Lots of us like the idea of having a bike with all the bling bolted to it. Akrapovič this, Dymag that, and Öhlins the other. And I think we’re right to. The right aftermarket kit can make even the blandest standard motorbike, that little bit more special. It might make it faster, lighter, handle better or just look sexier. But sometimes, even the trickest aftermarket bolt-ons, aren’t worth their weight in dog-dirt, and this is why…
Just last week, I was visiting a friend who runs a motorcycle workshop. Whilst I was there, a bloke arrived with a Honda CBR600RR (circa late 00s) in the back of his van. He duly wheeled it out, handed my friend (the mechanic) a box with an Arrows exhaust in it (full system, brand new) and said he’d be back to collect it next weekend, once it’d been fitted and fuelled accordingly after some time on the dyno.
I don’t know which exact model the exhaust was, but I’m guessing it’d have cost him the thick end of £1,200. And then another couple of hundred to have it fitted and fuelled. Quite a lot of money to spend on a bike that’s probably not worth much more than about £3,000. Or it might be if it didn’t look like he’d just dragged it out of a swamp, aftermarket parts or not.
I don’t know how long this chap has owned the bike, but it didn’t look like he’d ever washed it. Or lubed the chain. Or done anything to it. It was a total mess. An embarrassment. At least the Monster Energy stickers covered the scrapes on the fairing, almost; you’d never know it’d been down the road. Until you see the scraped footpeg and the brake lever with the ball snapped off the end.
And this chap seriously wants to spend £1,200-odd on an aftermarket system. Why, I have no idea? It baffled me. The thing was barely roadworthy, and all he wanted to do was bling it up. I really wanted to explain the error of his ways and remind him of a few facts of life… but I didn’t feel as though it was my place to do so. So I didn’t.
But if I’d have been braver, this is what I would’ve said. I would’ve told him that he’s wasting his money, and my friend (the mechanic)’s time. Because unless he learns how to look after his bike a bit better, he’s going to have a pile of scrap with a £1,200 exhaust bolted to it, double quick.
If you can’t even be arsed to clean your bike once in a while, or you can’t find the time, you have to ask yourself whether you really ought to have one in the first place. And if you don’t know how to lube your chain, or check your tyre pressures, then you really need to learn. Because that stuff is a fairly important part of motorcycle ownership. It’s also a really, really easy part. It’s certainly more important (and easier) than throwing aftermarket parts at it, willy-nilly.
Some people are absolutely adamant they don’t want to get their hands dirty in any way shape or form. And whilst that’s a bit of a shame, it doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy owning and riding a bike. As long as you realise how important basic maintenance is, and you’re prepared to pay someone to check your bike over fairly regularly.
My CBR man obviously doesn’t understand the importance of basic maintenance. In fact I don’t think he’d know what basic maintenance was if it kicked him in the nuts. Or a scrubbing brush for that matter. No. He shouldn’t be spending a load of money on trick parts. He should have been giving it a thorough clean and booking it in for a proper service. It looked like it needed a new chain and sprockets, the brake pads are probably down to the metal and I doubt it’s ever had fresh brake fluid. Why not get the suspension serviced, too? And for God’s sake, replace that snapped brake lever. Then, and only then, maybe think about chucking a trick exhaust at it. But not before.