Tech Tips

The Shop Is Now Open!

Written by  September 30, 2003

Welcome to the first installment of 'Tech Tips!' Send me your technical questions and I will see what I can come up with, using both backyard and well schooled technicians. If any of you would like to help our fellow riders with your expertise, please let me know and I will put you on my on-call list, and you will be fully recognized (if requested) for your support. This tip is dedicated to a good friend of mine, Terry, who spends more time scratching his head about his never ending bike maintenance challenges than anyone I know.

Q: I have owned my bike for almost two years, and either I’m getting weaker, or my clutch cable and assembly are getting more resistant to my everyday use. I have heard of the power-assisted clutches, but I’m not sure I'm ready for this, as the price would certainly pay for a nice pair of chrome mirrors with LED turn signals built into them, which I was going to buy this winter. Thanks for your help. JB, Liberty, MO.

A: I recently went through the same thought process as you, but after speaking to my mechanic during my last service, he told me to let him do his magic on my clutch cable. Well, I came back the next day to pick up my bike and did a quick 360 degree check of the bike, to include the oil. I have never been a very trusting person when it comes to any maintenance being performed on my bike. It all checked out as usual, so I fired it up and pulled in the clutch, which to my surprise, snapped sharply to the grip. So I asked him what did he do, and he smiled at me and said, I just lubricated it properly. So back to your question again, my response to you is just to lubricate it properly! I know, easier said then done, so I asked for some advice and got a long, but very thorough response.

Reply: Cable maintenance is usually under rated in importance by most riders and many mechanics, even when service is performed. So, first check all the ends for fraying or any kinks in the cables; replace them if you find any in these conditions. Next check the cables to see if they are excessively dry and tend to bind up fairly quickly, especially the clutch. Good lubricated cables give the controls a natural feel rather than wrestling with a tight clutch or sticky throttle. With all cables, only use a spray lubrication, never use oil! There are many kinds of commercial and 'made especially for bikes' silicone lubrication sprays, but some are a bit too tacky for me to use. What I find best is a de-watering fluid you would spray on a wet ignition.
It is important that you follow your dealer specific maintenance schedule, but it never hurts to lubricate any of your cables at the first sign of them binding. A good investment for all bike owners is a commercially available cable lubricator. You can purchase one at most bike shops. It is a small clamping block with a rubber tube inside and a hole at cross sections and the cable is clamped by the tube. Do not forget to always cover the tank with a large rag and put another one at the bottom of the cable to catch the drippings. After disconnecting the cable at the lever and connecting the cable lubricator, spray the lubrication into the cross-hole forcing it down the body and out the other end. If there is a rubber boot on the bottom of the cable, lift it back so the lubrication can get through the complete cable. The same applies to the throttle. Lubricate it at the twist grip end and give the twist grip cable guides a squirt too. Do not get any on the external part of the grip itself or you may end up going on a short, but interesting ride! Once done, you will be extremely pleased by the 'as new' feel to all the controls. If your bike is outfitted with a speedometer and tachometer, do not forget to lubricate them too!

Q: I have a new K1100LT and put a bunch of miles on it all year long. I can never find a decent product that really cleans off the brake dust and road tar from my wheels. Do you have an effective cleaner that I might give a try, as I think I have tried just about everything? Matt B, Kansas City, Mo.

A: I have found that a spray product called Simple Green works extremely well for removing brake dust from my wheels and the surrounding areas. So far, it has not damaged my Road King's paint, tires or wheels and requires very little effort. I also use Goo Gone to remove any road tar that I may have picked up, as it does not seem to dull the paint or chrome. I have used these products on an average of twice a month, for the last two years and have been very satisfied, as they help keep my bike looking new. Next time, I think we should discuss the many different waxes we use on our rides. Send me some email on this subject!

Well, that's a wrap for this Tech Tips session, please keep in mind that these tips worked for those that submitted the responses. How you perform these tasks may provide different results. Please use common sense and think safety when attempting to perform any kind of maintenance on your bike.

If you have a technical tip that you would like to share or a maintenance related question to ask, you can use our message board or email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Bart

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