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Well, you've put on a handful of miles and it's time to do some maintenance stuff to keep your bike going. First to check out is the tire selections out there. A lot of new bikes don't necessarily come with the best tires available in order to keep the overall prices competitive. Ask around, look around, see what a 'better' choice for a tire would be for your bike. Some remarkable improvements in handling and steering responses can be made with better tires. Same brand or a different manufacturer, don't matter, they all make choices depending on your needs. Mileage, better traction, improved steering.

Batteries. A lot depends on usage, but the most I'll go on a battery is about three years, on a sealed battery. The open, add water kind are very hard to 'trust' after two years. All that shaking, bumping around, heat, kills the life of a battery very quickly. Let it discharge completely during storage, or let the water get low and it's life is significantly shorter.

Dramatic improvements can be made on selecting aftermarket brake pads. Again cost is one factor. Another is keeping the material composition at a level where brake lever 'squeeze' is easier to modulate for the new rider. Some bikes, like high end sport rides use pretty good pads right out of the box. But now with some miles under your belt, you did wear out the brakes after all, brake 'feel' can be improved immensely with aftermarket brake pad selection. EBC, Ferodo, just a couple of names make excellent replacement pads.

Give or take, 15,000 miles is about all you'll get out of your stock, rear shock. When you start getting that 'po-go-ing' feeling, or that back and forth 'wallow' in the turns, start looking for a new shock.

Here is where the aftermarket offers incomparable quality and ride-ability improvement. It expensive, yes, but the quality and overall mileage you get out of Penske or Ohlin is well worth the money. May as well finish the job by replacing the front springs in the forks too. No more front end 'diving' when you brake. No more 'spindley' feeling up front when you input for a turn. Yes, that much improvement. These aren't choices just for the sport rider either. Replacing these things will help polish out your riding skills and improve your technique.

While we're at it, if you have a single disc up front doing all the stopping, look into a front fork brace. When you apply the front brake all the stopping is done on one side of the wheel. Unfelt by you, there is a direct pulling motion to one side every time you squeeze the brake lever. Unfelt that is until you try and stop on a more slippery surface like some sand on the road. Find some sand in the parking lot and do a practice brake stop on it. Go slow, but brake hard. Really pulls to one side don't it! That twisting motion is what a brace will help equalize.

Ok, you really aren't going to visually see much for your money. However, if you've reached a level of riding competency that you'd like to build on and make improvements, these upgrade choices will make a big difference for you.

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SPEEDSLUG is a frequent contributor to the Women Riders International (WRI) Forum and has generously allowed us to post his tips at here at

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