Saturday, 31 March 2012

Day 91: Race Bike Maintenance

I was in a bit of a maintenance mood today. One of the guys I'm riding dirt bikes with tomorrow needed to borrow my 1/2 inch drive torque wrench to get his bike ready for our outing so I figured I'd get the race bike out for a coolant flush and general check over while I was waiting for him to come over to borrow the tool.

The system hadn't been flushed after the previous owner's last couple of races, and as the bike had been sitting for a few months it was about time to give it a clean out... when I drained the water it wasn't entirely manky, but it was looking a little grubby.

I did an unusual thing before taking this maintenance on, it involved reading the service manual... or at least the part that pertained to the coolant system. So when I began I knew which hoses to disconnect and which to leave intact for a full system flush, this was refreshing as I usually just plow in ill-prepared hoping for the best.

Coolant flushes are normally an annual event for street bikes but they need to be performed far more frequently for race/track bikes because your average street bike uses a commercial coolant that contains rust inhibitors and race bikes only use water.

So why would that make a difference? Allow me to explain: Commercial coolant is extremely slippery when spilled on a race track (or any bitumen really) which becomes a legitimate hazard for other racers if you happen to stack it mid corner and spit coolant all over the apex of that corner.

The benefit of using water instead of commercial coolant is that it's readily available from the tap for free (unless you ride a race prepped Ducati that will only accept Evian in its coolant system). The only downfall is that you need to change the water frequently to ensure the engine doesn't corrode internally before its time.

In summary: The job was done, the water is now fresh and the bike which needed to get undressed for the maintenance is now fully clothed again and awaiting its first track day with me at the helm. Just another successful Saturday in the garage.

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