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Safety Wiring Tips For Your Bike

To race on any track you will need to make sure you bike has been properly safety wired. Safety wiring prevents bolts and nuts from working their way loose compromising yours and other riders safety on the track. Proper safety wiring is a vital part of the technical inspection you will need to pass in order to get on the track.

Below are some photos along with descriptions of the safety wiring as well.

Grips
The grips on your bike are two things that you should not over look. There is a significant amount of force placed upon your grips when you are cornering. It is a good idea to safety wire your grips to prevent them from sliding of the throttle tube, or the clip-on handlebar.
Make sure the cut ends of the safety wire are pushed in to the grip so you do not injure your hands when you are riding.

Grips

Master Cylinder Banjo Bolt

The master cylinder banjo bolt does not need to be safety wired. This bolt can have silicone instead of safety wiring.
Remember to silicone at least a day prior to the event to ensure the silicone cures properly.
If you decide to safety wire you banjo like you really should, it is easier to do with a small cordless drill or Dremel tool with the banjo bolt on the bike.

Master Cylinder Banjo

Front Brake Caliper Banjo Bolt

The front brake caliper banjo bolt does not need to be safety wired. This bolt can have silicone instead of safety wiring.
Remember to silicone at least a day prior to the event to ensure the silicone cures properly.
If you decide to safety wire you banjo like you really should, it is easier to do with a small cordless drill or Dremel tool with the banjo bolt on the bike.

Front Brake Banjo

Rear Brake Caliper Banjo Bolt

The rear brake caliper banjo bolt does not need to be safety wired. This bolt can have silicone instead of safety wiring.
Remember to silicone at least a day prior to the event to ensure the silicone cures properly.
If you decide to safety wire you banjo like you really should, it is easier to do with a small cordless drill or Dremel tool with the banjo bolt on the bike.

Rear Brake Banjo

Front Brake Caliper Bolts

The front brake caliper bolt MUST be safety wired. This bolt should NOT have silicone instead of safety wiring.
These bolts when wired properly, will prevent the caliper bolts from backing out do to the nature of the way the wire is run.
Think about the way you tighten a bolt. Look at the picture, and and try to figure out why a bolt won’t loosen off. If you can’t figure out how it work, email one of the executive, and they will answer any questions you may have.

When drilling the caliper bolts it is easier to do with a small cordless drill or Dremel tool with the banjo bolt on the bike. Typically if you drill these bolts with two holes drilled 180 degrees apart, you will always have a hole for the safety wire.

Front Brake Caliper

Rear Brake Caliper Bolt and Rear Axle Nut or Bolt

The rear brake caliper bolt and axle nut MUST be safety wired. These nuts and bolts should NOT have silicone instead of safety wiring.
Different bikes will each look a little different, but remember that both need to be safety wired.
These bolts when done properly will prevent the caliper bolts or axle nuts from backing out do to the nature of the way the wire is run.

When drilling the caliper bolts it is easier to do with a small cordless drill or Dremel tool with the banjo bolt on the bike. Typically if you drill these bolts with two holes drilled 180 degrees apart, you will always have a hole for the safety wire.

Axle Nut Brake Caliper Bolt

Front Axle Pinch Bolts and Axle Bolts or Nuts

The front axle pinch bolts and axle nuts or bolts MUST be safety wired. These nuts and bolts should NOT have silicone instead of safety wiring.
Different bikes will each look a little different, but remember that both bolts need to be safety wired.
These bolts when wired properly, will prevent the caliper bolts from backing out do to the nature of the way the wire is run.

When drilling the caliper bolts it is easier to do with a small cordless drill or Dremel tool with the banjo bolt on the bike. Typically if you drill these bolts with two holes drilled 180 degrees apart, you will always have a hole for the safety wire.

Front Pinch Bolts

Hose Clamps

Any part of your bike holding back positive pressure such as the cooling system requires that the hoses connected to the system are safety wired.
This is where most of the questions come because of the small nature of the hose clamps screw/bolt. It is not necessary to drill the screw head, but instead use one of the screws guide tracks. If you only have one hose clamp near by, use a fixed object on the bike to wire the clamp to.

Hose Clamps

Radiator Cap

Any part of your bike holding back positive pressure such as the cooling system requires that the parts connected to the system are safety wired.
One of the parts that may or may not be included in the technical inspection is the radiator cap.
This part is an easy one to do, drill a small hole on one of the tabs on the radiator cap, and safety wire the cap to the overflow line.

Rad Cap

Oil Filter

The oil filter plug MUST be safety wired.
Some bikes may have a housing that covers the oil filter, these housings need to be safety wired as well.

For bikes that do not have the housing, you will need a hose clamp large enough to fit around the circumference of the oil filter, use one of the screws guide tracks to secure the safety wire to, and find a fixed location to attach the safety wire to.

If this one is not done you will not be going on the track. The problem with the oil filter is sometimes there are a limited number of locations to safety wire the filter to. You may need to safety wire the filter to the header pipe.

Oil Filter

Oil Drain Plug

The oil drain plug MUST be safety wired. This plug should NOT have silicone instead of safety wiring.
This bolt/plug is easier drilled off the bike. So when doing that next oil change prior to going to the track, drill out the oil drain plug.

If this one is not done you will not be going on the track. The problem with the oil drain plug is sometimes there are a limited number of locations to safety wire the plug to. You may need to safety wire the drain plug to the header pipe.

Drain Oil Plug

Chain

On motorcycles that have a clip style chain, that is one usually aftermarket, that is not continuous, you will need to safety wire your chain like the picture on the link that has the clip. Make note of the direction of chain travel and be sure to point the tail of the safety wire opposite the direction of chain travel.

Chain

Oil Filler Cap/Plug

The oil filler cap/plug MUST be safety wired.
This one is a must because there is potential to lose a substantial amount of oil through this fill hole if the cap comes off the bike. Find a bolt to drill or a place close enough to safety wire the cap to.

Oil Filler Cap

Safety Wiring Techniques

Safety wiring is not mysterious or difficult. It really only takes some time and practice, and will soon become second-nature for you at the track. Safety wiring should always be done to keep bolts or nuts from backing out. That means always wire in the direction that will tighten the bolt. Safety wiring is also done to prevent any part that does come loose from falling onto the track and causing damage to another bike or rider. It never hurts to safety wire any critical part of your bike, such as controls, beyond the requirements in the rulebook.

Now that you know what you need to safety wire, you’re probably wondering how to do it. First, go out and get the following items:

  • sw_pliersSafety wire pliers. Just buy a pair just like the ones in the picture. These are available at larger bike shops, racing supply companies, and even JC Whitney. Some people might suggest that you can use a “twirl tool” or a pair of needle-nose pliers, but you will be much happier with a pair of real safety wire pliers. Borrow a pair if you must.
  • A can of stainless steel safety wire. Some racers use ½ to a full pound can per season. The best overall size to buy is .032″ diameter, although having a can of .028″ and some .050″ can be handy for tight spaces or damage repair. Safety wire is available at most motorcycle shops.
  • A variable speed drill and a dozen 1/16″ drill bits. If you have access to a drill press, that can make the job faster. The tiny drill bits will only last 4 to 6 bolts. They will break often, even if you’re careful, and dull quickly. Pick up a few 3/32″ bits also. Be sure to keep the bit lubricated while drilling.

How to drill

Except for a few places on your bike where bolts are already drilled for a cotter pin, the nuts and bolts on your bike will have to be drilled before they can be wired. There are various ways to do this. It is best to use a drill press and a small vice to hold the fastener or part. Whether you have a press or a hand drill, here are some tips. First, go easy with those little drill bits. It takes very little force to break one. Lubricate the drill bit periodically with light oil. This helps it cut faster and also cools the bit. When the bit is about to clear the far side of the item you need to be careful that you don’t snap the bit. Many nuts and bolts are surface hardened and that last section takes the longest. Throw out a drill bit when it gets dull.

b_flat_150Most bolts can be drilled straight through the hexagonal head, as in the first figure. Drill from flat to flat, and keep the hole centered. For the studs of some mounting bolts where a portion of the threads protrude, you might opt to drill through the shaft and wire in the fashion of the cotter pin found in most rear axles. If you do this, put a nut on the bolt first so that you can clean up the threads by taking the nut off. Banjo bolts (used on brake and oil lines) are hollow and cannot be drilled straight through. These must be corner drilled, as shown in the next figure.

b_angle_250Hexagonal nuts are drilled across one of the corners. This is a three step process. The drawing shows the drill bit pointed at the flat of the nut. Drill straight in until the bit is in about 1/16 inch. Then turn the nut in the vice about 15 degrees. Continue drilling until the bit is in about 1/8 inch. Finally, turn the piece again so that you can drill all the way through the corner.

Allen head bolts may be drilled through either one or both sides. Be sure to drill though the flats of the allen or you will weaken the grip offered the allen wrench. Drilling through both sides will make wiring the bolt easier.

How to wire

Once you have the nuts and bolts drilled and reinstalled, you need to wire them in place. You should first ensure that everything is torqued properly. Over-torquing a fastener will weaken the threads, and repeated over-torquing can lead to failure. Your bike’s manual will have the torque and thread treatment specifications for each fastener. If appropriate, loctite or lubricate the threads first. You then need to wire the item as an insurance procedure.

When wiring nuts or bolts, there are several techniques used. The first is to wire the nut or bolt to a convenient fixed object, such as the frame or a fork tube. Another common technique is to wire two or more fasteners together so that none of the fasteners can back off. A third approach is to wire the head of a bolt to the nut on the other end. The figures show the first two of these techniques. Most drain or fill plugs will be wired to a frame member or engine part. Brake caliper nuts and bolts are usually wired together. Fork pinch bolts can be wired together or to a fixed item. A muffler mounting bolt is usually wired to its own nut.

b_fixed_200The figure on the left shows a nut wired to a fixed member. It is best to start by looping the wire around the member and twisting the wire together. Continue twisting until the twisted part reaches just short of the nut or bolt. Thread one piece of the wire through the hole on the nut or bolt. Pull the wire tight and then continue twisting the wires together. Leave about 1/2 inch of twisted wire and cut off the rest. Throw the ends in the garbage can immediately. Tuck the end around so that you can’t cut yourself on it. Tension should be kept on the nut or bolt in the tightening direction. The diagrams here show the wire in a loose fashion so that you can see the idea. Your completed wiring should be neat and tight.

Always discard your excess wire in a trash can. Those little pieces of wire can flatten a tire in no time. Always use caution when working with safety wire. The ends are very sharp and can easily cut your fingers. When you have finished wiring a nut or bolt, bend the end of the wire so that it doesn’t protrude and create a hazard.

This figure shows two nuts wired together. The procedure is similar to wiring to a fixed object. Loop the wire through the hole of one of the nuts (or bolts). Twist the wire and maintain tension on the wire in the tightening direction of the nut. Continue twisting until the twisted wire reaches just short of the hole for the second nut and wire that nut. The wire should pass between the nuts to maintain tension on both nuts when the job is done. This process may be continued to wire additional nuts in succession, such as an oil filter cover, sprocket nuts, or water pump.

b_togthr_250

If your bike has a spin-on type oil filter, it can be wired in place by placing a hose clamp around the filter, then running a piece of safety wire from the clamp to the frame or another fixed object.

Another area which requires special techniques is fuel and water lines. You can use the spring loaded clips that come stock on most bikes, or use small hose clamps. If you use safety wire, be careful because you can cut through the hose by using too much tension. Small zip ties will also work.

Water lines are usually clamped with standard hose clamps. One precaution you can take is to thread same safety wire through the slot on the screw of the clamp, then attach the wire to the clamp. This will keep the hose clamp from loosening.

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