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.