When it comes to working on dirt bikes, blowing a gasket is quite easy. Eventually, even the most mild-mannered rider succumbs to their boiling point... and rage ensues.
Hard to reach places, bolts that won't cooperate, ill-fitting parts (even though the package says universal) and tools that magically disappear just when you need them. We've all been there and in many cases, the blow-up is a right-of-passage for the dedicated rider and self-proclaimed dirt bike mechanic.
Take for example "Randy." He's a MotoSport employee. (Name changed to protect his innocence.) One day while working on his dirt bike, his fuse suddenly lit, he picked up a T-wrench and chucked it like a boomerang. Only it didn't return. Instead it made a B-line into the side of his dad's trailer and punched right through. Oops...
Oh, he laughs about it now. Don't we all. Gasket blowing fits of rage make great fireside stories. Certainly, you've shared tales of personally witnessed meltdowns or swallowed your pride and detailed your own tantrums. It's comedy gold - because it's so familiar. But whilst in the throes of passion it's never fun and often results in a broken tool or three. So, to help keep your anger in check and save it for the track we've come up with 10 ways to prevent the next rage fest.
1. Don't Rush
Always allow enough time to complete whatever job you're working on. Even something as easy as an oil and filter change can't be done in five minutes. Murphy's Law dictates things go wrong if you try to rush through project. Ever notice when you plan and prepare everything goes smoothly and takes very little time?
2. Take a Break
Or grab a beer. Whatever you do step back, put a pause on the current project and let St. Anger fade to black. This allows for the rage hormones to dissipate and bring back a clear head, unless one beer turns into a six-pack. Remember in school when you couldn't figure out a math problem only to magically perform the necessary calculation after putting it aside for a while? Same thing with dirt bikes. Returning to the project after letting your brain digest the dilemma and with some patience almost always results in "Why didn't I think of that before."
3. Get Some Help
The worst thing you can do is make it personal. "I'll get you!" Whatever causes you fits, usually wins. And if you "win," actually you lose because winning doesn't mean forcing something against its will or by blowing a gasket and wrecking something. If it's just not your day, leave the problem to a professional or find a trusted fellow rider who knows what they're doing.
4. Have ALL the Correct Tools
"Where is it!?" Yep, could really use that ratchet plug wrench right now. Now you have to stop what you're doing and go find it. It's very inefficient! Often, this ignites the fuse and things go downhill from there. Frustration mounts quickly when things don't go our way, especially if we have no one to blame but ourselves.
5. Take a Deep Breath
Channel your inner patience (hopefully you have some left) and take a deep breath. Ask any psychologist, it has something to do with the lizard brain. Breath in through your nose for four seconds, hold it for seven seconds and breathe out through your mouth for eight seconds. Or something like that.
6. Focus on Something Else
If you're working on general maintenance, and for example, the oil filter refuses to come off, go clean the air box and shine the plastic. Then return to the oil filter. If it's a one-and-done type project giving you fits, broom the garage. Just do something else. In many respects this goes hand-in-hand with taking a break but sometimes we have to feel productive (another reason our tempers flare if we're not) so working on another task even if it's tiding up keeps the blood pressure down while cooling off from that stupid oil filter.
7. Surround Yourself with Friends
Gasket blowing usually occurs when we're alone. Most people, hopefully that's you, don't explode in a fit of rage for friends and loved ones to see. The reason why these stories of lore prove so funny (later of course) is the complete foolishness of it all. So, if you've got neighbors, friends, family (especially mom) hovering around the garage you might let a swear word or four slip out, perhaps ram a tool into the garage floor but full-blown nuclear meltdown mode is unlikely to occur.
8. Research Your Problem
YouTube has solutions for nearly every problem imaginable, especially dirt bikes. Need help installing aftermarket exhaust? Or how about changing the grips? From easy jobs like brake pad replacements to the more complicated like an engine rebuild you'll probably find someone else has documented on film exactly what you're trying to do and posted for all to watch.
9. Go Ride
But, but, I only have one bike. Well, that's a problem, but if you have two bikes put the frustrating one aside and take out your (for now) favorite dirt bike for a ride. You'll quickly find the love of riding again and discover why you put up with these complicated machines in the first place. Upon returning you'll be so happy and mellow you'll have roughly 10 to 15 minutes to try, try again before the fuse starts shrinking.
10. Play Music
Turn Up The Radio. If that's your favorite song play it along with the rest of that Autograph album but at least grab some tunes and get them cranking from the start. Begin the day with a friendly voice and you'll enjoy a more relaxing environment as you wrench on your dirt bike.
When it comes to working on dirt bikes or any project for that matter involving some complicated processes, your first reaction to a challenge is usually not the best. Don't run on impulse, instead train yourself to delay those initial reactions and take a moment. Before starting, take a proactive approach and ensure you've got everything needed to perform the job - this goes a long way towards preventing a short fuse.
Written By: AndrewT