But he was stupid enough to get married again…

  8. I am having to deal with a bike that has been setting for a couple of years too. Working at various different jobs 50-60 hours per week night shift screwed me over. I also had to move several times, which cost me money and ate up what little off time I had during the day. Job searches also consumed lot’s of time, plus I hate spending money when none is coming in.
    My present job is during the day now, so I hope to get the bike going this month. I don”t have a shop, so nothing got done with it over the winter. The bike has new 3 year old tires that spent some time on gravel and soil, so I will probably have to buy another set of tires for it.
    All that is left is to install the new exhaust on it, figure out which jets to use on the rebuilt carbs, replace the rectifier, install the sub fuel tank, and install the battery. It will then need a state inspection and plates.

  9. I am having to deal with a bike that has been setting for a couple of years too. Working at various different jobs 50-60 hours per week night shift screwed me over. I also had to move several times, which cost me money and ate up what little off time I had during the day. Job searches also consumed lot’s of time, plus I hate spending money when none is coming in.
    My present job is during the day now, so I hope to get the bike going this month. I don”t have a shop, so nothing got done with it over the winter. The bike has new 3 year old tires that spent some time on gravel and soil, so I will probably have to buy another set of tires for it.
    All that is left is to install the new exhaust on it, figure out which jets to use on the rebuilt carbs, replace the rectifier, install the sub fuel tank, and install the battery. It will then need a state inspection and plates.

  10. Good Luck with your return to the single lifestyle!

    Hope you find someone really great. And if you do, I’ve got just two words of advice…..”pre-nup.” 🙂

    • Better yet, no-nup, “will you never marry me” is infinitely more romantic hahah. Great article, very spirited!

      • Watch out for “common law marriage,” after living together for x number of years, you’re automagically married!

        Thanks, Uncle!

          • Hi Moose,

            I think it’s sad that it’s come to this. But there you have it. As an ex-married guy, I mourn the end of mine; we both made mistakes but one of us could not forgive them. There lies, as they say, the rub. Marriage only makes sense if the commitment is taken seriously by both. If the marriage amounts to at-will employment (you can be “let go” at any time, for any reason) then it is a very dangerous thing to enter into.

            Nothing permanent, everything ephemeral. In the “now,” how we feel today. That works fine when you’re just “hanging out” and it’s fun when you’re young and it’s easy to find someone new to “hang out” with. But the day will come when it’s not so easy – for women, especially. Angry, embittered women. Men by themselves. The bonds of family torn asunder. An atomized society full of people searching for the ideal which they’ll never find while not appreciating the good they trampled along the way.

            I think of my cats. I do not particularly like scooping their boxes, their hair is everywhere and sometimes they are got-damned pushy little things… but my life would be poorer without them, just as it would be without my sometimes-annoying friends. And is, because of my now-gone wife.

            • Yeah, traditions needlessly overcomplicate things. Humans need their own space.. it’s rare anymore to see couples intelligently respecting one another and accepting each other for who they are, and being able to healthily cohabitate and grow as individuals. And when they can’t do that, instead of civilly going their separate ways, it becomes this toxic codependency and emotional investment plagued by the sunk cost fallacy.

              If my boyfriend ever dumps me, I’m just gonna find something else to do, like I’ve been doing during the 70% of my week that we don’t spend up each other’s ass stuck in a house together. For as far back as I can remember, I never really wanted to marry or have kids. Grateful that I had some good examples in my extended family to show me the importance of being self-sufficient and disregarding the marital institution because what’s the state got go do with your love life?

    • Judges will throw out prenups on a whim. All she has to do in many US jurisdictions is claim she was coerced or didn’t fully realize what she was signing. Really. In other English-speaking countries prenups generally aren’t legally enforceable.

      • Lol that’s so unfair, plenty of men aren’t fully aware of what they’re signing when they get pressured and scammed into buying the cow, and they can’t just claim they didn’t realize what getting married meant. Aren’t there pre-nups with both parties’ lawyers present or something to ensure it’s followed when the shit hits the fan? The whole point of it is for it to be legally binding, very common knowledge.

        • Civil Law used to work that way. No longer. A contract is still a contract only as long as both parties still agree on what it said and agree to comply to the terms. In other words, until lawyers are invited to the party. After that, it is “open to interpretation”.

          Take a look at the civil contract called “The Constitution of the United States of America” and how it has been “interpreted” since Day 1. It may be flawed in concept, but it isn’t all that hard to understand (except for legislators and government lawyers.)

        • Last I heard there isn’t a prenup a good divorce lawyer for woman can’t get tossed. Well one ordinary men can afford to have written up anyway.


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