Dirt Under Nails

posted in: Bike Life | 0

It wasn’t supposed to last all day. I only had to get my bike washed and clean the chain.

I had been waiting for the weather to warm up (and dry up) just enough to get the chain done. I’ve been checking the chain before every ride for the past two months and it was still tacky, but I just hit the 1,000km mark on my bike and I was chomping at the bit to get it done. Especially since my last ride was in the rain–right after a snow– and I was worried the residual salt on the roads had taken more of a toll on the remaining lubrication. It had.

Though Chain Cleaning Morning was close to freezing, it was bright and sunny and that was all the encouragement I needed. I took my bike to get washed, brought her back home, parked in front of our building, and brought down my equipment.

Sitting on my little stool, I removed the bike’s chain guard, sprayed on solvent, then got to work with (hubby’s) electric toothbrush. As soon as I started, I was hypnotized…transported back to my childhood when having to clean bike chains wasn’t a chore, but a prize that my brother and I fought over. I was pulled back to present day by the street sweeper, then the simit seller, then the recycling guy stopping, one by one, to watch me work and ask me random (easily answered) mechanical questions. There are 7 other motorcycles on our short street (2 Dukes, 2 GS, an NC750, a Goldwing, and a Versys), but I have never seen anyone working on their bike. I guess I’ll be the only one.

The whole chain-cleaning process should have lasted maybe an hour. I made it last four. Without a center stand, there was a lot of wheeling her forward, then backward, then forward, but I went out of my way to draw out the process, too, well after the toothbrush was blackened and losing battery life.

After rubbing the chain dry for the last time, I only realized exactly how cold it was when I sprayed chain lube on. It congealed white as soon as it hit the chain and I couldn’t work it into the o-rings. Then I realized the sun was fading and I couldn’t really feel my fingers anymore.

I had to call it a day, but the smell of grease had me intoxicated. I took her for a spin–ostensibly to heat up the lube, but really just to extend bike time as long as possible. What a perfect day.

A few days later when I told my buddy Vedat that the chain cleaning had got me so enthused that I planned to do my oil change myself, he advised against it. It was time for my bike’s 1000Km check-up and he said an authorized garage should check on a number of things anyway besides changing the oil, so I should let them do it. I pouted for a bit (having already watched numerous Youtube video tutorials and sure I could handle it myself), but I knew he was right.

Then it dawned on me… my desire to do my own maintenance and the need to have the authorized service look at my bike were actually NOT mutually exclusive options. After all, Bulent abi was a part of our regular Bike Night Tuesday meet ups.

Bike Night is our weekly gathering at Cool Jr.’s, a biker bar in Levent. And the crew who joins Tuesday nights are, with the exception of a few of us, mostly the Yamaha team: those who manage or work in Yamaha’s Aftersales, Riding Academy, or dealership. Bulent abi owns the dealership I bought my bike from. And he loved the idea!

“We can put you in some Yamaha overalls and advertise you as a visiting mechanic!” he joked. We all had a good laugh about it.

Truth be told, I wasn’t sure whether he was just playing along with me, but when I showed up the next week with my bike, he hadn’t forgotten. He actually apologized that he didn’t have any overalls for me, but he had already informed his garage crew that I was going to be participating. I was introduced to head mechanic, Metin, and mechanic, Murat, and they talked me through everything, supervising and double checking my work, taking care that it was all done right.

It was heaven. I was hoping for more work than there was, but I was happy to be surrounded by the smell of metal and grease, getting dirt under my nails. Metin and Murat were patient and funny; we had some laughs and Murat filmed everything.

When I got home, I took out my owner’s manual and pored over it. Under normal circumstances, I’m pathologically allergic to reading any kind of instruction manual (as a rule, I don’t like to do as I’m told), but my bike’s manual is now one of the most interesting books ever written.

I’m sure that this newbie enthusiasm will wear off eventually, but right now it’s Cloud 9 and I’ll hold onto it as long as I possibly can.



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