Race Shop: How to keep your controls working smoothly

[IMAGE 1]Controls are important. No matter how roached out your ride is, if you have a smooth-pulling clutch and an easy-twisting throttle, your bike is going to feel new. Not only will your arm pump lessen substantially, but your bike will gain that “factory” feel that everyone who throws their leg over a saddle is in search of. The question is, though, how do the factory guys keep their cables smooth as butter: do they have works cables that are unattainable by the common man? You’d probably be surprised to know that the factory boys use the same cables that we do; the difference is that they know just what to do to keep their controls working properly and their riders happy.

We asked famed wrencher Chad Watts why cable lubrication is so important to a mechanic stud like himself, and Watts told us a number of things that can happen to a poorly maintained set of controls and cables, all of which could lead to a very unhappy Floridian redhead.

“If your cables aren’t lubed right, they get dry, which causes them to drag. Sometimes they’ll get so bad that they’ll stick, which can cause them to bind up and make your clutch slip or your throttle stick. Cables can also start fraying on the ends, leading to even more problems and potential DNFs.”

So how often does Watts recommend cable lubrication and inspection? “That really depends on the situation. In a muddy or sandy race, I lube R.C.’s cables every moto. In dry circumstances, I still lube them every race, and usually replace them after every couple of races.”

Watts admits that this is above and beyond the call of duty for the average weekend warrior. “Most racers who aren’t at a level like Ricky’s don’t have to go to such extremes. Once a month is good for most guys, but the more you lube it the better it will feel.”

Replacing your cables isn’t something that needs to be done as often as you might think, either. “Amateurs shouldn’t need to replace cables very often. I would go until they are really kinked or starting to fray before replacement on an ordinary guy’s bike.”

In fact, Chad told TWMX that the longer you wait to replace a cable, the better feel you will get. New cables are harder to break in, and they won’t have as easy of a pull until they have been loosened up a bit. Thus, Watts said the main reason to ever even replace a cable on your bike is for safety’s sake.

That said, we had Chad give us a rundown of the maintenance routine he goes through on Carmichael’s works SR250 when preparing it for competition.

Click the Chad Watts slide show in the upper right hand corner of the page for complete step-by-step race shop.