webBikeWorld visitor “G.S.” wrote us with a great idea: how about a page (or more) devoted to inexpensive tips from readers? So here it is — send us your tips and tricks and we’ll post ’em here for all to enjoy! Suggestions include tips for safe riding, clothing, gear, cheap eats, repair or maintenance tricks…. Let’s hear ’em!
General Tips for Winter From “D.H.”: “Here a few of my cheap/free tips on staying warmer in cold temps, if any of them would be of interest to wBW readers.”
Clean Clothes While Touring by “TMB.”: “Take 2 sandwich bags and in the first bag place a dryer sheet (Bounce etc.) and then seal the bag. Put this bag in the second bag. Pour 1 portion of your favorite dry laundry soap (Tide, etc.) over top of the first bag and seal second bag. Go find your self a coin laundry. I use 1 of these a week on tour.
Also from “TMB” – “When Nature Calls”: In my tank bag, inside a medium zip lock bag is a roll of good quality toilet paper and a small bottle of hand sanitizer (If you need instructions on the use of this bag, then you have no business near something as dangerous as a motorcycle!)
Fat Bungees by “L.B.”: “I found these in the local farm store for $1.89 each, they’re made by Highland and they’re called the “Fat Bungee”, although for some reason I can’t find them on the Highland website.
They come in 15″, 10″, 30″ and I think 45″ lengths. These are 30″ long, I couldn’t find the shorter ones but will continue to look for them.
I keep a pair in my saddlebags, they are very nicely made and I can use them to strap big loads over the back of my saddle.
What’s nice about them is the wide bungee cord is 3/4″ wide, so it doesn’t dig in like the round tube shape ones do and the wider straps hold a load better, probably due to more surface area of grip.
Also, the company says the hooks will hold up to 150 pounds, they are plastic or Nylon and they don’t bend like metal hooks on the cheap bungees.”
From “B.F.”: “You can also purchase adjustable Fat Bungees. I found them at Wal-Mart for $2.79 each.
The length is adjustable at one end. I use a piece of bicycle inner tube to fasten the long end, so it doesn’t flap around in the wind.”
Seat Drain? by “G.K.”: “Looking for an invention — I’m from Victoria BC where it rains a lot (not as much as Vancouver BC or Seattle Washington!).
I’d like a motorcycle seat that automagically drains the water that collects at my crotch when I drive in the rain. Of course the seat should be comfortable and robust as well. Any ideas out there?”
Response From “P.H.” (01/11): “I too live in BC (Richmond) and I’ve found a very simple solution to getting rid of the pool of rain water: buy a beaded saddle cover. Works like a charm in the wet and cool in the summer too.”
Instruments and Electronics
Bike Clock by “G.K.”: “I’ve got an old Timex Triathlon watch with a Velcro strap. I can usually find a place to wrap the strap on the handle bars of most any bike.
On my KLR 650 it wraps perfectly over the front brake reservoir and the watch face is very easy to read. The watch is black and waterproof and the strap is black so it “disappears” into the bike so it’s never been bothered by anyone.”
Preventive Maintenance and Mistake-Proofing
Freeing Stuck Calipers by “Firemedic”: I have used this method multiple times and have never found a caliper on which it did not work! If you try the usual compressed air method to remove your piston and it fails, then you have a couple of alternatives.
The simplest is to not remove your master cylinder; just remove the caliper(s) from the bike and pump the lever until one of the pistons on one caliper comes out. Be prepared for a bit of a mess from the escaping fluid.
You still have the other piston with which to contend. That is probably the one which is stuck in the 1st place.
You can also put a couple pieces of bar stock inside and outside the freely-moving piston in the caliper and use a pair of C-clamps to hold it stationary as you pump the lever to move the frozen piston. Calipers off the bike of course, w/the master still on.
If you disassembled the brake system, where the calipers are now off and drained, this is the easiest method to free a stuck piston.
Place a machine screw in the hose hole of the caliper, use Teflon tape if you want to avoid bottoming-out against the flare taper yet still achieve a good seal.
Now you should have a sealed system (caliper). Grab your grease gun, open the bleeder, and pump your caliper full of grease. Your stuck piston will come-out every time.
You may need to immobilize the piston which does move freely to transfer the hydraulic force to the stuck piston (as described above). This has never failed to work for me. Just be sure to clean up all the grease immediately.”
Disk Lock Reminder From B.G.: “Another disc lock tip – a small piece of duct tape, stuck over the ignition key slot, transferred to the key hole on the disc lock when it’s off the bike. Lasts for ages, and cheap!”
Disk Lock Reminder From P.B.: “Ever drive away with your disk lock on? I did and it cost me $450 in repairs. To prevent this just take a long piece of twine and tie one end to the disk lock.
After you attach the lock wrap the other end over the handle bars. You will never forget to take off your lock again.”
Cleaning, Polishing and Waxing
Cleaning Melted Plastic or Rubber Boot Marks on Exhaust by “M.C.” For years I’ve heard that spray-on oven cleaner (basically lye) worked really well on removing burnt-on boot marks from chrome pipes and mufflers, but never got around to testing it.
I’ve just finished a 6–8 month try-out and I’m here to say it works surprisingly well.
Most marks wipe right off with paper towel sprayed with the cleaner. Stubborn marks need to soak for 10–15 minutes while you do something else…then they too wipe right off.
Aside from no more using chrome cleaner, which I’ve found can be rather harsh to chrome, an overall wipe-down of the entire chrome exhaust really brightens it up, like really noticeably.
No effort at all.
I’ve not tried it on polished stainless steel, but if any of you have, let me know how it went.”
Cleaning Wipes by “D.F.” “I carry non-scented baby wipes in a Ziploc whenever I ride. They work great for cleaning bugs off your helmet, bike and leathers. Good for a quick face wash as well.”
Removing Wheel Weights by “B.C.” “Thought I’d pass this tip along to your readers. For removing wheel weights or anything with that white foam tape on it try lightly soaking in naphtha (lighter fluid) then using a piece of dental floss and “saw” the weights, etc. off.
Naphtha won’t hurt paint or plastic, at least in my experience.
Cleaning Melted Plastic from Exhaust Pipes From V-T M.: “An inexpensive cleaning tip . . . if something melts on your exhaust pipes and gets baked on before you can attend to it, apply oven cleaner, run the motorcycle a bit, and then just wipe off.”
Helmet Visor and Windscreen Cleaning
Cleaning Solution From T.A.: “I use the same cleaning solution that I clean my prescription glasses with. Bought (…) in an enormous spray bottle. Wipe and Clear is the product name.
Spray it on and wipe with a microfiber cloth. Bottle seemingly will last for ever.”
Microfiber Cleaning Cloth From G.S.: “A great idea that I picked up on the FJR Forum is for cleaning helmet visors and windscreens. Take a washcloth-sized microfiber cloth, dampen it thoroughly and store it in a zip-lock bag in your tank bag or tail bag.
Use to remove bugs; rinse at destination. Wipe dry with another washcloth-size microfiber cloth. Bought a pack of 2 microfiber cloths for $1 at Dollar Store.”
Cooling Neck Wrap by L.B.: “This is probably something everyone already has figured out, but here goes: you can buy cheap bandannas just about anywhere (I found 3 of them in a second-hand clothing store).
I wrap one around my neck and soak it in water at a rest stop in the summer, it really works to keep me cool without a lot of effort. In cold weather or at night a dry bandanna will help keep the wind off me and keep my neck warm.”
Baggies by “R.E.”: “I always keep a few of the good quality zip lock bags in the smaller quart size in my tank bag and under the seat.
They come in handy for storing food, the bike registration and insurance papers, dirty parts, oily stuff that might leak like Loctite or chain lube and other stuff.
I keep drinking straws in a bag – they come in handy to use to drink out of a bottle without taking off your helmet.”