Dear confessional: I am known in certain circles for neglecting the maintenance of my vehicles well beyond the point of “benign.” Tire replacement, oil changes, valve adjustments, general lubrication, you name it. It’s a fair cop, but I shall contend a personality trait is what got in the way, and that as I learn how to do these things right, I’ll actually start doing them to my own bikes on time.

In my defense, then, I offer the motorcycles in the Atlanta fleet right now. The $300 Shadow cruiser has received hours of attention to lubricate all its cables and pivot points (levers, shifters, pedals, and the like), along with a fair chunk of time sourcing replacement parts to repair its crash damage. I’ll note that the Shadow’s only purpose (for me) is to give me something to fix up and sell. With any luck, I’ll clear at least a $500 profit on it. But I have to wait for a globally out-of-stock replacement part to show up first, much to my frustration. I might have to hack something else together instead, perhaps using Sugru.

The Ninja 250 sport bike, which I bought new in January 2000, has finally gotten work done that I am certain has never been done. I now know what 11-year-old grease looks like and that it’s very sticky junk to clean off and replace with fresh grease. And as I clean and lubricate all the controls, I get to thinking how fun it will be to ride again, once I’m finished cleaning and reinstalling the carburetors. Oh, and changing the original coolant and brake fluid and giving it fresh oil and a new filter. (At least the tires are in good shape.)

The Pacific Coast touring bike has gotten nothing but oil changes and tires for the four years I’ve owned it. It, too, has now gotten a few key parts lubricated, and it’s ready for a new front tire, which will become the first tire I’ll have mounted to one of my own motor vehicles. (Almost said “vehicles,” but since I’ve changed bicycle tires a bunch of times… well.) A replacement tail light should be on its way soon (my fault), and then there’s the funny whistle to diagnose and repair (an exhaust leak, perhaps).

The DR650 dual-sport hasn’t gotten enough attention yet, but since a factory (i.e. quiet) exhaust has arrived in the post, it’s time to toss the noisy aftermarket exhaust and fix my main personal problem with the bike. That will, presumably, free me to work on the bike’s actual problem, which is that the turn signals and brake/taillight aren’t working. My first venture into electrical gremlins awaits.

So maybe there’s hope for me yet. Or maybe by divorcing myself from the bikes emotionally by considering them all to be for sale (really!), I’ve transformed them from “my bikes” to “customers’ bikes,” getting me over the mental hurdle of working on my own vehicles.

And maybe that little bit of Buddhist psychology (don’t become attached, e.g., to possessions) is the nudge I needed to start maintaining my bikes better. But honestly, I think it’s mostly the training.