Nicolas Bouliane

A matter of maintenance Posted on

Long-distance motorcycle travel is a matter of maintenance. He who neglects that maintenance accrues a debt that must sooner or later be repaid. The longer the neglect, the harsher the terms of the repayment.

Keeping a motorcycle running – a modern, fuel-injected one that is – is a fairly simple affair. Refuel every three hundred kilometres, grease the chain every thousand, change the oil every six thousand, and clean the air filter every twelve thousand. If you ride far or hard enough, you might need new tires every now and then, but that’s about it.

But keeping the motorcyclist running is harder, and it comprises the larger part of his maintenance routine. A motorcyclist must eat every day and sleep every night. He must wash his glasses, his visor and his self nearly every day, and his clothes every week. He must keep his devices charged, his boots dry and his mother reassured. Most of this maintenance must be performed at the end of a long day.

That’s to say nothing of his mental state, which demands its own kind of maintenance. The harsh conditions of long-distance travel chip away at the hardest of resolves. Home sickness, boredom and loneliness are a greater threat to the journey than an uncleaned chain. Mechanical breakdowns are survivable. Mental breakdowns less so.

Should maintenance be neglected, the motorcyclist’s situation worsens by degrees. His problems add up and often compound until it’s no longer possible to go on.

The act of maintenance itself is a form of therapy. Cleaning, mending, oiling and tightening soothes the soul and fills one with gumption. A warm shower and a fresh shave do wonders to reset a weary traveller’s perspective.

Long-distance motorcycle travel is a matter of maintenance. Riding is the easy part.

Motorcycle explosion