Monsoons are pretty messy when it comes to bike maintenance. But, again it is the best way to reach office in this stressful traffic. For bikes, monsoon is like a Le Mans for 4 months. No matter what bike you ride, some parts will fail due to under maintenance or improper riding. I have seen a lot of bike owners frustrated with their bikes during monsoon due to failure. Today, I am writing this blog to educate bike owner on some procedures that should be followed strictly for the longevity of the bike. Although, some of you might be an expert with your bikes and would be caring for bikes more than your girlfriends (Sorry girls. Although, I am a feminist at heart). For you guys, I would be glad if you could comment on things that are missing in this blog.
As a rider, you need to be extra careful during monsoons. One of the biggest reasons the bike fail is because of the brakes that tend to get locked on the road. Here’s a video that explains that.
As we can see, the riding gears saved them. Also, the road was flat which is not the case every day. Plus, we do not wear such clothing every time we ride our bike. At least, not me. 😊
Now that we have established that, we can conclude that bike safety and maintenance is quite important. At least for most of us. Without, boring you more here are some checklist that you should follow for your own safety.
There are 2 types of brakes used in Indian Bikes.
- Drum Brakes. These brakes use expanding brake shoes, which makes a contact with the drum that causes friction to decelerate the Bike. The Brake shoe is what wears out and can be replaced as and when required. As the Brake shoes and drum are made out of iron, they tend to rust during monsoon. As most of us have seen rust, it is a porous layer on the surface of the metal. When two rusted porous layers are made to come in contact with great force, they tend to stick with each other. Which causes the brakes to get locked during monsoon. This is highly unsafe while riding in rains.
- Disc Brakes. These brakes use fluid to transmit force to the brake pads which contacts the disc to cause friction and decelerate the Bike. These brakes also tend to get locked, although it is very rare since most discs are made of stainless steel that doesn’t rust very often. Although, it is always better to be safe than sorry.
Good tires are your best friend in slippery monsoon roads. There are two types of tires viz. Dry and Wet. Wet tires are tires with deeper threads whereas dry tires are tires with narrow or no threads. Most of the tires on Indian roads are a combination of Hard and Soft compound tires. Given the road terrain of Indian roads, the tires wear out quite faster. Especially, if you are adrenaline junkie like me. Hence, it becomes very essential to inspect your tires frequently. My Bike is 6 years old and, I have replaced my tires twice to corner at high speeds. 😎 During monsoon when the traction is little lower than the summers, tires are prone to slip and cause accidents. It is always a good practice to replace the worn out tires.
Headlight becomes an essential sign of existence during monsoon especially when the visibility is quite low. It helps others to determine your position. On top of headlights, the reflective stickers play an important role during the stoppage for minor repairs or adjustments. The headlight reflectors play an important role, it is recommended that the reflectors are aligned properly for aim and focus. During monsoons, the headlight glass tends to become foggy from the inside which disturbs the brightness of the headlight and hence the safety of the rider. If there is fog in the headlight unit, inspection and resolution are very important.
The chain is an essential component of the drive train in a motorcycle. Since the past few years, the motorcycle chain that is available in most bikes is an open chain. These chains are superior in performance than its predecessor. Nevertheless, these chains are prone to corrosion and wear. Hence, these chains need a frequent replacement for optimum performance. During monsoon, these chains are in contact with water during the ride which in turn washes off the lubricant. It is essential to use lubricate the chain with chain spray (For the love of motor gods, Do not use grease for open chains. Also ask your mechanic to use a chain spray.) If not properly lubricated, The chain also elongates during high torque requirements. This causes the chain to hit the scatter shield and result is periodic noise. Hence, the chain adjustment is required in such a case.
Most of us seem to undermine this component in Motorcycles. The wiring needs to be properly insulated during monsoons as even a water drop can cause a serious problem with bikes. The wiring harness is something that not a lot of riders are familiar with. Hence, expertise is something that becomes essential here. I would recommend you to have it inspected by an expert if you lack the skill-set to solve the issues with wiring. Although, there are basic stuff that you can do is check if the wiring is properly insulated. If you feel there is a wiring problem, my suggestion would be to disconnect the battery before you do anything else. Also, some of the sheaths crack over time which causes the wire to come in contact with the bike and may cause a fire in a bike which is a safety issue.
The helmet may not be a component of the bike. During Monsoon, it saves a rider from the splashing water and protects the eye. Due to humidity, the helmet’s visor tends to get foggy which in turn obstructs the visibility of the rider. This is a very unsafe condition to ride the bike in. For helmet which is not anti-fog, open the visor slightly for the air to come in which prevents the fog formation on the visor.
Despite all that you can do for your bike, there are some things that require special expertise and skill-sets. It is recommended to get your bike serviced before the monsoon. In order for your bike to be resilient during monsoon, a pre-monsoon service is recommended. During pre-monsoon bike service, the focus should be on the service quality. Local mechanics are cheaper, but they lack the adaption of changing technology. With changing technology in motorcycle manufacturing, it is essential to adapt to new methods of bike maintenance. As I mentioned earlier in this article, that dry chains are to be lubricated by chain sprays, most of the local mechanics still use grease to lubricate a dry chain which results in frequent chain replacement or broken chain. Hence, it is essential to have an expert service your bike.
Monsoons are pretty tough on bikes. As a rider, these are the basic checks that one should follow for ideal performance of bike during monsoon. Again, this blog is for riders whose primary focus is to get optimum performance out of the bike. If you are looking for a short term solution, this blog is not something that will help you to get the most.
Feel free to comment on the things I am missing out in this blog. HAPPY BIKING!