Okay, so after all these years, you know I have two bikes, but that other people’s bikes and projects seem to float into my garage from time to time.
Some I actually brought home myself, still others just magically appear. She Who Must Be Obeyed has another theory on why crappy old motorcycles show up in my garage, but I’ve dismissed it as nonsensical fantasy.
Nevertheless, there a few things that I’ve learned over the last twenty or so years of fooling with bikes of every make and model. Some of them you’ve likely used, some of them you’ve heard about, and still a few others I’d like to think I sorted out all by myself.
- Get the gas off. If you’ve been fooling around with carbs or tanks, or just missed the hole and ended up with hands that smell like gas, do this: Use the hottest water you can get out of the tap and then, use a concoction of half dish soap and either a real, live lemon cut into quarters or lemon juice, get a handful of it all and scrub for a minute or so and now, you don’t smell like gasoline.
- Magnets are your friend. In the bygone days before GPS and cell phones, we used magnets or tape on our tanks to keep our directions handy. Yes, if we were dumb, we could scratch the tank, but one the other hand, we knew where we were going and never had to try to “open” a locked cell phone screen doing 70 mph with gloves on. IF you use tape, don’t panic, any residue will clean right off.
- Sharpies are good, too. Okay, I’ll admit, this hack arose out of the direct need to NOT let my parents know that I’d scratched my Dad’s new Lincoln years ago. Black car, black sharpie, no scratch. I’ve used it in plenty of places where “touch up” paint would’ve stood out far too much – especially on fenders and a custom battery box I had (foolishly) painted.
- Don’t carry Fix a Flat. A plug kit arguably takes up less space and allows you to potentially patch a tire instead of losing a tire if you use the spray-in goop. I learned the hard way the first time I used it – it got me a few miles down the road and the shop I took the bike to charged me extra to clean up the mess … and couldn’t plug the tire due to the nature of the sealant.
- A lot of “motorcycle” stuff costs more. I swear, if you use the words “motorcycle” or “Diesel” with anything, manufacturers add 20%. Case in point – the lining for motorcycle hard bags – same product as a drawer liner, but when they market it to homeowners, it is half the price of the version for bikers. Buy some “Diesel” motor oil – same thing! Do your research and save some coin.
- For really nasty clean up …Use oven cleaner. You heard me – oven cleaner. The stuff your wife uses in the kitchen will cut grease (and a lot of other stuff, too). If you have to get an engine block cleaned up and you aren’t too worried about the paint, oven cleaner, with all its caustic goodness, will get the job done a lot cheaper than a similar “engine” based product. No, you can’t use it on tires or anything you’re not ready to completely recondition, but it will help you get down to bare metal.
- Carburetor Cleaner will kill wasps. Or at least slow the buggers down long enough for you to get away. Like I said, this isn’t a scientific process, but when all you have in your hand is some carb cleaner and you pull the air filter housing off to find a dozen or so of the mean bastards, in my experience, it’ll do the job. When you come back from your exodus of the garage, you’ll find a few stragglers that can easily be dispatched in more traditional ways.
There you go – some real garage hacks that might help you save a little money and actually get something done when you set out to work on the bike.
Got a few of your own? Let us know.