Your motorcycle is a finely tuned machine that will provide you years of enjoyment if you treat it right. There is no substitution for good maintenance. You can always take your bike into the shop regularly if you don’t have time to perform basic maintenance, but many motorcyclists are adamant about caring for their bikes themselves. Besides, if you know how to do a few simple tasks rather than relying on someone else you can save yourself hundreds of dollars.
It is a good idea to invest in a service manual designed for your bike. You can find this in most auto parts shops. The following are some tips for maintaining your motorcycle in good working order:
- Cleaning Your Bike: It is a good idea to wash your motorcycle each time you bring it home from a ride. Of course, if you rely on your bike for transportation to and from work every day, this may not be feasible, but make sure to wash it often. Cleaning your bike helps protect the paint if done properly, and also may enable you to note a mechanical problem that you might otherwise miss. When you wash your bike, make sure to mix a soap designed specifically for this purpose with hot water. Use a sponge that won’t scratch the paint. Make sure to rinse the soap off thoroughly and then dry the bike. It is a mistake to leave your bike unwashed in the winter months, especially if you live in a colder climate where salt is used on the roads.
- Change the Oil and Filter: Think of the oil in your motorcycle engine as its blood. If the oil is old, it picks up grit, which can affect performance and shorten the life of the engine. Changing the oil and filter is not difficult. It should be done when the engine is warm. Your manual will provide detailed instructions for your model bike.
- Check the Coolant: Along with oil and filter, keeping an adequate amount of coolant in the engine is vital to the life of your bike. If the coolant level is too low the engine can overheat, which can be ruinous. Check your manual for how to check the coolant. You also will need to drain and replace it occasionally.
- Tires: Tire pressure should be checked weekly. Tires that are underinflated can adversely affect braking and handling. Overinflated tires can lead to premature wear, and even a blow-out. Your manual will indicate the proper inflation for your tires. This usually varies from season to season. In hotter months you will generally keep slightly less air in the tires, for the heat expands the air. Along with tire pressure, check the tread for irregular wear, as well as any foreign matter/glass/nails.
- Your Battery: The battery for your bike is probably located under the seat. While many batteries today are sealed, if yours is one that requires addition of fluid make sure that you check the levels in each cell. Use only de-ionized water. Also, make sure that the terminals are not corroded. You may need to use a wire brush to clean them if there is a build-up of deposits.
- The Air Filter: Check your air filter. If material has built up on the filter this can suffocate the engine by preventing air from passing through. This can cause premature wear on the engine and decrease performance. You should check the air filter at least as often as you change the oil.
- Replace Spark Plugs: Many of the components that used to need replacing on older bikes during tune-ups have been replaced with electronics. Spark plugs are an exception. These still need to be replaced occasionally. Your manual will tell you how to do this, but you will need a special spark plug socket designed for the size of the plugs in your engine. Changing spark plugs is usually very simply, but it is important to make sure that they are properly gapped. A salesperson at your parts store can gap your plugs if you don’t know how to do so.
- The Drivetrain: It is very important that the tension on your drivetrain is set properly. Over time the chain tension can loosen. This can cause premature wear to the gearbox and sprocket, and affect the transmission.
- Brake Pads: Brake pads are actually fairly easy to replace, and it is essential to your safety that this is done when necessary. Remove the caliper and retaining clips, along with the springs and pins. The pads should pull out without a problem. Make sure to use a brake cleaner. If you are unsure of how to check/replace your pads, consult your manual. An alternative is to watch a video on the Internet.
- Cable Maintenance: You should check the cables on your bike on a regular basis. You don’t want them to be too slack, for this can cause problems with the clutch and throttle. Oil and adjust the cables as per your manual.
IMPORTANCE OF MOTORCYCLE MAINTENANCE
Both for performance and safety it is vital that you maintain your bike in good working order. Failure to do so can not only diminish your engine life, but in some cases cause an accident. The Law Firm of Nadrich & Cohen, LLP is available for assistance if you are injured in an accident due to someone else’s negligence.