Have you ever had a moto commute experience not go as planned? Imagine being out on a weekend ride and suddenly losing power. Now multiply that by a factor of 10, and you’ll know how awful it feels to lose control while commuting.
What a uniquely terrible feeling it is to not know. It only gets worse if your job is involved in any way.
LET ME TELL YOU A STORY
One day, I completely lost power when I was riding home from work.
This was back when I did a 2+ hour commute each way every single day. And I’d only just gotten on the expressway to get home when it happened.
I was conveniently located nowhere near either my job or my home.
It was the stuff of nightmares.
Mentally, I tried not to panic as I guided my bike over onto the shoulder. Rush hour in a big city actually worked in my favor, though. Traffic was slow enough that I made it (mostly) unscathed.
(I did manage to accidentally bump my left mirror into a big old American sedan that didn’t see me. The driver yelled, but then calmed down after he got out, examined his giant metal boat, and saw absolutely no damage.)
SO WHAT HAPPENED?
My SO and I are very DIY-minded. We’d changed my spark plug (yes, it’s a single) the previous weekend. Maxi scooters have tons of plastic body panels that are a gigantic pain to remove. They’re held in place with these little plastic rivets that often shatter if you look at them the wrong way.
The best bit: When you take all the body work off, you’ll find that you need tiny hands to access anything. (BTW, tiny hands are things I have. Hello.)
Of course, any size hands only do well if they securely put things back together. (Cue epic facepalm here.)
I apparently didn’t put the spark plug firmly in place. So it came loose. And I lost power. Also, there’s no good way to get my body panels off while standing sadly at the side of 90/94.
Lucky for me, there’s a tiny little access port located just below where the spark plug sits. My miniscule hands are just small enough to reach in there and touch the spark plug.
After some bare-knuckled finessing (and no small amount of grunting and swearing), I managed to fix the problem. I even felt a satisfying click, which I couldn’t recall having felt the first time I did it.
My bike powered on, and I was able to safely get home. (WOOOO!)
IT COULD HAVE BEEN A ZILLION TIMES WORSE
- I could’ve lost power on my way TO work (I’ve had bike-related problems on the way to work before. It’s never fun calling your boss to explain why you don’t know when you’re going to arrive.)
- I could’ve been hit by someone as I tried to steer my powerless bike off the road
- I could’ve failed to diagnose the problem
- I might not have been able to reach the spark plug at all without taking the body panels off
Seriously, in so many ways, I got off easy.
It’s not like this kind of thing never happens to people who drive cars to work, either. It’s just that you aren’t usually as worried about other road traffic.
Breathe. Think. Solve your problem.
Yes, you’re on a bike. There are unique issues to consider. But ultimately, you end up doing pretty much the same thing you’d do in a car, right? The key is not losing your head.
Also: Keep your phone charged and in easy reach. Some bikes make it easy for you to charge your phone while you ride. Take advantage if yours is one of them.
Has a moto commute ever gone wrong for you? What happened, and what did you do?