I treat any motorcycle like it's my own, regardless of who's name is actually on the pink slip. But having taken temporary custody of the boss's XR1200 long-term bike, I find myself being a little more careful than usual. The fact that I actually washed it has nothing to do with sucking up. Catterson seems to have a mild allergy to that sort of behavior anyway. Sucking up, not washing motorcycles. It's more a point of pride with me. I don't want to have to explain why a new motorcycle on loan from Harley Davidson looks like it's been recently excavated from the La Brea Tar Pits. Baked-on filth is inevitable after a ride in the rain, but a little Motul Moto Wash – my favorite spray on/hose off biodegradable motorcycle hygiene product – and a lot of cold water can work miracles. It's kind to rubber bits and everything else but filth as long as the filthy surfaces are cold to begin with. Even nasty, greasy stuff comes off the undercarriage with minimal brushwork after a five-minute soak. Start at the top of the bike and working toward the bottom, it's a good way to discover little problems before they metastasize into Big Problems.
After wiping everything dry with my faux chamoix, there's nothing obviously loose, broken or missing. The tires need a little air. Pop out the dipstick, wipe it clean, reinsert and…it's still clean, even after adding a quart. Now I'm a little worried. The low-oil idiot light hasn't even flickered and there's a decent amount of slippery stuff visible in the tank. How bad can it be? After heating things up with an easy ride around the block and letting the XR sit for a bit, there's a whiff of oil on the very tip of the stick, so I add another eight ounces to get a safe, solid solid reading. After a longer ride, hot oil registers in the middle of the range; plenty of room to expand when the engine gets really hot. Brian says he had the bike serviced just prior to pre-running the San Diego Motomarathon, so this is something we'll be keeping an eye on. Stay tuned.