You may be checking your calendar to make sure this particular entry into the series is not a joke. I can assure you, I am completely serious. These markers are cheap and useful, and I find myself constantly reaching for one of them.

Record Your Repairs

Now, there’s something to be said for keeping a record of all of the work you’ve done to your bike. A dedicated notebook, or the blank date-and-description table on the envelope full of paperwork you get from the dealer? Both perfectly adequate solutions, and good for historical records. Do you remember to write everything down? Can you adequately record everything you’ve done to the bike through these means?

It depends on your approach. If you maintain your bike by dropping it off at the dealer any time it needs work, yes. If, like me, you don’t trust anyone else to work on your bike, well, maybe not. That’s where the markers come in.

Any time I disconnect, unplug, replace, or otherwise mess with a motorcycle, I label everything and write it all down. Especially when I am disconnecting, unplugging, or replacing stuff on other people’s motorcycles. In that case, often I write it down on the bike.

The next person who works on this F650 is going to thank me for the records I left behind.

Permanent Markers On Light Tape

A clean surface, a light-colored piece of electrical tape and a permanent marker will make the next wrench’s life a whole lot easier, especially if you had trouble finding correct torque values or the correct replacement parts. Nobody will need to dig through any notebooks; the notes are right there on the bike. 

Often when I am unplugging a lot of electrical connections, I will color-code the plugs with a quick line from one side of the connection to the other. When I need to plug everything back in, even if I’ve been waiting weeks for parts, there’s no question what plug goes where. This is especially easy when you have a variety of marker colors and the plugs are white plastic.

Labeled wires and hoses, cylinder numbers written on coils, for my aging brain.

Silver Sharpies For Dark Surfaces

I use a metallic Sharpie, which is visible on black plastic surfaces, to write install dates on batteries, to number coils on cylinders (and number corresponding plugs on coils), and to write dates and mileage on oil filters and air filters. Any time I disconnect hoses or pipes whose mounted orientation is important, I draw a continuous line from the mount point onto the hose, then there’s no question about how it reconnects.

Paint Pens On Metal Surfaces

The paint pen comes in handy on metal surfaces. For example, the engineers at Yamaha found it necessary to put its alignment marks on the outsides of the Super Tenere’s camshaft sprockets. You need to see those marks in order to reinstall everything correctly after a valve clearance check, but they’re behind the electrical panel and partially blocked by the bike’s frame. Those camshafts are going to be out of the bike and sitting on your work bench. If you take a moment to pop a paint mark (clean the oil off first) on the right place on the inside of the camshaft, where it is, you know, visible while the engine is in the frame, installation is going to go a whole lot easier. It also probably won’t involve swearing and mirrors.

What do you write down, what do you use, and where do you write it? Would you be happy to pull your bike’s side covers off and see everything labeled under there?

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