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How to save your bike from a flood

Learn how you can save your motorcycle from expensive flood repair costs.

Motorcycle Flooding

Bracing yourself for a flood is no easy feat. Many Filipinos encounter flooding more often than we would like, and flooding consistently poses a threat to livelihood and loss of belongings. For many, this may very well be our motorcycles. Many Filipinos rely on motorcycles as a pillar to livelihood, whether it’s for day-to-day commuting, for household errands, or for work itself. Preparing our motorcycles for flood may not only save us from the inconveniences of repairs but may also save many from the opportunity costs lost through an inoperable motorcycle.

That’s not to say, however, that there isn’t anything that can be done about it. There are many different ways we can prepare our motorcycles for flood, and here are a few steps that you can take to avoid losing your beloved bike. 

Prevention from Flood

Motorcycle lifter

The single most important thing you can do to prevent the difficulties of a flooded motorcycle is to prevent the flood from reaching your motorcycle, to begin with. While it may sound relatively simplistic, the best thing you can do would be to take a bit of time to move your motorcycle to a higher road that is not prone to flooding. Find a safe spot to park your motorcycle since there is no telling how long it may take for floods to subside and roads to be deemed passable. We recommend taking your motorcycle to a trusted relative or friend who is willing to look over your bike during the flooding. Alternatively, you may also take your motorcycle to an establishment with elevated parking and 24/7 security. You may end up spending a bit more on parking, but the amount spent on overnight parking will be small compared to the amount spent on repairs after the flood.

It would be best to take your bike to your desired parking space a day before the rains are forecasted in order to have enough time to attend to your home before the flood hits. Nonetheless, while all of this sounds ideal, many of us are still caught unexpectedly with flash floods. If you don’t have enough time to take your bike to a safe area, or are unable to do so due to flooded streets in your area, there are still ways to prevent your motorcycle from bearing the full brunt of the flooding.

Preparation for Flooding

Motorcycle maintenance engine block cleaning

The time has come that you will need to prepare your motorcycle for the incoming flood. If you can spare a few minutes to prepare your motorcycle for the water, the first order of business is to disconnect your battery’s negative terminal. This will prevent short circuits that may permanently damage components of your motorcycle. By doing so, you may not have to spend on expensive replacement electronic parts after the flood. If you don’t know how to disassemble the negative terminal, it’s recommended to visit your dealership or trusted mechanic in order to learn how you may do this yourself.

If you have more time to spare and are also mechanically-inclined, the second option would be to disassemble other motorcycle components that can be brought to a safe place. It’s only recommended to pursue this option if you are mechanically-inclined and very knowledgeable of your motorcycle’s parts. If you are not, do not risk this option since it may cause more harm than good. First, disassemble your battery completely and set it aside. Afterward, remove most other electrical components since these are the most prone to water damage like the fuse box and relays, ignition coil, gauges or display, computer box, handlebar switches, and any other electronic component that may be unplugged. It’s not necessary to remove other mechanical and aesthetic parts, since this may be restored after being flooded. Take all your disassembled components and bring them to a safe and elevated area.

Regardless of the option chosen, the next most important thing to do would be to find a spot to tie your motorcycle onto so that it is not swept away by flood torrents. Make sure to use a sturdy rope or tie, and secure your motorcycle’s frame, be it on the triple tree, frame, or subframe, to a very strong part of your home.

After the Flood

Flooded motorcycle

After the flood has subsided, and after you have attended to the more important tasks at home, it’s now time to bring your motorcycle back to shape. Do not waste time. The longer you leave your motorcycle unattended, the higher the chances are for permanent water damage to occur. Do not attempt to start your bike, since this may cause more damage to your motorcycle. The first thing you should do is to get a hose with fresh water, leave your battery disconnected, and clean off all the dried up mud, gunk, and other residue on your bike in order to prevent further damage.

When you have more time to attend to the bike, the easiest option would be to take your motorcycle to your dealership service center, or a trusted mechanic who is experienced in flood restoration. The reason for this is that flood repair is generally more intensive than regular repair and maintenance tasks. Reparations will have to cover nearly every single component on the bike and will take time and effort in order to do this properly.

If you are mechanically-inclined, you may proceed to do this yourself if you have the time and expertise. Whether you decide to attend to repairs yourself or will be bringing it to a shop, here is a checklist of items you may need in order to properly attend to your bike’s restoration:

  • Electricals: Clean all components with contact cleaner, and dry out with mildly-pressurized air. If there’s an electrical wire, plug, socket, and electrical component attached, it will need cleaning. Replace all fuses and relays, and other electrical components if needed. This includes intake, fuel, and spark components and sensors, the electrical harness, all plugs and sockets, gauges, handlebar switches, and all other electrical components.
  • Intake: Drain the airbox, intake hoses, and intake manifold. Clean with water and soap, and dry with pressurized air. Replace your air filter.
  • Fuel: Drain the fuel tank and fuel lines and clean them with gasoline. For carbureted bikes, send the carb to a mechanic for a full cleaning.
  • Engine: Clean all engine components thoroughly with soap and water and dry with pressurized air. Remove the exhaust, clean with kerosene and water, and leave to dry.  Drain and replace engine and transmission oils. Remove the spark plug and remove all the water inside the engine. Clean the intake ports, exhaust ports, and the inside of the engine with gasoline and dry it out. For the engine internals, a trick would be to put 3 tablespoons of gasoline through the spark plug hole, put your transmission in-gear, if possible, and rotate the rear wheel to move the piston in order to clean.
  • Spark: Replace spark plug.
  • Cooling system: Drain the radiator completely and flush out with the radiator with a flush cleaner. Replace with fresh coolant.
  • Brakes: Clean calipers and drum brake thoroughly with brake cleaner and lubricate the caliper pistons with grease. Dry with pressurized air.
  • Frame: Clean the entire frame, bolts, and nuts thoroughly with soap and water. Dry with pressurized air. Restore paint and rust at a paint shop if necessary.
  • Bearings: Replace all bearings that were submerged in water: swing arm bearings, wheel bearings, triple tree bearings, and others.
  • Chain and sprockets: Clean and brush thoroughly with kerosene and water, and lubricate with chain lube.
  • Suspension: Check for signs of oil leaks and replace suspension seals if necessary. If no leaks are found, clean thoroughly with water and soap. Dry with compressed air.

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