What Motorcycles Teach About Maintenance


Key takeaways


  • The need for maintenance doesn’t stop when usage stops. The upkeep of any machine is largely about tending to the four sources of most problems: 1) moving parts; 2) flowing fluids; 3) flowing electricity; and 4) temperature stresses. Every bit of the moving, flowing, and stressing causes wear and tear, but damage also comes from not moving, flowing, or stressing. Non-moving parts seize up. Non-flowing fluids leak or curdle into gunk. Corrosion gets into everything.   Crawford told his customer with the half-dead Honda, “You might want to just get rid of it.” (View Highlight)
  • Repair is nearly always a disruptive intervention in an intricate system. Some of history’s worst disasters came from mismanaged maintenance. A bungled routine system test caused the nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl in 1986. The catastrophic fire at Notre-Dame cathedral in 2019 came during renovation of the badly rotted spire. In hospitals, when a medical examination or treatment causes illness, it’s called “iatrogenic.” Beware iatrogenic repair—when a sloppy attempt to fix a problem makes the problem worse or adds a new one. (View Highlight)
  • My further suspicion is that tidiness, like cleanness, is a social signal—as much to oneself as to others. It is visible evidence that something is respected. (View Highlight)