An area will be set aside at Rally Headquarters for motorcycle maintenance. While most riders will not need to perform anything other than their daily inspection and tire check, others – especially those from far distances – may need to do an oil change, troubleshoot an intermittent light, affect a minor repair or replace a fastener.
The following will be available:
- A secure, reasonably clean area.
- Oil changing equipment such as catch-basin, waste oil receptacle, disposable gloves, rags and, in the event of slippery fingers, kitty litter to keep the hotel management happy.
- It is anticipated the weather will be hot and sunny, so we will endeavor to have a means to provide shade and some cardboard dunning to protect you from the pavement. Or keep you dry if it rains.
- Air pump and tire gauge.
- Plenty of kibitzers to offer advice, plus at least one of the current or former Tech Eds within shouting distance.
- A limited supply of loaner tools (see FAQ). This includes axle wrenches, a multimeter, soldering iron, wrenches, screwdivers, and sockets. A valid driver’s license will be needed to borrow tools. (NOTE: Do not count on availability of loaner tools. You should have your own well-stocked tool kit).
- Wood scraps, jacks and straps to support a bike while tires are being replaced.
- A limited supply of expendables such as duct tape, electrical tape, electrical splices, tire plugs (see FAQ), etc.
- Lights and extension cords.
- A shop manual for both C10 and C14.
- Vehicle with trailer for …..uhhh…..”getting stuff.”
- A cooler filled with iced-down bottled water and sodas.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: I am not mechanically inclined. Will someone be available to do the work for me?
A: The intent of the Bike Aid Corral is to provide an environment and support for those that do their own maintenance. We believe that no one is a complete moron when it comes to simple maintenance. We will talk you through the chores but you have to do the actual work. No exceptions.
Q. Even for valve adjustments?
A: Yep, even for valve adjustments. Look, we believe there is no reason in the world to show up at a rally needing a valve adjustment anyway. Even if you live in Key West, Florida, or St. John’s, Newfoundland, and you only have 1200 miles since the last adjustment, do the procedure before you leave. Any properly maintained Concours can do the whole distance, to and fro, without requiring a valve adjustment. Still, if your bike needs one, we will guide you step by step so you can do it yourself. If this is still unacceptable, we suggest you make an appointment in advance at one of the area motorcycle shops.
Q: What if I need tires?
A: Good question. Riders from the east coast could easily have more than 3000 miles on the rubber just getting to Idaho Falls. The safe bet is again to anticipate the need, and make arrangements for a local shop to have the proper tires in stock and time set aside to spoon on a new set. Some may let you order on line and have the tires drop-shipped. If you elect to swap tires at the rally, the Bike Aid Corral will provide the stuff needed to support your scoot while you run the wheels over to the local shop in our recovery truck for mounting and balancing. This will save you the expense of the shop removing and installing the wheels.
Q: Hey, wait, at last year’s rally someone brought a tire machine. Can’t we use that?
A: This is true. A tire mounting machine was indeed at last year’s rally. There may be one at this year’s, but again, there may not. If one does show up, it will be a separate activity from the Bike Aid Corral and you must make private arrangements with the machine’s owner. COG cannot and will not assume any liability or responsibility for proper mounting of your tires.
Q: What if I just have a flat?
A: While no one in COG will ever recommend plugging a tire, you may want to elect to do this procedure. You should have your own emergency tire repair kit, but, if not, we can give you access to a small supply of tire plugs and the right tools, as well as an air compressor and tire gauge. And, for the record, COG and its officers recommend replacing tires that have a puncture. Plugging a tire could cause unsafe conditions, injury or death of the rider(s) and total damage to your bike.
Q: How about oil and filters?
A: It is suggested you squirrel away your favorite brand of oil filter (and gaskets) in your tank bag or saddle bag, and then buy the oil at a local shop or auto store. Again, there will be a support truck available to run errands like this. Other expendables, such as cotter pins, light bulbs and such can also be procured locally.
Q: I noticed a trailer will be available. If (Heaven forbid) I have a breakdown (the bike, not me), can I use it to truck my bike home?
A: The trailer will be available on a limited basis to recover a bike in the event of total melt-down or worse, but only to bring it back to the rally HQ or to a secure storage site in Idaho Falls. Also, this service is ONLY for breakdowns that occur during the day rides from the rally site. In other words, don’t call us from 6 miles outside of Tulsa. Cell phone numbers will be posted at the rally HQ for this service. There will be further guidance on this at the rally.
Q: What are the Bike Aid Corral’s hours?
A: Experience tells us the peak need for bike maintenance is first thing in the morning and then again mid-afternoon into early evening, so our crack team of kibitzers and gearheads will be available then. However, we will respond to off-hour requests and, of course, emergencies.
Q: I just bought a new combination GPS/expresso machine from Euro-Farkle dot Com and haven’t had time to mount it. Can I bring it to the rally and use the Bike Aid Corral to install it?
A: Yes, but keep in mind the priority is to riders who want to do routine maintenance or troubleshooting. Therefore, we may come and confiscate the multimeter and soldering iron you borrowed so that another rider can repair his pinched wires and get back on the road. Aside from that, we will endeavor to accommodate all riders’ needs. Besides, I like a good cup of expresso, I do.
Q: Why do I need a valid driver’s license to borrow tools?
A: So we can be sure to get them back. We will note the tools you borrowed on a 3×5 card, and then attach your driver’s license to the card and file it away. When all the tools are returned, you get your license back. If you sky up with our tools, we will turn your license over to the Idaho State Police and tell them you dropped it while holding up a liquor store.
Q: Does this riding suit make my butt look big?
- Consider shipping maintenance supplies, extra clothes, and stuff not needed on the road via UPS to the hotel or campground ahead of time. You must coordinate this with the lodging facility, else they may just send it back. Do not ship liquids such as oil or cleaners; these can be procured locally.
- Before hitting the road, be sure your tool kit is capable of doing what is needed for on-road repairs. It is recommended you actually go through the drill of removing and reinstalling both wheels using only the tools you are bringing. Ever since the Model T, car guys have known to break the torque on wheel lug nuts after getting new tires professionally installed, then re-tightening using the lug wrench in the trunk. This saves a LOT of aggravation (and possibly a hernia) out on the road. Apply this same logic to axle clamps, axle nuts, drain plugs, etc. Tools that are not up to the job are just dead weight, and could leave you stranded. If you have to add a bigger wrench or a breaker bar, do it.
- From time to time we have seen a C10 fail to start in the morning at a Northwest Area rally. Jumper cables from a pickup truck, bump starting, draining and re-filling the gas tank are all to no avail. Upon questioning, a common theme emerges: it is a chilly Northwest morning (even in August), it is above 3000 feet in elevation (lower oxygen content), the owner rode the bike in the previous day from his home at or near sea level, and the valves have not been adjusted recently. The diagnosis: the valves are tight and not completely seating, and therefore there is not enough compression to set the fires going. Remove any of the variables (return to sea level, warm the engine up to 80 degrees, or adjust the valves) and the bike will start. We’ve seen a bike with an almost-dead battery fire right up once the valves are adjusted. An owner once stated “my dealer checked the valves before I left and said they were nice and tight.” >Groan!< Idaho Falls is at 4700 feet above sea level. Recommendation: schedule some maintenance before leaving, and make sure it’s done right.
- The high daytime temperatures and low humidity expected at this rally can lead to an increased rate of “boil off” of your battery’s electrolyte. Service your battery before leaving, and if needed, replenish the electrolyte with distilled water to the top mark.
- Be prepared for temperature extremes. This is the Pacific Northwest. With the low humidity and high elevation, morning temperatures can dip into the 30’s, yet be over 90 by dinner time. The average temperature for Idaho Falls for August is 83° F (28° C) for the high, and 49° F (9° C) for the low. [Campers, please note this!]
- When it comes to tires, don’t be penny-wise and pound-foolish. Heavy loads, relatively high temperatures and long days will increase your normal rate of tire wear. And remember, tires do not wear linearly; i.e. the rate of wear increases as the tread depth decreases. For example, if you measure your tread depth and determine the tires are halfway worn, and they have 3000 miles on them, you will NOT get another 3000 miles. More likely 1000. Or less.