Friday, April 15, 2016

Eliminating Fenders

Yesterday I installed a "fender eliminator" kit on my Honda CBR250R (i.e. "The Sewing Machine").

This is a rare bike modification for me because it really has no function other than, hopefully, improve the visual appearance of the bike, or what I call a "vanity mod."

One would think this would be a relatively simple modification because it is only removing the rear fender of the bike and, essentially, replacing it with not much more than the license plate.

The kit comes with instructions. I have the official Honda service manual for TSM. I'm a reasonably adept mechanic; I've been messing up my motorcycles since I started riding at age 10 because that's what gear heads do.

As you know I've done my share of tearing apart and putting back together TSM in the name of performance: shock, forks, handlebars, rear set pegs, tires, etc.

None of that was as challenging as replacing the stupid rear fender.
This doesn't look THAT complicated, does it?

I had read the reviews - nice piece of equipment once it's installed, but the instructions are terrible, even if you do have a service manual - but I felt my skills were sufficient; shouldn't take more than an hour, maybe a bit more, I thought.

Wrong - it was a frustrating afternoon. All of the little parts that make up the rear fender assembly are so interconnected with hidden fasteners, incomprehensibly located bolts, etc. meant that the installation process was much more difficult than anticipated.

Kind of like work comp - it seems like a simple project, but there are so many interconnected parts that once into the process, navigating and moving about is daunting.

Like many of you, one of the first things I do when I can see in the morning is read WorkCompCentral news - obviously it's my business, but it's also my industry. I need to know all that is going on in our industry. I care about it. It's an important component to the overall economy.

I forget about its complexity, until I read about things like spinal surgery fraud accusations, utilization review companies liable for malpractice, the impact of fees on litigation rates, constitutional challenges, cost studies and rate changes....

And we all know there's more than just those big picture items - procedure and substance combine to make workers' compensation incredibly detailed and nuanced.

For a system that is supposed to be, for the most part, self-executing, there are an unimaginable number of obstacles for non-professionals to navigate.

Like TSM, there are service manuals and diagrams to help, but even professionals, those who interact with work comp on a daily basis, need guidance and information.

The difference is that professionals know the nuances. They know where there are interlocking tabs that just need a gentle tug to pull apart, or where a particular piece of hardware will require a special tool - stuff that's not in the instructions or service manual.

I could have paid a mechanic to install the fender elimination kit. A good motorcycle mechanic charges around $100 an hour now a days, and probably would have taken less than 2 hours to complete the job.

I did it myself though. It took me a lot longer than I anticipated. I got frustrated. But I also learned a lot.

The biggest lesson I learned, however, simply affirmed my first inclination when I bought TSM: don't mess with it.

Too late.

I think the next project is an electronic fuel and ignition controller.

Like work comp, a motorcycle just begs to be modified to fit the user's preferences. But we forget how complex everything is...

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