Are you trying to figure out how to do motorcycle maintenance? Read this article to learn more about maintaining your motorcycle.
You’ve finally purchased the motorcycle you’ve been dreaming about. Maybe you’re getting your favorite bike ready for spring and summer. Or, maybe that sad day has come, and you’re getting ready to sell your ride.
Like a car, regular maintenance is crucial to keeping your bike riding smoothly, preparing it for a new season or owner, and making sure your ride is always ready to…ride.
Afraid you don’t know anything about basic motorcycle maintenance? Check out these 10 steps to keep your bike in the best shape.
- Oil and Oil Filter
Check the level of oil often, and fill up to the top when needed. Consult the owner’s manual for your bike to do this task correctly.
When checking the oil, notice the color. It should be amber, like new oil out of the bottle. Milk-white oil means coolant is present, and you will need to take it to the shop. Dark colors mean it’s time to change the oil.
Change the oil and replace the oil filter at least once a year, but consult your owner’s guide for the exact oil change schedule. Some experts recommend riding the bike for 5 minutes before you change the oil to lower the viscosity, making it easier to drain. Don’t forget to recycle the old oil at a bike shop or municipal facility.
If your bike has been sitting for a length of time, siphon off old fuel and replace it with new fuel. Also, check the fuel lines for damage or cracks, and have them replaced if needed. If you have a fuel filter, make sure it is clean and unclogged.
Experts say to keep your battery charged 100% even when the bike is not in use, and recommend a trickle charger to maintain the charge.
Keep the battery clean, and, if your battery is an older, lead-acid type, check the electrolyte level, replacing any lost with distilled or deionized water.
Keeping the tire pressure consistent and at the correct levels is a must. Use an air pressure gauge to determine the levels, and add air as needed, according to specifications of your particular brand of tires.
Check tire tread often, looking for bald spots, sidewall bubbles, and other signs of wear. You can use a treadwear indicator to measure it, or you can use the “penny trick” to make sure your tires have enough tread on them. If the tread is low, replace your tires for safety’s sake.
- Fluid levels
Your brake fluid and coolant are fluids that you cannot take for granted. Flush and replace fluids at least every two years and keep their levels topped off, according to the levels in your owner’s manual.
- Drive Chain and Cables
Clean the drive chain at regular intervals, (check the owner’s manual,) and also after the bike is driven often and in dirty, grimy conditions.
To do this, elevate the rear wheel of your bike and put the transmission in neutral, allowing for easy chain movement. Use a gentle bristle brush to get the dirt off the chain. Then lubricate the chain, evenly coating it right into the joints.
Oiling the chain and cables after every ride is a good habit that keeps your chain, throttle, and clutch working well.
Test your brakes before each ride, and keep an eye on your brake pads, making sure you replace them before they wear down to the metal. When replacing breaks or tires, check the calipers for corrosion, and oil them well if needed.
- Air Filter
Clean or replace the air filter regularly. You can clean it yourself with an air compressor. Otherwise, replace it, and if it’s hard to reach, get a professional to do it for you.
- Cleaning and Appearance
Washing your bike the right way includes the use of soap, water, and wax, making sure dirt and grime aren’t continuously ground down into your paint finish. Don’t use super-charged equipment like a power washer–a gentle touch is best.
It is recommended you re-oil the drive chain after each wash.
If you really want to spice up your bike’s appearance, get it newly painted. Custom motorcycle paint jobs are worth the price since you can completely customize your ride to fit your personality, using a variety of finishes, logos, or patterns.
When it’s parked, keep your motorcycle out of the sun and weather. Use a cover, park it in the shade, or under a roof to retain the sheen, keep the battery charged and at proper fluid levels, and to keep other parts from drying out.
- More Motorcycle Maintenance Tips
A checklist to use before EVERY ride would include:
- Check tires,
- Check ALL fluid levels,
- Check lights and controls,
- Check all controls and bolt/fastener tightness,
- Check wiring for frays,
- Check mirrors.
Make sure you have a manual for your bike model, and consult it often, especially during the “breaking in” period of a new ride, which is @ at 600-1000 miles. Different bikes have different instructions for breaking in a ride, follow yours carefully to avoid more maintenance down the road.
If you are uncomfortable with doing basic motorcycle maintenance yourself, don’t hesitate to take it to the dealer, or a professional shop that can do your motorcycle care for you. The last thing you want is a breakdown or blowout due to neglect, or shoddy care.
Are You Ready to Ride?
Don’t forget your helmet when you ride, even if it’s legal to go without one, and remember to purchase insurance for your bike.
It may seem like a lot of work to maintain a motorcycle, but the same work goes into maintaining any automotive vehicle. Routine motorcycle maintenance and care will ensure a more reliable and smooth ride and a bike that will last many years.
Want to know more about all things automotive, including buying and selling, maintenance and upkeep, as well as parts, insurance, and more? Keep reading here for the best tips and practices for your present and future vehicles!