Ultimate Guide to Motorcycle Maintenance
Motorcycle maintenance is similar as doing it for other types of vehicles. It’s not something you do because you have to do it. We consider maintenance as something important that needs to be done regularly to keep the bike in good condition, so you don’t get surprises on the road.
Back in the 60’s and 70’s, motorbikes often require more maintenance than they do today. Thanks to the use of technology, they require less maintenance today, but they still require more than is needed for the average car.
Motorcyclists should be able to ride on their bike stylishly, but they should also be able to do basic maintenance on their bikes. Here are Saker Racing’s guide to motorcycle maintenance!
Reasons Why You Should Maintain Your Motorcycle
1. Issues on the road
When you buy your motorcycle, the last thing you want is for it to breakdown on the road. While it’s true that they can breakdown for unforeseeable reasons, many of the issues you will face can be identified before taking your bike for a ride.
Sometimes having issues on the road, won’t lead to a breakdown on the highway. It can lead to accidents. For example, poorly kept tires can blow out while you’re at top speed causing injury to you and the fellow users on the road.
Unless you store your motorcycle inside a glass house, it will naturally encounter wear and tear which will affect it.
Catching these issues early on before they cause serious damage can help you reduce your cost of repair. For example, changing the oil in your bike is quite cheap and easy to do, but when you neglect this procedure before leaving the driveway, it can lead to bigger issues which will cause you more regarding damage done to your motorcycle.
Things that need regular check up:
The battery is a common cause of breakdowns on the highway. They do not get checked often like the rest due to their awkward location which is often difficult to get to.
The good news with the motorcycle battery is that it only requires a monthly maintenance to work perfectly. Always keep it charged to 100%, recharging it only when the lights dim, starter sounds weak or for situations where you haven’t used the battery in 14 days or more.
- Check the electrolyte level. This level depletes quickly but rises as the battery is charged.
- If the water quantity of the lead cells in the battery is low, top up with distilled or deionized water only. Stay away from tap water as it will cause more damage to your battery. Make sure you only use protective clothing (glasses and gloves) before doing this.
- Keep the top of your battery free of grime.
- Check the clamps and cables connected to the battery and make sure they are not damaged or have a loose connection that could cause problems for you while driving.
- Clean the terminals and connectors
- Check inside for excessive sediment
- Make sure the exhaust tube is free of clogs.
- Replace the caps firmly and check the clamps again.
Once you’re through all of these, connect your battery to a voltmeter or hydrometer and test it.
Regularly changing your oil and filter will keep the bike young and healthy at all times. Always endeavor to check your oil level when it is cold and when you notice it is not as high or max level as it should be, top it up before going out.
A great place to check your oil level is on the bike’s center stand. A bike running on an under filled oil level can be disastrous to you while driving while having too much oil could also affect your air cleaner.
The liter of oil tin you will purchase will be determined by the level of your oil. You can check the difference between the low-level indicator and the high level in ml. If the difference is 500ml, you can’t purchase a 300ml tin for it. It will never be enough.
When maintaining your motorcycle for oil, adhere to the following:
- The oil should be inspected before you go out and should be inspected cold.
- Your motorcycle should be level before inspection.
- During the inspection, make sure dirt doesn’t fall in.
- Use a threaded dipstick when taking a reading. Allow it to rest on the lowest thread.
- Riding on high temperatures, speed or heavy traffic affects the quality and quantity of your oil. So, if you frequently ride in these conditions, you need to change your oil more.
- It’s advisable you change your oil every 3 to 6 months or 2-4000km – whichever comes first.
- Use a good oil filter, if you aren’t already. (WIX brand is recommended)
In other to maintain your tires, the first thing you need to do at all times is to keep them correctly inflated. You can buy a low-pressure tire gauge (0 psi – 80 psi) in your bike tool bag. This will be used to check your tire pressure at all times.
An under-inflated tire generates heat during use which causes blow out. Even if your tires don’t blow due to the speed or the distance covered, the tires will wear out quickly. One common cause of breakdown in motorcycles is tire damage.
Always replace your worn out tires sooner rather than later once you notice wear or tear. The tread depth should never be on 1-2mm, and if it does get there, then it’s time to replace the tires.
4. Chain and sprockets
The chain and sprockets in a motorcycle are essential to its well being and could cost you more if not well maintained as you will have to replace them. After each ride, lube your chain when its still warm so the oil can soak into all the spots especially the tight areas. You can use a commercial chain spray for lubricating the chains. This can be done when you fill up the gas tank or after each ride.
Be careful how you spray, spray at the side of the chains that come in contact with the sprockets – spray both sides of the chain. Before this is done, position a piece of paper so that the rear wheel rim doesn’t get dirty as you spray.
Place another paper on the floor to catch the drips, then wait for 5 to 10 minutes before wiping out excesses from the chain. This process is easier to do if your bike has a center stand. You can also spin the back tire during use to ensure the chain is well lubricated as it comes in contact with the sprocket.
One thing to note about bike chains is that they must be able to sag between 3/4″ to 1 1/4″ at the midpoint of the two sprockets. This sag is needed for the bike suspension as it moves up and down uneven surfaces.
For the shaft drives, they require less maintenance than the chain and sprockets. You can replace the shaft drive oil each time you change the oil on your motorcycle. This will prolong the life of your shaft drive.
The same thing applies to the belt drives as the belt does not require much maintenance. Each time you change the oil in your bike, check the belt tension and adjust where necessary but most importantly, make sure it is clean at all times.
This is an overlooked component in the maintenance of a motorcycle, but we can’t deny its importance to how a bike is maintained. If you have a fuel filter, check it regularly to make sure it isn’t clogged and that it is clean and clear.
Fuel filters should be replaced in the incidence of weather damage or crack. Where such cases don’t apply, replace them every two years.
Both should be checked regularly as they are critical to the sound functioning of the bike..
There are two main categories of brakes in a motorcycle – drum and disc brakes. Most bikes come with disc brakes. Disc brakes are quite easy to work with, and they rarely heat up like the drum brakes.
The biggest problem with brakes is that the fluids absorb moisture during use and this makes them less effective over time. Replacing them once in every two years will enable them perform optimally. Before replacement is done, you need to top them once a while during use, but this should only be done from a new sealed bottle.
Another maintenance procedure you can use with brakes is to check the thickness of their pads. This is where the owner’s manual comes into place. You need to check the specs to know at what point you need to change the brake pads. Some brake pads have a vertical groove that serves as wear indicators to alert the rider on when to replace the brake pads.