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Top 10 Motorcycle Tweaks

It pays to look after your bike so as it will look after you. CB-NET has ten top tweaks for your bike. We will start with the simple ones first, meanwhile getting the bike to your liking is half the battle and can transform your bike – even if you take just a few minutes to change things. Have a fiddle! You know you want to…


  • CLEAN YOUR BIKE: Oh yes, a simple one, but we all know that a clean bike is a safe one. Think about racing where safety is paramount. Do you ever see a dirty race bike at the top level? No. And there’s a reason, when you’re cleaning the bike you can see what needs doing to it. When you clean your modern or classic machine, you’ll be able to see if the chain needs adjusting, if the brake pads need changing or if your oil level is a little low or if the tyres are losing tread or under-inflated. Today, there are plenty of different products to clean your bike from the basic shampoo, through to polish and protectants to help if you’re a year-long biker. Take your time and enjoy spending quality time with your clean classic… Yes, get it naked – fairing-off/deep clean!
  • CHECK TYRE PRESSURES. If you’re up close and personal with your bike while cleaning, do make this one, important check. This can be the biggest thing to affect the handling of you bike so check your handbook and the tyre manufacturer’s recommendations and stick to them. If you do track days, speak to more experienced riders and you may find they suggest dropping pressures by a few PSI to allow for the increased temperature your tyres will be working at on track. Stick to one, trustworthy gauge/pump at home (garage forecourts are notoriously out-a-whack) and check regularly.
  • BUY THE RIGHT TYRES: There are many different types of tyre out there for your bike, but are they the right ones? If you buy a bike in the modern classic era from a shop, you’ll often find them shod with the cheapest, aftermarket options – especially if they need new boots pre-sale. In the early Noughties the amount of bikes you’d see at D&K (now DK) Motorcycles with Dunlop D207s was many… and the aftermarket D207s were often not as good as the OE fitments from new, but very cheap hence they were used. Also, if you’ve bought a sportsbike and it has the stickiest pseudo-race rubber on it, ask yourself if it needs it? Often such tyres need to be worked hard to get to temperature and have a small temp window of operation. Remember, the likes of the Honda Ron Haslam School has historically ridden on sports-touring rubber from both Bridgestone and Dunlop on their Honda CBRs, so if it’s good enough for Ron and Leon it’s good enough for you – unless you’re after lap records and world titles… We’ve also heard about people who track day who end up in the kitty litter buying unsuitable race rubber from racers… use your noggin!
  • CHECK YOUR BRAKES: You need to trust what’s stopping you. Brake calipers will need the odd strip and clean – especially if you ride during winter. Continuous use of brakes leaves brake dust as well as road grime and grit in your brakes. At least once a year you should remove your calipers, strip them and clean them – probably after winter, pre-spring. Know your bike and recognise when performance feels degraded – we suggest doing what trainee drivers do and head to an empty car park. But, instead of practising clutch control and driving round in circles, try and practice maximum braking: you’ll not only be testing your brakes but improving your skills. Also, you should check your brake fluid once every two years minimum. Don’t go the cheap and cheerful brake bleeding route (rubber hoses, jam jars) there are many brake bleeding kits out there for less than £50 that make the job much simpler and more effective. We would also suggest you check the water content of your brake fluid twice a year, as too much water (more than 4-5%) can degrade the performance of the brakes and could start to corrode parts. You can buy electronic testers for such a job. Do it!
  • FIND THE PERFECT FIT: Even classics that are more than 15 years or older can be subtly altered to fit your shape. Adjust those levers to suit your hand-span, look at what you can do with the foot-pegs (or buy new ones, rear-sets if you want it sportier, but you can lower them too…) Check the seats: some bikes from our favourite era have adjustable seating positions or you can buy re-sculpted seats to suit your inside leg: hell, even Triumph Tigers and Ducati 999s had lots of adjustability! You can also buy tank pads that help grip your thighs/knees to the tank while riding. How about getting a bigger screen for weather protection, or hi-rise bars to ease the wrist pain? Maybe brush guards on your old big trailie? There are lots you can do by spending a few minutes of fiddling or a few quid of purchasing to make the big differences that mean you don’t have to shell out for a new bike…
  • CHAIN ADJUSTMENT: Your drive chain is essential to how the power from the engine is transmitted to the road. Too slack and it will jump and lead to a jerky feel on the throttle, but too tight and it could snap. A perfectly adjusted chain will keep power-delivery snatch free and that means safe. Incorrectly adjusted chains can also wear sprockets at an alarming rate. Keep your chain clean, too. Sticky chain spray attracts road grit and grime which turns into a destructive paste which again can wear away your sprockets. So, use chain cleaner then give it a good coating with a quality chain lube or wax. Don’t forget you can buy chain alignment tools pretty cheaply online.
  • SORT THE SUSPENSION: If your bike is second-hand revert your bike to standard settings by checking the owner’s manual: it’s often the best way. Soon CB-NET will give you an overview of suspension and the simple way to try and sort it, but do remember….
  • UPGRADE THE SUSPENSION: Many bikes have a hard life, especially after two decades, so it can make sense to upgrade your suspension to suit. Consider having the forks and shock stripped, serviced and re-valved: we service our engine, why not the suspension? This is the second most important thing after the tyres… Replacement shocks can be had for just a few hundred quid but can make a world of difference. And even the simplest of forks can sometimes be uprated even with just heavier-weight oil and stiffer springs.
  • BE PROUD AND LOUD: We often don’t do this anymore, but let’s keep the aftermarket in business eh? Motorcycles are built to a standard and also to fit the various emission and sound laws and levels of the country they’re intended for. So, fitting a freer-breathing end-can or full exhaust system will not only liberate a few more horsepower but can also help to cancel out any dips in the power curve that are there to help the standard engine meet any regulations. OK, so it may be a bit noisier but let’s be seen AND heard out there!
  • CARB/FUELLING SORT:  The biggest running issues with modern classics are often of the electrical sort, or the carburation of the bike. Leave a bike on its own in a garage for a year or so and the carbs soon gum up and need cleaning. If they’ve not been altered to suit any end-cans or full-system exhausts then this could cause running issues. More modern bikes with fuel-injection may need/benefit from some form of Power Commander device: this electronic device works with your engine’s ECU and alters fuelling, smoothing out the power curve, giving the best overall performance and fuel economy for your bike. With some rough running with carbs, remember that carb icing on some machines (most notably Kawasakis from the 1990s-on before fuel-injection) may be helped with a carb-heater rail filter clean/swop or a fuel additive.