Carpe Diem…in My Garage!

(Originally published in BMW Owners News Magazine – March 2016. Please visit the online copy of this issue for full spread/pictures: BMW Owners News – March 2016)

Most of us have heard the inspirational saying at one time or another – “Carpe Diem” (seize the day). As Eleanor Roosevelt thoroughly explained it: “The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”

One frigid day this past January, while trying to keep the winter “blahs” at bay, I sat through my morning coffee yearning for a “newer and richer experience.” I wanted to learn something remarkable and functional. I wanted to color outside of the lines. I desperately wanted my being to be placed way outside of the box. As I racked my brain trying to figure out what I could do to excite and enhance the stalemate of a day that was ahead of me, I had an epiphany. I suddenly recalled all the ribbing I had gotten over last year’s riding season from a few close friends about the lack of my ability to do my own motorcycle maintenance. My favorite comment – “You may be the Fashionista and can drive thousands of miles across the country in a few days, but can you change your own oil?” That was it! There was my answer! That January day, I was determined to join the small world of women who wrench.

So off I marched to the wondrous “man cave,” where my husband was in deep hibernation, and shouted “Carpe Diem!” He jumped, sighed and with a pensive look on his face asked, “what are you up to now?” He knew my winter antics were in play again…scheming and dreaming. Following the big reveal of how I wanted to learn simple motorcycle maintenance, he smiled and was actually very proud of my decision. After a brief consultation, it was decided that an oil change and tire pressure check would be a great starting point. I bundled up and took my two-wheeled steed out for a quick, brisk ride to warm and circulate the engine oil. Upon returning, and after the engine case was cool enough to touch so as not to burn my hands, we began the lesson. I am sharing my instructions and photos in order to empower others out there who also may want to learn some light maintenance. (Note: I put on some rubber gloves so as not to end up with oil-stained hands and fingernails – that would not be Fashionista-worthy!)

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1. Unscrew the oil cap. This allows air in to allow the oil to drain out freely.

2. Place a container under the engine case to catch the used oil. Make sure it’s large enough to hold all of the old oil that will drain out (my ’94 R1100 RS holds approximately 3.5 liters).

3. Locate the oil drain plug under the engine case (right side on my motorcycle).

4. Using a wrench that fits your particular oil plug, carefully unscrew the plug (check your M.O.M. – Motorcycle Owner’s Manual – for specifics on tools and oil capacity). As the oil begins to gush out into the holding container, try to keep ahold of the plug so you won’t have to fish it out of that black, gooey mess.

5. Allow the old oil to drain completely out. It will take several minutes.

6. Clean your oil plug with a rag or paper towel and then wrench it back into place when the oil has stopped flowing. (Make sure you also have the small washer that fits on the oil plug.)

7. Check your M.O.M. to find out where your oil filter is located (left front bottom on my motorcycle), and with your oil waste container in place, use your oil filter wrench to remove the filter and allow this area to drain. Try to catch the old oil filter with your hand as it’s exiting so as not to make an oily mess all over your workspace.

8. Once it has completely drained, use a few paper towels to thoroughly wipe out old oil and black sediment in the recessed area where the filter sits. Here are two types of filters that can be used for my bike. (I will use the one on the left.)

9. Pour a bit of oil into the filter (about 3/4 full) and using your finger, lube the rubber seal on the filter with a bit of oil, as well.

10. Screw in the new oil filter with your hands until it feels tight, then tighten it about another 1/4-1/2 rotation with your wrench (you want it snug with a proper fit).

11. Add fresh oil with a funnel (again, check your M.O.M. for type and amount).

12. Be sure to pour in small increments and allow a few moments. Then check your oil level so as not to overfill! The level of oil should be level with the red dot in the center of the sight glass located just in front of the engine case on the left side of your motorcycle.

13. Replace the oil cap!

14. Start your engine and let the bike run for a minute or two in order to circulate the oil. Shut the engine off, wait about 5 minutes, and then check the level again. Add additional oil until it is again level with the red dot in the sight glass. Replace your oil cap, and you’re all set!

15. Now, tires! Get your tire gauge and air source ready. (Your most accurate reading will be when your tires are cool.)

16. Unscrew your valve cap and check the pressure in your tires using the gauge. The correct amount of pressure will again be determined by checking your M.O.M. Also note that a change in the outside temperature will affect your tire pressure, as well as any added weight on the bike (passenger, camping gear, etc.), so be sure to check them right before you’re ready for departure.

17. Using your air source, put in the needed amount of air, and then recheck the pressure one more time to be sure the amount is correct.

18. Recap the valve stem, and you’re ready to go!

The ice is melting, the air is warming and we are all busy mapping out our adventures for the new riding season to come. I challenge you to take a time-out, step into your garage and shout “Carpe Diem!” Then get those gloves on and “experience to the utmost”…“without fear,” some simple wrenching on your two-wheeled steed. Hey, if The Fashionista can handle it, so can you! 💋 💋

About the author

Debbie Gasque
Debbie Gasque

My name is Deb...I get extreme enjoyment out of music, am a big-hearted Idealist, possess a huge passion for fashion…and just in the last eight years, have built a life around long-distance motorcycling.

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