Mechanical Hypochondriac

Reader Contribution by Alison Green
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Alison and her bike of choice, BMW’s great GS80

All of my life I have been in the lucky position of assuming that good health is the normal state, and that anything less is an aberration that will soon pass.

Not that there haven’t been periods of serious discomfort – but almost always it has  been of the easily identifiable, structural sort: sprains, bruises, stitches and such like. This is pain of a known source – and I can cope. I also am usually acutely aware of just what caused the injury and make mental notes to myself to not perform that particular foolish maneuver again. One injury per stupidity is plenty, thank you.

On those rare occasions when internal plumbing has caused me discomfort for more than minutes, I become absolutely convinced that I am going to die immediately of some rare and untreatable disorder – likewise headaches become aneurisms for certain! I do not read medical books for the same reasons; there just isn’t time for one body to suffer all of the maladies that exist, and I would soon become the world’s worst hypochondriac.

Where am I going with this thread? Motorcycles and mechanical hypochondria! Working as I do for long weeks in a camp environment, I spend far too much time on the internet. There are discussion forums on every conceivable topic, and innumerable ones related to all things motorcycle. Name the model and make and year, and there will be a discussion board pertaining to just that bike. Great stuff – but I’m beginning to think that some of these guys (almost always) must spend about 23 hours per day creating instructions for others. When do they sleep? Ride? Work? Given this new perspective, I’m now convinced that venturing beyond the driveway on my bike might be tempting the fates …

Things that haven’t concerned me for 30 years are apparently serious issues that need monthly attention. Help!! How will I ever cope with all of the maintenance and checking and measuring that is supposed to be done almost daily?

Take the output splines for the drive shaft on my old BMW for instance. The experts on the ‘net would have me tear apart the back end of the machine twice a year to re-lube these splines! My bike is a 1975 model and fairly high mileage at this point (over 200K). I think that it was 1986 (clutch was slipping) when my mechanic had everything apart and we had a good look at the splines. No wear, well lubed and happy. He cleaned them off, re-lubed them and that was that. Then in 2001 it was time for some serious top-end work on the bike. Same story: splines were fine but cleaned and re-lubed because we were there … And all this time I haven’t been worrying. It is like being told that I am a negligent mother and that my carelessness makes me utterly unfit to be the owner of such a highly bred machine as a BMW.

But the darn thing still runs fine and has never let me down!

I’ve driven all of those carefree miles without concern and assuming all the while that the bike would get me there and back without problems. Now I’m not certain that I should even ride it around town. Heaven knows, I haven’t adjusted the what’s-its for at least four weeks!

Somehow, a certain degree of ignorance really is bliss: Regular maintenance, fuel in the tank, air in the tires, good brakes, good riding gear – and go. For now I will stick to my routines and the maxim “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” After 33 years and many happy miles, I must be doing something right. Keep smiling. – Alison Green

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