COVID-19 Lockdown – things to do on your motorcycle.

Most of the bikes we see at the school are very well looked after, but occasionally a rider turns up, usually a track bike in a van which won’t start, or cuts out, handles badly, or has badly worn tyres or brakes.

I used to scrutineer occasionally for Retford Motor Club, and saw some real horrors. Loose engine and axle bolts, a loose seat, missing disc bolts, bad leaks, a frame repaired with fibreglass etc.

So lockdown is a chance to give your bike a good service and check up, as long as you are competent.

If you’re racing or doing regular trackdays, then your bike will requires far more maintenance than your owners manual states. Some models have enhanced routines if you are using them for competition.

You can get workshop manuals to download, free if you’re lucky.

If you need some more tools then don’t buy cheap, some of mine are over 50 years old. You need a good torque wrench to make sure everything is tightened correctly. Don’t guess. Worn tools will cause problems with rounded nuts, bolts and allen screws

The brakes are obviously vital, so check all the pistons are moving properly and strip and clean if they are not. They tend to corrode if not used regularly. Change the brake fluid if its more than 2 years old – use fluid from a new sealed container.

Make sure there’s plenty of pad left, motorcycle pads don’t have much to start with. Check the discs aren’t warped or badly scored, and the spools are tight. You can get replacements.

If you’ve not checked or adjusted your valve clearances recently or before, now is the time to find out how, and save yourself some money in the future.

Look at work you haven’t done for a while – or ever. Oil and filter changes are assumed.

Strip the rear swing arm and linkages, clean and regrease the bearings.

Strip the front forks, clean and change the oil. Consider using a grade thicker if it’s a road bike – check the forums thoroughly for advice.

Clean and regrease the steering head bearings, which are often neglected.

If you have a carburetted bike, strip and clean them carefully. If the float bowls have original cross heads screws made from cheese, make sure you use the correct screw driver bit, and considers replacing with Allen screws. You don’t want to leave fuel in them for long, as it evaporates leaving a residue that can be impossible to remove, blocking internal passages. Drain them after running the bike.

Drain and wash out the tank, you maybe surprised what you’ll find. If it’s rusty inside you can sort this with gravel, and there are various ways of recoating.

Clean the fuel filter.

Carb balancing kit it is easy to use, and is available from £50, but swap the pipes/dials around and take average readings if you buy cheap. You’ll probably need a small auxilliary petrol tank and fuel line as this is done with the tank off. £10 on Ebay.

Check the chain and sprockets, clean or replace. Make sure you tighten the sprocketsproperly and fit a new retaining tab to the engine sprocket if there is one.

If you’ve got a clutch cable, check it isn’t fraying at the ends, and lubricate it with light oil.

It’s worth checking the clutch, as baskets wear and notch and friction plates can crack and break. If they do, the clutch basket can explode wrecking the crankcase if you’re unlucky. Clean and grease the release mechanism if it’s cable operated, check for leaks if it’s hydraulic.

That should keep you occupied for a while, and your bike will thank you for it.

‘Cats Claw’ Theory – Motorcycle tyre grip

We’ve been working on this for a while at The School, trying to show riders the amount of grip available when cornering, in a simplified straightforward way. Many thanks to Martin Knox for the concept.

It must be stressed that this is the theoretical maximum amount of grip available when cornering, dependent on lean angle, on a flat consistent surface, for an expert rider.grip-final-plus-logo

This illustration combines the radial (centrifugal) forces from John Bradleys work, with Mohr’s Circle for the relationship between radial and tangential forces.

The dark green area shows the further you lean, the less cornering grip is left.

The light green areas shows the available tangential grip at angles of lean which is used in braking, accelerating or steering.

Both start to drop off rapidly after 45 degrees of lean.

So at 45 degrees of lean you have in theory 45% of your maximum radial grip left for cornering, (which seems reasonable), and 80% tangential grip for braking and steering (which doesn’t). In practise there is significantly less tangential grip apparently available, particularly when braking, although we know there is enough grip to wheelie a bike out of a corner at 45 degrees of lean.

We got a literal ‘thumbs up’ from Vittorre Cossalter (Motorcycle Dynamics)

We’ve worked backwards, assuming the maximum lean angle is 60 degrees (zero grip), which is only available on a dry race track with soft race rubber.

To stress again this is theoretical, assumes ‘steady state’ on a race track with slicks, ignores the effects of bumps and dips, variations in road surface etc. or extra loads due to sudden steering, braking or accelerating which all need to be smoother the nearer you get to the limit to avoid going over the edge.

You need also to consider weight transfer and tyre slip – which we will discuss later.

COVID-19 Update April 2021

We can now start again on 2nd April, but riders cannot camp overnight until the 29th April date or stay locally until the 27th May date.

We will continue to provide a safety briefing video and training videos to riders before the event, to avoid the classroom sessions and comply with the ‘rule of 6’.

We coach in groups of a maximum of 4 – 3 riders and a coach.

Signing on is a simple identity check with your licence, signing on forms to be completed and emailed to us before the date.

We are able to maintain a 2 metre separation distance at all times. Takeaway cafe on site for drinks and lunch.

Continue reading “COVID-19 Update April 2021”

A free training day for a young rider on 25th July 2019

We are offering a free training day for a young rider aged 15-17 on 25th July 2019, which includes use of a new Yamaha R3, helmet, leathers, gloves and boots courtesy of Yamaha’s Partner Track Bike Hire UK.

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Entrants are simply asked to send in an email to with their name, age and contact details, answering  this question ‘What is the official prime cause of motorcycle road accidents‘? Personal information will not be used for marketing purposes.

Permission is required from parent or guardian who must attend all day – 8 am to 5.00 pm.

The young rider will attend our usual rider’s course with the older riders, but will be assigned a personal track coach who will be with the rider on track to try and make the day as safe as we can.

The track we use is Blyton Park owned by Ginetta, which was purpose built in 2010 and is safer than most of the old tracks having little Armco, no gravel traps and tarmac run offs almost everywhere.

The track is marshalled by Blyton and our own coaches, with two teams of paramedics and a fire truck in attendance, to try and make the days as safe as we reasonably can, but like every other high speed motorsport there are obvious physical risks.