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Bike handling, Maintenance, Nightingale

This is How a Team Works

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I recently had a bike working on weekend.  I’ve been having some mushy brake issues with the Big Girl since I got her.   We’ve bled the brakes numerous times but the problem never completely went away so we decided to overhaul the front brakes by installing some new spiffy stainless steel cables.  This would also allow us to bypass the ABS system.  Disabling the ABS has been on our list of things to do since we bought the bike.  I understand that ABS can save your life but I only have ABS on two of my three wheels.  There is no real way to put ABS on the sidecar wheel.  I don’t think having two out of three tires with ABS is safe.  On top of that, the ABS system has been malfunctioning for a while.  It’s a stuck piston according to the code.  I’ve had it repaired once only to have it go out again so it’s coming off the bike.  However, pulling the system is lengthy and not something we are up to right now so bypassing it was the right answer.  This was the first big work I’ve ever done on brakes so it was a good time to learn about brake fluid.  I learned that you always want to use a new bottle of brake fluid for every job because brake fluid, once opened, pulls moisture out of the air into itself.  Using opened brake fluid opens you up to getting water into the brake line.  Looking at the dark brown fluid in my master cylinder, I almost wonder if that was part of the problem I was having.  Apparently, your brake fluid should be straw colored .  To translate, my fluid should have looked like Sauvignon Blanc but it looked like Tawny Port.  Time and then some to settle this brake issue.
I did do some of the hands- on
Old Cables
I had wanted/ expected to be doing most of the work myself.  Mr. Man wound up doing a lot of it while I watched and asked a bajillion questions.  I was ok with this at the end because I learned a whole lot even if I didn’t get as dirty as I wanted.  The whole process started me thinking a bit about the concept of teamwork and how it works between Mr. Man and myself.  A  lot of the reaching up into the bike and unfastening things was done by him while I held the light and asked about a billion questions.  His arms are longer and he’s more bendy than I am so that made sense.  Also, he’s the main mechanic for the bike when we off road so it makes sense that he works on Nightingale more than he does on Skylark.  Some things are easier with two people, like bleeding the brakes and he had my full help and cooperation there.  Some things, I need to do myself so I know how to make basic adjustments if I’m traveling by myself.  My biggest job often does seem to be asking about a billion questions. This time I also helped by going  inside and getting dinner in the oven so we could eat when we were finished.   Sometimes Mr. Man’s job is looking up schematics on the computer.  Sometimes he’s handing me tools, sometimes I hand him tools.  Early in our relationship we had to establish that teamwork does not mean equal.  That fair is not always 50/50.  He has always made more money than I have so to establish an equal power dynamic in the relationship we set up roles and duties.  He puts in a higher percentage of his income into our joint account than I do but I take care of paying bills and most of the grocery shopping.  When we travel, we are responsible for different things.  When we work on the bike, especially Nightingale, we are responsible for different things.  I like it.  I like the fact that in our relationship we are allowed to bring our strengths to the table, not an arbitrary 50/50.  We don’t keep a ledger.  I don’t think, well, I picked up all that oil and filters for his bike so he has to pick up the groceries for me.   At least, I don’t think that too often.  I am, after all, still human.
New cables

In the end, I had shiny new brake cables and my goodness, my brakes work well now!  I also had a better understanding of my braking system and that’s maybe the most important thing for me to take away.  I know why we moved to stainless steel lines from rubber.  I know why we went with two lines instead of one line and a splitter and I understand how we bypassed my ABS system.  Also, I have a much better comprehension of the mechanics behind a braking system and what brake fluid does.  So even if I didn’t turn every wrench and run every line, I educated myself making myself a better partner for off-roading.  My better familiarity with the brakes will help me troubleshoot on the road.  Mr. Man helped me learn and isn’t that what a team should do?  Shouldn’t it make you better?

Always remember, safety third!
 I totally want to  give a shout out to the great guys over at Boxer Metal for the speedy delivery of the parts.  Feel free to check them out here.


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Who is Sidecar Adventures?

I'm just a Girl with a 1975 BMW R90/6 rigged to a 2006 Ural Retro Sidecar and a 2002 BMW 1150GS rigged to a DMC Sidecar. This is the story of my life on the road, in the garage, in my kitchen, my closet and, on occasion, in my makeup collection. I'm a Femme with a wrench, you have been warned.
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