Like most of the rest of us, Rick Doughty of Vintage Iron has suddenly found himself with some extra time on his hands. The renowned collector and proponent of all-things motocross decided to share with us his tips on how to be productive in this "Quarantine Quandary."
Here's what Rick had to say:
Perplexed about what to do with all your government mandated time at home? Millions of us are, but let’s not forget all the years of wishing we had more time to get things done but were too busy with work. We might have brought this on ourselves. You know they say you have to watch out what you wish for!
Everybody’s situations are somewhat different but if you are a dirt bike guy, we have a lot in common and this suggestion list is based on our commonalities.
We also have to think about the folks that make up the industry we rely on. They are hurting, too. Many are offering discounted pricing making it a sensible time to use their services and/or buy their products. The more we can engage them in our efforts, the better we will all be after we get through this nightmare.
[Note: we’ve recently heard parts and service work are experiencing a boom.]
Online shopping is still active and some shops are even providing valet service where they will pick up your bike, perform the work and bring it back to you. All in all, we’re an enterprising bunch and don’t shy away from a challenge like this. Let’s make it time well spent!
Time to get it right
When looking at a new home a woman goes directly to the kitchen and a man goes to the garage. Just the way it is. So here is your chance to make your space all it should be.
Only the anal retentive among us have a garage floor you can eat off or have every item neatly in its place on the shelf or in a cabinet, like a factory race team. Even if your workspace is fairly organized and clean, you can always make it better or more efficient. Maybe you just make it more entertaining by adding a TV, DVD/DVR, better sound system or add new lighting. Seriously, replacing an old fluorescent tube with an LED tube is an amazing upgrade. LED light is more like natural sunshine and gives you an outdoor feel in the garage. You can’t have too much light in a work shop. Whatever it is, think it through before you start and have plan.
Start with a clean slate
Depending on the weather in your locale, you may want to start with pulling everything out on to the driveway. Then clean the floors, the shelves, the countertops etc. …before you start hauling things back in. The more you remove, the more you can clean. Given that we probably are not going to do this stupid pandemic thing again anytime soon, now is your shot!
If you don’t have kids at home to enlist as slave labor then here is a suggestion that may work for you and a young, up-and-coming rider in your neighborhood. If you know you have lots of stuff you are never going to use again like gear, fairly good tires, that collection of vintage magazines etc… maybe you should enlist said youngster to come help out. Then repay their labor with things that they could use and otherwise not afford. Most of the time the appreciation you get from bestowing a kid with a bunch of cool moto stuff is far more rewarding than the experience you get from dealing with “Craigslist Chiselers.” You can also teach a young person a lot about the importance of Feng Shui and the art of laying out a real man's garage.
In order for this to be a successful undertaking, you have to give it some thought and be honest with yourself. If the garage is not new to you, then you know how you use it. Keep the stuff you source most often close at hand. Wasting time walking back and forth across the garage for tools, paper towels, or to throw something in the garbage is counterproductive. Here is your chance to trim off time in the garage and add it to the time on the bike.
Monster sized toolboxes are impressive but usually present more of an obstacle than a benefit. Keep those behemoths off to an exterior wall and have a smaller toolbox (preferably on wheels) in your main work area. It should be filled with the tools you use most often. If you really think about it, these tools are fairly limited. The special tools, pullers, air tools and the like are best left in the bus sized box placed well out of your way.
Bike Fix & Chill
In some areas of the country the restrictions on “non-essential” businesses being closed has included motocross tracks. If you are subject to that reality and do not have the woods, the desert, or other riding areas to access, then this may be the time to do some serious maintenance on your bike(s). “Bike Fix & Chill” as it were.
Tires, wheel bearings, chains, sprockets, buffers/guides, brakes, clutch plates, grips are all subject to wearing out with use. Now is a good time to at least inspect these items if not replace them. You may not be in a position to buy a new bike for a while, so why not make your current bike feel new again?
Most Ignored Items
Suspension is probably the most ignored of the “vital components” on any bike. Unless the seals are leaking, the forks and shock rarely get the service required to keep them performing at an optimum level. If you cannot do the work yourself, you can always take the whole bike or the components to someone that specializes in suspension. Just because someone can perform a top end rebuild does not mean that they are the best person to take your suspension to. The opposite is also true.
While you have the forks and shock off, you have a great opportunity to do something most racers never get around to, servicing the linkage and steering stem bearings. Both are subject to dirt, water, mud and wear and both can adversely affect the handling of your bike. Proper valving and spring rates are important but making sure that the linkage and steering stem bearing are moving freely is critical as well.
There is nothing super technical about the process unless you have to replace bearings and/or races. If you have not disassembled your linkage or triple clamps before it is wise to take lots of pics with your phone so re-assembly is not a guessing game. If you are still confused you can go to any number of online parts vendors that have exploded/expanded views of each area of your year, make and model of bike. If you still have the owner’s manual you can obviously refer to that which should also provide torque specs for the various components.
Engine oil is the life blood of your motor and easy to change at home. You can consult your manual or check You Tube for a tutorial if you have never done it. Just make sure to use the correct viscosity of oil and the correct amount. Changing the oil filter is something you also want to do as part of the process. Running clean oil through a dirty filter, is like putting on yesterday’s underwear after you take a shower.
Air filters are another obvious item to address, not only to make sure it is clean but also make sure it is relatively new. The foam in virtually all filters degrades over time so it is cheap insurance to replace it if you can’t remember how old it is. The alternative is dirt getting sucked into that very expensive engine of yours. That never ends well or cheaply.
Re-engineer Your Gear
Got a pair of boots that need to be resoled? Got goggles that could use a new lens? How about pants or jerseys that may need a little needle and thread attention? Here is your chance to address all these issues without spending a lot of money. With races being canceled this may also be a great time to send your jerseys off to get your name and number added to the back.
Time to let it go
You might also come to grip with the fact that the medium jersey and size 30 waist race pants you’ve been hanging on to are never going to grace your every expanding frame. That goes double for knee pads with elastic straps that are no longer elastic and the broken duckbill visor you have been coveting for decades. It’s spring man, do some “spring cleaning.” Your garage square footage will grow proportionally!
Privateer Nick Fratz-Orr gives his tips for cleaning dirty motocross goggles on his YouTube page:
If you are like most of us, you are eating more than you would when you were working full time. Call it comfort food or calorie loading before the great famine arrives (that may be my own rationalization leaking out). Yeah, yeah, I know it will give you more traction off the concrete gate but it is all about power to weight ratio, when getting to the first turn. Unfortunately it is way easier to gain weight, than it is to lose it. It is also much easier and quicker to get out of shape than it is to get in shape.
Make it fun
That said there are many ways to get in some exercise. A simple walk or bike ride is great way to get your heart pumping and rev up your metabolism. Twenty minutes seems like a long time but once it becomes part of your routine, it is not such a big deal. You can also take all the drying laundry off the treadmill, stair stepper or rowing machine and see if they still work. It is kind of fun trying to discern if the creaking noises are coming out of your machine or out of your body. YouTube is also a great source for training tips.
Of course if you want to be a showoff you can do some long distance road biking, uphill mountain biking. Last but not least some you can do some running. I personally reserve that activity for when I am being pursued by a bear or a wolf or a mountain lion. Life at 7,000 ft has its disadvantages but that is another story.
Now if you are someone (whom we all universally hate) and have a riding area at your disposal, be it a private track or the woods, you can burn off your indulgence engaging in the second most enjoyable activity on earth, riding your dirt bike. However, a word of caution and consideration: You might want to keep in mind that the E.R. is not somewhere you want to visit at any time but especially not now. This virus is so contagious, you may want to dial her back a bit, to avoid needing medical attention of any kind.
Train Your Brain
Thought Provoking Pursuit
Sitting in front of your computer may be what you do at work but this is very different time in history, so treat it differently.
Maybe find ways to up your IQ like watching tutorials on things you always wanted to learn but never had time. Motorcycle related or not.
On the motorcycle side, you can learn the fastest way to change a tire (without all the normal perforations), learn to lace wheel, rebuild a top end, set up suspension etc… It is all on there.
You can also learn riding technique from some amazingly talented and qualified individuals from trainers to world champs. It may not be as effective as a day at the track getting instruction but hey you can do it in the pajamas you have been wearing since last month.
Don’t forget the many great podcasts out there too. Many of them are three hours long and can be both a valuable source of information and diversion.
Another thing you may want to do with your free time and your keyboard is reach out to the people that have helped you along the way. It may be your parents, an older sibling, a mentor or even anyone that ever thought enough of you to sponsor you in whatever way they did. Hearing words of appreciation never gets old and no doubt it will strengthen the bond that already exists.
Movie Night All Day
Okay, if you want to have some self-indulgent, mind numbing couch surfing then there are some classic motorcycle movies. While they may not be monumental cinematic achievements they fun to watch. Most are corny but sometimes the corny is just what we need.
Here are a few all time greats: On Any Sunday (one but not two), Great Escape, Winners Take All (starring Broc Glover), Sidewinder (one & two), CC andCompany (starring Joe Namath), Moto X Files (Any & All), Little Fauss and Big Halsy (Starring Redford, Pollard, Hutton), World’s Fastest Indian (Anthony Hopkins), Supercross (The Movie), Motocrossed, and of course the most recent, Bennett’s War.
If you just want to look at still pics, then Pinterest is a good place to write off hours of your life. You can just keep coming up with various search words and phases and never run out pics you have probably never seen before.
So there you go. You now have tons of things to do to occupy your time.
I can guarantee you two things:
1.) This “painintheassdemic” will be gone sooner than later.
2.) You will regret the opportunity if you don’t seize it while you’ve got it.
See you at the races!
Rick Doughty/VINTAGE IRON