Friday, May 18, 2007


Your local shop has told you to replace your chain. The last two times around. And you have chosen to ignore it.

The chain has loose and tight spots, depending on where in the rotation you check it. Or it already hangs down to the ground, almost anyway, looks rusty, and you can lift the chain off the sprocket by over 1/4 inch.

So what happens when your chain breaks or comes off? If you are lucky, it just comes off, falls on the road, and hopefully your buddy behind you won't run over it and crash.

Or it could whip up and hit you, the rider...I have seen it on a race bike once...the chain made a hole in the tail section and hit the rider in the back.

The chain is going at the speed of the bike you see, and the energy it picks up from going around is at least as high as crashing at 100mph, and that's the speed when I crashed and broke my hip, so I have experienced those forces at 100mph first hand and believe me, it's violent.

Or, as in this case on this picture right here, the chain doesn't break, but "just" comes off the sprocket and balls up under the chain cover and breaks the crank case. And if you are lucky, it won't lock up the rear wheel and you won't crash.

This guy was lucky. The bike is still in pristine condition, really nice actually, on the outside, but what this seemingly innocent little crack there means that it's basically done for, NFG, engine broken beyond repair.

In some cases, it can be fixed. If the crack is in an opportune place and you have a really, really good welder at hand that is willing to work on (not the usual "no, we won't touch") motorcycles, you might be able to get that welded.

If the crack is in a place like on this GSXR1000 though, i.e. in the walls on the precision bored hole that holds the water pump, there is pretty much no way you can fix this on or off the bike, since it would have to be machined afterwards to take the pump shaft again, and the filings from the machining will get into the engine, not to mention that it is somewhat difficult to get the motorcycle under a drill press, sideways and square.

Only solution in this case: new engine. On some bikes that would exceed the total value. So if you would like to avoid this fate, learn how to check your chain for the correct tension, and for "tight spots", which is hard to explain in writing, but if you come by anytime during business hours, I'll be happy to demonstrate, for free, and with pleasure. After all, I like my fellow motorcycle riders to stay alive. I hate going to funerals.

And don't forget to lube your chain every 300 miles or so, that'll make your chain and sprockets live a whole lot longer.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

We got the Crissy Fields Community Hero Award!

This is not quite motorcycle related, just thought it would be an interesting tidbit out of our day at Werkstatt Motorcycles.

As part of the Capp Alliance Project (CAP) we just got awarded the Crissy Fields Community Hero Award 2007 for pulling neighborhood resources together to implement a plan to keep Capp Street clean!

And last Saturday I took off the coveralls, put on nice jacket and pants and held a speech at Crissy Fields, San Francisco, in front of a bunch of people and officials, all proud of our CAP crew and of what we have accomplished, and what a great success it has been!

( And it was a windy day as you can see from my hair blowing and I don't have photo shop...)

There is also a year-long exhibit at the Crissy Fields Center, so when you are out there in the Crissy Fields which is part of the Golden Gate National Park System, drop by and check out the video of me and the crew wielding the brooms on Capp St...You can also check out the video here.

Since I kind of started at the end, here is how all that started in the beginning: There is a Homeless Center located a couple doors down from us, the Mission Resource Center, and I have been going to the meetings and working closely with the Center to improve the neighborhood and address some of the problems we are having here related to our homeless neighbors.

In one of those meetings we founded a group called CAP: Capp St Alliance Project, with the goal of improving our neighborhood and Werkstatt Motorcycle Repair is now sponsoring the CAP clean up crew that comes by Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning to clean the streets, and it worked: We now have one of the cleanest streets in San Francisco!

The way it works is that CAP hires and trains homeless people for a 2 month internship to clean the streets and become leaders of their community.

And the participants have taking this on with vigor and pride, and for some of them this became a stepping stone to get regular jobs and housing and to leave homelessness behind them, so this has been a real success on several levels despite having a nice, presentable, livable and safe street to boot.

Frankly, I am a little surprised how far we have gotten with not that much effort, but it goes to show that a little effort goes a long way!

I would like to thank everybody that has been part of CAP, especially Vero, Julie and Laura from the Resource Center, and all the guys that have been part of the clean up crew and made such a big difference!