Self Sufficiency And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance

Over the past 2 months or so I noticed my motorcycle wasn’t accelerating well, although the symptom was subtle since the performance seemed to have degraded slowly over time.  Then last week I got home and my wife said I smelled like gasoline. Strange, I thought, I didn’t fill my tank today so there’s no reason I would have gotten any gas on me.

Then 2 days ago I noticed my tank was almost empty after just 2 weeks, where as I generally get well over a month on a single 4-gallon tank.

(Those of you that know motorcycles have certainly already diagnosed the problem…)

I did some research and confirmed my initial theory, the spark plugs were probably bad.  This was causing misfires, resulting in gasoline going uncombusted (I made that word up).  So I took out the plugs, saw the gap was too low, and fixed it. Bam! An hour later it was running like new and I had spent exactly $0.

So it got me thinking, how would I have handled this a year ago?  I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that 1-2 years ago that I actually took pride in the fact that I knew nothing about things like this, because I had plenty of money to pay others to do it.  I’ll tell you what I would have done: I would have driven another 6 months wondering why it was under-performing (actually, it may have taken longer for me to even notice since I lived in oblivion to things like engine performance).  Finally, I would have taken it in to a mechanic who would have charged $50 for the diagnosis.  He would have recommended new plugs, which would have been marked up to $10 a piece and I’d probably be charged another $50 in labor.  Total bill: $120 and 2 hours of my time.

I’m coming to a  new conclusion that the best part of extreme early retirement isn’t the actual idea of being retired.  The best part is self sufficiency.  There’s something beautiful and joyful about riding a fine-tuned motorcycle that you tuned yourself.

13 Responses to Self Sufficiency And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance

  1. Self-Sufficiency is awesome! I am in the opposite boat as you. I came from total self-sufficiency (grew up on a farm), to now I am finding it very useful to pay for others to do some things for me.

  2. I love this post, because you’re right — beyond just the money, there’s something beautiful about being self-sufficient. While I’m certainly no extremist that believes we should all farm our own rice, I certainly am much more of a do-it-yourselfer than most. I grow veggies, I’m learning how to repair my house, and I’ll sew rips or tears in an article of clothing rather than throw it away. But I doubt I’ll ever learn anything about cars … or motorcycles :-)

    • I’m not an advocate of growing my own rice either. I look at each thing and determine whether it’s worth my time, but it’s not simply a time/money ratio analysis. I also look at what I’ll learn, if it will be fun, and if it could be quality time with my wife or kids.

      For example, I’m not sure I’m saving time or money by composting each evening – but my 3 year old son loves throwing rotting leftovers into the container then rolling it around in the back yard. And, he’s learning about nature.

  3. Jesse @ BP says:

    Self sufficiency is such an underrated skill. Not only did you save yourself money, but you are using your resources as long as possible which helps the environment. I get a huge sense of satisfaction when I repair my own things too, it feels great to not rely on others.

  4. Dave says:

    I really enjoy doing motorcycle maintenance myself. Although sometimes I spend too much time doing that, however I enjoy every minute =)

  5. I also maintain my bike myself, sometime repair it myself if possible. My tip is to go to youtube and search for “how to maintain motorcycle” or “how to repair “problems” – like brake fluids, horn circuit,carburetor gas leaking. You can find almost anything. And that did help me save a lot

  6. There’s just something rewarding about knowing that you can fix something yourself. In addition it pays to have a little know how about your expensive toys. Like Motorcycles for example. Glad you managed to get it fixed!

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  8. Dan says:

    I really enjoy doing motorcycle maintenance myself.

    Self-Sufficiency is awesome

  9. Imad Labrine says:

    Awesome post.

    I get a huge sense of satisfaction when I repair my own motorcycle.


  10. Here says:

    Wow… Great post. Thanks.

  11. Viktor V says:

    Totally true. Being self-sufficient and adquiring knowledge every time we face a challenge instead of solving it by tossing money here and there is SO rewarding…

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