Keeping your motorcycle properly maintained ensures you can enjoy a smooth ride for many years. This is also important to check if any issues may be a safety hazard.
While you should take your bike to get it professionally serviced at least once a year, there are some maintenance tasks you can do yourself to help keep it in top condition.
A simple but useful maintenance task that any motorcyclist can perform is a walk around.
Before you go for a ride, look at your bike from every angle. By just looking over your bike, you can discover if something is wrong. Look for any parts that are loose, broken or anything worn-out that needs replacing.
If you can’t fix the issue yourself, take note of them to pass onto the professional when you take your bike to get serviced.
Don’t go for a ride without first looking over your bike to make sure everything looks as it should, and if anything looks like it needs to be fixed or checked by a professional, don’t go for a ride until you’ve done that.
Change the oil
Changing the oil on your motorcycle will keep the engine running properly. Your bike manual may indicate how often you should change the oil, but generally, you should do it at least once a year.
When changing the oil, if your motorbike has aluminium parts you need to cover them to protect it from drippage, then start the bike and let it run for a few minutes. This helps reduce the viscosity of the oil so it drains easier. Once you’ve turned the bike off, keep it standing upright and remove the drain plug, putting something beneath the cap to collect the used oil.
Once the oil is out, remove the oil filter. Keep in mind this step can get messy, then you can install a new oil filter and put in new oil using a funnel.
Don’t throw away your old oil, as used oil can often be taken to a bike shop or local government to be recycled.
Check the tyres
Your tyres can experience a lot of wear and tear so you should check the condition of the tyres regularly. If the tread is worn it might be time to get your tyres replaced. The tread affects the way your bike grips to the road, and the more worn they become the less grip they provide, which may result in an accident when the roads are slippery.
To check the tread, look at the tyre’s wear indicator (a little rubber knob in the grooves of the tyre). If the knob is at the same level of rubber that meets the road, it needs to be replaced. This should be done by a professional.
As well as the tread, you should also check the air pressure of your tyres. With the right pressure your tyres will last longer. The correct amount of air pressure also ensures good handling while riding, and can help avoid blowouts.
When checking the air, check the valve that regulates the air and make sure there are no leaks. To check tyre pressure, locate the valve stem on the inside of the wheel and remove the cap and press an air pressure gauge onto the valve stem. Compare the pressure with what it should be. This will be written on the sidewall of the tyre. Most petrol stations will have an air compressor to fill your motorcycle tyres.
Test your brakes
A crucial part of your bike, it’s important to test your brakes regularly to make sure they’re in top working order before you go for a ride.
You can check brakes with the tyres on the ground, or using a stand. Rotate the wheels and check the thickness of the discs, callipers, and brake pads. Check on warping to make sure the wheel is braking in an even way, and look for rusty places and extreme dirt. If you find any, clean them before your ride.
Check brake lines for any sign of wear or age. If your motorcycle has rubber brake lines, these are not very long lasting and may need replacing after only a few years.
Your brakes should be replaced before they’re worn down to the metal, so if they are looking worn, get them fixed as soon as possible to prevent potential accidents or further damage to your bike.
Also check your brake fluid, as this should be replaced every one to two years, depending on your bike manual recommendation.
Clean the drive chain
The drive chain transfers power from your engine to your rear wheel. It’s important to give this proper care and cleaning, as it makes your bike run better for longer.
To clean the chain, elevate the rear wheel with transmission in neutral, allowing for chain movement. Using a gentle bristle brush, wipe off any grit and grime. Once the chain is clean, apply a specially formulated chain lubricant to lubricate the chain. Let it sit for a few minutes then wipe off the excess.
It’s good practice to lube your chain after each ride while it’s still warm, as this allows the oil to penetrate all parts of the chain.
While cleaning the drive chain, you should also check the chain tension. The right tension helps prolong the life of your bike.
Keep your air filter clean
Your motorcycle’s air filter keeps debris out of your engine, but it can become clogged and dirty, affecting your bike’s performance.
The air filter is usually easy to access, but with some motorcycles you may have to remove the gas tank and other parts to get to it. Once you get into the air box, take it out and replace the air filter.
Regularly cleaning your air filter will ensure your motorcycle’s engine works at optimum performance, so don’t neglect this part of your bike.
Don’t put off getting your motorcycle serviced
While there are some things you can do yourself to maintain the condition of your bike, you should not skip professional servicing of your motorcycle. This is crucial to improving the longevity and safety of your motorcycle.
If you are unsure about doing any maintenance checks on your bike yourself, you don’t want to risk causing any damage to your bike, so it’s always a good idea to get expert advice first.
Most motorcycle dealers, like Peter Stevens, can provide professional advice on how to maintain your motorcycle, so if you have any questions, don’t be afraid to ask the experts!