The 3-day MSF rider course teaches new riders the basics of safe riding, but nothing about the motorcycle as a machine that requires maintenance. Not knowing anyone else that rides, I’ve been sorting out the mechanical issues myself. As a Jeep guy, I’m used to wrenching on my Wrangler and when I drive, hearing an entire symphony of bangs, clatters, rattles, crunches and clicks. Most are normal and my experienced ear can pick out the new ones as a sign of something going wrong. But on a bike, as a new rider, it’s a whole new score. Different noises entirely – might be normal or might be a sign of a mechanical disaster waiting to become a medical disaster on the road.
The latest weird noise has been a clapaclapaclapa sound on Chiquita’s right side when braking. It was putting off a “this is a bad noise” vibe. So wrenches ready, I started in. Wheels felt solid, brake calipers, pads and lines all functioning as usual. But then the chain – it had so much extra slack I’m surprised it was staying on!
So, like wrenching on my Jeep, I just started turning screws and seeing what falls off or breaks. Kev the Mechanic Rule: “If you touch it and it breaks, it needed replacing anyway.” Fortunately, nothing broke (which is not usually the case with Rocksanne) and I discovered that these two seemingly pointless screws on the end of the swingarm are what adjust the chain. I had attempted to pull the axle further back – this would move the rear sprocket further away from the front and add tension to the chain. But it was impossible to keep the axle straight and the chain taut. Enter “seemingly pointless screws.” Turns out those Germans know something about engineering that I didn’t, and with a few scheißes and some left-right-forward-back finagling of the rear wheel I was able to get it in exactly the right spot.
No more clapaclapa. No more bike moving at different speeds from the engine. Feels goooood