The all-important First Ride of the year finally happened after a long wait for the MotoGods to bestow their blessings upon me. The pre-ride dilemma was real though, as I found myself swinging between the sonorous thump of the Cast Iron Electra and the AllRoadNoRoad abilities of the Himalayan. I even went down to checking the non-existent oil puddles underneath both bikes in an attempt to settle the voices inside my head.
Truth be told though, it is the mechanicals & electricals that have mattered over superficial cosmetics when it comes to keeping my wheels road-trip ready. Over the years, I’ve followed this 5-point checklist routine on getting my Royal Enfield trip ready for every adventure, on the road and off it:
Tyres & Brakes:
I take a zero-chances approach when it comes to Brakes & Tyres, as they’re the key components in maintaining control over my motorcycle & in-turn, my life! Tyres are replaced as soon as grip levels reduce & braking distances increase – even when there’s visible grip left in them. I also spend a wee bit more on tyres, trading long life, for increased grip and feel over varying conditions. The same goes for brakes, with brake pads, master-cylinder kits and brake fluids being replaced at the first signs of deterioration.
The good thing is that, both my Royal Enfields’ (the older, Cast Iron Electra & the newer, Himalayan) have been relatively easy on tyre wear and brakes. Maintenance is relatively easy on the wallet and replacement spares too are widely available.
Fluids & filter check:
No Royal Enfield trip of mine is complete without a thorough check of all fluid levels (engine/brake oil) as well as essential rubber tubing & joints, for cracks/failure. Anything that is suspect is replaced without hesitation. For one, most of these spares are quite inexpensive to replace as frequently as necessary. Secondly, any failure of these little things, can not only derail a trip, but it can also lead to a lot more expenses in finding and replacing them on the road.
Modern day motorcycle engines are fairly reliable and timely oil + oil-filter changes along with a sound warm-up routine are all that’s needed for a trouble free experience. Neglect them though and they’ll shock you eventually. On this road trip, we had a motorcycle whose oil seals had hardened over time. Left unattended, it leaked oil like a sieve and cost us a whole litre of oil every 30-odd kilometres. An expensive lesson learned FoSho!
Suspension and other Mechanicals:
Fork oil seals, steering head bearings, drive chain & sprockets, etc. are all limited life items on a motorcycle. For example, a damaged fork oil-seal will leave tell-tale marks on the fork pipes. If unnoticed, it’ll scour the pipes. Steering head bearings will be indicated by a clunky sound as well as a grabby handle movement. Drive chain wear will be indicated by chain slippage and jumping. A quick 3 minute visual/physical check is sufficient to check for deterioration, which, if ignored, will lead to wallet-denting repair bills.
Control Cable (Clutch/Accelerator) life on Royal Enfield motorcycles has come a long way since those early days of Cast Iron Bullets. In the 3 years of riding the Himalayan, there hasn’t been a single control-cable failure so far.
In any case, I typically tend to change out control-cables (Clutch/Accelerator, both) at the end of the monsoon season each year, out of habit. Not only do I get improved control feel due to fresh cables, right in the meat of the riding season, but it also gives me that much needed peace of mind.
And, that’s that!
There’s something magical about motorcycles, in the way they resonate with the soul. Most of the stuff discussed above is based on pure motorcycling experience and spending time on the road. A heightened bit of awareness about one’s motorcycle needs and an inner compass that keeps one away from mindless accessory overload are the key requirements for a satisfactory ownership experience.
Cheers & Happy Riding!