By David Swarts
The COVID-19 global pandemic is resulting in different parts of the world taking different measures to combat its spread.
According to health experts, hand washing is crucial and so is social distancing – staying away from large gatherings of people and maintaining at least a six-foot distance from people while working or doing essential tasks in public.
Social distancing is so important that many government agencies in many parts of the world have issued orders for some businesses to close and most people to stay home except for when fulfilling essential needs.
Here in California, we’re under a stay-at-home order for most citizens, but some apparently felt it was important to self-isolate on two wheels this past weekend.
During my personal essential shopping, I saw many more motorcyclists than normal enjoying the mild Spring weather this past weekend. And why not?
While it may or may not abide with the wording in California Governor Gavin Newsom’s current order, riding a motorcycle alone appears to post little risk to the individual or anyone else. And while I was pumping gas into my car using a paper towel to avoid having to touch the gas hose I realized if I were wearing my riding gloves I would be protected pumping gas into my motorcycle.
All of this got me thinking of other ways motorcyclists could make good use of this moment and at the same time help the motorcycle industry, which was struggling even before this global pandemic struck.
Now would be a good time for motorcyclists to catch up on their routine maintenance like changing their engine oil, cleaning or replacing their air filters, checking their drive chain and sprockets, inspecting tires, etc. It is Spring and the start of the riding season after all.
While you may or may not be able to pick up those parts at your local shop (vehicle service centers appear to be considered essential services and some remain open here in Southern California), the shipping companies are still delivering online purchases to your door.
Unfortunately, many racing organizations, school operators, and trackday organizers have been forced to cancel or postpone events in March and April. For those who budgeted for the expenses of racing or doing regular track outings this season, losing those events may have created a budget surplus that could now be spent on upgrades to their track weapon, like a better exhaust system, aftermarket suspension components, a new set of bodywork, or just some fresh brake pads.
Even if your track bike is fully kitted, you could upgrade your pit setup with a new generator, better work stands, or something as simple as replacing those cheap tie downs you bought at the big box store for higher quality straps to secure your machine. And you know you’ve been meaning to replace those rain tires you’ve been carry around “just in case” and using over and over again for five seasons now.
Most importantly, keep in mind that companies you rely on for your service, parts, and tires may appear to be bigger than they really are, but most are the definition of small businesses and they are struggling right now just like the restaurant and bar owners. So even if you don’t need something right now, you will need something from these companies in the future and by making that purchase now, even if it’s a gift certificate to yourself, could make the difference whether or not that business is there when the COVID-19 situation gets under control and normal life resumes.
And it will. Even the most skeptical of experts say the current situation is temporary, and the disruption to our normal lives could be even shorter if we all do our part.
So, wash your hands, enlarge your bubble of personal space, take care of your motorcycle and your industry, and get out and ride as soon as you can.