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Motorcycle Parts : Stocking the Basics

People who plan to keep their rides for a while are well advised to inventory a few extra motorcycle parts on the back shelf.

When it comes to motorcycle parts, it’s worth thinking ahead, unless you buy new every few years. Of course, if you are one of those folks who never keep a bike very long you don’t need this advice and probably don’t read my stories anyway. But if you do plan long-term ownership, stocking a few things can save you an emergency trip to the dealer and considerable money. The basic staples of life such as oil, filters and commonly used gaskets are good places to start.

I went out to the garage last week and after a summer’s use noticed oil under my old Dyna (yes, I have heard most of the H-D jokes). Something that is a sign of a well cared for Big Twin especially an old one (1995) is a lack of leaks. So this was something that in my book had to be fixed, since marking my spot is not for me. 

The liquid was purple so had it be transmission fluid (Royal Purple) and there was some yellow stuff (hmm… must look for that one, and yep it’s the primary). After wiping it off, the fluid reappeared confirming the locations.

Like other motorcycle parts, gaskets are expensive! A primary gasket at a dealer is north of a hundred bucks nowadays. Yes they have been improved, FMF (foam metal foam) but still it hurts just a little to fork over that much even if there is a metal core. This style is more forgiving. Say there is a tiny scratch or irregularity, or it’s not torqued carefully, you probably still get a seal. They should also last longer, surviving more heat cycles than the old paper style. 

Less care required, faster assembly, but you pay more. That’s one end of the scale. The other end is a tube of gasket maker. There are many brands and to be fair most work pretty good if applied carefully. Careful is the key. I once rebuilt a 4X4 transfer case that had only recently been rebuilt. The problem was someone used way too much RTV (Room Temperature Vulcanization silicone); blobs had broken off inside the case and plugged its internal oil pump. It was “Death by sloppy workmanship.” The gasket in a tube also looks less professional on a high-end build. All that said; I carry Permatex MotoSeal in my tool roll for emergency use.

Then there is the path down the middle: aftermarket gaskets. James Gaskets are proven (normally my first choice) to be high quality, Cometic are good. Both can be had for less than the H-D versions. There are more. I got two complete ACCEL primary gasket sets (FMF) from eBay with shipping for $75 US. They look like they will work fine. One other option is reusing the old gasket. This can be done by carefully coating the used (otherwise undamaged) gasket with some gasket maker-sealer. Letting it dry before using it works best.

by Rich Burgess Canadian Biker Issue #329


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